Pat Robertson, "Inflammatory,"
But Hugo Chavez is "Charismatic"
The Times makes televangelist Pat Robertson's suggestion that the U.S. "go ahead" and assassinate Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez one of its top political stories on Wednesday.
Laurie Goodstein's "Robertson Suggests U.S. Kill Venezuela's Leader" opens with a loaded rundown of Robertson's greatest hits before getting to the newest controversy: "Pat Robertson, the conservative Christian broadcaster, has attracted attention over the ears for lambasting feminists, 'activist' judges, the United Nations and Disneyland."
She helpfully reminds us: "Mr. Robertson, who is 75, ran for president as a Republican in 1988. He has often used his show and the political advocacy group he founded, the Christian Coalition, to support President Bush."
Goodstein is trying to tie Robertson to Bush here. Yet a google search of "Pat Robertson" and "Bush" finds that the story that most interested the media was controversy between the twomen about casualties in Iraq. Robertson has also complained about Bush's criticism of Liberia's ruler Charles Taylor, accusing him of "undermining a Christian, Baptist president to bring in Muslim rebels."
Goodstein also tries to tie more conservative groups to Robertson's remarks: "But other conservative Christian organizations remained silent, with leaders at the Traditional Values Coalition, the Family Research Council and the Christian Coalition saying they were too busy to comment. A spokeswoman for Mr. Robertson said yesterday that he was not giving interviews and had no further comment."
In the initial "continuous news desk" version of Goodstein's story, availableonline, the sentence that comes next at least provides some labeling balance: "Liberals, however, were not silent."
Both versions go on to say: "The Rev. Jesse Jackson called for the Federal Communications Commission to investigate, just as it did when Janet Jackson's breast was exposed in the Super Bowl broadcast in 2004. 'This is even more threatening to hemispheric stability than the flash of a breast on television during a ballgame,' Mr. Jackson said. One liberal watchdog group, Media Matters for America, sent a letter urging the ABC Family network to stop carrying Mr. Robertson's show. Another group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, asked Mr. Bush to repudiate Mr. Robertson personally."
Yet that short sentence ("Liberals, however, were not silent.") is absent from the hard copy of the New York late edition.
Why remove the line identifying both the far-left Jackson as well as Americans United (led by anti-public-prayer and NYTfave Barry Lynn) as liberal? Surely the tag is not in dispute. Perhaps the Times really needed those five words worth of white space for a larger photo of Robertson.
Goodstein concludes with a more detailed rundown of Robertson's controversial past remarks: "Mr. Robertson has a history of getting attention for inflammatory remarks. In May he said the threat to the United States from activist judges was 'probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings.' In 1998, he warned that hurricanes and other natural disasters would sweep down on Orlando, Fla., because gay men and lesbians were flocking to Disney World on special 'gay days.' And he has often denounced the United Nations as a first step toward a dangerous 'one world government.'"
One of Robertson's critics quoted in the Times, Jesse Jackson, also has some colorful quotes in his past. But as TimGraham notes at the MRC blog NewsBusters, the liberal media doesn't giggle over old Jackson quotes, such as: "The Christian Coalition was a strong force in [Nazi] Germany. It laid down a suitable, scientific, theological rationale for the tragedy in Germany. The Christian Coalition was very much in evidence there."
Or: "In South Africa the status quo was called racism. We rebelled against it. In Germany it was called fascism. Now in Britain and the U.S., it is called conservatism."
If the Times is somewhat hostile toward Robertson, its attitude toward the Venezuelan dictator Chavez himself is rather more congenial. Reporter JuanForero noted approvingly in June that Chavez gets "the kind of public adoration that brings to mind another Latin American leader, Fidel Castro, who for more than 45 years has drawn accolades wherever he has gone, much to Washington's chagrin. Now, it seems, the torch is being passed, and it is Mr. Chvez who is emerging as this generation's Castro - a charismatic figure and self-styled revolutionary who bearhugs his counterparts on state visits, inspires populist left-wing movements and draws out fervent well-wishers from Havana to Buenos Aires."
In sharp contrast, the WashingtonPost explained in March how "Chavez is moving to eliminate critical journalists.The first step was a new media content law, adopted by the Chavez-controlled legislature last December, that subjects broadcast media to heavy fines or the loss of their licenses for disseminating information deemed 'contrary to national security.'"
For more Goodstein on Robertson, click here.
Can't Get Enough of Cindy Sheehan
White House reporter Elisabeth Bumiller follows Bush to Idaho and, under a story headlined, "Bush Says Leaving Iraq Now Would Be Wrong," continues to push Cindy Sheehan.
From the lead: "President Bush said Tuesday that war protesters like Cindy Sheehan who want an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq 'are advocating a policy that would weaken the United States,' and that Ms. Sheehan did not represent the views of other military families he had met."
In conclusion: "Mr. Bush reiterated his support for Ms. Sheehan's right to protest. He noted that he had met with her in June 2004, and that he had sent his national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, and his deputy chief of staff, Joe Hagin, to meet with her this month in Crawford. Ms. Sheehan has said that Mr. Bush was disrespectful to her in their 2004 meeting because he called her 'Mom' throughout the session."
As she didyesterday (and twice lastweek) Bumiller ignores Sheehan's own alternate take on the meeting at the time, when she told her local paper: "We have a lot of respect for the office of the president, and I have a new respect for him because he was sincere and he didn't have to take the time to meet with usI now know he's sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis. I know he's sorry and feels some pain for our loss. And I know he's a man of faith."
For more Bumiller, click here.
David Carr on Iraq: "Rhetoric of Politicians Exacts a Savage Consequence"
Wednesday's Arts section story by media reporter David Carr on "Over There," TV producer Steven Bochco's new show on the Iraq war, lets soldiers have their say regarding the show's lack of realism. But Carr also gives Bochco points for effort: "You could understand why [Steven] Bochco feels a bit fragged. He set out to render visible a war, one that has produced thousands of dead and wounded, that goes conveniently unnoticed by most Americans. He has never been to Iraq, but hired several consultants who had served, in order to get an authentic look and feel for his series. To the civilian eye, his portrait of men and women fighting for their lives and their country, usually in that order, is a reminder that the rhetoric of politicians exacts a savage consequence from those who must live the reality of warfare."
For more Carr, click here.