2. NYT: 'Ruthless, Us-Against-Them' Sarkozy Wins French Presidency
3. PBS Host Thunders: 'Why Shouldn't We Be Outraged' at George Bush?
Apparently, it doesn't take much to flummox Brian Williams. He wrapped up Monday's NBC Nightly News with a whole story devoted to a "paralyzing question" which "can make otherwise competent adults quake with fear." The dilemma? "Paper or plastic" at the grocery store. "The grocery store dilemma," he teased, "'paper or plastic?' What is the right answer to that paralyzing question in the checkout line?" Williams repeated his terminology in plugging the story before an ad break: "What is the right answer to that often-paralyzing question at the checkout, 'paper or plastic?'"
Williams introduced the eventual May 7 story by fretting about how people "are made to feel like the fate of the planet hinges on our decision." Maybe if you're a self-obsessed environmental extremist with too much free time, but I doubt most people feel such pressure and are able to easily make the choice without liberal guilt. Williams asserted: "Tonight, as part of our ongoing series of reports on the environment, 'America Goes Green,' we take on the question that can make otherwise competent adults quake with fear. We've all been there. You come to the end of the checkout line and then comes that question, 'paper or plastic?' For that one brief moment, we grocery buyers are made to feel like the fate of the planet hinges on our decision. Is there a correct answer?"
[This item was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Reporter Anne Thompson turned to a left-wing activist group, naturally unlabeled, for the answer: "To find out what to do in the grocery store, we turned to Alan Hershkowitz of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Plastic bags threaten wildlife along the coast. So if that's where you call home, Hershkowitz says the choice should be paper. In the heartland, he says, it's plastic."
She elaborated: "To make all the bags we use a year it takes 14 million trees for paper, 12 million barrels of oil for plastic. The production of paper bags create 70 percent more air pollution than plastic. But plastic bags create four times the solid waist, enough to fill the Empire State Building two and a half times. And they can last up to a thousand years."
The bottom line: Avoid both, as she concluded: "Re-use and recycle is the environmentalist mantra for plastic and paper. But the best choice, they say, is cloth or canvas and B.Y.O.B. -- Bring your own bags."
Paris-based New York Times reporter Elaine Sciolino continued to nurse her long-standing grudge against Nicolas Sarkozy, the tough-on-crime presidential candidate of France, in two stories, one before and one after Sarkozy routed Socialist candidate Segolene Royal to win the presidency. Before the vote, she fretted that "while Ms. Royal has pledged to protect and unite France, Mr. Sarkozy has often taken a ruthless us-against-them attitude" and complained: "In this election, authority apparently is deemed to be more important than compassion." After the election, she declared that "the election was a triumph of raw ambition, efficiency and political sleight-of-hand."
[This item is adapted from a posting, by Clay Waters, on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]
For a February TimesWatch look at Sciolino's hostile approach to Sarkozy, go to: www.timeswatch.org
Sciolino wrote in Saturday's "France to Vote After Presidential Race's Scorching Finale":
He has gambled -- apparently successfully -- during the campaign that by turning hard right he would win over supporters of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the head of the extreme right National Front who made it into the second round of the 2002 election but made it into only fourth place this time.
While Ms. Royal has pledged to protect and unite France, Mr. Sarkozy has often taken a ruthless us-against-them attitude, stressing there is no place in France for young people who do not respect the law or for immigrants who do not embrace French values.
In Montpellier on Thursday, where he made his last campaign speech, Mr. Sarkozy railed against those who do not like him. 'People accuse me of encouraging public anger,' he said. 'But who's angry? The thugs? The drug traffickers? I can assure you -- I do not seek to be the friend of thugs.'
In this election, authority apparently is deemed to be more important than compassion.
END of Excerpt
For the entire May 5 article: www.nytimes.com
"Compassion" that Sciolino apparently wants directed toward the thugs now rioting in protest of Sarkozy.
Sarkozy's win was Monday's lead story, and Sciolino remained hostile:
Ms. Royal had repeatedly appealed to the women of France to vote for her in a show of female solidarity. But Mr. Sarkozy, a conservative who made his reputation as a hard-line minister of the interior, got the majority of the women's vote, according to Ipsos, an international polling company....
He also struck a conciliatory note, reaching out to the huge swath of French people who seem to fear him, especially in the country's ethnically and racially mixed suburbs, where he is accused of fueling tensions with his provocative language and an aggressive police presence....
With his raw, often divisive rhetoric, Mr. Sarkozy will have to change course to neutralize deep-rooted hostility against him, particularly in the tough ethnic suburbs.
About 2,000 people gathered at Place de la Bastille in central Paris to await the election results, with some burning an effigy of Mr. Sarkozy before tearing it apart.
But within two hours of the polls closing, the scene had degenerated into violent clashes between the police and several hundred people in the crowd who smashed windows and set one vehicle on fire....
The election was a triumph of raw ambition, efficiency and political sleight-of-hand. The French president is an odd invention -- part monarch and part elected politician. There is no other elected political office in Europe that comes with as much power and grandeur.
Throughout the campaign, Mr. Sarkozy had portrayed himself as an outsider, an immigrant's son with a foreign-sounding name, a man who never went to one of France's elite universities. He is also the quintessential political insider, however, a longtime figure in party politics and a member of the cabinet of President Jacques Chirac for much of the past five years. But he succeeded in making himself look like a political outsider, distancing himself from Mr. Chirac, who was seen by the French as old, tired and powerless in the twilight of his 12-year presidency.
END of Excerpt
For the May 7 story: www.nytimes.com
Reporter Craig Smith joined in with his "Man in The News" sidebar to Sarkozy's victory, "France's Conservative Dervish." The online subhead: "Sarkozy Wins the Chance to Prove His Critics Wrong." Smith wrote: "Arrogant, brutal, an authoritarian demagogue, a 'perfect Iago': the president-elect of France has been called a lot of unpleasant things in recent months and now has five years to prove his critics wrong."
What does Sarkozy have to prove, given that he handily won the election?
"He has always been nakedly ambitious, pragmatic, calculating and not beyond betrayal to reach his goals.
For the sidebar: www.nytimes.com
The previous version of the article (as first posted online Sunday evening) went on to compare him (unfavorably!) to Napoleon: "Mr. Sarkozy is a tad shorter than Napoleon was. His profile is remarkably similar to that of Louis XIV."
National Review Online's Media Blog caught that: media.nationalreview.com
For daily critiques of the New York Times, check: www.timeswatch.org
Here is the kind of debate that's common on taxpayer-subsidized PBS: two liberals arguing over the right degree of rage over President Bush on Iraq. Should it be white hot? Or just hot enough that you don't burn your mouth on it? On Thursday night's edition of his eponymous show, Tavis Smiley interviewed Washington Post columnist David Ignatius.
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Ignatius worried out loud about finding some degree of national unity in the Iraq end game, and suggested Bush hatred is running contrary to the national interest: "People are so angry in Washington. The debate is so intense that I just worry that we're just slipping a gear as a country. People are almost so angry at George Bush that they want to see this thing fail to spite him, and that should be. That's wrong." Smiley tried to suggest he was asking "devil's advocate" questions, but his angry tone and finger-pointing body language gave his personal opinion away:
Smiley: "Far be it for me to argue with you, but let me just take the devil's advocate position on this, just to press you a little bit more on this. Why shouldn't we be outraged? Why shouldn't we be angry with George Bush?"
To prove that Tavis Smiley is channeling his own opinions, and not just playing a role of devil's advocate, look to the evening before, when his guest was California Democrat Congressman Tom Lantos. Did he ask him questions from the Republican side of the aisle? No. He was angry at the Bush veto of a timetable, and banged away at Team Bush for allegedly ruining America's global image:
Lantos said no, but the image repair job will take a long time. Perhaps Lantos looks back to the heights of prestige America had when Jimmy Carter was bungling through the Iranian hostage crisis? Or when Bill Clinton did nothing while terrorists blew up our embassies and soldiers? Smiley wouldn't be caught anywhere near that neighborhood of questioning.
-- Brent Baker