Last evening, NBC’s “Nightly News” began its program with a report from the Pentagon concerning new rules governing the torture of prisoners. In a two minute forty-four second piece, a total of 15 seconds was devoted to demands by Republican leaders of Congress for an investigation into who leaked information about overseas CIA detention centers to the Washington Post.

Yesterday Democrats shot down a bill that allowed bloggers to be exempt from the hundreds of pages of Federal regulations that deal with commenting on politics.

The Democrats are against free speech.

As reported by NewsBusters here and here, there was a lot about the closed session held in the Senate on Tuesday that the media chose to ignore. However, now that the damage has been done, and public opinions of this issue have been formed, the Washington Post today decided to share some of the facts with its readers.

First, the decision to have a closed session is normally made with the consent of both parties:

“The rule's existence was widely known, and closed sessions had been held by bipartisan agreement as recently as 1999, regarding President Bill Clinton's impeachment. But the notion of one party springing the rule on the other party without warning was so alien that senators could not cite a previous example.”

Is Julian Phillips of Fox & Friends Weekend undergoing a sea change? 

Readers of my entries here and at Free Republic know that over the months I've enjoyed skewering Julian when he has let his liberal slip show.  But this morning, Julian sang a very different song.

The context was a report that Bill Clinton yesterday urged his fellow Democrats to speak out bluntly on controversial issues, from abortion to religion.

Phillips had this to say:

The AP is still reporting news from Capitol Hill in its own "fair and balanced" way. Two stories were posted today concerning the status of bills in Congress.

Josh Benson's Sunday article for the New York Times on the suddenly-close race for New Jersey governor between Democratic Sen. Jon Corzine and Republican candidate Doug Forrester discusses the outside political celebrities each campaign is calling in: Karl Rove and Dick Cheney on the Republican side, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama for the Democrats.

This is the oldest media bias kvetch in the book.

The Times gives Democrats room for hope to take over Congress in 2006. Was the Times as enthusiastic about Republican prospects in 1994?

Robin Toner's Page One New York Times story ("Democrats See Dream of '06 Victory Taking Form") begins: "Suddenly, Democrats see a possibility in 2006 they have long dreamed of: a sweeping midterm election framed around what they describe as the simple choice of change with the Democrats or more of an unpopular status quo with the Republican majority."

The results of the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll were released last night, and pressrooms around the nation appeared to be pleased. “NBC Nightly News” reported it this way (video link to follow):

Tim Russert: Brian, not good news for George W. Bush's second term thus far. Only 39% of Americans approve his job. 54% disapproval. That 39% approval is the lowest in the five years of his presidency. And Brian, listen to this: Only 2%, 2% of African Americans in the United States approve of George Bush's handling of the presidency. The lowest we've ever seen in that particular measurement.

The House of Representatives narrowly passed an energy bill today which would cut some federal red tape which prevents the timely approval and subsequent construction of oil refineries.

After a long delay and some unsatisfying back-and-forth between bloggers and Times ombudsman Barney Calame, Thursday's New York Times prints a Raymond Hernandez story that finally notes the Democratic scandal involving aides to New York Sen. Chuck Schumer obtaining the credit report of possible Republican Senate candidate Michael Steele, the Lt. Governor of Maryland. The piece is at best dutiful, with little juice, from the dull and uninformative headline ("Democrats Are on Defensive In Maryland Senate Race") on down.

Hernandez opens: "National Republicans, who face an uphill battle in their efforts to capture the open United States Senate seat in heavily Democratic Maryland next year, are trying to exploit potential legal problems that Democrats are now suddenly facing in that race. The Republicans are seizing on a disclosure that two researchers at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee improperly obtained the credit report of Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, a Republican who is considering a bid for the Senate seat. In recent days, Republicans have sought to put Democrats on the defensive, saying the incident underscores just how concerned the opposition is to the prospect of a Steele candidacy."

Mrs. Triangulation is the title of New York Times contributing writer Matt Bai's profile of Sen. Hillary Clinton (on the cover the article is referred to even less plausibly as "Hillary's Centrist Crusade").

Bai has apparently been taken in by Clinton's centering propaganda, as has the Times in general: It's coverage of the senator has consisted largely of portraying her as a safe centrist and even a social conservative, while accusing those who call her liberal as guilty of "caricature."

While Hillary Clinton has perhaps not been the vociferous anti-war opponent of fantasies, she's hardly been quiet about her loathing of the Bush administration, as when she compared Bush to Mad Magazine's moronic cartoon mascot: "I sometimes feel that Alfred E. Neuman is in charge in Washington."

Just as in several stories by Hillary-approving reporter Raymond Hernandez, Bai on Sunday doesn’t identify Hillary as a liberal, instead claiming she's a centrist and even has "conservative leanings."

That spin is at odds with reality. The American Conservative Union gives Hillary Clinton a rating of 9 out of a possible 100 points. Meanwhile, she garnered a 95% rating from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action (it should be said that 17 of the 45 Democratic senators had perfect 100% records in the ADA's 2004 survey, based on their position on 20 significant votes).