Writing at JustFacts.com, James Agresti has a fascinating article documenting how the media spin the economy during Democratic and Republican administrations and during election years. “With another presidential election upon us and a Republican in the White House, negatively skewed economic reporting is climaxing,” Agresti writes.
After detailing how the media castigated George W. Bush for allegedly “talking down the economy” after his election in 2000, Agresti points out how the press is drenching Americans with a steady deluge of bad economic news: “This is not to deny the nation is in troubled economic times, but given what the press and politicians affirmed about ‘talking down the economy’ less than eight years ago, there can be little doubt that they have played and are playing a major role in damaging it now.”
Among the exhibits Agresti provides is a screen capture of the New York Times web site on August 28 of this year. The main headline: “Obama Speech to Cite Failures of Bush on the Economy.” Far down the page, in much smaller type, this headline: “Economic Growth Revised Higher.”
In his 1999 memoir, “All Too Human,” George Stephanopoulos defined good spin as “a hope dressed up as an observation.” Starting with the 2000 election, however, Stephanopoulos (supposedly) abandoned the role of paid spinner that he filled during Bill Clinton’s 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns, instead offering his expert opinion as an analyst and anchor for ABC News.
But a review finds Stephanopoulos’s campaign-year “observations” seem a whole lot like the spin he used to peddle when he worked for the Clintons. So far this election year, as my colleague Brent Baker has chronicled, Stephanopoulos the neutral pundit has declared Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden the winners of the first three debates.
Does anyone want to bet against him going four-for-four?
Osborn Elliott, the top editor of Newsweek from 1961 to 1976 and Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism from 1979 to 1986, passed away last Sunday at age 83 (Monday, September 29 Washington Post obituary). He was retired when the Media Research Center was founded in 1987, but he didn't hesitate in 1992 and 1995 to express his hostility to conservatives and he serves as a reminder that the Angry Left populated the highest levels of the mainstream news media long before the blogosphere gave them new venues.
He helped to organize a “Save Our Cities” rally in 1992 where he accused Republicans of having “savaged our urban schools, our housing, our health care, our social services,” denounced “Democrats who have collaborated in this butchery” and charged: “We hold accountable those who waste our billions on a military with no enemy to fight.” (Screen shot is from that Saturday, May 16, 1992 event.)
Three years later he equated “Reaganism” with “social Darwinism” as he castigated journalists for being too nice to Reagan: “By failing to...adequately expose the inane contradictions of supply-side theories, aka Reaganomics, I believe journalism deserves some of the blame for ills that now afflict us.”
Nearly a year ago, when the inexperienced presidential candidate Barack Obama sat for his first interview with Charles Gibson, the ABC anchor did not try and expose any gaps in Obama’s foreign policy knowledge or press him about his readiness for the job he was seeking. Instead Gibson emphasized Obama’s personal story, about how his parents met, how Obama met his wife, etc.
But just as he did with his Thursday night interview with GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Gibson did ask Obama about the “hubris” he displayed in seeking the presidency. Here’s the exchange from the November 1, 2007 World News interview:
CHARLES GIBSON: So did you think to yourself, 'Barack, what kind of hubris is this that I am thinking about being President?"
As Fox News prepares to interview Barack Obama tomorrow night, during prime time, TV journalist Michael Wolff details a meeting between Barack Obama, Fox News president Roger Ailes, and News Corporation president Rupert Murdoch in which the Fox execs promised to lay off the Democratic presidential candidate.
According to Wolff's telling, this was more than a mere tete-à-tete, this was a full-on diplomatic meeting (initiated at Murdoch's request), conducted only after preparation and with preconditions from the Obama campaign.
The apparent purpose? To smooth things over in the event that Obama defeats John McCain:
Here they go again: Today the New York Times ran yet another flaky story questioning the presidential eligibility of John McCain, born in 1936 in the Panama Canal Zone, where his Navy father was stationed.
Back on February 28, Congressional reporter Carl Hulse wrote a big story on the "controversy," even though Hulse himself admitted little was likely to come of it. The Senate later approved a resolution declaring McCain eligible for the presidency.
Law reporter Adam Liptak's story today, which led the paper's National Section, ran under the hopeful headline, "A Hint of New Life to a McCain Birth Issue," and detailed findings from a Democratic college professor allegedly showing McCain unable to satisfty the constitutional requirement of being a "natural-born citizen."
Conservatives across America mourned at the news of the death of Senator Jesse Helms, a man credited with impeccable conservative credentials in the U.S. Senate, a conscience of a movement devoted to the defeat of communism abroad and the defense of liberty at home. He was the staunchest of social conservatives as well, unflinching in his opposition to the abortion lobby and the gay agenda.
To liberals he was "Senator No," which meant only that he would strongly oppose everything they wanted to impose on America. Their badly disguised loathing of Helms, well-expressed over the decades, only endeared him to conservatives all the more.
Jesse Helms relished that opposition. In 1990, the media declared him politically dead, his re-election an utter impossibility. On election night, a thousand cheering supporters were made to wait before their man finally emerged to declare victory, 20 minutes late. He opened his remarks by apologizing for his tardiness. "Ah was up in mah room," he explained, "ah had to watch the grievin’ face of Dan Rathuh when he had to say we’d won agin." The crowd went wild.
Happy Birthday to the greatest nation on this earth. After seeing the Capitol's 4th Celebration on PBS, NASCAR on ESPN2, and watching fireworks off of my patio, I was so truly proud to be an American on this day. It also reminded me of a stunning exchange I recently had with a former co-worker of mine, which left me wondering "aren't all other people proud of their own countries?"
For the rest of the article, please check it out here.
Peter Boyer's profile of Keith Olbermann in the June 23 New Yorker magazine, “One Angry Man,” contained a bunch of noteworthy revelations, such as:
♦ Olbermann wanted to be more vulgar in his “shut the hell up” insult of President Bush than TV allows. Boyer on Olbermann's May 14 “Special Comment” rant: “Phil Griffin, the senior vice-president in charge of MSNBC raised the matter of tone. Why did Olbermann need to end his commentary by telling the President of the United States to 'shut the hell up'?” Answer: "Because I can't say, 'Shut the f**k up.'”
♦ A focus group for CNN found “audiences didn't like him.” Shortly after Olbermann returned to CNN in 2003, “Griffin ran into an old colleague at CNN, who told him that that network had considered hiring Olbermann, but focus-group tests showed that audiences didn't like him.” (In fact, Olbermann did fill-in work for CNN in late 2001 through 2002. See screen shot from January 24, 2002.)
♦ After Olbermann delivered his first Special Comment in August of 2006 denigrating Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as a “quack” pushing “fascism,” Boyer learned: “His bosses loved it. 'I think we're onto something,' the President of NBC News, Steve Capus, told me. 'That's what we keep hearing from the audience, more and more, is that they appreciate that we have people who are actually speaking truth to power...'” Olbermann wrote his diatribe after “downing 'a couple of screwdrivers'” while waiting for a plane at LAX.
Mass murder in real concentration camps in the Soviet Union are ancient history to National Public Radio, but the cause of poor, blacklisted communists in Hollywood charging America was a concentration camp is still a fresh and poignant soundbite. On the June 17 edition of All Things Considered, anchor Melissa Block championed a forthcoming new documentary about communist screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, made by Peter Askin and Trumbo’s son Christopher and featuring big celebrities like Michael Douglas. Block made no mention of Trumbo’s actual Communist Party membership in the age of Stalin, and nowhere in the interview was there even a whisper of an alternative historical point of view, from Ronald Radosh to Kenneth Billingsley.
Block could only lament once again this alleged persecution of communists, once again utterly free of the irony that communists specialized in persecution everywhere they came to power:
Here's another sure sign the new HBO Campaign-2000-nailbiter movie "Recount" will have a liberal slant. (Sunday NB post on a review in Entertainment Weekly magazine, "HBO's 'Recount' Movie: Favors Democrats, Harris as Cruella De Vil"). In a full-page newspaper ad appearing on the back cover of the A section of Monday's Washington Post, it was endorsed as "terrific" by a list of Gore-voting liberal media notables: Joe Klein, Matt Cooper, Jonathan Alter, Tina Brown, George Stephanopoulos, and Judy Woodruff. The movie's slogan is "The future of the nation was hanging by a chad."
We haven't seen these quotes in print, so we assume they come from a celebrity screening or publicist interview. The text below in bold tells you which words were increased in size for emphasis:
The votes are in.
Joe Klein, Time.com: "Terrific"
Matthew Cooper, Portfolio.com: "HBO is as good as ever. Watch ‘Recount’ and see...[they do] history better than any other studio."
Jonathan Alter: "This is the seventh presidential campaign I’ve covered for Newsweek and Recount conveys the nitty gritty of politics better than any movie I’ve ever seen."
Feminist political correctness washed over Elaine Woo's Los Angeles Times obituary honoring Harvey Karman, "a flamboyant psychologist whose invention made a key contribution to women's reproductive health, particularly by making abortions simpler, cheaper and less painful."
The Times headline was "Harvey Karman, 84; invented device for safer, easier abortions." No one at the Times thought if the abortion was "safer" for the unborn child, just for the alleged mother, and no one must have wondered if the term " women's reproductive health" sounded euphemistic, especially since reproducing was something that was being avoided. It's at best "counter-reproductive."
The future of conservatism is something which has become something of a hot topic. It's become evident to many that the historical moment that made the so-called Reagan coalition possible has passed, raising the inevitable question: where do we go from here? Has the right lost its way? Should conservatism be dependent upon the Republican party? What sorts of ideas should 21st century conservatism project?
These are just a few of the topics I asked Jonah Goldberg in Part II of our NewsBusters Interview with the author of "Liberal Fascism." See the partial transcript below or download an audio copy. Here's Part I in case you missed it.
Along with racist, the word fascist is one of the most common epithets you hear tossed around. Has the constant repetition of the word made it lose its meaning? Does anyone really know what it means? These are questions that Jonah Goldberg seeks to answer in his #1 best-selling book "Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning."
If you haven't picked up a copy yet, this is one book you need to buy.
As part of our tradition of bringing you in-depth interviews with America's political leaders, I took the opportuntity to speak by phone with Goldberg about "Liberal Fascism." Our conversation is quite extensive but well worth the read. Given the length of the interview (which is available in audio format as well as transcript), I've broken it down into two portions: the first in which Goldberg discusses his many leftist critics including his confrontation with comedian Jon Stewart, and the second in which Goldberg discusses conservatism and where he believes it's headed. This is the first installment. Read the transcript below or download an audio copy.
How perfect. The director of some of Hollywood's most revoltingly violent, sexually explicit, culturally corrosive movies has an even more destructive hobby on the side: iconoclasm.
Paul Verhoeven, director of "Basic Instinct," "Robocop" and "Showgirls," turns out to be a member of the academically suspect Jesus Seminar, and in September he will publish a book attacking the foundational Christian doctrine that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
For the past twenty years, the Dutch filmmaker has reportedly been attending meetings of the Jesus Seminar and researching his biography, "Jesus of Nazareth: A Realistic Portrait." Fox News quotes a spokesman for Amsterdam publishing house J.M. Meulenhoff saying Verhoeven "hopes it will be a springboard" for making a movie about Jesus' life.
LAT television critic Mary McNamara made the slip up in this April 19 article about HBO's surge in popularity when she began describing the cable network's “John Adams” miniseries (via Patterico) (all bold mine):
In his portrayal of our second president, Paul Giamatti creates a man perpetually dissatisfied, disgusted by the preening ambition of politics even as he is infected by it... [S]etting up a new government is a bureaucratic nightmare, with oversized personalities disagreeing over things both petty and fundamental. George Washington (David Morse) so quickly tired of the infighting among his Cabinet and vagaries of public opinion that he stepped down from the presidency after a single term. "I know now what it is like to be disliked," he says to Adams, his perpetually disliked vice president.
Finding "jingoism" in a journalism museum? Only a hypersensitive New York Times critic could possibly uncover that.
The Newseum (which is precisely what it sounds like) opened in the nation's capital last weekend in a prominent spot along Pennsylvania Avenue. The Times's architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff found the design by turns "muddled" and "slapdash" -- but what he really disapproved of was the political message he managed to discern in a 9-11 exhibit titled "Attack on America," which he found to border "precariously on jingoism."
In another convoluted move, the museum exhibits the front pages of scores of daily newspapers along the street each day. At first it seems to be a salute to the newspaper's traditional function in a democratic society, and pedestrians seem to love it. But the row of newspapers is oddly punctuated by a pedantic display explaining its meaning.
Old liberal-media errors never die. They fade away, then pop back up. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen recycled a 20-year-old inaccuracy on Tuesday, suggesting the George H. W. Bush campaign used Willie Horton’s face in a 1988 commercial. Wrong.
He was a convicted murderer who was given a weekend furlough from a Massachusetts prison and went on to rape a woman in Maryland. Dukakis was governor of Massachusetts when Horton was furloughed. The Bush campaign seized on Horton and, in a powerful and repugnant commercial, ran his mug shot: an image of a bearded black man. There it was in one nifty package -- race, crime and liberalism. It's a wonder Dukakis didn't stay in that tank.
As we pointed out back in the George H.W. Bush years, the usual ad featured in news reports (and now in college poli-sci courses) was funded by the National Security PAC, not the Bush campaign. Their Dukakis-furlough ad featured all races and never mentioned Horton's name.
Now that the major media have acknowledged en masse that Hillary Clinton lied shamelessly about landing in Bosnia to sniper fire, it seemed like the right moment to remember Mrs. Clinton’s claims about honesty and truthfulness in the famous Steve Kroft 60 Minutes interview in 1992 – not the part that aired in 1992, mind you, but a different set of snippets that aired on February 1, 1998, twelve days after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke.
In these clips, pulled out from our archives for our book Whitewash, Hillary proclaimed "voters are tired of people who lie to them" and lectured about the Bible to Kroft as they discussed Bill Clinton’s alleged adultery, "You know, there are ten commandments, not one. And one of them is, ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.’" [Audio available here.]
Here’s an excerpt from Whitewash that offers more detail:
Little Green Footballs has reported on the latest left-wing lunacy from the incredibly popular Democrat website Daily Kos, the Internet force that nearly every presidential contender sought out for support. The diarist "professorfate" thinks Americans are not only a flock of sheep, but that they need an invasion and occupation on their own soil to get their empathy and their consciousness raised: "It only took one incredibly destructive Civil War to make the United States realize that - oh well - this is really not an activity in which one wants to engage in one’s homeland - better to do it in someone else’s country." (As LGF put it, "being invaded, slaughtered, and occupied is the only way we’ll become a nation of compassionate pacifists.")
Over last weekend, the NPR show On The Media devoted a segment to co-host Bob Garfield remembering the legacy of William F. Buckley Jr. Garfield quoted George Will on the massive effect Buckley had on the history of conservatism and even ending the Cold War, but he turned it around to how conservatism is badly represented today by the Limbaughs and Coulters.
"It’s an unfortunate bit of media irony, then, that the most famous moment in his courtly, witty, supremely civilized pundit’s career would be his televised confrontation in 1968 with author and rival Gore Vidal," as Garfield recalled Vidal calling Buckley a "crypto-Nazi" and Buckley pledging to sock him in his "queer" face. Would the liberal media remember liberal eminences by their biggest TV fight? Garfield concluded:
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith interviewed the Managing Editor of Time Magazine, Richard Stengel, about the publication’s latest cover story on the presidential campaign entitled "How Much Does Experience Matter?," with a clear picture of Barack Obama’s silhouette surrounded by a holy aura of light (see picture). Smith previewed the segment earlier in the show by wondering: "Still ahead, the question of experience dominating the Democratic campaign, does it really matter?"
In the segment that followed, the answer to that question was a resounding ‘no.’ Stengel began by using the anecdotal evidence of Abraham Lincoln to prove that experience does not matter: "I mean, the most famous example, of course, is Abraham Lincoln, who is probably our least experienced president, who was sandwiched between our two most experienced presidents, Buchanan and Andrew Johnson, both of whom were failures."
Stengel went on to defend JFK, claiming the young president was not responsible for the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, but rather that the more experienced, and Republican, Dwight Eisenhower was the reason for the invasion’s failure:
David's [Time writer, David Von Drehle] great piece starts out with John F. Kennedy who came in, the first 100 days, he's tested in the Bay of Pigs. He makes a terrible mistake. He says, man, 'if I'm going to learn something, at least I learned it early.' But then who got them into the Bay of Pigs originally? Dwight Eisenhower, the most experienced president.
In one of what will surely be a long and tiring string of stories speculating about running mates, CBS’s The Early Show discussed which running mates helped or hurt their parties on Thursday. CBS political guru Jeff Greenfield asserted: "Now Richard Nixon once said, Harry, that a running mate can't help you but only hurt you and he should know, his choice of Spiro Agnew in 1968 proved to be a big embarrassment, thanks to Agnew's careless way with words." After Greenfield added who helped the ticket (LBJ, George H.W. Bush, Al Gore), Smith returned to mocking Agnew: "Alright, not to bring back up subjects like nattering nabobs of negativism."
It was the latest example of Greenfield opining on 1968 without mentioning to viewers he worked as a speechwriter for Bobby Kennedy in 1967 and 1968.
On Wednesday, New York Times congressional reporter Carl Hulse reported a flaky story on an apparent controversy over whether John McCain's birthplace (the Panama Canal Zone, where his Navy officer father was stationed in 1936) makes the Arizona senator ineligible for the presidency. Article II of the Constitution declares that only a "natural-born citizen" can serve as president.
In honor of William F. Buckley Jr. -- the man who quipped about standing athwart history yelling "Stop!" -- perhaps we might recall a few old Buckley snippets on the liberal media, long a persistent force on the national political scene. Here are a few samples from the 1971 paperback Quotations from Chairman Bill (compiled by David Franke), by the topic used in the book:
On Friday May 15 Walter Cronkite telephoned Gettysburg to see if couldn’t talk Mr. Eisenhower into denouncing the Horrible Extremism of Senator Goldwater. People had tried before, but Cronkite isn’t just people, he’s Cronkite, known to the General as "Walter," and to J. Walter Thompson as "The Anchor Man." By the time General Eisenhower was through with Walter, he was so perturbed that he can never again be described as imperturbable: more correctly, he is imperturbable except on those occasions when he sets out to do Goldwater political harm and has to sit there and take it when Goldwater instead reaps political gain. – NR, June 2. 1965, p. 435.
A story that mildly resembles today's McCain "scoop" came four years ago, the charge that young AP reporter Alexandra Polier may have had an affair with John Kerry. No proof emerged. How did the New York Times cover that charge?
On February 17, 2004, on page A-19, the Times ran a 434-word piece by reporter Jim Rutenberg, one of the four reporters on the McCain story today. The rumor had a "vibrant life on the Internet," but not in the New York Times. Here it is:
In the current Newsweek (the February 25 issue), columnist George Will wrote about George McGovern and the current delegate selection rules on the Democratic side. But what stuck out was Will's subhead on McGovern: "He thinks he could have won in 1972 with a running mate called 'the most trusted man in America' -- Walter Cronkite." Will reported:
McGovern thinks he could have won with a running mate then called "the most trusted man in America"—Walter Cronkite. Before choosing Eagleton, McGovern considered asking Cronkite, who recently indicated he would have accepted.
Jay Leno on Friday night reminisced about admiring Tom Brokaw for appearing on the cover of the far-left Mother Jones magazine back in 1983, an interview in which Brokaw denigrated then-President Reagan from the left for “pretty simplistic” values and over how he didn't understand “the enormous difficulty a lot of people have in just getting through life, because he’s lived in this fantasy land for so long.”
With Brokaw on to promote his book, 'Boom!: Voices of the Sixties Personal Reflections on the '60s and Today,' Leno recalled: “I was just starting out in comedy and you'd been on the cover of kind of a left-wing, really left-wing magazine called Mother Jones. Then I thought this is really, wow, Tom Brokaw, 'cause you would have been the establishment and you're on the cover -- and that seemed, and I always wondered if NBC was annoyed or upset that you had done that?”
Not surprisingly, NBC wasn't bothered at all, Brokaw explained, “but Mrs. Reagan was really unhappy with me” for the interview, in which he acknowledged Ronald Reagan was poor as a child, but expressed how “I always thought that connection to people who were struggling was a little artificial because he really began to make it big at an early age.” Brokaw proceeded to recount how he kissed and made up with Nancy Reagan.
Talk about a jaw-dropper. The favorite book of an American presidential candidate was written by a radical journalist described in a Soviet document as an “agent of influence.”
CBS Evening News last night ran its weekly special, “Primary Questions: Character, Leadership and the Candidates.” Katie Couric’s question to the presidential candidates was, “If you were elected president, what is the one book-- other than the Bible-- you would think is essential to have along?”
John Edwards chose I.F. Stone’s “The Trial of Socrates,” because “he talks in a very thoughtful way about the challenges that are faced by men about character, about integrity, and about belief systems. And, uh, and the book – I’ve read it several times. It’s had an impact on me.”
Exactly 20 years ago tonight, January 25, 1988, millions of Americans saw one newsman’s liberal agenda laid bare, as CBS anchor Dan Rather attempted to ambush then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, in a live TV interview on his CBS Evening News. But Bush held his own during the on-air confrontation, and the lasting effect was to reveal how Rather was driven by his personal biases, at one point lecturing the Vice President: “You’ve made us hypocrites in the face of the world.”