Lachlan Markay

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Regular viewers of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart are accustomed by now to the verbal battles that ensue when Stewart brings conservative guests on his show. The guests usually leave with a bit of egg on their faces, and Stewart comes off as the hard hitting, divisive and sarcastic critic.

But viewers were treated to a rare dose of sincerity and intelligent debate on Monday, when Stewart hosted former legal counsel for the Bush Justice Department John Yoo. Following up on what was a meaningful and intelligent interview Monday night, Stewart apologized to his audience on Tuesday for not being his usual cutthroat self, and daring to discuss issues in a civilized tone.

Yoo and Stewart duked it out for almost 30 minutes (videos below the fold), but the host did not manage to get the better of Yoo, who is now infamous among liberal circles for writing the legal briefs justifying expanded executive powers to combat terrorism under the previous administration.

Stewart ended the segment with a very uncharacteristic--given his tendency to demonize conservatives--call for civility in the public discourse (brief partial transcript after videos):

Alec Baldwin, award winning actor and wannabe leftist political commentator, called on Congress to sink congressional health care legislation today, saying he would rather the federal government "Put a Major Oil Company Out of Business," according to the headline of his column at the Huffington Post.

Baldwin isn't the only liberal entertainer calling for the death of ObamaCare. Plans to tax so-called "Cadillac" health care plans--or the most expensive insurance plans--have riled up some key Democratic supporters. The Teamsters Union and the AFL-CIO have protested, but now objections are also being raised by Hollywood's biggest unions.

The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that the "generally cozy relationship between Hollywood's unions and the Obama administration is coming under strain." The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists recently sent a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders pleading with them to drop the Cadillac tax. According to the Times, the Screen Actors Guild, the largest union of actors, is expected to take a similar stance on the legislation.

By and large, most journalists don't criticize each other. It's probably a mixture of professional courtesy and ideological agreement (as the media's incessant criticisms of the Fox News Channel show). Still, as much as we like such media self-scrutiny, it is probably best if the publications doing it try to make sure that they aren't engaging in the behaviors for which they criticize others.

For instance, the New York Times recently criticized the Washington Post for running an article written by the Fiscal Times, which quoted as its primary source an individual from the Concord Foundation, without disclosing that Peter Peterson, chief financier of the Fiscal Times, is also a co-founder of the Concord Foundation (h/t nytpicker).

The article highlighted calls from a number of groups, including the Concord Foundation, for a commission to look into ways to reduce the national debt. The Times's coverage of the issue characterized the Fiscal Times as having a "relatively narrow focus on issues that are also pet causes of its sponsor"--i.e. balanced budgets and restrained government spending.

Update - 9:25 AM | Lachlan Markay: David Gergen commented on Brown's response. His comments below

The death of Ted Kennedy hit the liberal media particularly hard. NBC's Andrea Mitchell caught the mood of the nation's pundits when she said the "heavens were weeping" during Kennedy's funeral. Now that Kennedy is dead, some pundits feel as if Democrats are entitled to the seat he left vacant.

CNN senior political analyst David Gergen had to be reminded of this fact Monday as he moderated a debate between the two candidates for Massachusetts's open Senate seat. He asked Republican candidate Scott Brown whether he'd be willing to "sit in Teddy Kennedy's seat and [say] I'm going to be the person who's going to block it [liberal health care policy] for another 15 years."

But Brown, refusing to take for granted Gergen's blatantly left-wing premises, responded instead: "Well, with all due respect it's not the Kennedys' seat, and it's not the Democrats' seat, it's the people's seat." (video and transcript below the fold - h/t Kerry Picket)

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took to the blog today to try to refute a devastating AP report showing that the the stimulus's highway and road funding has done next to nothing to improve the unemployment situation. Though he offered a couple of valid points, LaHood, pictured right in a file photo, actually did very little refuting.

The AP asserts in its report that "there was nearly no connection between stimulus money and the number of construction workers hired or fired since Congress passed the recovery program. The effect was so small, one economist compared it to trying to move the Empire State Building by pushing against it."

LaHood points out--fairly--that the AP examines the construction industry as a whole while the seven percent of the $787 billion that went towards funding highway and road construction (roughly $55 billion) only affects the transportation construction industry, not the industry as a whole.

The Los Angeles Times has been doing its best to dismiss Senator Harry Reid's racist remark about Preisdent Obama as a minor transgression while portraying Republicans calling for his resignation as political attack dogs. This coverage stands in stark contrast to the paper's coverage of the controversy surrounding former Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott in 2002 (h/t Patterico).

"GOP opens fire on Harry Reid," read a Los Angeles Times headline yesterday. The article said the Senator was "pummeled" by the GOP, that Republicans had "called for the senator's head," and that Reid was now "in [the GOP's] cross hairs." (The latest version of the story does not include the last quote.)

Contrast this Times story to the paper's own coverage of Trent Lott's remarks in 2002 and Democrats' calls for him to step down as Majority Leader. The Times portrayed the uproar over his remarks not as an attack, but rather as a spontaneous, impalpable furor. The uproar was a "spiraling controversy" or a "growing clamor." "Outrage Grows Over Lott Remarks" read one headline.

Former American Ambassador to the UN John Bolton took MSNBC's Keith Olbermann to task last week for accusing US intelligence agencies of deliberately ignoring red flags that led to the failed Christmas day bombing plot (h/t Johnny Dollar).

Olbermann suggested that the CIA and other agencies might have been engaged in some sort of turf war, and allowed the plot to move forward. He insinuated that there was "at least a possibility somebody understood how serious this could be and yet withheld information to make some other part of the counterterrorism system look bad".

Bolton, speaking on the late night Fox News show Red Eye, said Olbermann was making accusations of attempted murder against American intelligence officials. He noted that Olbermann carefully crafted his accusations to avoid legal complications, but that the libtalker's point was quite clear.

There has been a substantial push lately by some of Hollywood's big names to reeducate Americans on world history. The leftist-dominated television and film industries have taken it upon themselves to promote histories of the United States and its role in the world that portrays it as an evil, occasionally colonial, always destructive force in global relations.

The latest such effort is being undertaken by director Oliver Stone, well known for his loving portrayal of Venezuela's Marxist dictator Hugo Chavez and derisive portrayal of our previous president in "W". Now Stone has set his sights on Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. He plans to "liberalize" America's thinking regarding two of the 20th century's most murderous dictators by putting them "in context", whatever that means (h/t Hot Air headlines).

"We can't judge people as only bad or good," Stone said at the Television Critics Association's press tour, referring to two dictators who--unless this writer's understanding of history is not sufficiently "liberalized"--are responsible, in Hitler's case, for the extermination of 6 million Jews and 3 million others in killing camps during World War II, and in Stalin's, for the murders of 20 million individuals in Russia and Soviet-occupied Europe.
It seems, Stone's claims notwithstanding, that one is historically justified in classifying these two particular dictators as "bad".

"Not in sync with the current program" is how former CNN host Tucker Carlson describes his new website, the Daily Caller, which is scheduled to launch Monday. Designed as a conservative answer to the Huffington Post, the Daily Caller will do what few center-right blogs have attempted: report hard news.

Carlson and his partner, former Dick Cheney aide Neil Patel, have raised $3 million in startup capital for the site, according to the Washington Independent. That impressive sum is enough to keep the Daily Caller operating for about a year. The site will employ a reporting staff or 21 in its Washington, D.C. office.

With Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism, which launched earlier this week, Carlson hopes to be on the cutting edge of a new effort on the right to circumvent major media outlets--and overcome the significant obstacles to conservative news of traditional media outlets.

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd really wants a national security system that looks really nice and has lots of fancy bells and whistles, but is, beneath the shiny exterior, quite mediocre and extremely expensive.

Dowd implied as much when she asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in a New Years Eve interview, "Why is it so hard for those charged with keeping us safe to be as imaginative and innovative as filmmakers like James Cameron?"

Yes, Cameron is so imaginative that he managed to spend $400 million on what amounts to a visually dazzling remake of Disney's Pocahontas (see plot summary below the fold - h/t Big Hollywood).

Given the generally sycophantic attitude of the White House Press Corps, Robert Gibbs may have been caught off guard when he started facing some tough questions on President Obama's apparent flip-flop regarding his many promises to broadcast health care negotiations on C-SPAN. Gibbs stubbornly refused to answer multiple questions about the broken promises (h/t Byron York).

Naked Emperor News
complied video clips of eight instances of Obama promising to broadcast those negotiations on C-SPAN "so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies", as he said during one speech. The President has reneged on that commitment by reportedly encouraging Congressional leaders to skip conference committee negotiations.

C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb recently sent a letter to the President and Congressional leaders "respectfully request[ing] that you allow the public full access, through television, to legislation that will affect the lives of every single American." That request went unheeded.

Sometimes being such fans of President Obama makes liberal media types tie themselves into knots.  As I documented earlier today, the New York Times went to great lengths to insist America's rising debt is not the administration's fault.

MSNBC ranter Keith Olbermann decided to try his hand at the absurd apologetics Tuesday by concocting a wild vision of intelligence officials who care nothing about the country's safety, and only about their bureaucratic "turf."

According to Olbermann, this quasi-conspiracy theory is a possible explanation for how Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was able to board a plane bound for Detroit. (video and transcript below the fold - h/t Hot Air's Allahpundit).

In the eyes of many in the liberal media, President Obama can do no wrong. If he does, it's not his fault; he is simply a victim of circumstance, or he made the best decision he could given the options. One can tell news items portraying Obama in this light by their descriptions of problems in the passive voice.

Take yesterday's New York Times article by Jackie Calmes, for instance. The piece displays a conspicuous use of the passive voice in the headline: "Promise to Trim Deficit Is Growing Harder to Keep", instead of, say, "Obama's Policies Make Deficit Reduction Unlikely".

The refrain is getting old. When Obama's economic policies caused the debt to skyrocket, and didn't lead to recovery but rather to more federal spending aimed at shoring up the economy, it was because the recession was worse than the administration had planned. Obama's brilliant plans to raise taxes on businesses failed because Congress succumbed to political pressure. Anticipated savings in Iraq were nullified when it turned out winning a war in Afghanistan might actually require significant funding. And Medicare is already being cut to pay for the health care overhaul, so those cuts can't go towards drawing down the deficit. You see, it's never actually Obama's fault.

The Obama presidential campaign indisputably used new media better than any before it to build a virtual army of grassroots supporters, and to wield that army as a powerful tool for fundraising, rapid response messaging, and boots-on-the-ground campaigning.

But the energy that surrounded Obama and his team after the election, and supporters' expectations that President Obama would be the empowering community organizer that was Candidate Obama, fizzled as it became clear--campaign slogans notwithstanding--this administration represented less change then it would have the country believe.

After the election, commentators buzzed about the potential for a small-d democratic upheaval in the American political process that the Obama camp's mastery of new media could bring about. Newsweek summed up the excitement in the lede of an article in late November:

Update (Ken Shepherd, Managing Editor, 11:30 p.m. EST): A few minutes ago, Ebert tweeted the following apology on his Twitter feed: "I feel bad about my cheap Limbaugh jokes. Sincere apologies to Rush and you folks. He said he was fine but that's no excuse." # # #

In a demonstration of Hollywood's quintessentially intolerant hatred of conservatives, film critic Roger Ebert took to the Twitterverse on Saturday to mock Rush Limbaugh and his sudden trip to a Hawaii hospital (h/t Big Hollywood headlines).

Ebert was hardly alone in rejoicing Limbaugh's hospital visit--and distressed when he was given a clean bill of health. Liberals nationwide let loose the vitriol, some--including members of the hate-stricken mobs at Daily Kos and DU, as reported by P.J. Gladnick--simply wished he would expire.

For his part, Ebert fell short of calling for Limbaugh's death, and offered only lame fat jokes and implications of racism. Some of the juicier tweets:

Lefty author Margaret Atwood has created, in the form of a novel, the environmentalist's bible. "The Year of the Flood", as it is titled, is not merely a figurative bible for a dispersed and sporadic collection of greenies, but rather a sacred testament (the author says as much) for a movement that, every day, looks more like a church--complete with sin, salvation, and saints (one of whom is--you guessed it--Al Gore).

In an interview with Atwood, National Public Radio's Steve Inskeep described "The Year of the Flood" as gloriously melding science and religion into a harmonious enviro-theology. Atwood "thinks that in the future we could see a religion that combines religion and science," Inskeep states.

But the more the listener learns about Atwood's novel, the more he or she realizes that the book does not meld science and religion. Rather, it does away with religion and replaces it with radical environmentalism. Here is an excerpt from the NPR interview (h/t CATO's David Boaz):

From the New York Times to the Colbert Report, liberal media commentators have had a field day bashing Glenn Beck for his purported conflict of interest in encouraging his viewers to invest in gold without disclosing that he has endorsed gold distributors.

Yet few of these pundits have even mentioned Al Gore's monumental conflict of interest--which could have far greater consequences for Americans than Beck's gold promotions--in touting global warming hysteria while establishing his own green technology empire.

NewsBusters has consistently argued that Gore plays up the dangers of global warming to line his own pockets. His investments in green energy firms could pay enormous dividends if the United States adopts the draconian cuts to carbon emissions he has advocated--and Congress included in the environmental tax known as cap and trade passed by the House last summer.

Filmmaker and noted global warming skeptic Phelim McAleer yesterday experienced first hand the disdain for a free press some Copenhagen attendees exhibit during an interview with Fox Business Channel's Neil Cavuto.

Dressed in a polar bear costume with a sign inquiring as to the whereabouts of controversial climate scientist Phil Jones, McAleer was forced to raise his voice above the shouting environmentalists behind him. In the latter segment of the interview, one crazed activist threw something at McAleer (he says it was a vegetable, though it is unclear in the video), striking him in the head (video below the fold - transcript to be added shortly).

McAleer, who produced the film "Not Evil, Just Wrong," questioning Al Gore's statements on global warming, has been silenced on a number of occasions for trying to ask Gore and others about seeming inconsistencies in climate data, and about the ClimateGate scandal.

A number of the media's talking heads have tried to use cold temperatures as evidence of global warming. As strange as that seems, some may have decided on an even more ridiculous "proof" of global warming: poor skiing conditions in Pennsylvania (h/t Ed Driscoll).

Apparently the new measure for global warming is how well one's skis slide across the snow. At least that's what the Times-Leader, a local paper in northern PA, suggested in an article on Saturday.

Reporting on a panel of outdoor recreation officials speaking at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barry, PA, the Times-Leader quoted one cross country skier who said, "my skis recognize that climate change is happening." His skis? Begin the draconian carbon cuts!

Remember all those blog posts from the Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan bashing Sarah Palin for employing a ghostwriter? Well, it turns out many of those posts may have been written by...a ghostblogger! Apparently Sullivan's busy schedule prevented him from writing everything on his site, so, without informing his readers, he employed a few ghostbloggers to write in his name.

Daily Dish readers were surely surprised at the announcement--posted by one of the ghostbloggers on Saturday--given Sullivan's insistence that his "one-man blog" is "honest" and "personal". They may have been a bit perturbed to learn, in Ace's words, that "half the blog isn't personal to Sullivan at all, and all of it is dishonest."

Wrote ghostblogger Patrick Appel,