As Tim Graham noted this weekend, the Times "messed up in its attempt at yet another juicy Abu Ghraib story."
Reporter Hassan Fattah’s interview with Ali Shalal Qaissi, who claimed to be the subject of an infamous Abu Ghraib photo, made the front page of the March 11 Times, complete with a picture of Qaissi holding a photograph of “himself” -- that archetypal image of a hooded man standing on a box attached to wires.
The headline trumpeted: "Symbol of Abu Ghraib Seeks to Spare Others His Nightmare."
“Mr. Qaissi, 43, was prisoner 151716 of Cellblock 1A. The picture of him standing hooded atop a cardboard box, attached to electrical wires with his arms stretched wide in an eerily prophetic pose, became the indelible symbol of the torture at Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad.”
"A Sliding Scale for Victory" is another; it's a "news analysis" with the sub-head, "As the conflict in Iraq enters its fourth year and civil war threatens, the Bush administration is again working to lower expectations."
It's just another day on the op-ed pages of the Los Angeles Times, right? Wrong. It's the above-the-fold front page (.pdf image) of Sunday's paper (March 19, 2006).
Via the AP (Yes, I'm surprised also): Actor and writer Ben Stein spoke Thursday (3/16/06) at a Republican Party fundraising dinner in Michigan. He chastised Hollywood for failing to recognize the sacrifice of our brave men and women fighting overseas during the Oscar ceremonies on March 5.
"Not one prayer or moment of silence for those who have given their lives ... And they complain about (falling box office numbers). Stop spitting in the face of Americans and maybe we will go to the movies," Stein is quoted as saying (emphasis mine).
The "real stars" are not those in posh Beverly Hills, Stein says, but the soldiers "wearing body armor in 130-degree heat, pulling 24-hour shifts" in the Sunni triangle.
Lt. Gov. Steele has risen to become a significant figure in the Republican Party. It's not hard to imagine that this story getting a lot more play in the mainstream media had the victim been a Hillary, Obama, or Edwards. In light of the attention that the Claude Allen episode has gained, isn't a clear case of "dirty politics" worthy of a little ink? If this were a Republican "scandal," wouldn't this be front-page news coast to coast?
What is the gist of Kaplan's nasty and condescending article ("Claude Allen's life sentence," 3/15/06)? Kaplan surmises that Mr. Allen's "compromises" and "cognitive dissonance" as a conservative black male may have taken a "psychological toll" on him. She then questions if this caused Allen to "finally crack under the pressure."
It doesn't get much more hostile and arrogant than this, folks. Writes Kaplan (emphasis mine),
Was this a news report, or a coming attraction for a new series about inter-generational love? Perhaps there's a third explanation: a not-too-subtle kiss blown in the direction of a soon-to-be new employer.
Amidst rampant speculation that Katie Couric might be leaving the Today show to anchor the CBS Evening News, Couric narrated a segment on this morning's Today on the occasion of Mike Wallace's announcement this week that he will be retiring from '60 Minutes'. If you think it's impossible to sustain a gush for five minutes, you obviously weren't watching Katie this morning.
Excerpts from Katie's paen to Wallace:
He "seems to succeed at everything except slowing down."
"Fearless and willing to ask anything."
"How do you stay so vibrant, so active, so alert and continue to work so hard?"
His departure "leaves big shoes for 60 Minutes to fill."
"His legend will never fade."
Back in the studio, when Matt Lauer observed that "at 88, he is astounding," Katie offered up the ultimate accolade:
It should come as no surprise to anyone who follows "60 Minutes" on a regular basis that the reporters have a problem with presenting facts, or at least truth in disclosure concerning the “experts” they bring on to give us the facts.
Mainstream outlets love it when Republicans knock their own, don't they? Sunday's opinion section of the Los Angeles Times (March 12, 2006, called "Current") devoted no less than four articles to a Bush-bashing feature called "Conservative Crackup." The theme? Because of President Bush, the GOP faces an "identity crisis" and "discomfort." Oh, yeah. And Iraq has been "an astonishing flop."
"Bush is not a conservative. He has bushwhacked the term. He is a right-wing ideologue," spits Jeffrey Hart ... "Democrat Bill Clinton's administration is looking more and more like the 'good old days'," writes Bruce Bartlett ... President Bush has "made the Democrats look like a credible alternative," claims Daniel Drezner.
As has been well-documented by Media Research Center [parent organization of NewsBusters], while MSMers are loath to label anyone or anything 'liberal,' they don't hesitate to brand various entities or individuals 'conservative' or 'right-wing.' Well, folks, I believe we have a new world record in the category.
On tonight's Fox News Watch, in the course of discussing the case of Colorado teacher Jay Bennish - who compared President Bush to Hitler - liberal [there, I said it] Neal Gabler managed to utter the term 'right-wing' four times . . . in 14 seconds. Yes, I checked it by my VCR timer.
How is anyone supposed to view Reuters as an unbiased and objective news agency when it publishes photos like this?
As you can see, the word "Retire" is perfectly framed behind the head of Vice President Dick Cheney. It just seems too "perfect" for this to be called an "accident." How much more evidence does one need to see that the MSM is simply downright hostile to this administration?
Keith Olbermann did another Bill O'Reilly hate segment on tonight's edition of Countdown. Like he did on Friday, Olbermann bashed O'Reilly because the FOX News host dropped a caller who mentioned Keith's name on his daily radio show. The caller claims that he did not say any profanity when he was on the radio show, however due to at least a 7-second delay, we do not know what happened. It is probable that the caller uttered some profane language because he was in the middle of the sentence when he was cut off. Many on the left side of the aisle say that the caller was kicked off because he said Olbermann's name, but if that was the case, why would O'Reilly air that part of the conversation? O’Reilly sent FOX News Security after the caller because of harassment, so one can only imagine that he did much more than Olbermann’s name.
“Wal-Mart Enlists Bloggers in Its Public Relations Campaign," by Michael Barbaro in Tuesday's New York Times, concerns the discount giant feeding newsbits to bloggers to help its public relations. It tops Tuesday’s business pages, complete with the banner of a pro-Wal-Mart blog that's Barbaro’s main target. Yet Barbaro himself cowrote a story last month based on tips from an anti-Wal-Mart website.
“Under assault as never before, Wal-Mart is increasingly looking beyond the mainstream media and working directly with bloggers, feeding them exclusive nuggets of news, suggesting topics for postings and even inviting them to visit its corporate headquarters.
Reuters CEO Tom Glocer, speaking at the Online Publishers Association conference in London, said journalists need to adapt to the new media.
Reports the London Guardian: "Tom Glocer said that media organisations needed to understand their true value in order to make the most of the online world."
"I believe the world will always need editing," he said. "Just because everyone has the potential to publish their own blog, doesn't mean they're all worth reading. The role of companies like ours is to edit and filter, and provide open tools for the audience. The good stuff will float to the top.
Or, to be accurate, the “right-wing bias” that the Los Angeles Times apparently held before the “provincial” paper moved to the left and garnered “respect.”
NY Times Obituary writer Jonathan Kandell remembers Los Angeles Times Publisher Otis Chandler in Tuesday's edition.
“Otis Chandler, who inherited The Los Angeles Times from his parents and then, as its publisher, transformed it into one of the most respected, widely read and profitable newspapers in the United States, died yesterday at his home in Ojai, Calif. He was 78 years old.”
Kandell discovers political bias in the media, as Chandler guided the paper from "right-wing bias" to respectability.
Chris Matthews, host of Hardball, appeared on the February 25 edition of NBC’s Today. Co-host Lester Holt began the segment, airing at 8:11AM EST, by asking Matthews about Iraq. He responded:
"The President, of course, got us to go to war in Iraq with the argument that someday down the road, that country over there on the other side of the world might someday help out the terrorists, and we've lost 3000 guys fighting that argument."
That statistic, of course, is not correct. The actual number, as of February 26, is 2294. The death of every soldier is tragic and their sacrifice should be remembered and honored. But the fact that Matthews rounded up by over 700 shows the grisly fascination that media members have with these milestones. Holt then asked the MSNBC host what options the United States had in a potential Iraqi civil war. Matthews then suggested a bleak and dire scenario:
USA Today media writer Peter Johnson reports that CBS News is not about to give up investigative journalism despite the increasing sceptism that genre endures.
CBS News' "48 Hours" recently had to apologize to a Missouri newspaper for changing a front page photo onscreen and claiming it came from the Columbia Daily Tribune.
Peter Johnson says that CBS has taken more hits than any other network.
Yet a week from today, Armen Keteyian, an eight-time Emmy-winning journalist, joins the Evening News as chief investigative correspondent. It's one of the boldest moves yet by CBS News chief Sean McManus, who was charged last October with overhauling the newscast.
CBS News president Sean McManus admits that journalists "in all forms of media have been burned," but that "doesn't mean you say, 'Well, I'm going to focus on human-interest stories exclusively instead of investigative journalism.'" He says to "run away" from investigative reporting because of events in the "recent past," would be "foolish."
Ken Herman of Cox Newspapers, quoted in The New York Times today about cameras in the White House briefing room:
"I don't like them seeing me do my job; I want them to
see the end result," he said of the public's looking over his shoulder in
the briefing room. "It's perfectly possible to be obnoxious and contentious
in there and produce an objective print story, but the image is so
overwhelmingly negative, and some of our TV brethren are very good at the
Yes, it's perfectly possible, it's just not probable, from my years of analyzing media bias. Terry Moran and David Gregory, for example, are just as biased in the finished product as their belligerent barrages of questioning in press briefings would suggest. And for the life of me I cannot recall a single instance where Helen Thomas has tried to elicit information from Ari Fleischer or Scott McClellan that was relevant to reporting a news story.
I also have a hard time believing that minority leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) orSen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would face the same intense questions from the press were congressional news conferences as widely televised as the White House briefings.
A particularly dour report on the situation in Iraq aired on this evening's NBC Nightly News (Sunday, February 26, 2006) (link with video). This is nothing new, but the last 20 seconds of the report featured remarks from a man named Nir Rosen, whom NBC innocently identified as an "Iraq analyst." Not surprisingly, Rosen is far from an impartial observer.
Here in Annapolis, Maryland, local, state, and national media
remained silent while Democrats in the General Assembly quietly
overrode no less than three vetos by Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich,
making Maryland's voting laws the least transparent and most liberal in
the nation. From local and state news sources, not a word was breathed.
From the national media, including, even, Fox News... Nothing!
Only author and WSJ columnist John Fund seems to have noted Maryland's radical moves towards their new "vote early and often" elections policy. As Fund aptly notes:
It should normally be difficult to
pick the worst state legislature in America, but Maryland's is way out
in front. First it overrode GOP Gov. Bob Ehrlich's veto of a special
health-care tax on Wal-Mart. Democratic legislators then passed three
election-related bills and again mustered the necessary three-fifths
votes to overturn his vetoes. Together the election laws would so
weaken safeguards against voter fraud as to make Maryland the nation's
prime example of Election Day irresponsibility.
Slate "Press Box" columnist Jack Shafer has a pictoral essay up today on "TV's Aryan Sisterhood," where he mocks the hair of anchor-babes from Paula Zahn to Katie Couric to Diane Sawyer. (He links to an old MRC page for a pic of Katie the Brunette.) This page (5 of 9) cracked me up:
I imagine that at one point in her life, the 60-year-old Diane Sawyer of ABC News was an honest blonde, but is there any middle-aged woman alive whose hair naturally looks like this? A relatively late arrival to the blond gang is NBC's Andrea Mitchell, 59, who looks like an Earl Scheib paint and body shop hosed her hair down with a gallon of Gold Leaf Metallic Clearcoat.
A year after Bill Moyers won a “career” award, the 2005 winners of the “George Polk Awards,” which “memorialize the CBS correspondent who was murdered while covering the civil war in Greece in 1948,” were announced late Monday. The winners, as selected by an advisory panel assembled by Long Island University, are a who's who of liberal activists, including left-wing New York Times columnist Frank Rich and Victor Navasky, the long-time Editor of the far-left The Nation magazine. Virtually all the winners in reporting categories went to journalists who revealed secret anti-terror operations, undermined the Bush administration's anti-terror efforts or embarrassed people and/or contractors linked to the Bush administration.
As posted tonight (Monday) by Romenesko, the “Television Reporting” award went to ABC's Brian Ross “for revealing the treatment, which many experts consider to be torture, that the CIA used in secret detention facilities. In naming the countries where the facilities were located as well as exposing the White House-approved 'enhanced interrogation techniques' used by the CIA...the reports triggered an avalanche of critical reaction from governments and the public around the world.” The “National Reporting” nod was earned by “Dana Priest of the Washington Post for unveiling the existence of secret CIA-run prisons and wrongdoing that included the death of an Afghan detainee and the attempted cover up of the mistaken imprisonment of a German citizen. Priest detailed the elaborate covert operations in a series of 10 articles that unleashed an international furor and raised troubling questions at home about the government's counter-terrorism campaign.” (More award winners follow.)
How do members of the media really feel about Dick Cheney? Mark Shields, a syndicated columnist appeared on the roundtable discussion show Inside Washington, which airs on Friday nights on local PBS powerhouse WETA.He blasted Cheney, linking the accident to his Vietnam deferments, saying:
"I’m just grateful that he had his five deferments, because, my God, if he’d had gotten a platoon, he would have wiped out half his own men."
Shields, who has previously connected Tom DeLay to the West Virginia coal mine tragedy, also accused the Vice President of not caring about the troops and possibly being drunk when he shot Harry Whittington. Shields, in one sentence, brought up the old canard that Cheney is running the country and also suggested that the Vice President doesn’t care as much about American soldiers as he does Harry Whittington:
The Associated Press issued a somewhat peculiar story this afternoon. The story? Rush Limbaugh made an error. Yup. Rush apparently mistook the fact that Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is a white man and not black, as he had announced on the air. According to the story, Limbaugh received e-mails from listeners correcting him. "Uh, Sherrod Brown's a white guy? Then I'm confusing him with somebody. OK, I'm sorry," Limbaugh is quoted as saying.
And ... this ... is ... news? I'm ... confused. That the Associated Press would find this episode newsworthy is almost weird.
Many posters at Free Republic are equally bewildered. "Must be a slow news day for the AP?" wondered one. My favorite: "The AP finds the speck in Rush's eye but ignores the log in theirs."
In case you didn't see it on the MRC home page, Vaughn Ververs from the "Public Eye" blog at CBSNews.com offered us space this week in their weekly "Outside Voices" feature. Their blog was set up in the wake of Rathergate to demonstrate more "transparency" or CBS news-making and also serve as "a forum for debate, a conversation about the news between the people who produce it and the people who consume it."
I tried to offer the CBS News staff and the wider media community a small sense of how we answer the questions and critiques we've received over the almost 20 years the MRC has been taping and transcribing and exposing. One accusation, an indirect attack from Bill Moyers, suggested conservative media critics want right-wing unanimity with no disturbing liberal counter-argument:
Matt Drudge of The Drudge Report today highlights a recent SFGATE.com article written by Matea Gold of the LA Times entitled Critics slam Cheney's interview choice. As predicted, the assualt on the Vice President, who waited approximately 24 hours before making an official announcement over the shooting incident this past weekend, has modified somewhat to include an assault on Fox News as well:
For days, the White House news corps has pounded the Bush administration, demanding to learn more about Vice President Dick Cheney's accidental shooting of a hunting companion Saturday.
The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz today offers up an analysis of why Vice President Cheney chose Brit Hume -- and only Brit Hume -- to go public with the details of his hunting accident. This, of course, will be the next phase of the media's assault on the Vice President's character, which is about to become an assault on the character of Fox News as well; why would the Vice President forgo a press conference for an in-depth interview with just one person.
Former Clinton spokesman, Mike McCurry said this of Hume:
Hume was "impartial and balanced and fair" as an ABC correspondent covering Clinton, but that "he's in advocacy journalism now."
According to the website of the Media Giraffe Project -- "a non-partisan, interdisciplinary research initiative housed with the Journalism program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst" -- former New York Times ombudsman (or as they call it, "Public Editor") Daniel Okrent stated Monday night that "the general rolling over on the part of the American press allowed the [Iraq] war to happen." (Hat tip: Romenesko.)
Robert C.J. Parry, a first lieutenant in the California Army National Guard's 1st battalion of the 184 Infantry, has published a must-see op-ed in today's Los Angeles Times (Sunday, February 12, 2006), entitled, "The war you didn't see." In the piece, he reports something that is rarely reported but has been known by many all along: The mainstream media has been giving our troops a raw deal by harping on negative news and ignoring positive accomplishments.
"We served with honor. We served with valor. We earned distinction," writes Lt. Parry, as he recounts a number of brave actions in battle from men with whom he served. (Emphasis mine:)
"So far, 14 of our soldiers have been decorated for valor and another 48 have earned the Bronze Star for service. But that cannot be found in print.
The latest op-ed piece by liberal Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks is called, "When crass is called for" (Friday, February 10, 2006). It begins with the eye-opening line, "It's time to take a stand against civility, decency and appropriateness."
The rest of the column is essentially a defense of the tasteless remarks by Rev. Joseph Lowery and former President Jimmy Carter at the funeral of Coretta Scott King on Tuesday. At one point of her piece, Brooks unbelievably declares, "I saw nothing uncivil about the remarks made by Lowery and Carter."
And in her concluding paragraph, Brooks shrugs (emphasis mine), "And if Bush was offended by Lowery's and Carter's remarks? Tough luck."