October 03, 2007

The Limbaugh "Phony Soldiers" Kerfuffle

The crew at the Blogometer have a good round-up of the controversy surrounding Rush Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" phrase. What I find interesting, and sad, is how the Left has left the concept of "context" way behind them. When Media Matters criticizes Limbaugh, they lead one to believe that something said less than 2 minutes later, never mind the day before, is irrelevant to context.

Limbaugh himself suggests (and not without a little self-serving promotion) that you need to listen to his show for 6 weeks before you can get a good feel for it, especially his schtick. Media Matters and its liberal lemmings want to believe, at least for the moment, that Limbaugh began broadcasting yesterday, which is the only way they can say that he is abusive to the troops.

Posted by Doug at 03:32 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 27, 2007

Telling Comedy From Reality

It appears that too many on the Left are willing and eager to accept Jon Stewart at face value, forgetting that his show is, y'know, not an actual news show.

“Idiots are now convinced that Dubya doesn’t know Nelson Mandela is still alive,” writes Abu Wabu. “What has in fact died, and what a miserable, stinking death it was, is real intellectual rigor on the idiot left.” As made evident by followers of Daily Show host Jon Stewart, “a voice for democratic ideals and the noble place of citizenship”, at least according to Tom Brokaw. Pity, then, that Stewart’s idealistic nobility is wasted on an audience of morons:
Thursday’s episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Oh my God. How funny was it? And for a very wrong reason indeed. I’ve already shared it with others. George W Bush thought Nelson Mandela is dead? Dude! How wrong could he possibly be!

Hat tip to Tim Blair, who has a host of other examples. And, of course, if these Nuance Nabobs would take a look at the context, they'd see that Stewart's hack job just fed them plastic red meat, that they gobbled up. This wouldn't be so scary if "The Daily Show" weren't so many people's primary news source.

It's a comedy show, folks. Treat it with way more skepticism than your average nightly news program.

Posted by Doug at 05:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 25, 2007

Free Speech for Thee, But Not for Me...Sort of

The appearance of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia University was trumpeted by portions of the Left as a big win for "free speech". I'm reminded of the saying used quite often; an open mind, like an open window, still needs a screen to keep the bugs out. Just because our republic isn't going to collapse if we let an evil man speak doesn't mean we should offer up a forum for him.

But apparently, the Left has its own version of the screen. If the speech exposes the dirty laundry of the Left, it should be screened out.

Early this summer, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign for president learned that the men’s magazine GQ was working on a story the campaign was sure to hate: an account of infighting in Hillaryland.

So Clinton’s aides pulled a page from the book of Hollywood publicists and offered GQ a stark choice: Kill the piece, or lose access to planned celebrity coverboy Bill Clinton.

Despite internal protests, GQ editor Jim Nelson met the Clinton campaign’s demands, which had been delivered by Bill Clinton’s spokesman, Jay Carson, several sources familiar with the conversations said.

GQ writer George Saunders traveled with Clinton to Africa in July, and Clinton is slated to appear on the cover of GQ’s December issue, in which it traditionally names a “Man of the Year,” according magazine industry sources.

And the offending article by Atlantic Monthly staff writer Josh Green got the spike.

Wasn't it supposed to be George W. Bush that participated in this kind of stifling of dissent?

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September 24, 2007

TV Screen Clutter

The clutter on your TV screen is getting worse.

Kyra Sedgwick, star of “The Closer” on TNT, walks under a police tape and scans the screen with her flashlight. And every time she does, she makes Gretchen Corbin, a technical writer in Berkeley, Calif., irate.

The promotional ads for “The Closer” run in the bottom right of the screen during other TNT programs — a graphic called a snipe. But for Ms. Corbin, who sometimes watches movies that have subtitles, the tiny images block the dialogue.

“Some ad just took over the entire bottom of the screen so I missed what the characters said to each other,” said Ms. Corbin, describing a recent experience. “And it’s TV, so you can’t rewind.”

Snipes are just the latest effort by network executives to cram promotions onto television screens in the age of channel surfing, ad skipping and screen-based multitasking. At first, viewers may feel a slight jolt of pleasure at the sight of a new visual effect, they say, but over time the intrusions contribute to the sense that the screen is far more cluttered — not just with ads, but with news crawls and other streams of information.

Not just "snipes" but full blown, full-color, moving ads that take away from the current show, sometimes obscuring it. This really is way too much.

This ranks right down there with a feature on news channels that appeared after 9/11: The Scroller(tm). On a day when terrorism hit the US, keeping up with more news than just what was being covered at the moment was very useful. But when The Scroller is noting who's won a local mustache and beard contest, it's usefulness has long, long been outlived. Give me some of my screen back, guys

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September 18, 2007

Democratic Candidates Continue to Show Partisanship

The Fox News Channel is somehow too biased, supposedly, for a fair presidential debate, but the Huffington Post and Slate aren't?

Democratic 2008 presidential hopefuls parried unusual questions about flatulent cows and "spoiled brat" voters, as well as Iraq and health care, in the first exclusively online campaign "debate."

The "mashup" forum hosted by Yahoo! in partnership with the blog Huffington Post and online magazine Slate, allowed voters to compare responses to similiar questions on burning issues, posed by talk-show host Charlie Rose.

Democrats are simply not interested in fairness and balance. Republicans are going to participate in their own debate hosted by left-wing political web sites. But for Democrats to complain about Fox's bias while embracing a host that is even more biased to the left than about any MSM outlet you can name is the height of hypocracy. Their concern about "bias" is all talk, and completely disingenuous. It is their problem that this highlights, not Fox's.

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September 14, 2007

When the Polls Don't Match the Narrative

I'm not a big fan of opinion polls, especially when average Americans are polled on a subject that they really don't know or can't know much about. One of the recent polls that the media has enjoyed reporting the results of is whether folks think the "surge" in Iraq is working.

Frankly, the average American, myself included, has no way to know definitively whether the surge is "working" or not. It mostly depends on your definition of "working" and what you're hearing from the news media. A poll of people without all the facts -- and if you're not in the military or the government, you probably don't have nearly enough facts -- is pretty much useless.

Still, the media like to use them to generate news, and back in July, CBS News polled Americans and found that 19% thought the surge was "making things better". However, when that poll started to go against the liberal media narrative of how bad things are going there, their coverage reflected their displeasure at the outcome.

On the day of the long-anticipated report from General David Petraeus on the "surge," the CBS Evening News ignored how its latest poll discovered the third straight month of an increase in the percent of Americans who believe the surge has "made things better" in Iraq. As the percentage has gone up, CBS's interest in the result has gone down. In July, anchor Katie Couric led with how only 19 percent thought the surge was "making things better" and a month later, in August, when that number jumped to 29 percent, CBS and Couric gave it just 12 seconds 20 minutes into the newscast..

While Monday's CBS Evening News skipped how the share crediting the surge for "making things better" rose to 35 percent in the survey conducted through Saturday, the newscast found time to highlight three other findings that stressed public opposition to the war and distrust of President Bush.

When the poll backs the narrative, it leads. When it doesn't, find some other way to ask the question to get the "right" response.

Oh, that liberal media.

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August 27, 2007

A Forced Moral Equivalence

Clayton Cramer watched CNN's "God's Warriors". While he was encouraged to see some programs, like "Teen Mania", covered, Christiane Amanpour appeared to him to be trying to draw moral equivalences where there weren't any.

As much as CNN may feel the need to draw bogus moral equivalences, they failed. What is wrong with Islam isn't a few kooks on the edges, but a large and dangerous faction of Islam.

Teen Mania runs a school in Texas where they train their people. They have all sorts of very strict rules: no smoking; no alcohol; no R-rated movies; and skirts have to be a certain length.

Amanpour had the nerve to suggest that this was like the Taliban. Yes, except the Taliban executed homosexuals, "loose women," prohibited girls from receiving an education; banned clapping at sporting events; made apostasy from Islam a capital crime; blew up the symbols of other religions. Yes, that's quite similar to a dress code. How did I miss the comparison?

Trying to keep kids on the straight and narrow used to be lauded. Now it's compared to extremist terrorism by our "mainstream" media.

Posted by Doug at 04:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Covering the Genocide...Or Not

If we pull out of Iraq soon, and if there is a massacre there on the scale of the millions in the Killing Fields of Cambodia, will the news media tell us about it? If you look at the history of the media, probably not, since they didn't say much about those very Killing Fields. The Media Research Center highlights a 1982 study done by George Washington University professor William Adams, in which he documented how much coverage, between 1975 and 1978, the media gave this holocaust. The short answer:

Television coverage averaged "less than thirty seconds per month per network."

The study also compares the coverage to that of the Jonestown suicides, and debunks the excuse TV gave at the time that there were no pictures and without that there isn't a story. It also slams the print media for their lethargy.

Oh, that liberal media.

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August 08, 2007

Live By the Polls, Die By the Polls

Many on the Left try to disparage any action Bush has taken by citing his poll numbers, especially regarding the war in Iraq. If the public doesn't like it, it shouldn't be done, or so goes the argument. Well, as I've said here many times before, I hate polls, but if you want to live by them, are you willing to die by them? Whatever you said about Bush when his poll numbers were dropping, is the opposite true now that they're rising?

We're seeing some slight hints of positive news for the Bush administration. For one thing, Bush's job approval rating has stopped its downward trajectory. Bush hit bottom with his administration low point of 29% in early July (based on our USA Today/Gallup poll readings). Now - in the data just about to be released from our weekend poll - Bush's approval rating has recovered slightly to 34%. That's not a big jump, but it is the second consecutive poll in which the president's numbers have been higher rather than lower.

Is the war a better idea now because the "surge" numbers are going up? (Emphasis mine, for a point to be made later.)
Also, we are seeing a slight uptick in the percentage of Americans who say the "surge" in Iraq is working. That may not be a total surprise given the general tone of news out of Iraq recently, including the positive light on the situation put forth by Michael E. O'Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack in their widely-discussed New York Times op-ed piece "A War We Just Might Win" on July 30. But it represents a change.

Indeed, the most recent New York Times/CBS News poll itself found a slight increase in the percent of Americans saying that the U.S. did the right thing in taking military action in Iraq, and were so uncertain about it that they redid the survey. And found the same results.

While public opinion can be important with regards to a war, the very transient nature of it shows that it's not a good idea to lean too heavily on it regarding public policy.

The role of the media should not be discounted, either. Most of the media folks are down on the war, and the stories they cover and how they cover them mirrors much of that. And, as emphasized above, those reports and opinion pieces shape the way people think about the war and other topics, so when the media ignore all the good stories coming out of Iraq and then trumpet poll results as bolstering their view, it is very disingenuous. They know full well how their actions game the numbers. A single opinion piece by liberals who finally decided to see for themselves what was going on was a big factor, Gallup says, in bringing the numbers up. This says to me that if the public knew all the good things happening in Iraq -- if they got the fair and balanced full story -- the poll numbers would be quite different.

I say again, I hate polls. My opinion on whether we should have gone to war in Iraq is not based on the feel-good (or feel-bad) story of the week, or how well the war is going today. But for enough folks, it does matter, and thus polls are the worst kind of "news" story. However, I am more than happy to hold those who do hold polls in high regard to their own standards.

Posted by Doug at 01:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 07, 2007

Media Hall of Shame

What do Dan Rather, Eason Jordan, Gavyn Davies, Howell Raines and now Thomas Beauchamp all have in common? They're all in John Wixted's Liberal Media Hall of Shame for ruining their own careers because of lies told to promote a liberal agenda. Wixted notes that this appears to be very one-sided.

Career-ending journalistic insanity -- mostly attributable to the war in Iraq -- appears to be almost exclusively a phenomenon of the left. If you know of some prominent counterexamples, though, please set me straight.

This is why diversity of opinion within journalism is required, rather than the incredibly left-leaning crowd we currently have. As fair and balanced as they might believe they are, whenever we have scandal like this, it always seems to be coming from one side.

Wixted does try, though, to scrounge up at least one example from the right.

By way of comparison, who are the conservative reporters who are torpedoing their own careers by fabricating stories about Clinton or Reid or Pelosi? I can't really think of any. The only conservative reporter who comes to mind is an extremely minor one by the name of Jeff Gannon whose "offense" was to ask a softball question of Bush during a press conference. If liberal reporters were similarly slimed for asking questions of an opposite nature (i.e., questions designed to make Bush look bad), we would not have a White House Press corps.

But somehow the Left in this country can't see past their own partisanship, and instead whine about Fox News and the Washington Times.

Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, this is pot.

Update: Link fixed.

Posted by Doug at 01:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 17, 2007

Bee Replaces Mouse as Kiddie Suicide Symbol

Ain't Hamas television just so cute?

Hamas’s Al-Aqsa television station recruited a new children’s character to “continue” the legacy of its star martyr, Farfur – the Mickey Mouse lookalike who was beaten to death by an Israeli on the previous program.

The new character on the children’s show Tomorrow’s Pioneers, a bee named Nahool, tells the hostess he is Farfur’s cousin and that he wishes to “continue the path of Farfur… the path of martyrdom, the path of the Jihad warriors… and in his name we shall take revenge upon the enemies of Allah, the murderers of the prophets...” The expression "Murderers of the prophets" is an Islamic expression used by the PA religious leaders to refer to Jews. Defining the Jews as the enemies of God is common in PA religious broadcasting.

Entertaining and educational as always.

Posted by Doug at 01:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 06, 2007

When Does a Massacre Matter?

Confederate Yankee has some serious questions for the AP.

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June 22, 2007

Liberals Miffed, See Government as Savior

OK, that's a "dog bites man" headline if there ever was one, but here's the latest example. A report by CAP, the Center for American Progress (PDF is here, though I had trouble loading it into Acrobat Reader), entitled "The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio" notes how many more conservative talk radio stations there are than liberal ones. No news there.

What the report suggests is that the government should step in and "fix" this. Again, no news there. What's really funny is how they frame it. They play both the race and gender card, and bring up the non sequiter of who owns the radio stations. From the coverage on "Think Progress", here's the two paragraph they quote from the report discussing this (emphasis theirs).

Our conclusion is that the gap between conservative and progressive talk radio is the result of multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory system, particularly the complete breakdown of the public trustee concept of broadcast, the elimination of clear public interest requirements for broadcasting, and the relaxation of ownership rules including the requirement of local participation in management. […]

Ultimately, these results suggest that increasing ownership diversity, both in terms of the race/ethnicity and gender of owners, as well as the number of independent local owners, will lead to more diverse programming, more choices for listeners, and more owners who are responsive to their local communities and serve the public interest.

So if only more radio stations were owned by women and minorities, we'd have more liberal talk radio.

Short answer: No.

Liberals once again demonstrate their lack of familiarity with that concept called the "free market". People don't listen to a radio program -- music, talk, news, entertainment, whatever -- based on who owns the station. They listen to what they want to listen to based on content. They have their preferences, and that's what they listen to. This isn't to say a rock-and-roller won't occasionally peek over to the jazz station, or that folks can have very eclectic tastes, but by and large people stick with their preferences.

Now, a radio station stays in business, generally, by making money. (This is central to the "free market" thing. Liberals, please read this. Others can skip to the next paragraph.) They do this by finding a need or want in the community and filling it. Not enough hard rock? Play it! Not enough 18th century classical? Get it! Not enough hard news? Report it! Not enough comedy? Program it! But here's the catch: if you're wrong -- if there is enough 18th century classical music on the radio -- you won't have enough listeners to allow the advertising revenue pay for your expenses.

If you're operating at a loss, generally you go out of business, or try another idea (not enough 20th century avant-garde new age pipe organ music?). Unless you're Air America, in which you just get infusion after infusion of cash from big, corporate rich guys, and if that fails, you legislate.

And that's precisely what CAP is suggesting; making laws to determine how much anybody can own in a market so that they can, maybe, get people to listen to their programs. As I said, a non sequiter. When Air America came to Atlanta, the radio station carried the whole slate of talkers, morning til night. I would occasionally listen to Randi Rhodes on the way home just to hear how the other half thought, but I just couldn't believe that's what the other half really thought. Way too much conspiracy theory. So I didn't listen to her with any regularity. A year or so later, the station is sold (most likely due to coming in last in the market with a 0.0 rating), changes format to an Eclectic Arts station and Air America was off the air in Atlanta. Didn't matter who the owner was. It was unprofitable in the extreme. (And the new owner went from owning 1 to 2 radio stations; definitely an "independent local owner".)

And that's why Air America and "progressive" radio in general isn't out there on the airwaves as much as conservative talk. Hardly anyone listens to them. It's a simple business calculus. But instead of making their product better, the Left seeks to get the government to force the issue.

Are you now waiting for the Left to propose the same thing for the newspaper or broadcast TV media as well? Hold not thy breath. A "Fairness Doctrine" that covers more than just radio? That'll never happen, because those other outlets generally lean left. Which goes to show that when the Left whines about fairness, it's all one-sided. Nothing fair about it.

Posted by Doug at 12:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 18, 2007

BBC Internal Report Admist Bias

As if we needed them to tell us this.

The BBC has failed to promote proper debate on major political issues because of the inherent liberal culture of its staff, a report commissioned by the corporation has concluded.

The report claims that coverage of single-issue political causes, such as climate change and poverty, can be biased - and is particularly critical of Live 8 coverage, which it says amounted to endorsement.

OK, first off, major kudos to the BBC for looking into this and admitting it. However, this is long, long overdue. The Biased BBC blog could have told them this, for a lot less money, I'm sure.

Continuing on in the Telegraph story comes another "shocking" revelation.

The report concludes BBC staff must be more willing to challenge their own beliefs.

It reads: “There is a tendency to 'group think’ with too many staff inhabiting a shared space and comfort zone.”

Indeed when it's pointed out that 80+% of American journalists voted for Clinton, the retort is that it doesn't matter since they can still be impartial. However, the lesson from this is that the herd mentality is stronger than the Left gives it credit for, and that real diversity in the newsroom should consist more of diversity of opinion than just skin color. After all, the news businesses' product is information, and "group think" (or perhaps "myopic zeal") is more likely to slant news coverage than ethnic makeup is.

And this is just rich.

A staff impartiality seminar held last year is also documented in the report, at which executives admitted they would broadcast images of the Bible being thrown away but not the Koran, in case Muslims were offended.

No real need to expound on that; the bias (and fear) speaks for itself.

So now what? The Times of London's editorial on this nails it.

That the BBC should investigate itself is perhaps admirable, but only if it acts on the conclusions. The likelihood is that it will lament its shortcomings, pledge to do something and carry on much as before. Changing its cosy culture will take more than a report; some who have worked there say it would require a small neutron bomb. The BBC is a self-perpetuating liberal arts club. Recruitment is the key. It needs to employ more nonconformist journalists whose paper of choice is not The Guardian.

Indeed, diversity of opinion is what's required. Will it happen? Well, another arena that supposedly encourages full debate on subjects is academia, and the Left is heavily entrenched there as well, and they show no signs of wanting their orthodoxy and stranglehold challenged. A prediction that the Left in the media will do so is equally slim.

Posted by Doug at 09:56 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 17, 2007

Mental Torture in George Bush's America

The BBC reports on claims that we're mentally torturing inmates at Gitmo.

US detainee 'mentally tortured'

A Pakistani-born US resident detained at Guantanamo Bay has said he was "mentally tortured" there, according to a transcript released by the Pentagon.

Majid Khan, who has been accused of planning to blow up petrol stations in the US, also described how he tried to commit suicide by chewing on an artery.

After tales of how Mr. Kahn denies being an enemy, the last 3 paragraphs of the story described this awful "mental torture".
Mr Khan complained about how US guards had taken away pictures of his daughter, given him new glasses with the wrong prescription, shaved his beard off, forcibly fed him when he went on hunger strike, and denied him the opportunity for recreation.

This led him to attempt to chew through his artery twice, Mr Khan said.

Later, Mr Khan produced a list of further examples of psychological torture, which included the provision of "cheap, branded, unscented soap", the prison newsletter, noisy fans and half-inflated balls in the recreation room that "hardly bounce".

Oh, the ever-luvin' humanity. And this is what passes for "news" from the BBC. You can't just scan the headlines at the BBC; they may say the exact opposite of the truth. No mention in the headline that this was just a "claim" of mental torture.

And is this really newsworthy; a guy at Gitmo proclaiming his innocence while claiming that cheap soap and noisy fans are mental torture? It is to the BBC, apparently. Wild claims of torture where there is none are featured on their "Americas" front page. It has about as much validity as the latest UFO conspiracy theory, but that doesn't make the front page.

It's still all about the narrative.

Posted by Doug at 02:48 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 15, 2007

Jerry Falwell Dead

Jerry Falwell has died at the age of 73. Love him or hate him, he did have a huge impact on US politics; US News named him one of the 25 most influential people in America in 1983.

Put a person in front of a camera long enough, and you're sure to get fodder for plenty of Saturday Night Live skits. Falwell was certainly no exception to that, and did his share of apologizing for comments he made. Little is typically noted about what he did that didn't cause a stir--schools, homes for unwed mothers, a home for alcoholics--but those weren't headline-grabbing.

Falwell's fumbles were sometimes notable, sometimes infamous (the Tinky-Winky incident, and where he placed blame for 9/11, for examples), but he did get many conservative Christians out of the closet, so to speak, and get them involved in politics.

He was the go-to guy for many media networks whenever a Christian perspective was needed, giving the impression of a monolithic interest group that all thought like him. That's more a reflection on lazy journalists than it is on Falwell, but he handled them with aplomb, virtually always with a smile.

(And now that he's gone, what'll the MSM do for "Christian reaction"? Pat Robertson, clear your calendar. >shudder<)

Posted by Doug at 03:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 14, 2007

An Inconvenient Debate

While some schools are showing Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" without rebuttal, a university class is demonstrating that perhaps the global warming alarmists can't handle balance.

Nick Shipley, an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University freshman, had just spent a week of classes watching two films with polar-opposite conclusions about global warming.

"After watching 'An Inconvenient Truth,' I was relatively convinced," Shipley said one day last month in class. "(Al Gore) did a good job in presenting his points very methodically one after the other. They all build up to essentially prove his point.

"After watching 'The Great Global Warming Swindle,' my thinking completely changed," he said. "I kind of did a complete flip-flop."

It appears that the reason we have more global warming alarmists, especially on college campuses, is that the liberal activists and media are simply not...well....fair and balanced.

To be fair, both sides do their share of exaggeration, but both sides should still be allowed evaluation.

[James] Wanliss [space physicist who teaches the class] said he doesn't necessarily subscribe to either film, but believes his students -- and the public -- should remain skeptical of theories such as Gore's explanation of global warming.

Other Embry-Riddle scientists are less outspoken than Wanliss, but one -- John Olivero, professor and chairman of the department of physical science -- allowed that skepticism is an essential tool of the scientific method.

"Science lives with internal conflict all the time," Olivero said. "Part of what we have to do is continually challenge each other."

That process, they say, leads scientists closer to truths that may be elusive for lifetimes.

The truths of global warming are, if not inconvenient, incomprehensible, Wanliss argues.

"The atmosphere is incredibly complicated, and we know very little about it," he said. "We are studying a system which is so big . . . we don't know what all the variables are."

Pointing to quotes in magazine articles, Wanliss says Gore and the producers of the "Swindle" film are purposefully overstating their science as a means to a political end.

And yet the Left talks of their foes in Holocaust-denial terms. The stifling of dissent in Al Gore's America.

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May 11, 2007

The Blame Game, CBS Edition

Why are Katie Couric's ratings in the tank? Linda Mason, CBS News' Senior Vice President for Standards and Special Projects has a thought during this interview.

Linda Mason: I'm just surprised at how, almost 30 years after I worked on the "Evening News" as the first woman producer, that Katie is having such a tough time being accepted by the public, which seems to prefer the news from white guys, and now that Charlie's doing so well, from older white guys. I guess they want the reassurance of a Walter Cronkite.

So why, then, has CBS been in 3rd place since the mid 90s? Couric didn't start that trend. Neither did she start the trend of a ratings dive. That's been going on for at least a quarter century.

So blame the viewers. Suggest sexism and racism. Keeps you from having to answer the hard questions.

Posted by Doug at 08:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Newsworthy. Or Not.

With a hat tip to Clayton Cramer, a not-so-hypothetical question. If 3 retired generals (out of several thousand) come out against the war, and if almost 3,000 active-duty military come out asking for full support and full funding and don't want to retreat, are both these items newsworthy?

If you said Yes to the first part and No to the second part, you too could work for CNN or just about any other mainstream media outlet. (Except Fox News, of course. They covered both news items.) As of this posting, two days after the presentation to Congress, CNN has no mention at all of the "Appeal for Courage". Were it not for blog coverage, this might well have been swept under the rug by a media for whom this doesn't fit the narrative.

As John Hinderaker notes at Power Line, this is sort of a lab experiment. And the media failed, as is their habit.

Click here for more details on this petition.

Posted by Doug at 02:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 04, 2007

MSNBC: Fair and Balanced?

From watching the Republican debate, Mark Kilmer at Redstate notes some nuttiness on the part of the host.

Chris Matthews was moderating, and he used his forum to blast the Bush Administration in front of a group of Republicans who needed to keep their distance from that Administration. (NOTE: It was the same with Clinton (Bill) when he left office with half the contents of the White House in tow.) He asked Jim Gilmore if President Bush should shakeup his Administration. It's not a question for a Presidential candidate, one who would serve after the Bush Administration had left town, but it was part of Matthews' prank. He later asked Gilmore if he would keep Karl Rove in his Administration.

Is this the kind of shenanigans that Democrats allege would happen on Fox News, and why some of them decided to opt out? Fox-sponsored debates have had, as other debates have had, multiple questioners asking their own questions, and not just questioners from Fox. This one, however, essentially was a platform for Matthews to get in his digs. If MSNBC ever hosts a Democratic debate, it's a safe bet that none of them will opt out. It's not, by any means, a complaint about bias. It's simply that Fox doesn't drink the KoolAid (tm) that apparently MSNBC has a fridge full of.

But we're Republicans. We can take it. >grin<

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April 11, 2007

Diabetics Cured with Stem Cells. But What Kind?

An amazing medical breakthrough reported in the London Times today. In a small trial of patients, 13 of 15 diabetics given injections of stem cells did not need daily insulin injection 3 years after the treatment. Truly remarkable.

Now, there are 2 types of stem cells; adult and embryonic. What kind were these. The articles doesn't say specifically, but it leaves it to the reader to deduce that.

In a breakthrough trial, 15 young patients with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes were given drugs to suppress their immune systems followed by transfusions of stem cells drawn from their own blood.

Unless we're talking about fetal diabetics, the stem cells must be adult ones. Chalk up another win for stem cells that lack any ethical issues.

But note that the writer is more than happy to bring up the other type of stem cells specifically.

Previous studies have suggested that stem-cell therapies offer huge potential to treat a variety of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and motor neuron disease. A study by British scientists in November also reported that stem-cell injections could repair organ damage in heart attack victims.

But research using the most versatile kind of stem cells — those acquired from human embryos — is currently opposed by powerful critics, including President Bush.

By positioning these two paragraphs this way, the writer begs the reader to make the connection between this breakthrough and Bush's refusal to have the feds fund embryonic stem cell research. Even the linked article about heart attack victims won't use the word "adult" when talking about the stem cells.

What's worse, blatant media bias like this really works. Just read the comment section at the end (which I believe is in reverse chronological order) to find those who are against Bush's position but fail to realize the distinction.

Interesting that a major medical breakthrough, promising hope to millions of Type 1 diabetics and their families gets overshadowed by a debate on morality....


If you've had to stick a needle into your 11 year old twice/thrice daily would you object to stem cell research?
Get real this is the 21C. Blair n' Bush should spend the war money on this research!

Kids want fun/childhood, not adult ethics.


How sanctimonius some of the opinions on this discussion are. My brother and I have type 1 diabetes. I really don't care what type of stem cells are used if it finds a cure for this disease. Do you really equate a bunch of cells with an actual child or adult life? Is that serious? You would condemn people like me & my brother and countless others to living with this disease for ever because you believe that embryos are so important. That isn't moraility, its drivel.

And one fellow seems to think that if the government doesn't pay for it, it doesn't get anything.
You use your religious beliefs to prevent my tax dollars from funding embryonic stem cell research. Only adult stem cell research is funded, so only adult stem cell cures are produced. Then, you use the success of some adult stem cell research to deny the value of embryonic stem cells? What kind of twisted circular logic is that? Of course there aren't embryonic stem cell treatments if the research isn't funded.

All victims of media reporting.

Finally, one commenter makes a great point. Follow the money.

Let's not forget one of the biggest reasons that pharmas want to use embryonic stem cells. Money. If they use stem cells that come from a source other than a bonafide "Person", they can patent it and make lots of money from the treatment. You cannot patent adult stem cells as they come from and belong to a particular individual.

Posted by Doug at 01:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 27, 2007

"The Other Iraq"

Recently on the Public Radio program Open Source, Christopher Lydon did a show on Iraqi Kurdistan, or, as it's PR campaign calls it, "the other Iraq". You can listen to the show and read the show notes here on Radio Open Source. He interviewed Qubad Talabani, Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Representative to the United States and son of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, KRG Representative to the United Kingdom, and Peter Galbraith, former (and first) Ambassador to Croatia under Clinton, Senior Diplomatic Fellow at the Center for Arms Control, and Non-Proliferation Advisor to the KRG.

For some, it may be an eye-opening program. From the discussion of how Americans were indeed greeted as liberators, to the economic prosperity, to the lack of sectarian violence among the Sunni, Shia and Christian Kurds, this program should give pause to those saying we should get out of Iraq ASAP. In fact, both the Kurdish guests warned against a withdrawal too early. (Ambassador Galbraith, predictably, disagreed. More on that in a moment.)

The program was quite a departure from Lydon's show's usual fare. As is typical for public radio, the slate of guests is often slanted liberal, and many time 100% so. Lydon calls his show a "conversation", but it usually is a monologue from the Left. To have a program extolling the good things that have come from the war (even if the host can't bring himself to agree, insinuating that some of the responses sounded like "fantasy") is equal time that has been sorely missing from the media at large. Kudos to Lydon and the PRI folks for finally, if really belatedly, bringing the news.

The cognitive dissonance was deafening when Peter Galbraith did disagree at the end of the show with the idea of staying in Iraq. Here were the very people he's working to help asking for our continued help, and all he can do is shill for Hillary Clinton's presidential bid (by name) and say that, as she does, we need to get out of there because the Iraqi experiment has failed.

I'd ask him, and anyone else who said that the war in Iraq was and is a failure; what do you say to the Kurds? Were they and all other Iraqis not worth the effort to get rid of Hussein and his terror supporting and practicing regime? Just because some may not be handling freedom as well as we'd hoped, should we have left them all to the designs of the Ba'athists? If you blame the US for the violence in the south, are you prepared to credit the US for the peace and prosperity in the north?

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March 07, 2007

Safe Targets

First James Cameron trotted out bones to the Discovery Channel and made claims about them--that they were the bones of the biblical Jesus--that not even the man who discovered them claimed. Now ABC highlights a nut in Houston, giving him a platform to be legitimized, who claims to be Jesus. And the Anti-Christ. And who grew up stealing to pay for his heroin addiction. The headline reads, "Jesus Might Be Alive and Well in Houston", giving the story a "hey, it could be true" air.

(Hat tip to WorldViews.)

Amazing how the ever-sensitive media that blushed and turned away when the Danish cartoons of Muhammad came calling have no problem with airing the flimsiest story that calls Christianity into question. The gatekeepers have a very selective gate. As one commenter to the WorldView post said, "Do you think ABC would do a similar story about some character claiming to be Mohammed, Martin Luther King, Abraham etc?"

Yeah, me neither

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February 28, 2007

What's Good for the Goose...

Now that James Cameron is making a new documentary suggesting he's found the bones of Jesus, will Andy Rooney now castigate him for making money off of Jesus? He certainly took Mel Gibson to task for this. Think he'll do the same for Cameron?

Yeah, me neither.

Posted by Doug at 05:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 29, 2007

A Tale of Two Protests

Take two protests, both in our nation's capitol, both heavily attended, both on current hot topics. Should the coverage of the two by the "balanced" media be comparable? You'd think so. You'd be wrong.

Within one week, the liberal bias of the Washington Post has been made perfectly obvious. On Monday, tens of thousands of protesters emerged on Washington for the March for Life, but the hometown paper put the story on the bottom of page A-10 Tuesday morning. On Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters emerged on Washington for a rally against President Bush and the war in Iraq. The Post blasted that story across the front page on Sunday, complete with a large color picture taking a wide shot of hundreds of marchers and their signs and banners. Tuesday's story on abortion protests matched carried no wide shot of hundreds. It showed four pro-life marchers, and matched them with another picture of five feminists counter-protesting. There were no photos of conservative counter-protesters in the Sunday paper.

[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Sunday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The Post not only let the anti-Iraq rally dominate the front page, but devoted an entire page (A-8) to more photos and a story on student protesters. The front-page story carried over to most of page A-9. Jane Fonda's appearance at the march drew another story, placed on the front page of the Style section.

Newspaper coverage of events such as these pose a challenge for appearing fair, no doubt about it. A journalist writing a letter to the editor of his town's big paper, and an attendee of the March for Life, acknowledged this problem. However, he also believes that fear of appearing unbiased is keeping the coverage to a bare minimum.
What they [the local kids he travelled with] weren’t prepared for was calling home to find that their parents missed the minute-long coverage the event merited on the evening news. They weren’t prepared to arrive home on Tuesday afternoon and pick up the paper to find that there was no coverage whatsoever. It was almost as if the whole thing had been an illusion — that it hadn’t really been that big a deal.

As a member of the press, I have a respect for editors and the decisions they have to make about coverage. I know that the coverage of controversial issues and events presents special difficulty for editors, since a fair and unbiased newspaper covers multiple viewpoints. Most often, the press ends up being attacked by both sides for its attempt at what can only be described as a thankless task. The Tribune has covered local pro-life events and issues in the past.

But abortion in general and the March for Life in particular have always presented special difficulties for a newspaper that sets out to present unbiased coverage. How does one present unbiased coverage of an event like the march, which is overwhelmingly one-sided? The solution in past years has been a careful weaving together of this pro-life event and the various counter-protests that have surrounded it.

But recent marches have made this difficult, since the number of counter-protesters has dwindled over the years. It seems that the media has found it difficult to maintain unbiased coverage simply because there are no pro-choice protesters to be found. Following what seems to be a justified editorial philosophy, coverage of the March has likewise dwindled even as the annual event grows in size.

Thus it seems that pro-choice protesters have found their absence more valuable than their presence.

As applied to the Washington Post, however, the sentiment is likely misplaced. The Post didn't seem to have any problem ignoring dissenting opinions. When you show one picture for and one against, you leave the impression that the representations of the two points were similar. The did this with the March for Life, but definitely not for the anti-war protest.

For some newspapers, it may be a tough call. For the Washington Post, the bias has already made the decision.

Posted by Doug at 01:29 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 24, 2007

Scooter Making News, But Not Sandy

Tom Maguire at Just One Minute has been pulling out the details from the Libby trial and the Plame kerfuffle for quite some time. As much as they have covered it, if you get your news from the TV or the paper, you may not have heard much about some of these nuggets. Example from yesterday

Ted Wells drops the news that David Gregory of NBC received a leak about Plame from Ari Fleischer on July 11:
Now shows Ari dislcoses [sic] to David Gregory on July 11 that Ambassador Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. Fleischer tells that before Libby was ever indicted. "I told David Gregory." Talks about time difference, says Ari leaked to Gregory first.

Now let's flash back to October 29, 2005, just after the Libby indictment. Russert has gathered the Washington Bureau to discuss the case on CNBC's "Tim Russert Show". At the time, I excerpted the transcript and suggested they were rehearsing their cover story. So let's cut to David Gregory:
GREGORY: And it is interesting--it's also interesting, I should just point out, that nobody called me at any point, which is unfortunately...
WILLIAMS: Apparently not.
GREGORY: ...not the point.
RUSSERT: Does anybody ever?
GREGORY: But I just wanted to note that.
RUSSERT: I've been meaning to talk to you about that.

Basically, given this and other discrepancies, it looks like the journalists haven't been completely upfront with what they knew and when they knew it. And Libby is the fall guy. Joe Wilson wanted to see Karl Rove frog-marched for what Joe thought was Karl's role in the leak (a leak that, still, no one has been indicted for), but perhaps we should be marching some reporters.

(Keep up with Just One Minute. Tons of good information on the Libby trial and the misinformation coming out of it.)

Meanwhile, there's been little to no coverage on the Sandy Berger story. If you have to ask, "Sandy who?", you're forgiven. Libby is being tried for an alleged lie to investigators in a case of the "leaking" of the name of a CIA employee who worked at CIA headquarters every day. Berger didn't do much, really, which explains the lack of interest by the media. All he really did is steal classified documents from the National Archives, hide them in his pants, destroy them, and keep potentially damaging information about President Clinton from reaching the 9/11 Commission. No big deal, right? Especially for those reporters for whom this really goes against the narrative.

Now Sandy reached a plea deal that kept him out of prison, but there's still the matter of knowing what he took. Part of that plea deal included a lie detector test to find out what he took, as a number of those documents were originals that had no copies. The Justice Department is dragging its feet, but some Representatives are trying to get this moving again.

Eighteen House Republicans have urged the Justice Department to proceed with a polygraph test for Samuel R. Berger, the former national security adviser who agreed to take the test as part of a plea of guilty of stealing documents from the National Archives.

"This may be the only way for anyone to know whether Mr. Berger denied the 9/11 commission and the public the complete account of the Clinton administration's actions or inactions during the lead-up to the terrorist attacks on the United States," the congressmen said in their letter to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.

The congressmen -- led by Rep. Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia -- said a prompt lie-detector test is needed to determine the extent of Mr. Berger's thievery, especially because the former Clinton administration adviser reviewed original documents for which there were no copies or inventory.
Mr. Davis, former chairman and now ranking Republican on the House Government Reform Committee, released a report by his staff on Jan. 9, saying a Justice Department investigation of Mr. Berger's admitted document theft was "remarkably incurious."

The report said the theft compromised national security "much more than originally disclosed" and resulted in "incomplete and misleading" information to the September 11 commission. It said Mr. Berger was willing to go to "extraordinary lengths to compromise national security, apparently for his own convenience."

In October, Mr. Davis led an effort to hold hearings to determine whether any documents were "destroyed, removed or were missing" after visits by Mr. Berger to the Archives. He said the full extent of Mr. Berger's document removal "can never be known" and the Justice Department could not assure the September 11 commission that it received all the documents to which Mr. Berger had access.

In an attempt to get some more attention to the Berger situation, Bill Bennett asked listeners to his radio show, "Morning in America", to come up with songs about it. (You can hear some excerpts of the entries and the well-done winner here.) This just hasn't garnered a lot of press, but with all the talk about implementing all most of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations, wouldn't everyone want to make sure that the commission had all the facts? And therefore wouldn't getting full disclosure be a top priority of those wanting to implement them? Then why is it that only Republicans are pushing to get the whole story?

And why isn't more being reported on this? (OK, that question's rhetorical.)

Posted by Doug at 10:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 17, 2007

Misrepresenting Climate Policy, the Associated Press Way

Yeah, this is a hat tip to a 2-day-old Instapundit post, which is eons in blog time, but I thought it worth highlighting. In this story about how the tiny country of the United Arab Emirates beats the United States per capita in putting "demand on the global ecosystem", this line is mentioned about the second place US.

The United States is no longer bound by Kyoto, which the Bush administration rejected after taking office in 2001.

But as Glenn notes, based on a passage from what he calls "the not especially Bush-friendly Wikipedia", that is simply not true. You can chalk it up to "mere" incompetence or "simple" laziness, but it seems that almost always when the mainstream media get incompetent or lazy, conservatives and/or Republicans suffer (and liberals and/or Democrats look better). Honestly, when's the last time any news source (or your friendly, neighborhood liberal buddy) correctly noted that Clinton never submitted it to the Senate for ratification? If your going to insist that Bush"rejected" it, you must say the same thing about Clinton & Gore (notwithstanding Gore's "symbolic" signing of it; liberal good intentions don't count if they don't produce results).

Somehow, the fact that 80-90% of journalists vote Democrat just doesn't seem to register with folks like Eric Alterman who insist that the media lean conservative. That Bush "rejected" Kyoto is such a Known Fact(tm) in those circles does make its way into reporting, and it ain't the only thing that does.

Posted by Doug at 10:01 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

January 03, 2007

Patterico Skewers L.A. Times

Patterico is out with his annual round-up of liberal bias, general incompetence, and some bright spots from his favorite target; the L. A. Times. It's amazing to me (OK, not really) that when the media make huge mistakes in coverage of big news items, it's virtually always in a way that tilts left. And all this while some think the media has a conservative bias.

Posted by Doug at 02:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 20, 2006

NBC Responds to Madonna Crucifix Display

Looks like NBC is responding to pressure not to show the singer Madonna up on a mirrored cross during the upcoming televising of her concert.

After weeks of controversy, NBC has decided not to show pop star Madonna suspended from a giant cross and wearing a crown of thorns when the network airs a special of her "Confessions" tour, a source close to the organization of the event said on Thursday.

The source spoke after NBC announced it had revised the two-hour concert special, which airs November 22, but did not elaborate on what changes would be made.

The source said the portion of the "Live to Tell" song in which Madonna sings suspended from a giant cross and wearing a crown of thorns will not be shown in the broadcast. Instead, cameras will cut to other shots or images while Madonna is on the cross. She steps away from the cross to finish the song.

Whether this means that NBC is developing something of a spine, or if this is purely a financial decision (some affiliates "expressed uneasiness" about carrying the special) is yet to be seen. However, couple this with the addition of a religiously toned-down version of the Christian-values "Veggie Tales" for Saturday mornings by NBC, and the network seems to be moving back somewhat from the general media position that it's OK to offend Christians. Baby steps, but in the right direction.

Posted by Doug at 02:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 04, 2006

Affecting the Culture

What would your church do to make an impact on our culture, if it had $100,000 at its disposal? One Baptist church decided to make a movie; a high-quality movie with a good message that is competing favorably against Hollywood's offerings.

It was made by a church on a donated budget of $100,000 with volunteer actors, but instead of a low-budget castoff, "Facing the Giants" held its own against Hollywood's big boys in its opening weekend, grossing $1.4 million on only 441 screens.

Officials say the production, by Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., was released by Samuel Goldwyn Films and ranked No. 12 for all films over its first weekend, even though other films had up to eight times as many screens. Its per-screen average of $3,149 was fourth among the top 10 grossing weekend films.

"I think this sends a clear message to Hollywood that there is an audience who does want to see a positive, uplifting film that promotes faith and family values," said Michael Catt, the senior pastor at Sherwood Baptist and executive producer for the project.

"Hopefully, this will open the door for more organizations to bring other quality-content projects to the big screen," he said.

With the lower cost of entry now that movie production has gone digital, this sort of project is now possible.

I can imagine that some might say that this was money that could have been better spent on other projects. But I'd say that a lot of those projects are being done by other churches. I'm happy to see that, just as with individuals, different church bodies have different gifts, and they should be free to use them as God directs (no pun intended).

Besides, based on the box office receipts, this movie could not only encourage Christians and bring the good news to non-Christians, it will likely bring in more money to be used on more conventional projects.

Proceeds are to be used for a 40-acre youth recreational park planned by Sherwood Baptist in Albany, officials said.

Let's celebrate the unconventional, and ask God for more of it.

Posted by Doug at 01:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 27, 2006

There's Negative, and Then There's Negative

The negative campaign season is upon us. Republicans and Democrats are geared up and ready to takes shots at each other. I've never really had a problem with negative campaigning in principle. I think it's perfectly relevant to have one candidate point out where the other's actions have gone against his past or present promises and stated positions. There's a fine line when you get into the personal lives, but if a candidate says one thing and acts quite differently, it could be fair game.

Having said that, I'm uncomfortable with some of the new negative ads that Republicans are putting out. While both sides are going negative (again, not necessarily a bad thing in my book), according to the NY Times it looks like the Republicans are going negative on mostly personal issues while the Democrats are going negative on political issues. And given the examples cited, the Republicans are disappointing me.

For Republicans, it was the leading edge of a wave of negative advertisements against Democratic candidates, the product of more than a year of research into the personal and professional backgrounds of Democratic challengers.

“What do we really know about Angie Paccione?” an announcer asks about a Democratic challenger in Colorado. “Angie Paccione had 10 legal claims against her for bad debts and campaign violations. A court even ordered her wages garnished.”

For Democrats, it was part of a barrage intended to tie Republican incumbents to an unpopular Congress, criticize their voting records, portray them as captives to special interests and highlight embarrassing moments from their business histories.

In Tennessee, Democrats attacked Bob Corker, a Republican candidate for Senate, saying his construction company had hired illegal immigrants “while he looked the other way.”

Both types of negative ads, personal and political, can result in cheap shots and innuendo that make them wrong. "He voted against X!", when it was just a rider on a larger, bad bill. "She looked the other way!", when it may have been someone hiding things from the candidate. While there's a line that can be crossed in both cases, that line is much easier to cross when the ads get personal. Looking at some of the examples, Republicans are crossing my line.
John Yarmuth, a Kentucky Democrat who is running for a House seat, has spent much of the past few days trying to explain editorials unearthed by Republican researchers and spotlighted in new advertisements. Mr. Yarmuth wrote the editorials for his student newspapers, and in them he advocated the legalization of marijuana, among other things.

Across the airwaves, Democratic challengers are being attacked for having defaulted on student loans, declaring bankruptcy, skipping out on tax bills, and being a lobbyist, a trial lawyer or, even worse, a liberal.

Steve Kagan, a doctor and Democrat running for Congress in Wisconsin, is being attacked for having sued patients who did not pay their bills. “Why not just tell the truth, Dr. Millionaire?” said an advertisement shown Tuesday.

Democrats are hammering away as well, but not as personally.
Democrats are equally aggressive in their advertisements, going after Republicans on votes, ties to campaign contributors and, in the case of challengers, their own personal foibles. In one Democratic advertisement, the disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff is shown in shadows wearing a hat as an announcer notes that he made contributions to Representative J. D. Hayworth, Republican of Arizona.

Democrats are even attacking Republicans on what should be their signature issue, taxes, most recently in an upstate New York race between State Senator Raymond A. Meier, a Republican, and Michael A. Arcuri, a Democrat, to fill an open Republican seat. “Raymond Meier raised taxes in Oneida County,” the announcer says. “Meier raised taxes in Albany. What do you think he’ll do” in Washington?

Abramoff and taxes are all fair game. Even Social Security--a example later in the article--is fair game, even if I disagree with the Democratic candidate's position.

With so many issues that Republicans could tweak Democrats on, why do you need this? That this has been done by Democrats in the past is no excuse. Part of the problem is the ceding of the high ground that Republicans have done regarding issues like spending, smaller government, and illegal immigration. Part of it was getting heady with power and allowing Jack Abramoff to start plying them with money.

Additionally, part of it is because we are moved by negative ads, even the personal attacks. It's a sad truth of politics, but we get the ads we deserve because we respond to them. Too many folks are disengaged from the political process, so they tune out positive campaign ads when they hear or see them. But get their outrage up, and they'll listen. If you're going to vote, you've got to get your head in the game sooner than when McCain-Feingold kicks in.

Now this is the NY Times, we're talking about, and it's possible they're not showing examples of personal attacks from Democrats or issue ads from Republicans. Regardless, I expect more from the party I identify with, and it looks like I'm not getting it.

Posted by Doug at 01:13 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 25, 2006

Sanitizing the Veggies

It might be OK to show Madonna hanging on a mirrored cross, but don't dare let Bob and Larry tell kids that God loves them.

The wildly popular VeggieTales kids videos about vegetables who talk and sing and act out Bible stories are being edited for their run on NBC's Saturday morning educational program time, and the network says it's because of time limits.

But the creator says that's not exactly the case, and viewers will have to decide for themselves whether the result is good or bad.


"VeggieTales was originally created for home video and, in most cases, each episode is over 30 minutes long. As it appears …. VeggieTales has been edited down for broadcast without losing any of its core messages about positive values," the network said.

Phil Vischer, the co-creator of the characters, said that comment was "interesting."

"As a guy deeply involved with the project, I know that statement is false," Vischer wrote on his own weblog. "We sent them our first episode for TV, which was already edited to EXACTLY the right length, and they rejected it because, at the end, Bob the Tomato said, 'Remember kids, God made you special and he loves you very much.' They demanded we remove that line. The show wasn't too long, it was too religious."

He said the second also was sent edited for perfect timing. The response from NBC was an e-mail with a list of lines that needed to be removed, "each of them containing either the word 'God' or 'Bible,'" Vischer wrote.

My first reaction was to wonder why NBC felt it needed to lie to the public about what it was doing. Vischer himself had no problem with meeting the standards, as long as NBC was being honest about it. Apparently, now they are. Vischer wrote:
So they're being clear now, which is good. Whether or not you agree with their standards or the other shows they air is really a separate issue. They obviously have the right to set their own standards and apply them however they choose. I just wanted to make sure everyone was being upfront about the situation, because, well, I like it when we're all being upfront.

The company's right to set their own standards isn't really an issue. What is the issue, for me, is the fear of offending non-Christians--or at least the fear of turning them off--while at the same time having no issues with offending Christians in prime time. Brent Bozell says it best.

"This is one of those moments where you understand networks like NBC are only talking an empty talk and walking an empty walk when it comes to the First Amendment, and 'creative integrity,' and so on," Bozell wrote. "They have told parents concerned about their smutty programs like 'Will and Grace' that if they're offended, they have a remote control as an option.

"But when it comes to religious programming – that doesn't even mention Jesus Christ – just watch the hypocrisy. Instead of telling viewers to just change the channel if they don't like it, or put in a V-chip for Bible verses, they demand to producers that all that outdated old-time religion be shredded before broadcast," he said.

"It's truly sad this anti-religious hypocrisy would emerge. Today, no one in network TV fears what the children are watching – unless it makes them think about God."

Vischer is thinking that exposure the the "sanitized" Veggie Tales will get kids interested in the DVDs which aren't edited, and so this was a bit of a compromise. In another blog post on this subject, he tackles the issue of "compromise".
Did I compromise my beliefs to edit the shows? Well, there's 'compromise' in the sense of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refusing to bow down, and then there's 'compromise' in the sense of Paul saying he will be "all things to all people." Paul was willing to compromise his cultural values to build relationships with Greeks, Romans, slaves, and anyone else he met along his travels. If they ate meat, he'd eat meat. If they didn't, he wouldn't. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to compromise their beliefs about God. God said "bow to no other god but me" and they intended to follow that directive, no matter the personal cost. So was taking "God made you special and he loves you very much" off the end of these new shows more like Paul's situation? Or Shadrach's? Do the edited shows say anything that I believe is untrue? No. They do, however, stop short of saying things I wanted to say that are very true. Do they go against God's commands? Or do they just respect the boundaries of a foreign culture?

Vischer says it's up to the viewer to decide. Personally, I'm glad to see Bob and Larry getting more exposure, and I think this can ultimately help spread the news. What I'm disappointed, but not surprised, by are the Hollywood standards in place that are just so upside-down. But as Vischer says,
Let us Christians never forget that we are strangers here. We don't fit in.

And that's okay.

Posted by Doug at 01:52 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 14, 2006

Why I (Still) Hate Polls

Polls drive me nuts. A measure of emotion is trumpeted as hard news and the media suggest that such numbers should drive public policy. One poll says that over a third of American's think 9/11 was an inside job. But this is as much a measure of emotion as it is consideration of the (well-debunked) theories. In another poll, it says that 54% of people are angrier than they used to be. And Bush's poll numbers have really tanked.

But what does this mean, really?

With a hat tip to Ian Murray at The Corner, and speaking of "tanking", check out this graph that charts the President's poll numbers against the price of gas. It's incredible how closely the ups and downs of both track. As gas prices go up (on the graph, a higher prices is shown as a lower point), Bush's numbers go down. You can almost predict one from knowing the other.

Yet pundits and journalists say that Bush should change his policies because of poll numbers. Tell ya' what; can he get a mandate for allowing the NSA wiretaps if he repeals the federal gas tax? I mean, if polls should really matter that much, it follows, right?

One more reason why we don't have a direct democracy. Thank you, Founding Fathers.

Posted by Doug at 02:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 19, 2006

Cat, Meet Dog. Dog, This is Cat.

Brent Bozell, President of the conservative Media Research Center, is calling Oliver Stone's World Trade Center move "a masterpiece".

Posted by Doug at 12:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 10, 2006

Fast-Forward Considered Harmful; Hollywood Stifles Viewer Choice

You are not allowed to choose what you will and won't watch in a movie. So says Hollywood and the courts.

A federal judge in Colorado has handed the entertainment industry a big win in its protracted legal battle against a handful of small companies that offer sanitized versions of theatrical releases on DVD.

The case encompasses two of Hollywood's biggest headaches these days: the culture wars and the disruptive influence of digital technologies.

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch came down squarely on the side of the Directors Guild of America and the major studios in his ruling that the companies must immediately cease all production, sale and rentals of edited videos. The summary judgment issued Thursday requires the companies -- Utah-based CleanFlicks, CleanFilms and Play It Clean Video, Arizona-based Family Flix USA and the separate entity CleanFlicks of Colorado -- to turn over all existing copies of their edited movies to lawyers for the studios for destruction within five days of the ruling.

Utah's CleanFlicks, which describes itself as the largest distributor of edited movies, through online sales and rentals and sales to video stores in Utah, Arizona and other states in the region, said it would continue its fight against the guild and the studios. CleanFlicks and the others make copies of official DVD releases and then edit them for sex, nudity, violence and profanity.

Yes, I know you could spend the time yourself recording the DVD to video tape and try to hit pause/play at just the right times (though the point was not to have to view the objectionable material, even once). Yes, I know you could possibly load up the movie on your computer and, with some expensive DVD editing software cuts out all the parts you want, down to the words. Yes, I know you could spend all that time and/or money doing that yourself.

Or you could pay someone else to. Well, not according to the courts. No, all the gratuitous sex and violence is, not just artistically, but legally required for the story to be told. And no, the studios don't lose a single penny, and yes you can view the original if you really want to.

The mainstreaming of sophisticated digital editing technologies has fueled the cottage industry of movie sanitizers. CleanFlicks and others purchase an official DVD copy of a film on DVD for each edited version of the title they produce through the use of editing systems and software. The official release disc is included alongside the edited copy in every sale or rental transaction conducted. As such, the companies argued that they had the right on First Amendment and fair use grounds to offer consumers the alternative of an edited version for private viewing, so long as they maintained that "one-to-one" ratio to ensure that copyright holders got their due from the transactions. Matsch disagreed.

"Their business is illegitimate," the judge wrote in his 16-page ruling. "The right to control the content of the copyrighted work ... is the essence of the law of copyright."

Careful now, because this statement makes it sound like I can't make my own, edited copy of a movie that I legitimately purchased. If I can't have someone else do it for me, can I legally do it myself? Even if, in both the court case any my hypothetical, an original copy of the movie was legally purchased and is available with the edited version? Don't I have a choice what part of a purchased movie I choose to see? This ruling teeters on the edge of making me a law-breaker for essentially hitting the Fast Forward button on my remote.

This sort of mentality almost occurred with DVD hardware, in the ClearPlay situation. This is a device that allows you to play your DVD and it takes care of filtering it as you watch the movie. What parts to skip are download to the player, and you just hit play.

Early on, the legal sparring involved Salt Lake City-based ClearPlay, which offers video filtering software that allows for home viewing of cleaned-up versions of Hollywood titles.

ClearPlay offers software programs developed for specific titles that users can run on their computer or ClearPlay's proprietary DVD player along with an official copy of the DVD. With this technology, a nude shot of an actor can be altered to show a silhouette, or profanity can be bleeped out. Because ClearPlay's technology does not involve making an altered DVD copy, it has been shielded from the copyright infringement claims. The debate over movie content filtering activities made its way into Congress, which passed the 2005 Family Movie Act that protects ClearPlay and other software-based filtering companies. Matsch noted that Congress at that time had the opportunity to also carve out legal protections for CleanFlicks and its ilk, but chose not to.

The result is exactly the same as watching a pre-edited movie; you own the original, and you watch what you want to. It took an act of Congress to protect your right to skip parts of a movie via a hardware device. It looks like it'll take another one to protect your right to allow a 3rd party to edit it for you (or possibly to protect you from doing it yourself), even though the results of the two technologies result in exactly the same output. The fact that you can obtain a permanent copy of that output shouldn't matter and is a transparent fig leaf to hide behind.

Posted by Doug at 01:34 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 12, 2006

Remember the Heroes (Even If the MSM Doesn't)

In the past 3 weeks, the Haditha coverage really kicked into high gear. The coverage of the allegations have garnered 3 hours and 30 minutes of news coverage on the big 3 news organization's shows; morning, evening, primetime and late night.

Since the war on terror began on 9/11, the military has awarded top medals to 20 people. The coverage of these heroes by the same news shows has totalled 52 minutes.

Let me say that again. In 3 weeks the bad news, all allegations and leaks and quotes from Congressman Murtha, got 3.5 hours of coverage. In the 5 years since 9/11, the top heroes of the war have rated only 52 minutes. The Media Research Center has the details.

Keep this in mind when anyone suggests that the media only reports the bad news because that's the only news to report. The excuse that the media only covers sensational stories is exposed when the MRC notes that indeed news coverage can pick up on the heroes, if it wants to and if it takes the time to. But more often than not, bad news, even it it's the same bad news that's been mentioned over and over for a week, gets pushed to the front. It fits the narrative they're trying to sell us on.

But don't forget the heroes just because the media does.

UPDATE: By the way, when the bad news about Haditha is countered, the networks go silent.

Posted by Doug at 12:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 08, 2006

Rated PG for Realistic Depictions of Faith

Depiction of religion--religion is really believed and acted upon, not just mentioned or scorned--now is enough to incur a PG rating for a movie.

A new family film featuring miracles and a pro-God theme has earned a rating of "PG" from the Motion Picture Association of America due to fears it might offend people who have no faith or a different faith.

The decision surprises many who believed the "parental guidance" warning was reserved for the likes of violence, foul language and nudity.

"Facing the Giants," the story of a Christian high-school football coach who uses his undying faith to battle the giants of fear and failure, was given the rating by the Motion Picture Association of America, the group which brands films according to their content.
"It is kind of interesting that faith has joined that list of deadly sins that the MPAA board wants to warn parents to worry about," film spokesman Kris Fuhr told the Scripps Howard News Service.

Fuhr noted the association "decided that the movie was heavily laden with messages from one religion and that this might offend people from other religions. It's important that they used the word 'proselytizing' when they talked about giving this movie a PG."

Imagine the TV version if this movie. An announcer intones prior to the show, "This movie contains uplifting scenes, raw faith, and answers to prayer. Viewer discretion is advised." What is with this fear of religion?

Posted by Doug at 01:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Zarqawi Eliminated. Good News, Right?

The latest casualty in the war in Iraq is a major one; the most wanted man in Iraq.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida's leader in Iraq who led a bloody campaign of suicide bombings and kidnappings, has been killed in an air strike, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Thursday, adding that his identity was confirmed by fingerprints and a look at his face. It was a major victory in the U.S.-led war in Iraq and the broader war on terror.

It was rightly cheered by all present when it was announced.
Loud applause broke out among the reporters and soldiers as [Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki, flanked by U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and U.S. Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told a news conference that "al-Zarqawi was eliminated."

This is an opportunity for Iraqi insurgents to re-evaluate their purpose and their means to that purpose.
Thamir Abdulhussein, a college student in Baghdad, said he hopes the killing of al-Zarqawi will promote reconciliation between Iraq's fractured ethnic and sectarian groups.

"If it's true al-Zarqawi was killed, that will be a big happiness for all the Iraqis," he said. "He was behind all the killings of Sunni and Shiites. Iraqis should now move toward reconciliation. They should stop the violence."

These may be the words of an idealistic college student, but the hope is there that such a thing could happen Depending on how much al-Zarqawi's death becomes a blow to their morale, it could represent the perfect chance for this to happen.

On the other hand, it may not.

Amir Muhammed Ali, a 45-year-old stock broker in Baghdad, was skeptical that al-Zarqawi's death would end the unrelenting violence in the country, saying he was a foreigner but the Iraqi resistance to U.S.-led forces would likely continue.

"He didn't represent the resistance, someone will replace him and the operations will go on," he said.

I'd guess that this outcome is more likely, but at least now the chances for decreased violence have been given a renewed possibility.

But the Left is still looking at the cloud instead of the silver lining, just as they did when Hussein was captured.

Hesiod at the Daily Kos, in his diary about Zarqawi, starts out with promise...

Finally, some genuine good news from Iraq. Abu Musab al Zarqawi was killed in an air raid last [n]ight in Northern Baghdad.

We can all analyze what this means for the Iraq occupation later. But, right now, we should all be happy that a man who was responsible for the murders of hundreds, if not thousands of men women and children in Iraq -- and for the demise and maiming of our troops -- has been taken out.

...yet he soon degenerates into back-handed slaps.
No matter whether you support, or oppose the war. No matter whether you believe Bush is doing the right thing, or is a lying snake who got us into this war for the most cynical of reasons and then screwed it up -- this is good news.

Yes, I know. Bush had a chance to take out Zarqawi BEFORE we ever invaded Iraq and "allowed him to escape" because he didn't want to eliminate one of his principle excuses for the invasion.

But, still -- this is good news!

And, yes, I know that the major problem in Iraq isn't so much the insurgency anymore, as it's the growing sectarian civil war that we are barely able to keep from exploding.

But, this is good news, right?

And, true...the Haditha killings are not exactly endearing us to the Iraqi population.

But...this is some good news!

So, tip your hats to Jordanian intelligence and our military forces. Everything is now hunky dory in Iraq, and we can all declare victory! And , more importantly, we can all expect our military forces to start coming home now because the war is over!


As the news story noted, Zarqawi was one of the essential elements in the sectarian violence, so this indeed does deal a blow to that situation. Hesiod can't manage to report good news without "balancing" it with 3 or 4 problems, real or perceived. There are always problems in war, always setbacks, created by ourselves or the enemy. This is not new, but Hesiod has to bring this up to keep his opinion of the war in Iraq consistent in his own mind. When Hussein was captured, Hesiod was the most positive of all the tier-A lefty sites. He's losing his objectivity.

The same goes for Steven Benen, guest blogging for Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly.

Iraqi and U.S. officials agreed that his death would not necessarily stem the violence and insurgency -- and as if to prove the point, an explosion ripped through a busy outdoor market in Baghdad just a few hours after Zarqawi's killing was announced. Regardless, when a dangerous terrorist can no longer wreak havoc, it's good news.

One relevant angle to this story, however, that has not been emphasized (or even mentioned) by most news outlets this morning is that Zarqawi could have been taken out years ago, on several occasions, but Bush decided not to strike.

Benen goes on to quote an NBC article that says the National Security Council couldn't decide how to proceed; no mention of Bush in that meeting. No mention of what the causes for concern were, but here's an idea; the intelligence they were acting on talked about Zarqawi making ricin and cyanide production. Yet we haven't really seen those chemicals used by the insurgency. As we all know, pre-war intelligence gave us some false positives on a number of fronts; perhaps this was one of them and the NSC was wary of it. Imagine if we'd sent in cruise missiles and wound up destroying, oh, say something like an asprin factory. Imagine the outrage by Democrats then. So here's Benen speculating that maybe, not knowing himself the nature of the intelligence, that we might have been able to take out Zarqawi before the war. He calls the intelligence "air-tight". Interesting he doesn't use the phrase "slam-dunk", a phrase used about other pre-war intelligence. Thus he has to form the wisp of a cloud just so he can try to tarnish any silver lining that appears during a Republican administration.

Atrios is "pleased".

Was never quite sure why we didn't go after him when we had the chance.

Anyway, I'm supposed to give the obligatory "YAY USA!" cheer here, but while it's good to get the bad guys I don't really think it's going to improve much. Hopefully I'm wrong.

Top al-Qaeda guy in Iraq out of the picture, and the best he can do is be curt and "obligatory".

Josh Marshall leaves us all wondering what he thinks, since he doesn't say.

Zarqawi dead. Juliette Kayyem explains what it means. Ivo Daalder explains that one thing it doesn't mean is an end to the violence in Iraq.

For the deeper background, just out from The Atlantic: Mary Anne Weaver's The Short, Violent Life of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

That's the sum total of his response; curt and not even obligatory.

As I said before, the view of the Left, as it was for the Hussein capture, is "This is good news, but let us remind you of all the bad news and our dire predictions." Some don't even say much at all about the good news. Nope, there's a Republican in the White House, you see, and we can't bee seen as cheering for anything. I'll close this blog post as I did the one for Hussein.

You gotta wonder what these folks said when Milosevic was captured. Ah, but you see, that was a non-UN-sanctioned war run by a Democrat. Therein lies the whole story. Leftists are showing their true, extreme partisan colors all over the blogosphere.

Posted by Doug at 12:48 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

May 24, 2006

"The Trashing of the Christ"

How did the media treat an historically accurate portrayal of Christianity vs. a movie that accuses Christianity of being false? The Media Research Center runs the numbers (either in short summary form or the full report with charts and details).

Posted by Doug at 03:43 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

May 16, 2006

Name That Spin

Yesterday's "Best of the Web Today" column by James Taranto (a daily must-read) has a rather long section (scroll down to "High Bias") on how the news organizations keep spinning the news, including:

  • A New York Time headline that says precisely the opposite of what the story says.
  • An AP headline that sounds more ominous than it really is.
  • Speculation and editorializing in an AP news report.
  • Headlining poll results with selectively aggregated information.
  • Poorly worded poll questions.

And guess which way--pro- or anti-Bush--all these stories are slanted? (Do I really have to ask?)

Posted by Doug at 01:10 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 08, 2006

"Day of Truth" vs Journalists and Educators

Religion in schools will not be tolerated. Anti-religious views are just fine.

The Sampson County school system stands behind a decision to suspend a student for passing out Christian leaflets at Midway High School, Superintendent Stewart Hobbs said Friday.

Hobbs said the student was given in-school suspension for insubordination after disobeying the principal about distributing the fliers.

The handouts, which presented a Christian viewpoint on homosexuality, caused a disturbance in the school and prompted some students, teachers and a parent to complain, Hobbs said.

Bias and nonsense, both in the same line of news.

First of all, handouts themselves can't cause disturbances. They are, in fact, simply pieces of paper, incapable of independent action. Yes, I know that all sounds rather silly to have to explain, but the journalist who presumably studied Language Arts got this wrong, and I just wanted to set the record straight if others had the same misconception.

Second, if handing out fliers is "disturbing", then the very same handing out of fliers by students on the previous day's Day of Silence should not have been allowed either. I doubt that's the "disturbance" being referred to, however. Instead, I would bet that there were students who got upset at the contents of these fliers and likely they caused this disturbance. Unfortunately, this journalist did not answer all the proper questions a news article should, and we're left with the impression that the student handing out the fliers was the responsible party. There's your bias; not reporting the whole story and thus implicitly placing the responsibility for the disturbance on the guy voicing non-PC viewpoints.

But the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group, said the student, Benjamin Arthurs, was wrongfully punished for expressing his religious beliefs. The group has filed a federal lawsuit against the school system, saying it violated Arthurs' freedom of speech by not allowing him to wear a Day of Truth shirt and to pass out the leaflets during noninstructional time.

"That, in our opinion, is unconstitutional," said David Cortman, a lawyer with the alliance.

Hobbs said the student was allowed to wear the shirt but told not to hand out the fliers. "The only thing the T-shirt said was, 'Day of Truth,' and we felt that was not forcing his religion on others," Hobbs said. The handouts, however, did present religious views, he said.

If you have to voluntarily accept a flier, how is that "forcing" anything? No one is compelled to take the flier. The problem for the school is that religion, to them, has no place in the public square, even during noninstructional time.
Arthurs, a ninth-grader, handed out the fliers following the April 26 Day of Silence, an event promoted by the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network. He asked Canady if he could wear the shirt and hand out Day of Truth cards, the lawsuit said. He was told he could not wear a religious T-shirt or distribute religious literature because that would be “pushing his religion on others,” the lawsuit said, and “religion is not allowed in school.”

"Religion is not allowed in school"? Banned? You're not allowed to speak about it? I mean, if you can't hand out printed material to those who volunteer to take it, what about actually talking about it? Those who think the First Amendment is doing just fine in America need to know what educators think about it.

Students don't lose their constitutional rights in school, but there are valid restrictions on them while in public school. In fact, I would agree that Arthurs should have been punished for disobeying the administration. If you don't have some semblance of order in school, you soon have little else. So even though I think the rules are being misapplied and use a double-standard, I agree with the suspension. I also, however, agree that the decision and the rules that led up to it need to be dealt with, and if that requires the courts to (hopefully) clarify the Constitution and possibly reverse the punishment, so be it.

Cortman said it is unfair that the school system allowed students to participate in the Day of Silence but did not let Arthurs express his Christian views. Day of Silence is a nationwide movement that allows students to protest anti-homosexual bullying and discrimination. Students hand out fliers and remain silent throughout the day.

So it's not the handing out of fliers that is the issue, and again this points out the misinformation given in the first paragraph of this story. If handing out fliers was a "disturbance", it should have been so on the Day of Silence as well. Thus, the disturbance was most likely caused by other students reacting to these fliers, not the student handing them out (nor the allegedly self-aware fliers themselves). No mention is made of these students or (possibly) teachers that really caused the disturbance. Whether this is due to journalistic incompetence or bias is not known, but it doesn't speak well of the writer.
The Day of Truth, which is held after the Day of Silence, was established by the Alliance Defense Fund to express the Christian perspective on homosexuality.

“School officials shouldn’t be treating religious students any differently than they treat other students,” Cortman said, “and that’s exactly what is happening here.”

According to the lawsuit, Arthurs belongs to the Bible Club, the National Honor Society and Who’s Who of American High School students. The lawsuit says his religious beliefs “compel him to share his faith and to address relevant subjects from a Biblical point of view with other students.”

In the lawsuit, the alliance is asking that Arthurs’ in-school suspension be removed from his record and that the school system write a policy giving students the right to free speech including religious speech.

I remember a video I saw of students praying around a school flagpole before school started in one of the early "See You at the Pole" events. School had not yet started for the day, and the event took place outside, so no disruption of learning occurred and no religion was "forced" on anyone. And yet, students were arrested because educators didn't understand the whole "free exercise of religion" concept. It's been 15 years since "See You at the Pole" got started, and yet the ignorance and double-standards continue (and this ignorance dates back long before that). And still educators keep needing further education on this topic.

This is a sad commentary on the public school system, and further exposure of the double-standard applied to Christians, both in actions taken against them and in the reporting of those actions.

Posted by Doug at 09:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 20, 2006

Prediction: Wrong

I was wrong. Let's make sure we state that first.

Almost 2 years ago, I went on the record in predicting that Al Franken's show on Air America wouldn't last 2 years. Well, it's still around. The network has managed to weather poor ratings, financial troubles, and a full-blown financial scandal. It's had some help from big money backers (instead of listeners), an HBO special for some nice PR, and a media that has trumpeted its successes and muted its problems. Air American and Al Franken got by with a little (or a lotta) help from their friends.

I tried to find a recent comparison of Air America and the Salem Radio Network. SRN has a couple of slates of hosts; one for specifically Christian stations, and one for the general market with right-of-center hosts. The latest information I could find was from, of all places, Mother Jones magazine from last December.

Today Salem is the second-fastest-growing radio chain in the nation. The left—which for years dismissed evangelical activists as out-of-touch zealots—has nothing on the radio dial even close to Salem’s reach and influence. Air America is broadcast on 70 stations and owns none. Salem owns 103 stations in the nation’s largest markets and broadcasts to more than 1,900 affiliates. It owns radio stations in New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, and Atlanta. In fact, it doesn’t own just one station in those markets. It owns two—sometimes more. In Los Angeles it owns four. In Honolulu it owns seven. It also owns 62 websites and a magazine publishing division.

Now, SRN's been around a pretty long time, but they only recently had a full day's worth of talk radio programming. Bill Bennett's show, for example, started around the same time as Al Franken's. And yet a year ago, Bennett was the 25th biggest talk show in the country, and none of the Air America hosts beat him. I've heard anecdotal evidence that the trend has continued, but can't find stats online at the moment. (Perhaps when the official 2 year anniversary of AAR arrives on May 1.)

In any event, while I was wrong with my prediction, I'm crying all the way to the radio. Them I'm smiling.

Posted by Doug at 03:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 22, 2006

The Message from the Media

Just in case it wasn't obvious that thought precedes action...

Children exposed to sex in TV programmes, films, magazines and music are more likely to engage in sexual activity than those who are not, according to research out today.

There is a direct relationship between the amount of sexual content a child sees and their level of sexual activity or their intentions to have sex in the future, the study found.

Such media also has at least an equal influence on sexual behaviour as religion or a child's relationship with their parents and peers, the study said.

It concluded that the media is an "important source" of information about sex for teenagers who might not get advice elsewhere.

To some, this may be shocking. It shouldn't be.

Posted by Doug at 11:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Let's go to the video tape

Hugh Hewitt was on CNN last night, being interviewed by Anderson Cooper along with Time's Michael Ware and CNN's Nic Robertson. Hugh recaps the interview and I have to agree that Anderson is does indeed run a "fair show." I did get the sense that he was going out of his way to let Hugh talk when Ware was spinning out of control. However, was Anderson in charge of the Iraq footage being shown next to Hugh and the others during the segment?

The discussion was about the portrayal of Iraq by the news media, which is something I've seen covered on a few channels in the last day or so. But while Hugh was arguing that the MSM is out to support a bad version of events there, all the Iraq footage was of burned out cars, and troops investigating other sorts of Baghdad violence. So, while they were talking about the media's eagerness to show more bad then good, they were showing all bad.

Maybe the segment producer knew that Hugh was gonna mention Eason Jordan and he couldn't restrain himself from presenting such lopsided video feed.

Posted by Abigail at 03:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 17, 2006

Reading God's Mind. Again.

Pat Robertson's at it again. "God is mad at America," in part because he does not approve "of us being in Iraq under false pretenses." Further, "he is sending hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it is destroying and putting stress on this country." Robertson also said that God was mad at black America for not taking care of themselves, their women and their children. He noted that 70 percent of black children are born to one parent.

Expect liberals to get outraged over this in even larger proportion to their reaction to some of his previous pronouncements that weren't as racially charged. This could get ugly.

'Cept it won't.

That's because, in reality, New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin said it. It's OK for him to say this because he's black and because he's a Democrat. If he'd been white or Republican and talked about God being upset with blacks, it would have been considered hate speech. And of course, when people invoke God in the name of liberal ideas, in this case on the war in Iraq, you'll hear hardly a peep. The NY Times covered it only to the point of reprinting the AP wire copy, but that's it. In fact, I heard on the radio this morning (from the generally conservative host, not the news folks) that there had been some concern by a black city official about Nagin's "chocolate city" imagery. He wasn't upset at Nagin (he is black and Democrat, after all), but was concerned that such imagery would be taken in the wrong way. Even that little bit of worry wasn't mention by the AP nor the Times. Calling blacks the dark chocolate of the world and whites the white milk raiseth not an eyebrow.

Nope, this is no big deal to <redundancy> the Left and the Media </redundancy>. At least this time it isn't. Frankly, I don't think it's a big deal either. Call me a Lactose-American; whatever. I don't object to colorful language regarding my race. And if Nagin thinks God had a hand in this, that's his opinion and he's welcome to it. But if Newt Gingrich or Bill Bennett or, indeed, Pat Robertson himself had said this, we'd be treated to news articles galore on reaction from the Left, and op-eds expressing outrage. Instead, a little wire copy is dutifully pushed and the case is essentially closed.

Nagin's trying to read God's mind just as much as Pat was, but little will be said about it, other that mostly right-wing bloggers noting the hypocrisy by <redundancy> the Left and the Media </redundancy>. If only they could move on (.org) as easily all the time.

Posted by Doug at 01:02 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

December 19, 2005

This Just In; Media is Biased!

So says a new UCLA study:

While the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is conservative, the newspaper's news pages are liberal, even more liberal than The New York Times. The Drudge Report may have a right-wing reputation, but it leans left. Coverage by public television and radio is conservative compared to the rest of the mainstream media. Meanwhile, almost all major media outlets tilt to the left.

These are just a few of the surprising findings from a UCLA-led study, which is believed to be the first successful attempt at objectively quantifying bias in a range of media outlets and ranking them accordingly.

"I suspected that many media outlets would tilt to the left because surveys have shown that reporters tend to vote more Democrat than Republican," said Tim Groseclose, a UCLA political scientist and the study's lead author. "But I was surprised at just how pronounced the distinctions are."

Regarding Drudge, later on in the report it's noted that Drudge is graded based on the bias of the stories he links to, which lean left. This overbalances his personal conservative tilt, but he doesn't do as much writing of his own as he used to years ago. So overall, the media is liberal.

This isn't news to the "reality-based community" (a term the Kos folks like to assign themselves, even though they've called the media "conservative"). This is simply yet another in a long, long line of evidence that conservatives have a tougher time getting their message out in the media.

Of the 20 major media outlets studied, 18 scored left of center, with CBS' "Evening News," The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times ranking second, third and fourth most liberal behind the news pages of The Wall Street Journal.

Only Fox News' "Special Report With Brit Hume" and The Washington Times scored right of the average U.S. voter.

Heh, and Markos of Daily Kos calls the media the "Right Wing Noise Machine". But when 18 of 20 top media outlets lean (or fall over) left, it's points out the wishful thinking on his part.

Of the nightly news shows, I find these results interesting.

The most centrist outlet proved to be the "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer." CNN's "NewsNight With Aaron Brown" and ABC's "Good Morning America" were a close second and third.

"Our estimates for these outlets, we feel, give particular credibility to our efforts, as three of the four moderators for the 2004 presidential and vice-presidential debates came from these three news outlets — Jim Lehrer, Charlie Gibson and Gwen Ifill," Groseclose said. "If these newscasters weren't centrist, staffers for one of the campaign teams would have objected and insisted on other moderators."

The fourth most centrist outlet was "Special Report With Brit Hume" on Fox News, which often is cited by liberals as an egregious example of a right-wing outlet. While this news program proved to be right of center, the study found ABC's "World News Tonight" and NBC's "Nightly News" to be left of center. All three outlets were approximately equidistant from the center, the report found.

"If viewers spent an equal amount of time watching Fox's 'Special Report' as ABC's 'World News' and NBC's 'Nightly News,' then they would receive a nearly perfectly balanced version of the news," said Milyo, an associate professor of economics and public affairs at the University of Missouri at Columbia.

I find it interesting that folks who get outraged over Brit Hume don't recognize the same bias in ABC or NBC. And (no surprise here) CBS is even farther to the left. Is "Special Report" biased to the right? I'm willing to admit that it is. It uses contributors and sources that ABC, NBC and CBS completely ignore, based on the political stance. Rush Limbaugh often says that he doesn't need to be balanced by a liberal because he is the balance that's required for all the liberal opinionating out there (often disguised as news). Fox is far more centered than Limbaugh, of course, but they do have a rightward tilt that helps to balance the whole picture. But by the way they describe it, lots of folks on the left seem to think that Fox is much farther to the right than CBS is to the left. This study puts all of this in perspective.

When folks who say that Fox needs more liberal contributors start acknowledging that the rest of them need more conservative ones, that's when I'll start taking them seriously. Eric Alterman, call your publisher.

More thoughts and analysis can be found at "Oh, That Liberal Media", and Technorati shows all the blogs covering this.

Posted by Doug at 11:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 16, 2005

The Latest Leaks

The NY Times has a report today about a Bush order to have the NSA do wiretaps on international calls without getting an initial warrant. I'm generally of the opinion that government power tends to expand over time just from a natural tendency, never mind all the new programs people keep trying to push into federal government. Therefore, an expansion like this gives me cause for concern.

Let's take a look at the specifics mentioned in the article, though. Knee-jerk reactions, from both sides, are not useful.

Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.

So just a few months after 9/11, when most of America was waiting for the other shoe to drop, President Bush got ahead of the curve and got proactive in hopes of preventing another attack. Now it's 4 years later and we've had nothing. The other shoe hasn't dropped. As we'll see, some of the credit for that goes to this decision.
The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval represents a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency, whose mission is to spy on communications abroad. As a result, some officials familiar with the continuing operation have questioned whether the surveillance has stretched, if not crossed, constitutional limits on legal searches.

I'm no Constitutional scholar, (and I doubt the "officials" are themselves) but I'm also not sure whether or not we're really taking about a Constitutional issue here. Since the calls were to or from international destinations, there might be an out here.
According to those officials and others, reservations about aspects of the program have also been expressed by Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who is the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and a judge presiding over a secret court that oversees intelligence matters. Some of the questions about the agency's new powers led the administration to temporarily suspend the operation last year and impose more restrictions, the officials said.

So the administration has, in fact, been modifying it's operations in light of these questions. And all in secret, mind you. These changes were made not so that they look better on the evening news, but because, apparently, of the legitimacy of the issues. This speaks well, I think, of an honest attempt to stay within the law, yet push things enough to keep our enemies at bay.

Back in 2002, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) issued a statement that accused the Bush administration of not doing enough to prevent 9/11 and that they just sat on pre-9/11 intelligence in a "conspiracy of silence". This outrage ultimately brought about the highly-touted "9/11 Commission", which we now know was flawed with partisanship and unwilling to look at some hard facts ("Able Danger" among them). As I said back then,

[D]o you really think Ms. McKinney would have smiled with joy if we had done some serious racial profiling at airports and emptied all tall office buildings in order to prevent bin Laden's guided missiles from taking lives? Given the vague nature of what was known, and even if the exact dates, targets and MO were known, those types of measures would've been required to prevent the attacks. Cynthia doesn't like profiling now, and she wouldn't have approved of it then, but she sure does know how to may hay out of hindsight.

Scott Ott, at the news satire site ScrappleFace, uses his wonderful sense of humor to put it in perspective.
"I want to apologize for allowing the NSA to do these wiretaps after 9/11," the president said. "I'm sorry that I violated the privacy of some of these folks after terrorists launched attacks from our soil that killed 3,000 people, destroyed two skyscrapers and four jumbo jets, and punched a gaping hole in our military headquarters."

"My biggest regret," the president added, "is that the NSA didn't secretly tap these lines before 9/11. I hope my fellow Americans can forgive me."

I expect we'll hear Democrats coming out of the woodwork decrying this in the strongest of terms. Although, I'd bet that such pronouncements against Bush would have come anyway if another terrorism incident had taken place after 9/11, so you gotta take that for what it's worth. The President decided to do what it would take and was sensitive to and acted on questions of legality. I'd say that speaks well for him and how this operation was handled.

Back at the article, there have been positive results.

The Bush administration views the operation as necessary so that the agency can move quickly to monitor communications that may disclose threats to this country, the officials said. Defenders of the program say it has been a critical tool in helping disrupt terrorist plots and prevent attacks inside the United States.

It's very easy to criticize something from a position of comfort and safety.
Administration officials are confident that existing safeguards are sufficient to protect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans, the officials say. In some cases, they said, the Justice Department eventually seeks warrants if it wants to expand the eavesdropping to include communications confined within the United States. The officials said the administration had briefed Congressional leaders about the program and notified the judge in charge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret Washington court that deals with national security issues.

This is where I think things get interesting. Listen to the outrage from Democrats on this, and listen closely for their mentioning that in some cases where wholly domestic wiretaps were required, they did get warrants. Listen for their leaders to acknowledge that, yes, they were briefed on it, and sent multiple memos expression their specific concerns over legalities. Listen very closely. I'm not entirely sure we're going to get anything like that from them. Hold not thy breath.
The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.

Yup, the Times held onto this urgent report for a year to make sure they got it right. And wouldn't you know, they released it on the very day the the Patriot Act renewal was scheduled to come for a vote in the Senate. Just coincidence, I'm sure. And it's just as much a coincidence that the author of the Times piece, James Risen, has a book coming out in a few weeks entitled "STATE OF WAR: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration". Pure accident of fate.

Later on, the piece goes into the idea that this may, in fact, have been legal based on a Congressional resolution.

Mr. Bush's executive order allowing some warrantless eavesdropping on those inside the United States ­ including American citizens, permanent legal residents, tourists and other foreigners ­ is based on classified legal opinions that assert that the president has broad powers to order such searches, derived in part from the September 2001 Congressional resolution authorizing him to wage war on Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, according to the officials familiar with the N.S.A. operation.

If it's possible that this operation is legal, especially during wartime, then the leak of it ought to outrage those who got upset over the Plame kerfuffle. I''m sure it will outrage them, though I'm equally sure that outrage will be mostly misplaced.
What the agency calls a "special collection program" began soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, as it looked for new tools to attack terrorism. The program accelerated in early 2002 after the Central Intelligence Agency started capturing top Qaeda operatives overseas, including Abu Zubaydah, who was arrested in Pakistan in March 2002. The C.I.A. seized the terrorists' computers, cellphones and personal phone directories, said the officials familiar with the program. The N.S.A. surveillance was intended to exploit those numbers and addresses as quickly as possible, the officials said.

But now we've given the terrorists new information--that anything seized in the war could be used immediately--and now they'll change their precautions. One less opportunity to prevent the loss of life of potentially thousands.

Do the ends justify the means? No, but it appears that the Bush administration believed this was legal and even took steps to ensure that it was when questions were raised. Does it concern me when government acts in this manner? Yes, because as I noted, the tendency of government power is to expand. Those who continue to push to give the federal government more power and take it from the states should take note. However, one of the legitimate, enumerated powers of the federal government is to preserve and defend this nation. We are at war and it's good to keep that in mind before thoughtlessly dismissing this as some sort of power grab by an evil Republican President.

What we have here is yet another intelligence leak. Liberal blogs are already on the attack, but listen to how someone posting on the front page at the Daily Kos handles it.

No doubt we will see in coming weeks hair-splitting legal and constitutional debate over the precise wording of presidential orders, evocations of executive privilege and withholding of information in the name of national security, and mind-numbingly dull citations from dozens of obscure court cases. The administration will attempt to complicate, bluster, lie and attack its way out of answering for its spying on American citizens in the hopes that the electorate will give up on understanding the issue and will continue to sleep.

Essentially, SusanG is saying, "Never mind the legalities", which then, ironically, becomes here launching point for assuming it's unconstitutional, and get up in arms about it. The big picture and the salient points are eluding them.

(As an aside, further irony can be extracted from the fact that Democrats, in the case of Roe v Wade, consider precedent from court cases to be high holy words, but when there's a Republican in their sights, they're nothing but "dull citations".)

If we want to tackle precedent, John Hinderaker at Power Line notes this:

Under the Plame precedent, this case is a no-brainer. The intelligence officials who leaked to the Times should be identified, criminally prosecuted, and sent to prison.

Let's see how many Democrats come out for that. The "leak" of the name of a CIA employee who drove to and from Langley for more than 5 years (not exactly covert) is an outrage, but the leak of information that will help terrorists is no big deal and indeed should be encouraged. They've already made up their minds; blaming Bush is all that matters.

Posted by Doug at 01:37 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 13, 2005

Saudi Influence in American Media?

Was Rupert Murdoch influenced by a Saudi prince into coloring the news?

Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal boasted in Dubai earlier this week about his ability to change the news content that viewers around the world see on television.

FrontPage Magazine, a conservative mag, mind you, takes up the story.
In early September 2005, Bin Talal bought 5.46% of voting shares in News Corp. This made the Fifth richest man on the Forbes World's Richest People, the fourth largest voting shareholder in News Corp., the parent of Fox News.

This, in and of itself, is no big deal to me. I don't judge companies based on who owns their stock. Heck, Michael Moore has traded in Halliburton (in spite of his denials) but I don't hold it against them. >grin<

But then came the Paris riots, and here's where the story gets interesting.

After bin Talal purchased his voting shares in News Corp., on September 23, 2005, he stated in an advertising supplement to the New York Times, “When I invest in a group like CITICROUP, the Four Seasons, the News Corp. or Time Warner, my objective is not to manage those companies.” But this is not quite accurate, considering the Prince’s December 5, 2005 statement given to Middle East Online regarding his ability to change what viewers see on Fox News. Covering the riots in Paris last November, Fox ran a banner saying: "Muslim riots." Bin Talal was not happy. "I picked up the phone and called Murdoch... (and told him) these are not Muslim riots, these are riots out of poverty," he said. "Within 30 minutes, the title was changed from Muslim riots to civil riots."
So far, this could just be a bit of bravado on the part of the Prince. Indeed, as we'll see in a second, Fox did change the captioning, but were they really the result of a call from the Prince? Here's their side of the story.
News Corp did not comment, but referred us to FOX NEWS, which responded with the following statement: “Over the course of our extensive coverage, it became clear that the Paris riots were caused by a number of different factors which we characterized in various ways as we continued to report the story and discover new information. In fact, one of our contributors, Father Morris, who was in Paris covering this story, was prominently on our air saying this was a cultural assimilation issue, not a religious one.”
Notably absent from this explanation is a direct denial of the original assertion. They don't say the Prince didn't influence the decision, but they do note that an on-air personality did suggest the riots were not religious in nature, which, if that's the turn the conversation then took, would be a perfectly good explanation for the changing of the graphic. Unfortunately, Fox doesn't give us a timeline with respect to the on-air comment and the caption change.

Is this, then, an actual case of Saudi influence in American media? Certainly the FrontPage article shows that bin Talal is a big believer in getting the Arab view of the world out in the American press (even if his ideas aren't quite right; the article also quotes coverage of the riots to suggest that they had indeed primarily a Muslim contingent rather that being all the poor or immigrants in particular areas). If it's true, and even if it's not, it's one more reason to never get your news just from one place. In the age of the Internet, there's no excuse for that.

Posted by Doug at 11:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 12, 2005

Good News from All Over

Found this on Fox News: If you want more good news in your life, HappyNews.com is apparently the place. This isn't just a place to find out about the latest cat rescued from a tree by the local fireman. There's international news ("Growing stability fosters respect for human right in Liberia"), national news ("Ariz. town will go wall-to-wall wireless"), health news ("Breast cancer patients may get less chemo"), science, environment, arts, opinion and a number of other sections. But they do have a section most other papers and websites don't; the hero section. Each section has dozens of stories and it seems to be updated regularly. Their credo is, "Real News, Compelling Stories, Always Positive" and it looks like they're living up to it. (Even with the stock report, which, on the front page, is covered up with a graphic that says, "Warning! Unhappy news alert, click at your own risk". Heh.)

Posted by Doug at 01:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 29, 2005

The Iraq Not Seen

This article from the Christian Science Monitor tells (once again) the story of an Iraq full of hope, and a media that are intent on not showing it.

Cpl. Stan Mayer has seen the worst of war. In the leaves of his photo album, there are casual memorials to the cost of the Iraq conflict - candid portraits of friends who never came home and graphic pictures of how insurgent bombs have shredded steel and bone.

Yet the Iraq of Corporal Mayer's memory is not solely a place of death and loss. It is also a place of hope. It is the hope of the town of Hit, which he saw transform from an insurgent stronghold to a place where kids played on Marine trucks. It is the hope of villagers who whispered where roadside bombs were hidden. But most of all, it is the hope he saw in a young Iraqi girl who loved pens and Oreo cookies.

Like many soldiers and marines returning from Iraq, Mayer looks at the bleak portrayal of the war at home with perplexity - if not annoyance. It is a perception gap that has put the military and media at odds, as troops complain that the media care only about death tolls, while the media counter that their job is to look at the broader picture, not through the soda straw of troops' individual experiences.

This cover story for the media is preposterous. There have been plenty of "soda straw" stories about the pain and anxiety of some soldiers and their families, as there should be. But Cindy Sheehan's soda straw, and others like her, have been magnified far above any good news a Cpl. Mayer might like to bring. The much-missed Good News from Afghanistan and Iraq articles that Arthur Chrenkoff used to gather and dispense were huge tomes that would cover just 2 weeks. But from the media, only one side of the broader picture ever emerges; human interest stories, but specifically and almost exclusively the tragic ones.

Indeed, you can find military personnel that are dour about the Iraq situation. They do exist. But there are most definitely in the minority (64% to 32%). You would think that when doing "soda straw" stories from Iraq, about 60% of them would be about good news. But you'd be wrong. Tellingly, the split among news media folks as to whether we'll succeed in Iraq or not is almost precisely the opposite of the military.

Posted by Doug at 04:56 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

October 06, 2005

Al Gore on the Media

Al Gore on the Media; that was then...

In fact, our first self-expression as a nation - "We the People" - made it clear where the ultimate source of authority lay. It was universally understood that the ultimate check and balance for American government was its accountability to the people. And the public forum was the place where the people held the government accountable. That is why it was so important that the marketplace of ideas operated independent from and beyond the authority of government.

The three most important characteristics of this marketplace of ideas were:

1) It was open to every individual, with no barriers to entry, save the necessity of literacy. This access, it is crucial to add, applied not only to the receipt of information but also to the ability to contribute information directly into the flow of ideas that was available to all; 2) The fate of ideas contributed by individuals depended, for the most part, on an emergent Meritocracy of Ideas. Those judged by the market to be good rose to the top, regardless of the wealth or class of the individual responsible for them; 3) The accepted rules of discourse presumed that the participants were all governed by an unspoken duty to search for general agreement. That is what a "Conversation of Democracy" is all about.

...this is now...
It did not come as a surprise that the concentration of control over this powerful one-way medium carries with it the potential for damaging the operations of our democracy. As early as the 1920s, when the predecessor of television, radio, first debuted in the United States, there was immediate apprehension about its potential impact on democracy. One early American student of the medium wrote that if control of radio were concentrated in the hands of a few, "no nation can be free."

As a result of these fears, safeguards were enacted in the U.S. -- including the Public Interest Standard, the Equal Time Provision, and the Fairness Doctrine - though a half century later, in 1987, they were effectively repealed. And then immediately afterwards, Rush Limbaugh and other hate-mongers began to fill the airwaves.

Al used to be against any government intrusion into the "marketplace of ideas", but now he bemoans the lack of government intrusion, suggesting that it is the government's job to ensure some ideas get play when the marketplace rejects them. What intervening experience brought about this remarkable flip-flop?

Actually, it was just the passing of about 5 minutes.

These two quotes are from the same speech Al gave to a media conference in New York. He's all for the marketplace of ideas, until the marketplaces chooses conservative voices. It only shows that he doesn't care one bit about the marketplace; he wants government backing of his opinion. In language that supposedly is simply against large media conglomerates, his only solution is forcing those conglomerates to air money-losing shows. Liberals have bemoaned the loss of the Fairness Doctrine, and while they outwardly promote the marketplace of ideas, they see how the marketplace has rejected them, and long for the good ol' days when the government held the people accountable instead of when "the people held the government accountable". Al Gore preaches the latter, but wishes for the former.

Posted by Doug at 01:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 04, 2005

The Reporting in Iraq

The military news out of Iraq continues to be bleak. Unfortunately, according to those on the ground there, it's only bleak because the media covers it that way. Via The Gun Guy comes word that LTC Tim Ryan has some choice words for how things are being covered.

All right, I've had enough. I am tired of reading distorted and grossly exaggerated stories from major news organizations about the "failures" in the war in Iraq. "The most trusted name in news" and a long list of others continue to misrepresent the scale of events in Iraq. Print and video journalists are covering only a fraction of the events in Iraq and, more often than not, the events they cover are only negative.

His in-depth article recounts the successes in Fallujah and Najaf, comparing Fallujah to WWII victories.
Though much smaller in scope, clearing Fallujah of insurgents arguably could equate to the Allies' breakout from the hedgerows in France during World War II. In both cases, our troops overcame a well-prepared and solidly entrenched enemy and began what could be the latter's last stand. In Fallujah, the enemy death toll has exceeded 1,500 and still is climbing. Put one in the win column for the good guys, right? Wrong. As soon as there was nothing negative to report about Fallujah, the media shifted its focus to other parts of the country.

Imagine if the papers in the 1940s all cried about the death and destruction of the French countryside rather than cheering the fact that the Bad Guys were being beat back.

Even when he tries to get the good news out, Western media rebuff him.

I have had my staff aggressively pursue media coverage for all sorts of events that tell the other side of the story only to have them turned down or ignored by the press in Baghdad. Strangely, I found it much easier to lure the Arab media to a "non-lethal" event than the western outlets. Open a renovated school or a youth center and I could always count on Al-Iraqia or even Al-Jazeera to show up, but no western media ever showed up – ever.

LTC Ryan has much, much more to say on misleading headlines, the big picture, minimizing the enemy's moral failings while overemphasizing ours, reporting on events not witnessed, and aiding & abetting the enemy with their best weapon; bad news.

Posted by Doug at 05:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 29, 2005

Media Collapse

Via RedState.org's RedHot comes a pointer to a Hugh Hewitt blog post. Hugh first notes the LA Times article on the awful coverage filled with rumor and unsubstantiated report (which we at SCO have covered here and here). Then comes the knockout punch:

Given this failure to capture the true story in New Orleans even with all of the combined resources of all the MSM working around the clock, why would anyone believe that American media is accurately reporting on the events in Iraq from the Green Zone, in the course of a bloody insurgency fought in a language they don't understand? If the combined forces of old media couldn't get one accurate story out of the convention center, why for a moment believe it can get a story out of Mosul or Najaf?

Good question.

Posted by Doug at 11:13 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 27, 2005

Playing the Rumor Game

Ever play the Rumor game, where you whisper one thing to someone, and by the time it gets around the room it's quite different? Well, looks like politicians and news organizations have been playing it in New Orleans.

Maj. Ed Bush recalled how he stood in the bed of a pickup truck in the days after Hurricane Katrina, struggling to help the crowd outside the Louisiana Superdome separate fact from fiction. Armed only with a megaphone and scant information, he might have been shouting into, well, a hurricane.

The National Guard spokesman's accounts about rescue efforts, water supplies and first aid all but disappeared amid the roar of a 24-hour rumor mill at New Orleans' main evacuation shelter. Then a frenzied media recycled and amplified many of the unverified reports.

"It just morphed into this mythical place where the most unthinkable deeds were being done," Bush said Monday of the Superdome.

It started in New Orleans proper, and then, via the magic of modern communications, went worldwide.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune on Monday described inflated body counts, unverified "rapes," and unconfirmed sniper attacks as among examples of "scores of myths about the dome and Convention Center treated as fact by evacuees, the media and even some of New Orleans' top officials."

Indeed, Mayor C. Ray Nagin told a national television audience on "Oprah" three weeks ago of people "in that frickin' Superdome for five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people."

The article mentions Fox and the NY & LA Times in the US, then the Ottawa Sun in Canada and the Evening Standard in England. These are but examples of a news cycle that continued to feed on itself. Some believe race may have played a factor.

Times-Picayune Editor Jim Amoss cited telephone breakdowns as a primary cause of reporting errors, but said the fact that most evacuees were poor African Americans also played a part.

"If the dome and Convention Center had harbored large numbers of middle class white people," Amoss said, "it would not have been a fertile ground for this kind of rumor-mongering."

While the media shares in the blame, it certainly didn't help that politicians were feeding the machine.
Some of the hesitation that journalists might have had about using the more sordid reports from the evacuation centers probably fell away when New Orleans' top officials seemed to confirm the accounts.

Nagin and Police Chief Eddie Compass appeared on "Oprah" a few days after trouble at the Superdome had peaked.

Compass told of "the little babies getting raped" at the Superdome. And Nagin made his claim about hooligans raping and killing.

All of these folks--politician and reporter alike--are supposed to be a bit more sober and careful about this. In this day of the 24-hour news cycle, getting this hour's scoop is making the media sound more and more like the National Enquirer as they try to outdo each other. But what are the politicians' excuses? Are they bucking for more money, or just looking for sympathy? It may sound like you care when you complain about how children are mistreated, but when you're just passing around unsubstantiated rumors, that's not compassionate; it's irresponsible. The actual facts were less sensational.
State officials this week said their counts of the dead at the city's two largest evacuation points fell far short of early rumors and news reports. Ten bodies were recovered from the Superdome and four from the Convention Center, said Bob Johannessen, spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

(National Guard officials put the body count at the Superdome at six, saying the other four bodies came from the area around the stadium.)

Of the 841 recorded hurricane-related deaths in Louisiana, four are identified as gunshot victims, Johannessen said. One victim was found in the Superdome but was believed to have been brought there, and one was found at the Convention Center, he added.

And frankly, there's plenty of actual suffering resulting from Katrina that doesn't require embellishing, while also unreported was much of the good news and good work going on.
Relief workers said that while the media hyped criminal activity, plenty of real suffering did occur at the Katrina relief centers.

"The hurricane had just passed, you had massive trauma to the city," said Lt. Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard.

"No air conditioning, no sewage … it was not a nice place to be. All those people just in there, they were frustrated, they were hot. Out of all that chaos, all of these rumors start flying."

Louisiana National Guard Col. Thomas Beron, who headed security at the Superdome, said that for every complaint, "49 other people said, 'Thank you, God bless you.' "

All this hype and frenzy took its toll on the rescue effort as well. Irresponsible words have consequences.
Bush, of the National Guard, said that reports of corpses at the Superdome filtered back to the facility via AM radio, undermining his struggle to keep morale up and maintain order.

"We had to convince people this was still the best place to be," Bush said. "What I saw in the Superdome was just tremendous amounts of people helping people."

But, Bush said, those stories received scant attention in newspapers or on television.

I understand that news is, by one definition, that which is unusual, not the ordinary day-to-day events. However, in a disaster area, everything is unusual and extraordinary. This goes for the good news as well as the bad. Does the good news draw viewers as much as the bad? Perhaps not. However, a balance needs to be struck that was missing from the Katrina coverage. And if indeed more people will listen to bad news than good, then it's as much our collective problem as it is that of the media and the politicians specifically.

Posted by Doug at 12:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 07, 2005

The Continuing Air America Scandal

Michelle Malkin now has the documents to show that Al Franken, in particular, has been lying since day 1 about the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club cash for Air America. He' s not some innocent bystander by any stretch of the imagination.

Ironic for a guy who wrote the book "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them".

I predicted, when Air America first started, that they wouldn't last 2 years. They're now 7 months from that milestone. I thought they'd fold due to bad ratings, and frankly, almost any other network with their ratings wouldn't last long. Their big buck$ backer$, however, have seen to it that they continue an artificial growth, but without that constant infusion from backers (and Boys & Girls Clubs), they wouldn't last. And it's not because the market is saturated, either. Bill Bennett's "Morning in America" radio show started at the same time as Franken's did. At the one-year mark, Bennett's show was broadcast in 116 markets (including 18 of the top 20) while Franken was heard in only 50.

The conservative Salem Radio Network, which has Bennett as well as Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager and others, didn't have nearly the fanfare from the MSM that Air America had, and yet folks are tuning in to it in numbers that far exceed AA's. The question of "why" is a topic for its own post, but SRN has quietly expanded, bringing in the ratings, which is how a network stays alive and relevant. Infusions of cash from fat wallets and kids' programs may keep it alive, but not relevant. It's the content that counts.

Of course, ethics matter, too. AA may fail for that reason. So many to choose from.

Posted by Doug at 01:23 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 02, 2005

Critics trying to have it both ways

The President is taking heat for responding too slowly to the Katrina disaster. James Taranto covers how angry folks on the left have been reacting in general ("It's global warming!", "It's because Mississippi has a Republican governor!"), but the speed issue is one that keeps coming up.

The NY Times calls Bush's response too little, too late.

George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end.

One of the criticisms I have of many pundits and news reporters on the Left is that, no matter at all what Bush does, they'll find some way to criticize it. It doesn't matter how objectively good his action may be, it simply must be shot down. Don't believe me? Well Sherman, set the Way Back Machine to August 15, 2004, a little over a year ago. CBS reports on what folks are saying to Bush's response to Hurricane Charley.
Even before the storm hit, the president declared four counties disaster areas to speed federal money to victims. But that quick response fueled suspicion that he is using disaster politics to help his campaign in one of the most critical battleground states, a notion the president dismissed Sunday.

"Yeah, and if I didn't come they'd have said he should have been here more rapidly," Mr. Bush said.

Just like they are saying now. And precisely what they said to Dubya's father.
The president is trying not to repeat his father's mistakes. After Hurricane Andrew flattened parts of south Florida in 1992, state officials blamed the first President Bush for not answering their calls for help quickly enough, and trying to make up that by overcompensating later.

It's a lesson the current president and political analysts have not forgotten.

"President Bush Sr. put so much money into the state after Hurricane Andrew that he was accused of buying votes in that election. So there is potential that the president could float so much money into Florida that people would say that's political opportunism," says political analyst Craig Crawford.

So a Republican President, by the definition of the Left, can only respond either too quickly or too slowly, and will spend either too much or too little money. This is what playing politics with human suffering looks like. Independents, take note.

Posted by Doug at 02:45 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 25, 2005

The Politics of Moving Goal Posts

Whilst commenting on Redstate.org in a thread dealing with the reporting on the pending Iraqi constitution, "streiff" responds to a poster who says that the new Iraqi government doesn't look like it will be better than the previous one, by the poster's definition of "better".

This is just another instance of the dynamic moving of goalposts.

First, we couldn't handle the heat of an Iraqi summer.

Then, Baghdad was Stalingrad on the Euphrates.

Then, civil war was imminent.

Then, no one would participate in the January election.

Then, no constitution would ever be drafted.

Now, the constitution isn't good enough.

Coming soon, no one will vote in the October electin [sic]; no one will vote in the December elections.

Eventually they'll move the goalposts far enough that they can declare we've been defeated and hopefully go home and leave the rest of us alone.

Good point. Virtually every prediction by the Left on the war in Iraq has been proven wrong, and as each one topples they've quickly built another one further downfield.

The topic that generated this thread noted that the NY Times praised the Afghan constitution but has deplored an almost identical one coming out of Iraq, so the "objectivity" of the Times comes into question here as well. Given virtually identical situations, they praise one and condemn the other. Why? Pure politics. "Good" is only good if we wanted it that way. They didn't object to the Afghanistan war, so the outcome is good. They did oppose the Iraq war, so the identical outcome is bad.

Politics appears to be the sole informer of their opinions. If they didn't agree politically with the conditions that brought it about, then they say the outcome is bad. How childish! Then they couch that opinion in language to suggest that the outcome itself is inherently bad, so as to cover up their real motivation. And they're betting on the short attention span of liberals.

Unfortunately, there are those with a little longer memories. Welcome to the Age of Blogs.

If you still had any shred of respect for the NY Times editorial page, I do hope you'll seriously reconsider.

Posted by Doug at 01:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 12, 2005

The Grey Lady Wakes

This just in from the New York Times: Air America financial scandal!

The state attorney general's office and the city's Department of Investigation are looking into whether a boys and girls club serving poor children and ailing elderly people in the Bronx had improper financial dealings, including loans to the Air America radio network, state and city officials said yesterday.

Thanks to Leon at Redstate.org for the link. Guess the Grey Lady isn't moving as sprightly as she used to. It took her 2 weeks to catch up with (as Leon notes), "the Arizona Republic, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, The Oregonian, the Washington Times, the Sun, the Post, the Daily News, the Opinion Journal, Investors Business Daily and about a zillion blogs (with no editors!) on this story that almost exclusively happened within the confines of New York."

Leon also properly points to Michelle Malkin, who's been one of the blogs leading the way on this story. Michelle tries looking for the story on the Times web site.

But you need a magnifying glass to find it. Go the the NYTimes.com homepage. Nothing there. Click over the National section. Nothing there. Find your way to the NY/Region section. Scroll way down past the featured stories.

Aha! There it is:

Bronx Boys Club's Finances Investigated

The story is essentially buried, which is different than the big coverage Air America gets when there's marginally good news. But that's not all. Brian Maloney of "The Radio Equalizer" has also been a pit bull on this story. His commentary today notes, among a bunch of other problems, the cleansing of quotes from Al Franken and spokesman Jim Grossman for use in the story.

The "Paper of Record" slips further and further into irrelevancy.

Posted by Doug at 08:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack