History

By Matthew Philbin | August 24, 2010 | 10:35 AM EDT

Believe it or not, the Huffington Post has actually performed a public service. In publishing author Mark Juddery’s “The 8 Most Overrated People In History: You'll Never Believe Who Made The List,” the official blog of liberal Hollywood reminds us in one brief web slideshow how the left is both condescending and intellectually dishonest. Condescending because in repeating some (by now) well known corrections to famous stories Juddery seems to think he’s bringing the iconoclastic truth to the blinkered public. Intellectually dishonest because in running down President Ronald Reagan with a list of failings that might have been culled from any 1988 edition of The New York Times, he reminds us where many liberals really stood during the latter part of the Cold War, and how they stoutly refused to accept (Soviet) defeat.Juddery’s list of overrated people comes from his book, “The 50 Most Overrated Things in History.” It must be a real page-turner if it these shocking revelations are typical: there was no real King Arthur; in landing on Hispaniola, Columbus thought he’d reached India; there’s no record that Lady Godiva ever rode naked through Coventry. Anyone with a decent education and a minimal amount of common sense can only shrug and wonder who paid Juddery to write this. And anyone who has a nodding relationship with the History Channel probably knows that Thomas Edison was a sharp businessman (“classic Dickensian employer,” in Juddery’s words) who employed hundreds of researchers and scientists working in his name.

By Rich Noyes | August 21, 2010 | 11:57 AM EDT
The peaceful departure of the last U.S. combat forces from Iraq this week was another milestone towards the successful end of a war that many liberal journalists declared lost four years ago. Since early 2009, the war in Iraq has been a relatively low priority for the national press, which has focused on decrying the war in Afghanistan and cheerleading the Obama administration’s aggressive domestic agenda.

But over the last eight years — since journalists began decrying what they termed the Bush administration’s “rush to war” in August 2002, a full seven months before the first bombs fell — the Media Research Center has analyzed TV coverage of the Iraq conflict. The bottom line: reporters were obvious skeptics from the very beginning, and did all they could to push withdrawal and defeat before George W. Bush’s surge strategy saved the day.

A quick review of the media’s approach over the past eight years, with many links to the additional information that can be found at www.MRC.org:
By Matthew Philbin | August 19, 2010 | 1:07 PM EDT
Hollywood westerns don't sell very well anymore. Remakes of westerns don't sell and they tend to remind those who do see them of the superiority of the originals. So remaking the iconic 1969 western, "True Grit," for which John Wayne received his only Best Actor Oscar, seems an odd choice for the Coen brothers.

But the extremely successful directors of "Fargo," "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?" and "No Country for Old Men," are indeed remaking "True Grit." They stress that their effort is based more on the 1968 novel by Charles Portis than the original movie. Still, The Duke's portrayal of hard-drinking, one-eyed Marshall Rooster Cogburn has been a TV staple for decades. Portis' novel - not so much.

The Coens' quirky, often dark and sometimes absurd portraits of America couldn't be much more different from any flick in John Wayne's legendary career. And maybe that's the point. After all, any movie with America-bashing lefty Matt Damon in an important supporting role is bound to be at odds with traditional takes on the American frontier. All the more-so because Damon admitted, "I've never even seen the original John Wayne movie."

The Coens cast 2010 Best Actor Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges as Cogburn. Bridges will have to be a heck of an actor to do the character justice, because in real life, he couldn't be more different than Wayne, a traditional conservative.

By Penny Starr | August 3, 2010 | 2:03 PM EDT
President ObamaPresident Barack Obama told disabled veterans in Atlanta on Monday that he was fulfilling a campaign promise by ending U.S. combat operations in Iraq "on schedule."

But the timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops in Iraq was decided during the Bush administration with the signing of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) by U.S. and Iraq officials on Nov. 16, 2008. The Iraqi parliament signed SOFA on Nov. 27, 2008.

The agreement, which had been in negotiations since 2007, set a timetable calling for most U.S. troops to leave Iraqi towns and cities by June 30, 2009, with about 50,000 troops left in place until the final withdrawal of all U.S. military forces by Dec. 31, 2011.
By Tim Graham | July 29, 2010 | 12:39 PM EDT

Actors love to display their "range," but it might be sad for fans of HBO's John Adams miniseries to see Paul Giamatti go from Founding Father to Soviet dictator. Tom Hanks and his PlayTone Productions, who made the Adams project, are now preparing a film on Nikita Khruschev's 1959 trip to America. Variety reports:

HBO and Playtone are looking to revisit one of the lighter chapters of the Cold War: Nikita Khrushchev's two-week tour of the U.S.

Paul Giamatti is attached to play Khrushchev in the telepic that is in the early stages of development. HBO and Playtone have acquired the rights to the book "K Blows Top," by Peter Carlson, which recounts Khrushchev's 13-day American sojourn in September 1959, a time when Cold War tensions between the world superpowers were running high.

Carlson is a former Washington Post writer, and long reviewed the magazine business for the paper's Style section. His 2009 book (cozily puffed by The Washington Post) contains some less than "light-hearted" moments about Soviet control: 

By Brent Baker | July 25, 2010 | 9:07 PM EDT
Daniel Schorr’s passing on Friday, at age 93, reminded me of the kind of assaults CBS News unleashed on conservatives before there were any countervailing forums available. A 2001 Weekly Standard article (nine years in my “pending” file!) detailed a particularly vicious left-wing hit piece he narrated in 1964 which linked Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater with neo-Nazis in Germany, a CBS Evening News story notorious enough to earn a mention – if without any censure – in the New York Times and Washington Post obituaries.

In a June of 2001 Weekly Standard review of a memoir by Schorr about his years with CBS, CNN and NPR, Andrew Ferguson recited the piece which aired during the GOP’s convention:
“It looks as though Senator Goldwater, if nominated, will be starting his campaign here in Bavaria, center of Germany's right wing” also known, Schorr added helpfully, as “Hitler's one-time stomping ground.” Goldwater, he went on, had given an interview to Der Spiegel, “appealing to right-wing elements in Germany,” and had agreed to speak to a conclave of, yes, “right-wing Germans.” “Thus," Schorr concluded, “there are signs that the American and German right wings are joining up.” Now back to you, Walter, and have a nice day!
Ferguson pointed out what eluded the Washington Post and New York Times: “Though easily checkable, it was false in all its particulars” and “was false in its obvious implication of an Anschluss between German neo-Nazis and U.S. Republicans.” Nonetheless, “if Schorr was embarrassed by the Goldwater episode, his memoir shows no signs of it.”
By Tim Graham | July 19, 2010 | 7:12 AM EDT
Both the New York Times and The Washington Post devoted obituaries to William Callahan, a Catholic “dissident” and founder of the radical-left Quixote Center. It was best remembered for its devotion to the communist dictatorship of Nicaragua. But that's not the kind of language these liberal newspapers would use.

Douglas Martin in the Times resolutely avoided “communist” and "dictatorship" and “Soviet-backed.” The center was founded “to press for reforms in the church and society.” And: “The Quixote Center achieved particular prominence in its support of the leftist government of Nicaragua in the 1980s, a stance directly at odds with that of the Reagan administration. It raised more than $100 million in humanitarian aid for the Nicaraguan government.”

Lauren Wiseman in the Washington Post highlighted Callahan's “iconoclastic” and “idealistic” ways, but at least suggested he was against “anti-Marxist” rebels: “During the 1980s, he was involved with Quest for Peace, a program run by the Quixote Center that sent aid to Nicaragua and opposed U.S. support to the anti-Marxist rebel group known as the contras.”

By Brent Baker | July 17, 2010 | 6:02 PM EDT

On Friday, Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers, who spied for Cuba, were sentenced to prison terms (life for him, six years for her) by the federal court in DC, an action which Washington Post reporter Spencer Hsu described as “a grim ending to the Myerses' idealistic embrace of the Cuban revolution.” Flashback to a June of 2009 NewsBusters post from when the couple was charged 13 months ago, illustrating how the New York Times and Washington Post painted the traitors as a lovable duo:

“She fell for his worldly sophistication” while he “admired her work helping ordinary people,” gushed a front page Friday [June 19] New York Times story on Gwendolyn and Kendall Myers, both charged with spying for communist Cuba for nearly 30 years. Deciding “to give the second half of their lives new meaning,” the couple found themselves “disillusioned with the pace of change in Washington” so they once moved to South Dakota, Times reporter Ginger Thompson charmingly related, where “they marched for legalized abortion, promoted solar energy, and repaired relations with six children from previous marriages.” How loveable. 

The Times story arrived 12 days after a front page Washington Post piece, “A Slow Burn Becomes a Raging Fire: Disdain for U.S. Policies May Have Led to Alleged Spying for Cuba,” in which reporters Mary Beth Sheridan and Del Quentin Wilber managed, though the couple's betrayal of their country (and the people of Cuba) started during the Carter administration, to include a shot at former President George W. Bush as the cap to a lead paragraph of, in the Weekly Standard's assessment, “Updikean brushstrokes.” To wit:

He was a courtly State Department intelligence analyst from a prominent family who loved to sail and peruse the London Review of Books. Occasionally, he would voice frustration with U.S. policies, but to his liberal neighbors in Northwest D.C. it was nothing out of the ordinary. “We were all appalled by the Bush years,” one said.

By Matt Hadro | July 7, 2010 | 5:25 PM EDT

So is President Obama more conservative than the late Ronald Reagan? MSNBC substitute anchor Cenk Uygur thinks so. Filling in yesterday for Dylan Ratigan on his 4 p.m. show, Uygur moderated a segment based on the preposition that President Obama's policies have actually been more conservative than those of President Reagan.

"That's the silliest thing I've ever heard," former Reagan White House political director Frank Donatelli said of the claims. "It's an incomplete and distorted picture of everything," he added. Uygur is a host of "The Young Turks," a left-wing internet political podcast.

In fact, both his guests disagreed with him, but the liberal radio show host wouldn't budge.

By Brent Baker | July 6, 2010 | 12:36 PM EDT
Less than an hour before CBS’s Craig Ferguson-hosted 10 PM EDT “Boston Pops Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular” national broadcast on Sunday night, local anchors Jack Williams and Lisa Hughes from Boston’s CBS-owned television station, along with a couple of local actors, took to the stage to narrate the music-accompanied “The Dream Lives On: A Portrait of the Kennedy Brothers.” (Video: downloadable from NB twenty second wmv clip of Williams and Hughes in action.)

Introducing the 20-minute production carried by WBZ-TV channel 4 in Boston in its 8-10 PM EDT coverage, Pops conductor Keith Lockhart ludicrously insisted it was “not political” -- even though it takes its name from Ted Kennedy’s very political 2008 Democratic convention speech aimed at motivating Democrats to push for left-wing policies, starting with nationalized health care, and culminates by quoting the call to arms in that address: “If we set our compass true, we will reach our destination. The work begins anew, the hope rises again and the dream lives on!”

That line was read by actor Morgan Freeman Jr. in the original May 18 production at Boston’s Symphony Hall (mov video excerpt) and coinciding with the concert at Boston’s Hatch Shell along the Charles River, the Pops trumpeted:
By Charlie Daniels | July 1, 2010 | 4:23 PM EDT

ObamaPolitics was once an honored profession of high calling by men of strong principles and courage whose interest in being elected to these positions of public trust was to serve the country and make sure their generation left a better world to the next one.

They were, for the most part, men of faith, men of integrity, commitment, practicality and common sense who viewed high political office as a term of service, not a lifetime vocation.

They fought and won wars against far superior odds, battled economic downturns, abolished slavery and left us a rich endowment of federal papers documenting their vision of what the United States of America is and was meant to remain.

By Jeff Poor | June 30, 2010 | 3:28 PM EDT

Can anyone think of an angrier group of writers in political punditry than the ones currently published at Salon.com?

Throughout the Elena Kagan hearings, both Joan Walsh and Joe Conason have written anti-Republican screeds accusing GOP lawmakers of all sorts of unsavory things to score political points despite what's likely be a certain confirmation.

However, this disposition goes beyond just the SCOTUS hearings.

On MSNBC's June 30 "Morning Joe," Conason went after Harvard Professor Jeffrey Miron, who appeared to promote his book "Libertarianism, from A to Z." Apparently what drew the indignation from Conason was the theory that government can actually make things worse in an economy: