Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.
Lives in Oak Island, North Carolina
Pilot, parrots, dogs, tennis.
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Once in a while, it happens. TV serves up human drama in real time. So it was on this morning's Today show, when the bereaved son of one of the Sago miners confronted the governor of West Virginia over allegedly lax safety enforcement in the mine.
Katie Couric's just-completed interview with NY Times Reporter James Risen, who broke the NSA surveillance story and is now publishing his book on the matter, 'State of War,' offered a window on the MSM view of the matter. For her questioning of Risen, give a gentlelady's 'C' to Couric, who earned the bulk of her grade by asking:
Much as the folks at Today revel in reporting soaring gas prices and plunging Bush poll numbers, pesky facts - in the form of a recent Bush poll rise - can get in the way.
Ring in the gloom year!
Imagine you're a guest on the Today show on New Year's Day, and the host asks you to predict the top stories for the year to come.
What are the odds you choose as your two top stories for 2006: job-loss anxiety among white-collar workers, and white-collar crime?
Yet that is precisely what Marcus Mabry, Newsweek's Chief of Correspondents [pictured here], did in his just-completed interview with host Lester Holt.
When in 2003 Rush Limbaugh suggested that the media, hoping for a black-quarterback success story, had over-rated Philadelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, he was subjected to a firestorm of criticism and ultimately resigned his post on an ESPN pre-game football show.
Can you imagine what the media would have done to Rush had he dared to employ the classically racial "feets don't fail me now" line, immortalized by black actor Mantan Moreland in the '30s-'50s?
I can now confirm what I've long suspected: Neal Gabler and I inhabit different planets.
I inhabit the one in which the MSM coverage of the Iraqi war is a virtually-uninterrupted drumbeat of the negative. From headline coverage of every IED that goes off, to the beatification of Cindy Sheehan, the liberal media's treatment of the war has been decidedly downbeat.
In their heart of hearts, do the liberal media believe we are at war? The answer is a resounding 'no', judging by liberal Newsday columnist Ellis Henican's performance on this morning's Fox & Friends Weekend. Thankfully, fellow Newsday columnist Jim Pinkerton was there to remind his colleague of some cold, hard facts.
As anti-terror techniques go, the one announced this week by the TSA - that of chatting with airline passengers to see if they exhibit tell-tale signs of nervousness - seems relatively unlikely to result in racial or ethnic profiling, since it focuses on behavior rather than superficial characteristics.
According to the note at the bottom of his column, "John Merrow . . . reports on education for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS." [Emphasis added]
"Reports"? Then what was Merrow [pictured right] doing writing an op-ed opinion column distributed nationally by the Christian Science Monitor?
Conservatives rightly complain that MSM shows such as Today have a paucity of guests from the right, and that those who do appear are treated with skepticism if not outright disdain.
Anyone who thought Hardball with Chris Matthews couldn't get any more antagonistic to the Bush administration should have watched the show with Norah O'Donnell substituting tonight. Not that Matthews is exactly Mr. Fair & Balanced, but Norah didn't even attempt to disguise her disdain for all things Republican.
You know the old challenge: try to describe a spiral staircase without using your hands.
This evening's Abrams Report on MSNBC managed to pull off an equally impressive feat: describing a gay porn and sexual exploitation ring without mentioning that it was just that, or indeed even that males were involved.
What the Today show probably intended as an ecumenical, warm-'n-fuzzy holiday segment just veered wildly off course when a rabbi spoke some unvarnished truth.
The topic was "December Dilemma: Interfaith Holidays," and dealt with the issue of celebrating the holidays in families with children where the parents are of different religions.
In reporting what it called a "big win" for Senate Democrats in killing off drilling in ANWR, this morning's Today show aired footage of gorgeous snow-capped mountains, similar to the file photo to the right.
There's only one little problem. The drilling in ANWR won't take place anywhere near those mountains.
Who would have thought the peaceful Quakers* [though see info at foot of column suggesting some Quakers are not so harmless] would be used as a spearhead?
Yet ironically, in the debate over national security and surveillance, liberals are attempting to beat the Quakers' plowshares into swords.
This morning's Today show offered a prime example.
When it comes to the Transport Workers Union strike in NYC, the Today show just can't bring itself to pronounce the 'I' word, for illegal.
Chris Matthews might be off tonight, but with Andrea Mitchell sitting in, the hysterical anti-Bush beat goes on at Hardball.
Mitchell interviewed a panel in which far-left Jonathan Alter was 'balanced' by the politically-androgynous David Gergen.
When Alter surmised that the impeachment of President Bush is a real possibility in light of the NSA surveillance matter, Mitchell, rather than bursting into laughter, asked Gergen with a straight face:
Behavioral scientists long-ago determined that, when it comes to changing behavior, positive reinforcement works better than punishment.
With that in mind, this column has made it a point to record those [rare] occasions on which the Today show gives 'fair & balanced' treatment to the news.
Let the record therefore show that on December 19th, 2005, Today gave reasonably even-handed treatment to the revelations that President Bush has authorized, without court order, the surveillance of phone calls suspected of being Al-Qaeda-related.
When the panel discussion on this morning's ABC's 'This Week' turned to the 'War on Christmas,' Sam Donaldson had this to say [close approximation]:
"With his talk of a war on Christmas, Bill O'Reilly stirs up his yahoos."
Donaldson then paused and added "in his audience."
However you slice it, Donaldson managed to slur both O'Reilly and a good chunk of his viewership.