Monday, November 3, 2008

Media Credibility?

The following opinion piece actually appeared in the N.Y. Times this weekend:

After the presidential election is over and the dust, animosity, glee and shock settle into something manageable, the nation will need to tackle the subject of “media bias” in a sincere and honest manner.

As an “independent conservative,” I’m expected to see liberal media bias lurking everywhere, but it’s not just me — and it’s not just conservatives. I know liberals, including newspaper editors, who think the “news” pendulum had swung dangerously far to the left.

Beyond recent studies by the Pew Research Center and the Project for Excellence in Journalism, other research shows that the media has tilted to the left; indeed journalists themselves have openly admitted as much.

Under the recent headline “Why McCain Is Getting Hosed in the Press,” Politico editors John F. Harris and Jim Vandehei opined:

OK, let’s just get this over with: Yes, in the closing weeks of this election, John McCain and Sarah Palin are getting hosed in the press, and at Politico. And, yes, based on a combined 35 years in the news business we’d take an educated guess — nothing so scientific as a Pew study — that Obama will win the votes of probably 80 percent or more of journalists covering the 2008 election. Most political journalists we know are centrists — instinctually skeptical of ideological zealotry — but with at least a mild liberal tilt to their thinking, particularly on social issues. So what?

“So what?” Those two cavalier words alone speak to the larger problem. Who cares if “80 percent or more of journalists covering the 2008 election” will vote for Barack Obama? Journalists, their editors, management, the candidates and the American people should care.

Regarding the Obama phenomenon and the media fascination with him, a senior staffer for a rival Democrat primary opponent offered up this theory to me for part of the bias. This person reasoned that the pressure within the news business to diversify and be politically correct means more minorities, women and young people are being hired. And young and ethnically diverse reporters and editors go easier on candidates who look more like them, are closer to their age or represent their ideal of a presidential candidate.

Over at, Michael S. Malone, a columnist, posted an article last week that created a firestorm of comment and interest. In part, he wrote: “The traditional media are playing a very, very dangerous game — with their readers, with the Constitution and with their own fates. The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling.”

Mr. Malone then uses the rest of his post to explain why he feels so. For me and others, one of the most important points he raises is when he talks about the dangerous game the traditional media is playing with “their own fate.” Indeed, I — as well as two newspaper editors I know — would argue that one reason newspapers are seeing a decline in circulation is because they ignore or marginalize right-of-center or conservative readers.

On Friday, in an article about Mr. Obama’s infomercial, Howard Kurtz, The Washington Post media critic, wrote: “If the press were inclined to hammer the Democratic nominee for buying the election after blowing off public financing, the infomercial would be Exhibit A. But the press is giving him a pass on the issue.”

Earlier that week, and on the direct topic of media bias in favor of Mr. Obama, he wrote: “If, as a former McCain strategist put it, “the cake is baked” for his man’s defeat, it’s fair to ask whether the media have provided the flour, the frosting and the candles.”

And from the West Coast, we have this timely and germane observation. The Hollywood Reporter noted that, “In a room full of television industry executives, no one seemed inclined to defend MSNBC on Monday for what some were calling its lopsidedly liberal coverage of the presidential election.” Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, a self-described liberal and close friend of the Clinton’s punctuated the belief by saying that she would prefer a lunch date with right-leaning Fox News host Sean Hannity over MSNBC host Keith Olbermann. According to the report, one aspect of the coverage that bothered Ms. Bloodworth-Thomason and others was the way MSNBC — and other media — has attacked Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and demeaned her supporters.

Tobe Berkovitz, associate dean of Boston University’s College of Communication, said, as reported by Mr. Kurtz in his media column: “If the mainstream media are wrong about Obama and the voters pull a Truman, that is going to be the end of whatever shred of credibility they have left.”

My point is, regardless of whether the news media are right or wrong about an Obama win, shouldn’t they still be concerned about that “shred of credibility they have left?” Shouldn’t they be concerned with numerous studies and the observations of various journalists that the business has tilted too far to the left?

On Foreign Policy, It's Ace vs. Amateur

From today's Investor's Business Daily:

Assuming both candidates intend to advance U.S. interests abroad, it bears looking at how McCain and Obama would conduct foreign policy.

McCain is the ace in foreign policy, not the much-applauded Obama. McCain has played pivotal roles in opening Vietnam to trade, passing the North American Free Trade Agreement and encouraging the color revolutions of Eastern Europe. He's visited most countries and knows that foreign policy works by keeping one's word first, not by projecting an ideology or personality. It will work.

Obama, by contrast, shows neither interest nor experience in foreign affairs, and defers to 300 advisers, mostly from left-wing think tanks. In the Senate, he's done nothing. He's recently traveled only to the warhorse trails of foreign policy in Europe and the Middle East, and not the emerging new democracies visited by McCain. It's inadequate and won't work.

Both candidates say they will work with partners. But how will their ideas play out?

For Obama, multilateral cooperation means reliance on the United Nations, even as dictators run U.N. operations for their own ends and the Security Council is deadlocked in the face of real threats. He'll get rolled because the U.N. system is institutionally weak.

For McCain, cooperation means supporting friends and recognizing enemies. In that realism, he proposes a new league of democracies to give free states a stronger voice. In advocating this, America increases its pool of like-minded allies to work with.

Obama, by contrast, blurs distinctions between friends and enemies. He discards coordination with allies in favor of going it alone with enemies. Example: His suggestion that he would press Iran to end its nuclear program by talking directly to its tyrants, never mind the coordinated effort with Europe now in place.

To allies, that comes across as arrogant, a faith in one's own charisma trumping the coordinated pressure. Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has already recognized its amateurism, hitting Obama with preconditions of his own for talks, while French President Nicolas Sarkozy decried Obama as "utterly immature" with "formulations empty of all content," Haaretz reported.

Obama showed the same careless disregard for allies in saying he would break the NAFTA treaty and rewrite it on his own terms, alarming not only Mexico and Canada, but other partners too.

McCain, however, grasps how foreign policy comes of consensus and spans administrations. Getting NAFTA took consensus — not only of Republicans and Democrats in Congress, but their equivalents in Mexico and Canada. He sees it to be built on, not dropped.

On human rights, both candidates say yes, and McCain has a long record to back it up. But Obama has a different point of view. Already he is using it as a weapon against America's allies, pointing the bony finger at Colombia on human rights and denying it free trade. At the same time, he downplays the atrocious human rights record of Cuba and says he will hold talks with its dictators. McCain keeps friends encouraged and enemies on notice — his rapid stance in defense of invaded Georgia last August was typical.

On global poverty, both vow to end it, but Obama's approach is outdated: doubling aid to $50 billion, as if welfare ends poverty instead of institutionalizes it. McCain proposes partnerships and trade treaties so that the poor can rise up through opportunity.

Obama's focus on personality also may affect the sinews of U.S. power — his congressional allies are proposing cutting military spending by 25%. With no military to back his plans, it's naive to think personality will trump a capacity to project power abroad.

McCain believes in the one U.S. policy that history shows has always worked: speaking softly and carrying a big stick. If defense is strong, the need to use force is low.

Only McCain's ideas are likely to enhance America's leverage and prestige abroad. Obama's proposals were last tried during the Jimmy Carter era; they left America at the nadir of its global influence. Obama's inexperience is why he defaults to such old ideas. McCain shows that experience gives you a cutting-edge awareness of what works.

A Letter to Senator Obama...

To Barack Hussein Obama,

The New York Times carried a story on Saturday, October 4, 2008, that proved you had a significantly closer relationship with Bill Ayers than what you previously admitted. While the issue of your relationship is of concern, the greater concern is that you lied to America about it.

The Chicago Sun reported on May 8, 2008, that FBI records showed that you had a significantly closer relationship with Tony Rezko than what you previously admitted. In the interview, you said that you only saw Mr. Rezko a couple of times a year. The FBI files showed that you saw him weekly. While the issue of your relationship is of concern, the greater concern is that you lied to America about it.

Your speech in Philadelphia on March 18, 2008, about "race" contradicted your statement to Anderson Cooper on March 14 when you said that you never heard Reverend Wright make his negative statements about white America. While your attendance at Trinity Church for 20 years is of concern, the greater concern is that you lied to America on March 14.

In your first debate with John McCain, you said that you never said that you would meet with the leaders of Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, and North Korea without "preparations" at lower levels…Joe Biden repeated your words in his debate with Sarah Palin…while the video tape from your debate last February clearly shows that you answered "I would" to the question of meeting with those leaders within 12 months without "any" preconditions. While your judgment about meeting with enemies of the USA without pre-conditions is of concern, the greater concern is that you lied to America in the debate with McCain.

On July 14, 2008, you said that you always knew that the surge would work while the video tapes of you from more than a year ago show that you stated that the surge would not work. While your judgment about military strategy as a potential commander-in-chief is of concern, the greater concern is that you lied to America on July 14.

You now claim that your reason for voting against funding for the troops was because the bill did not include a time line for withdrawal, while the video tapes of you from more than a year ago show that you voted against additional funding because you wanted our troops to be removed immediately…not in 16 months after the 2008 election as you now claim. While your judgment about removing our troops unilaterally in 2007 is of concern, the greater concern is that you lied to America about your previous position.

You claim to have a record of working with Republicans while the record shows that the only bill that you sponsored with a Republican was with Chuck Lugar…and it failed. The record shows that you vote 97% in concert with the Democrat party and that you have the most liberal voting record in the Senate. You joined Republicans only 13% of the time in your votes and those 13% were only after agreement from the Democrat party. While it is of concern that you fail to include conservatives in your actions and that you are such a liberal, the greater concern is that you distorted the truth.

In the primary debates of last February, 2008, you claimed to have talked with a "Captain" of a platoon in Afghanistan "the other day" when in fact you had a discussion in 2003 with a Lieutenant who had just been deployed to Afghanistan. You lied in that debate.

In your debates last spring, you claimed to have been a "professor of Constitutional law" when in fact you have never been a professor of Constitutional law. In this last debate, you were careful to say that you "taught a law class" and never mentioned being a "professor of Constitutional law."

You lied last spring. You and Joe Biden both claimed that John McCain voted against additional funding for our troops when the actual records show the opposite. You distorted the truth.

You and Joe Biden claim that John McCain voted against funding for alternate energy sources 20 times when the record shows that John McCain specifically voted against funding for bio fuels, especially corn…and he was right…corn is too expensive at producing ethanol, and using corn to make ethanol increased the price of corn from $2 a bushel to $6 a bushel for food. You distorted the truth.

You and Joe Biden claim that John McCain voted like both of you for a tax increase on those making as little as $42,000 per year while the voting record clearly shows that John McCain did not vote as you and Joe Biden. You lied to America.

You and Joe Biden claim that John McCain voted with George W. Bush 90% of the time when you know that Democrats also vote 90% of the time with the President (including Joe Biden) because the vast majority of the votes are procedural. You are one of the few who has not voted 90% of the time with the president because you have been missing from the Senate since the day you got elected. While your absence from your job in the Senate is of concern, the greater concern is that you spin the facts.

You did not take an active role in the rescue plan. You claimed that the Senate did not need you while the real reason that you abstained was because of your close relationships with the executives of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Countrywide, and Acorn…who all helped cause the financial problems of today...and they all made major contributions to your campaign. While your relationship with these executives and your protection of them for your brief 3 years in the Senate (along with Barney Frank, Chuck Schumer, Maxine Waters, and Chris Dodd) is of concern, the greater concern is that you are being deceitful.

You forgot to mention that you personally represented Tony Rezko and Acorn. Tony Rezko, an Arab and close friend to you, was convicted of fraud in Chicago real estate transactions that bilked millions of tax dollars from the Illinois government for renovation projects that you sponsored as a state senator...and Acorn has been convicted of voter fraud, real estate sub prime loan intimidation, and illegal campaign contributions. Tony Rezko has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to your political campaigns. You personally used your political positions to steer money to both Tony Rezko and Acorn and you used Acorn to register thousands of phony voters for Democrats and you. While your relationships with Rezko and Acorn are of concern, the greater concern is that you omitted important facts about your relationships with them to America.

During your campaign, you said: "typical white person." "They cling to their guns and religion." "They will say that I am black." You played the race card. You tried to label any criticism about you as racist. You divide America.

You claim that you will reduce taxes for 95% of America, but you forgot to tell America that those reductions are after you remove the Bush tax reductions. You have requested close to $1 billion in earmarks and several million for Acorn. Your social programs will cost America $1 trillion per year and you claim that a reduction in military spending ($100 billion for Iraq) can pay for it. While your economic plan of adding 30% to the size of our federal government is of concern, the greater concern is that you are deceiving America.

The drain to America ' s economy by foreign supplied oil is $700 billion per year (5% of GDP) while the war in Iraq is $100 billion (less than 1% of GDP). You voted against any increases to oil exploration for the last 3 years and any expansion of nuclear facilities. Yet today, you say that you have always been for more oil and more nuclear. You are lying to America.

Mr. Obama, you claimed that you "changed" your mind about public financing for your campaign because of the money spent by Republican PACs in 2004. The truth is that the Democrat PACs in 2004, 2006, and 2008 spent twice as much as the Republican PACs (especially George Soros and You are lying to America.

Mr. Obama, you have done nothing to stop the actions of the teachers union and college professors in the USA. They eliminated religion from our history. They teach pro gay agendas and discuss sex with students as young as first grade. They bring their personal politics into the classrooms. They disparage conservatives. They brainwash our children. They are in it for themselves...not America. Are you reluctant to condemn their actions because teachers/professors and the NEA contribute 25% of all money donated to Democrats and none to Republicans? You are deceiving America.

Oh, Mr. Obama, Teddy Roosevelt said about a hundred years ago that we Americans should first look at the character of our leaders before anything else. Your character looks horrible. While you make good speeches, motivating speeches, your character does not match your rhetoric. You talk the talk, but do not walk the walk.

  1. You lied to America. You lied many times. You distorted facts. You parsed your answers like a lawyer.
  2. You distorted the record of John McCain in your words and in your advertisements.
  3. You had associations with some very bad people for your personal political gains and then lied about those associations.
  4. You divide America about race and about class.
Now let me compare your record of lies, distortions, race baiting, and associations to John McCain:

  • War hero.
  • Annapolis graduate with "Country first."
  • Operational leadership experience (like all 43 previously elected presidents of the USA as a Navy officer for 22 years).
  • 26 years in the Senate. Straight talk.
  • Maverick: 54% of the time participated on bills with Democrats. Never asked for an earmark.
The only blemish on his record is his part in the Keating 5 debacle about 25 years ago.

Mr. Obama, at Harvard Law School, you learned that the end does not justify the means. You learned that perjury, false witness, dishonesty, distortion of truth is never tolerated. Yet, your dishonesty is overwhelming. Your dishonesty is tremendously greater than the dishonesty that caused the impeachment and disbarment of Bill Clinton. Your dishonesty is tremendously greater than the dishonesty of Scooter Libby. You should be ashamed.

Mr. Obama, it is time for us Americans to put aside our differences on political issues and vote against you because of your dishonest character. It is time for all of us Americans to put aside our political issues and vote for America first. It is time for America to vote for honesty.

Any people who vote for you after understanding that you are dishonest should be ashamed of themselves for making their personal political issues more important than character. Would these same people vote for the anti-Christ if the anti-Christ promised them riches? Would they make a golden calf while Moses was up on the mountain? Would they hire someone for a job if that someone lied in an interview? Of course not. So why do some of these people justify their votes for you even though they know you are dishonest? Why do they excuse your dishonesty?

Because some of these people are frightened about the future, the economy, and their financial security…and you are preying on their fears with empty promises…and because some (especially our young people) are consumed by your wonderful style and promises for "change" like the Germans who voted for Adolf Hitler in 1932. The greed/envy by Germans in 1932 kept them from recognizing Hitler for who he was. They loved his style. Greed and envy are keeping many Americans from recognizing you…your style has camouflaged your dishonesty…but many of us see you for who you really are…and we will not stop exposing who you are every day, forever if it is necessary.

Mr. Obama, you are dishonest. Anyone who votes for you is enabling dishonesty.

Mr. Obama, America cannot trust that you will put America first in your decisions about the future.

Mr. Obama, you are not the "change" that America deserves. We cannot trust you.

Mr. Obama, You are not ready and not fit to be commander-in-chief.

Mr. Obama, John McCain does not have as much money as your campaign to refute all of your false statements. And for whatever reasons, the mainstream media will not give adequate coverage or research about your lies, distortions, word parsing, bad associations, race baiting, lack of operational leadership experience, and generally dishonest character. The media is diverting our attention from your relationships and ignoring the fact that you lied about those relationships. The fact that you lied is much more important than the relationships themselves…just like with Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon…Monica Lewinski and Watergate were not nearly as bad as the fact that those men lied about the events…false witness…perjury…your relationships and bad judgments are bad on their own…but your lies are even worse.

Therefore, by copy of this memo, all who read this memo are asked to send it to everyone else in America before it is too late. We need to do the job that the media will not do. We need to expose your dishonesty so that every person in America understands who you really are before election day.

Mr. Obama, in a democracy, we get what we deserve. And God help America if we deserve you.

Michael Master
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