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CATEGORY: Decision '08, Media

The left’s towering anger that exploded onto the internet after the Philadelphia Democratic debate is a little misplaced aggression in my opinion. The fact of the matter is, this is the kind of press the left created, nurtured, supported, and lionized for the last half a century.

The modern American media has its roots in the way news was first delivered over television. And the granddaddy’s of TV journalists – the men most responsible for the way that television, print, radio and now internet news operates in tone and content – were Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly.

In many ways, those two brilliant gentlemen, both with enormous professional integrity and a keen sense of the way that news was important to the American people, made it impossible to escape the “gotcha” mentality that would dominate the news landscape for the next 50 years. Friendly and Murrow were both classic FDR liberals – perhaps a little farther left in Friendly’s case – and saw the drama inherent in media confrontations as the best way to get eyeballs in front of the screen. Beyond that, Murrow especially was on a quest to destroy his ideological foes – and not just McCarthy who Murrow delayed skinning until the beast was already cornered and gravely wounded but also other cold war figures who he believed stood in the way of the naturally friendly relations with Soviet Russia we should be enjoying.

Nixon, Acheson, and the Dulleses were also damned by Murrow and Friendly and thus began a tradition in news reporting that continues to this day; savaging conservatives.

If you can name one prominent conservative figure of the last half century who has not been subject to the most unflattering, scathing, unfair and ultimately dishonest portrayal in the media then I will eat my skimmer. On the other hand, of course, the left has a pantheon of heroes from Kennedy to Kerry who have gotten the kid glove treatment from the press. Yes there was occasional criticism. But this was mostly pro-forma and somehow never quite made it into election campaigns. Curious, that.

The CBS Show “60 Minutes” refined this tactic using new technologies and added “ambush journalism” to the mix. Now it wasn’t simply a case of “gotcha” but also watching the target of the hit piece jump around like a bug on a hot griddle trying to avoid reporters running after them with camera and mike in tow. It made for wildly successful television and “60 Minutes” became the #1 show in the country for decades.

This is not to say that most if not all the subjects ambushed by “60 Minutes” didn’t deserve every squirming second they spent in front of the cameras. But one may have asked at some point, “Is this journalism?” Or is this a circus? The imitators came fast and furious on the other networks followed by investigative reporting outfits at both the national and local levels of broadcast news, radio, and finally newspapers. Much of the work done by these units was vital and necessary. But some of it was trivial and titillating rather than newsworthy. No matter. It all went into the great maw of the information delivery systems of the day and was swallowed up by the people.

The crowning moment for this news culture was Watergate. Ironically, at a point where this creation of the left reached its zenith, real journalists began to ask questions about the power of the press and the potential for abuse. But the pattern had been set and from then until now, news coverage of our politics has become more and more concentrated on digging for dirt and hopng to expose embarrassing facts about a candidate’s past which used to be the job of the political opposition but is now an obligation of the press corps.

The “gotcha” political culture is an outgrowth of all this. So why is the left complaining? They created this creature to devour their ideological enemies. Should they be so surprised that it has turned on them and is now devouring their candidate of choice in the most hotly contested primary race in decades?

Admittedly, both Clinton and Obama are sitting ducks. There literally is no one else to target at the moment. McCain is off in the shadows, largely ignored as Hillary and Obama gore each other. Also, McCain has something of a special relationship with many in the press that for the moment is allowing him to operate as he wishes. I imagine once the outlines of the general election race takes shape that will change and the press will be an equal opportunity destroyer. At least, that’s how it’s been in the past.

Not only are both candidates tempting targets but they themselves have given the press the ammunition to attack them. Hillary’s serial fibbing and Obama’s stammering excuses for his past problem associations have left the candidates wide open to the kind of “How many times have you beaten your wife today” questions that were asked by Gibson and Stephanopolous. Both journalists were doing their jobs – probing and prying, looking for soft spots. In Obama’s relationship with Ayers, they struck jello. And Obama’s dismissive answers as well as his comparing a Senate colleague to an anti-social domestic terrorist only served to highlight the candidate’s lack of understanding of why people might see a potential president of the United States being on a first name basis with Bill Ayers in the age of terror would be a shocking thing.

For those on the left who feel betrayed by the media, I would say don’t worry. By the time the leaves begin to turn the press will be back right where they always have been; standing shoulder to shoulder with the Democratic party and working to belittle, injure, and destroy conservatives and Republicans running for office.

UPDATE: Stupid Liberal Comment of the Decade

The comment by “Bobwire” I am reproducing below will cause any conservative in America to burst into laughter. I reproduce it and urge you to congratulate Bobwire on his perspicuity:

bobwire | | IP:

“If you can name one prominent conservative figure of the last half century who has not been subject to the most unflattering, scathing, unfair and ultimately dishonest portrayal in the media then I will eat my skimmer.”

Arlen Spector
Mark Hatfield
Lowell Weicker

You have been pwned. You exist only as a button pusher.

By: Rick Moran at 4:42 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (10)

CATEGORY: Decision '08, Media

I don’t get it. This is one time I agree with most of the left.

What is the big deal about Hillary’s schedule as First Lady?

Brian Ross, in a mindlboggingly stupid and inane article, breathlessly informs us that Hillary was in the White House when Monica Lewinsky was servicing her husband:

Hillary Clinton spent the night in the White House on the day her husband had oral sex with Monica Lewinsky, and may have actually been in the White House when it happened, according to records of her schedule released today by the National Archives.

An initial review by ABC News of the 17,481 pages of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s schedule as first lady, released today by the National Archives, also finds significant gaps in time and many days containing only “private meetings” at the White House with unnamed individuals.

The public schedule for Sen. Clinton on Feb. 28, 1997, the day on which Lewinsky’s infamous blue dress would become stained by the president, shows the first lady spent the morning and the night in the White House.

The Feb. 28 schedule lists her as attending four “drop-by” events, closed to the press, between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and then records her as staying in the White House overnight that fateful day.

I can’t tell you how uninterested I am in knowing this information. It doesn’t even register on my Banal-o-Meter. In fact, I would say without qualification or hesitation that the knowledge regarding Hillary Clinton’s whereabouts on the day that her husband achieved a form of coital bliss with Miss Lewinsky is so far down the list of “Things I wish to know before I die” that I would have to live to be 108 to get to it. It doesn’t even top the query “Is bigfoot real?” or “What brand of chewing gum does Britney Spears chew?”

The Wall Street Journal tries very hard to outdo Brian Ross but ultimately fails because let’s face it, sex is a more enticing lede than murder/suicide:”

The day before Foster’s death, Clinton was in Southern California. She spent the morning at Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, touring the facility and meeting with students, then attended a luncheon in honor of Iris Cantor, the head of a foundation that supports, among other things, women’s health care. She spent the night at a hotel in Santa Barbara.

On July 20, 1993 — the day of Foster’s death — Clinton spent several hours conducting media interviews. She had a live appearance on the “Michael Jackson Show” (with the following rule: “Note: NO Call-in questions”), talked with the WAVE newspaper and later flew from Los Angeles to Little Rock, Ark.

That day, a Tuesday, Foster was reportedly found dead at a park in around 6 p.m. local time. According to her schedule, Clinton would have been in the air at that time (she wasn’t schedule to land in Arkansas for another two and a half hours).

Does this eliminate Hillary as a suspect? Or did she call Foster from the plane and give him the kind of pep talk given by Tom Hagen to Frank Pantangeli in Godfather Part II?

Tom Hagen: When a plot against the Emperor failed… the plotters were always given a chance… to let their families keep their fortunes. Right?

Frank Pentangeli: Yeah, but only the rich guys, Tom. The little guys got knocked off and all their estates went to the Emperors. Unless they went home and killed themselves, then nothing happened. And the families… the families were taken care of.

Tom Hagen: That was a good break. A nice deal.

Frank Pentangeli: Yeah… They went home… and sat in a hot bath… opened up their veins… and bled to death… and sometimes they had a little party before they did it.

I’m sorry to say that the Wall Street Journal failed to discover if such a scenario played out. Why they would think any person who doesn’t believe Vince Foster was murdered by the Clinton’s to shut him up would be interested in Hillary’s whereabouts on that tragic day is beyond comprehension. Perhaps someone should ask the Journal why they are pandering to people who believe in nutty conspiracy theories about the Clinton’s when there’s a financial crisis that could rock everyone in America’s world hovering like the Sword of Damocles over the country at present.

There’s more. We learn from the Washington Post that Bill basically stuck Hillary in a closet after the health care debacle, not giving her much to do and ending (we assume) that “co-presidency” idea that riled conservatives and cheered feminists during the campaign.

I would much prefer to have read about this in Cosmo or even Ladies Home Journal rather than the pages of our nation’s premier political newspaper. What “news” value it has isn’t registering at the moment. Anyone who followed politics at the time knew that Hillary’s role changed after the health care mess so for the Post to devote column inches to the definition of a “non-story” is astounding.

The Brits get into the act with The Guardian scolding Hillary for not being in the “War Room” when we attacked Serbia:

On the day that dozens of US cruise missiles rained down on Serbia in an attempt to punish Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic for the country’s onslaught against ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo, first lady Hillary Clinton was far from the White House war room: instead she was touring ancient Egyptian ruins, including King Tut’s tomb and the temple of Hatshepsut. And on the day before the signing of the Good Friday agreement in Belfast she was at an event called “Hats on for Bella” in Washington.

In her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton has touted her experience in the Clinton White House as preparation to lead the nation in a time of crisis. “Ready on day one” has been her slogan.

But an initial reading of some of the more than 11,000 pages of Clinton’s schedules from her days as first lady, released today by the National Archives and the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library, shows that she was often far from the site of decision-making during some of the most pivotal events of Bill Clinton’s presidency.

The Guardian being something of a left wing rag, perhaps they are unaware of a modern invention known as “the telephone” or just “the phone” to us Americans. To the extent that Hillary Clinton could advise her husband, I am sure – like every other First Lady who has lived in the White House – she gave him the benefit of her thoughts on the matter. And something as momentous as going to war with Serbia, I would expect that Bill Clinton consulted her for at least her opinion on some of the political ramifications of the attack.

Does Hillary exaggerate her foreign policy “experience” in the campaign? Only the most rabid of Hillary partisans knows full well that she does so shamelessly. Is it news that she was out of the country during big foreign policy decisions and not in the “war room” with Dr. Strangelove and the rest of the “experts?” If you believe that Bill Clinton did not take advantage of consulting with the one person he was sure would tell him the truth about any action he would take, then you should sleep on the couch tonight. Shame on you for not trusting your wife.

With 18,000 pages to go through, I’m sure the press will come up with other vitally important stories on where the First Lady of the United States was and what was she doing during some of the more exciting events in the 8 years the Clinton’s ruled Washington and the country.

The only request I have regarding further revelations is that they be placed in the section of the newspaper most appropriate to their impact and importance:

The comics section.

By: Rick Moran at 8:27 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (7)


I can’t tell you how proud I am of our media today.

With the world in its usual state of near hysteria over this or that problem dictator or American action, (or when Israel lifts a finger to defend itself), our media has chosen to initiate what can only be called the greatest quest/crusade in at least the last week. It is as fierce and as fervent as Ahab’s obsessive search for the Great White Whale – without the uplifting literary flair of a Melville.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “The Question of the Hour:” WHO IS KRISTEN?

ABC is hot on the trail:

A voluptuous brunette escort named Kristen, who advertises her availability online “for discriminating gentlemen,” says she is not the “Kristen” linked to New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

The online ad for Kristen, featuring provocative semi-nude lingerie photos, includes an update, “I am not the person the Daily News has mentioned in relation to the Spitzer case.”

The online posting is one of thousands ABC News found online of young women of all types and races who offer themselves for “escort” and “tryst” services.

Now that’s a job I wouldn’t mind having. Going through “thousands” of online pictures of young women all offering to put that special smile on your face – for a nominal (or gargantuan) fee, of course.

Conversation heard around watercooler at ABC headquarters in New York:

EMPLOYEE #1: “Sheesh! What a day. Gibson’s been busting my balls about this Iraq story. He wants it “edgier.” How about you?”

EMPLOYEE #2: “Christ! I’m still stuck with that stupid ‘drugs in the water supply’ story.’ Talk about bor-ing. What about you kid?”

EMPLOYEE #3: “I just spent the entire morning going through thousands of online photos of half naked women in lingerie trying to set up dates just to find out if they’re the ones who played “Hide the Salami” with Governor Spitzer.”



EMPLOYEE #1: “We’re in the wrong department.”

Alas, even if the charms of the young woman ABC contacted above have set your heart aflutter and male juices flowing, I hate to disappoint you but this particular “Kristen” is booked solid until the middle of the month:

E-mails sent to the Kristen site were returned with this message: “Thank you for contacting me. I am currently unavailable through mid-March. Please try me again after March 15th. I look forward to connecting with you then. Kristen.”

ABC can relax. As can every other major media outlet in the United States who almost certainly called every escort, hooker, prostitute, call girl, and crack whore in the state of New York looking for the Madonna of street walkers – the one, the only, the TRUE Kristen.

She was lost. And now she’s been found: can reveal a portfolio description from the Emperors Club web site which could depict the “Kristen” mentioned in the Governor Eliot Spitzer prostitution case.

The 5-foot-5-inch brunette likes dining at fancy restaurants and will show up wearing very high heels.

The governor is expected to resign this morning.

Ah! Mystery solved. And such prose! Such inspired writing! Almost makes me want to take her around the world myself.

After seeing her picture, I see what’s to like. One can hardly blame Spitzer for falling head over heels for this Jezebel. If I had an extra $5 grand, I just might take a flyer on her. She could even ditch the high heels. Jeans and T-shirt is good enough for Bennigans.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to add up all the man hours spent by the media the last couple of days looking for this woman? I’ll bet the tab gets into the 7 figures. And all to interview the poor girl and ask the one burning question that everyone of us is on the edge of their seat waiting to hear answered by her:

What was it like doing the slap and tickle with the (former) Governor of the State of New York? What kinky stuff was he into? And please be specific.

The publication or news outlet that can answer those questions will increase their sales or viewership by 50%. What a coup. What an elevating example of the value and importance of our media. It makes us ask the question “What would America be like without a free press?”

Judging by the way most outlets are handling this story, we’re finding out quicker than we might like.

By: Rick Moran at 5:43 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (3)

CATEGORY: Ethics, Media

Executive Editor Bill Keller defending the Times McCain smear:

“On the substance, we think the story speaks for itself. In all the uproar, no one has challenged what we actually reported. On the timing, our policy is, we publish stories when they are ready.

” ‘Ready’ means the facts have been nailed down to our satisfaction, the subjects have all been given a full and fair chance to respond, and the reporting has been written up with all the proper context and caveats. This story was no exception. It was a long time in the works. It reached my desk late Tuesday afternoon. After a final edit and a routine check by our lawyers, we published it.”

The reason no one is challenging what you reported, Bill, is because it is impossible to challenge innuendo and snide implications. If you had come right out and said “McCain is screwing this broad” you would have been branded liars. Instead, you’ve earned the sobriquet “smear merchant” which has a long and illustrious history in American journalism.

As for other aspects of the story, your boast that no one has “challenged” the facts is simply a lie. Former McCain aide John Weaver denies he played the role of corroborating witness to the “intervention” with Ms. Iseman that you story claims:

The New York Times asked for a formal interview and I said no and asked for written questions. The Times knew of my meeting with Ms. Iseman, from sources they didn’t identify to me, and asked me about that meeting. I did not inform Senator McCain that I asked for a meeting with Ms. Iseman. [ed. note: McCain denied any knowledge of this meeting in his morning presser.]

Her comments, which had gotten back to some of us, that she had strong ties to the Commerce Committee and his staff were wrong and harmful and I so informed her and asked her to stop with these comments and to not be involved in the campaign. Nothing more and nothing less.

I responded to the Times on the record about a meeting they already knew about. The campaign received a copy of my response to the Times the same day, which was in late December.

Ed Morrssey places this denial in context:

Iseman had bragged about her connections to the committee in order to expand her client list. Weaver heard about it and told her to knock it off, or she’d get frozen out. Lobbyists collect clients by making themselves appear influential, and apparently Iseman got a little too hyperbolic about her connections.

That’s the extent of the supposed “intervention”—and the Times knew it.

Morrissey’s post also has an interesting twist via Martin’s Politico blog where a former press secretary for McCain thinks it likely the leaks came from lobbyists and not campaign staffers. If true, this would be a far more compelling story of how the New York Times got taken by a couple of shills jealous of Iseman’s access?

In truth, this seems to be where all the various threads come together; Iseman’s privileged position as a friend/close associate/advisor to McCain. It is the cause of the rumored infidelity, the influence peddling, and the inappropriate interventions by McCain on her behalf.

As for the infidelity, the Times story itself never comes out and says it existed because they had no witnesses or documentary proof. To imply that McCain was fooling around anyway was the height of irresponsibility and is the definition of a smear. In addition, other staffers in the know vehemently deny there was anything romantic in the McCain-Iseman relationship.

As for the rest, the rebuttal to influence peddling charges supplied by McCain’s lawyer Bob Bennett is pretty thorough. It turns out McCain did not intervene directly on behalf of Paxson Communications in order to get a favorable ruling from the FCC. What he did was write a letter asking that the FCC get off its butt and rule on the matter. I wrote this at AT this morning:

It should be pointed out that there are 100 senators currently serving and if there is one of those senators who hasn’t written a letter to get some dead weight bureaucrat off his duff and do his job in approving or disapproving a company’s request so that the business doesn’t go bankrupt waiting for the agency to do its job I would be shocked.

Arizona Senator McCain intervened on behalf of a Florida company at the behest of a lobbyist (Iseman) who he happened to be friends with. A credible case can be made that in his capacity as Chairman of the Commerce Committee, McCain was legitimately carrying out his responsibilities. An equally good case can be made that McCain was stretching it. Is this news? McCain himself has elevated his own standard of behavior above this sort of thing so in that sense it is a minor point against him.

Front page news in the New York Times? Doubt it.

The same goes for the rest of the “transgressions” that in reading them seem picky and petty. Again, in the context that McCain holds himself to a higher standard than other politicians, it is a legitimate news item. But plane rides? Letters to bureaucrats? Are these the kinds of “hypocrisies” that rise to the level of front page news in the “newspaper of record?”

No. What makes this front page news and caused the Times to send 4 reporters out trying to dig up dirt on McCain was the sex angle and only the sex angle. The Times thought it had a juicy sex story about a Republican “Family Values” politician and devoted god knows how many man hours to trying to ferret it out. They failed abysmally and know it. Instead of coming forward to defend themselves against allegations of political character assassination, they have hunkered down and decided to try and ride out the storm by staying mum.

Maybe TNR’s Franklin Foer should give Bill Keller a call and tell him how successful that strategy was.

By: Rick Moran at 8:15 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)

CATEGORY: Decision '08, Media

This piece originally appeared on The American Thinker Blog

The New York Times story alleging "impropriety" on the part of John McCain with a female lobbyist has several different angles to it but basically, it comes down to a story about sexual infidelity – a perfect start to the Times effort to smear McCain.

That’s what the Times is peddling. And it is why they decided to run the story despite the fact that the legitimate issues they raise about McCain doing the bidding of this lobbyist is so thin that it’s damn near invisible.

Ed Morrissey nails it:
The New York Times launches its long-awaited smear of John McCain today, and the most impressive aspect of the smear is just how baseless it is. They basically emulate Page Six at the Post, but add in a rehash of a well-known scandal from twenty years ago to pad it out and make it look more impressive. In the end, they present absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing—only innuendo denied by all of the principals:
The scandal Ed refers to – the Keating Five dust up – was carefully taken out of the closet by the Times, dusted off, and presented as news – or as Ed says, filler for a story that had no legs and precious little in the way of facts. Nearly 500 words on a scandal that by almost universal agreement on Capitol Hill, John McCain has managed to overcome and re-establish his reputation for honesty and integrity.

But tying the Keating mess into a story about a female lobbyist who the Times breathlessly reports  showed up with McCain in all sorts of places – including (gasp!) his office – only underscores what this story is really based on; it’s the sex, of course.

The Times reports that McCain promised not to take a direct flight from Washington to Phoenix because he sponsored a bill that added that route for air carriers. But in an apparent back tracking on that pledge, McCain took flights home on corporate jets – including one owned by his supposed ladyfriend’s clients. And just to titillate us further, the Times snidely informs us that the female lobbyist accompanied McCain on one of those flights home.

I don’t know about you but that seems a little thin to hang an infidelity charge on a putative nominee for president of the Republican party.

And who are the Times sources for this story of romantic intrigue and Washington back scratching? Two former staffers, self described as "disgruntled," gave the Times the background of the story which involved nervous staffers running around confronting McCain over the "affair" while pointing out the impropriety of writing letters on behalf of the woman’s clients.

It should be pointed out that there are 100 senators currently serving and if there is one of those senators who hasn’t written a letter to get some dead weight bureaucrat off his duff and do his job in approving or disapproving a company’s request so that the business doesn’t go bankrupt waiting for the agency to do its job I would be shocked.

One other aspect of this story that will be coming out over the next news cycle is that the Times may have been forced into publishing the story before they wanted to. Word is that The New Republic was doing a piece on the Times holding the story and the fierce
office politics involved:

The McCain campaign is apparently blaming TNR for forcing the Times’ hand on this story. We can’t yet confirm that. But we can say this: TNR correspondent Gabe Sherman is working on a piece about the Times’ foot-dragging on the McCain story, and the back-and-forth within the paper about whether to publish it.

Gabe’s story will be online tomorrow.

Update: McCain senior aide Mark Salter tells Time: "They did this because the The New Republic was going to run a story that looked back at the infighting there," Salter said, "the Judy Miller-type power struggles—they decided that they would rather smear McCain than suffer a story that made the New York Times newsroom look bad."

There are reports that one of the reporters on the story, Marilyn Thompson, was so disgusted with the fact that the Times wouldn’t run the story that she quit and went back to the Washington Post (who also features a story on the rumored relationship with the lobbyist).

On Feb. 12, the Washington Post announced that Thompson would be leaving the Times and returning to the Post, her employer for fourteen years. Rumors had circulated internally that Thompson had been working on the McCain piece and was dissatisfied it had not yet run, according to two Times staffers.

Politico asked Baquet if holding the piece had anything to do with her leaving the paper. “I’m not going to go into stories that may or may not run in the paper,” Baquet said last week, declining to confirm or deny that there was such a story. “I had long conversations with Marilyn, and it’s about her regarding the Post as home."
A question might be asked just why the Times was holding the story. Were they waiting for maximum negative impact on McCain? Perhaps the day after clinching the nomination?

I wouldn’t put anything past that crew.

This story will not go away. As with all Washington scandals, there will probably be a drip, drip, drip of new revelations (or information that is passed off as new revelations) to keep the story churning.

One thing is for sure; the next time you hear a Democrat talking about the vaunted "Republican attack machine" throw a copy of the New York Times in their face.

By: Rick Moran at 9:43 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (3)


Whatever they’re paying her, it’s way too much.

Watch this candid video of Katie Couric “anchoring” CBS coverage of New Hampshire. The breathtaking ignorance of the candidates, the issues, even her medium of television is so pronounced that one wonders how anyone that bad could actually have the hubris to appear on camera every night.

She is that bad.

At one point she says “I don’t know much about Huckabee.” At another, she carefully rehearses what she is going to ask the remote reporter.

It is a shocking, depressing thought that this woman is sitting in the same chair as Douglas Edwards, Cronkite, and Rather. Say what you will about the relative biases of those gentlemen, they were journalists to the core of their beings. Douglas Edwards literally invented the TV anchor position, bringing journalistic standards to the job honed through a career that included covering D-Day. Cronkite reported for Stars and Stripes during World War II and picked up with CBS toward the end of the conflict. Rather was in Dallas on November 22, 1963 and knew his way around a newsroom before ever going on the air.

And now…Katie Couric? A brainless twit of a woman whose ignorance of the personalities and issues she is reporting on makes her unfit to cover an American election.

Put the broad on the weather desk. Or maybe she could do sports. She and Olbermann were made for each other.

By: Rick Moran at 5:26 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (9)


Fred Thompson says he is “not consumed by personal ambition.” He says that he won’t slit his wrists if he loses the presidency. He says “I’m not particularly interested in running for president, but I think I’d make a good president. Nowadays, the process has become much more important than I think it used to be.”

The press is having a field day, of course. They love it when a candidate seems to confirm all the supposedly nasty things they’ve been saying about him. Go here for a full transcript of what Thompson said in response to an earnest question from a voter who asked “if I caucus for you next week, are you still going to be there two months from now?”

It’s too late for Thompson to change the minds of the press regarding the importance of having an overweening ambition to be president. Collectively, it appears they have decided that this is an extremely relevant and serious criteria by which to judge a candidate’s worthiness for high office. Somehow, a candidate’s thoughtfulness, integrity, instincts, temperament, and views on the issues have become secondary to an artificial measurement of the heat given off from how much fire is in his belly.

Our gatekeepers are, if nothing else, consistent in their criticism of Thompson’s commitment to running for president. Ever since the first weeks of the campaign when the press woke up to the fact that Thompson was going to run the campaign his way and not the way that everyone (including the press) expected him to run it, the conventional wisdom developed that it didn’t matter what Thompson was saying or what he believed. What mattered is that he failed to meet the arbitrary standards set by the media denoting what might be termed “the cup of desire” test. Thompson refused to drink deep draughts and has been skewered for it.

I can’t think of any other candidate in the last 35 years who has been judged by such extraordinarily shallow criteria. There were whispers prior to Reagan running for President in 1980 that the candidate was too laid back. Indeed, Reagan’s loss in Iowa in 1980 was attributed to a “lazy” campaign. But no one accused The Gipper of lacking desire for the office or even that his laid back style disqualified him from consideration.

This is an entirely new phenomena in politics and is directly related to the fact that running for President has become pretty much of a 4 year undertaking. A large part of the reason for that is the ungodly sums of money that must be raised to build what amounts to a $100 million nationwide business whose only product is electing the candidate president. Those few candidates who can accomplish this have a huge leg up in the race.

Declaring early means wrapping up the party “whales” and “bundlers” who invest in a candidate as they would a promising stock or top performing mutual fund. When you consider the fact that the top 4 fundraisers in the race had all been mentioned as possible presidential candidates as far back as 2004, you begin to see where a candidate like Thompson, already at a huge disadvantage, would seek to break the mold and run a different kind of campaign, freed from the necessity of living up to anyone’s expectations about how a successful run for office should unfold.

Unfortunately, mold breakers are inevitably punished for their apostasy. In Thompson’s case, the candidate himself hasn’t helped much. Voters may not have been asking the questions raised by the media about Thompson’s demeanor and desire, but judging by the poll numbers, those questions may have been uppermost in their minds. The fact is, Thompson has failed to adequately address the issue – until he hit a home run with his response yesterday. Predictably, the press spun the story the way they wanted – an easy task given the complexity and subtly of Thompson’s argument. But an examination of his explanation reveals a refreshing honesty about the candidate’s inner thinking and what exactly is motivating him to run.

Surprisingly, the reasons are no different than any other candidate. A desire to serve, a belief that he can accomplish “special things,” the confidence that he is running for “the right reasons.” So if it is not his motivation for running that is in question, what exactly is it that has the press so doggedly determined to portray him as “lazy” or “lacking fire in the belly?”

In an age when candidates run campaigns that are dependent on emotionally connecting with the voter (usually by trying to frighten them to death about their opponent), Thompson seeks to engage people on an intellectual level. Rather than using rhetoric to inflame passions, the candidate tries to make the voter think. There is little pizazz and less of the campaign superficialities in Thompson’s effort than one finds in any other campaign. In short, as entertainment, the Thompson campaign receives failing grades. The candidate does not make good copy nor do his appearances necessarily make good TV. Rather than giving off sparks, the campaign emits a stolid, steady feeling of seriousness.

The press uses code words like “lazy” simply because they can’t bring themselves to describe the campaign and the candidate as “boring” – a description that would reveal them to be as stupid, shallow, and cynical as we all know that they are. In our media saturated world where people (and the press) demand to be constantly entertained, Fred Thompson fails miserably.

That is his greatest sin. He has broken the mold of what the press expects of a candidate and a campaign and is being punished for it. Not a very elevating reason to eliminate a candidate from serious consideration for the presidency but given the reality of presidential politics and the times we live in, it is perhaps not surprising.

By: Rick Moran at 9:10 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (19) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Low Flame In Fred Thompson's Belly?...
CATEGORY: Ethics, Media

When the Warren Commission, looking into the JFK assassination, got around to examining the role played by the city of Dallas in the tragedy, the members were torn between issuing a blanket condemnation of the rank hatred directed against Kennedy (and the American government) that many of them felt enabled the killer or a wrist slap that would have only mentioned the atmosphere in the city as “a factor” in the tragedy that played out that awful day.

Indeed, there was no more hate filled city that autumn in America than Dallas, Texas. Charges of treason against Kennedy and many in the government were on many people’s lips – the result of a series of editorials personally written by Ted Dealey, publisher of the Dallas Morning News, in which he regularly referred to the President and members of his administration as “traitors.” On the day of the assassination, the News carried a full page ad with a head shot of the president framed as if on a wanted poster. In large, bold type, the headline read “Wanted for Treason” and then listed a dozen or so ridiculous to our eyes reasons why Kennedy was a traitor.

But it wasn’t only Dealey who was spreading hate. The John Birch Society was very strong in Dallas as was the Klan. Many residents report hearing blood curdling threats made by ordinary citizens in schools, coffee shops, and other places where people would gather. If you lived in Dallas at that time, there was no way you could avoid being exposed to the searing hatred directed against Kennedy. He was a commie appeaser (or a commie plant). His entire cabinet was “pink.” He was a race mixer, a skinny rich kid whose daddy bought him the office.

This was the atmosphere Lee Oswald was exposed to in the days and weeks leading up to the assassination. As a declared Marxist – despite personal writings that made it clear he had little idea of what that ideology meant – he saw himself in heroic terms; a lone crusader against the evils of capitalism. For Oswald, there was little difference between Kennedy and the right wing racists and McCarthyites who spewed hatred toward liberals, toward the government, toward the “eastern establishment.”

But the Warren Commissioners were in a quandary. How much blame should be assigned to this right wing city for the actions of a declared leftist? The FBI tried to explain to the Commission that Oswald’s personality was very susceptible to this kind of virulent, visible hatred and that he could have channelled it unconsciously so that it enabled his act of violence. And it played in to Oswald’s ultimate motivation; it gave a patina of justification for what was really just a ploy to get the attention he craved so much.

In the end, the Commission cited Dallas and the climate of hate as a contributing factor but stopped short of blaming the city for enabling the tragedy.

No such reticence animated Bill Clinton when it came to placing blame for the Oklahoma City bombing. Although Clinton talked in general terms about the anti-government hatred spewed by militias and some far right websites, he went too far when accusing talk radio of enabling the killers:

“We hear so many loud and angry voices in America today,” Mr. Clinton told a college group in Minneapolis, after an obligatory obeisance to free speech, “whose sole goal seems to be to try to keep some people as paranoid as possible and the rest of us all torn up and upset with each other. They spread hate. They leave the impression, by their very words, that violence is acceptable.”

The impression Mr. Clinton left, by his very words, was that the Oklahoma bombing had been incited by words “regularly said over the airwaves” by his political critics.

“Those of us who do not agree with the purveyors of hatred and division, with the promoters of paranoia,” he urged, “. . . we have our responsibilities, too. . . . When they talk of hatred, we must stand against them. When they talk of violence, we must stand against them.”

Clinton was correct in blaming the vitriol that emanated from publications (McVeigh was a devotee of the racist Turner Diaries), websites and public utterances of the neo-Nazis, the skinheads, and the far right militia movement as a factor that played upon the minds of killers like McVeigh. But he went way to far when including talk radio in his diatribe against hateful rhetoric. Nevertheless, it was once again shown how an atmosphere of hate with dark hints of violence enables disturbed people like McVeigh and gives them psychological comfort when carrying out their heinous acts.

Last Sunday, a similarly disturbed young man walked into a missionary school in Arvada, Colorado and gunned down 4 people, killing two of them. Less than 12 hours later, he had driven 65 miles to the New Life Church in Colorado Springs and opened fire with a rifle, killing two and wounding three before a courageous security guard ended his spree and forced the gunman to turn his weapon on himself. With a satchel full of ammo and a couple of other guns, who knows how many people Matthew Murray would have killed if not stopped.

Some of the time between the two shooting sprees Murray apparently spent on the internet. On a website devoted to people who have left formal religion behind, he wrote an incoherent screed – virtually the same words used by Columbine killer Eric Harris – and substituted the word “Christian” for the name of Harris’ target:

I’m coming for EVERYONE soon and I WILL be armed to the @#%$ teeth and I WILL shoot to kill. ....God, I can’t wait till I can kill you people. Feel noremorse, no sense of shame, I don’t care if I live or die in the shoot-out. All I want to do is kill and injure as many of you … as I can especially Christians who are to blame for most of the problems in the world.

Well all you people out there can just kiss my (expletive removed) and die. From now on I don’t give a @#%$ about what all you (expletive removed) have to say, unless I respect you which is highly unlikely, but for those of you who do happen to know me and know that I respect you, may peace be with you and don’t be in my line of fire, for the rest of you, you all better @#%$ hide in your houses because I’m coming for EVERYONE soon, and I WILL be armed to the @#%$ teeth, and I WILL shoot to kill and I WILL @#%$ KILL EVERYTHING! No I am not crazy, crazy is just a word, to me it has no meaning, everyone is different, but most of you @#%$ heads out there in society, going to your everyday @#%$ jobs and doing your everyday routine (expletive removed) things, I say @#%$ you and die, if you got a problem with my thoughts, come to me and I’ll kill you, because….....God (expletive removed), DEAD PEOPLE DON’T ARGUE! My belief is that if I say something, it goes. I am the law. If you don’t like it, you die. If I don’t like you or I don’t like what you want me to do, then you die. If I do something incorrect, oh @#%$ well, you die. Dead people can’t do many things, like argue, whine, @#%$, complain, name, rat out, criticize, or even @#%$ talk. So that’s the only way to solve arguments with all you (expletive removed) out there, I just kill. God I can’t wait till I can kill you people, I’ll just go to some downtown area in some big city and blow up and shoot everything I can.

You break my back but you won’t break me…..all is black but I still see…shut me down, knock me to the floor…..shoot me up, @#%$ me like a whore….trapped under ice, comfortably cold, I’ve gone as low as you can go….. feel no remorse, no sorrow or shame…...time’s gonna wash away all pain I made a God out of blood not superiority I killed the king of deceit and now I sleep in anarchy.

Note two things; Murray “didn’t care” whether he lived or died and it is clear he relished the “power” such an act would bestow. But it was his obvious hatred of Christians that ultimately gave him his target.

As an atheist, I am not as sensitive to the slights and insults hurled at Christians by some on the left. What I might find irreverent, Christians may take as an insult or hate speech.

Regardless, there is little doubt that some on the left cross the line of irreverence and play to their basest instincts by railing against the “fundies” and “Christofascists” whose beliefs they find objectionable. This is not true of all liberals, many of whom have expressed their concerns about fundamentalist Christians becoming too involved in the political life of the nation in respectful terms. But there is no doubt that a popular fringe on the left glories in using stupefyingly hateful language to describe their opposition to Christian positions on abortion, gay rights, birth control, even railing against organized religion itself.

Many times these rants cross the line and enter the realm of hate speech. The Amanda Marcotte affair and her ludicrous, hateful diatribes against Catholic beliefs is but one example of this mindset on the left that fails to differentiate between argument and vicious, hate-filled screeds.

Even more widespread but subtle by comparison is the anti-Christian bias found in mass media. It was much worse just a few years ago when it was impossible to find anyone of faith portrayed in a positive light on television or the movies. Christians – especially devout Christians – were portrayed as hypocrites and most often, criminals. David Limbaugh chronicled this bias in Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity. I disagree with Limbaugh that there is something in the liberal ideology that manifests itself as hatred toward Christians – especially in mass media. It truly is a matter of not understanding people of faith as well as a distrust of anyone who believes in anything so strongly. The cynics who control the airwaves and movie studios simply cannot grasp the idea of the true believer. Hence, patriots, Christians, and zealots of every stripe are portrayed in a negative light.

Recently, this bias has been tempered by a slew of shows that portray faith and people who practice it in a more positive way. The long running show 7th Heaven, which showed the life of a preacher and his children, inspired a host of shows that also take faith seriously and attempt to examine an individual’s relationship with God in a positive light.

But fundamentalist Christians are still the target of an insidious bias in the news media as well as Hollywood. And the question that must be asked in the wake of the Colorado church shootings is does all this create an atmosphere of permissiveness that enabled the shooter?

Church shootings are nothing new in America although these kinds of mass killings is a fairly recent phenomena. Here are some major attacks at churches over the last few years:

May 21, 2006: Four members of Erica Bell’s family are shot to death in a service at the Ministry of Jesus Christ in Baton Rouge, La. She is abducted and murdered elsewhere. Her husband Anthony Bell is currently awaiting trial.

Feb. 26, 2006: Kevin L. Collins opens fire during a church service at Zion Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit, killing Rosietta Williams-Culp and injuring a 9-year-old girl. He later killed himself.

March 12, 2005: Terry Ratzmann opens fire at a Living Church of God service held at a Sheraton Hotel in Brookfield, Wis., killing seven and wounding four before shooting himself.

Oct. 5, 2003: Shelia Wilson walks into the Turner Monumental AME Church in Atlanta while preparations are being made for service and shoots the pastor, her mother and then herself.

June 10, 2002: Lloyd Robert Jeffress shoots four monks in a Benedictine monastery in Conception, Mo., killing two and wounding two, before killing himself.

March 12, 2002: Peter Troy, a former mental patient, opens fire during Mass at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Lynbrook, N.Y., killing the priest and a parishioner. He later receives a life sentence.

May 18, 2001: Frederick Radford stands up in the middle of a revival service at Greater Oak Missionary Baptist Church, in Hopkinsville, Ky., and begins shooting at his estranged wife, Nicole Radford, killing her and a woman trying to help her.

Sept. 15, 1999: A gunman opens fire in Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, killing seven people and then himself.

This is only a partial listing and doesn’t include some of the more recent attacks

In many of these incidents, it was alleged that the shooter was animated by anti-Christian hatred, enabled by a society at war with Christians. Is that really true? Given the spate of lawsuits brought by atheists and others who seek to remove Christian symbols and the outward manifestations of Christian beliefs from the public square along with attacks in media and on the internet, is it any wonder that Christians feel themselves besieged? Nor does it take a rocket scientist to figure out that this overpowering media blitz that appears on the surface to assault Christian leaders and beliefs would affect those already predisposed to hate and perhaps give them the subconscious impetus to act out that hatred by picking up a gun and using it on their perceived enemies?

This is very tricky territory to explore and some of my more feeble minded readers will try and take me to task for blaming liberals for the Colorado shootings. Nothing could be further from the truth. But to deny that the over the top rhetoric used by non believers along with the portrayal of Christians in mass media as hypocritical and evil has some kind of effect on these unbalanced killers – the Oswalds and McVeighs of today – is just not logical.

I confess to sharing many concerns about the Christian right that the sane left has articulated. But a blind man can see where the white hot rhetoric and constant debasement of Christians and Christianity in the media can lead. And perhaps it’s time for those on the left who care about the subject to step forward and ask for a bit more tolerance from their brethren despite the fact that they would be defending some whose own intolerance might ordinarily give them pause.

If there is a “war” some kind of peace is definitely in order. And understanding by all sides of the real world consequences that are the result of hate speech should be the first priority.

By: Rick Moran at 9:05 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (20)


This is a media story that should be getting a lot more coverage than it has.

An NRO reporter/blogger, W.Thomas Smith, Jr., reported from Lebanon last fall and several of his stories contained gross inaccuracies and what many Lebanese observers and reporters believe to be fabricated vignette’s regarding Hizbullah activities in Beirut as well as his own exploits in getting his stories.

I read most of Smith’s dispatches from Lebanon at the time and thought it odd that this American was able to get around so easily and had apparently fantastic sources who were feeding him colorful little nuggets of information. Compared to Michael Totten, David Kenner, (who also pointed out Smith’s fables among other outrages) and others who have written of their experiences there and how difficult it was to report what was happening in that confusing muddle of politics, religion, and geo-political conflict, Smith’s job seemed effortless by comparison.

I don’t believe I ever linked to any of his dispatches there if only because he really wasn’t giving any new information and I was disinterested in his personal observations in that they seemed rather self-indulgent. I remember at the time thinking “This guy is going to get killed or kidnapped if he’s not careful.” As it turns out, I needn’t have worried.

That’s because Smith embellished his “reporting” with at least two glaring factual inaccuracies or lies if you prefer. On September 25, Smith wrote that Beirut was occupied by “some 200-plus heavily armed Hezbollah militiamen” at a “sprawling tent city.” Then on the 29th, Smith reported that his sources had told him that 4,0000-5,000 Hizbullah militiamen had “”deployed to the Christian areas of Beirut in an unsettling ‘show of force.’”

Using the word “unsettling” is a rather large understatement. Such a move by the Shia militia into Christian Beirut would have almost certainly initiated a violent reaction. And while there is indeed a tent city that virtually surrounds the Grand Serail – a symbolic show by Hizbullah who has occupied the square since last December to protest what they see as the illegitimacy of the Lebanese government – the thought that there are “200-plus heavily armed” Hizbullah militiamen would probably come as a shock to the Lebanese army who are currently carefully stationed between Hizbullah and the government building. One journalist described activity at the tent city this way:

“This guy is hilarious. Armed Hezbollah at the Serail? He must be mistaking the Lebanese army at the gates – those 200 in the tents are some middle class Hezbollees – who now come once a week to have a smoke with their friends and get away from their wives.”

According to most of the Lebanese media sources I’ve read, there are rarely more than 500 people camped out there. And while the tent city has severely curtailed economic activity in downtown Beirut, the government is much more concerned about Syrian assassins than they are an armed Hezbullah thrust at the Serail. (Note: For the Glenn Greenwalds of the world, such was not the case last December when only entreaties from Saudi King Abdullah kept several dozen armed Hizbullah gunmen who had blockaded entrances to the building, from storming the Serail and toppling the government.) This is not to say that Hizbullah and their guns present no serious threat to the government’s existence. But there is certainly no immediate threat beyond the normal unease the government feels about 20,000 or so of its citizens in possession of guns and heavy weapons that could easily be turned on them.

There were other questionable tales told by Smith regarding his travels around Lebanon detailed in an email to Huffpo’s Thomas Edsall from Middle East correspondent Michael Prothero:

“In his [Smith’s] wildly entertaining postings, he describes kidnap attempts, an armed incursion into Christian East Beirut by 5,000 armed Hezbollah fighters that was missed by every journalist in town, he also notes the presence of 200 armed Hezbollah fighters in downtown Beirut ‘laying siege’ to the prime ministers office, recounts high-speed car chases and ‘armed recon operations’ where he drives around south Beirut taking pictures of Hezbollah installations, while carrying weapons. In a word, this is all insane.”

Clearly, Scott Beauchamp has nothing on Smith when it comes to just making stuff up.

Indeed, according to Edsall, Smith heavily criticized Beauchamp last fall while his Lebanon fables were were fresh on people’s minds. Edsall (and Glen Greenwald) try and make the curious point that this somehow calls into question NRO’s criticisms of Beauchamp or perhaps lessens their impact. I see the hypocrisy but facts are facts, my friends. Beauchamp lied, smearing the military in the process. What difference does it make with regard to the Beauchamp story if Smith got that one correct? Call him out for his hypocrisy but don’t try and use it to somehow defend Beauchamp.

Smith issued his partial mea culpa on Friday, trying to weasel his way out of apologizing and retracting what even he says are stories he simply made up:

In the case of the 4000-5000 Hezbollah troops, Smith wrote:

“I have not been able to independently verify that ‘thousands’ of armed Hezbollah fighters deployed to the Christian areas of Beirut in late September, but my sources continue to insist that it happened….

“In retrospect, however, this is a case where I should have caveated the reporting by saying that I only witnessed a fraction of what happened (from a moving car), with broader details of what I saw ultimately told to me by what I considered then—and still consider to be—reliable sources within the Cedar Revolution movement, as well as insiders within the Lebanese national security apparatus. As we were driving through that part of town, I saw men I identified as Hezbollah deployed at road intersections with radios. I was later told that these were Hezbollah militants deploying to Christian areas of Beirut, and there were four or five thousand of them.”

In the case of the 200 armed Hezbollah militia, Smith wrote:

“The Hezbollah camp in late September—and up until the time I left in mid-October—was huge (‘sprawling’). And though the tents were very large and many of them closed, I saw at least two AK-47s there with my own eyes. And this from a moving vehicle on the highway above the camp. And in my way of thinking, if a guy’s got an AK-47, he’s ‘heavily armed.’

“Did I physically see and count 200 men carrying weapons? No. If I mistakenly conveyed that impression to my readers, I apologize. I saw lots of men, lots of them carrying walkie-talkie radios, and a tent city that could have easily housed many more than 200. I also saw weapons, as did others in the vehicle with me. And I was informed by very reliable sources that Hezbollah does indeed store arms inside the tents. And they’ve certainly got the parliamentarians and other government officials spooked and surrounded by layers of security.”

This is a non-retraction retraction. He didn’t see 200 men carrying arms but he apologizes for mistakenly conveying that impression? It wasn’t an “impression.” He reported it as fact – a huge difference. But as I said, weasel words instead of a clear apology and retraction.

NRO Editor Kathryn Jean Lopez also issued an apology which was a not very forthcoming and praised Smith’s other reporting to boot:

Bottom line: NRO strives to bring you reliable analysis and reporting — whether in presenting articles, essays, or blog posts. Smith did commendable work in Lebanon earlier this year, as he does from S.C. where he is based, as he has done from Iraq, where he has been twice. But rereading some of the posts (see “The Tank” for more detail) and after doing a thorough investigation of some of the points made in some of those posts, I’ve come to the conclusion that NRO should have provided readers with more context and caveats in some posts from Lebanon this fall. And so I apologize to you, our readers.

“Context and caveats?” What good are those when your reporter is making stuff up? This is not quite Franklin Foer territory but it’s hardly the kind of reaction we should be seeing from responsible journalists. This is especially true since the reporter himself has disavowed the accuracy of the stories in question. Save the praise for another time and come clean about his mistakes. While you’re at it, Ms. Lopez, you should probably have taken the opportunity to announce that Mr. Smith was no longer employed at the National Review. A self-admitted fabulist has no business working for a magazine with as much integrity and honesty as NR has shown over the last 50+ years.

The excellent critiques of Smith’s made up Lebanon stories by Edsall and conservative blogger Michelle Malkin have done a great service to online reporting by holding our own to as high or higher standards than the mainstream media holds themselves. But this hysterical and dishonest screed written by Glenn Greenwald – where the confirmed sock puppetteer believes that Smith’s fables were more serious a transgression than Beauchamp smearing the military – prove that not only is Greenwald extraordinarily uninformed about Lebanon, but his screaming paranoia about the reasons for Smith’s fables could only be written by someone who has abandoned reason and logic in favor of partisan hackery.

As with all Greenwaldian diatribes, it is impossible to deal with due to the fact that there are so many distortions, false assumptions, straw men, and deceitful conclusions that any complete destruction of his cockeyed stupidities would necessarily be book length. However, allow me the luxury of picking and choosing from Mr. Greenwald’s idiocies to at least try and set the record straight on a few matters.

Greenwald pooh-pooh’s Hizbullah’s threat to the elected majority by writing of “Hezbollah’s alleged armed threat to the Lebanese Government.” There is nothing “alleged” about this threat in the slightest. It drips from every pronouncement made by the opposition regarding their year long seige of the government building in Beirut. There may be only a couple of hundred Hizbullah members camped out at any one time. But as Nasrallah has proved time and time again, he can have 500,000 screaming maniacs in the square facing the Grand Serail in 24 hours.

Some examples of “alleged” threats to the government by the only armed militia in Lebanon:

Hezbollah deputy chief Sheikh Naim Kassem:

“This government will not take Lebanon to the abyss. We have several steps if this government does not respond but I tell them you will not be able to rule Lebanon with an American administration.”

FPM Leader and Hizbullah ally Michel Aoun:

He said the Saniora government “does not deserve to stay in power for one hour more … in a few days we will declare our rejection of this government and we will ask for the formation of a transitional government to organize new elections.”

He threatened that the “barbed wire doest not protect government offices. In the coming days the protest will expand.”

Aoun noted that protesters in Ukraine had stormed parliament building to push for regime change “and no one said that was an illegal move.”

And Aoun again:

Despite some of his allies’ refusal to storm the Grand Serail, the former army general said that “the natural tide can carry the demonstrators to the Grand Serail, which is why they increased the metal barriers.”

“Siniora should not take this as a threat but rather a warning, to him and to all those who support him, that the people will not wait much longer for him to step down. They don’t even need encouragement from the leaders.”

What is the government supposed to think when the opposition has its very own heavily armed, highly trained militia dedicated to achieving power? What is there “alleged” about this threat? Only an apologist for Hizbullah could make such an idiotic statement.

The other point about Greenwald’s writing about this affair is his deceitful references to Smith’s motives for his fabrications; that they are “war-fueling” and, in quoting approvingly from John Cole (the blind leading the ignorant when it comes to Lebanon), spreads the notion that Smith is agitating to get the US involved in a Lebanese civil war:

As Cole notes, while Beauchamp’s stories did nothing other than highlight the bruatlity (sic) of war, Smith “radically overstate[d] a military threat to a key ally, perhaps to agitate for American military involvement.”

Only a paranoid believes the US has any desire or interest in getting militarily involved in a civil war involving Hizbullah. There is not one shred of evidence that it has been contemplated or even discussed beyond a contingency. It simply is not going to happen. To believe it is possible or that Smith was beating the war drums to fight Hizbullah is not evident in either Smith’s writings or any pronouncement from any American official anywhere on earth. It is a totally decietful and gratuitous notion advanced by Greenwald with no basis in fact or reality.

And by the way, it is very difficult to “overstate” the military threat of Hizbullah to the government. While the idea that 4,000 Hizbullah militiamen entering Christian Beirut may be fanciful, the actual threat is extraordinarily serious and is taken that way by not only the Lebanese government but every actor in the region.

Greenwald should stick to his paranoid Bush bashing or perhaps write something else that makes Joe Klein look silly. His hysterical rants about Smith and right wing bloggers with their “war-fueling” items makes him look even more foolish than usual.


Ed Morrissey is considerably more charitable toward Lopez and NRO in his analysis:

Notice that she did not blame the critics for pointing out the error or assume that the criticism was motivated by some sort of conspiracy. She didn’t, in essence, blame the customer for a faulty product. She took quick action to investigate, found obvious shortcomings, and issued an apology and a detailed accounting of the problem.

This is indeed laudatory. However, given that Lopez felt the problem with the stories could have been solved if NRO had supplied caveats and context, Ed’s analysis doesn’t zero in on NRO’s true failings; that Smith exaggerated or made things up and Lopez didn’t acknowledge that fact.

By: Rick Moran at 3:22 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)


Well, at least the candidates were probably all Republicans. As for the questioners, that’s a different story.

At least 4 of the questioners from last night’s CNN/YouTube Debate were Democratic party supporters and activists including one gay general who worked for John Kerry’s campaign and is on Hillary Clinton’s LGBT Steering Committee.

The information confirming these facts was ferreted out by Freepers and bloggers within minutes of the debate’s ending.

This raises several interesting questions, not the least of which is who at CNN is going to get fired over this rank stupidity? Or perhaps they plan on promoting the buggers. Here’s how they wash their hands of the gay General Kerr imbroglio:

CNN Senior Vice President and Executive Producer of the debate, David Bohrman, says, “We regret this, and apologize to the Republican candidates. We never would have used the General’s question had we known that he was connected to any presidential candidate.”

Prior to the debate, CNN had verified his military background and that he had not contributed any money to any presidential candidate.

Following the debate, Kerr told CNN that he’s done no work for the Clinton campaign. He says he is a member of the Log Cabin Republicans and was representing no one other than himself.

I would say that’s a crock. The General has lent his name and rank to the campaign of a Democrat. Are we supposed to believe that just because he hasn’t been “working” at outreach for the Clinton campaign (which is basically what steering committees do) that he hasn’t contributed anything? I would say a retired general’s name is worth a helluva lot – especially when we’re talking about gay outreach to the military and national security conscious gays.

Of course, the General is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Democratic supporters and activists who somehow managed to slip by CNN’s army of editors and fact checkers to ask questions of Republican presidential candidates.

Michelle Malkin has the whole story told best in pictures. There’s the Log Cabin Republican, David Cercone, whose YouTube page clearly identifies him as an Obama supporter, asking a question about gay marriage. There’s the petite young girl asking an abortion question whose YouTube profile shows her proudly sporting a “John Edwards ‘08” T-shirt.

And the mother with two kids asking who’s going to protect her kids from products that contain lead is actually an American Steel Worker union activist – an aide to the union president Leo Gerard and a John Edwards booster.

We were told that there were 5,000 videos submitted for this debate. Are we supposed to believe that CNN couldn’t find actual, like, you know, REPUBLICANS TO ASK THEIR OWN GODDAMN CANDIDATES A QUESTION?

If life were fair and the press unbiased, this would become a huge media scandal – perhaps the biggest in a while. You and I both know that will not happen. So what if Republicans get short changed in a debate by having a shamefully incapable cable news network allow supporters and activists from the other party to ask questions designed not to elicit information from the candidates but to try and trap them and make them look bad?

Of course, the entire affair makes the Democratic Party’s boycott of Fox News look pretty silly – if it wasn’t pretty laughable already. They’re worried about some imagined bias at Fox while CNN provides all the evidence necessary to convict them of being either incompetent boobs or rabid partisans.

For some, it might be easier to believe CNN to have it in for Republicans. But outside of the normal bias found in any large media organization, I believe the CNN debate showed the network to be lazy, unconcerned, and in the end, spectacularly inept.


From the Executive Producer of the debate quoted in the NY Times Caucus blog last week:

With only a week to go before the Republican CNN/YouTube debate next Wednesday, voters are lighting up the video site with serious and not-so-serious questions for the eight candidates.

David Bohrman, CNN’s Washington bureau chief and executive producer of the debate, spoke to The Caucus from “an undisclosed location” where he and a team of six others were pouring over the entries.

So far, about 3,000 questions have been posted to YouTube, Mr. Bohrman said, and he expects to have about 5,000 videos at his disposal come Sunday, the contest deadline. That beats July’s Democratic YouTube debate, which pulled in about 3,000 videos.
Most questions online have been pulled from public viewing for review, but many of the remaining posts involve asking the candidates to defend their opposition to gay marriage and abortion. Those kinds of “lobbying grenades” would be disqualified by the CNN selection team, Mr. Bohrman said.


“There are quite a few things you might describe as Democratic ‘gotchas,’ and we are weeding those out,” Mr. Bohrman said. CNN wants to ensure that next Wednesday’s Republican event is “a debate of their party.”

A “debate of their party.” And now the number of Democrats who asked questions is up to 6.

This was not a debate for Democrats to try and trap Republican candidates. And despite the promises of CNN one has to wonder; what are the odds of putting on a Republican debate where 20% of the questions come from the opposition party?

Most of you have the intellectual honesty of a jackal so I don’t expect you to do anything except ignore the above and pretend it doesn’t exist. That’s the way you people deal with contradictory information – you just keep mouthing your talking points mindlessly.

But I publish the above with IMMENSE satisfaction.

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