Novak Cracks Under Pressure

Robert Novak, CNN commentator and Douchebag of Liberty, became enraged on Thursday’s episode of Inside Politics. After James Carville lightheartedly suggested that Novak was, “…trying to show these right-wingers that he’s got backbone,” Novak belched out that he thought that was “bullshit,” and then stomped off the set.

From my vantage point, it cannot be reasonably deduced that anything Carville said could have provoked Novak’s response. These guys mix it up much more aggressively than that on a regular basis. The explanation for Novak’s tantrum may lie in the comment made by host, Ed Henry, at the close of the show. Henry said that Novak was told that he would be asked about the CIA leak/Plame affair. Novak may have seized on this exchange in order to have an excuse to duck out before the Plame segment.

So how is the media handling this? If you visit CNN.com, which recently launched its video search feature to great fanfare, you can search for “Novak,” and get a link to the clip. But if you click on the link, all you will get is this:


As usual, the only constructive presentation of this event in the media was on the fake news program, “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” Thank God for fake news.

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Judith Miller’s “Conscience in Media” Award Revoked

According to Editors and Publishers:

The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) has voted unanimously to reverse an earlier decision to give its annual Conscience in Media award to jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

The ASJA’s First Amendment committee voted to honor Miller, but that decision was reversed by the full board. Thank heaven the board was not afflicted with whatever disease had stricken the committee. Anita Bartholomew, a member of the committee exhibiting a rare measure of immunity said:

“The First Amendment is designed to prevent government interference with a free press. Miller, by shielding a government official or officials who attempted to use the press to retaliate against a whistleblower, and scare off other would-be whistleblowers, has allied herself with government interference with, and censorship of, whistleblowers.

She subsequently resigned her post in protest. Her statement above, and her actions since present a superb example of the kind of courage and ethics that is so desperately needed in mainstream journalism. If the ‘Conscience in Media’ Award has not been given to someone else, I would like to nominate Ms. Bartholomew. She deserves our appreciation and respect. Feel free to throw some her way.

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anita@anitabartholomew.com


The O’Reilly Fear Factor: God vs. Science

Fear O'Reilly FactorWhen the anti-Darwin faction of the Flat Earth Society sought to legitimize their biblical belief that God, not evolution, produced the earth and its myriad life forms, they originally branded their sermonology as Creation Science. Apparently, that wasn’t good enough because now they’ve escalated the scientification of Genesis by dressing it up as Intelligent Design (ID). This is a peculiar positioning that is more suggestive of the development of the iPod than the origin of the species.

Common sense notwithstanding, the media is taking up this PR-incubated nomenclature and giving it parity with the time-tested science of evolution. But leave it to Bill O’Reilly to rocket this nonsense into the stratosphere.

In his Talking Points Memo for August 3, 2005, titled “God vs. Science,” he courageously takes God’s side. Presumably because he believes that God can hold his breath underwater longer than Science can.

“…the National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science both reject intelligent design and don’t want it mentioned in science classes. That, in my opinion, is fascism.”

He goes on to correctly point out that Genesis should not be taught in science class, but curiously, uses that as his argument for including ID because “evolution is not a universal belief.”

Mr. O’Reilly needs to be advised that evolution is not a belief at all. It is a scientific theory. ID is a belief that has no basis in science, hence its rejection by the respected institutions he himself cites. But in his comments he contradicts himself by endorsing the view that evolution is accepted science, then insisting it be compared with faith-based propaganda.

“This isn’t a complicated matter. Public schools have an obligation to present all subjects in perspective…But if you’re going to discuss the biological procedure of abortion, for example, you have a responsibility to tell students that half the country feels it’s morally wrong.”

I wish I could ask him why there is a responsibility, in a discussion of biology, to tell students that some people have moral objections to a procedure. Many people have moral objections to vaccinations, organ transplants, or psychoactive drugs. Should medical students have to stop at the end of every chapter and be told that, “this procedure is opposed by Lutherans and Hindus?”

Such disclaimers would be mandatory in O’Reilly’s world where facts have no standing and science is fascism.


Pentagon Taps Document Shredder For Top Post

You just have to wonder what’s on the agenda when having document shredder on your resume helps you land a job at the Pentagon. The Los Angeles Times reported that Robert Earl has been hired as Chief of Staff to Acting Deputy Secretary of State, Gordon England. England has been nominated by Bush to replace Paul Wolfowitz, who has gone on to head the World Bank.

In 1987, Robert L. Earl told a grand jury that he had destroyed and stolen national security documents while working for Lt. Col. Oliver L. North during the Iran-Contra scandal.

Now, he sits in one of the most coveted offices in the Pentagon as chief of staff to Gordon R. England, acting deputy secretary of Defense. Earl has clearance to review the kinds of classified documents he once destroyed.

Earl was granted immunity in exchange for testifying so we can’t call him a felon. But his criminal behavior should disqualify him for any position in public service, particularly one that requires a security clearance. The audacity of this administration appointing someone with so little regard for the law or national security, is boundless. Imagine the reaction from the right if Democrats were to give a sensitive post to Sandy Berger, the former Clinton National Security Advisor who pled guilty to removing documents from the National Archives. Fox News alone would spend three days on it.

Earl, if confirmed would join his Iran-Contra co-conspirators Elliot Abrams and John Poindexter in an administration rife with corrupt power players. And serving as a role model for these evildoers, and all the young aspiring evildoers, is the master, Karl Rove, who is earning his own criminal stripes even now with his involvement in the Plame affair.

This is the time to call on the Limbaughs, O’Reilly’s, Hannitys, etc., and see if their ethics are functional; see if they’ll support a confessed document shredder who lied to the FBI; see if they would have any problem with a Berger appointment to the DNC or Democratic Senatorial staff; see if there are any limits to their hypocracy.

But who will ask them? The media? Yeah, right. Its up to us…again.


FreePress.net Stumbles On Shield Law For Plame Leakers


media is the issue: www.freepress.net

FreePress.net has begun a new campaign to promote the passage of a Federal Shield Law for reporters and are making Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper their poster children. The folks at FreePress are amongst the biggest heroes of the media reform movement. The criticism that follows should not be construed as a call to withhold support from them. But, in my opinion, they are off-track on this matter.

There is a distinction between bona fide whistleblowing and conspiring with individuals or agencies in government to pursue a political vendetta against their enemies.

All the facts are not in yet, but I don’t believe that the reporter’s privilege applies if, for instance, Karl Rove called Judith Miller and recruited her to plant a story for the purpose of punishing Amb. Joe Wilson for criticising the administration.

There is nothing even remotely resembling a whistleblower case here. A whistleblower seeks to disclose information of wrongdoing that the government or others want to keep secret at the public’s expense. Valerie Plame was not engaged in wrongdoing and the disclosure of her identity was not in the public’s interest. It was political payback and the reporters involved are acting as co-conspirators, not journalists.

I support a Federal Shield Law for reporters, but by citing the Miller/Cooper case they are infecting the argument with the illegitimacy of their claims. Reporters do need to be able to protect their sources without fear of legal consequences when engaged in the conduct of their profession as journalists, but not when they are acting on behalf of government hitmen and promoting propaganda. That’s not protecting your sources, that’s protecting your accomplices.

Update: There are reports swirling that Karl Rove was, indeed, Matt Cooper’s source. Despite the White House’s protestations to the contrary, It appears that Rove was planting the Plame story. He has denied having done so, but now his denials are getting murkier. He may still weasel out of this because it is not illegal to disclose the identity of a covert agent if you didn’t know she was covert. It might be difficult to prove what Rove knew when he outted Plame. But he may still have some legal headaches. If he told Special Counsel Fitzgerald, or the grand jury, that he was not the source, he may be facing a perjury charge.

We can dream can’t we?


The Media: Stenographers To Power

Yesterday, the President gave what the White House called, “a major speech,” and all of the national broadcast networks chose to carry it. Despite the fact that the speech was given at Ft. Bragg, before a military audience, with a manufactured backdrop, and only other Republican partisans present, the media concluded that this was not actually a rally to promote the President’s agenda.

What was the message that qualified this speech as a major event?

Let’s take a look at what he said:

“My greatest responsibility as President is to protect the American people. And that’s your calling, as well. I thank you for your service, your courage and your sacrifice.”
That’s certainly not new. Everyone’s praising the courage and sacrifice of our military. It would be nice if the president exercised his responsibility to protect the American people from global warming, Social Security and pension default, absence of healthcare, and offshoring of jobs.

“The terrorists who attacked us — and the terrorists we face — murder in the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent.”
This is just the president condemning the evil of our enemies and falsely linking 9/11 to Iraq. He does that all the time. He also hates freedom (flag burning amendment), rejects tolerance (10 commandments monument), and despises all dissent (expelling dissidents from tax-payer funded public appearances).

“The terrorists believe that free societies are essentially corrupt and decadent…”
He just borrowed this from Focus on the Family and other extremist Christian fundamentalists who describe the U.S. in these terms. Again, nothing newsworthy.

“Some wonder whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. Among the terrorists, there is no debate. Hear the words of Osama Bin Laden: “This Third World War is raging” in Iraq. “The whole world is watching this war.” He says it will end in “victory and glory, or misery and humiliation.”
It might be considered news that the President is adopting Osama Bin Laden’s view of geo-political conflict, but Bin Laden is not being particularly original here either. He’s merely saying that the war that Bush started is going to be won or lost, and that will be either good or bad, depending on where you stand.

Here’s the part that the President himself considers newsworthy:
“To further prepare Iraqi forces to fight the enemy on their own, we are taking three new steps:”

First, we are partnering coalition units with Iraqi units…Second, we are embedding coalition “transition teams” inside Iraqi units…Third, we’re working with the Iraqi Ministries of Interior and Defense to improve their capabilities to coordinate anti-terrorist operations.
If these are indeed new steps, we are in bigger trouble than I thought. These ought to have been steps taken the day after he declared “Mission Accomplished” from the deck of the aircraft carrier. In fact, the administration has been telling us for months that they have been working hard to get Iraqis ready to take on their own security. What’s newsworthy here is the incompetence and neglect of this president and his team who now announce these as new measures.

“…they are waging a campaign of murder and destruction. And there is no limit to the innocent lives they are willing to take.”
There is also no limit to the hypocracy of an administration that is reponsible for the deaths of up to 100,000 innocent Iraqis, many times more that the insurgency can, or ever will, be able to claim.

“In this time of testing, our troops can know: The American people are behind you.”
Except the liberals who, according to Karl Rove, want to put, “…America’s men and women in uniform in greater danger.”

The substance of this speech offered nothing even remotely newsworthy. The President told us that our military is good and that our enemies are bad. He told us that we can beat up any kid on the block because we’re #1. He repeated the lies connecting Iraq with 9/11. What he didn’t do is provide any coherent explanation for why we are there to a populace that now believes going there was a mistake. He didn’t provide any details on what our goals are or how we recognize success. He left us exactly where we were before the speech: In an open-ended, directionless, adventure in imperialism.

It could not be more obvious that the whole of this speech had a single purpose: To prop up the President as the public’s support for his illegal war plummets and takes down his approval ratings as well. But, sadly, it does need to be more obvious to the national media who scurried to preempt regular programming so that this PR puff piece could be broadcast live. The media has again reinforced its reputation as stenographers to power. They’ve shown neither journalistic discretion nor integrity as they seek only to promote the elites of the leadership and corporatist classes. In their role as flacks for the president, they have proven, once more, that the media is dead.

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Karl Rove – Master Disassembler

Rove Understands
For those who think the President has raised prevarication (that means disassembling) to new heights, today we were witness to a lesson from the President’s Guru.

Karl Rove, in a speech to the Conservative Party of New York State, showed what it takes to make a truly repulsive ass of oneself. With the quote featured here, Rove manages to insult all Americans, including the survivors and families of 9/11, yet still demonstrate how much he and his ilk value ignorance.

First, the record should be clear that all Americans were equally outraged and determined to seek justice for the attacks on 9/11. Rove’s remarks are entirely without foundation and were made deliberatly to create a division within our nation. Adding this rhetorical fuel the divisiveness that already burdens our citizens makes it that much more difficult to resolve the problems we face domestically and internationally, including the war on terrorism. It is a kind of treason that seeks to divide, in order to secure a purely political conquest at the expense of our soldiers, families, and global reputation.

Second, putting aside the nausia-inducing insult, the substance of his comments are nothing short of numbingly stupid. They reek of a schoolyard bullyism that seeks only a heated revenge. A lashing out blindly without really caring what you hit. Understanding an enemy does not mean embracing them in a warm and comforting hug. It is a necessity in order to outflank, outsmart, and, ultimately, prevail over them. Understanding an enemy is as aggressive an act as bombing them, and it makes all the other aggressive actions you undertake more effective. Understanding an enemy is the core mission of intelligence gathering.

This administration has proven, once again, that intelligence is not its strong suit. But this time they did it by disparaging a broad swath of America’s populace. This time they demonstrated conclusively that they care more about partisanship than unity. This time Rove goes beyond impugning the motives of his political opponents:

Rove Motives

This is his clear statement that he believes the motives of liberals are to put “America’s men and women in uniform in greater danger.” No more needs to be said about the motives of Karl Rove.

The past week saw a virtual firestorm from the press as it fluttered excitedly about Senator Durbin for having, accurately, recounted FBI reports of torture being inflicted by interragators at Guantanamo. Will the press apply the same standard to the White House? I wish I could say I was optimistic, but…..oh, come on.


Corporation For Propaganda Broadcasting: Part II

gopbsAs if having longtime Republican Kenneth Tomlinson chairing the CPB and pushing for former RNC chairwoman Pat Harrison for CEO wasn’t bad enough, now we have fiscal impropriety and more politics.

Investigators at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are examining $15,000 in payments to two Republican lobbyists last year that were not disclosed to the corporation’s board, people involved in the inquiry said on Wednesday…..One of the lobbyists was retained at the direction of the corporation’s Republican chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, they said, and the other at the suggestion of his Republican predecessor…..The investigators, in the corporation’s inspector general’s office, are also examining $14,170 in payments made under contracts – which Mr. Tomlinson took the unusual step of signing personally, also without the knowledge of board members…

One of the lobbyists, Brian Darling, who was paid $10,000, is the former aide to Senator Mel Martinez of Florida. He resigned after he was identified as the author of a memorandum describing how to exploit politically the Terri Schiavo affair. The other lobbyist was Mark Buse, a former top aide to Senator John McCain.

On the political front…
Item: Senator Byron L. Dorgan, (D-ND), requested the lobbyist’s reports about Bill Moyer’s “Now” program, but Tomlinson provided him instead with the raw data used to produce the reports. The data described Senator Chuck Hagel, R-NE), as a “liberal” due to his appearance on a segment that questioned the Bush Administration’s policies in Iraq. Hagel, of course, is a reliable conservative with an occassional maverick streak. Another segment about financial waste at the Pentagon was classified as “anti-Defense,” These reports represent a clear misuse of taxpayer money for partisan political purposes. Dorgan, along with Senators Clinton (D-NY) and Lautenberg (D-NJ) sent Tomlinson a letter asking that he suspend his efforts on behalf of Patricia Harrison, the former RNC co-chair he favors as the corporation’s next president.

Item: E-mail messages show that Tomlinson directed Kathleen Cox, then president of the corporation, to send material to Mary C. Andrews, the White House director of global communications. They show that Ms. Andrews worked on a variety of ombudsman issues before joining the corporation, while still on the White House payroll. A month later, Mr. Tomlinson said in an interview that he did not think he had instructed a anyone to send material on the ombudsman project to Ms. Andrews, a political appointee. Copies of the e-mail messages were given to the New York Times, under an agreement of anonymity, by a senior CPB executive who is concerned about Tomlinson’s stewardship. The e-mails show a clear violation of the CPB’s charter to act as a buffer to prevent political influence over PBS.

Item: The White House has nominated Dina Powell, currently the White House personnel director, to the post of deputy under secretary of state for public diplomacy, reporting to former Bush advisor, Karen P. Hughes. Senator Joe Biden has held up the nomination because of the White House’s attempt to remove Norman J. Pattiz, a major figure on the Broadcasting Board of Governors that oversees American international broadcasting efforts.

“When I called the White House and asked why my name wasn’t sent forward, they said that it was under review,” Mr. Pattiz said. “It was under review because my name had appeared in a Kerry campaign ad last year. That’s the explanation I got.”

The Broadcast Board of Governors is, by law, made up of four Republicans and four Democrats. So the White House is seeking to punish a board member for his political affiliation when such affiliation is a de facto condition of board membership. Should Pattiz not be renominated, his replacement would also have to be a Democrat. Also, sources in the Senate said Mr. Pattiz had tangled with Tomlinson [him again] over Tomlinson’s interference in staff decisions that were within Pattiz’ jurisdiction. Think that has anything to do with his stalled renomination?

As I’ve said before, the CPB is history. Who’s up for creating a new public broadcasting funding institution?

Update:
The latest bad news for Tomlinson is that 16 senators signed a letter to President Bush calling for Tomlinson to be fired. The article describing this development also contains this gem:

In a letter to Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, on May 24, Mr. Tomlinson said he saw no need to consult with the board about the contract with the researcher, Fred Mann, because it was “approved and signed by then CPB President, Kathleen Cox.” But a copy of the contract provided by a person unhappy with Mr. Tomlinson’s leadership shows that Mr. Tomlinson signed it on Feb. 3, 2004, five months before Ms. Cox became president.

The sleaze goes on…..


The Corporation For Propaganda Broadcasting

Can the propaganda machine get any more obvious?

A former co-chairman of the Republican National Committee is the leading candidate to take over the agency that funds public broadcasting, sparking new concerns among broadcasters about conservative influence over National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting Service programming.

Patricia de Stacy Harrison, a high-ranking official at the State Department, is one of two candidates for the top job at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and is the favored candidate of the CPB’s chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson…

Tomlinson, a longtime Republican, is the current chairman of CPB and has already taken overtly partisan steps to remake the organization as a publicly financed Fox News. He recruited conservative pundit, Tucker Carlson, and Wall Street Journal editorial page editor, Paul Gigot to host their own shows. He also engaged in ethically-questionable tactics to discredit Bill Moyers, former host of PBS’ Now.

As for Harrison, she has worked as a fund raiser for Republican candidates, including Bush. She also praised the work of the State Department’s Office of Broadcasting Services, which was behind the production of the kind of video news releases that the General Accounting office ruled was illegal propaganda.

Aside from Tomlinson, the CPB board is now dominated by Republicans, and the possibility of averting a complete meltdown to right-wing hackery is frighteningly remote. In addition to the NeoCon coup at CPB, a House subcommittee voted yesterday to reduce funding for PBS by 25%. The strategy is clear: Starve the beast to weaken it, then put a yoke around its neck.

It may be time for the 41% of Americans who rank PBS as the most trusted source for news to cease to rely on the CPB as a funding source for PBS. Perhaps its time for public funding that is actually accountable to the public. If we value free expression and principled journalism, maybe we need to set up our own mechanism for providing it.

I propose we explore the formation of a public/private partnership to raise funds for PBS programming that is untainted by political bias. This group would have clearly defined bylaws that would prevent any mischief by partisans. If it were successful enough, it could free PBS from the control of those who recently tried to censor such dangerous programs as The Teletubbies and Postcards From Buster.

The downside to this is that its success would fuel further attempts by the GOP to eliminate CPB funding entirely. They would point to this effort as evidence that tax money isn’t needed to pay for PBS. I submit that they are going down that road anyway. To the extent that they do not, they will muscle in their own philosophical imprint, which would result in more harm than good. Consequently, I don’t believe we have anything to lose. There may even be a long-shot benefit as a result of publicity that would motivate the public to demand a return to unmediated public funding.

Previous attempts were made to castrate PBS by arguing that cable would obviate the need for tax-payer funding, citing networks like Bravo and Discovery. These networks are now better known for Queer Eye and American Chopper than for true quality, public interest programming.There is no alternative to public television and the loss of it would be incalculable. We need to take it into our own hands to save it, and we need to start now.


Deadline News

Papers Reach Iraq Boiling Point
Many of the nation’s newspaper editorialists have roused themselves from seeming acceptance of the continuing slaughter in Iraq to voice outright condemnation of the war.

The Russert Watch
During his ‘Meet the Press’ appearance, RNC chair Ken Mehlman was allowed to distort, twist, manipulate and obfuscate his way through every stop on the disinformation highway.

‘USA Today’ Defends Lack of Coverage for Downing Street Memo
In a report on President Bush’s joint press conference late yesterday afternoon with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, USA Today for the first time mentioned the so-called Downing Street Memo, first reported in London’s Sunday Times on May 1.

A State Run News Service?
After years of trying to destroy public broadcasting from without, right-wing Republicans are now trying to do so from within, by planting aggressive conservatives on the board and staff.

Front-Runner for Public Broadcast Agency Job Is Former GOP Chair
Patricia de Stacy Harrison, a high-ranking official at the State Department, is one of two candidates for the top job at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and is the favored candidate of the CPB’s chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson.

Remixing the blogosphere
Bloggers may have sparked a media revolution by democratising journalism, but there are early signs that a new breed of website will take the idea further. Online independent media hubs are letting people collaborate in new ways.

Media companies look for ownership resolution
Merger activity among U.S. media companies is likely to remain on “pause” while federal regulators and courts try to resolve a long-running debate on the industry’s ownership rules.