Before moving on from “Barack Obama's Magical Media Tour” of the past week, a look at an Associated Press story so over the top that the Washington Posts's Howard Kurtz on Friday cited it as an example of coverage which “bordered on gushing,” though in this case there really was no “bordered.” In the July 22 dispatch in advance of Obama's arrival in Berlin, “Obamamania in full flight ahead of tour of Europe,” the AP's Matt Moore and Melissa Eddy hailed how Obama's “superstar charisma” will meet “German adoration” with a promise to “redeem” America (as posted by Google, by Yahoo):
Europe is about to give Barack Obama one of the grandest of stages for statesmanship. In this city where John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton all made famous speeches, Obama will find himself stepping into perhaps another iconic moment Thursday as his superstar charisma meets German adoration live in shadows of the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate. He then travels to Paris and London where he can expect to be greeted with similar adulation.
It's not only Obama's youth, eloquence and energy that have stolen hearts across the Atlantic. For Europeans, there have always been two Americas: one of cynicism, big business and bullying aggression, another of freedom, fairness and nothing-is-impossible dynamism.
If President Bush has been seen as the embodiment of that first America, Obama has raised expectations of a chance for the nation to redeem itself in the role that — at various times through history — Europe has loved, respected and relied upon....
On July 16, Andrew Malcolm at the Los Angeles Times's Top of the Ticket Blog wrote the following (bold is mine):
When President Bush ordered the surge in January 2007, (Barack) Obama said: "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse," a position he maintained throughout 2007. This year he acknowledged progress, but maintained his position that political progress was lacking.
This YouTube video (different from the compare/contrast video at the bottom of the LAT's link) shows Obama reciting the lines just quoted.
The LAT Blog notes earlier in its entry that "The parts (of Obama's web site) that stressed his opposition to the 2007 troop surge and his statement that more troops would make no difference in a civil war have somehow disappeared."
Something else disappeared this week. Team Obama, for all its posturing, probably saw something like this coming -- which explains their web site scrubbing.
Hopefully this event will repeat itself frequently. You have to get all the way to the end of an apparently weekly routine Associated Press report to see it, but there it is:
Earlier this month, former senator and John McCain economic advisor Phil Gramm was widely excoriated for his remarks about America being a "nation of whiners," discouraged by negative media reports fueling fears of recession.
As my colleague Nathan Burchfiel noted, the context of Gramm's remarks were the media's role in accentuating the negative in economic news and hence ginning up the public's economic fears and complaints.
Of course, the media has done little to prove Gramm wrong. Take, for instance MSNBC.com's "My Miserable Summer" series, which, among other things, takes tales of woe from readers and publishes them on the Web site (h/t NewsBusters tipster Jeff Williams).
The Associated Press has shown it has difficulty stating just what a terrorist is -- a terrorist. In an article today at MSNBC.com (which may or may not have created/edited the headline) titled "Palestinian 'terrorist' in earth-mover rampage," we see how the term "terrorist" has quotes around it -- which signifies, in this case, the loathsome notion that "one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter." Not only are said quotes used in the headline, but in the article as well:
A Palestinian man plowed an enormous construction vehicle into cars, buses and pedestrians on a busy street Wednesday, killing at least three people and wounding at least 45 before he was shot dead by an off-duty soldier.
If an elected official in the United States, at any level, promises to "rip apart" six year old rape victims, then describe in vivid detail how their lives would be ruined, one would assume such a statement would lead the news. But it did not.
Following up on D.S. Hubes post on the local media coverage, Massachusetts State Representative James Fagan (D) voiced his opposition to Jessica’s law requiring stiff mandatory sentences to child rapists. As a defense attorney, Fagan promised if such a law were in place and victims assume the stand "I’m gonna rip them apart." Fagan continued "I’m going to make sure that the rest of their life is ruined, that when they’re 8 years old, they throw up; when they’re 12 years old, they won’t sleep; when they’re 19 years old, they’ll have nightmares and they’ll never have a relationship with anybody."
An article at CBSNews.com and MSNBC.com utilizes the claims of a scientist with some very questionable ideas and theories. In this case it's "seismic activity is five times more energetic than 20 years ago" and the reason is due to -- you guessed it -- global warming.
The research proves that destructive ability of earthquakes on Earth increases alarmingly fast and that this trend is set to continue, unless the problem of "global warming" is comprehensively and urgently addressed.
The analysis of more than 386,000 earthquakes between 1973 and 2007 recorded on the US Geological Survey database proved that the global annual energy of earthquakes on Earth began increasing very fast since 1990.
Dr. [Tom] Chalko said that global seismic activity was increasing faster than any other global warming indicator on Earth and that this increase is extremely alarming.
Today Democratic presumptive nominee Barack Obama issued a statement that he will forego the public financing system for the general election. His announcement goes back on a pledge to use public financing if the Republican candidate would do the same.
All three broadcast networks' Web sites have the story, but only ABCNews.com noted in its front page tease that Obama is going back on a previous campaign promise.
I noticed this photo accompanying an unrelated and relatively straightforward AP story at MSNBC.com about Barack Obama's electoral strategy. As you can see, it falls into the Obama-as-messiah mold, albeit a little more subliminal and requiring more biblical literacy than previous still shots:
Photo by Alex Brandon/AP. Caption: "Sen. Barack Obama walks to the pulpit to speak at the Apostolic Church of God service about fatherhood in Chicago on Sunday."
As you can see from the photo, the background is a brick wall with the text "Jesus Christ Is Lord" emblazoned beneath a depiction of a descending dove. Depicting Obama beneath it evokes to the biblically literate reader the account of the descent of the Holy Spirit as a dove upon Jesus after his baptism, as recorded in all four gospel accounts.
MSNBC has been criticized as being in the tank for Barack Obama. And so today, when the Obama campaign launched its own rumor-squelching website, MSNBC was all-too-eager to promote the site through several news bits.
But there was just one problem. For a time this afternoon, MSNBC mistakenly promoted a prank site (UPDATE: site has since been pulled and url removed from this post), as opposed to the actual Obama site http://fightthesmears.com.
While the Obama site denies and denounces the viral internet rumors, the gag site satirically perpetuates and builds upon them! Fair warning: the gag site deserves a bad taste alert.
Identity theft, defrauding the federal government, and illegal immigration are serious criminal matters.
But if you're the Web editor for MSNBC.com, stolen Social Security numbers are merely "shared" with "undocumented workers" stuck in a web of "federal employment laws."
From the subheadline for the front page tease to the May 27 edition of "Red Tape Chronicles" (see screencap above at right):
Millions of Americans find themselves sharing Social Security identies with others, mostly undocumented workers looking to get around federal employment laws.
Of course, you're lucky if just one person is "sharing" your Social Security Number (SSN). MSNBC.com blogger Bob Sullivan noted one Chicago woman who had 37 other people fraudulently claiming her number. Yet at no point in his 33-paragraph post did Sullivan describe the claiming of other people's SSNs as "fraud." What's more, Sullivan turned to an "immigration rights advocate" who painted the illegal immigrant fraudsters themselves as victims:
Poor teaser headline selection by MSNBC.com? I report, you decide.
At right is a screencap of a teaser headline from the Web site about U.S. humanitarian aid reaching Myanmar Burma. As the AP story linked makes clear, the fault for the delay in the aid's arrival is that of the military dictatorship, not any incompetence or lack of concern by Washington.
Yet the teaser headline reads: "First U.S. aid plane lands in Myanmar; UPDATED: Relief comes more than week after cyclone."
The same headline and subhead are found on the AP article as found when readers follow the link. The AP story itself makes clear the Burmese government has and continues to be an obstacle to reaching devastated Burmese civilians with much needed food and medical relief:
"Phil Donahue, 'Body of War' battle to get into theaters Former talk show host makes truth his mission, now on other side of the camera"
The headline would have been more accurate had it allowed that Donahue makes his truth his mission. An example of the truth, Donahue-style, included in the Tribune's story: "He's (Donahue) convinced the anti-war tone of his MSNBC talk show, which aired for a little more than six months, contributed to its demise."
The contention that Phil's MSNBC program was dropped unfairly is a popular theme with him. In the November 1, 2006 Fairfield (CT) Citizen News, Donahue is quoted: "We were canceled because of my political posture; my stance against the war. Our ratings entitled us to be nurtured not canceled."
Just needed a little nurturing, heh, Phil? How much nurturing is necessary when a show draws, as Donahue's did on at least one occasion, a puny 0.1 rating, an indicator that only 137,000 households are watching? How much nurturing is required when you're getting clobbered in the ratings by CNN's "Connie Chung Tonight"?
As reported earlier by Noel Sheppard, the drive-by media that previously downplayed Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos has changed it's tune now that Barack Obama's campaign is blaming the Limbaugh effect for keeping Hillary Clinton in the race.
Too bad for Keith Olberman and MSNBC because they apparently missed the memo; instead choosing to do a segment refuting the effect altogether. Last night Olbermann openly mocked Rush Limbaugh alongside his sidekick Chris Matthews who was honking in the background with giddy joy at the prospect of Limbaugh's failure. (video at Webloggin)
A 15-year-old British girl named Camilla Hempleman-Adams is being hailed as a "hero" for trekking across the ice floes of the North Pole to become one of the youngest women to explore the frozen world of the penguin... well, at least as far as MSNBC is concerned. In their report on the feat of endurance, MSNBC had a shot (about a minute into the video) of penguins on an ice floe. Only one little problem: penguins don't live at the North Pole. Oopsie.
So, the question remains; if these people can't even get a simple fact like that correct, how can we believe them that global warming is destroying the world? If they don't even know where the penguin lives, how can we believe their "science" that states the world is doomed with global warming?
On the heels of accusations that the media exploited the death of 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, now there are cries that NBC didn't spend enough time on Eight Belles' death. After her second-place finish in Saturday's Derby, the three-year-old filly snapped both ankles and was euthanized by a vet on the track.
Since Eight Belles' death was near the end of the “nearly three hours of coverage,” why is Hochberger penalizing NBC for not having a time machine and ignoring it earlier?
It didn't satisfy Hochberger that NBC refused to speculate and reported only when they knew the facts. She seemed to want the wall-to-wall guesswork reporting one finds with the “baby stuck in a well” crisis journalism where a network trains the camera on “breaking news” and continuously chatters about what might be happening, regardless of how much they know (all bold mine):
Last Wednesday, ABC's "World News with Charles Gibson" exposed a serious flaw in a television advertisement Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is running in Indiana (video embedded right, h/t Gateway Pundit).
In fact, Indiana newspapers began pointing out the former first lady's mistake almost three weeks ago after she spoke at a school in that state.
Yet, according to LexisNexis, no other television network felt this issue deserved any coverage, nor did many major newspapers outside of Indiana.
Wall Street saw a 391-point rally on the Dow today, the first day of the second quarter. ABCNews.com saw the development worthy of a "Breaking News" tag towards the top of its Web page and put the story in the top headlines rotation.
But it appears that ABCNews.com was alone among its competitors in trumpeting the news. I checked numerous Web sites shortly after 5:30 and found ABC's to be the only one to give the rally top billing. [see the screencaps below the page break]
Update at bottom of post: Williams responds (18:24 EDT)
I have to hand it to the AP this time. They actually noted the political party affiliation of another Democrat in legal hot water. So did CNN.com and Reuters.
But for some reason, MSNBC's Pete Williams left out the party affiliation of Louisiana's Rep. William Jefferson (D) in this March 31 item at the First Read blog:
In something of a surprise, the U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear an appeal involving the FBI's unprecedented search of the Capitol Hill offices of Congressman William Jefferson.
A federal appeals court ruled that the FBI wrongly used its own agents look through the material seized to determine what might be covered by congressional privilege. This is a considerable victory for Jefferson, largely validating his objections to the search and giving him certain bragging rights. But prosecutors claim they have sufficient evidence independent of the search. The cash in his freezer, for example, was found well before Jefferson's offices were searched.
It is so easy to get sucked in by context-free negativity, isn't it?
If you looked at the home page of the New York Times a couple of hours ago, these items you would have among those seen in the (appropriately) far-left column:
In This Shiite Battle, a Marked Shift From the Past (article link)
Shiite Militias Cling to Swaths of Basra and Stage Raids (article link)
Top-of-hour network radio reports in the past few days, including Fox's, have also "successfully" left the impression that there has been serious decay in the Iraq situation. Who could blame the average person reader/listener for believing that?
Al Gore has made a lot of money and publicity with his crusade against global warming. I have written in the past how this whole crusade seems to be based on a Big Lie, and its real purpose appears more intended to get global government so the rest of the world (ie. the United Nations) can gain control over the United States' many assets without having to go through the awkward exercise of actually getting a their authority recognized by the US Congress.
However, there has been a backlash against the Gore Warming crusade (fueled partly by Gore's own hypocrisy in using large motorcades, private jets and his lavish lifestyle- none of which are designed to show others that he is serious about the entire issue. Not that the press has bothered to do any real reporting- they have fallen in line with Gore's crusade lock, stock and barrel- refusing to report on critics and making statements equating said critics with Nazis and other undesirables. However, the evidence is mounting that Gore and his global warming friends are no more accurate in their claims than Newsweek was in its new ice age campaign in the 1970s.
A few days before Eliot Spitzer went down in flames, a highly-connected Barack Obama* [Update: Kilpatrick has not committed to Obama] superdelegate was mired in accusations of corruption, bid-rigging and a dead-stripper sex scandal. Usually the media love to report the downfall of party bigwigs, but not in the case of Detroit's youngest mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Much of the media downplayed the mayor's scandals and did not report his party, let alone his status as a Democratic power player who can influence the election.
Kwame, who is the son of Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI), is not just any mayor. He was a Democratic rising star, who spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and is the superdelegate to the 2008 convention thanks to his position as Vice President of the Conference of Democratic Mayors.
But now “The First Hip Hop Mayor” is in serious trouble, with members of the city council calling for his resignation. Controversy has engulfed his two terms, and the latest bout involves a report that his wife assaulted a now-dead stripper whose shooting is still unsolved. At the same time, the mayor's longtime pal Bobby Ferguson won at least $45 million in city contracts while reportedly receiving inside information from Kilpatrick and his chief of staff.
"Bush allows Navy to use sonar in whale areas," blares the headline to an AP story on MSNBC.com about President Bush granting the Navy the right to continue to test mid-frequency active sonar in coastal waters despite a federal court judge's order for the Navy to stop.
"Judge had earlier ordered 12-mile no-sonar zone off California," reads the subhead.
Gee, I wasn't aware that whales had legal claims on U.S. coastal waters, let alone that they are considered "whale areas."
The issue at hand is whether environmental laws can and should be shelved from time to time for national security exemptions, and if the president can make that determination as commander-in-chief. So why not a headline that's more straightforward?
"Bush allows Navy to use sonar in coastal waters. Decision challenges court ruling aimed at protecting whales."
Once again, the news media is trying to create reality instead of merely reporting on it. In this case, we have MSNBC trying to create a McCain-Lieberman ticket out of whole cloth with wild speculation not born of any real life news. What we end up with here isn't any sort of journalism, but a wish list based only on the author's desires and not any reading of reality. This fantasy does, however, fit in quite well with the media's love of John McCain and his "gutsy" positions and their desires to override what Republicans want to instead have McCain anointed by the media as the GOP standard bearer.
I have an idea and I know that it's a novel idea in most "journalist's" circles. Let's let Republicans decide who they want. The media should just report the matter not try to influence it. But, that advice aside, MSNBC's Tom Curry floats his dream ticket anyway...
Quoth Wes Craven: NevermoreMessage for Chris Matthews: Hollywood 1984 called, and it wants its sweater back.
On location today in Hanover, New Hampshire, Matthews climbed out of the Wardrobe Wayback Machine - Slasher Flick Edition sporting a Halloween-shaded version of Freddy Krueger's trademark "A Nightmare on Elm Street" pull-over.
During a question and answer session with about 100 people in attendance (in a town of only 1,374 people), John Edwards handled quite well a very unusual question.
An elderly man told Edwards that “something has been sticking in my craw” and explained that “a certain fella committed two murders in California and the jury found him not guilty. And all they said was, ‘It’s payback time.’ How are you going to have that come out in this election to combat one of your competitors?”
Edwards seemed puzzled, as most people in the audience seemed to be.
“The black jury in Los Angeles, the reason they found O.J. not guilty was ‘payback,’” the older gent explained.
“Payback for what?” Edwards asked.
For mistreatment by white America, the man said.
“What do you want the president to do about that?” Edwards asked.
“How are you going to get that brought out in your campaign? Will the same thing happen? If he should become elected, you think Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Oprah Winfrey are going to let him forget about that and their obligation?” the man said, not identifying who he meant by “he” and “him.”
“I’m still not sure what it is that you’re asking,” Edwards said, a bit uneasily.
“Obama,” the man said, “has never said anything about payback for the problems the blacks have had getting their foothold in society.”
MSNBC's Tom Curry writes that it wasn't totally clear "but the man seemed to want Barack Obama to denounce the 'not guilty' verdict in Simpson’s 1995 trial." But the money quote, as they say, comes when Curry offers this:
Hillary Clinton fundraiser Norman Hsu was indicted earlier today in a $20 million Ponzi scheme. I received a text message e-mail alert to this effect shortly after 1:30 p.m. Eastern. Given the heated lead-up to Iowa and New Hampshire, it's major news. In a 24/7 media cycle, it's inconceivable that it major news organization Web sites could not or would not give it top billing shortly after the news broke.
Yet at 3 p.m. today, a review of some major media Web sites showed no prominence given to the story. MSNBC.com didn't have a teaser headline for it until its "local news" box for WNBC, the NBC network's East Coast flagship in New York City:
Fox News, by contrast, had this tease prominently displayed on it's front page:
In the past couple of days, you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting an hysterical press report concerning an excerpt of former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's soon to be released book seemingly implicating President George W. Bush in lying about the Valerie Plame Wilson affair.
Those guilty of premature emasculation will likely be distraught over statements by the book's publisher indicating the media overreacted to the 121 words posted at Public Affairs Books.com Monday which were part of a marketing campaign to rollout upcoming spring printings.