Nel's New Day

February 2, 2017

Reuters’ Answer to Trump’s ‘War on the Press’

trump-dictatorDictator Donald Trump (DDT) has accelerated his authoritarian regime by targeting CNN as the first news network for retribution. According to the White House, it will no longer allow its people to appear on that network and stated that it is “sending surrogates to places where we think it makes sense to promote our agenda.” To the current administration, the purpose of news is to “promote” its “agenda.”

Reuters is clarifying to its reporters how its news agency will cover “President Trump.” Reuters Editor-in-Chief Steve Adler wrote the following directive:

The first 12 days of the Trump presidency (yes, that’s all it’s been!) have been memorable for all – and especially challenging for us in the news business. It’s not every day that a U.S. president calls journalists “among the most dishonest human beings on earth” or that his chief strategist dubs the media “the opposition party.” It’s hardly surprising that the air is thick with questions and theories about how to cover the new Administration.

So what is the Reuters answer? To oppose the administration? To appease it? To boycott its briefings? To use our platform to rally support for the media? All these ideas are out there, and they may be right for some news operations, but they don’t make sense for Reuters. We already know what to do because we do it every day, and we do it all over the world.

To state the obvious, Reuters is a global news organization that reports independently and fairly in more than 100 countries, including many in which the media is unwelcome and frequently under attack. I am perpetually proud of our work in places such as Turkey, the Philippines, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Thailand, China, Zimbabwe, and Russia, nations in which we sometimes encounter some combination of censorship, legal prosecution, visa denials, and even physical threats to our journalists. We respond to all of these by doing our best to protect our journalists, by recommitting ourselves to reporting fairly and honestly, by doggedly gathering hard-to-get information – and by remaining impartial. We write very rarely about ourselves and our troubles and very often about the issues that will make a difference in the businesses and lives of our readers and viewers.

We don’t know yet how sharp the Trump administration’s attacks will be over time or to what extent those attacks will be accompanied by legal restrictions on our news-gathering. But we do know that we must follow the same rules that govern our work anywhere, namely:

Do’s:

  • Cover what matters in people’s lives and provide them the facts they need to make better decisions.
  • Become ever-more resourceful: If one door to information closes, open another one.
  • Give up on hand-outs and worry less about official access. They were never all that valuable anyway. Our coverage of Iran has been outstanding, and we have virtually no official access. What we have are sources.
  • Get out into the country and learn more about how people live, what they think, what helps and hurts them, and how the government and its actions appear to them, not to us.
  • Keep the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles close at hand, remembering that “the integrity, independence and freedom from bias of Reuters shall at all times be fully preserved.”

Don’ts:

  • Never be intimidated, but:
  • Don’t pick unnecessary fights or make the story about us. We may care about the inside baseball but the public generally doesn’t and might not be on our side even if it did.
  • Don’t vent publicly about what might be understandable day-to-day frustration. In countless other countries, we keep our own counsel so we can do our reporting without being suspected of personal animus. We need to do that in the U.S., too.
  • Don’t take too dark a view of the reporting environment: It’s an opportunity for us to practice the skills we’ve learned in much tougher places around the world and to lead by example – and therefore to provide the freshest, most useful, and most illuminating information and insight of any news organization anywhere.

This is our mission, in the U.S. and everywhere. We make a difference in the world because we practice professional journalism that is both intrepid and unbiased. When we make mistakes, which we do, we correct them quickly and fully. When we don’t know something, we say so. When we hear rumors, we track them down and report them only when we are confident that they are factual. We value speed but not haste: When something needs more checking, we take the time to check it. We try to avoid “permanent exclusives” – first but wrong. We operate with calm integrity not just because it’s in our rulebook but because – over 165 years – it has enabled us to do the best work and the most good.

Adler has good reason for the letter because of threats from current White House administration:

Censorship: Senior White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon has told the New York Times that the media should “keep its mouth shut.” DDT also frequently said that he plans to weaken libel protections for journalists to suppress coverage of himself and his officials.

Legal prosecution: DDT called for a congressional investigation into the leak of fairly unimportant information from a classified intelligence briefing, threatening prosecution for disclosures to the press. Since then, leaks have become a common pattern for DDT. In one of his lawsuits, DDT sued for author/journalist Timothy O’Brien for describing him as a millionaire, not a billionaire, in his book.

Visa denials: Emmy-nominated CNN producer and legal U.S. resident, Mohammed Tawfeeq, was detained at the airport at the beginning of DDT’s Muslim ban. As the current manager of CNN’s International Desk, Tawfeeq frequently travels to the Middle East. He is suing the U.S. departments of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and other federal agencies for violating his rights under the Immigration and Nationality Act. In a memo Fox executives James and Lachlan Murdoch have addressed “a time of real uncertainty for many of our colleagues around the world.”

Physical threats: After a tense exchange with Trump during a January news conference, A year ago, a Secret Service agent choke-slammed a Time magazine photographer who tried to take pictures of protesters outside the designated press area during a DDT rally. A few weeks later, DDT’s campaign manager grabbed journalist Michelle Fields’ arm because she tried to ask a question when DDT was leaving a rally. DDT’s supporters threatened reporters with physical violence if they write critical information about him. Recently, Press Secretary CNN senior White House threatened to throw Jim Acosta out of a press conference if he continued to ask questions.

Adler’s comparisons to authoritarian regimes are easy to understand. According to an annual report released by the Britain-based Economist Intelligence Unit, the United States has been downgraded from a “full democracy” to a “flawed democracy” in the 2016 Democracy Index—and that was before the last two weeks. The U.S. is now 21st in international rankings based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, political culture, and civil liberties.

We need all reporters to follow Reuters Rules.

July 23, 2015

MSNBC Goes Farther Right with Chuck Todd

Chuck Todd, the opinionater instead of moderator on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” now has another five hours a week, starting in September, to destroy Democrats in a new show on MSNBC. People who consider the channel to be liberal need to take a good look at it, starting with “The Morning Joe Show.” It’s natural—although upsetting—that the conservative boss for programs would cut “The Cycle,” “Now with Alex Wagner,” and “The Ed Show” in favor of a less learned and more right-leaning host.

Ed Schultz, who lost the time slot given to Todd, often had higher ratings than Chris Hayes in “All In,” but Phil Griffin likes Hayes. Seeing the writing on the wall, Hayes has also been moving right in the past few months. In a vicious circle, MSNBC gradually dumps its progressive hosts, progressive watchers leave the channel, ratings go down, and Griffin blames the ratings on the programming’s “liberal bias” to get rid of more hosts that provided higher ratings. Rachel Maddow is most likely safe, but “Politics Nation” with Al Sharpton will probably be dropped for a more conservative Brian Willliams’ newscast. After missing from broadcasting for six months for his lies, Williams will find a home at the newest conservative channel on television.

Chuck Todd seems unable to ask probing questions, frequently giving his conservative guests a pass and acting as a mouthpiece for corporate media and conservatives. To Todd, this isn’t a problem because he thinks that asking questions is not his job.

Last fall, Todd campaigned for recently elected Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) during a segment on “Morning Joe.” In commenting on a clip showing the refusal of Alison Lundergan Grimes, McConnell’s opponent, to answer questions about whether she voted for President Obama, Todd sneered:

“And Kentuckians expect her to cast a tough vote on anything? Is she ever gonna answer a tough question on anything? You wanna be a U.S. senator? If you can’t find a way to stand behind your party’s president … you can disagree with him but you can’t answer a basic question and you come across looking that ridiculous? I think she disqualified herself.”

The GOP effectively used “disqualified” in their attack ads on Grimes, giving credit to the person viewed as NBC News’ top political man. Jim Newell described Todd’s flip remark as “arrogant and short-sighted commentary,” but Todd blamed Grimes for his blunder and said, “She invited this on herself.”

Todd’s hatchet job on Grimes was very different from his profile of Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) when she was running for Congress. Ernst refused to answer any questions from local newspaper boards and wouldn’t even meet with them. While not addressing this, he supported her position on the “Personhood Amendment” that he said would protect “unborn human beings” and “grant all unborn human beings with equal protections.” The definition of “personhood” is “every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being,” starting from an egg. Ernst’s and Todd’s amendment would prevent many forms of contraception.

Todd also thinks that correcting lies is not his job as a journalist. When he interviewed Ed Rendell two years ago, the former Pennsylvania governor pointed out that the media had been complicit in spreading lies about the Affordable Care Act. Todd responded:

“But more importantly, it would be stuff that Republicans have successfully messaged against it. They [the media] don’t repeat the other stuff because they haven’t even heard the Democratic message. What I always love is people say, ‘Well, it’s you folks’ fault in the media.’ No, it’s the President of the United States’ fault for not selling it.”

One example of Todd’s failure occurred last May when House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told host Chuck Todd that “Obamacare made it harder for employers to hire people.” He claimed that it was a “fact” that “any employer in America” will say that. He continued by saying that having Medicaid is nothing because doctors won’t see Medicaid patients. Last year, 75 percent of surveyed employers reported that the Affordable Care Act made no difference in their hiring. Not one major business organization filed a brief to stop the ACA in the King v. Burwell lawsuit heard by the Supreme Court. Todd’s question to Boehner:

“So you don’t see Obamacare as good for the country?”

Todd also gave Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) a pass in “misrepresenting” economics when he said that he claimed that raising taxes on the wealthy while lowering taxes on everyone else doesn’t work:

In May, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) had to explain why the country needs funding for the infrastructure because Todd didn’t seem to understand that lack of money put into it, for example Amtrack, could cost people their lives.

When he was asked why 62 percent of his guests are white men, Todd said that it was because “you want to put the best people on. You want to put the best, smartest people on.” To Todd, the “best, smartest people” are white men. For almost a year, former Secretary of State James Baker appeared an average of once a month to explain what President Obama was doing wrong in the Middle East. It appears that he’s classified as “smartest.”

One of Todd’s guests, comedian Lewis Black, commented that he didn’t know how hosts kept from “barking” at some guests on their show. Todd explained:

“We all sit there because we know the first time we bark is the last time we do the show. There’s something where all of the sudden nobody will come on your show.”

Todd’s lack of sensitivity was clearly demonstrated a few days after the white man killed nine black people in a Charleston (SC). A segment about gun violence showed convicted murderers—all of them black—talking about their regret. Todd may not have noticed this blunder if guest Eugene Robinson and his show’s audience had not pointed out that murder “is not just an African-American problem.” Yet Todd tried to cover himself by saying that the purpose of Meet the Press is to make people “uncomfortable.”

Chuck Todds’ book about President Obama last year, “The Stranger,” blamed the president for income inequality, instability in the Middle East, and partisan as if he had control over the intentional GOP gridlock in Washington. Other Todd criticisms of the president were his “passive leadership and lack of managerial experience.” The review from the Columbian Journalism Review reported:

“Todd has written a disappointing book, a slab of pedestrian punditry….  On a range of issues, from the stimulus to healthcare reform to Syria, Todd weighs in on how the process looked, while devoting barely a second’s thought to the policy’s merits.”

When presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) appeared on Meet the Press, Todd didn’t ask about Sanders’ call for “political revolution” and instead asked him about Hillary Clinton’s “trustworthiness.” Todd tried to lead Sanders into a comparison of Presidents Clinton and Obama as a lead-in to criticisms about the current presidential candidate. “Do you take her at her word?” Todd asked. Sanders expressed hope that “the media will allow us to have a serious debate in this campaign on the enormous issues facing the American people.” Todd showed that he had no intention of a debate about policy by talking about Sanders’ essay on women’s rape fantasy, written 43 years ago, which Sanders said was a badly written attempt to discuss gender roles in the 1970’s.

At least Todd recognized Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate, something he failed to do about Sanders. Todd delighted the far-right, including Rush Limbaugh by this statement that has swept the Internet. “Not quite right” will undoubtedly appear in GOP ads:

“Everybody has watched this campaign and we all come to the same conclusion: there’s something just not quite right. You know, is it enthusiasm? I don’t know. Is it her? I don’t know. There’s just something that doesn’t seem to be big, bold, and boom.”

As Todd trashes at least three of the Democratic presidential candidates, he fails to mention that his wife works for another Dem candidate, Jim Webb. Strategist Kristian Denny Todd is on Webb’s campaign team.

The first principle of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics is “Seek Truth and Report It.” Todd fails on both these points. A point under this principle requires good journalists to consider the source’s motives, yet Todd not only allows smear campaigns on his program against Democrats but also joins in.

Todd thought that Sen. Jim Inhofe’s (R-OK) stunt to use a snowball as proof that climate change doesn’t exist was just plain fun. LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzik accused Todd of “pander[ing] to American anti-intellectualism.” He added, “How low can the news departments of our major networks sink?” Farther down, obviously MSNBC has gone several steps lower by replacing a thoughtful show with Todd’s cuteness and softball approach toward Republican lies.

February 23, 2015

Bill O’Reilly Needs to Resign

Filed under: Journalism — trp2011 @ 9:41 PM
Tags: , , ,

Brian Williams went down in flames from his NBC anchor position after he was caught claiming that he was almost shot down in a helicopter in Iraq, and Fox network celebrity Bill O’Reilly used the debacle to attack what he describes as liberal media outlets and demanded investigation into its other “distortions.” O’Reilly did say on his show that “we’ve made some mistakes in the past but very few … [and] take great pains to present you with information that can be verified.”

Unfortunately for O’Reilly, David Corn and Daniel Schulman followed up on O’Reilly’s dramatic stories about his war reporting and reported in Mother Jones that the conservative program host exaggerated far more than Williams did—even talking about his heroism in a war zone where he never went. He has repeatedly claimed to be a war correspondent during the Falklands war and talked about experiencing combat between the UK and Argentina. “I’ve been there,” he stated. “That’s really what separates me from most of these other bloviators.” He also bragged about it in his 2001 book, The No Spin Zone: Confrontations With the Powerful and Famous in America. 

In a 2003 book, conservative journalist Tucker Carlson wrote about O’Reilly’s answer during a Washington panel discussion when he claimed to be in wars in the Falklands, Northern Ireland, the Middle East and was “almost killed three times.” He repeated this claim in 2008 and 2013, talking about how he saved his photographer after he “got run down” in the Falklands. According to Bob Schieffer, “nobody from CBS got to the Falklands,” which are islands 300 miles off the Argentine shore. The war zone included South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, more than 1,400 miles offshore.

O’Reilly did witness a riot in Buenos Aires after the Falkland war but complained that his footage was co-opted and featured Bob Schieffer instead of himself. According to Schieffer, it was common practice for CBS reporters to pool footage, and the segment lasted about a minute. Nothing matched O’Reilly’s dramatic description years later, and media accounts did not report any of the fatalities that O’Reilly now describes. Although two reporters were injured, O’Reilly’s memory by 2009 recalled that all “the other CBS news correspondents were hiding in the hotel.”

Retired CBS correspondent Eric Jon Engberg, who was with O’Reilly at the time, remembers Buenos Aires differently. He said that they stayed in a modern hotel and “never saw any troops, casualties or weapons.” Engberg saw no police attacks against demonstrators outside the palace. In addition, Engberg refuted the accusation that “the other CBS news correspondents were hiding in the hotel.” He wrote:

“If [O’Reilly] said such thing it is an absolute lie. Everyone was working in the street that night, the crews exhibiting their usual courage. O’Reilly was the one person who behaved unprofessionally and without regard for the safety of the camera crew he was leading.”

Engberg reported that O’Reilly ignored orders from CBS Bureau Chief Larry Doyle to avoiding attention and being injured by keeping camera lights off.

“According to Doyle, O’Reilly returned to the hotel in a rage over the fact that his cameraman wouldn’t turn on the lights to photograph angry crowds. Doyle defended the cameraman and chewed out O’Reilly for violating his instructions on lights.”

In The No Spin Zone, O’Reilly wrote about the civil war in El Salvador when he bravely went into a place of carnage. Yet his account on the report he filed with CBS News, which aired May 20, 1982, opened with a description of how little combat he found in the country: “These days Salvadoran soldiers appear to be doing more singing than fighting.” He reported that government troops were in control of most of the country, and a helicopter ride showed him “no signs of insurgent forces.” O’Reilly’s footage of the village which he described with no living people showed residents walking about and only one or two burned-down structures.

O’Reilly vigorously denounced the Mother Jones report and claimed, “It’s a hit piece. Everything I said about what I reported in South and Central America is true. Everything.” He said he never claimed to be on the Falkland Islands and called author David Corn a “despicable guttersnipe.” On his show, however, O’Reilly said:

“I missed Moyers in the war zones of El Salvador, the Falklands conflict in Argentina and the Middle East and Northern Ireland. I looked for Bill, but I didn’t see him.”

O’Reilly didn’t stop with the “guttersnipe” name-calling but continued with other reporters to call Corn “a liar” and “a left-wing  assassin.” Then he suggested that Corn deserved to be “in the kill zone.”

Mother Jones had offered O’Reilly a full day to respond to his article before it was posted. O’Reilly admitted that he had received the offer but said, “I would never speak to the man about anything at any time. He’s a disgusting piece of garbage.”

Corn responded to the insults:

“To me, the issue here is whether a media figure and journalist like Bill O’Reilly, who claims to be a truth teller, can get away without answering questions about specific statements he’s made, and hide behind name calling. I would encourage anyone else who covers this story to get Bill O’Reilly to answer those questions–if not to me, than to anyone else.”

The editors in chief at Mother Jones went farther by expressing concern about the violent nature of O’Reilly calling for Corn to be “in the kill zone” and asking for an apology in a letter to both O’Reilly and one of Fox network’s communications execs.

On February 20, 2015, O’Reilly used his “Talking Points Memo” to address the Mother Jones article. He began by saying:

“Hi, I’m Bill O’Reilly … thanks for watching us tonight … more proof the American media is corrupt. That is the subject of this evening’s Talking Points memo. This man … 56-year-old David Corn … who works for the far left magazine … Mother Jones … smeared me, your humble correspondent, yesterday … saying I had fabricated some war reporting. Mother Jones … which has low circulation … considered by many the bottom rung of journalism in America. however … in this Internet age … the defamation they put forth … gets exposure. and so I have to deal with this garbage tonight. I’m sorry.”

In this article, Corn fact-checked O’Reilly’s narrative, point by point.

Other people are angry as well. Thomas Ruyle wrote in Stars and Stripes:

“‘Stolen Valor’ is a term applied to the phenomenon of people falsely claiming military awards or badges they did not earn, service they did not perform, Prisoner of War experiences that never happened, and other tales of military derring-do that exist only in their minds.”

This description applies to O’Reilly’s fictionalized account of his experiences during 1981-82. John Soltz, the president of the 400-member VoteVets.org, issued this statement condemning O’Reilly for lying about his war zone experiences.

“NBC acted completely appropriately in taking Brian Williams off the air and looking into claims he’s made over the years. Fox News has to do the same thing. The issue, for me, isn’t that Fox has been caught off guard, and didn’t realize O’Reilly was telling possibly false tales. That I can accept. It’s what do they do about it now? That will tell us a lot about how seriously they take their news organization.

“Men and women have fought, died, been wounded, and scarred by war. There are many journalists who actually were in the crossfire, who died, trying to bring the story to the American people. What Bill O’Reilly has done is steal their valor, and it is wrong. It makes it seem like anyone can head on over to a war zone. But honestly it is more insulting to the war reporters who never bragged about their war experience, but just kept their head down and did their job. Some of them died doing that job. In my mind, those reporters were heroes.”

After The New York Times printed an article on the controversy, O’Reilly threatened one of the reporters. “I am coming after you with everything I have,” he said.

O’Reilly showed footage from the Buenos Aires demonstrations, still trying to convince people that it vindicated him. Instead of showing people fired on in the streets and killed, the correspondent said that police used guns firing “tear gas and plastic bullets.” After several days of bullying and threatening anyone who disagreed with him, he said, “I want to stop this now.”

O’Reilly constantly talks about personal responsibility and how he loves the military and the veterans. He owes them an apology and a resignation from his post. O’Reilly said that Brian Williams “had to go” because he made up stories about dangers he faced in his reporting career. O’Reilly needs to go, along with his fictionalized biographies about Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, George S. Patton, and Jesus.

September 9, 2014

‘Meet the Press’ Has a Long Way to Go

Martha Routree began moderating  Meet the Press on radio almost 70 years ago, two years before it moved to television. Her format was to invite a leading public figure to face a panel of reporters; Rountree persuaded such luminaries as Sen. Joseph McCarthy, California governor and future chief justice Earl Warren, and President Harry Truman to be on the program. Co-producer Lawrence E. Spivak was a “permanent panelist,” and the television show won at least three awards in six years before Rountree lost the show in a coin-toss to Spivak in 1953. Followed by eight male moderators, she has been the only woman to host the program.

After NBC sent David Gregory, the program’s recent host, packing, it picked another man, Chuck Todd. During the hiatus between Gregory and Todd, Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign correspondent, and Chris Jansing, NBC News Chief White House Correspondent, both did excellent jobs as substitute hosts. They provided a refreshing change from both Gregory and Todd, who attack progressives and give passes to the conservatives.

When Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) lamented the country’s serious problems from ISIS and claimed that they are “just a plane ticket away from the United States,” Jansing asked him, “But we’ve heard the Pentagon say that, right now, they are not in a position to launch an attack on the United States. Is there any credible intelligence that ISIS is either planning that or has the capability to do it.” Rogers said that he disagreed but didn’t have any facts to back his position. Neither Gregory nor Todd would most likely have challenged Rogers.

A year ago Todd said that correcting GOP lies that he repeats is not his job. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, he agreed that Republicans repeat the party’s false message about the Affordable Care Act, but he blamed the president for not selling the ACA. Todd gives lies the same weight as facts. When Todd made that statement, he was political director for NBC news, meaning that this philosophy was leading the political coverage. Now it will lead Meet the Press.

On his first show last Sunday, Todd  repeated the tired statement about Kentucky’s Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Alison Grimes, having “a lot of money” without pointing out that her opponent, Sen. Mitch McConnell, has three times as much campaign funding as Grimes. Todd talked about the horrible gridlock in Washington before he did a puff piece on how well three mayors in the country are working with their elected officials. When two of them, a Republican and an independent, slammed the president by saying they were successful because the executive is in charge of successful cooperation, Todd just sagely nodded. Nothing was mentioned about how the GOP will do everything possible to tear down the president and then blame him for not being bipartisan. When Scarborough said that the midterm elections really don’t matter, everyone again just nodded.

The mayor segment is entitled “Who Needs Washington?” And as Dana Milbank pointed out:

 “We all need Washington. And though it’s standard for politicians to campaign against Washington, it’s a bit cynical for Todd and Meet the Press to be vessels of populist outrage against a Washington media elite of which they are very much a part.

“Washington isn’t dysfunctional because people who live here are out of touch. Washington is broken because of the increasingly belligerent assortment of 537 politicians the rest of the country sends here. The problem is not that Washington is too insular. If anything, Washington isn’t insular enough.

“For most of the nation’s history, lawmakers spent long stretches of time in the capital, getting to know each other as people rather than partisans. The friendships and goodwill they developed helped them to cut the necessary deals. But when “Washington insider” became a political liability two decades ago, politicians began jetting into town for three-day workweeks — long enough to demonize their opponents but not to know them.”

To give Todd a pass, we’ll assume that he was just clueless instead of lying when he cheerfully attacked President Obama for not mentioning “Syria.” Todd directly said, “You’ve not said the word, ‘Syria’ so far in our conversation.” A check of the transcript shows that the president had used the word four times before Todd made his statement.

“… ISIL poses a broader threat because of its territorial ambitions in Iraq and Syria…”

“… And we’ve seen the savagery not just in terms of how they dealt with the two Americans that had been taken hostage but the killing of thousands of innocents in– in Iraq thousands of innocents in Syria, the kidnapping of women the complete disruption of entire villages …”

“… But what is absolutely clear in ISIL, which started as Al Qaeda in Iraq and arose out of the U.S. invasion there and was contained because of the enormous efforts of our troops there then shifted to Syria, has metastasized …”

“We’ve got to do more effective diplomatic work to eliminate the schism between Sunni and Shia that has been fueling so much of the violence in Syria, in Iraq. And so we put together a plan that is compatible with the kind of work that we’re doing now.”

David Letterman honored this gaffe by creating a new segment, “Chuck Todd on It” and pointed out Todd’s mistake. This could become a weekly piece. Letterman’s leaving won’t stop Todd from being a punch line; Stephen Colbert steps up to the plate then.

Todd also falsely accused President Obama of using the term “ISIL” instead of the term “ISIS” because the president wants to avoid the word Syria. Todd said to Andrea Mitchell, who uses the abbreviation ISIL, “Obviously we refer to it at NBC News as ISIS. The Obama administration, president says the word ISIL. The last ‘S’ stands for Syria, the last L they don’t want to have stand for Syria.”

According to the Associated Press regarding AP’s use of ISIL:

“In Arabic, the group is known as Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. The term “al-Sham” refers to a region stretching from southern Turkey through Syria to Egypt (also including Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan). The group’s stated goal is to restore an Islamic state, or caliphate, in this entire area.”

The final “S” in ISIS does not translate to Syria because the word Syria is not in the original Arabic language. Todd claims to be a journalist. He should be ashamed for not being aware of such a simple fact.

In another attack, Todd, like many other conservatives, slammed the president for discussing the beheading of journalist James Foley while President Obama was golfing. During Todd’s gig on the National Journal Hotline, he never objected to George W. Bush golfing in 2002 while he talked about five U.S. citizens being bombed to death. Bush had left for a month-long vacation at his parents’ home in Kennebunkport (ME) two days after a bomb exploded at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. Two days after that, another suicide bomb blew up in Israel. The following day, Bush took a break from his golfing to say that he was “distressed” and thought that we should “stop the terror.” He finished by saying, “Thank you…. Now, watch this [golf] drive.” He finished his drive and then said, “See you at church.”

To further add to the “good old boys” club, NBC promoted former Rep. Joe Scarborough to senior NBC political analyst and contributor to Meet the Press. Todd may think that Scarborough can provide “robust conversation,” but this ultra-conservative primarily passes along the GOP talking points on his morning fluff show, Morning Joe. One rumor is that he got the job to calm him after he failed to become the host. Scarborough will move Meet the Press even farther to the right than David Gregory did. NBC expects Todd to boost ratings, but Scarborough may be waiting in the wings in case Todd fails.

The only new thing about Meet the Press is the furniture rearrangement, but the program might experience more success by returning to Tim Russet’s format. He used archival tapes to confront a guest who had moved on to another position and then asked about the shift. “Meet the talking points,” critic Jay Rosen called the show then. The same right-wing guests weren’t given the same passes every Sunday. Now GE clearly controls the show, and the television advertising by Koch Industries shown another influence.

Ratings went up this past Sunday; the question is whether it was a fluke to see how Todd would do. His slogan is “it’s not politics that people hate, it’s that they hate the politicians that don’t know how to practice the art of it.” In my case, it’s not Meet the Press that I hate, but the way that the hosts have moderated it since Tim Russert died. Leslie Savan suggests watching John Oliver’s new show, Last Week Tonight. Maybe Oliver could take over the show when NBC isn’t satisfied. Now that would help the ratings and deliver substance.

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