While the national media made the books of Bob Woodward and David Kuo big anti-Bush sensations, are there any books from conservatives that could make a wave in the campaign? On Monday's talk shows, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin both promoted a story from our colleagues at CNSNews.com on a new book by Grove City College professor Paul Kengor called "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism." Its startling revelation: Ted Kennedy was asking Soviet dictators to help assist in defeating Reagan in 1984:
Back in 1994, the last time Democrats had majorities in the House and Senate, the broadcast networks tried to suffocate the Republican challenge with negative spin. NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw scoffed at the GOP's Contract with America: "It is long on promises, but short on sound premises."
No Republican got worse press that year than the man who would be Speaker, Newt Gingrich. ABC's Jim Wooten slammed Gingrich as "the national poster boy for the politics of resentment and rage." CBS's Eric Engberg skewered Gingrich as "bombastic and ruthless....the family values candidate who divorced his ailing first wife."
Fast forward 12 years, and now Republicans are defending their House and Senate majorities in a tough election. But the broadcast networks have so far refused to scrutinize the Democrats who wish to lead the next Congress.
GREENSBORO, N.C., Oct. 18 -- President Bush said Wednesday that the current surge of violence in Iraq "could be" comparable to the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War, a succession of battles that became a milestone because it helped turn the American public against the conflict and its political leadership.
What the WaPo won't come right out and say is that it wasn't the Tet Offensive itself that had such a devastating effect upon civilian morale, it was the abjectly incompetent reporting of the event by American journalists.
Today's starter: Is it just me or does it seem to anyone else that the
media's political memory doesn't go much further back than a month? For
those with longer attention spans, the Weekly Standard provides a welcome dose of history in its latest issue.
On another front, NB contributing blogger Bob Owens is having a fund-raising drive to help replace his almost-dead computer. If you like Bob's posts, consider contributing.
Also, if you haven't contributed your two cents to the NewsBusters FAQ (frequently asked questions), here's the link. Ask questions you want answered by NB staff or answer ones you think new readers might have.
Both Time and Newsweek are out with another set of “bad news for Republicans” covers this week, as Tim Graham pointed out earlier this morning. In her magazine’s cover story, Time’s Karen Tumulty suggests that Republican are about to lose control of Congress. “It took 40 years for the House Democrats to exhaust their goodwill. It may take only 12 years for the Republicans to get there.”
For millions who will only notice Time, Newsweek, or U.S. News & World Report as they’re waiting to check out at the grocery store, the picture and headline on the cover will convey the news magazine’s editorial summary of the week’s important news. This week, Time showcases a huge shot of an elephant’s rump, symbolizing the end of the GOP’s control of Congress. Newsweek has a huge close-up of the disgraced Mark Foley’s face, an image that dwarfs a picture of President Bush.
In Foley Case Upsets Tough Balance by Capitol Hill’s Gay Republicans, the New York Times describes the plight of gay Republican staffers in DC. According to the Times, things are so tough for them that a group gets together every week to "commiserate." The longish article makes an interesting read, but I was particularly struck by these two items. First, the article's author, Mark Leibovich, writes:
"Even though the G.O.P. fashions itself as 'the party of Lincoln' and a promoter of tolerance, it is perceived as hostile by many gay men and lesbians."
Congressman Barney Frank’s scandalous tolerance of a gay prostitution business operating out of his house, uncovered by the Washington Times in 1989, drew from ABC nowhere near the dramatic amount of attention ABC gave Mark Foley. On the August 25, 1989 World News Tonight, Sam Donaldson noted it just once in passing, a mere 67 words:
"Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank, an acknowledged homosexual, today confirmed that his Washington apartment had been used as a callboy headquarters by a male prostitute for a year and a half until late 1987. Responding to a story in today's Washington Times, Frank said he had hired the prostitute out of his own funds as a personal aide and fired him when he found out what was going on."
When the story broke in July of 1983 on the sexual affairs with House pages by Reps. Daniel Crane and Gerry Studds, ABC did not fuel days of speculation about whether Speaker Tip O’Neill would resign. (Fun fact: when Studds was censured, Speaker O’Neill did not cast a vote. Three Democrats voted against Studds being censured.) By the time Studds ran in a primary re-election campaign in September 1984, ABC aired a report telling the nation that Studds faced only "a strong sense of loyalty" and forgiveness from the voters in Massachusetts.
On July 14, 1983, ABC reporter Charles Gibson reported:
"In both cases, the relationships were voluntary, there was no favoritism granted to the pages. Thus it was the recommendation of the committee's special counsel, Joseph Califano, that the Congressmen not be expelled or censured, simply reprimanded and by an eleven to one vote, the Ethics Committee agreed."
David Brooks' New York Times column of this morning on the Foley matter, "A Tear in Our Fabric," is so important that I'd normally be inclined to simply reproduce it in its entirety and let it speak for itself. But as a subscription-required item, I cannot. I do offer an extended-but-redacted excerpt for our readers' consideration:
This is a tale of two predators. The first is a congressman who befriended teenage pages. He sent them cajoling instant messages asking them to describe their sexual habits, so he could get his jollies.
The second is a secretary, who invited a 13-year-old girl from her neighborhood into her car and kissed her. Then she invited the girl up to her apartment, gave her some vodka, took off her underwear and gave her a satin teddy to wear.
Better prepare yourselves for an alternate reality, folks, because the shocks came early and often in this piece (emphasis mine throughout): “Sex scandals involving politicians are as old as Thomas Jefferson, but the outcome seems to depend on which party you represent. In recent years, for the most part, Democrats have been able to survive their sordid escapades while Republicans have paid with their political lives.”
Can’t be the Washington Post, right? Checking that link about now? The article miraculously continued after briefly discussing the current scandal involving Rep. Mark Foley (R-Florida):
On The Corner today, John Podhoretz has the latest in a very old tale in a new laudatory biography of Isidor Feinstein Stone, or as the leftists remember and adore him, I.F. Stone. In the 1960's he was all the rage with his newsletter I.F. Stone's Weekly. A new book by Myra MacPherson, formerly a reporter for The Washington Post, apparently has ended up rebutting itself:
The Washington journalist Myra MacPherson has written a worshipful book about the radical leftist journalist I.F. Stone. A dozen years ago Stone's reputation was rocked when a retired KGB officer seemed to finger Stone as a paid agent of the Soviet Union. MacPherson evidently went to great pains to disprove this charge, and in her book she triumphantly claims to have done so. But, as Paul Berman explains in a fascinating review of her book (and a new collection of Stone's writing), MacPherson "seems not to notice that in her ardor to rescue Stone from his enemies, she has yanked the rope a little too firmly and has accidentally hanged the man." Berman continues:
MacPherson informs us that Kalugin, having specified that Stone was never on the Soviet payroll, described Stone as a "fellow traveler" — meaning a friendly supporter of the Soviet cause, though not a disciplined member of any Communist organization. Kalugin explained (in words no admirer of I. F. Stone will want to read) that Stone "began his cooperation with the Soviet intelligence long before me, based entirely on his view of the world." Stone was "willing to perform tasks." He would "find out what the views of someone in the government were or some senator on such and such an issue."
Here's a blast from the past: The only woman ever accused and convicted of being Tokyo Rose, an anti-American radio announcer during World War II died this week. She was later pardoned by president Gerald Ford after word got out that some of her accusers were lying. Here's an excerpt from the Washington Post's story:
Iva Ikuko Toguri D'Aquino, 90, an American woman branded "Tokyo Rose" during World War II, imprisoned for making treasonous radio broadcasts and decades later exonerated with a presidential pardon, died Sept. 26 at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. No cause of death was reported.
Although nearly a dozen female broadcasters were given the moniker during World War II, Mrs. D'Aquino was the one most tarred by the name Tokyo Rose, which, along with the name of Japanese War Minister Hideki Tojo, came to personify Axis infamy in the Pacific.
Taunting millions of servicemen with stories of infidelity on the home front, false reports of battle outcomes meant to demoralize them and frequent spins of pop songs to keep them listening, the broadcasts of Radio Tokyo were notorious instruments in the propaganda war. Many American sailors and soldiers found the broadcasts cartoonishly incredible, which Mrs. D'Aquino said was exactly her intention.
The name Tokyo Rose was an American invention. On air, Mrs. D'Aquino called herself "Orphan Ann," a reference both to her favorite radio program as a child and her lonely status as an American trapped in enemy territory. She refused to renounce her U.S. citizenship during the war, and many described her as a victim of her own courage and naiveté.
Bill Clinton’s diatribe against FNC’s Chris Wallace, who dared to question the ex-President about his failed efforts to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, reminded some of the last time Clinton exhibited such vitriol. Back on November 18, 2004, in the midst of a quite positive ABC News prime-time special, "Bill Clinton: A Place in History," about the dedication of the Clinton presidential library, Bill Clinton angrily wagged his finger at Peter Jennings, accusing ABC of conspiring with Ken Starr to “repeat every little sleazy thing he leaked” during the investigation into Clinton’s perjury and obstruction of justice.
The late Peter Jennings, who was never accused of being a conservative, had committed the grave offense of asking Clinton about a survey of historian that had ranked him 41 of 42 presidents on “moral authority.” As recounted by the MRC’s Brent Baker in a CyberAlert published the next morning, that set Clinton off on a self-indulgent discussion of how he and his supporters were supposedly victimized by Ken Starr — and the news media.
Video clip (4:10): Real (3.1 MB at 100 kbps) or Windows Media (2.5 MB at 81 kbps), plus MP3 audio (1.1 MB). Read on for transcript of the segment.
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."