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April 20, 2006
CLIPS: William Donohue unleashed gay, black, Jewish stereotypes while speaking out against The Da Vinci Code
On the April 17 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, William A. Donohue, president of the conservative Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, invoked stereotypes about gays, African-Americans, and Jews while arguing that Christians are under attack by eight popular books, including Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code (Doubleday, March 2003). Donohue argued that Christians have every right to be offended by books that are "hypercritical" of Christianity, just as other groups would be offended by a book that claimed that "blacks are natural-born killers, or that gays are naturally born to be moral slugs, or that Jews are taking over the world."
Donohue's remarks came in defense of Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, who recently spoke out against several popular fiction books, including the The Da Vinci Code, which he found offensive to Christianity. As Media Matters for America has noted, Donohue frequently appears as a guest on Scarborough Country and other TV news programs, often attacking gays and progressives.
From the April 17 edition of Fox News' Scarborough Country:
JOE SCARBOROUGH (host): Bill Donohue, did the archbishop of Canterbury overreact to a Hollywood movie, a work of fiction?
DONOHUE: Oh, I wish more Catholic bishops and cardinals were speaking out like him.
You know, isn't it interesting? We usually are rapping priests and ministers and rabbis for not being relevant. And now, when he tries to be relevant about something which has become a cottage industry, rapping Christianity, now he's criticized.
You know, it's not just The Da Vinci Code. You've got five books in the fiction list, over the last couple weeks, which tell lies about Christianity. You have three books right now on the non-fiction bestseller list, which are basically hypercritical. One of them is an incredible screed itself.
So, here, we have Christianity under attack. Intellectuals like to rap it. And then we're called whiners. Now, you just try to do this with blacks. Can you imagine if you had eight books that are bestsellers right now, saying that blacks are natural-born killers, or that gays are naturally born to be moral slugs, or that Jews are taking over the world? Could you imagine if somebody then said about blacks and Jews and gays were whiners because they were complaining about this intellectual assault? No.
What the archbishop of Canterbury was doing was telling the truth. And that is to say, if you're a Christian and you take your religion seriously, you'd better be aware of what's going on. It's a matter of self-defense.
CLIPS: Blankley claimed "strong evidence" of a "cabal" of generals retiring in sequence and criticizing Rumsfeld
In his April 18 column, Washington Times editorial page editor Tony Blankley, referring to the growing number of retired generals who have called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, wrote: "[A]n arguable case could be made that something in the nature of a mutinous sedition has occurred." According to Blankley, there is "strong evidence" of a secret agreement between active-duty generals to retire in succession and then speak out against Rumsfeld.
Blankley's evidence? Former Clinton ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke's April 16 Washington Post op-ed, in which Holbrooke wrote: "If more angry generals emerge -- and they will -- if some of them are on active duty, as seems probable ... then this storm will continue until finally it consumes not only Donald Rumsfeld." According to Blankley: "Mr. Holbrook [sic] is at the least very well informed if he is not himself part of this military cabal intended to 'consume ... Donald Rumsfeld.' "
From Blankley's April 18 column:
Consider two hypothetical situations. In the first, an Army general officer in a theater of war decides by himself that he strongly disagrees with the orders of the secretary of defense. He resigns his commission, returns to private life and speaks out vigorously against both the policy and the secretary of defense.
In example two, the top 100 generals in the Army military chain of command secretly agree among themselves to retire and speak out each one day after the other.
In example one, above, unambiguously, the general has behaved lawfully. In example two, an arguable case could be made that something in the nature of a mutinous sedition has occurred in violation of Article 94 of the Uniform Code of Military procedure. When does an expanded version of the simple honesty and legality of the first example cross over into grounds for a court martial? More specifically, can a series of lawful resignations turn into a mutiny? And if they are agreed upon in advance, have the agreeing generals formed a felonious conspiracy to make a mutiny?
This may sound far fetched, but in The Washington Post on Sunday the very smart, very well connected former Clinton Ambassador to the U.N. Richard Holbrook [sic] published an article titled "Behind the Military Revolt." In this article, he predicts that there will be increasing numbers of retired generals speaking out against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Then, shockingly, he writes the following words: "If more angry generals emerge -- and they will -- if some of them are on active duty, as seems probable ... then this storm will continue until finally it consumes not only Donald Rumsfeld."
Mr. Holbrook [sic] is at the least very well informed if he is not himself part of this military cabal intended to "consume ... Donald Rumsfeld."
A "revolt" of several American generals against the secretary of defense (and by implication against the president)? Admittedly, if each general first retires and then speaks out, there would appear to be no violation of law.
But if active generals in a theater of war are planning such a series of events, they may be illegally conspiring together to do that which would be legal if done without agreement. And Mr. Holbrook's [sic] article is -- if it is not a fiction (which I doubt it is) -- strong evidence of such an agreement. Of course, a conspiracy is merely an agreement against public policy.
On the April 15 edition of Fox News' The Journal Editorial Report, Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot and editorial writer Bret Stephens addressed the "urgency" of the "crisis" regarding Iran's attempts to enrich uranium and reported pursuit of nuclear weapons. Responding to April 12 comments from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Gigot asked Stephens if there was "any doubt in your mind that Iran intends to build a nuclear weapon and is making real progress in doing so." Stephens answered, in part: "[O]ur estimates that the Iranians are 10 years or five years away from making a bomb were wildly exaggerated. They're going to be able to enrich uranium in the next year or two. So, it adds urgency to the crisis." Gigot's and Stephens's remarks concerning Iran's purported nuclear capabilities have a familiar ring -- they both engaged in similar rhetoric regarding Saddam Hussein's alleged nuclear capabilities prior to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.
From the April 15 edition of Fox News' The Journal Editorial Report:
RICE (video clip): We're consulting with our allies about what the next steps need to be. But there's no doubt in my mind that if the Iranians continue down this course, there has to be some course of action by the [United Nations] Security Council.
GIGOT: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reacting to Iran's claims, this week, that it has enriched uranium for the first time -- an advance necessary to produce a nuclear weapon. The news came just a day after President Bush dismissed reports of U.S. plans for a military strike on Iran as "wild speculation." Bret, after this week, there is any doubt in your mind that Iran intends to build a nuclear weapon and is making real progress in doing so?
STEPHENS: Well, that's the -- the key point is the progress. I think we've known for quite a while that their intention is to build a bomb. What they've done now is really a very significant technological breakthrough. It's kind of like inventing the wheel for the first time. The trick was -- they've run centrifuges at 80,000 rotations per minute.
GIGOT: Not easy to do.
STEPHENS: Not easy to do. And once you can -- once you master that kind of technology, it's only a matter of replicating it over and over again to get sufficient quantities of bomb-grade -- of bomb-grade enriched uranium. And it shows that our estimates that the Iranians are 10 years or five years away from making a bomb were wildly exaggerated. They're going to be able to enrich uranium in the next year or two. So, it adds urgency to the crisis.
In the lead-up to the March 20, 2003, U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the Journal editorial page, which Gigot has overseen since 2001, frequently hyped the likelihood that Saddam was not far from producing or obtaining a nuclear weapon. Such claims were later found to be erroneous -- the Iraq Survey Group's report, released in October 2004, found that there were no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and that Iraq's WMD programs were either destroyed or discontinued after the 1991 Gulf War and had not resumed at the time of the 2003 invasion.
The Journal forwarded alarmist claims about Iraq's nuclear capabilities on numerous occasions:
Specifically, what would the world look like a year from now if Saddam remains in power in Baghdad?
Savoring their new global clout, the French begin to argue that the inspectors have found nothing and so U.N. Resolution 1441 has been fulfilled. The Russians back them up, hoping to get repaid on their loans to Baghdad. Tony -- or "Toady" as he is now derided -- Blair is toppled as Labor Party leader and British Prime Minister. Slowly the international "containment" of Saddam begins to erode, just as it did in the 1990s. The Iraqi dictator finds it even easier to finance his nuclear weapons project.
Gigot has personally made similar claims. From the August 30, 2002, edition of CNBC's WSJ Editorial Board with Stuart Varney:
GIGOT: We know before the Gulf -- the argument for the Gulf War was, 'Well, he's probably six or seven years away from obtaining nuclear weapons.' Once we got in there and looked around, people concluded -- our intelligence people concluded it was more like one year. And so we really don't know what he has. We've been -- the inspectors have been out since 1998. We don't know what he's done in the interim. So, I mean -- the question is: Are we willing to take that risk? And that's the question I would like the president to pose to Congress and try and get their approval.
From the March 15, 2002, edition of WSJ Editorial Board with Stuart Varney:
GIGOT: We know the inspectors, when they were there the last time before he kicked them out, had seen all kinds of evidence of poison gas development, biological laboratories, and including -- and attempts to get nuclear weapons. So, we know that he's looking for them. Does he have categorical evidence that he's got them yet? Probably not. But we know he's looking for them.
Stephens, who once served as editor in chief of The Jerusalem Post, also warned of Saddam's possible nuclear weapons capabilities. From a November 15, 2002, Jerusalem Post article by Stephens, titled, "So is it war?":
For how long? The 105-day process currently mandated by [United Nations Security Council] Resolution 1441 - 45 days for [U.N. weapons inspector Hans] Blix to get his people on the ground, plus 60 to produce a report - concludes at the end of February. That gives the US and its allies sufficient time to assemble a massive military force in the region. But it gives little time, given meteorological conditions and probable diplomatic imbroglios, to launch and conclude a successful invasion.
By then, the US may face a radically different, possibly more hostile, international climate. The winds of war may abate. Or Saddam may unveil, to an astonished world, the Arab world's first nuclear bomb. Whatever happens, the countdown has begun, but towards what nobody can yet say.
In reports on the conviction of former Gov. George Ryan (R-IL) on corruption charges, numerous news outlets failed to mention that Ryan is a Republican. Brief segments airing on the April 17 editions of NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News ignored Ryan's party affiliation, as did several reports on Fox News. National Public Radio's All Things Considered, meanwhile, aired a full segment on Ryan's conviction that never identified him as a Republican. Time magazine went a step further, omitting Ryan's Republican affiliation while reporting that "the current administration of Democrat Rod Blagojevich is also being investigated."
After a five-month trial, a federal jury convicted Ryan on all 18 felony charges against him, including racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud, tax evasion, and making false statements. During his tenure as both secretary of state and governor, Ryan was found to have steered state contracts to cronies in return for cash and gifts, misused campaign funds, and rigged the Illinois inspector general's office to cover up his tracks. Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel in the CIA leak case, who is also the U.S. attorney for Illinois, called the former governor's actions "a low watermark of public service."
But in reporting on Ryan's conviction, news outlets repeatedly failed to inform viewers that he is a Republican. As noted by blogger Joshua Micah Marshall, an April 17 "web exclusive" Time article by staff writer Eric Ferkenhoff omitted Ryan's party affiliation but managed to highlight that of current Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, whose office is also under investigation:
On Monday, former Governor George Ryan, 72, became the third of the state's last six governors to be convicted of political misdeeds, and the current administration of Democrat Rod Blagojevich is also being investigated.
The network news shows each briefly mentioned the conviction during their April 17 broadcasts. But in doing so, neither NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams nor CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer informed viewers that Ryan is a Republican. On the April 18 edition of NBC's Today, news anchor Ann Curry also reported the news without mentioning Ryan's party.
Numerous Fox News hosts and anchors similarly ignored Ryan's party affiliation during their April 17 reports on the conviction. They included Juliet Huddy, Martha MacCallum, Page Hopkins, and Harris Faulkner. CNN anchor Zain Verjee also failed to identify Ryan as a Republican during the April 17 edition of CNN's The Situation Room.
Further, the April 17 edition of All Things Considered featured a full-length report on the former governor's conviction in which reporter Diantha Parker never once noted that Ryan is a Republican. While briefly mentioning the conviction during the April 17 edition of American Public Media's Marketplace, host Kai Ryssdal did the same.
In an April 18 Los Angeles Times article, "Former Illinois Governor Convicted of Corruption," staff writer P.J. Huffstutter waited until the 20th graph in the 23-paragraph article to note Ryan's Republican affiliation, albeit somewhat indirectly:
The verdict comes at a key time in Illinois politics. The state Republican Party is busy trying to shed its connections to the Ryan scandal before the fall elections.
From the April 17 edition of CBS Evening News:
BOB SCHIEFFER: A major corruption scandal in Illinois climaxed today with the federal conviction of former Governor George Ryan on 22 counts of racketeering and fraud. Ryan was once a hero to opponents of the death penalty when he commuted the sentences of all 167 prisoners on his state's death row. He could be sentenced to 20 years or more in prison.
From the April 17 edition of NBC Nightly News:
WILLIAMS: The verdict tonight is guilty on all counts for the former governor of Illinois, George Ryan, in his federal corruption trial. Prosecutors argued that Ryan, back when he was secretary of state, put his office, in effect, up for sale. He said he steered contracts worth millions of dollars to friends, got money and fancy vacations in return. He now faces up to 20 years in prison.
Ryan got the whole world's attention and a Nobel Peace Prize nomination when, as governor, he commuted the sentence of every inmate on Illinois death row after many were found to have been wrongly convicted.
From the April 18 edition of NBC's Today:
CURRY: Former Illinois governor George Ryan faces up to 20 years in prison after being convicted on Monday on racketeering and fraud charges. A jury found that Ryan steered millions of dollars in state contracts to political insiders, cheated on his taxes, and lied to federal agents.
From the April 17 edition of Fox News' DaySide:
HUDDY: And this is a Fox News Alert. Former Illinois governor George Ryan, who gained international fame as a death penalty critic but left office in 2003 amid a corruption scandal, was convicted of all counts today after a five-month trial in federal court. This is the former governor of Illinois. A racketeering conspiracy charge included in the 22-count indictment against Ryan and a lobbyist friend carried a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. The jury deliberated for 10 days before revealing on the 11th day that it had reached its decision, ending the state's biggest political corruption trial in decades.
From the April 17 edition of Fox News Live:
MacCALLUM: And a federal jury finds former Illinois governor George Ryan guilty on 22 counts of racketeering and fraud. Now, Ryan left office three years ago after accusations of corruption surfaced. Ryan could get up to 20 years in prison. The former governor gained worldwide fame as a vocal critic of the death penalty.
From the April 17 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
HOPKINS: A federal jury finds former Illinois governor George Ryan guilty on 22 counts of racketeering and fraud. The 72-year-old Ryan faces up to 20 years in federal prison on the most serious charge, racketeering conspiracy.
From the April 17 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
FAULKNER: Guilty on all counts. Former Illinois Governor George Ryan convicted on charges, including racketeering and fraud. Prosecutors saying Ryan helped give out big money state contracts and leases in exchange for vacations and gifts. The 72-year-old faces up to 20 years in prison for just one of the charges. He vows to appeal.
From the April 17 edition of CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer:
VERJEE: In Illinois, it's the climax of the biggest political corruption scandal in that state in decades. Today, former Illinois Governor George Ryan was convicted of racketeering, conspiracy, mail fraud, tax fraud, and lying to the FBI. A federal grand jury found Ryan guilty of steering millions of dollars in state contracts to political insiders. Ryan says he'll appeal.
From the April 17 edition of NPR's All Things Considered:
ROBERT SIEGEL (co-host): And now on to another trial. After 11 days of deliberations, a federal jury in Chicago has convicted former Illinois Governor George Ryan on 18 counts, including counts of racketeering, fraud, and lying to federal agents. Ryan's trial lasted nearly half a year, and it was the culmination of a long investigation of corruption when Ryan was Illinois secretary of state. Chicago Public Radio's Diantha Parker reports.
PARKER: Spectators in the courtroom strained to see if Ryan would show any emotion, and they were disappointed. The former governor, who gained international attention when he commuted all Illinois death sentences before leaving office, sat calmly, although his wife and family members wiped their eyes after the verdict was read.
Soon after that, Ryan delivered a short statement in the lobby of the courthouse, profusely thanking his team of attorneys, and saying none of this was over.
RYAN: I believe this decision today is -- is -- is not in accordance with the kind of public service that I provided to the people of Illinois over 40 years, and needless to say, I am disappointed in the outcome. But I feel confident in -- in our appeal, and there will be an appeal.
PARKER: Government attorneys say they're prepared. They say the jury's verdict backs up their central argument -- that Ryan steered lucrative contracts and leases to well-placed friends, and accepted cash, free vacations, and other perks in return. Ryan was tried along with one of these friends, businessman Larry Warner. He was found guilty on all counts against him, including extortion.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Collins, who led the case, says the evidence was complex, but clearly pointed to guilt.
COLLINS: It had political corruption fraud in the sense of diverting state resources for political gain, it had lying to the FBI, it had tax fraud, and then it had, what doesn't happen in every case, which is the ability to show tangible effects of corruption -- that is, lives are at stake.
PARKER: Collins also led the government's investigation of the Illinois secretary of state's office.Seventy-nine former state officials, lobbyists, and others have been charged with related crimes in the eight years since it began. Seventy-four have been convicted, and none acquitted. The deliberations in this case were difficult. Juror Denise Peterson said she was confident she and the 11 other jurors had done their job well.
PETERSON: We looked at all the witnesses, and we all took such great notes. I mean this, this was a serious matter. Nobody thought it was funny. Nobody -- it was a job. And that's how we considered it. It was a job.
PARKER: U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald called the verdict and the investigation "depressing." He found it most surprising that the former governor didn't change his behavior after he was aware he was being investigated.
FITZGERALD: And the reaction to the end of 1994 was for Mr. Ryan not to end the practice, but to end the investigations and try to move -- move the investigators out. That is a low water mark for public service, to have a governor, a secretary of state, abuse his office in that fashion.
PARKER: Ryan is free on bond while awaiting sentencing, which has been set for August 4th. For NPR News, I'm Diantha Parker in Chicago.
From the April 17 edition of American Public Media's Marketplace:
RYSSDAL: This final note. George Ryan would probably like to be remembered as a humanitarian. When he was the governor of Illinois, he commuted every death sentence in that state, won widespread praise for it, too. But after today, the 72-year-old Ryan will also be known as a felon. A jury convicted him and a co-defendant today of racketeering and fraud. Ryan steered big state contracts to friends and political insiders, got lavish gifts and kickbacks in return. He'll be sentenced in August. Ryan faces up to 20 years in a federal penitentiary.
Georgetown University 's Center for Public & Nonprofit Leadership invites you to an important and timely discussion in this election year: Nonprofit Voter Engagement Initiatives: Expanding the Electorate, Inspiring Participation Nonprofit organizations have the ability to reach voters who have not participated in the democratic process. Through nonpartisan voter mobilization efforts -- voter registration, voter education, Get-Out-the-Vote, and Voting Rights efforts -- nonprofits reach individuals and communities with whom they have ongoing and trusting relationships. Learn about the extraordinary impact of new models for this work, the emergence of a national Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network, and the essential role of philanthropy in advancing civic enrichment initiatives. Moderator: Nan Aron, President, Alliance for Justice Panel: Marcia Avner, Public Policy Director, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director, Center for Community Change Geri Mannion, Chair, Strengthening U.S. Democracy Program, Carnegie Corporation Monday, May 1st 2006 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM Intercultural Center Auditorium Georgetown University
Source: Moving Ideas Newsletter
Texas Moratorium Network is holding an international, all-media,juried art exhibition entitled "Justice for All?: Artists Reflect on the Death Penalty" in Austin at Gallery Lombardi from May 6-22, 2006. More info: www.deathpenaltyartshow.org
Source: Moving Ideas Newsletter
King Kaufman's Sports Daily: After two years and a surprisingly successful comeback season, the NHL playoffs return at last. Plus: Run, A.J., run!
It's been 682 days since the last truly meaningful game was played in the NHL. On June 7, 2004, the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Calgary Flames 2-1 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Since then, we've had a lockout, an entire season including the playoffs lost, a new labor agreement with a salary cap, a set of new rules and a surprisingly successful regular season, for what regular seasons are worth, which is usually not much beyond figuring out who plays who in the postseason.
The Fix: Julia Roberts makes her Broadway debut: How was she? Plus: Pitt/Jolie bodyguards get nasty, and Hatcher sex-escapade rumors debunked
Julia's reviews roll in: Wednesday night was Julia Roberts' heavily star-attended Broadway debut in the revival of Richard Greenberg's "Three Days of Rain." Everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Tim Robbins to Dave Matthews to Cal Ripken Jr. was there, and while Roberts received a standing ovation, no one brought her roses onstage. This morning, the critics weighed in -- almost more on Roberts' looks than on anything else:
"What? How is she? How's who? Oh, her. O.K., if you must know, she's stiff with self-consciousness (especially in the first act), only glancingly acquainted with the two characters she plays and so deeply, disturbingly beautiful that you don't want to let her out of your sight ... The only emotion that this production generates arises not from any interaction onstage, but from the relationship between Ms. Roberts and her fans. And before we go any further, I feel a strong need to confess something: My name is Ben, and I am a Juliaholic."
-- Ben Brantley (New York Times)
Beyond the Multiplex: Headed your way: A haunting Aussie coming-of-age tale, a Romanian "comedy" from medical hell, and a doc about antiwar GIs during Vietnam
We've hit a tiny calm patch in the film release calendar this week, right before all hell breaks loose. The Tribeca Film Festival begins next week in New York; I'll preview it in next week's column and review some of the major premieres in the following days. If Tribeca began in 2002 as a local event for the devastated downtown neighborhoods of Manhattan, it has now become the independent-film industry's biggest backyard barbecue, a hometown gathering of near-Sundance proportions just before many people in the biz decamp for the grand-père of all festivals in Cannes. It's a tough life, I tell you; eating unripe Brie in random hotel suites and holding conversations with strangers about their latest Bluetooth gizmos just isn't for everybody.
What's that, you say? Right, right, the point of the whole enterprise is supposed to be the movies. How easily one forgets. This week we've got three outstanding films from last year's festival circuit, finally getting their brief shot at attracting actual paying customers.
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