History

By Tim Graham | September 14, 2010 | 3:15 PM EDT

On Tuesday, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz publicized a forthcoming book by former TV producer/reporter Mark Feldstein on syndicated columnist Jack Anderson, a big star in the media firmament in the 1960s and 1970s. (He was an early featured player in ABC's Good Morning America.) Kurtz relayed how Feldstein found Anderson engaged in blackmail and bribery to get scoops, often designed to provide maximum embarrassment to Republicans.

People whose version of media history only includes the Woodwards and Bernsteins taking down Richard Nixon (for nothing more than their sheer love of country) might want to see just how Anderson worked hand in glove with Democrats, and cut a series of ethical corners: 

Anderson's questionable tactics were visible as early as 1958, when he and a Democratic congressional investigator were caught with bugging equipment in the old Sheraton-Carlton Hotel, surreptitiously recording the businessman who bribed Sherman Adams, later forced to resign as President Dwight Eisenhower's chief of staff. This was a big break for Anderson, who was then the chief legman for columnist Drew Pearson.
By Brent Baker | September 14, 2010 | 9:01 AM EDT
Giving Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer an unusual evening newscast platform to plug a book, on Monday’s NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams brought viewers back to the Left’s ten-year-old grudge, cuing up Breyer to agree: “Do you think Bush v Gore hurt the credibility of the modern court?” Breyer replied with a simple “yes” and Williams suggested: “Irreparably?” “No,” Breyer said in rejecting Williams’ overwrought premise, so Williams pressed: “For how long?”

Williams introduced the September 13 segment by marveling:
We can’t remember a sitting justice on the U.S. Supreme Court ever stopping by our studios here, but it happened today. We spent some time with Justice Stephen Breyer, appointed by President Clinton and residing on the liberal side of the court. Justice Breyer is out with a new book today. It’s about how the court works, including mistakes the court has made over the years. I started out by asking Justice Breyer, given his love of the Supreme Court, if he's concerned that just one percent of those Americans polled, in a recent survey, knew his name?
By Brent Baker | September 12, 2010 | 1:10 AM EDT
Before this weekend ends, I thought it worth a reminder that this weekend marks the 50th anniversary of a key milestone in the creation of the modern conservative political movement – the “Sharon Statement.” On Friday, the Fund for American Studies and the Young America’s Foundation sponsored a “Tribute to Sharon: Celebrating 50 Years of Advancing Liberty” daytime conference followed by a dinner commemorating the 1960 founding of the Young Americans for Freedom. C-SPAN carried the afternoon speakers live from DC’s Mayflower hotel. (The image here is from a photo I took of a screen during the dinner.)

For the American Spectator online, Quin Hillyer, one of the speakers, wrote an informative piece on what he described as “the single best compendium of American conservative movement beliefs” and its adoption at a gathering of about 90 college students and a few 30-something “elders” (including MRC President L. Brent Bozell III's father) at William F. Buckley Jr.’s home in Sharon, Connecticut.

In a piece in Friday’s Investor’s Business Daily, “The Magnificent Legacy of the YAF,” K.E. Grubbs Jr. recalled “M. Stanton Evans was charged with drafting a statement of principles” and observed: “The Sharon Statement would last as the late 20th century's single most elegant distillation of conservative principles.”
By Brent Baker | September 7, 2010 | 4:17 PM EDT

Reporting ABC News President David Westin's plan to step down at the end of the year, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz noted “some early missteps” during his 13-year tenure, such as “a comment after the Sept. 11 attacks, for which Westin apologized, that journalists should offer no opinion about whether the Pentagon had been a legitimate military target.”

That apology was promoted by an MRC CyberAlert item in October of 2001 which put into play an answer Westin delivered during a Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism seminar. Barely six weeks after the 9/11 attack, Westin was remarkably reticent about expressing an opinion, contending that's improper for a journalist to do so – how quaint:

The Pentagon as a legitimate target? I actually don’t have an opinion on that and it’s important I not have an opinion on that as I sit here in my capacity right now....Our job is to determine what is, not what ought to be and when we get into the job of what ought to be I think we’re not doing a service to the American people....As a journalist I feel strongly that’s something that I should not be taking a position on. I’m supposed to figure out what is and what is not, not what ought to be.
By Brent Baker | September 6, 2010 | 2:44 PM EDT

With the rise of the Tea Party, their push for constitutional limits on government power and admiration for the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, I thought I’d use this last holiday of the summer as an opportunity to post an item from the MRC’s archive which exposed how a major cable network once tried to discredit George Washington’s moral authority in history, and thus the legitimacy of the Revolutionary War.

In an A&E movie, aired in 2000, on George Washington crossing the Delaware, The Crossing, he is persuaded that just like the hired-gun Hessians, his opposition to British taxes means he too is fighting “for profit.” Jeff Daniels, playing George Washington, decries the Hessians: “You want me to weep for those bastards, men who kill for profit?” General Nathanial Greene counters: “Our own cause is, at its heart, a fight against British taxation, is it not? In the end sir, we all kill for profit -- the British and the Hessians, and us.” That convinces Washington.

“That spin is no surprise,” a 2000 MRC CyberAlert item noted, “when you learn that the screenplay was written by a communist. Really.”

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.”