U.S. War on "Innocent Civilians"; Fawning Over "Clinton at the Waldorf"; Traficant Fired Back; Pearl Abduction: Blame Conservatives
1) NBC's Today on Tuesday devoted air time to an interview with an author who charges the U.S. is just as guilty of terrorism as any nation. Matt Lauer outlined the thesis which he only gently challenged and more often pressed the author to elaborate: "The United States has repeatedly waged war against innocent civilians."
2) A Los Angeles Times poll distorted the facts about Enron officials making calls to Bush administration figures last fall, referring to "bailout meetings." One of the questions began: "Do you think the Bush administration did the right thing in keeping the bailout meetings with Enron executives private?"
3) Under a front page headline that sounded like a chapter for Monica Lewinsky's book, "It Was Clinton at Waldorf Instead of Dessert," the New York Times fawned over Bill Clinton's warm reception at a World Economic Forum gathering. Amongst those in attendance who heard from Clinton, "dapper in a double-breasted blue blazer," was sex adviser Ruth Westheimer.
4) The Washington Post has already managed to find victims of "cuts" in Bush's budget. "'Digital Divide' Plan in Peril," read the Business section headline on Tuesday. The subhead: "Two Tech Programs for Poor Would Die." The Post lamented the possible demise of a program which spent $400,000 to have 20 high schoolers teach the elderly about computers. $400,000?
5) On the first day of his corruption trial, Congressman James Traficant fired back at GMA: "I was upset with your introduction, don't do that again." He complained: "I'm freezing out here, I've been waiting on you for about 45 minutes. If you have some salient points to make, make 'em to me because I'm not in the best of moods this morning."
6) A letter writer to Jim Romenesko's Media News page blamed the Pearl kidnaping on conservative complaints about media bias: "The WSJ editorial board has for years persisted, along with other conservative commentators, to label journalists as political tools in service of a larger political agenda. The kidnappers of Mr. Pearl insist that he is a political tool, a spy....Where could they have possibly gotten the idea that journalists are not the dedicated professionals they claim to be but are instead something else in disguise?"
NBC's Today on Tuesday decided to allocate a segment to the author of a book who claims the U.S. is as guilty of carrying out terrorism as any nation, a book so far to the left that even the New York Times panned it. Co-host Matt Lauer outlined the thesis: "When we are attacked with terrorism, innocent civilians in this country lose their lives we tend to respond with what you call another act of terrorism."
A few times Matt Lauer gently challenged the author, Caleb Carr, but by the end of the interview he was setting up talking points for Carr: "You argue that the CIA tends to get in bed with unsavory characters to fight a common enemy and when that common enemy is defeated they turn their back on those unsavory characters who then target the United States." And: "So what reaction do you want to come out of this book? What would you like to see happen? What would you like the average citizen to take away from this book?"
Lauer introduced the February 5 interview
caught by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens as it aired during the 7:30am half
Lauer helpfully summarized Carr's thesis:
"You write about a kind of vicious cycle. You said look, when we are
attacked with terrorism, innocent civilians in this country lose their
lives we tend to respond with what you call another act of terrorism. Is
that a fair simplification?"
Lauer requested: "So give me an example
of a recent point of history where we have done exactly what you
Lauer pressed Car to elaborate: "So
another, well for example, if you talk Japan the dropping of the atomic
bombs in, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki."
Lauer wrapped up by informing viewers :
"The book is called the Lessons of Terror. Caleb Carr. Good to have
you here. And if you would like to read an excerpt from the Lessons of
Terror just log on to our website, at today.msnbc.com." Indeed,
it's online at:
A Los Angeles Times poll released on Tuesday distorted the facts about Enron officials making calls to Bush administration figures last fall as the company was going down, referring to "bailout meetings," but the majority of the public didn't bite and still said the Bush team acted properly. One of the questions began: "Do you think the Bush administration did the right thing in keeping the bailout meetings with Enron executives private?"
In his "Best of the Web" (http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/ ) column on Tuesday, James Taranto highlighted the two fact-twisting questions and Brit Hume cited them on his FNC show, though Hume may have first alerted Taranto to them since at the bottom of his column Taranto listed Hume as a contributor.
Question #53 in the poll taken January 31-February 3: "Enron executives met privately with members of the Bush administration to ask for the government's help to keep their company from going into bankruptcy. Do you think the Bush administration acted appropriately by not bailing out Enron, or do you think their lack of help for Enron was inappropriate and they should have acted to keep the company from bankruptcy?"
"Appropriate," responded 65 percent, despite the falsely heightened connection between the Bush administration and Enron implied by the question's wording. Only 14 percent answered "inappropriate" with 21 percent saying "don't know."
The next question, #54. "Do you think the Bush administration did the right thing in keeping the bailout meetings with Enron executives private, or do you think they did the wrong thing by not making the bailout meetings with Enron executives public?"
"Wrong thing" said 51 percent, "right thing" replied 31 percent.
As Taranto asked: "Huh? If the administration kept the meetings private, how does the L.A. Times know about them? All that's been reported in the news is that Enron executives made phone calls to cabinet members seeking help and were rebuffed."
The February 5 LA Times front page story by Ronald Brownstein on the poll, "Don't Tap Into Social Security: Four-fifths favor tax cut deferment over using the fund's revenue to pay for other programs," did not mention the Enron numbers.
An online "poll analysis," however, did. It's subhead merged answers to the above questions with ones about Enron officials offering policy advice to Cheney's energy task force: "Contacts between the administration and Enron are seen as unethical at best."
Jill Darling Richardson, identified as
"Times Poll Assoc. Director," wrote:
As if administration officials saying anything publicly would have changed the inevitable.
For the rest of this polling analysis:
For the complete poll, the LA Times has posted
a PDF file:
Under a front page headline that sounded like a proposed chapter for a book by Monica Lewinsky, "It Was Clinton at Waldorf Instead of Dessert," the New York Times gushed about Bill Clinton's warm reception from a gathering which followed a World Economic Forum dinner in New York City. Amongst those hanging on Clinton's words: sex adviser Ruth Westheimer. You can't make this stuff up.
The MRC's Tim Jones brought the story to my attention which was penned by Tod Purdum, aka Mr. Dee Dee Myers, and David Sanger. Noting how Clinton looked "dapper in a double-breasted blue blazer," they oozed: "Back in a crowded conference room at the Waldorf, some 300 world leaders in politics, industry and finance were held spellbound by a freewheeling, solo seminar conducted by someone whose idea of a great meal was the Mexican platter at the White House mess: former President Bill Clinton, the ultimate Davos Man, always ready to expound on globalization until the last top-dog dies."
An excerpt from the story which recounted how Clinton suggested disagreement with Bush's "axis of evil" concept:
It was perhaps the quirkiest intimate session at the World Economic Forum: Dinner for 80 at Daniel Boulud's top-rated French restaurant, Daniel, with a dessert discussion of food, culture and national identity. But at 10:10 p.m. Sunday, just as diners savored the last scraps of braised veal cheeks, the word came down: "If you are going to the Clinton nightcap, it's completely full, and the buses are leaving for the Waldorf right now!"
In a flash, half the room rushed for the exit as if a fire alarm had rung, skipping not one but two desserts. The planned panel discussion collapsed like a fallen soufflé....
Dapper in a double-breasted blue blazer and hand-held microphone, the man the official program described as "Founder, William Jefferson Clinton Foundation," held forth on North Korea, the Middle East, Enron and health care. At one point, he welcomed a guest star, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of Israel, who declared, "I wish we'd had just a few more months, then we'd have peace in the Middle East."
Inevitably, a questioner pressed Mr. Clinton for his thoughts about President Bush's "axis of evil," the nuclear-eager combination of Iran, Iraq and North Korea. "We have to take these countries each in turn," he warned. "They may all be trouble, but they are different." Support for sanctions against Iraq in the United Nations had eroded, he said....
"On North Korea, I have a totally different take," he said, recounting how close he believed he was to a deal with Pyongyang to end its missile program in December 2000. He nearly went to the Stalinist nation to seal it, he said, but he had to stay in Washington working on a last-minute Middle East peace initiative that, he noted ruefully, fell apart.
With North Korea, he said, "I figure I left the next administration with a big foreign policy win, " one that he hinted Mr. Bush had squandered with unnecessarily hard language early last year....
But by the evening's end, after Mr. Clinton declared, "I have cried for Argentina" and greeted old friends like Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the diminutive sex therapist, ("She was a sniper in the early days of Israel!" he declared), the former president summed up by saying, "I did the best I could and had a good time trying."...
END of Excerpt
For the entire story, those registered with
the New York Times online can go to:
Let the whining begin. The day after the Bush administration officially released its budget proposal the Washington Post had already managed to find victims of "cuts." "'Digital Divide' Plan in Peril," read the Business section headline on Tuesday. The subhead: "Two Tech Programs for Poor Would Die."
Reporter Jonathan Krim began his February 5
$400,000?!? That's $20,000 per "volunteer" high school student. I have no doubt the students do volunteer, but to where does such a large amount of money go? Does the program pay a reasonable amount for rent or staff? Does it really take $400,000 to teach people how to use a computer?
The Post's Krim didn't pursue that line of questioning. Instead he passed on complaints from ungrateful recipients of taxpayer money: "'The people who are the most isolated from technology are the urban poor elderly,' said David Domenici, executive director of the See Forever Foundation, which runs the program. The program also is helping to develop a class of high school students who are learning Web design and other technology skills so they can then train others in the community."
Only then did Krim note: "Michael Gallagher, deputy director of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), said that the federal Technology Opportunities Program had 'fulfilled its mission' and that in a time of national crisis, resources need to be devoted to national defense and other pressing priorities."
Krim soon identified more victims: "In addition to the Shaw program, other local recipients of the federal grants include...a program to enable Cambodian torture victims who had immigrated to the United States to receive specialized counseling and medical services via teleconferencing."
Is "teleconferencing" really necessary? I've never teleconferenced. I feel deprived. Where's my grant? I'm just old enough to have gone through high school and college without touching a computer and yet I actually managed to learn how to use one when I got a job -- without the benefit any $400,000 federal grant program. Maybe the people of DC should try that.
For the Post story in full:
Congressman Jim Traficant, the Ohio Democrat on trial for corruption, took on ABC's Charlie Gibson on Tuesday morning, the MRC's Jessica Anderson observed. He complained about the set up to the interview which had outlined the charges against him and three times used the word "ass" live on Good Morning America.
I have no insight into Traficant's guilt or innocence, but it's always fun to see a guest fire back at a network.
Setting up the February 5 appearance during the 8am half hour, new ABC reporter Tamala Edwards, fresh from Time magazine, reviewed his colorful career and trademark House floor sign off, "beam me up!" She explained the charges: "Federal authorities say that Democrat Jim Traficant of Ohio's 17th district isn't just quirky, he's corrupt. The charges, in return for Traficant's help, some constituents had to do unpaid construction and manual labor on the congressman's farm. One Ohio company paid thousands to repair Traficant's boat. Also, they say Traficant's staffers had to pay the Congressman part of their salaries, and some Ohio aides spent hundreds of hours doing farm chores, all unpaid. That adds up, the feds say, to ten counts of bribery, racketeering and tax evasion."
Gibson then introduced Traficant: "And
Congressman James Traficant is joining us now from the federal courthouse
in Cleveland, Ohio, where the trial begins today. Congressman, appreciate
you being with us."
Following a few questions, Traficant wrapped up: "I am facing maybe 80 years, six million dollars, but they're facing their keister in jail, too, and I'm going to try and put their ass in jail. Believe me, this is one hell of a fight, and I'm very cold, I was upset with your introduction, don't do that again."
The unchallenged winner so far this year for the stupidest analysis anywhere: A letter writer to Jim Romenesko's MediaNews page, who affiliated himself with the Augusta Chronicle, blamed the kidnapping in Pakistan of Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl on the paper's editorial page commentary because it has portrayed the media as biased and praised Bernard Goldberg's book, Bias.
Former MRC staffer Clay Waters alerted me to this gem, that he just noticed, which was posted on January 31.
Romenesko headlined the letter: "Journalists as political operatives" and identified the writer: "From KEN DENNEY, Formerly of the Augusta Chronicle and Daily News."
Denney's screed, in full, with spelling as posted, so I know the word "purport" is misspelled below:
Daniel Pearl's kidnapping is truly a frightening incident; beyond the tragedy to his family it is an obvious attempt to intimidate journalists and influence U.S. foreign policy. I would not want to trivialize it for all the world, but I am constrained to point out that it was only recently that Mr. Pearl's newspaper, the Wall Street Journal, felt compelled to praise the book "Bias" which perports to lay bare the "liberal bias" of mainstream journalism. In fact, the WSJ editorial board has for years persisted, along with other conservative commentators, to label journalists as political tools in service of a larger political agenda. The kidnappers of Mr. Pearl insist that he is a political tool, a spy, for some foreign government (one day the U.S., the next day Israel.) Where could they have possibly gotten the idea that journalists are not the dedicated professionals they claim to be but are instead something else in disguise? It is ironic in the true sense of the word -- terribly, terribly ironic -- that Daniel Pearl, a man of unquestioned professionalism has been accused of being a political operative and that he must now be defended by a newspaper that claims all journalists (except perhaps its own) are political operatives. For far too long, the journalistic community has treated conservative criticism of the profession too lightly. False descriptions have dire consequences as we now see.
END Reprint of letter
Romenesko's letters page: http://www.poynter.org/medianews/letters.htm 
The direct address for this letter: http://www.poynter.org/medianews/letters.htm#denney 
I checked the Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle archives and could find no citation of a "Ken Denney." Also came up blank on Nexis.
By Denney's reasoning every media outlet should be held accountable for anything bad that happens to anyone they ever said or wrote anything negative about.
[Web Update: An article from an unknown date
on the NewColonist.com Web site by a Ken Denney, with the same e-mail
address as is attached to the letter above blaming conservative
highlighting of liberal media bias for the kidnaping, described Ken Denney
as "a writer and former journalist who works for an Atlanta public
relations agency. He is also an amateur historian who has extensively
studied the Atlanta campaign." For his NewColonist.com article on the
loss to development of Civil War sites in the South:
From the February 5 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Taliban Complaints About Camp X-Ray." Copyright 2002 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. "Three meals a day and none of them are goat"
Tonight on Letterman: MSNBC's Chris Matthews. -- Brent Baker 
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