2. AP: Unborn Panda "Baby," But with Human Unborn Child a "Fetus"
3. Film Reviewer Blames U.S. for "Tens of Thousands" of Iraqi Deaths
4. HBO Rant: "Oh God, What Are You? Like Some Red-Neck Blogger Pig?"
The deaths in Iraq of several Marine reservists from one Ohio unit led CBS and NBC to exploit the tragedies as they cited anecdotes from one or two people, and a four-month-old poll, to prove that in Ohio, in the words of CBS's Byron Pitts, "there is growing anger over what this war has cost in lives." Pitts posed the question: "Is the war in Iraq still worth it? That's the question" the parents of a killed Marine "now ask." Pitts concluded that "people here clearly still support the warriors, but many now question the war." NBC Nightly News anchor Campbell Brown asserted that "sentiment is turning against the war in this political swing state as the death toll climbs." As proof, Carl Quintanilla went back four months to cite how "a majority of Ohioans -- 53 percent -- disapproved of the President's Iraq policy as of April." Quintanilla maintained that Ohio "nearly awarded a congressional seat to an underdog Democrat in a safe Republican district," and so "some analysts see early signs of a shift." On CNN, Bill Schneider similarly hyped the Democratic loss: "Democratic war critic Paul Hackett very nearly won an upset victory in a heavily Republican congressional district."
Pitts teased his August 4 CBS Evening News story: "I'm Byron Pitts in Ohio, where there is growing anger over what this war has cost in lives."
Anchor Bob Schieffer set up the subsequent Pitts piece: "In his remarks today, President Bush also sent his personal condolences to Brook Park, Ohio. That's the home, of course, of the Marine unit that suffered so many casualties this week. He said the city has suffered mightily. Byron Pitts is there tonight."
Pitts began: "They were all reservists, part-time warriors, who paid freedom's full price. Paul Schroeder's son was one of them."
Quintanilla's NBC Nightly News story later also aired on MSNBC's Countdown, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth noticed. Anchor Alison Stewart introduced it with the premise that "the mounting body count from Iraq appears to be coinciding with a decline in the President's popularity within the Buckeye State."
Campbell Brown set up the airing on the NBC Nightly News: "Now to the fallout from the Marine deaths this week. Emotional and increasingly political fallout. Ohio has been hit very hard this week -- 20 Ohio-based Marines killed in two incidents. As NBC's Carl Quintanilla tells us, sentiment is turning against the war in this political swing state as the death toll climbs."
With "Turning Point?" on screen, Quintanilla noted: "In Ohio, a second wave of Marines' death notifications today reached the family of Lance Corporal Brett Wightman. On Monday he left this phone message:"
Earlier in the day Thursday, CNN's Inside Politics had picked up on the theme, the MRC's Megan McCormack observed. Anchor Ed Henry asserted: "The news from Iraq this week has been especially painful for many U.S. military families, with more than two dozen troops killed in action. Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider has more on signs that the ongoing operation in Iraq could become a political problem for Republicans here at home."
Schneider suddenly found Newt Gingrich to be a wise sage: "It's been a week of grim news from Iraq. Twenty seven Americans killed, bringing the total to 1825. A single Marine battalion based in Ohio lost at least fourteen members in two days. Republicans also faced some sobering political news from Ohio this week, where Democratic war critic Paul Hackett very nearly won an upset victory in a heavily Republican congressional district. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich called the Ohio election a wake up call for Republicans. Gingrich told the Washington Post, [on screen] 'there is more energy today on the anti-Iraq, anti-gas-price, anti-changing Social Security and I think anti-Washington side. I think the combination of those four are all redounding to weaken Republicans and help Democrats.' Back in 1994, the anti-Washington mood swept Democrats out of power, and swept Gingrich in. If he believes Republicans are now in trouble, it's worth paying attention. At least one analyst believes the concern may be overstated."
"Life Begins at Conception -- If You're a Panda," James Taranto noted Wednesday, in the OpinionJournal.com's "Best of the Web" column, in contrasting how August 3 AP dispatches described the offspring of a panda versus a brain-dead woman who was kept on life support until the entity inside her could survive outside the womb. One AP story referred to how "a 13-year-old giant panda gave birth to a cub at San Diego Zoo, but a second baby died in the womb, officials said Wednesday." Another dispatch cited how "a cancer-ravaged woman robbed of consciousness by a stroke has given birth after being kept on life support for three months to give her fetus extra time to develop." Subsequently, however, the AP updated its stories so that the terms were reversed. The "second baby" panda became the "second fetus" and the woman's "fetus" became "the child she was carrying."
For Taranto's posting of the contrast: www.opinionjournal.com
Yahoo's AP posting of U.S. AP stories had the wording updated, as described above, but the Asian versions, with the original phrasing, remain posted.
# "Baby" panda version, August 3, 8:21pm: "Baby Giant Panda Born at San Diego Zoo." Lead of un-bylined story: "A 13-year-old giant panda gave birth to a cub at San Diego Zoo, but a second baby died in the womb, officials said Wednesday." See: asia.news.yahoo.com
# Human "child," August 3, 7:18pm: "Brain-Dead Woman Dies After Giving Birth." Lead of article by Matthew Barakat: "A brain-dead woman who was kept alive for three months so she could deliver the child she was carrying was removed from life support Wednesday and died, a day after giving birth." See: news.yahoo.com
Weekend-connected left-wing rant, first of two. Reviewing the new action movie Stealth last Friday, the Boston Globe's Ty Burr, a veteran of Time-Warner's Entertainment Weekly magazine, wrote that he could only "recommend it to any and all audiences lacking higher brain functions. Sea cucumbers, perhaps. Ones waving American flags." Burr complained "that this is exactly the sort of movie we don't need right now: a delusional military fantasy in which collateral damage doesn't exist." He inserted his own personal political views as he angrily spouted: "For a movie to pretend, in the face of the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi men, women, and children directly or indirectly caused by our presence there, that we can wage war without anyone really getting hurt isn't naive, or wishful thinking, or a jim-dandy way to spend a Saturday night at the movies. It's an obscenity."
Clay Waters, editor of the MRC's TimesWatch.org site (www.timeswatch.org ), alerted me to the politically-loaded July 29 review, "'Stealth' can't hide a major flaw." An excerpt:
Stealth is a pretty fair military-hardware action movie until you start thinking about it -- at which point it turns incredibly sour in your mouth. I can therefore recommend it to any and all audiences lacking higher brain functions. Sea cucumbers, perhaps. Ones waving American flags....
After the squadron's successful strike on a terrorist cell in Rangoon, EDI is hit by lightning, has its AI scrambled, and becomes jealous of Ben's prowess in the sky. The drone plane turns on the others and heads out to blow up a warlord's stockpile of moldering Russian nukes; Ben scrambles to reel the stray back in while Cummings plots how best to save his career. While ''Stealth" offers a superficial portrait of the "new Navy" -- white, black, female -- [Josh] Lucas quickly becomes the movie's blue-eyed top gun, while [Jamie] Foxx is sidelined and Biel's Kara has to bail out of her stalled Talon fighter. Over North Korea -- where else?
The sequence in which she plummets to earth, dodging the fireball remnants of her jet, is a pulse-quickening visual marvel, by far the strongest moment in the film. All the action sequences, in fact, are everything summer-movie fans could hope for: digitized bursts of retinal overstimulation that play like -- you guessed it -- a video game. EDI's in-cockpit taste for Incubus songs, written by the band for the film, provides the requisite music to pump fists by, although the duet with the Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde over the final credits comes as a shock. Chrissie, honey, did you even read the script?...
The issue isn't the quality of the action scenes, because these days that's mostly what Hollywood is good for. The issue isn't even the lurking fears of Defense Department ordnance run amok that Stealth purports to address. The issue is that this is exactly the sort of movie we don't need right now: a delusional military fantasy in which collateral damage doesn't exist.
That initial strike involves dropping an "implosion bomb" on an apartment building in downtown Rangoon that's miraculously occupied only by the terrorists; the cute kids next door remain unhurt. Later, when EDI's assault on the warlord causes radioactive dust to drift over a nearby village, Kara calls in the medics to relieve the terrified villagers -- with what? Gatorade? -- and that's the last we hear of that. Oh, a few North Korean soldiers get killed, but they're as one-dimensional as Purcell's willowy Thai girlfriend (Jaipetch Toonchalong), who nods and smiles uncomprehendingly as he mumbles about the human cost of war.
Am I spoiling the party? Harshing the high-flying flyboy buzz? Tough. For a movie to pretend, in the face of the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi men, women, and children directly or indirectly caused by our presence there, that we can wage war without anyone really getting hurt isn't naive, or wishful thinking, or a jim-dandy way to spend a Saturday night at the movies. It's an obscenity.
END of Excerpt
For the July 29 Boston Globe review in full: www.boston.com
For that bio in full and links to Burr's recent reviews: www.boston.com
The plot outline for Stealth, as provided by the Internet Movie Database: "Deeply ensconced in a top-secret military program, three pilots struggle to bring an artificial intelligence program under control...before it initiates the next world war." For IMDb's page on the film: www.imdb.com
For the movie studio's (Sony) Web site for Stealth: www.sonypictures.com
Weekend-connected left-wing rant, second of two. Sunday night on HBO's Six Feet Under, a drama revolving around a family which runs a funeral home, a major character launched into a rant about the "stupid, evil war" in Iraq and how "we didn't go to war to protect Iraqi civil liberties. That's just a lame justification." The young woman was soon yelling about the Abu Graib abuse and how "those orders came down from the top, the top! And there's memos to prove it!" The show's writers allowed her boyfriend, a minor character in the program, to disagree with, prompting her to spew: "Oh God, what are you? Like some red-neck blogger pig?"
[Be warned, this item includes an accurate quotation of a vulgarity.]
On the July 31 episode of the weekly HBO drama, "Claire Fisher" (played by Lauren Ambrose), a struggling artist just out of college who is the sister of two brothers who run a Los Angeles funeral home after the passing of their father, goes on a date with a lawyer at a law firm where she is temping.
Sitting at a table at a fancy restaurant, Claire frets that "we've stumbled upon a Republican nest" and she worries Nancy Reagan might walk in.
Claire then asserts: "Here they feel safe in their fancy restaurant while that stupid, evil war goes on and on."
After an unrelated scene involving other characters, the show returned to the restaurant, picking up mid-argument:
Boyfriend: "You don't think they wanted a free election? Did you see those pictures? They were dancing in the streets. Literally."
That was it for the argument as Claire soon learned that one of her brothers had collapsed and he died at the end of the episode, knocking off a major character as the show approaches the end of its five-year run on HBO.
HBO's page for Six Feet Under, which first runs at 9pm EDT/PDT on Sunday nights and repeats throughout the week (above-quoted episode will air again Saturday night): www.hbo.com
The show was created by Alan Ball of American Beauty movie fame. For a list of the producers and writers: www.hbo.com
For video and comment on the Bob Novak incident Thursday on CNN, check my blog page: newsbusters.org
-- Brent Baker