On Monday evening's NBC Nightly News, host Brian Williams used a perhaps revealing verb to describe a belief held by former Soviet foreign minister and Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze, who died on Monday at 86.
It would be good to look back and learn how Shevardnadze came to say what he said a decade ago before getting to how Williams framed it. As reported in Doug Martin's obituary at the New York Times (bolds are mine throughout this post):
An indignant Chris Matthews on Monday took internet attacks on the late Nelson Mandela, allegedly from conservative commenters, and slammed the right for a lack of respect towards the South African leader: “Don’t they know that it’s not nice to make fun of a person so recently deceased, much less the world’s most honored champion of human freedom?”
Yet, how did the journalists at MSNBC and NBC respond to the death of Margaret Thatcher, someone who championed freedom in the struggle against communism? On the day she died, Richard Wolffe, a regular on Matthews’s show and network, seethed, “She had an attitude to her domestic enemies that frankly was the antithesis of freedom.” Another Matthews colleague, Brian Williams offered up an even more vicious attack.
At the Daily Beast, Michael Moynihan attempted to overcome the tendency of journalists and celebrities to make Nelson Mandela a secular saint. Moynihan recalled that when Margaret Thatcher died, these same people denounced her for here "indulgence" of right-wing dictators like Agosto Pinochet in Chile, who allowed his country to become a democracy.
ABC called her reign an “elective dictatorship.” NBC reported several times that “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead” became a popular iTune after she passed away, and CBS predicted the funeral would be a "tense and controversial affair." It's safe to guess these networks wouldn't dream of recalling Mandela’s associations with despots like Fidel Castro and Muammar Qaddafi, as Moynihan insisted they should:
Well, if you can't say anything good about how your guy's foreign policy is going, you can at least try to trash one of his predecessors so your guy doesn't look so bad.
That would appear to be the idea behind David E. Sanger's attempt at the New York Times today to falsely inform readers that the two towering leaders of the 1980s, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, angrily disagreed over the UK's choice to retake the Falkland Islands after Argentina had seized them. Sanger linked back to a previous Times story which clearly pointed to the real disagreement, but never described anything resembling anger. Additionally, a cable from Secretary of State Alexander Haig during that era directly refutes Sanger's contention.
Famed rock group the Rolling Stones played the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., Monday, and according to numerous fans reporting on Twitter, lead singer Mick Jagger took a shot at the current White House resident and his recently revealed domestic surveillance program.
Self-described progressive @MikeCarvalho tweeted during the show, "I don't think President Obama is here, but I'm sure he's listening in.' - Mick Jagger":
The New York Times marked the day of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher's funeral with disrespect, with London bureau chief John Burns reporting from one of the last places on earth likely to offer sympathetic tribute to the prime minister who broke the left-wing coal miners' union: A mining town in the middle of England.
And the paper's post-funeral story today offered left-wing "complaints about its cost and appropriateness" of the funeral sandwiched around accounts of ghoulish lefty celebrations of Thatcher's passing.
In the days leading up to Margaret Thatcher's funeral on Wednesday, the three networks repeatedly hyped hateful, ugly attacks on the former Prime Minister of Britain, describing her as a "polarizing," "divisive" figure. On Rock Center, his low-rated Friday night show, Brian Williams explained that it was "sad, but necessary to report" that, while Americans may like Thatcher, "It's been a harsh couple of days ...Tonight, the number one song on iTunes in Great Britain is the Wizard of Oz classic [Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead], in this case celebrating the death of the Iron Lady."[See video below. MP3 audio here.]
On Sunday's Today, Lester Holt began by insisting, "Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is proving to be as polarizing in death as she was in life." He, too, highlighted angry liberals in Britain gleefully playing the mocking song. Leftist journalist Martin Bashir appeared on the program to bemoan the "controversial" Thatcher. He touted, "An online campaign has pushed the song Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead up towards the top of the British music charts."
This past week, while some Kossacks bade Margaret Thatcher a not-so-fond farewell, others argued that the Democratic party has moved so far to the right that it would suit, say, Ronald Reagan, and even Thatcher if she'd been an American.
As usual, each headline is preceded by the blogger's name or pseudonym.
MANCHESTER, England -- There is a story about Margaret Thatcher, which is probably apocryphal, but speaks volumes about the strength of Britain's first female prime minister, who died Monday at age 87.
Following her election in 1979, the story goes that Thatcher took her all-male cabinet out to dinner. The waiter asked what she would like. "I'll have the beef," she said. The waiter asked, "What about the vegetables?" "They'll have the same," Thatcher replied.
As the world mourns the loss of one of the greatest stateswomen of the 20th century, Washington Post London bureau chief Anthony Faiola wrote yesterday that Margaret Thatcher’s death “appears to be opening old wounds.” To do so, however, Faiola selectively picked up anecdotes of left-wing hate-mongering, such as how the UK's leading conservative paper Faiola noted how the UK's Tory-leaning Telegraph newspaper had to close down the comments section about Lady Thatcher’s death due to the depraved vitriol of the nation’s left wing Internet trolls.
Faiola's prime example of how Lady Thatcher's death was dividing Great Britain was the occasional outbreak of leftists punks dancing in the streets in celebration of the former prime minister's death. Included in the story was a photograph from St. George's Square in Glasgow, where it seems only about 15-20 people showed up to figuratively dance on the Iron Lady's grave.
Legendary British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has passed away, and given that she was a conservative, PBS can’t let her go without finding some way to criticize her. On Tuesday evening’s PBS NewsHour, Time Magazine’s Rana Foroohar was brought on to discuss Thatcher’s legacy. Why Foroohar? Well, according to anchor Gwen Ifill, not only does she cover economics and business, she also lived in Britain for nine years.
Foroohar got right to work, describing Thatcher as a “very divisive character” and a “very, very polarizing figure.” Ifill asked her if there are presently any heirs to Thatcher’s world view, and Foroohar responded that Thatcher’s heirs reside in the developing world and emerging markets. These countries are at a stage where Thatcher’s ideas of privatization and free markets can help them, according to Foroohar.
On Tuesday's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, MSNBC host O'Donnell fretted that people "suffer deprivations" in the United States because the U.S. is the "world's biggest tax haven" with a relatively low tax burden compared to other countries. After showing his viewers a chart recounting that the U.S. ranks 31st in the percentage of the economy the government collects in taxes, O'Donnell added:
The legendary British prime minister Margaret Thatcher has died, and the national media tried to pay their respects, not only for breaking Britain’s “glass ceiling” with a “bruising” political style, but for transforming Britain and helping wind down the Cold War.
Still, Thatcher was a conservative and one of Ronald Reagan’s staunchest friends in the world, so you can be sure these journalists were Thatcher-bashers when she was in power. Some of them were American anchors and reporters.
The tumult over the death of Margaret Thatcher on Monday has continued online, where Geri Halliwell, an original member of the Spice Girls singing group, apologized to the many people who were angered when “Ginger Spice” called the former British Prime Minister “the original Spice Girl.”
“I'm sorry if I offended u...x,” @GeriHalliwell posted regarding her earlier Twitter message that stated: “Thinking of our 1st lady of girl power ... a green grocer's daughter who taught me any thing is possible.”
On Monday's All In show on MSNBC, host Chris Hayes praised Britain's "beloved" national health care program as possibly "one of the great hallmarks of western social democracy," as he admitted to delivering criticism from a liberal point of view of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's administration.
Upon learning that former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher had died of a stroke on Monday, the Daily Telegraph published an obituary that stated she “was not only Britain’s first woman prime minister, she was also the outstanding peacetime leader of the 20th century.”
But just hours later, the newspaper had to shut down all comment sections on articles related to the passing of the 87-year-old baroness due to “abuse” by posters discussing both positive and negative stories about Thatcher.
The death at 87 of former British Prime Minister and Cold War conservative icon Margaret Thatcher was marked with a respectful obituary on Tuesday's New York Times front page by Joseph Gregory: "'Iron Lady' Who Set Britain on a New Course."
A front-page "news analysis" by reporters John Burns and Alan Cowell was more objectionable, "Hard Policies In Hard Times." The online headline picked a fight: "Thatcher Fiscal Policies Are Still a Tough Sell for Europe."
During a report on Tuesday's NBC Today, correspondent Michelle Kosinski took gratuitous shots at Margaret Thatcher while detailing funeral plans for the former British prime minister who died Monday: "...many feel this is appropriate that it will not be a state funeral because she remains so controversial....How controversial is Thatcher still today?...in Glasgow, jubilant dancing in the streets." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Kosinski did explain that a friend of Thatcher's "was quoted as saying that [Thatcher] herself did not want [a state funeral], thinking it would be a waste of money." However, during a news brief in the 9 a.m. ET hour, anchor Natalie Morales stated Kosinski's initial remark about the funeral plans as fact: "Although Thatcher will receive a large ceremonial funeral with full military honors, it will not be state funeral. Thatcher, known as the Iron Lady, was apparently too controversial for that honor."
Coverage of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's death and life was relegated to below the fold at USA Today this morning (pictured here; the paper stopped posting front-page pics two years ago).
Three items above the fold (excluding left-side teases to coverage of other stories) were considered more important that the Iron Lady's passing: "Remembering Annette Funicello"; a "Duplicate programs waste billions" item about wasteful government spending (useful, but it's not as if we didn't know this already); and to top it off, a 6x6 photo from the first half of the NCAA men's basketball finals, the result of which the paper was unable to report because the game ended after its publication deadline.
If anyone was going to dance in the streets when Margaret Thatcher died, you could reliably find a Daily Kos blogger with two turntables and a microphone.
"Ollie Garkey" protested that Thatcher's economic policies were "the greatest case of international larceny in history...far harsher than even Ronald Reagan's economic policies. Thatcher destroyed whole industries in places like Wales and Scotland just to be rid of the unions supported by those industries."
On his well-titled 1988 solo album “Viva Hate,” the British pop star Morrissey sang “Margaret on the guillotine / Cause people like you / Make me feel so tired / When will you die?”
Twenty-five years later, Thatcher has died, and Morrissey’s hate is still going strong. Tina Brown’s Daily Beast website provided a forum for Morrissey proclaiming Thatcher was “a terror without an atom of humanity.” He began by mocking the “Iron Lady” nickname:
Reporting on the late Margaret Thatcher's legacy on Monday, CNN correspondent Max Foster hyped that she "decimated entire industries" in Britain and "decimated communities across the UK." He also cited Gerry Adams, the public face of the IRA for decades, as a valid critic of Thatcher -- as did CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield.
In addition to citing praise for Thatcher, Foster offered a blistering critique on Monday's Starting Point: "This was the prime minister that decimated entire industries in the United Kingdom during her period in power as she broke the miners unions in a push towards privatization to create a more flexible British economy, which it has become. But she decimated communities across the UK. And a lot of people absolutely despise her legacy." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
In discussing the late Margaret Thatcher's legacy, CNN's Ashleigh Banfield gave a platform to liberal Hollywood actress Meryl Streep and former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, who had ties to the IRA during Thatcher's time as British prime minister.
Adams predictably savaged Thatcher for causing "great hurt" to Ireland and England. Meanwhile, because Streep portrayed Thatcher in the film "The Iron Lady," CNN sought her out as an expert on Thatcher's legacy, and Streep rapped her economic policies: "Her hard-nosed fiscal measures took a toll on the poor, and her hands-off approach to financial regulation led to great wealth for others." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
MSNBC continued the bashing of Margaret Thatcher on Monday. Richard Wolffe, a British journalist and editor of the network's website, smeared the late prime minister as "the antithesis of freedom" when it came to how she dealt with her domestic enemies. The liberal reporter sneered that the Conservative politician "hurt working families and working people." Now host Alex Wagner even went so far as to quote arch-socialist Ken Livingstone while attacking Thatcher.
Speaking of the woman who was instrumental in bringing about the end of the totalitarian threat of Soviet Communism, Wolffe, a former correspondent for Newsweek, excoriated, "She had an attitude to her domestic enemies that frankly was the antithesis of freedom." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] The journalist summarized Thatcher as "someone who was a pioneer for women, who actually also hurt working families and working people and that includes teachers and women across the board."
Monday's CBS This Morning played up the domestic critics of Margaret Thatcher as they covered the breaking news of her death. Mark Phillips, reporting from London, spotlighted how Thatcher was once called "Plunder-woman" by a British union leader, and how she was "contentious here, famous for breaking the back of the very strong labor movement in Britain." Phillips also noted how the former prime minister was "a figure both reviled and revered."
During a retrospective on the "Iron Lady", correspondent Elizabeth Palmer ballyhooed how Thatcher's "trademark helmet hair, cut-glass accent, and bullying style became a staple of British satire".
Appearing on Monday's Today, Abby Huntsman, daughter of former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, offered kind words eulogizing Margaret Thatcher: "What we know about Margaret Thatcher is she's a woman with so much courage...She really sticks to her convictions, and that's rare today. I think she really paved the way for women in politics....her legacy will be remembered forever." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
News reader Natalie Morales seized on Huntsman's comments as the "perfect segue" to a panel discussion about the political aspirations of Hillary Clinton. Co-host Willie Geist declared: "Absolutely, our Take Three, talking about the woman who could be the leader of this country, about 35 years or more than after the fact in Great Britain, Chelsea Clinton speaking out this morning on speculation that her mother will once again run for president."
Leave it to MSNBC to bring its perhaps most vile ultra-liberal daytime host to make the first comments following the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Speaking with host Chuck Todd and the BBC’s Katty Kay, Bashir sharply smeared the legacy of the Iron Lady, calling her tenure very divisive and one that promoted selfishness.
As news broke of the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher Monday morning, Today co-host Matt Lauer turned to correspondent Michelle Kosinski in London, who proclaimed Thatcher was "Known as the Iron Lady and for her conservative politics, she was also quite controversial during that time for reducing the power of the trade unions." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In a full report that followed, correspondent Martin Fletcher used similar language to describe the tenure of the British leader: "She was known as an iron lady, both loved and loathed....Consensus and compromise, they said, were not in her vocabulary. She'd won a bloody war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands, took on Britain's powerful labor unions. She ignored IRA hunger strikes....Determined, dynamic, and deeply controversial, Thatcher leaves an indelible mark on the world's political landscape."
ABC's Good Morning America on Monday broke into live coverage to report that the "controversial" "titan" Margaret Thatcher had died. The morning show's reporters highlighted both her conservative beliefs, for which she was "vilified," and compared her to Winston Churchill.
Guest co-host Elizabeth Vargas announced that the late Prime Minister's "belief in herself and her policies" led to her being "both adored and vilified even to this day in Great Britain. A very controversial, but very, very important figure, undoubtedly." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Later in the show, George Stephanopoulos returned to announce: "A titan has fallen."
As the world pauses to remember the legendary British Prime Minister Margeret Thatcher, it's also worth remembering how the liberal media -- both in Britain and in the United States -- were horrified at her conservative policies. Just as they do now, liberal journalists sneeringly portray any resistance to left-wing big government as "uncaring" or lacking compassion."
Of course, in spite of the media's condemnations, Thatcher persevered and successfully pushed back against some of the worst socialist policies Britain enacted in the 1950s through the 1970s.
The Media Research Center was founded in 1987, too late to pick up the nasty media insults hurled during Thatcher's first two terms, but these quotes from our archives give a flavor to how the media regarded her in the late 1980s and 1990s, using words like "shrill," "inflexible," "unsympathetic," and running "an elective dictatorship." Examples below the jump: