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As media scandals go, the flap over CNN’s use of Hillary-friendly Democratic questioners at last Thursday’s debate probably won’t rise to the level of full scale nuclear annihilation, where the network becomes so radioactive that it disappears from cable never to be seen again.

That might be what it deserves. And if life were fair, the next glimpse we got of Wolf Blitzer on television would be as a weatherman in Minot, North Dakota, wearing stupid hats and sponsoring contests for viewers on how much snow would fall for the month.

But life isn’t fair and multi-billion dollar corporations just don’t up and disappear no matter how seriously they transgress against the trust viewers place in their integrity as journalists. Hence, CNN will continue, albeit with a lot more scrutiny directed its way and a definite loss of credibility that it will have a hard time earning back.

To put it succinctly, CNN blew it. Everything about that Las Vegas debate – from the distribution of tickets, to the choice of moderators and commentators, to the absolute control of questions asked by audience members, to their agreement to pick Democratic operatives as “average voters” to ask questions – stinks of rank partisanship and boosterism for the Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton.

It is impossible to imagine any other network now or in the past behaving in such an arrogant manner.


  • 2000 tickets were available for the debate with 1000 going to UNLV (on whose campus the event was held) and another 1000 going to the Nevada Democratic party. It appears that the NDP packed the house with Hillary supporters while only 100 students from UNLV - younger voters more disposed to supporting Obama or Edwards – were allowed tickets while the other 900 apparently went to faculty and staff of the University.

While CNN was not directly responsible for this gaming of the audience, they might have made an effort to make the ticket distribution fairer. Especially in light of what occurred when CNN used that audience to ask questions of the candidates.

  • Why did CNN allow an anti-war activist hardly your “average voter” – to make a statement about not attacking Iran in the thinly disguised form of a question from the audience?
  • Why didn’t CNN disclose James Carville’s connections to the Clinton camp during the post debate wrap up?

And those are just the obvious questions. Among others, one could also ask about Wolf Blitzer’s choice of questions and his tone toward Clinton (a might too deferential?) considering the threats issued by Hillary staffers toward him in the lead up to the debate.

All of this raises the ultimate question; is CNN surreptitiously promoting the candidacy of Hillary Clinton? Even asking the question seriously damages CNN’s credibility. To cross the line from journalism to political advocacy is something the left accuses Fox News of doing. Will Democrats now refuse to appear on CNN as well? Will they forgo appearing in any more debates on that network?

Media bias is one thing. What CNN is accused of doing is something entirely different. Throwing the weight of a multi-billion dollar corporation with such a large political presence on the media landscape behind a candidate would be almost unprecedented. Not since the national news networks worked to bring the Nixon Administration down has there been such a blatant attempt to influence the opinion of the American people regarding a single politician.

The network may see Clinton’s candidacy as a great story – first woman president and all that. But is that any reason to cross the line and advocate her nomination and election? Given the economics of the news business, we certainly shouldn’t put it past CNN to play this kind of game. Face it; a Hillary presidency would be more interesting than a Giuliani or Romney presidency. More people will watch CNN during a Clinton tour in the White House than any other candidate running in either party, including Obama. It wouldn’t be the first time “bottom line journalism” was practiced by a network. And it probably won’t be the last.

How badly does this damage Mrs. Clinton? Watch the polls over the next 10 days or so. Even with weak opponents like Obama and Edwards, if Clinton loses any ground, it could be significant in that she will start reminding people just how the Clinton’s operate – the ruthlessness, the “win at all costs” attitude that marked her husband’s years in politics.

The American people may very well not want to relive those years when scandal after scandal rocked the White House and people got royally sick of the machinations by both parties. But until someone emerges to challenge her, Hillary Clinton will be the one to beat for both the Democratic nomination and the presidency.

By: Rick Moran at 10:05 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (5) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Debate Tonight May Focus on Latino Voters...

I hadn’t watched The Wizard of Oz in close to twenty years – a consequence of having seen the movie so often in my youth. But just recently, I saw a beautiful retrospective of Judy Garland’s career on PBS in which I was reminded of what a spectacular instrument her voice had been. Then, this past weekend, Ted Turner’s TNT and TBS networks ran the restored version and I took the opportunity to sit down and watch it.

The emotional reaction I had to the film shocked me. It brought back a flood of memories from childhood I had long ago buried under the wearied cynicism and callousness of adulthood. I recalled sitting in front of the TV with the whole family and watching the film on what was then the new technology of color television, being amazed, scared, entrhralled, and amused at the goings on in Oz. At that point in my life, I believed monkeys could fly, witches could really perform magic, trees could talk, and scarecrows could dance.

I suppose that’s part of the attraction in the Harry Potter series of books and films, although there is a much darker, more sinister element in J.K. Rowhling’s characters and plots than either Frank Baum, author of the Oz series of books or Hollywood would have possibly thought appropriate for children. The identification of children today with the young wizards in the Potter series also has a lot to do with the characters able to control their immediate surroundings simply by waving a magic wand – a tempting prospect for kids who, by nature are unable to affect their own lives except at the margins.

And that was on my mind when, right in the middle of my reveries about childhood and enjoying the innocence and pure entertainment found in The Wizard of Oz , a trailer for a new Walt Disney film was shown. Entitled Enchanted, to these adult eyes the film certainly looks like a winner:

A classic Disney animated fairy tale meets with the modern, live-action romantic comedy in Walt Disney Pictures’ ENCHANTED. Featuring an all-star cast, the film follows the beautiful princess Giselle (AMY ADAMS) as she is banished by an evil queen (SUSAN SARANDON) from her magical, musical animated land and finds herself in the gritty reality of the streets of modern-day Manhattan.

Shocked by this strange new environment that doesn’t operate on a “happily ever after” basis, Giselle is now adrift in a chaotic world badly in need of enchantment. But when Giselle begins to fall in love with a charmingly flawed divorce lawyer (PATRICK DEMPSEY) who has come to her aid—even though she is already promised to a perfect fairy tale prince (JAMES MARSDEN) back home – she has to wonder: can a storybook view of romance survive in the real world?

The juxtaposition of the two films was jarring indeed. Both can easily be enjoyed by adults. But trying to combine the fairy tale world and the grit and cynicism of the real world may be taking the modern “children’s movie” too far. While the film will come out with a “PG” rating, most parents won’t hesitate to take their kids to see it given that it is a Walt Disney movie and features classic fairy tale characters.

Perhaps it’s because the trailer so jarringly interrupted my trip down memory lane watching Oz that it started me thinking about today’s Hollywood fare for kids and ask are we cheating our children by forcing them to grow up earlier and confront the reality of becoming adults before it is really necessary?

The whole point of fairy tales is to stimulate children’s imaginations and place them in another world different than the one they inhabit. The themes and characters are designed to pass on cultural traditions to the next generation in a fun and memorable way.

Serious critiques of common stories like “Sleeping Beauty” and “Snow White” try to make the point that these cultural touchstones actually work to undermine gender equality and may even foster racial hatred and stereotypes. For example, Disney’s extraordinary technical achievement of combining live action and animated segments in the 1946 release Song of the South is never shown on television and has never been released on DVD due to the racially insensitive attitudes of the characters toward “Uncle Remus” and his oral creation of the Br’er Rabbit adventures. The original stories written down by Joel Chandler Harris were actually African folk tales told to him by former slaves in rural Georgia and tended to depict race relations in the post Civil War south in an idealized manner.

Too politically correct? Not according to the feminists:

Feminist criticism and re-visioning of fairy tales has centered on exposing the gender ideology that is perpetuated in tales. Criticism has focused on the passivity of young girls waiting to be rescued, the encoded binaries in a text that equate beauty with goodness, the representation of evil stepmothers, and the closures which seal a girl’s dependency on a prince.

All of that may be true. But does it do any harm otherwise? One might also note the strength to endure hardship with a determination to change their lot in life in both Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, their innate intelligence, their resourcefulness, and their eventual triumph. Aren’t these qualities to which young girls should be aspiring as well?

Being passed down through an oral tradition in western society, fairy tales like Rapunzel and Hansel and Gretel change from telling to telling, embellished to make a point or altered to obscure another. Some of the harsher cultural critiques posit that such touchstones were actually used to oppress women, that this was their purpose all along. Such nonsense may pass muster in academia but you and I see these tales for what they are; ways for children to imagine a different world from the one they inhabit on a day to day basis while passing on important moral lessons in such a way that they will listen and learn.

Most modern children’s films like the Shrek and Ice Age franchises try to walk a fine line between an appealing kind of smarminess and wide eyed innocence, ostensibly to keep adults entertained as well. The Shrek films may turn fairy tales upside down by having the monster marry the princess but it works because the “monster” isn’t really evil, just different.

But Enchanted is an entirely different kind of children’s film altogether. It may create a memorable world that will expand the imaginations of youngsters. But the moral verities one usually finds in fairy tales are mocked and satirized as being totally out of place in modern New York. The purity and innocence of the Princess is transformed into a kind of empty headed naivete while the gallant and courageous Prince becomes something of a buffoon. Their moral universe – where people are supposed to behave a certain way toward one another – is ruthlessly taken advantage of and exploited for selfish reasons by world weary New Yorkers.

I don’t see anything unhealthy or harmful for children in Enchanted, having only read about it and seen the trailers. But it nevertheless caused an indescribable sadness as I watched the beautiful fairy tale princess being treated abominably by caricatures of cynical New Yorkers. Of course, adults realize that life is not a “happily ever after” proposition, that tragedy and loss are a part of living. But must children be disabused of the notion so early in life?

It’s depressing to think that a film like Enchanted will color a child’s outlook on the world of make believe and fairy tales after they see the film. They won’t see the world of Snow White or Sleeping Beauty quite the same way again. It’s not a question of whether this is right or wrong but whether it is necessary. I know if I had little ones, I would think about taking them to see this film. One must measure what would be gained from seeing it against what might be lost. In that respect, the trade offs for some parents might be too high.

Disney is marketing this film to families so it’s a good bet a large part of the audience will be young children. No doubt some will dub the film a “classic” if for no other reason than the premise of combining reality with the fairy tale world. But in truth, I see this film (and the upcoming Sci-Fi Channel miniseries, a “re-imagining” of the Wizard of Oz called Tin Man) as “anti-classics” in that they deliberately set out to separate themselves from the classic genre and either parody it or, in the case of Tin Man, create an opposing vision of the original.

I really do wish both films success. It just saddens me that it comes at the expense of childhood visions of make believe and fantasy.

By: Rick Moran at 8:20 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (7)

CATEGORY: Media, War on Terror

Osama Bin Laden was once again in our gunsights. We had several different methods with which we could have dispatched him. We had an armed drone, a SEAL team, the Air Force had a bomber – and according to Colonel David Hunt, an analyst for Fox News, we didn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t pull the trigger:

We know, with a 70 percent level of certainty — which is huge in the world of intelligence — that in August of 2007, bin Laden was in a convoy headed south from Tora Bora. We had his butt, on camera, on satellite. We were listening to his conversations. We had the world’s best hunters/killers — Seal Team 6 — nearby. We had the world class Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) coordinating with the CIA and other agencies. We had unmanned drones overhead with missiles on their wings; we had the best Air Force on the planet, begging to drop one on the terrorist. We had him in our sights; we had done it. Nice job again guys — now, pull the damn trigger.

Unbelievably, and in my opinion, criminally, we did not kill Usama bin Laden.

You cannot make this crap up; truth is always stranger and more telling than fiction. Our government, the current administration and yes, our military leaders included, failed to kill bin Laden for no other reason than incompetence.

Very serious charges indeed. Taking Colonel Hunt at his word – or at least the word of his source(s) – it may have been helpful for the Fox News military analyst to give us a hint as to why we didn’t pull the trigger. The Colonel makes a charge of incompetence. Fine – prove it. Or shut the hell up.

Hunt gives us a clue, however, as to what he considers “incompetent:”

We have allowed Pakistan to become a safe haven for Al Qaeda. We have allowed Al Qaeda to reconstitute, partially because of money they (Al Qaeda in Iraq) have been sending to Al Qaeda in Pakistan.

We are in a war with terrorists. We are in a war with countries that support terrorists. We are in a war with people that fly planes into buildings and who never, ever hesitate to pull the trigger when given the chance to kill us. We cannot win and, I will tell you this now, we are losing this war every damn time we fail to take every single opportunity to kill murderers like Usama bin Laden. Less than two months ago, we lost again.

Hunt’s accusations need to be examined for their authenticity, certainly. But before accepting his charges, it might be best to also look at Colonel Hunt’s idea of what exactly constitutes “incompetence.”

The military and Administration are incompetent for “allowing” Pakistan to become a safe haven for al-Qaeda, and “allowing” them to reconstitute? What an ignoramus. The only way al-Qaeda was ever going to be wiped out is if we had received the permission of the Pakistani government to go into the NWFP - the tribal areas where the writ of Pakistani or any other law has never run – and take out al-Qaeda sanctuaries. That permission was not going to be forthcoming from President Musharraf for the simple reason that it was politically untenable for him to give it. The result of our incursions would have been the kind of nationwide unrest that overthrows tyrants and strengthens radicals. In this case, al-Qaeda and Taliban allies could very well have achieved power if we had been so stupid – a prospect that would have included Islamists with their fingers on the trigger of 70 nuclear weapons.

Going in without Musharraf’s permission would have set off a firestorm of criticism around the world. And despite the fact that the left is urging we take this very course, the minute we were to go in, charges of Bush “widening the war” and “Cambodia Redux” would have been heard from most of these very same folks – including Colonel Hunt.

So we were forced to accept an alternative – that Musharraf would go after the remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda with his own army. This he attempted to do in 2004. After a 5 month campaign of playing hide and seek in the rugged terrain with the terrorists while fighting many of the tribes who had allied themselves with his enemy, Musharraf was forced to beat a hasty retreat and sign some humiliating “peace” agreements. These treaties gave the Taliban easy access to Afghanistan and allowed al-Qaeda to set up shop safely in the Waziristans while basically kicking the Pakistani army of the area.

Blaming Bush and the military for the internal dynamics of Pakistani politics and how that extremely delicate situation impacts our mission in Afghanistan was something I thought only idiots on the left were stupid enough to do. Evidently not.

Of course, the left is all over this story saying that there is no way in hell that it’s true. After all, the source is Fox News, right?

So everyone, what is the excuse this time? Must be Clinton’s fault I guess and remember, this is post 9/11.

As always, I have a source to back up what I say. That is more than most of the “righties” around here can ever do.

Bu-bu-but that “source” is FOX NEWS! I thought we couldn’t believe anything we hear about the Administration from Fox. Surely there are plenty of lefties out there who will dismiss this story outright because of it’s source, right?

Absolutely astounding. Uh huh… Absolutely astounding. But, yet not at all surprising to hear that BushCo botched another opportunity to kill Osama bin Laden.

Not even a teeny, tiny bit of skepticism? From a network nicknamed “Faux News?”

I’m sorry. For a minute there, I thought Faux News sounded rational.

Oh wait. They did.

Of course, they are completely oblivious to this kind of towering hypocrisy. Totally clueless. They see nothing untoward in condemning Fox News when it reports something they disagree with but accept and comment on things they find agreeable.

And what exactly are they agreeing with? A single sourced story where the correspondent either refuses to divulge or doesn’t know the entire circumstances surrounding the targeting of Bin Laden. Why didn’t we fire? Colonel Hunt chalks it up to “incompetence” without offering a single bit of information to back it up. Not one.

And the lefties are agreeing with him – despite their being totally in the dark, along with the rest of us, as to what criteria Hunt is using to make the charge.

Has there ever been such stupidity, hypocrisy, and benighted callousness toward any honest intellectual standard whatsoever?

Knowing the crew in the White House and Pentagon, it would not surprise me in the slightest if the incompetence charge turned out to be true. But maybe we should have a little evidence before reaching that conclusion?

Or do you want to live you life like an rabid left wing hater who allows ideology and unformed judgements rule their thoughts?

By: Rick Moran at 7:14 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (37)

CATEGORY: Media, Politics

Let’s take a look at some news headlines today, shall we?

The bully boys in Myanmar are still cracking down on the pro-reform movement. In Yangon, the largest city of what used to be known as Burma, soldiers in jeeps are patrolling the streets, shouting into a loudspeaker that they “have pictures” from the demonstrations and are making arrests. Diplomats report that people are disappearing in the middle of the night.

Meanwhile, 41 Democratic Senators signed a letter to Mark Mays, Chairman of Clear Channel railing against Limbaugh’s smearing of anti-war military people, calling on him to ” publicly repudiate these comments that call into question their service and sacrifice and to ask Mr. Limbaugh to apologize for his comments.”

To his eternal credit, Mays blew them off by bringing up the free speech issue:

“Mr. Limbaugh’s comments have stirred a lot of emotion, and I have carefully read the transcript in question,” Mays wrote. “Given Mr. Limbaugh’s history of support for our soldiers, it would be unfair for me to assume his statements were intended to personally indict combat soldiers simply because they didn’t share his own beliefs regarding the war in Iraq.

“I hope that you understand and support my position that while I certainly do not agree with all the views that are voiced on our stations, I will not condemn our talent for exercising their right to voice them,”

Mays and I differ on what Limbaugh said and what he meant. But asking the chief executive of a broadcast network to “publicly repudiate” the comments and force Limbaugh to apologize? (They might have added “or else.)

Because hanging over any such missive from our lawmakers is a threat – implied or not – that if the broadcaster doesn’t do what they demand, untold and unmentioned problems might befall the company.

It is bullying, pure and simple. The Democrats tried the same crap with Walt Disney Corporation when ABC aired “The Path to 9/11” last year. Disney backed down by feverishly editing the mini-series right up to showtime in order to kowtow to the wishes of our free speech loving Democratic lawmakers and take out anything that could be construed as showing Saint Bill in a negative light.

Now I ask you: Thousands are dead in Myanmar with many thousands more locked up or being rounded up as I write this and the Democrats are condemning…RUSH LIMBAUGH!

If they put forth one tenth the effort to condemn the military junta massacring their own people, they’d be doing their jobs. Instead, they are wasting time on this idiotic quest to get back at conservatives for the firestorm of condemnation that rained down up on the heads of the smear merchants at

Truly pathetic little children.

And while we’re on the subject of free speech…

AT&T has rolled out new Terms of Service for its DSL service that leave plenty of room for interpretation. From our reading of it, in concert with several others, what we see is a ToS that attempts to give AT&T the right to disconnect its own customers who criticize the company on blogs or in other online settings.

Something is not quite right with this picture. A giant corporation threatens to curtail the free speech rights of its customers and the Democrats are worried about something some clown of an entertainer said on a radio talk show?

How about getting up on the floor and asking if the Chairman of AT&T is on drugs, Tom Harkin? How about getting 41 Senators to sign a letter to the giant Telcom demanding a retraction and clarification? How about Harry Reid shutting the hell up about Rush and standing up for free speech?

No can do, eh? Too busy running around the Senate floor screaming at the top of your voices NEENER! NEENER! NEENER! with your fingers plugging up your ears.

And if you’re in the mood to pass resolutions, how about one congratulating the President?

North Korea will provide a complete list of its nuclear programs and disable its facilities at its main reactor complex by Dec. 31, actions that will be overseen by a U.S.-led team, the six nations involved in disarmament talks said Wednesday.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei said that as part of the agreement, Washington will lead an expert group to Pyongyang “within the next two weeks to prepare for disablement” and will fund those initial activities.

“The disablement of the five megawatt experimental reactor at Yongbyon, the reprocessing plant at Yongbyon and the nuclear fuel rod fabrication facility at Yongbyon will be completed by 31 December 2007,” said Wu, who read the statement from the six nations to reporters, but did not take any questions.

Of course, in order to pass such a resolution of congratulations, liberals have to figure out whether this is the week they are skewering the Administration for “going it alone” or blaming Bush for “too much reliance on negotiating partners.”

I realize it’s difficult to keep track of such diametric opposite positions so why not just give some floor speeches hailing the good news?

But noooooo. This week, floor speeches are devoted to acting like 10 year olds and trying to make people believe you give a fig about the troops. People who care about our soldiers don’t go around calling them “terrorists” (John Kerry), “Nazis” (Dick Durbin), or “murderers” (John Murtha).

And what was the leader of the Senate – an anti-war lawmaker through and through – thinking when he said this in response to Limbaugh’s smear?

But on the Senate floor Monday, Reid accused Limbaugh of attacking “those fighting and dying for him and for all of us. Rush Limbaugh got himself a deferment from serving when he was a young man. He never served in uniform. He never saw in person the extreme difficulty of maintaining peace in a foreign country engaged in a civil war. He never saw a person in combat. Yet, that he thinks his opinion on the war is worth more than those who have been on the front lines,” Reid said.

“Rush Limbaugh owes the men and women of our armed forces an apology,” he said.

Just as an aside, if our soldiers are “fighting and dying for him and for all of us” that must mean that Reid believes our mission in Iraq is worthwhile. After all, if it wasn’t worthwhile, if it was a waste, the soldiers there would be fighting and dying for nothing, right? And if it’s worthwhile, why the all fired hurry to leave?

Just asking…

With all these things happening in the world that the Senate should be paying attention to and dealing with, they are taking an enormous amount of time and energy to go after Limbaugh. Not because what he said was “unpatriotic” or proves that Limbaugh “hates the troops” – both laughable, fake constructs that only a liberal would believe anyone else thinks is true. The reason the Democrats are doing this is revenge, pure and simple. And with a world and a nation full of problems, we should demand better of our lawmakers than acting like bratty kids.

By: Rick Moran at 12:27 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

CATEGORY: Media, Politics

This is starting to get fun. Watching Congressional liberals like Tom Harkin skewer Rush Limbaugh for his “phony soldiers” smear of anti-war troops is a bit like watching Leonardo DiCaprio do Shakespeare; it’s so horrifically bad you just want to sit back and enjoy the actor making an absolute fool of himself.

Of course, Rush should have apologized days ago. If he had, the whole thing would probably have blown over or at least not become the cause celebre of the blogosphere that has seen those on the right falling all over themselves trying to defend the indefensible and those on the left – still smarting from the “Betray-us” ad fiasco that played a huge part in blunting the anti-war pack in Congress from succeeding in destroying Petraeus’s credibility – trying to convince everyone that Rush Limbaugh is an anti-military, unpatriotic, drug addict.

Frank Martin
explains the stupidity of the Democrat’s weird attack:

What was once said about “not starting an argument with someone who buys ink by the barrel” can also be said about someone who’s voice can be found in every populated area of the western hemisphere for at least 3 straight hours every day.

3 hours a day, 5 days a week, repeated on Saturday and Sunday, with newsletter and website and podcast for a low,low monthly subscription. Democrats seem to have collectively decided in their “moment of triumph” with a whopping 24% approval rating to wander into the idealogical bull ring, not dressed as a matador, but wearing a red union suit, clown shoes and a big red nose, and then bend over while facing the other way and waving at the kids in the front row of the stands.

Right in the path of the charging enraged bull.

Indeed, put that way, Rush really didn’t need to back down and apologize although it would have been the decent thing to do. I know many of you disagree but the fact is, in order to believe Rush’s version of his thought processes, you have to believe he hasn’t spent the last decade and a half lumping people who disagree with him together and tarring them as “unpatriotic” or “un-American.” This is Rush’s shtick and to deny that he has made a career out of doing it is to deny him the air he breathes.

But the liberal reaction to Limbaugh’s smear has been outrageous by any standards. Rush left them an opening they haven’t had in years – to turn the tables on their number one talk radio tormentor and use the exact same calumnious language to hit back. It really does remind me of a ten year old boy on the playground, sticking his tongue out at a bully while saying “So there.”

And in the background of all this is the devout wish of Media Matters and the anti-war left to lash out blindly following what I called at the time “the dumbest, the most spectacularly ignorant political maneuver in modern history.” The Moveon ad not only let Petraeus off the hook politically. It tempered the criticism of Congressional questioners and in the end, actually engineered momentum for the pro-surge crowd.

As recently as week before the ad appeared, most political observers believed that all the momentum was on the anti-war side despite the smattering of good news from Iraq. The ad took the wind out of the sails of the anti-war side, causing their Hill allies to scramble for cover behind a resolution condemning the attack.

The ad backfired so egregiously, damaging the credibility of the New York Times in the process because of the newspaper’s generous discount to Moveon, that it generated sympathy for Petraeus across the country and bolstered his credibility. In fact, the ad did exactly the opposite of what it was originally intended to do; a spectacular failure in the annals of American politics.

These facts have the anti-war crowd all in a lather and seeking to lash out at the first target of opportunity that presented itself. First, they tried a curious smear of the President for his “all the Mandelas are dead” comment – a childish ploy that any 5 year old could see through.

Then it was Bill O’Reilly’s turn to be smeared regarding some “racist” comments he made about going to Harlem. That attempt at revenge fell through when Juan Williams came out and set the record straight. In the world of liberal pandering, the authentic voice of “the other” cannot be challenged. Strike two on the left.

Finally came Limbaugh’s generosity in presenting the anti-war crew with what they believed was a gift horse; the perfect vehicle to get back at their long time nemesis. Except the way they went about it was incredibly stupid.

First of all, what cloakroom genius put Senator Tom Harkin, a man forced to admit that he lied through his teeth about his own military service, out front on this issue? It’s just incomprehensible that the liberals could be that stupid. The only possible explanation is that, like Ted Kennedy’s driving problems and Barney Frank’s male out call caper, Harkin’s admission was so long ago that they figured everyone has forgotten about it.

To top it off, Harkin pandered shamelessly to the vulgarity of the “compassionate” netnuts by bringing up Limbaugh’s battle to overcome addiction:

Well, I don’t know. Maybe he was just high on his drugs again. I don’t know whether he was or not. If so, he ought to let us know. But that shouldn’t be an excuse.

The satisfaction with Harkin on the left after he made that comment was so palpable – and shocking – that you could almost see them rubbing their hands together in glee as one. It never ceases to amaze me that the liberals can continue to brag about how compassionate they are compared to conservatives while throwing out the nastiest, most personal, most vile invective this side of a Britt/K-Fed exchange of emails.

Malkin hits the nail on the head here (although I disagree with her take on the incident in general):

Here is what this phony fiasco is really all about: It’s about the Democrats trying to save face in the aftermath of the disastrous “General Betray Us” smear. They want their own moment of righteous (or rather, lefteous) indignation, their own empty proof that they really, really, really do support the troops. They want to shift attention away from, its bully tactics, and its thug brethren at Media Matters. They are making a pathetic attempt to equate the “Betray Us” attack–which was deliberately timed for publication and maximum p.r. damage to our military command when the world was watching our top general in Iraq testifying in Congress–with a radio talk show host’s ruminations about anti-war soldiers who have faked their military records/history.

Bottom-of-the-barrel desperation.

Face it my lefty friends, the Democrats have botched this attack big time. In fact, a move by GOP House members to actually introduce a resolution praising Limbaugh is gaining steam along with Representative Udall’s resolution condemning him. This thing is going to backfire in the Dems faces as once again, liberal lawmakers will be seen as little more than tools carrying water for the far left on the internet.

Only in America.


I know there is something pithy, snarky, amusing, or just downright nasty I could say about The New Republic weighing in on the Rush Limbaugh matter. Frankly, anything I could add would be superfulous. There is no level of irony that I can think of in literature or life that matches this kind of total obliviousness to self-parody:

I can’t help but find it incredibly karmically satisfying that Rush Limbaugh is getting spoon-fed a little bit of the same bitter medicine Democrats swallowed when MoveOn dared to call someone wearing a military uniform less than honest. Now, what Rush did was worse—he called the many Iraq war veterans who consult with antiwar Democrats “phony troops”—and the outcry against him is less wild: Some press releases, a little play on CNN, and today Harry Reid went on the Senate floor to denounce him, which probably only makes Rush more popular with his listeners. Still, good for Reid. In these difficult days we find our scraps of pleasure where we can.

Bryan at Hot Air tries gamely to rise to this stupendous occasion of monumentally epic hypocrisy:

The phony soldiers fall into three categories: Those who claim to serve but never did; those who claim personal knowledge of US atrocities that never happened and who turn out to have inflated their own service records, if they served at all; and those who use their own military service records either to smear the military themselves or to vouch for others who smear the military and turn out to be liars. TNR’s own Scott Thomas Beauchamp falls into the latter category. TNR’s Eve Fairbanks is not only evidently unaware of how dangerous it is for someone writing for TNR to weigh in on this subject — blowback, indeed — but she’s unaware and probably willfully so that the entire accusation against Rush is false to its roots.

Not that writing falsehoods evidently matters a great deal to anyone at The New Republic.

How’s that final report on Beauchamp going, Mr. Foer?

For once, that trite, overused bloggism cliche “You just can’t make this stuff up” is actually one of the more profound things I can write about this.

CATEGORY: Media, Politics


I see where some on the right disagree with my take on Limbaugh’s comment. Some suggested I watch the video where Rush explains his meaning in the context of bringing up phony soldier Jesse Macbeth.

I watched the video and am more convinced than ever that Limbaugh knew he had goofed when he said “phony soldiers” (plural) and in the context of the moment the comment was made, Limbaugh was clearly referencing and agreeing with the caller’s sentiment that all soldiers who come forward and make known their opposition to the war are not “real soldiers” (caller’s words).

We can parse this thing from here to doomsday and not agree because at bottom, we are arguing about Limbaugh’s intent – an admittedly doomed excursion into the realm of mind reading.

Thankfully, Rush rescued me by going even further on his show yesterday. Not only did he include Jesse Macbeth and Scott Beauchamp in his “phony soldier” meme, he also included Jack Murtha in that notorious group for the Congressman’s execrable comments condemning the Haditha Marines before the official report on the incident had even been released.

Why is Murtha’s military career – a career that all can agree was distinguished and honorable – at issue as a result of his statements about Haditha? How can you refer to Murtha as a “phony soldier” when those comments were made long after he left the military?

Call him a “phony politician” if you wish. But Murtha’s service was genuine. Would Limbaugh refer to virulent anti-war Senator Daniel Inouye as a “phony soldier” based on what the Senator has said about our involvement in Iraq? Inouye, a genuine war hero who fought for this country while Japanese Americans were languishing in detention camps, lost an arm in combat and was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Murtha is a pandering, corrupt lout of a Congressman – a man who should be kicked out of Congress for stinking up the institution with sweetheart deals and earmarks targeted to his family and cronies. His taking the lead in trying to outdo his Democratic colleagues in opposition to the war was almost certainly at least partly animated by his desire to attain a leadership position following the 2006 elections. I have nothing but contempt for him today, although in the past I admired his political courage as he went against his party in the 1980’s to support the Reagan defense buildup.

But Limbaugh’s inclusion of Murtha in his little gang of “phony soldiers” is telling. If the talk show host was only talking about “phony soldiers” why include someone whose only sin appears to be opposition to the war in Iraq – an opposition that led the Congressman to jump the gun on the Pentagon and condemn Marines – some of them entirely innocent – for the Haditha incident?

Limbaugh’s explanation just doesn’t hold water. It is entirely plausible that the polarizing Mr. Limbaugh issued a blanket condemnation of military people who are opposed to the war rather than singling out individuals like Jesse Macbeth when he uttered the words “phony soldiers.”

I admit that gleaning intent is tricky. But which is more plausible? Limbaugh lumping people who disagree with him into one, overarching, insulting rubric or Rush carefully delineating between some soldiers who oppose the war and the Jesse Macbeths of the world?

Given Limbaugh’s clear and well documented past, I think it is logical to assume the former.

CATEGORY: Media, Politics

First of all, I would say to my lefty friends that anyone who tries to draw some kind of equivalence with Rush Limbaugh referring to anti-war military people as “phony soldiers” and Moveon’s “Betray-us” ad is an idiot.

There is no comparison between the two. None. To make a comparison, is to stretch the point to breaking – a sure sign that any equivalence is manufactured out of whole cloth.

Having said that, Limbaugh is a goose for saying it. And he owes an apology not just to anti-war military people (and ex-military) but to the entirety of the United States Armed Forces.

Here is the context in which Limbaugh made his scurrilous remark:

CALLER: I have a retort to Mike in Chicago, because I am serving in the American military, in the Army. I’ve been serving for 14 years, very proudly.

RUSH: Thank you, sir.

CALLER: I’m one of the few that joined the Army to serve my country, I’m proud to say, not for the money or anything like that. What I would like to retort to is that, what these people don’t understand, is if we pull out of Iraq right now, which is not possible because of all the stuff that’s over there, it would take us at least a year to pull everything back out of Iraq, then Iraq itself would collapse and we’d have to go right back over there within a year or so.

RUSH: There’s a lot more than that that they don’t understand. The next guy that calls here I’m going to ask them, “What is the imperative of pulling out? What’s in it for the United States to pull out?” I don’t think they have an answer for that other than, “When’s he going to bring the troops home? Keep the troops safe,” whatever.


RUSH: It’s not possible intellectually to follow these people.

CALLER: No, it’s not. And what’s really funny is they never talk to real soldiers. They pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and spout to the media.

RUSH: The phony soldiers.

CALLER: Phony soldiers. If you talk to any real soldier and they’re proud to serve, they want to be over in Iraq, they understand their sacrifice and they’re willing to sacrifice for the country.

This is why I don’t buy Brian Faughnan’s “explanation” in The Weekly Standard blog:

Limbaugh’s offhand comment was poorly chosen. It’s clear that there are ‘real soldiers’—real by anyone’s criteria—who oppose the war in Iraq and they’re entitled to their views. But much like the recently manufactured controversies over Bill O’Reilly’s comments, and President Bush’s comment about Saddam having killed “all the Mandelas,” the left is trying to pull a fast-one by taking Rush’s statement out of context.

It’s also clear and undeniable that the political left has eagerly stood behind fakers who spout tales about Iraq that are at times false, or ridiculous, or both. From Jesse MacBeth to Scott Thomas Beauchamp, liberals and anti-war moonbats have suspended logic and reason to embrace people because they liked what they had to say, regardless of whether the tales made sense, or their credentials were as they claimed.

This is, quite simply, changing the subject in order to place the onus of the comment on the other side – an intellectually dishonest tactic. Of course the left has manufactured controversies recently. The Bush-Mandela incident was a jaw dropping example of pure idiocy – a two year old knew what Bush was saying in that context.

But Limbaugh’s utterance was truly despicable. And no amount of spinning can shake the fact that on its own merits, without reference to anything Moveon or any other lefty group has done to slime the troops (Code Pink razzing wounded soldiers out in front of Walter Reed, anyone?), the slur should make not just anti-war soldiers angry but all of our military upset. Limbaugh, quite simply, has intruded. And he should butt out. If one soldier wants to call out another for being “phony,” that’s one thing. But Limbaugh is an outsider and has no business sliming people for beliefs that are just as heartfelt as those who believe in the mission.

Now, no one who is serious and sane believes that Rush Limbaugh hates the troops. And because he does so obviously care about them, he must publicly apologize on the air for his remark. And, as I mentioned, he should apologize to the entire US Military. These last four years have been tough on these guys – tougher than on any other group of American soldiers since World War II. And despite claims to the contrary on the left, the military doesn’t train automatons. The secret to American success on the battlefield has always been the ability of our people to think independently, to act decisively, to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. Non thinking robots cannot function in our military.

And because of that, you are going to have your fair share of people who disagree with public policy or see things differently than the majority. These men and women serve just as honorably. They perform just as courageously. And they are just as patriotic as any other soldier who serves. To denigrate their service cheapens their right as Americans to disagree.

So Rush, we’re waiting for that apology. And I hope I’m joined by many on the right in calling for Limbaugh to own up to his mistake and do the right thing by our military.


I’m not really surprised that out of all the center right blogs who have covered this incident, only James Joyner and Michael van der Galiën come anywhere near my position. Ed Morrissey gives Limbaugh points for his “clarifying remarks” that were made after the segment was long over where he says that he was really talking about the Jesse MacBeths and Scott Beauchamps of the world and not anti-war soldiers in general.

Sorry, but I’m not buying that for the simple reason that Limbaugh was agreeing with a caller who was, in fact, lumping all anti-war soldiers together, in turn agreeing with Limbaugh’s designation of them as “phony soldiers.” If he wanted to clarify his point he could have done so immediately.

I think what happened is that Limbaugh realized the hot water he was in and tried to backtrack later. He wouldn’t be the first radio host who tried the tactic and he won’t be the last.

Of course I agree that Media Matters blew this thing way out proportion and tried to massage the remarks into an example of equivalency with the Petreaus Moveon ad. As I mentioned, there is zero equivalence between the two. None. Zilch. The remark is bad enough standing on its own. We don’t need some kind of childish “gotchya” game that the left never tires of playing in order to see what needs to be done; Limbaugh apologizing.

By: Rick Moran at 12:31 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (7)

CATEGORY: History, Media, Politics

I have to confess that I’ve always found Keith Olbermann to be a great entertainer. He has a keen sense of timing and an educated eye for the absurdities in life and politics (and in sports as his stint at the anchor desk of ESPN showed) that makes a lot of what he does funny and even provocative at times.

In short, he is a first class clown, a talented comedian whose shtick is, unfortunately, too narrowly defined for stand-up and too intelligent for a sitcom. But he seems to have found a comfortable niche in the Howard Beal inspired “news as entertainment” field that Bill O’Reilly and other prime time cable hosts have settled into.

The problem is, like O’Reilly, Olbermann thinks he’s a journalist. Just where this notion is advanced on his show, I am unable to determine. Only an idiot would see the blatantly partisan attacks and relentlessly exaggerated rhetoric employed by Olbermann as anything except exactly what they are; an attempt to promote an ideology at the expense of informing the public by using tactics worthy of a Goebbels or TASS in order to discredit opposing viewpoints.

Well, meet an idiot:

In short, what CBS (and all the others) need is a new Ed Murrow. Good news! There’s already one out there on the launchpad who has demonstrated his qualifications. I’m talking about Keith Olbermann of MSNBC. He has the journalistic chops and the mind, heart, instincts and courage.

Olbermann, who anchors a one-hour nightly news show on MSNBC called Countdown With Keith Olbermann, closes his show every night by saying “1,547th [for instance] day since Mission Accomplished in Iraq,” an homage to Ted Koppel’s “Iran Hostage” coverage, which evolved into Koppel’s late-night ABC news show Nightline (the MSNBC show was originally Countdown: Iraq). Then Olbermann throws his crumpled script at the camera, which shatters, a simulated digital effect (something Koppel never did).

These quotes are from a gushing piece on Olbermann by Marvin Kitman in the online edition of The Nation magazine. It isn’t surprising or disturbing that Kitman likes Olbermann. But positing the notion that the Clown Prince of MSNBC is a modern day Murrow?

A tip off to Mr. Kitman’s bona fides as a judge of who is a journalist is found in the above quote where Kitman seriously informs us that Ted Koppel never crumpled his script and threw it at the camera – unlike Olbermann who does it to sign off his show.

Perhaps the reason Koppel never crumpled his script and threw it at the camera was because he was, like, you know, a real journalist and not a poseur. Real journalists don’t do histrionics. Olbermann is the master of the craft.

Kitman also shows a breathtaking stupidity about Murrow, about journalistic standards, and the difference between advocacy and news. In fact, Kitman proves himself to be an ignoramus regarding just about everything he comments on in his article with the possible exception of his references to celebrities. There, I am not competent to judge his perspicacity.

For instance, Kitman demonstrates a shocking ignorance about Edward R. Murrow and his place in broadcast news history. He believes the problem with modern day news presentation is that it tries to be balanced and objective rather than taking a decided point of view in order to advocate a clear ideological position (liberal) as Murrow’s broadcasts did:

So, as a TV critic who has logged millions of hours of viewing to help save one of my three favorite commercial networks, I decided to volunteer my services to the Save CBS Campaign. Here’s what I would do: First, I would dump the Walter Cronkite school of reporting, of which Katie Couric is the latest practitioner. The objective that’s-the-way-it-is style they use at all the network evening news shows is so old, so over. No wonder all the network news programs are falling in the ratings. Katie Couric is just the hardest hit.

What the evening news shows need is less “objectivity” and more analysis. The problem with objective journalism is that it doesn’t exist and never did. Molly Ivins disposed of the objectivity question for all time when she observed in 1993, “The fact is that I am a 49-year-old white female, a college-educated Texan. All of that affects the way I see the world. There’s no way in hell that I’m going to see anything the same way that a 15-year-old black high school dropout does. We all see the world from where we stand. Anybody who’s ever interviewed five eyewitnesses to an automobile accident knows there’s no such thing as objectivity.”

This is the tired, old canard that leftists have used for 40 years; that news written by white males is not “objective” because the journalist has no life experience as a woman or other minority to inform his writing and point of view. Somehow, this is supposed to slight issues and concerns near and dear to the hearts of liberal interest groups.

It is the “journalism as a crusade” school of thought that rejects the idea that news gathering and writing is not art, but craft. Clearly, much of the “craft” aspect of becoming a newsman has been lost today. Everyone wants to be a creative writer rather than a journalist. Newspapers especially encourage this because it makes their product livelier and, I suppose, easier to read. But for an old fuddy-duddy like me who looks in wonder even at wire service copy today and sees jaw dropping examples of blatant bias, I still believe it the job of a news writer to try their best to leave their ideological crusades at the newsroom door.

Not according to Kitman. And he holds up as a shining example of how the news should be reported, none other than the sainted Murrow:

What I’m proposing is nothing new. Before Walter Cronkite became the model “objective” newsman, there was Edward R. Murrow. In the late 1930s Murrow started the tradition of reporting the news and analyzing it, giving his opinion of what it all meant. The Murrow legend was built on his opinionated analyses on the CBS Evening News.

This is true as far as it goes. The fact is, Murrow’s editorials – which usually closed the news broadcast – were clearly labeled as such. Kitman is advocating that the entire news program be given over to editorial analysis:

For those who never saw Murrow’s news show, here’s how it would go: After running through the headlines, he would call on reporters at home and abroad to give reports on the scene. These so-called Murrow’s Boys were real TV journalists, not actors who played them on TV. CBS News in the Murrow years had people we respected because of their expertise, not because they were famous TV names. The foreign correspondents weren’t empty trench coats but real experts like William Shirer, who reported from Berlin on the menace of Hitler in the 1930s. It didn’t matter that Murrow’s Boys were bald like David Schoenbrun, who reported from Paris in the glory days, or older than the 18-49 demographic like Dan Schorr. They were specialists in specific areas.

Then Murrow would do his closing essay, in which he would comment on some hot issue, continually treading dangerous waters: McCarthyism at home, apartheid abroad, J. Edgar Hoover, the atomic bomb, stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction—all of which he opposed. He was pro-union and anti-business. He was a dissident on US foreign policy post-World War II.

The problem here is that Kitman has combined several different Murrow programs over the years in both radio and television in order to make an obscure point; that Murrow’s broadcasts had a definite ideological point of view.

Starting in the late 1930’s, Murrow’s reports from Europe were either special broadcasts (as his famous 1938 round up of European opinion about the Anschluss) or his regular reports from London that were part of H.V. Kaltenborn’s 15 minute news reading at night. Murrow was never an anchor for CBS News as Kitman intimates above. In fact, Murrow’s war reports were so good not because he injected opinion into his pieces but because he was able to write clear, concise summaries of what it was like to be in London during the blitz. Whatever opinions he gave were in the context of the deliberate targeting of civilians by Hitler – hardly courageous or even novel.

After the war, Murrow’s Hear it Now radio program and the TV version See it Now tackled the toughest controversies of the time. But these shows were totally independent of the nightly news program. It is clear by the description above that Kitman doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to Murrow’s duties at CBS. He never started See it Now by reading the headlines. The show was a one issue program. It was the beginning of TV documentaries, something that Murrow would continue to perfect until the early 1960’s when he wrote and broadcast perhaps the most memorable documentary in over the air TV history, Harvest of Shame that profiled the plight of migrant workers.

In short, Kitman’s laughable misunderstanding of what Murrow actually did for CBS News makes his subsequent gushing about Olbermann ridiculous.

And this curious historical revisionism about Murrow is almost unfathomable. It is either deliberate obfuscation of the facts or unbelievable stupidity on the part of Kitman:

“No one can eliminate prejudices—just recognize them,” Murrow said. His approach was so successful that all the other network news hours copied him.

Finally, CBS president William Paley made Ed Murrow shut up—by canceling his shows. In the dark ages after Murrow, the most powerful commentary on network news was the raised eyebrow of David Brinkley after reading a piece of news on NBC. A generation of telegenic and totally uninvolved journalists followed.

Um…no, the other networks “news hours(??)” did not try to copy him (news on TV at the time was 15 minutes). In fact, NBC steered clear of controversy as much as possible. ABC News was a joke at the time, not even considered much of a network at all.

And the fact is, See it Now as a weekly program was not cancelled by Paley but rather the weekly show went dark because it lost its sponsor in 1955, Alcoa Aluminum and was unable to secure another permanent one. This was back in the day when corporations would sponsor individual shows and losing a sponsor meant either getting another one or going dark. See it Now was on the air fitfully as a series of specials until 1958 when according to Murrow’s long time producer Fred Friendly, the broadcaster told Paley he refused to do any more shows because of the network’s habit of giving equal time to Murrow’s targets. (Something Olbermann never does).

Putting aside Kitman’s obvious lack of knowledge of who Murrow was and what he did, the question of whether Murrow was “journalist” or an “analyst” remains unanswered. As a first person witness to history he was very good, a pioneer in radio and we have Murrow to thank for much of the structure found in modern news broadcasts. As an advocate for liberal reforms, he was tireless but his legend sometimes outstrips the facts. His McCarthy broadcast was aired in March of 1954, long after most major Democratic newspapers (and even many Republican ones) came out against the Wisconsin Senator. Murrow came late to the bash McCarthy party and most historians agree the Wisconsin Senator sealed his fate a month prior to Murrow’s See it Now broadcast by sliming World War II hero Ralph Zwicker that brought widespread editorial condemnation as well as denunciations from veterans groups and finally, President Eisenhower himself.

Comparing Olbermann to Murrow then is a monumental stretch – just from the standpoint that Murrow relied on a cold, journalistic recitation of the facts in order to make his points. Olbermann wouldn’t know a “fact” if it came up and bit him on his rear end. This from his first “Special Comment” segment where Olbermann tries to evoke the memory of Murrow:

I accuse you, Mr. Bush, of lying this country into war. I accuse you of fabricating in the minds of your own people a false implied link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. I accuse you of firing the generals who told you that the plans for Iraq were disastrously insufficient…. I accuse you of subverting the Constitution, not in some misguided but sincerely motivated struggle to combat terrorists, but to stifle dissent. I accuse you of fomenting fear among your own people, of creating the very terror you claim to have fought. I accuse you of exploiting that unreasoning fear, the natural fear of your own people who just want to live their lives in peace, as a political tool to slander your critics and libel your opponents. I accuse you of handing part of this Republic over to a Vice President who is without conscience and letting him run roughshod over it….

It would be tiresome to rebut what Olbermann has laid out as his “case” for a Bush resignation. If you believe that Bush “fabricated in the minds of your own people a false implied link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11” then there is no hope for you. You might as well believe in Santa Claus. I only highlight it to contrast the way Murrow went about savaging McCarthy:

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men— not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.

This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy’s methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.

Murrow could have been referring to Olbermann during most of that analysis.

Olbermann is a clown. An excellent clown but an entertainer nonetheless. It has been said that he is the first on-air blogger in that his rants are reminiscent of much that passes for analysis on the web. Of this, I have no doubt. His exaggeration, his cruel twisting of facts and circumstances, and his outright deliberate obscuring of the truth – 3 Congressional Committees have found Bush did not lie us into war not to mention assigning unproven and unsubstantiated motivations to the President for his actions – are part and parcel of the way many popular right and left blogs operate. But Olbermann as Murrow?

For ten minutes, Olbermann spoke with fierce clarity and surgical precision, drawing a comparison to President Nixon’s resignation. He had obviously done his homework. His recitation of Bush’s crimes concluded with his observation that the President had been “an accessory to the obstruction of justice” in the Libby case. “From Iraq to Scooter Libby,” Olbermann said at the time, “Bush and Cheney have lost Americans’ trust and stabbed this nation in the back. It’s time for them to go.” The highest praise I can give is to say I can imagine Ed Murrow speaking those words.

If Kitman can imagine Murrow saying those words, he’s a fool. Murrow would have marshaled the facts not gone off on ad hoc rants substituting ill formed opinions for clear, concise analysis. The idea that Kitman can’t recognize this only shows him to be an idiot.

Which is why any comparisons between Olbermann and Murrow are found only in the minds of Kitman and Olbermann himself. No serious journalist would entertain such a comparison nor would any serious person period. It is beyond belief that anyone could be so obtuse as to believe that Olbermann was anything except a clever entertainer who knows his audience expertly and panders to their biases and worldview.

Kitman’s vision of a future nightly news broadcast featuring Olbermann-like rants and ravings is pretty frightening. Thankfully, if such a nightmare were to occur, such relentless partisanship would appeal to an even smaller segment of the population than over the air news appeals to now which would cause Mr. Olbermann to retreat ignominiously back to the cable backwater of MSNBC where he belongs.

By: Rick Moran at 9:38 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (11)


Think Progress is one of those lefty sites that will skewer the right or Republicans at the drop of a hat:

“GOP activist drops hat; blacks and children suffer.”

That may have been a headline last week. It certainly isn’t any more outrageous than some other Think Progress headlines. How about this doozy:

“Bush Admin Tamps Down Right-Wing Desire For Mass Deportation Of Undocumented Immigrants”

If they only knew that those detention camps out west were built for liberals and not for illegal immigrants…

All of this aside, my eyes popped open today when I saw this headline at the site:

“Fox censors Sally Field’s anti-war speech at Emmy’s.”

OOOOOH those evil Fox News censors! How dare they! Just when Sally is ready to speak truth to power, they pull the plug on her. Whatever happened to the good old days when you could get up at the Emmy and Oscar Award ceremonies and spout ludicrous political screeds, ranting against greedy corporations or evil conservatives to your heart’s content? If this isn’t evidence that the country is going to hell in a hand basket under Bushitler, I don’t know what is.

No matter. This is Fox News we’re talking about here. And not one single mention of the war – unless it’s accompanied with fireworks and patriotic music – will be allowed, right?

Field then continued, “If mothers ruled the world, there would be no –” But the Fox Emmycast cut off her sound and pointed the camera away from the stage, silencing the rest of her sentence: “god-damned wars in the first place.”

The “expletive” was “goddamned,” a no-no in the AP Style Book although the oath is heard quite frequently on cable TV shows. But Think Progress took the controversy one step further to infer that the reason Fox bleeped the sentence was because of its subject matter, not because an offensive word was uttered. After all, who else would “silence” an antiwar critic but Fox News?

If true, I hate to tell the denizens over at Think Progress, but most of the press is in on the conspiracy as well. It seems that the word “goddamned” is stricken from almost every newspaper account of the Emmy’s I could find. Here’s that closet Fox News sympathizing New York Times:

And while most of the celebratory acceptance speeches on the broadcast were uninspiring, remarks by Sally Field sent the Fox network’s censors to the mute button — not for her antiwar statements but for a vulgarity made when she remarked that her character on “Brothers & Sisters” was a mother with a son headed for combat in Iraq. If mothers ruled the world, she said in essence, there would be no wars.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch couldn’t make up its mind why poor Sally was muted:

Sally Field of ABC’s “Brothers & Sisters” used her win as lead actress in a drama to make an anti-war speech tied to her character’s story line, only to be muted for several seconds at the end. It was unclear whether her remarks were considered inappropriate or whether she was just being punished for running long.

For myself, I find nothing inappropriate about the use of the word “goddamned.” However, those who are religiously inclined – a fair slice of any TV audience – are almost certainly offended by the oath which is why few newspapers reporting the story quoted it and why it is still one of the few words you rarely hear on over the air TV.

Which is why AP, the inventor of the aforementioned style book – the gospel of journalists and columnists in the English speaking world – also realized the true reason the evildoers at Fox bleeped Field’s words:

“Surely this belongs to all the mothers of the world,” Field said in a rambling acceptance speech that wound up with a swear word that had to be bleeped by Fox censors.

Field’s speech recalled her much-parodied 1985 acceptance of the best-actress Oscar for “Places in the Heart,” in which she said the famous line: “I can’t deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you really like me.”

Perhaps she should pass on a little of that love to Fox News.

I have no doubt that Think Progress actually saw nothing wrong with uttering “goddamned” in front of a nationally televised audience. I don’t find much wrong with it myself. But in a case that was so clearly a matter of taste and network standards regarding language rather than anything having to do with content, you would believe that Think Progress would actually drop the juvenile finger pointing just once and not create a controversy out of whole cloth just to get their knuckle dragging commenters all in a lather over an incident that virtually the entire media sees in a different light.

This entire left wing obsession with Fox News (and Fox Broadcasting) and their supposed “bias” toward conservatives always makes me giggle. You can’t walk through a green room at Fox on any given day without tripping over a dozen liberals who are engaged by the network to give opposing views on every topic under the sun. I don’t see ABC, NBC, CBS, falling over themselves to do the same. Nor do MSNBC or CNN allow for the kind free wheeling discussions (or shoutfests) between the two sides that Fox does.

This is not to say that Fox is more watchable than any other news net. I find the same lazy reporting, the same ignorance of basic facts there as I do everywhere else. It’s just that liberal sites like Think Progress refuse to see the same thing at the other media outlets unless they feel a liberal ox is being gored – a myopia that makes any of their criticisms of Fox News ring hollow indeed.


The boobs at Crooks and Liars have picked up on the “war censor” meme:

At last night’s 59th Annual Emmy Awards, Sally Field, who won Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Nora Holden Walker in ABC’s “Brothers and Sisters,” was censored by FOX as she was about to make a point about the Iraq War.

Damn. And it was such a great “point” too – that it is a “goddamned war.”

Maybe Fox thought the notion that war is “goddamned” was just too original.


Methinks Think Progress thinks too much:

Field’s censored comments not technically ‘profane.’

If not “technically profane,” why do the overwhelming majority of national media outlets either not mention the exact word or employ the euphemism “expletive” or some other device to avoid printing the word? The reason is that it is offensive to millions of people.

Let me make it easier on you lefties; when you hear “goddamned” think “something Muslim.” That way, you’re sure to understand why some Christians would be upset at the use of the word in question.

Of course, Christians are not likely to come after you with a rusty knife and cut off your head for your transgression, which I guess emboldens many on the left to assert the “non-profanity” defense and try to make it appear as if Ms. Field’s anti-war message was the true target of evil Fox’s censorship. But if you imagine Fields insulting Allah or dissing the Prophet, you would have no problem understanding the bleep – anti-war nonsense about mothers running the world or not.

And speaking of mothers in charge of the planet, here’s Meryl Yourish in the comments at Hot Air on that subject:

So, is she counting the mothers like this one, who blew herself up and took four Israelis with her? Or these?

You know what? People who think that all the world’s problems would be solved if women ruled the world are full of crap.

And I say this as a woman and a feminist.

Amen, sister.

By: Rick Moran at 7:39 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (24)

Liberty Pundit linked with Sally Fields Anti-War Rant Muted at Emmys...
CATEGORY: Ethics, Media

Laura Rozen is doing some great work ferreting out the Debat story for Mother Jones. Today, she has some shocking revelations that were originally reported in the French magazine Rue89:

Riché also reported that Debat claimed to have a Ph.D. from the Sorbonne that he did not in fact complete, and that he had exaggerated his CV in other respects—claiming to be an advisor to the French Ministry of Defense on transatlantic issues, for instance, when in fact he had been a lowly desk clerk in the bowels of the ministry for less than a year; claiming to be a visiting professor at Middlebury College, when in fact he had been a visiting instructor for a short winter term at Middlebury, and other such exaggerations. Mother Jones has obtained an annotated CV the French Embassy prepared about Debat—whose claims to be a former government official have apparently long irritated the government in Paris—outlining these and other discrepancies. (ABC believed the annotated CV was prepared by the French embassy, but sources now say it may have been annotated by a Washington-based French academic.)

Didn’t anybody check this guy out before hiring him?

Evidently, Debat had a big booster at the network. Chief Investigative Reporter Brian Ross passed along some of Debat’s juicier scoops apparently without vetting the information properly. The result was an embarrassing retraction on a story involving the Pakistani military willing to turn the other way regarding the location of Osama Bin Laden as long as he didn’t cause any trouble. And another story involving the claim that “the U.S. government was advising and encouraging an Iranian Baluchi separatist group Jundullah which was carrying out attacks against the Iranian regime” was greeted the following day by a “sharp denunciation” from the Pakistani government.

Who was this guy?

Overall, the picture of Debat that emerges from these interviews is of a smart, ambitious and cunning operator who would claim to be getting text messages from Middle Eastern intelligence operatives while at meetings with Ross and others at ABC, with tips that seemed too good to be true (which some colleagues believe were bogus), yet were used as “exclusives.”

Debat seems to have had a Walter Mitty complex. (Text messages from spies in the middle of production meetings? And that didn’t set off any alarm bells?). But was there something more sinister at work here? Was this part of a Neo-Con plot to take over the news media?

Attywood thinks so:

In the meantime, little attention had been paid to the French journal Politique Internationale—which published Debat’s bogus “interviews” with Barack Obama, as well as Hillary Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, former Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

But the French magazine deserves closer scrutiny. In continuing to connect the dots between Debat and the push for a neoconservative agenda that includes ratcheting up war tensions with Iran, it turns out that a prominent member of the neocon movement has served as editor of Politique Internationale for much of this decade.

Iranian-borm Amir Taheri (pictured at top)—who edited a leading Iranian newspaper prior to the 1979 overthrow of the Shah and has since written for a number of western publications, including several owned by conservative press lord Rupert Murdoch—has been a leading voice in Politique Internationale. It’s not clear what his current role is, but in numerous press reports from 2001 through 2006 he was listed as its editor.

To put it mildly, Attywood is barking up the wrong tree.

Taheri may or may not be a “neo-con” – and the way that Attywood and others on the left toss that appellation around makes me think they don’t have a clue regarding who or what a neo-con is – but the idea that Politique Internationale is some French offshoot of The Weekly Standard is loony. This is a French Ministry of Foreign Affairs website describing Politique Internationale:

Over the past 27 years, Politique internationale has become the most influential French-language publication devoted to international politics. It is read by leading decision-makers in the fields of politics, diplomacy, economics, industry and finance on all five continents. Its contributors include heads of state and governments, leaders of political parties and many others who either make the news or decipher it.

Sounds pretty harmless to me. But what about that fellow Taheri? After all, he wrote for Rupert Murdoch owned publications (think Fox News, not tens of thousands of dollars donated to Hillary).

Taheri has also written for Arthur Sulzberger but no one I know has ever accused the former Iranian editor of being a liberal. He has written for the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, and other perfectly legitimate mainstream news organizations as well. After all, he is trying to make a living as a writer and Taheri is not someone in huge demand as far as being sought after by major dailies for op-eds. He must hustle up his own business as any writer would. The fact that his views track closer to the New York Post than the New York Times – even though he has had op-eds appear in both publications – should not be considered sinister or even unusual.

Unless you’re trying to connect non-existent dots to posit a neo-con conspiracy theory.

Taheri is, for better or worse, one of the leading voices in the debate over what to do about Iran. He has made no secret of the fact that he wishes to see regime change in his native country. The left has tried to turn Taheri into something like a “Chalabi II” or another “curveball” without much success.

Attywood points out several stories Taheri has advanced that proved less than accurate, most recently a piece in Canada’s National Post that had conservatives all atwitter about a report from Iran detailing how non-Muslims were forced to wear color coded patches to identify them. The Iranian government denied it. Other Iranian experts expressed grave doubts about it. Taheri stood by the story. The Post issued a retraction.

It appears to me that the story should never have been run, that it wasn’t solid enough. But in Attywood’s own comments on the linked post, someone quite familiar with Iranian persecution of religious minorities speaks out:

Having handled the asylum cases of several Iranians who belong to the Baha’i faith, I have learned a great deal about the persecution religious minorities suffer in that country. So I was extremely interested in this part of your post, and I went to the article you linked.

If you read the article closely, most of the individuals who are debunking the idea of having people identify themselves as non-Muslim are either spokespersons for the Iranian government (e.g. an attache for the embassy in Ottawa) or individuals still living in Iran. Thus, there denials are somewhat suspect.

However, even if the forced wearing of colored badges and other identifying materials is an incorrect allegation, all you have to do is to read the most recent International Report for Religious Freedom for Iran, linked below

It describes just how desperate the situation is for non-Muslims in Iran, particularly those who converted from Islam to another religion and are thus considered ‘apostates.’ It used to be that apostacy was a capital offense in Iran.

So while this may have only been a small point in your piece, there are very, very real concerns for the safety of non-Muslims in Iran.

My clients were granted asylum on the basis of their religion alone, so I think that’s pretty conclusive that whether non-Muslims are forced to wear colored badges or not, they are in grave jeopardy in that country.

Taheri will continue to agitate for the US to overturn the rule of the mullahs. But besides the fact that he was editor of Politique Internationale and Debat contributed to that publication (on an infrequent basis over the years), I don’t get the “neo-con connection” the dots are supposed to link.

That’s because Debat was no neo-con – not by a long shot. As director of the terrorism and national security program at the Nixon Center, it would be a stretch to identify him as anything except a moderately conservative realist on foreign policy. From Sourcewatch:

While genuinely non-partisan, as reflected in the composition of its Board of Directors and Advisory Council, the Center has a philosophy of an enlightened pursuit of national interest. The specific goal of the Center is to explore ways of enhancing American security and prosperity while taking into account the legitimate perspectives of other nations.

The Board of Directors and Advisory Council is very heavy with Kissinger Realpolitik staffers as well as former Reaganauts and Bush #41 refugees. The left’s favorite, Brent Scowcroft, is on the Advisory Council as well as Lee Hamilton, Robert McFarlane, and other critics of the Iraq War (perhaps Julie Eisenhower is a neo-con spy).

The point is simple. There is little or no evidence that Debat is a neo-con so there are no dots to connect him to Taheri. The story raises enough questions about press standards and procedures without Attywood going off on conspiracy tangents.

For those, let’s go back to Rozen who sums up one of the ethical dilemmas for ABC:

One ethical issue raised by ABC’s handling of Debat concerns the investigative unit’s use of paid sources/consultants, who are often put on monthly retainer. But in ABC’s use of Debat as a paid “consultant” who also had for the past year and a half an appointment at the Nixon Center, ABC also frequently had him reporting on its blog, the Blotter, and appearing as a “source” inside others’ stories, blurring the line between source (and a paid one at that, with outside—also paid—affiliations) and a journalist, not clearly identified in the report. ABC also sent Debat frequently abroad, to gather information which he would put on the air and on the investigative unit’s website.

There is some question whether ABC is handling their internal investigation correctly by using the Ross investigative unit to look into their own potential failures. I see the potential for problems but who else could do it? These are people familiar with the stories as well as the sources and methods of how those stories were developed. It would seem that they would be the best qualified to discover anything untoward advanced by Debat in his sourcing of stories or in his reporting.

In the end, despite warning signs that Debat was a poseur of fantastic proportions, several respected media outlets (and probably the Nixon Center as well) were taken in by this fellow hook, line, and sinker. But to posit the notion that Debat was some kind of neo-con who was feeding false information to ABC and others in order to advance some kind of agenda is a big stretch. More likely, Debat is exactly who he says he isn’t; a fakir who suckered people who should have known better.

By: Rick Moran at 4:41 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)

Pajamas Media linked with A Sporting Chance: Spies Like Us...