Media Blog

NRO’s MSM watchdog.

CBS to Outsource Reporting


Fascinating NY Times report:

CBS, the home of the most celebrated news division in broadcasting, has been in discussions with Time Warner about a deal to outsource some of its news-gathering operations to CNN, two executives briefed on the matter said Monday.

Over the last decade, CNN has held intermittent talks with both ABC News and CBS News about various joint ventures. But during the last several months, talks with CBS have been revived and lately intensified, according to the executives who asked for anonymity because of the confidential nature of the negotiations.

Broadly speaking, the executives described conversations about reducing CBS’s news-gathering capacity while keeping its frontline personalities, like Katie Couric, the CBS Evening News anchor, and paying a fee to CNN to buy the cable network’s news feeds.

Another possibility, these people said, would be for CBS to keep its correspondents in certain regions but pair them with CNN crews.

This story was accompanied by a picture of a weepy Katie Couric. Ouch.

CBS is denying the report, but what exactly would be wrong with the arrangement? Like most broadcast TV news, CBS’s operation is more a delivery apparatus than a reporting apparatus. When was the last time the CBS Evening News broke a major story? No, I mean one that was true. Broadcast television isn’t really set up to do the sort of in-depth work that print is good for, and it’s less effective than the Internet for you-need-to-know-this-now news. Half the time, TV guys are reading the AP afternoon digest. Outsourcing the reporting to CNN might be an improvement. Fox News might be even better.

I’ve always thought that the broadcast networks would be better off ditching the high-dollar on-air talent, paying a couple of dinner-theater-caliber pretty faces to read the news, and putting those saved millions into reporting. You don’t need to be savvy to read the news; you just need to know how to read. A pleasing face and a sonorous voice would be a bonus. The rest of the world calls them “newsreaders,” but our networks like to pretend that they’re salty reporters pulled from the ranks of the ink-stained wretches. Having celebrated personalities as anchors isn’t just an unprofitable investment; there’s plenty of evidence that they’re more trouble than they’re worth.

How ever did the world survive without Kathie Lee on morning TV?


A photo from Kathie Lee’s first day at work on the Today show:


NYC Radio Station Censors Pro-Israel Ad


From Today’s NY Post (Why this is in Page Six and not some other section is a mystery to me):

April 8, 2008 — WQXR, the sleepy classical radio station owned by the New York Times, likes to avoid upsetting listeners with anything remotely controversial – and that has a prominent Jewish group crying foul.

The Manhattan-based American Jewish Committee, founded in 1906 to help “safeguard and strengthen Jews and Jewish life worldwide,” says station brass unfairly killed a paid 60-second commentary about bombings carried out against Israel by the militant Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas.

Here’s the text of the ad, as reported by the Post:

“Imagine you had 15 seconds to find shelter from an incoming missile. Fifteen seconds to locate your children, help an elderly relative, assist a disabled person to find shelter. That’s all the residents of Sderot and neighboring Israeli towns have. Day or night, the sirens go on. Fifteen seconds later, the missiles, fired from Hamas-controlled Gaza, hit . . . Their aim is to kill and wound and demoralize . . . This is what Israelis experience daily.”

Muslim spared speeding ban in Scotland so he can drive between his 2 wives


The latest from Britain where sharia law seems to be creeping in by the day.

The Daily Mail, one of Britain’s leading newspapers, reports on Scottish restaurant owner Mohammed Anwar, who successfully persuaded a Scottish court that a driving ban would make it difficult for him to commute between his two wives and “fulfill his matrimonial duties.”

His lawyer told the court that Anwar has one wife in Motherwell and another in Glasgow (both are Scottish cities) and sleeps with them on alternate nights. Anwar is allowed up to four wives under his Muslim religion, but I didn’t know that British law apparently now permits this too.

Caught speeding between wives: Mohammed Anwar.
Imagine how he would drive if he had four wives

Anwar had been caught driving at 64 mph in a 30 mph zone in Glasgow, fast enough to qualify for instant disqualification, and to kill someone. Anwar admitted the offense, but Scottish Court Sheriff John C. Morris accepted his plea not to be banned and allowed him to keep his license.

Lorna Jackson, from the British road safety charity Brake, called the decision “astonishing.”

Quite so. (More here from Scotland’s leading newspaper, The Scotsman.)

* Among some of my previous items on creeping sharia in Europe:

Dutch Catholic Bishop tells Christians to call God “Allah”
Scottish hospital staff ordered not to eat at desks during Ramadan
“Muslim Jesus” to get primetime billing on British TV
British nurses told to turn muslims’ beds to face Mecca
Muslim checkout staff get an alcohol opt-out clause
Muslim store worker refuses to sell “unclean” Bible book to grandmother

The Matrix, Reloaded


Last year’s New York Women in Communications’ Matrix luncheon, hosted by Rosie O’ Donnell, caused controversy and generated headlines. Monday’s lunch, with Top Chef’s Padma Lakshmi as Master of Ceremonies, was as uncontroversial as the accompanying cold chicken salad. Each year, the Matrix Luncheon honors Manhattan’s top media women. This year’s was a very huggy-kissy affair, with each presenter planting a big wet one on his or her honoree. Arthur Sulzberger Jr. smooched the New York Times’s soon-to-be-retired Linda Greenhouse, who won for newspapers. Chef Wolfgang Puck bussed Ruth Reichl, Gourmet magazine’s editor-in-chief who won for magazines. And Bob Woodruff not only hugged and kissed ABC President Anne Sweeney but called her Anne Sweetie. He said he had called her that once before when he was having trouble with words. This time he did it, he said, on purpose.

Maybe because Hillary’s campaign is deflating, none of the honoree’s speeches were in the “Women Should Rule the World” mode that has sometimes characterized the event. Instead, they thanked parents, children, husbands, bosses, clients, and each other. Only Diana von Furstenberg, who won the Lifetime Achievement Award seemed a bit miffed after her presenter, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, described her as someone born during the war whose family had suffered in the Holocaust. Diana, wearing the brightest dress on the stage, declared, “I have to get one thing straight. I was born after the war. I’m old but I’m not that old.”

But that was the extent of this year’s controversy. It was a very lady-like affair — a welcome change from last year’s unpleasantness.


Pulitzers Announced


Winners here. Congrats especially to Mike Ramirez, whose work is frequently featured in National Review.

Why Rush Limbaugh is No. 1


Limbaugh’s ratings are highest during his commercials:

The study found that Mr. Limbaugh’s share of radio listeners was greatest during commercials, beating his share during on-air segments by 0.18 percentage point.

Warren Kurtzman, the vice president of Coleman, said that Mr. Limbaugh’s audience tuned in during commercials so as not to miss the beginning of each segment. “His shares at the beginning of each hour are tremendous,” Mr. Kurtzman said.

The study also found that Mr. Limbaugh did worst during minutes in which he was expressing approval, with a 5.43 percent average share of listeners. He had 5.71 percent of listeners when expressing negative opinions and 5.81 percent when he was neutral. “People are tuning in to hear his beefs with the world,” Mr. Kurtzman said.

NY Times Reporter Arrested in Zimbabwe Out on Bail


Barry Bearak is out on bail, but this sounds suspicious:

Under the terms of his bail, Mr. Bearak was released to a clinic; he suffered some injuries as the result of a fall from the concrete bunk in his cell to the floor, seven feet below.

Media Shrinkage


Decent business reporting from Media Post:

LIKE HAPLESS GEORGE COSTANZA IN “Seinfeld,” legacy media companies are desperately trying to convince their shareholders that shrinkage is a transient phenomenon. Investors should not judge them by a few bad quarters, they argue, because it’s all part of the “transition” to digital publishing. The economic waters are so chilly that any company would look bad. But a broad survey of the fortunes of big media companies from 2003-2007 suggests that recession or no, they will end up smaller and confirm George’s worst nightmare: Shrinkage is here to stay. 

WaPo Behind the Curve


Tired: Washington Post on DARPA.

Wired: Wired on IARPA. 

Wired seems to understand the real lesson of DARPA, which is nearly lost on WaPo’s “Federal Diary” columnist Stephen Barr: DARPA works because it doesn’t act like a government agency. It acts like a venture capital firm. 

Reporters Charged with Illegally Covering Election


President Mugabe wants to see your press card – or else. 

Harare – The lawyer for two foreign journalists arrested while covering Zimbabwe’s elections made an urgent application on Sunday for the release of the two men on the third day of their detention.

Barry Bearak, a correspondent for the New York Times and Stephen Bevan, a freelance journalist with the Sunday Telegraph, were arrested on Thursday during a police raid on a tourist lodge in Harare, in an attempted crackdown on the scores of foreign journalists covering the elections without accreditation.

President Robert Mugabe’s media authorities granted accreditation to only a handful of foreign journalists from what they called “friendly countries”.

Lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa filed papers in the High Court in Harare after being told by police that the pair now faced “new charges” of “illegally observing elections without accreditation.”

My love for Libby’s loaded ledes


The AP’s Libby Quaid is becoming famous, in an infamous sort of way, for her heavily-laden ledes. Normally, these brief intro paragraphs merely tell a reader what the story’s about. But Quaid’s do so much more. They take a reader someplace he or she never really expected to go. For example:

Temper, temper.

Republican John McCain is known for his.

He’s been dubbed “Senator Hothead” by more than one publication, but he’s also had some success extracting his hatchet from several foreheads.

To paraphrase Churchill, some foreheads, some hatchet. That Quaid gem ran last February, just a few days before the appearance of my favorite Libby lede, one that ran under a USA Today headline that managed to dumb down Tammy Wynette:

Cindy McCain, like others, stands by man

…waiting for a bus, maybe. Libby’s story was an elaboration of that embarrassing attempt last February by the NY Times to assassinate McCain’s character by claiming that just maybe he had had an affair with a lobbyist. Although it wasn’t exactly a scoop, it was front-page innuendo. (I snarked about it here.) The AP’s follow-up cried out for a good Libby lede, and she delivered like Domino’s:

Cindy McCain did not hesitate as she stepped toward the microphone, taking her place in the history of political wives who stood by their men in the face of rumored or alleged marital infidelity.

“Well, obviously, I’m disappointed,” she said, her voice low but clear and self-assured.

Cindy McCain might have hesitated a little if she’d realized she was stepping into Libby Quaid’s feverish mind, since it turned out that Cindy McCain wasn’t actually disappointed in her husband. She was disappointed in people like Libby Quaid. The story ended with Quaid comparing Cindy McCain with the wives of Jim McGreevey, Kwame Kilpatrick and other men whose “rumored marital infidelity” must have had something to do with her husband. The story stung like a hatchet to the forehead!

Today’s Libby lede is from the campaign trail where Quaid is covering Sen. Hothead, R-Arizona:

Republican John McCain insists last year’s U.S. troop buildup in Iraq brought a glimmer of “something approaching normal” there, despite a recent outbreak of heavy fighting and an American death toll that has surpassed 4,000.

The hidden message? Let me explain, drawing on my own professional experience: Quaid thinks McCain is wrong about Iraq. It’s subtle, yes, but if you read past the lede, you too could tell because in the actual piece itself, Libby carefully added some balance to McCain’s comments, which were obviously biased in favor of McCain.

Here’s how that works:

First, McCain says something about Iraq. Then Libby adds a “despite” to her lede and piles on with this:

The presidential nominee-in-waiting is closely tied to the unpopular, 5-year-old war. McCain was a vocal advocate of the troop increase strategy eventually adopted by President Bush, and is seeking to convince people the strategy is working.

Next, McCain says blah, blah, something about success in Iraq. Libby helps him get back on track:

In either Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Obama, McCain will face a Democratic rival who disputes the claims of success and seeks a swift withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Debate will intensify this week as Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker testify to Congress. Clouding their testimony is fighting that erupted late last month as U.S.-trained Iraqi forces attempted to oust Shiite militias from Basra in southern Iraq.

McCain: A bunch of stats and a comment about how well the surge is working.

Despite the positive numbers he cited, 2007 — the year of the troop buildup — was the deadliest yet.

McCain: Fixing Iraq’s going to take time and lots of dough.

And he insisted he could rally support from the majority of Americans — even though, according to public opinion surveys, they believe the war is going badly and the troop buildup has not helped.

Two “despites” and one “even though”? See, that’s what I love about Libby. She doesn’t just report. She debates! So you can decide how right she is. (Technically speaking, in J-school this cut-and-comment technique is called a Lizzy Borden Surgical Edit, named after a 19th century Massachusetts freelancer who also had some success extracting her hatchet from several foreheads.)

This is Libby’s first campaign. Her last AP gig was as the “food and farm writer.” In 2005, she almost won a top award for her hard-hitting ag-writing. A typical Libby-lede, country-style:

America’s appetite for organic food is so strong that supply just can’t keep up with demand. Organic products still have only a tiny slice, about 2.5 percent, of the nation’s food market. But the slice is expanding at a feverish pace.

Despite her discovery of feverishly expanding slices of the nation’s food market, she didn’t win the food and farm writers’ award, even though she came very close.

I was for John McCain right before I was against him


Vintage John Kerry from Sunday’s interview with Chris Wallace:

WALLACE: Back in 2004, you spoke very differently about John McCain. You considered him as a possible vice presidential running mate.

In May of 2004, you said that McCain was your first choice to be secretary of defense, and that’s at a time when we had already been in Iraq for more than a year, sir.

KERRY: No, I didn’t say that, and I…

WALLACE: You didn’t say which, sir?

KERRY: I didn’t say that he was my first choice. I said he was somebody…

WALLACE: Well, it was a quote from May 2004.

KERRY: But let me be very clear about John McCain in 2004. John McCain in 2004 was a Senator John McCain who had opposed the Bush tax cuts, who had indicated at that point in time a very different attitude on any number of subjects from global climate change to how you treat the powerful in Washington.

Nomination John McCain is a different person. He is now supporting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Well worth reading the entire interview.

Religious Left Mourn Anti-Wright Media


Mike Thomas of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the folks at Barack Obama’s church are telling the supposedly anti-Obama, anti-Jeremiah Wright news media to back off. Joined by the national muckety-mucks of the United Church of Christ and the National Council of Churches, the Trinity spinners sought to tie the wrong Rev. Wright directly to Martin Luther King:

The National Council of Churches’ general secretary, the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, and United Church of Christ general minister and president John H. Thomas also spoke. Both echoed Moss’ sentiments.

“[W]e are not here to try to stir up the controversy around Trinity church,” said Thomas, who has called for a nationwide “sacred conversation” about race in America. “We’re here to call for a new conversation, a sacred conversation, a holy conversation … that is not in denial about where we are in this country, but that seeks to claim the challenge that we can, in fact, as Dr. King said, make America a better place.”

CNN’s Susan Roesgen presented what looked like a completely supine video press release on this event for “The Situation Room” yesterday. The nosy reporters! The bomb threats! The national media is ruining the “sacred space”! Won’t this nitpicking of Martin Luther Wright go away?

There’s just one problem with this line of rhetoric: since when is it a “holy conversation” about race to rant “God damn America”? What is “sacred” in declaring that America deserved the terrorist attacks of 9/11? It’s quite absurd to suggest that Reverend Wright’s critics are sullying a sacred conversation with political smears. His sermons were political smears.

PS: AP reporter Christopher Wills added that Otis Moss, Wright’s replacement at Trinity, is still treating Wright as a prophet straight out of the Old Testament, even if the words he used sounded more like annoying 20th century socialist boilerplate:

The Rev. Otis Moss III, who is replacing Wright when he retires June 1, defended Wright’s comments.

“One of the roles of the prophets: Sometimes you offend. You afflict the comfortable but comfort the afflicted,” Moss said.

Headline of the Day


ABC News:

WH Press Distracted by Magic Flute

If you’re thinking Zamfir, you’re correct:

But what if the entertainment is simply too compelling and distracts the reporters from their main task?

Reporters traveling with President Bush in Bucharest, Romania today faced just that quandary when they were treated to the song-stylings of the one and only Zamfir, the undisputed king of the pan flute, in the press area of the hotel where the journalists were covering President Bush’s meetings with NATO.

As any watcher of late night television ads from the 1980’s knows, Gheorges Zamfir and his pan flute are mesmerizing — a fact the press corps was reminded of today when many of them paid more attention to the flute than to the live incoming feed from the NATO meetings.

Upcoming Anti-War Stinker


Matt Damon in Green Zone, which according to IMDB, is an adaption from Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City.

As readers might remember, Chandraskkaran accused Kate O’Beirne’s husband, Jim O’Beirne, of cronyism in what Ramesh Ponnuru called a “hit-piece.” You can read what other NROers have said in the past about Chandrasekaran here.

I think it’s a pretty safe bet that Green Zone won’t be on any NRO must see list whenever it comes out.

Sue! Sue! Sue!


Huff Po:

Understandably, Rhodes is stunned and angry. About her employers she told me: “They are in breach of my contract and have damaged my hard won excellent reputation in the broadcast industry…” Rhodes added she received thank you letters from representatives of Air America, the San Francisco affiliate and sponsors praising her for the performance that now has her in hot water.

I guess Air America will soon be part of the VRWC.

Elsewhere on Huffington regarding Rhodes:

Air America yak jock should not have been suspended. She should have been canned. That will never happen though. After her moment kid slap, she’ll be back on the Air America airwaves with more, albeit slightly toned down until the heats off, ritual diatribes against Hillary Clinton. Rhodes got the momentary bump from the microphone for obliterating the line of public decency by calling Clinton and Clinton backer Geraldine Ferraro every bleeped out word in the book in a public appearance on behalf of Air America.

Rhodes’ Don Imus like foul mouthed rant is SOP for a core of so called progressive writers that post on the Huffington Post, and write for the Nation, Mother Jones, Daily Kos, the Underground Democrat, and a handful of other leftist sites. They have feasted at the hate Hillary trough. Their shrill diatribes, name calling, slanders, slurs, distortions and flat out lies should make the hard guys at Fox Network turn red faced. One time radical Jane Fonda kicked off the progressive’s clinical obsession with Clinton bashing some months ago when reports surfaced in the Guardian and other on-line sites that Fonda called Clinton a ventriloquist for the patriarchy with a skirt and a vagina. Fonda hotly denied that she said anything of the sort.

Silence from Media Matters on Randi Rhodes


Not surprisingly, Media Matters has nothing to say about Randi Rhodes calling Hillary Clinton a “whore.”

Ed Rendell vs. Olbermann


It’s on:

In a recent appearance on Fox News—not exactly considered friendly territory for the Democrats—he congratulated the network for having done “the fairest job [and] remained the most objective of all the cable networks.” In an interview with me, the governor was again in media-critic mode. “It took Saturday Night Live to bring some fairness to this election,” Rendell said, referring to the show’s now famous skit lampooning the media’s crush on Obama. “It’s stunning. Does Keith Olbermann get checks from the Obama campaign?”

More Randi


Brian Maloney weighs in. An excerpt:

Interestingly, while Rhodes was not suspended for airing a warped skit that claimed Mitt Romney supporters would commit mass murder if their candidate didn’t secure the GOP presidential nomination, attacking Hillary is apparently grounds for removal from the airwaves.

More here.


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