On Thursday's NBC Today, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell couldn't contain her glee over Carolina Kennedy being appointed U.S. ambassador to Japan: "Caroline Kennedy was almost born to be an ambassador, a picture perfect daughter in a telegenic first family. She captured our hearts all the way through her intense personal heartbreak." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Mitchell acknowledged that Kennedy "has no particular experience in Japan," but quickly brushed it aside: "...she has something that the Japanese consider far more important in an ambassador, and that is a celebrated family name and a direct line to her very good friend in the Oval Office." On Wednesday's Nightly News, Mitchell gushed: "The Kennedy name is magic in Japan."
CBS again paid homage to Caroline Kennedy on Tuesday's CBS This Morning as they hyped her possible nomination to be the next ambassador of Japan. During her report, Jan Crawford featured liberal historian Robert Dallek, who gushed over the apparent worldwide reputation of the presidential daughter's family: "The Kennedys, generally, have an extraordinary, continuing hold on the public's imagination, both in this country and abroad."
Dallek later asserted that the U.S. might be "sending somebody as ambassador to Tokyo who is representative of the best in American culture." The correspondent also touted how Kennedy "would have an opportunity to test her political skills, but also, she would be able to put the Kennedy name back on an international stage" if President Obama named her to the key diplomatic post.
With President Obama's election win, the worldwide celebrations have commenced again. NBC's Today show documented as much as they possibly could on Wednesday morning.
Reporting from London, foreign correspondent Michelle Kosinski was tasked with narrating the story of how the election has been perceived and reported overseas. Eerily similar to four long years ago, jubilant residents from other sovereign nations were shown in a high spirits after a second term was guaranteed to Obama. [ video below, MP3 audio here ]
In the war between religion and atheism, one atheist is already predicting victory. Biopsychologist Nigel Barber, writing for the Huffington Post, argued that atheism will overtake religion by the year 2038.
Barber’s asserted that “economic development is the key factor responsible for secularization.” His argument is simple: “The basic idea is that as people become more affluent, they are less worried about lacking for basic necessities, or dying early from violence or disease. In other words they are secure in their own existence. They do not feel the need to appeal to supernatural entities to calm their fears and insecurities.”
Filling in for Martin Bashir on his eponymous program on Thursday, MSNBC's Richard Lui treated viewers to an alarmist environmentalist's take on news of trace amounts of radioactive iodine being detected in milk from cows in two West Coast states. It's believed the radiation is linked to the failed Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan.
After noting that the Environmental Protection Agency has said the levels are "far below an amount that would be considered dangerous," Lui introduced Damon Moglen of Friends of the Earth (FOE), asking him "What do you think of what we're hearing right now with milk being affected?"
The FOE climate and energy project director jumped straight in with his talking points:
On Monday's All Things Considered, NPR's Bob Mondello used movies about fictional nuclear disasters, such as "The China Syndrome" and "Silkwood," to play up atomic energy's hazards. Mondello especially highlighted the 1959 movie "On the Beach" as supposedly coming the closest to the portraying a real-life radiation catastrophe, such as the ongoing crisis at the Japanese nuclear plant.
Host Melissa Block noted the movie critic's 2010 report comparing Hollywood disaster films to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster in her introduction: "Last summer, as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was finally brought under control...Bob Mondello did a comparison for us on Hollywood disaster movies and how they differ from real world disasters. Well, in the last few weeks, as tragic events have played out in Japan, Bob realized he had left something out of that story: the menace that can't be seen."
On the March 25 CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge apparently merged his nuclear terms by warning viewers of leaks of "uranium and plutanium" at the Fukushima power plant in Japan. Neither he nor co-host Erica Hill ever corrected the error.
View the video below:
In the 1979 movie "The China Syndrome," reporter Kimberly Wells (played by Jane Fonda) witnesses an accident at a nuclear power plant and then uncovers a plot to keep it a secret in order to protect the power company's billion-dollar investment. The film was a gift to the political left, which at the time opposed the pursuit of nuclear energy to reduce our addiction to foreign oil. In some liberal circles, that opposition remains strong.
The film, along with real-life accidents such as Three Mile Island (also in 1979), in which no one was killed, and Chernobyl (1986), which, according to the World Nuclear Association, "killed two Chernobyl plant workers on the night of the accident, and a further 28 people within a few weeks, as a result of acute radiation poisoning," account for much of our modern thinking about all things nuclear. Other films, like "Dr. Strangelove," "Fail-Safe" and "On the Beach" -- along with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which ended World War II and launched the Cold War with the Soviet Union in which "mutual assured destruction" (MAD) and civil defense drills became the norm -- make us nervous about what the unrestrained power of the atom can do.
Jon Meacham, the liberal host of PBS's "Need to Know," frankly admitted Thursday that media scrutiny of President Bush would far surpass the mild criticism of Barack Obama when it comes to a 10-minute ESPN segment on the President filling out his NCAA Tournament bracket.
Stalwart liberals such as MSNBC "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski and California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom (D) agreed.
"My only point is that Bush would have gotten more barbecued for this," Meacham claimed on "Morning Joe" Thursday. "Anyone who thinks that he didn't – he wouldn't – is crazy." The panel was debating the merits of President Obama appearing on ESPN to discuss basketball while Libya is in turmoil and Japan is facing a possible nuclear catastrophe.
An 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit Japan March 11 and the ensuing Tsunami wave delivered a devastating blow to the people, resources and economy of the U.S. ally. At this writing, a nuclear power plant there is on the verge of meltdown. As can be expected, it took a few days for the world and the American media to comprehend the complexity and gravity of the situation.
But two things were very predictable in the aftermath of a natural disaster. First, Americans have responded generously, having rallied financial, physical, emotional and spiritual support for the Japanese. Second, the network news refuses to recognize the impact that churches, faith-based groups and small non-profits have in the recovery effort.
On Wednesday, Barack Obama will appear on ESPN to announce his picks for the 2011 NCAA tournament. This past Saturday, as the disaster in Japan unfolded, the President found time to, again, play golf. On Tuesday's Special Report, Fox News host Bret Baier highlighted the difference between Obama's treatment and that of President Bush.
Baier quoted from Media Research President Brent Bozell: "If George Bush reacted this way during an international catastrophe -- wholly irrelevant radio addresses, golf outing for the 61st time, the left-wing media would require medically induced sedation to keep them in check."