A Shameful Week of Reporting Nets a BOW Award
July 5, 2008
What a week! It seems that with this being an abbreviated work week because of the 4th of July holiday, the usual idiots in the media and politics went out of their way to fit in a full week’s worth of buffoonery. So we have lots of choices for this installment of the BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award.
We begin, as we did last week, with a nomination from one of my loyal readers. It seems that an article came out in the New York Times this week written by Jacques Steinberg and edited by Steven Reddicliffe. The upshot of the article was that while Fox News reclaimed the ratings lead in its battle for cable news supremacy with CNN and MSNBC, long term rating trends seem pretty ominous for Fox. Their ratings are leveling off, even contracting a bit, while CNN is growing at a decent rate, and MSNBC is positively surging. Well, Fox and Friends co-anchors Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade didn’t like this story one bit. They claimed it was a “hit piece”. Fine, let them whine. They’re losing their audience anyway. But they also posted pictures of Steinberg and Reddicliffe during the story, and these pictures had been doctored to make the two Times employees look like freaks. Fox digitally yellowed the men’s teeth, they made Steinberg’s nose huge and exaggerated Reddicliffe’s forehead while moving back his hairline. Of course, they never admitted that they had done anything to the pictures. They just made it seem that this was how the men really looked. Sophomoric? Absolutely. Journalistic integrity doesn’t seem to be a big deal over there at Fox. No wonder they’re lagging behind their competitors.
Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana) and Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho). Remember these guys? If not, here’s a quick refresher course. Vitter, a family-values conservative from down on the Bajou, was implicated in a prostitution scandal a year or so ago. He claims to be “clean” now. And, of course, Larry Craig was arrested for soliciting sex in a men’s bathroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. Well these guys, both of them married of course, are back in the news again this week. No, it’s not what you think. They’re co-sponsors of the Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution. Seems these pillars of society want to preserve the sanctity of marriage by bashing gays. How noble. There’s so much more I could say, but really it’s just too easy. The word “hypocrisy” doesn’t do it justice.
While we’re on the topic, here’s a wonderful item from www.crooksandliars.com. The American Family Association, a right-wing “values” group, does a daily news roundup on its website. Those who maintain the site look for stories that might interest their constituency, mostly from the AP, and put them on the site. But one thing they always do is an auto replace on the stories to take out the word “gay” and put in its stead “homosexual.” Why? Who knows with these wingnuts. Maybe “homosexual” riles up the base more than “gay” does. Anyway, it’s not always a good idea to use that auto replace function. A story appeared last weekend that reported on the track and field Olympic trials victory in the 100 meter dash of one Tyson Gay. Except, when the AFA picked up the story and put it on their site, the auto replace did its thing. Seems the race was won by Tyson Homosexual.
This next one comes from Georgia, where gun rights proponents have been enboldened by the Supreme Court’s recent decision striking down the District of Columbia’s gun prohibition. Now it’s not that Georgia had a gun ban in place. On the contrary: Georgia has some of the most permissive gun laws in the nation, and has just passed a new law allowing concealed weapons in state parks, historic sites, restaurants, and public transportation areas. But Republican State Representative Timothy Bearden isn’t satisfied. He wants Georgians to be able to carry concealed weapons anywhere they want. Even airports. Yup. Let me note here that when Justice Antonin Scalia, hardly a left-wing gun rights opponent, wrote the DC gun decision, he noted that the court did not intend to cast doubt on the right of local and state governments to keep guns out of “sensitive” public places. But that didn’t stop Bearden and his pals. Bearden even threatened to take his handgun to the airport on Tuesday, for a legal showdown. He chickened out, but he and the organization GeorgiaCarry.org, have gone ahead with their legal challenge to the airport’s ban on guns. Which is good, because I know I’ll feel safer at the airport knowing that everybody is packing heat.
George Bush has a nomination this week. Coming off of two consecutive BOW Awards, you’d think that George might rest on his laurels. But this man is driven to maintain his status as America’s Buffoon In Chief. This week he earns his nomination in Afghanistan, where his neglect of the real war on terror has reaped grim results. Over the past two weeks, Afghanistan has surpassed Iraq as the deadliest venue for U.S. armed forces, the Taliban is resurgent and threatening the regime of U.S. ally Hamid Karzai, and the Pentagon has just announced that it is extending the tours of thousands of U.S. soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. It’s not just that Bush has wasted American lives and treasure on his immoral and illegal war in Iraq, it’s that he’s done so while neglecting a war that, sadly, needs to be fought and won.
John McCain also has a nomination, as he usually does. Remember the video that surfaced a couple of months back in which McCain told reporters that he was no economics expert? Actually he’s said something to this effect several times. Here’s one example. Well, now he’s denying that he ever said anything to this effect. Really. The video exists. LOTS of people have seen it. And he’s denying it. Does he think we won’t remember? Is it possible that he doesn’t remember? If the Obama campaign is smart (and we have ample evidence that it is) then all summer long we’ll be seeing ads that show McCain saying it and then denying it.
But the winners of this week’s BOW Award are the fools and ciphers in the mainstream press who have spent the past several days giving the lie to the myth of the “liberal press” by parroting McCain campaign talking points about General Wesley Clark. Wes Clark is a genuine American war hero. He served in Vietnam before being wounded. He received the Meritorious Service Medal for his service in Germany in the 1970s. He was NATO Commander during the American peacekeeping campaign in the Balkans. He was a supporter of Hillary Clinton and is now an advisor to and supporter of Barack Obama. Clark went on “Face the Nation” last Sunday and after saying “I certainly honor [John McCain's] service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me, and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in the armed forces, as a prisoner of war,” went on to say, “I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.”
In the days that followed, Clark was savaged in the media. He was accused of criticizing McCain’s military service (which he didn’t do), of denying McCain’s status as a war hero (which he didn’t do), and of engaging in personal and vindictive attacks on the Republican nominee (which he didn’t do). Read again the first half of Clark’s statement. He says that McCain was a hero, and he says he honors McCain’s service. But for years now the mainstream media has constructed a mythology of John McCain. Part of this is that McCain is a maverick, a straight-talker, a guy who stands up to his party. That’s patently false: he’s flip-flopped on more than a dozen major issues, all for political expedience, and in 2007 he voted with the Bush Administration 95% of the time. But the other half of the McCain media persona is that he is a war-hero whose five-year stint as a prisoner of war makes him uniquely qualified to be President. All that Clark did was challenge the last part of that myth. In what way does being shot down and held in a Vietnamese prison qualify John McCain to be President? Did it keep him from being wrong about Iraq again and again? Of course it didn’t. Does it give him expertise in dealing with economic issues or running an executive office? Of course it doesn’t. McCain has plenty of Senatorial experience — more than Obama does. That might be considered relevant experience. Obama has organizational experience that might also be relevant. But being a POW does not qualify McCain to be President. That’s all Clark said. And it’s true.
Rich Sanchez, on CNN, accused Clark of “swiftboating” John McCain! Are you kidding me? Swiftboating, if you’ll remember, refers to the efforts of the so-called “Swiftboat Veterans for Truth” to smear John Kerry during the 2004 Presidential campaign. It’s an expression that means to spread unfounded lies as a way of destroying a candidate’s political viability. What Wes Clark said was not swiftboating. It wasn’t even close, though Republicans would like to characterize it that way. Rick Sanchez (and Andrea Mitchell and Howard Kurtz and John Roberts and several others) don’t like the fact that a man of Wesley Clark’s credentials is challenging their “John McCain is a Maverick straight-talking war hero” narrative of the campaign. And so they have picked up the McCain campaign’s attacks on Clark and presented them as news. Fortunately, there is already a bit of a backlash forming against this; as Paul Krugman pointed out in his column yesterday, many in the press are starting to reexamine their coverage of Clark’s remarks.
Still, the press is doing it again with Obama’s remarks about Iraq earlier this week. Obama held a press conference in Fargo, North Dakota and stated that he would be traveling to Iraq in the near future and would use what he learned there to further refine his Iraq policy. Still, he said, he expected that he would be removing a brigade or two from Iraq every month and would complete the troop withdrawal within 16 months. You may or may not agree with that policy, but he has been saying the same thing for the better part of year. Still, the Republicans jumped on this and said that Obama was flip-flopping on Iraq, and the press believed them!
So, this week’s BOW Award goes to the entirety of the mainstream media for their inability to distinguish between fact and Republican talking points. Take a BOW there folks, you’ve earned it. And then for God’s sake, get your head out of your butts and start reporting the news!