Al Brown

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We've been here before; the similarities are, well, eerie.

First, the sensational story in the closing weeks of an election, attributed, of course, to an anonymous source. A blogger, William "Wild Bill" Kerr of Passionate America, using clues gleaned from ABC's own website, reveals the name of one of the "victims," and the fact that he was not, as reported by ABC, under 18 at the time of the Instant Message exchange.

ABC News has just released this statement explaining how blogger Wild Bill of Passionate America was able to learn the real screen name of Mark Foley's Instant Message correspondent:
On Friday, ABC News published instant messages between a former page and Congressman Foley with the IM screen name of the teenage victim redacted. Immediately, we discovered that in one instance, the screen name of the teen on one IM exchange had not been properly redacted. ABC News immediately took down the posting [version 1], redacted the screen name and re-published the posting [version 2]. We certainly believed that we had taken care of the issue quickly. Last evening, after an inquiry from Matt Drudge, it came to our attention that a blogger was able to access our deleted file [version 1] by typing in a slightly modified web address. To be clear, no one visiting our website would have simply stumbled on the old version. We thank the blogger and Drudge for bringing this to our attention.

From ABC News [emphasis added]:
ABC News now has obtained 52 separate instant message exchanges, which former pages say were sent by Foley, using the screen name Maf54, to two different boys under the age of 18.

This message was dated April 2003, at approximately 7 p.m., according to the message time stamp.

But blogger William Kerr of Passionate America says that he has identified the former page, that he is 21 now, and that he was 18 at the time the instant messages were exchanged.

Did Aaron Sorkin finally realize that singling out Christians for mockery on his new show wasn't fair (or particularly brave)? We did criticize him pretty severely for his two-dimensional stereotyping of Christians in the opening show, and again, when he expanded on the slurs in "Studio 60"'s second week.

This time, "Studio 60" featured a skit on this show about a show that mocked not only Christians, but also "Meir Kahane" Jews, the Taliban, Tom Cruise the Scientologist, and a witch. They were all contestants in a skit about a show that denies science. This is certainly an improvement compared to singling out one religion. But does it mean that Sorkin and his writers are responding to critics?

Rioting and threats of violence from Muslim extremists have apparently triumphed once again over the First Amendment. According to psychoanalyst Dr. Nancy Kobrin and noted feminist Phyllis Chesler, who wrote the introduction, Kobrin's new book, "The Sheikh's New Cloth: The Naked Truth about Islamic Suicide Terrorism", was to be published in November by Looseleaf Law Publications, Inc., but Dr. Kobrin's contract was suddenly cancelled over concerns for their staff's safety.

The declassification of parts of the National Intelligence Estimate spells out the ramifications of a major triumph in the War on Terror: the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (the report was finalized in April, before Zarqawi's death). The NIE states:
Al-Qa’ida, now merged with Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi’s network, is exploiting the situation in Iraq to attract new recruits and donors and to maintain its leadership role.

Aaron Sorkin upped the stakes this week in "Studio 60"'s jihad against non-casual Christians. And sadly, it's probably very realistic in its portrayal of how Hollywood views large segments of the American public.

In the premiere of this show about a show, the head of "Studio 60", played by Judd Hirsch, had an "I'm mad as hell" moment on the air and was canned, because the network standards guy wouldn't let him run a skit that mocked Christians. Even though television is rife with shows that mock Christians, and has been at least since the Church Lady first appeared on "Saturday Night Live".

On tonight's Nightly News, NBC anchor Brian Williams played excerpts from former President Bill Clinton's meltdown on Fox News, then turned to an "expert" for "perspective" - former Clinton staffer David Gergen. Gergen and Williams downplayed Clinton's display of anger, calling it a "four or five on a scale of ten" compared to previous private Clinton hissy fits.

Jules Crittenden, writing in the Boston Herald, examines the Associated Press' actions in light of the detention of AP photographer Bilal Hussein, captured by Coalition forces with al Qaeda terrorists and a weapons cache earlier this year:
The Associated Press, the reliable just-the-facts news agency you and I once knew, no longer exists. Amoral propagandists have taken over.

In "Voting to Kill, How 9/11 Launched the Era of Republican Leadership" (Simon & Schuster, $15.95) Jim Geraghty has created a handbook for how Democrats can regain power (not that many will read it, or take the lessons to heart if they do), or how Republicans can maintain their current advantage. Geraghty, a former mainstream journalist, describes in precise detail both the reasons for Republican success since that awful day in September, and the self-defeating actions of the Democratic party since.

With Iraq making the network news every night, regularly as the lead story, most people would assume that there are scores of intrepid  journalists embedded with the troops, reporting from the front lines of the War on Terror.

Most people would be wrong.

"Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" premiered on NBC tonight, and it looks like more of the same old, same old. Judd Hirsch's character, in charge of the Saturday Night Live-like show flew into a snit when the network standards and practices exec forced him to pull a skit called "Crazy Christians".

The Fitzpatrick Plame investigation has spurred the New York Times into examining how their reporters conduct themselves. Apparently, the Gray Lady wants her staff to act more like terrorists and drug dealers. Reporters are being told to delete emails, destroy notes, and use disposable cell phones in order to stymie future investigations.

WSYR radio talkjock Jim Reith has just stated that if the government were serious about ending the War on Terror they would "nuke Baghdad, nuke the Sunni triangle, nuke Tehran...then look at Syria and say 'What?'" Reith apparently believes that the failure to use nuclear weapons proves that the "military-industrial complex" is directing the GWOT for profit. "That's how we ended World War II," Reith said.

ABC's entertainment division refused to knuckle under to intense pressure from supporters of former President Bill Clinton, including the Democratic National Committee and, and aired the first part of their miniseries, "The Path to 9/11", with some additional edits:

Sometimes, in spite of itself, ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" shines a light on liberal thinking that liberal political strategists would prefer remain dark. Today Katrina Vanden Heuvel, the Left's answer to Michael Savage, revealed that her thinking remains firmly stuck in pre-9/11 mode.

This is not a source I would normally search out, but I have to admit that actor Donnie Wahlberg gives one of the most thoughtful responses I've seen to the controversy over ABC's "The Path to 9/11" miniseries in this TV Guide interview: What do you think of the brouhaha that's going on now? You had to know that this project could be a hot potato. Wahlberg: I didn't think it was a hot potato.

Do you feel less safe now than before 9/11?

That's the question posed by a CBS News/New York Times poll, which interprets the results as criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the War on Terror:

Compared with five years ago, 39 percent of Americans say they feel less safe now, compared with only 14 percent who say they feel safer. Forty-six percent say they feel the same.

Count me in the 39% who feel "less safe". How could I not feel that way?

"Last Days on Planet Earth" was the alarming title of ABC's 20/20 special tonight, a show that presented seven frightening scenarios that could lead to our extinction. But the bottom six in the countdown, things like supervolcanoes and asteroid strikes, nuclear annihilation and superbugs (natural and man-made) were only window dressing for the real point of the show; the number one threat to human warming.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld finally articulated at least a portion of what conservative bloggers have been pointing out for some time - Islamist terror groups have had considerable success in planting and slanting stories within the Western mainstream media:

FALLON NAVAL AIR STATION, Nev. (AP) -- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday he is deeply troubled by the success of terrorist groups in "manipulating the media" to influence Westerners. "What bothers me the most is how clever the enemy is," he continued, launching an extensive broadside at Islamic extremist groups which he said are trying to undermine Western support for the war on terror. "They are actively manipulating the media in this country" by, for example, falsely blaming U.S. troops for civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said. "They can lie with impunity."

Rumsfeld stopped short of pointing out what became obvious during the Israeli-Hizballah conflict in Lebanon; that the mainstream media's use of local reporters and photographers has virtually ensured its infiltration by terrorist sympathizers. Likewise, Rumsfeld did not mention that the tainted reporting serves the purposes of Democrats running on anti-war platforms.