Thursday, September 13, 2012

Was Mitt wrong? Who knows?

Brian Montopoli (CBS News) wants to ponder how bad a mistake Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made in calling out the violence in Eypgt and Libya targeting US embassies and in calling out what he saw as a weak response from the US government.  It's interesting that Montopoli starts from the position that Romney's made a mistake.  Based upon what?

If I worked for CBS News, I think I'd be aware that right wing media can't stop talking about (and linking to audio of) yesterday's conversation ahead of Romney's press briefing when CBS journalists can be heard coordinating questions and plotting strategy of how they're going to hit on the topic, of how they won't let Romney get off with certain kinds of response and much more.  In other words, if I worked for CBS News, whose actions yesterday revealed the appearance of a conflict of interest, the appearance of collusion, I think I'd be very careful about how my 'reporting' flowed.  I wouldn't, for example, allow opinion to infilitrate what is supposed to be my reporting -- not column writing, not opinion journalism, but reporting.

Part of the reason CBS remains so firmly in third place is due to the fact that it is seen as biased.  I'm not discussing anything here that CBS News isn't aware of.  The behavior prior to the Romney briefing was appalling and not because a recording of it leaked out.  When people increasinly state they have lost trust in the media, it is exactly because of what the audio recording conveys.

I have many friends at CBS News.  I even like Brian (I don't know Brian -- we've exchanged e-mails years ago and I did put in a good word later when he was in talks with CBS and a friend asked for my take on his work).  I don't think they're biased or set out to influence elections.  I'm not accusing them of doing that.  I've found CBS, as a network news division, to work collectively harder at being impartial and also being hard hitting.  But that's from what I know.  Most viwers and potential iewers of CBS news do not know anyone working in the news division.  They go by the impressions actions make when forming their opinions. 

So if Brian's not biased -- and I don't believe he is (you don't have to agree with me) -- why does he write a report that starts with the premise -- when no polling has been done -- that Mitt Romney made an error?  Because the press runs in packs.  And when you have political operatives like Greg Sargent ginning up phony outrage (maybe it was real -- Sargent seemed unhinged and rabid in that nonsense yesterday), it tilts the media, collectively, to one point of view.

Did Mitt Romney make a mistake?

Polling data will reveal whether or not he made a campaign mistake.

Maybe he did. Maybe he didn't.

It fit in with his campaign message, it fit in with what was presented at the GOP convention.  4 Americans are dead and it seems a stretch to argue that hurts Mitt Romney.  Americans are reeling from unemployment, falling wages and numerous other things and have seen weak-knee-ed politicians cave endlessly for over a decade.  Mitt's response is to take a stand for America.

It could poll badly, I don't know that it will, I think he's tapping into something out there in the same way Reagan did with his glomming onto Chrysler and the whole "The Pride Is Back" mood.  Maybe that mood is only a small segment of the population?  Could be.  It's never been before, but maybe this is all a game changer, I don't know.

And neither does Brian Montopoli or CBS News at this point.  Or anyone in the news industry.

It would probably be better if journalists attempted to cover the events and stopped trying to say what they meant to Americans before they can back up such claims.  It's equally true that if what he said was so inaccurate, Barack Obama would not have been attempting to take the same position while also insulting Romney.  (Someone needs to get Barack better one liners -- what he told 60 Minutes yesterday was the most mangled one liner since Ann Richards daughter spoke at the DNC last week.)

Equally true, this is fluid which is why a Greg Sargent becomes a screaming banshee.  If he screams loud enough, not only will the press grab his point of view but people who might agree with Romney may become scared too say so.  Bullies intimidate and the Washington Post has allowed a bully to soil their website.  (In yesterday's snapshot, I had a whole section on this that had to be deleted due to not having enough room.  In it, I noted that Dan Froomkin was let go by the Post and Froomkin had a point of view but was rational -- and worth reading.  Sargent just howls like a rabid dog and makes no sense while calling others incoherent.  And I also noted that if he had a blog or website and wrote that it would be one thing but that it sullies the Washington Post when that sort of rhetoric appears there.)

But for all the Greg Sargent efforts at spin, there's also reality.  Which is why I'm able to write about the topic this morning. It just became Iraq related and adjacent with a nasty view of a pool of hatred.

The Voice of Russia reports that al Qaeda in Mespotamia linked group Asaib al-Haq's has issued a message from their leader attacking a film that those who rioted and murdered used as their excuse for their actions.  There is no excuse for the actions.  I'm strongly pro-abortion.  When a TV show contains an anti-choice message, I don't grab guns or stones and go over to the network.  The film portrayed Mohammed in some way that followers found objectionable.  Then you don't see the film.  That's how it works in the adult world. When Ronald Reagan was shot, there were attempts to blame Martin Scorsese (and for the less educated, Robert DeNiro -- less educated because those without sufficient knowledge see Robert on the screen and assume he wrote, directed and did everything they see) because of the film Taxi Driver.  John Hinkley was and remains a sick and disturbed person.  Taxi Driver was not responsible for the shooting of Ronald Reagan.

The movie's art.  Art can outrage, art can offend.  That's the nature of art.  Jesse Helms never got that and apparently today Jesse Helms is sprouting in country's all over the world.

The leader of Asaib al-Haq appears to threaten Americans.  Appears to?  The English language is not mastered in this statement: "The offence caused to the messenger (Prophet Mohammad) will put all American insterests in danger and we will not forgive them for that."  Forgive who?  The Americans most likely but the poorly worded statement could also be seen as saying that "them" is the film makers.  Most likely?  They are the League of Righteous.  You may remember that they killed five American soldiers.  CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama."   You may remember that the US military had the leader, his brother and a number of other members in custody and Barack Obama made a deal with the League to release them so they would release the corpses of four dead citizens of the United Kingdom.  You may remember how the leader grumbled publicly about the deal made and refused to release the fourth body for over a year.

Now the terrorists Barack negotiated with, the terrorist Barack released from military custody, are threatening Americans.  I'm sorry how does this make Mitt Romney's points or arguments wrong?

Al Mada notes that a group of Iraqi scientists led by Khalid al-Mulla stated that the US needed to use all means necessary to stop the film and others like it.  The group lumps the US into abuse by "Zionists" globally -- while wanting tolerance for their own religious beliefs.  All Iraq News notes the Iraqi Parliament is calling for the US Congress to stop the film.  Freedom of speech has obviously not been explained well.   Alsumaria reports hundreds turned out in Kut today to protest the film.  All Iraq News notes Sadrists in Karbala launched a protest as well.  For the record, there were no protests reported objecting to the murders of four Americans.  For the record, the scientists and the Parliament was not reported to have made any comments condemning the four deaths.

Thug and film critic Nouri al-Maliki registered his opinion.  Alsumaria reports he called the film offensive to Muslims and that freedom of expression was no excuse for it.  Setting aside Nouri al-Maliki's well known hatred for freedom of expression (it was his goons who attacked the protesters in downtown Baghdad each Friday, it was his goons who assassinated journalist Hadi al-Mahdi), it's interesting that he doesn't mention that murdering people is also offensive to Muslims -- because it is.  You're not allowed to murder.  But Nouri doesn't note that and expresses no dismay over the four murders.

And isn't it good to know that the most pressing issue in the region is a lack of films that they can support?  Well goodness, let's get the dream factory on that and there will be world peace, right?  Issandr El Amrani (The National) examines how outrage is used:

Islamist movements (even if they are not alone in this) have shown that they excel in using an insult (real or perceived) as part of their culture wars: the tactic is to portray themselves as the sole defenders of the faith. In this week's case, they chose to do so even though the film in question was released only online and no one would have heard of it or paid attention to it without their efforts.
This, perhaps, is what has changed between the 1988 Rushdie fatwa and more recent examples of Islamist outrage: thanks to the internet, a regional Danish newspaper or an amateur film have become targets just as much as a celebrated, best-selling novelist.
Not that these protests, riots and killings are entirely about insults anyway: that the protesters chose to target US embassies has as much to do with other grievances (US-led wars, support for Israel, etc) and the convenience of having a prominent address, since protests outside the filmmaker's house, say, are out of the question.
One can certainly question why protest organisers chose the embassies, as if the US government was responsible for a film made by one of its citizens. And why do organisers sometimes lie, as when Nader Bakkar - who speaks for Egypt's Salafi Nour Party, a partner with President Mohammed Morsi's party - told Al Jazeera Mubasher that the film had been broadcast on US channels?
And why, despite the risks of escalation made obvious by the attack that killed four American diplomats in Benghazi, did the Muslim Brotherhood's secretary general, Mahmoud Ghozlan, call for new protests after Friday prayers?

Again, opinion is not fixed in the US at this point.  It is still fluid and you better believe the above will have a lot more influence than a tired politcal operative with fat pockets under his eyes.

I can share that I'm pretty damn offended to hear talk of 'shoreline' from my side (the left).  We rightly called out the attack on the Dixie Chicks for Natalie Maines speaking her mind.  We shouldn't be engaging in that nonsense.  Mitt Romney's running for president.  If he wants to discuss policy -- and he's making a criticism of policy -- that's his right.  You can disagree with it or agree with it, but don't try to Dixie Chick him.  It's that sort of garbage that has so many of us walking away from your petty partisan wars.  You lose us when you use the same techniques that six years ago you were objecting to, you make it very clear that you have no standards and just toss out whatever based upon whether your party controls the White House or not.

In the US, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.  Her office notes:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Matt McAlvanah (Murray) - 202- 224-2834
Wednesday, September 12, 2012 Dan McLaughlin (Nelson) – 202-224-1679
Michelle McCarthy (IAVA) - 212-982-9699
VETERANS: Senators Murray, Nelson, Iraq Veteran to Discuss Veterans Jobs Corps on Press Conference Call
(Washington, D.C.) – Tomorrow, Thursday, September 13th, U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Bill Nelson, along with Iraq veteran Tom Tarantino, will do a press conference call with reporters to discuss the Veterans Jobs Corps legislation currently being considered by the Senate. The Veterans Jobs Corps bill will increase training and hiring opportunities for all veterans including helping to hire police officers, firefighters and other first responders. It will also help train and hire veterans to help restore and protect our national, state, and tribal forests, our parks, our coastal areas, wildlife refuges, and VA cemeteries.
The Veterans Jobs Corps contains ideas from both sides of the aisle and is fully paid for with bipartisan spending offsets.
WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson
Tom Tarantino, Chief Policy Officer, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
WHAT: Press Conference Call on Veterans Jobs Corps
WHEN: TOMORROW: Thursday, September 13, 2012
1:00 PM EST/10:00 AM PST
CALL-IN INFORMATION: 1(800) 230-1096
Spoken Passcode: Veterans Jobs Bill
Kathryn Robertson
Specialty Media Coordinator
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
448 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington D.C. 20510

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