NBC: 'Quintessential Obama' Doctrine of Talking Leads to Hug --5/7/2009
2. ABC's GMA Skips Probe Into Edwards Campaign Cash to Mistress
3. The NYT Co.'s Hypocritical Hardball vs. Boston Globe Unions
4. Glowing Dutch -- NY Times Magazine Celebrates Euro-Socialism
5. Follow the MRC, NewsBusters & TimesWatch on Facebook & Twitter
The leaders of nations who quarreled when George Bush was President now hug each other, thanks to President Barack Obama deigning to take time from his busy schedule to hold a meeting which displayed the "quintessential Obama" and the "Obama doctrine at work" in bringing "two sides together." Or at least that's how Wednesday's NBC Nightly News gushed over Obama meeting with Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai and Pakistan's Asif Ali Zardari, an exuberantly pro-Obama spin not adopted by ABC or CBS.
Anchor Brian Williams admired how even "with they have going on, the Obama White House has chosen to devote this kind of time to this," prompting Chuck Todd to propose "that we will look back on this and say this is quintessential Obama." The White House correspondent touted how "this is the Obama Doctrine at work. Bring two sides together, get them talking and do this a lot." From the State Department, Andrea Mitchell then trumpeted how in contrast to the last time leaders of the two nations met when Bush was still President and "they wouldn't even shake hands," with Obama in the room, Karzai, and the new President of Pakistan, had "a warm embrace."
Mitchell maintained: "They're trying to build trust between the two of them, and they've pointed out that as in contrast to the last time, the Afghan leader and a previous Pakistani leader met at the White House, another President, George W. Bush, they wouldn't even shake hands. This time there was a warm embrace."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted late Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
From the Wednesday, May 6 NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: We want to get more on this from our chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd and our chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell. Chuck, first to you. It has to be seen as some measure on how they view this crisis, that with all they have going on, the Obama White House has chosen to devote this kind of time to this. Of course, they want credit that this gathering's happening at all.
Despite running two segments in the last week on Elizabeth Edwards and how she has coped with the extramarital affair of former Senator John Edwards, ABC's Good Morning America has yet to feature a single story on the news that a federal probe has been launched into whether the then-presidential candidate paid off the woman he was having a relationship with. This is despite the fact that Edwards acknowledged on Sunday that such a investigation is under way (though he denied any guilt). See Yahoo News: news.yahoo.com
CBS's Early Show briefly noted the probe on Wednesday. Today featured a segment on Monday. NBC reporter John Yang explained that investigators were looking into whether or not campaign money was improperly paid to Rielle Hunter, a videographer for Edwards in 2006. And while GMA hasn't followed this latest development, the show highlighted Elizabeth Edwards' new book on Friday and, on Wednesday, her upcoming appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show. See a May 4 CyberAlert for more on ABC's coverage of the Edwards: www.mrc.org
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
To ABC's credit, correspondent Claire Shipman did mention the apparent contradiction of Elizabeth Edwards promoting her husband's honesty during the campaign, even after knowing of the affair:
CLAIRE SHIPMAN: Even as Elizabeth Edwards was saying things like this-
A transcript of the Today show segment on the subject, which aired on May 4 at 7:08am, follows:
NATALIE MORALES: Former presidential candidate John Edwards is now the subject of a federal probe. Investigators are looking into whether any campaign money was wrongfully paid to the woman he admitted having an affair with. NBC's John Yang has more.
The New York Times Co. is playing hardball with the Boston Globe, threatening to shut it down unless it got more cuts from the Globe's unions, without a trace of its flagship paper's vaunted support for unions against management.
[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]
Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz wrote on Monday:
The New York Times Co. said last night that it is notifying federal authorities of its plans to shut down the Boston Globe, raising the possibility that New England's most storied newspaper could cease to exist within weeks. After down-to-the-wire negotiations did not produce millions of dollars in union concessions, the Times Co. said that it will file today a required 60-day notice of the planned shutdown under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification law.
The move could amount to a negotiating ploy to extract further concessions from the Globe's unions, since the notice does not require the Times Co. to close the paper after 60 days. The deadline, however, would put the unions under fierce pressure to produce additional savings, and the Boston Newspaper Guild promptly called the step a "bullying" tactic by the company.
END of Excerpt
Kurtz's story: www.washingtonpost.com
Later in the day, the Globe's unions blinked; the Times Co. reached agreement with six of the seven unions. Media reporter Richard Perez-Pena's Tuesday article for the Times was headlined "Times Co. Postpones Threat to Close Boston Globe."
After wringing concessions from all but one of The Boston Globe's labor unions, The New York Times Company on Monday postponed its threat to start the process of closing The Globe, leaving the newspaper's immediate future resting on talks with the largest union, the Boston Newspaper Guild.
Negotiations with the guild broke off about 6 a.m. Monday, after more than 19 hours. By then, the company had reached tentative agreements on wage, benefit and job security concessions with the unions representing mailers, drivers, press operators, machinists, electricians and others.
No further talks were scheduled as yet with the guild, which represents more than 600 Globe employees in the newsroom, advertising and some business offices.
Carrie Sheffield blogged at The Washington Times on the hypocrisy of the NYT Co. putting the squeeze on labor unions, given the paper's abstract editorial support for unions against management when it comes to other businesses:
The New York Times' editorial board maintains a solidly pro-union position, but when it comes down to business, the newspaper company admits that position doesn't necessarily stick, as shown by the recent round of talks with the Boston Globe's seven unions.
"There is little doubt that American workers need unions," the New York Times editorial board wrote in a February 2008 editorial. "A bill that would have made it easier for unions to organize workers died in the Senate last June. Congress should take up this issue again to stop companies from using threats and other aggressive tactics to keep organized labor out, and to help win workers their rightful share of the economic pie."
That post: www.washingtontimes.com
Russell Shorto, a regular contributing writer for the New York Times Sunday magazine, offered a country-to-country comparison between the United States and Holland, where he's been living for the last 18 months. The story's headline is self-explanatory: "Going Dutch -- How I Learned To Love The European Welfare State." It was the most popular article on nytimes.com for a while, perhaps because it hit the sweet spot among the Times liberal readership, fusing sophisticated travelogue with Euro-socialist aspirations.
[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]
Picture me, if you will, as I settle at my desk to begin my workday, and feel free to use a Vermeer image as your template. The pale-yellow light that gives Dutch paintings their special glow suffuses the room. The interior is simple, with high walls and beams across the ceiling. The view through the windows of the 17th-century house in which I have my apartment is of similarly gabled buildings lining the other side of one of Amsterdam's oldest canals. Only instead of a plump maid or a raffish soldier at the center of the canvas, you should substitute a sleep-rumpled writer squinting at a laptop.
For 18 months now I've been playing the part of the American in Holland, alternately settling into or bristling against the European way of life. Many of the features of that life are enriching. History echoes from every edifice as you move through your day. The bicycle is not a means of recreation but a genuine form of transportation. A nearby movie house sells not popcorn but demitasses of espresso and glasses of Dutch gin from behind a wood-paneled bar, which somehow makes you feel sane and adult and enfolded in civilization.
Shorto brought up some free-market arguments, if only to dismiss them:
For the first few months I was haunted by a number: 52. It reverberated in my head; I felt myself a prisoner trying to escape its bars. For it represents the rate at which the income I earn, as a writer and as the director of an institute, is to be taxed. To be plain: more than half of my modest haul, I learned on arrival, was to be swallowed by the Dutch welfare state. Nothing in my time here has made me feel so much like an American as my reaction to this number. I am politically left of center in most ways, but from the time 52 entered my brain, I felt a chorus of voices rise up within my soul, none of which I knew I had internalized, each a ghostly simulacrum of a right-wing, supply-side icon: Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp, Rush Limbaugh. The grim words this chorus chanted in defense of my hard-earned income I recognized as copied from Charlton Heston's N.R.A. rallying cry about prying his gun from his cold, dead hands.
And yet as the months rolled along, I found the defiant anger softening by intervals, thanks to a succession of little events and awarenesses. One came not long ago. Logging into my bank account, I noted with fleeting but pleasant confusion the arrival of two mysterious payments of 316 euros (about $410) each. The remarks line said "accommodation schoolbooks." My confusion was not total. On looking at the payor -- the Sociale Verzekeringsbank, or Social Insurance Bank -- I nodded with sage if partial understanding. Our paths had crossed several times before. I have two daughters, you see. Every quarter, the SVB quietly drops $665 into my account with the one-word explanation kinderbijslag, or child benefit.
After admitting that "you don't have to be a Fox News commentator to sneer at what, in the midst of a global financial crisis, seems like Socialism Gone Wild," Shorto went on to defend it:
But there's more to it. First, as in the United States, income tax in the Netherlands is a bendy concept: with a good accountant, you can rack up deductions and exploit loopholes. And while the top income-tax rate in the United States is 35 percent, the numbers are a bit misleading.
Shorto most cherishes the Dutch health-care system:
The Dutch are free-marketers, but they also have a keen sense of fairness. As Hoogervorst noted, "The average Dutch person finds it completely unacceptable that people with more money would get better health care." The solution to balancing these opposing tendencies was to have one guaranteed base level of coverage in the new health scheme, to which people can add supplemental coverage that they pay extra for. Each insurance company offers its own packages of supplements.
He belatedly took on the downside of this benign socialist paradise:
O.K., Enough euphoria. It's true that I have grown to appreciate many aspects of this system. But honesty compels me to reveal another side. There is a mood that settles into me here, deepening by degrees until its deepness has become darkness. It happens typically on a Sunday afternoon. I'll be strolling through a neighborhood on the outskirts of Amsterdam, or cycling in a nearby small town, and the calm, bland streets and succession of broad windows giving views onto identical interiors will awaken in my mind a line from Camus's "Myth of Sisyphus" that struck me to the core when I first read it as an undergraduate: "A man is talking on the telephone behind a glass partition; you cannot hear him, but you see his incomprehensible dumb show: you wonder why he is alive."
Shorto even admitted that "one downside of a collectivist society" "is that people tend to become slaves to consensus and conformity and are not encouraged "to stand out or excel." But Shorto concluded his positive look at socialist Holland by passing the mike to a local author to claim his country is actually freer than the United States:
Geert Mak, the Dutch author, insisted that happiness is tied directly to the social system. We were sitting at his favorite cafe, a hangout of Dutch journalists since the end of World War II, and the genial, old-wood setting of the place, as well as its location, around the corner from the Dam and the center of the city's history, added a bit of luster to his words and reminded me, for the thousandth time, why I'm still here, despite the downside. "One problem with the American system," he said, "is that if you lose your job and are without an income, that's not just bad for you but for the economy. Our system has more security. And I think it makes our quality of life better. My American friends say they live in the best country in the world, and in a lot of ways they are right. But they always have to worry: '€˜What happens to my family if I have a heart attack? What happens when I turn 65 or 70?' America is the land of the free. But I think we are freer."
END of Excerpts
For the May 3 piece in full: www.nytimes.com
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