For those who already suspect the New York Times has a liberal bias, the Halloween night Times Talk at the New York Historical Society on Manhattan's Upper West Side didn't provide too many scares.
"Writing About Politics in an Age of Contention" featured Editorial Page Editor Gail Collins, Managing Editor Jill Abramson, and Assistant Managing Editor Richard Berke, along with non-Times people Al Hunt, formerly the executive editor for the Wall Street Journal, and Dick Polman, reporter-blogger for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The usual liberal conventional wisdom prevailed, with little disagreement about anything (everyone seemed convinced Democrats would win the House, but warned that Democrats had been sure of victory before).
The Pasadena Star News yesterday reported on a rally for failing California Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Phil Angelides, at which John Kerry warned students in the audience that if they didn't get an education they would have no other alternative than to be forced into the US Armed Forces.
"Kerry then told the students that if they were able to navigate the education system, they could get comfortable jobs - 'If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq,' he said to a mixture of laughter and gasps."
Who doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong? Yet that essential knowledge, generally assumed to come from parental teaching or religious or legal instruction, could turn out to have a quite different origin.
What follows is several slaps at religion, the Times asserting that religion has nothing to do with morals short of serving as "social enforcers of instinctive moral behavior".
But the Times seems not to understand the entire point of morals and the claims religions make about them. Few religions claim to have created morals by their practices and tenets but are merely re-enforcing what God has already given us. So, contrary to what the Times assumes, no religion, Christian ones especially, claims to have somehow invented morals with their religious ideals. They attribute creation of such to God.
Over at the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Blog, I’ve floated an idea I believe could help journalists and editorial writers be more accurate – even when they’d rather not.
I suggested that online versions of newspaper and magazine articles include footnotes.
I conceded that footnotes in the paper version of publications would be distracting and costly, but the major impediment to including them in online editions would probably simply be resistance by the writers themselves. Footnotes are a hassle for writers -- but they do have a way if helping to keep writers honest.
Blogger and Washington Examiner editorial page editor Mark Tapscott had a few thoughts in response:
The New York Times is sure that voters are losing their rights the country over, in essence yelling "the sky is falling, the sky is falling" for voters this year. They have been ballyhooing that voters are being "disenfranchised" all across the country by voting machines and voting law changes -- their biggest worry being ID requirements. The Times points in horror to the continuing effort of the States to nail down who is eligible and a proliferation of new laws assuring that eligibility before casting a ballot claiming this is proof of such "disenfranchisement". Ridiculously, the Times has decided proving you are eligible to vote is a threat to democracy.
Funny how they don't consider people who vote illegally as being any threat to democracy... of course that is because illegal voting benefits the Democrats, their favored party.
A few weeks ago, the BBC complained that one of my Newsbusters pieces unfairly criticized them as horribly biased. Then a recent report emerged wherein Andrew Marr, a BBC staffer, said at an internal seminar that the Beeb had gone too far in pursuit of multiculturalism.
It seems that the BBC is getting tired of these so-called mischaracterizations...
One of the BBC's most senior executives has defended the corporation against accusations that it is "crammed full of soft liberals" obsessed with pushing a politically correct agenda.
In an exclusive interview, Mark Byford, the deputy director-general, has hit back at suggestions that the broadcaster is too sensitive to the feelings of Muslim viewers and that it has an inbuilt anti-Christian bias.
But this claim seems disingenuous after a week were the BBC announced a consideration of allowing Veiled Muslim news presenters and has featured an embedded reporter with the Taleban allowing the Taleban free and unfettered access to a platform from which they can disseminate their anti-British and anti-western propaganda.
On Friday (October 27, 2006), Illinois Democrat Sen. Barack Obama was in Los Angeles for a book signing and a rally for the Democratic Party. The Los Angeles Times heralded his appearances the next day with 1027 words and two photos in a glowing article entitled, "A rising star from Illinois makes some noise in L.A." The piece was displayed prominently on the front page of the 'California' section (page B1). Writer Carla Hall hailed that Obama spoke before a "rapt crowd" and that he "was sent off with a crescendo of applause." She reminded her readers that Obama had "electrified" the 2004 Democratic National Convention as a speaker.
Yesterday (Saturday, October 28, 2006), comedian Bill Cosby was in Los Angeles to speak at an education forum organized by local black leaders. Today, the Times documented the event with 580 words and zero photos in a piece tucked at the bottom of page B3. The title: "More straight talk from Cosby" (by Times staffer Deborah Schoch). (Amid the straightforward reporting that Cosby "chastised" black parents and "chided" teachers, Schoch was able to relay that Cosby was "greeted with sustained applause." But, apparently, things didn't quite reach a "crescendo.")
Writing a lippy account of a Presbyterian service he had recently attended, Stein belches,
"The first thing I noticed about church was how much like PBS it was. The lighting was dim, the speakers talked slowly, the songs were dated, there were a lot of references to reading material and every so often my eye line was interrupted by envelopes asking me to donate money. Also, I kept falling asleep."
And (bold added),
"I'd never realized how much of a death cult Christianity is. When we weren't fixating on how awesome Christ's murder was, we were singing about how terrific it was going to be when we bite it. Chipper up, Christians! There's a lot to live for. They're making more of those 'Narnia' movies."
On Sunday October 15, 2006, the Los Angeles Times published a 1488-word, front-page article entitled, "Displease a Lobbyist, Get Fired," by Times staffer Peter Wallsten. The gist of the piece (if you can't glean it from the title): Lobbyist Jack Abramoff "manipulated the system" and used his influence at the White House to get Allen Stayman, a State Department official who was working against the interests of Abramoff's clients, fired. Wallsten's lengthy piece portrays Stayman as an unwitting government official who was innocently bulldozed for standing in the way of Abramoff and his interests.
However, Wallsten's article left out a big chunk of the story. Wallsten failed to inform his readers that Mr. Stayman, back in the 1990's, resigned from President Clinton's Department of Interior. He stepped down after serious criminal investigations was conducted against him and his department for illegal political activity. Documents show that his office contacted the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to "target" Republican lawmakers who were up for reelection in 1998. The bulk of this campaign activity resulted out of an issue on which Abramoff and Stayman clashed.
A month or so ago I would have said that Neal Gabler and I inhabit different planets, but his apparent home has recently been demoted from planetary status. While I'm off searching for another metaphor, let me pass along the latest comment from the decidedly liberal denizen of Fox News Watch that made me reflect on just how distinct a world view we have. In the course of discussing on this evening's show the controversy that erupted this past week over Rush Limbaugh's comments about Michael Fox, Gabler had this to say:
"The media has tread lightly on Rush and his criticism of [Michael J.] Fox. To my mind, Rush is a cancer to America and hatemongers are marginalized, and why the media does not marginalize Rush, I don't know."
The following analysis by author and former Bush 43 White House speechwriter David Frum, which he posted Thursday in his blog on National Review Online under the title "The Cry Baby Party," may express what plenty of NewsBusters readers have sensed during this election campaign (bold-type emphasis has been added):
Let me see if I understand the rules of American politics in 2006:
It's in bounds to write a deliberately deceptive voter initiative to try to inscribe embryo-killing research into a state's law.
It's in bounds for a likeable and suffering celebrity to suggest that such research is poised to deliver a cure that will help him - despite the utter absence of evidence for any such claim.
Amusingly, some of the names they use to define a "Republican Moderate" are Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. They also mention Mike DeWine of Ohio, but the three they focus on are Snowe, Collins and Chafee... these are the people they call "moderate".
Let's take a look at how the ACU rates the conservative voting record of these three in 2005 (0 being least conservative and 100 the most conservative).
Susan Collins - 32 Olympia Snowe - 32 Lincoln Chafee - 12
These three are FAR from being "moderate". They are more like Democrats -- and far left ones at that -- than Republicans and rarely vote with their national Party on any issue. But, to the NYT "moderate" means voting with Democrats, apparently.
Once again taking "tolerance" to the level of societal self-destruction, the BBC has decided that showing the human side of the Taleban is an important story to cover.
They have ridiculously embedded a reporter with the Taleban in Afghanistan. Reporter David Lyon has been reporting from the Taleban and has filed a report filled with laudatory terms and brimming with respect for his subject.
Journalists aren't the hard-charging watchdogs of government that they claim to be, and the romantic notion of reporters saving our democracy is fiction, says Jack Shafer in Slate.
Newspaper people have enormous egos, if you get my drift, and don't mind massaging the big hairy things in public. Yet the press is hardly the sentry and bulwark of society that reporters imagine it to be. I don't mean to disparage reporters who put their lives on the line to file from Iraq, nor the sleuths who sift through databases to uncover wrongdoing by pharmaceutical companies, or any other enterprising reporter. But too many journalists who wave the investigative banner merely act as the conduit for other people's probing, as George Washington University professor and former investigative journalist Mark Feldstein suggests in a paper-in-progress titled "Ventriloquist or Dummy?"
Feldstein cites a 1992 piece by the late Christopher Georges in the Washington Monthly to illustrate his thesis. Georges reviewed about 800 articles by investigative reporters from the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times published over three years and found that "nearly 85 percent of them have been follow-ups or advances of leaked or published government reports." Georges' study is anecdotal since his piece did not name the stories analyzed or describe his methodology, but my hunch is that his conclusions aren't far from the truth.
Terrorists in Iraq know they can rely on CNN to carry their propaganda as if it were straight news, now the Taliban is having success in placing "news" with the publicly funded British Broadcasting Corporation.
A group of active duty soldiers, called a "grassroots group" by some in the media, is speaking out against the war in Iraq and calling on Congress to bring the troops home. Fine with me - they have every right to speak their mind (I know nothing about the military rules - I'm speaking in the realm of First Amendment rights). Having the freedom to speak out is one of the great benefits of living in the United States of America.
BUT it is disconcerting and disingenuous to report this group as a simple grassroots group trying to get their voices heard. The "Appeal for Redress" group is sponsored by three of the most virulent anti-war groups that use their "desire for peace" as a cover for their blatant anti-Americanism. You've heard of these groups - Veterans for Peace, Military Families Speak Out and Iraq Veterans Against the War. Whenever you see Cindy Sheehan or any of her comrades, you will see members of these organizations. VFP and IVAW members include several deserters, conscientious objectors and some "soldiers" that turned out to not be what they portrayed. Some members claim to have witnessed war crimes including the wholesale slaughter of innocent Iraqi women and children. Some members traveled to Venezuela with CodePink to pay homage to Chavez. Some have testified at "global" forums against America, the terrorist state.
When media outlets publish militarily significant information and make it known to a wider audience (something they seem to do with more frequency during Republican administrations), they generally excuse their actions with claims that they are fulfilling an obligation to the public's "right to know."
Aside from the question of whether the public has a right not to know something, another question presents itself: are journalists obligated to be "neutral" observers, even to the point of endangering the lives of fellow Americans?
Marc Danziger raises that question in an editiorial at the D.C. Examiner:
I’ve blogged about the “journalist vs. citizen” thing. Let me explain through an anecdote:
1987, PBS sponsored a colloquium called “Under Orders, Under Fire” as a
part of their great Ethics in America series (many episodes can still
be found at www.learner.org/resources/series81.html). While the episode
was about military ethics, the bombshell was a sidebar on journalism
between Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace.
Jennings was asked what
he would do if he was embedded with forces fighting U.S. soldiers - and
became aware they had set an ambush for him. He replied, from a James
“If I were with a North Kosanese unit that came
upon Americans, I think that I personally would do what I could to warn
“Even if it means losing the story?” he was
asked. “Even though it would almost certainly mean losing my life,”
Mike Wallace, however, disagreed: “I think some
other reporters would have a different reaction,” he said, obviously
referring to himself. “They would regard it simply as a story they were
there to cover.”
Ah, the refined sensibilities of the Associated Press. Far be it from that paragon of journalistic impartiality to insert itself in the controversy over whether George Bush & Co. intentionally murdered thousands of Americans on 9-11 via the controlled demolition of the World Trade Center.
And so it is that the Associated Press preciously entitled its article about the decision of 9-11 conspiracy nut Steven Jones to retire from his BYU professor's post:
"BYU Scholar, Sept. 11 Theorist, Resigns".
A "scholar" and a "theorist." Impressive! Might that be some kind of hybrid between a 'gentleman and a scholar' and a theoretical physicist, perhaps? Now, in fairness, I wouldn't expect the AP to adopt my "conspiracy whack job" nomenclature in its headline - although it would be entirely accurate. But the utter neutrality of "theorist" coupled with the honorary title of "scholar" seems excessive. Would the AP describe David Duke as a "racial theorist," for example?
The lead story for the June 23 New York Times exposed a U.S. terrorist surveillance program involving international bank transfers ("Bank Data Sifted In Secret By U.S. To Block Terror"):
"Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials."
Boy, it didn’t take long for Katie Couric to go from media darling to whipping girl, did it? You’d think the perky one did something really obscene, like stating that she was voting for a Republican in the upcoming midterm elections. Yet, there it was in large type at USA Today: “Couric Fails to Keep CBS News on Top for Long” (hat tip to TVNewser). In reality, that might be the kindest statement in this article about Couric which began (emphasis mine throughout):
Mr. Mallaby goes on a long diatribe that contradicts itself so many times that an informed reader would get whiplash from the experience. And all those head turing points are attacks against the effectiveness, sincerity, and well-meaning of American policy.
He begins his screed by negatively invoking a Ronald Reaganism, saying "It's not exactly morning in America", after which he regales us on how nothing worthwhile has come from Iraq, "a special Rumsfeldian screw-up".
On last night's Fox News Watch, Cal Thomas offered assessments of the way in which the independence of two of his fellow conservative commentators is viewed. While acknowledging that the two top-rated talkers have recently chided the administration, he suggested there is a perception that, by and large, the pair lack political autonomy.
In the context of a discussion of President Bush's efforts to shore up support among conservative radio talk show personalities, Thomas stated:
"Even Rush Limbaugh,whois seen as being in the pocket of the administration, has been critical of Republicans not being more like Republicans."
Air America is grasping for straws in some mighty odd places. A mass email from Air America host Thom Hartmann today touts the parallels between the plight of the bankrupt left-wing radio network and, of all things, Fox News Channel [FNC] and the Washington Times.
"There are times when doing the profitable thing is also doing the right thing. That's certainly what Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch thought when they lost an average of $90 million a year for about five years before the Fox News Channel became profitable."
Reuters explains the latest mainstream meme, the public is "numb" to Iraq war deaths:
But with the U.S. military death toll hitting 2,787 on Friday, and with 73 deaths so far in October, it is shaping up to be the deadliest month for U.S. forces since the Falluja offensive two years ago.
Analysts said even local media coverage struggles to overcome the numbing affect of the steady flow of deaths.
NBC's efforts to reestablish itself have gone poorly, and its cable network MSNBC is still stuck in last place. Execs are considering putting MSNBC's two biggest stars, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, on business channel CNBC, and using the rest of MSNBC for taped programming about "murder mysteries" and similar tabloid material. From Broadcasting and Cable:
NBC Universal employees are bracing for the worst as Chairman-CEO Bob Wright and NBC U TV Group CEO Jeff Zucker are convening town hall meetings in Los Angeles and New York for what is expected to be news of restructuring and job cuts.
Sources say Wright will appear on the Universal Studios lot near Burbank on Thursday while Zucker holds a similar meeting with East Coast employee in New York. NBC press reps were not available at press time.
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.
On the 30th of September I wrote a post on Newsbusters about how the BBC is using their reporting on the Global War on Terror to advance their ideological bias against the war instead of merely reporting the facts of the news.
On the BBC website a segment called The Editors appeared on Oct. 2nd and raises this very posting of mine and makes an attempt to refute it.
Alistair Burnett (editor of "The World Tonight") made a weak attempt to nay say my point.
Is the BBC trying to make a political point when it uses the expression 'so-called War on Terror' or 'The Bush Administration's War on Terror' or 'the American-led War on Terror'?
"This was a threat that appeared on a Web site. It said that dirty bombs would be detonated this Sunday outside NFL games in seven U.S. cities: Miami, New York, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Oakland, and Cleveland.
"The Department of Homeland Security is saying there is no credible intelligence to support these claims, no credible information to indicate such attacks will take place. But, out of an abundance of caution, they informed the NFL and other officials, so they can take the actions that they deem to be appropriate."
Despite DHS's statement, CNN political analyst and Clinton boot licker Paul Begala was quick to suggest a conspiracy:
It’s always amusing to see media code words and phrases that seem to say one thing but, upon reflection, end up meaning less than at first thought. Phrases like "sources say" would lead one to imagine whole rafts of insiders are affirming a story's bias when really it is just one disgruntled person as the "source", or words like "many" when it is but a very few are used all the time to inflate the importance of a reporter's bias or justify his story.
The L.A. Times used a classic today in the story titled "Some See 'Pink Purge' in the GOP". Notice the word "some"? What exactly does "some" mean? According to the story "some" seems to be the thought of many Christian Republicans.
How much of a network newscast depends on anonymous sources? And isn't it more suspicious when the anonymous sources all agree on the liberal-media thesis (actually, the John Kerry thesis) that the best we can hope for in Iraq is a stable dictatorship? Friday night's NBC Nightly News led with a British general saying all is lost, and notice how Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski presents Pentagon opinion constantly through anonymous sources (and a couple of prominent and regular Bush war critics). Apparently, all the finest military minds are unanimous, and a debate is unnecessary:
Brian Williams, beginning the show: "It was the shot heard around the world, and it came from the commander of the British Army. He is on the record as saying British troops have no business in Iraq and should come home. While he has since changed his stance a bit, his words sent shock waves through British forces. It wasn't what American forces needed to hear, either, as they are already facing an unraveling and violent situation on the ground, counter to their goal of democracy taking hold. We begin here tonight at the Pentagon with our Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski. Jim, good evening."