It doesn't take much to offend liberals' exquisite sensitivities. The latest? Referring to Islamofascists as . . . Islamofascists. Chris Matthews got the ball rolling on this evening's Hardball. But Charlie Rangel upped the ante to the max, managing to impugn Christians and Jews in the bargain. Fortunately, GOP Congressman Dan Lungren had the guts to call Rangel on it.

Matthews got things started by challenging Lungren: "Would you include Hezbollah in that group [of Islamofascists]? Would you include Hamas, they are they enemies of Israel. Are they also enemies of ours? Are they also fascists because they have a dispute with Israel? Anybody who is against us is a fascist now."

Rangel sent things to the moon a bit later with this line: "You take Islamic and you call them fascists, you call them radical. You never called Hitler a Christian fascist. This is insulting to an entire religion."

"Okay, for this next shot, we're going to need you over here."

"Good use of ketchup on that corpse."

Putting aside more conspiratorially-minded critics of the mainstream media, genuine practical concerns and mounting evidence suggest Western media has been co-opted by Hezbollah in Lebanon to a significant agree. So much so, in fact, that it may be unable to paint an accurate picture of the current conflict.

The two year old image at right is from a Reuters video of Palestinian terrorists escaping from an action in Israel with the aid of a UN van. Video here. The decision by America's MSM not to publish it at the time may represent press bias, or that its concern for American's right to know is somewhat selective. However, it also serves to make another important point.

Service organizations like the UN and the Red Cross often rely on local individuals to flesh out their staffs. Obviously, there are areas of the world where it's difficult to tell the good guys from the bad and sometimes the bad guys may represent the majority of the local population. Such may be the case in Southern Lebanon and it invites the kind of co-optation witnessed above.

With the MSM having decided to rely heavily on local stringers in covering the Israeli Hezbollah conflict in Southern Lebanon, their coverage appears to have fallen prey to manipulation by a terrorist group, or at least its propaganda machine.

Quick Take: Reuters' initial reaction to the UK airliner bomb plot arrests was to tie it to Tony Blair and Israel's actions in Lebanon. A later story, perhaps in response to blog criticism of the original, added the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as "reasons." Nowhere is the idea that Islamic Jihadism, independent of day-to-day events in the Middle East, is involved. More important, and worse -- Articles containing speculation gone wild are allowed to go out disguised as "objective" news pieces.

Here, from The Washington Post at 2:13 AM (article saved to my hard drive to guard against the "memory-hole effect) are three paragraphs from a Reuters story on the UK airliner bomb plot arrests (paras 9, 10, and 11):

Following the arrests, security at all British airports was increased and additional security measures put in place for all flights.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has come under strong criticism at home and abroad for following the U.S. lead and refusing to call for an immediate ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Lebanese Hizbollah guerrillas.

The security alert comes 13 months after four Islamist suicide bombers killed 52 people on London's transport network on July 7 last year.

It is certainly true that a picture is worth a thousand words when it comes to news photographs, and it’s especially true of news photographs from war zones.

Brenda Goodman follows up on her NY Times story on the loss in the Democratic primary by inflammatory Rep. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia, but lets her allies blame the Republicans in "Democrat Says G.O.P. Voters Led to Her Loss."

In a special bonus feature in our ongoing “Friday Night Fights” segment, a real barnburner took place Wednesday evening on CNN’s “Larry King Live.” In the left corner, Air America radio personality Randi Rhodes.

That truth is the first casualty of war has been borne home by the proliferating 'fauxtography' scandal of photographs of the current Middle East crisis doctored or staged so as to portray Israel in the worst possible light. At this point, can we look at any image from the area without a good dose of doubt?

Take this morning's report on the Today show. NBC's Richard Engel, in Tyre, Lebanon, reported that:

"The fighting has made humanitarian relief efforts almost impossible. Israel has cut roads and attacked vehicles, isolating Hezbollah and everyone else."

This was followed by a clip of the unidentified individual pictured here. Judging by his words and accent, he might have been a Red Cross official. He asserted:

"Lots of people have died because they just couldn't make it to a hospital in time. Ambulances clearly marked with the Red Cross were hit right in the middle of the roof of the car. The Red Cross stands for protection and neutrality. This should not have happened."

Our own Michelle Humphrey noticed that NBC anchor Brian Williams appeared Tuesday on "The Daily Show," and in the midst of all the chummy banter, Jon Stewart was still cracking wise, in the face of the evidence, that the federal government has/had no presence in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. MRC intern Eugene Gibilaro transcribed it:

Bloggers—and to a much lesser extent some media outlets—have paid considerable attention to specific examples of media manipulation in the war being fought between Hezbollah and the IDF in Lebanon and Israel, but we seem be under-covering the overall framing of the media's coverage, particularly when it comes to the subject matter chosen for coverage.

This comes into sharp relief when contrasted against the coverage we've become used to from the war in Iraq, particularly as it relates to the media coverage allowed and provided by two different insurgencies in Lebanon's Hezbollah and Iraq's predominately Sunni insurgency.

In Iraq, we’ve become somewhat used to embedded reporters reporting from both sides of the conflict with a fairly wide latitude to operate. Stringers, both print media and photographers, have occasionally embedded within the insurgency, providing coverage from ambushes and sniper's nests alike. The insurgents themselves often seem to be media hungry, filming operations themselves and often releasing the tapes to the media or producing them on DVDs for public consumption in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.

By and large, the vast majority of video reporting allowed and encouraged by the Iraqi insurgency is combat-related. IED ambushes are particularly popular, often released as montages set to Islamist music as propaganda videos. The Iraqi insurgents have often seemed intent on portraying themselves as rebel forces actively waging a war for the people, whether or not the people would always agree.

Hezbollah, however, seems to be fighting a different kind of media war.

Tucker Carlson stopped short of saying that some of his best friends are Jewish. But he did let us know that "I love Israel, I think it's a wonderful place, I support it completely, I support it instinctively."

That was just before he declared that "I think this war helps Hezbollah. I think it's bad for Israel, bad for the United States. I think you can love Israel and believe this war is a disaster."

And it was just after he criticized President Bush for being too pro-Israel.

Carlson turned to Bill Press, his guest on this afternoon's Tucker show on MSNBC, observing:

"You never hear Democrats point out that Bush is not even-handed in the Middle East. You almost never hear anybody criticize the President for taking the side of Israel to the extent that he alienates the Arab world completely. Why doesn't anybody ever mention that?"

The former chairman of the California Dem party gave a response suggesting he might be a proud graduate of the Pat Buchanan 'Amen Corner' School of Foreign Policy:

Talk about striking for pure emotion with headlines! The AP has proclaimed that an "Israeli Strike Kills 13 Near Mourners". But, what does "near mourners" mean? Did Israel strike a funeral procession or not.

Apparently NOT.

AP begins their report giving the reader the feeling that Israel attacked a funeral procession with the following: