Thursday, July 19, 2012

Shamai Leibowitz Breaks his Silence

Initial reporting on issues of national security is often wrong. This was the case when John Kiriakou inaccurately described the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah to ABC News in 2007. This was also the case when CBS initially described the Fast and Furious operation. Fortune magazine conducted a 6 month investigation on the operation and has alleged that the ATF wasn’t purposely letting guns walk, Fortune says that they were instead prevented from stopping the guns as a result of weak gun laws in Arizona. The Fortune piece has its critics as well.

The public and the press don’t know much about most classified programs, so when a source comes forward with claims about those programs, the press often has no ability to compare those claims with known information.

I wasn’t quite sure how to describe this post; it is something between a correction and a follow-up.

Shamai Leibowitz pled guilty to violating the Espionage Act by leaking information to the press and has served his sentence. While Shamai was still in prison, Richard Silverstein came forward and alleged that Shamai had provided him with transcripts showing that the FBI had wiretapped the Israeli Embassy. Silverstein said that the transcripts showed that the Israeli Embassy was lobbying members of Congress to support a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Silverstein said that this troubled both Leibowitz and himself because they feared that a military strike on Iran could lead to a war with Iran.

At the time Leibowitz did not comment on the allegations. Thus, in the absence of any contradictory evidence, I stated Silverstein’s claims as fact.

But now, Shamai has broken his silence. In June he published a post on his blog, Pursuing Justice, where he alleged that Silverstein made up the story and that he had never communicated with Silverstein. Leibowitz claims that he shared documents with a Journalist that showed the FBI was engaged in illegal and unconstitutional acts. Leibowitz said that he had no problem with Israelis lobbying members of Congress. His post is worth reading.

Either Silverstein or Leibowitz is lying. I do not pretend to know which is the case. Only the Justice Department knows. Unfortunately, it appears that this dispute will remain clouded by the veil of secrecy that Leibowitz’s prosecution was designed to protect.

Where do People turn for News?
New NPR Data

I received an email from NPR with updated audience numbers several months ago, but only realized fairly recently that I had received it. In order to alert my readers to the new information, I decided to repost the 2012 ratings comparison with the new NPR data.

The following numbers represent the average circulation of weekly opinion news magazines in 2010. These statistics old because State of the News Media included them last year, but not this year. Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations. Accessed through State of the News Media 2011.

1. National Review                         203,085
2. The Nation                                   146,602
3. The Weekly Standard                   99,033

The following number represents the average viewership of PBS Newshour, PBS’s evening news program, for the month of March 2011. This statistic is older than the others because PBS’s lack of traditional commercials means that it doesn’t subscribe to Nielson’s ratings service. Source: PBS. Accessed through the Huffington Post.

 PBS Newshour                                            1,100,000


I received an email from NPR in May with their audience data from Fall 2011. They obtained their numbers from Arbitron. Morning Edition is carried on 713 AM/FM stations and All Things Considered is carried on 708 stations. The daily value is known as the Average Quarter Hour and the weekly value is known as the cume.

                                                             Daily                                       Weekly

Morning Edition                                 1,490,200                            12,940,900
All Things Considered                        1,284,700                            12,780,100

The following numbers are the average daily circulation for the 26 most widely read newspapers from October 2011 through March 2012. Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations.  Accessed through the Huffington Post.

1. Wall Street Journal                                           2,118,315
2. USA Today                                                           1,817,446
3. New York Times                                                 1,586,757
4. Los Angeles Times                                             616,575
5. New York Daily News                                       579,636
6. San Jose Mercury News                                  575,786
7. New York Post                                                    555,327
8. Washington Post                                               507,615
9. Chicago Sun-Times                                            422,335
10. Chicago Tribune                                              414,590
11. Dallas Morning News                                     405,349
12. Denver Post                                                      401,120
13. Newsday                                                           397,973
14. Houston Chronicle                                          384,007
15. Philadelphia Inquirer                                     325,291
16. Phoenix Republic                                            321,600
17. Minneapolis Star-Tribune                             300,330
18. Tampa Bay Times                                            299,497
19. Orange County Register                                280,812
20. Newark Star-Ledger                                       278,940
21. Oregonian                                                         247,833
22. Cleveland Plain Dealer                                   246,571
23. Seattle Times                                                    236,929
24. San Diego Union-Tribune                             230,742
25. Detroit Free Press                                           230,739
26. San Francisco Chronicle                                 220,515

The following numbers represent the average daily audience of Comedy Central’s satirical news programs for the second quarter (April-June) of 2011. This statistic is old because I have to wait on Comedy Central to release press releases to obtain audience numbers. Source: Comedy Central Press Release. Accessed through TV by the Numbers.

The Daily Show with John Stewart        2,200,000
The Colbert Report                                  1,500,000

These are the average daily viewership values for the top 30 cable news shows for the month of April 2012. Source: Nielson. Accessed through the Huffington Post.

1. The O’Reilly Factor                                            2,870,000
2. Hannity                                                                2,075,000
3. Special Report with Bret Baier                         1,778,000
4. On the Record with Greta Van Susteren       1,722,000
5. Fox Report with Shepard Smith                      1,688,000
6. The Five                                                                1,674,000
7. America’s Newsroom                                       1,272,000
8. Your World with Neil Cavuto                         1,252,000
9. The O’Reilly Factor (replay)                            1,220,000
10. America Live                                                     1,191,000
11. Studio B                                                             1,113,000
12. Fox and Friends                                               1,082,000
13. Happening Now                                              1,029,000
14. The Rachel Maddow Show                              985,000
15. The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell           931,000
16. The Ed Show                                                        875,000
17. Hardball with Chris Matthews                        744,000
18. Politics Nation                                                       712,000
19. Piers Morgan Tonight                                                567,000
20. The Situation Room                                            548,000
21. The Ed Show (replay)                                               537,000
22. Anderson Cooper 360 (10 PM East Coast)    522,000
23. Anderson Cooper 360 (8 PM East Coast)       504,000
24. Red Eye                                                                  466,000
25. Fox and Friends First                                           458,000
26. Dylan Ratigan Show                                            455,000
27. Martin Bashir                                                        449,000
28. John King USA                                                       435,000
29. Morning Joe                                                          412,000
30. Erin Burnett                                                           409,000

                                  Sunday News Shows       

The following numbers represent the viewership of the Sunday News Shows on May 13. Sadly, CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley was not included by TV Newser. Source: Nielson. Accessed through TV Newser.

1. Face the Nation              CBS                             3,010,000
2. Meet the Press               NBC                            2,720,000
3. This Week                        ABC                            2,150,000
4. Fox News Sunday          Fox News                    1,050,000
5. Al Punto                           Univision                      553,000

The following numbers represent the average circulation for the US weekly news magazines for the year of 2011. Data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Accessed via State of the News Media 2012, a report created by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

1. Time                                  3,337,308
2. Newsweek                       1,524,989
3. The New Yorker             1,041,420
4. The Economist                844,577
5. The Week                              528,406
6. The Atlantic                     463,625

These numbers represent the average daily audience for the network morning shows. Data from Nielson. Accessed through State of the Media 2012.

1. Today Show                                NBC    5,400,000
2. Good Morning America           ABC    4,800,000
3. Early Show                                  CBS     2,900,000

These numbers represent the average daily audience for the network evening news broadcasts. Data from Nielson. Accessed through State of the Media 2012.

1. NBC Nightly News                                 8,750,000
2. ABC World News                                   7,820,000
3. CBS Evening News                                5,650,000

Several network television programs imitate the style of magazines with longer, more detailed stories.  The shows have varying focuses and styles. 60 Minutes is a high quality news program. Dateline covers crime stories. 48 Hours also covers crime stories. 20/20 is a weekly news program that often covers human interest stories. Nightline is a nightly news program. Rock Center is a weekly news magazine on NBC that wasn’t listed in State of the Media 2012. These numbers represent the average audience per show throughout 2011. All are weekly shows except Nightline. Source: Nielson. Accessed through State of the Media 2012.

1. 60 Minutes                      CBS                 11,600,000
2. Dateline Friday               NBC                5,700,000
3. 48 Hours Mystery         ABC                5,400,000
4. 20/20                               ABC                4,900,000
5. Dateline Sunday                NBC                4,700,000
6. Nightline                         ABC                3,900,000

The following numbers represent the average weekly audience for the top Talk Radio hosts. As these are weekly (cume) audience values, as opposed to daily or per show values, these numbers are not directly comparable to the other categories in this post. They can, however, be compared to NPR’s weekly values. Source: Arbitron, among others. Accessed through Talkers Magazine.

Rush Limbaugh                               15,000,000
Sean Hannity                                   14,000,000
Michael Savage                                  9,000,000

Glenn Beck                                          8,500,000
Mark Levin                                          8,500,000
Dave Ramsey                                      8, 500,000

Neal Boortz                                         6,000,000
Laura Ingraham                                 6,000,000

Jim Bohannon                                    3,750,000
Jerry Doyle                                          3,750,000
Mike Gallagher                                  3,750,000
Michael Medved                               3,750,000
Doug Stephan                                    3,750,000

Bill Bennett                                          3,500,000
Clark Howard                                      3,500,000
George Noory                                     3,500,000

Thom Hartmann                                3,000,000
Alan Colmes                                        3,000,000
Stephanie Miller                                3,000,000
Ed Schultz                                            3,000,000
Rusty Humphries                               3,000,000

Kim Komando                                    2,250,000
Dennis Miller                                      2,250,000
Don Imus                                             2,250,000

Hugh Hewitt                                              1,750,000
Mancow                                              1,750,000

Lars Larson                                          1,500,000
Dennis Prager                                    1,500,000

Dr. Joy Browne                                  1,000,000
Gordon Deal                                            1,000,000
Lou Dobbs                                           1,000,000
Bill Handel                                           1,000,000
Roger Hedgecock                              1,000,000
G. Gordon Liddy                                1,000,000

These are the average per issue circulation of select monthly magazines in 2011. National Geographic and Smithsonian are high quality educational magazines. The rest are listed primarily for comparative purposes. It is a partial list, a longer one can be found by clicking the subheading above. Data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Accessed via State of the News Media 2012.

1. AARP The Magaine                               22,407,421
2. AARP The Bulletin                                  22,171,632
3. Better Homes and Gardens                  7,617,844
4. Game Informer Magazine                     7,514,460
5. Reader’s Digest                                         5,560,046
6. National Geographic                              4,480,788
25. Smithsonian                                            2,113,637

The Daily Show

This editorial refers to some of the more crass moments of The Daily Show. If you wish to avoid hearing about them, do not read further.

I first became interested in the news by listening to NPR and watching The Daily Show. Many, including Stewart himself, view The Daily Show as comedy. I believe that it is a political opinion program. The show has covered many serious and important stories.

The Daily Show (TDS) covered the story of Asbestos, Canada, which is exporting their poisonous namesake to India.

TDS covered Nezar Hamze, who was denied entry into the Boward County Republican Party in Florida because he was a Muslim.

TDS also covered Turkey Creek, a historic black community in Mississippi that faced extinction at the hands of Eminent Domain and environmental pollution. The town was saved by the Audubon Society, which successfully had the area designated as a wildlife sanctuary, saving the town. TDS powerfully demonstrated how this incident showed that birds were valued more than black people.

In 2010 Stewart preformed his Rally to Restore Sanity where he articulated the importance of being able to disagree about politics without demonizing those you disagree with. His media montage showed CNN, Fox, and MSNBC scarring people for no reason as well as Fox and MSNBC demonizing those they disagreed with. His call for civility was summarized in his final speech at the rally.

In 2010 Stewart took up the cause of the 9/11 first responders, who were being denied healthcare because of Republican obstruction in the Senate. He powerfully showed the hypocrisy of Republicans that use 9/11 for rhetorical advantage while denying healthcare coverage to 9/11 first responders. This is one of the most powerful editorials I have ever come across. Stewart also discussed the filibuster of the bill with actual 9/11 first responders all of whom suffered from disease. Stewart’s advocacy played an irreplaceable role in getting the bill passed.

Also in 2010 Stewart exposed the bigoted Islamaphobia behind the opposition to the inaccurately named “Ground Zero Mosque” that would be built 2 blocks away from the former site of the World Trade Center. Stewart pointed out that there was already a mosque 4 blocks away from Ground Zero and that it had been there before the World Trade Center was built. At the time, the building of local mosques was opposed in cities throughout the country. Opponents alleged that the location of the Manhattan mosque was insensitive, that the mosque had ties to terrorist groups, and that the mosque could be used as a terrorist command center. Stewart pointed out how ridiculous those last two claims were. The source of those claims was, of course, Fox News. Stewart also pointed out Fox News’ stupidity or evil in not disclosing that Alwaleed bin Talal, a funder of the mosque who they were demonizing, was a large shareholder in News Corp, their parent company.

Stewart’s advocacy for the 9/11 first responders bill and in support of the Manhattan mosque are among the greatest moments in television news, next to Murrow’s takedown of McCarthy and Cronkite’s Vietnam editorial.

That being said, I have, of late, become somewhat disillusioned with Stewart. His humor has always been a bit too obscene for my taste. He depicted Tom Delay as riding a giant penis. He had Mario Barteli regurgitate food into his mouth. My view of Stewart really took a plunge after I saw that.

On substance, I was offended by his uniformly negative depiction of Occupy Wall Street. Stewart showed an Occupier taking a dump on a police car, depicted the movement as universally uncleanly by airing a segment about how some Occupiers had soiled the bathrooms of local businesses, and painted Occupy as hypocritical and a movement of freaks. I might as well have been watching Fox News. Stewart also covered the excessive use of pepper spray by police, but every depiction of the movement itself was highly negative. In the months when the movement was most powerful, Stewart did not once have on an Occupier as a guest on his show. Politicians, movie stars, and authors were all given a platform. However, regular citizens speaking their mind about politics who were participating in a movement Stewart was demonizing were never given that opportunity.

The Alyona Show, on the other hand, devoted an entire episode to interviews with Occupy activists at Zuccotti Park.

The Daily Show has also completely ignored the moral depravity of the US providing weapons to the government of Bahrain, which has been suppressing a pro-democracy protest movement. I expected mainstream television news to ignore the story, but I expected better from The Daily Show.

The Daily Show is a powerful source for pointing out absurdity, corruption, and falsehood. But when it came to Occupy Wall Street Stewart was unfair and on Bahrain, he was silent. I still have respect for Stewart and enjoy The Daily Show, but I do not watch it as often as I once did and will not have the reverence for Stewart that I had in the past.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Third Party Presidential Candidates

The national news media have extensively covered the Presidential Election. Little of this coverage has been dedicated to the third party candidates who, in many states, will appear on the ballot next to the two major party candidates. You can, of course, learn about these candidates here. I first wrote about the minor presidential candidates in February. The Libertarian Party and the Reform Party are both are on the ballot in Kansas.

Libertarian Party

The Libertarian Party is on the ballot in 29 states.

Gary Johnson is the nominee of the Libertarian Party. A former governor of New Mexico, he originally sought the nomination of the Republican Primary before dropping out in December. He was only allowed to attend two of the Republican presidential debates. Johnson supports immediately balancing the budget, block granting Medicare and Medicaid to the states, implementing a flat sales tax with a prebate to replace the federal income tax system, and ending all foreign aid. Johnson also supports ending the war in Afghanistan, repeal the PATRIOT act, and legalize marijuana.

Green Party

The Green Party has ballot access in 21 states and the District of Columbia.

Jill Stein is the Presidential nominee of the Green Party. She laid out her platform, known as the “Green New Deal” during her “People’s State of the Union” address in January. Stein supports a “federally-funded” and “locally-controlled” direct employment program. Stein says that this “Full employment program” would directly create 16 million jobs and indirectly create another 8 million. Stein also supports a single-payer “Medicare for All” health finance system.

Stein supports providing grants and low-interest loans to green businesses as well as funding research to develop renewable energy technologies. Her goal is to have 100 percent of US energy use supplied by renewable sources.

Stein supports breaking up the big Wall Street investment banks, reinstating the Glass-Steagall separation between depository and investment banks, and the creation of a federal bank to take over distressed mortgages in order to suspend all foreclosures.

Stein supports amending to the US constitution in order to overturn the Citizens United ruling. She also supports repealing the PATRIOT Act and parts of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Constitution Party

The Constitution Party is on the ballot in 16 states.

Virgil Goode is the nominee of the Constitution Party. In 2006 Keith Ellison was the first Muslim elected to the US House of Representatives. Ellison was sworn-in on a Koran. Goode showed his offense to this by saying in a letter to his constituents, “If American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.”

Goode supports immediately enacting a balanced budget. He also supports reducing legal immigration in an attempt to provide more jobs for American citizens. He opposes Amnesty for illegal immigrants and wants to end birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants born in the United States. He also supports adopting English as the official language of the United States.

Goode supports enacting a flat sales tax with a prebate and eliminating the federal income tax and federal estate tax. Goode supports tort reform, opposes gay marriage and civil unions, opposes Obamacare, and supports ending the war in Afghanistan.

Reform Party

The Reform Party is on the ballot in 4 states.

Andre Barnett is running for the nomination of the Reform Party. Barnett supports passing tariffs on imports equal to that placed on American goods in respective countries. Barnett says that,

America must get its own house in order before reaching out to other countries. We cannot push democracy to others before we have perfected here at home. How can we subject our men and women in uniform to harm in countries that are not in favor of them being there? That is not liberation, it is occupation.  

and that

We cannot afford to keep handing out dollars in aid when we are printing more and more of it to pay our debts.

Darcy Richardson ran for the nomination of the Democratic Party before running for the nomination of the Reform Party. He believes in bringing back the separation of investment and savings banks that existed under the Glass-Steagall Act. He opposes the war in Afghanistan as well as the Panamanian and South Korean free trade deals. He supports a capital levy on wealth, a stimulus 5 or 6 times larger than President Obama’s proposed 447 billion dollar jobs act, a new Works Progress Administration, and a 33 to 50 percent reduction in military spending. He has criticized Obama’s decision to not nominate Elizabeth Warren to head the consumer protection bureau. He also supports a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United.

Party for Socialism and Liberation

The Party for Socialism and Liberation is on the ballot in 4 states.

Peta Lindsay is the presidential nominee of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. She is currently seeking a master’s degree in education at the University of Southern California. She has been an active anti-war activist since 2001. Her biography at her party’s website states that, “Lindsay traveled to Cuba in 2002 with Pastors for Peace and witnessed first-hand the accomplishments of a society that is organized to meet human needs, not the profit motive of a few greedy bankers and corporate owners.” Lindsay also was the youngest delegate at the World Meeting of Artists and Intellectuals in Defense of Humanity that was hosted by Hugo Chavez and the Venezuelan government.

Justice Party

The Justice Party has ballot access in 3 states.

Rocky Anderson is the presidential candidate of the Justice Party. Formerly a mayor of Salt Lake City, he called for the impeachment of George W. Bush. He supports a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision in order to achieve campaign finance reform and reduce the corrupting influence of money in politics. As a result, his campaign is only accepting donations of 100 dollars or less. He opposes all on-going wars and telecom immunity. He supports universal health care, treating substance abuse as a public health issue, and US leadership on climate change. He also supports the prosecution of government officials and politicians responsible for authorizing and performing warrantless wiretapping and torture as well as Wall Street executives whose decisions helped create the financial collapse of 2007-2008.

You can learn more about the 2012 presidential election including about the smaller 3rd parties that will nominate presidential candidates on Wikipedia.

The final Republican Primary was held in Utah on June 26. Here are the cumulative primary and caucus vote totals from “The Green Papers” for the Democratic and Republican nomination contests.

Candidate                 Popular Vote           Percent        

Barack Obama         7,234,301                89.58%        
No Preference             225,191                   2.79%
Uncommitted              201,193                   2.49%        
John Wolfe                   117,033                   1.45%
Darcy Richardson        109,764                   1.36%

Candidate                 Popular Vote           Percent

Mitt Romney           9,923,260                51.87%
Rick Santorum        3,931,018                20.55%
Newt Gingrich         2,734,295                14.29%
Ron Paul                   2,095,612                10.95%
Uncommitted             118,480                    0.62%
Jon Huntsman              83,918                    0.44%
No Preference              58,399                    0.31%
Rick Perry                      54,769                    0.29%
Michele Bachmann    41,199                     0.22%
Buddy Roemer            33,352                    0.17%
Herman Cain                13,629                    0.07%
Fred Karger                   12,570                    0.07%
Gary Johnson                 4,364                     0.02%