Today's Wall Street Journal online edition features an important essay by sociologist James Q. Wilson examining how the American press has turned into an unpatriotic and anti-war entity. He also explains why this matters: because educated people are likely to be swayed by the media's coverage of events, whether that coverage is accurate or not.
A few excerpts:
We are told by careful
pollsters that half of the American people believe that American troops
should be brought home from Iraq immediately. This news discourages
supporters of our efforts there. Not me, though: I am relieved. Given
press coverage of our efforts in Iraq, I am surprised that 90% of the
public do not want us out right now.
Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2005,
nearly 1,400 stories appeared on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening news.
More than half focused on the costs and problems of the war, four times
as many as those that discussed the successes. About 40% of the stories
reported terrorist attacks; scarcely any reported the triumphs of
American soldiers and Marines. The few positive stories about progress
in Iraq were just a small fraction of all the broadcasts.
The MSM has had a field day trumpeting an impending editorial in "military newspapers" calling for Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation. But as NewsBusters John Stephenson and Michael Bates have documented here and here, here's what the liberal media didn't disclose:
Despite the official-sounding ring of "military newspapers," these are commercial, private-sector operations owned by Gannett, the chain whose leading outlet is the left-leaning USA Today. The editorial is roughly as representative of the official military view of the Secretary as an anti-Rumsfeld rant by the New York Times.
While the MSM tried to multiply the significance of the editorial by mentioning that it was carried in four separate papers, representing the various branches of the military, again they are all just fellow members of the Gannett stable. It's as misleading as claiming that an article published in the various regional editions of TV Guide appeared in "hundreds of magazines."
Now the Pentagon has weighed in. Staying above the fray as to just what those "military newspapers" are - and are not - the DoD has offered a systematic rebuttal of the various allegations contained in the editorial. Highlights:
The UPI and many other news sources are headlining “Military mags to call for Rumsfeld ouster”.
Four publications of the Military Times Media Group plan to call on U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times and Marine Corps Times will issue the call in an editorial scheduled to run Monday, the newspaper said.
The Chronicle published the text of the editorial on its Web site Friday.
The editorial says the truth about the war in Iraq “been difficult to come by from leaders in Washington.” Instead, the editorial says President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld have issued “one rosy reassurance after another.”
CAFFERTY: Well, listen, it's tailor-made for the media. We get so sick and tired of, you know, running sound bytes of the candidates that when somebody comes along and does something that's even this much out of ordinary, we pounce on it like cats on a mouse and drag it around until it's dismembered on the living room floor.
ZAHN: Will it be dismembered by election night is the question, Jack Cafferty.
CAFFERTY: If we have our way with it, it will be.
BLITZER: I'm sure there'll be something else that will pop up between and probably an hour from now.
"And, of course, Paula, what is really telling here is that Kerry, for most of the day, was alone in his explanations, and trying to figure all of this out -- Democrats quietly saying that they really wish Kerry had kept quiet on this one.
"But, late in the day, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer released a statement, criticizing President Bush's criticism of Kerry. And, then, Paula, late in the day as well, we got yet another press release from Kerry, criticizing, reacting to Bush's criticism of him earlier in the day, calling it smear.
"Rush Limbaugh may not be this country's most disgusting human being, but he surely ranks among the top 10." Mr. Limbaugh, we learn, is part of "the well-honed Republican attack machine" that so viciously attacks liberal Democrats.
Zweifel additionally notes: "The pity of it all is that all too many Americans fall for these tactics of character assassination."
Character assassination is something with which Zweifel is intimately acquainted. Five years ago, he examined the relationship between White House reporters and President George W. Bush and - amazingly - introduced Adolph Hitler into the equation.
"I swear that if this current bunch of supposed White House reporters were covering Adolf Hitler back in the early days of his administration, they'd be writing glowing accounts of how successful the German chancellor was in achieving his goals.
When NBC military affairs correspondent Jim Miklaszewski posed an ill-founded question to Donald Rumsfeld at a Pentagon press briefing today, the Secretary of Defense responded in, shall we say, animated fashion, leaving very little doubt as to where he stood on the matter.
The Mik apparently asserted that every time a security benchmark has been laid down, the Iraqis have failed to meet it.
You can view the Defense Secretary's muscular response - cataloguing Miklaszewski's myriad mistakes - here.
Once again taking "tolerance" to the level of societal self-destruction, the BBC has decided that showing the human side of the Taleban is an important story to cover.
They have ridiculously embedded a reporter with the Taleban in Afghanistan. Reporter David Lyon has been reporting from the Taleban and has filed a report filled with laudatory terms and brimming with respect for his subject.
Journalists aren't the hard-charging watchdogs of government that they claim to be, and the romantic notion of reporters saving our democracy is fiction, says Jack Shafer in Slate.
Newspaper people have enormous egos, if you get my drift, and don't mind massaging the big hairy things in public. Yet the press is hardly the sentry and bulwark of society that reporters imagine it to be. I don't mean to disparage reporters who put their lives on the line to file from Iraq, nor the sleuths who sift through databases to uncover wrongdoing by pharmaceutical companies, or any other enterprising reporter. But too many journalists who wave the investigative banner merely act as the conduit for other people's probing, as George Washington University professor and former investigative journalist Mark Feldstein suggests in a paper-in-progress titled "Ventriloquist or Dummy?"
Feldstein cites a 1992 piece by the late Christopher Georges in the Washington Monthly to illustrate his thesis. Georges reviewed about 800 articles by investigative reporters from the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times published over three years and found that "nearly 85 percent of them have been follow-ups or advances of leaked or published government reports." Georges' study is anecdotal since his piece did not name the stories analyzed or describe his methodology, but my hunch is that his conclusions aren't far from the truth.
With all due respect to Rush (his rant is behind his firewall), Michelle Malkin (also at Hot Air in a vid with O'Reilly), Allah at Hot Air, and all the others who are justifiably "Venting" at CNN -- You're STILL missing a BIG, BIG point -- We aren't getting "the unvarnished truth" from our military, because they are constrained about issues relating to the safety of soldiers and their families HERE, IN THIS COUNTRY. Since they are limited in what they can show of our soldiers' exploits, it is incumbent on media outlets to be VERY restrained in what they will show of the enemy's.
Let me break it down as briefly as I can (more detail is at my post Sunday at BizzyBlog):
Photographer Emilio Morenatti, 37, of the Associated Press, was taken captive in the Gaza Strip this morning. No word from the captors yet, but my prayers are with Emilio and his family for his safe return!
According to the captions on the photo wires, Emilio was accosted as he was leaving his apartment for an Associated Press vehicle, and was forced into the captors' vehicle. I'll fill in with more details as they come in. Hajed Hamdan, the AP driver assigned to pick up Emilio, was confronted by the captors, who stole his phone and keys, and instructed him at gunpoint to turn away.
Feeling the heat from critics in Washington and across the country over airing video handed to it by an Iraqi terrorist group called the Islamic Army of God, CNN offered air time to Congressman Duncan Hunter on Monday’s 5pm edition of "The Situation Room." Wolf Blitzer interviewed Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and CNN military analyst Gen. David Grange, but if the general was brought in to debate Hunter, it backfired. Grange ended up agreeing with Hunter that the U.S. media helps the insurgents: "they are winning the information warfare front. You can argue that our -- our -- the media in the United States supports that somewhat." Blitzer framed CNN’s Sniper Theatre by asking Hunter "Do the American people have a right to know what war is like?" Hunter said "Wolf, the American people aren't made out of cotton candy. They understand, when you see 2,791 battlefield deaths, that people are killed, and they are killed in bad ways."
Mr. Mallaby goes on a long diatribe that contradicts itself so many times that an informed reader would get whiplash from the experience. And all those head turing points are attacks against the effectiveness, sincerity, and well-meaning of American policy.
He begins his screed by negatively invoking a Ronald Reaganism, saying "It's not exactly morning in America", after which he regales us on how nothing worthwhile has come from Iraq, "a special Rumsfeldian screw-up".
On last night's Fox News Watch, Cal Thomas offered assessments of the way in which the independence of two of his fellow conservative commentators is viewed. While acknowledging that the two top-rated talkers have recently chided the administration, he suggested there is a perception that, by and large, the pair lack political autonomy.
In the context of a discussion of President Bush's efforts to shore up support among conservative radio talk show personalities, Thomas stated:
"Even Rush Limbaugh,whois seen as being in the pocket of the administration, has been critical of Republicans not being more like Republicans."
CBS News today is carrying the AP story, "Dems to Use Moderation if They Win House." Written by Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor, the article appears intended to quiet any anxieties about what a Democratic majority in the House will mean.
"They're mostly a liberal bunch. Yet the would-be chairmen in a House under Democratic control promise to rule from the center. They'd have little choice, given the likely balance of power they would confront if elected."
Later in the story:
"What won't be seen is any serious move to impeach Bush, even though the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, has introduced a bill calling on Congress to determine whether there are grounds for impeachment over the government's warrantless wiretapping program.
"Conyers already has been overruled by Democratic leaders including would-be Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, who dismiss any talk of impeachment."
Matt Drudge highlights an item from today's White House news briefing where press secretary Tony Snow said media coverage was designed to suppress Republican voter turnout.
Q Tony, what does it say about the trouble that the Republican Party is in right now that the President is having to go out and campaign today in what should have been two safe Republican races?
MR. SNOW: This is a close election contest. On the other hand, what does it say, you've got Bill Clinton running around and campaigning for people. Does that mean Democrats are suddenly worried? I think it's important that you have a President going out and engaging. I'll tell you why we're confident about what's coming up. We think we've got better candidates, we got better issues, we got better solutions to the problems that face Americans. On a tactical level, Ken Mehlman says he's got 55 million bucks more than the Democrats have in get-out-the-vote measures. And just from my fractional experience out there, every time people read these stories that almost look like suppression efforts to bring down Republican morale, the Republicans say, man, I'm ready, I'm going to get out there and do it.
In an article in today's Washington Times, Karl Rove predicts the Republicans will hold onto both the House and the Senate. He also derided media coverage that predicted a Democratic victory.
In the hourlong interview, Mr. Rove was upbeat, telling stories from the campaign trail and joking about skewed political coverage that disproportionately shows Democrats poised to take control of Congress...
"This morning, I loved it: The [Associated Press] ran a story saying these Democrat congressional candidates outraised their Republican incumbents in the third quarter. Well, what they didn't say was that part of the reason that they did is that we raised the money earlier so that we'd be able to deploy it," he said.
Some people still think of the Chicago Tribune as the voice of conservative Republicanism. The truth is that it hasn't been for many years.
Today's editorial endorsements by the newspaper provide fresh evidence of how the once mighty Tribune has fallen. The Tribune endorsed seven Illinois candidates for Congress; every one of them is a liberal Democrat.
Moreover, the incumbent Democrats the Tribune recommends include some of the most liberal representatives in Congress:
Bobby Rush, according to the nonpartisan National Journal, in 2005 voted more liberal on social policy issues than 96 percent of the Representatives.
Jesse Jackson, Jr., according to the same index, in 2005 voted more liberal on social policy issues than 86 percent of his colleagues.
How much of a network newscast depends on anonymous sources? And isn't it more suspicious when the anonymous sources all agree on the liberal-media thesis (actually, the John Kerry thesis) that the best we can hope for in Iraq is a stable dictatorship? Friday night's NBC Nightly News led with a British general saying all is lost, and notice how Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski presents Pentagon opinion constantly through anonymous sources (and a couple of prominent and regular Bush war critics). Apparently, all the finest military minds are unanimous, and a debate is unnecessary:
Brian Williams, beginning the show: "It was the shot heard around the world, and it came from the commander of the British Army. He is on the record as saying British troops have no business in Iraq and should come home. While he has since changed his stance a bit, his words sent shock waves through British forces. It wasn't what American forces needed to hear, either, as they are already facing an unraveling and violent situation on the ground, counter to their goal of democracy taking hold. We begin here tonight at the Pentagon with our Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski. Jim, good evening."
It could have been Speaker Dennis Hastert's team skills or dexterity or experience or ingenuity that is being tested, but no, it's his "mentality."
It takes until the second paragraph for the authors, Michael Grunwald and Jim VandeHei, to make the relevant point that Mr. Hastert is "the beefy former wrestling coach - who's a bit bearlike himself." Just in case that's too subtle, we're later advised: "He looks like a cross between actor Wilford Brimley and Jabba the Hutt, and his unassuming Midwestern public demeanor makes for dull television."
Today's Boston Globe reports: "Former U.S. Rep. Gerry Studds, the first openly gay person elected to Congress, died early Saturday, days after he was admitted to the hospital after collapsing while walking his dog, his husband said."
The reference to a "husband" may take some of us aback, and the timing of Mr. Studds' passing is certainly coincidental in light of the Mark Foley scandal.
With timing in the tradition of the Foley fiasco leak - geared for maximum impact on the coming elections - a study was published earlier this week by The Lancet, a British medical science journal, claiming that 655,000 Iraqis have died “as a consequence of the war.” The MSM predictably accorded the study great attention.
In this item yesterday, I noted that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and MNF Commander Casey rejected the study's findings, which is wholly at odds with the US government estimate of 30-50,000 Iraqi civilians killed.
Now, as a Pentagon official has made known, a range of experts - who notably come from across the foreign policy spectrum - has cast doubts on the report's methodology and conclusions. Moreover, one of the study authors has been revealed as an anti-war partisan as has the editor of the Lancet itself. The first is a former Democratic congressional candidate, the latter made recently outlandish accusations as to the motivations of the governments leading the war effort.
New York senator Hillary Clinton has figured out how to keep the public from learning what her views are. If she can keep it up for another two years, she has a shot at reclaiming the White House. Amanda B. Carpenter at Human Events says Hillary "answers nearly all on-the-spot questions with a variation of 'I don’t know'" in order to prevent "coverage of her views on any issues on which she has not sought coverage."
Reporters have learned not to approach Sen. Clinton in the halls of the Capitol. Experienced journalists have found that she answers nearly all on-the-spot questions with a variation of “I don’t know”—a safe answer for her that renders the interviews useless, and prevents coverage of her views on any issues on which she has not sought coverage.
After a vote she breezes past reporters to a car waiting outside, avoiding any interviews. Clinton is not impolite, but makes it very clear she is unwilling to chat. When I asked her if she would use any of her personal money for her campaign, she completely avoided eye contact with me, although we were only a few inches from each other. Other reporters stood watching, wondering if this would be a rare occasion to get a few quotes from her.
The AP tried to characterize Bush as a "tepid" supporter of Speaker Hastert and directly said that "half the country" wanted Hastert to resign.
The $1.1 million fundraiser provided the first picture of Bush with Hastert since a scandal broke involving a Republican congressman pursuing underage male pages. Although the president has spoken out in Hastert's defense — tepidly at first and more directly at a White House news conference on the eve of the fundraiser — their appearance together was an endorsement of Hastert when nearly half the country says he should resign.
According to the AP's report on the Conference on School Safety which was ordered and attended by President Bush this week in the wake of the three most recent school shootings in Colorado, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Democrats "mocked the event as a photo opportunity with little substance."
Excuse me? Little substance? Would they say that directly to the face of Columbine survivor Craig Scott who was there and told the "wrenching story of the day his sister died"? Craig was in the Colorado school when two students killed 13 people, including his sister Rachel.
Craig asked, "Please take my words to heart today. They were bought at a high price."
Clearly the Dems failed to take Craig's words to heart. Instead of valuing what he had to say they used the event as an opportunity for partisan politics. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. said, "It seems every week we learn of yet another school shooting, and all the president is willing to do is hold a summit."
It’s getting even stranger, folks. Little Green Footballs has posted a reader’s e-mail concerning the Department of the Interior actually blocking conservative websites from the computers of employees that work for it:
I’m a long-time reader, without ever actually commenting on anything. Yesterday the U.S. Department of the Interior (I work for the Mineral Management Service) installed blocking software on their entire network. Gates of Vienna is now blocked, as are all sites with a .blogspot URL. Also blocked are other conservative blogs, such as Wizbang. More than half the sites I check on a daily basis are now completely blocked. As of today, Little Green Footballs is not blocked, but that’s about the only one I’ve seen that isn’t. There’s not much that can be done, but I just thought I’d let you know. I’ll check later today when I get in to see if the liberal blogs are blocked. Take care, and thanks for the good stuff you folks post.
Update: As of now, Little Green Footballs is also being blocked, but DailyKos is not... Can we try to get the word out? Blocking conservative blogs and not liberal ones is BS.
LGF has now posted all the sites that are blocked, along with those that aren’t:
Dante Chinni writes in the Christian Science Monitor that Watergate hero Bob Woodward has an uncanny ability to produce quotes for whatever his line of narrative is at the moment.
As this Michael Ramirez cartoon demonstrates, even the most innocuous statement can be modified for a preestablished narrative.
It's exciting to feel as though you're a fly on the wall when, on July 10, 2001, then-CIA Director George Tenet tells then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice that there is a "compelling case" to be made that Al Qaeda is preparing for "the big one." And as a reader of "State of Denial," Woodward's latest book on the Bush administration, there's frustration when you learn Mr. Tenet felt that he was "not getting through to Rice" and she was giving him "the brush off."
But then you wonder: Why didn't I hear this before now? It's 2006. Why hasn't more been made of the fact that Ms. Rice, now secretary of State, brushed off the CIA director's warning only two months before the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, 2001? Those are good questions and they go to the heart of not only problems with "State of Denial," but the shortcomings inherent in the way Woodward puts his books together and the style of journalism he champions.
Tune your television to any political talk show during this venomous
electoral season, and you're bound to hear a bunch of pundits
speculating on the future of the Republican party. Even before the Mark
Foley e-diddling scandal broke a couple of weeks ago, conventional
wisdom held that the GOP was headed for a seriously weakened majority
presence in Congress, and perhaps even minority status in one of the two
For the first time in quite a while I've found myself agreeing with the
conclusions of most political prognosticators on tv, yet I disagree with
the reasons they usually give for the Republicans' decline in
popularity. You see, the thing about conventional wisdom is that the
truly wise among us have little to do with its evolution. The fact that
the majority of opinion-meisters and political junkies sometimes reach
the right conclusion, doesn't mean that the logic they've used to get
there is sound. Their ability to occasionally place the right bet has
more to do with the law of averages than anything else. Any blackjack
dealer in Vegas will tell you that if you hold on 15 every time it's
dealt to you, eventually the house will bust on a hit to a lower hand,
but doing that doesn't make you a shrewd card player.
The law, sponsored by freshmen senators Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) provides for an online database of federal appropriations. The bill passed through Congress with relative ease, but had been blocked for a bit by long-time pork barrel spending champions Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).
Among the panelists was veteran Cox Newspapers Washington reporter Rebecca Carr who marveled that she "couldn't get over how effective" the coalition of left- and right-wing bloggers had been in providing the political pressure and alternative media coverage of the legislation's progress.
Heritage's Mark Tapscott was not as surprised, pointing out that blogs bring to bear "the wisdom of crowds" to news gathering and political activism.
CNN reporter Jason Carroll falsely claimed Long Island Republican and Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Rep. Peter King (R) said the members of a Long Island mosque were "part of an Islamic threat that could cause another 9/11."
In doing so, they also ignored several of the mosque's links to extremism and brought on Nihad Awad, head of the Council on American Islamic Affairs to say how offended he was while also accusing King of offending Muslims to shill for campaign cash and votes.
It seems as far as CNN is concerned, radical Islamists who once claimed the US government hadn't proven Osama bin Laden was behind 9/11 have real credibility and deserve utmost respect, while they can't even bother to quote a sitting Congressman correctly. No doubt the report played well in their International broadcast.