Blogs such as NewsBusters play a key role in helping the truth bypass the filter of the mainstream media. That was the view that Rear Admiral Mark Fox expressed to this blogger today.
I had the opportunity to participate in a conference call for bloggers with RADM Fox, a Silver Star recipient who scored the first Navy MiG kill in Operation Desert Storm, and who now serves as the Communications Director for MNF-I in Baghdad. Given NB's mission, when I had the to ask a question I naturally focused on MSM coverage of the war. I cited to Admiral Fox the headline and opening paragraph of the New York Times story on the recent battle in Najaf in which Iraqi-US forces killed over 200 enemy fighters and captured more than 400. Predictably, the Times sought to cast the success in the most negative possible light.
NewsBusters Senior Editor Tim Graham, Director of Media Analysis at the MRC, appeared Monday night with Wall Street analyst Charles Payne on FNC's O'Reilly Factor. Topic: The controversy over CNBC's Maria Bartiromo using a jet owned by CitiCorp. Tim used the opportunity to pivot to a wider discussion of liberal bias at NBC News, citing how NBC was the first to pounce on John Sununu for using corporate jets during 41's term, how NBC News is now pounding away at the irrelevance of President George W. Bush and how the Today show is the most slanted morning show.
Loyal NB readers might recall that on the eve of President Bush's recent address on the new way forward in Iraq, I had the chance to participate in a conference call for bloggers with White House press secretary Tony Snow and Brett McGurk of the National Security Council.
With the State of the Union Address just a few hours away, Tony Snow - after a long day making the media rounds - organized a similar event in which your faithful NewsBuster again took part.
I had a chance to ask a question this time around, and chose to focus on recent events in Iraq. After referring to the headlines that have been made by the recent arrest of some 600 militiamen in Iraq, I noted a lesser-publicized report that the Iraqi army had arrested a senior aide to Moktada al-Sadr, Sheikh Abdul al-Hadi Darraji. He was arrested last Friday in a raid on a Baghdad mosque near Sadr City.
I asked Snow whether those events signal that we have in some way turned the corner in obtaining the willingness of the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki in going after Shia militias, and if so, how have we been able to achieve this?
Keith Olbermann is scared. Not by the threat of terrorism in the United States. But at the notion that "24" might be raising Americans' awareness of the threat. And he has singled out NewsBusters for the role it has played in highlighting the issue.
Olbermann devoted a Countdown segment this evening to "24", suggesting that its two-night, four-hour season opener should have been sufficient to "scare or outrage you." Incomprehensibly, Olbermann complained that the show depicted various terrorist suicide attacks "not in places where these things already happened, but in a country called the United States of America." Is it possible that Keith Olbermann has forgotten 9-11?
As might be expected, the New York Times is trying its unlevel MSM best to portray Iraqi reaction to President Bush's recently-announced proposal in the most negative possible light. But the Gray Lady has already been forced to acknowledge that it blatantly misrepresented a key fact in its recent article on the matter. Now, new doubts have arisen about its characterization of Iraqi reaction.
In its article of January 11th, unsubtly entitled In Baghdad, Bush Policy Is Met With Resentment, the Times claimed that the Iraqi government had "offered only a grudging endorsement" of President Bush's proposal and that its response was "tepid."
As supposed evidence of the alleged "resentment," the Times claimed that "the Iraqi leader, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, failed to appear at a news conference," suggesting that he had spurned a scheduled appearance. This notion was reinforced by the legend appearing beneath the Times' photo [displayed here]: "Iraq’s prime minister sent a spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, to address President Bush’s latest policy."
There was only one problem with the Times depiction of PM Maliki having failed to make a scheduled appearance: it wasn't true. The press briefing was a regularly-scheduled weekly event with Government of Iraq spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh and the Prime Minister was never scheduled to appear.
The Times was forced to acknowledge its misrepresentation in a correction published today:
"Thank God for blogs," said White House Press Secretary Tony Snow this afternoon, commenting on the Bush administration's communications efforts. The comment came in the course of a conference call for bloggers conducted this afternoon by Snow and Brett McGurk [pictured here], the National Security Council's Director for Iraq, giving a preview of President Bush's speech of tonight on Iraq. I had the opportunity to participate on behalf on NewsBusters.
Snow described the problem with the traditional media - generously I would say - not in terms of bias but as a function of the "if it bleeds it leads" tendency.
Snow indicated that he reads the blogs represented in the conference call. It's clear that the White House views blogs, NewsBusters among them, as playing an important role in cutting through the MSM clutter. Snow also described the frustration of military people in Iraq with media coverage that does not comport with the reality they experience in the field. Snow predicted that service people would begin using their own video cameras and sites such as YouTube and LiveLeak to get the word out. Along those lines, I can say that one of the most empowering aspects of my recent trip to Iraq was the ability to put video up on NewsBusters, at times within an hour of events in the field, as with this report on a training exercise of Iraqi soldiers on the Euphrates river in Anbar province.
Among the encouraging details emerging from the conference call:
MRC Times Watch man and NB blogger Clay Waters appeared again Thursday on Fox's "Your World with Neil Cavuto" on the subject of the constant and ongoing New York Times wailing and lamenting the botched execution of Saddam Hussein. Clay was joined in the Cavuto segment by James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation. Waters offered this take:
“Everyone of course has some misgivings about how it was, especially with the leaked videotape. But what struck me was the tone of the coverage. It could not give him Bush or the U.S. a single positive thing out of it. Even Slate, which is no one’s idea of a right-wing rag, they said ‘a distinct strain of grudging admiration’ that ran through the Times coverage of Hussein's trip to the gallows.” And if Slate says it, there must be something fairly obvious about the Times.” Video Clip: Real (2.39 MB) or Windows (2 MB) Plus MP3(948 KB)
MRC's Times Watch man and NB blogger Clay Waters appeared again on FNC's "Your World with Neil Cavuto" on Friday afternoon to discuss the New York Times and its unhappiness with the trial and execution of Saddam Hussein. Substitute host Stuart Varney began: “In an op-ed piece entitled ‘The Rush to Hang Saddam Hussein,’ editors questioned if the trial was legitimate, and if Iraq would be better off with him dead. Clay Waters is disgusted, but not surprised. He is director of Times Watch….Clay, to you first, I read this editorial and they called, the Times called the trial flawed, politicized, and divisive, and a lost opportunity. What do you make of all this?”
Waters replied: “Well, obviously, the Times is not going to be sad to see him go, but at the same time, it is clear just from the preview that Bush is not going to get a positive story out of this, as you can see. It’s started already. It’s going to be like the Zarqawi thing. Bush got half a day of positive coverage and then the media went back to their usual template of doom and gloom, Iraq equals Vietnam. And even today, online they said the trial might be ruined by, quote, "politically driven haste" to execute Saddam after a deliberative trial." Of course, this editorial makes the opposite case, they said this was a lousy trial, so they shouldn’t hang Saddam. The only consistency is don’t hang Saddam. That’s the only thing the Times is consistent about.”
Just before 4:30pm EST today (December 20), Tim Graham, Senior Editor of NewsBusters and Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center, was a guest on the Fox News Channel's Your World with Neil Cavuto. Topic: Time magazine's "People Who Mattered" in 2006 profiles in the December 25/January 1 issue. Amongst those on the list, Katie Couric and Al Gore, whom Time touted: “For His Second Act, Saving the Planet."
MRC President Brent Bozell appeared live on Tuesday's Hannity & Colmes on FNC to discuss Joy Behar's quip on Monday's The View, in reference to Time magazine punting on a Person of the Year, that “you have to put like a Hitler type. Like you put Donald Rumsfeld there or something" (Links at bottom of this node to video). Sparring with Alan Colmes, Bozell declared: “I'm sick and tired of the left pontificating and giving me lectures about hate speech.” (Mark Steyn filled in for Sean Hannity with former ABC News reporter Bob Zelnick as the second guest.)
Bozell also recalled how, on last Thursday's edition of the ABC daytime show, Behar seriously suggested Senator Tim Johnson may have been a victim of conservative evil-doing. She proposed: "Is there such a thing as a man-made stroke? In other words, did someone do this to him?" Behar contended the Republican Party is capable of such a nefarious deed: "I know what this, that party is capable of." For video of that December 14 exchange, check the MRC CyberAlert or this NewsBusters item.
Is Keith Olbermann just a modern-day reincarnation of the crazed anchorman depicted in the 1976 Academy Award-winning film “Network?” In a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article published Tuesday, KO said no (emphasis mine throughout): “‘I am not Peter Finch walking around the streets of New York in my pajamas as Howard Beale muttering to myself and saying, 'I must bear my witness.' It's not like that.’"
One NewsBusters’ contributing editor didn’t agree with Olby’s position:
“My concern is that people are mistaking his show for real news," said Noel Sheppard, a blogger with NewsBusters.Org, a Web site founded by conservative media watchdog Brent Bozell. "But there's no question he is indeed Howard Beale. The whole Paddy Chayevsky [sic] concept in 'Network' was that news had to be entertaining. You had the anchorman flip out one day, and the ratings exploded. The same is going on with Keith Olbermann, who really does get into a snit like Beale did."
As a little background, the film “Network” was based on a fictitious media outlet whose ratings were doing very poorly, in particular, its news division.
Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, who passed away Friday morning, adapted a 1983 speech on the influence of the news media, into the forward for the Media Research Center's 1990 book, And That's the Way It Isn't: A Reference Guide to Media Bias. She proposed: “Some people believe, and I am among them, that the power of the media today constitutes the most significant exercise of unaccountable power in our society. It is unaccountable to anyone, except for those who exercise the power. I believe that the domain of culture is as important as the domain of government or the economy.”
More than two decades ago, she warned: “It is very important to realize that the electronic media, which provide mass audiences, have made our culture much more manipulable than it ever was in the past. Typically, historically, cultures have been slow to change. Ideas about what's real, what's important, and what causes what, change very slowly in history. They are grounded in the experience of peoples, and respond only to additional, cumulative experiences of peoples. With the rise of electronic media, the possibility of deliberate manipulation of culture has been magnified ten zillion fold.” (Full text follows)
The Media Research Center was saddened to learn on Friday of the passing of the Honorable Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, Ambassador to the United Nations for the Reagan administration and a leading conservative author and thinker. (Earlier NewsBusters item with Reuters story.) She had been serving as a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, which has a posted biography of her many accomplishments. The Washington Post's obituary. We will fondly remember her for taking part in our 2004 DisHonors Awards where, in good-humor, she accepted, on behalf of ABC's Diane Sawyer and Dan Harris, the “Baghdad Bob Award for Parroting Enemy Propaganda.”
Video (4:20): You can enjoy Real video or MP3 audio of her comments on March 18, 2004 in which she related her experiences in Geneva at the UN's Human Rights Commission meetings on Iraq where she lobbied the hotel to add the Fox News Channel so her delegation wouldn't have to choose between CNN and the BBC.
On Thursday's Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Countdown made Brent Bozell, President of the Media Research Center which runs NewsBusters, the “winner” of his nightly “Worst Person in the World.” Bozell's offense? Asserting that “probably a hundred Generals in the field in Iraq would disagree” with describing the situation in Iraq as a “civil war.” Olbermann demanded: “Okay, name them. We're waiting.” But seconds before Olbermann had inadvertently made Bozell's case as he recalled how “in August and September alone, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Pace and General Abizaid and General Casey all admitted that at minimum, Iraq could be headed to civil war.” Yes, “could” be “headed” for civil war, but not in one.
And, for someone who propounds to be such a stickler for accuracy (on Tuesday he ridiculed FNC for dropping one letter from his name), Olbermann flubbed a basic fact. Just as he did the last time he denounced Bozell as the “worst” (November 3 NewsBusters item), Olbermann called the Media Research Center the Media Research “Council.”
Clay Waters, Editor of the MRC's TimesWatch site and a regular contributor to NewsBusters, was a guest this afternoon on FNC's Your World with Neil Cavuto. Topic: Liberal bias in the New York Times and the impact of its publishing leaked information, specifically the timing of the Wednesday front page story: “Bush Adviser’s Memo Cites Doubts About Iraqi Leader.”
Clay appeared as part of a panel at the top of the 4pm EST show which will re-run at 5am EST Thursday morning.
Video clip (6:05): Real (4.52 MB) or Windows (3.76 MB) plus MP3 (1.76 MB)
Brent Bozell, the President of the Media Research Center, the parent of NewsBusters, appeared alongside Democratic strategist Laura Schwartz on Monday night's Hannity & Colmes on FNC to discuss the decision by NBC News to call the situation in Iraq a “civil war.” (Earlier NewsBusters items by Mark Finkelstein and by Geoffrey Dickens on how on Today Matt Lauer insisted NBC made the decision “after careful consideration,” as well as an evening show update on NewsBusters from Brent Baker on how NBC admitted the “civil war” term would erode support for the war.) Bozell contended: “Of course it's a mess over there. That does not mean it's a civil war and that's what the question was. And when Matt Lauer and NBC make the editorial determination that it's a civil war that's an editorial and that's a biased judgment on their part.” [The segment is 40 minutes into the show which will re-run at 12 midnight EST, 11pm CST, 9pm PST]
At one point Bozell told Alan Colmes to “hush,” leading Sean Hannity to propose: "Brent, you get the award for the Phrase of the Year: 'Alan, hush.'" Bozell earlier recalled how back in August of 2005 Lauer repeatedly pressed soldiers in Iraq to admit they had low morale, prompting one to fire back: “If I got my news from the newspapers also I'd be pretty depressed as well." (Links to that incident, with video, below the break)
Fox News Watch led this week's show with Brent Bozell's condemnation of the press' coverage of the just-concluded congressional campaign. Host Eric Burns noted that Bozell is "head of an influential conservative media watchdog group called the Media Research Center" - which also happens to be the parent organization of NewsBusters.
FNW played a video clip of Bozell stating:
"In 25 years of looking at the national media I have never in my life seen a more one-sided, distorted, vicious presentation of news and non-news by the national press. The national press ought to be collectively ashamed of itself. They might as well take up membership in the Democratic national party. They were the simple microphones for the party. They need to be ashamed of themselves for what they did."
With gratitude to Providence and thanks to all who kept me in their thoughts and prayers, I'm happy to be home from Iraq. I arrived in Ithaca last night at about 9 PM, about 43 hours after beginning the journey home from Baghdad. Naturally there were a few more plot twists along the way. Instead of traveling via Rota Spain and Dover, DE, etc., it was Qatar, Ramstein Germany, Charleston, Charlotte, Philly, Syracuse and Ithaca. I'll spare you all the details, but will say that the East Coast being socked in made for lots more time to appreciate the charms of the Philly airport. Also, if you ever have the choice, opt to travel on a comfy C-5 with commercial-style seats that let you stretch out across a row, versus a spartan C-17. That said, the Air Force crews were great and did their best to keep us comfortable. And the bottom line is that I'm home, safe and sound.
It's 5 AM in Qatar, where we landed an hour or so ago. Yes, the Iraq portion of this trip is over. Not without a few final twists and turns, naturally. We got into the Green Zone Monday night and camped out in a media lounge. Standing outside in the parking lot the following morning, a very sharp explosion could be heard, but that's not enough to stop people from going about their business here.
Tommy Clarkson, host par excellence and official at the Gulf Reconstruction Division of the Army Corps of Engineers had arranged interviews with a number of senior GRD folks. There is a major disconnect between the way the reconstruction story is reported in the MSM and the reality on the ground. Much of the MSM focus is on the fact that Baghdad residents enjoy fewer hours of electricity now than before the war. That ignores the fact that, overall, electricity output has increased significantly and that Iraqis in other areas of the country enjoy much more daily power than before the war. During his reign, Saddam monopolized power for the capital, literally threatening engineers with death should there be an interruption. Power is now equitably shared across the country. There are also hundreds of major water, oil and other infrastructure projects that have been completed or are under construction.
When last we spoke, I had completed a work-out at the Camp Al Asad gym - just like home but for the presence of weightlifters bearing M-16s. The plan had been to spend the rest of the day working out of the Public Affairs Office at Al-Asad, but to be on the safe side it was decided to go right out to the air terminal. We were flying Space 'A,' the military equivalent of stand-by, and it's always better to get there early.
In the waiting area, a number of dogs, accompanied by their military handlers, were in their travel kennels. When one would howl, the others would join in. Kind of eery, kind of homey. I made good use of the time in the terminal, pounding out a story for our sister site Cybercast News Service about the heroic work of the Combat Logistics Battalion surgical hospital.
We’re at Camp Al Asad, about 150 miles west of Baghdad in Anbar Province. We began our day with the famous Navy Seabees, the construction battalions that historically have gone ashore with the Marines to build what needs to be built. We spoke with Seabees largely from a reserve unit from Washington State. Most of the men work construction jobs in civilian life, and here they were getting the job done in conditions about as far as can be imagined from those of the Pacific Northwest. I also spoke with the Chief in charge of food for the unit. He mentioned that, in the constant pursuit of improvement, the Navy actually draws upon the expertise of the Culinary Institute of America from my home state of New York.
A couple of the men were from an Alaska reserve unit. One of them works as a firefighter/EMT in a gold mine in the Fairbanks area. Once a month he makes the 350-mile roundtrip to his unit in Anchorage – on his own dime.
On our way from Habbaniyah to Camp Al-Asad, further west in Al Anbar province, we found ourselves out on the tarmac at Camp TQ awaiting our helo. After 15 bone-chilling minutes out on the cold and windy tarmac, we were rescued by a Marine from the ground crew, explaining that there'd be a delay and inviting us to share his crew's quarters - a Conex box, roughly half the size of a shipping container. In the blackout conditions, we sat in the light of the red and green chem-lights. To pass the time, one of the men grabbed another's iPod, mentioning out loud the musical selections found. A variety of ingenious and occasionally unprintable critiques of the various artists and songs were offered up.
MRC President Brent Bozell appeared with other conservative leaders at the National Press Club this morning to urge that the Republican Party respond to their election defeat by returning to their conservative Reaganite roots. During his remarks, Bozell lambasted the national media’s biased campaign coverage, blasting them as “a laughingstock when it comes to the idea of objective journalism.”
In the press conference televised live on C-SPAN, Bozell listed the missed opportunities and strategic errors made by the Republicans, then focused on the media’s hand in crafting yesterday’s outcome:
“And then they [the Republicans] had the problem with the national press. I will say this unequivocally: In 25 years of looking at the national media, I have never in my life seen a more one-sided, distorted, vicious presentation of news and non-news by the national press.
In the Fox News Channel's “Buzz on the Blogs” segment at about 9:39pm EST Tuesday night, columnist and blogger Michelle Malkin began her look at blog critiques of election coverage by citing “grievances, mostly from the right side of the blogosphere, over the leak of exit polls and what they consider the premature calling of a lot of these races.” She then pointed to NewsBusters' take: “At NewsBusters.org, which is one of the leading mainstream media critic blogs, they've been highlighting the early calls in Pennsylvania.”
As Malkin spoke, viewers saw a split-screen of her and of this NewsBusters posting, “Polls Remain Open in Pennsylvania, But CBS Announces Casey Victory,” by Rich Noyes.
As some of our readers know, I'm heading off to Iraq, where I'll be reporting for CNS, the news agency of MRC.
Our focus at NB is of course exposing liberal media bias, and to the extent I have a chance to "cover the coverage" I'll certainly be blogging on that. At the same time, I'm thinking that our NB readers might enjoy experiencing more generally some sights, sounds and impressions from the trip. So, with the indulgence of my editors, I'll maintain an 'Iraq Diary' here with written reports, photos and even some video clips - internet connections permitting.
Here's the schedule, which is of course subject to change:
November 8th - travel commercial from Ithaca to Charleston, SC November 9th - fly from Charleston AFB to naval base in Rota, Spain, near Gibraltar Nov. 10th - arrive Rota Nov. 11 - depart Rota, arrive Balad, Iraq. Nov. 11-13 - International [Green] Zone. Visits with Gulf Reconstruction Divsion of Army Corps of Engineers and military hospital featured in HBO documentary 'Baghdad ER.' Nov. 13th-20th - With Marines in Fallujah. Nov. 21st-23rd - heading home Nov. 23rd [Thanskgiving] - arrive base Dover, DE
Later today, NewsBusters will host its first ever live chat for the 2006 elections. To take part, you'll need to download and install a program capable of accessing IRC chat servers.
For Windows users, we recommend Trillian which can be downloaded here. Mac users should try Colloquy which can be downloaded here. Linux users likely already have a favorite so I won't suggest one immediately.
The goal here is to move as much of the discussion into an instant form that allows everyone to talk in real time about the election, and to shift a lot of the non-media bias chat into these places, thereby easing the load on our web server for everyone.
Election Day is upon us which means it's time for an official NewsBusters predictions thread.
Unlike other places, though, there's an actual prize for being correct. The commenter who most closely predicts the margin of both houses of congress will win a free Apple Ipod Nano. Entries must be submitted before 11:00 AM Eastern time. (Please do not post anything other than numeric predictions on this thread.)
Update 16:42. Comments are reenabled on this post. The chat server is also available at live.newsbusters.org.
For daring to criticize Keith Olbermann's Wednesday night “Special Comment” rant against President Bush for inspiring “domestic terrorism,” the MSNBC host on Thursday night named Media Research Center President Brent Bozell his “bronze” nominee in his daily “Worst Person in the World” segment. Olbermann, who misidentified the MRC as the “Media Research Council,” proceeded to claim that Bozell was on the phone ordering men's underwear to don “on his head.” Olbermann ridiculed Bozell: “The bronze to funny man Brent Bozell, self-appointed President of the self-created Media Research Council, responding to my Special Comment last night with a press release headlined, 'MSNBC's Keith Olbermann Preaches Hate Speech.'...[T]his is the guy who wrote the Willie Horton ad and in the press release he calls me a 'brown shirt.' And he thinks other people are preaching hate speech. Buy this man a mirror!”
Moving to his next nominee, the designer of men's underwear in which “the fabric cup protrudes everything out in front instead of down toward the ground. The design of the underwear separates and lifts,” Olbermann sarcastically quipped: “I'm told Brent Bozell is on the phone looking to order a dozen -- to wear on his head."
Since Kerry's "the troops are stupid" remarks were reported on Newsbusters yesterday, the story has truly grown some legs. This has caused the MSM to bend themselves into pretzels to explain away Kerry's typically anti-military remarks and leading the pack, as always, is the "Paper of broken record", the New York Times.
In a piece titled ”Bush Attacks Kerry for Remarks on Iraq Troops”, the Times spends nearly the entire story making this out to be a Bush/Republican issue and barely even takes the time to mention what it is that Kerry said to initiate the incident in the first place, casting the entire story into the rote Republicans-are-at-fault mode.
The story, by Adam Nagourney and several other contributors (amusing that it took a whole committee to make this spin up), nearly ignores Kerry’s actual remarks not even bothering to mention the phrase that caused this whole dust up until the 15th paragraph.
The 14 paragraphs before that has some anti-Bush doozies, too.