New York Times reporter Brian Stelter wrote a front-page story for Saturday's Times on the suspension of Keith Olbermann, but the worst sentence overstated how rare the "anti-war" voices were in the "rush to war" in Iraq:
Mr. Olbermann’s program, “Countdown,” is the most popular hour on MSNBC, with about 1.1 million viewers a night. Years ago, Mr. Olbermann gave voice to dissenting views about the Iraq war and about Bush administration policies when few others on television would, and more recently he helped advance the Obama administration’s push for a health care overhaul.
While Stelter and Tavernise nailed the political tone as "overwhelmingly liberal," the rally's agenda didn't stop them and other Times reporters from enjoying the rally both in print and through live blogging while hyping the numbers for the gathering held as a response to one held two months ago in D.C., "Restoring Honor," sponsored by Fox News host Glenn Beck.
The print edition story ran with a photo of Stewart and Stephen Colbert with Yusuf Islam, the former singer Cat Stevens, who supported the deadly fatwa against novelist Salman Rushdie in 1989 (more on that later).
Part circus, part satire, part parade, the crowds that flooded the National Mall Saturday for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear made it a political event like no other.
It was a Democratic rally without a Democratic politician, featuring instead two political satirists, Mr. Stewart and Mr. Colbert, who used the stage to rib journalists and fear-mongering politicians, and to argue with each other over the songs “Peace Train” and “Crazy Train.”
Though at no point during the show did either man plug a candidate, a strong current of political engagement coursed through the crowd, which stretched several long blocks west of the Capitol, an overwhelming response to a call by Mr. Stewart on his “Daily Show.” The turnout clogged traffic and filled subway trains and buses to overflow.
"But it is an open question whether conservative media outlets risk damage to their credibility when obscure or misleading stories are blown out of proportion and when what amounts to political opposition research is presented as news." -- Media reporter Brian Stelter on the Andrew Breitbart-Shirley Sherrod tape controversy, July 26.
Leave That Sort of Thing to Us, Part II
"But what is emerging is more of a permanent crusade, where information is not only power, but a means to a specific end. As content providers increasingly hack their own route to an audience, it's becoming clear that many are less interested in covering the game than tilting the field." -- Media columnist David Carr on the Andrew Breitbart-Shirley Sherrod tape controversy, July 26.
Conservative Sen. James Inhofe, "Laughable Fool"
"Senator Inhofe should be a harmless diversion, the kind of laughable fool that any state can kick back to the capital, where hard-earned ignorance is supported by a well-paid staff." -- From former reporter Timothy Egan's July 21 post at nytimes.com.
The New York Times went to town on Andrew Breitbart and Fox News on Sunday and Monday, rehashing the racial controversy over the Shirley Sherrod tape and suggesting conservative media outlets were guilty of "tilting the field," blowing "obscure or misleading stories...out of proportion" and presenting "political opposition research" as news. Hmm. Isn't that what the New York Times has been doing to conservatives for years?
In the last couple of days, Andrew Breitbart, a conservative Web site operator, has been called a liar, a provocateur, a propagandist -- and even a race-baiter. But he says he knows who the true race-baiters are: some Democratic activists.
Andrew Breitbart highlighted the edited video clip of Shirley Sherrod on one of his Web sites. "It's warfare out there," he says.
It was one of Mr. Breitbart's Web sites, BigGovernment, that highlighted the heavily edited video clip of Shirley Sherrod, a black official at the Department of Agriculture, apparently saying that she had been biased against a white farmer she was supposed to help. Ms. Sherrod's full speech actually demonstrated the opposite, but do not expect Mr. Breitbart to be embarrassed.
Stelter later evinced a convenient concern for journalist credibility for "when obscure or misleading stories are blown out of proportion and when what amounts to political opposition research is presented as news." Stelter must have missed the Times's hit pieces on John McCain alleging an affair and suggesting his birthplace made him unqualified to serve as president, or the paper's sabotage of two successful Bush-era terror-fighting programs it disapproved of.
The New York Times on Thursday picked through the sordid saga of Shirley Sherrod, fired from her post at the U.S. Department of Agriculture after a clip of a speech to a gathering of a rural chapter of the Georgia NAACP appeared to show her hostility toward a white farmer seeking assistance.
A full version of the speech shows that was a set-up to Sherrod's tale of racial reconciliation, though there are questions of how far her racial reconciliation really goes. That same speech reveals Sherrod accusing Republicans of being racist by opposing Obama and Obama-care, and Sherrod has gone on to accuse Fox News of using her as a "pawn" for its own reactionary, racist purposes.
Fox News didn't run a report on the controversy until after Sherrod had resigned under White House pressure and after the NAACP had issued a press release condemning Sherrod. Yet in "For Fired Agriculture Official, Flurry of Apologies and Job Offer," reported by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Shaila Dewan, and Brian Stelter, and written by Stolberg, the Times chose to blame a cabal of "right-wing Web sites" and Fox News for fostering the Sherrod scandal which led to her dismissal. As if Fox forced Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to do its right-wing bidding without ever actually running a single story on Sherrod until after her firing, when the point became moot.
The White House and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack apologized profusely and repeatedly on Wednesday to a black midlevel official for the way she had been humiliated and forced to resign her Agriculture Department job after a conservative blogger put out a misleading video clip that seemed to show her admitting antipathy toward a white farmer.
By the end of the day, the official, Shirley Sherrod, had gained instant fame and emerged as the heroine of a compelling story about race and redemption.
With the recently announced end of Fox's hit series "24," many liberal pundits are parading the show as a false depiction of the notion that "torture works." Contrary to their accusations, the Jack Bauer interrogation methods bear exactly zero resemblance to any actual interrogation techniques used by American military, law enforcement, or intelligence agents.
"On '24,' torture saves lives," the New York Times's Brian Stelter writes, disapprovingly. James Poniewozik, writing on a Time Magazine blog, attributes the show's supposed approval of harsh interrogations to the "conservative politics of co-creator Joel Surnow."
Any American who has serious doubts that our military and intelligence officials would allow interrogators to, say, directly threaten the lives of a terrorist's family (let alone inflict tremendous physical pain) to elicit information has a better grasp of interrogation techniques -- and the integrity of our men and women in uniform -- than most of the liberal media.
Air America, the progressive talk radio network, said Thursday that it would cease broadcasting immediately, bowing to what it called a “very difficult economic environment.”
“It is with the greatest regret, on behalf of our Board, that we must announce that Air America Media is ceasing its live programming operations as of this afternoon, and that the Company will file soon under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code to carry out an orderly winding-down of the business,” the chair of Air America Media, Charlie Kireker, said in a memorandum.
"Lou Dobbs, the longtime CNN anchor whose anti-immigration views made him a TV lightning rod, plans to announce Wednesday that he is leaving the network, two network employees said," Stelter and Carter wrote. "A CNN executive confirmed that Mr. Dobbs will announce his resignation plans on his 7 p.m. program. His resignation is effective immediately; tonight's program will be his last on CNN. His contract was not set to expire until the end of 2011."
New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter’s Metro section story on Wednesday, “Newsman to Speak at Events of Group Opposed to Health Care Plan,” tackled the apparent journalistic no-no of John Stossel, the libertarian journalist who recently moved to Fox Business from ABC News. This is not a standard they've enforced at the New York Times.
Stelter suggested that Stossel’s scheduled appearance in front of a conservative group is a rare foray of a journalist into a partisan political event that vindicates the White House’s attacks on Fox News.
John Stossel, the newest star of the Fox Business Network, is also starring this week at a series of events orchestrated by opponents of a Democratic health care overhaul.
On Thursday Mr. Stossel is expected to speak at three forums hosted by Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy group, in three cities. The group’s Web site says Mr. Stossel and others will “debate solutions and discuss the dangers of government-forced health care” at the forums.
But Maddow, on her Oct. 28 show, was able to merge the two topics in an attack on Fox Business Channel's John Stossel. Stossel recently came from ABC as a host of "20/20" to host a weekly opinion show on the Fox's business channel. But in Maddow's infinite wisdom, Stossel's participation in AFP activities somehow taints him.
"But first, one more thing about health reform and its politics," Maddow said. "Last week, we reported that Fox News contributor and soon-to-be Fox Business Channel [sic] host John Stossel will be headlining protest rallies against health reform staged by Americans for Prosperity, the lobbying group which refuses to disclose donors while rabble-rousing about the dangers of government-forced health care."
On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann disputed a claim by a New York Times article that there exists a truce between FNC and MSNBC as he accused the Times’s Brian Stelter of ignoring Olbermann’s denial that such a truce existed, and contended that the story was a "misinterpretation" of the Countdown host’s own pledge from June 1 to discontinue Bill O’Reilly’s inclusion in the show’s regular "Worst Person in the World" segment because Olbermann blamed O’Reilly for abortion Doctor George Tiller’s assassination.
During Monday’s "Worst Person" segment, Olbermann awarded the third place dishonor to Stelter: "Mr. Stelter asked me at least twice last week if there was such a deal, and I told him on and off the record there was not, and I told him I rather obviously would have to be a party to such a deal, and I told him that not only wasn't I, but I had not even been asked to be by my bosses. And he printed it anyway, and I had even written to him that this was merely a misinterpretation of an announcement I made here on June 1 that because Bill O'Reilly of Fox News had abetted the assassination of Dr. George Tiller, he'd become too serious to joke about..."
Although the ongoing feud between Fox News's Bill O'Reilly and MSNBC's Keith Olbermann was apparently good for ratings -- likely more for the latter than the former, of course -- the heads of the parent companies of both networks stepped in recently to end the on-air squabble.
Not only that, but News Corporation's Rupert Murdoch and General Electric's Jeffrey Immelt were apparently coaxed into doing so by PBS's Charlie Rose.
The inside scoop was reported Saturday by the New York Times's Brian Stelter (h/t Bruce Bartlett):
Anti-Bush 9-11 "Truthers" get a fair hearing from the New York Times, but anti-Obama "Birthers" are harshly criticized, and Rush Limbaugh is of course to blame.
Media reporter Brian Stelter's Saturday Business story, "A Dispute Over Obama's Birth Lives On in the Media," questioned those questioning Obama's birth certificate, his citizenship, and his resulting eligibility for the presidency. Good for the Times. But where is the Times's critcism when liberals gin up wackier conspiracy theories?
Back in June 2006, Times reporter Alan Feuer showed far more respect to a conspiracy theory many times more incendiary and implausible: That the 9-11 attacks were an inside job, that the controlled demolition of the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon were engineered by President Bush. Yet not once did Feuer dismiss the 9-11 Truthers bizarre charge as a "conspiracy theory," as Stelter did in the first line of his Sunday piece on the Birthers:
The New York Times has so far been relatively sedate in its coverage of the murder of George Tiller, who performed partial birth abortions in his Wichita, Kan., clinic, mostly sticking to facts and pointing out that pro-life activist group Operation Rescue has condemned the killing.
That's a nice bit of weasel-wording in the headline, using "Some Say" instead of the more accurate "Leftist Bloggers Say." The text box read: "The critics of an abortion provider are being criticized themselves." (That's putting it mildly.)
Dr. George R. Tiller had many critics, but arguablythe one with the highest profile was Bill O'Reilly, the Fox News Channel host. Mr. O'Reilly, a vocal opponent of abortion, often called him "Tiller the baby killer" for performing late-term abortions and said repeatedly that he had "blood on his hands."
There's a clear difference between how conservative news hosts and left-wingers are greeted by the New York Times. Check out Monday's front-page profile of radio host turned FOX News Channel phenom Glenn Beck by media reporters Brian Stelter and Bill Carter, "He's Mad, Apocalyptic, Tearful, And a Rising Star on Fox News."
The Beck profile read nothing like the warm greetings extended in the Times to MSNBC's latest leftist star, former Air America host Rachel Maddow, or even the rabidly anti-Republican conspiracy-monger Keith Olbermann.
"You are not alone," Glenn Beck likes to say. For the disaffected and aggrieved Americans of the Obama era, he could not have picked a better rallying cry.
Mr. Beck, an early-evening host on the Fox News Channel, is suddenly one of the most powerful media voices for the nation's conservative populist anger. Barely two months into his job at Fox, his program is a phenomenon: it typically draws about 2.3 million viewers, more than any other cable news host except Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity, despite being on at 5 p.m., a slow shift for cable news.
With a mix of moral lessons, outrage and an apocalyptic view of the future, Mr. Beck, a longtime radio host who jumped to Fox from CNN's Headline News channel this year, is capturing the feelings of an alienated class of Americans.