NBC Uses Attacks on Bush as Chance to Critique "Record on Race" --2/9/2006
2. Mitchell: Hillary a Centrist; Pro-Life Candidate is "Anti-Choice"
3. Hypocrisy on Parade: NYT Runs Photo of Dung-Clotted "Virgin Mary"
Some speakers at Tuesday's memorial service near Atlanta for Coretta King used the opportunity to blast from the left the racial, budget and foreign policies of President George W. Bush, who was himself amongst the speakers. Yet Wednesday's NBC Nightly News managed to turn the event into an indictment of Bush and imaginary "deep cuts" in social programs, without mentioning the vitriolic hatred directed toward him by the very black organizations and leaders NBC's Andrea Mitchell suggested he has snubbed. Anchor Brian Williams noted how the service included "criticisms of President Bush's domestic and foreign policies." But then he framed the story around how it supposedly "raised fresh questions about the Bush administration's record on race."
Mitchell began with a back-handed slap at Bush: "It was an in-your-face rebuke rare for any President, especially one who doesn't often surround himself with critics." Mitchell at least pointed out how Andrew Young considered it an inappropriate forum for attacking a President, before she recited Bush's mistakes: "After five years in office, deep cuts in social programs, and searing criticism of the response to Hurricane Katrina, George W. Bush is still struggling to explain himself to African-Americans." Of course, there haven't even been mild cuts in social programs, never mind Mitchell's ludicrous claim about "deep cuts." Mitchell also relayed how "critics, often Democrats, remember that he has not attended an NAACP convention since taking office." Maybe that's because a few months after he attended one in 2000, the NAACP produced a TV ad narrated by the daughter of James Byrd, the black man murdered by being dragged behind a pick-up truck, which charged that since "Governor George W. Bush refused to support hate crimes legislation, it was like my father was killed all over again." And Mitchell also skipped how just last week NAACP Chairman Julian Bond alleged that the Republicans' "idea of equal rights is the American flag and the Confederate swastika flying side-by-side" and he asserted that "Republicans draw their most rabid supporters from the Taliban wing of American politics."
[This item was posted, with RealPlayer video of the 2000 NAACP ad, Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To watch the video or to post your comments: newsbusters.org ]
What exactly Bond said at a February 1 appearance at Fayetteville State University has come under some dispute, but for Tuesday's Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer a reporter listened to an audio tape (large mp3 linked to the posted article) and recounted the two quotes cited above. See: www.fayettevillenc.com
In Tuesday's "Best of the Web" on OpinionJournal.com, James Taranto provided an overview of what Bond said and how the Fayetteville paper at first ignored his incendiary remarks. See: www.opinionjournal.com
The late October of 2000 NAACP ad featured a semi-re-enactment of the infamous and brutal James Byrd murder: Black and white video of a pick-up truck's door closing and the pick-up then dragging a long chain down a dirt road. In her own voice, Byrd's daughter recounted:
At the time, the MRC posted a RealPlayer clip of the ad as played on the October 24, 2000 Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC. It's a fairly low-quality 34 kbps rate video and lasts 2:40 since it contains both the 30-second ad in full followed by some comments on it by Morton Kondracke, Bill Sammon and Mara Liasson.
For the October 26, 2000 CyberAlert Extra: www.mrc.org
As for Mitchell's lunacy about "deep cuts in social programs," the Heritage Foundation's Brian Reidl pointed out in a report (in PDF format) posted Monday: "Anti-poverty spending has surged 39% under President Bush to a record 16% of all federal spending." See: www.heritage.org
Lowery: "She extended Martin's message against poverty, racism and war. She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar. We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there [lengthy applause]. But Coretta knew and we knew that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor."
Carter: "It was difficult for them then personally with the civil liberties of both husband and wife violated as they became the target of secret government wiretaps....We only have to recall the color of the faces of those in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, those who are most devastated by Katrina, to know that there are not yet equal opportunities for all Americans."
Brian Williams: "There has been a lot of reaction today to yesterday's funeral service for Coretta Scott King. The six-hour celebration of Mrs. King's life included quite a few political statements, including criticisms of President Bush's domestic and foreign policies. And it raised fresh questions about the Bush administration's record on race. Here is NBC's Andrea Mitchell."
Reverend Joseph Lowery, civil rights activist, at the memorial service: "Will words become deeds that meet needs?"
Reacting to RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman's charge leveled on Sunday's This Week that Hillary Clinton "seems to have a lot of anger" and "voters usually do not send angry candidates to the White House," on Monday's Hardball NBC's Andrea Mitchell fretted that "they're trying to demonize her" and "make her seem more extreme than I think she really is." Mitchell applied a liberal labeling standard as she cited how Senator Clinton "took some PAC money from her own political action committee and gave it to Bob Casey in Pennsylvania who is an anti-choice nominee in the Democratic race there." Mitchell soon contended that "she's certainly moved herself over to the middle by getting on the Armed Services Committee, going to Iraq, going to Afghanistan and showing real credentials on military issues and you saw some of her votes on the war. She's very highly regarded by the rank and file military for what she has done in support of the troops. And that is part of her effort to show she can be a Commander-in-Chief."
[This item was adopted from a Tuesday afternoon posting, by the MRC's Geoff Dickens, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. Go to: newsbusters.org ]
The following is the complete exchange between Matthews and Mitchell on the February 6 Hardball:
Chris Matthews: "Look, what do you make of this attack, I will now ask, I will throw the magic word out here, gender, is this focus on Senator Clinton's emotional state, her anger level, aimed at her gender?"
Matthews continued: "Well is this going to intimidate her into being a whispering candidate for president like, talking like Marilyn Monroe, '€˜You know it's so great to be here,' or Jackie Kennedy. Does it force her to soften her voice to the point where she sounds like she's trying to schmooze her way in."
(As the MRC's Tim Graham pointed out, how does serving on the Armed Services Committee automatically make someone a moderate? See Ron Dellums and Pat Schroeder. In fact, she said the same thing during the 2004 Democratic convention: "Hillary Clinton, who has presidential ambitions obviously as a Senator from New York, is the first Senator from New York to seek a position on the Armed Services Committee....She's done it effectively. I've got to tell you, the rank-and-file military are really happy with her." See: www.mrc.org )
Matthews ended the segment: "Is there more coming here, do you think, on this front, identifying her, trying to get into her emotions and shake her or attack her that way?"
On Tuesday, the New York Times wrote in an editorial on the Danish cartoons of Mohammad that "the New York Times and much of the rest of the nation's news media have reported on the cartoons but refrained from showing them. That seems a reasonable choice for news organizations that usually refrain from gratuitous assaults on religious symbols, especially since the cartoons are so easy to describe in words." Apparently the Arts pages didn't get the memo, because a photo of Chris Ofili's dung-clotted "Holy Virgin Mary" was featured in Wednesday's Arts section story by Michael Kimmelman, who called the Danish cartoons "callous and feeble." Plus, "Double Standard: Mohammed Cartoons and 'Piss Christ.'"
For Kimmelman's February 8 article with the dung-clotted Virgin Mary, "A Startling New Lesson in the Power of Imagery," go to: www.nytimes.com
This item, by Clay Waters, first appeared on the MRC's TimesWatch site where Clay observed: This is the most striking example yet of the double standard by the Times when it comes to art that offends religious sensibilities.
For the TimesWatch posting with a link to the earlier New York Times editorial, go to: www.timeswatch.org
Monday's TimesWatch featured a related article by Clay, "Double Standard: Mohammed Cartoons and 'Piss Christ.'" A reprint:
One would hope and expect a liberal newspaper like the Times to have the meager virtue of consistency on matters of freedom of expression, particularly in defense of another newspaper. As the world now knows, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published twelve cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad last September, considered taboo (though not always recognized as such).
But Times reporter Craig Smith found the cartoons more inflammatory than he did the actual fact of Muslims burning embassies in Syria and Lebanon in protest. Even the headline to his Sunday Week in Review story suggests that the Danish newspapers' exercise of free speech was somehow irresponsible, likening it to pouring fuel on a flame: "Adding Newsprint to the Fire."
Smith irresponsibly compares the Danish cartoons to racist anti-black and anti-Semitic cartoons: "But this did not take place in a political vacuum. Hostile feelings have been growing between Denmark's immigrants and a government supported by the right-wing Danish People's Party, which has pushed anti-immigrant policies. And stereotyping in cartoons has a notorious history in Europe, where anti-Semitic caricatures fed the Holocaust, just as they feed anti-Israeli propaganda in the Middle East today.
"In the current climate, some experts on mass communications suggest, the exercise was no more benign than commissioning caricatures of African-Americans would have been during the 1960's civil rights struggle. 'You have to ask what was the intent of these cartoons, bearing in mind the recent history of tension in Denmark with the Muslim community,' said David Welch, head of the Center for the Study of Propaganda and War at the University of Kent in Britain. Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Columbia Journalism School, put it this way: 'He knew what he was doing.'"
Back in the 1990s, the Times took a far different tone regarding two excretory-based exhibits offensive to Christians -- though those controversies passed without the violent protests, death threats, or fire-bombings of embassies we are seeing today.
Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ," consisted of a crucifix submerged in a tank of Serrano's urine. Chris Ofili's "The Holy Virgin Mary" showed the icon clotted with elephant dung and surrounded by pornographic cut-outs.
Back in the previous millennium, the Times was intrigued by an art controversy at the Brooklyn Museum, showcasing what the September 24, 1999 editorial page called "a dung-stained, faux-naïve portrait of the Virgin Mary." That would be Ofili's artwork.
On October 2, 1999, the editors dealt with Christian offense in one clause before calling for art that "challenge[d] the public": "To be sure, many citizens of conscience find parts of the Brooklyn exhibition repugnant, and it is understandable that many Roman Catholics would find Chris Ofili's image of the Virgin Mary offensive. Others would agree with our colleague William Safire that while the Brooklyn Museum has a right to show what it likes, the administrators have been clumsy or needlessly provocative. Yet a Daily News poll shows that the majority of New Yorkers support the museum over Mayor Giuliani by a ratio of two to one. Those numbers show a broad-based support for New York's role as the nation's cultural capital. The people understand intuitively what Mr. Giuliani ignores for political gain. A museum is obliged to challenge the public as well as to placate it, or else the museum becomes a chamber of attractive ghosts, an institution completely disconnected from art in our time."
On October 9, 1999, Frank Rich, then columnist and now an Arts editor-columnist, compared Giuliani's threatened denial of taxpayer funding (which was blocked) for the offensive art to the Nazi's notorious 1937 condemnation of "degenerate art."
Most galling in retrospect was a May 3, 1998 review by contributing arts writer Amei Wallach, "Policing the Avant-Garde: Parallels Out of the Past," on a show that compared those who protested tax funding of "Piss Christ" to Nazis.
"Goebbels is long and thin; Hitler closely resembles a Charlie Chaplin impersonator. Dressed in clown ruffs, they nudge each other onto the stage in the Irondale Ensemble Project's musical theater-cabaret caper 'Degenerate Art,'....the troupe is seeking to link 1990's debates about the N.E.A. with the 1937 'Entartete Kust' ('Degenerate Art') exhibition in Munich, which the Nazi Government organized to show the German people the kind of art they were meant to hate."
Wallach doesn't blink when an arts curator compares objections to tax-funding for "Piss Christ" to Goebbels and Hitler: "Such rhetoric sounded chillingly contemporary to Stephanie Barron, curator of 20th-century art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, when she was preparing 'Degenerate Art: The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany,' the 1991 exhibition from which the Irondale Ensemble drew its inspiration. At the time when Ms. Barron was completing her reconstruction of the 'Entartete Kunst' show, some American senators and congressmen were using comparable language to denounce the works of Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano in their opening salvos against the N.E.A. In her catalogue essay, Ms. Barron noted 'an uncomfortable parallel between the enemies of artistic freedom today and those responsible for organizing the "Entartete Kunst" exhibition' more than a half century before."
TimesWatch also sees an exceedingly "uncomfortable parallel" -- one between the paper's sympathetic stance toward tax-funded art offensive to Christians, and its hypocritical failure to defend newspaper cartoons offensive to Muslims.
END of Reprint
For the online posting, with several links to the cited and quoted stories, check: www.timeswatch.org
-- Brent Baker