Milestones in one's life should serve as an impetus for a person to reflect on the past and on the future. Totenberg turned 70 yesterday. Another such milestone occurred at the end of 2013 in the life of NPR's high-profile Legal Affairs/Supreme Court correspondent Nina Totenberg. Totenberg concluded her 19-year run as a weekly no-holds-barred pundit, pontificating on about every topic under the sun -- not just on her journalistic beat.
Most notoriously, she said in 1995 that a fitting punishment for a quite controversial remark by Republican US Senator Jesse Helms made about AIDS funding would be that he or his grandchildren contract AIDS: "I think he ought to be worried about the -- about what's going on in the good Lord's mind because if there's retributive justice, he'll get AIDS from a transfusion or one of his grandchildren will get it."
Each morning, NewsBusters has been showcasing the most egregious bias the Media Research Center has uncovered over the years — four quotes for each of the 25 years of the MRC, 100 quotes total — all leading up to our big 25th Anniversary Gala September 27. (Click here for details and ticket information.)
If you’ve missed a previous blog, recounting the worst of 1988 through 1996, you can find them here. Today, the worst bias of 1997: Fawning over Bill Clinton as a candidate for Mt. Rushmore; impugning conservative Senator Jesse Helms as a “terrorist;” and a classic New York Times headline: “Crime Keeps On Falling; but Prisons Keep On Filling.” [Quotes and video below the jump.]
For the past week, NewsBusters has been showcasing the most egregious bias the Media Research Center has uncovered over the years — four quotes for each of the 25 years of the MRC, 100 quotes total — all leading up to our big 25th Anniversary Gala September 27. (Click here for ticket information.)
If you’ve missed our recounting of the worst quotes from 1988 through 1994, you can find those here). Today, the worst bias of 1995, when Time magazine blamed the Oklahoma City bombing on “hot talk on the radio” even as NPR’s Nina Totenberg wished one of Jesse Helms’ grandchildren would get AIDS. [Quotes and video below the jump.]
For more than a decade, liberals have insisted on the presumption of innocence for all manner of poor, misunderstood jihadists intent on slaughtering as many infidels as possible.
But when it comes to alleged racism from conservatives, the burden of proof quickly turns lenient. All it takes is a left winger claiming it so, a perverse dynamic long predating the war on terror. (video after page break)
Juan Williams's firing from National Public Radio (NPR) earlier this week was not only animated in part by the liberal George Soros-backed radio network's disdain of Fox News, it also reeks of a double standard, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell told viewers of Friday's "Fox & Friends" program.
"If [Juan Williams] had said those words on the Charlie Rose show, it would have been seen as provocative or thoughtful.... This is the same network that featured Nina Totenberg hoping that Senator Jesse Helms would die or one of his grandchildren would die of AIDS because of his position on gay rights and nothing ever happened to her."
The New York Times marked the death early Monday morning of veteran Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who served a record 51 years in the U.S. Senate, with an online obituary by former Times reporter Adam Clymer. While acknowledging Byrd's Klan past and his pork-barrel prodigiousness, Clymer's lead also emphasized Byrd's proud fight as the keeper of Congressional prerogatives. The obituary headline was hagiographic: "Robert Byrd, Respected Voice of the Senate, Dies at 92."
While Clymer's opening statement on Byrd wasn't exactly laudatory, it did not match the paper's hostile treatment of the passing of two veteran Republican senators accused of racial prejudice: Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina. Clymer's lead paragraph:
Robert C. Byrd, who used his record tenure as a United States senator to fight for the primacy of the legislative branch of government and to build a modern West Virginia with vast amounts of federal money, died at about 3 a.m. Monday, his office said. He was 92.
The bulk of Clymer's obituary for Byrd may have been written some time ago, as is customary. Clymer retired from the Times in 2003, after a career of bashing President Bush and prominent conservatives, while defending old-guard Democrats like Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Clymer acknowledged what he called Byrd's changing perspective, moving from conservative to liberal over the years, and in the 16th paragraph brought up Byrd's membership in the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s and his filibuster of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
On the August 30 Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace seemed to pick up on Clay Waters' NewsBusters item, earlier posted at TimesWatch, pointing out the blatant double standard between the New York Times obituary for conservative Republican Senator Jesse Helms and that of liberal Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy.
Near the end of Sunday's show, Wallace read from the first paragraph from each obituary, with the Kennedy version tagging the liberal Senator as "a son of one of the most storied families in American politics, a man who knew acclaim and tragedy in near equal measure, and who will be remembered as one of the most effective lawmakers in the history of the Senate."
By contrast, the Helms version omitted such positive causes as his legislative fight against the tyranny of communism, and instead portrayed his Senate career in a negative light, referring to him as the "Senator with the courtly manner and mossy drawl, who turned his hard-edged conservatism against civil rights, gay rights, foreign aid and modern art."
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the August 30, Fox News Sunday:
News of Sen. Ted Kennedy's death late Tuesday night didn't make the Wednesday print edition of the New York Times, but a 6,000-word obituary by John Broder was posted on nytimes.com this morning: "Edward Kennedy, Senate Stalwart, Dies."
Broder's obituary left room for the lowlights of Kennedy's career, including Mary Jo Kopechne's death at Chappaquiddick and Kennedy's ruthless personal attack on conservative Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork. But the opening paragraph offered a sharp contrast with another ideologically polarizing senator, Jesse Helms of North Carolina, who died on Independence Day last year. Broder's opening paragraph:
Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a son of one of the most storied families in American politics, a man who knew triumph and tragedy in near-equal measure and who will be remembered as one of the most effective lawmakers in the history of the Senate, died late Tuesday night. He was 77.
On Wednesday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann attacked Jesse Helms as a "homophobe," and suggested naming a "gay-bashing organization" after the recently deceased former Republican Senator, as the MSNBC host attacked Senator Elizabeth Dole for her effort to name an AIDS funding bill in honor of Helms. Olbermann, addressing Dole as he made her a nominee for "Worst Person in the World": "Senator, you do realize that Helms opposed AIDS treatment, AIDS research, AIDS prevention. He opposed everything about AIDS except blaming the victims. And not just back in the blind panic days. As late as 2002, he blamed the disease on homosexuality. They should not name an AIDS bill after Jesse Helms. They should name a gay-bashing organization after him."
Olbermann teased his "Worst Person" segment during the show's opening: "‘Worsts' is back. Elizabeth Dole wants to name an AIDS funding bill in memory of Jesse Helms, who believed gay people deserved the disease."
During a plug before a commercial break at 8:45 p.m., the MSNBC host called Helms a "homophobe": "And in ‘Worsts,' the Senator who thinks an AIDS bill should be named after homophobe Jesse Helms."
My colleague Tim Graham brought to my attention earlier today that WashingtonPost.com's front page today teased two opinion pieces on the late Sen. Jesse Helms. The first was by a former Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer who lauded the late North Carolina Republican as a champion of liberty and staunch opponent of Communist repression. The second was a rehashed column from seven years ago accusing Helms of being an "unabashed racist."
David Broder's "RePost" of his August 29, 2001 column -- "Jesse Helms, White Racist" -- was nowhere to be found in the dead tree edition of the July 7 Washington Post, but it was included online as a counterweight to Marc Thiessen's "The Jesse Helms You Should Remember."
What readers would find in Thiessen's piece was one heartwarming account of how the fiercely anti-Communist senator stood up against his good friend and the leader of his party, President Ronald Reagan, in an attempt to save one Soviet sailor from returning to the USSR against his will (emphasis mine):
London-based broadsheet the Financial Times spilled vials of poisonous ink in a July 5 obituary marking the death of former North Carolina senator Jesse Helms, going strong out the gate by charging that Helms was "little less than a monster" to "many around the world."
Writer Jurek Martin boiled down the political career of Helms, "The reviled Republican courted by his adversaries," as nothing more than that of "a man who never bothered to disguise his dislike for his enemies and his determination to frustrate them."
Martin listed the former Soviet Union, Fidel Castro's regime, and China among Helms's enemies, while failing to acknowledge the systemic human rights abuses from these regimes that a broad swath of liberals and conservatives alike shared (and share) a strong aversion for.
As for the United Nations, another target of the late senator's criticism, Martin glossed over Helms's bipartisan cooperation with the very liberal Democratic Sen. Joe Biden (Del.). Helms and Biden co-sponsored legislation in 1999 that held up U.S. dues to the international body in order to spur it to enact reforms. Martin chalked up the success of the dues-withholding policy to Clinton administration officials:
NewsBusters readers are likely aware of my frequent appeal for civility in our comments sections due to my unwavering belief that despite political differences, when the sun sets, we're all Americans.
Such reverence should be crucial on the day someone that has tirelessly served this nation for thirty years passes away.
Apparently devoid of such human decency, the folks in the Netroots, within minutes of Friday's announcement concerning the death of Jesse Helms, began publishing virulent and vulgar epithets directed at the former senator, with some actually voicing a desire to dance on his grave.
Here are but a few examples, beginning with some truly disgusting diaries posted at Daily Kos (readers are warned that the following contains possibly offensive graphic and vulgar content, h/t LGF):
Today's Chicago Tribune carries a front page story on the late Jesse Helms, "5-time senator 'great patriot' who held fast to his beliefs."
The piece's author, Los Angeles Times staff writer Johanna Neuman, states:
Often he was the lone voice of dissent in the Senate. He was the only senator to vote against confirming Henry Kissinger as secretary of state during the Nixon administration. And he was the only senator to vote against making Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a holiday.
Both assertions are wrong. MSNBC reported in a 2005 article on secretary of state Condoleezza Rice that Henry Kissinger was approved by the Senate in a 78-7 vote. And the King Center notes on its Web site that the King holiday bill, sponsored by Senator Edward Kennedy, passed in the Senate by a vote of 78-22.
In its eagerness to portray the late Senator as an isolated, extreme extremist, the mainstream media are making up their own "facts."
He may be dead, but Jesse Helms is still driving liberals to distraction. May he rest in peace.
On Independence Day, CNN anchor Don Lemon reported the death of former Senator Jesse Helms.
LEMON: Conservatives are mourning the death of an icon. Former Senator Jesse Helms has died at the age of 86. The North Carolina Republican was known for his unyielding stands on some controversial issues.
LEMON (voice-over): Ever since he came to the Senate in 1972, Jesse Helms had been the champion of the extreme right. His positions frequently infuriated virtually everyone else.
When far-left former Democratic Senator Howard Metzenbaum passed away in March, the NBC Nightly News didn't identify his party or apply any ideological label as fill-in anchor Ann Curry hailed his life as “the classic American success story” of a man who “always fought for the little guy, taking on the oil and insurance industries” while he “stuck to his populist principles.”
But on Friday night, Independence Day holiday fill-in anchor Lester Holt accurately described former Senator Jesse Helms, who passed away earlier in the day at age 86, as “a Republican and staunch conservative” as well as “a champion to the right and a lighting rod to the left.” NBC reporter Martin Savidge, however, tagged Helms as “an ultra-rightist” when he won his Senate seat in1972, though Savidge concluded his review of Helms' career by portraying the late Senator's ideology in a positive light: “Helms finally left the Senate in 2003 at the age of 81, and for the rest of his life would proudly wear the unofficial title of the Senate's most conservative Senator.”
Holt painted Helms from the negative, what he was against as opposed to what he favored: “He staked out firm positions against everything from communism and foreign aid to civil rights and modern art.”
As reported by CBS and the Associated Press moments ago:
Jesse Helms, the five-term Republican Senator from North Carolina, has died, CBS News has confirmed. He was 86.
Helms died at 1:15 this morning, according to the Jesse Helms Center in Wingate, North Carolina.
Our prayers and thoughts go out to his family and loved-ones.
Update 11:46 | Matthew Sheffield. Jesse Helms was a tireless advocate against liberal media bias. It's worth remembering today that in the mid-80s Jesse Helms started a group called Fairness in Media designed to raise enough money to purchase CBS and overhaul its even-more-left-leaning news division. "Become Dan Rather's boss," was the tagline with the idea, of course, that they would fire him.
Though ultimately unsuccessful at its final objective, it was a fascinating effort and one that actually caused some suits at CBS to get scared as, among other things, Helms and his partners in fairness sought to obtain the names of every CBS stockholder, filed SEC briefs, and even partnered up with the then-conservative Ted Turner.
During MSNBC's live coverage of Pennsylvania's Democratic presidential primary, co-anchor Chris Matthews brought up the possibility that the North Carolina Republican Party would run an "overtly racist" campaign against Barack Obama, as the MSNBC host harkened back to the days of Jesse Helms and Harvey Gantt. Matthews: "North Carolina will be interesting, and I think that if the Republican Party goes back to the old trick it did with the days of Jesse Helms and Harvey Gantt and running a campaign which is overtly racist, I think that will be a mistake if they do that. I'll wait and see if they do that." (Transcript follows)
After referring to Obama's relationship with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, co-anchor Keith Olbermann brought up the possibility that John McCain could also be attacked for connections with controversial people: "There is a lot that could be thrown at the Republicans by the Democrats and the past associations of Senator McCain, or even some of the current ones."