Thursday, March 17, 2005

Will the N&O Cover This Story?

The N&O covered a story about a reporter who was in the White House press pool and who asked questions from a conservative angle. So will they cover the story below as related at
Posted at 4:40 PM, Pacific

Will "Elizabeth" be the next Gannon/Guckart?

From the President's press conference this morning:

Q Paul Wolfowitz, who was the -- a chief architect of one of the most unpopular wars in our history --
THE PRESIDENT: (Laughter.) That's an interesting start. (Laughter.)
Q -- is your choice to be the President of the World Bank. What kind of signal does that send to the rest of the world?

Recall that the investigation by the blogs of the left into Jeff Gannon/Guckart began after Gannon/Guckart asked a leading question at the president's last press conference. The rationale was that a partisan with a press pass was a suspicious thing. I don't know who "Elisabeth" is, but her framing of her question is as partisan and leading as any that could be asked of the president. So, will the mob that went after Gannon/Guckart now be sifting through Elisabeth's past for intriguing clues on the source of her partisanship?

UPDATE: "Elisabeth" is Elizabeth Bumiller according to Instapundit's latest sources.
The question could just as well have been from the New York Times' Elizabeth Becker. Check out her amazing filing this afternoon (co-authored with David Sager.) Talk about deep, deep bias free of even a thin attempt to disguise it. There is not one attributed quote from a diplomat, but Becker claims the Wolfowitz appointment was greeted with "quiet anguish in those foreign capitals where the Iraq conflict and its aftermath remain deeply unpopular," and that Wolfowitz has the "almost radioactive reputation of a committed ideologue."

And consider this line from the Becker piece: "Mr. Wolfowitz is also likely to be a target - especially in the Mideast, where he ranks among Israel's strongest defenders in the administration...." Paul Wolfowitz is Jewish, but he is no stronger defender of Israel than the president, the vice-president, the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Defense. Would the New York Times have run such a comment if Wolfowitz hadn't been Jewish?

Here's a bit of bio on Becker. But sticking to the Gannon/Guckart precedent, the investigation should be into the background of the asker of the loaded question, Elizabeth Bumiller.

Of course it won't happen because the left wants to protect MSM's near monopoly on biased questions and reporters. And I am not arguing for a vetting of the lefty reporters like the two Elizabeths, or Dana Milbank or many others. Just pointing out the risible idea that Gannon/Guckart was uniquely partisan. He was just a mirror image from the right side of the partisan spectrum of these White House press pass carriers.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Clinton Did That Too

Tip to Glenn Reynolds ( for comments on a recent NY Times article that the N&O also ran. Yes, the Times deserves the blame, but the N&O editors ran the piece too:

A LOT OF PEOPLE are noticing this story from the New York Times about prepackaged fake news from the Bush Administration. But if you read the whole thing, to coin a phrase, you come upon this passing acknowledgement:
"The practice, which also occurred in the Clinton administration, is continuing despite President Bush's recent call for a clearer demarcation between journalism and government publicity efforts."
Funny, but I don't remember much of a stink about it when it happened during the Clinton Administration.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Full Disclosure

The N&O is celebrating something called "Sunshine Week" this week. The purpose is to expose the inner workings of government and force the government to release documents and information more readily. I support that project, but I would also like to see the N&O open up to a little sunshine as well.

For example, when will the paper run a summary of the party affiliation of every candidate they endorsed during the last election cycle? If the paper is unbiased, wouldn't you expect to see a roughly equal split in endorsements?

And continuing an earlier theme, why is the paper so determined to bury the party affiliation of those mired in controversy. Today's paper featured an article about the NC House Speaker, Jim Black, and his efforts to reward a former legislator with a job after the legislator lost in a primary. Some readers know that Black is a Democrat, but I'll bet that most don't. So why is Black's party affiliation not mentioned in the 11 paragraphs on page 1B?

And on page 6B the N&O reports on a Davidson County commissioner who has been convicted of a felony and won't give up his seat. The party affiliation is not buried in this article - it is not even mentioned.

The N&O needs to let the sun shine on its pages before it makes demands on others.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Party Notice

This is just a sneaking suspicion, so I will keep an eye on future articles, but it seems that in articles the N&O runs about misdeeds of Democrats, the party affiliation is buried more deeply than for Republican articles.

On 5A today there was an article about electoral misdeeds by the mayor of Orlando, but we did not learn he was a Democrat until the last paragraph. Likewise on 14A we did not learn that an assistant campaign treasurer who embezzled funds in Delaware worked for a Democrat until the fifth paragraph.

And the paper has been largely silent (I have seen one article) on the details of Hillary Clinton's fundraising efforts in California. The specific allegation is that her chief fundraiser intentionally understated campaign contributions. I suspect Hillary will not recall the details.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Blogs with Local Influence

Noted London-based but Kentucky-bred blogger TJ Linzy just forwarded an article from The New Republic that explores the local political influence of bloggers. What the bloggers did for Thune against Daschle in terms of calling the local biased paper to account we hope to do here in future elections. Here is the link to the article (you may have to register to see it at TNR), and the first bit of the article is pasted below:

In late January, Republican members of Congress convened at a rural West Virginia resort to plot strategy for the new congressional session and the 2006 midterm elections. They held meetings, on issues like Social Security and tax reform, led by committee chairmen and even the president himself. But no session generated as much interest as the one led by a mere freshman, John Thune of South Dakota. It's rare for such a junior senator to lecture his wizened colleagues. But Thune's elders listened with rapt attention as he explained how bloggers and partisan Internet "journalism" helped him defeat former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle last fall. David Winston, a GOP pollster who was present, says that, "given that success story, the senators were very interested.... A lot of conversation went back and forth. I think we were scheduled for about an hour, and it went an hour and a half." Even senators who missed out on the session have been asking for details of Thune's story. "Other senators have asked him in private how he worked with the bloggers," says Thune spokesman Alex Conant.
The surging influence bloggers and partisan Internet journalists are exerting over national media is hardly a secret. Just ask Trent Lott, Dan Rather, or former CNN executive Eason Jordan. But what Thune was trying to explain to his colleagues was something less well-understood: the influence bloggers can wield over the local media, which largely shape and referee House and Senate races. As it happens, a key player in the Thune-Daschle race was the now-notorious Jeff Gannon (née Guckert), the conservative Talon News correspondent with a thing for dog tags and big muscles. Yet Gannon's role is less important than the larger implications--which Republicans seem to be grasping faster than Democrats--blogs have for the coming 2006 congressional elections.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Following the Story

One of the big advantages that blogs have over the mainstream media is the ability, and willingness, to stay with a story over a period of time. For some reason newspapers will run an initial story and move along. Even when it becomes apparent that the initial story was wrong, or at least incomplete, they are unwilling to run a correction or an amplification.

The story of the recently freed Italian communist journalist Sgrena is a great example. The N&O ran an initial piece that relied primarily on the comments of the journalist. Her anti-Americanism was so complete that she claimed U.S. forces had tried to assassinate her. As usually happens, the military is slow to respond as they gather evidence and are averse to releasing incorrect information.

So now, 3 days later, the military information is starting to leak out, but also investigators are gathering information that is adding detail to the story. And some of the best investigation is done by blogs - see here. Will the N&O do a follow-up story exploring the inconsistencies of this journalist?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


I started this blog in early March, but wanted to reach back into January 2005 for a great example of the problems with the N&O "news" reporting. On the 31st of that month the paper ran an article mocking Jessie Helms. The news article - not an editorial - examined a Helms letter to supporters claiming that Bill Clinton might become U.N. Secretary. The writer accused Helms of "warning about the dangers of an array of bogeymen" (suggesting that the adversaries Helms writes of are imaginary) and the article concludes by asking "Does this mean that Helms would prefer Kofi Annan to stay on the job?"

Now I can forgive some Helms-hating young writer for injecting editorial content into what is supposed to be a news article. He may be bucking for an editorial position himself some day. But where are the adults who are supposed to edit the paper? Ironically, just one day before this article was published, the new Public Editor had written a rambling and tortured piece denying bias in news reporting (though acknowledging the leftward editorial slant).

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Fire or Praise?

The N&O chooses the placement of articles and the headlines as well. Sometimes the editors can be forgiven for running biased articles from the news services (more on that below), but the headlines surely can be written without liberal bias. Yet the lead in the Nation & World section today (3A) was "Bush's U.N. choice draws fire."

In fact, the choice in question, John Bolton, drew both praise and criticism. So why wasn't the headline "Bush's U.N. choice draws praise and fire?" And why did the article (from Cox News Service) refer to Bolton as a "conservative?" While the "conservative" label is a badge to be worn with pride, I doubt that many Clinton-era nominees were labeled "liberal" in the august pages of the N&O.

At the bottom of the page the N&O used the following headline: "3 children among 18 dead in Iraqi violence." In fact, the children died in a terrorist attack. If inadvertent US military fire had killed 3 children, the headline would have read, "U.S. fire kills 3 children." So why the sudden value-neutral headline?

These guys (Leland Senn and Andy Bechtel can be reached at make this blog too easy.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Missing the Point in Syria

The remarkable recent events in Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the Palestinian territories threaten to completely transform the political culture of the Middle East. Which makes me wonder why the N&O ran the story of Syria's pledge for a partial pullback of troops on page 18A today.

Are the editors worried that readers will make the logical conclusion that all of these changes have happened since the U.S./Brit-led coalition of 33 countries deposed Saddam Hussein? Are they a little touchy that just such a revolution in liberty was predicted by the Bush administration? Are they afraid of the inevitable comparisons between these events and those in the former Soviet sphere after the Reagan-inspired fall of the Iron Curtain (an event I witnessed while stationed in Germany) in 1989?

Who knows why they buried what should have been on the front page. More aggravating, however, was for the N&O to choose an article written by one their news services (in this case the Cox News Service) that ended with this comparison of Syria's occupation of Lebanon with the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories: Despite the Israeli government's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, there is no similar plan to do the same in the West Bank - and no pressure from Washington to force it to do so.

So an article that should have focused on Syria's withdrawal and the success of the Bush policies in the Middle East instead compares the Syrian occupation of a region from which they have never been threatened to the Israeli occupation of a region from which they have been attacked by both conventional forces and terrorists repeatedly since 1948!

And the statement the N&O ran is not only non-analogous, it is also untrue. The Bush administration has repeatedly encouraged Israel to withdraw from not only Gaza but also the West Bank. They have made it clear, however, that they do not expect Israel to withdraw until they can be assured that terrorists will not be able to use the West Bank to attack with impunity.

Poor judgment in article placement and article choice by the N&O.