Tony Kushner and the terrorists he's writing a screenplay about have one thing in common. . . The alarm bells went off like crazy when Steven Spielberg hired Tony Kushner last year to rewrite the script of a movie about Israel's clandestine - and lethal - response to the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
The New York Mets will be getting a new stadium in time for the 2009 baseball season if all goes according to plan. Media coverage of the announcement was rather animated for a couple of days - lots of speculation about what the new park might look like and what it might be called - before it was abruptly cut short by news that the Yankees would be moving into a new stadium of their own, also in 2009.
There's nothing worse than finding an error of fact in a non-fiction book. It sort of makes the reader wonder whether finishing it is worth the effort. The Monitor has had several such unpleasant moments in recent weeks while perusing books ranging in tone from silly to somber.
The Monitor's oft-stated rule of thumb is that when a reporter quotes unnamed sources, those sources invariably buttress the reporter's own viewpoint and agenda. Case in point: James D. Besser, the Washington correspondent for a handful of Jewish newspapers (the New York Jewish Week among them) who for the past several years has lamented the growing ties between members of the Christian Right and pro-Israel activists in the Jewish community.
As a continuation of sorts from last week, some thoughts, rambling and otherwise, on The New York Times: On Friday, April 8, two days after its editors went public with an admission of yet another journalistic dereliction - the paper acknowledged that, as a result of a secret deal with Columbia University, student reaction was deliberately excluded from a front-page "exclusive" on the release of a report dealing with allegations of bias on the part of pro-Palestinian faculty - there appeared in the Times a profile of Joseph Massad, one of the professors at the heart of the Columbia controversy. (The paper, as it happens, had seen fit to solicit and run Massad's thoughts the week before in the very article in which his critics were ignored.)
The New York Times, still reeling from the Jayson Blair, Rick Bragg and Judith Miller fiascos, was caught - yet again - with its pants down last month, but you may have missed it if you don't read The New York Sun or are oblivious to blogs and the media-transforming reality of the blogosphere.
The syndicated columnist Robert Novak, compared with whom Pat Buchanan comes off looking like an honorary member of Hadassah, was in his element this week, essentially accusing Israel of crimes against humanity and relying on a dubious source for his latest bit of anti-Israel invective.
An important article in the current issue of The New Republic warrants attention. The piece, "The Politics of Churlishness," is the magazine's April 11 cover story by editor-in-chief Martin Peretz, and it amounts to a lifelong liberal's mea culpa for having prejudged and misjudged President Bush in the area of Middle East policy.
If on any given day last week you happened to chance upon the New York Post, you quite possibly assumed at first glance that the Deluge was upon us at last - until a closer look revealed that the unfolding drama which so consumed the paper's headline writers, reporters, columnists and editorialists involved nothing more than an unfortunate misprint in a contest run by the New York Daily News.
C-SPAN often teeters on the brink of self-parody, particularly when the hosts of its morning discussion program, "Washington Journal," stare impassively at the camera while yet another crazed caller recites chapter and verse of the latest conspiracy theories involving the Trilateral Commission or the Bush family's Nazi/Saudi/Zionist/ KGB/CIA ties (choose one or more and don't think twice about any seeming contradictions).
Dan Rather signed off permanently this week as CBS Evening News anchor and the Monitor thought it only appropriate to review some of the more outlandishly biased statements he tried to pass off over the years as objective news. Media watchdog websites such as MediaResearchCenter.com and RatherBiased.com are repositories for dozens of Rather's most revealing quotes. These are the Monitor's personal favorites:
Award-winning journalist Amy Goodman, as she never tires telling audiences all over the country, is "a Jewish American, the granddaughter of an Orthodox rabbi and the great-granddaughter of a chassidic rabbi." She also happens to be a promoter of anti-Semites and anti-Zionists of nearly every stripe.
The Monitor's column of Jan. 21 ("That Old-Time Religion") brought howls of indignation from several self-identified liberals, none more entertaining than Elaine Jacobowitz from somewhere in New Jersey. Ms. Jacobowitz took great offense at the Monitor's quoting from Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 1945 Inaugural address, specifically its references to God and faith.
The winner of the Monitor's first Henry Schwarzschild Award for Most Offensive Comments by a Jew in the Public Spotlight goes to Uri Avnery, the granddad of Israel's hard-core Left. The prize, which probably will become an annual tradition, goes to the person who, in the Monitor's considered opinion, by his or her statements revealed a contempt for the Jewish people, a disregard for historical truth, and a desire to sup at the table of Israel's enemies.
Anyone who truly feels betrayed by Ariel Sharon's apparent transformation into a flabbier, more sartorially challenged version of Shimon Peres is either (a) ignorant of Israeli political history or (b) mesmerized by years of watching a master illusionist at work.
Take your pick, because your guess is as good as the Monitor's: The Pooh-Bahs at CBS News are either (a) completely clueless or (b) utterly disinclined to dispel the widespread perception that the network, particularly its news operation, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party.
If you're a liberal who can't stomach President Bush's constant references to God; if you clench your fists every time the president refers to America's religious heritage; if you fear the imminent imposition of a Christian theocracy whenever Mr. Bush speaks of how the country has been divinely blessed - if any or all of this describes you more or less to a tee, then you're sure to have conniptions reading this passage from a certain wartime commander-in-chief's Inaugural message:
It seems like such a long time ago that lefty writers were pushing the line that not only is there no liberal bias in the media, but in fact it's conservatives who have a disproportionate influence on the public discourse. Actually, it's been a mere couple of years since liberals tried making that preposterous case, largely as a reaction to former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg's surprise bestseller Bias, an insider's account of how liberal assumptions and prejudices shape the way the mainstream media present the news.
Since 1994, Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby has devoted a column every December to highlighting the year's most egregious examples of liberal hate speech. Jacoby describes 2004 as "another year in which liberals engaged in, and mostly got away with, grotesque slanders and slurs about conservatives - the kind of poisonous rhetoric that should be beyond the pale in a decent society."
The Media Research Center is out with its annual "Best Notable Quotables" awards, a gorgeous display of the media's liberal bias, all-around pomposity and laughable ignorance. For the full list, visit the MRC website (www.mrc.org). The Monitor found the following selection particularly illuminating:
The Anti-Defamation League, fresh off its lamentable stint as unwitting public relations apparatus for Mel Gibson, has, yet again, demonstrated a jaw-dropping inability (or perhaps a cynical unwillingness) to differentiate between a newspaper's news coverage and its editorial views.
Harry Danning died last week, and all The New York Times could muster was a dry, unbylined, six-paragraph obituary that somehow managed to overlook Danning's Jewishness - not a small thing when one considers that Danning played for the old New York Giants from 1933 to 1942, was selected four times to the National League All Star team, and until his death at age 93 had been the oldest living Jewish major leaguer.
One of the websites listed here last week as a Monitor favorite did a sterling job Sunday exposing The New York Times as a journalistic copy machine of Democratic Party talking points.
The New York Times trumpeted a two-column lead story by James Glanz, William Broad and David Sanger, 'Huge Cache of Explosives Vanished From Site in Iraq,' in Monday's edition, a story one week before the election about events that happened at least 18 months ago - one blaming the Bush administration for letting almost 400 tons of powerful explosives disappear under its nose.
The Monitor's sort-of-annual listing of recommended websites and blogs is a little different this time. Previous listings were an amalgam of readers' favorites and the Monitor's own choices; this one is purely the Monitor's concoction.