Once upon a time, Editor and Publisher, as "America’s Oldest Journal Covering the Newspaper Industry," had a certain degree of respectability. These days, conspiratorial speculation and advocacy are every bit as important as fact, and the byline "By E&P Staff" means that anything to follow needs to be parsed very carefully to distill facts from wishful, often overtly partisan projection. A prime example of this concerns this August 6, 2001 AP Photo as seen in this MSNBC article.
On its front page Tuesday, The New York Times published a photo of new U.S. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers going over a briefing paper with President George W. Bush at his Crawford ranch "in August 2001," the caption reads. USA Today and the Boston Globe carried the photo labeled simply "2001," but many other newspapers ran the picture in print or on the Web with a more precise date: Aug. 6, 2001.
The Associated Press published an article today about Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb’s new album, with much focus given to one song that contains an anti-war theme, as well as Streisand’s political leanings:
“Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb hadn't worked together in 25 years. But Gibb still knew the best way to express what Streisand was thinking -- especially when it came to the war in Iraq.”
“‘I loved the first stanza, because to me this war is kind of senseless, and I don't know why we're there,’ Streisand told The Associated Press.”
The print media is set to have a field day with William Bennett's comments regarding an outlandish book. (Touched on earlier on Newsbusters by Brent Baker and Dave Pierre.)
Reuters leads off with: "The White House on Friday criticized as 'not appropriate' a comment from former Education Secretary William Bennett that aborting black babies would reduce the U.S. crime rate."
ABC News (running an AP article), leads off with the title: Bennett: Black Abortions Would Lower Crime."
Harlingen, Texas, September 30, 2005: By now it must be clear to those who follow political events that all factions liberal are chanting a new mantra. You can hear the words over and over again by any champion of the Left who has entry to print media, appears on television or moves in front of a radio microphone…”The Republicans are corrupt.” “The Republicans are criminal.” “The Republicans are in decline.” “The Republicans have failed the American public.”
There are other verses to the same song. Some of them speak to the dropping poll numbers of the President. Some address the poor choice of governmental appointments. Others point out the legal entanglements of conservative congressional leaders. In point of fact, the words don’t really matter as long as liberal elements in our society can continue painting their opposition as failing and falling into steep decline. To achieve this objective, a biased media appears to be a willing accomplice and ready to use any opportunity, no matter how distant, to continue the drum beat of doom.
Shortly after yesterday’s announcement of Rep. Tom DeLay’s (R-Tex) indictment for alleged campaign finance violations, the mainstream media began doing reports on the subject with largely similar content. A memo written by Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean posted at the Democratic Party’s website almost immediately after the announcement was made contained virtually the same “hotbuttons” as those subsequently raised in media accounts of the story.
What follows is a copy of that memo, along with comparisons to what has since been reported by leading media outlets on this subject:
The drumbeat has been steady since Hurricane Katrina ripped its path of destruction throughout the Gulf Coast and flooded New Orleans. As bannered by the media, nature’s wrath is secondary. What really caused the devastation was America’s racism.
Reporters and broadcasters have sought out personalities such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Julian Bond and other left-leaning black activists who have been more than willing to advance the charge of racism.
Even more disconcerting is a positive story of kindness that is wrapped in the hate actions of past years.
It his attempt to portray continuing racism in the United States, Todd Lewan of the Associated Press filed a story September 26, 2005 headlined “Town once plagued by racism gets 2nd chance”.
In reporting on a Chinese company marketing condoms under the brand names Clinton and Lewinsky, USA Today notes that Clinton "was accused of having a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern."
Clinton himself ultimately admitted he "did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong." Moreover, a Federal judge fined Clinton more than $90,000 for providing ""false, misleading and evasive answers" about his relationship with Lewinsky.
No, Clinton was not just "accused" of intimacy with a White House intern. Simple justice requires an accurate account of what he did.
It has often been noted, throughout history, that one of the problems of unsuccessful leaders is that they spend time fighting the last war, instead of the next one. The US media has been as guilty of that as any group ever in their coverage of Iraq, being determined since day 1 to fit it into the Vietnam template of unnecessary and unpopular war, led by incompetent dishonest leaders, resulting in a quagmire. Every piece of news gets run through that Vietnam filter (which is why we see quotes from the people doing the work over there saying that "if I got my news from the newspapers also I'd be pretty depressed as well!")
Well, the Associated Press is at it again (Bush's Words on Iraq Echo LBJ in 1967). And they've dropped any pretense to subtlety. Apparently concerned that all of the Vietnam talk, all of the quagmire speak for the last three years hasn't made it clear for the people to understand, the AP has decided that it's time to run a news story explaining to everyone why Iraq is Vietnam, and why Bush is LBJ, a President who became so unpopular that he failed to even run for re-election. Almost two months ago, the President made a fairly generic comment, of a sort that he's made repeatedly over the past 3 years, that "we will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq." Last night, someone at the AP finally discovered that, hey! Lyndon Johnson said something like that in 1967!
In a possible foreshadowing of what we can expect in the next few days, the Associated Press suggested that there is a political motive behind the massive mobilization occuring in Texas ahead of the imminent arrival of Hurricane Rita:
“Eager to avoid the public pounding he got for his response to Hurricane Katrina, President Bush pledged on Wednesday to be "ready for the worst" as another big hurricane headed for the Gulf Coast.”
Although the article is titled “Administration Prepares for Rita,” the AP spent a lot of time talking about the politics of Hurricane Katrina:
The AP is constructing bad news for the President (Katrina Adds to Public Doubts About Bush). Again. And to do it, they're using a skewed sample poll, and then misrepresenting what it says. The latest AP-Ipsos poll is what they're reporting on. Once again, they've got a sample of adults, and it is signficantly skewed, with 49 percent Democrats and 41 percent Republicans. And they use that skewed sample as a hammer to hit the President, even if it isn't justified by the actual results.
An AP-Ipsos poll shows a sharp increase since the storm in the percentage of people who are most worried about the economy.
Of course it does. Let's stop, for just a moment, and consider what was happening in the media in this country before Katrina hit. Every day, in every outlet, it was all Iraq, all the time. As soon as the storm went through, and the refineries and supply lines went down, the story changed to Katrina and the rising gas prices, and the devastating economic impact. The fact that there's been a sharp increase in people being most concerned about the economy says nothing about George W. Bush.
With the all-but-corporate death of the UPI, the AP is the main American source for news in the United States. Associated Press articles are mindlessly quoted by newspapers across the nation. Many local radio and TV stations rip and read either directly from the AP, or indirectly from local newspapers which use the AP.
Therefore, it’s reprehensible that the AP, three weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit, has not found out that there WAS an Evacuation Plan for New Orleans and southern Louisiana which was not followed. The Plan is on the Internet and available to anyone who can push a few buttons.
Yet here is the lede of an AP story today (17 September) by Rita Beamish:
“As far back as eight years ago, Congress ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to develop a plan for evacuating New Orleans during a massive hurricane, but the money instead went to studying the causeway bridge that spans the city's Lake Pontchartrain, officials say.”
As reported here yesterday by the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker, Dean Reynolds of ABC News had a hard time Thursday evening finding people who didn’t like President Bush’s address to the nation concerning Hurricane Katrina. Oddly, the Associated Press’s Angie Wagner didn’t have such difficulties. Of course, the AP went to seven different states to ensure they got the answers they were were looking for:
“‘He had no intention of coming to help us,’ said Samuel Lewis, 31, an evacuee who watched the speech in a Houston shelter. ‘He should have been there 24 hours after. He is telling me he is going to rebuild my city. Still, when I go back home, you are going to rebuild my city, but what about all the stuff I lost? What about jobs?’"
“‘A day late and a dollar short,’ said 18-year-old Wayne State University student Rachel Aviles in Detroit. ‘I think he's more responding to the negative media than responding to fix the problem.’"
Following President Bush's Tuesday news conference in which he took responsibility for federal mistakes following the Hurricane Katrina disaster, some news organizations left out the word federal in their reportage, creating the possible impression that Bush had shouldered blame for state and local failures.
National Review’s Stephen Spruiell noticed this later in the day when he spotted a CBSNews.com story which left out the federal. He blogged on it Tuesday and again yesterday after CBS News acknowledged the problem, albeit only on its blog and not in the story itself.
"We could have been more clear higher up in the piece, adding the word federal before government," CBSNews.com director of news and operations Michael Sims is quoted as saying.
He's right, of course, but this episode raises a question about the CBS editorial process since the web story has yet to be fixed (as of this writing), despite the fact that the AP story on which the CBS page was based was changed later in the day. Click here for the first version of the AP report, and here for the revised edition which corrects the record.
Some good economic news was released by the Labor Department today. However, if you rely on the AP as your source for such things, you’d never know it:
“Surging costs for gasoline and other energy products fueled inflation at the wholesale level in August, pressure that is expected to become even more intense once the full impact of Hurricane Katrina is felt.
“The Labor Department said its Producer Price Index, which measures inflation before it reaches the consumer, jumped a sharp 0.6 percent in August following an even bigger 1 percent increase in July.”
Curiously, this AP reporter felt that it was unnecessary to inform the reader that this inflation figure was less than expected, and signaled to Wall Street that prior to the advent of Katrina, rising fuel prices have not dramatically impacted our economy. Here’s how Bloomberg reported the same data:
Seeking to extol the virtues of ‘diversity’ and bemoan the lack of same on campus, Michelle Locke of the Associated Press gives us a story titled, “Blacks Still a Minority at UC Berkeley.” She writes:
This fall's incoming class of 4,000 students at the University of California, Berkeley is expected to include just 129 black freshmen, a disturbing trend to leaders of the socially progressive and academically elite school.
The piece then goes on to discuss not only the lack of black freshmen (about three percent), but also Hispanics:
In a new low, the Associated Press has dealt another race card from the bottom of the deck. In a slanted piece called, “Katrina, Aftermath Galvanize Black America,” author Jesse Washington includes quotes from the inane:
"I've seen black folk come together around any number of issues. It's usually either a head or a heart issue," [PBS host] Tavis Smiley said. "For example, we came together after the election of 2000, when Bush essentially stole the election. That was a head issue. People were mad. Other issues hit our hearts; O.J. Simpson comes to mind."
To the insane:
"You'd have to go back to slavery, or the burning of black towns, to find a comparable event that has affected black people this way," said Darnell M. Hunt, a sociologist and head of the African American studies department at UCLA.
A couple of weeks ago, I addressed a piece from the AP's Jennifer Loven. Loven, the wife of a former Clinton administration environmental official, found it necessary to write, as gasoline prices were rising, about how George W. Bush was probably the greatest consumer of gasoline. Well, after almost two weeks of absolutely relentless criticism of the President for not taking Katrina seriously, the AP has run a Loven article today (Many Chiefs in White House Recovery Effort) which criticizes the President for having his administration focused on the Hurricane relief effort.
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died late Saturday evening. As reported by Gina Holland of AP:
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died Saturday evening of cancer, ending a remarkable 33-year tenure on the Supreme Court and creating a rare second vacancy on the nation's highest court.
Rehnquist, 80, was surrounded by his three children when he died at his home in suburban Arlington.
Sadly, the AP couldn’t wait to remind its readers of Mr. Rehnquist’s political leanings, his involvement in the Florida Recount Debacle, or that this will likely impact the upcoming hearings for the appointment of John Roberts to replace the recently retired Sandra Day O’Connor:
The AP's Ron Fournier has got another news analysis piece up (Newsview: Rhetoric Not Matching Reality) that is filled with negative spin on President Bush. But he's gone a little bit further this time, as he's using several "facts" that are not, in fact, facts.
"On Iraq alone, the rhetoric has repeatedly fallen far short of reality. Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. " While it is certainly true that we never found the stockpiles that we - and everyone else - expected to be there, the WMD argument for going into Iraq was by no means invalidated. The final report of the Iraq Survey Group concluded that "Saddam wanted to recreate Iraq’s WMD capability...after sanctions were removed and Iraq’s economy stabilized...Saddam aspired to develop a nuclear capability...but he intended to focus on ballistic missile and tactical chemical warfare (CW) capabilities."
"The mission wasn't accomplished in May 2003." The President didn't say that it was. That banner was the work of the crew of the USS Abraham Lincoln, whose mission was over as they were headed home. The President said that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended," which was true as there was no army left to fight against. The fact that there's been a terrorist campaign inside the country since then doesn't make the statement false.
"Most allies avoided the hard work of his 'coalition of the willing.'" The fact that France and Germany and Russia didn't help doesn't mean that there wasn't a coalition, or that they weren't willing. Ron Fournier may not approve of the coalition, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't there.
"Bush's spokesman said anybody involved in leaking the identity of a CIA agent would be fired, but no action has been taken against officials accused of doing so." Where to start on this one? OK, in the first place, Bush said that anyone found to have "violated law" in releasing the name would be "taken care of." Secondly, no one in the administration has yet been found to have "leaked" the name anyway.
He threw these things out as examples of the "shady art" of "spin" that "the Bush White House has perfected." The context was the President's comments on the Hurricane.
This is what the president had to say about the relief effort earlier in the week: _"There's a lot of food on its way, a lot of water on the way, and there's a lot of boats and choppers headed that way." _"Thousands have been rescued. There's thousands more to be rescued. And there's a lot of people focusing their efforts on that." _"As we speak, people are moving into New Orleans area to maintain law and order."
Nothing is soon enough for the people suffering, but does anyone think that there's anything false, in any way, about any one of those comments? Of course not. The first few days for a catastrophe like just happened are inevitably going to have people that don't get as much help as they need as soon as they need it. It takes time to mass force in the right place, to open roads that are blocked, to route around flooded areas. I don't know that the third statement was strictly true, because I'm not sure when he said it or what was happening at the time, but the first two are indisputable. They aren't "spin," they're facts. Which Fournier seems to have some trouble recognizing...
Our friends over at the AP who never tire of using any excuse to Bush-bash are at it again in style.
In another of their rollicking “Newsviews,” Ron Fournier shouts, “Rhetoric Not Matching Relief.” Already implying that the nation is fingering Bush for the pain, suffering and death in New Orleans, Fournier goes on to accuse him of far worse:
Bush got himself in trouble by trying to put the best face on a horrible situation. The strategy is so common in Washington that operatives have a name for it, "spin," and the Bush White House has perfected the shady art.
The Associated Press posted an article by Barry Schweid detailing hurricane relief aid being sent by a number of other countries. In the process the writer just couldn't help taking a cheap shot at U.S. generosity, which has pumped billions of dollars in foreign aid to others in need. First there was this line which followed a paragraph about Japan's contributions to the disaster relief:
The United States historically has aided victims of disasters, but it is not universally recognized as providing the level of aid expected of a rich nation.
Then, a couple of paragraphs later we have another comment about American aid:
The United States, the world's largest economy, lags behind other rich nations in the percentage of its giving to nations in Africa, the world's poorest continent.
The AP is running yet another piece in which the White House is being blamed for the disaster that is New Orleans. It starts with the title of the piece (White House Backpedals on Flood Control) and takes off from there.
The White House scrambled Thursday to defend itself against criticism that it has consistently proposed cutting the budget for Army Corps of Engineers water and flood control projects — including several that could have mitigated the disaster in New Orleans. Just in February, President Bush proposed cutting the Corps' budget by 7 percent. The year before, Bush proposed a 13 percent cut.
Everybody got that, right? There were plans to protect New Orleans, and President Bush cut them. It's all his fault. Or, at least, that's the impression that will be taken away by anyone who reads the headline, or the headline and the first couple of paragraphs. But buried down toward the end, there are a couple of lines that put things into a slightly different context.
Other presidents also have taken aim at the Corps' budget. President Carters' [sic] first veto came against a big water projects bill passed by a Democratic-dominated Congress. And President Clinton squeezed the Corps budget as well.
Yes, that information is in the article. But a casual reader isn't going to get it. The headline and the first paragraph set the tone and agenda of the piece so completely that most people won't come away with the whole picture.
The big three broadcast networks have been mostly silent during the run-up to the Senate's hearings on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, with just a handful of evening news stories over the last five weeks. But big papers such as the Washington Post have been busily poring over Roberts' writings, hunting for the legal brief or memo that might put his seemingly-assured confirmation in doubt. No "smoking gun" has emerged, but that hasn't stopped some journalists from trying to tar Roberts as a kooky far right-wing extremist. Recall:
-- On July 20, the day after President Bush announced he'd picked Roberts, ABC's Barbara Walters suggested the judge's Catholicism might be a problem for pro-abortion liberals. "How important to him is his religion?" she wondered on Good Morning America. "Do you think it might affect him as a Supreme Court Justice?"
In early August, the Democrats responded to the news reports of the President's physical results with an incredibly petty statement about non-existent "cuts to education funding." As one internet observer remarked, "if George Bush walked on water tomorrow, the DNC would issue a press release entitled Bush Can't Swim." And the AP's Ron Fournier would carry it. Fournier's "newsview" this evening is pre-emptively criticizing the President for whatever it is that he's about to do in regards to the disaster on America's gulf coast.
The Green Day anti-conservative screed "American Idiot," was laughably labeled as "socially conscious" by the Associated Press in its coverage of the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards, at which the left-leaning punk group scored awards in seven of eight categories for which it was nominated.
(AP) For the first time in a while, the MTV Video Music Awards rocked more than it hip-hopped.
More than 11 years after their hit album "Dookie" reinvigorated punk rock, Green Day won seven video awards out of eight nominations Sunday for the socially conscious "American Idiot" and the melancholy "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," which frontman Billie Joe Armstrong called a "hangover" song.
For those unfamiliar with the song, I've copied and pasted the lyrics below. And no, so far as I can tell, they were not, contrary to appearances, penned by some ninth grade Noam Chomsky wannabe:
Many times the bias in the mainstream press shows itself in just the stories it chooses to run. The homeless disappeared from the press when a Democrat was in the White House, President Clinton's vacations were never a big story the way that Reagan's and Bush's have been. Well, another story has crossed the wire tonight that falls, I believe, into the same category. Of All Gas Consumers, Bush May Be Biggest
Getting President Bush from here to there consumes an enormous amount of fuel, whether he's aboard Air Force One, riding in a helicopter or on the ground in a heavily armored limousine. The bill gets steeper every day as the White House is rocked by the same energy prices as regular drivers. Taxpayers still foot the bill.
I wrote a week and a half ago that the AP was acting as a PR firm for Cindy Sheehan. It doesn't appear that anything's changed. At all. If anything, it has gotten worse. They're still refusing to run with any of the controversial statements that she's made. They've not reported her comments on Hardball that "we should have gone after al Qaeda and maybe not after the country of Afghanistan." She told Chris Matthews that the purpose of her visit to Crawford "is actually to hold [the President] accountable for things he has already said," but no one in the "tough, skeptical" mainstream press has done anything to hold her accountable for the things that she's said.
They begin: “Unlike earlier wars, nearly all Arlington National Cemetery gravestones for troops killed in Iraq or Afghanistan are inscribed with the slogan-like operation names the Pentagon selected to promote public support for the conflicts.”
These “slogan-like” names are simply the operational titles given to “Enduring Freedom,” for Afghanistan and “Iraqi Freedom” for those killed there. Apparently, the folks at AP are miffed at what they even admit is a voluntary choice of inscription: