Archive for Media

Chips and Guacamole!

Obama’s foreign policy:

As smoke billowed from the downed Malaysian jetliner in the fields of eastern Ukraine on Thursday, President Obama pressed ahead with his schedule: a cheeseburger with fries at the Charcoal Pit in Delaware, a speech about infrastructure and two splashy fund-raisers in New York City.

The potential for jarring split-screen imagery was clear. Reports of charred bodies and a ground-to-air missile attack from Eastern Europe dominated television screens while photographers snapped pictures of a grinning Mr. Obama holding a toddler at the restaurant. The presidential motorcade was later filmed pulling up to Trump Place Apartments, the Riverside Avenue venue for his first fund-raiser.

Excuse me, New York Times editors, but isn’t “grinning” one of those racist dog whistles? My Bloodthirsty Puppy jumped to her feet when she read that.

Moments after making a grim statement about Ukraine on Friday, the president popped into the East Room, where the first lady, Michelle Obama, was holding a mock state dinner for children to promote her Let’s Move nutrition initiative. “My big thing,” he confessed to the kids, “chips and guacamole!” There was plenty of laughter all around.

Ha-ha-ha-ha! What a card.

On Friday afternoon, Mr. Obama flew to Camp David for the weekend. This week, he plans a three-day fund-raising swing in Seattle and California. White House officials said there were no plans to cancel the trip.

Of course not. They need the money.

Obama can’t afford to change his plans: that might raise expectations that he could or would actually do something. He likens himself to a bear on the loose, and there’s something to that: bears root through dumpsters and garbage cans looking for food. Meanwhile, the Russian bear lumbers across the landscape without opposition.

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Transparent Hypocrisy

Everything Barack Obama touches turns to dreck: it’s the reverse Midas touch. What a pleasure it has been lately watching his reputation swirl down the cistern where dreck belongs:

Right now, here ON THE RECORD, fired “New York Times executive editor, JILL ABRAMSON.

While working at “The New York Times” and after decades of covering presidential administrations, Abramson calling President Obama’s White House the most is he secretive White House that she’s covered. And she’s not the only one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BYRON YORK, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: This is not the most transparent administration in history.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will make our government open and transparent.

One of the things I want to do is open things up. I want transparency. I want accountability.

BOB CUSACK, MANAGING EDITOR, ‘THE HILL’: This White House came in saying we’ll do things differently, we’ll change Washington. They didn’t change Washington.

OBAMA: The more transparency we can bring to Washington, the less likely it is Washington will be run by lobbyists and special interests.

Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.

A.B. STODDARD, ‘THE HILL’: He’s broken a promise.

OBAMA: This is the most transparent administration in history.

VAN SUSTEREN: You said have this administration is the most is the secretive. What is your support? Why do you say that?

ABRAMSON: I think it’s easy to demonstrate that that’s true, starting with — I love the name of your show, “ON THE RECORD.” I have never dealt with an administration where more officials — some of whom are actually paid to be the spokesmen for various federal agencies –demand that everything be off the record. So that’s secretive and not transparent.

But the most serious thing is the Obama administration has launched eight criminal leak investigations against sources and whistleblowers. And they have tried to sweep in journalists, including – it’s almost the one- year anniversary exactly that your college, James Rosen, had his record secretly looked at by the government in a leak investigation.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is it profoundly different thought than the other administrations?

ABRAMSON: It is profoundly different. Before these cases, these eight cases, and all of history, there have been fewer than half of those. And so it is different.

So, this has been an historic administration, after all.

Oh, and about “not changing Washington”, there is agreement:

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: This is within our power to change. Everybody says because we tried in ‘08 and it didn’t happen, it’s not possible.

Give yourself a little credit, Joe. You changed Washington plenty. Never before has an administration that “ended” two “wars” and governed over a five-year “recovery” been so wretchedly unpopular. If you guys were the ones we were waiting for, I wish we had been less patient.

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Antisemitism At The Washington Post

- Aggie

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Boko and Mindy

Our intrepid diplomats have a cunning plan to bringbackourgirls.

Sit-coms:

The State Department is financing a new 24-hour satellite television channel in the turbulent northern region of Nigeria that American officials say is crucial to countering the extremism of radical groups such as Boko Haram. The move signals a ramping up of American counterinsurgency efforts to directly challenge the terrorist group, which abducted nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls in April.

State Department officials acknowledged that setting up an American-supported channel could prove challenging in a region where massacres, bombings and shootings by Boko Haram are common, and where the American government and Western educational programs are far from popular. The group has been known to attack media organizations in Nigeria.

The goal of the channel is to provide original content, including comedies and children’s programs that will be created, developed and produced by Nigerians. State Department officials said they hoped to provide an alternative to the violent propaganda and recruitment efforts of Boko Haram.

Suggested program titles: The Big Game Theory; Seinveldt; Allah in the Family, 276 Broken Girls.

Hey, it could work. Nothing changes minds and mores like mass media, right?

Many foreign policy experts, while applauding State Department programs to counter the efforts of Boko Haram and other extremist groups, said the new satellite project faced several challenges in a region with low levels of infrastructure, public services, literacy and security.

Access to electricity is limited in many rural areas of northern Nigeria, and few people own televisions. While some people might be able to view the programs on cellphones, a U.S.A.I.D. official recently told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Boko Haram has been targeting cellphone towers to reduce access to communication services in the region.

If Western education is sinful to Boko Haram, I doubt episodes of Hanna Savanna are going to appeal to the devout and pious Muslims among them. But other than “infrastructure, public services, literacy and security”, plus “massacres, bombings and shootings”, this thing has a chance.

They couldn’t protect Christopher Stevens, but they think they can produce a TV show. I’d say that’s Obama’s foreign policy in a nutshell.

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Made You Look!

CNN’s obsession with the missing plane long ago became the stuff of farce, ridicule, parody.

Ratings bonanza!

The 850 square kilometers scanned off the coast of western Australia in the hunt for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane are not the “final resting place of MH370,” the agency leading the search said Thursday.

The search area is where four acoustic pings originally thought to be from the black boxes of the Boeing 777 were heard in early April.

“The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has advised that the search in the vicinity of the acoustic detections can now be considered complete and in its professional judgment, the area can now be discounted as the final resting place of MH370,” a statement from the Joint Agency Coordination Centre said.

Authorities now almost universally believe the pings did not come from the onboard data or cockpit voice recorders but instead came from some other man-made source unrelated to the jetliner that disappeared on March 8, according to Michael Dean, the Navy’s deputy director of ocean engineering.

I don’t watch CNN, but I understand from those who are paid to do so that it has obsessed on this subject like Michelle Obama on curly kale. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that CNN itself dispatched some junior producer to the South Pacific with a triangle from a high school band. He’s floating in a dinghy, surrounded by sharks, pinging the triangle every eight seconds. Well, now he’s stopped, back on dry land, applying makeup to Wolf Blitzer’s brow.

I guess I should declare that I am not making fun of such a tragic loss of life. Real people, not that different from me, lost people they loved very dearly. But is CNN’s comical coverage any more respectful?

“Now clearly we were hoping that the pings would narrow that broad area down to a narrow one, but that has not been the case, and now we have to unfortunately go the long road,” he told CNN.

You just take your time, says CNN. We’ve got hours of programming to fill.

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Who You Callin’ Gray Lady?

Here in Bloodthirstan, we always like to make popcorn when we watch a fight. But how about the rest of youse? Chips? Something healthier like almonds? And if you want my recipe for guacamole you need but ask:

New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. felt he had no choice but to hit back at Jill Abramson late Saturday after being attacked in the media for sexist motives in dismissing his executive editor.

Sulzberger sacked Abramson after concluding that her managing editor, Dean Baquet, would have quit otherwise and that this would have been devastating to the paper, says a Times executive with knowledge of the situation. Instead, Sulzberger elevated Baquet to be the paper’s first African-American editor.

The final straw was Sulzberger’s conclusion that Abramson had misled him by not informing Baquet that she planned to bring in another journalist, the Guardian’s Janine Gibson, and give her the same title of managing editor, the executive said. That was viewed as a sign of disrespect to her deputy. Baquet complained to Sulzberger about being blindsided shortly before Abramson’s dismissal.

Sulzberger said he had “heard repeatedly from her newsroom colleagues, women and men, about a series of issues, including arbitrary decision-making, a failure to consult and bring colleagues with her, inadequate communication and the public mistreatment of colleagues. I discussed these issues with Jill herself several times and warned her that, unless they were addressed, she risked losing the trust of both masthead and newsroom. She acknowledged that there were issues and agreed to try to overcome them. We all wanted her to succeed. It became clear, however, that the gap was too big to bridge and ultimately I concluded that she had lost the support of her masthead colleagues and could not win it back.”

Sulzberger has taken a PR beating as the media have embraced the theme that Abramson was paid less by a paper whose liberal editorial page has championed equal pay for women. He has also drawn criticism for objecting to Abramson’s brusque management style, with critics saying male editors would not be denounced as overly aggressive or pushy, and for the way that she was abruptly shown the door.

But the executive with knowledge of the situation said that Sulzberger was open to a more amicable parting, with Abramson staying on for a period of time, only to learn that she wanted to be publicly fired and wage a publicity war against her ouster. In management’s view, Abramson is responsible for leaking confidential salary information—not just about herself but others–and her friends in the media are promoting her narrative.

In the statement, Sulzberger also said: “Equal pay for women is an important issue in our country – one that The New York Times often covers. But it doesn’t help to advance the goal of pay equality to cite the case of a female executive whose compensation was not in fact unequal.”

Is that double-negative (or is it triple) part of the Times stylebook? Earlier stories referred to Abramson as “pushy”, a word we love applied to dames, along with “loud”, “aggressive”, and “leggy”.

The Times is about as dishonest a publication as I can think of. Not just among its editorialists and op-ed writers (Paul Krugman, Tom Friedman), but in its slanted news coverage. (Check out CAMERA’s analysis of Mid-East reporting). This airing of dirty laundry is Christmas in May.

PS: Lots of cilantro and hot pepper flakes—and raw red onion. The avocado tames the wild flavors.

PPS: And more salt than you might think healthy. For the same reason.

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PUMA (Paper Unity My Ass) II

A white woman who’s got the job all sewn up suddenly finds herself out on her ass, replaced by a black man.

Nah, could never happen:

New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson was suddenly fired on Wednesday, less than three years after taking over the top editorial position at the newspaper.

In an article posted on its web site, the Times said Abramson has been “dismissed” and will be replaced by Dean Baquet, the managing editor of the newspaper.

The first female executive editor at the Times is being replaced by the first African-American to fill the post. Baquet, 57, was Abramson’s hand-picked deputy during her term in office.

“I’ve loved my run at The Times,”Abramson, 60, said in a statement released by the paper. “I got to work with the best journalists in the world doing so much stand-up journalism.”

Sulzberger told the employees that Abramson was leaving due to “an issue with management in the newsroom,” adding that there were no editorial issues during her tenure that caused the move. Abramson was not in the newsroom during the announcement, Politico reports.

“I chose to appoint a new leader for our newsroom because I believe that new leadership will improve some aspects of the management of the newsroom,” Sulzberger said, according to the Politico report. “This is not about any disagreement between the newsroom and the business side.”

The Times’ article on the dismissal states “people in the company briefed on the situation described serious tension in [Abramson's] relationship with Mr. Sulzberger, who had been hearing concerns from employees that she was polarizing and mercurial. They had disagreements even before she was appointed executive editor, and she had also had clashes with Mr. Baquet.”

Who said Ms. Abramson was “likable enough”.

Except when she wasn’t:

The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta reported in a blog post that Abramson, the first female to serve as executive editor for the prestigious newspaper, was let go because she demanded “equal pay” to male personnel, a point immediately denied by The Times.

“Several weeks ago, I’m told, Abramson discovered that her pay and her pension benefits as both executive editor and, before that, as managing editor were considerably less than the pay and pension benefits of Bill Keller, the male editor whom she replaced in both jobs,” Auletta writes.

“‘She confronted the top brass,’ one close associate said, and this may have fed into the management’s narrative that she was ‘pushy,’ a characterization that, for many, has an inescapably gendered aspect,” he continued.

Auletta notes that Sulzberger feels the financially-strapped Times needs to be less extravagant with its salaries and that Keller had spent many more years at the paper than Abramson, which would also explain the pension disparity.

He concludes that, whether Abramson was “right or wrong, both sides were left unhappy. A third associate told me, ‘She found out that a former deputy managing editor’ — a man— ‘made more money than she did’ while she was managing editor. ‘She had a lawyer make polite inquiries about the pay and pension disparities, which set them off.’”

Nothing makes working women all warm and fuzzy like being told they’re pushy. (Especially if they’re Jewish, as I suppose Ms. Abramson to be.)

Me, I think this is what got her canned:

Abramson made waves in January when she said in an interview with Al Jazeera that President Obama was operating “the most secretive White House” she has ever covered.

“I would say it is the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering, and that includes — I spent 22 years of my career in Washington and covered presidents from President Reagan on up through now, and I was Washington bureau chief of the Times during George W. Bush’s first term,” she said in the interview.

Talk about waving a red flag at a bull! That’s like a Nigerian schoolgirl walking up to a pack of Boko Haram and saying “The sum of the areas of the two squares on the legs (a and b) equals the area of the square on the hypotenuse (c)…asshole!”

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The Most Transparent Administration Evah! [Update]

They are refusing to release emails about strategy to handle Fox News Benghazi reporting

See the pretty blank spaces at the link. It is all unclassified; they just don’t wanna.

And here’s the report:


This is amazing. Watch Beckel admit that the National Security Advisor was absent. And we know that both the President and Secretary of State were absent. And that is what happened. It is like being out of town when your house catches on fire.

The Obama administration is withholding the full contents of a “media strategy” discussion over a Fox News report on Benghazi, claiming that releasing them would have a chilling effect on their “frank deliberations.”

The seven-page email chain was in reference to a Fox News report on Sept. 27, 2012, that the intelligence community knew within 24 hours that Benghazi was a terrorist attack.

The emails, with the subject line “Fox News: US officials knew Libya attack was terrorism within 24 hours, sources confirm,” was circulated at senior levels of the administration. Denis McDonough, the president’s deputy national security adviser during Benghazi; John Brennan, the former White House counterterrorism adviser; and presidential communications adviser Ben Rhodes, whose Sept.14 email linked the anti-Islam video to Benghazi, were all part of the discussion.

“A seven-page dialogue concerning one Fox News report to me demonstrates an alarm bell situation where they are reacting to and trying to shape a response,” senior Judicial Watch investigator Chris Farrell told Fox News. “There was a contrarian news report that didn’t align with their position and they were clearly reacting to it in a way that would help reinforce their position.”

While originally designated “SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED,” Justice Department lawyers told a federal court May 1 that the State Department rightfully withheld “…comments, opinions and assessments related to the formulation of a media strategy with respect to an ongoing sensitive matter….The release of this information could reasonably be expected to chill the frank deliberations that occur when State Department and other U.S. government officials are formulating public responses to address sensitive issues.”

Two days after the emails, a spokesman for the nation’s intelligence chief, the director of national intelligence, released a lengthy statement explaining the evolution in the intelligence community’s thinking from the assault being a spontaneous attack to it being pre-meditated terrorism.

The statement does not mention a video originally cited by then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice as being behind the attack. It also does not, on its face, constitute the “media strategy” that was the subject of the seven-page email chain.

An DNI spokesman told Fox he could not comment on what may or may not be in the redacted emails.

When previously asked about the Sept. 28, 2012 release, the DNI spokesman said the suggestion to “develop the statement came from within the intelligence community.”

Fox: The Only Television News Organization.

- Aggie

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Joe Klein Tells The Truth About Fox News

- Aggie

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Obama’s IRS Lies And The MSM

In fact, the IRS did not hassle “progressive” groups

IRS agents testified before Congress that the agency’s political targeting did not apply to progressive groups as Democrats and the media have claimed, according to a bombshell new staff report prepared by the House Oversight Committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa.

IRS agents testified before Oversight that ACORN groups were scrutinized because the agency thought they were old organizations applying as new ones. Emerge America was scrutinized for potential “improper private benefit.” No evidence exists that the IRS requested additional information from any Occupy Wall Street group.

“Only seven applications in the IRS backlog contained the word ‘progressive,’ all of which were then approved by the IRS, while Tea Party groups received unprecedented review and experienced years-long delays. While some liberal-oriented groups were singled out for scrutiny, evidence shows it was due to non-political reasons,” according to the Oversight staff report, which was obtained by The Daily Caller.

“[T]he Administration and congressional Democrats have seized upon the notion that the IRS’s targeting was not just limited to conservative applicants,” the report states. “These Democratic claims are flat-out wrong and have no basis in any thorough examination of the facts. Yet, the Administration’s chief defenders continue to make these assertions in a concerted effort to deflect and distract from the truth about the IRS’s targeting of tax-exempt applicants.”

“[T]here is simply no evidence that any liberal or progressive group received enhanced scrutiny because its application reflected the organization’s political views,” the report stated.

Big surprise.

- Aggie

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Play it Again, Sam

I told you this thing had veered off course into the realm of the absurd.

No, not the plane—the investigation:

They were words heard around the world as investigators searched for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

Weeks ago, Malaysian authorities said the last message from the airplane cockpit was, “All right, good night.”

The sign-off to air traffic controllers, which investigators said was spoken by the plane’s copilot, was among the few concrete details officials released in a mystery that’s baffled investigators since the Boeing 777 disappeared with 239 people aboard on March 8.

There’s only one problem. It turns out, it wasn’t true.

On Tuesday, Malaysia’s Transport Ministry released the transcript of the conversations between the Flight 370′s cockpit and air traffic control. The final words from the plane: “Good night Malaysian three seven zero.”

Malaysian authorities gave no explanation for the discrepancy between the two quotes. And authorities are still trying to determine whether it was the plane’s pilot or copilot who said them.

But the change in wording weeks into the search for the missing plane raises questions about how Malaysian officials have handled the investigation.

“It speaks to credibility issues, unfortunately,” Schiavo said.

“We haven’t had a straight, clear word that we can have a lot of fidelity in,” said Michael Goldfarb, former chief of staff at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. “We have the tragedy of the crash, we have the tragedy of an investigation gone awry and then we have questions about where we go from here.”

Monday’s search ended without finding anything significant, Australian officials said. Four orange objects spotted by search aircraft and earlier described as promising turned out be nothing more than old fishing gear, they said.

Late last week, the search area shifted more than 600 miles after what authorities described as “a new credible lead.” But a Wall Street Journal report Monday night, citing anonymous people familiar with the matter, said before that crews had searched for three days in the wrong location due to “lapses in coordination among countries and companies” trying to find the missing jet.

What happened? Andy Pasztor, one of the reporters who wrote the story, said it boiled down to poor coordination between two parts of the investigation: one dealing with satellite data, and the other one dealing with fuel consumption and aircraft performance.

“And so what we’re left with is sort of a three-day gap where it’s clear that folks were definitely looking in the wrong place,” he said.

Oy.

On Monday, dozens of Chinese family members visited a Kuala Lumpur temple. They chanted, lit candles and meditated.

“Chinese are kindhearted people,” said Jiang Hui, the families’ designated representative. “But we can clearly distinguish between the good and evil. We will never forgive for covering the truth from us and the criminal who delayed the rescue mission.”

Understandable. But for the rest of us—especially for the entire CNN lineup—this is must-see-TV.

UPDATE:
Gotta love this headline from the Wall Street Journal: “Search for Missing Malaysian Plane Hampered by Lack of Certainty”
That’s putting it mildly.

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My Defense of Michelle Obama

Trust me, this is going to hurt me more than it is you:

Writing in the New Republic, former White House West Wing press aide Reid Cherlin goes pretty far out on a limb for a former in-guy with the Obama towel-whipping society, describing First Lady Michelle Obama as a controlling yet sometimes fickle East Wing boss who has created an unhappy work environment.

I credit Mrs. BTL for installing a sexism BS detector in my head. Women are often described in critical terms for the same traits that win men praise. Always, if you ask the missus.

So let’s tread carefully:

Apparently, all that spontanaiety you see from Michelle takes a lot of planning.

The first lady’s office can be a confining, frustrating, even miserable place to work. Jealousy and discontentment have festered, as courtiers squabble over the allocation of responsibility and access to Mrs. Obama, both of which can be aggravatingly scarce. Fueling these sentiments, according to former East Wing insiders, is the exacting but often ambivalent leadership style of the first lady herself.

Unlike her husband, who derives visible satisfaction from his ability to improvise, Mrs. Obama depends on structure to support her public warmth—the ease with which she’ll pick up a hula-hoop, say, or do the Dougie with school kids.

The imperative to guarantee results could be paralyzing. “That was the pressure on us,” one ex-aide told me. “‘Don’t do it if it’s not going to be perfect.’” Staff knew that every event should produce positive coverage, and that all the angles had to be exhaustively researched and gamed out (not easy with a team of less than 30).

But it was never completely clear what the standard of perfection should be. “There’s no barometer: The first lady having the wrong pencil skirt on Monday is just as big of a fuck-up as someone speaking on the record when they didn’t mean to or a policy initiative that completely failed,” says another former aide. “It just made you super anxious.”

Former staffers describe a high-stress, high-stakes workplace, in which Mrs. Obama scrutinized the smallest facets of her schedule. Aides in both wings of the White House say she insists on planning every move months in advance and finalizing speeches weeks ahead of time—a rigidity nearly unheard of in today’s chaotic political environment.

“For her, trust is huge, really feeling like people were protecting and thinking about her,” says one alum. “And then, also, she’s a lawyer. She’s really disciplined. She cares about the details. She’s never going to wing it.”

Imagine the first black First Lady of the United States wanting to be the personification of perfection! Imagine her holding to account the people on whom she relies!

There’s plenty I don’t like about Michelle Obama—her politics first and foremost. I’m also tired of her hectoring tone. (A-WOO-GAH! A-WOO-GAH! Sexism alert!!) Her bossiness. (CRACK!!! That just broke the detector.)

But I haven’t learned anything damning about her yet. Let’s keep trying:

All of this led to a culture of harsh internal judgment. Invitations to meetings with the first lady, in her office above the Jackie Kennedy Garden, became a vital status symbol, a way for staffers to measure their worth. “Every meeting was like an identity crisis, whether you got invited or not,” one former East Winger told me . . .

Whoever the chief of staff has been, Cherlin makes clear that the real power behind the throne is Valerie Jarrett, who gives the orders. Also very powerful is Sam Kass, who seems to have risen from Obama chef and gardener to all-round advisor and general-purpose guru.

They’ve become personal friends even intimates of the first lady, which Cherlin makes suggests, is what it takes to really succeed in the East Wing.

Talk about an unfair work environment.

BS.

What we’ve learned is that Michelle Obama is hypersensitive about her image. (What a bitch!) This makes her identical to any other woman not named Joan Rivers. Again, one could completely understand, and should certainly forgive, her compulsion to be a model First Lady (even First Mother), as she is the first African American to hold the position. While we might wish her to be more relaxed, more herself, she’s hardly in a comfortable position to do so. (Hey, maybe we’d rather she did not.)

We also learn that Mrs. Obama has her trusted intimates. That, too, is far from damning indictment.

I’ve had some pretty bad bosses, the worst of whom by far was a woman. She was irrational, temperamental, sharp-tongued, a nightmare to deal with in any capacity. But she was the boss, she ran the place. I bitched and moaned, to be sure, but my solution was to find another job. I did, and everyone lived happily ever after. (Except for my successor.)

We now return you to our regularly-scheduled First Lady bashing…

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