Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.
Lives in Oak Island, North Carolina
Pilot, parrots, dogs, tennis.
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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.
Hubert Humphrey was known as the Happy Warrior for his cheerful approach to the political wars. In contrast, Fox & Friends Weekend's Julian Phillips, judging by his crabbiness this morning, might be dubbed the Whining Warrior.
Beyond his rain-on-the-parade words, Phillips' body language and facial expressions oozed negativity. The shot to the right is a file photo, but typifies Julian's less-than-sunny demeanor.
It was the MSM's worst nightmare-in-the-making: the prospect of a day, maybe more, of nothing but jubilant Iraqis waving those damn purple fingers, some of them no doubt soppily shouting "thank you, Mr. Bush!" Ugh. Can't let that happen.
Don't worry, MSM: the New York Times, with a nice assist from the Washington Post, have got your back.
The Times has admitted that, in response to a administration request, it had been holding the story on alleged US spying on Al-Qaida-linked phone numbers in the US for a year. From the Times article:
"After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting." [emphasis added]
So when do the Times and the WaPo choose to break it? Why, today of course, just in time to rain on the Iraqi election good-news parade.
While sugarplum fairies dance in other heads, Matt Lauer dreams of US withdrawal from Iraq and envisions democracy in Iraq as having negative consequences for the United States.
As reported here, Lauer set the stage earlier this week, couching Today's coverage of the then-impending Iraqi elections largely in terms of their potential for troop withdrawal.
"We recognize the right of all women to choose whether, when, and under what circumstances to bear children. Reproductive freedom and responsibility are essential to other rights and opportunities, including pursuit of education, employment, financial security and a stable and fulfilling family life. Restrictions of reproductive choice are especially burdensome for young women and poor women. Girls Incorporated supports a woman’s freedom of choice, a constitutional right established by the U.S.
Judging from this article by SF Chronicle staff writer Leslie Fulbright, which Drudge posted, perhaps Tookie Williams should have been canonized and supporters of the death penalty punished in his stead.
The headline set the tone: "Tears, anger, silence at protesters' candlelight vigil; Speakers read from Williams' anti-gang children's books."
Allies Establish Beachhead in Normandy: Can Troop Withdrawals Begin?
Somehow, I doubt that was the headline in the wake of D-Day.
Yet this morning, the Today show viewed the impending Iraqi elections largely through the prism of bringing US troops home.
In a TV-journalism age in which a good haircut and a sharp suit often seem to count for more than substance, there's something admirably old-school about Barry Schweid. Old, and unapologetically schlumpy, Schweid is the antithesis of TV's Sharp-Dressed Man.
Even so, on Fox & Friends Weekend this morning, Schweid let his liberal leanings show.
No DNA evidence, no execution of Tookie Williams. That's the standard Fox & Friends Weekend host Julian Phillips established this morning. As he put it:
"The issue for me is, is he guilty or is he not? He still maintains his innocence. If they can prove through DNA and other stuff, fine."
To bolster his case, Phillips asserted:
Call it 'Keffiyeh-gate.'
Was Matt Lauer wearing a Palestinian support scarf this morning?
Alright, I can already hear some folks out there chuckling at the notion.
But before you dismiss this as the product of the over-active mind of an MSM-bias hunter, consider: