At this point, how many people are interested in hearing more preachy justifications from newspaper editors about their decision to spill the beans on anti-terror programs? Yada yada yada, the sensitive balance between legitimate secrecy needs in time of war and the public's right to know. Yeah, we get it.
But there were Dean Baquet and Bill Keller, editors of the LA and NY Times respectively, with an op-ed this morning humming that tired 'on the one hand, on the other' sing song . Things reached their apotheosis of annoyingness [poetic license in the name of alliteration] when the duo approvingly cited WaPo editor Robert Kaiser editor thusly:
Should we look for Matt Lauer to close his next interview of Condi Rice by clasping her hands? Perhaps a verklempt Dick Cheney thanking Campbell Brown for "standing by me through every crisis"? Could be, judging by Al Roker's interview of Star Jones this morning.
OK. Star isn't Secretary of State. She's someone who got bounced as co-host of a televised coffee klatsch. Even so, some of the journalistic values on display were eye-brow raising. For openers, what does it say about Today's news values that the interview, stretching across two half-hours and three segments, was the longest this veteran Today watcher can remember?
And then there was the personal relationship between Al and Star. The flag first went up when Star thanked Al for having phoned her with information: "I actually remember a phone call when you saw something in the paper that I had not even seen that was pretty nasty."
As fellow NewsBuster Mithridate Ombud noted today, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll has flatly accused the Bush administration of anti-Semitism in its criticism of The New York Times for its latest leak of an anti-terror program. Claimed Carroll:
"The Times is a good target... Also, the name of the New York Times contains the word 'New York.' Many members of the president's base consider 'New York' to be a nifty code word for 'Jewish.' It is very nice for the president to be able to campaign against the Jews without (a) actually saying the word "Jew" and (b) without irritating the Israelis."
Is this an emerging MSM theme? Perhaps, judging by Chris Matthews' line of questioning on this evening's Hardball.
Yesterday, Dennis Persica of the New Orleans Times-Picayune claimed conservatives couldn't care less if journalists were gunned down. He's now posted his thoughts again (modified) at the liberal site TomPaine.com. This time, he links to a T-shirt advocating the lynching of journalists. And then I found this blog post from the same people joking about hanging people at the New York Times, giving them their "just desserts."
That is just revolting and wrong, and those people do not speak for me. Yesterday I called Persica "unhinged." Today, someone's giving him a hinge.
Sure, Tim Russert is a pillar of the great center-left media establishment. You can take the man out of Mario Cuomo's office, but you can't entirely take Mario's office out of the man. Even so, as MSM types go, Russert is among the more fair-and-balanced.
But in his Today show appearance this morning, Tim simply didn't make sense. Asked by Campbell Brown about the White House's anger at the New York Times for its latest divulging on an anti-terror program, Russert responded:
"There is no doubt this was an orchestrated campaign to try to frame this issue of national security versus the media, particularly the New York Times. It resonates with the organized Republican conservative base: taking on the media,liberal media. Remember Spiro Agnew, back in the Nixon administration: the 'nattering nabobs of negativism.'
You're having a first conversation with someone. Alright, maybe you don't agree with him, but he seems rational. Then, out of the blue, he blurts something so strange, so disconnected from reality, that you say to yourself 'whoah! - who is this guy?' And you go back and rethink everything else he had said in light of his suddenly-exposed madness.
That's what is was like watching Chris Matthews' interview of Ken Auletta on this evening's Hardball. Alright, Auletta's the media columnist of the New Yorker. So you have no illusions. This is a liberal. Even so, he seems so urbane, so calm, even reasonable. You could almost imagine having a drink and a conversation at sunset on the deck of one of those fancy Hampton houses you picture him visiting on weekends.
The New York Times’ irresponsible banking spy scoop is looking more and more like it will backfire on the paper, causing both a public relation nightmare and raising plausible legal concerns for both the leakers and the journalists they leaked to, as conservatives debate consequences for the paper's behavior.
Four days after it appeared on Friday's front page, the banking spy scoop is still roiling on Fox News and in the blogosphere. Taking the Web's temperature finds the right side enraged, engaged, and red hot, while it’s rather quiet on the left-wing front, indicating that just maybe the Times may have gone too far to rely on its usual allies to rise up in defense.
In the letters section of the Poynter Institute's Romenesko media-news site, a man named Dennis Persica, a reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune (most recent news dispatch here), wrote that with the anti-press animus of conservatives right now, it's possible that the New York Times could face a break-in by the U.S. Attorney's office. But the speculation grew much wilder, against Rush Limbaugh and Michelle Malkin and their fans:
You can count on the Limbaughs and Malkins of the world to defend the move. Just look at these posters on Malkin's website. There is a significant portion of their fanbase who couldn't care less if every journalist in the country was simply jailed or gunned down. (Remember Ann Coulter's comments about the New York Times building?) Even supposedly saner voices, like Bill Bennett and Rep. Peter King, have joined in the chorus.
The Seer of MSNBC hath spoken: no matter how good the news might be now for President Bush, he will be in worse shape come the November elections.
That was Chris Matthews' reading of the entrails on this morning's Today show. Guest-hosting David Gregory interviewed him, and, sounding the same theme we saw over at this morning's Early Show, cast the controversy over the latest leak of an anti-terror program not as a threat to national security, but as "this attack on the New York Times."
Gregory teed up this softball for Matthews: "The question is, whether should we be taking their [the administration's] word for it, that these are legal programs? Do you think the administration, any administration, has earned the right . . . to protect that kind of secret?"
Given NewsBusters' goal of exposing outrageous liberal media bias, perhaps I should switch focus from the Katie-less Today to Harry Smith & Co. at the Early Show. I rarely check in on the show, which has languished seemingly forever in last place. But, happening upon it this morning, Smith's bald-faced bias left me breathless.
Smith's guest was Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report. Talk was first of the proposed flag-burning amendment. A snide Smith observed:
"I'm just curious about this. Because somewhere I read in the last couple of days in the entire history of the republic there have only been 200 documented serious incidents of this in the entire history of the United States." Lotta history there, Harry.
It became a laugh line long ago: "If we can't [insert your favorite dubious activity here], the terrorists will have won."
But that didn't prevent Keith Olbermann from trotting out the cliché tonight. A line so tired it would have to be months fresher not to be merely hackneyed. And all this in defense of the New York Times' latest leak of an anti-terrorist program - this time that of the the program designed to track terrorists' financial transactions.
Even Olbermann seemed abashed at stooping so low, but that didn't stop him. Claiming that the anti-terror program is "legally questionable," Olbermann actually said that "as the old saying goes" if the Times can't report this "haven't the terrorists won?"
In fact, I submit that the only reason stories like this one are framed in such a way is because the author has to start with a premise. The premise, of course, is that Iraq is Vietnam, Iraq is a lost cause, and anything contrary to this is “news.”
Today's Los Angeles Times (Sunday, June 25, 2006) features coverage of Erotica LA (warning: adult content), an adult X-rated retail expo, at the Los Angeles Convention Center. In a page B1 article entitled "More Couples, Women Turn On to Erotica Expo,"Times staffer Robin Abcarian begins by relaying a lesson in "spanking" being taught by a "dominatrix" by the name of Georgia Payne. (The subject matter itself is questionable for a "family" newspaper, but that's a separate issue entirely.) In the process, Abcarian used Payne's words to take a swipe at Catholics.
Payne, who earns $250 an hour, was about to demonstrate the fine art of spanking, which — contrary to what you might think — is not as simple as it looks. The hand should be cupped, not flat, she explained, and positioned on the lower part of the buttocks, never at the top, never on the leg and never ever near the tailbone.
"If your husband went to Catholic school," the 32-year-old Payne said with a sly smile, "he's probably secretly dying for it."
As Brit Hume put it, "Senator Specter, who gets worked up over anything, doesn't seem bothered by the NY Times disclosure of [the anti-terror banking program]. He's going to 'look into it'."
Indeed. Specter, who began his political career as a prosecutor, played defense lawyer for the Gray Lady on this morning's Fox News Sunday. Host Chris Wallace asked the senior senator from PA "do you think the Times was wrong to publish this story as well as the NSA warrantless wiretap story, and does it rise to the level that they should be prosecuted?"
"Well, we have seen the newspapers in this country act as effective watchdogs. You had Jefferson lay out the parameter saying if he had to choose a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, he'd choose newspapers without government . . . I don't think that the newspapers can have a totally free hand. But I think in the first instance, it is their judgment.
Monday night's hour of conversation between PBS anchor Jim Lehrer and long-time Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee, titled "Free Speech," was a cozy liberal-media insider chat, but awfully dull -- dull enough to make you feel for journalism students that are going to be forced to watch it in class. Cozy snippet example number one is Lehrer asking Bradlee near the end: "One of the other cliches they say about folks like you and me, people who practice journalism is that, we pessimistic; that we're cynical. You don't buy that, do you?" Perish the thought.
Perhaps the frankest moment for Bradlee was admitting that the WashPost editors all bought the Janet Cooke eight-year-old-drug-addict story because she was black and went to neighborhoods they never visited:
In today's Chicago Sun-Times article, "Controversial judge plans to retire," the newspaper writes: "A judge who once upheld a speeding ticket given to a woman in labor, told two young girls they would 'go to hell' if they lied on the stand and denied a woman a bathroom break before she soiled herself is stepping down from the bench."
Three sentences later, the retiring judge is identified as a Republican. OK, fine, that's relevant and should be reported.
The problem is the newspaper doesn't do that consistently. Less than two years ago, a Cook County Democratic judge was temporarily removed from the bench by the chief judge who, after reviewing a court transcript,said he "was exceedingly troubled by (the judge's) lack of respect for the high office which he holds and for those individuals present for the proceedings." The Sun-Times reported at the time: "After (the judge's) outburst-- which included the judge using the 'F' word twice -- Chief Judge
Timothy Evans reassigned him and took him off the bench 'until further
If Dave Rossie were simply a columnist, one might dismiss his sophomoric liberal rants as, well, sophomoric liberal rants. But what is disturbing is that when he's not pounding out his latest condemnation of all things Republican, the Gannett chain has seen fit to give Rossie the power to edit news at one of its papers, the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. Not long ago, Rossie, finding the mere impeachment of Pres. Bush insufficient, called on the world to boycott the United States.
Rossie's latest opus concerns commencement addresses. After knocking administration officials for speaking at military institutions, and singling out VP Cheney for "defending the practice of spying on Americans via illegal wire taps," Rossie gave an example of a commencement speech of which he approved - heartily.
After hearing Ozzie Guillen ravage Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti before Tuesday night's White Sox game, a few writers pondered their next move.
"There was much discussion in the press box," Daily Southtown columnist Phil Arvia said. "What do we do now?"...
And what was the proper way to handle the quotes? As Arvia noted in his column the next day, Guillen used 14 variations of the f-word, five synonymous for excrement and had a few orders for Mariotti to "kiss my . . . "
O. Ricardo Pimentel, Editorial Page Editor for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, writes at Poynter Online, the top site for journalists to debate their trade's issues, that reporters should refrain from using the word "illegal" to describe.... those who are here illegally.
Did you know that it's not criminal to be an undocumented immigrant? In fact, one of the burning issues in the recent and ongoing debate on immigration reform is whether to make such mere presence a felony.
If you didn't know this, you probably didn't read past that headline. You know, the one with the word Illegals emblazoned in large type. Maybe even in your own newspaper.
"There he goes again," some of you are probably thinking. "Politically correct Ricardo." That's one take, I guess. Another might be, "trying-to-be-accurate Ricardo." It's a matter of both grammar and law. Illegal as a noun offends both -- not to mention the offense given by stigmatizing an entire group of people.
The always modest, always charming Howell Raines, former executive editor of the New York Times, has a new autobiography out, “The One that Got Away,” a sequel to his 1993 memoir “Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis.”
Dipping into his latest book on his love of fly fishing, we find that Raines is still rising to the conservative-bashing bait.
On page 189, he lets fly with thoughts about liberal bugbear Fox News:
“Fox, by its mere existence, undercuts the argument that the public is starved for ‘fair’ news, and not just because Fox shills for the Republican Party and panders to the latest of America’s periodic religious manias. The key to understanding Fox News is to grasp the anomalous fact that its consumers know its ‘news’ is made up. It matters not when critics point this out to Foxite consumers because they’ve understood it from the outset. That’s why they’re there. Its chief fictioneer, Roger Ailes, had been making up news in plain sight for a half century.”
So which organization put out the headline giving al-Zarqawi's successor credit for the barbaric killings? Did you guess al-Qaeda? That's very reasonable. Al-Qaeda certainly wants to build up al-Zarqawi's successor. What's more, al-Qaeda encourages its members and anyone else to kill American soldiers in Iraq. It's eager to give anyone credit for doing that. But it wasn't al-Qaeda. The headline comes from the Associated Press. Are you shocked? I was.
I long ago decided the AP is an untrustworthy, liberal/leftist agenda driven outfit passing itself off as a news organization. Still, the AP's Al-Zarqawi's successor gets the credit headline shocked me.
What to do? Letters to the editor? Most certainly. We need to let our local editors know they can't fool us any longer with the old "the AP did that" brush off. The editors of our papers pay the AP to do what it does. After we've done that, we need to do more.
We need a national conversation about how to provide our country as quickly as possible with an alternate news media that supports what America supports, civilization.
CBS radio news just ran an item on the departure of Dan Rather. There was a surprising bit of candor in which CBS reported that Rather had "expressed frustration, feeling he'd been shelved by the network."
There was also a bit of - presumably - unintentional humor. We were treated to a clip of the Washington Post's [very liberal] media critic Tom Shales informing us that Rather "was a very activist anchor, and he changed the role of anchor."
An article in today's Los Angeles Times (Sunday, June 18, 2006) on the Presidential ambitions of U.S. Senators is accompanied by an informational box with photos and brief profiles of various Senators. The box was compiled by Times staffer Janet Hook.
Can you catch the problems?
George Allen, Virginia: A favorite of some conservatives for 2008, but first has to fight to win reelection to the Senate in 2006.
Sam Brownback, Kansas: Very close to religious conservatives, having built his Senate career around issues they care most about, such as opposing abortion and stem-cell research.
Here's one of those stories that sounds weird but may make perfect sense. According to Saturday's New York Times, Dan Rather is "seriously mulling" an offer to "develop and be the host of a weekly interview program on a high-definition television channel known as HDNet."
The Times' Jacques Steinberg also reports that "in addition to the one-hour interview program, which could eventually include '60 Minutes'-style investigative reports that he would prepare, Mr. Rather said he had been asked to commit to deliver at least two documentaries a year to HDNet."
Rather told Steinberg that the offer to join HDNet came from none other than the channel's co-founder Mark Cuban, who's been on TV quite a bit himself lately during ABC's coverage of the NBA finals between the Cuban-owned Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat.
A recent Washington Post article claims “More than 500 children die annually from accidental gunshots: Some shoot themselves, while others kill friends or siblings, often after discovering a gun.”
To understand how a biased or under-educated writer makes an inaccurate and misleading error, we must first clarify the term “child”. Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “childhood” as: “The state or stage of life as a child…the time from birth to puberty.” Oxford defines “puberty” as: “The period during which adolescents reach sexual maturity and become capable of reproduction, distinguished by the appearance of secondary sexual characteristics.” In terms of age, there seems to be general agreement that this ability to procreate occurs by the age of 15: childhood is over by then.
After reading the Rove non-indictment round-up by Jim Rutenberg and Neil Lewis, it would appear that that White House reporters still have Rove in their crosshairs (as one would expect, since the media is the entity who pushed for an investigation).
Mr. Bush “faced tough questions” in the press conference yesterday:
One journalist asked if the president believed that Mr. Rove owed any apologies for providing "misleading" statements about his role in the case.
…questions remain about how straightforward Mr. Rove, a deputy chief of staff, was about his own role in administration efforts to rebut a war critic — even with his own White House colleagues.
Earlier this week, the Media Research Center released a new study documenting the fairly heavy coverage ABC, CBS and NBC have provided of yet-unproved claims that U.S. Marines engaged in a “massacre” in Haditha, Iraq last year. The study found those same networks have provided relatively paltry coverage of the select group of American heroes who’ve been given the military’s highest honors: the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, the Air Force and the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Today’s Washington Times (Jennifer Harper) has a nice summary of our study’s key findings, plus some reaction from the multi-national force in Iraq. Excerpts from her article, “‘Bad News’ Rife in military coverage”:
You'd think that President Bush's surprise visit to Iraq would warrant a big front-page headline in one of the country's largest newspapers. Yet today's print edition of the Los Angeles Times (Wednesday, June 14, 2006) blares the headline, "Crackdown Underway in Baghdad." A reference to the surprise visit is relegated to the sub-headline, and only a tiny 1.75" x 2" photo of President Bush and Prime Minister Minister Maliki occupies the page. The far-more appropriate title is platooned to the continuation of the story on page A24: "Bush Visits Iraq Ahead of Major Sweep."
The Times appears to be continuing its practice of downplaying good news for the Bush administration (here and here are just a couple of many examples; see also this).
Stephen Spruiell at NRO's Media Blog rightly whacks Slate's John Dickerson -- formerly a White House reporter for Time magazine and the son of pioneering network TV reporter Nancy Dickerson -- for his assertion Monday that liberal bloggers merely want the press to improve, but conservatives can't stand that the press exists, that they want them.....dead?
One of the healthiest things about the left-wing blogosphere is its confrontational dislike of the mainstream media. There's a distinction here with the media's critics on the right. At some level, the right doesn't much like that the press exists. They don't want to fix it, they want to drive a stake through its heart. The left, on the other hand, just wishes the establishment press would do a better job.
Various media around the world have been using this shocking photo to smear the US Marines in connection with the Haditha incident.
As Michelle Malkin has reported, the photo has nothing to do with US Marines: "The photo is of fishermen executed in a Haditha stadium by terrorists six months before the Nov. 19 incident under investigation by the US military."
That didn't stop the Times of London from running it on June 1st, alleging it was of the alleged Marine action in Haditha. The Times later apologized.