The little Washington Post Magazine that comes with the Sunday paper had two episodes of weirdness this week. First, to promote their typically one-sided sympathetic cover story on two lesbians who felt forced to move out of "backward" Virginia as it voted to prevent so-called "gay marriage," Post reporter Michelle Boorstein signed on the Post "Discussions" site Monday at midday to answer reader questions. (The article's tilted title was "Paradise Lost: After years of hiding their love, Barbara Kenny and Tibby Middleton found a place where they felt comfortable being a couple -- until Virginia's lawmakers chased them across the Potomac." Not that they felt chased, but that they were chased, as if the legislators were running behind them with pitchforks.)
On Tuesday morning, the network morning shows all began with full stories on the New York City transit strike (no doubt involving dozens of struggling network employees). As I remarked today to Mark Finkelstein on his strike blog post, the New York-based media has an annoying tendency to elevate itself into the center of the news universe on local issues. (Put the same event in San Francisco or Seattle, and the national media would barely whisper.) And now, an example: merely a few weeks ago, at Halloween time, Philadelphia also had a transit strike. As Rich Noyes pointed out to me, it drew an 800-word story in the November 1 New York Times headlined "400,000 Hit by Philadelphia Transit Strike." Major morning show hubbub? Of course not.
The folks over at The New York Times must be laughing their heads off. With the President’s poll numbers on the rise, a fabulous election result in Iraq, and the potential extension of a key antiterrorism bill that the administration holds dear, the Times stole Christmas from the White House last week with the release of one carefully-timed article.
After some pretty horrible months in September and October, President Bush has been fighting his way back up from a virtual poll abyss. The economy—regardless of left-wing protestations to the contrary—has been humming. Energy prices—regardless of, well, you get the point—have been plummeting. And, the Sunnis, who largely boycotted the past two elections in Iraq, were giving signs that they would participate in Thursday’s elections in very large, enthusiastic numbers.
All the President needed to make this holiday season a truly joyous one was a relatively safe, incident-free day at the Iraqi polls Thursday, and the Patriot Act to be extended before Congress adjourned for the year on Friday.
The Grinch…err., I mean, the Times had something else in mind.
Travel caused me to miss Friday's big lead scoop in the New York Times on domestic spying by the National Security Agency ("Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts"), but the rest of the blogosphere took the story on from multiple angles, questioning the pieces timing, agenda, even its newsworthiness.
The Times article no doubt had the effect the paper intended, throwing the White House on the defensive and causing the renewal of the Patriot Act to be thwarted, a long-time goal of the Times editorial page.
But is this sort of terrorist surveillance truly a new and troubling thing? The government's Echelon spy program was reported on during the Clinton administration, in a 2000 report on CBS's "60 Minutes." In words that ring familiar, host Steve Kroft intoned:
In his article, “Iraq insurgents say election truce won’t last”, Fadel al-Badrani offers the reader a view from the insurgents’ side of the war. According to al-Badrani, “secular insurgents and Islamist militants” (AKA Islamofascists) plan to resume attacks against US troops and Iraqis that cooperate with the United States. Politicians, such as Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafair, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, are also listed as targets.
Al-Badrani, an Iraqi journalist working for Reuters, was able to obtain quotes from leaders of the insurgent groups, such as “Muhammad’s Army” and the “Islamic Army”. Leaders called the attacks part of their “holy war”. The leader of Muhammad’s Army promised that “the coming days will be tough on the Americans and their supporters in the Iraqi Army.”
Paul Farhi wrote an article for today’s Washington Post that confirmed yesterday’s Drudge Report exclusive sited by NewsBusters that the New York Times failed to disclose a major story it broke surrounding U.S. spying in America was part of a soon to be released book by one of its columnists, James Risen. In addition, Farhi indicated that the timing of the release of this report might indeed have been designed to correspond with a Congressional vote to renew the Patriot Act. The antiterrorism bill was blocked last evening in the Senate with members claiming revelations in the Times article may have been the death knell.
According to the Post:
“The [Times] offered no explanation to its readers about what had changed in the past year to warrant publication. It also did not disclose that the information is included in a forthcoming book, ‘State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration,’ written by James Risen, the lead reporter on yesterday's story. The book will be published in mid-January, according to its publisher, Simon & Schuster.”
And what about the timing surrounding the renewal of the Patriot Act?
Jim Kelly, Managing Editor of Time magazine, appeared on Friday's Today show. The segment, airing just prior to 8AM, teased the identity of Time’s "Person of the Year" and indicated it might be a choice that would make liberals very happy. Kelly listed two finalists from the world of politics: President Bush and Valerie Plame. He noted that Bush "hasn’t had a very good year" and then added, "this would not be the first time we put the President on with a bad year. Lyndon Johnson was on in '67 with the war in Vietnam and bad opinion polls." Kelly appeared to be much more intrigued by Valerie Plame as a candidate: "Valerie Plame really interests me because without Valerie Plame there's no Patrick Fitzgerald. there's no Karl Rove in trouble."
Kelly recounted meeting Plame a few months ago, describing her as a "absolutely charming, really interesting person." Matt Lauer jumped in and asked, "But wouldn’t it be kind of different? I mean, she didn’t do anything on purpose to be put in that position. And shouldn’t someone have to initiate some kind of behavior or some kind of action?" Kelly noted this and replied, "Well, that’s fair enough. You could do Patrick Fitzgerald, I suppose."
Two weeks of vociferous criticism from homosexual activists not only succeeded in backing Ford away from its recent decision to restrict advertising some of its products from gay publications but forced the automaker into expanding such marketing efforts and all but begging for forgiveness for being politically incorrect on the issue.
The cave could not be more complete, according to this description in The New York Times:
"Ford's announcement, which gay advocates immediately praised, also included other steps to broaden the automaker's relations with gay consumers and repair damage from the initial decision to stop advertising.
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) noted the bias of the New York Times on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal." The show's host quoted from a pessemistic NYT story about the military situation in Mosul, Iraq. Kingston, who recently returned from an extensive trip to Mosul and first-hand talks with GI's and officers questioned the story thus: "Now, would that be on the New York Times editorial page or their regular page?" The host said the regular page. Kingston replied with a smile: "And there is a difference? I would only have to say that when you cite the New York Times, it is not exactly objective."
Rep. Kingston also blasted the major networks as "overwhelmingly pessimistic" and increasingly negative." He further cited the MRC study, TV's Bad News Brigade, to buttress his arguments.
Watching a TV talking head or reading a article, sometimes one wonders at how much a journalist is willing to sell him/herself. Apparently in the UK, the price is about $59.
That may seem an unusual thing to say but this eBay auction for a "used" editorial staff of a southwestern English newspaper is hardly something you see every day.
Apparently, the staff of the Western Daily Press is about to be the subject of a downsizing as its parent company prepares to sell the paper and several others. To get around this, the Press's editorial staff is offering interested buyers the "the right to employ every redundant member of staff to produce the newspaper of your choice."
"This could be the start of your media empire," the listing reads, later offering a "FREE guarantee of dedication to our prospective new employer" with a promise that the staff is willing to work unpaid overtime hours.
Ted Rall has struck again - this time with words instead of his little cartoons. In his Dec. 6, 2005 editorial, "We're Looking for a Few Good Refuseniks", Rall attacks the US military and veterans again. Rall credits the "unelected" President Bush for the military turning its back on its once "honorable calling". Rall then blames the US soldiers for "torturing, maiming and murdering POWs, robbing and subjecting civilians to collective punishment, dropping white phosphorus and depleted uranium bombs on civilian targets."
Pooh-poohing the "they are just following orders" excuse, Rall reminds his readers that the illegal, immoral and unjust war could not have been waged without a "compliant and complicit US military". He calls for the "men and women of our armed forces" to be "held individually accountable for the carnage". Rall continues that our "government's poorly paid contract killers" do not deserve our support for blindly following orders. So much for "we support the troops but not their mission".
A recent report published by the Gallup Organization stated:
“a majority of U.S. investors continue to describe the current economy as being ‘in a slowdown’ or ‘recession’ as opposed to being ‘in a recovery’ or ‘sustained expansion.’”
Regardless of continuously strong economic reports, such bearish assessments have been regularly portrayed by public opinion polls for several years. During this period, economists and politicians – including the Bush administration – have wondered what is responsible for this disconnect between perception and reality.
A detailed look at how unemployment numbers are shared with the public by mainstream media outlets gives us some clues. The Labor Department on Friday announced very strong employment gains for the month of November. In fact, this was the largest number of job creations since April. However, this news was reported to the public in a fashion that largely downplayed its significance. A 3.2 percent annual increase in wages was characterized as employees “basically treading water.” Although energy prices have been steadily declining since September, jobs market stories included references of this still being a “huge concern.” Other news accounts referred to the unemployment rate being “stuck at 5 percent,” as if a 5 percent unemployment rate is a bad thing, while one cable news outlet told viewers to take the numbers “with a grain of salt.”
Vaughn Ververs of the CBS News blog “Public Eye” critiqued a NewsBusters post today concerning a report made by the “CBS Evening News” last night about the former 9/11 commission’s newly released report card on the government’s response to homeland security issues. Ververs apparently asked correspondent Robert Orr and producer Ward Sloane for their opinions on the NewsBusters analysis: “The ‘news’ in the former 9/11 Commission's briefing was not that the U.S. is doing a very few things right, but rather that four years after the attacks, the U.S. government is largely failing in its very expensive $100 billion attempt to prevent another one.”
Although this might indeed be what the mainstream media perceived as the “news” in this briefing, the reality is that there were a total of 41 categories that the former commission graded the government on, and this CBS News report only shared some of the the “D’s” and the “F’s,” while totally ignoring all of the “C’s,” “B’s,” and “A’s” that the government received. Aren’t these grades “news” as well? Shouldn’t the public be informed as to what the government is doing properly to protect them from terrorist attacks, or are only the failures “news?”
Yesterday, I posted an article here concerning a piece by Jonathan Alter of Newsweek. The inherent hypocrisy of Alter's column generated the following op-ed from me that I wanted to share for those that might be interested:
America’s mainstream media are in high dudgeon over efforts by our military to get its story out in Iraq, where winning hearts and minds is an important component of victory. Typical is Newsweek’s senior editor Jonathan Alter, who wrote an article for this week’s issue entitled “The Real Price of Propaganda.” In it, Alter came down strongly against the behavior alleged last week by the Los Angeles Times - that the Pentagon is buying placement of articles in Iraqi newspapers.
Less than a month ago, San Francisco Chronicle TV columnist Tim Goodman declared that Keith Olbermann ought to be the future of broadcast network news. This morning, Goodman touts Olbermann (and Oprah, and Jon Stewart) for Dan Rather's old job, opines that Katie Couric-to-CBS "will not change the network news blues," and gives CBS boss Les Moonves a fashion tip. (Speaking of which, a hat tip to Romenesko.)
Goodman opens, "The truly sad part about the rumors of Katie Couric becoming anchor of the 'CBS Evening News'" is that Couric's choice wouldn't signify "a revolution." He goes on:
As reported by NewsBusters here, the New York Times’ William Safire made some statements on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on October 30 concerning his view of a changing tide in the media’s opinion of the president. This morning’s panel on NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show” proved Safire as being rather prophetic.
To refresh everyone’s memory, Safire said that day: “Now, the wonderful thing about American attention and media coverage, is the narrative has to change. It can't stay the same, or else it's not newsworthy. And so the story will be the comeback.”
The New York Times claims "An American-backed program appears to defy the basic tenets of freedom of the press" as it continues to play catch-up to the Los Angeles Times, which had the dubious honor of breaking the story of the Pentagon-led PR-journalism campaign in support of the U.S. effort in Iraq.
On Friday, NYT reportrs Eric Schmitt and David Cloud file "Senate Summons Pentagon To Explain Effort to Plant Reports in Iraqi News Media." The text box: "An American-backed program appears to defy the basic tenets of freedom of the press."
The media is buzzing about Ramsey Clark going to Iraq to serve on the defense team of Saddam Hussein. Every article called Clark “the former US Attorney General” and played up his role in the administration of an American President. Reuters called Clark a “U.S. civil rights lawyer”. The BBC called Clark “an outspoken critic of the trial” and a “left wing activist”. The New York Times did make mention of Ramsey Clark’s penchant for “offering legal advice to toppled foreign leaders”. According to the AP, Clark was just a “consultant” on Milosevic’s trial.
Ramsey Clark is so much more than a “left wing activist” and “anti-war advocate”. Clark is a Saddam apologist who is responsible for an anti-American group masquerading as an anti-war protest organizer.
After Lyndon Johnson left office, Ramsey Clark became the poster boy for the far left. He began supporting anyone that was against America. Clark visited with Qaddafi after the US bombed Libya. He even represented the PLO in a lawsuit filed by the family of murdered American, Leon Klinghoffer.
Anti-American left wing lunatic Ted Rall was not content with depicting the US military as rapists, pedophiles and idiots. In his latest piece of artwork, Rall portrays Iraq War Veterans as torturers and domestic abusers. The cartoon, Sex Lives of Iraq War Vets, published on November 26, 2005, shows the veterans torturing their girlfriends and the girlfriend's parents Abu-Ghraib style. The final frame shows a vet dropping bombs on his girlfriend's home in response to a break-up.
This latest attempt to undermine our military comes on the heels of Rall's cartoon depicting US soliders in Iraq as rapists and pedophiles.Ted Rall's drawings and his hate Bush rants are distributed by Universal Press Syndicates. Rall's work is distributed to over 140 media outlets including the New York Times, the LA Times and the San Jose Mercury News. Yahoo.com also publishes Rall's editorials as part of its opinion section. There is no mention of Al-Jazeerah being a subscriber to Rall's far left editorials.
Reuters reported a few hours ago that the government of North Korea has accused CNN of airing a fabricated video of a public execution in that country (hat tip to Drudge): “CNN earlier this month broadcast a documentary, ‘Undercover in the Secret State,’ which among other images showed a grainy clip of what it called a public execution by firing squad of a man accused of helping a refugee cross into neighboring China.”
Kim Jong Il’s government is not happy: “‘The video tape is full of sheer lies negating the popular and class nature and the democratic principle of the DPRK's laws and tarnishing its image from A to Z,’ the North's official KCNA news agency said in a commentary.”
On November 14, a Korean website, The Chosun Ilbo, published an article on this documentary along with the picture to the right:
"According to the cable broadcaster, dissidents used small digital cameras and camcorder phones as weapons in their fight to show the outside world what is really happening in the secretive country. Footage also showed a dissident defacing a Kim Jong-il poster to draw attention to growing internal opposition to the country's leader."
This past Tuesday, the Korea Times reported that the man who took these video images is a North Korean defector currently being held by the South Korean government:
Remember the good old MSM formulation from the days when Newt was Speaker? The notion that slowing the runaway growth of any government program was actually a cut?
Just in time for Thanksgiving, it's back.
My local paper, the Gannett-owned Ithaca Journal, leads with this tear-jerker of a banner headline: "Budget Cuts Would Hit State's Poor Hard". Here is a link to the article.
Gannett News reporter John Machacek writes of thousands of welfare recipients being "squeezed," the poor being dealt a "blow" and the proposals "poking sizeable holes in New York's safety net."
Predictably, the story comes complete with heart-tugging personal stories: a cancer survivor living in a YMCA; a single mother with an asthmatic child, both worried about how the 'cuts' might affect them.
Ted Rall, the far left editorial cartoonist and anti-American pundit, has used his cartoons to slander our soldiers again. Remember - Ted was the one that mocked the death of Pat Tillman in one of his little drawings. This time he has really gone too far and I am shocked that no one has called him out on it.
In his little piece of so-called artwork from 11.10.05, Ted claims that the US Military is raping young boys in US custody. He cites McCain's anti-torture proposal as protecting detainees from "sodomy, anal rape and touching in the dirty place". In the last frame of his cartoon, Ted shows a blind-folded detainee bent over with one soldier telling another "Only rape the cute ones for now".
In his new web column, Newsweek's Paris bureau chief and Middle East regional editor Christopher Dickey writes about his dinner last Sunday with former Time White House columnist Hugh Sidey, who suffered a fatal heart attack the next day. Unfortunately, Dickey spoils his reminiscence of his friend with a lament/rant concerning the good old days when the liberal establishment media had the field all to themselves (emphasis added) :
For most of Hugh’s career, well into the 1980s, small-town newspapers told people what local editors thought they needed to know, and a handful of national media gave them what the press barons thought they ought to know. You could count the important national media on your fingers: Time and NEWSWEEK, The New York Times and to a lesser extent the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, AP, UPI, plus the three major broadcast networks—that was it. This could have been a terrible system, but in retrospect it seems a benevolent oligarchy. These media were not oblivious to market forces, but neither were they compelled to pander to them. They felt a duty to cover Washington politics, major economic issues and foreign news in considerable detail, even if only a fraction of their readers ever got past the headlines. They could dare to be boring, if that’s what it took to be responsible.
Comments are a wonderful thing and truly one of the best features of blogging. I say that because a particular comment on the CBS News "Public Eye" blog is worth highlighting here at NewsBusters now that axed CBS News producer Mary Mapes has come under increasing fire from her former employer. This raises a question for PE commenter "Neuro-con." (Unfortunately, CBS's software does not allow direct linking to a comment so you'll have to search or scroll a bit.)
Mapes' book was newsworthy, in that it confirmed that she has an
extremely distorted notion of truth. CBS is implicated in maintaining
such an individual on the payroll for 15 years.
CBS has an ethical obligation to (at least) make public a list of her previous pieces for 60 Minutes, along with transcripts.
The NY Times and The New Republic, when confronted with a
pathological liar on the payroll, went back and re-reported every
single one of their stories. In both cases, a pattern of behavior was
Vaughn [Ververs, PE's editor], please answer this question: Why does CBS hold itself to a much lower standard than the NYTimes or The New Republic?
media elite are to the left of the public in several policy areas
related to the war on terrorism, a poll "of opinion leaders and the
general public conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People
& the Press in collaboration with the Council on Foreign
Relations," found. While 56 percent of the public believes "efforts to
establish a stable democracy" in Iraq will succeed, 63 percent of the
news media elite think it will fail; a plurality of 48 percent of the
public think going to war in Iraq was correct, but 71 percent of the
news media elite consider it a bad decision; the public is split evenly
at 44 percent on whether the Iraq war has helped or hurt the war on
terrorism, but an overwhelming 68 percent of the news media elite say
it has hurt; and 46 percent of the public believe torture of terrorist
suspects is often or sometimes "justified," 78 percent of the news
media elite contend it is "rarely" or "never" justified. Plus, news
media elite approval of Bush's job performance -- at a lowly 21 percent
-- is half that of the public's.
The lead story today is Rep. John Murtha's call for US troops to be pulled out of Iraq. The media is trumpeting this as a huge blow to the Bush Administration since Murtha was one of the Democrat's "hawks". According to the AP:
"Murtha's shift from an early war backer to a critic advocating withdrawal reflects plummeting public support for a war that has cost more than $200 billion and led to the deaths of more than 2,000 U.S. troops."
According to an article in Roll Call from May 6, 2004, Murtha's bring them home now stance is nothing new.
The headline, “US Has Detained 83,000 in War on Terror”, greeted me when I logged on the Internet on Wed. Nov. 16 after lunch. I was stunned. Where were all the prisoners being held? Was this another leak from the CIA? I clicked on the link without thinking twice.
Surprise, Surprise – another AP story extolling the negatives from Iraq. Another day, another negative story from the AP.
The article opens with the statement “The United States has detained more than 83,000 foreigners in the four years of the war on terror, enough to nearly fill the NFL’s largest stadium”. Since when do we equate the war on terror and terrorists with the size of football stadiums? I have yet to see an article where the writer compared the number of Coalition soldiers and Iraqi civilians killed by the terrorists in Iraq to the capacity of a sports arena. I was at a loss trying to understand why such a comparison was necessary or appropriate.
In August 2005, the Associated Press was put on notice by readers and editors that the stream of negative AP reports from Iraq needed to be balanced with positives from Iraq. The AP responded by posting FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) on their website explaining how the war is covered. Based on a review of Associated Press articles in October 2005, the FAQ’s should be renamed the “falsely answered questions”.
The AP claimed their stories focused on “political developments in Iraq, writing daily about both political success and stalled efforts”. Based on Internet searches, the AP published approximately 207 articles about the war in Iraq during October 2005. Out of the 207 articles, 127 began with negative titles. In addition, titles of 65 articles referred to deaths in Iraq.
As is their practice, the Associated Press once again demonstrates that some of their writers will often use quotes by Republican conservatives out of context to damage them; even if that context is one of their own reports. In addition, they will distort and even mis-report facts when it suits their purposes.
In his latest, GOP's Legislative Agenda Losing Steam, the ever-reliable David Espo doesn’t disappoint. He opens his gloom and doom piece explaining the GOP agenda is in trouble due to, “President Bush's sagging poll numbers, an unstable leadership lineup in the House and growing concern about congressional elections less than a year away.”
In psychiatry the term illusion refers to a specific form of sensory distortion. Unlike an hallucination, which is a sensory experience in the absence of a stimulus, an illusion describes a distortion of a perception so it is understood and interpreted differently. For example, hearing voices regardless of the environment would be an hallucination, whereas hearing voices which arise only from the sound of running water (or other auditory source) would be an illusion.
Following Florida’s passage of Senate Bill 436, CNN ran an article entitled Florida tourists warned of new gun law. The subtitle read: ‘Shoot first’ law expands use of deadly force. Featuring the Brady Campaign, the article printed sound bites from visitors to Miami International Airport to make it appear Florida had become a darkened country on the verge of war: