Media Blog

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A Tale of Two Recruitment Stories


Yesterday, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker discussed recruitment with the press. Although the Army will probably fall short of its annual enlistment goal, re-enlistment — especially in combat units — is phenomenal. So what part of that story do you think the Washington Post chose to highlight?

Army Likely to Meet August’s, But Not Year’s, Recruiting Goal
Expanding Force in Coming Months Expected to Be Difficult

The Army is expected to meet or exceed its monthly recruiting goal for August but is likely to miss its annual goal for the fiscal year that ends next month amid one of the most difficult recruiting environments since it became an all-volunteer force, the Army’s chief of staff said yesterday.

We don’t hear about the re-enlistment rates until the seventh paragraph. This wouldn’t be such a bad story, but compare it to this one from, of all places, Agence France Press:

Army chief says re-enlistment strong, force not broken

WASHINGTON (AFP) – High re-enlistment rates in combat units that have served in Iraq shows the army is far from being a broken force despite a likely shortfall in recruiting, the army’s chief of staff said.

“I think we’re a heck of a long way away from the breaking the army. It is a lot more resilient than people believe,” General Peter Schoomaker told reporters here.

The high re-enlistment rates have been available since the Pentagon released the figures August 10th, but as this editorial in the Boston Herald points out, they’ve been completely ignored. They don’t fit into the MSM’s “we’re all going to hell in a handbasket” framework.

Michael Yon and the AP


I know I’m late linking to this, but read Michael Yon’s “Gates of Fire” as soon as you can.

Michael is providing the kind of raw, personal accounts that go so far beyond anything you’ll read in the mainstream press (with the possible exception of NY Times reporter Dexter Filkins’ Fallujah coverage). It’s especially interesting to note that on the same day Yon filed this dispatch, the AP released a FAQ about how it covers the Iraq war. This move by the AP is in response, you might recall, to concern from the editors of its member papers that the AP needed to do a better job of putting the daily violence into a more meaningful context.

It’s nice that the AP is making more of an effort to explain how it is covering the war, but the fact is that bloggers like Yon, milbloggers and other journalists like the late Steven Vincent are essential supplements to the mainstream media’s coverage of the conflict. These guys should be in the nation’s newspapers right alongside the latest AP wire story.


Gillespie is King of Journo Book Compilations


The DC Examiner yesterday printed a summer reading list for President Bush, to supplement his official summer reading list of John Barry’s “The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History,” Mark Kurlansky’s “Salt: A World History” and Edvard Radzinsky’s “Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar.” (I think the President is already slacking, although truthfully I too would rather be reading Elmore Leonard.)

Jonah Goldberg recommended a raft of books to get George W. back in touch with his inner small-government conservative, including Hayek

Air America Scandal: A Very Special Day


It’s a very special day at PostWatch. Chris informs us that today is the three-week anniversary of no coverage in the Washington Post of the Air America scandals.

Chris, what better way to celebrate than by reading the latest installment of Michelle Malkin’s and Brian Maloney’s investigation into the many shady deals and nefarious characters behind the beleaguered liberal talk radio network? This installment focuses on Sheldon Drobny, major weirdo and financier-in-chief of the liberal network.

It’s good to see that despite the absence of the scandals in major papers like the Post and the New York Times — which, despite Byron Calame’s handwringing on his rusty “Web Journal”, still hasn’t taken more than a glancing look at the story — bloggers continue to expose the rotten underpinnings of the left-wing attempt to take over the airwaves.

To me though, the biggest scandal is that given Air America’s abysmal ratings, this was a huge waste of money. Why a talk radio network? Why not “Hybrid Cars for the Homeless” or some other liberal cause? For that matter, why not just offer to buy out the federal government’s 15-percent share in the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which would come with a ready-made infrastructure of equipment and liberal broadcasters? You would simultaneously save the nation’s already-existing liberal radio network from meddling conservatives and get a liberal TV network on the side.

Sheehan: Bin Laden “Allegedly” Behind 9/11


You know, because we don’t really know for sure.

Tuesday, I wrote, “Meanwhile, darlings of the left like, well, to take a recent example, Cindy Sheehan, can say things like ’We might not even have been attacked by Osama Bin Laden’ and it goes totally unreported in the mainstream press.” I got an e-mail that said:

I wish you wouldn’t harp on this quote. You yourself pointed out in the linked post that she said “we might not have been attacked by OBL if,” followed by applause that cut her sentence short. It sounds like she was going to say something along the lines of “we wouldn’t have been attacked if we gave more foreign aid,” or “if we backed the Palestinians,” or whatever you want to fill in the blank with. But when you cut off the sentence at “bin Laden,” then it sounds like she’s implying someone else was behind 9/11, which I don’t think you can justify with the “if” included. There is plenty of slanted media coverage of Cindy Sheehan to write about; creating additional controversy only diminishes the rest of the message.
I replied:

I agree that the

Cole Flunks


Juan Cole has responded to Lisa Ramaci-Vincent, wife of slain journalist Steven Vincent (summary here). Rather than just apologizing for jumping to conclusions about Vincent’s character based on one thinly-sourced news report, Cole tries to defend his ignorance and arrogance. Mark A. R. Kleiman flunks the prof’s response.

A Story Blown, A Newspaper Exposed


I’m getting tons of e-mail about this story, in which two LA Times reporters who apparently have nothing better to do stuck the Plame affair in the microwave and nuked it for about 5,000 words. Chris H. writes:

Yahoo news and the LA Times are taking advantage of this slow news day to remind us of the Plame affair just in case we forgot. Is there any other reason to publish this total rehash of everything we already know? And the title is “A CIA Cover Blown, a White House Exposed.” The White House was exposed? Was it?
Of course not. Rather, the media were exposed for granting political operatives unconditional anonymity to snipe at each other at the expense of the public both claim to represent. But it’s not about that, oh no, it’s about how Karl Rove and Bob Novak conspired to endanger National Security and drive down Joseph Wilson’s speaking fees.

Scott A. writes:

The story offers zero new information, and contributes plenty of wrong information in its “historical” rundown of the “facts” surrounding the issue.
Of course. The reason for running this story, as if it weren’t obvious already, is illuminated by passages like these:

What motivated President Bush’s political strategist, Karl Rove; Vice President Cheney’s top aide, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby; and others to counter Wilson so aggressively? How did their roles remain secret until after the president was reelected? Have they fully cooperated with the investigation?

The answers remain elusive.

No, they don’t. Wilson was lying. Rove and Libby and others did their jobs, which is to tell the White House’s side of the story. I wish they hadn’t done so anonymously, but then again Joseph Wilson was spreading his lies anonymously too, before his ego got the better of him and he pompously told his tale of yellowcake and sweet mint tea on the op-ed pages of the NY Times. How did their roles remain secret? Ask Judith Miller. Have they fully co-operated with the investigation? Rove has testified three times. Miller has testified zero times. How are these answers, which have been obvious for months, eluding these reporters?

The answer is that these reporters aren’t interested in the answers. They are interested in getting this story back into the news. The hard fact is that few people cared about this story when it was all over the news in July, and even fewer care about it now. In fact, I’m mad that I just spent 15 minutes writing about it, when I could’ve been watching The Situation Room. I’M MISSING THE SITUATION ROOM!

Sigh of the Times


Not a good day on 43rd Street. Here’s a round-up of New York Times-related screw-ups noted around the blogosphere today:

Jacob Sullum at Hit and Run notes that the Times owes John Roberts a correction for misstating his position on abortion protesters — again. The Times reported that in the case made famous by a false ad that NARAL later yanked, Roberts was “defending the right of abortion opponents to protest outside clinics.” Sullum notes:

There’s nothing wrong with defending the First Amendment rights of abortion protesters, but in this case they went beyond protest to trespassing and physical obstruction, which were plainly prohibited by state law. Anyone who remembers the abortion clinic blockades of that period could easily get the impression from the Times that Roberts defended these illegal tactics, which was NARAL’s implication in its now-withdrawn anti-Roberts ad (which also mendaciously linked Roberts to clinic bombings). In fact, the administration’s argument was simply that the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 did not authorize a federal injunction against the protesters.
Clay Waters at Newsbusters catches Bob Herbert plagiarizing himself:

If any more proof was needed that former NBC reporter and now NYT columnist Bob Herbert was a reliable liberal, Herbert’s Thursday’s column shows he firmly believes in recycling.

In “Truth-Telling on Race? Not in Bush’s Fantasyland,” Herbert recycles a column he wrote back on May 20, 1999. Of the 16 paragraphs of Herbert’s “new” column, the middle part (nine graphs) are lifted almost verbatim from 1999.

Finally, Michelle Malkin links to this column by Jack Kelly about how the Times spun a positive story about improvements in body armor into a negative story implying the Pentagon had failed to provide the troops with adequate protection:

The interceptor ensemble [the body armor worn by our troops]

“The Dan Rather of Financial Journalism”


That’s the always-quotable Dan Griswold, director of the Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, as quoted in the Free Market Project’s special report on CNN’s Lou Dobbs:

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, 94 percent of the show

Reuters: Iraqi “Rebels” Traded for Hostages


Reuters has a story today with the headline: “Iraq rebels treated in hostage deal.” This reminds me of an e-mail I got from a good friend a few weeks ago:

“Iraqi rebels detonated x carbombs today…” Rebels? I read that they caught one of them — a car bomber who failed to blow himself up — and he was Libyan. Almost the only thing that Democrats don’t dispute about Iraq is that a lot of these things are done by foreigners. If they are foreigners, they can’t be rebels. Period.
(via LGF)

Second Coming of Sheehan


And the cheerleading begins. Absent in any coverage of Sheehan is her track-record, now well-established, of radical anti-American vitriol — things like calling the jihadist terrorists in Iraq “freedom fighters” and blaming her son’s death on a neocon / Jewish conspiracy to benefit Israel. So far, no mainstream media organization has reported on the protests outside of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where antiwar extremists have carried signs that say “Maimed for a lie.”

Instead, the AP welcomes Sheehan back onto the national stage with a love letter from Angela Brown that, as Powerline noted, contains significant distortions of fact. In this article, Brown implies that Sheehan turned against the war only when “pre-war intelligence” proved “faulty”. Powerline points out that Sheehan was against the war all along. Also, Brown has a track record — a few weeks ago she wrote that Casey Sheehan signed up for the military in 2000, “never imagining he would see combat.” The story fails to note that Casey Sheehan re-enlisted in August 2003. In addition, even though he was a mechanic and not required to fight, Sheehan bravely volunteered for the rescue mission on which he was killed. (via Michelle Malkin)

Eric Pfeiffer in Crawford has more on the protesters’ manipulation of the media, and how the media — which thrive by exploiting emotion and conflict — are delighted to have their star performer back in the spotlight.

Bush’s Fuel Efficiency


Several people have criticized this AP story for taking a cheap shot at Bush, and rightly so. The article is all about how he’s the nation’s biggest gas consumer because he travels around in planes, helicopters and limousines. Look, half the time I turn on the TV I see the guy on a bike. Doesn’t he get any credit for that?

This aspect of the story struck me as more important. The media are always portraying Bush as a slacker who is always on vacation — never more so than this month. He has received heavy criticism for taking a vacation during a crucial time for Iraq. But according to the AP’s “gas-guzzler-in-chief” story:

But Bush is one of the nation’s most-traveled presidents.

He has visited 46 countries, some of them several times, during his presidency. He has been to all states except Vermont and Rhode Island.

So far this year, he has made 73 domestic and foreign trips, including crisscrossing the country on a 60-day, 60-city tour to promote his Social Security plan. He was on the road Wednesday, speaking to a military audience in Idaho, before returning to his Texas ranch to resume his summer vacation.

Bush has been an easy target for a lot of comedians because of the amount of vacation time he takes — few make fun of him more than the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart. I think the Daily Show is funny but honestly, Stewart works four days a week telling jokes and interviewing celebrities. His job is a vacation. Meanwhile, Bush has been running all over the country, talking to his cabinet, making speeches, and meeting with grieving military families. If I had to work this much on vacation I would quit my job.

Names of Wars Now “Slogans”


According to the AP, even the names of military operations are now offensive to the antiwar gang:

Families of fallen soldiers and Marines are being told they have the option to have the government-furnished headstones engraved with “Operation Enduring Freedom” or “Operation Iraqi Freedom” at no extra charge, whether they are buried in Arlington or elsewhere. A mock-up shown to many families includes the operation names.

The vast majority of military gravestones from other eras are inscribed with just the basic, required information: name, rank, military branch, date of death and, if applicable, the war and foreign country in which the person served.

Families are supposed to have final approval over what goes on the tombstones. That hasn’t always happened.

As evidence, the AP produces one family, the McCaffreys, who have already aligned themselves with Cindy Sheehan and her protest. For them, this is another way to attack the military, and for the AP, it’s another way to promote the antiwar cause. The number of news organizations that picked up this story is astonishing.

I didn’t expect tombstones to become chess pieces in the antiwar movement’s game, but I guess nothing’s out of bounds. Next thing you know, these protesters are going to insist that the tombstones say things like “No One Died When Clinton Lied” and “Talk to Cindy.”

UNREAL: I was joking when I wrote the last sentence, but if this report is true I wasn’t too far off. I want to doubt it, though. Carrying signs that say, “Maimed for a lie” outside an Army hospital? I really want to doubt it.

“The Focus of Our Attention Should Rest On Men Like Casey Sheehan”


Scott Ott rules. (via MM)

Robertson Needs to Stop Talking


I still think the media are giving disproportionate attention to Robertson’s comments about Hugo Chavez, but it’s harder to make that argument when he keeps saying dumb things. Here’s what Robertson said he said:

I didn’t say ‘assassination.’ I said our special forces should ‘take him out.’ And ‘take him out’ can be a number of things, including kidnapping; there are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted by the AP, but that happens all the time.
Here’s what he actually said:

If he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it.
It’s kind of hard to say that the media are focusing too much on Robertson when he serves up, for lack of a better word, a lie like that. The media will forget about all this as soon as Cindy Sheehan returns to her sound stage in Crawford, but until then Robertson’s handlers need to shut him up.

UPDATE: 3:48 p.m.: CNN is reporting that Robertson formally apologized for his remarks in a statement he just released.

No Permanent Gig: Graham Will Fill in on KFI This Friday


I just spoke to Robin Bertolucci at KFI – AM in Los Angeles about an item that appeared on the Drudge Report concerning radio talk show host Michael Graham, who was fired from ABC Radio after the Council for American-Islamic Relations complained about some remarks he made about Islam.

The Drudge item led me to think that KFI had hired Michael Graham for some kind of full-time gig. Turns out he’s just filling in on a show. According to Bertolucci, “He is filling in this Friday night for one of our folks, 7-10 pm PST.” I asked if it would be turning into a regular gig for Graham. She said she didn’t have any openings but that KFI is always looking for talented people and “I just want to hear him and see what happens.” Listeners can tune in for themselves online.

Jim Clancy Reports Good Re-Enlistment Numbers


On CNN’s Your World Today, Jim Clancy just reported the high re-enlistment rates that signal that the troops in Iraq believe in the mission. During a discussion of the Iraqi security forces with a RAND expert, Clancy reported that re-enlistment rates, especially among combat units, have exceeded Pentagon goals.

I’ve been watching YWT and Clancy since CNN started airing YWT, a CNN International show, in the United States back in June, and I’ve been consistently impressed with Clancy’s willingness to ask tough questions to terrorist apologists in the U.N. and the Arab League and his refusal to buy into the knee-jerk handwringing over any setback in Iraq to which his colleagues seem so susceptible.

In other news on the recruitment front, Captain’s Quarters posted an e-mail from “a commanding officer of a unit stationed in the Middle East.” CQ’s correspondent writes:

It’s important to point out that we have a highly motivated military. I have *never* seen those sort of re-enlistment rates before, and I’ve 26 years time in service. The recruitment rates, while not spectacular, are excellent when you consider that the economy is in good shape, and there is a good chance that joining up means a tour in Iraq. Yes, people are chosing not to join the military, but that was the case before 9/11. I don’t see a major problem here, in my opinion.

Big Three Networks All Follow CNN’s Lead on Robertson


All three of the big broadcast networks had major stories on Pat Robertson yesterday. Newsbusters has the details on each of the nets’ major stories.

Good discussion of Robertson and assassination on the Corner.

MoDo: Out of Context, Out of Mind


New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is back to her old tricks again. In 2003, she took a quote from President Bush and twisted it so badly that it led to a change in the way the Times handles corrections on the op-ed pages.

Today, she does it again, only this time she’s twisting Don Rumsfeld’s remarks at a press briefing yesterday. Here’s Dowd’s column:

Gas is guzzling toward $3 a gallon. U.S. troop casualties in Iraq are at their highest levels since the invasion. As Donald Rumsfeld conceded yesterday, “The lethality, however, is up.” Afghanistan’s getting more dangerous, too. The defense secretary says he’s raising troop levels in both places for coming elections.
This paragraph is so garbled it’s hard to know what Dowd was trying to say. Rumsfeld, however, was clear about what he meant. As a transcript of his remarks reveals, he was talking specifically about U.S. casualties related to IEDs:

Q: Mr. Secretary, the U.S. casualties from IEDs [improvised explosive device] over the last four months have been — have been at their highest levels that we’ve seen since the invasion. I’m wondering what you attribute that to. Do you think it’s going — we’re going to see it continuing? And I mean, do you attribute it to Iran, to this increasing sophistication of IEDs? What’s your –

SEC. RUMSFELD: You’re talking about Iraq.

Q: I’m sorry; yes.

SEC. RUMSFELD: The — I mean, the number of incidents, you know where that is, that level. And it’s been going up, as it has in every other instance prior to an event like the constitution or an election in Afghanistan and so forth. We’ve tended to expect that.

The number of provinces that it’s occurring in Iraq are relatively few, three or four or five, not 18; relatively modest numbers in the remainder. The — as you point out, the lethality, however, is up. Interestingly, however, of the number of incidents, the overwhelming majority are not effective at all; there are no casualties. I’m going to say like 80 percent of them.

As I said, the passage in question — indeed, Dowd’s entire column — is so incoherent that it’s hard to accuse of her of twisting Rumsfeld’s words: We don’t even know what she was trying to say. But in any case, she did quote him out of context, making a remark about something very specific seem like a more general description of the conflict.

Anchorman Brawl Update: Brick Killed a Guy


The real-life anchorman brawl between the cable news nets is getting out of hand. Last night on Special Report, Brit Hume threw a trident that knocked CNN off the horse it rode in on:

Televangelist Pat Robertson’s political influence may have been declining since he came in second in the Iowa Republican caucuses 17 years ago and he may have no clout with the Bush administration, but you wouldn’t know that from watching CNN today.

CNN covered his call for Hugo Chavez’s assassination at length, undeterred by the fact that during the noon hour CNN’s own analyst, Bill Schneider, said Robertson had little influence. At the top of the next hour, there it was again followed by a glowing report on the alliance between Chavez and Cuban President Fidel Castro. And it led CNN’s three-hour “Situation Room,” followed minutes later by live coverage of reaction from the Venezuelan ambassador, and then nearly two hours after that


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