CBS Face the Nation anchor Bob Schieffer held his fifth Schieffer symposium at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth on Wednesday, and his panel was completely chosen from the set of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer: anchor Gwen Ifill and columnists David Brooks and Mark Shields. Associated Press covered it, but not so much on the issue of liberal bias. The headline was "Media panel says constant Obama coverage warranted."
Are the news media biased toward President Barack Obama?
David Brooks, a conservative columnist for The New York Times, said yes before a sold-out crowd of about 700 Wednesday at Texas Christian University. Mark Shields, a nationally syndicated liberal columnist, said no.
Brooks said : "I think the press is pro-Obama. Most of my colleagues are extremely committed to the craft of journalism. So I think most of the bias is unconscious — in framing the issues and what gets paid attention to."
There’s a huge hole in all of the public discussion about the reimposition of a "Fairness Doctrine" or a return to "localism" on the talk-radio format: What about National Public Radio? Liberals would like to "crush Rush" and his conservative compatriots by demanding each station balance its lineup ideologically. But since when has NPR ever felt any pressure to be balanced, even when a majority of taxpayers being forced to subsidize it are center-right?
Why no Fairness Doctrine attention to NPR? It is because those preaching "fairness" on the radio are hypocrites.
Conservatives argue that the media’s liberal bias drives people to talk radio for an opposing viewpoint. Limbaugh jokes: "I am the balance." But new numbers from NPR suggest its ratings may be nearly as imposing as Limbaugh’s: The cumulative audience for its daily news programs – "Morning Edition" and its evening counterpart, "All Things Considered" – has risen to 20.9 million per week.
It has been only ten days since the New York Times house conservative, David Brooks, suddenly discovered that "Barack Obama is not who we thought he was." As a result, the White House sent out a special team of four high level officials to get Brooks' "mind right." They sure did a terrific job because Brooks, after declaring himself ready to lead a "moderate" army to oppose Obama, performed a sudden U-Turn. The earlier urge to challenge the Obama administration was replaced by strange new respect, especially since David was given his very own talisman chart by his overseers which predicts events long after the President is gone from office:
The White House has produced a chart showing nondefense discretionary spending as a share of G.D.P. That’s spending for education, welfare and all the stuff that Democrats love. Since 1985, this spending has hovered around 3.7 percent of G.D.P. This year, it’s about 4.6 percent. The White House claims that it is going to reduce this spending to 3.1 percent by 2019, lower than at any time in any recent Republican administration. I was invited to hang this chart on my wall and judge them by how well they meet these targets. (I have.)
So either the four overseers of the White House were masters of manipulation or they had extremely pliable material to work with in the form of the "moderate" mind of David Brooks. I suspect the latter. And now we see the final stage in the "re-education" of David Brooks. Outright declarations of love for The One. If you think this is an exaggeration on the part of your humble correspondent, I invite you to read this Brooks love ballad in the form of a column in which David gushes over his new beloved:
"General" David Brooks, the very compliant house conservative of the New York Times, after just three days of bravely volunteering to lead a mighty "moderate" army against the "ideological outrages" of the Barack Obama administration, has now called a hasty retreat with a column that borders on outright apology for daring to oppose the very liberal budget. First let us take trip down memory lane to three days in the past to take a look the battle plan presented by General Brooks following his astounding revelation that most of the non-house conservatives discovered long, long ago:
Perhaps it is time to award the New York Times house conservative, David Brooks, a kewpie doll for having at long last a very brief moment of mental clarity. Brooks, who has been making a habit lately of bashing conservative Republicans such as Sarah Palin, emerged ever so slightly from his comfortable conventional wisdom cocoon, and discovered that (gasp) "Barack Obama is not who we thought he was." If Brooks had been listening to Rush Limbaugh, whom he continues to detest, on a regular basis he would have made this "astounding discovery" long ago. Brooks begins his op-ed "discovery" by announcing his proud moderateness to the world:
You wouldn’t know it some days, but there are moderates in this country — moderate conservatives, moderate liberals, just plain moderates. We sympathize with a lot of the things that President Obama is trying to do. We like his investments in education and energy innovation. We support health care reform that expands coverage while reducing costs.
On Wednesday’s Newsroom program, CNN’s Rick Sanchez referenced New York Times columnist David Brooks and The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan as “conservatives” during a short segment about Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s response to President Obama’s address before a joint session of Congress. Both men are known for their less-than-conservative stance on social issues, particularly on the issue of homosexual “marriage;” their sharp criticism of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin during her bid for the vice presidency last year; and their sympathy for Obama.
The anchor cited the two writers a quarter of an hour into the 3 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program as examples of how Governor Jindal “hasn’t exactly been getting accolades from members of his own party” for his handling of the official Republican response to President Obama’s speech. Sanchez referred to Brooks as the “heralded conservative columnist for The New York Times,” and read a quote where he criticized the governor’s attack on big government: “It’s just a disaster for the Republican party. In a moment when only the federal government is actually big enough to do stuff, to say government is the problem -- it’s just a form of nihilism.” He then read an apparently sarcastic quote from “noted conservative” Sullivan: “This guy [Jindal] is supposed to be the smart one.”
The George Soros-fundedClinton front-groupThink Progress expressed disappointment Sunday that conservative journalists who attended a dinner party with Barack Obama a few weeks ago haven't abandoned their political principles and become bleeding-heart liberals.
I kid you not.
Readers are forewarned to remove all food and fluids from their computer's proximity, for this is some truly hilarious stuff:
"This is Larry Kudlow - one of the folks invited to a conservative fest with the president-elect last night," Dobbs said. "I'd like to just share, everybody - what a Larry Kudlow-conservative person does after meeting with the president-elect."
Dobbs cited a few lines from Kudlow's appearance on CNBC's Jan. 14 "The Call" - "He is charming, he is terribly smart, bright, well informed. He has a great sense of humor." Then Dobbs skipped moments in Kudlow's exchange with "The Call" co-host Melissa Francis and added - "He's so well informed and he loves to deal with both sides of an issue."
In today's "You've Got To Be Kidding Me" moment, PBS's Jim Lehrer actually defended the corrupt actions of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Friday asking his guests, "What's the big deal here?"
I kid you not.
During his discussion with regulars Mark Shields and David Brooks on Friday's "News Hour" the subject of Blago arose, and Lehrer took what has to be considered an absurd position on this issue (video available here with relevant section at 6:00, partial transcript follows, h/t Mike Francesa via NB reader John F.):
The impending nomination of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State has caused a complete mental breakdown among the usually punctilious ethicists in the media. Suddenly, there is no conflict of interest worth investigating, especially Bill Clinton’s multiplicitous foreign connections through the Clinton Global Initiative. Listen to the bow-to-our-king tone coming from NPR "news analyst" Daniel Schorr on Weekend Edition Saturday:
SCOTT SIMON, host: Does Bill Clinton become a complicating factor? Because he not only has financial interests all over the world one way or another, but in some ways, he's been conducting his own foreign policy campaign.
SCHORR: Well, somewhat. Well, he could be a problem but apparently he has satisfied Mr. Obama that he will not be a problem. He has surfaced everything that he got in the way of money from Arab and other countries for his library and for himself. He apparently has given promise that in the future, he will not do anything in his own travels around the world that will interfere with his wife as secretary of state. And if the president-elect is satisfied, I suppose we must all be.
I'm guessing that Paul Krugman and David Brooks don't hang out that much together. So when both turn up on the New York Times op-ed page this morning with columns calling for massive government spending, I'm assuming they came to their conclusions independently. My working hypothesis: if Krugman and Brooks agree on something this important, they must be wrong.
Here's Krugman's prescription, which comes in response to news that consumer spending has dropped sharply [emphasis added throughout]:
[W]hat the economy needs now is something to take the place of retrenching consumers. That means a major fiscal stimulus. And this time the stimulus should take the form of actual government spending rather than rebate checks that consumers probably wouldn’t spend.
Let’s hope, then, that Congress gets to work on a package to rescue the economy as soon as the election is behind us.
Financial Times reporter Edward Luce has found another sign of trouble for the McCain campaign: he's turning up the noses of the "cocktail party circuit" inside Washington, D.C., which is "swelling with disaffected Republicans."
The more trouble John McCain's campaign encounters, the more it highlights the cultural divide between the "real America" the Republican candidate says he represents and the Washington "cocktail party circuit" that largely disdains it.
That circuit is swelling with disaffected Republicans. Some complain about Mr McCain's selection of Sarah Palin, whose appeal to "Joe Six-Pack" may have been dented by revelations this week that she has spent more than $150,000 (€117,000, £93,000) of other people's money on her wardrobe. Others are upset at the negative tone of the campaign.
David Brooks, the "House Conservative" of the New York Times, should seriously consider putting his self-description as "conservative" in quotes at all times in order to comply with truth in packaging. I mean how conservative can you be when liberal sources are quoting you favorably, especially when you sound like, without quite saying so, you are endorsing Barack Obama? The liberal New Republic cites Brooks favorably for his almost endorsement of The One:
Has David Brooks Endorsed Obama?
Not in so many words, but please continue:
Well, not exactly. After all, he has one paragraph in his column in Friday's Times in which he speculates that Obama might be reticent, stand-offish, ineffectual.
To put more evidence on the bone of contention that PBS was really slanted after the debate last night, I have fuller transcripts of what transpired. On the Jim Lehrer post-debate show, as the candidates were still on stage waving goodbye, anchorman Jim Lehrer asked David Brooks "Did McCain do what he had to do?"
As the candidates and their spouses waved from the Hofstra stage, Brooks was digging McCain’s campaign a grave: "I guess I think not. I thought he landed some blows but underlying theme of this whole campaign, Obama mentions it’s been 20 months, has been Obama’s temperament. The man is calm. The man is unflappable. It’s like the redwood forest. You can lob some cannonballs into it and McCain lobbed some balls into it, and I thought he scored some points, but it doesn't seem to affect the forest. And for a country that is looking for reassurance, something change but something presidential, Obama delivered that again. I think he elides tough issues, but he doesn't change. And I think that's the fundamental source of comfort for people who are looking for a candidate."
Lehrer turned to Mark Shields: "Do you see the same thing, Mark?"
During Wednesday’s Newsroom program, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez tried to portray that there were many so-called conservatives who were "defecting," in his words, from John McCain over his selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. His list of conservatives, which he read prior to an interview of National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru, included homosexual activist Andrew Sullivan, New York Times columnist David Brooks, and satirist Christopher Buckley, who recently left National Review over his endorsement of Barack Obama. Sanchez later backtracked from this labeling after Ponnuru pointed out that "a lot of those people who are critical of Palin are not defecting from McCain:" "I'll take it back. Let's take out the word ‘defection,’ and just say Republicans who have been critical of John McCain. Is that more fair?"
The Huffington Post reported that New York Times columnist David Brooks, the man PBS’s "NewsHour" unit selected to represent in some way "conservative" opinion in America, has condemned Gov. Sarah Palin as "a fatal cancer to the Republican Party."
Brooks claimed some conservatives not only scorn liberal ideas, but "scorn ideas entirely," including Palin and President Bush. He also lauded Barack Obama’s intellect, recounting a conversation he had with Obama about the intellectual Reinhold Niebuhr: "I was dazzled, I felt the tingle up my knee as Chris Matthews would say."
Many conservative and Republican taxpayers might ask: why are our tax dollars going to Washington to fund PBS, while they select "conservatives" to represent us who hate the politicians we support, and blithely sit around with liberals at pricey restaurants like Le Cirque and complain that those hicks from Texas and Alaska aren’t reading enough Niebuhr? Are we going to go to the polls to elect a commander in chief, or a senior fellow in Niebuhr studies?
A week-and-half before he'll moderate the third and final presidential debate, CBS's Bob Schieffer opened Sunday's Face the Nation by calling a foul on one team as he took sides and denounced Sarah Palin's daring to say, that “our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country,” as a sign of “a campaign that's turned down and dirty,” as well as “nasty,” thanks to John McCain's “new attack dog” who “took after Barack Obama in a style reminiscent of Spiro Agnew when he was Richard Nixon's running mate.” In the Washington press corps, a comparison to Agnew is no compliment.
Later in the program, he fretted to New York Times columnist David Brooks: “Do you think it's going to get nastier and nastier? It does look as if McCain is really going on the attack. You saw what Sarah Palin said.” Brooks, whom Schieffer labeled as a “conservative columnist,” assured Schieffer it would be an ineffective tactic since “Republicans have been using this attack -- too dangerous, too liberal” for “too long” and “you can't win that way anymore.”
Sunday night, ABC reporter David Wright described Palin's reference to Bill Ayers as “incendiary” as he asserted on World News: “Today, in San Francisco, Sarah Palin defended her incendiary comments that Barack Obama has been 'palling around' with terrorists.” Earlier in the day, ABC's This Week host George Stephanopoulos had scolded guest Tim Pawlenty about Palin's charge: “When Governor Palin says of Obama 'this is not a man who sees America as you do,' it sure does sound like she is questioning Senator Obama's patriotism.”
A few days ago, columnist Kathleen Parker outraged many conservatives with a column suggesting Sarah Palin should resign her vice-presidential nomination because she's clearly out of her league: "If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself." Parker's outraged that someone would suggest she's not conservative. But in trying to protest in a new column, she's only digging a deeper hole by comparing herself to the Dixie Chicks and conservatives to Stalinists:
The picture is this: Anyone who dares express an opinion that runs counter to the party line will be silenced. That doesn't sound American to me, but Stalin would approve. Readers have every right to reject my opinion. But when we decide that a person is a traitor and should die for having an opinion different than one's own, then we cross into territory that puts all freedoms at risk. (I hear you, Dixie Chicks.)
New York Times columnist David Brooks is supposed to be the house conservative of PBS’s NewsHour and convention coverage, but he dripped contempt for conservatives from Mitt Romney to Rush Limbaugh on Wednesday’s night live coverage. He decried Romney’s speech as extreme "He drifted so far right, I’m sort of, my mind is boggling." But he said the rhetoric wasn’t genuine, just a "strategic choice" in case McCain loses. When one panelist said the Sarah Palin speech would be "a huge hit among Rush Limbaugh Republicans," Brooks insisted Palin’s humor was light with a common touch, not "biting, belittling" Limbaugh humor. Earlier, he lamented the presidential choices didn’t include someone who hated tax cuts: "There might be a candidate who says ‘Actually, at this time in our country we can’t afford these massive tax cuts anyway,’ but that candidate is not running for president."
UPDATE: On the Charlie Rose show, Brooks grew even wilder, saying of Romney's speech: "I thought it was borderline insane," and proclaiming Palin was "not ideological in a Rush Limbaugh sense."
The gloves came off and the punching of Republican vice-presidential pick Sarah Palin began early in the night on PBS. Just after the Pledge of Allegiance, the analyst team of Mark Shields and David Brooks got into a squabble over Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter Bristol. Shields insisted a callous Gov. Palin chose national ambition over "love and consideration for her daughter...By accepting John McCain’s offer she guaranteed that her daughter would be known globally as the best known 17-year-old unwed teenager in the world, and that decision many people question."
Brooks suggested we don't know enough to judge the Palin family values, and even suggested that the children of vice presidents have had problems, and that the media that usually lays off the children are covering this story in a "big massive way."
Shields began by suggesting that people in both parties can agree that making an issue out of candidates' children is "really out of bounds." He then turned around and made the mother's allegedly unseemly ambition an issue:
What pundit uttered the following liberal canard that makes it sound like Republicans don't care about poor people?
"He's [John McCain] a conservative. The way he breaks out of it, though, electorally, is to be Teddy Roosevelt, and this is gonna be the toughest thing for his campaign. He's got a group of people around him, and frankly a group, a party that doesn't want the government to do anything to help poor people. And he has to break out of that."
Update | 3-26: I wasn't the only one to be impressed by Brooks' column. This morning he was accorded the honor, rare for a Republican pundit, of a solo Today show apperance, and followed it up with a Morning Joe visit.
Sometimes you read something so simultaneously insightful and eloquent that you just have to share it with others. That's how I feel about David Brooks' column in today's New York Times, The Long Defeat.
Brooks begins by convincingly making the case that Hillary's chances of winning the Dem nomination have dwindled to a paltry 5%.
Yet all signs point to her soldiering on to the bitter end. As Brooks puts it: "Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects continue to dim. The door is closing. Night is coming. The end, however, is not near." By protracting the fight, Clinton would seriously harm Barack Obama's general election prospects. Brooks asks: "why does she go on like this?" and gives this, in my opinion brilliant, answer:
In his "Final Word" at the end of Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer made the cliched charge:
Candidates now race to tell us what we want to hear. They load us down with spin, tiptoe around controversial issues, and give us tortured explanations of how a change in their position really wasn't a change at all.
This pandering to popular public sentiment toward politicians was brought on by Schieffer quoting a November 20 Op/Ed piece by "New York Times" commentator David Brooks, who wrote of Rudy Giuliani’s recent shift to a tougher stance against illegal immigration. Schieffer took the last line of the "Times" article, where Brooks lamented how "Some day Rudy Giuliani will look back on this moment and wonder why he didn't run as himself." How dare Giuliani pander to those right-wingers who want secure borders.
Times columnist David Brooks blew a hole into the left-wing myth of Ronald Reagan appealing to Southern racists to kick off his 1980 presidential campaign. What makes Brooks's Friday column doubly valuable -- it's a bank-shot sinking of fellow Times columnist and Republican-hater Paul Krugman.
Brooks's "History and Calumny" defends then-candidate Ronald Reagan from leftists like Krugman who have long slurred his 1980 campaign kick-off in Philadelphia, Miss. as a racist appeal.
"Today, I'm going to write about a slur. It's a distortion that's been around for a while, but has spread like a weed over the past few months. It was concocted for partisan reasons: to flatter the prejudices of one side, to demonize the other and to simplify a complicated reality into a political nursery tale.
When it comes to health care, could there be anything more antithetical to the American ideal than Big Government being completely in charge? Actually, yes. It would be big government creating a system that requires private-sector entities whose interests inherently oppose to "come together" to form "partnerships" for the greater good.
Yesterday I wrote here about the way in which Hillary's plan forces all Americans, willing or not, to obtain health care insurance, and in an Orwellian twist calling it "choice."
More details about Hillary's plan emerge in Davd Brooks's New York Times column [still p.p.v., but free along with the other columnists as of Wednesday when Times Select goes the way of New Coke.]
You better put down your drinks, and make sure there's nothing in your mouths, for the New York Times's David Brooks made a comment on Friday's News Hour that is guaranteed to evoke uncontrollable fits of laughter from those on the right side of the aisle.
*****Updates at end of post include similar opinions from conservative bloggers, as well as a video of a CNN correspondent saying roughly the same thing, and a response from the Kos Kidz.
After introducing regular guests Brooks and Mark Shields, host Jim Lehrer asked their opinions concerning the just-released Osama bin Laden video.
Brooks was second up with this absolutely marvelous observation (final warning to put down your drinks, video available here):