Thursday, March 16, 2006

NYT: It's only news when Republicans issue statements

David D. Kirkpatrick 'funs' on the front page of the New York Times this morning and demonstrates that, at the paper of record, it's only news when Republicans issue statements. He also indicates that he's either highly ignorant or a practicing sexist.

In "Call for Censure Is Rallying Cry To Bush's Base" the I-word makes the Times' news coverage. And all it took was a tubby, drug fiend (Rush Limbaugh) to go off and what hopefully wasn't drug induced ravings. ("Hopefully" because it's all so sorid -- from using his maid to score, to his drug of choice, to his refusal to admit the problem that had him in and out of rehabs in the past.) What was Kirkpatrick on?

He's mainlining 90s Times' news print. He's getting high off the "reporting" of Jeff Gerth and so many others who presented Republican spin as fact. It's hard to know which addicition is worse or more embarrassing, Kirkpatrick's or Limbaugh's, but certainly Kirkpatrick's is more damaging to the national discourse.

So here's the Republican talking point -- 'Censure equals impeachment equals a rallying cry for the Republican base.' All it takes is for Paul Weyrich and Carl Forti to claim, no proof offered and none needed when the talking point comes from Republicans, that the very notion is "bizarre" and that there are e-mails a plenty and suddenly Limbaugh's got a supporting witness backing him up in the eyes of Kirkpatrick.

News flash for the Times, in an election year, anything that happens will be a 'rallying cry.'

But Kirkpatrick has been fluffing so long he can't be bothered with facts.

Which is why he starts with Republicans assertions on the front page (yeah, they front page this -- not Feingold's call to censure, but this -- an actual event isn't worthy of the front page, but Republican spin). It's also why actual facts come inside the paper and why Kirkpatrick either displays his ignorance inside the paper or he's just playing the readers.

I believe it's the sixteenth paragraph (check my math) where Kirkpatrick finally notes the impeachment talk: "bounced around since the invasion of Iraq failed to find the banned weapons that the administration had described before the war." That would be the nonexistant WMD since you can't find what doesn't exist but Kirkpatrick's rushing to get to his next two paragraphs so he can then return to spin and dispense with facts. (It's almost as though he's allergic to them.)

So in the seventeenth paragraph, Times readers finally are told by the news section of the paper a few basic facts that hopefully most readers learned elsewhere long ago. Such as John Conyers impeachment inquiry which Kirkpatrick writes has "attracted support from about two dozen of the chamber's 201 Democrats." (30 as of Sunday as noted by The Third Estate Sunday Review this past Sunday.)


Kirkpatrick's actually aware of Lewis Lapham's "The Case For Impeachment" (Harper's Magazine), though not aware of who wrote it since he can't name Lapham. Is there a reason for that? Let me note that if I mispell the name of a Times' reporter, I usually get an e-mail from the reporter noting that. Let me also note that they aren't always pleasant e-mails. If I reverse the billing of a byline, I'll often hear about that from the apparently slighted writer. (And note to all the Times writers with middle initials -- check how the paper billed you before complaining to me. They don't always put in your middle initial. If I'm not paying attention, I will because I'm familiar with them. If I'm fully awake, I won't because I'm going by what's on the printed page.)So it's laughable to me when the paper of record bills something by Jane Mayer (for instance) to The New Yorker without ever noting the author.

Note that when referencing an editorial by the Wall St. Journal, they name it ("The Impeachment Agenda") and tell when it ran ("editors wrote Wednesday"). But if you're interested in the what Harper's said about impeachment, you're out of luck. They don't give the author (Lapham), they don't give the title ("The Case For Impeachment") and they don't say when it appeared. It's a curious sort of attribution that provides no help to readers in locating what they are referencing.

But at least Harper's gets a reference. Elizabeth Holtzman's "The Impeachment of George W. Bush" (The Nation) doesn't even exist apparently. Does Kirkpatrick know of it? Holtzman's article was a front page one for The Nation. For the "New York" Times to be unaware of Holtzman is rather shocking since she represented New York (sixteenth district) (elected in 1972, left after the 1980 elections), twice ran for US senator from New York, was the DA out of Brooklyn and was the city of New York's comptroller. Is Kirkpatrick unfamiliar with Holtzman or is he just one more sexist rushing in to strip a woman of the credit she's earned?

Lapham is an incredible commentator but it takes nothing away from his accomplishments to note Holtzman. In terms of impeachment, Holtzman has a historical connection to the process since she served on the House Judiciary Committee when it brought charges of impeachment against Richard Nixon.

So is there a reason that Holtzman and her article go unmentioned in Kirkpatrick's fluff? Is it due to her gender, her standing (Kirkpatrick seems to delight in mocking the notion of impeachment) or is it just that Kirkpatrick couldn't find his common sense with both hands -- if he happened to possess any?

He's also apparently unaware of the book Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush recently put out by the Center for Constitutional Rights. When you're quoting a tool of an attack Congress organization, maybe you might want to note the CCR? They have fought cases before the Supreme Court (and won). They are a recognized organization. In fact, the Times' beloved notion of "balance" sort of requires that they be noted, doesn't it? Exactly whom in the article is quoted on impeachment or censure? No one other than the Wall St. Journal's (editorial -- yes, unlike the "Harper's" article, they can quote the editorial), Republican Brian Jones, Republican Carl Fonti, and Weyrich. Who is quoted on censure or impeachment? Feingold who is actually news and front page news at that, though it took the paper of record time to discover that (time and Republican spin). Of the four Republicans quoted on the topic, only the Wall St. Journal's editorial is given less space than Feingold. They quote Nancy Pelosi. Who has nothing to say about impeachment. (And has had nothing to say on the topic when confronted by her constituents -- the same non-response when confronted on the spending for the Iraq war.)

Pelosi's not a supporter of impeachment. Why is she quoted? Why, if the topic is impeachment, and don't kid that the topic is censure, from the opening paragraph, the "rallying cry" of impeachment (by "liberals") is mentioned. So where are those voices in the article?

Here's the only quote on impeachment, in full, "cause worth fighting for." That's Richard Dreyfuss. As Janeane Garofalo has often pointed out, celebrities can be used by some in the press to mock. Is that why Dreyfuss is half-quoted? Is that why Barbra Streisand is mentioned?

No offense is intended to either. Barbra Streisand is a strong voice, one we've linked to. (Usual disclosure on Streisand, but I don't know Dreyfuss.) But are they tossed out to fit into the narrative the Times is attempting to sell the notion of "the most liberal wing of the Democratic Party" (Kirkpatrick's phrase).

More power to Streisand and Dreyfuss and anyone else who wants to endosre censure or impeachment. And unlike the Times' we don't sneer at the entertainment industry -- one of the last areas of actual production in the United States. (Scott Shane likes to sneer "Hollywood" -- as though he's channeling Louella or Hedda.) But when Holtzman isn't quoted or noted and other details are left out, it's a pretty safe bet that Streisand and Dreyfuss are included to ridicule the talk of censure and impeachment and make it seem as though it's an extreme idea with no public support.

As Matthew Rothschild noted in "Grounds for Impeachment" (The Progressive), but Kirkpatrick doesn't in the Times:

According to a Zogby poll, 53 percent of Americans would favor impeachment if it could be shown that Bush lied about the reasons for going to war. And 52 percent favor impeachment if it can be shown that Bush illegally spied on American citizens.

Not quite the marginalized position that Kirkpatrick wants to pretend it is, is it?

How about this from Democracy Now! last week?

Five Vermont Towns Back Impeachment of Bush
In Vermont, five towns have approved measures calling for the impeachment of President Bush. The votes come at a time when the talk of impeachment is increasing. On Monday the Wall Street Journal ran a lengthy article pointing out how polls show there is greater support among the public for the impeachment of President Bush than there ever was for President Clinton. In 1998, polls showed 27 percent of the country backed the impeachment of Clinton if he lied about having a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Meanwhile a recent Zogby poll showed 51 percent of the country said Congress should consider impeaching Bush if he didn't tell truth about the reasons for the Iraq war.

Kirkpatrick dispenses with Vermont by noting "several towns in Vermont have passed resolutions calling for impeachment." But what of the polling? The New York Times loves their polling. They're more than happy to quote an editorial from the Wall St. Journal but what about the actual polling that found greater support for impeaching Bully Boy today than there ever was for impeaching Clinton? That fact is lost to Kirkpatrick.

So it's a safe guess to assume that Streisand and Dreyfuss are included by Kirkpatrick in an attempt to marginalize the support for impeachment. What gets noted and what doesn't? The paper's sins of omission as Amy Goodman has dubbed them.

Kirkpatrick comes off today as a little cruel, a bit of a tool and an utter fool. Quite a feat. Elisabeth Bumiller, you stand warned, David D. Kirkpatrick is tired of serving on the Elite Fluff Patrol -- he's challenging you for the post of squad leader.

While the Times runs with spin and passes it off as "fact," Martha notes actual facts in Peter Baker's "Bush to Restate Terror Strategy: 2002 Doctrine of Preemptive War To Be Reaffirmed" (Washington Post):

President Bush plans to issue a new national security strategy today reaffirming his doctrine of preemptive war against terrorists and hostile states with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, despite the troubled experience in Iraq.
The long-overdue document, an articulation of U.S. strategic priorities that is required by law, lays out a robust view of America's power and an assertive view of its responsibility to bring change around the world. On topics including genocide, human trafficking and AIDS, the strategy describes itself as "idealistic about goals and realistic about means."

The strategy expands on the original security framework developed by the Bush administration in September 2002, before the invasion of Iraq. That strategy shifted U.S. foreign policy away from decades of deterrence and containment toward a more aggressive stance of attacking enemies before they attack the United States.

That's both important and frightening. And it will effect our lives. But it's much more 'fun' to be a fluffer at the Times apparently. It's much more 'fun' to trip back to the heady (and embarrassing for the paper) nineties where Republican spin was pushed as fact. Today, Davy Kirkpatrick puts on some flannel, drops a little X, hums a little Hootie, and heads off in search of a mosh pit, where he can bump up against other bare chested males in what is obviously homoerotic behavior but it's not gay, you understand, because it's all so darn butch.

Which must be why readers of the article are given nothing by Kirkpatrick that indicates the basic issue at stake: illegal, warrantless spying.

As the CCR's Michael Ratner noted in "Tomorrow is Today: the Time for Resistance is Now" (CounterPunch):

In other words, the republic and democracy is over. In Germany what did they call that? They called that the fuhrer's law. Why? Because the fuhrer was the law. That's what George Bush is saying here. George Bush is the law.
This assertion of power is so blatant so open, and so notorious, that it is finally shocking some people like former Vice President Gore to speak up. I'm sure many of you are familiar with what he said in his recent speech on Martin Luther King's birthday. "The President of the United State has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently." He was referring to the NSA spying scandal. And then he went on to say, "A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government." And then he said what that means to a Republic: "An executive who acts free of the will of Congress as this president says he can, or the check of the judiciary, as this president says he can, becomes the central threat that the founders sought to nullify in the Constitution." And then Gore quotes James Madison to the effect that what President Bush has done is the very definition of "tyranny." So there you have it. It's not just us, its not just progressives, but even someone like former Vice President Gore is saying this government is the very definition of tyranny.

To note that might have spoiled Kirkpatrik's 'high' or at least his 'fun.'

Rod's passed on scheduled topics for today's Democracy Now!:

We speak with a Bolivian professor who was barred from entering the country in order to teach at the University of Nebraska as well as a Venezuelan professor who was visited by the FBI at Pomona College.
We host a discussion about the University of Miami janitor strike that has recently expanded to Miami International Airport.

Also, on the third anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie, they discuss the raid that took place in Israel.

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[Note: The "**" indicate where this entry picks up. Due to Blogger/Blogspot problems, this entry was dictated. Four friends were willing to take dictation, thank you, but only the fourth was able to log into this account -- others received "server" error messages. To get the heads up on Democracy Now! onto the site in time for a true heads up, the top half was posted. And I was late because Amy Goodman had already finished headlines by the time this was initally posted.]