I am just SHOCKED…


that President Bush took a picture with someone at a White House event.

It’s scandalous I tell you. Bush should have just turned his back upon being placed face-to-face with such a nefarious character as disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. These photos demonstrate beyond the shadow of a doubt that a close personal relationship between the two must have existed, and that the President must have been privy to Abramoff’s illegal dealings.

Of course that’s how Bush opponents are spinning the situation now that TIME magazine claims to have proof that Bush and Abramoff have been within 5 feet of each other.

The article is disingenuous at best, and more likely intentionally misleading. The first three paragraphs read like a major expose, while the rest of the article goes on to explain how the Bush/Abramoff relationship really raises no red flags. It’s just another “gotcha” piece in a never-ending string.

I doubt that Bush will get much as much of a pass on these photos as the Clinton Administration got on these.


23 Responses to “I am just SHOCKED…”

  1. Al Sturgeon Says:

    Hey Joe, it is so hard for me to be objective. Mostly cuz I’m not, I’m sure! 🙂

    I wish some of the (theoretical) readers out there who are as unbiased as possible could comment on whether they felt like Clinton got preferential treatment from the so-called “liberal” media and whether or not President Bush gets more criticism because of his conservatism.

    I’ve never seen it this way, but then again, I don’t think I’m able to see it objectively.

    To me, this article by TIME is just another money-hungry attempt to drum up a story that will sell magazines, regardless of who gets implicated in what…

  2. Sandi Says:

    Hi Al, I never felt that Clinton was given any kind of a free pass by the media, and in fact if you look at AM radio and the Fox News ilk he was treated FAR more harshly than anything I had ever heard of. On the other hand, the media seemed so cowed by Bush (for whatever reason, I will refrain from speculating) that he was given a free pass on many things for which he should have been taken to task. Utterly outrageous. But of course, I am also biased. Nor would I describe the media as “liberal.”

  3. Michael Lasley Says:

    I don’t really see that much spinning here, to be honest. If Abramof was invited to White House events, even if they were Huge Events, as the article claims (500 or more people), then is it a liberal agenda to ask what the connection is or if there is a connection? As you point out, the article goes on to say that there likely isn’t any wrong doing. But the press secretary, to me, sounds defensive when even asked about this. The article even seemed, to me, to try to help the president out in the area of public relations. The tabloids are after the photos — it’d be better to have something to say other than “I don’t remember it” or your just on a fishing expedition. They even offer some explanations themselves — these were huge events; these types of photos are things the President stands in line hours taking with people; even signs the photos (well, a machine does) so people can have something to show their friends.

  4. Michael Lasley Says:

    Oh, and Joe, did we ever find out the Robert Duvall trivia answer? If so, I missed it.

  5. Joe Longhorn Says:

    I put the answer in the other thread. But to save you a little searching, Robert Duvall’s first credited movie role was as Boo Radley in “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

    I completely agree with Al’s last sentence. The article is nothing but a headline grabber and magazine seller. There is no real substance to the article. The only purpose of the article is to generate a salacious headline.

    I’ll rescind my claim of bias when we see pictures of Abramoff with Harry Reid, Joe Leiberman, and John Kerry. All of these Democratic senators took funds from Abramoff linked sources as well. It is ridiculously hypocritical to insinuate that Bush was influenced any more by Abramoff’s contributions than these senators were. Harry Reid actually had the gall to send a letter to President Bush voicing concerns that Abramoff may have had undue influence in the White House.

    Democrats cloud the issue by claiming that not a single Democrat took money directly from Abramoff. Of course, they only count the personal donations that Abramoff and his wife made, not the donations that Abramoff engineered through his contacts with Indian tribal gaming. Using this standard, Abramoff and his wife only contributed $10,000 to Bush in the course of both the 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns. There are thousands of campaign contributors on the same level as Abramoff. Dems can’t have it both ways. Either it is a scandal that cuts on both sides of the aisle, or it’s not a scandal at all.

    Does the Time article mention the Democrats taking money from Abramoff sources? I’ll stand by my insinuation of bias for now.

  6. Michael Lasley Says:

    I agree with part of what you’re saying, Joe. I think the scandal cuts across party lines. It points to a lot of corruption, and from what I’ve heard, it’s been both Republicans and Democrats who are corrupt. I disagree that you can compare Bush with the Senators. Bush is THE Executive Branch of our government. He’s naturally going to be under greater scrutiny than Kerry, Lieberman, et. al. Speaking of, have Kerry and Lieberman been photographed with Abramoff? I have no idea. But I do think it is fair for the media to ask questions without immediately charging them with having a bias or as going on a fishing expedition. There were pictures and I think there should be an explanation for it. I don’t assume the President did anythig wrong, but I do think it’s fair to ask the quesitons. In the reports I’ve read and heard on the news, there always seems to be the message that both Republicans and Democrats were in bed with Abramoff.

  7. Capt MidKnight Says:

    A high powered, highly paid lobbyist at a White House function, angling to get his picture taken with the president! I’m afraid I must echo Joe’s seniments – “I’m shocked. Simply shocked.” And the Washington press corps righteously indignant! Oh please, spare me.

    I heard on the radio this past weekend that the term “lobbyist” goes back at least as far as the English Parlament of the 17th century, referring to the halls and “lobbys” of the Houses of Parlament where constituents could catch their representives on the way to or from meetings and express their concerns or (more likely) plead for patronage.
    Guess what? Nothing has changed.

    Access to men (and now women) of power has always been a precious commodity, and well placed funds and favors have always been the quickest and surest way to that access. Because of that, Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Liberal, money is still the lifeblood of politics – Campaign Finance Reform not withstanding. In an election year, money can buy public exposure, and that exposure, properly managed by professionals will, in the majority of cases, win elections over opponents less well heeled.

    Because the game is ultimately access to power, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the parties and individuals who hold the most power will be the targets of the most intensive lobbying. Should we be surprised that this latest guy, Abramoff, lobbyed more Republicans than Democrats? If you’re going to get results for your clients, you go to the people who control the committees and the House and the Senate and the White House – basic Lobbying 101. If any or all of these swing to the other party in ’06 or ’08, watch the stampede to the other side.

    As for the news coverage of these events, I don’t believe in a consious conspiracy of the press to advance an adgenda – either left or right. I prefer Ocam’s Razor – the simplest explination is usually the best.
    Individual reporters are going to see the world as they believe it to be. If they grew up in a liberal home, went to college at an Ivy League Journalism school, live in New York or Washington, and work at a news agency where most of the people share simular backgrounds, why should anyone be surprised that their coverage reflects their experience. Change the words “liberal” and “Ivy League” to “Conservative” and “Southern” or “Church-related” and you have the same effect from the other direction. Magazines, papers, TV, and radio outlets live and die by ratings and they know who their readers, viewers, or listeners are. Ocassionaly, a reporter or publisher or radio host or politician will act against the prevailing views of their employer or constituency for matters of conscience. They usually wind up proving the old saying that “no good deed goes unpunished.”

    Most people who spend much time watching CNN or Fox News or listening to Al Franken or Rush Limbaugh (or reading any one of the many papers or magazines on either side of the spectrum) are not surprised or shocked that they each have their own point of view. In fact, most of us watch what we watch or read what we read precisly because they echo our own beliefs, whatever they are. As most of us know, entertaining and examining ideas opposed to our own can be uncomfortable, and most of us value our comfort. I know I do.

    In the final analysis, the only real protection we, as a free people, have from the corruption of our government due to influence peddlers, “true believers” from both sides, and power brokers of all stripes, is the personal courage and integrity of the people we elect to represent us. Unfortunately, it is this courage and integrity which seems to be less and less in evidence at all levels of government these days.

    Or am I just becoming a grouchy old geezer since I retired?

    El Capitan

  8. Michael Lasley Says:

    What a grouch! 🙂 Good points, all, Capt. Midnight. I would just add, since you brought up the issue of education, that I was at Syracuse for 4 years. They have the #1 school of journalism in the country (Newhouse School of Communications — and its name comes from S.I. Newhouse, who owns several major publications), and it is a VERY conservative school. Bringing in the very rightest of the right wing to speak. (Anne Coulter, for example.) Not that that means all the students are conservative, but the idea of a liberal media, given that journalism’s highest rated school is decidedly and proudly conservative, is one of the reasons why I always shudder when I hear about media being liberal.

    I never have understood the role of lobbyist very well. Or at least why they are paid so much to lobby. To me, that’s the bigger issue here. I’m not concerned witht the lunches and meetings, actually, but these people get paid a ton of money and I’m not sure where it comes from or how much influence they actually have.

  9. Al Sturgeon Says:

    If we end up choosing sides, put me with El Capitan!

  10. DeJon Redd Says:

    Prof. Lasley – Since I’m neck-deep in journalism/grad school applications I found your words interesting about Newhouse being the pinnacle of academic journalism. You may find an argument from Northwestern’s Medill School, Missouri’s J-School, USC’s Annenburg School and the Ivy leaguers. But I have no reason to be contrary.

    As more than a casual observer of these programs, I would submit that Newhouse seems to fall to the right of these other institutions.

    But more importantly … you wouldn’t happen to know the chair of each school admissions committee would you?

  11. Joe Longhorn Says:

    I don’t think there is an over-arching “conspiracy” out there that creates a liberal media bias. It’s just there.

    If you conducted an honest poll of news media professionals, a significant majority would espouse political leanings toward the left.

    I’m just going to throw some data out there. Take a look this article from the Columbia Journalism Review, and then look at David Horowitz’ data from the study mentioned in the CJR article. Scroll down to page 5 of the Horowitz study to show a 5:1 Democrat to Republican faculty ratio at Syracuse’s Newhouse School. This is toward the low end of the spectrum compared to Columbia’s 15:1 ratio, so it is a relatively “conservative” journalism school.

  12. Joe Longhorn Says:

    And, yes, Dejon, I consider you a cog in the liberal media machine. Repent now!

  13. Joe Longhorn Says:

    By the way Deej…. USC has a 13:1 ratio, along with a stinging Rose Bowl loss to throw in the equation. The fact that it was a defeat at the hands of a “red state” (not to mention the home state of GW Bush) flagship institution should galvanize the left coast libs even more.

  14. Michael Lasley Says:

    I’ve never done research on the rankings — that’s just what the university advertises. And they do turn out a large number of big time reporters. (I have met the dean of their school, Dejon, and holy cow is he a jerk — I know he wouldn’t remember me (which is probably good since as I was leaving his office I told his secretary he was an ass), but go far, far away from there — go somewhere warm — regardless of political bias — hey, I’m a liberal and I’m managing on the campus of Pepperdine for the love of Pete — why?: because even Ken Starr can’t stop the sun from shining.)

    As for using statistics by Horowitz, I think that’s extremely unreliable. He is anything but an unbiased source. And, he’s been known to, ummm, exagerate his information before (or at least spout things off and claim they are true without ever checking his facts and then blowing off criticisms when faced with them — I’ll do my homework to provide examples later, but seriously, I don’t think he’s very reliable.) I’ve not interviewed the faculty of those schools. I’ve met several of the faculty at the Newhouse School and don’t recall too many liberals. Most were more than happy to go on and on about all the silly liberals on campus.

    I guess I’m still more concerned with Joe’s comment that the liberal bias is “just there.” I sincerely don’t see it. And I think I’ve asked this in a previous discussion on the media, but how has the media historically been labeled? How does it compare now to 8 years ago? And if there’s been a shift, what’s caused it?

  15. Sandi Says:

    I think that Eric Alterman’s book “What Liberal Media?” provides answers to a lot of these questions. It’s been a while since I read it, but I remember finding it illuminating.

  16. Joe Longhorn Says:

    If you can’t see the liberal bias, let me try to bring it into focus a little for you.

    I’m not going to dig deep into the past for some obscure article to demonstrate. I’ll pull an item from taoday’s New York Times national briefing:

    “RULES COULD ALLOW GUANTÁNAMO EXECUTIONS – The Army has issued new regulations for carrying out military executions that could allow the death penalty to be administered at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where more than 500 foreign terrorism suspects are being held. The regulations, issued last week, give the secretary of the Army authority to designate locations for military executions, replacing old rules that required them to take place at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. That could open the way for executions of detainees at Guantánamo, although none of the 10 prisoners there who have been charged with war crimes are facing capital punishment. A law signed by President Bush in December bars federal courts from hearing habeas corpus petitions from Guantánamo detainees challenging their confinement. Eugene Fidell, a Washington specialist in military law, said the Bush administration might have feared that bringing detainees to the United States for execution would allow them to challenge their sentences in federal court once they were no longer at Guantánamo. DAVID S. CLOUD (NYT)”

    Check out the headline: “RULES COULD ALLOW GUANTÁNAMO EXECUTIONS.” No where in the new Army rules for execution does it mention anything about Guantanamo. The new rules simply allow for executions at facilities other than Ft. Leavenworth. After getting your attention, the article conveniently slips in the fact that none of the commissions cases at Guantanamo are capital cases, nor are any future cases expected to be. Some reporter took an opportunity to ask a loaded question about the new Army rules, got the soundbite they wanted, and created an entire article by taking that soundbite out of context.

    It’s just a blatant attempt at sensationalizing a story in an effort to cast dispersion on the Administrations policies regarding detainees. They’re basically saying: “Look! Bush is changing the rules so he can kill all of the detainees in GTMO!”

  17. Michael Lasley Says:

    I’m not trying to be hard-headed here, but again, I don’t see this as biased, definitely not a blatant attempt at anything. Is the information incorrect? Is there a spin on it? Do the new rules allow for executions at GTMO? Is Bush suspending rights of habeas corpus? Is this not a subject worth coverage?

    What would you like to see? I mean that seriously, not smart-alecky. Is any negative story, or controversial story about the Bush administration inherently biased? His policies concerning detainees are newsworthy and are often controversial.

    As for the intentions of the reporter…I have no idea. I would bet vital parts of my anatomy, though, that he has less of an agenda than David Horowitz.

  18. Sandi Says:

    It would also help to clarify whether we think that the media should be unbiased, or whether we think that it should be upfront about its biases. In the UK, people who read The London Times and people who read The Guardian are aware of what they’re getting and read it for that reason. Here in the U.S., newspapers are not as upfront about their perspectives, even though we kind of all know which media outlets to patronize and which ones to avoid based on our preexisting views.

    And in that vein, I would also add that saying that “the” media is liberal doesn’t take into account the growing number of media outlets that are extremely conservative. For example, the radio has almost no progressive voices whatsoever, Air America notwithstanding. There are conservative newspapers such as The Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal that enjoy large circulations. Finally, even the New York Times has at least moderately conservative columnists (David Brooks and John Tierney). And I would also vote with Michael on the fact that getting statistics from David Horowitz is a perilous business.

  19. DeJon Redd Says:

    Most would agree the “media bias” discussion is nothing new. And I see it as really tough to nail down since bias (like beauty) seems to depend so much on the eye of the beholder.

    For instance, The book Sandi suggests was written as a response to Bernard Goldberg’s book “Bias” which Alterman probably saw as biased [How circular is that logic? The book, “Bias,” was perceived as biased.]

    I find it interesting how “the truth” starts to seem as illusive as the end of a rainbow.

    I can’t provide commentary on the subject, but I appreciated wikipedia’s essay on the subject.

    I can’t count the number of times I’ve felt the same as Joe did re: the “GTMO” story. When you see a story with nearly a 360-degree perspective it really illuminates the writer’s intentions … or his lack of perspective.

    While I would hesitate to paint the entire mass media with a liberal brush, it’s hard to argue there’s not a myopic perspective in many news rooms (NY Times, Walter Cronkite, 60 Minutes…)

  20. Sandi Says:

    And I should add that the clearest example of media bias is the bias in favor of reporting bad news and ignoring good news. That one does not, so far as I can tell, originate from political causes, but rather from a desire to sell newspapers, magazines, or ad time. I’m almost finished reading Gregg Easterbrook’s book The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse, and he talks about this. (BTW, bonus points to anyone who reads this book and gives me an opinion on whether it and its author are liberal or conservative — that would be an interesting conversation).

  21. Joe Longhorn Says:


    My point with showing the GTMO article is this:

    – The announcement had nothing to do with Guantanamo.

    – The rule has nothing to do with Guantanamo.

    – Guantanamo was injected into this story by the media.

    – The purpose of injecting Guantanamo into the article is to take a swipe at the administration.

    That’s what I see in the article.

    Doubt Horowitz all you want… no one has refuted his data. It’s been out a while and was well publicized.

    I agree with Sandi that it is not possible to remove bias. Everyone has it. Everyone uses it. Be up front about it. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing party affiliations tagged onto the end of bylines.

  22. Michael Lasley Says:

    I understand what you’re saying, Joe, but I disagree that GTMO has nothing to do with the story. That’s where many of the suspects are being held. There was a change in the law that directly effects how prisoners at GTMO can be treated. I don’t see the swipe. But I know I’m biased the other way.

    As for Horowitz, the stats you provided may not have been disputed, although most people in the academy don’t have tons of time to do any sort of studies (plus, they would do this with some sort of methodology and that sort of research is gets way complicated and quite frankly isn’t worth most professors time to do). BUT, his overall claims about the overwhelming liberalness of the academy has definitely been called into question. He spearheaded a recent special legislation thingy in Pennsylvania. The Republican chair of the proceedings called it a collosal waste of time and tax payers money. Why? Because Horowitz had made a lot of big claims (such as those stats you provided) and then those “facts” turned out to be speculations or very highly exaggerated claims. I don’t think he’s the devil or anything, and I think he actually has some relevant points (about policies for students reporting propaganda in classrooms), but most of what I’ve read of his is a lot of grandstanding and making a LOT of assumptions about what goes on in colleges that he’s never even been to.

  23. Michael Lasley Says:

    Okay, Joe, I did a little homework on Horowitz, although I’m not saying it’s definitive or anything. But, okay, so his research into the liberal-ness of the professoriate (which, I’ll go ahead and say is leftward skewed) consisted of his asking students to ask professors of different colleges within universities how they voted in the last election. So, journalism falls within the humanities at a lot of colleges (since they are often a part of an English program). Okay, so the students surveyed the most liberal of faculty members. In the humanities, they almost exclusively interviewed Professors in Women’s Studies (no kidding — they were told to do this, rather than getting a sample from each discipline — they went straight for the known liberals). So the rate of liberalness was higher than it probably actually is. The actual rate of liberal to conservative is more along the lines of 2.7:1 at the university level (according to studies done by Higher Ed. and other pubs. who are upfront about their methodology). A liberal bent, yes, but not a 15:1 liberal bent. And liberal doesn’t mean that the professors are trying to brainwash students. Some of my favorite professors have been conservative, politically speaking, but we got along great because we continually challenged the way we think. The problem I have with Horowitz, and I know this is way off topic, is that he would have everyone believe that professors are constantly trying to brainwash students into liberal nonsense — threatening to fail them if they disagree. I’m sure there are professors who do that, but I actually have found my favorite students to be conservatives who make me think and are willing to engage passionately about issues.

    That’s all. Hope you are doing well. Mikey

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