December 1, 2005

Christmas Tree vs. Holiday Tree

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 30, 2005 @ 10:25 pm
Filed under: Government, Media Watch

Should the pine tree on the White House lawn be called a “Christmas tree” or a “holiday tree?”

Fox News exploits the issue with blather about political correctness. (”While the political correctness has trapped some communities into taking the Christianity out of Christmas in order to accommodate the minority of Americans who don’t celebrate the holiday, the White House continues to call its tree a Christmas Tree,” reads a dubious, unsigned article at

However, liberal blogger Desi shines through the nonsense:

If people would worry half as much about living children in our country as they do tiny cells that they can’t yet see and what happens to them, I’ll call it a Pat Robertson tree.

If people would spend half the time they spend planning a war on trying to understand the beliefs, the attitudes, and the customs of another nation, I’d call it a George Bush tree.

If people would spend half the time they spend convicting a young black/asian/hispanic man for gang crimes on working on solutions to inner city gang violence, I’d call it a Justice tree.

If the Pope would spend a month working alongside a group of gay activists — only for the sake of getting to know them, and understanding some of their issues — I’d call my tree Benny.

If our politicians were able to actually spend half the time they spend at black-tie fund raisers making small talk, out on the streets of America with everyday citizens, I’d call it the Mother-of-God-we-might-see-changes-in-our-lifetime Tree.

If *christians* would spend half the time they spend condemning single-mothers, welfare recipients, drug addicts, poor people, gays[am I forgetting anyone here??]on trying to make the world a little bit of a nicer place to be I’d call it a Christmas tree.


“The Colbert Report” on ‘Confidence’

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 30, 2005 @ 9:41 pm
Filed under: Government, Media Watch, TV

Actor Stephen Colbert plays a right-wing talk-show host on Comedy Central.

Near the start of each “Colbert Report” he does an editorial called “The Word;” Colbert usually makes right-wing statements, while text appears on the screen which doesn’t necessarily support those statements.

On last night’s show, for example, Colbert said that George W. Bush is a “man of confidence.”

The text read, “Con Man.”

Video at Crooks and Liars.


Cheney Wanted the War for Halliburton Profits

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 29, 2005 @ 6:48 pm
Filed under: Government, Media Watch, Radio

Say so, and Bill O’Reilly is going to expose you!

Bill O’Reilly is the conservative host of a daily radio show and a nightly TV show.

Crooks and Liars has audio of Bill O’Reilly saying on his radio show that people mustn’t say that Bush and Cheney wanted to go to war in Iraq to get contracts for Halliburton — because there is no proof. Therefore, O’Reilly is going to name names on his TV and radio shows to expose people who make that allegation.

Mr. O’Reilly, start with me.

I don’t believe Bush wanted in the Iraq War for Halliburton. But Cheney, hell yes.

For proof, a few facts:

Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton from 1995-2000.

Cheney continues to receive deferred salary from Halliburton.

Cheney owns stock options in Halliburton.

Cheney got Halliburton a no-bid contract before the Iraq War, which only applied if there was a war.

Cheney went to the CIA building to speak with low-level CIA employees to express his interest in evidence for the existence of WMD in Iraq.

Cheney went on TV shows to promote the notion that Muhammed Atta (a 9/11 hijacker) met with an Iraqi official in Prague. (Phone and ATM records show Atta was in Florida at the time.)

Cheney declared before the war that there is “no doubt” that Iraq had a nuclear weapons program at that time. (They didn’t.)

Halliburton has overcharged the government, but the military has continued giving them no-bid contracts thanks to high-level interference.

Why did Cheney taint and distort the intelligence on WMD? I say greed.

Want to name my name Mr. O’Reilly? Go ahead.


Al Jazeera in English

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 26, 2005 @ 6:22 am
Filed under: Media Watch

When Arabic-language television network Al Jazeera will launch an English-language version next year. It’s tone may be significantly different from the original:

The Al Jazeera international network is well known around the world and received criticism for airing broadcast material of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in 2001. But Al Jazeera says the new channel is not intended to be a global version of the Arabic channel but will rather cover news from a 360-degree perspective.

The English service of Al Jazeera is set to go on air next year in March/April.


Documentary on Protestant Support for Adolph Hitler

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 26, 2005 @ 6:12 am
Filed under: Right Watch, Government, Media Watch, Religion

The documentary “Theologians Under Hitler: Could It Happen Again?” will be shown on PBS. It’s also on DVD.

From David Crumm of the Detroit Free Press:

The film focuses on several 1930s-era Protestant theologians in Germany who encouraged the rise of Nazism, publicly praising it as a gift from God to resurrect the impoverished German people. These men also added their moral weight to the attempted destruction of Judaism.

Among the most infamous was Gerhard Kittel, at the time a world-famous Protestant expert on the ancient history of the Bible. Far from a marginal figure or thug, like many of Hitler’s early followers, Kittel taught at the centuries-old Tubingen University, the same school that later would have Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, on its faculty.

In the 1930s, Kittel became convinced that ancient strains of Christian contempt for Jews should be turned into a brutal campaign against them.


Christian Rock Kills?

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 24, 2005 @ 10:23 pm
Filed under: Media Watch

No, and neither does other music.

Daniel Radosh of writes about a crime in Pennsylvania:

Does it matter that David Ludwig — the 18-year-old alleged killer of his 14-year-old girlfriend’s parents — was a huge fan of hardcore Christian rock?

On the night of Oct. 6, David Ludwig, 18, and his 14-year-old girlfriend, Kara Beth Borden, went to church. There was no sermon, though — at least not a traditional one. David and Kara were at the Lancaster Bible Church in Manheim, Penn., for a Christian rock concert. As the punishingly loud guitars of Audio Adrenaline and Pillar strained the limits of the church sound system, the kids screamed and pumped their fists and banged their heads. “Pillar and Audio A rock my face off!” David wrote on his blog the next day. Kara spent almost all the money in her pocket on a Pillar sweatshirt. She was wearing it the morning of Nov. 13 when, police say, David shot and killed her parents and fled with her at his side.

Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon

The irony of this entire situation is that this rise in Christian rock bands was possible because of situations like the PMRC and fundie Christians making wild claims in the 80s and 90s about how rock music was Satanic, it drove kids to suicide, etc. All that culminated in the rush to blame Marilyn Manson for the Columbine shootings. I doubt it’s a coincidence that post-Columbine was when there was a sudden onslaught of Christian rock. I’m inclined to think a lot of parent, mostly fundamentalist Christian parents, took it upon themselves to start heavily censoring the music that was brought into their house. Which means all of a sudden there’s huge numbers of teenage kids who are only allowed to have rock music if it’s Christian rock, creating an artificial demand of sorts.

I assume Amanda Marcotte means that fundamentalist Christians called normal rock music Satanic and that the Parents Music Resource Center said that normal rock music drives people to suicide.


Sinclair Broadcasting: Right-Wing or Greedy?

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 24, 2005 @ 9:03 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Government, Media Watch, TV, Media Concentration

Sinclair Broadcasting owns TV stations throughout the United States.

It controls locals news on those TV stations, but since 2004 it has been making news of its own.

Here’s some background on Sinclair Broadcasting, from an article in GQ (via DC Media Girl):

In April 2004, the company forbade all of its ABC stations to air a segment of Nightline in which Ted Koppel read the names of American casualties in Iraq, which Sinclair’s management considered “motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States.” Six months later, Sinclair executives launched a political effort of their own, instructing all their news stations to broadcast a documentary on John Kerry called Stolen Honor, which accused the candidate of treason during the Vietnam War. In the buzz that followed, Sinclair’s vice president of corporate relations, Mark Hyman, stoked the fire even further by announcing that any network that refused to air the anti-Kerry documentary were “acting like Holocaust deniers” and that even if the documentary was a gift to Bush, the effect was balanced by the existence of suicide bombers in the Middle East, since after all, “Every car bomb in Iraq would be considered an in-kind contribution to John Kerry.” Nearly three months later, the company was back in the hot seat, this time forced to admit that one of its most visible reporters, Armstrong Williams, had not only spent recent years landing exclusive interviews with men like Dick Cheney and Tom DeLay but was also getting paid handsomely by the Bush administration, having struck a deal with the White House to receive $240,000 in exchange for “favorable commentaries.”

Sinclair Broadcasting forces local news stations to play a one-minute editorial by conservative Mark Hyman each night.

In practice, Sinclair Broadcasting is right-wing.

But are the top executives there right-wing? Or just promoting right-wing views to ‘legally’ bribe the Republicans into helping them expand?

The GQ article continues:

A close look at the four brothers who own Sinclair — David, Duncan, Frederick, and Robert Smith — reveals a much less conservative cast of characters than one might expect. Far from the Bible-thumping, family-values stereotype that Sinclair’s critics imagine, the Smiths are a study in contrasts — especially the two principal owners, David and Duncan. Even as they lobby for government deregulation and a return to some idealized notion of 1950s family values, Duncan is a passionate environmentalist working to restore the power of the Environmental Protection Agency, while David got his start not in the conservative family-values business but selling bootleg pornography.

In fact, the closer you examine the values espoused on Sinclair’s stations, the harder it is to determine whose values they are. As Sinclair has mushroomed in size and influence over the past few years, developing financial ties to the Republican Party, promoting the GOP agenda in its broadcasts, launching vicious attacks on Democratic candidates who dare to campaign against their Republican allies while profiting from business contracts with the military and loose federal oversight, it has become increasingly difficult to figure out where Sinclair’s true ideological bias ends and its business interests begin.

The story of Sinclair, then, is not merely about what happens when news and opinion merge. It’s about what happens when news and opinion are both subverted, and something else takes over.

In other words, the top executives at Sinclair Broadcasting may be some of the biggest sell-outs in America.


Blogger Joshua Micah Marshall Plans to Hire Two Investigative Journalists

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 24, 2005 @ 8:43 pm
Filed under: Media Watch

Joshua Micah Marshall is the main blogger at “Talking Points Memo.

He’s expanding his operation.

From a New York Sun article by Josh Gerstein:

As newspapers across America race to shrink the size of their news staffs, a prominent liberal blogger is doing something virtually unheard of these days: hiring new reporters.

Over the weekend, the proprietor of, Joshua Marshall, announced that he is seeking two journalists to work for a new blog that will offer “wall-to-wall coverage of corruption, self-dealing, and betrayals of the public trust in today’s Washington.”

In an interview, the blogger said he does not aspire to be an Internet mogul, but simply seeks to fill a niche he sees in the journalistic marketplace.

“I’m never going to have the resources to compete with the big papers,” Mr. Marshall said. He said his new site will be able to follow long simmering stories more consistently than mainstream outlets do. “A scrappy blog can provide a different service. I think there’s a market out there for that,” he said.

Joshua Micah Marshall isn’t the first or last person to notice investigative journalism is lacking in today’s media. But Marshall has the means — and the initiative — to quickly address the problem.

Sheldon Drobny, the founder of Air America Radio, also wants to provide more investigative journalism. He recently started the Fourth Estate Society, a non-profit for investigative journalism. While the project was announced almost a year ago, it doesn’t seem to have taken off so far.

I hope that Joshua Micah Marshall’s initiative is successful, and Sheldon Drobny’s as well.


“Scarborough Country”: What Joe Left Out

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 22, 2005 @ 9:16 pm
Filed under: Government, Media Watch, TV

Joe Scarborough is a conservative who used to be a Congressman (R-FL.) He hosts “Scarborough Country” each weeknight on MSNBC.

Last night’s episode had a couple of omissions.

« Jean Schmidt without the booing »

Scarborough played video of Republican Congresswoman Jean Schmidt criticizing Democratic Congressman Jack Murtha:

REP. JEAN SCHMIDT, OHIO: A few minutes ago, I received a call from Colonel Danny Bopp, Ohio Representative from the 88th District in the House of Representatives. He asked me to send Congress a message, stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message, that cowards cut and run, Marines never do.

Schmidt was booed immediately after that statement, but Scarborough and his producers didn’t play the booing. (They ended the video clip as soon as Schmidt stopped talking.)

Scarborough proceeded to say, “what happened on Friday night was very bad for the Democratic Party. I thought it was an embarrassment, because everybody got behind what Murtha had said. But when they had a chance to actually vote on an alternative to the Bush status quo, Democrats backed away.”

[a href=””>Video (.wmv)
of Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) explaining why that Republican bill, against which Democrats voted, was just a sham.]

More on Jean Schmidt’s statement: “Jean Schmidt Lied

[Update, Nov. 23: Schmidt is now claiming that while Bush didn’t refer to Murtha by name, he referred to him as “that Congressman.”)

« Bush exit strategy »

Scarborough also made a speech on last night’s episode against the New York Times. Bush cannot open a large door in China He objected to their front-page photos of Bush having trouble exiting the stage after a speech in China:

This is today’s edition of “The New York Times.” And, believe it or not, with everything going on in the world, they devote almost half of the front page to a series of pictures that are a certain attempt to try to make the president of the United States look like a fool.

Scarborough omitted why those photos resonate: the metaphor of Bush lacking an exit strategy for the Iraq War.


Bill O’Reilly Attacks

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 21, 2005 @ 9:00 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Government, Media Watch, TV

Here’s Bill O’Reilly’s “Most Ridiculous Item of the Day” for Monday, November 21, 2005:

Earlier this week, we told you we would point out which mainstream media operations and people are helping the far left smear web sites. By far the biggest offender is the New York Daily News. Its gossip pages routinely use defamation from the smear sites. There’s a pipeline there.

A few weeks ago, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was vilely — and I mean vilely — attacked in the pages of the New York Daily News. So I recommend you not buy the paper or advertise in it until publisher Mort Zuckerman stops the madness.

This seems to be an attack on

During the flooding in New Orleans, Condoleeza Rice was on vacation in New York City. On September 1, 2005, Gawker reported:

Just moments ago at the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, Condoleeza Rice was seen spending several thousands of dollars on some nice, new shoes (we’ve confirmed this, so her new heels will surely get coverage from the WaPo’s Robin Givhan). A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice’s timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, “How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!” Never one to have her fashion choices questioned, Rice had security PHYSICALLY REMOVE the woman.

Angry Lady, whoever you are, we love you. You are a true American, and we’ll go shoe shopping with you anytime.

Also on September 1, the NY Daily News gossip columnists “Rush and Malloy” (George Rush and Joanna Molloy) wrote:

Yesterday, Rice went shopping at Ferragamo on Fifth Ave. According to the Web site, the 50-year-old bought “several thousand dollars’ worth of shoes” at the pricey leather-goods boutique.

A fellow shopper shouted, “How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!” - presumably referring to Louisiana and Mississippi.

The woman expressing her First Amendment rights was promptly removed from the store. A Ferragamo store manager confirmed to us that Rice did shop there yesterday, but refused to answer questions about whether the protester was removed, and whether by his own security or the Secret Service.

At the State Department’s daily briefing yesterday morning, before the New York incident, spokesman Sean McCormack responded to a journalist who asked whether Rice was involved with hurricane relief efforts by saying, “She’s in contact with the department as appropriate.” He made no mention that his boss had any plans to leave New York.

But yesterday afternoon, Rice had done just that. Department spokeswoman Joanne Moore told us: “The secretary is back in Washington, and she is being briefed on the situation.” Moore did not know whether Condi had planned a longer stay here.

While September 1 is more than a few weeks ago, this is probably the story O’Reilly is referring to.

Of course, journalists should be clear. First rule of journalism: Tell the readers who, what, when, and where. O’Reilly tossing around the term “far-left smear web sites” without naming them fails to follow Rule #1.


NBC Chairman Says Liberals “Don’t Watch a Lot of Television”

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 21, 2005 @ 11:33 am
Filed under: Media Watch, TV

An article in Broadcasting & Cable inspired this response from FAIR:

Appearing at a recent media conference, NBC president Bob Wright offered a novel rationale for the exclusion of liberal voices on cable news: Liberals don’t watch TV.

During an interview with conservative MSNBC host Tucker Carlson, Wright responded to Carlson’s question about offering a left-leaning channel by saying that progressives “don’t listen to a lot of radio and they don’t watch a lot of television” (Broadcasting & Cable, 11/13/05).

It is ironic that Wright would say this to Carlson; if there’s one thing many viewers don’t seem to want to watch, it is Tucker Carlson’s MSNBC show. In its first weeks on the air, Carlson’s show was averaging about 200,000 viewers (Washington Post, 7/30/05). Even with the addition of a tabloid-oriented show hosted by Rita Cosby, the channel’s prime-time audience in August was about 325,000 viewers (New York Times, 8/29/05). So if ratings are really what matter, one could argue that MSNBC’s strategy of veering right — with shows hosted by Carlson and former Republican congressmember Joe Scarborough — has clearly been a failure.

The FAIR article proceeds to ask people to contact Bob Wright to express interest in more liberal news hosts.


Al Franken Dislikes How Bob Woodward Wrote About John Belushi

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 20, 2005 @ 7:59 pm
Filed under: Government, Media Watch, Radio

Audio Excerpt from the November 17, 2005 “Al Franken Show”

Al Franken is now a host on “Air America Radio.” He used to be a writer for the TV show “Saturday Night Live.”

John Belushi was one of the original actors on SNL.

Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward wrote “Wired” in 1985, a book about John Belushi’s drug use.

Woodward has been in the news recently for receiving leaks from the Bush Administration about Valerie Plame. Woodward publicly commented on the crime, describing it as “quite minimal” without revealing his own involvement.

Franken said on his November 17, 2005 radio show that Woodward isn’t his favorite reporter, not only because of the recent Valerie Plame revelations, but also because of the book “Wired.”

Franken quoted Tom Davis, his fellow SNL writer, as saying that:

Writing about John Belushi and focusing on the cocaine is like writing a college yearbook titled “Puked” and describing college as a series of puking incidents (”No one fell in love, no one studied math, no one read Dostoevsky for the first time, they just puked, and that’s how much justice he did to John.”)

Video at “Current TV” Website On News Media

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 19, 2005 @ 8:01 pm
Filed under: Media Watch, TV

Ordinary people can submit videos to the cable channel “Current TV.”

These are voted on by visitors to the “Current TV” website.

Check out this two-and-a-half minute satire of the news media, “Blowing Hot Air” by beautyvsbombs.


“Stephanie Miller Show” Bits

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 19, 2005 @ 8:07 am
Filed under: Opinion, Media Watch, Radio

The Stephanie Miller Show” is a talk-radio show produced in California.

I’m in Minnesota. A few weeks ago, the show was added to “Air America Minnesota” (9AM-11AM Central Time.)

I’m a new listener of Stephanie Miller’s show and I like it.

You can hear bits of the show by clicking the phrases which scroll across the top-of-the-screen at:


Sinclair Uses the Public Airwaves to Promote the GOP

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 18, 2005 @ 1:01 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Media Watch, TV, Radio, Broadcasters

Sinclair is a large TV company.

“Sinclair’s television group includes 20 FOX, 19 WB, 6 UPN, 8 ABC, 3 CBS, 4 NBC affiliates and 2 independent stations and reaches approximately 24% of all U.S. television households.” -

They use their broadcast television stations to push a right-wing agenda.

From the Internet Movie Database:

Former and current news employees of Sinclair Broadcasting have described the owners’ campaign to court powerful conservative legislators who responded by clearing away legal obstacles and thereby allow Sinclair to become the largest owner of TV stations in America.

In interviews appearing in GQ magazine, the employees describe how they were subjected to political litmus tests before being hired, how they were ordered to report only “good news” about Iraq, how an interview with President Bush was delivered to stations with orders to replace the image of the interviewer with that of the local anchor, and how stations were required to run a nightly right-wing editorial delivered by Sinclair exec Mark Hyman that once accused the late Peter Jennings of “appearing to favor terrorists over America.” (One local producer said that when she used a graphic to identify Hyman’s commentary as an “editorial,” Sinclair officials ordered her to remove the offending word.)

Former Sinclair Reporter Jon Leiberman, who was fired for protesting against a planned anti-Kerry documentary last year (Leiberman says he voted for Bush in both presidential elections) said that Sinclair co-owner David Smith once told him his news reports ought “to look more like Mark’s editorials.” In addition to providing ideological aid, the GQ article alleges, Smith and his three brothers have reportedly contributed $2.3 million to the campaigns of key Republican Congressmen.

On broadcast radio, Rush Limbaugh promotes the Republicans and Al Franken promotes the Democrats.

There is a degree of symmetry in talk-radio, though Limbaugh has ten times the listeners of Franken (15 million to 1.5 million.)

But on broadcast television, there is no liberal equivalent to Mark Hyman’s conservative editorials, which are shown during local news broadcasts in many US cities (62 stations in 39 markets.)

The Fairness Act was struck down by courts in the 1980s, and vetoed by Ronald Reagan when Congress tried to restore it. There is no law directly requiring balance anymore, just a vague concept that broadcasters should use public airwaves for the public interest.

But when a conservative company is using its broadcast TV stations to editorialize for a right-wing agenda, and there is no equivalent on the left, something is wrong.


LA Times Publishes Op-Ed Describing Some Iraq War Critics as “Deranged Moonbats”

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 18, 2005 @ 6:50 am
Filed under: Right Watch, Government, Media Watch, Free Press

From Hunter of the Daily Kos:

Today, Jonah Goldberg made his editorial page debut in the Los Angeles Times:

STOP ME IF YOU’VE heard this already. But there are people out there — honest, decent, sincere people and deranged moonbats, too — who think that George W. Bush lied about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. No, seriously, it’s true.

… I want to talk about the words deranged moonbats, and the editorial goals and standards of the Los Angeles Times.

We got precisely into the second sentence of the first piece of Jonah Goldberg’s first column before devolution into talk of “deranged” non-honest, non-decent, non-sincere opponents. From there, we slide into nothing better. We are told, in so many words, that the speeches about mushroom clouds and African uranium never happened; that the State of the Union address was a figment of our imaginations so powerful that it imprinted itself onto the videotapes of the world through our collective, “deranged” wills; and yet at the same time, that Saddam Hussein was a Hitlerian figure who posed such a serious threat to our nation that historians should be “forgiving of deceit”.

…We are entering a time when conservatives, after having repeatedly shoved the discourse of the country into a series of ever-deeper ravines via the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, Michelle Malkin and an unending stream of similar though lesser clones, are now professing outrage that they are being attacked according to the same crude, boorish standards that they have made part and parcel of their movement. While I, as a blogger, could not possibly care less about their belated protestations of civility, I will admit to the Los Angeles Times right here and now, as a reader, that I expect a level of discourse greater than that low mark in the objective, non-partisan press — even in the editorial section.

There is a difference between the level of debate worthy of Internet blogs, and the level of debate worthy of one of the nation’s largest and most respected newspapers.

Note that the Los Angeles Times recently fired liberal op-ed writer Robert Scheer.

« Jonah Goldberg Writes “Moonbats,”
Dana Milbank Writes “Wing Nuts” »

Both to describe liberals.

In June, the Washington Post published a column by Dana Milbank about the Downing Street Memo. The memo stated that the Bush Administration had a policy to start a war with Iraq and that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

Milbank denounced as “wing nuts” people who said the Washington Post had provided too little coverage of the Downing Street Memo. This is not only tacky, it isn’t even idiomatic, since “wing nuts” is generally a term used for right-wingers. The term Milbank could have used to idiomatically refer to liberals is “moonbats” (as Jonah Goldberg later did) though this would still have been tacky.

I’ve never seen a column in a major newspaper denouncing right-wingers as “wing nuts” or (non-idiomatically) “moonbats,” nor do I want to, per se.

Such language isn’t appropriate in a newspaper when attacking right-wingers or left-wingers.

Though for balance, perhaps the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times should publish just one column each with that language against right-wingers, and then declare a moratorium.


Was Dropping Aaron Brown a Mistake?

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 17, 2005 @ 7:13 pm
Filed under: Media Watch, TV

A couple of weeks ago, CNN replaced Aaron Brown with Anderson Cooper.

From the Internet Movie Database:

CNN’s decision to air Anderson Cooper 360 in the 10:00 p.m.-to-midnight time period appeared wrong-headed Tuesday as ratings indicated that it was drawing almost 20 percent fewer viewers than Aaron Brown’s program, the previous occupant of the time period, which the cable news network dumped. Audience erosion continued on Monday, with the show drawing its lowest numbers yet.

Update on White Phosphorous

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 16, 2005 @ 12:38 pm
Filed under: Government, Media Watch

Last week, SpeakSpeak referred to a documentary about the Iraq War, “Fallujah: The Concealed Massacre.”

The Internet Movie Database describes the Italian documentary about US presence in Iraq as showing “horribly burned bodies, including women and children, and an interview with a biologist in Fallujah in which he claims that a ‘rain of fire fell on the city.’”

Today, the BBC reports that “the Pentagon’s confirmation that it used white phosphorus as a weapon during last year’s offensive in the Iraqi city of Falluja has sparked criticism.”

The article notes that 80 nations have signed a treaty limiting the use of white phosphorous, but the United States isn’t a signatory.

The BBC article describes the effects of exposure to white phosphorous:

If particles of ignited white phosphorus land on a person’s skin, they can continue to burn right through flesh to the bone.


Exposure to white phosphorus smoke in the air can also cause liver, kidney, heart, lung or bone damage and even death.

A former US soldier who served in Iraq says breathing in smoke close to a shell caused the throat and lungs to blister until the victim suffocated, with the phosphorus continuing to burn them from the inside.


Keith Olbermann Discusses Bill O’Reilly and San Francisco

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 16, 2005 @ 12:00 pm
Filed under: Government, Media Watch, TV

Keith Olbermann said yesterday:

“Patriotism,” Dr. Samuel Johnson famously wrote, “is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” If that’s true, Bill O’Reilly has reached his last refuge.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is looking at a resolution calling for O’Reilly to be taken off the air by his TV masters, Fox News, and his radio syndicators, Westwood One.

Media Matters for America has video and a transcript.

I’m ambivalent about a city resolution against O’Reilly. I don’t like the government advising TV and radio companies on their content.

O’Reilly’s remarks about San Francisco (”You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead,”) are extraordinarily despicable, though.


“A Personal Opinion”

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 16, 2005 @ 6:44 am
Filed under: Right Watch, Government, Media Watch, Courts

Samuel Alito is Bush’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

In 1985, Alito wrote in a job application that “the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.”

Conservative columnist John Podhoretz said yesterday in the NY Post: “This is going to be fun. Let’s see if Democrats in the Senate are willing to stage an all-out assault on a nominee simply because he has expressed a personal opinion on whether the Constitution protects ‘a right to an abortion.’”

« Language watch »

Al Franken responded on his radio show yesterday that every opinion is a personal opinion.

However, an opinion about the Constitution expressed by a lawyer is also a professional opinion, Franken said.

« Samuel Alito’s explanation »

Via Think Progress:

Alito is now dismissing the document, claiming he was just saying what he needed to say to ingratiate himself with his potential bosses in the Reagan administration. Here’s what Alito told Sen. Diane Feinstein this afternoon.

It was different then. I was an advocate seeking a job. It was a political job.

Translation: those weren’t my personal views, I was just lying to get a job.

If Alito was lying then, it doesn’t say much about his trustworthiness now. Alito’s trustworthiness is already at issue; he lied during confirmation hearings for his present seat when he told the Senate that he’d recuse himself from cases involving the Vanguard Group, investment company whose mutual funds he owns.

If Alito was telling the truth then, and he’s lying now, that doesn’t say much about his trustworthiness, either.

Alito should not be given a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

More in a Supreme Court Watch pdf.

Note: Sometimes people express an official opinion for an organization, and say that they weren’t expressing their personal opinions. Samuel Alito’s letter stating that the Constitution does not protect a right to abortion was his personal and professional opinion. Alito wasn’t writing on behalf of an organization.


Update On Bill O’Reilly Saying a Terrorist Attack Would Be OK

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 14, 2005 @ 2:56 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Media Watch

The whole story:

a) Bill O’Reilly’s obnoxious remarks on his own radio show. (”You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.”)

b) Bill O’Reilly standing by the remarks on the Sacramento, CA, radio show of “Armstrong and Getty.”

c) pretending the remarks are fine in context.

d) Bill O’Reilly pretending on his TV show that his remarks were just a “satirical riff.”

On his Nov. 8 national radio show, Bill O’Reilly said to San Francisco, California:

If Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we’re not going to do anything about it. We’re going to say, look, every other place in America is off-limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.

This was quoted disapprovingly at Crooks and Liars, Media Matters, and SpeakSpeak.

Today at Bill O’Reilly’s official website, “ Staff” write:

A well-organized, well-funded effort to slime the Radio Factor has begun over comments made about the disgraceful vote in San Francisco that sought to prohibit military recruitment in public schools.

Listen to the full, unedited version of the segment in question from the November 8 program.

However, Bill O’Reilly and his staff are “well-organized, well-funded” and the things O’Reilly says reek of “slime.”

I listened to the full context as they suggested, and I didn’t find it redeeming.

Nor do I admire O’Reilly’s statement last week, where he stood by his Coit Tower remarks.

O’Reilly spoke with Sacramento, California, radio co-hosts Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty, billed as “Armstrong & Getty.” (Think Progress incorrectly labels their show as being from San Francisco.) O’Reilly told the Sacramento talk-radio hosts, “What I said needed to be said. I’m sitting here and I’m looking at a city that has absolutely no clue about what the world is.”

« Update: November 15, 2005 »

Bill O’Reilly tried to weasel out of his statements during his “Talking Points Memo” on his TV show last night.

He summarized his statement “You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead,” as a “satirical rift.” O’Reilly also described an article criticizing him for his remarks as “tongue in cheek.” It’s pathetic of him to try to turn his disgusting statements into a joke, after he stood by the remarks previously.

He didn’t air the statement “You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead,” which was from his radio broadcast, on his TV broadcast.

He played the beginning of his remark on TV last night, then said:

And then I went on to do a satirical riff with a serious point. Why should the USA protect San Francisco from terrorists if they, in the city, are trying to undermine the military? We posted the entire monologue on

Predictably, some far left Internet smear sites have launched a campaign to get me fired over my point of view. I believe they do this on a daily basis.

This time, the theme is O’Reilly is encouraging terrorist attacks. Unbelievably stupid, but not unusual with these guttersnipes.

The San Francisco Chronicle picked up the story, but the reporter Joe Garifoli, realizing the absurdity of it, wrote a tongue in cheek article. Included in the article are foolish statements from Mayor Gavin Newsom and some other city officials.

Newsom’s afraid to appear on this broadcast.

Even in the midst of discussing a previous obnoxious statement he’s been widely criticized for, O’Reilly is still obnoxious.

The Fox News website makes it slightly difficult to find Joe Garofili’s San Francisco Chronicle article. They misspell his name and don’t provide a direct link.

While O’Reilly describes the SF Chronicle article as “tongue-in-cheek,” I’d describe the article as occasionally sensationalistic, but serious about opposing Bill O’Reilly.


Johnny Cash Movie Controversy!

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 11, 2005 @ 4:34 pm
Filed under: Government, Media Watch

June Carter and Johnny Cash hug, as portrayed by Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix

A movie about singer-guitarist Johnny Cash will open next Friday. “Walk the Line” stars Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter.

One of Johnny Cash’s daughters is upset at how the movie portrays her mother, Johnny Cash’s first wife, Vivian Liberto Distin.

From the BBC:

The daughter of Johnny Cash believes her mother was wrongly portrayed as a “mad little psycho” in a movie about the singer’s life, Walk the Line.

Kathy Cash was so upset at the portrayal of Vivian Liberto Distin, Cash’s first wife, that she walked out of a screening given to the family.

But she praised the performances of Joaquin Phoenix as Cash and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash.

Johnny Cash died in September 2003 at the age of 71.

Kathy Cash said the film’s depiction of her mother, who died earlier this year, was “not true”.

“My mom was basically a nonentity in the entire film except for the mad little psycho who hated his career,” she said.

“She loved his career and was proud of him until he started taking drugs and stopped coming home.”

Kathy Cash also complained that the film failed to show the singer’s children and their suffering during their father’s fight with drugs and their parents’ divorce.

« More about Johnny Cash »

Johnny Cash was sympathetic towards prisoners who were serving excessive sentences. He performed concerts in prisons, which were recorded and became popular albums.

The percentage of Americans in prisons is greater today than in 1971 when he recorded the song, “Man in Black.” (”I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime, but is there because he’s a victim of the times.”)

1 Comment

“Former Hill Staffer” Revisited

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 11, 2005 @ 12:53 pm
Filed under: Media Watch, Free Press

Judith Miller implied today on NPR’s “Morning Edition” that she never referred to Lewis “Scooter” Libby as a “former Hill staffer” in her articles. (Libby cannot accurately be described as a “former Hill Staffer” — he’s a senior White House official. There’s quite a difference.)

Miller says she only told Libby that she’d refer to him with the inaccurate moniker “former Hill Staffer” if she used him as a source. She subsequently put the phrase in her notes.

Her claim is consistent with these remarks by the “>New York Times Public Editor:

The negotiation of an attribution for a conversation that Ms. Miller had with Mr. Libby is also bothersome. She mentioned in her first-person account last Sunday that, to get Mr. Libby to give her certain information about the Plame situation, she had agreed to identify him as “a former Hill staffer” rather than the usual “senior administration official.” She went on: “I agreed to the new ground rules because I knew that Mr. Libby had once worked on Capitol Hill.”

When I talked to Ms. Miller, she dismissed concern about her agreement. She intended to get the information confirmed elsewhere before using it, she said, and would never have allowed Mr. Libby to be identified in print that way.

If Judith Miller is being honest, and the phrase “former Hill Staffer” doesn’t appear in any of her articles about WMD in Iraq, then the controversy about the attribution was much ado about nothing.

If someone wanted to tell me secrets under the condition that I should cite him in some dubious way, I’d agree to it — and then try to re-negotiate the attribution, if I wanted to publish the information after hearing it.

There are plenty of other things about Judith Miller’s reporting on WMD to criticize, and I’m glad she’s resigned.

1 Comment

LA Times Fires a Liberal and a Conservative

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 11, 2005 @ 10:29 am
Filed under: Media Watch

Aiming for blandness?

Left-wing op-ed writer Robert Scheer and right-wing cartoonist Michael Ramirez have been dropped from the LA Times.

Robert Scheer, a Times reporter for 17 years before he began writing a column on the Op-Ed pages in 1993, will be dropped. Cartoonist Michael Ramirez, The Times’ cartoonist since 1997, will leave the paper at the end of the year and will not be replaced…

Scheer and Ramirez said Thursday that they believed their strong political stances played a role in their dismissals.

Scheer said he thought The Times had grown tired of his liberal politics. “I’ve been a punching bag for Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh for years and I think the paper finally collapsed,” he said. He said he and Ramirez “both had strong opinions and [I think] the owners think they can improve circulation by making the paper bland and safer.”

Ramirez, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994, said: “I can’t help but think it’s also a philosophical parting of ways.” He said he also believed his removal was partly due to budgetary concerns, as well as a desire to change the look of the editorial pages.

Robert Scheer often covered military issues from a progressive perspective. The LA Times will continue to publish op-eds by Max Boot, who often covers military issues from a conservative perspective. This will create a right-wing imbalance at the LA Times.

Discussion at Media Matters for America.

« Update of November 18, 2005 »

The Los Angeles Times has hired right-winger Jonah Goldberg, who uses tacky language, to write op-eds.

Therefore, the net goal of recent changes in the staff may not have been to achieve blandness, but to move the LA Times to the right.


Bill O’Reilly: OK For Terrorists to Blow Up a Building in San Francisco, CA

Posted by Eric Jaffa
November 11, 2005 @ 6:17 am
Filed under: Right Watch, Government, Media Watch, Radio

San Francisco is discouraging military recruiters from visiting high schools and colleges.

Personally, I never saw military recruiters at my high school when I was a student (though I got plenty of phone calls from them at home in those days). Therefore, I don’t see anything radical about San Francisco’s policy.

However, Bill O’Reilly said about San Francisco on the November 8 broadcast of his radio show, “If Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we’re not going to do anything about it. We’re going to say, look, every other place in America is off-limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.”

Some of the visitors to Coit Tower in San Francisco are tourists. The local visitors to Coit Tower include both people who agree and people who disagree with Iraq policy. None of them should be murdered.

Media Matters for America has the audio of Bill O’Reilly’s remarks.

Note that while San Francisco’s measure doesn’t ban recruiters from high school and college campuses (it’s advisory), Bill O’Reilly told his radio audience that the initiative would “ban military recruiting.”

MSNBC’s website says O’Reilly’s remarks about San Francisco and terrorism were edited out of the archive of the broadcast:

Adding to the buzz was the archived version of O’Reilly’s Tuesday show, which omitted the incendiary comments, according to Bay Area TV station KNTV.

It’s unclear if they mean the transcript or audio file or both. On MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” tonight, Olbermann said the transcript at O’Reilly’s website had O’Reilly’s controversial remarks removed.

« Update of November 14, 2005 »

Bill O’Reilly’s website is no longer trying to hide the remarks. A post at his official blog today asks people to listen to the remarks in context.

I don’t find the context redeeming.


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