In the Friday edition of his MSNBC.com blog, left-liberal pundit Eric Alterman posted a comment from a friend of his who shares his, shall we say, skepticism toward the idea of an overall liberal media bias. (Alterman is, of course, the author of What Liberal Media? and several other books.)
The relevant portion of the comment follows. Judge for yourself the extent to which the friend is kidding.
...It is time to march virtually every high-priced reporter in Washington D.C. out across the Key Bridge and deep into the Virginia hills, where they will be incarcerated in a re-education camp until they begin making sense in their profession again. (I specifically exempt Jack Farrell from Denver and the entire Knight-Ridder D.C. bureau. They all can stay.) I was going to exempt Jonathan Alter until I heard him complaining that the Democrats were wrong in resisting the ballot initiatives sponsored in California by Governor Anabolic J. Goosestep. The ultimate "good government" initiative, Jon, you lovable doof, is to break the power of the Republican party everywhere until it comes to its senses and disenthralls itself from its Jesus On A Taco Shell element. Sorry, Jon. Pick up a shovel and start marching. There are swamps to be reclaimed.
For those who missed it, on MSNBC’s “The Situation” last night, host Tucker Carlson interviewed author Peter Schweizer, whose new book “Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy,” has raised a lot of eyebrows. Some of the highlights (video link to follow):
Environmentalist Barbra Streisand spends $22,000 per year watering her lawn and gardens while she lectures Americans that they need to cut back on their consumption of such things as gasoline by getting rid of their SUVs
Anti-Wall Streeter Michael Moore, who has claimed on many occasions to not own any stock because Wall Street money is dirty money, actually owns tens of thousands of shares in many different companies, and has even owned stock in off-shore oil companies…even Halliburton
Michael Moore and Al Franken, who regularly chastise Republicans for being racist and not hiring enough African-Americans, actually have hired very few African-Americans to work for them
Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass), who has fought all of his life for higher taxes, in particular estate taxes, has done a fabulous job of avoiding them. In fact, the Kennedy family has been able to transfer between $300 million and $500 million from generation to generation while only paying $134,000 in taxes, or less than 1 percent
The Associated Press, in coordination with IPSOS, conducted a poll from November 7 through November 9, 2005. The poll questions revolved around President Bush and the direction that the United States was headed. The poll results were reported by Will Lester in the AP article, “Poll: Most Americans Doubt Bush’s Honesty”.
According to the IPSOS report on the poll, 1000 adults were interviewed. Only 837 were identified as registered voters – 78% according the percentages cited in the report. Out of the 1000 adults, only 40% were identified as Republicans – either strongly or moderately Republican. Those identified as Democrats constituted 51% of the total adults interviewed. Independents and those “not sure” made up 9% of those polled. This puts President Bush and his administration at a 60% disadvantage from the beginning. So much for a true picture of opinions as President Bush garnered 51% of the popular vote in November 2004.
Oh the beauteous words we use to describe freedom! And she is indeed worth it, or at least used to be. The bitch of it is, in order for the words to carry any weight, you must back them up with action, lest you look like a wretched lip-server. And action is where we have—of late—fallen terribly, terribly short.
There was a day when traitors were hanged, not honored. There was a day when a treacherous hand was removed, not salved. There was a day when a coward hung his head in shame instead of strutting arrogantly before crowds and contingencies.
CBS’s Bob Schieffer offered viewers “a solution to high energy prices” that “may be as plain as daylight.” Yet the truth of the matter was far different and the November 10 report showed the network was in the dark about its own story on solar energy.
The story didn’t just wildly underestimate the cost of one family’s “tiny electric bill.”. It also forgot to mention that the tax breaks for solar power all come out the pockets of other taxpayers – in this case, more than $10 billion worth.
The “Evening News” went to Barry and Anita Mathis’ house to look at solar panels as a way to cope with higher energy costs. Mrs. Mathis showed reporter Thalia Assuras her bill, which was just $43.01. “It was kind of mind-blowing when I first moved into this house because I'd open power bills and I'd just start laughing,” Mrs. Mathis said. “It just didn't make any sense that you could save this much money on electricity.”
A little bird forwarded me an email from MoveOn.org asking minions to write editorials for local newspapers and they have even provided what to say along with the best way to ensure they get published.
We need your help. Read the following mission from MoveOn.org, and if you see any letters to the editor or even editorials that look anything like this, please let me know.
Dear [insert minion name here - .ed]
Thank you for volunteering last week to write an editorial in your local paper calling on our leaders to get serious about Iraq.
This is a critical moment: the CIA leak scandal has highlighted the White House role in deceiving the nation when we went to war, and the public is turning against the continued occupation in Iraq.
Olsen finds it remarkable that the Times found this particular IRS investigation worthy of coverage, given the flood of complaints filed from both sides of the political spectrum from election season 2004:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but two days ago there were 28 Republican governors (a majority), and today after the "huge win" by Democrats there are still 28 Republican governors (still a majority.) So what explains headlines like this?*
That's a lot of beatings, blows and black eyes for a party that stayed exactly where they were a week ago. I have to say, I was quite surprised, I didn't even know George Bush was running for governor in all those states.
* That was a rhetorical question. Of course I know this was due to bias, unfound hopefulness and irrational exuberance.
The media storyline from yesterday's election results has been, for the most part, that Democrats picked up big victories, and that it was all bad news for the Republicans. And that President Bush, bogged down in incompetence (Hurricane Katrina) and malice ("he lied - people died!"), pandering to the right-wing (Alito) and heading an out-of-control criminal White House (Libby and Rove) is acting as an anchor, dragging down the Republican Party, leading to these spectacular Democratic wins. We see it in the New York Times:
After months of sagging poll ratings, scandal and general political unrest, the Republicans badly needed some good news in Tuesday's elections for governor. What they got instead was a clear-cut loss in a red state, and an expected but still painful defeat in a blue one.
The Republican loss in Virginia, which President Bush carried with 54 percent just a year ago, came after an 11th-hour campaign stop by Mr. Bush and the kind of all-out Republican effort to mobilize the vote that reaped rich rewards last year.
Julie Chen in the 8:00 a.m. EST half hour of The Early Show hyped "sky-high" gas prices which led to "record profits" for oil companies in a brief anchor-mention on the Senate Commerce hearings today on oil and gas prices, illustrating that a myth debunked in a Free Market Project (FMP) study released last Thursday is still being promoted by CBS News [parts in bold are my emphasis]:
Gas prices haven’t topped inflation-adjusted highs. NBC’s Anne Thompson and other journalists continued to claim “American consumers have suffered through months of record-high gas prices” even as prices dropped.
One of the common themes for gasoline reporting all summer was to claim "record prices," even though the reality was much different. Inflation raises overall prices over time, causing the raw number to go up.A gallon of gas might have cost 25 cents decades ago. That's why inflation-adjusted prices are the only accurate way to compare costs from one decade to the next.
According to the Energy Department, the inflation-adjusted high for a gallon of regular gas is $3.11, set in 1981. But Katrina and Rita sent the media scurrying for stories, and "record highs" were mentioned at least eight times.
CBS was especially fond of the term. It appeared three times during the CBS stories. Anchor Bob Schieffer of the "CBS Evening News" said incorrectly that gas prices had peaked "at a record $3.07 a gallon after Hurricane Katrina" during the October 24 broadcast.
On Monday's Hardball, Chris Matthews asked former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle if he "share(d) the public view that Dick Cheney knew what his guy was up to, Scooter Libby?"
This was not the first time Matthews referenced a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll that indicated more than half the respondents thought Vice President Dick Cheney was aware of Lewis Libby's actions in leaking the name of a CIA employee.
What Matthews has failed to mention, however, is the level of awareness of the participants in the poll. When asked: "How well do you, personally, understand this case: very well, somewhat well, not too well or not at all," only 22 percent declared they understood the case "very well." More than three out of ten stated they understood the case either not too well or not at all.
Staff writer Marcia Davis is glowing from the start, excusing an episode of depraved indifference to marine life to liberal Alliance for Justice chief Nan Aron's dogged but failed pursuit of derailing Chief Justice John Roberts's nomination earlier this year:
Nan Aron lost the fish this summer.
Aron, the founder of the Alliance for Justice, one of the liberal armies in the war over the judiciary, has lived in her Woodley Park rowhouse for 30 years. There's a small brick pond in the front yard and, much to the delight of the neighborhood children, she filled it with fish over the summer, about 20 goldfish and koi. But summer was also the start of a season of high-stakes judicial battles.
While Aron and her allies were working long hours trying to defeat the confirmation of now Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., her fish disappeared.
"The problem was I was responsible for the fish," Aron says with a bit of self-deprecating humor. "My one responsibility at home was to feed the fish, talk to the fish and protect their safety, and I'd come home and start counting" and realize that there was trouble.
The casualties of war. But when you come from a family of social activists, you can look into an empty pond and find the positive.
"We'll start again next year and hopefully I'll be a little more attentive," Aron says.
Second-degree fishslaughter aside, however, Aron is portrayed by Davis as a sharp, intelligent, workaholic aggressively pursuing the cause of justice, and deeply revered by not only left-wing allies but conservative critics like former Reagan Justice Department official Bruce Fein for her work ethic, all well and good for a Style section profile, I suppose, but it's the closing that's the kicker:
No, I don't mean the Bush Administration, whose unwillingness to apologize for itself drives mainstream media into perpetual indignation.
Michelle Malkin got a response from a reporter--not the Washington Post's--after she asked about issuing some kind of correction following reports about war atrocity claims by Jimmy Massey, which have since been debunked by St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Ron Harris. The reply, from USA Today's Rick Hampson, is a depressing example of indifference to the truth. Malkin quotes him:
I personally have no plans for a follow up. Our story was not so much
about the veracity of Massey's claims -- few if any of those mentioned
in the Post-Dispatch piece were in our story -- as the reaction in a
small, patriotic town to its former Marine recruiter coming back as a
war protester. (We also went into Massey's psychological history.)
Certainly, he had a lot of critics/opponents/skeptics in town even back
then. So I don't expect we'll revisit the subject.
A Reuters story written by reporter Vicki Allen begins as follows: "Top U.S. Republican lawmakers on Tuesday called for a congressional investigation into leaks of information used by The Washington Post in an article on the CIA's secret global prison system
The mainstream media seemed to have settled on the sobriquet of “youths” to describe the people who are in their 13th night of burning cars, buildings, and in one instance a handicapped woman, in cities across France. Of course, it is hard to get an exact demographic profile of rioters on the run; however, reports on those who have been arrested are that only 30% are under 21.
Typical of the 2,300 stories on this subject currently available on Google News, is this one from ABC International, posted in written form on the Net on 6 November, entitled “Chirac vows order as French riots spread.”
This two-page article refers to the perpetrators alternately as “rioters” or “youths,” using both phrases multiple times. Not until near the end does the article make any reference to the fact that most of these rioters, in Germany and France, are Muslims.
I just came across this today while purusing the Christianity Today (CT) website: Ted Olsen in the CT weblog last Friday tackled bias in a liberal Austin, Texas newspaper in "Who Brought Up the Klan?":
The Austin (Tex.) American-Statesman has a story today on 30 pastors rallying to support the state's marriage amendment. It's got the five W's, but given the point of the story, the most important question is never answered.
The title: "Pastors gather in Austin to back marriage amendment."
The deck: "Group careful to distance itself from KKK, which also supports Prop 2."
Of the 298-word story, 126 words are devoted to the Klan:
While supporting the amendment on Tuesday's ballot, several Austin-area pastors said they wanted to distance their message from that of the Ku Klux Klan, which is planning a rally on Saturday to support the amendment.
"We have nothing in common with the Ku Klux Klan," said Michael Lewis, the president of the Austin Area Pastors Council. "As Christians, we have to distance ourselves, particularly on racial issues. We're separate from them."
"I am particularly concerned about the Ku Klux Klan and other rogue groups that are supporting the passage of Proposition 2," said Steve Washburn, the senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Pflugerville. "But their language is laced with hate, and we want all who are listening to know we are here out of love."
So here's the question: Who brought up the Klan? Did American-Statesman reporter Lilly Rockwell ask Lewis and Washburn what they thought about the Klan's support of the amendment? Or did they just start talking about the Klan?
If Rockwell brought it up, that's an unconscionable smear and a severe violation of journalistic ethics.
If Lewis and Washburn brought it up, they're foolish, and they're wrong to suggest that the Klan has such significant political power that it's an important part of the story.
The Associated Press has found a unique way to ensure that negative statements and comments regarding Iraq get wide circulation.. Just have two writers do similar pieces with different titles and release them on the same day. The articles should contain the same negative comments and talking points. Throw in a few token positives, rearrange the flow of the articles and you have a hit. It’s a given that someone will read at least one of the articles and come away with an idea of bad things in Iraq. If the AP strikes the mother lode and a reader is exposed to both pieces, the repeated negatives work like a subliminal message.
Such is the case with 2 stories released by the AP on October 25, 2005. The subject was the failure to find any fraud in the Constitutional referendum in Iraq. The 10-day audit was completed and the citizens ratified Iraq’s Constitution. Thomas Wagner’s article, “Draft Constitution Adopted by Iraq Voters”, was posted at 0928 EDT. Mariam Fam’s article, “Iraq’s Constitution Ratified by Voters”, came later in the afternoon at 1600 EDT.
Our friends at the Associated Press have once again reminded us why any of their releases that contain the name ‘Bush’ must always be viewed skeptically. Their latest entry, “Bush Diplomacy Means Settling for Less” is one such example.
While praising their efforts to work with the UN on Iran and Syria, AP writer Anne Gearan takes the Bush Administration in general and Condi Rice in particular, to task for their former unapologetic unilateralism:
In showdowns over Iran, North Korea and now Syria, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seemingly agrees that half a loaf is better than none -- an unexpectedly pragmatic streak for a Bush administration better known for going its own way in international affairs.
Although the focus of the article is deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, TIME.com is reporting (hat tip to Drudge Report) that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Treasury Secretary John Snow will also be part of an imminent White House reorganization:
“Karl Rove's colleagues don't know exactly when it will happen, but they are already laying out the reasons they will give for the departure of the man President George W. Bush dubbed the architect. A Roveless Bush seemed unthinkable just a few months ago. But that has changed as the President's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff remains embroiled in the CIA leak scandal.”
“Several well-wired Administration officials predict that within a year, the President will have a new chief of staff and press secretary, probably a new Treasury Secretary and maybe a new Defense Secretary.”
Today in Paris, the Union of French Islamic Organizations (UOIF) issued a fatwa, or religious decree, against the participation of Muslims in the 10 days of rioting and arson in France. Typical of the mainstream media coverage of this action, is this report from Reuters:
“One of France's largest Islamic groups issued a fatwa against rioting on Sunday after officials suggested Muslim militants could be partly to blame for violent protests scarring poor neighbourhoods around the country.
“The Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF) quoted the Koran and the Prophet Mohammad to back up the religious edict condemning the disorder and destruction the unrest caused.
“Many rioters are of North African Arab and black African descent and assumed to be Muslims. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and other officials have hinted Islamist militants may be manipulating angry teenagers to defy the French state.”