Last week, the media reported rather quickly on charges that conservative author and columnist Ann Coulter had plagiarized material in her writings. Will they be as quick to report that both her syndicate and her publisher believe the charges to be illegitimate?
The syndicator of Ann Coulter's newspaper columns rejected allegations that she had lifted material from other sources, saying a review of the work in question turned up nothing that merited concern.
"There are only so many ways you can rewrite a fact and minimal matching text is not plagiarism," Lee Salem, editor and president of Universal Press Syndicate, said Monday in a statement.
"Universal Press Syndicate is confident in the ability of Ms. Coulter, an attorney and frequent media target, to know when to make attribution and when not to."
Of note: while AP reporter Hillel Italie instantly jumped on the plagiarism charges against "the right-wing pundit", mentioning specific liberal web sites by name where readers could go to investigate the charges, they have failed to do so for a litany of charges made by critics against the equally vocal (but liberal) Michael Moore. Not one of the litany of charges made by sites like MooreWatch.com has been covered by the AP according to Nexis.
That didn't take long! Just yesterday I suggested readers keep in mind the MSM's bashing of Pres. Bush on his birthday the next time a liberal accused conservatives of being 'mean-spirited.' Groucho fans will know what I mean when I say: bring down the duck! On last evening's Journal Editorial Report , liberal newsie Marvin Kalb said the magic 'm-s' word in condemning the Wall Street Journal for its criticism of the New York Times.
The Journal had run an editorial, Fit and Unfit to Print [subscription required] that both explained why it had run a story on the anti-terror financial tracking program, and criticized the New York Times for doing so. For the record, the editorial explained that in contrast with the Times article, the Journal only published declassified information that had been provided them by the Treasury Department.
Today (Wed. July 5, 2006), the Los Angeles Times continues its practice of taking cheap shots and providing erroneous information about the Catholic Church (other recent examples are here, here, and here). In an oddly timed editorial, "The Vatican's Archives,"* the Times calls for more "openness" from Pope Benedict XVI and the Church regarding the Church's actions during the rise of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. Ignoring the fact that the Times' position could be based on misinformation it published last month (read this), the paper has also published a flat-out error about the Church's belief of papal infallibility.
Don't know if it will still be up when you go there, but when I went to Google News Top Stories at about 2:25 PM EDT, this is the photo of Rush Limbaugh that I found, accompanying the various stories reporting that Rush will not be charged in the discovery, when recently going through customs, of a prescription medicine not in his name.
NewsBuster Noel Sheppard has written elsewhere about Google's censorship of conservative web sites, and others have accused it of a liberal slant in its selection of stories.
Readers of these columns might have noticed that I occasionally include at the foot the fact that I live in 'the liberal haven of Ithaca, NY.' To give you a flavor for what I'm talking about, consider today's op-ed page in my hometown daily, the Ithaca Journal. The Journal is a Gannett newspaper. That's the chain [led by USA Today] that, as I've documented, chose as a news editor someonewho believes calling VP Cheney 'Satan' makes for the best commencement speech ever.
There have been many complaints about how our media reports the stories from Iraq. Countless articles have been written about the selective nature of reports from the field – focusing on the negative and completely ignoring the positive. Documents uncovered in Iraq have demonstrated how the insurgents use the American media for propaganda dissemination.
Now I have uncovered something even more shocking and disgusting. Our media is using pro al-Qaeda, pro Iraqi insurgency organizations as the basis for their reports – more importantly as sources of information that is damning to our soldiers.
While researching the claims of US soldiers raping a young Iraqi woman and then killing her and her family, I came across an article from Mafkarat al-Islam via Free Arab Voice. The article cites eyewitness testimony about the US rape and murder of the Iraqi family. According to Free Arab Voice, the report was filed on Saturday night at 11:55 Makkah time.
A recent Associate Press article notes that the preliminary FBI crime report for 2005 indicates a rise in violent crime. Quoting a college criminal justice professor, the article claims the increase is due to government’s waning support of law enforcement. Even more interesting is their attempt to link this with the National Rifle Association’s increased political power:
Criminal justice experts said the statistics reflect U.S. complacency in fighting crime, a product of dramatic declines in the 1990s and the abandonment of effective programs that emphasized prevention, putting more police officers on the street and controlling the spread of guns.
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.