"Was Santorum Right About Polygamy?" asked a teaser headline on the Daily Beast's website this morning. "The Republican was once savaged for suggesting polygamy could become legal if the Supreme Court killed anti-sodomy laws. Now a judge has ruled against Utah's anti-polygamy statute," noted the teaser caption.
In the story itself, Daily Beast staffer Justin Miller answered the question in the negative, but did note that the court ruling in question did draw from the Supreme Court sodomy law case Lawrence v. Texas and that there's a strong political validation to the slippery slope argument from developments like these (emphases mine):
Just when I complimented my friends at The Salt Lake Tribune for being authentic for owning the cause of anything other than Mormon and Republican in Utah, they have to go and act like their journalistic editorial standards trump their politics – which is, of course, nonsense.
When the Media Research Center in Washington, D.C., cited dozens of reports and editorials issued by the Tribune painting Utah Senator Mike Lee negatively throughout the drama over the shutdown of the federal government, the Tribune balked.
Armed with evidence compiled by NewsBusters senior editor and Media Research Center director of research Rich Noyes, MRC president Brent Bozell sent letters to members of the boards of directors of two prominent newspapers in Utah, demanding that they offer their readers fair and balanced coverage of U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R). You may recall that both the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News savaged the Tea Party conservative senator for his attempt to defund ObamaCare.
"Your paper can no longer claim that Sen. Lee’s strategy was out of proportion or radical," Bozell wrote Ellis Ivory, chairman of the board of directors for the Deseret News Publishing Company. "Already the nation is seeing ObamaCare for the disaster that it is" with "more than 3.5 million... losing existing health insurance plans as a result of ObamaCare," the MRC founder noted, adding:
On Wednesday, the Media Research Center released a new analysis demonstrating that Utah’s largest newspapers leveled a deliberate, relentlessly hostile attack on Sen. Mike Lee for his anti-ObamaCare stance before, during, and after the government shutdown that began in October.
MRC’s Rich Noyes wrote that by a staggering margin of 33-to-1, editorial opinion at Utah’s two largest newspapers – the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News – was harshly against the strategy of linking ObamaCare’s fate to the shutdown. Coverage in the news pages was scarcely more balanced, with 32 news stories tilting against the conservative strategy versus just three in favor. MRC president Brent Bozell insisted that these two newspapers owe Sen. Lee a sincere apology after the Obamacare rollout fiasco:
Since the end of the partial government shutdown last month, national newspapers have zeroed in on conservative Utah Senator Mike Lee as a potential political casualty due to his leadership in developing the strategy of using the federal government’s October 1 funding deadline as a way to stop ObamaCare. “After a 16-day government shutdown, it’s Lee who faces a revolt within his own party,” the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker declared in an October 23 front-page story.
But for a statewide politician like Mike Lee (who doesn’t face the voters again until 2016), the reviews that truly matter are those of his home state’s media. Thus, Media Research Center analysts reviewed coverage from Utah’s two largest newspapers, the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News, analyzing all 116 news stories, editorials and opinion columns that talked about Lee’s role in the shutdown. Our study included all stories from September 17 through October 31 — a period beginning two weeks before the start of the shutdown and ending two weeks after the shutdown concluded. [Full results after the jump.]
Drifting around the dial this morning, I happened on MSNBC's Weekends With Alex Witt. Within minutes, I was stunned by two Witt whiffs, to wit:
1. Criticizing the Tea Party's lack of "diverse thinking," she asked Joe Scarborough "how much has the Tea Party damaged the Republican party?" Joe gently explained that far from damaging the GOP, the Tea Party propelled it to historic landslide victories in 2010. 2. Witt later cast the Salt Lake Tribune's recent endorsement of Barack Obama as a "surprise," ignoring the fact that in 2008, the Salt Lake Tribune endorsed . . . Barack Obama. View the video after the jump.
He is a Republican and a Mormon. He opposes abortion. Mark L. Shurtleff, the attorney general of Utah, also rejects President Obama’s health care law as an assault on states’ rights and he went to Washington last week to urge the Supreme Court to throw it out.
“Fear Factor,” Diane Sawyer teased at the top of Thursday's World News in picking up a cause-celebre of the left, demanding: “Who leaked a list of people labeled illegal immigrants, naming children and pregnant women? Are these vigilantes at work?” She soon intoned that “an investigation is under way into what's being called 'The List' – thirteen hundred names leaked in an apparent campaign of intimidation.”
Reporter David Wright relayed how “we called at least fifty people on the list. Most of them declined to be interviewed,” but “one woman,” an apparent serial offender, “told us she's pregnant with her second child. She's scared she'll be deported and separated from her two-year old, a U.S. citizen.” He proceeded to another supposed victim: “Alma is on the list, and afraid.”
Wright reported “one common denominator -- they all sought help from Utah's Department of Workforce Services,” meaning they are illegals who sought pay-outs to which they are not entitled . “Plenty of Utah residents feel it's high time authorities cracked down,” Wright acknowledged, but after a soundbite from an outraged leftist advocate the ABC correspondent ran stock footage of a man with a gun as he ominously concluded:
The fear in Utah: the vigilantes may take action themselves, just as they did by circulating the list in the first place.
Liberals in the media frequently paint conservatives and Tea Party activists as pushing the GOP too far to the right to be electable in general elections. But the same complaint isn't repeated on an endless loop when it comes to leftist activists challenging more centrist Democratic incumbents in primary contests.
In fact, in some of those occasions, the media find a way to cast aspersions on Republicans.
Take, for instance, a June 22 story on Newsweek.com, the headline for which posed the question, "Will Utah Republicans Play Dirty Today?" Writer McKay Coppins explained how one Republican state lawmaker had suggested that the party faithful in the state's 2nd Congressional District should take advantage of the Democrats' open primary system to cast votes for Claudia Wright, a liberal insurgent challenging Rep. Jim Matheson (D), rather than weighing in on the GOP primary contest.
Although he noted that historically such tactical voting hasn't been successful and that state Republican officials have officially "denounced the plan," Coppins explained that the local media have become fixated on the notion and at least one radio host has described the crossover voting idea as "sleazy":
Republicans are likely to go with Tampa, Florida, as the venue for their 2012 presidential nominating convention in part because evangelicals hate Mormons. That's the gospel truth, at least according to Chris Matthews, who yesterday went on a loopy rant that was pure bluster and completely unsubstantiated in its assertions.
[MP3 audio available here; click play on the embedded video at right for video]
Matthews informed viewers that an RNC selection committee had submitted its recommendation of Tampa -- the RNC still has to give its formal approval -- over other finalists Phoenix, Arizona, and Salt Lake City, Utah. The "Hardball" host than gave his theory behind why the latter two cities were rejected, failing, of course, to cite any sources nor to add the caveat that this was purely his own speculation.
“This is a damn outrage,” a disgusted David Brooks, the faux conservative columnist for the New York Times, declared on Sunday’s Meet the Press reacting to Republican Senator Bob Bennett’s loss Saturday at Utah’s Republican convention which chose two others to compete in a June primary for the seat. Brooks fretted he was punished for being “a good conservative who was trying to get things done” by “bravely” working with Democrats on health care and supporting TARP. “Now,” he repeated, “he's losing his career over that. And it's just a damn outrage.”
Sitting beside Brooks on NBC’s roundtable, liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr,. a former New York Times correspondent, saw “almost a non-violent coup because they denied the sitting Senator even a chance of getting on the primary ballot.”
Over on Fox News Sunday, NPR’s Juan Williams expressed exasperation: “This is evidence of how the American political center is losing, on the right wing of the party a guy like Bob Bennett, who is a right-wing conservative, is being driven out because he’s not sufficiently conservative?”
ABC’s Jake Tapper brought Rudy Giuliani aboard This Week to address the handling of the Times Square botched bomber, but wouldn’t let him go before bringing up Bennett’s defeat as proof of an intolerant GOP: “Are you worried at all that the Republican Party is not only growing more hostile to more liberal to moderate Republicans such as yourself, but also conservative Republicans who are shown to, at least shown an ability to work with Democrats?”
Uncovering secret moderation among Western conservative yokels in the age of Obama is becoming a specialty of the New York Times's Western-based reporter Kirk Johnson. On Inauguration Day, Johnson wrote in condescending fashion about the "orderly phalanx marching behind Mr. McCain" in Oklahoma, which had the bad taste to give McCain his largest margin of victory in any state.
This Saturday, he profiled Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. in the negatively headlined "G.O.P. Governor Challenges Utah's Conservative Verities." The text box reads: "The governor breaks with conservative orthodoxy and is still popular." Basically, Johnson sees the death of conservatism in the repeal of Utah's one-of-a-kind liquor laws. Until last week, the state required patrons to purchase a membership in a bar's "private club" before they could have a drink.
Among Utah Republicans, who hold every statewide elected office and more than two-thirds of the State Legislature, Hamlet-like quests for purpose and direction are hardly the norm.
But the norms are dead for Republicans here, something that was in plain view this week as lawmakers overhauled the state's formerly untouchable liquor law at the urging of Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.
The debate was about scrapping the state's one-of-a-kind system of regulating bars and restaurants in a bid to boost the economy. But bound up in it was a profound, ongoing dialog, led by Mr. Huntsman, about what the Republican Party should be about and who should lead it.
John Hollenhorst, reporter for KSL TV in Salt Lake City, Utah, wants you to forget about all those gosh darn Internet rumors. In fact, forget the Internet altogether and just rely on the "established news organizations" to tell you what is what. After all, it's just too darn hard for the common folks to figure it all out. Alarmingly the "21st Century is putting a higher responsibility on voters to seek out the truth and ignore the ridiculous." Imagine? Requiring citizens to go to all the trouble of actually seeking out the truth and learning about what a candidate really stands for? What a bother.
But, reporter Hollenhorst and his "expert" have the solution: Don't bother and just make the Old Media your source for news. After all, the Old Media is the only one to be believed because they've got "the greatest credibility." Right Dan Rather?
One thing the ongoing feud between MSNBC's Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann has demonstrated that politics can get very personal. Both anchors are very committed Democrats yet seem to despise each other.
A similar case of the personal becoming political appears to have occured in my birth state of Utah where the Salt Lake-based Deseret Morning News is being accused of mounting a petty feud against Utah Republican legislators.
It all began earlier this summer when the News, along with its rival the Salt Lake Tribune, filed an official information request on an unrelated story. Unfortunately for the News, its request was overly narrow and did not yield the information it had desired.
Alert Michael Moore! Both he and the World Health Organization say France has the best health care system in the world, and America's system is barely better than Slovenia's. However, French professor Alice Teil not only said the French system is “not sustainable anymore,” but copying parts of America's could save it.
Teil turned to a privately-owned hospital in Utah after a survey of international health care experts ranked Salt Lake City's Intermountain Health Care the number one hospital in the world. You would think that a media so hyper-worried about the “broken” US health care system would report the encouraging news, but other than some bare bones local coverage, this story was ignored.
Maybe it was ignored because Teil's startling description of France's situation did not match the media's typical positive depiction of “free” health care. The earliest online report of Teil's trip was a brief August 22 article posted on Salt Lake City radio station KCPW's website, and it did not stick to the usual MSM script (bold mine throughout):
"It's true we really have good access, but what if the system is not sustainable anymore?" says Teil. "It's going to break. It's going to blow. And then no more accessibility for anybody."