11/29/12

Romney Strategist Fails to Grasp Media Bias

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

In his first public criticism of the conduct of the media during the presidential campaign, the chief strategist for Mitt Romney meekly suggests that reporters “often felt morally conflicted about being critical” of President Obama.

Obama “was a charismatic African American president with a billion dollars, no primary and media that often felt morally conflicted about being critical,” Stevens says.

But if this is all that Stuart Stevens takes away from the campaign coverage, he is woefully ill-informed about the nature of media bias. While it is certainly true that reporters didn’t want to criticize the first black President, Stevens’ comment doesn’t explain the intensity of the media attacks on Romney and the media cover-ups on Obama’s behalf.

Stevens wrote his piece defending Romney’s campaign for The Washington Post, one of the big guns of the liberal media establishment. Jennifer Rubin, a conservative blogger for the paper, points out that Stevens seems to blame everybody but himself for what went wrong with the campaign.

Stevens was undoubtedly one of the advisers who told Romney that he should avoid criticizing the press. We reported on this fact, noting Romney’s comments during the campaign that he had no plans to challenge liberal media bias and that he would get out his message through ads and other means.

In her criticism of Stevens, Rubin praises another Romney adviser, the lobbyist and former top Republican official Ed Gillespie, as a “class act,” when Gillespie had been explicitly quoted as justifying Romney’s silence on liberal media bias. Gillespie said the campaign had a “no whining rule” about media coverage.

Ironically, the statement of purpose on Gillespie’s website says, “A well conceived strategy is the central, cohesive element of any successful effort to achieve an important objective.” How can a Republican win the presidency without taking on press bias?

We know that Gillespie knows better, as we found a piece he wrote for National Review back in 2009 on liberal media bias. In the piece, subtitled, “How the GOP should handle increasingly biased journalists,” he writes that when he joined the Bush White House in June 2007, “I was still naively hopeful that we could get an honest hearing from the MSM [Mainstream Media]. It did not take long for the scales to fall from my eyes. The national press corps loathed the president—not personally, I don’t think, but politically. Their reporting dripped with disdain, and their stories were frequently riddled with negative adverbs and adjectives. On issues like the Iraq War, the environment, and life, there was often little distinction between our treatment in liberal blogs and our treatment in major daily newspapers.”

Some of Gillespie’s other points:

  • “…the media will play the role of attack dog for Democrats, but not for Republicans. The media will stay on a negative story for days and continue pressing for answers when it involves a Republican.”
  • The Left “perfected the cycle” of attack: “A blog posts an attack on a Republican candidate one day, the local daily paper runs a story two days later based on the blog account, and two days after that, a national Democratic campaign committee launches a “ripped from the headlines” attack ad citing the dailies. No Republican should be caught off-guard by this phenomenon again.”
  • “…be willing to call out the media on instances of blatant bias….Reminding voters that the media often have their own agenda can help offset bias.”
  • “…go around the traditional news outlets.”

It is intriguing that Gillespie disavowed his own very informative article by saying this year that the Romney campaign had adopted a “no whining rule” on media bias.

“Too many reporters no longer report; they comment,” Gillespie had said in National Review. “The lines between news and ‘news analysis,’ and between ‘news analysis’ and opinion, have been all but washed away in the 24/7 Internet-and-cable news environment.”

However, Gillespie went on to say that there are still “reporters who strive to be fair, report the facts, and avoid commentary,” and that “…one successful media outlet, the relatively new Politico, seems intent on hiring every ‘old school’ reporter in Washington.”

How wrong Gillespie turned out to be.

Politico is another gun in the liberal media arsenal and recently hired disgraced journalist David Chalian, who was fired by Yahoo! News for making a vicious “joke” during the campaign accusing the Romneys of hating black people. Several Politico reporters were members of the now-defunct listserv, JournoList, an association of several hundred liberal journalists, professors and activists who discussed story ideas and lines of attack on conservatives.

JournoList was started by Ezra Klein, while blogging for The American Prospect. He later took a position with The Washington Post, blogging about politics and writing articles.

At the September 21st AIM “ObamaNation” conference, Pat Caddell had urged the Romney campaign to go after liberal media bias and singled out Klein for criticism, saying, “Their organizations need to be called out. Ezra Klein still writes for The Washington Post? I mean, this is unbelievable! They had a secret operation group, ‘Journo’ group, online, coordinating how they would promote Obama, and how they would attack Republicans—and he’s still there?”

Not only is Klein still at the Post, he is said to be in the running to host a new show on MSNBC, the openly pro-Obama cable network.

The title of Gillespie’s National Review article was “Media Realism.” It looks like he didn’t follow his own advice. And Romney’s campaign suffered because of it.

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at cliff.kincaid@aim.org.

11/29/12

Susan Rice’s Effort to Defuse Talking-Points Issue Backfires

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

Once again, CBS’s Sharyl Attkisson is leading the way among mainstream journalists. The winner of this year’s Reed Irvine Award for Investigative Reporting is making the obvious point—that the Obama administration can’t seem to get its story straight about many aspects of Benghazi-Gate.

The issue on the table this week is why UN Ambassador Susan Rice was sent out to five Sunday talk shows on September 16th to explain what happened the previous Tuesday, September 11, in Benghazi, Libya, with talking points that proved to be false. Who asked her to be the administration spokesperson on the issue, and who changed the talking points to remove references to al Qaeda and terrorism that were in the original version from the CIA? This week, Rice was sent out, presumably to help rehabilitate her reputation before her expected nomination for Secretary of State, to replace Hillary Clinton in President Obama’s second term.

Attkisson pointed out, in an article titled “Who changed the Benghazi talking points?,” that “the question was first raised 12 days ago when former CIA Director General David Petraeus told members of Congress that his original talking points cleared for public dissemination included the likely involvement by terrorists and an al-Qaeda affiliate. Petraeus said somebody removed the references before they were used to inform the public.”

It turns out that Petraeus’ version of events changed from when he spoke to the Senate Intelligence Committee on September 13. At that time, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was asked by Wolf Blitzer, shortly after hearing Petraeus’ explanation, “Does it look like this was a carefully planned operation that was in the works for a while? What’s the latest assessment on that?” Sen. Feinstein replied, “I can say that I’ve seen no evidence or no assessment that indicates it was. I can certainly say that. There was a protest. And it could well be that quickly some two dozen people took that as an opportunity to attack.”

Other reports had James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, making the changes himself. But later it turned out, as reported by The Cable, that they were said to be made by the Office of the DNI, but not by the DNI himself.

According to President Obama, speaking at his November 14th press conference, Rice made a “presentation based on intelligence that she had received,” and it was done “at the request of the White House.” Does that mean the White House cleared what she said?

When Ambassador Rice met on Tuesday of this week with three Republican senators who had expressed serious doubts about her ability and qualifications to become Secretary of State in light of her actions, she was accompanied by the Acting CIA Director, Mike Morrell, who told the senators that it was the FBI who had removed the references “to prevent compromising an ongoing criminal investigation.”

Then the story changed again. “But it was just a matter of hours before there was yet another revision,” wrote Attkisson. “A CIA official contacted [Sen. Lindsey] Graham and stated that Morell ‘misspoke’ in the earlier meeting and that it was, in fact, the CIA, not the FBI, that deleted the al Qaeda references. ‘They were unable to give a reason as to why,’ stated Graham.”

It is incredible that at this late date, more than two-and-a-half months after the Benghazi terrorist attack, the administration is so caught up in a web of lies that they could still be making errors like this. The Acting Director of the CIA cited the FBI as the party that made the changes, and even gave a rationale for it, and then later that day another CIA official claimed that Director Morrell “misspoke,” and it was in fact the CIA. This is “The gang that couldn’t shoot straight.”

To much of the rest of the media, this is still being treated as a partisan issue. Those questioning the administration’s line are painted as sore-loser Republicans, who are sexist and racist, picking on Ambassador Rice over a minor bit of miscommunication. Richard Wolffe, formerly of Newsweek, now editor of MSNBC.com, said that Sen. McCain was pursuing “a witch hunt” about “these people of color.” When asked if McCain was “being driven by racial prejudice,” Wolffe replied, “There is no other way to look at this…”

An article in Wednesday’s Washington Post said, “Rice came face to face with some of her harshest Republican critics, hoping to allay their concerns about whether she misled Americans regarding what precipitated the assault.” There is no longer an issue of “whether she misled.” The issues are why she misled, who was responsible, and who will be held accountable. It is clear the administration is covering up a scandal. Is the cover-up worse than the scandal? That remains to be seen.

Yet, as Attkisson pointed out, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Tuesday, “I would simply say that there are no unanswered questions about Ambassador Rice’s appearances on Sunday shows, and the talking points that she used for those appearances that were provided by the intelligence community, those questions have been answered.”

She points out that President Obama indicated the same at his November 14 press conference: “We have provided every bit of information that we have, and we will continue to provide information…We will provide all the information that is available about what happened on that day…” and “I will put forward every bit of information that we have.”

Hopefully, other reporters will realize the importance of this story, and stay on it until the truth is known and people are held accountable.

Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at roger.aronoff@aim.org.

11/29/12

How we really know Obama was behind the Hostess Bakery shutdown.

By: Nelson Abdullah
Conscience of a Conservative

How Hostess is being divided up proves this was a government job.

You may have heard that Hostess Bakery plants shut down due to a workers’ strike. But you may not have heard how It was split up.

The State Department hired all the Twinkies, the Secret Service hired all the HoHos, the generals are sleeping with the Cupcakes and the voters sent all the Ding Dongs to Congress.

Author unknown, but whoever said this deserves a job on network news.

11/29/12

Did Common Purpose Have A Role In The Sacking Of Chris Knowles From The International Civil Liberties Alliance (ICLA)?

By: ICLA Admin
ICLA

ICLA’s Chris Knowles in the European Parliament

The following article was originally published on Aeneas Lavinium, the personal website of ICLA’s Chris Knowles. Is there a shadowy ‘old boy’ network violating human rights in the public sector in the United Kingdom? Should the British Government or even international agencies be investigating Common Purpose? Does Common Purpose support or oppose increased sharia compliance in the public sector in the United Kingdom? Perhaps identifying the downside of sharia should be part of the curriculum in Common Purpose’s famous ‘training courses’?

***

In the aftermath of the politically motivated discrimination by Rotherham Council of UKIP supporting foster parents there has been much speculation about a shadowy organisation called Common Purpose. Richard Pendlebury asked some important questions about that organisation in a recent article in the Daily Mail. If what has been said about Common Purpose on a great many websites is true then it would certainly explain some of the things that happened to me.

Back in December 2011 Leeds City Council stated that the reason for my suspension from my job was as follows:

“…the council has received allegations that you may have engaged in political activities, which could be viewed as improper activities for an employee of the council to be engaging in, and contrary to the councils values and equal opportunities policies.”

Leeds City Council has never provided me with evidence that this was indeed the case. Perhaps “which could be viewed” just meant that the political activities that I was accused of engaging in were based on views that senior managers did not agree with. Of course if senior managers are allowed to determine the political views of their subordinates then democracy is rendered obsolete. Perhaps this is what Common Purpose means when it refers to a ‘Post Democratic’ society?

After 7 months of investigating my case all they could come up with was the following as a reason for sacking me:

“The council has concluded that your behviours and values are so different from the council’s values, that this is a fundamental breach of your employment contract.

The council strongly believes in its values and exists to serve the citizens of Leeds, your own beliefs and behaviours are in opposition to what the council stands for and because of this, the council has chosen to dismiss you without notice and without right of appeal.”

In other words you are sacked because we say so – is this what is meant by the common purpose phrase “Leading Outside Authority”. In terms of the values referred to, who decides what they are – Common Purpose? I certainly do not remember my local Council asking the public what the Council’s values should be! In any event, Leeds City Council did not even tell me which specific values were so different to their own. Perhaps if they had, many Council Tax payers in Leeds would have spoken out in my favour. Could it be that Council values are developed behind closed doors by a group of people who are both anonymous and unaccountable? If values are kept secret or not clearly defined then they are certainly not open to public scrutiny. Perhaps such values allow for open discrimination of people who are members of political parties such as UKIP or campaign against sharia on the basis of human rights!

The equivalent position in the private sector would be for the owner of a company to sack people for belonging to a trade union or socialist political party. It could be argued that the values of both are at odds with the values of the capitalist system on which the private sector is based. Of course there would rightly be an outcry if this sort of logic was applied and people were prevented from earning a living as a result. Should private sector employers be free to bully their workers into sharing their political views? Should employees of such companies be forced to become Conservatives?

Common Purpose does not seem to like Conservative ideas. What if a group of people who did not like socialism decided to set up a work based network designed to develop future leaders? What if members of such a group worked together to ensure that anyone who challenged their world view was made to fear for their livelihood, liberty, or ability to play a full and active party in society? What if people were sacked from their jobs for being unpatriotic? People would rightly call such a regime a tyranny and demand immediate change.

When I turned up for the meeting at which I would eventually be dismissed a Police Chief Inspector was present and intending to be present at the meeting even though it was an internal meeting. Did this police officer and the Council officer meet as part of the Common Purpose ‘old boy’ network. Unfortunately the Chatham House rules that Common Purpose applies means that I will probably never find out.

Thankfully I turned up to this meeting with a lawyer and it was acknowledged that the police officer had no right to be in the meeting. I can only assume that the police officer was there to intimidate me, or to use a phrase that they often use themselves – to cause alarm and distress. As it turned out the sole purpose of the meeting was to dismiss me and only lasted a few minutes – goodness knows what had actually been planned prior to my lawyer changing the game!

Fear seems to be something that public bodies increasingly use against the people they are supposed to serve. The aims of those responsible for the Rotherham scandal undoubtedly wanted frighten those who were naturally opposed to their agenda and did not anticipate such a vociferous reaction. Their approach is a classic scenario involving the demonization of ‘the other’.

The application of fear was applied in my case, not just to me but to any other person who wanted to oppose sharia yet at the same time work for a local authority. The message sent out was clear – if you work in the public sector and oppose sharia then you will be sacked. Why local authorities want to encourage something like sharia is beyond me – perhaps it is a case of high officials not bothering to do due diligence about what sharia actually is! It is clearly not something that promotes equality of opportunity. In Rotherham the intended message was also clear. If you are a member of UKIP, which we do not like, then you cannot be foster parents! There are certainly parallels in both cases with the anti-communist ‘witch hunts’ organised Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s against those deemed ‘unpatriotic’.

Of course it is very easy to dismiss justifiable concerns by labeling people ‘conspiracy theorists’. There seems to be a lot of such labeling going on in relation to Richard Pendlebury’s Daily Mail article.

However, if everything is a conspiracy theory then how can actual conspiracies that are working against the public interest be revealed? How can the powerful be held to account when bad behaviour is explained away as a mere conspiracy theory? If there is a shadowy network operating behind the scenes how can we be sure that inquiries into matters of public concern are anything other than cover-ups? The Rotherham scandal is probably not an isolated case, but the inevitable cover up is probably more likely than solving the problem of politically motivated discrimination across the public sector. Common Purpose does appear to be an organisation that should be subject to an independent inquiry, but is such an inquiry even possible if key positions are occupied by Common Purpose ‘graduates’?

It seems that if you don’t share the political views of senior managers you have no right to work for or even benefit fully from the public sector organisations that they control. Those who hold high official positions may claim to represent the whole community but clearly many of them do not. There definitely seems to be a politicised agenda at work in the public sector in the UK. This is an irrefutable abuse of power and is quite sinister.

When it comes down to it, as the Rotherham issue demonstrates, it is the senior officials themselves who cannot leave their politics at the office door. They are the ones with the power to sack their subordinates, even without a proper hearing! Indeed it seems that they are in fact employed specifically for their politics. These are people who can and dosignificantly influence decisions and determine what services people receive – unlike lowly administrators like me. Yet the senior officers get away with such abuses of power and these abuses actually seem to be official policy. When the furore over the Rotherham scandal dissipates after the forthcoming by-election then things will probably settle back down to business as usual in which modern day Torquemadas can do their work.

11/29/12

Sessions Calls For Moving Secret Fiscal Negotiations ‘Out Of The Shadows’

“Over the last two years, Congress and the President have held an endless series of secret negotiations. There have been gangs of six and eight, a supercommittee of 12, talks at the Blair House and the White House. But the only thing these secret talks have produced is a government that skips from one crisis to the next…

That’s why the process needs to be taken out of the shadows… We ought to be engaged. The engagement of the Senate would allow the American people to know what’s happening. They are entitled to that. I believe we can do better. We must do better.”

11/29/12

Obama applying ‘adolescent’ approach to ‘Fiscal Cliff’

By: Jeffrey Klein
Political Buzz Examiner

Now that President Barack Obama has won re-election, it is becoming more and more apparent that his desire to actually work in the Oval Office is declining in direct correlation to his fetish for flying the incredibly expensive Air Force One entourage all over the nation and world.

However, there is another very important and practical reason for his elan.

The producers and ‘talking’ heads of the alphabet national news networks are able to portray President Obama’s simple motions as [real] statesmanship and accomplishment, while hiding his total lack of business acumen and executive management and leadership skills.

But, this type of propaganda reporting will only work on a mostly incurious and self-absorbed audience, such as ‘welfare-lifers’, those who have been rendered ignorant by the withholding of the germane facts involved, or pure Liberal ideologues.

And, the perfect example of this in action is President Obama’s adolescent approach to handling the ‘Fiscal Cliff‘ that hangs over America’s future like the ‘Sword of Damocles.’

Instead of creating a much taunted ‘balanced-approach’ plan with Democrat Senate leaders to present and discuss with Republican leaders in the House, President Obama cast Republicans as “scrooges” against the middle class in a two-page open letter to Congress, saying that if they reject his offer to immediately sign an extension of the Bush-era tax rates–except for those making $250,000 per year–would essentially ruin Christmas for consumers and retailers, according to a November 26, 2012 FOXNews article.

The White House also plans to launch a familiar public relations assault using Twitter–promoting [hash tag] “My2K” on Twitter and other social media, in reference to the estimated $2,200 tax increase that a typical middle-class family of four would see if the Bush tax cuts expire.

Even though President Obama has no public plan for spending cuts or tax and entitlement reform, he held an event for hand-picked, middle-class voters at the White House today to take his pitch direct to the public.

And continuing in that vein, President Obama is also scheduled to host a rally in Philadelphia on Friday to ‘lay out his plan.’

Republican leaders admonished Obama on Tuesday, reminding him “the election is over” as he opts for a campaign-style strategy to sell his tax-hike proposal to middle-class America and small business owners – rather than deal face-to-face with Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill, according to a FOXNews article today.

Boehner spokesman Mike Steel declared:

The target of the president’s rallies should be the congressional Democrats who want to raise tax rates on small businesses rather than cut spending.

Boehner’s office also said House Republicans will take their own message directly to the people across the country over the next couple of weeks, with members holding events and visiting local small businesses to emphasize “the threat to jobs posed by Congressional Democrats’ small business tax hike.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had this to say on Monday, while speaking in session on the chamber floor:

It’s time for the president to present a plan that … goes beyond the talking points of the campaign trail.

Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn weighed in with a succinct editorial in the Dallas Morning News:

We cannot tax our way back to budget surpluses and economic prosperity. Without major spending cuts and entitlement reforms, we will continue running huge deficits, regardless of what we do on the revenue side.

We cannot keep postponing structural changes to our largest entitlement programs. And unless we are happy with a tax code that wastes economic resources, stifles job creation and promotes crony capitalism, we cannot keep delaying genuine tax reform.

Now, who do you think is truly trying to conduct an ‘adult’ conversation in the room?