Sunday, July 27, 2008

Accusation of media liberal media bias toward Obama is Hokum

In study, evidence of liberal-bias bias
Cable talking heads accuse broadcast networks of liberal bias -- but a think tank finds that ABC, NBC and CBS were tougher on Barack Obama than on John McCain in recent weeks.
July 27, 2008
Haters of the mainstream media reheated a bit of conventional wisdom last week.

Barack Obama, they said, was getting a free ride from those insufferable liberals.

* Challenges await Barack Obama at home
Challenges await Barack Obama at home

John McCain supports expansion of Americans With Disabilities Act
John McCain slams Barack Obama for canceling on the troops

Such pronouncements, sorry to say, tend to be wrong since they describe a monolithic media that no longer exists. Information today cascades from countless outlets and channels, from the Huffington Post to to CBS News and beyond.

But now there's additional evidence that casts doubt on the bias claims aimed -- with particular venom -- at three broadcast networks.

The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, where researchers have tracked network news content for two decades, found that ABC, NBC and CBS were tougher on Obama than on Republican John McCain during the first six weeks of the general-election campaign.

You read it right: tougher on the Democrat.

During the evening news, the majority of statements from reporters and anchors on all three networks are neutral, the center found. And when network news people ventured opinions in recent weeks, 28% of the statements were positive for Obama and 72% negative.

Network reporting also tilted against McCain, but far less dramatically, with 43% of the statements positive and 57% negative, according to the Washington-based media center.

Conservatives have been snarling about the grotesque disparity revealed by another study, the online Tyndall Report, which showed Obama receiving more than twice as much network air time as McCain in the last month and a half. Obama got 166 minutes of coverage in the seven weeks after the end of the primary season, compared with 67 minutes for McCain, according to longtime network-news observer Andrew Tyndall.

I wrote last week that the networks should do more to better balance the air time. But I also suggested that much of the attention to Obama was far from glowing.

That earned a spasm of e-mails that described me as irrational, unpatriotic and . . . somehow . . . French.

But the center's director, RobertLichter, who has won conservative hearts with several of his previous studies, told me the facts were the facts.

"This information should blow away this silly assumption that more coverage is always better coverage," he said.

Here's a bit more on the research, so you'll understand how the communications professor and his researchers arrived at their conclusions.

The center reviews and "codes" statements on the evening news as positive or negative toward the candidates. For example, when NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell said in June that Obama "has problems" with white men and suburban women, the media center deemed that a negative.

The positive and negative remarks about each candidate are then totaled to calculate the percentages that cut for and against them.

Visual images and other more subjective cues are not assessed. But the tracking applies a measure of analytical rigor to a field rife with seat-of-the-pants fulminations.

The media center's most recent batch of data covers nightly newscasts beginning June 8, the day after Hillary Rodham Clinton conceded the Democratic nomination, ushering in the start of the general-election campaign. The data ran through Monday, as Obama began his overseas trip.

Most on-air statements during that time could not be classified as positive or negative, Lichter said. The study found, on average, less than two opinion statements per night on the candidates on all three networks combined -- not exactly embracing or pummeling Obama or McCain. But when a point of view did emerge, it tended to tilt against Obama.

That was a reversal of the trend during the primaries, when the same researchers found that 64% of statements about Obama -- new to the political spotlight -- were positive, but just 43% of statements about McCain were positive.
uch reversals are nothing new in national politics, as reporters tend to warm up to newcomers, then turn increasingly critical when such candidates emerge as front-runners.

It might be tempting to discount the latest findings by Lichter's researchers. But this guy is anything but a liberal toady.

In 2006, conservative cable showmen Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly had Lichter, a onetime Fox News contributor, on their programs. They heralded his findings in the congressional midterm election: that the networks were giving far more positive coverage to the Democrats.

More proof of the liberal domination of the media, Beck and O'Reilly declared.

Now the same researchers have found something less palatable to those conspiracy theorists.

But don't expect cable talking heads to end their trashing of the networks.

Repeated assertions that the networks are in the tank for Democrats represent not only an article of faith on Fox, but a crucial piece of branding. On Thursday night, O'Reilly and his trusty lieutenant Bernard Goldberg worked themselves into righteous indignation -- again -- about the liberal bias they knew was lurking.

Goldberg seemed gleeful beyond measure in saying that "they're fiddling while their ratings are burning."

O'Reilly assured viewers that "the folks" -- whom he claims to treasure far more than effete network executives do -- "understand what's happening."

By the way, Lichter's group also surveys the first half-hour of "Special Report With Brit Hume," Fox News' answer to the network evening news shows.

The review found that, since the start of the general-election campaign, "Special Report" offered more opinions on the two candidates than all three networks combined.

No surprise there. Previous research has shown Fox News to be opinion-heavy.

"Special Report" was tougher than the networks on Obama -- with 79% of the statements about the Democrat negative, compared with 61% negative on McCain.

There's plenty of room for questioning the networks' performance and watching closely for symptoms of Obamamania.

But could we at least remain focused on what ABC, NBC and CBS actually put on the air, rather than illusions that their critics create to puff themselves up?


Yesterday, Janette and I saw "12 Angry Men." the award winning 1957 movie, starring Henry Fonda, in which a sole dissenter in a jury of 12 white men slowly persuades the other eleven to "Reasonable Doubt," in a murder trial.

It is a powerful, memorable, well acted drama. The anger of the main objector to a "Not Guilty" plea is well placed by Lee Cobb. The lesson is that unresolved anger and hurt can totally tarnish the outlook of anyone, so slant his view that he destroys relationships and friendships.

The stark lesson for me is how much anger I have carried in my life, for many reasons. I have been aware for many years that I carry a mountain of anger. My children have told me of it. My wife is aware of it. It has been too obvious to others.

Yesterday also a cousin cam by and we supped together at Applebees in Winchester, sharing many growing up experiences. In sharing incidents from the past, I recalled several in which I was bullied by my father (I choose the word carefully), and again bullied by a religious superior according to monastic brothers present at the time told me years later.

I ran away from home twice when I was nine years old, only in the 4th grade. Once I got as far as Louisville by riding an L & N freight train, after talking a friend to go with me. Another time, the freight train went the other way and after ending up only in a switchyard, managed to catch a train back to Lebanon, Kentucky.

Growing up, I was surrounded by women and girls. Four sisters who were a Greek chorus of tattle-tales, a mother who was a nut about cleanliness and not affectionate, Catholic nuns at school who were convinced I was a bad egg, and an absentee father who never related to me, except in anger, punishment and bullying.

I do not remember any positive feelings toward any adult man until when I was 14 and worked part of the summer on Uncle Ed’s chicken farm and admired the farm foreman. My mother said I talked about him in my sleep.

I also admired from a distance, three uncles in Lebanon, Uncle Dick Nolan, Uncle Dict Hamilton, and Uncle Louis. Fortunately also, Father Alf Eicheldinger of St. Mary’s started my in a stamp collection in the early grades and shared stamps for my collection. These more distance kindnesses probably saved me from a life of total adolescent rebellion, but boarding school, which also included some bullying, probably was also an escape.

Several of my sisters have talked about my being mean. I do not remember instances, but they certainly do, enough to interrupt a birthday celebration on our mother’s 90th birthday with repeated accusations. I know I felt very lonely as a boy. I never felt loved by my father and cannot remember a single instance of his affection.

I remember brining home the highest school academic average one month from St. Joe Preparatory School in Bardstown, which was unusual for me. The story behind it was a supervised study hall in which we were subject to a surprise slap on the back of the heard with a geography book by the supervising XavIeran brother.

Dad was reading the paper when I came into the living room. "Guess who had the highest average in the school this past month?" I said proudly. :Well, you did," he said, going back to his paper. I was shocked and after a few moments, I asked, "Is that all you have to say?"
He put down his paper and replied in a tone which seemed annoyingly to me. "That is what I expect you to do." and resumed reading his paper. That incident seems typical of the way he related to me and there were other instances, too many.

Dealing with my anger as an adult has been one of my largest personal challenges. Strangely enough, it was not a problem for 16 years in the monastery. I guess the hard work of monastic reoutine and challenges of assignments given were sufficient sublimition. Other instances of betrayal of trust by religious authorities have reinforced a suspicion that religious authority, and perhaps any authority cannot be trusted. I have too many stories

I recommend the movie not only as a gripping drama and well told story, but as an example of projected anger by a man whose son he has not heard from for several years.

Paschal Baute. July 27, 2008
I may risk sharing this movie with my jail birds, "Paschal's rascals" tomorrow.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Obama Tears Down the Walls, from The Nation.

Barack Obama had several responsibilities when he embarked on the global tour that John McCain dared him to make.

The young senator from Illinois needed to establish himself as a credible world leader by going to Iraq and Afghanistan evidencing both his recognition of George Bush's manifest mistakes and his willingness and ability to wage a functional fight against legitimate terrorist threats. Check!

He needed to establish himself as respected commander-in-chief by not just appearing for photo-opportunities with troops in the field but by connecting with soldiers so that that all Americans who recognize their confidence in the man who seeks the authority to send these young men and women into life-and-death battles. Check!

He needed to establish himself as a diplomat capable of finessing the demands of Israelis and Palestinians in a manner that might suggest that, unlike Bill Clinton or George Bush, he is committed to advancing a difficult Middle East peace process from Day 1 of his presidency. Check!

And, of course, he needed to confirm his status as the greatest political orator of the era by delivering far more than just a stump speech in Berlin. Check!

How impressive did Obama's speech have to be to the citizens of Berlin, who greeted the Democrat who would be president with chants of the candidate's "Yes We Can" slogan?

Before Obama's arrival, London's Telegraph newspaper, a bible at the very least of the English-speaking European establishment, published a list of the 25 greatest political speeches of the past century.

"When Senator Barack Obama steps onto the stage on Thursday, next to Berlin's Victory column, the world will be expecting a momentous speech," the Telegraph observed. "The bar is high because, as even his detractors concede, Mr Obama is a remarkable orator. He first shot to prominence when he moved many at the 2004 Democratic convention to tears. He announced he would run for president last year with a beautifully-crafted address in Abraham Lincoln's home town of Springfield, Illinois. A pivotal moment of his epic primary battle with Hillary Clinton was his Philadelphia speech about race after the incendiary utterances of his former pastor Jeremiah Wright threatened to scupper his White House bid. But what makes a truly great speech?"

The definition chosen by the newspaper – "rhetorical brilliance, originality, historical importance, lasting influence, delivery and inspirational quality" -- was broad enough to include Obama even before he reached Berlin.

His 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote made the list at No. 25, after addresses by Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

Ironically, the Kennedy (""Ich bin ein Berliner") and Reagan ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!") speeches were made in Berlin, not far from the spot where Obama spoke on Thursday evening. And the Hitler and Churchill speeches – respectively declaring Germany's determination to wage a world war and Britain's determination to win that war – were not unrelated to the city.

Such was the weight of history that Obama carried with him to the podium.

It was not just the crowd in Berlin that greeted him.

The whole world really was watching – including aides and allies of the McCain campaign who, frustrated by the success of their Democratic rival's global positioning, would be searching for some sign of a John Kerry-esque "Frenchness."

The McCain camp did not get what it was looking for.

Obama began his speech on a profoundly patriotic note.

I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.

I know that I don't look like the Americans who've previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father – my grandfather – was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.

At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning – his dream – required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West. And so he wrote letter after letter to universities all across America until somebody, somewhere answered his prayer for a better life.

That is why I'm here. And you are here because you too know that yearning. This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom. And you know that the only reason we stand here tonight is because men and women from both of our nations came together to work, and struggle, and sacrifice for that better life.

That was good, but easy for a candidate who has made this rhetoric central to his appeal.

Where Obama hit his mark was with the bridge that linked his Americanism essay to the world. He did it as Kennedy and Reagan had before him, by celebrating the historic support of the United States for the people of a city that became the symbol of the Cold War.

Ours is a partnership that truly began sixty years ago this summer, on the day when the first American plane touched down at Templehof.

On that day, much of this continent still lay in ruin. The rubble of this city had yet to be built into a wall. The Soviet shadow had swept across Eastern Europe, while in the West, America, Britain, and France took stock of their losses, and pondered how the world might be remade.

This is where the two sides met. And on the twenty-fourth of June, 1948, the Communists chose to blockade the western part of the city. They cut off food and supplies to more than two million Germans in an effort to extinguish the last flame of freedom in Berlin.

The size of our forces was no match for the much larger Soviet Army. And yet retreat would have allowed Communism to march across Europe. Where the last war had ended, another World War could have easily begun. All that stood in the way was Berlin.

And that's when the airlift began – when the largest and most unlikely rescue in history brought food and hope to the people of this city.

The odds were stacked against success. In the winter, a heavy fog filled the sky above, and many planes were forced to turn back without dropping off the needed supplies. The streets where we stand were filled with hungry families who had no comfort from the cold.

But in the darkest hours, the people of Berlin kept the flame of hope burning. The people of Berlin refused to give up. And on one fall day, hundreds of thousands of Berliners came here, to the Tiergarten, and heard the city's mayor implore the world not to give up on freedom. "There is only one possibility," he said. "For us to stand together united until this battle is won…The people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, and we will keep on doing our duty. People of the world: now do your duty…People of the world, look at Berlin!"

People of the world – look at Berlin!

Look at Berlin, where Germans and Americans learned to work together and trust each other less than three years after facing each other on the field of battle.

There was the theme.

There was the heart and the soul of Obama's message.

If reconciliation between the United States and Europe was possible after the battles of World War II, then surely it is possible after the battles of the Bush-Cheney era.

In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common. In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe's role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth – that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe.

Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more – not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.

That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.

The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.

Yes, that was an echo of Ronald Reagan that Berlin and the world heard Thursday night.

To be sure, Obama's critics will do their best to miss it.

But those who chose to give the most significant international policy address yet delivered by the man who would be president an honest hearing will be hard-pressed to suggest that he did not stand as tall as the great communicator in Berlin.

Great speeches are rarely recognized for their significance at the time when they are delivered.

History makes them epic. Reagan's "tear down this wall" line became the stuff of history when the wall was torn down.

Obama's "the walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand" line will become the stuff of history if and when an Obama presidency achieves not just a reconciliation but a new era of global cooperation – on issues of peace, poverty and global warming.

That is a tall order.

Taller, indeed, than any of those placed before Obama when he began his improbable journey.

But on another historic night in Berlin, when the whole world was watching and listening, it seemed… possible

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bush is... bushed; worry, prayer

Did you notice the face of President Bush yesterday,,
his demeanor in his press conference on Tuesday?

You could not help but observe his
chip-on-shoulder combative attitude as he
attempted to response to questions of the press.

Typically also, he answered the second question of the
reporter and then forgot that there was a first.

Worry, strain, stress, argumentative, combative,
obviously stressed to appear presentable.

Here is a man whose presidency is about to end,
the economy is in the tank, he is increasingly without
power to influence legislation, and his main legacy
is a war without end.

He had planned, according to one early biographer,
to become the Great War President long ago in Texas.

In my opinion, this is a picture of a person who
is losing it, coming unglued.
In my opinion we are observing a hollow man who has gotten
by through pretending, bullying, manipulation, money,
psychological games and scheming.

He no longer has Rove to build him up and create spin.

It is a picture of a scared boy inside who fears his "con,"
his tricks and schemes are collapsing around him.
His M.O. is no longer working.

His 4th veto was just over-ridden by Copngress. He is increasingly
at man trapped by his own over-reaching "my way or the highway." ,
his own arrogant blindness.

IMO, He is more dangerous now than ever before.
He could order a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

I suggest, he needs our prayers.
Desperately. For the sake of the country
and the thousands of lives that are still in his hands.

Pray for this man. He will justly face indictments of War
Crimes, with others, when he leaves the White House.

His is the most corrupt, most secret, most felonious
most unlawful administration at least in our lifetime,
and maybe ever.

He still has 5 and one half months of executive power
To pray for him is to pray for all of us.

Paschal Baute.
July 16, 2008