Media Watch Archives

December 11, 2003

Let's Play "Spot the Media Bias"

Steve Gigl at Helloooo Chapter Two! alerts his readers to the following story from the AP, reprinted in the Star Tribune with the following headline: Driver hit while talking on radio call-in show in SUV Steve Gigl adds: Does "in SUV" tacked on the end there supply any useful information? To say it differently: do you lose anything by just reporting "Driver hit while talking on radio call-in show?" No, it doesn't, but note that it does associate four "evils" of the Left in one story: * driving, instead of using public transportation * SUVs, the new epitome of conspicuous consumption * using cell phones while driving * talk radio When this came across the wire, the news desk at the Strib must have tripped over themselves rushing this to print with the superfluous mention of the SUV. Only when you read the article do you read that she had...

Would You Buy a Used Car from This Man? Or This One Either?

Yasser Arafat hinted at recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, according to a transcription of an interview with Henry Siegman, which this article describes as an "American Jewish activist": Israel would receive sovereignty over the Western Wall — a remnant of the Second Temple compound — and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, "because we recognize and respect the Jewish religion and the Jewish historical attachment to Palestine," according to the transcript. Asked about Israel as a Jewish state, Arafat said that it was up to Israel to define itself, as long as it was democratic and guaranteed the rights of minorities. Arafat included the reference to democracy and the rights of minorities to appeal to American and EU audiences, but left unspoken the tripping point of refugee return, through which Arafat hopes to establish a Palestinian primacy in Israel. Dore Gold, a Sharon adviser, makes this...

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Politburo Diktat: Thomas Friedman, Arafat Mouthpiece?

The Commissar writes an open letter to Ariel Sharon, warning of the same tactic that Yasser Arafat is pushing by stealth, but that Thomas Friedman appears to espouse openly -- the "one-state" solution: To start, watch out for a certain reporter/worldbeater, friend of Saudi royals, ... da, the anti-zhid himself, Thomas Friedman. ... He and that Palestinian hottie, Diana Butto, are chatting, oh-so-earnestly, about "one state solution." Da! What if Palestinians say, "No problem. Israel exists. From Jordan to Mediterranean. All of historical Palestine. Is good country. We fly Star of David flag over our homes. NOW GIVE US VOTE." What will happen then? Do you think America would allow the Palestinians to exist within a Greater Israel without a vote? Of course not, and we shouldn't. But what will that lead to? It leads to the overthrow of Israel as we know it, replaced by yet another Arab thugocracy...

December 12, 2003

Times Follow-Up on Siegman Disappointing

As I predicted in my post last night, the story regarding the meeting between Henry Siegman and Yasser Arafat continues today in the New York Times with very little clarification about Henry Siegman, his motivations, or his past history as an Arafat supporter and associate: Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, has released a statement saying that he recognizes and respects "the Jewish religion and the Jewish historical attachment to Palestine," in a bid to restore his standing as an advocate of peace after more than three years of conflict. ... Mr. Arafat was said to have made his comments in a meeting last Wednesday in the West Bank city of Ramallah with Henry Siegman, the director of the United States/Middle East Project of the Council on Foreign Relations. Mr. Siegman provided The New York Times with a summary of the meeting prepared immediately afterward and then translated into English. Mr....

December 14, 2003

The Post Buries Saddam-9/11 Connection

Power Line has an important post on the Telegraph story regarding the training of Mohammed Atta by the Iraqi Intelligence Service, and why the story is not getting any attention from major US media outlets. In order to understand why the Washington Post, for example, does not appear anxious to look into this claim, Hindrocket notes the following exchange during an on-line chat this morning: Annapolis, Md.: Will the Post be looking into the story reported by the Telegraph about connections between Abu Nidal, Mohammad Atta and Saddam Hussein? Very likely to be untrue, but would be immensely significant if true. And there's no mention on the Post's Web site about it yet. Robert G. Kaiser: If we put every rumor and story in the British press (not to mention many others around the world) on the Web site, you'd be dizzy--and no wiser. The Post does not print other...

December 19, 2003

Saddam's Capture Didn't Make US Safer?

In yet another breakthrough based on materials found with Saddam Hussein, ABC News reports that Coalition intelligence services have identified moles working for Saddam within the Coalition Provisional Authority: Among the documents found in Saddam's briefcase when he was captured last weekend was a list of names of Iraqis who have been working with the United States — either in the Iraqi security forces or the Coalition Provisional Authority — and are feeding information to the insurgents, a U.S. official told ABCNEWS. "We were badly infiltrated," said the official, adding that finding the list of names is a "gold mine." Would someone at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune like to send a reporter to cover this and inform their editorial board of this development? (via Politburo Diktat)...

Headline That Defies Explanation

I won't have to explain to most of you why this caused me to do a spit-take when I read: Paris Hilton Beats Bush in TV Ratings It must have been one hell of a show ... can they do that on TV?...

This Is Why Saddam's Capture Makes Us Safer

Despite the blatherings of our local broadsheet, the Iraq war and the capture of Saddam Hussein paid off in a spectacular way today: Libya has tried to develop weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles in the past, but has agreed to dismantle the programs, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Friday in simultaneous televised speeches. Bush said Libya's leader, Col. Moammar Gadhafi, had "agreed to immediately and unconditionally allow inspectors from international organizations to enter Libya. "These inspectors will render an accounting of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and will help oversee their elimination," Bush said. Gadhafi approached US and British officials in March to discuss the disarmament of Libya. Does anyone remember what was going on in March? And does anyone want to hazard a guess as to why Libya approached Bush and Blair, rather than the UN? It's because with the Anglo-American...

December 20, 2003

Recognition Comes Slowly but Surely

Media recognition of the stunning diplomatic victory of Bush and Blair -- and even Gadhafi -- in Libya's trilateral disarmament agreement yesterday comes slow. Most of the major newspapers covered it as a news story, although both local Twin Cities newspapers buried it. Editorial boards mostly ignored it, with a couple of major exceptions. For instance, the Daily Telegraph in the UK had no problem proclaiming it as a major vindication of the Bush/Blair global strategy in the War on Terror: The stick has been applied, now a carrot must be offered as an incentive to other rogue nations, like Iraq. As for Mr Bush and Mr Blair, with Saddam captured and Libya tamed, it cannot be denied they have had brilliant end to a difficult year. The world is gradually becoming a safer place. Both their approval ratings should reflect that. The title of this piece is "A Safer...

December 30, 2003

The Embarrassment of Minnesota

No, I am not referring to the Minnesota Vikings. The title belongs to the state's "leading" broadsheet, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, which constantly goes out of its way to demonstrate its parochialism and its condescending foolishness. Tomorrow's education in Strib madness comes from this article -- if you can call it that -- from Bill McAuliffe, a "rap" retrospective of 2003. In this case, "rap" replaces the more accurate "atrociously bad poetry", as even a quick read demonstrates: Prince Roger Nelson's in the Rock Hall of Fame. Purple is his color and music's his game. And the orchestra's one hundred, it's a real grand dame. With a brand new conductor, Osmo Vanska by name! Jesse Ventura got his portrait on the wall. Got a chokehold on "The Thinker" and he's lookin' real bald. He's smoking a stogie, lookin' like he's got it all. So why'd they have to put him in...

December 31, 2003

Poetry Corner with Mr. Know-It-All

After the guys at Fraters Libertas got a chance to look at my post on the nauseatingly bad rap-poem the Strib published today, they assigned me the task of reviewing Bill McAuliffe's year-end poetry in 2000 and 2002. Up until that point, I had no idea that this was a running feature of the Star Tribune. My first impression is that what McAuliffe writes is only poetry in the sense that it rhymes. In fact, I can't spot a whole lot of metric or structural difference between any of the three, including this year's entry; it's almost as if McAuliffe has a MS Word Poetry Template into which he stuffs whatever comes into his head. For instance, these couplets don't show a lot of coherence or any sense of meter: Enter the Wild -- they're among hockey's best -- with jerseys so cool they're also best-dressed. Will St. Paul be...

January 1, 2004

Patterico: LA Times Roll of Shame

Man ... I spend yesterday and today watching the granddaughter, and when I come back, one of my blogfriends writes a killer article taking it to the Los Angeles Times. Patterico spent a lot of time and effort researching the foibles of the West Coast's leading newspaper (which he calls the Dog Trainer), and the result is a long list of embarrasments, mistakes, and flat-out lies that you would imagine should qualify John Carroll, the editor-in-chief, for a spot on Monday's unemployment line. Take the time to read through the entire post, and if you haven't already done so, add Patterico to your blogroll. Great start to the new year! (New resolution: go through my blogroll more often ...)...

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Anything But

Quite frankly, Twin Cities residents take a perverse pride in the editorial idiocy of our leading newspaper, the Star Tribune. My neighborhood bloggers all have recurring examples of the foolishness that the Strib regularly publishes in its news and op-ed sections, and at least for my part, I'm happy to remain well-informed and reasonably rational in spite of the Strib. So when another major city lays claim to the Strib's championship of lunacy, we all feel a bit resentful. Yesterday, unfortunately, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer tried to make its name ironic by publishing this tinfoil-hat editorial by Edward Wenk, Jr., described in the brief bio as "the first science adviser to Congress," as well as having accomplished the unusual hat trick of serving on the policy staffs for Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. These days, Wenk works as a crank, if his article gives a reliable indication: The shock and awe of...

January 3, 2004

Star Tribune Still Angry About 2000

In a typical editorial, this one "signed" by Commentary editor Eric Ringham, the Minneapolis Star Tribune castigates the Green Party and Ralph Nader for getting George Bush elected in 2000: Look at what's happened since your champion confused and divided the left in 2000. Nader, the nominal head of your party, dismissed any suggestion that he was splitting the liberal vote, sneering that the difference between George W. Bush and Al Gore was the difference between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Later on, when the difference between Dum and Dee in deaths and deficits became all too plain, Nader and friends started arguing that if Al Gore couldn't put up a better fight, it wasn't Ralph Nader's fault. Well, no -- it wasn't Nader's fault that the race was close. It was just Nader's fault that Bush won. Without Nader, Gore would have won Florida, recount or no recount. He would have...

January 4, 2004

Pioneer Press: We're Onto You

Art Coulson, editor-in-chief of our smaller but significantly more intelligent local newspaper, the Pioneer Press, writes in today's Opinion section that they have had enough of canned letters to the editor: We welcome letters to the editor from readers on just about any topic and written from just about any perspective. ... What we don't welcome, and won't publish if we can help it, are letters signed by but not written by the sender. These include forwards of messages bouncing around the Internet, cut-and-paste jobs from political Web sites and outright frauds sent by special interest organizations over false names and addresses. For some reason during this particular election cycle, activists on all sides have discovered the Letters to the Editor section of their local newspapers and insist on filling them with all sorts of one-off blurbs for their candidate or cause du jour. Instead of featuring reader response to...

On The Other Hand, Maybe They Deserve Each Other

I've often taken the Minneapolis Star-Tribune to task for its editorial policy, claiming that the newspaper's knee-jerk Leftism ill serves its readership. Sometimes, however, I wonder if it's really true after reading letters printed in reaction to their articles -- letters like this one, for instance (fourth item): On Dec. 29, Native Americans commemorated the 1890 battle at Wounded Knee, where some 300 unarmed Lakota (Sioux) Indians were massacred by U.S. troops. On Jan. 2, the Star Tribune ran an article about L. Frank Baum, the "Wizard of Oz" creator, and his book on holiday window displays. Baum's masterful window decorating might merit a 24-column-inch tribute, but running it so close to the Wounded Knee anniversary is, at best, insensitive. Following Wounded Knee, Baum publicly championed the genocide of the Sioux. As editor of the Aberdeen Pioneer in South Dakota, Baum wrote of the slaughter that "our only safety depends...

January 5, 2004

Seattle P-I: Stupid Is as Stupid Does

What a relief to quit writing about the Strib! Fortunately, as I wrote last week, I've discovered an even bigger example of the Tinfoil-Hat Brigade in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. As I saw on Blogs for Bush today, their Opinion section continues to attract the oddities. Today's exercise in Looneyvision comes to us via the P-I from guest columnist Neal Starkman, who claims to have discovered the reason George Bush remains popular with the electorate: The answer, I'm afraid, is the factor that dare not speak its name. It's the factor that no one talks about. The pollsters don't ask it, the media don't report it, the voters don't discuss it. I, however, will blare out its name so that at last people can address the issue and perhaps adopt strategies to overcome it. It's the "Stupid factor," the S factor: Some people -- sometimes through no fault of their own...

January 9, 2004

Clues For The Clueless

The AP and the Star-Tribune provides another example of the mass media's cluelessness in dealing with matters of religion. Today's entry involves a study of sexual practices in urban areas from the University of Chicago. For the most part, the story remains mildly interesting, as much as it can be when it's mostly telling us what we already know about sexual relations these days -- people wait longer to get married and have more sexual partners than they did before, men have more partners than women, women want "relational" sex and men want "transactional" sex regardless of sexual orientation. (In fact, it sounds to me like they haven't changed much in 20 years.) Towards the end, reporter Martha Irvine makes the following statement: Still, Laumann and his staff found that social services, the church and law enforcement have been slow to address this latest sexual revolution. ... And most churches...

Hell, I'll Take the Job

Glenn Reynolds, the indispensable Instapundit, writes in his MS-NBC column that the New York Times needs an editorial transfusion: And if you read the Times oped page regularly, as fewer and fewer people seem to do these days, you'll notice a distinct staleness about many of the columnists. The Times oped page needs turnover -- either permanent, or temporary, with columnists sent off to do actual reporting, or something, for six months or a year while they regain their edge. But who would fill the gaps? Reynolds then discusses a couple of options available to the Gray Lady, including giving occasional guest columnist Dan Savage a regular run while Dowd and Krugman go on an extended vacation. (Maybe Krugman can write another book to follow up The Great Unraveling? He can write about trying to unravel during a record growth period.) Reynolds notes that Savage isn't even outside of the...

January 12, 2004

Sympathy For The Devils

I'm puzzled by this piece in tomorrow's Washington Post that tells the story of former Ba'athists in Iraq and how difficult life has become, now that their privileges have been revoked: Less than a year ago, Ismael Mohammed Juwara lived high in the food chain of President Saddam Hussein's Iraq. He was a secret policeman feared and respected among his comrades and in his hometown, enjoying a cornucopia of privileges from the government. ... Now, as he scrapes out a living by selling diesel fuel illegally, he is a pariah in the new Iraq. "We were on top of the system. We had dreams," said Juwara, a former member of the Mukhabarat, the intelligence service that reported directly to the now-deposed president. "Now we are the losers. We lost our positions, our status, the security of our families, stability. Curse the Americans. Curse them." The entire article consists of several...

January 16, 2004

Tekela Will Get Another Shot

Local prosecutors resolved a tragic and infuriating case yesterday by virtually guaranteeing a vicious murderer gets out of prison in less than 20 years: Tekela L. Richardson, accused of beating a 79-year-old St. Paul woman to death June 17 while stealing her vehicle, pleaded guilty Thursday to intentional second-degree murder. ... Under a plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend that Richardson receive a 25 1/2-year prison term as called for by state sentencing guidelines. That would require her to serve at least 17 years. However, District Judge M. Michael Monahan reminded Richardson that he is not bound by the plea agreement, and that she cannot withdraw her guilty plea if he decides to give her a longer sentence. She will be sentenced March 15. In my native California, murder during a robbery is automatically first-degree murder, and the only two options are death or life without parole. California has many issues,...

January 18, 2004

A Bit of Journalistic Irony

As I read over the main web page of today's Minneapolis Star Tribune, I noticed a link titled "Editor's Note: Why we pulled USA Weekend from Sunday's Paper." Certainly a provocative invitation, I began to wonder why: Financial disagreement? Offensive material? A Bush endorsement? When I clicked on the link, however, I found that even the explanation had been pulled from the paper. It looks like some sort of conspiracy! I'm sure that a portion of the blogosphere will assign deep and sinister intent to this, just like they do every time a 404 comes up on the White House web site. Those of us who live here will just continue to be amused by the parochial nature of our largest hometown daily....

Media and Political Notes

A few items from the media that probably don't measure up to a full post on their own, but still seem interesting ... First this story from the AP regarding comments by Dan Rather on coverage for nominating conventions: CBS anchor Dan Rather says the day is coming soon when there will be virtually no live coverage of political conventions on television networks. The Democrats and Republicans are to blame for scheduling four-day conventions that do little except advertise their established positions and candidates, he said. This actually makes sense and it's one of the few times I'll agree with Rather. Modern nominating conventions only serve to anoint predetermined winners and so generate very little in terms of real news. Only the keynote and acceptance speeches have any significance, and networks generally still carry those live (and should continue to do so). They also fail miserably as entertainment, making them...

January 21, 2004

Dead Scientist Believed Iraq Had WMDs

Months after the suicide of a British government scientist threw into doubt Anglo-American claims of WMD possession by the Iraqis and touched off accusations of a murder conspiracy to silence the analyst, the BBC admits that it has an unbroadcast interview with the late David Kelly in which he insists that Iraq had WMDs and posed an immediate threat: The weapons expert slashed his wrists near his home in Oxfordshire, southern England, in July 2003 after being exposed as the source of a claim by a BBC reporter that the prime minister's team inflated the threat posed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, to justify war. One week before senior judge Lord Hutton delivers his report on Kelly's death -- a judgment that could be critical of ministers -- the BBC said it would broadcast later Wednesday an interview it recorded with Kelly in October 2002, which it has never shown....

January 23, 2004

Power Line Dissects the Washington Post

Here in the Twin Cities, we are accustomed to our leading newspaper's overt and covert anti-Republican bias, especially when the subject is the Bush administration. Other major broadsheets have similar problems, especially the Los Angeles Times (covered brilliantly by Patterico's Pontifications) and the New York Times. Editorial page preferences don't bother me; the op-ed section is where editors are supposed to take sides. These newspapers allow their editorial bias to inform their supposedly straight news reporting, and that serves no one well. One newspaper that had been fairly good at separating news from opinion was the Washington Post, which has been fairly straightforward during the Iraq war. Unfortunately, that seems to be changing now that the primary season is in full swing. Hindrocket at Power Line writes a devastatingly detailed critique on the work of the Post's Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus, two reporters whose bias had been at issue...

February 15, 2004

Mark Steyn: A Tale of Two Tales

I missed this column from Mark Steyn last night, but fortunately The Big Trunk at Power Line didn't. Steyn notes the hypocrisy and blatant bias in American media in how they responded to two poorly-sourced scandal stories, and how only one of them actually pans out -- and that's the one they're not covering: Now let's consider the Kerry scandal: If you read the British newspapers, you'll know all about it. It's not about whether he was Absent Without Leave, but the more familiar political failing of being Absent Without Pants. It concerns a 24-year old woman - ie, 41 years younger than Mrs Kerry - and, with their usual efficiency, the Fleet Street lads have already interviewed her dad, who's called Kerry a "sleazeball". But if you read the US newspapers or watch the news shows there's not a word about the Senator's scandal. Though it seems to have...

The WaPo Gives, The WaPo Takes Away

Earlier today, I blogged about an excellent editorial in today's Washington Post that demonstrated their intelligence and insight into the empty-suit phenomenon that is John Flip-Flop Kerry. Unfortunately, as Power Line notes, that intelligence doesn't extend much beyond its op-ed section. Dana Milbank, a consistently biased Bush detractor on their Politics desk, engages in an exercise of obtuseness regarding the new Bush campaign ad: The ad accurately points out that Kerry has raised $640,000 from lobbyists, "more special-interest money than any other senator." And it fairly questions whether Kerry is disingenuous to accept money from those he would vanquish. But the Center for Responsive Politics, which calculated the figure Bush cited about Kerry ($638,358 raised from lobbyists since 1989, to be exact), has some bad news for Bush, too. The president raised $842,262 from lobbyists in the current election cycle -- almost four times the $226,450 Kerry raised. And if...

Who's Covering for Kerry?

Power Line notes late tonight that the Sun in Britain is reporting that a major US television network is suppressing an interview Kerry's alleged paramour gave detailing their relationship: The beauty said to have had a fling with presidential hopeful John Kerry has recorded a bombshell tell-all interview. Journalist Alex Polier taped a talk with a US TV network at Christmas. The former Washington intern, 27, told all about an alleged fling with the 60-year-old super-rich senator in spring 2001. The channel is sitting on the tape until it has enough evidence to back her story. If the sex claims are true, they would shatter his White House hopes. Kerry, a married dad of two, has denied the fling. But Alex told pals she fled to Kenya on his suggestion. One TV source said: "She wants to tell her story. She has talked at length about her relationship with Kerry....

February 17, 2004

Fox News Calls It For Kerry -- While He's Trailing

Fox News, depending strongly on its exit polling, has declared Wisconsin for John Kerry after getting 22% of precincts reporting -- and with Kerry trailing by several hundred votes. CNN also calls it for Kerry at 8:52 CST. Is it so necessary to "call" elections that are this close?...

March 4, 2004

New Group Blog: Oh, That Liberal Media

The Captain has been invited to participate in a new group blog that launched this week: Oh, That Liberal Media. Organized by Stefan Sharansky and including contributors such as Ombudsgod and Patterico -- who's been brilliant at holding the LA Times accountable for its egregious bias -- the aim is to create a clearinghouse of items that will not only demonstrate the leftist bias in today's mass media but encourage their readers and viewers to demand more balance. My first contribution to the effort is a cross-post of my earlier item on the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's editorial against the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Firearms Act. I hope you get a chance to keep up with this exciting new project....

March 6, 2004

Someone Issued An Opinion! AAAAGH!

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune once again gives new meaning to the term thin-skinned in its headline article on the recent bus strike, skewing the reporting with a bias so obvious it's laughable: The bus strike was quiet on all fronts Friday -- until the Minnesota Taxpayers League lobbed a grenade into the battlefield. "Transit just isn't that important to the smooth functioning of the Twin Cities transportation system," said league President David Strom. "That's the obvious conclusion to be drawn from the lack of chaos engendered by the bus-system strike." If indeed any strike could be called "quiet", the Strib's coverage of it certainly doesn't give that impression. Today, for instance, the Strib has two articles on the strike, including this one, and has headlined the strike since before it began. Yesterday the Strib ran seven stories on the impasse. Besides, while the Taxpayers League has been an active and influential...

March 10, 2004

The AP Uncovers Liberal Media Bias -- at the AP!

John Kerry today stuck his foot squarely in the warm messy stuff today when he made an aside to a group of union workers while he thought he was off-mike: "Let me tell you, we've just begun to fight," Kerry said. "We're going to keep pounding. These guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group I've ever seen. It's scary." The AP's Mike Glover, who originally covered this remark, wrote this about the incident: Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry on Wednesday called for deeper tax cuts for the middle class than proposed by President Bush and described his Republican critics as "the most crooked ... lying group I've ever seen." Contrast that passage with this passage in an article on the Kerry smear: Earlier Wednesday in Chicago, Kerry toughened his comments about his GOP critics after a supporter urged him to take on Bush [emph. mine]. "Let me tell...

Imagine The Star-Tribune With A Brain

In tomorrow's Star Tribune, the editorial staff sees fit to spread Iranian disinformation in the op-ed section by reprinting this story from the UK's leftist broadsheet, the Guardian: In order to save time, the following article is being printed several months ahead of schedule as a service to readers and nascent conspiracy theorists. The capture of Osama bin Laden, while warmly welcomed around the world, raises several questions about the interface between the war on terror and the U.S. election cycle. The most worrying of these is the suspicion that Bin Laden had already been in custody for a considerable period. George Bush's official spokesman has vehemently denied charges that the Al-Qaida leader was actually apprehended in December 2001. But there is more than a hint of a "nondenial denial" about the White House's rejection of claims that news of Bin Laden's capture was timed to coincide with the climax...

March 11, 2004

New Media Blog Gets Results

For those who say that political and cultural blogging only preaches to the choir and doesn't really change anything, I refer you to this post at Oh, That Liberal Media and also cross-posted on his own blog, where my friend and colleague on the group blog details how he got the Los Angeles Times to balance its coverage: The other day, when the Times ran a story about Justice Scalia's having spoken before an advocacy group, I told you here that Justice Ginsburg had done substantially the same thing in January. I explained that the experts' criticisms of Justice Scalia's speech applied equally to Justice Ginsburg's speech. I noted the fact that the group before which she had spoken had filed an amicus brief in a case on which she had ruled just 15 days before the speech. I also told you that I had sent an e-mail to the...

March 12, 2004

The Folly of Minimum-Wage Increases

The Minnesota Senate will begin consideration of a series of increases to the state's minimum wage, currently set at the federal level of $5.15 per hour, the Star-Tribune reports: Minnesota's minimum wage, frozen at the federal rate of $5.15 an hour for the past seven years, would rise to $6.65 over the next 16 months under a bill sent to the Senate floor Wednesday. A party-line vote of eight DFLers in favor and six Republicans opposed in the Jobs, Energy and Community Development Committee produced one of the rare legislative movements on the state's wage floor since it was increased from $4.75 per hour in 1997. Proposals to increase minimum wage provide an opportunity for Democrats to throw some red meat to their base and normally appear, as this bill does, in election years. The Strib takes its normally biased approach, accepting the statements of the bill's proponents without rebuttal...

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Bush Attends 9/11 Memorial, Families Don't Object

In a stunning development, the families attending a 9/11 memorial didn't protest when George Bush arrived, and even supported his right to talk about it during the upcoming campaign: Ernest Strada, the mayor of Westbury, N.Y., was waiting in line to attend the groundbreaking with his wife, Mary Anne. Their son, Thomas Strada, was on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center North Tower during the attacks. He was 41 years old when he died. Ernest Strada said he had no problems with Bush using Sept. 11 imagery in his campaign ads or coming to East Meadow for the groundbreaking. "It's important that everybody in the country, led by the president, continue to remember what happened 2 1/2 years ago," Strada said. "I think the memory of that has waned since it occurred." Rosemary Cain of Massapequa was waiting in line with a large poster of her son, George...

March 13, 2004

Network News Biased Against Bush

A study released today by Mediachannel.org demonstrates the media bias of the national broadcast news networks -- and the disparity of treatment of George Bush and John Kerry isn't subtle in the least: The report reveals a strong negative cast to ABC, CBS and NBC news coverage of the president thus far in 2004. Meanwhile, Senator John Kerry, Bush's certain opponent for November, has received more positive coverage by the same three networks. According to data compiled for MediaChannel.org by international media monitoring firm Media Tenor, network news broadcasts in January and February contained on average nearly three times more negative news statements about President Bush than about Senator John Kerry. This trend is demonstrated on all three major network news broadcasts, but none so pronounced as on CBS, where 35% of statements about Bush were negative, as opposed to 8% positive. In contrast, CBS was positive about John Kerry...

March 14, 2004

Doug Grow Saves the Day

Just when you think there's nothing to write about the local news media, Doug Grow's column appears ... and the sun shines again. Grow performs the impressive feat of starting a biased and hack-worthy column, fisking himself in the middle, and still failing to grasp the situation by the end. In this case, we have the situation of three families who made the mistake of leasing land from the state on what is now valuable property, if it was converted to private ownership. In fact, 1800 other leaseholders on Horseshoe Bay were allowed to do just that twenty years ago; they bought their leased parcels from Minnesota. Only six lots were held in reserve, and the families allowed to continue their leases, three of which eventually left. Now the DNR wants that land -- even though they don't have a plan for its use -- and the Legislature is about...

March 15, 2004

Andy Rooney Gets Letters

CBS's Andy Rooney stirred up quite a response from his critique of Mel Gibson, both as a person and as a filmmaker, without making the effort to see The Passion of the Christ: The "60 Minutes" curmudgeon said Sunday he got 30,000 pieces of mail and e-mail in response to his February 22 commentary, in which he called "The Passion of the Christ" filmmaker Mel Gibson a "wacko." ... "I think the mail was a good indication of how bitterly divided our country is right now," Rooney said on his Sunday "60 Minutes" commentary. "I hope I'm not contributing to that -- even though I'm right and everyone else is wrong." Rooney, simply put, is a lousy writer and commentator; talking about how "bitterly divided our country is" is a cliche that rapidly has become one of the tritest and least informative phrases in punditry. Paying any attention to what...

March 16, 2004

AP Votes For Law-Enforcement Approach

I was skimming the AP news wire when I saw this headline: "Pakistan Kills Two Dozen Terror Suspects" Thinking that the Pakistanis had summarily executed captured prisoners, which would give the war effort a black eye internationally, I naturally clicked onto the story. What I discovered demonstrated the bias of the headline writers at the AP, at least: Paramilitary troops stormed a fortress-like compound with mortars and machine-gun fire Tuesday, killing 24 suspects in a fierce crackdown on al-Qaida and Taliban fugitives in the rugged tribal regions bordering Afghanistan, the army spokesman said. The operation which left at least eight Pakistani troops dead and 15 wounded was a stunning message delivered just one day after the military president promised to rid the territory of foreign terrorists. There have been several anti-terror operations in the semiautonomous tribal belt in recent months, but none so bloody. The Pakistani Army had...

March 20, 2004

AP, Broadsheets Spin Battles Into "Arrests"

The AP is at it again, this time with more than one American broadsheet as enablers. While Pakistani soldiers are fighting and dying to capture or kill the hundreds of al-Qaeda soldiers protecting a high-value target in Waziristan, the AP treats the entire operation like a drug raid in Minneapolis (bold type is my emphasis): Pakistan's military has arrested more than 100 suspects in a five-day assault on militants holed up in mud fortresses along the border where al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al Zawahri is believed trapped, a commander said today. Those detained included foreigners and the local Pashtun tribesmen who have been sheltering them, said Lt. Gen. Safdar Hussain, who is in charge of the sweep. Hussain said 400 to 500 militants are believed to still be fighting from within the heavily fortified compounds in the tribal South Waziristan region, using mortars, AK-47s, rockets and hand-grenades in a face-off...

March 22, 2004

LA Times, Star Tribune Spin Kerry Participation in VVAW Assassination Meeting

As I posted late last week, John Kerry's campaign has backed off its earlier assertion that Kerry hadn't attended the November 1971 Vietnam Veterans Against the War meeting, where the Phoenix Project was debated and put up for a vote. The Phoenix Project was a plan by Scott Camil to assassinate several pro-war elected officials, including Senators John Stennis, John Tower, and Strom Thurmond. Their recantation sprang from the discovery of FBI informant reports -- at least five of them -- of the meetings, which put Kerry firmly in the debate in Kansas City, unearthed by pro-Kerry historian Gerald Nicosia. This was reported earlier in the month by Thomas Lipscomb at the New York Sun, in an excellent piece of journalism. So what does the Los Angeles Times and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (who reprinted the article) highlight on this episode? The trampling of John Kerry's rights by J. Edgar Hoover,...

CBS Fails to Disclose Financial Ties to Richard Clarke

While CBS gave Richard Clarke the star treatment in a rare double-segment interview on CBS's 60 Minutes and promoted the appearance for several days prior to airing the segment last night, CBS hid the fact that Viacom -- the network's parent company -- published Clarke's book, through Viacom's Simon & Schuster under their Free Press imprint (via Drudge and Instapundit): 60 MINUTES aired a double-segment investigative report on the new book "Against All Enemies" -- but did not disclose how CBSNEWS parent VIACOM is publishing the book and will profit from any and all sales! ... 60 MINUTES pro Lesley Stahl is said to have been aware of the conflict before the program aired. CBSNEWS.COM did add a disclaimer to its Internet coverage of the book over the weekend: "Against All Enemies," which is being published Monday by FREE PRESS, a subsidiary of SIMON & SCHUSTER. Both CBSNews.com and SIMON...

March 26, 2004

Kerry's Excuse Makers

The Washington Post's John Harris writes an article that seems more interested in making excuses for John Kerry's rhetorical stumbles than in genuine reporting or analysis: Some Democrats are worried that their presumptive nominee's campaign is suffering from the candidate's inability to put a period in his sentences. They say an arguably trivial trait -- Kerry's penchant to wander off into the rhetorical woods -- has already proved damaging. His explanation about a vote on funding for Iraq -- "I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it" -- was mocked by Vice President Cheney the next day, and was on the air in a commercial for President Bush the day after that. In context, Kerry's comment to West Virginia veterans was clear: He backed the spending request only if Bush agreed to pay for it by increasing taxes on the rich, instead of adding to...

March 27, 2004

Aim Low, Sweet Star-Tribune

I am often -- which is to say, almost never -- asked, what constitutes a hack column? Why do some columns merely display mediocrity, and how do you distinguish them from the chosen few that sink to the execrable? Sometimes that question is difficult to answer, although thanks to my local newspaper, the Star Tribune, I can offer one objective criteria. If you keep inserting verses from a union picket-line version of an old spiritual, you have officially entered hackdom, as did Terry Collins today: They spoke out and sang their hardships, hoping that two people in particular would hear them. "Sit down! Stop wasting time, settle the strike today," a crowd of about 40 people, many with disabilities, sang to the tune of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." They gathered Friday across the street from Metropolitan Council Chairman Peter Bell's office in downtown St. Paul. At least it wasn't the...

April 1, 2004

Boston Globe Minimizes Assassination Plot

Today's Boston Globe manages to surpass other American broadsheets in covering John Kerry's association with the Phoenix Project, the assassination plot cooked up by Scott Camil and debated at the November 1971 meeting of the VVAW, where Kerry was present as one of the organization's leaders. However, as reader Pat Curley notes, the Globe tries its best to minimize the seriousness of the plot in order to limit the damage to the home-town candidate: Senator John F. Kerry said through a spokesman this week that he has no recollection of attending a November 1971 meeting of Vietnam Veterans Against the War at which some activists discussed a plot to kill some US senators who backed the war. Quite frankly, although Pat feels that the Globe didn't bury the lede, this is one of the weakest lead paragraphs I've read on a major news story (as opposed to human-interest stories, which...

April 2, 2004

NYT: Shocked at Hollywood Politics?

Jim Rutenberg at the New York Times watches very little television in his role as entertainment critic -- or else he wouldn't have written such a pandering, naive article as today's report on the shocking development that Hollywood has 'suddenly' started injecting partisan politics into its TV shows: Galvanized politically in ways they have not been since the early 1990's, Hollywood's more liberal producers and writers are increasingly expressing their displeasure with President Bush with not only their wallets, but also their scripts. In recent weeks, characters in prime time have progressed beyond the typical Hollywood knocks against Washington politicians to calling out the president directly or questioning his policies, including the decision to go to war in Iraq, the support of the antiterrorism law and the backing of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Translation: Having a Republican in the White House galvanizes Hollywood activists to get partisan...

April 4, 2004

Pincus Spins

Walter Pincus puts on a ballet of spin in today's Washington Post, as he tries to wrap readers around the inherent contradictions in his analysis that a degraded al-Qaeda, an ineffectual Osama bin Laden, and the replacement of terrorist leadership with less-capable candidates is somehow bad news: The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq has accelerated the spread of Osama bin Laden's anti-Americanism among once local Islamic militant movements, increasing danger to the United States as the al Qaeda network is becoming less able to mount attacks, according to senior intelligence officials at the CIA and State Department. At the same time, the Sunni Triangle has become a training ground for foreign Islamic jihadists who are slipping into Iraq to join former Saddam Hussein loyalists to test themselves against U.S. and coalition forces, these officials say. Translation: the attacks on al-Qaeda and their state sponsorship has made them increasingly unable to mount...

April 5, 2004

The Myth of Decompensation

Normally I don't even bother to read Bob Herbert in the New York Times' op-ed section, as he routinely bases his screeds on half-truths or sometimes flat-out lies, which the NYT rarely if ever corrects. However, this morning I had the misfortune of popping it up accidentally and reminding myself why I avoid him. Today's fractured fairy tale involves the recent gains in productivity and Herbert's assertion that employers are screwing labor in tandem: American workers have been remarkably productive in recent years, but they are getting fewer and fewer of the benefits of this increased productivity. While the economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, has been strong for some time now, ordinary workers have gotten little more than the back of the hand from employers who have pocketed an unprecedented share of the cash from this burst of economic growth. ... Andrew Sum, the center's director and...

April 11, 2004

The PDB, One More Time

Predictably, the major news media are treating the 8/6/01 PDB as a revelation, a document that contained startling new evidence of al-Qaeda intentions rather than the recap of well-known data that it demonstrably is. A good example would be how the Los Angeles Times headlines their story, "Memo Cited Fears of Attacks in U.S.," making it sound as though the document referred to the 9/11 strikes. However, in its lead, the Times makes the distinction a bit more clear: The White House took the extraordinary step Saturday of releasing a top-secret intelligence briefing President Bush received five weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, declassifying a document that contained no specific warning of the looming strikes in New York and the Pentagon but provided fresh information that Al Qaeda was bent on hitting targets in the United States. The 1-page document cited intelligence on Al Qaeda dating to the mid-1990s. But...

April 14, 2004

The Award For The Silliest Lead Paragraph Goes To ...

... Jason Keyser and Lourdes Navarro at the AP, whose otherwise uninteresting article on the fighting in Fallujah brings doublespeak to an entirely new level: U.S. warplanes and helicopter gunships firing heavy machine-guns, rockets and cannons hammered gunmen as a truce in besieged Fallujah was strained by increasingly intense battles. With more troops killed, April became the deadliest month for American forces since they set foot in Iraq. Perhaps the AP has a different dictionary than I do, but when I look up the word, the definition I read appears somewhat incongruous to other words like battles. When was the last time you heard of a truce that involved warplanes and gunships firing heavy machine guns? Based on their description, war is safer than peace, since more troops have been killed since the "truce" broke out than in any other month since we "set foot in Iraq." Vive la guerre!...

April 16, 2004

LA Times: Hunting Snipe In Minnesota?

The Los Angeles Times goes far afield this morning in order to capture a bit of voter angst towards George Bush and the war in Iraq: For both parties, Minnesota is rich with potential; its voters are among the most independent-minded in the country. They list no political party when they register to vote. Nationally, they are known for sending Democrats to the U.S. Senate, among them Hubert H. Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, Walter F. Mondale and Paul Wellstone. But they stunned the country by electing wrestler Jesse Ventura, a Reform Party candidate, as governor in 1998. They also lean regularly toward Republicans, choosing Richard Nixon (three times), Gerald Ford (once) and Ronald Reagan (twice) for president. In 2002, they elected Republicans Tim Pawlenty and Norm Coleman to replace Ventura and Wellstone, respectively, and the GOP picked up seats in the state Legislature. The LA Times engages in some transparent sophistry...

April 23, 2004

CNN Shills For Kerry?

An interesting thing happened to CNN's analysis of John Kerry and his allegations of widespread American atrocities in Vietnam. After setting up the story as an analysis of how Kerry's words affected Vietnam veterans then and continue to do so now, the story itself is almost entirely dedicated to Kerry's apologetics and pays scant attention to any veteran reaction: The strong, vivid words John Kerry uttered 33 years ago continue to ring through time. Back in 1971, the square-jawed, clean-cut decorated combat veteran, with a generous mop of dark hair, told a rapt audience of senators of atrocities he said had been reported to him by his fellow soldiers in Vietnam. Rapes. Razed villages. Ears and heads cut off. Random shootings of civilians. Bodies blown up. Wires from portable telephones taped to genitals, with the power then turned on. Food stocks poisoned. Dogs and cats shot for the fun of...

April 26, 2004

A Whiff of Desperation at the Gray Lady

John Kerry's fumble on his medal-tossing incident has produced an aroma of desperation from the New York Times this morning, where an article titled "1971 Tape Adds to Debate Over Kerry's Medal Protest" broadens out inexplicably to cover a range of what reporters Jim Rutenberg and James Dao must feel are Kerry-friendly topics. First, Rutenberg and Dao hedge on calling Kerry a liar, even though their own reporting makes it clear that Kerry lied about the medals: The Kerry campaign Web site says it is "right-wing fiction" that he "threw away his medals during a Vietnam War protest." Rather, the Web site says, "John Kerry threw away his ribbons and the medals of two veterans who could not attend the event." But the issue is not so cut and dried. A television interview Mr. Kerry gave in November 1971 shows that Mr. Kerry himself fed the confusion from early on....

Adventures in Headlining

The Sacramento Bee analyzed a Los Angeles Times poll (always a dangerous task) on gay marriage in a state with the nation's strongest gay movement. The results of the poll showed that less than a third of Californians supported legalizing same-sex marriage. However, the Sacramento Bee headlined the story thusly: Poll: Nearly one of three Californians favor gay marriage Wow -- nearly a third support gay marriage! That's about the same percentage that supported Cruz Bustamante in the recall election. I'm talking about the actual vote, not the LA Times' polling, which had both of them ahead until the final weekend before the vote -- labeling the race as "too close to call" just before Californians rejected Gray Davis by 10 points and Bustamante 48%-30%. "Nearly a third of all Californians" didn't help them much in the end. Talk about viewing the glass half-full! Who knew that the Sacramento Bee...

April 27, 2004

NY Times Spreads Gossip, Tweaks Bush

Normally, newspapers print gossip -- unsubstantiated rumors that tend towards the salacious or damaging -- in specialty columns, such as the New York Post's Page 6 or the syndicated Liz Smith column. However, if the unsubstantiated and unsourced rumor involves high-ranking members of the Bush administration and can be used to tweak the president, the New York Times feels free to run gossip as a "news" story, as it does today regarding the latest (ho hum) Colin Powell rumor: Forget the official pronouncements that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is staying put at the State Department. The buzz in the capital is at least a couple of steps beyond that, as people in business and finance circles here are speculating that he could become the next president of the World Bank, the largest and most influential development agency in the world. The whispers only grew louder the other night...

May 2, 2004

NY Times Lauds Americans' Efforts In Iraq, But It's Not News

After unrelenting negative coverage, especially over the past month while spot insurgencies flared up and the discovery of distasteful mistreatment of prisoners came to light, the New York Times attempted to give a more balanced look at American efforts in Iraq today. George Vecsey reports on American efforts to rebuild Iraq and to provide safety, security, education, and childhood back to Iraqi children: You rarely see smiles like these on the 6 o'clock news or on the front page. Alex Fyfe gets to see Iraqi children with a happy look on their faces, as they kick soccer balls on the dust and rocks. He thinks of the green soccer fields of Long Island and the lacrosse fields at the United States Military Academy. ... As the civil affairs officer for his battalion, based near Mosul, Fyfe's job is to improve conditions in one small corner of Iraq. With the help...

May 5, 2004

Powell: I'm No Casualty

Colin Powell, appearing on Larry King last night and reported on CNN this morning, rejected the notion that his tenure as Secretary of State has made him a "casualty of war" and that he enjoys his job despite some difficult days: In an interview with CNN's Larry King, Powell disputed the popular caricature of him as a frustrated and sidelined figure soldiering along in an administration where he's not appreciated. "I enjoy serving my country. I enjoy this job," Powell said. "But are there difficult days, are there tough times? Sure. These are tough issues. They're tough issues to get your mind around ... There are debates. Sometimes you win debates, sometimes you lose debates." "That's not the point. In this job ... the issue is not to win or lose a particular debate. The issue is to make sure that the president gets the very best information he can...

May 7, 2004

NYT: Rumsfeld As Proxy For Bush

Today's New York Times editorial continues their fact-challenged series this week by demanding the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld. The Times doesn't justify the demand through the revelations of abuse, whose nature surfaced this week in photographs through CBS News, but which had already been under investigation for months by Rumsfeld's Department of Defense. Instead, the editorial castigates Rumsfeld for the entire war in Iraq in a blistering but essentially empty-headed screed in which the name Rumsfeld obviously stands in for Bush. Even the first two sentences show the hypocrisy and obstinacy of the Times editorial writers: There was a moment about a year ago, in the days of "Mission Accomplished," when Donald Rumsfeld looked like a brilliant tactician. American troops the lean, mean fighting machine Mr. Rumsfeld assembled swept into Baghdad with a speed that surprised even the most optimistic hawks. I believe that came directly after the...

May 8, 2004

NYT's Wilgoren Shilling For Kerry

Jodi Wilgoren attempts some heavy lifting for the John Kerry campaign in today's New York Times. In an attempt to undo the damage that Kerry has inflicted on himself, Wilgoren takes on the worst of Kerry's stumbles -- the infamous "$87 billion" vote comment: President Bush's re-election campaign sent squadrons of researchers to scour Senator John Kerry's three decades in public life in search of material to use against him. But they turned up nothing as potent as 13 words that spilled from Mr. Kerry's mouth shortly after he effectively secured the Democratic presidential nomination. "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it," Mr. Kerry said on a March afternoon in Huntington, W.Va. Mark McKinnon, Mr. Bush's media man, summed up the sound bite: "You don't get gifts like that very often." Michael Meehan, a spokesman for Mr. Kerry, called it "an expensive lesson."...

May 13, 2004

The Media-Blackout Effect?

Instapundit notes a phenomenon related to the Nick Berg horror and the lack of media coverage of its images. He quotes Neal Boortz and Andrew Sullivan on the curious dichotomy of the media's approach to Abu Ghraib and the Berg execution, where they argue for publishing the pictures of one and spiking the pictures and video of the other. Jeff Quinton takes a look at his referrer logs today and sees an interesting bump in traffic, mostly from Google and other search engines looking for information on Nick Berg. When I got up this morning and began to blog, I checked my own traffic stats from Sitemeter (Hosting Matters' own stats collection only updates daily, which is unfortunate because it is tremendously detailed). I know what my normal traffic in the early morning hours usually is, and I was surprised to see that traffic was well above my normal rate....

June 2, 2004

More Perspective On The Gray Lady

Thanks to reader Bipin Pathak, who read my post from last night discussing the ludicrous Howell Raines article in today's London Guardian, and to which Glenn Reynolds and Neal Boortz kindly linked. Bipin brought a letter from Albert Einstein to my attention which notes that Raines may indeed have followed a long and storied tradition in his stewardship of the New York Times. This letter currently stands for auction at Christie's, but an excerpt is posted on line: "You see that I have retained my black humor despite Palestine, corrupt American politics and daily reading of the N.Y. Times which doesn't even lie honestly but distorts the truth with malicious intent." So, as my intrepid reader points out, I keep pretty good company. (Mom will be proud of me!) The more things change, unfortunately, the more they stay the same -- which Einstein's work might also address ......

June 4, 2004

AP : Abu Ghraib-ing The Greatest Generation

As D-Day approaches, news media have focused on the macro and micro stories surrounding what remains the largest single military maneuver in history and its impact on geopolitics and the people involved. Most of these stories report on the tremendous losses of the liberating Allies or the pain and degradation of those who lived under the brutal Nazi occupation. The AP, however, feels it necessary to smear the memory of those who served in France's liberation by reporting at length on an upcoming book -- one that hasn't even been released at this time -- that paints American GIs as rapists and worse after most of them have died and can no longer defend themselves. Call it the Abu Ghraib-ing of the Greatest Generation: President Bush and other leaders gathering on the beaches of Normandy this weekend will celebrate the heroism and ingenuity of June 6, 1944. But some scholars...

June 7, 2004

Rumsfeld, Filtered

Donald Rumsfeld gave a speech to a security conference in Singapore yesterday which was reported by the Chicago Sun-Times as critical of the US stance on the war on terror. The headline of the Sun-Times reads, "Rumsfeld fears U.S. losing long-term fight against terror," and the text of the article by Robert Burns supports the header: The United States and its allies are winning some battles in the terrorism war but may be losing the broader struggle against Islamic extremism that is terrorism's source, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Saturday. The troubling unknown, he said, is whether the extremists -- whom he termed ''zealots and despots'' bent on destroying the global system of nation-states -- are turning out newly trained terrorists faster than the United States can capture or kill them. ''It's quite clear to me that we do not have a coherent approach to this,'' Rumsfeld said at an...

Shields Learned Nothing From History, Lectures Bush

Mark Shields takes George Bush to task in his regular CNN column for not being sufficiently respectful of his father. Shields notes that Bush 43 considers the ending of the 1991 Gulf War to be a mistake, and one he doesn't intend to repeat now: If the foregoing was simply insensitive, George W. Bush's comparison of the first U.S. war against Iraq, when his dad was commander in chief, and the current U.S. war against Iraq is damning. In "Misunderestimated: The President Battles Terrorism, John Kerry and the Bush Haters" by Bill Sammon of The Washington Times, George W. Bush states: "I think freedom will prevail, so long as the U.S. and its allies don't ... do what many Iraqis still suspect might happen, and that is cut and run early, like what happened in '91." That is nothing less than a slur on George H.W. Bush by his own...

June 10, 2004

Consider The Source

Yes, I read all about how the Los Angeles Times shows Kerry leading by seven points in the national race. Their poll also reports that adding Nader to the mix actually increases Kerry's lead by one point. Does that make sense to you? It should -- if you read the LA Times on a regular basis. Here's the LA Times poll less than four weeks before the California recall election last October: California voters are almost evenly split on whether to recall Gov. Gray Davis, and Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante retains a narrow lead over Arnold Schwarzenegger in the tightening race for a successor, according to a new Los Angeles Times poll. Likely voters in the Oct. 7 election support the ouster of Davis by 50% to 47%, with just 3% undecided, the poll found. The result, a statistical tossup, is virtually unchanged from an August Times poll. ... More...

June 12, 2004

Perhaps The Gray Lady Will Be Reincarnated As Compost

You really have to hand it to the New York Times -- they have a talent for bias that other newspapers only hope to achieve. Whether a reporter writes about sports, the weather, or certainly this week the obituaries, the Times will find a way to editorialize about the election or the war. Today's example can be found in an otherwise innocuous article about a reincarnated Buddhist saint who currently serves on a mission in Russia at the Dalai Lama's behest. While interviewing Erdne Ombadykow, believed to be the latest reincarnation of Telo Rinpoche, about his efforts to restore Buddhism in the predominantly Mongol enclave of Kalmykia, the Times managed to sneak this into the story above the jump (on the web site): "We are all reincarnations," said Mr. Ombadykow, who has been Mr. Ombadykow for 32 years. "As I see it, every human being and every animal is a...

June 17, 2004

But Don't Question Their Credibility

The Chicago Sun-Times took a unique and creative approach to boosting circulation, as well as energizing recycling efforts, the rival Chicago Tribune reports. In fact, they falsified their circulation numbers by trashing large amounts of its daily run -- by some reports, as much as 25%: A program to significantly overstate weekday circulation numbers at the Chicago Sun-Times accelerated between 2002 and 2003 as sales slipped and the newspaper's marketing budget was slashed, company sources said Wednesday. "There was tremendous pressure to keep the numbers high," said a source with knowledge of an internal investigation into the matter. ... Hollinger International executives wouldn't say how much the figures were inflated, but Sun-Times Publisher John Cruickshank denied a Chicago Tribune report that it was as high as 25 percent of newsstand sales. ... Though details as to how the programs worked are sketchy, a source with knowledge of the investigation said...

June 19, 2004

WaPo Extends The Meme, Kerry's Error

As I predicted earlier this week, now that Senator John McCain has forcefully told the Democrats to find someone else for the VP slot, the media which took a Democratic fantasy and blew it all out of proportion has now scrambled to rewrite the meta-story. Mike Allen reports today for the Post that McCain and George Bush have "put aside their animosity" to campaign together for Bush's re-election, continuing the new story line of bringing two old foes back together for one last hurrah: Bush and McCain, whose relations had been at best businesslike since they faced off in the GOP primaries of 2000, praised each other effusively as they appeared on the same podium for the first time in more than four years. Bush, waving repeatedly to the crowd as he strode onto the stage amid applause, walked straight toward McCain and put his arms around him. The Arizonan...

Putin's Statement: One Story, Wildly Different Treatments In Broadsheets

Yesterday's blockbuster statement by Vladimir Putin that the Russian intelligence services warned Washington on several occasions that Saddam Hussein planned terror strikes within the US has prompted predictably divergent responses from the American media. Yesterday, even after several hours, major news organizations kept all mention of the warnings from their viewers. This morning it appears that all major media outlets have at least covered the statements in detail, although some outlets insist on treating the statement with a skepticism that one expects from the editorial pages. For instance, the New York Times puts its skepticism right into the second paragraph, reporting that Putin's allegation surprised the State Department: President Vladimir V. Putin said Friday that Russia gave intelligence reports to the Bush administration suggesting that Saddam Hussein's government was preparing terrorist attacks in the United States or against American targets overseas. But officials at the State Department expressed surprise, saying...

June 21, 2004

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: We Were Wrong

Jack Kelly at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette makes an extraordinary claim in today's edition -- that they bungled the coverage of the interim staff report from the 9/11 Commission. What's even more interesting is their review of the media coverage surrounding the report: On Thursday, the lead headline in the Post-Gazette was "Saddam, al-Qaida Not Linked. Sept. 11 Panel's Conclusion at Odds with Administration." In the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that day, the banner headline read: "9/11 Panel Debunks Saddam Link. Report: No Evidence of al-Qaida Ties." This was false, as the chair and vice chair of the 9/11 commission hastened to make clear. ... The Post-Gazette and Tribune-Review were by no means alone in getting the story wrong. The erroneous PG story Thursday was from The Washington Post. The story we ran Friday, headlined "Bush, Cheney Defend Linking Iraq, al-Qaida" -- which avoided mentioning that both the chairman and co-chairman of the...

June 23, 2004

Washington Post's Crystal Ball A Little Cloudy

Thanks to alert reader Paul Escalona from Trenton, NJ, the Washington Post has been caught in another instance of allowing its editorial bias creep into its news reporting. In today's story about the brutal beheading of a South Korean interpreter by al-Qaeda terrorists, the Post makes this odd statement: But Kim's death appeared almost certain to broaden opposition in South Korea to the country's already unpopular involvement in Iraq. Public opinion polls show that more than 56 percent of the population opposes the troop deployment. More than a thousand South Koreans took to the streets for a second day on Tuesday, demanding a withdrawal from Iraq, while hundreds more took part in candlelight vigils for Kim. That passage precedes quotes from two South Koreans, who apparently agree with Jackie Spinner and Anthony Faiola's assertion that the killing should spark renewed calls for appeasement. However, the Post does not give any...

June 24, 2004

Somehow, I Feel Dirty

I'm not really following the Laci Peterson trial, since (a) I'm not a relative of the victim, (b) I don't live in her community, and (c) the media has spent so much time blowing it out of all proportion that I'm getting flashback nightmares of the OJ trial. However, I do follow the media, and Romanesko links to a story at SFGate regarding the juror who just got the boot from the judge -- and the media maelstrom that ensued: The same media people who maligned Juror No. 5 a few days ago, threw themselves at him Wednesday. News producers grabbed at him, television bookers blocked his path and reporters stuck cell phones to his ears with famous talk-show hosts murmuring sweet nothings on the other end. He was wooed with promises of limo rides, hotel rooms and round-trip fares to New York with his whole family. He was even...

AP: SCOTUS Divided Into Conservatives And "Moderates"

In an otherwise dry report on an esoteric Supreme Court ruling, the AP injects a little bit of bias into the story. In describing the split court on the 5-4 decision to deny the appeal of death-row prisoners sentenced to death by judges rather than jurors prior to the SCOTUS ruling against such processes, reporter Gina Holland notes: Chief Justice H. Rehnquist and Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas agreed with Scalia. On the other side were four of the court's more moderate justices [emph. mine -- CE]: John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. In fact, only Souter among these could reasonably be described as a moderate, and most observers consider O'Connor and Kennedy the moderates at the Supreme Court. Stevens and Ginsburg have always been unabashed liberal activists on the bench, and Breyer only somewhat less so. As we...

July 2, 2004

NBC News: Self-Promotion Tops Historic Events

NBC News still may be wiping the egg off of its face yesterday, when it declined to cover the most important war-crimes effort since Nuremberg in favor of ... Katie Couric's badminton match: ABC and CNN managed to outhustle their competition yesterday morning and placed the only Western journalists, aside from a news pool reporter, inside the Baghdad courtroom where Saddam Hussein was listening to the charges he will face when he goes to trial as a war criminal. No network was more red-faced than NBC, which passed up the chance to broadcast, at the same time as every other television news outlet, the first scenes of the former dictator in the courtroom. NBC chose instead to continue a taped interview with the movie star Robert Redford, followed by a live badminton match between Katie Couric, the anchor of the network's "Today" program, and competitors from the United States Olympic...

July 3, 2004

LA Times Lacks A Research Department -- Or Even Google

The Los Angeles Times breaks the "big" story this morning that the American military engineered the destruction of the Saddam Hussein statue in the Baghdad square as the city fell into American hands, and used Iraqi civilians to make it look more spontaneous: As the Iraqi regime was collapsing on April 9, 2003, Marines converged on Firdos Square in central Baghdad, site of an enormous statue of Saddam Hussein. It was a Marine colonel not joyous Iraqi civilians, as was widely assumed from the TV images who decided to topple the statue, the Army report said. And it was a quick-thinking Army psychological operations team that made it appear to be a spontaneous Iraqi undertaking. After the colonel who was not named in the report selected the statue as a "target of opportunity," the psychological team used loudspeakers to encourage Iraqi civilians to assist, according to...

Post's Pincus Spinning Like A Top

Walter Pincus keeps spinning the news for the Washington Post any way possible to make sure that the liberal meme stays afloat, and today provides a clear example of his efforts. Under the headline "Chemicals Not Found in Iraq Warheads," readers find out this in the third paragraph that Pincus negates his own lede: Sixteen rocket warheads found last week in south-central Iraq by Polish troops did not contain deadly chemicals, a coalition spokesman said yesterday, but U.S. and Polish officials agreed that insurgents loyal to former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and foreign terrorist fighters are trying to buy such old weapons or purchase the services of Iraqi scientists who know how to make them. The Coalition Press Information Center in Baghdad said in a statement yesterday that the 122-milimeter rocket rounds, which initially showed traces of sarin, "were all empty and tested negative for any type of chemicals." The...

July 6, 2004

WaPo: We Still Don't Understand Blogs

The Washington Post reports today on the official inclusion of bloggers at the national conventions this election cycle by both Democrats and Republicans, and reporter Brian Faler manages to miss the point of blogging almost entirely: The Web sites, which are essentially online journals, have become a prominent campaign tool this election season -- ever since former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean's official blog caught on. Since then, scores of other candidates have developed similar sites. Some candidates have begun advertising on other independent blogs -- especially sites that feature commentaries, usually partisan, on the political news of the day. But neither party has ever allowed bloggers to cover one of its presidential conventions firsthand -- and the decision seems to promise a clash of two very different cultures. The conventions have become carefully staged productions intended, primarily, to reintroduce the parties' nominees to the general public. Independent blogs --...

July 7, 2004

Iranians Building Baghdad Carbombs Apparently Not News

Yesterday's revelation that US and Iraqi joint patrols had captured two Iranian intelligence officers with explosives and building car bombs sounded to me like important news. Here, after all, is proof that the so-called insurgency is not only supported by outside forces but contains active elements of official outside governmental agencies. As the Bush Doctrine states, any government engaging in terrorism or supporting terrorism against the US has made itself a target in the war on terror -- and this shows that Iran does both. Big news, right? Not in America, apparently. The World section at the Los Angeles Times: nothing. The World section at the Boston Globe: nothing. The Minneapolis Star Tribune (AP) reports the story with the headline, "Iran treading lightly in trying to influence Iraq," which contains the following assertion: Monday's announcement of the arrests by the Iraqi Interior Ministry was a rare instance of tying Iranians...

July 13, 2004

Dana Milbank, King Of The Non-Stories

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank continues his ongoing sniping at the Bush administration today by revealing the salaries of the entire White House staff and attempting to spin them into a gender-bias story: The president's men are doing very well. The president's women are doing slightly less well, but still not bad. With new White House salary figures leaked to The Washington Post and an Excel spreadsheet, crack researcher Margot Williams determined that men in the Bush White House earn an average of $76,624 a year. Women earn $59,917 on average. That means Bush women earn about 78 percent of what Bush men earn. Wow -- Bush's White House must hate women, right? They only pay them 78% of what they're worth! However, if you read the next paragraph, the picture changes somewhat: As it happens, that's almost exactly the national average for the gap in pay between the sexes,...

July 15, 2004

LA Times: Reporters Don't Need No Stinkin' Visas

In an unsigned editorial today, the Los Angeles Times demonstrates its lack of seriousness regarding security. Any other time, laxity in visa management would raise the ire of its editorial board, but when it involves people who identify themselves as journalists, the Times inveighs against Customs officials who have the nerve to actually enforce border laws: When British journalist Elena Lappin arrived in Los Angeles in May, on assignment for a British newspaper, little did she know she would end up being the subject of her story. By her own account in The Times later that month, Lappin was interrogated for four hours, subjected to a body search, fingerprinted, photographed, handcuffed and forced to spend a night in a cell in downtown L.A. and a day as a detainee at the airport before being deported to London. Lappin's crime? Admitting to customs officials that she was a journalist. Quite frankly,...

NRO: The Wilson Plague On All Their Houses

Now that the the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on pre-war intelligence and the UK's corresponding Butler report both point to the uncomfortable conclusion that Joe "Restore Honesty" Wilson lied about his wife snagging him the Niger gig and the efforts of the Iraqis to buy uranium there, you would expect the mainstream media outlets that gave Wilson his bully pulpit would be issuing retractions, or at least covering the collapse of his story. You would be wrong: NBC was the most aggressive Wilson promoter on TV, beginning with a Meet the Press appearance on July 6, 2003 hyping Wilson's original breakout in a New York Times op-ed. On July 22, Katie Couric promoted a Today interview: "Still to come this morning on Today, a man who says he's become the target of a White House smear campaign for blowing the whistle on the president's State of the...

July 16, 2004

Liberal Media, Uncloaked

Capital Eye, the newsletter of the Center For Responsive Politics, last year published a chart of political contributions from the 25 largest media companies in the last two major election cycles, and the percentage of their support that went to each political party. The general results will not shock too many people, but the extent of the bias surprised me, and might surprise you too. Capital Eye based its report on public filings with the FEC in April 2003, and it shows that twice as many of the top 25 corporations gave more to Democrats than Republicans, 16-8; in fact, only one company (Hughes Electronics) managed to split their donations 50-50. Even apart from the number of companies on either side of the divide, the companies that tend to give more to Democrats tend also to do so more dramatically. Most companies (with one notable exception) managed to give some...

July 19, 2004

LA Times: Bloggers Not Up To Our Standards Of Fairness?

I'm coming to this a day late (via Memeorandum), but I couldn't let this pass from the Los Angeles Times. Alex Jones, in an op-ed piece yesterday, inveighed against bloggers, reminding us that bloggers aren't real journalists, after all: The Democrats and the Republicans are inviting a limited number of bloggers those witty, candid, irreverent, passionate, shrewd and outrageous Internet chroniclers to their 2004 conventions. It's a gesture of respect for the growing influence of the blogosphere, and if ever there were events ideally suited to bloggers, the heavily scripted and tensionless conventions top the list. But make no mistake, this moment of blogging legitimization and temporary press credentials doesn't turn bloggers into journalists. What could Jones mean? He wants people to recognize that bloggers don't uphold the traditions and standards of journalism, as taught in J-schools like Harvard, where Jones teaches on press and politics....

July 25, 2004

Gray Lady Is A Liberal: Okrent

In an admission that only shocks because it was made, the New York Times' ombudsman, Daniel Okrent, came out and told us what we already know: Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper? Of course it is. Okrent's confession provides a relief to those of us who have chronicled its overtly leftist bent in every section of its newspaper. In this case, Okrent also delivers, as he has a quip for almost every department: In the Sunday magazine, the culture-wars applause-o-meter chronically points left. On the Arts & Leisure front page every week, columnist Frank Rich slices up President Bush, Mel Gibson, John Ashcroft and other paladins of the right in prose as uncompromising as Paul Krugman's or Maureen Dowd's. The culture pages often feature forms of art, dance or theater that may pass for normal (or at least tolerable) in New York but might be pretty shocking in...

The Biased (Or Attention-Deficit) Media

Howard Kurtz notes a disconnect in the coverage of Joe Wilson's disintegrating credibility. In a secondary article of his Media Notes column, Kurtz has the numbers to demonstrate either a leftist bias or simply lousy and lazy journalism in the mainstream media, especially broadcast outlets: Former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV's allegations that President Bush misled the country about Saddam Hussein seeking uranium from Africa was a huge media story, fueled by an investigation into who outed his CIA-operative wife. According to a database search, NBC carried 40 stories, CBS 30 stories, ABC 18, The Washington Post 96, the New York Times 70, the Los Angeles Times 48. But a Senate Intelligence Committee report that contradicts some of Wilson's account and supports Bush's State of the Union claim hasn't received nearly as much attention. "NBC Nightly News" and ABC's "World News Tonight" have each done a story. But CBS hasn't...

July 27, 2004

CQ Cited In IBD Article Demanding More Wilson Coverage

An anonymous commenter pointed me towards an article appearing today at Investor's Business Daily, reviewing the abdication of the mainstream media on the Joe Wilson story once it became apparent that Wilson lied: Media Bias: When ex-diplomat Joseph Wilson said President Bush lied, it set off a media stampede. When he turned out to be wrong, the hoofbeats fell silent. In fact, as the chart below shows, that might be an understatement. The coverage is so one-sided that you might think something was at work here something like, say, extreme media bias. ... But in the past month, two reports one from the Senate Intelligence Committee, the other from Britain's so-called Butler Report on intelligence leading up to the Iraq War both concluded Bush was right. Saddam sought uranium in Africa to make WMD. Big news, right? It wasn't treated that way. It got cursory treatment by...

July 28, 2004

Today's Star-Tribune Breaking News Award Winner Is ...

... the Associated Press, whose crack staff came up with this headline: Republican, Democrat Win Okla. Primaries No kidding? Who would have expected a Republican and a Democrat to win Republican and Democratic primary contests? Everyone but the AP, I guess....

August 12, 2004

Washington Post Dances Around Swiftvet Charges

Today's editorial from the Washington Post denigrating the Swiftvets is a mastery of slicing just enough off the truth to retain the sheen of credibility without actually addressing the issues that the Swiftvets have raised. First, the editorial attempts to portray a fairness in its opening paragraphs that it quickly discards later on: . To the extent, then, that there are legitimate questions about Mr. Kerry's behavior -- either in Vietnam or back home as a prominent antiwar activist -- those are fair game. Mr. Kerry's four-plus months in Vietnam made for an unusually short tour. He used his third Purple Heart to go home early, and his wounds were relatively superficial. After that, it's Katy bar the door, as the Post goes into full damage control -- protecting its own lack of coverage on the Swiftvets as a subtext to attacking them: But a new assault on Mr. Kerry...

August 14, 2004

Rocky Mountain News: Media Bias In Cambodia Collapse

More cracks in the media-dam have appeared this morning regarding the John Kerry credibility "meltdown", this time in the Rocky Mountain News. Columnist Dave Kopel castigates his Colorado colleagues in today's edition for ignoring the Christmas in Cambodia implosion: According to Newsweek's assistant managing editor Evan Thomas, "There's one other base here, the media. Let's talk a little media bias here. The media, I think, wants Kerry to win and I think they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards . . . as being young and dynamic and optimistic and there's going to be this glow about them . . ." (Inside Washington television show, July 10). Thomas' prediction is amply supported by the (non)coverage which the Denver dailies, like most of the rest of the media, have given to this week's meltdown of the Kerry campaign. ... As reported in The Congressional Record, on March 27, 1986, Sen. John...

August 17, 2004

No Cheering In The Press Box?

CQ reader (and frequent e-mailer of late) Tamsey sent over a very interesting alternate view of the UNITY conference of minority journalists, at which both George Bush and John Kerry appeared. It gives an insight into the kind of coverage that the American electorate receives for the presidential election, including a pretty good indication why the Swiftvets' specific allegations have received almost no attention, except to call the group a bunch of Republican stooges. James T. Campbell, a member of the Houston Chronicle's editorial board, describes the vastly different receptions given to both men by what are supposed to be journalistic professionals: It was an affirming moment. Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry walks onto the stage and audience members jump to their feet and applaud with wild enthusiasm. A campaign pep rally in Boston? No, it was the UNITY: Journalists of Color convention, a gathering of African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American...

August 18, 2004

Chris Matthews: 9/11 Dick Cheney's Fault

Has anyone ever seen a media hack self-implode the way Chris Matthews has over the past week? First he comes unglued all over John O'Neill and can't keep from interrupting him every time O'Neill says something Matthews can't refute. Next he shouts down Matthew Dowd for supporting George Bush. Last Friday he put on his tinfoil hat and blamed 9/11 not on the terrorists, not on foreign-policy and intelligence failures, but on one man -- the left's favorite example of eeeeeeeevil Republicanism, Vice President Dick Cheney: MATTHEWS: MSNBCs Felix Schein is on the campaign trail with John Kerry up in Portland, Oregon. And MSNBCs Priya David has been on the campaign trail with Vice President Dick Cheney. Let me go to Priya, sitting with me right now. Priya, what is this argument over the word sensitive? Whats wrong with that? PRIYA DAVID, MSNBC POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, according to John Kerry,...

August 20, 2004

Malkin: My Evening In Hell With The Moron Twins

If readers would like to know why MS-NBC/CNBC has become a cesspool in both ratings and content, Michelle Malkin can explain it all to you in her blog today. Malkin describes what an evening on CNBC's featured political talkshow, Hardball, feels like when having having to deal with the increasingly emotionally unbalanced Chris Matthews: As I am seated at the table with Matthews, who I am meeting for the first time, he cracks a joke--and not in a well-meaning way--about how I look. (There are quite a few people who are hung up on this.) "Are you sure you are old enough to be on the show? What are you? 28?" I grit my teeth. He badgers me again with the same question. I politely answer his question and supply my age. (I wonder how Matthews' wife, the respected TV journalist Kathleen Matthews, who hosts a show about working women,...

August 27, 2004

Patterico Continues To Keep The LA Times Honest

One of my good blogfriends, Patterico from Patterico's Pontifications, has done remarkable work over a long period of time documenting the bias and carelessness that has become routine for the Los Angeles Times. When the paper asserted last week that none of the Swiftvets had ever served on Kerry's boat, Patterico complained to the paper about the inaccuracy on his blog and in a letter to the Times' readers rep, Jamie Gold: Dear Ms. Gold, A front-page story in today's L.A. Times titled "Kerry Starts Firing Back at Critics of War Record" (August 20) states: "None of the men in the Swift boat group behind the anti-Kerry ad, including [Larry] Thurlow, served on Kerry's patrol boat during the war." This is not true. As an article in your paper's August 17 edition acknowledges, Steven Gardner, a member of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, served on one of Kerry's patrol...

August 29, 2004

Power Line Fights Back

Last week, Scott Johnson and John Hinderaker of Power Line wrote an op-ed piece in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune detailing their frustration with the local and national coverage given to the deconstruction of John Kerry's Viet Nam narrative. They specifically focused on the Christmas In Cambodia fable, which even the Kerry campaign now has retracted, and factually refuted it point by point. The Strib's editorial board responded in an editorial written by Jim Boyd that called Scott and John "fraudulent" and spewed a lot of vitriol abut the two being part of the "Republican smear machine" -- but actually conceded their central point, calling it a "niggling criticism". If so, then they must be the first fraudulent smear machine that operated by spreading the truth. Scott and John respond in today's Strib after reaching an unusual agreement with the editorial board to be allowed to respond to Boyd's vicious personal attack...

September 2, 2004

USA Today Confirms My Matthews Diagnosis

CQ commenter FredRum points us to a USA Today article on the talking-head coverage of the Republican convention that not only supports my earlier diagnosis of Chris Matthews' self-infatuation but asserts that narcissism has spread across the entire television punditry like an epidemic. Media analyst Robert Bianco has a simple solution: As President Bush's acceptance speech tonight closes the Republican convention and sends us full speed into the final electoral push, would it be too much to ask one tiny favor of TV's anchors, analysts and pundits? In the name of all that's holy, shut up. Sometime over the past few years, interview shows morphed from the intent to draw information from guests that would inform and entertain viewers to a pitched duel between the interviewer and the subject/victim, a duel to the rhetorical death in front of a nationwide arena of rapidly diminishing numbers of fans. Chris Matthews did...

September 4, 2004

AP Turns Cheers Into Boos, And Now Everybody Knows Their Name

My Northern Alliance colleague and fellow RNC blogger Hindrocket from Power Line notes a horrendous example of media bias that should shock anyone who reads the news. The Associated Press, one of the primary resources of the mainstream news media, deliberately reported false news regarding Republican reaction to Bill Clinton's emergency bypass operation to make GOP supporters and George Bush look petty and mean-spirited: WEST ALLIS, Wis. - President Bush (news - web sites) on Friday wished Bill Clinton (news - web sites) "best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery." "He's is in our thoughts and prayers," Bush said at a campaign rally. Bush's audience of thousands in West Allis, Wis., booed. Bush did nothing to stop them. Bush offered his wishes while campaigning one day after accepting the presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention in New York. Clinton was hospitalized in New York after complaining of mild...

BBC: Winning Friends And Influencing People

Justin Webb, the BBC's Washington correspondent, files an odd and cranky report from his time in New York at the Republican National Convention. Webb starts off his time wondering why Republicans decided to host their convention among hostile and rude New Yorkers, and his upturned nose catches even more rain as he continues along: What can the Republicans make of this place? When you talk to them they are polite in a glassy-eyed kind of way. But it is an odd paradox that the Republicans chose to show their solidarity with people who regard them with contempt at best. Most New Yorkers are Democrats but, more importantly, most New Yorkers are cross and busy. I stood on a Manhattan corner this week as the president passed. The police hemmed us in, batons drawn. The helicopters buzzed overhead and the sirens blared. Now on most corners of most cities in the...

September 5, 2004

How Newsday Lied To Me

Last week, Leslie Seifert from Newsday contacted me to request my permission to excerpt my convention blogging in order to give their readers a taste of our coverage. I had anticipated that a few media outlets would want to do this, so the request did not especially surprise me. I wrote back and asked them to send me the excerpt they planned to use, and they selected this: One of the challenges we faced yesterday was the lack of beverages available at the Garden . . . I assumed that we would have all of the concession stands open, but they seem to be closed . . . Stepping into the breach to soothe dry throats is Political Grounds, which describes itself as "America's Politically-Incorrect Coffee." They've set up a booth giving away free bottled water and very good cups of coffee to anyone who wants to stop by their...

September 8, 2004

Kitty Kelley Strikes Out At Newsweek, Time

Muckraking author Kitty Kelley, whose hack jobs on the British royal family, Elvis, and Sinatra have been widely panned, turns her guns loose on her next conservative target, George Bush. Kelley's upcoming book, The Family, reportedly contains salacious revelations about cocaine use by W at Camp David which come from his ex-sister-in-law Sharon, who has long been at odds with the Bush family. The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reports on the media storm gathering for the book's release: Kitty Kelley's volume on the Bush family won't be published until next week, but the White House communications director yesterday dismissed the book as "garbage" and a Republican National Committee spokeswoman said journalists should treat it as "fiction." With the author booked for numerous television interviews -- including three straight mornings on NBC's "Today," starting Monday -- "The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty" is certain to generate media attention...

September 10, 2004

The AP: Self-Contradictory Stories Are Our Specialty (UPDATE)

Matt Kelley writes a story that I first noticed from Threshold -55 (see below) that attempts to cast aspersions on the flight skills of George Bush while also moving the forgery story forward, which provides a textbook case of burying the lede: George W. Bush began flying a two-seat training jet more frequently and twice required multiple attempts to land a one-seat fighter in the weeks just before he quit flying for the Texas Air National Guard in 1972, his pilot logs show. The logs show Bush flew nine times in T-33 trainers in February and March 1972, including eight times in one week and four of those only as a co-pilot. Bush, then a first lieutenant, flew in T-33s only twice in the previous six months and three times in the year ending July 31, 1971. The records also show Bush required two passes to land an F-102A fighter...

September 14, 2004

Pinch Decries Debate Tone While Going Hyperbolic

The New York Times' publisher, Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger, whined to a Kansas State University audience about the tone of public debate yesterday, saying that news organizations attempting to provide objective coverage face unprecedented cynicism: The publisher of The New York Times complained Monday about what he called a cheapening of the public debate but said he thinks news organizations can improve the situation. Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., speaking at Kansas State University, said newspapers and broadcast stations that try to give unbiased information face increased skepticism and even cynicism from the public. Cynicism? You don't say! Sulzberger mentions the Jayson Blair scandal, in which a favored reporter took advantage of a lack of leadership in the newsroom to file a string of fictional reports despite numerous indications of his fraudulent behavior. But Pinch must be suffering from massive self-delusion if he thinks that Jayson Blair is the root of the...

September 15, 2004

Trolling For Kooks At Kinko's

Michael Dobbs continues his excellent work on Rathergate for the Washington Post, breaking the news that the Killian memos came from a Kinko's in Abilene -- just a half-hour drive from an old and disturbed nemesis of George Bush, Bill Burkett: Documents allegedly written by a deceased officer that raised questions about President Bush's service with the Texas Air National Guard bore markings showing they had been faxed to CBS News from a Kinko's copy shop in Abilene, Tex., according to another former Guard officer who was shown the records by the network. ... There is only one Kinko's in Abilene, and it is 21 miles from the Baird, Tex., home of retired Texas National Guard officer Bill Burkett, who has been named by several news outlets as a possible source for the documents. Robert Strong, who was one of three people interviewed by "60 minutes," said he was shown...

September 17, 2004

NYT Corrections Reveal Burkett Lawyer's Oddball Views

The New York Times runs a series of corrections on its Rathergate coverage in today's edition that makes a reader wonder what exactly they got right. They blow a quote and can't fact-check George Herbert Walker Bush's resume, even though the guy turned out to hold a fairly significant job later on. (See: White House, 1989-1993.) But what I find interesting is the quote they blew. David Van Os represents Bill Burkett and also is running for the Texas Supreme Court. Here's what Van Os has to say about forgery: Mr. Van Os posed a hypothetical chain of events in which someone - not Mr. Burkett, he said - reconstructed documents that the preparer believed existed in 1972 or 1973. Mr. Van Os then asked "what difference would even that make" to the "factual reality of where was George W. Bush at the times in question and what was he...

Boston Globe: Where Editorials Too Stupid For The NYT Go To Die

Rarely if ever have I read an editorial which managed to pack more intellectual dishonesty and partisan spin as the one that the Boston Globe runs in today's edition. The Globe attempts to take the position that everyone should drop the talk about what happened thirty years ago, but then betrays its own position as an anatgonist in that particular catfight. Each paragraph is chock-filled with Terry McAuliffe spin and ignorance in equal measure: UNLESS THE documents used by "60 Minutes" in a broadcast on President Bush's National Guard service were fabricated by a campaign operative, they are part of a story relating to the news judgment at CBS and have little to do with presidential politics. Well, it wouldn't, except that the Kerry campaign, McAuliffe, Tom Harkin, Tom Daschle, and a slew of Democrats rushed to jump onto the story and demand "answers" to the allegations that arose from...

September 18, 2004

Putting Their Money Where Their Mouth Is

Today's New York Post notes that CBS News staffers seem to be a liitle predisposed towards Democrats. In reviewing the political contributions made by Tiffany Network news division employees, the overwhelming majority of funds went to the Democrats: WITH Dan Rather and CBS under fire for broadcasting what seem to be fake National Guard documents in a story slamming President George W. Bush, PoliticalMoneyLine.com probed the political contributions made by CBS News staffers. Turns out that Rather's minions are overwhelmingly Democratic. CBS News-ers have donated $17,050 to federal candidates and political action committees since 1982. Of that amount, $10,800 was for Democrats and the DNC; $3,500 went to Lenora Fulani's wacky New Alliance Party; and only $2,750 went to the GOP. The biggest individual recipient was Fulani, who received $3,500 from a CBS News staffer back in the 1980s. The second highest was Sen. Hillary Clinton, who took in $2,250...

Will Tim Robbins And Susan Sarandon Condemn This?

A chill wind blows through America, threatening freedom of speech and the independence of the media. Is John Ashcroft to blame? No ... this time it appears CBS has decided to crack down on the criticism coming from its affiliates who have been less than pleased with the level of journalistic integrity at 60 Minutes and with Dan Rather's performance. The AP reports that a radio talk-show host has been fired for his outspoken criticism of The Dan: A radio talk-show host said Saturday he has been fired for criticizing CBS newsman Dan Rather's handling of challenges to the authenticity of memos about President Bush's National Guard service. "On the talk show that I host, or hosted, I said I felt Rather should either retire or be forced out over this," said Brian Maloney, whose weekly "The Brian Maloney Show" aired for three years on KIRO-AM Radio, a CBS affiliate...

The Road Less Graveled

(A down home message for Dan Rather in the colorful Texas idiom he so loves, from a CQ reader in the Lone Star State. UPDATE: Thanks to Leaddog, I'll note that this appeared in American Thinker, a great blog, which Russ forgot to mention ...) Yall know what we all been thinkin out here in Texas, Dan, since you started all this foolishness? We think yall been pissin down our necks an tellin us its rain for so long that you boys done got to believin it yourselves. Heck, we think maybe you been back East so long you got yourself thinkin us folks out here couldnt hit sand if we fell off our horses; couldnt hit water if we fell outta the boat. Danged if you aint been treatin us like you think we got squirrels swimmin in our gene pools or sumthin. You need to remind yourself that...

September 21, 2004

Newsday Columnist Calls For Rather's Resignation

Newsday became the second mainstream media outlet to run an columnist's call for Dan Rather to step down. James Pinkerton tells his readers in today's edition that under any set of journalistic guidelines and precedent, Rather has to go: By any fair reckoning, Rather should resign. As a big shot at CBS News-in addition to being anchorman-in-chief, he has been the managing editor of the CBS Evening News since March 1981-he deserves to be held to the same standard as Howell Raines, the executive editor of The New York Times, who was forced to resign last year in the wake of a news-fabrication scandal. Some might argue that Rather was just a duped news reader, that he was simply following orders. In which case, following the precedent established in the 1998 "Tailwind" scandal-in which CNN's Peter Arnett was forced to quit after he read phony copy about Americans using poison...

September 22, 2004

Kristof Can't Be Serious

Nicholas Kristof comes back for Round 2 against the Swiftvets, this time disguised as a "stop the mud" plea to both sides in the election. Unfortunately for Kristof, his latest offering is almost as fact-challenged as his last, and the equivalencies he draws between the two campaigns are at best obscure and at worst deliberately ridiculous: True, Democrats have also engaged in below-the-belt attacks. Some of "Fahrenheit 9/11," the Michael Moore film, was the liberal equivalent of the anti-Kerry smears. Its innuendos implying that Mr. Bush arranged the war in Afghanistan so backers could profit from an oil pipeline were appalling. But I, along with some others, immediately complained about "Fahrenheit 9/11." Aside from John McCain, where are the sensible conservatives? Why don't they denounce the Swift Boat Veterans' attacks? And why doesn't President Bush condemn those attacks, showing the kind of integrity that Mr. Dukakis showed? That's really the...

NY Times Still Promoting Story Based On Forgeries

CQ reader Dave B. gets a biweekly e-mail from the New York Times with the top 10 list of the most popular articles from the past fortnight. In the e-mail he received today for Sept. 8-22, Dave was amazed to find this collection of links submitted for his perusal: In case you missed any of these stories, below are the Top 10 Most Read Articles on NYTimes.com over the last two weeks (as of 11 a.m. ET, Sept. 22). ... 1. Portrait of George Bush in '72: Unanchored in Turbulent Time By SARA RIMER, Published Sept. 20 2. Falling Bodies, a 9/11 Image Etched in Pain By KEVIN FLYNN and JIM DWYER, Published Sept. 10 3. Documents Suggest Special Treatment for Bush in Guard By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE and RALPH BLUMENTHAL, Published Sept. 9 How clueless is this? Does the New York Times editorial board make it a habit to...

September 27, 2004

ABC's Hack Job On Blogs

A number of bloggers took the New York Times Magazine to task for a slanted and superficial look at bloggers in yesterday's edition, or in a strange surrender by Billmon of the Whiskey Bar in yesterday's LA Times. ABC provides much the same slant in a Kate Snow piece from yesterday about political bloggers that treats the Daily Kos with a lot more respect than Power Line: That same day, Sen. John Kerry saluted as he walked onto a stage in West Palm Beach, Fla. The gesture drew immediate ridicule online. Someone calling himself "Hindrocket" posted a photo of the salute on a blog and wrote a warning to Kerry: "Every time Kerry brings up Vietnam, he opens himself to further body blows by the Swift Boat Vets." Someone named Hindrocket? John Hinderaker identifies himself by name on his blog (although not on his posts), which should have made identification...

September 28, 2004

Dana Milbank Needs A Life

... and apparetly, so do several White House correspondents, if what Milbank writes is true. Milbank, seldom known to pass up a chance at a cheap shot at the administration, takes an especially petty one this morning not at Bush but at Ayad Allawi, claiming that White House correspondents now spend their time searching for the Iraqi PM's speechwriter: It's a political whodunit: Since Ayad Allawi delivered his address to a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday, foreign policy devotees have been searching for the ghostwriter of the speech, which sounded curiously familiar to American ears. The White House denies that anybody in the administration did it. Several of the usual suspects outside the administration, including former White House officials Karen Hughes, Dan Senor and David Frum, have also denied culpability. Oooh -- they "denied culpability"? It's a cover-up!! Milbank then goes through an interminable series of quotations from both...

Air America: Another 527?

Al Franken is taking his show on the road throughout battleground states in the upcoming election. The AP reports that Franken will be doing live remotes throughout the Midwest in the same time frame as the presidential debates: Al Franken is taking his radio show on the campaign trail. "The Al Franken Show" will broadcast live across the country starting Thursday and ending Oct. 9, making stops in eight cities including swing state battlegrounds Minneapolis; Columbus, Ohio; and Miami. "It serves a lot of purposes," Franken told The Associated Press Tuesday. "The main one is to drive me into the ground before the elections." Of course, the way that Air America is going, it may be the farewell tour more than a campaign support tour. It seems somewhat odd that (a) Franken's tour coincides with the debates, (b) his destinations mostly occur in battleground states, and (c) the AP sees...

September 29, 2004

Nick Coleman, Off His Meds

A number of high-profile members of the Fourth Estate have gotten mighty testy about the blogosphere lately, writing poisoned-pen columns about how we have the audacity to write criticisms of professional journalists who write criticisms of everyone else. It was just a matter of time before the third-rate hacks took up the same mission, and as Nick Coleman shows us in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, that time is now. Nick starts off his factless tirade by sniffing about an odd characterization of Democrats: This just in: I am a very wealthy man, born into privilege and power, and a stooge of the Democratic Party. Oh. That reminds me, Smithers: Bring me the heads of some Republicans, would you? Also, set out the good silver. Fritz is coming over to give me my marching orders. Dad-ums would be so proud, wouldn't he, Muffy? Nothing in the opening paragraph is true, but bloggers...

September 30, 2004

Crawford Newspaper Doesn't Like Criticism Of Its Editorial Policy

Yesterday's "big" news was that the local weekly in Crawford, TX -- Bush's home town -- endorsed John Kerry in a half-page editorial. This made national headlines around the country in places like the Boston Globe and Chicago Sun-Times; not bad for a paper with a circulation of 425! The implication was clear: even Bush's neighbors aren't supporting his re-election. Too bad most of them will miss this follow-up of local Crawford reaction to the Lone Star Iconoclast's endorsement: But the rack that once held the Lone Star Iconoclast Crawford's weekly newspaper now is empty, thanks to a blistering indictment in Tuesday's paper of Bush's presidential record and a call to elect Democrat John Kerry in November. For a town drenched in Bush, the editorial is practically political heresy. "Not only is he the president of the United States, he's my neighbor, he's my customer," Coffee Station owner...

October 2, 2004

NY Times Reruns The Golden Oldies

Tomorrow's New York Times runs a 10,000-word article about prewar intelligence on Iraq's nuclear program being called a "smoking gun", "persuasive", with predictions of "significant impact". I agree, although not on the Bush campaign, as Barry Ritholtz suggests. I believe it will have significant impact on the New York Times, because as Tom Maguire and CQ reader Michael K note, the Washington Post ran an article fourteen months ago that tells the exact same story. At issue is the national-security assessment of aluminum tubes sought by Saddam Hussein in 2000 from China. The administration determined that the type and size of the tubes indicated that they were to be used in a nuclear centrifuge. Now we know that was not the case, especially after the testimony and evidence of Dr. Mahdi Obeidi, but at the time the West had not been in Iraq for two years and had little information...

October 6, 2004

Media Differences In Terrorist Reporting

The Canadian Press reported this evening on a bit of internecine Islamofascist infighting, which killed as many as 37 radicals as they gathered for a conference in Pakistan. 34 killed in explosions at gathering of Islamic radicals in Pakistan - Two bombs exploded at a gathering of Islamic radicals in the central Pakistan city of Multan early Thursday, killing at least 34 people and injuring dozens, police said. Other media outlets weighed in on this story, but their reporting told different stories. Here's AFP (France) on the explosions: At least 33 killed, 70 wounded in Pakistan bombings - At least 33 people were killed and dozens others wounded when two bombs ripped through a congregation of Sunni Muslims in Pakistan's central city of Multan, police said. AFP doesn't bother to mention the fact that the crowd were radical militants or to report on the feud between the Sunni and Shi'a...

October 7, 2004

Are Portland Liberals Racists?

At the end of a Washington Post puff piece on teenage Democrat volunteers in Oregon, Evelyn Nieves writes in an unsupported and frankly weird allegation that seems to contradict almost everything she had previously written. Nieves reports on grass-roots efforts to get out the vote called "vote-mobbing", which just means that volunteers approach shoppers at malls and try to engage them in marketing questions designed to drive voters to the Democrats and possibly expand the volunteer ranks. In Portland, as Nieves writes, this is hardly difficult: There's no question that Portland is Democratic territory. It put presidential candidate Al Gore over the top in Oregon in 2000, beating Bush by more than 100,000 votes in a state that Bush lost by half of 1 percent of the vote. Portland is full of tie-dyed, punked-out lefties, aging hippies and run-of-the-mill liberals, and they all seemed to converge Sunday afternoon at a...

October 12, 2004

Globe Spins The Australian Election

The Boston Globe spins this morning with the help of the Associated Press, describing John Howard's landslide Australian election as a referendum on economics while noting Howard's insistence on seeing the joint Iraq mission to its conclusion: Australian troops will stay in Iraq, Prime Minister John Howard declared yesterday, as the stock market in Sydney hit a record high following the conservative leader's election to a historic fourth term. At his first news conference since Saturday's election increased the parliament majority of his center-right coalition, Howard said his priorities were guarding the nation's security, working with allies to fight terrorism, and maintaining the booming economy. The victory was a resounding vote of confidence in the government's handling of Australia's economy, which has low inflation, unemployment, and interest rates, a budget surplus, and low government debt. While I'm certain the economy played a role in Australia's election, the notion that Iraq...

October 15, 2004

ABC Can't Do A Hit Piece Any Better Than CBS

Pity the mainstream media, which apparently fell asleep for the last four years and have woken to discover a brand new world. This time it's ABC's turn for embarassment, as their attempted attack on the Swiftvets has foundered on the shoals of a thousand fact-checkers -- and the calm determination of John O'Neill: Nightline traveled to Vietnam and found a number of witnesses who have never been heard from before, and who have no particular ax to grind for or against Kerry. Only one of them, in fact, even knew who Kerry is. The witnesses, all Vietnamese, are still living in the same villages where the fighting took place more than 35 years ago. A Nightline producer visited them and recorded their accounts of that day. The accounts were subsequently translated by a team of ABC News translators. ... The Vietnamese government initially rejected Nightline's request to visit the village,...

October 18, 2004

Guardian's Clark County Project Gets Reactions

Earlier this week, I wrote about the efforts of the Manchester Guardian to influence our election by starting a letter-writing campaign from Brits to American voters in Clark County, Ohio. Apparently, their project attracted quite a bit of attention, even getting my blog noticed in a follow-up article. Now the Guardian has started receiving feedback from Americans of all political stripes regarding their intention to corrupt our electoral process, and a lot of it ain't pretty. Most of the e-mail they've received opposing their project has been rather obscene, or at least those e-mails they chose to share with their readers: Wading River, NY: Have you not noticed that Americans don't give two shits what Europeans think of us? Each email someone gets from some arrogant Brit telling us why to NOT vote for George Bush is going to backfire, you stupid, yellow-toothed pansies ... KEEP YOUR F****N' LIMEY HANDS...

More Questions About Mainstream Broadsheets' Integrity?

The Securities and Exchange Commission has launched an investigation into fraudulent reporting of circulation numbers at newspapers owned by publicly-traded companies, the Washington Times reported last week: The Securities and Exchange Commission has started an investigation into newspaper circulation reporting after several publications acknowledged exaggerating their sales. In the past two months, the commission has requested circulation documents from at least six major publishers, including The Washington Post Co., Gannett Co. Inc. and the New York Times Co., according to a report the New York Times published yesterday. ... The investigation was triggered by a series of circulation scandals that has left the $55 billion-a-year newspaper industry stained. Since June, four newspapers have admitted to reporting faulty sales figures to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, an independent agency that audits circulation data for newspapers and magazines. The Chicago Sun-Times disclosed that it inflated circulation by as much as 10 percent...

October 20, 2004

Guardian Criticizes Me For Criticizing Spain

It's not often that an American blogger finds himself mentioned in the foreign press, but yesterday the Guardian's (UK) blogger Simon Jeffery took me to task for criticizing Spain. In my post yesterday, I noted that Spain had captured seven Islamist terrorists planning a major operation in Andalusia, demonstrating that their precipitous withdrawal from Iraq did nothing to improve their security. Appeasement should have been discredited six decades ago, I argued, and Jeffery decided that them's fightin' words, by golly: Taking the temperature of the more right wing blogs, you cannot help but wonder if they were rather the US was fighting its war on terror against France or Spain. The foiling this week of a suspected bomb plot in Madrid led to another round of anti-Spanish outbursts. "Perhaps the Spanish electorate will understand now that appeasing terrorists only leads to more terrorism, a lesson that Europeans learned the hard...

October 21, 2004

Guardian's Clark County Project Backfires

The London Telegraph reports on the efforts of its Labourite rival to influence American voters in Clark County, Ohio -- and it's clear that the results will not please the Manchester broadsheet or its constituents. David Rennie reports from Springfield that getting letters from foreigners presuming to instruct Americans on their best interests has created a groundswell of support ... for George Bush: The first letters to be made public all urged Clark County voters to reject Mr Bush. As he watched the reaction of friends and neighbours, Mr Harkins was delighted. He is the chairman of the Clark County Republican Party, and his neighbours' reaction was outrage. "It's hysterical," laughed Mr Harkins, showing off sheaves of incensed e-mails and notes from local voters. The Republicans' delight compares with the gloom among local Democrats, who fear that "foreign interference" is hurting Mr Kerry. Of course, the tone of the letters...

October 23, 2004

Screamfest On Scarborough Show

Lorie from Polipundit e-mailed me last night, unfortunately after I'd passed out from exhaustion after guest-hosting the Hugh Hewitt show, that Lawrence O'Donnell had a complete meltdown during the Joe Scarborough show on MS-NBC when Swiftvet leader John O'Neill appeared on the show. She wrote that the debacle was twice as embarassing as the Chris Matthews/Michelle Malkin debacle. (Michelle weighs in on O'Donnell here.) The Daily Recycler has a video excerpt that you have to see to believe. MS-NBC does not yet have the transcript up, mainly because it's difficult to retype "liar" 50 or more times. I'm not exaggerating. And I disagree that Lawrence O'Donnell had a "meltdown" at all. When you watch the video, O'Donnell seemed very much in control of himself -- he wasn't rolling his eyes or foaming at the mouth. He stared grimly into the camera and every time O'Neill opened his mouth, O'Donnell started...

October 25, 2004

NY Times Keeps Running With Discredited Story

Despite the NBC News report that told America that its own reporters verified the HMX and RDX had been removed from the Al-Qaqaa bunker in Iraq before American soldiers ever got there, the New York Times continues to push its discredited "gotcha" on its front page: The White House sought on Monday to explain the disappearance of 380 tons of high explosives in Iraq that American forces were supposed to secure, as Senator John Kerry seized on the missing cache as "one of the great blunders of Iraq" and said President Bush's "incredible incompetence" had put American troops at risk. ... Yet even as Mr. Bush pressed his case, his aides tried to explain why American forces had ignored a series of warnings from the International Atomic Energy Agency about the vulnerability of the huge stockpile of high explosives, which was first reported on Monday by CBS and The New...

October 26, 2004

The Gray Lady, Caught In Amber

Like most paleolithic creatures whose fossilized remains come to the light of day, the New York Times' integrity gets put on display in its own editorial page today as the Gray Lady pontificates about the Theft That Never Was: James Glanz, William J. Broad and David E. Sanger reported in The Times yesterday that some 380 tons of the kinds of powerful explosives used to destroy airplanes, demolish buildings, make missile warheads and trigger nuclear weapons have disappeared from one of the many places in Iraq that the United States failed to secure. The United Nations inspectors disdained by the Bush administration had managed to monitor the explosives for years. But they vanished soon after the United States took over the job. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was so bent on proving his theory of lightning warfare that he ignored the generals who said an understaffed and underarmed invasion force could...

Insurgents Hauling 380 Tons Of Explosives Not Exactly A Covert Act

Unfortunately for the New York Times, no one gave a thought about the logistics of the notion that small bands of insurgents made off with 380 tons of explosives under the noses of the Coalition with no one noticing. CQ reader and retired Army Reserve Captain Ian Dodgson got paid to think about logistics, and he did some "cocktail-napkin" math that escaped the geniuses at the Paper of Record: We're familiar with the NY Times story and the IAEA accusations that the "missing" explosives were looted from the Al-Qaqaa military base due to US negligence in securing the facility. If I were a guerilla "looter" and I was planning such an operation from a military standpoint, here's what the task would require: Assumptions: -Each "looter" could haul comfortably about 25 pounds per trip to a truck. (of course after 12 hours that would require superhuman endurance) -I'd allow 5 minutes...

October 27, 2004

Surprise! Media Treated Bush Worse Than Kerry In The Stretch

Editor and Publisher reports that an independent study of the media shows that George Bush got more than twice the negative coverage than John Kerry did in October, and that only one in seven stories reported about Bush cast him in a positive light: A new study for the non-partisan Project for Excellence in Journalism suggests that in the first two weeks of October, during the period of the presidential debates, George W. Bush received much more unfavorable media coverage than Sen. John Kerry. In the overall sample (which included four newspapers, two cable news networks and the four leading broadcast networks), more than half of all Bush stories were negative in tone, during this period. One-quarter of all Kerry stories were negative, according to the study. ... In the final accounting, 59% of stories that were mainly about Bush told a mainly negative story, while 25% of Kerry stories...

NY Times Asks The Wrong Commander

The New York Times busily attempts to shore up its sagging reputation by tracking down the commander of the 101st Airborne unit that arrived at the Al Qaqaa weapons bunker in April 2003. Col. Joseph Anderson tells Jim Dwyer and David Sanger that his troops did not inspect the bunkers at Al Qaqaa, but that's no longer the issue: White House officials reasserted yesterday that 380 tons of powerful explosives may have disappeared from a vast Iraqi military complex while Saddam Hussein controlled Iraq, saying a brigade of American soldiers did not find the explosives when they visited the complex on April 10, 2003, the day after Baghdad fell. But the unit's commander said in an interview yesterday that his troops had not searched the site and had merely stopped there overnight. The commander, Col. Joseph Anderson, of the Second Brigade of the Army's 101st Airborne Division, said he did...

October 28, 2004

The Incredible Shrinking HMX/RDX

ABC News reported late last night that the amount of high-tech explosives at Al Qaqaa has been wildly exaggerated by Iraqi officials, the New York Times, and CBS. Rather than the 380 tons of explosives which cannot be located, new documents put the amount stashed at Al Qaqaa at around 3 tons instead (via Instapundit): The information on which the Iraqi Science Ministry based an Oct. 10 memo in which it reported that 377 tons of RDX explosives were missing presumably stolen due to a lack of security was based on "declaration" from July 15, 2002. At that time, the Iraqis said there were 141 tons of RDX explosives at the facility. But the confidential IAEA documents obtained by ABC News show that on Jan. 14, 2003, the agency's inspectors recorded that just over 3 tons of RDX was stored at the facility a considerable discrepancy from...

You don't say

AP actually titled a story "Mideast May Again Become Major U.S. Issue." Obviosly, we haven't been concerned at all about what goes on there. That's why Iraq has been the primary campaign issue. AP hastily inserts a Kerry campaign promise: "We'll do a better job of protecting the state of Israel." And a word from an "expert": Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was former President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, said in an Associated Press interview that "any administration will have to come to terms with the fact the absence of progress on the Israel-Palestinian peace front contributes to intensified conflict and hostility." Does the label "President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser" sound ironic to you too? I was so distracted I missed what he actually said, so I had to go back and read it again. I think he used too many words for "I don't have a clue." And finally,...

NY Times Still Gets Al Qaqaa Wrong

Our local ABC affiliate ran a videotape purporting to show the existence of HMX, RDX, and PETN at the Al Qaqaa storage facility, and the New York Times ran a new story heralding this videotape as the confirmation it desperately needs to rescue its credibility: A videotape made by a television crew with American troops when they opened bunkers at a sprawling Iraqi munitions complex south of Baghdad shows a huge supply of explosives still there nine days after the fall of Saddam Hussein, apparently including some sealed earlier by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The tape, broadcast on Wednesday night by the ABC affiliate in Minneapolis, appeared to confirm a warning given earlier this month to the agency by Iraqi officials, who said that hundreds of tons of high-grade explosives, powerful enough to bring down buildings or detonate nuclear weapons, had vanished from the site after the invasion of...

October 29, 2004

Post Gets The Weapons Story Context Correct

The Washington Post injects some context and not a little sanity into the hyperventilation coming from the Kerry campaign and the left on Al Qaqaa. In fact, Bradley Graham and Thomas Ricks point out what I posted last Tuesday about the amount of explosives in question, and the fact that HMX and RDX pose little increased risk over the other explosives left over in Iraq: U.S. military commanders estimated last fall that Iraqi military sites contained 650,000 to 1 million tons of explosives, artillery shells, aviation bombs and other ammunition. The Bush administration cited official figures this week showing about 400,000 tons destroyed or in the process of being eliminated. That leaves the whereabouts of more than 250,000 tons unknown. Against that background, this week's assertions by Sen. John F. Kerry's campaign about the few hundred tons said to have vanished from Iraq's Qaqaa facility have struck some defense experts...

IAEA Seals In ABC Report Don't Match Missing Explosives

Alert CQ reader Boaz B. noticed a detail in the ABC video that apparently has escaped the notice of their reporters and editors. According to the shot shown here, the IAEA seal on the cache found by the soldiers and filmed by the embedded crew did not match the inventory for HMX and RDX stored at Al Qaqaa: If you review the pictures on the KSTP web site that has the ABC video everyone is using you can see a very clear picture of a seal with its number (#144322). The PDF document of the UN inspections available show the numbers of the seals and none of them have that number. Therefore, it is clear that the bunkers that ABC videoed were not the ones that held the HMX the UN inspected. Here's a picture of the relevant page of the PDF, which I don't have a link to at...

October 31, 2004

NBC Covering Up Kerry's Admission On Records

Alert CQ reader Gracias Deo noticed that NBC has edited the transcript of the interview Tom Brokaw did with John Kerry three days ago. As I reported then, Brokaw's questioning of Kerry about his IQ caused the Senator to bristle (emphasis mine): Brokaw: Someone has analyzed the President's military aptitude tests and yours, and concluded that he has a higher IQ than you do. Kerry: That's great. More power. I don't know how they've done it, because my record is not public. So I don't know where you're getting that from. However, in the transcript for the interview based on tonight's Dateline segment for the interview, the answer has been edited to remove Kerry's admission: Brokaw: "Someone has analyzed the president's military aptitude tests and yours, and concluded that he has a higher IQ than you do." Kerry: "That's great. More power. I don't know how they've done it." What...

November 1, 2004

Mainstream Media's Love Affair With Kerry

The Center for Media and Public Affairs conducted a study confirming what everyone already knew -- the mainstream media gave John Kerry the kid-glove treatment this year, while being unusually harsh to George Bush. What most of us didn't realize is that the amount of positive press given to Kerry set a new record for media brown-nosing, the Washington Times reports: "It's not just that John Kerry has gotten better press than President Bush before this election, he's gotten better press than anyone else since 1980. That's significant," said Bob Lichter, director of the D.C.-based nonpartisan research group. "Kerry also got better press than anyone else in the days before the primaries as well," Mr. Lichter added. In October alone, Mr. Kerry had a "record-breaking 77 percent positive press evaluations," compared with 34 percent positive for Mr. Bush, the study states. The overall treatment of Kerry broke the record of...

November 3, 2004

UK Guardian All Bummed Out, Dude

Pity the poor UK Guardian, which tried valiantly to stick its nose into our election but wound up only irritating the very people it hoped to influence into voting for John Kerry. Now that George Bush has been re-elected for a second term, these die-hard leftists have reacted true to form -- they are immersing themselves in their own victimization: When, some time after midnight, news came through that the exit-polls for Virginia were too close to call - a sure sign, we'd been warned, that Bush was in trouble - there was exhilaration of an intensity not felt since Stephen Twigg unseated Portillo. We were going to win! The first email I received the following morning read: "F****d off, dejected, our hopes have been blown to shit." The next one read: "As REM once sang: 'It's the end of the world as we know it.' Only unlike REM, I...

November 4, 2004

CNN Also Missed Kerry's Unity Call

In a sign that the mainstream media will not go gently into that good night, CNN's Netscape Network Election 2004 page included a picture of George and Laura Bush, smiling and waving for the camera, catching Bush mid-sentence. If you take a look at the properties of this picture (shown below), you'll find out what CNN thinks of President Bush. As of 12:41 am CT, the filename is asshole.jpg -- another example of the objectivity and fairness so evidenced by CNN. (Hat tip: CQ reader Jinx McHue)...

November 10, 2004

Kristofian Hysteria

Nicholas Kristof would probably conclude that the cause of rainy days can and should be laid at the feet of the Bush Administration, based on his hysterical rant today about the freedom of the press. Kristof blames a rash of judges holding reporters in contempt for their secrecy on George Bush, not because any of the judges are Bush appointees (they're not), but because he sets an example of -- get this -- secrecy! Paging China! Help us! Urge the U.S. government to respect freedom of the press! It does sound topsy-turvy, doesn't it? Generally, it's China and Zimbabwe that are throwing journalists in prison, while the U.S. denounces the repression over there. But now similar abuses are about to unfold within the United States, part of an alarming new pattern of assault on American freedom of the press. In the last few months, three different U.S. federal judges, each...

November 11, 2004

Minnesota Teen Democrats Take 'Moonbat' Label Seriously

Two days after John Kerry lost to George Bush, three of his teen supporters got into a dispute with a Bush-supporting schoolmate at their Minnesota Zoo School of Environmental Studies, and after some juvenile taunting, the budding Democrats beat the other teen with a baseball bat: Three high school students, one allegedly armed with a bat, were charged with attacking a pro-President Bush classmate after he reportedly said only gays would support Sen. John Kerry. ... The alleged assailants have all been charged: one with felony assault because he allegedly went to his car to get a bat during the assault, prosecutors said one with misdemeanor assault and one with disorderly conduct. In fact, both sides called the other "gay" for their political views, which still managed to outstrip the maturity level in some of the public debate from this election. Perhaps Lawrence O'Donnell counseled these young Democrats....

Censoring Private Ryan

From USA Today: Many ABC affiliates around the country have announced that they won't take part in the network's Veterans Day airing of Saving Private Ryan, saying the acclaimed film's violence and language could draw sanctions from the Federal Communications Commission. The decisions mark a twist in the conflict over the aggressive stand the FCC has taken against obscenity and profanity since Janet Jackson flashed the world during the last Super Bowl halftime show. Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning movie aired on ABC with relatively little controversy in 2001 and 2002, but station owners including several in large markets are unnerved that airing it Thursday could bring federal punishment. The film includes a violent depiction of the D-Day invasion and profanity. "It would clearly have been our preference to run the movie. We think it's a patriotic, artistic tribute to our fighting forces," Ray Cole, president of Citadel Communications, told...

November 16, 2004

Matthews Meltdown Continues

Chris Matthews, speaking on Hardball last night, made the ridiculous assertion that the Islamist lunatics in Fallujah are ... well, I'll let Chris tell ya: MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about this. If this were the other side, and we were watching an enemy soldier, a rivalI mean, theyre not bad guys, especiallyjust people that disagree with it. Theyre in fact the insurgents fighting us in their country. I guess Matthews is singing from the Michael Moore hymnal these days, turned to page 147, "Iraqi Minutemen, We Praise Thee". As for them not being bad guys, tell that to Nicholas Berg and Margaret Hassan....

November 18, 2004

Guardian Insults American Soldiers

The British daily The Guardian covers the news from the liberal point of view in the grand British tradition of partisan reporting; its counterpart, the Telegraph, does the same for Conservatives. I normally enjoy reading both papers as they unapologetically highlight the news from their own honest perspectives, unlike our own newspapers that fake objectivity while slanting their product. Also, I find that the Guardian usually features better writing than many of their American cousins. One of my least favorite parts of the Guardian are their in-house editorial cartoons, drawn crudely by Steve Bell. They're mostly dull, unimaginative, knee-jerk leftist hack jobs. (In fact, editorial cartooning is the one journalistic area in which I feel Americans far excel.) Today's Bell cartoon seems especially egregious to me, as you'll see: I have no beef about the image of George Bush, although I think the hairy knuckles around the turkey's neck lacks...

Washington Post Fires Ted Rall

In a move eerily foreshadowed by my complaint about Steve Bell and The Guardian, the Washington Post has announced that they will no longer carry Ted Rall's despicable editorial cartoons. After a career of crude scribbles conveying even cruder sentiments, Rall's cartoon depicting a developmentally disabled student taking over a classroom as an allegory for the election provided the final straw for the Post: WashingtonPost.com is no longer running the cartoons of hard-hitting liberal Ted Rall. Rall said he thinks the site dropped his work because of a Nov. 4 cartoon he did showing a drooling, mentally handicapped student taking over a classroom. "The idea was to draw an analogy to the electorate -- in essence, the idiots are now running the country," he told E&P. "That cartoon certainly drew a significant amount of negative comment from our users," said WashingtonPost.com Executive Editor Doug Feaver when contacted by E&P. But...

November 20, 2004

Another Kristofian Fantasy

Nicholas Kristof once again takes the germ of a good idea and twists it into senselessness. Kristof starts off his latest column by pointing out the damage that the lack of competition in House races has done to the electorate. As he notes, getting elected to the House once often means lifetime employment: The U.S. electoral system looks increasingly dysfunctional, and those of us who used to mock the old Soviet or Iraqi "elections" for lacking competition ought to be blushing. In Arkansas, 75 percent of state legislative races this year were uncontested by either the Republicans or by the Democrats. The same was true of 73 percent of the seats in Florida, 70 percent in South Carolina, 62 percent in New Mexico. And Congressional races were an embarrassment. Only seven incumbents in the House of Representatives lost their seats this month. Four of those were in Texas, where the...

November 22, 2004

LA Times, AP Misleading On Civil-Rights Prosecutions

The headline in today's Los Angeles Times boldly proclaims that "Study Finds Enforcement of Civil Rights Laws Plummets," reporting on a new study by Syracuse University's TRAC data-collection project. Below the eye-grabbing banner, the story keeps its hyperventilating tone going, implying that the Bush Administration has abandoned civil rights: Federal enforcement of civil rights laws has dropped sharply since 1999 even though the level of complaints received by the Justice Department has remained relatively constant, according a study released Sunday. Criminal charges alleging civil rights violations were brought last year against 84 defendants, down from 159 in 1999, according to Justice Department data analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, or TRAC, at Syracuse University. In addition, the study found that the number of times the FBI or other federal agencies recommended prosecution in civil rights cases had fallen by more than one-third, from over 3,000 in 1999 to just...

December 8, 2004

Call It An Intervention

Kitty Kelly opened her latest copy of Washingtonian magazine and was shocked to find herself removed from the masthead, where her name has, er, graced the magazine for thirty-two years. When she protested to her friend and editor Jack Limpert, he delivered the truth that the rest of us already knew about the sleazy, undersourced "biographer": After a relationship of more than 30 years, Washingtonian magazine and writer Kitty Kelley are divorcing, and the terms are not amicable. Kelley is in a snit because the mag unceremoniously booted her from the masthead of its current issue, citing her controversial book "The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty." In an e-mail last week, Editor Jack Limpert lashed Kelley for what he called the book's partisan timing and its irresponsible reporting about President Bush: "We are always willing to attack the policies, and the behavior, of the President," Limpert wrote...

December 14, 2004

Missing The Point

Media Matters for America will announce its intention to protest the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, the Los Angeles Times reports today. Elizabeth Jensen writes that MMA will launch a new website and encourage a letter-writing campaign to highlight Sinclair's supposed political bias, stopping short of an advertiser boycott for the moment: A coalition of liberal political groups is launching a nationwide protest against Sinclair Broadcast Group, charging that the 62-station TV broadcaster, which was also the target of intense criticism during the presidential campaign, is misusing public airwaves with partisan news programming. The groups, led by Media Matters for America, today will announce a campaign to pressure Sinclair's advertisers with letters. The groups, however, are stopping short of demanding an advertiser boycott. ... The main focus of the protest is the nightly "The Point" commentary by Mark Hyman, who is Sinclair's spokesman and also oversees the company's Washington lobbying. A recent...

December 22, 2004

Village Voice Scolds Democratic Conspiracy-Mongers ... For Missing The Bigger Conspiracy

Rick Perlstein in the Village Voice writes a very convoluted essay that both chides the Democrats for spewing insane conspiracy theories about the 2004 election, and at the same time spins an even more ludicrous paranoid fantasy about why Democrats keep losing elections. He wants Democrats to shut up about what he sees as trivialities and easily-explainable happenstances and instead focus on the eeeeeevil genius of Karl Rove: It's possible that their vindication will come, that what's already being referred to as the "vote fraud community"the allusion is to the "JFK assassination research community"won't disappear up its very own grassy knoll. But the charges producing the greatest heat online often turn out to have the most innocent explanations. The recount isn't amounting to much, either. Last week the Franklin County Board of Elections did discover one extra vote for Kerryoffset by the extra vote they found for Bush. The irregularities...

December 27, 2004

Protesting Factual Errors In The Paper Of Record

I sent the following e-mail to Daniel Okrent, the public editor (ombudsman) for the New York Times regarding the factual errors in today's column by Brent Staples. I'm hoping for a response in the next day or two. Dear Mr. Okrent, I must protest (politely!) the misleading column printed by the New York Times in today's edition by Mr. Brent Staples. In his haste to concoct a conspiracy among Republicans to count prisoners where they reside for the census, Mr. Staples either failed to research the data on which he based his conclusions or he deliberately misled his readers. Mr. Staples states that we have a "felon class" of 13 million people. That would be news to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which puts the entire American prison population at all levels for all crimes (not just felonies) at just over 2 million at the end of 2003. Moreover, the...

December 28, 2004

Gonna Have To Face It, They're Addicted To Polls

The Los Angeles Times runs a major story in its Nation section this morning that looks like a refugee from October. Peter Wallsten obsesses about George Bush's approval rating based on recent polling despite the results from the big poll on November 2nd: Despite a clear-cut reelection and the prospect of lasting GOP dominance in Congress, President Bush prepares to start his second term with the lowest approval ratings of any just-elected sitting president in half a century, according to new surveys. That distinction, which pollsters and analysts blame on public discontent over the war in Iraq, comes as Bush begins drafting two major speeches that could quickly recast his image: an inaugural address Jan. 20 and the State of the Union soon after. Bracketed between them is the Jan. 30 election in Iraq, another milestone that could affect public impressions of Bush. In two words: so what? First, George...

Minnesota Media Both Tacky And Clueless

A business complex exploded in nearby Ramsey today, killing at least two people and critically injuring a third. A gas buildup apparently caused the blast, which destroyed the building: A gas leak was believed to have set off the explosion about 9:45 a.m., leveling the single-story structure along Hwy. 10 in the city of Ramsey, said Capt. Bob Aldrich of the Anoka County Sheriff's Office. However, Aldrich said more investigation was needed to confirm the cause. Investigators planned to talk to a man who had pulled up to the building just as it exploded. The man's car was damaged, but he was said to be uninjured. The explosion will require more investigation, but the odor of natural gas at the scene makes firefighters pretty confident that a gas leak is the culprit. However, that's not why I'm posting about this. Our local media swarmed over the site, quite literally, as...

December 29, 2004

Why The MSM Has Run Aground

Hugh Hewitt writes a companion piece to his new book in today's Weekly Standard column, explaining why the mainstream media has suffered body blows to its credibility and how they opened the door to the inevitable reaction: The new recruits to big journalism and their mentors did not work overtime to assure that, in the elevation of tolerance of ideological minorities, there would remain representation of majoritarian points of view. In fact, majoritarian points of view became suspect, and the focus of pervasive hostile reporting and analysis. Crusading journalists seemed to be an ideological pack. By the time the new millennium arrived, legacy media was populated at its elite levels by as homogeneous a group of reporters / producers / commentators as could ever have been assembled from the newsrooms of the old Hearst operation. Big Media had hired itself into a rut--a self-replicating echo chamber of left and further-left...

December 31, 2004

Patterico Reviews The 2004 Performance Of The LA Times

I'm a little late posting this link, but be sure to read Patterico's excellent review of the Los Angeles Times for 2004, in two parts. Patterico has maintained his high standard of media review that he began in 2003 and gives the LAT its toughest (and fairest) criticism. Don't miss his year-end finale....

January 3, 2005

Good Luck On That Sale

Drudge links to a Broadcasting & Cable item that reports on a meeting between beleaguered CBS News president Andrew Heyward and the White House. Heyward, rumored to be on the chopping block when the long-awaited internal investigation of the Rathergate fiasco is released, may need a truce with the White House to save his job: Let the fence-mending begin. According to a Broadcasting & Cable source in Washington, D.C., CBS News president Andrew Heyward, along with Washington bureau chief Janet Leissner, recently met with White House communications director Dan Bartlett, in part to repair chilly relations with the Bush administration. ... Heyward was working overtime to convince Bartlett that neither CBS News nor Rather had a vendetta against the White House, our source says, and from here on out would do everything it could to be fair and balanced. CBS declined to comment. On its face, Heyward's mission appears doomed....

January 5, 2005

Staples Folds, Will Join Sinclair News Boycott

The attack on Sinclair Broadcasting by Media Matters for America has claimed its first scalp. Staples, the huge office-supplies retailer, has pulled its advertising for all Sinclair news programming, effective January 10th: Office-supply retailer Staples Inc. is pulling its advertising from news programming on Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. television stations, saying the decision was fueled in part by e-mails from customers angry at what they consider to be the broadcaster's right-wing bias in news and commentary. ... Staples, which has 1,400 stores, will continue to buy advertising during other programs on Sinclair's 62 stations but, as of Jan. 10, no longer will advertise during news programs, which include "The Point," a daily conservative commentary by Sinclair Vice President Mark E. Hyman. MMA claims a "partial" victory, stating that all they want is to raise the issue of fairness in regards to the Sinclair commentary rather than a boycott. However, listing...

January 7, 2005

Five Embeds Kicked Out Of Iraq

Editor and Publisher reports today that five embedded reporters working with Coalition forces in Iraq have been booted from their privileged positions for transmitting information that endangered the security of the troops: As Iraq moves closer to its first democratic elections later this month, the number of news organizations requesting embedded slots with military units there is on the rise, according to officials. But those new embeds better watch their step. E&P has learned that five journalists have been kicked out of embed slots in the past three months for reporting secure information. "They were all for operational security reasons, (revealing) something that would have been of use to the enemy," Maj. Kris Meyle, who runs the embed program, told E&P from Baghdad this morning. "Generally, it gets done very quickly. Usually it was something that was not done intentionally by the reporter." Meyle did not disclose the identities of...

Staples Reverses Course? (Updated!)

After a day of capitulation to Media Matters for America, Staples must have read its e-mail this afternoon. Reversing course from its statement published in yesterday's Washington Post, Staples now claims it never intended to stop advertising on Sinclair news broadcasts: To clarify that Staples does not have a policy against advertising on Sinclair Broadcasting news, Staples has the following statement: Our media buying process with Sinclair Broadcasting stations has recently been misrepresented by an organization with no affiliation to Staples. Staples regularly drops and adds specific programs from our media buying schedule, as we evaluate and adjust how to best reach our customers. We do not let political agendas drive our media buying decisions. Staples does not support any political party. We advertise with a variety of media outlets, but do not necessarily share the same views of these organizations or what they report. As we have done for...

January 8, 2005

Paying Journalists For Coverage Stinks

The blogosphere buzzed yesterday with the revelation that pundit Armstrong Williams received $241,000 from the Department of Education to promote the No Child Left Behind Act and push other commentators to do the same. Williams did not disclose the payment while pushing NCLB in several columns and on his television appearances; instead, he represented his opinions as his own independent views. Howard Kurtz writes in today's Washington Post: In taking the money, funneled through the Ketchum Inc. public relations firm, Williams produced and aired a commercial on his syndicated television and radio shows featuring Education Secretary Roderick R. Paige, touted Bush's education policy, and urged other programs to interview Paige. He did not disclose the contract when talking about the law during cable television appearances or writing about it in his newspaper column. ... Alex Jones, director of Harvard's Shorenstein media center, said he is "disgusted" by what he called...

Does Nicholas Kristof Read Captain's Quarters?

Earlier this week, Nicholas Kristof wrote a column on Western -- and particularly American -- stinginess when it comes to helping poor nations and their struggles. He gave full marks to the US when responding to emergent tragedies like the tsunami and its victims, but claimed that on more chronic and devastating issues like the rampant malaria that claims as many victims monthly as the tsunami did (so far), we pitch in little money for assistance: The 150,000 or so fatalities from the tsunami are well within the margin of error for estimates of the number of deaths every year from malaria. Probably two million people die annually of malaria, most of them children and most in Africa, or maybe it's three million - we don't even know. But the bottom line is that this month and every month, more people will die of malaria (165,000 or more) and AIDS...

January 12, 2005

Kristof Gets Obscene

Rarely does my jaw hit the table with such force as it did today when I read Nicholas Kristof's latest column in the New York Times on infant mortality. Kristof compares a rise in infant mortality rates in the US for 2002 and uses it to compare us to Cuba and, shockingly, China: In every year since 1958, America's infant mortality rate improved, or at least held steady. But in 2002, it got worse: 7 babies died for each thousand live births, while that rate was 6.8 deaths the year before. Those numbers, buried in a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, didn't get much attention. But they are part of a pattern of recent statistics dribbling out of the federal government suggesting that for those on the bottom in America, life in our new Gilded Age is getting crueler. Apparently, it got better before it...

January 13, 2005

Journalists Can't Be Bloggers?

Wired runs a provocative article today which argues that journalists find it increasingly difficult to maintain blogs along with their reporting. Media outlets have started to actively discourage even their free-lancers from blogging, and analysts question the effect on credibility when reporters opine on line: For all the press that bloggers have received for revolutionizing journalism by bringing Gutenberg's printing press to the digital masses, when push comes to shove, journalists who operate personal weblogs face an inherent conflict of interest. In the end, it's the blogs that usually get short shrift. And according to some, that's the way it ought to be. As Jason Calacanis, founder of Weblogs and publisher of the defunct Silicon Alley Reporter, put it in an e-mail: "Blogger + reporter = big problem. I wouldn't do that, and I'm sure it will end in tears. I know as an editor of a magazine or newspaper...

January 18, 2005

The New York Times Responds (Finally)

On December 27th, I posted about an op-ed column in the New York Times written by Brent Staples, decrying the Census Bureau practice of counting prisoners as residents of the county in which the prison is located. This column followed an editorial by the Gray Lady with the same assertions in a foreshadowing of what I expect to be blitz coverage of the 2010 census -- think Masters Gold Tournament. Mr. Staples used some odd statistics in his opinion piece about the nature of disenfranchisement (emphasis mine): The mandatory sentencing fad that swept the United States beginning in the 1970's has had dramatic consequences - most of them bad. The prison population was driven up tenfold, creating a large and growing felon class - now 13 million strong - that remains locked out of the mainstream and prone to recidivism. Trailing behind the legions of felons are children who grow...

January 19, 2005

We Want Blood, Dammit!

I read the RSS summary for the New York Times editorial this morning and took some hope that they may have decided to take a more measured look at the news, rather than stoke partisan idiocy: With a few exceptions, Condoleezza Rice's confirmation hearing was an exercise in political theater. Unfortunately, the Gray Lady meant that not as an endorsement of the more professional and less histrionic Foreign Relations Committee members, but as a scolding for them to be more like Barbara Boxer: President Bush is entitled to choose his cabinet, and there was never much chance of opposition to Ms. Rice, a trusted member of his inner circle. But confirmation hearings should critically examine the nominee. Another unfortunate choice for a top job, Alberto Gonzales, at least had to endure a few hours' grilling on the torture of prisoners on his way to becoming attorney general. Yesterday, Democratic senators,...

Calling On The Times To Correct Themselves

On the suggestion from CQ reader Zuke, I decided to e-mail my objections about today's editorial from the New York Times on the Condi Rice confirmation hearings. Below is the complete text from my message, with a few formatting changes for better effect on the blog. Dear Mr. Okrent, In keeping with your effort to ensure that the editorial pages of the New York Times goes through proper fact-checking, I wish to direct your attention to today's unsigned editorial on the confirmation hearings for Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Your editorial board appears to compound a serious misstatement of fact by Senator Joseph Biden in yesterday's hearing regarding the level of trained Iraqi security forces: Senator Joseph Biden, Democrat of Delaware, asked Ms. Rice how big an Iraqi security force had actually been trained. When Ms. Rice, the national security adviser, offered an absurdly inflated 120,000, Mr. Biden said the people doing...

ABC News: Too Lazy To Hide The Bias

Hindrocket at Power Line found a new ABC initiative to bring balance to its news broadcasts, or at least those they intend to provide on Inauguration Day tomorrow. Obviously, the Halperin Memo is still in effect even past Election Day: For a possible Inauguration Day story on ABC News, we are trying to find out if there any military funerals for Iraq war casualties scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 20. If you know of a funeral and whether the family might be willing to talk to ABC News, please fill out the form below[.] So here we have a public broadcaster who explicitly intends on using the death of at least one American serviceperson -- specifically in Iraq, so dead American soldiers or Marines in Kosovo or Afghanistan need not apply -- as a means to make a political statement about Bush's inauguration. If your son or daughter, sister or brother,...

January 21, 2005

ABC Gets Its Pound Of Corpse For Inauguration Coverage

Two days ago I posted about ABC's effort to find a military funeral taking place on Inauguration Day for a casualty from Iraq, presumably to "balance" the coverage of George Bush and his speech. Their web site invited anyone who knew of such a funeral to send the information to ABC News -- they even provided a web form for submission (and Doc Weasel has it better here) -- so that they could exploit the death in order to somehow shame Bush on his inauguration. After Power Line and I wrote about this and the blogosphere erupted into protest, the page quickly disappeared -- and we presumed that wiser heads at ABC News had prevailed. Unfortunately, it appears that we overestimated ABC's capacity for shame and embarrassment. Several CQ readers have written to me this morning (and The Corner also reports this) telling me that at the 6:12 break, World...

January 25, 2005

Gallagher: Not Another Williams

Drudge reported earlier tonight that conservative columnist Maggie Gallagher took money from the Department of Health and Human Services to promote George Bush's marriage initiatives, mirroring the Armstrong Williams scandal. Drudge got a head start on the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz and tried to scoop him. Unfortunately, Drudge screwed up the report by excerpting passages out of context, and in doing so, created an unfortunate backlash against Maggie Gallagher. The real Kurtz report makes the differences between Gallagher and Williams clear: Gallagher failed to mention that she had a $21,500 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to help promote the president's proposal. Her work under the contract, which ran from January through October 2002, included drafting a magazine article for the HHS official overseeing the initiative, writing brochures for the program and conducting a briefing for department officials. ... Gallagher received an additional $20,000 from the Bush...

January 26, 2005

The New York Times Responds On Biden, Rice

Last week, the New York Times published an editorial cheering the treatment given to Condoleezza Rice by Senator Barbara Boxer and to a lesser extent Senator Joe Biden during her confirmation hearings. While most of the editorial stayed in the safe zone of opinion, albeit a rather childish one, one passage in which the Times quoted Biden in order to accuse Rice of dishonesty was so inaccurate that I wrote public editor Daniel Okrent requesting a correction. This was what the Times wrote: Senator Joseph Biden, Democrat of Delaware, asked Ms. Rice how big an Iraqi security force had actually been trained. When Ms. Rice, the national security adviser, offered an absurdly inflated 120,000, Mr. Biden said the people doing the training put the total at 4,000. He then suggested that Ms. Rice "pick up the phone or go see these folks," as if that has not been her job...

January 27, 2005

WaPo Playing Petty Games With Inaugural Speech

Rarely will readers experience the level of intellectual dishonesty that Glenn Kessler and Scott Wilson reach in their report today on a jailed Jordanian dissenter and President Bush's reaction to a question about him. During his press conference, a reporter asked the president about Ali Hattar, currently jailed on slander charges in Jordan: President Bush was stumped yesterday when he was asked at his news conference about the plight of a Jordanian man who faces a two-year prison term for slander after giving a lecture last month calling for a boycott of American goods and companies. "I'm unaware of the case," he said. The circumstances are somewhat murky, but in many ways the case signifies the difficult choices and trade-offs inherent in Bush's call in his inaugural address for the right to dissent and protest around the world. ... "Freedom has to include the freedom to criticize the United States,"...

Shafer Misses The Revolution

Jack Shafer writes today at Slate that blogs have received too much attention as a revolutionary device in communications. He argues that similar technological advances have occurred in communications before, hyped as the One True Change that would topple media empires, only to find that they had little effect at all: A long, long time agoOK, it was 33 years agoMichael Shamberg and a clutch of other video visionaries from the Raindance Corporation visited my college campus to preach their gospel of the coming media apocalypse. Waving a copy his book Guerrilla Television, Shamberg prophesied that the Sony Porta-Pakan ungainly video camera wired to a luggage-size tape deck carried over the shoulderwould herald a media revolution greater than the one fomented by Gutenberg's moveable type. Once the People got their hands on the video power and started making decentralized, alternative media, the network news programs would collapse under the weight...

January 28, 2005

Why Afghanistan Fell Off The Map

A curious phenomenon happened after the fall of the Taliban and the initial preparation for the Iraq invasion -- Afghanistan disappeared. Oh, not physically, perhaps, although judging from the paucity of news coverage from the newest democracy in Southwest Asia, one could be tempted to reach that conclusion. Now American Journalism Review reports on the vanishing Afghanis and the reason why we hear nothing of their progress: Once a journalism hot spot, Afghanistan was all but left behind when the media's spotlight turned to the conflict in Iraq. In June/July 2003, AJR reported that only a handful of reporters remained in the struggling country on a full-time basis, while other news organizations floated correspondents in and out when time and resources permitted. A year and a half later, Afghanistan has become even more of an afterthought. Only two news organizations--Newsweek and the Washington Post--have full-time reporters stationed in Kabul, the...

January 29, 2005

NYT Promotes Terrorist Threats, Buries Iraqi Defiance

While we wait for more updates on the Iraqi elections, a look at coverage in the mainstream American media could shed some light as to what we can expect for post-election spin. The New York Times runs a typical story for its morning edition, telling us for the umpteenth time this week about how the terrorists plan on creating a bloodbath but virtually burying the defiance of Iraqis in the face of those threats: Anticipating a wave of violence on election day, Iraqi soldiers and the police, backed up in places by American troops, erected checkpoints across the major cities of northern, southern and central Iraq. American attack helicopters and jets circled overhead, and election workers wrapped voting sites, many of them schools, in barbed wire. The streets of Baghdad and Mosul were mostly deserted. Iraqi officials predicted that 8 million of the country's 14 million eligible voters would cast...

Did Ted Turner Buy Fox News?

I'm watching Fox News and in the middle of an interview with former hostage Tommy Hamill, when suddenly they just brought in Jesse Jackson who wants to equate the Iraqi elections with the Civil Rights Act of 1965. Laughably, he says that democracy can't be conducted under occupation. Just how did he think that the 1965 CRA got enforced, anyway? How did the public schools in Arkansas and the university in Mississippi get integrated? It seems to me that having the National Guard federalized and providing security had more than a little to do with the initial success of desegregation in the South. Why did Fox think that Jesse had anything germane to add to the Iraqi election story? Good Lord....

January 30, 2005

Susan Estrich Is An Idiot

I had transcribed Susan Estrich's first appearance on Fox News for a lengthy post as to her inappropriate and stupid partisanship in what looks more and more like an Iraqi triumph. Unfortunately, my computer unexpectedly shut down in the middle of the post, and I didn't save any of it. Grrr. I had no idea that my computer had a BS threshold. Hopefully, I can grab a transcript later, but trust me -- when she started griping about how American soldiers weren't allowed inside Iraqi polling stations, I wanted to scream. Last week, all we heard from Joe Biden and the NY Times was how the Iraqis only had 4,000 trained security troops. Now Estrich complains that they're too good. Fox must employ her and Jesse Jackson just to validate their "fair and balanced" tagline. Hopefully they find better talent, and soon....

January 31, 2005

The Tale Of Two Times

Two of the more aggressively anti-Bush newspapers had repeatedly question the timetable for the Iraqi elections in its editorials over the past few weeks. Now that the elections have been proven a spectacular success, I thought a visit to the editorial pages of New York's and Los Angeles' leading papers would be revealing. The LAT appears more ready to concede that the elections were a resounding success and give credit for Bush's tenacity for holding to the promised schedule for voting: It takes courage to vote with the sound of mortars and gunfire still ringing and memories of terrorist beheadings still fresh. Whatever the final tally of the turnout Sunday in Iraq, the willingness of millions to defy suicide bombers and killers who threatened havoc at the polls provided some unequivocal good news. Not least, the world could honestly see American troops making it possible for a long-oppressed people to...

February 1, 2005

Strib Still Not Quite Getting It

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune finally reacted to the Iraqi election on its editorial page, and to my surprise, with amazing reasonableness -- at least for the Strib. While they decline to discuss why they waited a full day to react, they didn't make the same mistake that the New York Times made in scoffing with faint praise at the historic nature of the event. The Strib, however, still sticks to its guns (so to speak) in refusing to understand why American security depended on this outcome: It was easy to find naysayers who viewed Sunday's Iraqi election darkly. Do not count us among them. Yes, there were suicide bombers, mortar shells and other violence. But they simply made the act of voting all the more poignant. By their courageous votes, a majority of Iraqi citizens sent a blistering message to the insurgents and terrorists: We don't want you; we don't want...

February 3, 2005

Hugh: Media Bias In The Silences

Hugh Hewitt has a new column out for the Weekly Standard on media bias. His thoughts have has special resonance today as we see the major American media outlets put the Cone of Silence over Eason's Fables, which plays a part in Hugh's column. Hugh reminds us that bias not only exists in what's reported, but also in what isn't: Even though attention will turn today to the president's speech to the exclusion of almost everything else, let me underline two recent media events which deserve more scrutiny than they have thus far received. The first is the genuinely scandalous assertion by CNN's Eason Jordan, made at the World Economic Forum, that the United States military has targeted and killed a dozen journalists. The account of Jordan's remarks -including his backpedaling and the crowd's reactions--is available at ForumBlog. Thus far no major media outlet has demanded an accounting of Jordan,...

Op-Ed Writers Conference To Promulgate Ethics, Accuracy Standards

Linda Seebach, columnist for the Rocky Mountain News, tips CQ that the National Conference of Editorial Writers has been discussing ethical concerns and accuracy standards in light of some high-profile editorial errors. (I don't know if she reads the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, but this is what Linda and the NCEW has in mind.) The president of the NCEW sent this message out to all of their members and authorized it for publication: I am pleased to announce that NCEW has set up a task force on syndicates to seek answers to our questions of ethics and corrections. Heading up the panel is Jerry Ausband, retired editorial page editor of Myrtle Beach. The task force will contact all of the syndicates to go over questions that have been raised on this groupserv and elsewhere. This will allow us to compare how syndicates are set up to deal with issues like those that...

February 4, 2005

Janeane Garofalo, Airhead American

Kevin McCullough picks up on something I saw myself in MS-NBC's coverage of the SOTU speech Wednesday night. After Hours with Joe Scarborough had a number of odd commentators invited to debate the meaning of the event. Some were heavyweight political pundits, such as Pat Buchanan, Robert Reich, and Mike Barnicle. Unfortunately, they also invited two -- two -- commentators from Air America, including the seriously deranged Janeane Garofalo. Garofalo could hardly contain her vitriol, even to the point where Ron Reagan got embarrassed and basically talked over her to keep her from making matters worse. I should have live-blogged it at the time, but I had put the computer away by the time she went to air. In the most intellectually and morally bankrupt display I've yet to see from the Left, Garofalo compared the ink-stained finger salute by new Congresspeople to a Nazi salute: The inked fingers in...

February 6, 2005

Nick Coleman Disappears From Strib?

I'm not a Nick Coleman fan, but like other members of the Northern Alliance, I like to check in on the old crank just to keep an eye on him. Today I checked the RSS feed and found this summary for Nick's latest screed: Nick Coleman: Doctor's firing is bitter pill for her patients Pamela Cain is enjoying things she never had time to enjoy before, such as having lunch with friends. But she's not just breaking bread with pals. Her lunch mates are her patients. However, when I went to the page from the RSS feed, I got the Strib equivalent of a 404 message: The page you requested, http://www.startribune.com/stories/357/5224076.html, could not be found. It may have been moved; more likely it has been removed from our servers [emphasis mine -- CE]. Undeterred, but probably with too much time on my hands, I went directly to the Strib and...

February 7, 2005

Bill Moyers, The Strib, And "Damnable Lies"

PBS pontificator Bill Moyers, whose reputation always far exceeded his pedantic and leftist contributions, has made quite a mess out of his retirement. Moyers gave a speech at Harvard that the Minneapolis Star-Tribune published as an opinion piece, celebrating an award from an environmental group. Instead of focusing on facts, Moyers flew off into left-wing fantasyland -- and slander: Remember James Watt, President Ronald Reagan's first secretary of the interior? My favorite online environmental journal, the ever-engaging Grist, reminded us recently of how James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, "after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back." Beltway elites snickered. The press corps didn't know what he was talking about. But James Watt was serious. The "ever-engaging Grist" turned out to have lied about this little non-factoid, and...

February 13, 2005

Patterico Goes To The Kennel

Patterico, noted blogosphere critic of the Los Angeles Times, goes into enemy territory to deliver a measured and sensible criticism of the trade's method of handling corrections: Has anyone ever said something about you that wasn't true? Something that, if people believed it, would significantly damage your reputation? How would you feel if you saw that falsehood printed on the front page of the Los Angeles Times? Would it make things right if the paper later retracted the false statement with a brief correction buried inside the paper? For some, this is not a hypothetical question. Just ask L. Paul Bremer III, Antonin Scalia or the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. ... Each of these false assertions damaged someone's reputation, and each ran on the front page of the L.A. Times. In each case, The Times later ran a small correction inside the paper alongside corrections of trivial...

February 14, 2005

More Payola?

Howard Kurtz reveals that not all pundit-payola comes from inside the Beltway. In his lead entry for today's Media Notes, Kurtz reports that the Democrats have paid advocacy journalists who failed to reveal their funding: Eric Wesson, a columnist for the Call, an African American newspaper in Kansas City, offered plenty of praise last year for the successful House bid of Democrat Emanuel Cleaver. "Rev. Cleaver," he wrote, "has the experience to get things done and getting people to work together, he unites people. . . . Rev. Cleaver is a master at getting others to see his vision and surrounding himself with role players to make the vision become a reality. . . . I admire his honesty." Cleaver's campaign last summer paid $1,500 to a firm called One Goal Consultants. And the sole owner of One Goal Consultants, according to state records, is Wesson. "I wrote out some...

Eason Jordan vs Jeff Gannon: Partisan Grudge Match?

Mark Follman takes me to task for going hard after the Eason Jordan story while ignoring the Jeff Gannon controversy in today's War Room at Salon (annoying ad watch or subscription required). Follman calls me "high-riding" while noting my lack of commentary on Gannon/Guckert's outing by the port side of the blogosphere. It's a charge I'm starting to hear over and over again in my e-mail -- if you're dedicated to truth and justice, why don't you cover X, Y, Z? First off, I'm not a newspaper, and unlike Follman and others at Salon, I don't get to do this as a full-time job. In fact, apart from the blogads and the tip jar, I don't get much money from my enterprise. I have to work for a living, and so the time I spend on reading and researching articles is necessarily limited. I choose to spend that time on...

February 16, 2005

What's The Point?

The port side of the blogosphere has crowed over their outing of a conservative hack reporter that managed to get day passes to White House briefings. Jeff Gannon, the nom de plume of Jeff Guckert, worked until recently for Talon News, a tiny conservative outfit that hired Gannon without doing much checking into his background -- much to their recent chagrin. Leftists such as those at Americablog have focused on Guckert's sexuality to shame him out of the briefing room, a strange McCarthyite tactic for those who claim that all sexual matters should remain private. Now Men's Wear Daily reports on Russell Mokhiber, an associate of Ralph Nader and a political activist, who also manages to get White House daily passes and styles himself a journalist, despite representing no news agency whatsoever: The media watch-group Accuracy in Media charged today that a liberal activist and associate of Ralph Nader has...

Media Notes, Bret Stephens Update And Correction

Hugh Hewitt will have the Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens as a guest during the show's first hour to discuss the Eason Jordan scandal and the WSJ's response to it. I've been critical of both the response and of Bret Stephens, so I definitely want to hear what he has to say -- and as a long-time fan of the WSJ/OpinionJournal, I'm bringing an open mind. So should we all ... Power Line and CQ reader Vayapaso point out that Tony Snow, one of the nicest gentlemen I had the good fortune of meeting at the Republican National Convention, has been diagnosed with colon cancer. Please send him your best wishes and prayers at tonysnow@aol.com. We'll add him to our prayer list as well. UPDATE: Hugh posts his thoughts on his initial talk with Bret Stephens, and reading down through his site, I also see that Hugh's retracting his reporting...

February 17, 2005

Timeswarm On Guckert?

In an effort reminiscent of Howell Raines' vendetta against the Augusta Masters Tournament, the New York Times editorial board appears to be on the verge of initiating a "Timeswarm", having its columnists focus on one target as a cause celebre. In this case, however, the target hardly justifies the puffery it receives and the Times' disproportional coverage calls into question its media blackout on the Eason Jordan affair. Both Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd, in an odd coincidence, write columns on the national danger that Jeff Gannon/James Guckert represents. Guckert, you'll recall, worked for Talon News (under the nom de plume "Jeff Gannon"), a small-time and lightly regarded news service owned by a Republican donor and party activist. Whether or not Talon can be described as a "real" news service gets debated rather lukewarmly by people on either side of the issue, which lets one know exactly how seriously it...

A Love Note Or An Olive Branch?

Peggy Noonan issues a love note to the blogosphere in today's WSJ/OpinionJournal, one that appears to intend either a counterpoint to the two successive dismissals issued by WSJ editors this past week or as an olive branch: When you hear name-calling like what we've been hearing from the elite media this week, you know someone must be doing something right. The hysterical edge makes you wonder if writers for newspapers and magazines and professors in J-schools don't have a serious case of freedom envy. The bloggers have that freedom. They have the still pent-up energy of a liberated citizenry, too. The MSM doesn't. It has lost its old monopoly on information. It is angry. But MSM criticism of the blogosphere misses the point, or rather points. Blogging changes how business is done in American journalism. The MSM isn't over. It just can no longer pose as if it is The...

Beinart Can't Buy A Clue At TNR

Peter Beinart takes a break from the book he's writing to pen a column for The New Republic on Bush's emphasis on democracy as his second-term theme, and how liberals need to counter it with rhetoric of their own. Peter is a very nice and earnest young man, but he frequently gets his assumptions incorrect, and this column provides a clear example. As the blog Nationals Review points out, Beinart uses an assumption about John Kerry that is demonstrably false as a support for the rest of his argument about liberal enthusiasm for democratization as foreign policy: Bush's second inaugural doesn't challenge liberals at the level of policy; it challenges them at the level of rhetoric. And, unless they respond in kind, they'll experience the same fate that befell John Kerry. In policy terms, Kerry probably had a more serious democratization agenda than Bush. But, rhetorically, he never matched Bush's...

February 22, 2005

Tax-Dodging Hypocrisy At The Gray Lady?

Allen Sloan notes in today's Washington Post that the New York Times, which regularly inveighs against inordinate tax breaks for corporations, doesn't practice what it preaches. Sloan explains that the recent, odd purchase of Primedia's About.com subsidiary at somewhere around $800,000 per blog holds a large tax benefit for Pinch Sulzberger & Co, one that his editorial board would screech at if any other corporation took advantage of it: The New York Times editorial page is unsparing when it comes to flogging tax-dodging corporations. Corporate tax avoidance, it intoned in a typical piece last April, is "both a straightforward fiscal problem" and "a broader threat to our civic culture." Indeed. Last week, the New York Times Co. didn't exactly practice what the New York Times editorial page preaches. The Times Co.'s $410 million cash purchase of Primedia's About.com subsidiary, announced on Thursday, is set up to maximize tax benefits. For...

February 23, 2005

Success Is When All The Right People Hate You

My good friend Jon Henke at QandO (the essential libertarian blog, BTW) tips me that my blogging career has reached new heights. First I reached five million hits this week, CNN and C-SPAN mentioned my blog on the air, and now I have truly achieved success -- I have annoyed Ted Rall: Bloggers want you to know that there's a new sheriff in town. Edward Morrissey, writer of the right-wing blog Captain's Quarters, boasts to the New York Times: "The media can't just cover up the truth and expect to get away with it--and journalists can't just toss around allegations without substantiation and expect people to believe them anymore." And what are Morrissey's qualifications to police the media? When he's not harassing old-school journos like Dan Rather and CNN's Eason Jordan out of their jobs, Morrissey manages a call center near Minneapolis. What qualifications does Rall have to write...

February 28, 2005

Rats Jumping Aboard Sinking Ships

Jack Shafer at Slate notes that despite editorial proclamations of opposition to anonymous sourcing, the phenomenon appears to have worsened. Shafer put his skepticism of the editorial boards of the New York Times and Washington Post to the test and searched their product for the so-called "anonymice", and found growing rats-nests among most broadsheets: Like insatiable vermin eating and rutting their way through a bulging grain elevator, anonymice continue to multiply in the pages of the top dailies. This proliferation comes despite the public promises made by some newspapers to stamp outor at least reducethe number of anonymous sources quoted. Last year, for instance, the New York Times and the Washington Post amended their anonymous source guidelines with tighter, more restrictive language. "The use of unidentified sources is reserved for situations in which the newspaper could not otherwise print information it considers reliable and newsworthy," asserts the Times policy. "We...

Has The Gray Lady Found Something About The Bush Doctrine To Love?

The New York Times reports on the Cedar Revolution from Beirut in uncharacteristically pleasant tones, rather than the traditional pessimism (or silence) normally reserved for events that prove George Bush's policies correct. Of course, the Times neglects to mention -- even once -- the Iraqi elections that provided the confidence needed to get people out onto the street, but Hassan Fattah does draw comparisons to the Bush-supported Ukrainian demonstrations that collapsed the Russian puppet government there: Lebanon's prime minister, Omar Karami, resigned Monday, dissolving the country's pro-Syrian government and setting the stage for an intense struggle over the relationship between Syria and Lebanon. The surprise resignation came as the streets of Beirut were filled with tens of thousands of flag-waving protesters and hours after a grueling no-confidence debate in the Lebanese Parliament. Pressure on both the government and Syria has risen steadily since the car-bomb assassination of former Prime Minister...

March 1, 2005

A Healthy Dose Of Crow At The Paper Of Record

The New York Times editorial board must have experienced considerable pain when they opined today on the momentum building throughout Southwest Asia for democratization. After all, after deriding the Bush administration for two years over its "neocon" strategies designed to do exactly what we now see, the board had to publish this: Still, this has so far been a year of heartening surprises - each one remarkable in itself, and taken together truly astonishing. The Bush administration is entitled to claim a healthy share of the credit for many of these advances. It boldly proclaimed the cause of Middle East democracy at a time when few in the West thought it had any realistic chance. And for all the negative consequences that flowed from the American invasion of Iraq, there could have been no democratic elections there this January if Saddam Hussein had still been in power. It misses the...

March 5, 2005

Al-Reuters Can't Even Spin Coherently

The news service Reuters appears almost apoplectic today as it tries to gin up a diplomatic meltdown between Italy and the US after the wounding of a freed hostage and the killing of an Italian commando yesterday by US forces at a checkpoint. As MS-NBC noted yesterday, the shooting commenced because the Italians refused to slow their car down as it approached a military checkpoint near the airport -- not exactly a bright idea in a country where terrorists attack checkpoints with carbombs on a regular basis. Silvio Berlusconi called the American ambassador to his office to request a full investigation, which President Bush publicly announced would take place. For our stout Italian allies, nothing less would suffice; however, even from preliminary information, it appears that the shooting could have been avoided had the Italians exercised some common sense and better communication with the Americans. However, Reuters issued two reports,...

March 7, 2005

Demick Raises Questions By Her Answers

Barbara Demick generated tremendous criticism for herself and the Los Angeles Times for a front-page apologia of the Kim regime in an article Demick wrote and the Times headlined, "North Korea: Without The Rancor." I didn't comment about it at the time because I hadn't read the article before I heard the controversy, and by the time I had an opportunity to dig into it, my perspective had been well covered by Hugh Hewitt and many others. Hugh attempted to get Ms. Demick to appear on his show, and while it seems as though she's willing, the LAT editors apparently balked at Hugh's offer. However, she did agree to answer questions put to her by e-mail as long as Hugh reproduced them unedited, which he did this morning. Her answers raise new questions about her original article and the editorial judgement of the Times. For instance, Hugh asks Demick this...

March 8, 2005

Gulf News Channels Eason Jordan

To no one's great surprise, Gulf News has taken the Sgrena incident and used it to bolster Eason Jordan's allegations of deliberate assassinations of journalists by American forces in Iraq. Tom Bevan at RealClearPolitics points readers to this one-sided editorial by Linda Heard, which takes the ultra-leftist Sgrena's self-contradictory narrative as gospel to smear the American military: CNN's chief news executive Eason Jordan was forced to resign last month to quell the furore over his suggestion that US troops had "targetted" journalists. He was later to backtrack and apologise in an effort to keep his job but the damage had already been done. The knives came out from all sides of the political spectrum with Jordan branded as being un-American and unpatriotic. Now, just weeks later, the left-wing, anti-war Italian reporter Giuliana Sgrena who was shot at and wounded by American forces in Iraq shortly after being released by her...

March 11, 2005

Another Example Of The Clueless MSM Filter (Updated)

Please read the update at the bottom... Michelle Malkin points out an interview of Washington Post Managing Editor Phillip Bennett in the People's Daily, the official news outlet of the Communist government in mainland China. Like Michelle, I wonder how much of this interview got properly transcribed and translated into English, and how much the censors cut out. If it is accurate, then Bennett provides another example of the clueless media filters that effectively regulated news content until the advent of the blogosphere. For instance, Bennett gets asked about democracy and manages to come out sounding like John Kerry: Democracy means many things. How do you define democracy? As a Chinese journalist, you may have your own definition of democracy which corresponds to your history and your way of seeing the world. I may have another definition. Someone else may have their own definitions. Democracy means a lot of different...

March 12, 2005

Digital Age Debate Hits And Misses

Thomas Lipscomb and Alex Jones debated the blogosphere and the mass media on James Goodale's PBS show on Digital Age in a taped show streamed over the Internet. Lipscomb, a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times (and, for full disclosure, he reads CQ and appeared twice on the Northern Alliance radio show) has long been a friend of the blogosphere, while Jones, who heads the Shorenstein Center for the Press at Harvard, has been more of a gentleman-skeptic. Goodale worked in executive management at the New York Times prior to his Digital Age show. I looked forward to a lively but professional and collegial debate, and they did not disappoint. I felt that both men understand the blogosphere, which made me wonder when Jones claimed that he didn't read blogs as a rule. Jones did make the best point when he said that the blogosphere harnesses the disparate knowledge of millions...

March 14, 2005

Lipscomb: No Trust For MSM Until They Police Themselves

Thomas Lipscomb delivers a scolding to the mainstream media (or, as I've begun to think of them in the BCRA era, the Exempt Media) for its inability to hold each other accountable for the egregious failures, let alone the more minor errors. Editor and Publisher runs his latest column, which sounds the same themes as his debate this weekend with Alex Jones on James Goodale's PBS show, and it certainly belongs there where his colleagues will read it. Lipscomb gives competent, if necessarily brief, reviews of the Memogate debacle at CBS and CNN's reaction to Eason Jordan's remarks. In the case of both, Lipscomb eschews the controversies themselves and focuses on the reaction from both news organizations. In both cases, he finds them less interested in the truth than in engaging in cover-ups: When CBS took a corporate look at the disaster, it hired a law firm. Why? Not to...

March 15, 2005

Al-Reuters Strikes Again

Sometimes reading Reuters amounts to an extensive lesson in accidental satire. Take as an example their coverage of the Syrian mukhabarat's retreat from Beirut. Here's how Reuters describes the pullout (emphases mine): Syrian intelligence agents began evacuating their headquarters in Beirut Tuesday, partially meeting a key U.S. and Lebanese opposition demand for an end to three decades of Syria's tutelage over its neighbor. Syria's tutelage? Reuters wants us to believe that the Syrians have spent the better part of three decades having its army and spies controlling every aspect of Lebanon's administration in order to act as a mentor. What exactly was Lebanon to learn? I can imagine this only as a bad episode of Kung Fu, as if there were any other kind: Kwai-Chiang Lebanon: When will I be ready to go out into the world on my own, Master? Master Po-Assad: When you can snatch your stones from...

March 16, 2005

AP To Offer Even More Biased And Bad Writing To Subscribers

Editor & Publisher reports on a new program from the Associated Press which gives its clients an option on fast-breaking news stories: an article with a traditional lead, or one with a more creative introduction to draw the reader to the story: In a break with tradition at the 156-year-old news cooperative, the AP will now offer two different leads for many of its news stories, the organization confirmed Wednesday. "The concept is simple: On major spot stories -- especially when events happen early in the day -- we will provide you with two versions to choose between," the AP said in an advisory to members. "One will be the traditional 'straight lead' that leads with the main facts of what took place. The other will be the 'optional,' an alternative approach that attempts to draw in the reader through imagery, narrative devices, perspective or other creative means." Thomas Lipscomb...

March 22, 2005

LA Times Changes Leadership

The CEO of the Los Angeles Times, John Puerner, will leave his post on June 1st in order to pursue a "well-deserved career break", according to LA Observed: TO: Times Employees FROM: Scott Smith, President, Tribune Publishing Today we are announcing an important management transition at the Los Angeles Times. On June 1, Jeff Johnson will succeed John Puerner as president, publisher and CEO. As you'll read in John's note that follows, he is planning a well-deserved career break. Having worked closely with John throughout his 26-year career, I am deeply grateful for his strong and wise leadership in each of his important roles with our company. For the past five years, John has successfully guided the Los Angeles Times transition to Tribune ownership. Over this period, the Times has made excellent progress in many ways including advancing editorial quality, improving operating efficiency and investing to better serve readers and...

March 23, 2005

ABC News Channeling Mary Mapes?

The talking-points memo that ABC News reported this weekend that supposedly encouraged Republicans in Congress to support the emergency bill for Terri Schiavo looks fishier all the time. As Power Line noted last night, the memo itself has finally been scanned to PDF and placed on the Internet, although not by ABC. The memo has some odd characteristics, as Rocket Man points out: The memo is not only "unsigned," as it was described by the Washington Post; it is not on House or Senate letterhead, nor is there any indication of source or authenticity. It is a memo that anyone could have typed and distributed[.] Not only that, but unlike regular TP memos, the arguments appear amateurish and poorly written. They also do not descend in order of impact, as most do in order to allow quick scanning by Congressmen and Senators. But most damning of all is the header...

March 25, 2005

Another Exempt Media Blackout?

Michelle Malkin is all over what appears to be another Exempt Media blackout. Despite every news outlet covering the supposed "GOP Talking Points" on the Schiavo litigation when the story first broke, now that the memo appears to have been fraudulent, suddenly no one wants to talk about it. Howard Kurtz, Michelle notes, has not written a word on it since Power Line first challenged the memo's authenticity in a series of posts. The only newspaper that covered Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg's call for an investigation into the memo's creation was, oddly, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel -- which gave it two lines. Regardless what one thinks of the Schiavo case, this suspicious memo should be getting some attention, especially since it broke as headline news last weekend in an attempt to discredit the GOP by questioning their motivations. If a GOP staffer wrote it, he or she should be fired...

March 30, 2005

ABC, Washington Post Stand By Schiavo Memo ... Mostly

Howard Kurtz addresses the controversy over the memo released by ABC under the headline "GOP Talking Points Memo" by claiming that neither ABC nor the Washington Post meant to imply that the memo originated with Republicans -- only that it was circulated to them: ABC and The Post say their reports on the Schiavo memo were accurate and carefully worded. The document caused a stir because it described the Schiavo controversy as "a great political issue" that would excite "the pro-life base" and be "a tough issue for Democrats," singling out Florida's Sen. Bill Nelson. Two days after the memo was reported, the Republican-controlled Congress approved a bill, signed by Bush, to transfer jurisdiction of Schiavo's case from Florida courts to the federal judiciary in an effort to restore the brain-damaged woman's feeding tube. ... The controversy erupted March 18 when veteran correspondent Linda Douglass reported on "World News Tonight":...

March 31, 2005

Kennedy Follows In Krugman's Freaked-Out Footsteps

Earlier this week, Paul Krugman asserted that the greater political participation by conservative Christians would lead to politically-based assassination attempts, and blamed talk radio and cable news for the phenomenon. Never one to leave a hysterical rant aside, Dan Kennedy today picked up Krugman's paranoia and predicted that conservatives would one day murder Michael Schiavo, and the blame would fall on Sean Hannity and Joe Scarborough -- all because they had the audacity to air a dissenting opinion about Terri Schiavo's diagnosis: IF THERE WAS an emblematic moment in the religious rights crusade against Michael Schiavo, it might be said to have taken place on March 21. It was a Monday, three days after Terri Schiavos feeding tube had been removed. And William Hammesfahr, a neurologist who claims to have examined the all-but-brain-dead woman for some 10 hours several years ago, was a guest on Sean Hannitys radio show. What...

April 2, 2005

Gray Lady Plays Pauline Kael At Pope's Death

My friend John "Rocket Man" Hinderaker caught the New York Times exposing its elitist sensibilities in reporting the death of Pope John Paul II. In its initial release on the Pope's passing, the Times reveals that they had a firm grasp on criticism of John Paul, but apparently no one in their newsroom knew anyone who liked one of the greatest Popes of the modern Church: Even as his own voice faded away, his views on the sanctity of all human life echoed unambiguously among Catholics and Christian evangelicals in the United States on issues from abortion to the end of life. need some quote from supporter John Paul II's admirers were as passionate as his detractors, for whom his long illness served as a symbol for what they said was a decrepit, tradition-bound papacy in need of rejuvenation and a bolder connection with modern life. "The situation in the...

April 5, 2005

Pulitzer Award For Photography A Disgrace

Michelle Malkin alerts her readers to the disgrace of the Pulitzer committee awarding the AP it highest honor for what amounted to staged photographs of the execution of a brave Iraqi election worker: Via LGF's readers, we are reminded that the Belmont Club first raised troubling questions in December 2004 (here and here and here) about how exactly the AP photographer arrived at the scene. Also wondering at the time about the AP's relationship with the pictured terrorists and the related media ethics issues/disclosure obligations involved were Power Line and Roger L. Simon (also here). See also Mudville Gazette and Joe Katzman for background. A key post from John Hinderaker at Power Line on Dec. 25 sums up the outrage and highlights the AP's admission that its photographer was "tipped off" and had a relationship with the terrorists: [snip] Salon printed a defense of the AP (and an attack on...

April 8, 2005

Welcome To The Free Market

After a number of poor editorial decisions, including running North Korean propaganda as a front-page news article last month, the Los Angeles Times not only has lost subscribers but now a major advertiser has cancelled its account at the paper. General Motors announced today that it will no longer buy advertising in Los Angeles' only major broadsheet due to the editorial incompetence shown by the newspaper: General Motors Corp. has pulled its advertising from the Los Angeles Times over what it called factual errors and misrepresentations in the newspaper, a spokesman for the automaker said. GM did not say how much it spent on advertising in the Times, one of the largest U.S. newspapers, or how long the ban would continue. "General Motors decided this week to cease advertising in the Los Angeles Times based on strongly voiced objections from our dealers in California about factual errors and misrepresentations in...

April 9, 2005

Reaching Parity With The Exempt Media (Updated)

Jack Shafer pens an interesting look at the similarities and differences between blogs and the Exempt Media, and postulates that parity may be coming between the two. In his opinion, the Schiavo memo shows that both sides can get stories equally incorrect, and that both sides should have the latitude to do so -- as long as corrections are published in a quick manner: Bloggers demonstrated their skill at botching a story last month when a swarm of them accused the Washington Post and ABC News of journalistic malpractice. The two news organizations had reported on the existence of a GOP talking-points memo about Terri Schiavo. The bloggers asserted it was a Ratherian fake. As Eric Boehlert details in Salon, the nay-saying blogs consumed terabytes of bandwidth denouncing the Post and ABC. Powerline, Michelle Malkin, the American Spectator's Prowler, PoliPundit, and Accuracy in Media led the charge. After the Post...

April 15, 2005

CQ Media Watch: San Francisco

I am scheduled to appear on KPIX, San Francisco's CBS affiliate, for an interview on their 11 PM news broadcast tonight. We will be discussing the Sponsorship Program scandal in Canada and my involvement in the story. I'll be taping the segment earlier in the evening, but I'm not sure who will conduct the interview for KPIX. If you get KPIX, be sure to check it out and let me know how I did! UPDATE: Michelle Malkin continues her recurring guest-hosting role on Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes tonight, too. When will Fox wise up and give us the Malkin Hour on a regular basis? UPDATE II: I had a very nice interview with Peter at KPIX, but the interview won't air until Tuesday, I hear. They want to run it with another feature on blogs that they have scheduled that night....

May 7, 2005

Chimeras And Strawmen

I normally avoid reading Maureen Dowd with the same enthusiasm I avoid reading junk mail; typically, one learns nothing and the entire exercise only annoys the reader. Once in a while, in a fit of masochism, I check out her latest rant just to see whether she's improved at all. If today's column gives any indication, Dowd may actually be getting worse with time. Today's screed manages to be racist, condescending, and just flat-out foolish all at once, with a dash of self-congratulatory classical references thrown in for good measure. Dowd starts off by writing about chimeras -- cross-bred animals that bioengineers have created in labs as part of cloning research -- and manages to transform the subject into a hysterical rant about the coming theocracy. First, though, Dowd has to show off a little about her grasp of Greek mythology: I've seen just about every werewolf, Dracula and mermaid...

May 15, 2005

Newsweek's Editorial Checks And Balances Cost Lives

Last week, Newsweek published allegations that Guantanamo Bay interrogators had flushed a Qu'ran down a toilet while questioning captured terrorists as a psychological ploy. While other news media based similar reports strictly on rumors floated by the terrorists themselves, Newsweek attributed its story by Michael Isikoff and John Barry to an unnamed source within the American intelligence service, lending the Newsweek report much more credence. That credence and the Newsweek report touched off riots across Afghanistan and Southwest Asia, costing at least nine lives and setting back American efforts to build diplomacy towards more moderate Muslim communities. Now we find out that after nine people lay dead and anti-American sentiment now runs as hot as ever, Newsweek says that it got the story wrong from the beginning: Two weeks ago, in our issue dated May 9, Michael Isikoff and John Barry reported in a brief item in our periscope section...

May 16, 2005

Newsweek's Excuse Du Jour: It's The Pentagon's Fault

Newsweek has not quite recovered its balance after being forced to admit that their report of US interrogators flushing a Qu'ran down a Gitmo toilet cannot be substantiated. In a series of media appearances characterized elsewhere, Newsweek editors maintain that they ran the item in good faith but that their source later backed off the claim. However, in today's Washington Post, it is becoming clear that Newsweek has adopted a new strategy for dealing with the deadly mistake which now has claimed 16 lives -- they're blaming the Pentagon for not denying the story: [Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker] said that a senior Pentagon official, for reasons that "are still a little mysterious to us," had declined to comment after Newsweek correspondent John Barry showed him a draft before the item was published and asked, "Is this accurate or not?" Whitaker added that the magazine would have held off had military...

Comment Of The Day

Frequent CQ commenter Aileron has this to say about Newsweek's reporting standards, and that of the American media in general (boldface emphasis mine): ... there is absolutely no legitimate reason to run a story like this. Newsweek ran the story knowing that it would excite the passions of the world's muslim population. Contrast this with the media's refusal to show pictures of our fellow citizens jumping out the the world trade center. We were told that such pictures would unneccessarily anger the American people and lead to violence against Muslim Americans. The MSM will show us endless Abu Ghraib pictures, and Newsweek goes so far as to print false stories to inflame muslims against the U.S. This type of reporting does a disservice not only to the victims of the violence it caused, but also to our Country - one of the few Countries actually committed to religious tolerance and...

Newsweek Retracts Story

Give Newsweek a small modicum of credit -- they learned a lesson from the CBS debacle over the Killian memos that the Tiffany Network itself still hasn't bothered to figure out. A couple of hours ago, Newsweek retracted its false story about flushing Qu'rans down Gitmo toilets that started deadly riots in the Middle East, costing 16 lives: Newsweek magazine, under fire for publishing a story that led to deadly protests in Afghanistan, said Monday it was retracting its report that a military probe had found evidence of desecration of the Quran by U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay. Earlier Monday, Bush administration officials had brushed off an apology that Newsweek's editor Mark Whitaker had made in an editor's note and criticized the magazine's handling of the story. ... Whitaker released a statement through a spokesman later Monday saying the magazine was retracting the article. "Based on what we know now,...

May 17, 2005

More Liberal Bias In The Media

Alert CQ reader Retired Military noticed a headline at Yahoo! News this morning about the outbreak of the Sober.q virus that has dumped neo-Nazi German and English e-mail into inboxes around the world, including here at CQ. Yahoo! and/or the AP have called the Nazi material "right wing": Computer Virus Spews Right-Wing Spam A computer virus spewed neo-Nazi-tinged spam in English and German into inboxes over the weekend. ... Most of these messages contain links to news stories with content that "smells of right-wing political rhetoric," said Vincent Gullotto, vice president of McAfee Inc.'s antivirus emergency response team. But a small percentage contain links to a Web site that tries to infect visiting machines with the virus, he said. Among the many messages was one with the German subject line "60 Years of Freedom: Who's Celebrating?" referencing the end of World War II. Another read: "Honorable Action" and contained a...

Newsweek Still Blames The Pentagon For Bad Journalism

Today's New York Times shows that Newsweek is sticking with its strategy of blaming the Pentagon for not censoring its false report of Qu'ran abuse at Gitmo. While Newsweek's editorial board finally issued a retraction claiming that the story could not be substantiated, which one would consider either an indictment of its single anonymous source or its reporters or editors, the magazine believes that the US military should have superceded Newsweek's editors and made the decision not to run the information: In the interview, Mr. Whitaker expressed frustration at the Pentagon for not informing the magazine of questions about the accuracy of the original account until about 10 days after it was published. He added that the magazine was continuing to report on the underlying accusations of Koran desecration. An article in the current Newsweek said the original report, written by a veteran investigative reporter, Michael Isikoff, and the magazine's...

May 18, 2005

Strib Descends Into Madness

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has developed a national reputation for its lunatic-fringe editorial board, but today's editorial supporting Newsweek's reporting on flushed Qu'rans highlights their complete descent into moonbattery. The editors at the Strib today raise eyebrows by endorsing "fake but accurate" as a desirable journalistic standard not once but twice -- which calls into question the quality of every single article they publish: Newsweek used as a source a "senior government official," normally a Cabinet secretary or someone fairly close to that rank, who had previously been a reliable source. It then showed the report to two Pentagon officials before publication. One declined comment and one corrected another aspect of the story. Neither challenged the Qur'an-in-the-toilet statement. Only after the report had been printed did the original source back away from his assertion that he had seen the confirmation in a military report on abuse at Guantanamo. On reflection,...

May 19, 2005

Linda Foley Channeling Eason Jordan

Perhaps in an era where mainstream journalists appear to be embracing the "fake but accurate" standard for publication stories like this should not surprise us, but one would think that key figures in the communication industry would be more careful in how they express themselves. The latest outbreak of unsubstantiated allegations against the US military comes from Linda Foley, the president of the Newspaper Guild and the Communication Workers of America. According to WorldNet Daily and a video at Say Anything, Foley has dug up the hoary Eason Jordan urban legend of American assassinations of journalists in Iraq: According to a tape of her remarks, Foley said: "Journalists, by the way, are not just being targeted verbally or ah, or ah, politically. They are also being targeted for real, um in places like Iraq. What outrages me as a representative of journalists is that there's not more...

May 20, 2005

Blood Is Thicker Than Politics

After a round of criticism of Terry Moran of ABC News in the blogosphere for his part in White House briefing controversy, the veteran reporter engaged in an excellent if somewhat contentious on-air interview on Hugh Hewitt's radio program. In the course of the interview, Moran made two startling admissions. The first was that the media does have a reflexive anti-military bias: There is, Hugh, I agree with you, a deep anti-military bias in the media. One that begins from the premise that the military must be lying, and that American projection of power around the world must be wrong. I think that that is a hangover from Vietnam, and I think it's very dangerous. That's different from the media doing it's job of challenging the exercise of power without fear or favor. The second was that his brother runs the excellent blog Right Wing Nuthouse, who apparently got swamped...

Blood And Politics, Part Two

After my post this morning on Terry Moran and his brother Rick at Right Wing Nuthouse, I received this e-mail from CQ reader Adam S: Absolutely. So is the blood of my loved ones in the armed forces being spilled in Iraq. Terry Moran and others like him in the media that do there best to destroy our military are a disgrace. So disgraceful that only a blood relative could stand up for them. So I guess by posting this you are saying that Terry and the MSM are all great Americans and all that nonsense in the blogsphere is bull? Where do you stand? Where do I stand? I think my posts on the subjects of the military, foreign policy, and the war in Iraq speak for themselves. I fully support this administration's strategy and implementation of the war on terror, and I think that the media has engaged...

May 22, 2005

Newsweek: We're Really Sorry Even Though We Did Nothing Wrong

Newsweek again issued a mea culpa for its false report of Qu'ran desecration, this time issued from Richard Smith, the magazine's editor-in-chief. As in previous statements from the magazine, the apology comes complete with an explanation of how they didn't do anything wrong and that the Pentagon bears responsibility for not stopping them from printing the story: As most of you know, we have unequivocally retracted our story. In the light of the Pentagon's denials and our source's changing position on the allegation, the only responsible course was to say that we no longer stand by our story. We have also offered a sincere apology to our readers and especially to anyone affected by violence that may have been related to what we published. To the extent that our story played a role in contributing to such violence, we are deeply sorry. ... One of the frustrating aspects of our...

May 23, 2005

Newsweek's Pandering To Anti-Americanism Abroad

As the blog Riding Sun noted yesterday, the Qu'ran-flushing urban legend Newsweek printed earlier this month wasn't their first excursion into anti-American pandering abroad. In February, while they printed innocuous covers of George Bush and Oscar nominees for their American editions, the weekly magazine used this cover in Japan: The translation of the headline is "The Day America Died," in an apparent reference to George Bush's re-election. Instead of informing us of our demise here in the States, however, Newsweek gave us a picture of George Bush with the headline, "America Leads ... But Is Anyone Following?" Apparently, Newsweek somehow believes that corpses lead and that some people follow them. Magazines with foreign editions routinely edit for their target populations. However, Newsweek's editorial choices for Japan, a staunch ally of the US, do not appear to reflect their market but an editorial desire to undermine American ties to the Japanese...

May 24, 2005

Isikoff: Deadly Mistake Will Be A "Blip"

Michael Isikoff appeared on the Charlie Rose show last night to discuss his now-discredited story about flushed Qu'rans at Guantanamo Bay. According to the AP, he acknowledged that his report had some role in the rioting that killed almost twenty people in the Middle East, but then predicted that the incident would just be a historical footnote: Michael Isikoff, addressing the furor in an interview broadcast Monday night on "The Charlie Rose Show," said he regretted the possibility that his article, which has been blamed for violent protests in Muslim countries, may have spurred riots. "It was terrible what happened," he told Rose. "Even if it was just a little bit that we contributed to the violence that went on over there, that was awful, terrible." ... Isikoff said that he thought the error had harmed the magazine. "I think it has clearly done some temporary damage," he said. "It's...

May 27, 2005

The Dog That Didn't Bark

Thomas Lipscomb continues to follow the Linda Foley story, this time on the pages of Editor & Publisher. Foley resurrected the Eason Jordan allegations that the US military had a policy of deliberate assassination of journalists, especially foreign journalists, in comments taped earlier this month. When Foley, head of the Newspaper Guild union, offered the same amount of evidence for this allegation as Jordan did -- none -- critics erupted with indignation. However, as Lipscomb notes, darned few of those critics came from the newspaper journalists whom Foley represents. Lipscomb draws attention to this with an analogy from a Sherlock Holmes mystery: Sherlock Holmess key clue to who stole the racehorse in Silver Blaze was a dog in the stall that didnt bark. And something equally odd happened on the way to the Foley firestorm: To date, not a single pundit, editorial writer, or newspaper ran anything, with the exception...

May 28, 2005

The Rank And File Reply To Foley's Fables

Instapundit points to a response from Hiawatha Bray, a solid member of the Newspaper Guild, to president Linda Foley for her allegations of assassination policies against journalists. Bray published his open challenge to Foley on his blog Choose Honor, an excellent blog title considering the nature of this challenge: I take my membership in the Guild very seriously. That's why I was dismayed to learn that you, the president of my union, made a speech on May 13 in which you asserted that the US military has deliberately killed journalists. The relevant portion of the speech was videotaped and is available for viewing here. Since then, you have failed to provide supporting evidence for your remarks, but neither have you retracted them. I spoke with you at 11:10 AM today by telephone; union secretary-treasurer Bernard Lunzer was also on the call. When I told you that I would publish your...

May 30, 2005

It's Their Fault For Hitting Back

Anti-Israeli bias occurs so frequently in the American media that it hardly bears remarking when it occurs. However, a short blurb in today's Scotsman demonstrates that same bias exists worldwide. In a three-paragraph article titled "Israeli air strike on Palestinian rocket positions," the Scotsman assigns blame to Israel for breaking the truce in the first paragraph: VIOLENCE flared in Gaza with an Israeli air strike on Palestinian rocket launchers only hours after Israel's Cabinet approved the release of 400 prisoners as a gesture to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. It gets worse in the second paragraph. It uses an IDF statement on the operation to make it appear that the attack was pre-emptive and unprovoked: The Israeli air strike last night was a rare attack since a February truce. The Israeli military said it targeted rocket launchers just before a planned attack from northern Gaza and two launchers were destroyed. Those...

May 31, 2005

So We Screw Up! Quit Griping!

Jon Carroll at the San Francisco Chronicle has had enough of the scandals involving the Exempt Media, especially those involving factual errors and inadequate sourcing. Does he take his fellow journalists to task for their shoddy and, in some cases, dishonest work? No -- he'd rather tell the critics to shut up and listen regardless of whether reporters get the story right: Look: Newspapers are a human enterprise run by fallible beings. Surgeons make mistakes; accountants make mistakes; journalists make mistakes. As Steven Winn pointed out last week, we apologize too darn much for making mistakes. Of course we're sorry, but the quest for perfection is just that, a quest. We never get there. You never get there. We hate hate hate it when we get facts wrong, but we are actually after bigger game. ... The media are under attack because we try to find stuff out. We are...

June 6, 2005

Kurtz: Did Watergate Spoil Journalism?

Howard Kurtz has an excellent, introspective look at the lessons the Exempt Media should learn from the exposure of Mark Felt as Deep Throat in his column for today's Washington Post. Rather than lionize Felt and wax reminiscent about journalism's biggest gotcha, Kurtz looks at the damage that the glorification of anonymous sourcing has done to his craft: Newspapermen became cinematic heroes, determined diggers who advanced the cause of truth by meeting shadowy sources in parking garages, and journalism schools were flooded with aspiring sleuths and crusaders. But the media's reputation since then has sunk like a stone, and one reason is that some in the next generation of reporters pumped up many modest flaps into scandals ending in "gate," sometimes using anonymous sources who turned out to be less than reliable. Journalism became a more confrontational, even prosecutorial business, with some of its practitioners automatically assuming that politicians in...

June 8, 2005

More Unusual Demographics In Media Polling

I have often written about the suspect adjustments made to the sampling on CBS polls, which skew the results so that they put the Bush administration and the Republicans in a harsher light than the raw data indicates. While the new Washington Post/ABC poll doesn't appear to employ the same "weighting" technique that CBS used to shift its demographics to give the Democrats a four-point edge that its sample didn't support, the Post/ABC sample itself appears very suspect. First, the results of the poll tend to show that the GOP has absorbed the brunt of frustration with the lack of progress on legislation and judicial nominations. Dana Milbank and Claudia Deane also note that the poll shows for the first time that a majority of adults do not believe that removing Saddam Hussein has made them any safer: For the first time since the war in Iraq began, more than...

June 10, 2005

WaPo's Leibovich Panders To The Dems New Dean Spin

In my first post today, I pointed out that the elected Democratic leadership has decided on a "blame the messenger" strategy in answering Howard Dean's critics, rather than disassociate themselves from his hate-filled rants. One would expect the media to take offense at Dick Durbin's notion that journalists reporting Dean's comments verbatim somehow become right-wing hacks. However, Mark Leibovich of the Washington Post takes up Durbin's banner and attempts to make him sound reasonable: It was a scalding day on Capitol Hill yesterday, and that includes tempers. Things got particularly hot during a photo op in the office of Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) after the minority leader and his Senate deputies completed a 17-minute meeting with the hot-tongued Howard Dean. About 60 reporters and cameramen attempted to shove their way into an office equipped to handle about 20. The resulting spectacle offered yet another distillation of why so many people...

Shafer's Takedown At Slate

If you want to know why I think Jack Shafer is one of the best media critics working within the Exempt Media, take a look at his column yesterday answering Peter Landesman's rebuttal to an earlier critique. Landesman had written an article on sex slaves in the US for the New York Times Magazine that alleged that 30-50,000 women were being held against their will for sexual exploitation in America. Shafer had critiqued it in Slate, questioning the numbers and the methodology used to produce them. Landesman responded with a snarky and hyperbolic open letter that Slate reproduced as the first part of Shafer's sur-rebuttal: Mr. Shafer formulates his latest set of complaints not as an argument with me but with the victims. "Because sexual slavery is the most depraved form of involuntary servitude," Mr. Shafer writes, "one would expect that if sex slaves existed in the numbers Landesman, Bales,...

Islamists Infiltrate Oakland Tribune?

Little Green Footballs has a breaking story this morning related to the arrests of alleged members of an Islamist terror cell in Lodi, California earlier this week. Today's Oakland Tribune runs a typical celebration-of-multiculturalism article that inevitably accompanies such arrests in American cities. Entitled "Area Mosques Should Not Engender Fear", Tribune staff writer Sajid Farooq explains why mosques present no danger to American communities: After at least five Lodi men, including two imams, were detained by the FBI, the makeup of community mosques falls under the curious eye of the public. But despite suspicions and fears of backlash, several members of the Bay Area Muslim community said mosques though sometimes isolated from the communities they are in are not strange places to be feared. Hatem Bazian, a lecturer in Near Eastern studies and ethnic studies with a specialty in Islamic studies at the University of California, Berkeley, said...

Confidence Decline Self-Explanatory At E&P

A new Gallup poll shows that public confidence in media outlets have hit an all-time low, a result that should surprise no one after the debacles of Eason's Fables, the CBS-Rather hoax on Bush's National Guard service, and Newsweek's Qu'ran-flushing fumble. Even absent those egregious examples of the media's attempted manipulations of events and facts to further their political agendas, the constant exposure of double standards and hyperbole masquerading as reporting has taught the American public to distrust any single source of news. One small example of this last problem comes in the reporting of the poll itself in today's on-line Editor & Publisher. Check out the use of language when comparing the declines of strong confidence between the media and the presidency in E&P's reporting (emphases mine): Those having a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in newspapers dipped from 30% to 28% in one year, the...

June 15, 2005

Newspaper Circulation Scandal Turns Criminal

The scandal of fraudulent circulation numbers in the newspaper industry has expanded into a criminal conspiracy prosecution, Newsday reported earlier, with the arrest of three of its former employees for fraud: Federal agents arrested three former Newsday [and Hoy] employees today for criminal fraud in connection with a scandal that inflated the circulation of both publications, the U.S. Department of Justice announced. ... Newsday has disclosed that its reported circulation was inflated by about 100,000 copies on weekdays and Sundays in the 12 months ending September 2003. Last year, the Spanish language paper Hoy acknowledged that its reported daily circulation of 92,604 was inflated by about double for the same period. Smith, who was a circulation manager at the paper, retired from Newsday in 2002. From May 2002 to May 2004 he worked as a consultant to both Newsday and Hoy, serving as their liaison to the Audit Bureau of...

June 16, 2005

Did Reuters Stage 'Insurgent' Photo?

Photos of street fighting in Iraq have become so common that we hardly notice them anymore. Reuters, AP, AFP, and major American media outlets routinely run them with updated stories on attacks and bombings to give readers a visual that should match the text of the story to some degree. Those that don't match up with breaking news or analysis get run from the wire service to their customers, with a short caption as its only description. Such a photograph caught the eye of CQ reader HJ, who noticed something odd about the fighters. Here's the original caption that goes along with this photo: Iraqi insurgents take up positions at a crossroads in the Iraqi town of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, June 16, 2005. Five U.S. marines were killed in Iraq when their vehicle struck a bomb near the violent western town of Ramadi, the U.S. military said on June...

June 17, 2005

VRWC Sighting At The Gray Lady

Mickey Kaus notes that the New York Times has discovered a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy behind the publication and promotion of the smear-job biography of Hillary Clinton, written by Ed Klein. Raymond Hernandez ensures that all of the VRWC elements are included in his report, including Richard Mellon Scaife, talk radio, Swift Boat vets (really!), and the supposedly lock-step Internet sites of conservatives: Republican and conservative activists are behind a vigorous campaign to promote a controversial new biography about Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, with some even suggesting that the book will help dash any presidential aspirations she might have. ... The publisher, Sentinel, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) that focuses on conservative views, has added to the atmosphere surrounding the publication. In a catalog sent to bookstores, the publisher, part of Pearson Plc., compared the book with the campaign by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group that attacked the...

June 19, 2005

Gray Lady Can't Distinguish Between Fact And Fiction (Part 37-B)

An alert CQ reader, Roger H, noticed a strange comment in an otherwise silly column on parenting in today's New York Times. Randy Cohen -- "The Ethicist" for the Paper of Record -- was aked by a reader about his recent trip to the Caribbean with his young children, where he planted coins on a beach to allow them to find "buried treasure" on their vacation. After doing so, doubts about this action began to plague him. Cohen writes back: It's a fine thing to play with your kids but a dubious thing to lie to them. ... With kids, it's trickier, a problem every parent grapples with when deciding how to answer a child who asks if there really is a Santa Claus or if the coin under the pillow really comes from the Tooth Fairy. Is the child eager to continue a kind of game, or is he...

June 27, 2005

Alone Again, Unnaturally

Howard Kurtz recaps the Dick Durbin and Karl Rove brouhahas in today's Media Notes, detailing the differing responses that the mainstream media gave each speech. Kurtz points out the lack of attention given by the Exempt Media to Senator Durbin's equation of Camp X-Ray to Nazi concentration camps, Soviet gulags, and the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge, crediting the New Media for forcing the issue to the forefront of debate: When Senate Democratic whip Dick Durbin used a Nazi analogy to describe incidents of prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay, it wasn't much of a story at first. Even when White House spokesman Scott McClellan called Durbin's remarks "reprehensible," "NBC Nightly News" gave the matter three sentences and the other network newscasts ignored it. The NBC and ABC newscasts covered Durbin's tearful apology last week, but the "CBS Evening News" took a pass. ... The Durbin controversy has been fueled...

June 28, 2005

The Clairvoyant New Media

Don't mess with the AP's Jennifer Loven -- she apparently is the wire service's resident fortune-teller. More than three hours before George Bush wil speak at Fort Bragg to review progress on Iraq and the war on terror, Loven has already heard him speak and delivers her analysis (via Michelle Malkin): President Bush on Tuesday appealed for the nation's patience for "difficult and dangerous" work ahead in Iraq, hoping a backdrop of U.S. troops and a reminder of Iraq's revived sovereignty would help him reclaim control of an issue that has eroded his popularity. In an evening address at an Army base that has 9,300 troops in Iraq, Bush was acknowledging the toll of the 27-month-old war. At the same time, he aimed to persuade skeptical Americans that his strategy for victory needed only time not any changes to be successful. Wow! Here I am, thinking that I...

June 30, 2005

NBC: Founding Fathers Could Have Been Terrorists

NBC's Brian Williams extended the concept of moral equivalence into the territory of the absurd in tonight's installment of the NBC Evening News. The new anchor discussed the story about Iranian president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's possible involvement in the 1979 American embassy takeover in Teheran and subsequent hostaging of its staff. As I argued earlier, Williams noted that even if true, it wouldn't make much difference in how we interact with the Iranian government, which supported the takeover and quickly co-opted it themselves. However, as Dread Pundit Bluto noted, Williams instead argued that the British likely faced the same dilemma after the creation of the United States. After all, Williams says, one can easily confuse people like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi with George Washington: The White House and most official branches of government are ducking any substantive comment on this story, and photo analysis is going on at this and other news...

July 1, 2005

The Poll That No One Reported (Updated)

Gallup announced yesterday that it had taken a snap poll after the speech given by George Bush on the war in Iraq from Fort Bragg. The poll showed some movement bolstering support for the war. In fact, it showed Bush picking up ten points on whether we are winning in Iraq (up to 54%), twelve points on keeping troops in Iraq until the situation improves as opposed to setting an exit date for their evacuation (now at 70%/25%), and seven points on whether Bush has a clear plan for handling the war in Iraq (up to 63%/35%). All of these gains were made, Gallup points out, despite the fact that the speech had the lowest ratings of any prime-time presidential address in Bush's terms of office. Only 23 million people watched the speech, and Gallup notes that most of them consisted of Bush supporters. CNN also reported on the low...

Reuters' Anti-American Bias Shows Again

Reuters went out of its way to take a potshot at America today in a completely unrelated story about a 115-year-old Dutch woman and her predilection for herring: A Dutch woman who swears by a daily helping of herring for a healthy life celebrated her 115th birthday on Wednesday as the oldest living person on record. Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper, a former needlework teacher, was born in 1890, the year Sioux Indians were massacred by the U.S. military at the Battle of Wounded Knee. So is Ms. Andel-Schipper a Sioux Indian? Did she marry a Sioux Indian? Is her middle name Sue? Apparently, the answer to all these questions is No. For some reason, however, Reuters chooses to use the Wounded Knee massacre as a benchmark for the life of a Dutch woman. Was Wounded Knee the only historical event of 1890 that Reuters could discover? Given that the article mentions...

July 2, 2005

Creepy Liar Strikes Again

MS-NBC analyst Lawrence O'Donnell announced on last night's McLaughlin Group that the person who outed Valerie Plame to Robert Novak was none other than Democratic bete noir, Karl Rove: Now that Time Inc. has turned over documents to federal court, presumably revealing who its reporter, Matt Cooper, identified as his source in the Valerie Plame/CIA case, speculation runs rampant on the name of that source, and what might happen to him or her. Tonight, on the syndicated McLaughlin Group political talk show, Lawrence O'Donnell, senior MSNBC political analyst, claimed to know that name--and it is, according to him, top White House mastermind Karl Rove. Here is the transcript of O'Donnell's remarks: "What we're going to go to now in the next stage, when Matt Cooper's e-mails, within Time Magazine, are handed over to the grand jury, the ultimate revelation, probably within the week of who his source is. "And I...

July 3, 2005

Would A Little More Hate Make Things Right?

The Minneapolis Star Tribune runs an opinion piece by Mark Fitzgerald today bemoaning the loss of confidence for the media in today's market. He notes the recent Pew polling that shows that less than half of Americans believe that the press protects American democracy. Fitzgerald also laments the case of Diana Griego Erwin, the latest example of Exempt Media columnists that simply made up sources to create stories which matched her preconceived notions of how the world should work -- in this case, dozens of times -- with all those editorial layers about which we hear endlessly allowing it to continue for years. Fitzgerald wonders how the press can recover from these debacles to once again capture the confidence of the American public. His answer -- to bash Bush even more: How did we in the press fall from defender of democracy to an institution the public sees as either...

July 7, 2005

The Secret Life Of Gray Lady Editors

Sometimes watching the Corrections section of the newspaper can give readers the best instruction on the inner workings of the media. Normally, of course, one would expect that the kinds of corrections run by management fall into the category of poor fact-checking, which in this age of Internet and Nexis searches is inexcusable. The New York Times offers one today, however, that should raise eyebrows for everyone who reads it (emphasis mine): The Op-Ed page in some copies yesterday carried an incorrect version of an article about military recruitment. The writer, an Army reserve officer, did not say, "Imagine my surprise the other day when I received orders to report to Fort Campbell, Ky., next Sunday," nor did he characterize his recent call-up to active duty as the precursor to a "surprise tour of Iraq." That language was added by an editor and was to have been removed before the...

Newsweek Does Not Protect Its Sources, Either

With all of the current debate on the responsibility and rights of the American press to protect its anonymous sources, one would think that media organizations would have a clear understanding about what constitutes confidentiality. However, a CQ reader has recently found out first-hand that not all media outlets take care to keep their confidential sources anonymous. Michael Sanders, the director of Expeditions and Research at the Ancient Cultures Research Foundation, sent an e-mail to Jon Meacham at Newsweek giving him a tip on research that supports the idea that the ancient Hebrew temple in Jerusalem was not built on the Temple Mount, but elsewhere in the city: In the recent issue of the Biblical Archaeological Review and in private correspondence, David Ussishkin, the doyen of Israel archaeologists is quite adamant in his conclusion that the Jerusalem of King Solomon did NOT extend further than the central portion of the...

July 10, 2005

Dafydd: Weep, Wail!

Is this the whiniest article ever? Newspaper Withholding Two Articles After Jailing by Robert D. McFadden The New York Times July 9, 2005 The editor of The Cleveland Plain Dealer said last night that the newspaper, acting on the advice of its lawyers, was withholding publication of two major investigative articles because they were based on illegally leaked documents and could lead to penalties against the paper and the jailing of reporters. The editor, Doug Clifton, said lawyers for The Plain Dealer had concluded that the newspaper, Ohio's largest daily, would probably be found culpable if the authorities were to investigate the leaks and that reporters might be forced to identify confidential sources to a grand jury or go to jail. "Basically, we have come by material leaked to us that would be problematical for the person who leaked it," Mr. Clifton said in a telephone interview. "The material was...

July 16, 2005

Why Can't The Gray Lady Read?

The New York Times reports on a memo that Colin Powell reportedly carried aboard Air Force One on a trip to Africa the week before Robert Novak named Valerie Plame as a CIA agent. The importance of this memo revolves around the people who accompanied the President and Powell on the Africa trip and the fact that it describes the circumstances of Joe Wilson's hiring for the mission to Niger. However, the report by Richard Stevenson makes several factual errors that even a quick perusal of the Intelligence Committee report would correct. The first error committed by Stevenson is one of omission. The Times has been beating a supposed Karl Rove connection to death over the past few weeks. However, if one looks at the contact dates for the two conversations Rove had with reporters -- July 9 for Novak, July 11 for Matt Cooper -- obviously Rove didn't go...

July 18, 2005

Broder Can't Read, Either

Unfortunately, the Plame investigation has uncovered a genuine national scandal -- the inability of the national news media to read a government report. David Broder provides another example in yesterday's Washington Post, where he continues to misrepresent the facts surrounding naming of Valerie Plame in a 2003 Robert Novak column. He starts off in a chatty vein by explaining the use of anonymous sourcing and the trust it requires, but quickly gets down to misrepresenting reality: The first publication of Plame's name came in a column by Robert Novak, who said he had been given her identity and occupation by two Bush administration officials. The obvious intent of the leak -- and of the column, which ran in The Post and other newspapers -- was to discredit her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had just published an op-ed article in the New York Times challenging a presidential claim that...

July 19, 2005

Look Who (Used To) Read Government Reports

The Washington Times goes after the partisans still flogging the Rove-Plame connection in the face of all available evidence in its editorial today. The paper points out that the media has chased its own whistleblower while ignoring the corruption he pointed out: Let's make it clear at the start: Were special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation to bring evidence to light that Karl Rove or anyone else in the Bush White House had anything to do with revealing the identity of any covert CIA agent, President Bush should fire them and they should be forced to face the full consequences of the law. But nothing in the public record thus far suggests that Mr. Rove or anyone else in the administration has committed such a violation in the case of Valerie Plame. Mrs. Plame is the former CIA agent who suggested that her husband, former diplomat Joseph Wilson, an opponent of...

July 20, 2005

Report: Donnie Deutsch Sandbagged Bernard Goldberg

An informed source told me this afternoon that Bernard Goldberg's appearance on CNBC's The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch turned out to be a sandbag to attack Goldberg and his book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And Al Franken Is #37). The interview, which airs at 10:30 pm EDT on Wednesday night, starts off as a one-on-one with Deutsch, and apparently went off with no problem. Deutsch or his producer asked Goldberg to stick around for another segment to participate in a panel discussion on cultural mores, and Goldberg agreed. However, instead of debating cultural issues as the producers had explained the segment to Goldberg, it turned out that the show had stacked the panel with people who disliked Goldberg's book -- and ganged up on him to belittle it. Goldberg stuck it out for the segment, but was understandably irate at the end and told the booking...

Media Fickle On Anonymous Sources

My new Daily Standard column has now been posted. I explore the Rove-Plame debate in the light of anonymous sources and the Deep Throat celebrations of just a few weeks back: SO IN SUM: In July 2003, a rogue CIA operative, hired by his analyst wife at the agency, was leaking false information about war intelligence to national newspapers. When that didn't raise enough eyebrows, he went public, misrepresenting his findings and the nature of his selection for the assignment. Having a CIA operative suddenly take political potshots at the administration called into question whether the White House had lied about intelligence or the ambassador was telling the entire truth himself. Cooper went to his best sources to find the answer to the question, and he got the right answer. Sounds just like Watergate, except in this case, the White House told the truth while low-level elements at the CIA...

Donnybrook (Updates)

So I watched the Donny Deutsch show, The Big Idea, featuring the appearance by Bernard Goldberg discussing his book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And Al Franken Is #37). What a joke. The first segment got contentious but remained professional, but Deutsch obviously didn't like the book. He immediately jumped into the list and began to debate entries like Barbara Walters, and obviously had not read what Goldberg wrote about her and others. The argument proceeded like any number of cable-channel bickerfests, with the host and guest talking over each other, but nothing bitter or mean -- just a disagreement. One would presume, however, that an professional interviewer would have at least reviewed the material in some depth and have prepared factual support for their questions and points before the show. The next two segments should embarrass CNBC and everyone associated with the show. Deutsch invited four other...

July 21, 2005

Gray Lady Wants A Shield, But For What?

Today's New York Times editorial argues for the passage of a federal shield law that would allow reporters to keep their sources confidential, proscribing law-enforcement agencies from subpoenaing journalists to reveal sources unless they can prove imminent danger as a result. They use the current Plame investigation as proof of the necessity for such protection: Witnesses spoke of the dozens of subpoenas that have been issued to journalists in recent times and the half-dozen or more reporters who have been found to be in contempt of court for doing their jobs - some journalists, like Judith Miller of The Times, have actually been jailed. As Mr. Dodd pointed out, the idea that jailing reporters will inhibit journalism is not a theoretical worry. Norman Pearlstine, editor in chief of Time Inc., testified yesterday that since his decision to turn over notes in the Valerie Wilson case to the federal prosecutor, Time...

July 25, 2005

The Gray Lady Impersonates Kos

The New York Times published a rather offensive opinion piece by Standford history professor David M. Kennedy today, in which he describes our military as "mercenaries" and decries the dangers of the volunteer armed services: THE United States now has a mercenary army. To be sure, our soldiers are hired from within the citizenry, unlike the hated Hessians whom George III recruited to fight against the American Revolutionaries. But like those Hessians, today's volunteers sign up for some mighty dangerous work largely for wages and benefits - a compensation package that may not always be commensurate with the dangers in store, as current recruiting problems testify. Those who sign up for the wages and benefits must find it somewhat disappointing, as neither matches what one can receive with an above-average public-school education. Ask our military families how good they have it on those oh-so-attractive wages and benefits. A private makes...

July 27, 2005

Independent? Really?

The AP reports on a Council on Foreign Relations analysis which takes George Bush to task for postwar planning. The report, which claims that the administration did not consider the extent of nation-building required after the "stunning" military victory over Saddam Hussein, had two interesting people in charge of the "independent" CFR project: An independent panel headed by two former U.S. national security advisers said Wednesday that chaos in Iraq was due in part to inadequate postwar planning. Planning for reconstruction should match the serious planning that goes into making war, said the panel headed by Samuel Berger and Brent Scowcroft. Berger was national security adviser to Democratic President Clinton. Scowcroft held the same post under Republican Presidents Ford and George H.W. Bush but has been critical of the current president's Iraq and Mideast policies. CFR hired Brent Scowcroft as a sop to the GOP, of course, but anyone who...

July 29, 2005

An Odd Lesson In Ethics

Lawyers have a saying that warns, "Hard cases make bad law." The Miami Herald may need to adjust that for journalism after a bizarre set of circumstances led to the firing of star columnist Jim DeFede for supposedly violating the law and the ethical standards of the Herald. How did DeFede get axed? It all started with a call from his friend, who happened to commit suicide in the Herald's lobby shortly afterwards: It seemed like a throwback to "Miami Vice": an eccentric politician, recently accused of money laundering and soliciting male prostitutes, fatally shoots himself in the lobby of The Miami Herald after an anguished phone conversation with a star columnist. But the storyline grew even stranger on Thursday as employees of the newspaper reacted with outrage after learning that the columnist, Jim DeFede, had been fired for secretly taping his conversation with the distraught man - a possible...

Armstrong Williams: Many Apologies, Light On Remorse

The Hill reports today that Armstrong Williams has positioned himself for a comeback after a disastrous fall from grace at the beginning of this year. When USA Today discovered that Williams had taken $241,000 to promote the No Child Left Behind program from the Department of Education without ever disclosing his relationship with the program, his credibility took a well-deserved beating. Williams lost his broadcast jobs and his syndicated column, and his business fortunes looked bleak. Now the Hill reports that Williams has rebuilt his column and landed a new radio show in New York. He feels good about his comeback and wants people to know that he learned from the experience. However, he holds a grudge against conservatives who joined in the fierce criticism of his actions: The 45-year-old commentator admitted he made a huge error in accepting Department of Education contracts to promote President Bushs No Child Left...

July 31, 2005

Dafydd: Flipper the Duck

Patterico has noticed an astonishing claim by Howard Dean -- no, I mean astonishing even on the Dean Scale -- a few days ago (I can't find the exact date). Here comes Mr. Chairman: The president and his right-wing Supreme Court think it is "okay" to have the government take your house if they feel like putting a hotel where your house is. Let us all ponder this audacious argument. My old dictionary defines "chutzpah" as Lizzie Borden pleading for mercy from the judge on grounds that she's an orphan. But next year's edition will eschew written examples in favor of a photo of Chairman Dean. What Dean has done, of course, is simply to flip the political identity of the justices on the Court; in Dean's world, it was the "right-wing" caucus on the Court -- Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter, and Kennedy -- that ruled in favor of the...

August 2, 2005

Not That We Blame You, Of Course ...

Bill Clinton has a new spokesperson, the AP reports this morning. Jay Carson replaces Jim Kennedy, who has a new job flacking for Sony Pictures in Hollywood. Carson has a long history with the Democratic Party -- and something tells me that this new job might have provided a way for the Democrats to shorten it a bit: Former President Bill Clinton has hired a new spokesman, a veteran of the Howard Dean 2004 presidential campaign and New York City's 2012 Olympics bid. Jay Carson was also a former press secretary for Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and has worked for the Democratic National Committee. Clinton's office announced Carson's hiring Tuesday. Hmm. Let's see: Dean campaign -- self-destructs. NYC's Olympic bid finished out of the money. Tom Daschle managed to go from the Senate caucus leader to private citizen. The DNC just got co-opted by Mad How disease, whose series of...

Tapscott: No One Mourns The Wall?

Mark Tapscott wonders why the mainstream media and the blogs haven't shown more interest in a statement by the New York Times' Bill Keller last month essentially admitting that "even sophisticated readers of The New York Times sometimes find it hard to distinguish between news coverage and commentary in our pages." Mark writes that no one seems all that shocked to hear Keller admit this: I blogged at length on Keller's memo and the committee report June 28. But besides postings by other bloggers, reports in Editor & Publisher, some pieces in Salon and Slate and an edition of PBS's excellent "On the Media" radio show hosted by Bob Garfield, Keller's comment has all but disappeared since its initial public appearance in mid May. That invisibility might be attributable to some degree to professional courtesy among editors, but my guess is that it is more related to not wanting to...

August 3, 2005

Miller's Conscience Goes Unrewarded

Judith Miller and her status as First Amendment martyr has provided a lesson in the shifting principles of the Exempt Media during her imprisonment for protecting her sources. She has not garnered the sympathy normally garnered from her media colleagues -- not because she broke the law and defied a court order, but because she protects sources they don't especially like. The latest example of this got the attention of Editor & Publisher, which reports that an independent writers group has rescinded an award for Miller: The board of The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) has voted unanimously to reverse an earlier decision to give its annual Conscience in Media award to jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miller, E&P has learned. The group's First Amendment committee had narrowly voted to give Miller the prize for her dedication to protecting sources, but the full board has now voted...

August 4, 2005

AP Editorializing Through Headlines Again

The Associated Press has returned once again to its bad habit of editorializing with headlines that have no substantion in the story. CQ reader Retired Military sends this latest example of the abuse, topping a story about combat losses for sons of Ohio. Titled "Ohio Families Fed Up With Loss of Marines," nothing in the story offers any such sentiment: Rosemary Palmer and her husband were making plans to attend memorial services for six Marine reservists killed earlier this week five of them from the same battalion as her son, Lance Cpl. Edward Schroeder when two uniformed servicemen came down her street. ... For relatives of those in the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, there has been a sudden spike in such grim visits from uniformed servicemen. Schroeder, 23, of Cleveland, and 13 more Marines from the Ohio-based battalion were killed Wednesday along with a civilian interpreter in the...

The Gray Lady Turns Into The National Enquirer

Note: This originally appeared as an update on my post about Jon Corzine and the article regarding the loan to his ex-girlfriend. I'm posting it separately instead. Speaking of news priorities, now we know why the Paper of Record has failed to report on Air America's misappropriation of city grant monies earmarked for poor kids and Alzheimer's patients. Drudge reports that the Times would rather try to dig up dirt on the adopted children of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts: The NEW YORK TIMES is looking into the adoption records of the children of Supreme Court Nominee John G. Roberts, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned. The TIMES has investigative reporter Glen Justice hot on the case to investigate the status of adoption records of Judge Roberts two young children, Josie age 5 and Jack age 4, a top source reveals. ... A TIMES insider claims the look into the adoption...

Novak Walks Off

Bob Novak blew a gasket today and stormed off the set of CNN's "Inside Politics", one of the usually more sane political reviews on cable news. After having spent years on "Crossfire" with Paul Begala, Michael Kinsley, and Bill Press, one would think that Novak had thick enough skin to do a straight-up three-way interview with Ed Henry and James Carville. Apparently not. Novak and Carville started discussing the allegations made by Florida Republican Katherine Harris that the media distorted her pictures deliberately during the 2000 post-election fiasco, colorizing them to make her look more gaudy and overly made up. Up to that point in the interview, the three had conducted themselves courteously, even graciously. When Carville attempted to interrupt Novak, however, Novak got incensed and may have created an FCC violation for CNN: CARVILLE: Yes. You know the two happiest people in America today about this decision, is Bill...

August 5, 2005

Hoist Upon Her Own Petard

Nancy Clark writes a sports column for the Des Moines Register. Bloggers could be forgiven for having never heard of her, but she certainly has heard about bloggers, if yesterday's column gives any indication. She gives vent to a hilarious rant about the credibility of the Exempt Media while denigrating bloggers ... and manages to unwittingly demonstrate why the blogosphere exists in the first place. First, one has to understand how frustrating it must feel to write a sports column in Des Moines. Iowa's capitol has a population "approaching 200,000", making it more equivalent to a suburb in most places, and hardly attracting much attention from sports teams. That explains why Clark's lead sounds so humorous: Today I'll be talking with Dan McCarney. The bloggers won't. I'll also be posing questions during Iowa State's media day to Bret Meyer, Todd Blythe and Jason Scales. The bloggers won't. Monday, I'll be...

Novak Apologizes

Robert Novak apologized to CNN viewers today, for storming off the set of Inside Politics and using an expletive in response to an exchange with James Carville. He did not attempt to justify or explain his actions, and did not use the excuse that pressure from the Plame investigation caused his patience to run short: Robert Novak apologized Friday for swearing on the air and walking off a CNN set, but said it had nothing to do with the federal probe sparked by his revelation of a CIA officer's name in a 2003 column. "I apologize for my conduct and I'm sorry I did it," he said in an interview. CNN has pulled him off the air indefinitely. Novak said "I'll follow their guidance" on when he returns. As Michelle Malkin notes, this is how to apologize and take responsibility, as opposed to the "I'm sorry you were offended" apologies...

August 6, 2005

Nancy Clark Checks Out

Yesterday I took my lunch break to feast on the efforts of sports columnist Nancy Clark at the Des Moines Register to denigrate bloggers as rumormongers and liars, while holding herself up as a paragon of the "journalism of verification". Several CQ readers sent Clark their responses to her misfired braodside. Hopefully they will not hold their breath waiting for a response, because apparently Ms. Clark has her own special method of handling criticism from her readers, as CQ reader Seybernetx found out (emphasis mine): At the risk of "pulling a Nancy", I emailed a reply to Clark's column, saying pretty much what all of you have said here. The response? -------------------------- Your message To: Clark, Nancy Subject: Feeling a little pressured, are we? Sent: Thu, 4 Aug 2005 20:35:03 -0500 was deleted without being read on Fri, 5 Aug 2005 14:09:41 -0500 ----------------------------- It seems that all of the...

August 7, 2005

Peter Jennings, RIP

Peter Jennings has passed away after a months of combating lung cancer, his colleagues at ABC News announced late tonight: In announcing Jennings' death to his ABC colleagues, News President David Westin wrote: "For four decades, Peter has been our colleague, our friend, and our leader in so many ways. None of us will be the same without him. "As you all know, Peter learned only this spring that the health problem he'd been struggling with was lung cancer. With Kayce, he moved straight into an aggressive chemotherapy treatment. He knew that it was an uphill struggle. But he faced it with realism, courage, and a firm hope that he would be one of the fortunate ones. In the end, he was not. "We will have many opportunities in the coming hours and days to remember Peter for all that he meant to us all. It cannot be overstated or...

August 10, 2005

CNN, Keeping Their Viewers (Mis)Informed (Updated & Bumped)

The controversy over NARAL's advertisement opposing the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court may not do the damage that the pro-abortion lobbying group desired, but it may well bury what's left of CNN's credibility. After taking a beating today when the nonpartisan site Factcheck.org called its claims that Roberts supported violence against women "false" and "especially misleading", NARAL still managed to sell the advertisement to a television channel -- and not just any TV station, but supposedly truth-based CNN, according to the Drudge Report: CNN has reviewed and agreed to run a controversial ad produced by a pro-abortion groups that falsely accuses Supreme Court nominee John Roberts of filing legal papers supporting a convicted abortion clinic bomber, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned. The news network has agreed to a $125,000 ad buy from NARAL for a commercial which depicts a bombed out 1998 Birmingham, AL abortion clinic. The...

August 21, 2005

Unbalanced Coverage Of An Unbalanced Protest

Patterico gets an op-ed in today's LA Times, as part of their "Outside the Tent" series of external criticism. He focuses on the coverage provided by the LAT on the Sheehan protest in Crawford, a scolding that applies to more outlets than just California's largest daily: The Times uncritically reported Sheehan's claim that the president had behaved callously in a June 2004 meeting with her and her husband, refusing to look at pictures of Casey or listen to stories about him. The Times claimed without qualification that Sheehan "came away from that meeting dissatisfied and angry." But the article failed to mention that Sheehan had previously described Bush as sincere and sympathetic in the meeting. According to an interview with her hometown paper, the Vacaville Reporter, Sheehan had said that although she was upset about the war, she decided not to confront the president who clearly left a favorable...

Rich 'Swiftboats' Himself Into Irrelevancy

Rarely does a columnist for a national news outlet publish a piece as intellectually bankrupt as Frank Rich's entry today in the New York Times. The only item in the column that has full engagement with the truth is this single, lonely statement: Nicholas D. Kristof and David Brooks are on vacation. Otherwise, Rich engages in transparent sophistry that must be fisked to be believed. First Rich decries the supposed character assassination of Cindy Sheehan by engaging in the same tactic himself: Once Ms. Sheehan could no longer be ignored, the Swift Boating began. Character assassination is the Karl Rove tactic of choice, eagerly mimicked by his media surrogates, whenever the White House is confronted by a critic who challenges it on matters of war. The Swift Boating is especially vicious if the critic has more battle scars than a president who connived to serve stateside and a vice president...

August 23, 2005

WaPo Trots Out The Chickenhawk Smear (Update)

The Left has tried for months now to smear supporters of the war as "chickenhawks", people who encourage the war but do not want to fight it themselves. On its face, this rejects the entire notion of civilian control over the military and foreign policy. It also assumes a callousness on the part of those who advocate for military action when needed, that men and women somehow hold no value to us as Americans unless they happen to be us. Such personal attacks completely avoid having to argue the merits and disadvantages of military action as opposed to other strategies, reducing the intellectual level of the anti-war advocates to mindless namecalling. Unfortunately, the Washington Post joins that crowd with a laughable look at recruitment by Terry Neal. Neal deduces that middle-class and wealthy parents, all of whom he assumes vote Republican, go out of their way to keep military recruiters...

September 15, 2005

'Toxic' Flood Another Example Of Katrina Hysteria

The Washington Post debunks another part of the media hysteria that has surrounded the Hurricane Katrina devastation -- the myth of the supertoxic flood. We have heard over and over how the raw sewage and chemical brew unleashed by the levee break made the flood so toxic that mere skin exposure put people at extraordinary risk for major illnesses. Test, however, show nothing unusual about the flood water: Early tests on the floodwater that covered most of this city do not suggest it will leave a permanent toxic residue or render residential areas uninhabitable for more than a short time, officials of both state and federal environmental agencies said yesterday. The pollution consists primarily of fecal matter and slightly elevated concentrations of metals such as lead and chromium that were in the city's soil before Hurricane Katrina. There are also trace amounts of many petroleum-based chemicals and some pesticides. Despite...

September 19, 2005

Media Just Discovers That New Orleans Was Poor

One of the points George Bush made in his speech that garnered both praise and criticism was his acknowledgement that the enduring poverty of New Orleans caused the poor to suffer more proportionally in the flooding of the city in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. Bush proposed a number of efforts to rebuild the city in such a way that the poor get an opportunity for renewed economic engagement and ownership of their homes and businesses. His recognition of the problems of poverty, race, and class won Bush some applause from the media, but most of them wondered why it took a hurricane before he addressed the problem. Howard Kurtz, however, notes that the media hardly has room to squawk about the poverty issue. The two premier East Coast newspapers have barely written 1,000 words in a decade about poverty in the Big Easy, and a cover story on Newsweek has local...

September 29, 2005

Judy Miller Scoots From Jail

Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who went to jail rather than reveal her source only to endure the scorn of her colleagues for supposedly not reporting critically enough on the Iraq War, has now left prison and named Scooter Libby as her source on the Plame case. Miller spent three months in jail before finally calling Dick Cheney's longtime aide to verify that he had waived their confidentiality agreement: After nearly three months behind bars, New York Times reporter Judith Miller was released Thursday after agreeing to testify in the investigation into the disclosure of the identity of a covert CIA officer. Miller left the federal detention center in Alexandria, Va., after reaching an agreement with Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald. She will appear before a grand jury investigating the case Friday morning. "My source has now voluntarily and personally released me from my promise of confidentiality regarding our...

October 6, 2005

The White House Spy Scandal That Maybe Wasn't

Last night, ABC News broke a story that a spy had been discovered inside the White House, working for Dick Cheney's staff -- a headline that wound up at Drudge and rounded the blogosphere. ABC said that the arrest of Leandro Aragoncillo created the "first case of espionage in the White House in modern history." Not so fast. The New York Times provides important clarification this morning, noting that Aragoncillo did his spying after his security detail at the White House, and that no evidence exists (yet) of any such activity during his tenure as a security staffer for Al Gore and Dick Cheney: The F.B.I. agent, Leandro Aragoncillo, 46, of Woodbury, N.J., an American citizen who was born in the Philippines, was charged Sept. 12 with passing classified information to government officials in Manila. The charges filed against Mr. Aragoncillo relate only to classified information that officials say he...

October 13, 2005

Another Katrina Media Myth Down The Drain

Remember the "toxic soup" that flooded New Orleans, the one that the media widely reported was so polluted that mere momentary exposure could burn the skin and create potentially mortal illness for Katrina victims? As with the widespread gunfire, rapes, and murders, the toxic soup turns out to be another media myth. The Washington Post reports that an extensive look at the floodwaters reveals that its composition appears equivalent to floodwaters anywhere else: The floodwater that covered New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was not unusually toxic and was "typical of storm water runoff in the region," according to a study published yesterday. Most of the gasoline-derived substances in the water evaporated quickly, and the bacteria from sewage also declined over time, the scientist leading the study said. The water's chief hazard was from metals that are potentially toxic to fish. However, no fish kills have been reported in Lake Pontchartrain,...

Painful Admission Of Progress At The Gray Lady

Part of the limited amount of enjoyment one gets from reading the New York Times editorial page comes from seeing how they acknowledge what should be celebrated as good news. During Republican administrations, that usually means a healthy dose of caveats, irrelevancies, and redirected credit intended on convincing people that the good news amounts to little more than potential bad news, and if it doesn't turn out badly, it all happened in spite of the Republicans in charge. Today's acknowledgement of the success in establishing a democratic political dynamic in Iraq provides a delightful case in point: It has been hard to make sense of America's involvement in Iraq for a long time now. Arguments that our soldiers are risking their lives to protect the United States from terrorism, or deadly weapons of mass destruction, have come to nothing. The only logical basis for staying the course has been the...

The Free Fall That Wasn't

Dan Froomkin wrote a breathless column for today's web edition of the Washington Post that should have been pulled. Instead, the Post allowed it to remain on the site with a buried nugget that negated the entire thrust of his article. Titled "A Polling Free-Fall Among Blacks", Froomkin related the findings of an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that supposedly gave George Bush a 2% approval rating among African-Americans: In what may turn out to be one of the biggest free-falls in the history of presidential polling, President Bush's job-approval rating among African Americans has dropped to 2 percent, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. The drop among blacks drove Bush's overall job approval ratings to an all-time low of 39 percent in this poll. By comparison, 45 percent of whites and 36 percent of Hispanics approve of the job Bush is doing. Given that George Bush got 9%...

October 22, 2005

How Keeping $50 Could Save Your Sanity

God bless the New York Times Editorial Board and their new $50 Firewall of Sanity. The new paid service called Times Select keeps compulsive readers like me from accidentally reading Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich, Paul Krugman, Bob Herbert, and other nonsense routinely featured in the Paper of Record. Whenever I read the RSS headers from the locked-out articles from these "stars" of punditry, it gladdens my heart to know that the Times has found it necessary to give us a $50 excuse not to pay attention to them. Today's Dowd column provides an excellent example of this dynamic. Her column, titled "Woman of Mass Destruction", gets this one-line summary: Sorely in need of a tight editorial leash, Judy Miller was kept on no leash at all, and that has hurt this paper and its trust with readers. Excuse me, but Maureen Dowd wrote this about Judy Miller? With Dowd's deliberate...

October 23, 2005

Another Katrina Myth Explodes

In the aftermath of the hysterical ranting of the news media during the Katrina coverage, we have found a number of memes that have collapsed when seriously examined: rampant rapes, cannibalism, and the toxic flood that kills by its very touch. Now we can add to that the virulent race- and class-baiting that claimed from almost the moment the levees broke that poor blacks got left to die while the rich strolled out of the Big Easy: The city's two worst-hit neighborhoods, the data show, were the Lower Ninth Ward, the predominantly black, working-class community east of the French Quarter, and Gentilly, a fast-gentrifying area where homeownership rates among middle-class blacks had been rising before the storm. Each neighborhood accounted for 31 to 75 deaths, according to the mapping data, which assigned a range of deaths for each region of the city, rather than an exact figure. More surprising were...

October 25, 2005

March To War Had More Than Miller For A Drumbeat

Reading the news about Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame these days, one would come away thinking that if not for Judith Miller, the United States would never have gone to war with Iraq in 2003. The New York Times reporter gets routinely pilloried for her close ties to administration officials and the way they supposedly used her to put false stories into the mainstream media. She gets almost no credit or sympathy from her own industry for spending three months in jail for defending a principle that all of them see as critical to their profession, that of the protection of confidential sources as key to a free press. Instead, people at her own paper (who have their own legitimacy and truthfulness issues) call her names and sneer at her work. However, Robert Kagan reminds Washington Post readers that Miller hardly started the WMD-in-Iraq reporting. In fact, that theme began...

October 27, 2005

Gray Lady Likes A Quagmire When The UN Is In Charge

In a strange editorial this morning, the same New York Times editorial board that has consistently demanded a withdrawal of America from a supposed quagmire in Iraq apparently wants to continue one in Kosovo. The Times decries the idea of settling the open question of the province's final status before the Kosovars demonstrate their ability for self-government -- and want to continue the same kind of Western occupation that it supposedly finds so objectionable in Iraq: We have argued that Kosovo is neither prepared for nor deserving of independence. Its Albanian majority has shown no tolerance toward the Serbian minority and little capacity for self-government. Kosovo has no army, only a fledgling police force and powerful mafias. ... The Security Council would be foolish to use the Ahtisaari mission to extract itself from a bad situation as soon as possible. Even with the best of intentions, an independent Kosovo will...

November 5, 2005

Gray Lady Doesn't Like Democracy

The New York Times editorial board should consider putting its own essays behind the $50 sanity firewall, playing to its elitist core audience rather than the broader sphere of readers that engage in the political process. Today's editorial on referenda exposes Pinch's crew as the worst kind of elitists -- those who believe that American voters cannot be trusted with a democracy at all, but should instead rely on their betters to instruct them on how to behave: Government by referendum should come with a warning: vote yes at your own risk. Measures placed on the ballot by citizen initiatives are by their nature missing the devil of the details. The questions are designed to be brief, often to the point of being misleading or confusing. When the list is interminable, as it is in some states this year, the overwhelmed voter might be best advised to just say no....

November 9, 2005

The End Of A Strange Interlude

One of the strangest chapters in the modern mainstream media came to a close today with the resignation or termination of Judith Miller from the New York Times. No one will be sure which actually happened, because in an extension of the he said/she said dynamic that has highlighted their relationship, neither Miller nor NYT executive editor Bill Keller can agree on reality. Here's the Paper of Record on the end of the relationship: The New York Times and Judith Miller, a veteran reporter for the paper, reached an agreement yesterday that ended her 28-year career at the newspaper and capped more than two weeks of negotiations. Ms. Miller went to jail this summer rather than reveal a confidential source in the C.I.A. leak case. But her release from jail 85 days later, after she agreed to testify before a grand jury, and persistent questions about her actions roiled long-simmering...

November 10, 2005

Haaretz Fails As A Source

One would suspect that of all news sources that would have some sensitivity to urban legends regarding secret Jewish conspiracies, Haaretz might be primary among them. Unfortunately as bloggers discovered today, they apparently aren't. They started what will surely become an urban legend of advance Jewish knowledge of the Amman bombing, even with al-Qaeda claiming responsibility today, by falsely claiming initially that Jordanian intelligence evacuated Israelis from the targeted hotels minutes before the bombs went off in yesterday's attack. Haaretz posts a "correction" at the link they used to spread what turned out to be an unsubstantiated rumor, but don't bother to apologize for it. Instead, Yoav Stern reports on the false rumor as if Haaretz debunked it themselves: There is no truth to reports that Israelis staying at the Radisson SAS hotel in Amman on Wednesday were evacuated by Jordanian security forces before the bombing that took place there....

November 11, 2005

American Media Quit The French Riots Story

If an American consumer read today's newspapers, he would assume that the riots in France have ended. None of the major newspapers that had covered the uprising have any specific updates today on the story, despite the continued overnight violence and an increase in the oddball metric of burnt cars in Paris. Other than an a long-overdue address to the nation by Jacques Chirac and an analysis that repeats the same line the press has taken since the beginning of the crisis, nothing would inform readers that the streets of France remained ablaze last night. Reuters carries the more factual update: Police went onto high alert in Paris on Friday as France began a holiday weekend likely to test a downward trend in two weeks of violence by youngsters angered by conditions in rundown suburbs. The country's worst unrest in four decades has receded since President Jacques Chirac's government adopted...

November 12, 2005

AP Misses Story On French Media Coverage Of Riots

The AP has a report out this afternoon regarding the supposedly cautious approach of the French media on reporting the riots. Elaine Ganley notices the toned-down news coverage of the social unrest and violence, but misses at least one large part of the reason why the French media have started to play down the story: At least two television stations scaled back broadcasting images of flaming vehicles a mainstay of coverage to avoid stoking violence. Some channels decided not to provide daily police figures on the number of cars burned overnight, in the thousands since troubles began Oct. 27. Is it self-censorship? Or a sense of responsibility? Television stations that are holding back deny any influence from police, who insist publicity for the riots has fueled "copycat" violence. Instead, the stations say they don't want to play into the hands of rampaging youths seeking coverage of what they...

November 19, 2005

Woodward Apologetics 101

The Washington Post, suddenly finding itself in much the same position as the New York Times in the Plame Flameout, goes on defense in today's editorial. Facing the scorn of other journalists for supposedly protecting a conservative rather than a liberal leaker, the Post defends Bob Woodward's actions and reminds journalists about the point of protecting sources: The longtime Post reporter disclosed this week that, while conducting research for a book, he received information from an administration official about Ms. Plame before her identity was revealed by Robert D. Novak in a July 2003 column. That information was potentially relevant to Fitzgerald's investigation and to a news story that has been extensively covered in this and other papers. Mr. Woodward said he told one Post reporter at the time what he had learned but did not disclose the source. Mr. Woodward recently testified to the prosecutor, with the source's permission...

November 25, 2005

Another Katrina Media Myth Bites The Bullet

Yesterday's Los Angeles Times reports that another myth of the Katrina hurrican and its aftermath has been exposed. The infamous "snipers on the bridge" incident that supposedly kept relief contractors from rescuing helpless victims turns out to have been a media-fueled urban legend, according to witnesses. The "five or six" snipers taken out by the police department turns out to be two, and one of those was a mentally-handicapped man whose only venture out of his house in years apparently came out of desperation for food: Even in the desperate days after Hurricane Katrina, the news flash seemed particularly sensational: Police had caught eight snipers on a bridge shooting at relief contractors. In the gun battle that followed, officers shot to death five or six of the marauders. Exhausted and emotionally drained police cheered the news that their comrades had stopped the snipers and suffered no losses, said an account...

November 30, 2005

The Value That Keeps Shifting

Anne Applebaum writes an op-ed in today's Washington Post defending the use and protection of anonymous resources in reporting and punditry, with the somewhat-ironic title "The Value of Anonymity." In her essay, she rightly notes the role that these sources provide in getting to the real data behind the PR smokescreens erected by bureaucrats of all stripes: Some of us will get the balance wrong -- there are bad and corrupt journalists, just as there are bad and corrupt members of any other profession -- and some of us will make mistakes. But the alternative to a relatively open, relatively comfortable relationship between the press and the government isn't exactly attractive. Earlier this week the owner of a Jordanian newspaper visited The Post. He described his efforts to open up the press in his country, to ease laws that restrict what topics the press is allowed to address, and to...

December 6, 2005

What The Media Ignored In Its DeLay Reports

Yesterday, Tom DeLay won an impressive ruling from Judge Pat Priest in his trial on money-laundering and conspiracy charges surrounding the transfers of cash between local and national GOP organizations three years ago. Priest dismissed the original indictment of DeLay, the grand jury bill in which prosecutor and DeLay's personal Jauvert Ronnie Earle felt so confident that he immediately went out and burned through two more grand juries to get a different indictment just to be sure he could get something that stuck. However, if one reads the Washington Post and the New York Times this morning, it would appear that DeLay lost yesterday -- because both papers leave out a significant portion of the story. Both papers get this much correct: A Texas judge dismissed one charge against Representative Tom Delay on Monday but let stand two more serious charges, complicating Mr. DeLay's hopes of regaining his post as...

December 9, 2005

Who Will Be Time's Man Of The Year?

Longtime CQ reader Monkei gave me a great idea this afternoon. With the end of the year coming up, Time Magazine will shortly be selecting its Man (or Woman) of the Year, an always-controversial topic among its readers and in the blogosphere. Monkei suggested the US Coast Guard, but didn't explain it -- maybe he'll throw in with a comment. Who would you like to see Time "honor" as the person who made the biggest difference in the world in 2005? George Bush? Abu Musab al-Zarqawi? Condoleezza Rice? Paul Volcker? Nominate your suggestions in the comments section, and we'll pick six or seven by Sunday that appear to be the most popular as finalists. I'll post a poll afterwards that we can run until Time makes their own selection known and see how close we got. Please note that this is not an open thread, and so comments should reflect...

December 11, 2005

Biggest. Anticlimax. Ever.

New York Times Magazine, according to Editor & Publisher, had a report on the blogosphere that would create a storm of controversy. The Michael Crowley report would show that while liberal blogs outnumbered and in some cases outdraw conservative bloggers, the right side has more effect on politics because of the nexus of talk radio and Drudge. As it turns out, that's all Crowley had to say. He should sue E&P for lifting his entire 283-word article for their 360-word description of it. Crowley offers no support, no research, not even a hyperlink to the two bloggers he mentions in his threadbare blurb. As for his central assertion -- that conservatives have superior message discipline because of orders received on high from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and Drudge -- Michelle Malkin takes that down with a series of of references to high-tension debates on the right this year, primarily the...

December 12, 2005

Salon's Commitment To Freedom As Constant As Wind Direction

Earlier in the Captain's Quarters archives, I wrote about the threshold of democracy in relation to Afghanistan. The measure of a democrat, I wrote, isn't whether he supports the results when he wins, but when he loses. Until one accepts the results of elections even when they go against their wishes, they do not practice democracy but hypocrisy. Hypocrisy oozes from Salon's latest effort from Cary Tennis, and the magazine itself should explain the reason for their continued presentation of Tennis. Not only does his latest "advice" show him as a pseudo-democrat, but singularly lacking in basic understanding of the American political system: At a certain point in the near future, if the current oligarchy cannot be removed via the ballot, direct political action may become an urgent and compelling mission. It may then be necessary for many people in many walks of life to put their bodies on the...

December 14, 2005

Paper Of Rumor And Urban Legend

The Confederate Yankee catches the New York Times with its pants down, reprinting rumor as fact and getting caught on a single-sourced story that attempts to discredit the upcoming Iraqi elections. Dexter Filkins reported this morning that trucks inbound from Iran had carried forged ballots for the Iraqi elections with the intention of skewing the results for the Shi'ites: Less than two days before nationwide elections, the Iraqi border police seized a tanker on Tuesday that had just crossed from Iran filled with thousands of forged ballots, an official at the Interior Ministry said. ... The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said the Iranian truck driver told the police under interrogation that at least three other trucks filled with ballots had crossed from Iran at different spots along the border. The official, who did not attend the interrogation, said...

December 15, 2005

Gray Lady's Editorial Page: What Elections?

In my post below, I ask whether the world has finally gotten the message that all people of all backgrounds want and deserve freedom, as demonstrated by the Iraqi elections. Media watches might expect that serious newspapers around the world will address the lessons to be drawn from this historic event. Not at the Paper of RecordTM, however; the message -- and the elections -- seem to have escaped the attention of the editorial board at the New York Times. The RSS feed for the Opinion page at the Times just updated with tomorrow's articles. Here's what readers of the Times will see addressed by the opinion leaders of what was once the most influential of all American dailies: * Don't rush to renew the PATRIOT Act (even though it's about to expire after four years) * The Red Cross may not be motivated to fix its problems * Chad...

December 17, 2005

Why Did The Gray Lady Play Coy With Its Scoop?

One of the eyebrow-raising revelations from the New York Times scoop on the secret NSA operation to intercept international communications came from the story itself, which acknowledged that the Times held back from publishing the story for a year. Today, the Washington Post's Paul Farhi takes a look at why the Times spiked the story for so long -- and why it decided to publish now: In an unusual note, the Times said in its story that it held off publishing the 3,600-word article for a year after the newspaper's representatives met with White House officials. It said the White House had asked the paper not to publish the story at all, "arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny." ... The paper offered no explanation to its readers about what had changed in the past year to warrant publication. It...

December 18, 2005

Time Jumps The Shark

We had a great post up here at CQ nominating people for Time's Person Of The Year, which Monkei and I wanted to turn into a poll for the finalists. Real-life events got in the way of the second step, but I'm reasonably sure that whatever CQ voters would have decided would have made a lot more sense than Time's selections for Persons Of The Year -- Bono, and Bill and Melinda Gates. Bono? Bill Gates? Mrs Bill Gates? Whatever for? For being shrewd about doing good, for rewiring politics and re-engineering justice, for making mercy smarter and hope strategic and then daring the rest of us to follow, Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono are TIME's Persons of the Year. ... The Constant Charmer The inside story of how the world's biggest rock star mastered the political game and persuaded the world's leaders to take on global poverty. And...

December 20, 2005

What A Shock! The FBI Investigates Domestic Terrorism!

The New York Times has yet Another Major Scoop for the completely clueless. After informing the nation that the NSA intercepts international communications last Friday, the Gray Lady now spills the beans that the FBI investigates domestic terrorism and has jurisdiction to conduct intelligence operations to prevent it: Counterterrorism agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have conducted numerous surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations that involved, at least indirectly, groups active in causes as diverse as the environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief, newly disclosed agency records show. F.B.I. officials said Monday that their investigators had no interest in monitoring political or social activities and that any investigations that touched on advocacy groups were driven by evidence of criminal or violent activity at public protests and in other settings. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, John Ashcroft, who was then attorney general, loosened restrictions on the F.B.I.'s investigative powers, giving...

December 21, 2005

A True Case Of Discrimination

LaShawn Barber got an interview request from the Baltimore Sun to discuss Morgan Freeman's recent comments about the silliness of Black History Month, remarks which I didn't interpret as especially conservative more than just common sense. I doubt that Freeman meant the remarks as an endorsement of the conservative viewpoint, for that matter. Freeman just pointed out the dismissiveness and compartmentalization that occurs when everyone gets their little time slice; it's about the most condescending approach that one can take towards a group. Read LaShawn's post to find out what happened when the Sun's reporter couldn't get her to criticize Freeman ... but I bet you can already guess what happened, can't you?...

December 22, 2005

The Gray Lady -- Captain Obvious

First the New York Times "discovers" that the NSA intercepts communications as a key part of its national charter, stirring up a hornet's nest only to find out that intercepting international communications is legal. Next, the editors "discover" that the FBI conducts counterterrorism investigations to combat domestic ecoterrorism involving political-action groups that might channel funds to the lunatics that commit bombings and arsons around the nation. Again, the Times doesn't find any illegal activity, but just breathlessly reports that the government conducts surveillance on people to find the criminals. Now the Gray Lady keeps drilling down into the epidemic of law-enforcement competency by discovering that New York's finest goes undercover at protests to ensure that the demonstrations remain peaceful and do not front for domestic or foreign terrorist groups: Undercover New York City police officers have conducted covert surveillance in the last 16 months of people protesting the Iraq war,...

AP Caught In More Bias

Michelle Malkin proves that she can do addition -- and reporting -- better than the AP, even with the latter's multiple layers of editorial control. I guess no one ever bought these guys a calculator. Corruption -- even in the Abramoff case -- extends to both parties, and both parties need to come up with a solution. Reporting like this just gets in the way. UPDATE: Patterico wrote to point out the correct URL for Michelle's post, along with several other CQ readers. Sorry for the confusion!...

December 27, 2005

Death Throes Of The Exempt Media, Vol. MCCLXII

Today's example of the Exempt Media meltdown comes from the Washington Post in a hack-job report on blogger Bill Roggio. I'd write about it, but Hugh Hewitt, Paul Mirengoff, and Bill himself have done an excellent job in tearing Jonathan Finer and Doug Struck into tiny shreds. I have to express some disappointment with the Post in this instance. While I know they write from a liberal viewpoint, I've usually considered them more fair and professional than the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, although in both cases that can fairly be called damnation by faint praise. In this case and in their coverage of the John Roberts nomination especially, they have gotten carried away by their prejudices and need to correct their reporting if they want to maintain anhy kind of credibility. Right now, they remind me of the proverbial little girl with the curl smack in...

December 29, 2005

Milking Cookies

In the denouement of the fizzling meme of NSA as Big Brother, the New York Times features an AP report on the intelligence agencies inadvertent use of persistent cookies in its new web system. The software came with persistent cookies as the default for any new installation, and the NSA forgot to disable it when it upgraded its website. Predictably, the AP and the Times (and CNN and the Guardian in the UK) treat this as yet another example of NSA abuse: The National Security Agency's Internet site has been placing files on visitors' computers that can track their Web surfing activity despite strict federal rules banning most files of that type. The files, known as cookies, disappeared after a privacy activist complained and The Associated Press made inquiries this week. Agency officials acknowledged yesterday that they had made a mistake. Nonetheless, the issue raised questions about privacy at the...

December 30, 2005

Exempt Media Blows Cover On Another Key Counterterrorism Program

In another attempt to find something sinister to hang onto the Bush administration, another secret program constituting a major part of the war on terror has been exposed by another member of the Exempt Media. This time, the Washington Post uses its contacts in the CIA to expose an umbrella program called GST, the code for a loose affiliation of dozens of programs designed to locate and fight terrorists abroad rather than wait for them to show up here. Nothing about the article stands out as a smoking gun, it never alleges anything specifically illegal, but Dana Priest writes the front-pager as a warning that the President has gone out of control in defending the US from attack: Over the past two years, as aspects of this umbrella effort have burst into public view, the revelations have prompted protests and official investigations in countries that work with the United States,...

January 1, 2006

Connecting Dots Alarms The Washington Post

In the second non-scandal today, the Washington Post runs a Walter Pincus revelation that the NSA intercerpts from Bush's program have been shared with law-enforcement agencies and other intelligence services in order to track people deemed threatening to the security of the US. Once again, we have another would-be exposé that fails to include even a general allegation of any wrongdoing, instead relying on the readers to supply their paranoia to what amounts to a success story for American defense in the war on terror: Information captured by the National Security Agency's secret eavesdropping on communications between the United States and overseas has been passed on to other government agencies, which cross-check the information with tips and information collected in other databases, current and former administration officials said. The NSA has turned such information over to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and to other government entities, said three current and...

January 2, 2006

Journos Reckon With Empowered Readership, Still Mostly Clueless

The media revolution of the past three years has introduced a level of empowerment to the consumers of mass media unlike anything that has ever existed before, and that empowerment comes primarily through the blogosphere and the Internet. The New York Times' Katherine Seelye explores some of the impact felt by journalists and editors at having to make themselves accountable to their readers: Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel, or so goes the old saw. For decades, the famous and the infamous alike largely followed this advice. Even when subjects of news stories felt they had been misunderstood or badly treated, they were unlikely to take on reporters or publishers, believing that the power of the press gave the press the final word. The Internet, and especially the amplifying power of blogs, is changing that. Unhappy subjects discovered a decade ago that they could...

January 4, 2006

Which Tragedy?

The USA Today headline speaks volumes about the sad state of today's American media in on-the-spot recording when it states, "Media forced to explain inaccurate reports on tragedy" -- and we're forced to ask, "Which tragedy?" In this case, USA Today is speaking about the tragic reporting that gave a nation false hope that twelve miners had miraculously survived an explosion in another tunnel: Newspapers, wire services and cable news networks all failed in one degree or another to do their jobs properly when they reported that 12 men had survived the coal mine disaster in West Virginia, media critics and chastened editors say. The collective failure was most apparent Wednesday morning on front pages across the nation. Headlines, including in about 45% of USA TODAY's 2.2 million copies, proclaimed the miners were alive. Other newspapers that put similar reports on their front pages in at least some editions include...

January 8, 2006

Justice Sunday III: The Yahoo Factor

One of the advantages of attending these events in person along with the other media folks is a chance to see how news gets presented from the ground up. The present case in point: headline writers. Kimberly Hefling from the AP filed a report on the press conference and the run-up to the event. Despite the straightforward report she wrote, which outlined the event on a clearly factual and non-biased basis, this was the headline in the Yahoo! feed: Conservatives Split Ahead of Alito Hearing I recognized Kimberly's name and walked over to where she's sitting, and introduced myself. I asked her if she knew anything about the headline, and she looked at her own AP feed. The headline that came from the AP itself just noted that "Conservatives Rally On Eve Of Alito Hearings". It seems that Yahoo! must read between the lines to see a conservative split that...

Justice Sunday III: The WaPo Response

Another moment of media sausagemaking -- expect the Washington Post report on JSIII to lead with implied criticism of Dr. Herbert Lusk, the pastor of the Greater Exodus Baptist Church, for staging this event after garnering over a million dollars in federal government grants for community-building projects. Those grants, covered last week by the New York Times, come from the Bush effort to channel more money through established community groups such as churches so that the funds go directly to solving problems rather than recreating another bureaucracy. No one has offered any evidence that Dr. Lusk has not used the money effectively or kept it for himself, but the implication will be there nonetheless. Watch for it tomorrow or tonight......