So who died and made Time's Joe Klein the head of Mossad? Because clearly he is a better military intelligence expert than anyone in Israel, judging by his April 22 blog post on "Israel's Iran Game" at the magazine's Swampland blog (emphasis mine):
I have no doubt that Israel is--legitimately--freaked out by Iran, although not so much by the prospect of an Iranian bomb as by Iran's support for Hezbollah and Hamas. (The only plausible use of an Iranian bomb would be as a deterrent against Israel's own nuclear weapons.) But it seems clear that the Netanyahu government's wild overstatement of the Iranian threat, and its linkage to progress on the Palestinian issue, is a subterfuge to allow the continued illegal Israeli settlement of Palestinian areas on the West Bank, which will ultimately subvert a two-state solution.
Whatever should Obama do? Klein would be glad you asked, and even if you hadn't, he'd probably tell you anyway (emphasis mine):
Is there something in the tea over there, or do British movie critics imagine commentary on American politics is actually part of their job description?
Two years ago I noted how at least two British reviewers, James Christopher and Leo Lewis, panned "Spider-Man 3." Christopher lamented the "Sunday School morality" and "the inevitable flash of the American flag" while Lewis labeled as "disappointing... the inability of the director, Sam Raimi, to end the romp without a fleeting shot of the American flag."
Today, Times Online reviewer Debra Craine decided to timidly go where other hacks have gone before. From the penultimate paragraph from Craine's April 21 review of the upcoming "Star Trek" prequel (h/t separate e-mail tips from NB readers Jake Mathon and Charles Lovell):
Update at end: NBC5's Bob Sirott responds to this post
Persuading Americans that Barack Obama is an effective president won't be easy. So local news outlets are lending a hand when they can. This was obvious last night on Chicago's NBC5 News at 10. Anchor Bob Sirott reported:
And now to a sign the president's economic stimulus is working. Bank of American today announced a $2.8 billion profit for the first quarter. That report was much better than expected and followed positive results from other banks. It also comes after a loss of more than $2 billion for the last three months of 2008. Bank of America received $45 billion as part of the financial rescue package.
Sirott's positive assessment of Obama's plan isn't justified. The big profits he touted are largely illusionary. Andrew Ross Sorkin explained why in "Bank Profits Appear Out of Thin Air," which appeared in yesterday's New York Times:
In the midst of conservative criticism that President Barack Obama, at the summit in Trinidad over the weekend joked around with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and was uncritical of a 50-minute anti-American screed from Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, ABC decided to defend Obama's foreign policy mettle -- with his only failure coming where he has followed Bush's policy. Martha Raddatz began by trying to undermine the pictures of a jovial Obama with Chavez: “Today, cell phone video images emerged of a stern and serious President Obama during a brief encounter with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez. The image counters the cordial hand shake with Chavez who once called Mr. Obama an 'ignoramus' and George Bush 'a devil.'”
She noted that “it should not be a surprise that President Obama is reaching out to friend and foe after promising a stark change,” before she recited, interspersed with Obama soundbites, how in a mere 90 days “he has reached out to the Iranian people...Muslims worldwide...And the Russians.” She asked: “And where has all this gotten him?” Her one expert, former Chicago Sun-Times and New York Daily News executive James Hoge, who now runs Foreign Policy magazine, hailed Obama's approach: “I think he's doing it very sequentially, so that he's got a better chance of getting deals with people, getting some of the things we want to have done, done.”
While reporting on Obama meeting with anti-American Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas on Sunday’s CBS Evening News, fill-in anchor Jeff Glor asked political correspondent Jeff Greenfield about a potential negative reaction to the encounter: "Jeff, let's start talking about Venezuela and Hugo Chavez. Is there fallout from it, real or imagined?"
Greenfield discounted any criticism as simply being from Obama’s right-wing opponents: "There is fallout among those people who already regard Obama as anything from a socialist, to a fascist, to a dangerously weak president. I'm talking about people on the right. If it doesn't spread beyond that, you're going to have the same situation where about 30% of the country really regards him negatively, but the rest says ‘so far so good.’"
Glor then asked: "Alright, let's talk also domestically now about Cuba. What has changed inside this country that makes these overtures more effective now?" Greenfield responded: "Among younger Cuban-Americans in Florida, there's much less rigidity about Cuba then there was at the time when to be in anyway sympathetic to Castro, or even open to relations, was political death...We also see among conservative groups, the American Farm Bureau, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a desire to open markets in Cuba...have made it politically palatable, domestically, for Obama to say ‘let's try something new.’"
Here’s a quick informal poll:Who has heard news of Russia’s recent troop buildup in the South Ossetia region of Georgia?
Most of our readers would immediately think of the Russian invasion of that region last summer, during the presidential contest, but the Russians are arguably saber rattling again with a fresh buildup of boots on-the-ground ahead of planned NATO exercises.
Last August, the media coverage immediately took the angle of breathless anticipation on how each presidential candidate would react to such a situation.John McCain’s position was easily established from his record over many years in the Senate.Then-Senator Obama’s position was much more difficult to ascertain – but the media gave him ample time to figure it out, helping the candidate defer those questions to the September 26 debate.In fact, a good example of such activism was shown in the Washington Post’s Jim Hoagland, who in his August 31 op-ed insisted:
Janeane Garofalo embodies "the dark, the very ugly underbelly of the American Left today" which "is on display for anyone to see," Media Research Center President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell told viewers of Sunday, April 19 edition of "Fox & Friends Weekend." [audio available here]
"This is about hating a black man. This is racism straight up. That is nothing but a bunch of tea-bagging rednecks," the liberal comedian and actress told Keith Olbermann on his Thursday, April 16 edition of "Countdown."
"What gets me [is that] no one on the Left has denounced this woman. No one denounces these people when they go off the deep end like this. This is the dark, ugly underside of the Left today," Bozell added.
The segment -- which aired at 9:15 a.m. EDT -- began with co-host Alisyn Camerota noting the folly of competitor networks dismissively scoffing the massive protests:
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith discussed President Obama’s brief meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas with former Bush Press Secretary Dana Perino and former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers, wondering: "Have the critics of this photo-op made a mountain out of a molehill?"
In a prior report on the meeting, correspondent Bill Plante explained: "President Obama defends his visit with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Asked about the notion that his willingness to talk to enemies of the U.S. was a sign of weakness, the President said it was unlikely that he was endangering the strategic interests of the United States...His simple handshake with Venezuela's president was a symbolic break with the Bush administration policy of shutting out unfriendly nations." Smith repeated Obama’s defense as he later wondered if critics were making too much of the encounter.
Those who “devised” what ABC called “torture memos” and the “methods” they defined, retired ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson contended on Sunday's This Week, “should be held responsible” and so “should be held accountable in the court of law.” Donaldson allowed that “people who thought they were following the law as outlined” should not be punished, but:
The people who devised these methods and devised these memos, if, in fact, they knew that they were just trying to find cover, just trying to find a way to get around American values and American law and the American Constitution, I think they should be held responsible. I think they should be brought in and if President Obama wants to pardon them as one President pardoned a former President, then let him do so, but they should be held accountable in the court of law.
The tween girls of the Washington area have transcended differences of race, class and wealth to reach a single, resounding conclusion: They really, really, really, really want to be friends with Malia and Sasha Obama.
They lap up every shred of information about the first daughters, dream about meeting them and strategize ways to make it happen. Minivan rides and dinner table conversations are dominated by questions about the girls: What's their favorite food? What kind of dog did they get? Where can I get a coat like Malia's?
"Sometimes I go up to my room and I just think, 'I want to meet them, I want to meet them, I want to meet them,' " says a desperate Sophie Metee, a fourth-grader at Wood Acres Elementary in Bethesda.
Later we learn that fascination with the young ladies "may also have a great deal to do with President Obama's popularity in the country and the region -- he won an overwhelming majority of Washington area votes and enjoys significant approval ratings."
"At some point, I'm still trying to figure this out, we became a nation that honors failure and rewards it, instead of honoring success and rewarding it," actor John Ratzenberger told Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto on Wednesday's "Your World" program. The "Cheers" alum appeared at the Sacramento Tea Party to register his concerns about government tax and spend policies. [full video by Fox News here. Audio excerpt here.]
"I've always celebrated common sense, it's not a Democrat or a Republican issue," Ratzenberger insisted, to be concerned about the high taxes which are driving small business and the jobs they provide, to leave California.
Ratzenberger's remarks echo conservative sentiments expressed recently by his fellow "Cheers" alumnus Kelsey Grammer, who told CNSNews.com that President Obama's policies punished success while bailing out irresponsible people who took on second mortgages they could not afford:
The broadcast network evening newscasts on Wednesday provided prominent coverage of the “Tea Party” rallies across the nation with time for the views of participants, but they tried to discredit the protests as a front for “corporate interests” or a “fistful of rightward leaning Web sites” -- a concern for motives and hidden agendas the same programs lacked when championing the 2006 pro-illegal immigrant marches. All three also cited polls to undermine the premise the public shares the concerns on taxes and spending espoused by the “tea party” protesters.
“Cheered on by Fox News and talk radio, the hundreds of tea parties today were designed to protest the bailouts, the stimulus plan, and President Obama's budget,” Dan Harris explained on ABC before asserting: “But critics on the left say this is not a real grassroots phenomenon at all, that it's actually largely orchestrated by people fronting for corporate interests.” Harris proceeded to argue that “while the Boston Tea Party in 1773 was about taxation without representation, critics point out that today's protesters did get to vote -- they just lost. What's more, polls show most Americans don't feel overtaxed.”
CBS's Dean Reynolds noted a tea party organizer “insisted these events were non-partisan,” but, Reynolds maintained as if it were an embarrassment, “a fistful of rightward leaning Web sites and commentators embraced the cause.” Reynolds stressed how “it's important to keep in mind that fresh polling indicates there is not all that much passion about high taxes in the country at large right now. Gallup this week found 61 percent of Americans see their federal income taxes as fair.” (What percent surveyed even pay income taxes?)
One hundred forty-four years after his assassination, Chicago Tribune religion blogger Manya Brachear hacked out an 11-paragraph post on how "Lincoln's death had sacred significance," according to some historians and Lincoln biographers.
"Harold Holzer, co-chair of the U.S. Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, said the Good Friday assassination earned Lincoln a permanent place in American mythology," Brachear noted in her April 14 post, before quoting Holzer's argument at length.
But no Lincoln story in the mainstream media is complete without an Obama tie-in, and Brachear made sure to deliver, again quoting Holzer:
The insular world of NBC News and MSNBC. In her Tuesday NBC Nightly News story on President Barrack Obama's status of the economy speech, reporter Savannah Guthrie emphasized how “the White House billed today's speech as a 'major' one” and so it was “carried live on cable” where “analysts said it was short on rhetoric and long on policy.”
Guthrie's expert “analysts” turned out to be one analyst, her boss. In a clip lifted from MSNBC earlier in the day, NBC Nightly News viewers heard NBC News Washington Bureau Chief Mark Whitaker effuse: “Well, there was a moment of church in that speech, but the rest of it was pure law school.”
Opting to include a photo to supplement the reporting by Michael Shear and Cecilia Kang in their April 14 front-pager "Obama Lifts Broad Set of Sanctions Against Cuba", Washington Post editors made a caption choice that served to skew the story presentation in a way favorable to those who argue for lifting the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.
"The president's new policies lift limits on Americans sending money to their relatives in struggling Cuba," reads the Post caption below a photograph by AP's Javier Galeano (shown above at right). In the photo, a man and woman are shown pushing a beat-up old car down the street.
"President Obama's nominee for health secretary received nearly three times as much political money from a controversial abortion doctor as she had told senators," the Associated Press is reporting, noting that this marks "the second time in her confirmation process" that Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-Kansas) "had to explain a financial oversight" to the Senate Finance Committee.
Sebelius is only the latest Obama Cabinet pick to face a rocky road to confirmation, and in part over tax trouble, yet when it came to reporting the story on the eve of tax deadline day, the Washington Post opted to quietly tuck the story into the Nation Digest feature on page A4.
In addition to the $12,450 Sebelius reported last week as having received "from 1994 to 2001 from George Tiller, one of the nation's few late-term abortion providers," records show that Tiller also donated "at least $23,000 more from 2000 to 2002 to a political action committee that Sebelius established while insurance commissioner to raise money for fellow Democrats."
Sebelius's need to correct "three years' worth of tax returns" and to pay "more than $7,000 in back taxes to fix improper deductions" was the first "oversight" the pro-choice Kansas governor had to correct.
It may well be that a growing share of the American public favor expanding interaction with Cuba, but in reporting President Barack Obama's decision to allow Cuban-Americans unlimited travel and money transfers to the island, ABC's Jeffrey Kofman and NBC's Andrea Mitchell characterized opponents in a belittling manner -- while Mitchell also advanced complaints Obama did no go far enough. “With today's announcement,” Kofman asserted on ABC's World News, “President Obama is making it clear he is not going to do business as usual.” Kofman then declared: “It is now only the very hard line who want the policy to stay as it is.”
Mitchell, on the NBC Nightly News, acknowledged “some Cuban-Americans...still argue that the Obama White House is only helping Raul Castro and his ailing brother Fidel,” but she dismissed those opponents as “a dwindling number.” She emphasized the view Obama came up short: “President Obama did not propose a far more sweeping step, getting Congress to lift the trade embargo that has lasted for half a century, disappointing opponents of the policy.” Mitchell concluded by adopting that complaint as her own: “For the past year, European countries and the Vatican have been getting Cuba to release political prisoners, but the Obama administration still refuses to negotiate directly with Havana.”
For the first year ever, the annual White House Easter Egg Roll tickets were dispersed via the Internet, as opposed to an in-person, first-come, first-served basis that the White House has used for years for the general public. This year the Obama White House tried out another first: setting aside a few tickets for same-sex marriage activists.
President Obama's White House saved Easter Egg Roll tickets for gay and lesbian parents, reaching out to groups that felt ostracized by previous administrations.
The White House would not say how many tickets were set aside for the group for Monday's annual celebration, only noting that it was far fewer than the large block set aside for military families and the 2,000 saved for D.C. public schools. There also is a batch for administration employees and their children.
The White House Office of Public Liaison coordinated with several groups representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues and saved a group of tickets for those families.
Sticking up against those ol' playground bullies on the Right, CBS's Katie Couric tells conservatives in a recent blog post to " give the new kids on the block" in the Obama administration "a chance to get their learner's permits first."
Not exactly the wisest choice of words from an Obama-friendly journalist, particularly when a heavy drumbeat of criticism against him in the presidential campaign was that it unwise to trust the presidency to a man who would need "on-the-job training."
President Barack Obama was "crisp and decisive" but also lucky in his handling of the Maersk Alabama hostage crisis, exults Time magazine's Joe Klein [depicted in NewsBusters screen cap/file photo at right] in an April 13 Swampland blog post.
Klein added that had the Navy SEAL snipers failed in hitting their targets, Republicans and second-guessing journalists would probably push the Obama administration to escalate matters to tackle a non-existent pirate "threat":
But it could easily have gone wrong, through no fault of the President and the SEALs--a gust of wind, whatever...and then the Administration would have had to waste all sorts of energy on damage control, fending off the second-guessers--Republicans and, all too often, people like me--and perhaps overreacting to the pirate "threat" as a result. Presidencies are, sadly, built or crippled on such quirks of fate.
NPR's Nina Totenberg must live in a world of Obama fanatics. But she works for NPR, so that's tautological. Weeks after she relayed how “a friend of mine said, 'oh my God, we have a President again!,'” this weekend she excitedly recounted how, following President Barack Obama's trip to Europe, she “heard...all over Washington” people saying “'I'm going to go on YouTube and watch the President's speech because I heard it was so good.'” She hailed that as “just an amazing thing.”
On Inside Washington, a weekly show produced at DC's ABC affiliate and aired on it and its local all-news cable channel, Totenberg rejected the notion Obama's speeches and remarks in any way celebrated America's decline. Without specifying which speech she was talking about, but most likely Obama's address in Prague or before Turkey's parliament, Totenberg asserted:
He spoke of the modern realities and the modern difficulties that we've had in our relations with other countries. How many times have you heard people say “I'm going to go on YouTube and watch the President's speech because I heard it was so good”? And I heard that all over Washington this week. And that is just an amazing thing.
Clinton’s White House aides complained about all the British press clips the "Clinton haters" used to start up negative coverage in the United States. Here’s one for the Barry Era: From the London Times comes an embarrassing report on a Kenyan sibling of Barack Obama, one who couldn’t land in London en route to his half-brother’s inauguration:
BARACK OBAMA’s half-brother has been refused entry to Britain after reportedly being accused of an attempted sex attack on a 13-year-old girl on his last visit.
Samson Obama, who runs a mobile phone shop in Nairobi in Kenya, was on his way to the president’s inauguration in January when he tried to stop over in Britain to visit relatives. But he was turned away by immigration officers who declined to issue a visa on the grounds of deception.
Biometric tests carried out at East Midlands airport showed that he was linked to the attack on a girl in Berkshire last November but never charged, according to a report last night. Further checks identified Samson as the half-brother of President Obama, leading to a hurried call to the White House.
MSNBC anchor Peter Alexander was more interested Friday afternoon in a Karl Rove v Joe Biden cat fight than in the accuracy of Biden's claim which prompted Rove's rebuke of him for telling a “lie” -- which led guest Ari Fleischer to scold the media for not checking into Biden's allegation. Indeed, MSNBC framed the segment around Rove's words, “Rove: Biden Is a Liar.” When Alexander asked if it is “appropriate for Karl Rove” to call a Vice President “a liar?”, Fleischer shot back: “Well, for heaven's sake, that's just about the only word Democrats wanted to use when they were talking about George W. Bush.”
Alexander began the segment, in the 3 PM EDT hour, playing the self-serving anecdote told by Biden in an interview earlier this week for CNN's The Situation about how, in an Oval Office meeting on an unidentified date, when President Bush told him “I'm a leader,” Biden had retorted: “Mr. President, turn around, look behind you, no one's following.” Alexander wanted to know who would benefit politically -- “Are these fights good for the GOP or for the Obama administration?” -- prompting Fleischer to wonder:
My question is, where is the press in all of this? If Dick Cheney had said that he had a private meeting with Bill Clinton and he in that meeting told Bill Clinton that Bill Clinton was wrong, I think all the press would have said to Cheney, “When did you do it? Back it up. Where are the dates?” There's no scrutiny here for Joe Biden....
A search of Nexis between April 7 -- the day when pirates seized the U.S.-registered and American-crewed Maersk Alabama -- and today, April 10, shows that both the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times failed to even mention President Barack Obama in their stories on the ongoing hostage situation. The New York Times did, once, in a page A6 April 9 story by Mark Mazetti and Sharon Otterman, but it came 15 paragraphs into the 26-paragraph story and served to explain Obama's absence in the ongoing U.S. response:
At the White House, military and national security officials tracked the developments from the Situation Room, and they provided several briefings to President Obama and other administration officials throughout the day.
Mr. Obama first learned of the hijacking early on Wednesday morning after he returned to the White House from his overseas trip, and he later convened an interagency group on maritime safety, aides said. The White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said, ''Our top priority is the personal safety of the crew members on board.''
Basically, the nation's top three newspapers are letting President Obama off the hook from any scrutiny regarding his involvement or lack thereof in the ongoing hostage situation.
After pounding away at Attorney General Eric Holder over enacting more gun control, as Katie Couric fretted that “Democrats on Capitol Hill are getting increasingly chummy with the NRA,” Couric raised “the issue of the treatment of some of the detainees” at Guantanamo and prompted Holder to denounce former Vice President Dick Cheney.
In the taped interview aired on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, Couric cited “alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It's been reported that he was water-boarded. You have come out publicly and said water-boarding is torture. So how would that stand up in civilian court?” She also highlighted how “Holder addressed recent criticism” by Cheney, “who said the Obama administration was making choices that will raise the risk of another terrorist attack.” Couric pressed: “Are you implicitly saying that Dick Cheney was inappropriate and off base?”
Couric was most-obsessed with guns, hitting Holder repeatedly from the left:
Unlike recent Presidents, Canellos contended in his weekly “National Perspectives” column in the Globe's news pages, “Obama, so far, seems to occupy a place in the popular culture beyond humor. Ridicule doesn't touch him. His personality defies easy categorization.” Even the “few running gags to emerge from the Obama administration -- aides not paying their taxes, Treasury officials rewarding fat-cats” -- rebounds to Obama's benefit, Canellos argued, as he effused: “The only one that pertains to the President himself is the straight-faced devotion he inspires. Obama may not actually be perfect, but so many poor souls out there think he is.”
Assessing President Barrack Obama's overseas trip, ABC's George Stephanopoulos proposed it was “a real test for the President” and, no surprise, decided “he passed it pretty easily” since “he was confident, he had a sense of command in his personal and his public diplomacy, forged strong relationships with his European counterparts...” Furthermore, Stephanopoulos admired Obama's “strong” unannounced visit to troops in Iraq, touting how the President “capped off” his travels “with this critical visit to the troops. When you've got American troops fighting on two fronts, you have to end that visit with a strong visit with the troops, and he did.”
Asked by anchor Charles Gibson to list some minuses, Stephanopoulos acknowledged “good feelings with your allies don't guarantee agreement,” citing Obama's inability to secure help in Afghanistan and with North Korea, but the host of ABC's This Week wrapped up with how the White House is pleased with the trip -- as if it were possible they wouldn't be: “They feel this trip went exactly as they planned. They couldn't be happier. Now they're going to come back home and focus again on the economy.”
Hard to imagine how they could be any happier with the media's reverential coverage.
Giving a warm wind-up to President Barrack Obama's overseas trip as it comes to an end in Istanbul, NBC's Chuck Todd declared Monday that the decision to make Turkey the last stop “could prove to be one of the shrewder early moves in this young presidency.”
On CBS, anchor Katie Couric highlighted how a new CBS News/New York Times poll pegged Obama's approval at 66 percent, the highest ever in that survey the CBSNews.com online posting touted: “Obama Approval Hits New High -- 66%.” Couric also pointed out how Obama has made Americans feel better with the “wrong direction” measure for the nation falling from 89, under Bush, to 53 percent: “More than half still say we're heading the wrong way, but that's a dramatic 36-point improvement from the waning days of the Bush administration.”
Reporter Chip Reid showcased more positive poll results for Obama's trip, as “67 percent of Americans believe the President will return to the U.S. with the respect of world leaders.”
In a q and a with George Stephanopoulos on Saturday's World News, ABC anchor David Muir decided to sum up President Barack Obama's week in Europe by displaying a picture of jovial Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arm-in-arm with President Barack Obama during the G-20 group photo session, an image Muir contended showed how “other heads of state are seemingly trying to get close to the head of the class, or the cool kid in the class, if you will, President Obama.”
Muir cued up Stephanopoulos: “Have you seen much of this in recent history?” Stephanopoulos put style over substance as he declared “the President's stagecraft on this trip and his star power have really held up all through his trip to Europe.” Though he acknowledged that “on the substance the President hasn't gotten all he wanted either at the G-20 or at this NATO summit,” the host of ABC's This Week decided “he's done a good job of managing expectations.” As Stephanopoulos demonstrated, Obama has certainly met and exceeded media expectations.
The Obama White House is serving as a convenient new employer for members of the media as news outlets downsize, but would they have felt so comfortable coming aboard a GOP President's staff? The latest hires: Three news photographers -- from Time magazine, Cox Newspapers and U.S. News & World Report magazine -- are joining the team of photographers snapping pictures at events and meetings in and around the White House complex.
The chief White House photographer, Pete Souza, “announced the hires to PDN,” DCRTV.com reported Thursday in picking up the item from the week before on the Photo District News site. Souza had already tapped photographers from the McClatchy-Tribune News Service and the Associated Press.