Of late, radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh has been arguing that the mainstream media persistently exercise the "management" of the news. That is to say, aside from slanted and biased reporting on the news of the day, they frame news developments in a way that manage events to fit a preconceived meme or storyline.
The media's coverage of Army recruiting numbers is no exception.
Bear in mind these facts included in some of the stories I cite below but usually well after the lede:
The Army is nonetheless ahead of its year-to-date recruiting goal
July, August, and September are traditionally the best months for recruiting
Many potential enlistees are turned away from being overweight or lacking a high school diploma
Some experts, such as former Defense undersecretary Edwin Dorn, marvel that "the big surprise is that Army recruiting has remained as healthy as it has been" given the Iraq war's falling support in the polls.
Nope, instead the lede is two straight months of numbers that aren't up to par and immediately Iraq is blamed.
Voila! A "trend" story waiting to happen for a media bent on managing the news.
So there was Elizabeth Edwards, wife of the Blow-Dried One, berating
Ann Coulter on the art of civil discourse last week. After her phone-in
appearance on the Chris Matthews show, St. Elizabeth was the toast of
the media town, making the rounds from one network to the next, with
rose pedals strewn in her path to guide her to her seat, denouncing the
“hatefulness” and “ugliness” of conservative commentators. “We can't
have a debate about issues if you're using this kind of language,” she
It’s a good thing none of her interviewers pretended
to be objective. It’s a good thing she wasn’t asked about hatefulness
and ugliness on the left. It would have been painful.
instance, what if she’d been asked to denounce a quote from a leading
liberal who favors rage as a necessary ingredient in fighting for a
rapid timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, and who attacked
congressional Democrats as weaklings: “We needed uncompromising rage,
and we got silence. We needed courage, and we got silence. And that
silence was, have no doubt about it, a betrayal: of the soldiers, of
the voters in 2006, of humanity and morality.”
The following was submitted by Jason Aslinger, a private practice attorney in Greenville, Ohio. Portions in bold below are the added emphasized of NB managing editor Ken Shepherd. It's a long post but it's worth the read:
In the wake of last week’s Supreme Court decision regarding racial
integration in public schools, the media have gone out of their way to
obscure the facts for the purpose of advancing its familiar political
agenda, not to mention skipped over giving readers a glimpse of the concurring opinions of Justices Thomas and Kennedy, both of which shed light on the case's significance to the average American.
In a prior NewsBusters post, I called out MSNBC's Keith
Olbermann for his false and race-baiting claim that the Supreme Court
had “overturned” the landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education.
The subsequent commentary by the media has at least been more clever,
but no less false. Undoubtedly, the press and “expert commentators”
have calculated that the general public would not check their factual
(and political) conclusions by reading the Court’s 185-page opinion.
Without knowing the specific facts, the media distortions can not be
fully appreciated. Below we'll take a look at the facts of the case as well as the reasoning from the justices, reasoning that all too often is glossed over if not outright ignored in the media.
CNSNews.com staff writer Monisha Bansal has done something I've seen very little, if any of, in mainstream media coverage. Reporting on yesterday's Supreme Court ruling striking down two race-based preference structures that governed public school districts in Louisville, Ky. and Seattle, Ms. Bansal documented the reaction of the lawyers who won the lawsuits in question.
As NewsBusters has repeatedly noted, most of the media focus has been on the political dimensions of a "rightward" shift in the Court, in Kennedy as the new swing justice, etc.
Below is an excerpt of Bansal's June 29 article, portions in bold are my emphasis:
The following is submitted by Jason Aslinger, a NewsBusters reader and a private practice attorney from Greenville, Ohio. Cohen pictured at right (file photo).
In his June 28 "Court Watch" article, CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen laments the
conservative bent of the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice John
Roberts. But rather than give readers sound legal critiques, Cohen sounds out a decidely political lament.
With a title like “Rightward Ho!” you might think that
Cohen would attack the Court’s conservative justices, and he
does, dismissing Justice Samuel Alito as a "rigid starboard-facing
ideologue" while he derides Chief Justice John Roberts as "silly and
Cohen lists several cases from the 2007 term in which, in Cohen’s
view, Justice Alito delivered the deciding vote. Cohen writes:
I could not leave this untouched. Joan Biskupic, the same Supreme Court reporter I accused of sounding like a John McCain press flack, has given us a gem of a skewed report on a 5-4 decision today about the use of race as a factor in managing public school registration.
Let's walk through it shall we?
When reporting on a key Supreme Court ruling, it's kind of nice to give readers a glance of the reasoning of the majority first. Makes sense, right. After all, the focus is supposed to be the party at suit that, well, WINS. But Chief Justice Roberts, who wrote for the majority, isn't quoted until the 9th paragraph. Justice Kennedy's more restrained concurring opinion is referenced in the fourth, but it's dissenting liberal Justice Stephen Breyer who draws first ink in the third paragraph.
Below are the first four paragraphs (my emphasis in bold), punctuated by my commentary:
As a follow-up to my previous post, I thought I'd take a look at the inane headlines for coverage of the 5-4 ruling today that restricts school districts from using race to manage school populations. Time and the Los Angeles Times are real howlers:
In a landmark 5-4 case today, the U.S. Supreme Court found that two school systems had improperly used race as a consideration in managing the public school districts. Web sites for many newspapers have carried Associated Press coverage of the ruling, and the later the revision of the AP report, the more information tends to be packed in them.
As of 1:15 a.m. Eastern when I started this post*, the Los Angeles Times front page linked to an AP story published just before 11 a.m. Eastern. But in that version of the AP story, Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion, is not quoted at all. Yet a similar AP story (perhaps the same story but with fewer paragraphs edited out) was published just minutes later in the Washington Examiner.
Myra Langerhas of "Snarking Dawg" had this pointed take on those vaunted "campaign finance reform" champions at the liberal New York Times that I thought I'd share with you:
Typical editorial from every litterbox's paper of record. Boil it down
to bones - 'Bong hits 4 Jesus' banner by a high school student during
class hours demands 1st Amendment protection, but an ad from a private
group that asks Senators to vote on judicial nominees needs to be
censored by the Federal Gubmint.
Wow, and the 'smart guys' read this fodder.
Our very own Clay Waters scoops out that litterbox regularly. You can track his record of the Times' droppings at TimesWatch.org.
In its rush to paint yesterday's Supreme Court ruling that struck down an issue ad ban contained in the so-called McCain-Feingold Law, the Chicago Tribune described the case as a win for President Bush and the GOP, even though the Bush administration's lawyers lost the case in question and even though the case benefits liberal activist groups as much as it does conservatives. What's more, Bush's appointees to the court actually restrained the conservative majority from taking a bigger swipe at the campaign finance law.
Here's the lede from the Tribune staffer David Savage:
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court gave President Bush and Republican
leaders two important 5-4 victories Monday by clearing the way for
corporate-funded broadcast ads before next year's election and by
shielding the White House's "faith-based initiative" from challenge in
Oh really? President Bush signed the campaign finance bill into law, it was his Federal Election Commission that pleaded and lost the case, and he's not able to run again for reelection, yet somehow he won yesterday by virtue of his Federal Election Commission losing?
What's more, Republicans, conservatives, and business interests can certainly benefit from the change in the law, but so can Democrats, liberals, and labor unions, a point that the Washington Post's Robert Barnes picked up on in his reporting, which tracked favorable reaction from labor and business leaders:
Here's how USA Today's Joan Biskupic started her June 25 article on the Supreme Court's ruling in FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, the case in which the Court struck down a televised ad ban in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. (emphasis mine)
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday opened the door to corporate and union financing of broadcast adssubtly attacking candidates for federal office before an election, in a 5-4 decision that is likely to make it harder for Congress to regulate campaign financing in the future.
The decision also could bring about a new flood of corporate and big-money spending on the 2008 elections.
If I didn't know better I'd think she were auditioning for a PR job with the John McCain for President campaign.
Here's how Biskupic colleague Jill Lawrence of the paper's "On Politics" blog tracked McCain's reaction to the ruling (emphasis mine):
The big New York Times expose hyped on Drudge over the weekend on Rupert Murdoch, media mogul (and worst from the Times' perspective, the creator of Fox News) appeared on Monday's front-page in the off-lead position. The Times put four bylines on the beat for its attempted hit piece: Jo Becker was the lead writer, with help from media reporter Richard Siklos, Jane Perlez and Raymond Bonner, for "An Empire Builder, Still Playing Tough."
What's they find? Not much new, but at least presented with that special, hostile Times' spin.
"His vast media holdings give him a gamut of tools -- not just campaign contributions, but also jobs for former government officials and media exposure that promotes allies while attacking adversaries, sometimes viciously -- all of which he has used to further his financial interests and establish his legitimacy in the United States, interviews and government records show.
Reporting a new survey on the success of a federal voucher program in the District of Columbia,
New York Times reporter Sam Dillon portrayed the federal program as a failure, albeit
one that makes parents of voucher students feel good on the taxpayers' dime.
Here's how Dillon opened his story (emphasis mine):
Students who participated in the first year of the District of
Columbia’s federally financed school voucher program did not show
significantly higher math or reading achievement, but their parents
were satisfied anyway, viewing the private schools they attended at
taxpayer expense as safer and better than public schools, according to
an Education Department study released yesterday.
Nowhere in his article does Dillon dive into problems that have plagued D.C. public schools that have helped push parents to seize the opportunity to send a child to private school on the public dime.
Instead, Dillon goes to lengths to castigate parents of voucher students as out-of-touch with reality about their child's education:
Yesterday, OpinionJournal featured an fantastic essay (found via Ace) from critic James Bowman about the faulty paradigm that modern journalism has embraced, the idea that "getting the facts right" ought to be the foremost goal of government.
It's a ridiculous premise, Bowman argues, because that isn't what government is supposed to do. In an imperfect world populated by imperfect humans, mistakes and errors are inevitable. What ought to matter most is how governments learn from miscalculations and their will to pursue the important tasks we expect them to.
This odd prejudice may be partly owing to the huge social premium we put on intelligence in the era of the cognitive elite. People who have no idea on earth what to do about the war or any of the problems we face as a nation think it is some kind of program to ridicule the intelligence of the President. Even the political opposition has fallen into this trap by making mere perspicacity in the anticipation of evils rather than the determined effort to combat them its test of political success. Thus in Sen. Jim Webb's reply to the president's State of the Union Address in January, he had no alternative to suggest to the measures for dealing with Iraq that had been proposed, but he was full of indignation on the grounds that the mistakes of the administration had been foreseeable. He knew that they were foreseeable because he himself had foreseen them. The implication was that he was much cleverer than President Bush--as if that was all that need be said to the credit of the former and the discredit of the latter.
Earlier today, NewsBusters contributor Pam Meister picked up on the MSNBC investigation into journalists' political contributions. Nearly 87 percent of the journalists gave exclusively to Democratic candidates.
Now some journos are reacting, and it seems the ones at Time magazine don't see the big deal.
I haven't myself made any political donations since I've been with
Time, as far as I remember, owing mostly to being a cheap bastard.
(Time's policy allows political donations, although according to
MSNBC's list, only one staffer has taken advantage of that, so I'm
guessing most of my co-workers are as tightfisted as I am.) Scratch
that: I did attend a fundraiser for John Kerry in 2004, which I believe
Mrs. Tuned In paid for, that consisted of a $20-a-ticket concert in a
friend's backyard by children's folk-rock musician Dan Zanes. There is
probably no more yuppie-Brooklyn phenomenon than a Toddlers Against
Did a liberal television network correspondent cause the 2000 Florida recount debacle?
When all eyes were on Florida and it wasn't looking good for Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, his campaign was warned by a senior network correspondent that conceding on Election Night would be a bad idea. That intervention stopped Gore from conceding the election according to a top Democratic strategist.
Former John Kerry campaign manager and long-time Democratic political consultant Bob Shrum made the allegation on the CNN show "Reliable Sources" Sunday.
Interviewing Shrum about his new book, titled No Excuses, CNN host Howard Kurtz brought up Shrum's revelation that he was warned by a "senior network correspondent" to stop Al Gore from giving his planned concession speech on the night of the 2000 election.
The Politico reports that former ABC News reporter Geoff Morrell is going to be named the new spokesman for the Pentagon. The Politico’s Mike Allen reports that the idea of picking a working journalist like Morrell was that of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, “in an effort to improve press relations at a time when the administration is under pressure to show progress in Iraq.”
Back in 1993, the Clinton administration also selected an ABC journalist, Kathleen deLaski, as its on-air Pentagon spokesman. At the time, an MRC review found deLaski’s reporting for ABC was “in step with Clintonite thinking that ‘tax and spend’ equals caring.” For more, see “deLaski’s Defensive Detail” in the August 1993 MediaWatch.
When President Bush wanted a media professional to boost his White House publicity machine, he hired Tony Snow, a polished performer with solid conservative credentials. Geoff Morrell is no Tony Snow.
On may 29th, the AP reported that Vice President Dick Cheney told the Secret Service to eliminate the records of visitors to the Vice President's mansion on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington D.C. fitting with the MSM's claims that the VP is "too secretive." Cheney’s office countered with the fact that he had written orders to save those records. Naturally the New York Times jumped on the bandwagon with a June 3rd piece that went wild-eyed and frothing, veering straight for the "Haliburton" canard that the left has tried to hang on Cheney since his first days in office instead of staying on the topic of the visitor records.
From 2001 to 2005, Mr. Cheney received "deferred salary payments" from Halliburton that far exceeded what taxpayers gave him. Mr. Cheney still holds hundreds of thousands of stock options that have ballooned by millions of dollars as Halliburton profited handsomely from the war in Iraq.
As they are wont to do, the Times again tried to link Cheney with Haliburton payouts despite the fact that the VP has not benefited from any such income since being elected to office.
A CBS article claims that a new gun control proposal in Congress will “require safe gun use”. Rufus Williams, Chicago Public Schools President, stated: “We’ve lost 31 children, 31 CPS students have died or have been murdered this school year and it's not OK.”1 This theme kicks off HB 2666, sponsored by Congressman Bobby Rush, who represents Illinois’ CongressionalDistrict 1, which includes Chicago.2
What CBS doesn’t mention is that Illinois already has some of the toughest gun laws in the country. Brady Campaign considers Illinois to be among the best states in the country for gun control laws, giving the state an A- grade in their 2005 report card. A Firearm Owners Identification card (FOID) is required for all gun sales, and the state prohibits all concealed carry.3
Rush bases his justification for this new federal law in part on a recent tragedy where a criminal boarded a Chicago Transit Authority bus and began shooting students at a local high school. The shooter obtained the gun illegally from another person who knew the shooter’s murderous intentions. As noted above, concealed carry and private, unregistered transfers of firearms are already illegal in Illinois. Willfully being an accessory to murder is already a felony.4
Editor's Note: See also Noel Sheppard's post. Sheppard notes the controversial recount rules Broward County followed in the 2000 presidential election.
Democrats and the Left often make platitudes about how they’re for free speech. Over the course of the years however, with speech codes on college campuses, the push to criminalize "hate speech," and talk of reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, they have consistently demonstrated that their actions speak louder than their words.
In the latest case that the Left has no problem with abusing power to influence the media, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that the Broward County, Florida County Commission, which consists entirely of Democrats, is pondering cancelling a deal with WIOD, a local radio station which has been the county’s official channel for providing emergency information, due to the fact that the station is also a local affiliate for the Rush Limbaugh Show.
Folks, the speech that British Prime Minister Tony Blair made on the 12th about the changing role of the media and how it is mostly failing to meet that change is a prescient one filled with spot on analysis and important insight.
It is a Press bashfest on one hand, but it is far more intelligent than just sourgrapes, or indiscriminate bashing of the media. It is a very intelligent analysis of the changing world of communications and how the Press has intimidated people on one hand, but failed to uphold standards and taste on the other.
I urge each and every one of you to read this great presentation because much of what Blair says with his criticisms of the failure of the Press and the changing world in which we live is echoed here every single day. Blair proves he is no politician of yesterday and shows us how deeply he has thought about the state of things now and the things to come.
Fox News and Variety have reported that Larry Register, former longtime CNN producer, resigned Friday from Al Hurrah, which is a US government-funded TV station in the Mid-East that is supposed to be a type of Mid-East Voice of America combating the pervasive anti-US and anti-Israel rhetoric in on TV stations like Al Jazeera.
As I noted here at NewsBusters in March, “within weeks” of Register taking over in 2005, the station took a sharp turn toward the radical. Award-winning investigative journalist and columnist Joel Mowbray and the Wall Street Journal have been on top of this story, reporting the problems, which included Register reversing the Al Hurrah policy banning terrorists as guests, that resulted in the broadcast of most of an anti-US/anti-Israel rant by Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hasan Nasrallah and giving other terrorists and extremists air time. Al Hurrah later covered the Iranian conference that denied the Holocaust and hired Yasser Thabet, a well-known Al Jazeera editor who had a habit of “fawning over terrorists,” including broadcasting Osama Bin Ladin's unedited propaganda videos because “[i]t's important to hear [Bin Ladin's] opinions.”
Variety reported Register's resignation June 10 and printed a portion of the letter he submitted (bold mine throughout):
This really is delicious: a television anchorman in Connecticut has been exposed as having lobbied members of that state’s legislature in order to get a bill that benefited broadcasters passed.
As reported Friday by the Hartford Courant (h/t Dan Gainor):
Al Terzi, anchor of WFSB, Channel 3's "Eyewitness News," personally called a key legislator to urge the bill's passage. Terzi's WFSB colleagues Kevin Hogan and Susan Raff also lobbied for the bill, according to the legislator.
"Al Terzi called me," said state Rep. Emil "Buddy" Altobello, D-Meriden, an original sponsor of the bill, which concerned only security guards. "To ask for some help on the bill."
The bill, if signed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell, would limit employers' ability to restrict when and where security guards and broadcasters subsequently work.
How sweet. The article continued by pointing out the obvious conflict of interest:
Back in January, I reported on a particularly odd funeral over in the Palestinian territories of a 10-year-old girl named Abir Aramin, who was supposedly killed by the Israeli Defence Forces at an "anti-barrier" protest.
Figure 1: Bassam Aramin, Jan. 20, 2007.
Imagine my surprise, then, to learn from freelance journalist Hélène Keller-Lind over the weekend (en Anglais for we non-Francophiles) that this poor girl's father has been shamelessly using her death as an anti-Israeli prop, during a "neutral" peace conference hosted by the Shimon Peres Centre for Peace.
The first sign of trouble was the fact that the event was scheduled on the 40-year anniversary of the Six Day War. For such a date to escape the notice of the "peace movement" by accident seems unlikely, so one is left to wonder whether the event organizers were trying purposefully to single out Israel for scorn by picking such a controversial date. The Al Quds Association for Democracy and Dialogue, in fact, confirmed that as far as they were concerned, the date was selected for that very reason!
Which brings us back to Bassam Aramin, the father in question, who just happens to be associated with the Al-Quds group.
[Update/related MRC study: Rich Noyes reminded me of his 2002 study of CNN's favorable coverage of the Cuban regime.]
My only complaint with Siegelbaum is her describing the Cuban state media as an "information service," that pedals "information" handed it by the Castro regime. When many biased, liberal journalists skeptically eye anything coming from the White House or Pentagon as "spin," it becomes all the more annoying that Cuban state media are seen as relaying "information."
Al Gore’s new book "The Assault on Reason" has definitively established one fact: Al Gore is still the sorest loser in American politics. Even liberal book reviewers are wincing at the tone of his jeremiad against the Bush administration. The book should have been titled "They Should Have Elected Me Instead: How Much Better America Would Fare With President Gore."
Like many liberals with the itch to micromanage our lives, Gore clearly believes the American people are ignorant to the point of endangerment. So he’s become a media scholar, and unloaded his communications theories in a book excerpt hyped by his friends at Time magazine.
"Over Ginsburg's Dissent, Court Limits Bias Suits," blared the May 30 front page headline by the Washington Post Supreme Court reporter Robert Barnes. While the 5-4 ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.
hinged on a plain and simple application of a 1964 federal law, Barnes
front-loaded his article with the dissent of liberal Associate Justice
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, buried the majority's rationale deep in the
article after pro-Ginsburg feminist talking points, failed to include
comment from Goodyear Tire, and gave readers an unbalanced portrait of
the ruling focused on feminist reaction.
Let's take a look at how Barnes's bias unfolded, starting with the lede and second paragraph: