Commentary Magazine


Topic: media bias

The Ugly Politics of Piers Morgan

On Tuesday night, CNN’s Piers Morgan interviewed Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America. Anyone who has watched Morgan knows he has an obsessive dislike for America’s gun culture. He’s a fierce advocate for gun control, so it didn’t take a genius to predict the interview would be confrontational. But it turned out to be much more, and much uglier, than that.

Mr. Morgan was furious, insulting, and childish during the interview. He called Pratt “an unbelievably stupid man,” “dangerous,” accused Pratt of being a liar, said, “You shame your country,” and for good measure added, “You don’t give a damn, do you, about the gun murder rate in America.”

On Morgan v. Pratt, I have three observations to make. The first is that you would think that if Mr. Pratt was as stupid as Morgan said, Morgan could easily best him in a debate. But he didn’t. And I say that as someone who has disagreements with Pratt on gun control.

Read More

On Tuesday night, CNN’s Piers Morgan interviewed Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America. Anyone who has watched Morgan knows he has an obsessive dislike for America’s gun culture. He’s a fierce advocate for gun control, so it didn’t take a genius to predict the interview would be confrontational. But it turned out to be much more, and much uglier, than that.

Mr. Morgan was furious, insulting, and childish during the interview. He called Pratt “an unbelievably stupid man,” “dangerous,” accused Pratt of being a liar, said, “You shame your country,” and for good measure added, “You don’t give a damn, do you, about the gun murder rate in America.”

On Morgan v. Pratt, I have three observations to make. The first is that you would think that if Mr. Pratt was as stupid as Morgan said, Morgan could easily best him in a debate. But he didn’t. And I say that as someone who has disagreements with Pratt on gun control.

Second, Morgan embodies an attitude that we’re seeing more and more on the left. It’s a nasty combination of supreme self-righteousness and reflexive demonization. Piers Morgan can’t accept that people of good will and decency might hold views that are very different than he does on gun control. And so it’s not enough to say Pratt is wrong; he has to be portrayed by Morgan as moronic and a moral monster. This act is lovely coming from those who from time to time, and when it’s convenient, lecture the rest of us on the importance of civility in public discourse.

Point three is that Morgan and his CNN colleagues Don Lemon and Soledad O’Brien have become vocal and emotional (but not particularly well-informed) advocates for gun control since the Newtown massacre. There is not the slightest pretense of objectivity. They and their network have a story to tell, a cause to advance, an ideology to champion. And they will use their posts as journalists, including (in the case of Lemon and O’Brien) as anchors, to make their case.

Now the liberalism of these three individuals–and CNN more broadly–is hardly a state secret. Their bias is evident to anyone who watches them. That’s true of someone like Anderson Cooper, whose show I generally like. But since the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, CNN’s cast of characters (Cooper excluded) has begun to resemble the prime-time line-up at MSNBC. And for all of MSNBC’s problems–and they are very nearly endless–at least there is no play acting. They are left and they are proud of it. Which is better in some respects than CNN, which is liberal but pretends not to be.

Piers Morgan made a fool of himself and embarrassed his network on Tuesday night. And while I don’t share Larry Pratt’s views on guns, he did the country a bit of a service in revealing the ugly politics of Piers Morgan.

Read Less

Racism at the Times

There is a New York Times op-ed this morning that is somewhere beyond appalling. It is by Adolph L. Reed Jr., a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Professor Reed writes about the appointment of Rep. Tim Scott to replace the retiring Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina. Scott, in Reed’s view, is essentially an Uncle Tom because he does not agree with the politics of most black Americans:

Read More

There is a New York Times op-ed this morning that is somewhere beyond appalling. It is by Adolph L. Reed Jr., a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Professor Reed writes about the appointment of Rep. Tim Scott to replace the retiring Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina. Scott, in Reed’s view, is essentially an Uncle Tom because he does not agree with the politics of most black Americans:

. . . his politics, like those of the archconservative Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, are utterly at odds with the preferences of most black Americans. Mr. Scott has been staunchly anti-tax, anti-union and anti-abortion.

Of course, Tim Scott will not be representing black Americans in the Senate, he will be representing South Carolinians, who are, overwhelmingly, staunchly anti-tax, anti-union and anti-abortion. So it would seem that while white people can be liberals or conservatives according to the dictates of their thinking, blacks cannot. If you’re black but not liberal, in Professor Reed’s worldview, then you’re not really black.

He notes that, “All four black Republicans who have served in the House since the Reagan era — Gary A. Franks in Connecticut, J. C. Watts in Oklahoma, Allen B. West in Florida and Mr. Scott — were elected from majority-white districts.” So? All that proves is that the voters of these districts elected people according to their political positions and not the color of their skins, which is all Professor Reed seems to care about.

He can’t even get skin color right, however. He writes:

Mrs. Haley — a daughter of Sikh immigrants from Punjab, India — is the first female and first nonwhite governor of South Carolina, the home to white supremacists like John C. Calhoun, Preston S. Brooks, Ben Tillman and Strom Thurmond.

Whites don’t all come from northwestern Europe, Professor Reed. Sikhs are overwhelmingly Punjabi. Punjabi is an Indo-European language and its speakers are, to use a 19th century term, Caucasians, i.e., white. It might be pointed out that Calhoun died in 1850, Brooks in 1857, and Tillman in 1918. Strom Thurmond died in 2003 at the age of 100 and had long since abandoned his racist ideas, just as Justice Hugo Black and Senator Robert Byrd, two other Southern politicians of his generation, had abandoned their memberships in the KKK. Of course Black and Byrd were liberals in their later careers, so … Oh, look, a squirrel.

Professor Brooks writes, “Redistricting and gerrymandering have produced ‘safe’ seats for black politicians across the South but have also concentrated black votes in black districts, giving white Republicans a lock.” Well, whose idea was that? It’s a liberal one and not a very bright one at that, as concentrating black votes in certain districts necessarily drains them away from the other districts, making those districts more conservative. And it is based on the thoroughly racist idea that only black districts will elect blacks to Congress. Frank, Watts, West, and Scott prove that idea wrong.

Professor Reed calls his piece “The Puzzle of Black Republicans.” But the puzzle is easily solved. Tim Scott is not a black Republican. He’s a Republican who happens to be black. Professor Reed sees racism in everything. But if he’d like to see a real racist, he needs only to look in a mirror.

Read Less

Leftists Claim AFP Tore Down its Own Tent in Michigan

This is why it’s absurd when people bemoan the insularity of the conservative media, as if this is a phenomenon found exclusively on the right. The left-wing blog world comes up with insane theories all the time, and the latest one–that the Americans for Prosperity tent was not ripped down by union thugs in Michigan, but actually by AFP supporters–is a classic:

Yet this overwhelming evidence has not stopped the Lansing Truthers from claiming this all is a Koch conspiracy.  Here are Hamsher’s updates to her original post, noting that one of Firedoglake’s own bloggers was spreading the conspiracy theory:

Update: Marcy Wheeler reports that “witnesses say the Americans for Prosperity people were trying to provoke union members to violence, and witnesses reportedly saw AFP people loosening the ropes on the tents so they would come down.”

Update II: Chris Savage from Eclectablog says that Americans for Prosperity tore down their own tent, and promises video soon:

Ed Schultz of MSNBC is on board helping spread the conspiracy.

Read More

This is why it’s absurd when people bemoan the insularity of the conservative media, as if this is a phenomenon found exclusively on the right. The left-wing blog world comes up with insane theories all the time, and the latest one–that the Americans for Prosperity tent was not ripped down by union thugs in Michigan, but actually by AFP supporters–is a classic:

Yet this overwhelming evidence has not stopped the Lansing Truthers from claiming this all is a Koch conspiracy.  Here are Hamsher’s updates to her original post, noting that one of Firedoglake’s own bloggers was spreading the conspiracy theory:

Update: Marcy Wheeler reports that “witnesses say the Americans for Prosperity people were trying to provoke union members to violence, and witnesses reportedly saw AFP people loosening the ropes on the tents so they would come down.”

Update II: Chris Savage from Eclectablog says that Americans for Prosperity tore down their own tent, and promises video soon:

Ed Schultz of MSNBC is on board helping spread the conspiracy.

One left-wing blogger (h/t NiceDeb) wrote that he “knew right away [the tent collapse] was likely a false flag.” Why? Because the labor movement is known for being so peace-loving and polite?

What’s most infuriating about this is that the violence in Michigan is real. It’s on video. And yet it’s not going to get a fraction of the media attention that mere speculations about Tea Party violence received in 2010. There aren’t going to be any Time magazine covers depicting union “rage,” or news specials about the rise of left-wing extremism. Media bias isn’t just about what they do report, it’s about what they don’t report. And unfortunately, it’s hard to imagine this will get the attention it deserves.

Read Less

Reporters Still Badgering Amb. Oren About U.S. Election

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren had lunch with reporters today in Washington. What was the most newsworthy bit? According to Buzzfeed’s write-up, it’s that Oren made the unambiguously true statement that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not interfere in the recent American presidential election. “Prime Minister Netanyahu went to extraordinary lengths not to be dragged into the U.S. presidential elections,” Rosie Gray quotes Oren as saying.

That this is considered news is a good demonstration of how hysterical some reporters (not Gray, I should be clear) became during the election when Netanyahu didn’t spend enough time, in their minds, praising President Obama. But Oren’s words were actually chosen carefully here, it seems. Of course Netanyahu didn’t interfere in the election, and a great many members of the press embarrassed themselves by accusing him repeatedly and falsely of doing so. But Oren is right: it’s not just that Netanyahu didn’t interfere. It’s that he had to work especially hard not to get dragged into the election. And those dragging Netanyahu into the election were none other than the media personalities accusing Netanyahu of interfering.

Read More

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren had lunch with reporters today in Washington. What was the most newsworthy bit? According to Buzzfeed’s write-up, it’s that Oren made the unambiguously true statement that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not interfere in the recent American presidential election. “Prime Minister Netanyahu went to extraordinary lengths not to be dragged into the U.S. presidential elections,” Rosie Gray quotes Oren as saying.

That this is considered news is a good demonstration of how hysterical some reporters (not Gray, I should be clear) became during the election when Netanyahu didn’t spend enough time, in their minds, praising President Obama. But Oren’s words were actually chosen carefully here, it seems. Of course Netanyahu didn’t interfere in the election, and a great many members of the press embarrassed themselves by accusing him repeatedly and falsely of doing so. But Oren is right: it’s not just that Netanyahu didn’t interfere. It’s that he had to work especially hard not to get dragged into the election. And those dragging Netanyahu into the election were none other than the media personalities accusing Netanyahu of interfering.

The best example of this came during a September broadcast of “Meet the Press” when host David Gregory interviewed Netanyahu, and proceeded to first criticize Netanyahu for getting involved in the election and then try to goad him into getting involved in the election–on Obama’s behalf. Gregory asked Netanyahu why he was criticizing Obama when Netanyahu talked about the need to establish red lines on Iran’s nuclear program. Netanyahu responded that he didn’t intend it as a criticism of Obama but actually that other (unnamed) world leaders had been accusing Netanyahu of being reckless, and he wanted to establish clearly that Israel has a right to defend itself. Gregory completely ignored the answer and proceeded as if he wasn’t even listening when Netanyahu spoke:

GREGORY:  Your criticism, your calling on President Obama to set this red line, comes in the middle of a heated presidential campaign.  You understand the American political system very well.  You’re very sophisticated in that regard.  In your view, would Governor Mitt Romney as President Romney make Israel safer?  Would he take a harder line against Iran than President Obama in your judgment?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  God, I’m– I’m not going to be drawn into the American election.  And– and what’s guiding my statements are– is not the American political calendar but the Iranian nuclear calendar.  They’re just– you know, if they stop spinning the centrifuges for– and took timeout for the American elections, I wouldn’t have to talk.  And I wouldn’t have to raise this issue.  But as the prime minister of Israel, knowing that this country committed to our destruction is getting closer to the goal of having weapons of mass destruction then I speak out.  And it’s got– it’s really not a partisan political issue.  And I think it’s important for anyone who is the president of the United States to be in that position of preventing Iran from having this nuclear weapons– nuclear weapons capability.  And I’m talking to the president.  I just talked to him the other day.  We are in close consultations.  We’re trying to prevent that.  It’s really not a partisan issue.  It’s a policy issue not a political issue.

GREGORY:  Well, but it may not be a partisan issue.  You have known Mitt Romney a long time.  The reality is– tell me if you disagree that Governor Romney just in an interview this week said that his position is very much the same as President Obama.  They are both committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  Not just as an impartial observer, as the prime minister of Israel, do you agree with that that both the president and his challenger have the same view with regard to preventing Iran from going nuclear?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  I have no doubt that they are equally committed to preventing that.  It’s a– it’s a vital American interest.  It’s a– it’s an existential interest on my case so, this isn’t the issue.  We are united on this across the board.

Netanyahu might have thought he was out of the woods, but after one more question Gregory returned the pressing matter of attempting to hector Netanyahu into praising Obama:

GREGORY:  Prime Minister, one more question on the American election.  You have been accused this week by pundits in this country of trying to interfere in this presidential election, siding with Governor Mitt Romney.  Now, Governor Romney for a year, and he said it in his convention speech, has said, quote, “President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus.”  Do you agree or disagree with Governor Romney’s charge?  It’s a serious charge.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Well, you’re– you’re trying to get me into the– into the American election and I’m not going to do that.  The relationship between Israel and the United States is a bond of– it’s just a very powerful bond.  It was, it is, and will be and will continue to be.  And I– I can tell you there’s no one– there’s no leader in the world who’s more appreciative than me of the strength of this alliance.  It’s very strong.  There’s no one in Israel who appreciates more than me the importance of American support for Israel.  It’s not a partisan issue.  In fact, we cherish the bipartisan support of Democrats and Republicans alike.  This is critical for us.

GREGORY:  But prime minister, with respect, if I may just interrupt you…

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  And– and I think it’s critical that we take…

Gregory, now agitated, interrupts again:

GREGORY:  I think this is a very important point because you say you don’t want to interfere in the election.  There are tens of millions of Americans who are watching that speech, who hear that rhetoric, who hear that charge, who may not understand the complexities of this issue.  You are the leader of the Jewish people.  You say this is not a partisan issue.  You get billions of dollars from direct foreign investment from this country, hundreds of millions of dollars from Americans, Jews and Christians alike from this country.  It seems to me for you to remain silent on whether this administration has thrown Israel under the bus is tantamount to agreeing with the sentiment.  So where do you come down on that specific charge against President Obama?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Now, there you go again, David, you’re trying to draw me into something that– that is simply not– not the case and it’s not my position.  My position is that we– we have strong cooperation.  We’ll continue to cooperate.  We’re the best of allies.  And Israel is the one reliable ally of the United States in the Middle East…

Not good enough, says Gregory:

GREGORY:  So President Obama has not thrown Israel under the bus?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  …if that wasn’t understood until yesterday.  So it’s– it’s– there’s– there’s no bus, and we’re not going to get into that discussion, except to say one thing.  We have a strong alliance and we’re going to continue to have a strong alliance.  I think the important question is where does the– the only bus that is really important is the Iranian nuclear bus.  That’s the one that we have to– to derail.  And that’s my interest.  That’s my– my only interest.

With that, Gregory was satisfied (or almost out of time). This was only the most visible case of what Oren was talking about–though of course he was too diplomatic to get into details. Netanyahu had to work to stay out of this election, and it’s because the American media so desperately wanted his interference.

Read Less

Democrats Begin Working Toward Hillary Clinton’s Coronation

One of the most pronounced recent changes in the attitudes toward leadership and order of the two major American political parties is the reversal in affection for handing off the baton to the next in line. Republicans had long bestowed the party’s presidential nomination on last time’s runner-up, or a candidate who had put in his time and whose turn, it was believed, had come.

But the battle for the 2016 GOP nomination is looking wide open, and will likely consist of a cast of young, more conservative candidates competing to set the party’s new direction. The Democrats, on the other hand, nominated Barack Obama in 2008 with the rallying cry of striking out against political entitlement, embodied by Hillary Clinton. Next time, however, Democrats seem to want a coronation, not a nomination. And they would like the beneficiary of this appointment with history to be Hillary Clinton. Here’s James Carville yesterday on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”:

Read More

One of the most pronounced recent changes in the attitudes toward leadership and order of the two major American political parties is the reversal in affection for handing off the baton to the next in line. Republicans had long bestowed the party’s presidential nomination on last time’s runner-up, or a candidate who had put in his time and whose turn, it was believed, had come.

But the battle for the 2016 GOP nomination is looking wide open, and will likely consist of a cast of young, more conservative candidates competing to set the party’s new direction. The Democrats, on the other hand, nominated Barack Obama in 2008 with the rallying cry of striking out against political entitlement, embodied by Hillary Clinton. Next time, however, Democrats seem to want a coronation, not a nomination. And they would like the beneficiary of this appointment with history to be Hillary Clinton. Here’s James Carville yesterday on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”:

This is entirely different. Every Democrat I know says, “God, I hope she runs. We don’t need a primary. Let’s just go to post with this thing. We don’t want to fight with anybody over anything.”

The Republicans, they need a fight. Somebody’s got to beat somebody….

Yeah, you’ve got to beat somebody. And the Republicans know that they need a primary. We don’t want — we don’t want a primary. We don’t want to be slugging this thing out (inaudible) you know what? We’ve got a pretty good demographic deck. We kind of get — we like winning presidential elections. She’s popular. Let’s just go with it.

Aside from the obvious, there’s a key phrase Carville used here that went unnoticed on the show. The Democrats have “a pretty good demographic deck.” Not only do the Democrats want to avoid a primary election, they’d like to avoid a general election too. Though Carville probably didn’t have this in mind when he used the phrase, running a “historic” candidate like Clinton would basically be a replay of Obama’s two elections, in which the media coverage was fawning and devoid of any serious examination of the Democratic candidate, and in which opposition to the Democrats’ candidate can be chalked up to bigotry. “We don’t want to fight with anybody over anything,” says Carville. Expect that to be the case in 2016 if Clinton is their candidate.

Don’t believe me? Take a gander at the New York Times’s article on Clinton’s options going forward. It’s appallingly worshipful, but it’s only the beginning. The conceit of the piece is a question: What should Hillary do? It’s a clear indication that Clinton wants people to think she’s running, and buried in the article we finally get the reason why. The Times tells us that Clinton “may appear to be a figure of nearly limitless possibility.” There is nothing she can’t do, so what should she do? The Times asks another related question and then endeavors to answer it:

What is the most dignified way for her to make money?

Being a Clinton is expensive, and when the former secretary leaves office, she’ll want a staff and the ability to travel on private planes, friends say. The Clintons — who already own costly homes in Washington and Chappaqua, N.Y. — love renting in the Hamptons in the summer, according to friends, and buying their own home there could easily run well into the seven figures. Though friends say Mrs. Clinton could easily make a lot of money at a law firm, advising foreign countries on geopolitical risk, or at an investment bank or a private equity firm, none of those pursuits would be likely to wear well in a presidential campaign.

Wealth is her burden. “Being a Clinton is expensive,” after all. She is doomed to a post-State Department hiatus during which people will throw gobs and gobs of money at her, and her second burden is that she must decide how and where she’d like to accept all this money.

Another consideration for Clinton is when she should start her (purely theoretical!) presidential campaign. The Times’s three reporters (it takes a team to sufficiently praise Clinton) tell us that Clinton doesn’t seem to want to start the campaign early, like last time (why rush an anointing?), because it exhausted her. This time around, however, there’s another reason not to start the campaign early. The Times again:

The speculation is not without its advantages. If Mrs. Clinton is not running, she is a widely respected figure whose chief accomplishments are mostly behind her; if she may be running, she glows with White House and historic potential. “Nobody interacts with Hillary Clinton like she’s fading off into the sunset,” Mr. Reines said.

In other words, before she officially declares her campaign for president, she will be treated like she’s running anyway but still be able to keep those cushy jobs she’s being offered. It’s a win-win. Plus, stories like this one in the Times will presumably keep flowing in.

Read Less

Liberals Already Miss Mitt Romney

There is more than enough silly commentary on the so-called fiscal cliff negotiations to go around, but you can’t do much better than Dana Milbank’s column today for the Washington Post. Milbank’s column emerges out of the latest trend in liberal opinion writing: now that the election is over, they have made a conscious decision to consider being more honest in their political pronouncements.

Reason magazine flagged a prime example of this on Monday, when they picked up on a quote from the New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg: “[Obama] was the champion of our side, he vanquished the foe….. [but] now liberals don’t have to worry about hurting his chances for re-election, so they can be tougher in urging him to do what he should be doing.” Milbank’s entry today isn’t quite at Hertzberg’s level, but it’s in the same vein. Now that the election is over, Milbank can admit it: the country really needs Mitt Romney.

Read More

There is more than enough silly commentary on the so-called fiscal cliff negotiations to go around, but you can’t do much better than Dana Milbank’s column today for the Washington Post. Milbank’s column emerges out of the latest trend in liberal opinion writing: now that the election is over, they have made a conscious decision to consider being more honest in their political pronouncements.

Reason magazine flagged a prime example of this on Monday, when they picked up on a quote from the New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg: “[Obama] was the champion of our side, he vanquished the foe….. [but] now liberals don’t have to worry about hurting his chances for re-election, so they can be tougher in urging him to do what he should be doing.” Milbank’s entry today isn’t quite at Hertzberg’s level, but it’s in the same vein. Now that the election is over, Milbank can admit it: the country really needs Mitt Romney.

You might think that liberals would appreciate Romney’s decision to step out of the spotlight and accept his loss to Obama with grace and dignity. After all, even though John McCain is still a senator, nearly every time he criticizes President Obama it is chalked up to an apparent case of sour grapes over the election. Romney isn’t even in office. But no matter. Milbank wants Romney back in the arena, and he’s going to taunt him out of hiding:

Never again, likely, will his voice and influence be as powerful as they are now. Yet rather than stepping forward to help find a way out of the fiscal standoff, or to help his party rebuild itself, he delivered a perfunctory concession speech, told wealthy donors that Obama won by giving “gifts” to minorities, then avoided the press at a private lunch with President Obama.

Though keeping nominal residence in Massachusetts, the state he led as governor, he moved out to his California home and has been spotted at Disneyland, at the new “Twilight” movie, at a pizza place, pumping gas and going to the gym. In warm weather, he plans to live at his lakefront manse in New Hampshire. The man who spoke passionately about his love for the American auto industry has been driving around in a new Audi Q7.

A former adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom, told Rucker that Romney will “be involved in some fashion” in public service. And nobody can begrudge Romney some downtime. But his failure to engage now, at a time when he could have the most clout, reinforces the impression that his candidacy was less about principle and patriotism than about him.

That’s what you get for bowing out gracefully and spending time with your family, if you’re a Republican. But put aside the fact that Republicans are trying to move on from much of Romney’s problematic messaging during the election and rebuild their brand around some of their more popular elected officials. Did Milbank always think of Romney as a man whose involvement in public life was so important to the country? No.

In a sarcastic response to conservative complaints that the media was being unfairly critical of Romney, Milbank suggested in September that the press back off. Romney, he said, was a gaffe machine, and simply for the entertainment value the press should help him get elected. “Admittedly, this may not be the best outcome for the country, or for the world,” Milbank snickered, adding that “he could bring transatlantic relations back to War of 1812 levels.”

But the fiscal cliff is about economics, and that’s where Romney’s business experience could come in handy, right? What did pre-election Milbank think of Romney’s business experience? He summed it up in an August column in which he said that a business-oriented video game his young daughter played functioned “strikingly like Bain Capital did under Mitt Romney.” And how is that? “The game is devoid of business ethics,” he wrote.

Romney was a liar, Milbank said in the week of the election. But that might be because he’s a brainwashed zombie, as Milbank had proposed a month earlier. By the time the election was over, Milbank said, the Romney campaign had “abandoned any pretense of being a campaign for the common man.”

In some ways, Milbank’s column is actually a breakthrough in bipartisanship. It took Democrats quite some time to decide that Ronald Reagan wasn’t purely evil through and through. It only took them a few years to reconsider George W. Bush in light of contemporary Republican officeholders. And now it has taken only a matter of weeks for the left to admit that the Republican presidential candidate isn’t who they said he was; he’s not so bad after all, and their guy isn’t so great, it turns out. At this rate, it won’t be long before liberals come to grips with reality before, instead of after, a presidential election.

Read Less

Bias Alert: Amanpour to Host Israel Series

Breitbart reports that ABC’s Christiane Amanpour is slated to host a new ABC mini-series on the history and roots of the Middle East conflict. Amanpour has never even tried to keep her antipathy toward Israel (or America) under wraps, so it’s not clear why ABC is setting itself up for such a huge credibility hit:

Join ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour on the ultimate road trip as she travels to the lands of the Bible to explore the powerful stories from Genesis to the Birth of Jesus. “Back to the Beginning” peels back the layers of history and faith that has inspired billions.  Amanpour, the veteran war correspondent, wanted to investigate the roots of those stories that have created so much conflict, and at the same time so much of the healing she has seen across her career.  It is an extraordinary journey through the deserts and cities of the ancient world, to the historical and pilgrimage sites associated with the epic tale that is the backbone of Judaism, Christianity and Islam today.  “BACK TO THE BEGINNING,” a two-part, four-hour special, airs on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21 (9:00 – 11:00 pm ET) and FRIDAY, DECEMBER 28 (9:00 – 11:00 pm ET)on the ABC TELEVISION NETWORK.

Read More

Breitbart reports that ABC’s Christiane Amanpour is slated to host a new ABC mini-series on the history and roots of the Middle East conflict. Amanpour has never even tried to keep her antipathy toward Israel (or America) under wraps, so it’s not clear why ABC is setting itself up for such a huge credibility hit:

Join ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour on the ultimate road trip as she travels to the lands of the Bible to explore the powerful stories from Genesis to the Birth of Jesus. “Back to the Beginning” peels back the layers of history and faith that has inspired billions.  Amanpour, the veteran war correspondent, wanted to investigate the roots of those stories that have created so much conflict, and at the same time so much of the healing she has seen across her career.  It is an extraordinary journey through the deserts and cities of the ancient world, to the historical and pilgrimage sites associated with the epic tale that is the backbone of Judaism, Christianity and Islam today.  “BACK TO THE BEGINNING,” a two-part, four-hour special, airs on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21 (9:00 – 11:00 pm ET) and FRIDAY, DECEMBER 28 (9:00 – 11:00 pm ET)on the ABC TELEVISION NETWORK.

The last time Amanpour hosted a similar mini-series, 2007’s “God’s Warriors” on CNN, she brought on John Mearsheimer for an uncritical interview about the “Israel Lobby” and portrayed Israeli settlements as the main obstacle to a two-state solution, according to CAMERA. For her efforts, she won the title of Dishonest Reporter of the Year from Honest Reporting.

And it’s not just pro-Israel groups that have noticed Amanpour’s anti-Israel bias. Washington Post TV columnist Tom Shales cited this as one of the main reasons she shouldn’t have been hired to host ABC’s This Week — which proved prescient after the ratings tanked and she stepped down. Why ABC would choose such a polarizing and overtly biased commentator like Amanpour to lead a mini-series on the Middle East conflict is baffling.

Read Less

NYT’s Carr Defends Article Accusing Israel of Targeting Journalists

New York Times reporter David Carr has responded to criticism from Contentions and elsewhere that he failed to identify several so-called “journalists” killed in Israeli strikes as terrorists in a recent article. BuzzFeed has the interview:

New York Times media reporter David Carr defended his Monday column accusing Israel of killing journalists in Gaza on Monday, after Israeli officials and their allies accused him of conflating Hamas operatives and reporters.

“The three men who died in missile strikes in cars on Nov. 20 were identified by Reuters, AP, AFP, and Washington Post and many other news outlets as journalists,” Carr told BuzzFeed in an email. “The Committee to Protect Journalists, which I treat as a reliable, primary source in these matters, identified them as journalists. (as did Reporters without Borders.)” 

“I ran my column by reporters and editors at our shop familiar with current events in the region before I printed it,” Carr said. “And I don’t believe that an ID made by the IDF is dispostive or obviates what the others said. Doesn’t mean that I could not have gotten it wrong, only that the evidence so far suggests that they were journalists, however partisan.” 

So because another news organization reported it, that automatically makes it accurate? Carr never even informs readers that he was relying on the reporting of other news outlets, and doesn’t attribute his information to the AP, AFP or the Washington Post (as the New York Times ethics policy requires). Instead, readers are given the impression that Carr verified the information himself.

Read More

New York Times reporter David Carr has responded to criticism from Contentions and elsewhere that he failed to identify several so-called “journalists” killed in Israeli strikes as terrorists in a recent article. BuzzFeed has the interview:

New York Times media reporter David Carr defended his Monday column accusing Israel of killing journalists in Gaza on Monday, after Israeli officials and their allies accused him of conflating Hamas operatives and reporters.

“The three men who died in missile strikes in cars on Nov. 20 were identified by Reuters, AP, AFP, and Washington Post and many other news outlets as journalists,” Carr told BuzzFeed in an email. “The Committee to Protect Journalists, which I treat as a reliable, primary source in these matters, identified them as journalists. (as did Reporters without Borders.)” 

“I ran my column by reporters and editors at our shop familiar with current events in the region before I printed it,” Carr said. “And I don’t believe that an ID made by the IDF is dispostive or obviates what the others said. Doesn’t mean that I could not have gotten it wrong, only that the evidence so far suggests that they were journalists, however partisan.” 

So because another news organization reported it, that automatically makes it accurate? Carr never even informs readers that he was relying on the reporting of other news outlets, and doesn’t attribute his information to the AP, AFP or the Washington Post (as the New York Times ethics policy requires). Instead, readers are given the impression that Carr verified the information himself.

Carr claims he used the Committee to Protect Journalists as a “primary source,” even though he didn’t cite the organization. The problem is, if you check the CPJ website, it never independently confirmed that the terrorists killed in the Israeli strike were journalists. It clearly noted that it was citing outside news organizations, which means it wasn’t a primary source in this case. Here’s the CPJ story

Two Israeli airstrikes killed three journalists in the Gaza Strip today, according to news reports. The fatal attacks followed a series of Israeli strikes earlier in the week that injured at least nine journalists and damaged news outlets.

Mahmoud al-Kumi and Hussam Salama, cameramen for the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV, were covering events in the Al-Shifaa neighborhood of central Gaza when a missile hit their vehicle at around 6 p.m., according to a statement by Al-Aqsa TV. The statement said the journalists’ car was marked “TV” with neon-colored letters. The journalists suffered severe burns and died in a nearby hospital, the statement said. Ashraf al-Qudra, spokesman for the Gaza health ministry, confirmed the journalists’ deaths to Agence France-Presse.

A third journalist was killed when his car was hit by a missile this evening, The Associated Press reported citing a Gaza official. Initial local news reports identified the journalist as Mohamed Abu Aisha, director of the private Al-Quds Educational Radio. The reports said his vehicle was hit while he was driving in the Deir al-Balah neighborhood, but did not say whether Abu Aisha was reporting at the time. CPJ continues to investigate the circumstances of his death.

The CPJ posted this on November 20. That same day, the IDF publicly identified one of the “journalists” as Hamas military commander Muhammed Shamalah. Carr published his story six days later, yet does not cite the IDF’s identification of Shamalah at all. Carr is correct when he says the Israeli government’s ID of Shamalah shouldn’t necessarily “obviate” other information — it’s reasonable for journalists to be skeptical of information released by governments. The problem is, Carr’s “other information” came solely from other news organizations (and the CPJ citing other news organizations). The Israeli government is actually a primary source when it comes to identifying terrorists, while these other media outlets were not. It’s mind-boggling that Carr wouldn’t at the very least include the IDF’s statement.

Elder of Ziyon sums it up:

Real journalists are supposed to be skeptical. They are supposed to be spending their time uncovering the truth. They are supposed to be honest enough to admit when they are wrong, to revisit the story when facts indicate they are mistaken, because the real story should be more important than their egos. 

This is not just an indictment of Carr. This is a systemic problem in the entire profession. The smugness that they are infallible, and the groupthink that they can rely on others’ work without double-checking it, all indicate that there is some significant daylight between how many journalists do their work and what the truth really is.

New York Times readers deserve a better explanation than the one Carr has given.

Read Less

The Washington Post’s Dreams of Dixie

Criticism of UN Ambassador Susan Rice and opposition to her possible nomination as secretary of state has generally divided into two camps. One camp, concerned by Rice’s handling of the administration’s response to the Benghazi terrorist attack, in which she presented talking points officials knew were false, believes her role in the misdirection must be accounted for. In other words, this group of critics has focused on Rice’s professional responsibilities.

A second group agrees Rice isn’t the best choice for secretary of state, but has aimed its fire at Rice’s supposed personality flaws, attitude problems, career ambitions, and stories of craven political cynicism. In other words, it has made it personal. Liberal news outlets are up in arms over one of these two camps–and it isn’t the one you would think. The first camp includes John McCain and Lindsey Graham, as well as a group of about 100 Republican members of the House. The second includes Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. Yet the Washington Post editorial board published over the holiday weekend a shameful attack on the House Republicans, who had written a letter to President Obama urging him not to nominate Rice. The editors wrote:

Read More

Criticism of UN Ambassador Susan Rice and opposition to her possible nomination as secretary of state has generally divided into two camps. One camp, concerned by Rice’s handling of the administration’s response to the Benghazi terrorist attack, in which she presented talking points officials knew were false, believes her role in the misdirection must be accounted for. In other words, this group of critics has focused on Rice’s professional responsibilities.

A second group agrees Rice isn’t the best choice for secretary of state, but has aimed its fire at Rice’s supposed personality flaws, attitude problems, career ambitions, and stories of craven political cynicism. In other words, it has made it personal. Liberal news outlets are up in arms over one of these two camps–and it isn’t the one you would think. The first camp includes John McCain and Lindsey Graham, as well as a group of about 100 Republican members of the House. The second includes Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. Yet the Washington Post editorial board published over the holiday weekend a shameful attack on the House Republicans, who had written a letter to President Obama urging him not to nominate Rice. The editors wrote:

Could it be, as members of the Congressional Black Caucus are charging, that the signatories of the letter are targeting Ms. Rice because she is an African American woman? The signatories deny that, and we can’t know their hearts. What we do know is that more than 80 of the signatories are white males, and nearly half are from states of the former Confederacy. You’d think that before launching their broadside, members of Congress would have taken care not to propagate any falsehoods of their own.

This follows the general belief of the mainstream media that criticism of the Obama administration is racist unless it is sexist, though in some cases it can be both. This, apparently, is such a case. William Jacobson has an important response to this editorial, reminding readers of the opposition to Condoleezza Rice’s nomination to serve as George W. Bush’s secretary of state, “which was led by former Klansman Robert Byrd.” Jacobson adds:

Rice, Condoleezza, received fewer favorable votes in her Secretary of State confirmation than any nominee in almost 25 years and more negative votes than any nominee in 180 years.  Twelve of the thirteen votes against Rice were from White Males, including the aforementioned former Klansman.

Jacobson also notes the explicitly race-based critiques of Condoleezza Rice, which have been absent in Susan Rice’s case. But actual racism isn’t necessary for the Washington Post editorial board to attempt to smear the names and careers of politicians it doesn’t like.

In addition to all of Jacobson’s points (and you should read his whole post), what the editors are suggesting is essentially that white (Republican) males refrain from criticizing non-white (non-Republican) non-males, or the WaPo will be back for them again. This is also revealing in and of itself. Though leftists often try to claim that Southern conservatives long en masse for the days of the Confederacy, it is the Washington Post that refuses to move on from those days.

To the Post, if you are from the South, your motivations are immediately suspect. If you are from the South, you don’t have quite the same right as others to engage in public debate.

This is not a particularly good sign for Susan Rice. Had her defenders been able to muster a case on her behalf, they would have presented it. Instead, they are conceding that she and the administration cannot be defended cogently in this case, but must be protected from criticism. Additionally, the Washington Post’s editorialists should consider reading the Washington Post (though I understand why they don’t). There, they’ll find liberal writers like Milbank whose criticism of Rice is personal rather than professional. Perhaps Milbank is not from the South, and therefore qualifies for the rights and privileges the Post has taken upon itself to award based on race, sex, and state of residence.

Read Less

Using Journalism as a Cover to Target Israel

In the New York Times today, David Carr claims that Israel is “using war as cover to target journalists” in Gaza. Of course Carr fails to mention that the “journalists” in question were terrorists:

On the same day as the Waldorf event, three employees of news organizations were killed in Gaza by Israeli missiles. Rather than suggesting it was a mistake, or denying responsibility, an Israeli Defense Forces spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, told The Associated Press, “The targets are people who have relevance to terror activity.”

So it has come to this: killing members of the news media can be justified by a phrase as amorphous as “relevance to terror activity.” …

Mahmoud al-Kumi and Hussam Salama worked as cameramen for Al-Aqsa TV, which is run by Hamas and whose reporting frequently reflects that affiliation. They were covering events in central Gaza when a missile struck their car, which, according to Al-Aqsa, was clearly marked with the letters “TV.” (The car just in front of them was carrying a translator and driver for The New York Times, so the execution hit close to our organization.) And Mohamed Abu Aisha, director of the private Al-Quds Educational Radio, was also in a car when it was hit by a missile.

As Carr notes, Al-Aqsa is a Hamas-owned TV station. What he leaves out is that Al-Aqsa TV has also been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. Treasury Department. So we already know these “cameramen” were working for a terrorist group.

Read More

In the New York Times today, David Carr claims that Israel is “using war as cover to target journalists” in Gaza. Of course Carr fails to mention that the “journalists” in question were terrorists:

On the same day as the Waldorf event, three employees of news organizations were killed in Gaza by Israeli missiles. Rather than suggesting it was a mistake, or denying responsibility, an Israeli Defense Forces spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, told The Associated Press, “The targets are people who have relevance to terror activity.”

So it has come to this: killing members of the news media can be justified by a phrase as amorphous as “relevance to terror activity.” …

Mahmoud al-Kumi and Hussam Salama worked as cameramen for Al-Aqsa TV, which is run by Hamas and whose reporting frequently reflects that affiliation. They were covering events in central Gaza when a missile struck their car, which, according to Al-Aqsa, was clearly marked with the letters “TV.” (The car just in front of them was carrying a translator and driver for The New York Times, so the execution hit close to our organization.) And Mohamed Abu Aisha, director of the private Al-Quds Educational Radio, was also in a car when it was hit by a missile.

As Carr notes, Al-Aqsa is a Hamas-owned TV station. What he leaves out is that Al-Aqsa TV has also been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. Treasury Department. So we already know these “cameramen” were working for a terrorist group.

In addition, the Free Beacon reports that “Hussam Salama,” one of the alleged cameramen mentioned in Carr’s article, is actually Muhammed Shamalah, a Hamas commander and head of its military training programs. In a November 20 blog post, the Israel Defense Forces recounted its successful attack against Shamalah, who had spray-painted “TV” on his car hood:

The “human shield” method, as it is commonly known, has forced the IDF to target seemingly non-military targets, resulting in some of the civilian casualties. It has also endangered all residents of the Gaza Strip who, without their consent, were unwittingly dragged into the conflict.

One such example came in today, when a senior Hamas operative was targeted while driving a press vehicle. Muhammed Shamalah, commander of Hamas forces in the southern Strip and head of the Hamas militant training programs, was targeted by an Israeli air strike while driving a car clearly labelled “TV”, indicating it to be a press vehicle, abusing the protection afforded to journalists. 

Elder of Ziyon has more details on another “journalist” mentioned in the story, Mohamed Abu Aisha, who also appears to be an officer in Islamic Jihad. 

Should Israel be expected to let any militant who paints “TV” on his car drive by under the radar? Samir Khan was the editor of al-Qaeda’s Inspire magazine until he was killed in a CIA drone strike, but the New York Times has yet to accuse the Obama administration of “using war as cover to target journalists.” Apparently, Israel is the only country that’s expected to treat terrorists-posing-as-reporters the same way it treats actual reporters.

Read Less

The Media’s Benghazi Scandal

Over my career, I’ve tended to resist press bashing. Part of the reason for that may be that there are plenty of journalists whose work I respect and whom I’ve come to admire. But I must say that the way the press as an institution covered the 2012 presidential election was in many respects depressing—and in some respects its biases have rarely been more fully on display.

There are a dozen examples I could cite, but let me simply focus on one: The September 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi. We witnessed a massive failure at three different stages. The first is that the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and others asked for additional protection because of their fears of terrorist attacks. Those requests were denied—and Mr. Stevens became the first American ambassador to be murdered in more than 30 years, along with three others. The second failure was not assisting former Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty when they were under attack (both were killed). The third failure was that the administration misled the American people about the causes of the attack long after it was clear to many people that their narrative was false.

Yet with a few honorable exceptions—Fox News being the most conspicuous—the press has shown no real appetite for this story. It’s not that it hasn’t been covered; it’s that the coverage has lacked anything like the intensity and passion that you would have seen had this occurred during the presidency of, say, Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush. I have the advantage of having worked in the Reagan administration during Iran-contra and the Bush White House during the Patrick Fitzgerald leak investigation—and there is simply no comparison when it comes to how the press treated these stories. The juxtaposition with the Fitzgerald investigation is particularly damning to the media. Journalists were obsessed by that story, which turned out to be much ado about nothing—Mr. Fitzgerald decided early on there were no grounds to prosecute Richard Armitage for the leak of Valerie Plame’s name—and obsessed in particular with destroying the life of the very good man who was the architect of George W. Bush’s two presidential victories (thankfully they failed in their effort to knee-cap Karl Rove).

Read More

Over my career, I’ve tended to resist press bashing. Part of the reason for that may be that there are plenty of journalists whose work I respect and whom I’ve come to admire. But I must say that the way the press as an institution covered the 2012 presidential election was in many respects depressing—and in some respects its biases have rarely been more fully on display.

There are a dozen examples I could cite, but let me simply focus on one: The September 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi. We witnessed a massive failure at three different stages. The first is that the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and others asked for additional protection because of their fears of terrorist attacks. Those requests were denied—and Mr. Stevens became the first American ambassador to be murdered in more than 30 years, along with three others. The second failure was not assisting former Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty when they were under attack (both were killed). The third failure was that the administration misled the American people about the causes of the attack long after it was clear to many people that their narrative was false.

Yet with a few honorable exceptions—Fox News being the most conspicuous—the press has shown no real appetite for this story. It’s not that it hasn’t been covered; it’s that the coverage has lacked anything like the intensity and passion that you would have seen had this occurred during the presidency of, say, Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush. I have the advantage of having worked in the Reagan administration during Iran-contra and the Bush White House during the Patrick Fitzgerald leak investigation—and there is simply no comparison when it comes to how the press treated these stories. The juxtaposition with the Fitzgerald investigation is particularly damning to the media. Journalists were obsessed by that story, which turned out to be much ado about nothing—Mr. Fitzgerald decided early on there were no grounds to prosecute Richard Armitage for the leak of Valerie Plame’s name—and obsessed in particular with destroying the life of the very good man who was the architect of George W. Bush’s two presidential victories (thankfully they failed in their effort to knee-cap Karl Rove).

In the Benghazi story, we have four dead Americans. A lack of security that borders on criminal negligence. No apparent effort was made to save the lives of Messrs. Woods and Doherty, despite their pleas. The Obama administration, including the president, gave false and misleading accounts of what happened despite mounting evidence to the contrary. And the person who was wrongly accused of inciting the attacks by making a crude YouTube video is now in prison. Yet the press has, for the most part, treated this story with ambivalence and reluctance. A reliable barometer of the views of the elite media is Tom Friedman of the New York Times, who said on Meet the Press on Sunday, “To me, Libya is not a scandal, it’s a tragedy.” 

Here’s the thing, though. If the exact same incidents had occurred in the exact same order, and if it had happened during the watch of a conservative president, it would be a treated as a scandal. An epic one, in fact. The coverage, starting on September 12 and starting with Mr. Friedman’s newspaper, would have been nonstop, ferociously negative, and the pressure put on the president and his administration would have been crushing. Jon Stewart, the moral conscience of an increasing number of journalists, wouldn’t have let this story die. 

Yet President Obama avoided all of that. Indeed, it was Mitt Romney who incurred the special wrath of reporters for his criticism of a statement made by the American embassy in Egypt after the building was stormed by an angry mob (a criticism, by that way, that the Obama administration agreed with a few hours after Mr. Romney made it). Most reporters—again, with a few impressive exceptions—treated the Benghazi story with nonchalance. 

For some journalists, it’s fairly clear as to why: they had a rooting interest in Mr. Obama winning and they carried a deep dislike, even contempt, for Governor Romney. But for many others I think the explanation is more subtle and in some respects more problematic. They appear to be completely blind to their biases and double standards. If you gave them sodium pentothal, they would say they were being objective. Self-examination, it turns out, is harder than self-justification. And of course being surrounded with people who share and reinforce your presuppositions and worldview doesn’t help matters. (A model for today’s reporters is Richard Harwood, a Washington Post reporter who called his editor in Washington, Ben Bradlee, and asked to be taken off the 1968 Robert Kennedy campaign on the day of the California primary because he sensed he was, in the words of RFK biographer Evan Thomas, losing his “newsman’s reserve and … his objectivity.”) 

In general, journalists receive critiques like this with indignation. They enjoy holding up public officials, but not themselves, to intense scrutiny. They insist that their personal biases never bleed into their story selection or coverage. But the outstanding ones and the honest ones would admit, though perhaps only to themselves, that the double standard is real and troubling, that it’s injurious to their profession, and that things really do need to change. Perhaps because they still know why they got into journalism in the first place—not for advocacy but to report the news in a relatively even-handed manner, to “speak truth to power,” regardless of the political views of those in power, and to pursue stories in a way that is fair and unafraid. 

Today such an attitude sounds almost quaint. 

Read Less

Anyone Still Remember Syria?

I don’t believe Hamas began its recent escalation with Israel on orders from Tehran (as I explain here). But I can see why many people do: Intentionally or not, Hamas has undeniably given its former Iranian paymasters and their Syrian client a great boon.

As Jonathan noted yesterday, the Hamas-Israel war has diverted attention from the International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest report on Iran’s nuclear program. Even more shocking, however, is the way it has diverted attention from the ongoing–and far more massive–bloodletting in Syria.

Read More

I don’t believe Hamas began its recent escalation with Israel on orders from Tehran (as I explain here). But I can see why many people do: Intentionally or not, Hamas has undeniably given its former Iranian paymasters and their Syrian client a great boon.

As Jonathan noted yesterday, the Hamas-Israel war has diverted attention from the International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest report on Iran’s nuclear program. Even more shocking, however, is the way it has diverted attention from the ongoing–and far more massive–bloodletting in Syria.

On Monday, for instance, the lead headline in the New York Times’s overseas edition, the International Herald Tribune, screamed “Heavy civilian toll from Israeli strikes.” This “heavy toll” consisted of one airstrike on Sunday that killed 11 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and brought the total death toll since the fighting began to “more than 50 people, many of them civilians.”

That same day, the paper relegated Syria to the bottom of page 4. The headline read “Syria criticizes 3 countries for recognizing opposition”; civilian casualties weren’t mentioned at all. Yet according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, that weekend (the IHT doesn’t publish on Sunday) saw at least 129 Syrians killed, 47 on Saturday and 82 on Sunday, including 69 civilians. In other words, more civilians were killed in Syria that weekend alone than the total number of fatalities, both combatant and noncombatant, since the latest Hamas-Israel war began. But in the overseas edition of America’s self-proclaimed paper of record, they didn’t even rate a mention. Nor is the coverage less warped in other media outlets.

The total death toll in the Syrian conflict is nearing 40,000, the majority of them civilians. An eye-popping 400,000 refugees have fled into other countries. Anywhere from 1.2 million to 2.5 million Syrians have been internally displaced, most living in appalling conditions that will only worsen as winter progresses. By any standard, it’s a humanitarian crisis of vast proportions. Yet 11 Palestinians slain by Israel are enough to completely erase it from the media map. Syrian lives, it seems, are cheap in the eyes of the international media: Each Palestinian killed by Israel is worth more ink than 4,000 slain Syrians.

Syria’s erasure from the diplomatic map has been equally complete. A flood of high-level visitors, including the UN secretary general, the French foreign minister and the Turkish prime minister, has descended on Jerusalem and/or Cairo in recent days to demand that Israel on no account launch a ground operation. Has anyone noticed any senior diplomat trying to do anything about the Syrian slaughter lately?

Syrians, of course, aren’t the only ones victimized by the international obsession over Palestinian casualties. As Alan Dershowitz eloquently explained, the foremost victims may be Palestinians themselves: As long as Hamas knows that every dead Palestinian will result in international opprobrium for Israel and diplomatic gains for itself, it has every incentive both to continue lobbing rockets at Israel, thereby sparking the retaliation that causes these civilian casualties, and to maximize such casualties by using its own civilian population as human shields.

But the Palestinians made their own bed: They elected Hamas. Syrians just had the bad luck to be caught in the fallout.

Read Less

Critics Struggle to Undermine IDF’s Social Media Blitz

This video of the Israeli strike on Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari was temporarily removed from the IDF’s YouTube page this morning for supposedly violating its “terms of service.” A short time later, it was put back up. My multiple emails to YouTube’s press office have been ignored, but All Things Digital managed to get this email response from a spokesperson:

“With the massive volume of videos on our site, sometimes we make the wrong call. When it’s brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it.”

This shows just how worried anti-Israel activists are about the online response to Operation Pillar of Defense, by far Israel’s most muscular and carefully-honed social media effort yet. Enough Israel detractors “flagged” the YouTube video as “inappropriate” yesterday that YouTube put up a note warning viewers that the clip might be considered offensive.

That attempt to censor the video — as well as the IDF’s Twitter account and websites — is a sign of panic. Israel has finally found a way to circumvent the pernicious media bias that has always favored anti-Israel groups, and it has these groups terrified and scrambling.

Read More

This video of the Israeli strike on Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari was temporarily removed from the IDF’s YouTube page this morning for supposedly violating its “terms of service.” A short time later, it was put back up. My multiple emails to YouTube’s press office have been ignored, but All Things Digital managed to get this email response from a spokesperson:

“With the massive volume of videos on our site, sometimes we make the wrong call. When it’s brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it.”

This shows just how worried anti-Israel activists are about the online response to Operation Pillar of Defense, by far Israel’s most muscular and carefully-honed social media effort yet. Enough Israel detractors “flagged” the YouTube video as “inappropriate” yesterday that YouTube put up a note warning viewers that the clip might be considered offensive.

That attempt to censor the video — as well as the IDF’s Twitter account and websites — is a sign of panic. Israel has finally found a way to circumvent the pernicious media bias that has always favored anti-Israel groups, and it has these groups terrified and scrambling.

So far, the Israeli military’s public relations department hasn’t been fazed. They’ve rolled out a new Tumblr page, where they’ve been posting videos of IDF dropping thousands warning leaflets from the air above Palestinian neighborhoods and succinctly explaining the Hamas rocket attacks that sparked Operation Pillar of Defense. They’ve also launched a Pinterest, a Flikr page, an Instagram, and a GooglePlus account that they’ve been updating by the minute.

The Israelis have also been smart about the content. The video clips, images, and tweets are actually newsworthy, as opposed to the usual stale and timid statements on government social media accounts.

It’s by far the most cutting-edge combination of PR warfare and military warfare, perfectly packaged to go viral in the current media environment. BuzzFeed’s Matt Buchanan writes:

Much of the criticism of the American media during the height of the Iraq War focused on its role repeating White House talking points and propaganda. But using the tools of social media, as Israel is doing, reveals there’s no longer a need to rely a media middleman, or to filter the raw feed of war through an “embedded” — and, military officials hope, captured — journalist’s mouth or keyboard. A nation is officially tweeting its wartime activities. The military can broadcast exactly what it wants to, directly to its citizens, allies, and enemies. The IDF even appropriates the language of news, prefacing several tweets with “BREAKING” — and native social media, at one point saying “in case you missed it” before pointing to a YouTube video of it killing Ahmed Jabari in a missile strike. And unlike any propaganda machine before it, it’s inherently viral. It’s designed to spread. So the IDF spokesperson provides posters and YouTube videos and a constantly updated Flickr account; they’re more shareable than plain text. Its tweets are a mixture of documentation, saber rattling, sober reminders of the reality of war, and upbeat updates on the advanced state of its technology. All delivered direct to you. Please RT.

Israel has long struggled to get its message through the anti-Israel filter of the international media. It’s finally landed on the perfect solution: go over the media’s heads.

Read Less

How WaPo Covered Operation Pillar of Defense

The Washington Post’s front page this morning:

In the photo, a Palestinian stringer for BBC cradles his son, who was reportedly killed during Operation Pillar of Defense. The corresponding story briefly mentions the Hamas rocket attacks, but focuses mainly on Israel’s “intense air offensive” that could “paralyze the Gaza Strip” and result in “all-out conflict.”

Innocent casualties of war are a tragedy, and this is especially true when they are children.

But what the Washington Post doesn’t emphasize in its corresponding story is that the Israeli military launched this operation specifically because its citizens in the south, including children, live under constant threat from Hamas rocket fire — hundreds can rain down in a single day. These attacks regularly result in injuries and deaths, and recently forced more than a million Israelis into bomb shelters. While these stories may get a blurb on page three or four, they are rarely given front page coverage.

Read More

The Washington Post’s front page this morning:

In the photo, a Palestinian stringer for BBC cradles his son, who was reportedly killed during Operation Pillar of Defense. The corresponding story briefly mentions the Hamas rocket attacks, but focuses mainly on Israel’s “intense air offensive” that could “paralyze the Gaza Strip” and result in “all-out conflict.”

Innocent casualties of war are a tragedy, and this is especially true when they are children.

But what the Washington Post doesn’t emphasize in its corresponding story is that the Israeli military launched this operation specifically because its citizens in the south, including children, live under constant threat from Hamas rocket fire — hundreds can rain down in a single day. These attacks regularly result in injuries and deaths, and recently forced more than a million Israelis into bomb shelters. While these stories may get a blurb on page three or four, they are rarely given front page coverage.

There are terrible casualties on both sides; three Israeli civilians were killed this morning by Hamas missile attacks. The difference is that Hamas aims for civilians, and Israel does not. And the Washington Post’s front page seems almost intended to give readers the impression that the Israeli military randomly decided to go into Gaza this week because it felt like killing children.

At the Spectator, David Blackburn writes:

The Post’s front page reinforces the fact that Israel has a public relations problem when it retaliates in Gaza; a fact that friends of Israel ought to accept.

My colleague Douglas Murray is right to assert that the western media often applies a double standard when reporting Israeli and Palestinian casualties: the suffering of Israeli citizens is not given the coverage it deserves. This bias skews the tragic human story of Israel and Palestine to benefit Hamas, an organisation whose bloodcurdling charter makes clear that it has no interest in a peaceful solution to the problem. Other terrorist groups based in the Gaza Strip also benefit, which provides further complication.

There is a deep-seated media double-standard here. And while it can sometimes be subtle, it certainly shapes the coverage of the conflict.

Read Less

For Israel’s Critics, Reality Intervenes Again

Ever since Israel ceased to be dominated by one political party, when Menachem Begin’s Likud finally won the 1977 national elections, there has been a striking and ever-increasing disconnect between the Israeli left and the Western, especially American, left. The Israeli leftist establishment was not innocent this disconnect; they in fact planted the seeds. As the Columbia Journalism Review recently noted in an article about Israel and American media bias, Israeli establishment figures like Abba Eban were very close with the New York Times and other American outlets, and after Begin’s victory they worked assiduously to sabotage Israeli relations with American media figures.

The American press bought it hook, line and sinker, and their coverage reflected it: the Likud was not to be taken seriously as an electoral force, for they would disappear soon, but they were to be taken seriously as a threat to the moral order, for they were dangerous warmongers who could not be trusted. Not much has changed in the way the Israeli right has been portrayed in the press, but this behavior has poisoned relations with Israel in part because the Israeli electorate has now overwhelmingly embraced Likudnik politics. So it is no longer just the Likud portrayed as racists and fascists; it is the Israeli Jewish population on the whole.

Read More

Ever since Israel ceased to be dominated by one political party, when Menachem Begin’s Likud finally won the 1977 national elections, there has been a striking and ever-increasing disconnect between the Israeli left and the Western, especially American, left. The Israeli leftist establishment was not innocent this disconnect; they in fact planted the seeds. As the Columbia Journalism Review recently noted in an article about Israel and American media bias, Israeli establishment figures like Abba Eban were very close with the New York Times and other American outlets, and after Begin’s victory they worked assiduously to sabotage Israeli relations with American media figures.

The American press bought it hook, line and sinker, and their coverage reflected it: the Likud was not to be taken seriously as an electoral force, for they would disappear soon, but they were to be taken seriously as a threat to the moral order, for they were dangerous warmongers who could not be trusted. Not much has changed in the way the Israeli right has been portrayed in the press, but this behavior has poisoned relations with Israel in part because the Israeli electorate has now overwhelmingly embraced Likudnik politics. So it is no longer just the Likud portrayed as racists and fascists; it is the Israeli Jewish population on the whole.

Of course, this caricature of the Likud in particular, and Israelis in general, is nothing more than a fantasy. But this fantasy world is the one inhabited by the Western press, and Israeli publications viewed with suspicion in Israel but eagerly absorbed in America and Europe, like Haaretz. And we see the effects of this delusion every day: Should Ehud Olmert, the failed ex-prime minister just convicted of breach of trust while premier, return to lead the Israeli opposition to Benjamin Netanyahu? Yes, say the fantasists. Are you crazy? say those with memories longer than a week or so.

And it was only a matter of time before the American media backers of Olmert were blindsided by reality, and the folly of their choices; as Sheldon Adelson wrote here on Friday, Olmert has now taken to spreading conspiracy theories of powerful Jews like Adelson manipulating world leaders to exert control in the name of right-wing Zionism. Olmert’s behavior is: 1.) Gobsmackingly offensive to both countries; 2.) The behavior of a man who should clearly not be in charge of the Jewish state; and 3.) Entirely predictable.

Do Olmert’s backers in Washington- and New York-based publications think it wise for an aspiring Israeli prime minister to target leading Jewish philanthropic actors for character assassination in the name of leftist party politics?

The conversation around Netanyahu is perhaps less reality-based than even the talk about Olmert. There is a visceral hatred of Netanyahu in the press that colors and distorts a very observable reality. In 2010, after Peter Beinart had written his New York Review of Books attack on the “American Jewish establishment,” the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg pitched him a series of questions challenging some of Beinart’s assertions in the piece. The Israeli historian Yaacov Lozowick wrote a blog post after reading the third round of the interview, during which Beinart flatly asserted that Netanyahu came to power in 1996 explicitly opposing the Oslo process, and this curious fact went unchallenged by Goldberg. Lozowick wondered what country the two could have been talking about, because it sure wasn’t Israel. He explained that, leading up the elections, Likud held a series of meetings about its approach to Oslo that culminated in Netanyahu offering “an unequivocal acceptance of the fundamental structure of the Oslo process,” in Lozowick’s formulation. He continued:

When we went to the polls in May 1996, there were parties that were campaigning on platforms of rejection of the Oslo process, but the Likud wasn’t one of them. Since Netanyahu won the elections by less than one percent of the vote, it’s safe to say that had he not repositioned his party, he’d have lost.

Once he won he never (never: not once) rejected the Oslo process. He slowed it down, he added conditions, he did all sorts of things. But the leader of Likud was elected in 1996 on a platform that explicitly accepted the principle of partition.

14 years later – that’s all – a noticeable voice in American Jewry can glibly invent a story about Israel that contradicts the facts, and no-one calls him out on it because no-one knows any better, or if they do they join him in preferring to imagine a fantasy world rather than face reality.

Lozowick added that he did not vote for Netanyahu in any elections preceding that blog post, so he was not speaking as Likud’s defender or a partisan voice. He just didn’t understand the utter lack of interest in the truth.

If you believe what Beinart said about Netanyahu in 1996, Netanyahu’s entire career has been misconstrued and misrepresented, nearly from the beginning. But it surely goes back further, as CJR notes—it goes back to Likud’s first victory. From the moment Likud became a player in world politics by winning in 1977, it has been falsely presented to readers of the American press. And in the media’s desperation to stop Netanyahu, they have now turned to whitewashing the career of Olmert—a plan that was ill conceived and is already backfiring. Reality can only be kept at bay for so long.

Read Less

CBS Controversy over Benghazi Interview Grows

A brief break from election news for an update on the growing controversy over CBS’s unearthed Obama interview about Benghazi. I wrote a longer post on this yesterday, but the basics are that CBS sat on footage from an Obama interview on September 12, when he declined point-blank to call Benghazi a terrorist attack shortly after his Rose Garden speech. CBS didn’t release this footage after the second debate–when it actually mattered–and instead, waited until two days before the election.

Washington Post media reporter Erik Wemple rips into the network:

Read More

A brief break from election news for an update on the growing controversy over CBS’s unearthed Obama interview about Benghazi. I wrote a longer post on this yesterday, but the basics are that CBS sat on footage from an Obama interview on September 12, when he declined point-blank to call Benghazi a terrorist attack shortly after his Rose Garden speech. CBS didn’t release this footage after the second debate–when it actually mattered–and instead, waited until two days before the election.

Washington Post media reporter Erik Wemple rips into the network:

Had this clip embedded itself in the news cycle after the town-hall debate, the following would have happened:

1) CBS News would have reaped millions of page views;

2) Mitt Romney’s slip-up in the town-hall debate over this issue would no longer look like as a slip-up; it’d look like a quest for accountability;

3) Team Obama would have had to spend days responding to questions about the discrepancy between what he said in the town-hall debate and what he’d told Kroft; and

4.) After that town-hall debate, Romney pretty much dropped Libya as a talking point. In a strategic move much observed by pundits, he declined to pound away on the topic in the final presidential debate, which centered on foreign policy. Had CBS News released what it had on hand, perhaps Romney would have had charged ahead with a Libya message.

As Wemple writes, there is basically no logical reason why CBS wouldn’t release the video, other than bias or unparalleled levels of incompetence. Not only did CBS have a public responsibility to do so, it would have also benefited from the millions of page-views and the acknowledgement that it had a major scoop all the way back on September 12.

It’s not that CBS forgot about the interview, or didn’t realize it was important, either. On October 23, CBS reported on State Department emails that indicated the administration knew the attack was terrorism within hours. Obama’s “60 Minutes” interview was quoted in the article, but it was used to suggest the opposite of what the full interview shows:

The emails are just a few in what are likely a large number traded throughout the night. They are likely to become part of the ongoing political debate over whether the administration attempted to mislead in saying the assault was an outgrowth of a protest, rather than a planned attack by terrorists.

Fourteen hours after the attack, President Obama sat down with Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes” for a previously scheduled interview and said he did not believe it was simply due to mob violence.

“You’re right that this is not a situation that was — exactly the same as what happened in Egypt and my suspicion is that there are folks involved in this who were looking to target Americans from the start,” Mr. Obama said.

Yes, Obama said on September 12 that the Benghazi attack wasn’t “exactly the same” as what happened in Egypt. But he also refused to call it a terrorist attack when asked directly. Wouldn’t the second item have been a lot more relevant to the question at hand?

Read Less

CBS Sat on Key Obama Benghazi Quote

Remember this clip from President Obama’s “60 Minutes” interview on September 12, where Obama seems to agree the Benghazi attack was more than just a spontaneous demonstration? CBS released it on October 19, and has used it to support the president’s claim that he called the attack “terrorism” from day one. 

But, as Bret Baier reports, that wasn’t the whole interview. CBS has just released new footage of Obama declining to call the attack terrorism when pressed, saying it’s “it’s too early to tell”:

Read More

Remember this clip from President Obama’s “60 Minutes” interview on September 12, where Obama seems to agree the Benghazi attack was more than just a spontaneous demonstration? CBS released it on October 19, and has used it to support the president’s claim that he called the attack “terrorism” from day one. 

But, as Bret Baier reports, that wasn’t the whole interview. CBS has just released new footage of Obama declining to call the attack terrorism when pressed, saying it’s “it’s too early to tell”:

KROFT: Mr. President, this morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word terrorism in connection with the Libya Attack, do you believe that this was a terrorism attack?

OBAMA: Well it’s too early to tell exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans. And we are going to be working with the Libyan government to make sure that we bring these folks to justice, one way or the other.  

Read Baier’s full analysis above, which gets into why this is so critical for the Benghazi timeline. In short, it’s a clear refutation of Candy Crowley, the White House, Obama’s comments during the debate, and the whole hopelessly spin-able “but he said it in the Rose Garden speech!” media. This interview was conducted immediately after Obama’s Rose Garden address. If the president had actually intended to call Benghazi a terrorist attack in the speech, he should have corrected Kroft when Kroft said “This morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word terrorism in connection with the Libya Attack.”

But he didn’t. In fact, when asked straight-up if he believed the attack was terrorism, Obama pointedly declined to use the t-word, saying “it’s too early to tell exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans.” He also called the attackers “folks,” which isn’t typically how you refer to terrorists. 

Obama’s “acts of terror” comments in the Rose Garden were exactly what they sounded like — weasel-words designed to give the White House cover on whatever narrative it chose to put out. He couldn’t answer Kroft’s question unequivocally, because at that point the White House was trying to avoid calling it a terrorist attack.

Why did CBS wait until two days before the election to release this? Why didn’t they release it immediately after the debate, since it contradicted a major point of contention? So far, no word from the network other than this non-response response (via Politico): “We’re proud of our Benghazi coverage, which from Libya to Washington has been the most comprehensive original reporting of any network.”

Read Less

A Nightmare Scenario

Let’s do a thought experiment. Let’s suppose that Barack Obama gets narrowly re-elected. And then, in a week or a month, the lid blows off the Benghazi story and what is now a trickle of leaks from bureaucrats protecting their butts turns into a flood.

The mainstream media that has been so studiously ignoring this story while the election was still to be won or lost will have no choice (and, indeed, every reason) to make it the big story it would have been had it happened on President McCain’s watch. And it turns out that Obama, to protect his re-election prospects, decided to sacrifice four American lives, including an ambassador, and spun a deliberate lie to mislead the public.

Read More

Let’s do a thought experiment. Let’s suppose that Barack Obama gets narrowly re-elected. And then, in a week or a month, the lid blows off the Benghazi story and what is now a trickle of leaks from bureaucrats protecting their butts turns into a flood.

The mainstream media that has been so studiously ignoring this story while the election was still to be won or lost will have no choice (and, indeed, every reason) to make it the big story it would have been had it happened on President McCain’s watch. And it turns out that Obama, to protect his re-election prospects, decided to sacrifice four American lives, including an ambassador, and spun a deliberate lie to mislead the public.

The fury, I suspect, would be boundless. The House, almost surely to remain in Republican hands, might well impeach the president. Only a majority vote is needed to impeach. The Senate, whichever way it goes, is probably unlikely to muster the two-thirds vote needed to convict. But would Obama be able to govern under those circumstances? This wouldn’t be about personal failings such as nearly brought President Clinton down, it would be about violating his oath of office.

If this political nightmare should come to pass, the cause of it will have been, of course, the president. But equally culpable will be the mainstream media that deliberately failed to do its duty in order to bring about a desired political result. Journalists rank with used-car salesmen and members of Congress in public esteem already. How much lower can they go?

Read Less

Benghazi and Obama’s Unfinished Business

As Max wrote on Friday, the explanations for the Pentagon to act in time to save the Americans trapped in the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on 9/11/12 are unraveling the more we learn about what happened and the real-time information that was available to decision makers. But though the facts about the incident continue to dribble out, the response from most of the mainstream media to this scandal remains one of indifference. Indeed, to listen to many liberal pundits, once President Obama put the issue to sleep in the second presidential debate with a significant assist from CNN’s Candy Crowley, the only people who continue to think about the issue are right-wing nutcases. That the president responded by “taking offense” to a question on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” about the information he and other senior officials might have known about the situation shows he thinks he can get away with the same sort of grandstanding he exhibited at that debate.

If the president’s campaign was counting on their cheerleaders in the mainstream media having their back on Libya, they were right. The latest developments in the story have gotten little or no play in major newspapers or networks other than Fox. Though foreign policy was never going to be a decisive factor in the presidential election, the relative silence about Benghazi has ensured that although the president says he “takes responsibility” for what happened, there is little chance he will be held accountable in any meaningful way about it before the presidential election. But like some other scandals that have been percolating below the radar, this is one more that will hang over the administration in the months and years to come. The best that can be said for the president is that if he wins next week, Benghazi will be added to the list that already contains items like the cyber-war security leaks and the “Fast and Furious” scandal that will haunt his second term. If he loses, it ensures the GOP will be able to continue to haul administration figures over the coals over these failures with impunity.

Read More

As Max wrote on Friday, the explanations for the Pentagon to act in time to save the Americans trapped in the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on 9/11/12 are unraveling the more we learn about what happened and the real-time information that was available to decision makers. But though the facts about the incident continue to dribble out, the response from most of the mainstream media to this scandal remains one of indifference. Indeed, to listen to many liberal pundits, once President Obama put the issue to sleep in the second presidential debate with a significant assist from CNN’s Candy Crowley, the only people who continue to think about the issue are right-wing nutcases. That the president responded by “taking offense” to a question on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” about the information he and other senior officials might have known about the situation shows he thinks he can get away with the same sort of grandstanding he exhibited at that debate.

If the president’s campaign was counting on their cheerleaders in the mainstream media having their back on Libya, they were right. The latest developments in the story have gotten little or no play in major newspapers or networks other than Fox. Though foreign policy was never going to be a decisive factor in the presidential election, the relative silence about Benghazi has ensured that although the president says he “takes responsibility” for what happened, there is little chance he will be held accountable in any meaningful way about it before the presidential election. But like some other scandals that have been percolating below the radar, this is one more that will hang over the administration in the months and years to come. The best that can be said for the president is that if he wins next week, Benghazi will be added to the list that already contains items like the cyber-war security leaks and the “Fast and Furious” scandal that will haunt his second term. If he loses, it ensures the GOP will be able to continue to haul administration figures over the coals over these failures with impunity.

As a political strategy, the president’s continuing outrage about questions about Libya has been successful. But it is one with a limited shelf life. Once the election is over, the stalling tactics won’t work. Sooner or later, answers must be forthcoming. If there is to be a scapegoat for the apparent decision to have U.S. forces “stand down” rather than rescue Ambassador Stevens and the other besieged Americans, you can bet it won’t be the man who says he “takes responsibility” for what happened.

It is possible a Romney administration will decide to pass on further investigations of Obama’s scandals in order to avoid being accused of petty partisanship or pointless recriminations. But if Obama wins but is still, as is likely, is faced with at least one branch of Congress in the hands of the Republicans, the accounting for Libya will become a major problem for the president. At that point, fake anger won’t be enough to derail serious investigations that could prove both embarrassing and damaging. Senator John McCain’s pointed comments about Libya yesterday on CBS constitute not so much a partisan talking point as a harbinger of what the president and his team will face in the future as Congress digs into the issue.

Presidents ardently desire second terms, but most find that the scandals, failures and fatigue that inevitably crop up turn those four years into a nightmare. President Obama may have dodged the bullet on Libya prior to the election, but if he wins, Benghazi will be one more bit of unfinished business that will come back to bite him.

Read Less

CNN Internal Email Contradicts Crowley’s “Fact-Check”

TMZ obtained an internal CNN “talking points” email sent by Managing Editor Mark Whitaker, defending Candy Crowley amid criticism of her performance at Tuesday’s debate. But not only does Whitaker misrepresent Crowley’s “fact-check” to make it sound more accurate, he also acknowledges that there is disagreement over whether President Obama referred to Benghazi as an “act of terror” in his Rose Garden speech (h/t Powerline):

“Let’s start with a big round of applause for Candy Crowley for a superb job under the most difficult circumstances imaginable. She and her team had to select and sequence questions in a matter of hours, and then she had to deal with the tricky format, the nervous questioners, the aggressive debaters, all while shutting out the pre-debate attempts to spin and intimidate her. She pulled it off masterfully. 

The reviews on Candy’s performance have been overwhelmingly positive but Romney supporters are going after her on two points, no doubt because their man did not have as good a night as he had in Denver. On the legitimacy of Candy fact-checking Romney on Obama’s Rose Garden statement, it should be stressed that she was just stating a point of fact: Obama did talk about an act (or acts) of terror, no matter what you think he meant by that at the time. On why Obama got more time to speak, it should be noted that Candy and her commission producers tried to keep it even but that Obama went on longer largely because he speaks more slowly. We’re going to do a word count to see whether, as in Denver, Romney actually got more words in even if he talked for a shorter period of time.

Nobody disputes that Obama “talk[ed] about an act (or acts) of terror” in the Rose Garden speech. But that’s not what Candy Crowley alleged during her impromptu “fact-check.” She claimed Obama specifically called Benghazi an act of terror, which is not clear from the speech. Here’s the exchange from the debate:

Read More

TMZ obtained an internal CNN “talking points” email sent by Managing Editor Mark Whitaker, defending Candy Crowley amid criticism of her performance at Tuesday’s debate. But not only does Whitaker misrepresent Crowley’s “fact-check” to make it sound more accurate, he also acknowledges that there is disagreement over whether President Obama referred to Benghazi as an “act of terror” in his Rose Garden speech (h/t Powerline):

“Let’s start with a big round of applause for Candy Crowley for a superb job under the most difficult circumstances imaginable. She and her team had to select and sequence questions in a matter of hours, and then she had to deal with the tricky format, the nervous questioners, the aggressive debaters, all while shutting out the pre-debate attempts to spin and intimidate her. She pulled it off masterfully. 

The reviews on Candy’s performance have been overwhelmingly positive but Romney supporters are going after her on two points, no doubt because their man did not have as good a night as he had in Denver. On the legitimacy of Candy fact-checking Romney on Obama’s Rose Garden statement, it should be stressed that she was just stating a point of fact: Obama did talk about an act (or acts) of terror, no matter what you think he meant by that at the time. On why Obama got more time to speak, it should be noted that Candy and her commission producers tried to keep it even but that Obama went on longer largely because he speaks more slowly. We’re going to do a word count to see whether, as in Denver, Romney actually got more words in even if he talked for a shorter period of time.

Nobody disputes that Obama “talk[ed] about an act (or acts) of terror” in the Rose Garden speech. But that’s not what Candy Crowley alleged during her impromptu “fact-check.” She claimed Obama specifically called Benghazi an act of terror, which is not clear from the speech. Here’s the exchange from the debate:

Romney: You said in the Rose Garden, the day after the attack, it was an act of terror? It was not a spontaneous demonstration? Is that what you’re saying?

Obama: Please proceed, Governor.

Romney: I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

Obama: Get the transcript.

Crowley: He did indeed, sir, call it an act of terror. [Applause from audience].

Obama: Can you say that a little louder Candy?

Crowley: [Laughing] He did call it an act of terror.

Whitaker also adds, “no matter what you think he meant by that at the time.” In other words, the meaning of the president’s speech was not cut-and-dried at the time, as Crowley claimed.

If she had interrupted to say that Obama had used the general term “act of terror” in the speech, as Whitaker implies she did in the email, nobody would have had a problem with it. But instead, she made a factual judgment on a point that was up for debate. Contrary to Whitaker’s email, it’s not only Romney supporters who thought she was out of line.

Read Less