Since Sunday could be described as Clinton Blew Up On Tape Day, it reminds me that the CBS "Public Eye" site was inspired by the BBC to remember this week in history, 1998. As they prepared for the release of Clinton's grand jury testimony from mid-August, Team Clinton had told everyone in Washington that Slick Willie blew a gasket before Ken Starr's prosecutors in the Lewinsky case. He was going to be red-faced and furious. CBS's Hillary Profita asked reporter Sharyl Attkisson to remember that time. The headline was simply: "On This Day in the 'Ultimate Spin Zone.'" Apparently, "ultimate spin" is a polite way to say you were duped, conned, fooled. But they never seemed to mind. Attkisson recalled:
On "The Daily Show" Thursday night, host Jon Stewart interviewed filmmaker C.C. Goldwater about her HBO documentary "Mr. Conservative," about her grandfather, Barry Goldwater. Stewart praised the film, and asked about the surprising liberal tilt of the talking heads in the film. (There were a few more conservatives in there than advertised, including Richard Viguerie and Morton Blackwell.) But the granddaughter clearly has a very chilly feeling about the present-day conservative movement:
Stewart: “Barry Goldwater, what’s an interesting story in the film, a lot of the people that are talking are considered the leading voices of the Democrats or the liberal side. Hillary Clinton -- ”
This story about a Vietnamese man who was a spy for the communists during the war as well as a reporter for Reuters and Time magazine is nothing short of an outrage. It also makes you wonder how many agents for totalitarianism are working in the press today. An's assertions of impartiality are all too familar as well. (An old MRC MediaWatch item on him is here.)
HANOI, Vietnam - Pham Xuan An, who led a remarkable and perilous double life as a communist spy and a respected reporter for Western news organizations during the Vietnam War, died Wednesday at age 79. [...]
In the history of wartime espionage, few were as successful as An. He straddled two worlds for most of the 15-year war in Indochina as an undercover communist agent while also working as a journalist, first for Reuters news service and later for 10 years as Time magazine's chief Vietnamese reporter — a role that gave him access to military bases and background briefings.
He was so well-known for his sources and insight that many Americans who knew him suspected he worked for the CIA.
Before Saigon fell to the communists, An worked to help friends escape, including South Vietnam's former security chief who feared death if he was found by northern forces. An later revealed his true identity as a Viet Cong commander, but said he never reported any false information or communist propaganda while in his role as a journalist.
In a surreal clash of the sacred and the profane, the New York Times - that citadel of secularism - has declared in its editorial of this morning that Pope Benedict "needs to offer a deep and persuasive apology," for having quoted a 14th century Christian emperor who said:
“Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
The Times is only being fair and balanced, I suppose. After all, hardly a week goes by that you can't pick up the paper and read an editorial condemning this or that mullah, imam or ayatollah for the latest fatwa ordering the death of such-and-such infidel or the destruction of entire countries found to be an annoyance. Or not.
Matching the news judgment of the broadcast network morning shows, the network evening newscasts on Thursday all highlighted the late Ann Richards' sarcastic insult, for the conditions he was born into, of then-Vice President and GOP presidential candidate George Bush at the 1988 Democratic convention. CBS anchor Katie Couric even put it into her up front tease: “Remembering Ann Richards: One of the most colorful women in American politics.” Viewers then heard and saw her infamous line: “Poor George. He can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth!” CBS reporter Morley Safer led his obituary of her with her derisive slam: “Ann Richards' leapt from obscurity took place at the 1988 Democratic convention when she lit into George Bush, the Republican presidential candidate.” ABC anchor Charles Gibson highlighted how “with her Texas twang and sharp tongue, she became an instant celebrity at the 1988 Democratic convention with a speech that poked fun at the first President Bush.” Over on NBC, Brian Williams announced before the media's favorite clip: “She was no friend to the Bush family. In fact, she is best remembered for this, the night her pistol went off at the 1988 Democratic convention when she took on the first President Bush.” Williams and Couric described her as “colorful” while Gibson praised her as “an original voice.”
Some of us at MRC HQ feel old now remembering just a while back to 1988. Rich Noyes used his funny Dan Rather impression over the phone this morning on my commute, reading Rather on July 18, 1988, as he put it in today's blog: “Ann Richards, state treasurer of Texas, asked to stand and deliver at the Democratic National Convention, and does so. Among other things, a scalpel-style attack on George Bush, describing the Vice President as a man ‘born with a silver foot in his mouth,’ who, to quote her, ‘wants a job he can’t be appointed to’ finally.”
In a case of what might be called dueling Rathers -- although I don't do impressions very well -- I recalled that at the 1996 GOP convention, Rather introduced another Texas female politician, Kay Bailey Hutchison, with this related Tool Time intro: “She's expected to hit President Clinton, rhetorically, with everything short of a tire tube." Democrats use scalpels like fine surgeons. Republicans are brutish neighborhood bullies.
For a media that likes to complain about the incivility and personal attacks that Republicans have supposedly injected into our politics over the past generation, the networks' reactions to former Texas Governor Ann Richards underscore journalists' partisan approach to what is fair and what is foul.
In 1988, then-Texas state treasurer Richards laced her keynote address at the Democratic National Convention with a series of nasty, mocking attacks on then-Vice President George H. W. Bush. Instead of deploring her descent into the “politics of personal destruction” — as they might have if the speechmaker were a conservative Republican and the target was a liberal Democrat — the media elite swooned, with then-CBS anchor Dan Rather admiring her “scalpel-style attack” on the Republican presidential candidate.
Remembering Ann Richards this morning, all three broadcast network shows re-visited her ridicule of Bush, admiring it as “biting wit” and “fun-loving spirit,” with ABC’s Diane Sawyer touting Richards as the “sassy, funny homemaker who became Texas governor.” ABC, CBS and NBC all played the same sarcastic soundbite of Richards from 18 years ago. “Poor George. He can’t help it. He was born with a silver-foot in his mouth.”
Clinton pointedly refuted several fictionalized scenes that he claims insinuate he was too distracted by the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal to care about bin Laden and that a top adviser pulled the plug on CIA operatives who were just moments away from bagging the terror master, according to a letter to ABC boss Bob Iger obtained by The Post.
Item -- Philosophical sympathizer Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in her June 2004 column evaluating the Clinton presidency:
In a serious indicator of approaching liberal bias on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, Howard Kurtz noted yesterday:
The revamped program has just hired its own historian, author Douglas Brinkley, and has taped outside contributors delivering 20 possible commentaries for its new "Free Speech" segment (including a couple by Washington Post op-ed columnist Eugene Robinson).
The Brahmins might no longer rule the Bay State, but their tradition lives on in the editorial room of the Boston Globe. And what better occasion than Labor Day for the elitist Globe to condescend to workers in a manner that might have brought a smile to the lips of a Lowell or Cabot?
The topic of Labor Day, 2006 is one in great fashion in MSM circles: the horrors of Wal-Mart - and the joys of unionism. According to the Globe, "unionized workers earn on average $1.52 an hour more than those in similar occupations without union representation."
Alack - in the Globe's mind - Wal-Mart workers are too dumb to realize this. With a paternalistic pat on the head, the Globe observes: "[Wal-Mart] employees don't like to think they are patsies." Translation: they are patsies; they're just not smart enough to realize it.
Remember George H.W. Bush? The one who was derided by the MSM for his lack of toughness? The man Newsweek put on its cover with the sneering headline "Fighting the Wimp Factor"?
Scratch all that. As per this morning's “Today” show, it turns out H.W. wasn't a wimp at all. Not only was he a 'diplomat', above all he was someone who knew how to successfully fight a war in Iraq.
What caused “Today” to catch a bad case of SORS: Sudden-Onset Revisionism Syndrome? It's that old truism at work: the MSM is willing to praise a Republican who is out of power . . . for purposes of bashing one still in office.
”Today” used the occasion of W's visit to his father's home in Kennebunkport this weekend to raise the question "Like Father Not Like Son?" Narrating
Journalists, the self-described writers of the first draft of history, often have a very tough time remembering it. I've lost count how many times I've heard the phrase "most ever," "biggest in history," "worst X ever" and so on.
The BBC provided the latest example of this historical short-sightedness in a not-exactly condemnatory (the Beeb never once calls him a dictator) profile of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, which as the WSJ's James Taranto noted yesterday, contained a major error:
Last Monday the BBC published a puff piece on Cuba's dictator titled "Fidel:
The World Icon." Here's how it starts:
Cuba's President Fidel Castro--the world's longest-serving leader--turns
80 on 13 August. This week, we will be assessing his political life and his
impact on the Caribbean island.
It's been 18 years but the media still can't get over Michael Dukakis' defeat to George Bush and the Willie Horton ad they blame for that Bush victory. On this morning's Today NBC's Ann Curry brought on psychologist Jeff Gardere to discuss a new study that showed how emotions can overtake logic in decision-making. Curry introduced the segment: "Have you ever been accused of thinking with your heart and not your head well if so a new study reports your just like everybody else....This is just the latest biological evidence to suggest that next time you make a bad choice maybe you really can blame it on your emotions." Just seconds later NBC's producers ran the Horton ad as Exhibit A of emotions leading to the "bad choice," of voting for Bush.
Those burly hawks of the Boston Globe are at it again. With a Landis-like testosterone rush, the Globe's editorial this morning, Tarring the majority, rips George H.W. Bush for failing to have taken out Saddam at the conclusion of Operation Desert Storm. Or as the Globe so sneeringly put it:
"The weakling-in-chief who failed to oust Saddam Hussein in 1991 was not a Democrat but the first President George Bush."
Yes, we all remember those rousing Globe editorials urging the first war against Iraq. And who can forget the glorious martial strains of its editorial opus "On to Baghdad!" at war's end? Or not.
The fifth anniversary of the September 11 hijacking attacks on America by al-Qaeda may present a challenge to our memory as a country. How much do we remember, and how much have we forgotten? No one truly expected that the national unity in grief and anger on that day would last forever. But that unity is bound together again in the new Oliver Stone-directed movie "World Trade Center."
This comes as something of a surprise with the name of Stone attached. But believe it. This movie brings 9/11 back to life all its horrific immediacy in the lives of New York Port Authority cops and their families. This film is not political. This film transports us back into that day when Democrats and Republicans sang "God Bless America" on the Capitol steps, when the whole nation felt the pain of that gaping, burning hole in the center of Manhattan, the disastrous gash in the Pentagon, and the heroic downing of jihadist hopes in a Pennsylvania field.
Elian Gonzalez sent a note Sunday wishing a speedy recovery to "my dear grandpa Fidel," ...Gonzalez, the Cuban boy at the center of an international custody battle with family members in Miami six years ago, published a letter in the Communist Youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde signed with "little kisses" from him and his half-siblings and cousins.
"We send you this letter to let you know that we are worried about your health," Elian, now 12, wrote. "We hope for your speedy recovery and take the opportunity to wish you a happy birthday, may you have many more."
Variety reviewer Robert Koehler (formerly of the L.A. Times) recently reviewed a new documentary titled "Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater." The main driver behind the project is his granddaughter, C.C. Goldwater, and it's scheduled to air on HBO on September 18. The list of interviewees underlines it's not a big right-wing project: it includes Walter Cronkite, Ted Kennedy, Al Franken, Helen Thomas, James Carville, Bob Schieffer, Andy Rooney, Julian Bond, Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn, John Dean, and erstwhile Goldwater Girl Hillary Rodham Clinton. A few righties appear (Richard Viguerie, George Will) and some more centrist GOP types do, too (John Warner, Sandra Day O'Connor).
Here's how Koehler sums the film up: "Pic reflects on a contempo religious GOP right wing that would have profoundly alienated Goldwater, who rarely brought God into his politics."
We might assume that on a holiday like the Fourth of July, there's not going to be a lot of liberal media bias. But a search through the MRC's "Notable Quotables" archive shows there have been a few sharp examples that could ruin an Independence Day. I'd begin with with this one from 1994: "We hear the stories of discrimination in education and housing and jobs all the time. We hear the violence between races. Do you think it's possible that America is simply an inherently racist place?" That was Today (then-substitute) co-host Matt Lauer, not exactly waving the flag. If it was an audition, it must have worked. Here are some others:
2003: "Tonight, we’re going to show you a new true face of homelessness in America. Today’s homeless are families, and the families you will meet have done everything right and yet there’s no place for them. Still, they struggle to find a home....There are more families homeless in New York City now than at any in the last 20 years....in numbers, it’s estimated, not seen since the Great Depression." – NBC’s John Hockenberry on the July 4 Dateline.
As we head into the Fourth of July holiday, remember it was just last year, headed into a long Independence Day weekend, when NBC anchor Brian Williams compared our founding fathers to terrorists. How open-minded it was of Brian to perceive that perhaps our forefathers could have been considered "terrorists," when experts suggest the word wasn't really coined until years after our revolution. Here's how we summed up that June 30 evening newscast (watch it here):
Remote controls flew at TV sets across America last night as NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams came out of an Andrea Mitchell story on whether Iran's new President was one of the captors of U.S. hostages in 1979 during Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic revolution. Williams suggested a sickening moral equivalence between the Iranian radicals and America's Founding Fathers.
"Legendary" liberal White House reporter (now Hearst columnist) Helen Thomas appeared on Comedy Central's "Daily Show" on Tuesday night to promote her new book attacking the rolling-over-for-Dubya-like-puppies press corps, titled "Watchdogs of Democracy?" The exchange displayed typical, hard-left Helen, laughing at the idea that President Bush has accomplished anything and asserting that we should be spreading democracy through blue jeans and rap music. (I kid you not.) Host Jon Stewart began by asking about how long she's been in the White House -- since 1961.
With Katie Couric lounging in the wings, Dan Rather is now expendable, and the suits at CBS News are squeezing him out of his last remaining gig on "60 Minutes." This has caused great distress for those who like their news to look like a long commercial for MoveOn.org, which is to say, the Dan Rather fan club.
CBS smiled politely as they pushed him away, but the Philadelphia Inquirer quoted an anonymous former CBS executive, who denounced the shove-off as "disgraceful. He's a legend. He gave his life to that company. Even though he made a big mistake, he did 43 years and 11 months' great work."
If Rather’s that great, why didn’t the executive have the courage to go on the record?
Rather had a Nixonian ending, resigning from the anchor chair in disgrace after being in complete denial about his own political corruption. It’s not surprising that some will now try to rehabilitate his reputation, but they won’t have much more luck than Nixon did. Dan Rather does not have a sterling record of journalism. He is a grand example of the anchorman as a powerful and partisan national politician who never had to be elected, yet had a lot more visibility and wielded a lot more influence than most elected officials.
MRC intern Eugene Gibilaro found that on CBS’s Sunday Morning yesterday, movie critic David Edelstein politicized his movie review of "The Lake House." Edelstein discusses time travel movies and describes the plot of "The Lake House," as:
"I even loved the incredibly dumb time travel romance "The Lake House," where Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock send letters back and forth between 2004 and 2006."
Seems Edelstein couldn’t resist the opportunity to interject his political philosophy into the review as he alluded to the 2004 election and the fact that he believes George Bush and the Republican Party stole Ohio:
In the New York Times, a Sunday story from Berkeley, California on the closing of a legendary local bookstore carries a surprisingly old refrain. Reporter Jesse McKinley found that some leftists are still blaming Ronald Reagan for the business slump on Berkeley's main drag, Telegraph Avenue, right there in the first paragraph:
Depending on whom you ask, the reason Cody's Books is going out of business is either because of the City of Berkeley, the homeless, the University of California, the war in Iraq, Ronald Reagan, the Internet or the lack of short-term parking.
Reagan? Even now, after his death? Blaming Reagan for every negative social event was common liberal-media sport in the 1980s and 1990s, slowing a bit with the onset of Reagan's Alzheimer's disease. McKinley comes back around to the Reagan-bashing arguments at the story's end:
In the latest liberal media press release disguised as a news story, Bill Clinton has now provided his own audio tour of the Clinton library, reports Jill Zeman of the Associated Press from Little Rock, and it seems to have a lot of boasting against Republicans of the "you can't stop me, you can only hope to contain me" variety.
At the impeachment exhibit, Clinton says, "So when I won, it was a profound sort of psychological shock to a lot of them," he says of his opponents, with a chuckle. "Then they went into overdrive fighting me. They weren't accomplishing anything, just banging away."
As Letterman might say, isn't it "banging away" that started this whole trouble in the first place?
Everyone has heard of the "killings at Haditha," even though the military investigation of what happened there is still underway. Has anyone heard of the "killings at St. Lo" in July, 1944? A comparison of the New York Times coverage of those two events is instructive.
A Google News search of Haditha + killings + New York Times yields 891 hits as of Sunday noon. The articles on this subject in the Times are driving the national and international news in all media on this subject. The Times and its reporters are cited in most of these articles.
But what did the Times run about the killings at St. Lo in July, 1944?
It ran no stories, front page or otherwise, on St. Lo when it occurred. (Operation Cobra was intensive bombing by the US Air Force, in support of the effort to break out of St. Lo, and move against the Germans across France.)
Yes this is a few days old, from this past Sunday’s "60 Minutes" on CBS, but Andy Rooney’s commentary on the show was so far out, it had to be shared with the Newsbusters community. Although he began by making valid points about Americans needing to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day, and not just viewing it as a day off, and solemnly remembered friends he lost in World War II, some of his statements called into question whether the sacrifices made by those killed in battle were worth it.
"There's only so much time any of us can spend remembering those we loved who have died, but the men, boys really, who died in our wars deserve at least a few moments of reflection during which we consider what they did for us. They died."
Fishbowl NY reports that Katie Couric has already displayed one apparently required tendency of a CBS anchor. You must genuflect and pay great homage to the CBS anchor-god named Edward R. Murrow. Her appearance at the Time 100 dinner last night went as follows:
Latecomer Katie Couric skipped cocktails and arrived at 10:00 p.m. just before accepting her inclusion on the Time 100. She prefaced her remarks by saying "I'm worthless without a TelePrompter" before toasting Edward R. Murrow as having the greatest influence on her. "We were all reminded [this year of how] he was such a journalistic giant."
Eleanor Clift, Newsweek's resident genius, had another stroke of brilliance
Sunday with a column on the many similarities between Hillary Clinton
and Ronald Reagan. Aside from that very arguable point, I couldn't help
but notice this gem that somehow worked its way through Newsweek's
legions of fact-checkers:
The late great Jerry Garcia
used to say the Grateful Dead were like black licorice. People who
loved them loved them a lot. People who hated them really hated them.
"Hillary Clinton is black licorice," says a Democratic strategist.
"There's a huge upside, and there's a huge downside. And we don't know
how it will balance out."
When was the last time we had such a
dominant front runner this early who raises such anxiety about
electability? The answer is Ronald Reagan. It took a leap of
imagination to believe an aging grade-B movie actor with orange hair could win the presidency.
For comment on the substance of the piece (such as it is), head over to Captain's Quarters.
As a follow-up to yesterday's item on Newsweek's Jonathan Alter and his new book championing Franklin Roosevelt, we peek at the Washington Post's Sunday book review by historian Alonzo Hamby. Is this company policy? After all, the Post and Newsweek are kissing corporate cousins. (One clue: Newsweek editor Jon Meacham's book also receives the book review today -- two weeks after his big authored piece in the Sunday Outlook section.) The Hamby review is mixed, but here's where the sterner words come in: