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Here come the Jihad Watch readers

Greetings, zombies! Terry Glavin writes so elegantly and compellingly, it is seems almost a shame to disagree with him. Unfortunately, expressing something beautifully does not make it so.

“Middle East myths drop like dominos,” by Terry Glavin in the National Post, February 28 (thanks to Gilles):

[...] Along with the now lifeless Edward Said there are also the undead. Consider Robert Spencer, whose biography reads a little like Edward Said’s, in its way. Like Said was, Spencer is a scholar, a widely published author, and an American of Middle Eastern Christian extraction with legions of fans. Like Said, Spencer is widely regarded in his circles, as was Edward Said in his own, as an authority on the imaginary frontiers that cleave the world between “west” and “east.” The Czar Gaddafi insists that the Libyan protests are the result of Al Qaida putting hallucinogens in everybody’s Nescafe. Not to be outdone:

They may be pro-democracy insofar as they want the will of the people to be heard, but given their worldview, their frame of reference, and their core assumptions about the world, if that popular will is heard, it will likely result in huge victories for the Muslim Brotherhood and similar pro-Sharia groups.
- Robert Spencer, on Libya’s revolutionary democrats, 2011.

In light of everything we are witnessing from Casablanca to Isfahan, the miserable and allegedly “progressive” viewpoint taken by Edward Said’s followers is matched by and coupled with Spencer’s lurid “conservative” cynicism in a symbiotic death grip, each parasitic upon the other, both offering nothing but the ravings of demented Americans. Everything is being swept away – it is 1989, it is 1917, it is 1848, as you like. As it is with Edward Said’s followers, Spencer’s fan base now betrays itself as an assortment of specimens from the Upper Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era. They are yesterday’s men. They are zombies.

It is not just to the price of oil that the rebellions are proving so terribly inconvenient. All the evidence, from Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, Egypt and Iran, shows that democracy, freedom, work, wages and a “normal” life are exactly what the people are demanding. The people are not clamouring for the immolation of the Jews anymore than they are hollering for the appointment of Norman Finkelstein as the defence minister.

They aren’t? Really? Demonstrators interviewed in Egypt during the uprising against Mubarak said that they hated him because “he is supporting Israel. Israel is our enemy…If people are free in Egypt…they gonna destroy Israel.” Video here. Also, attackers in Tahrir Square shouted “Jew! Jew!” during their brutal sexual assault of “60 Minutes” reporter Lara Logan. These open-minded secular democratic protesters also drew Stars of David on photos of Mubarak, thereby demonstrating their considered rejection of Islamic antisemitism.

In Egypt, the April 6 Movement that started it all is root and branch a movement of trade unionists, secularists, and young intellectuals, all committed democrats. The Muslim Brotherhood was completely marginalized by it. The Ikhwan failed utterly in its attempts to hijack the uprising and now the aging Brethren sit in their solitary chairs with the rest of the Egyptian establishment, studying ways to mollify the revolt.

And yet Sheikh Qaradawi, godfather of the “marginalized” Brotherhood, recently made a triumphant appearance in Tahrir Square to a massive crowd, while secular liberal Wael Ghonim was barred from the stage. So which group is really marginalized?

In Libya, the February 17 movement has been consistent in its intentions for a secular democracy. The Libyans who have been pleading for our help have heard only cynical incoherence and self-gratifying expressions of outrage, but even so, even the Libyan imams have pleaded for the February 17 demands and continue to assert their faithfulness to the same secular cause.

Yeah, they “continue to assert their faithfulness to the same secular cause” in between drawing Stars of David on images of Gaddafi, chanting “no god but Allah,” and establishing an Islamic Emirate.

In Tunisia last week, 15,000 demonstrators gathered to condemn the Islamists who mobbed a synagogue and murdered a Polish Catholic priest in an obscene attempt to hijack the Tunisian uprising. The pro-democracy banners in Tunis read: “Nous sommes tous Musalmans, nous sommes tous Chretiens, nous sommes tous Juifs.” On it goes like this, in Morocco, across Iran, and in little Bahrain….

And yet also in Tunisia, demonstrators swarmed outside a synagogue, chanting a genocidal Islamic battle cry, and jihadists recently murdered a Catholic priest. Evidently not quite tous are Chretiens or Juifs.

Look, I would love to be proven wrong here, and Terry Glavin proved correct. I’d love to see genuine secular democracy blossom all over the Middle East. But Glavin cannot, unfortunately, point to any organized secular democratic movements of any significance in any of the countries in question, while in all of them, Islamic supremacist pro-Sharia groups are sizable, organized, and energetic.

I can’t see how this will end well, but maybe I will be pleasantly surprised, and retire back to my undead coffin in peace.

Kaffir Kanuck weighs in on this here.

Jihad Watch

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Glenn Beck’s radio and cable TV shows do not promote violence … Glenn Beck’s radio and cable TV shows do not promote violence … Glenn Beck’s radio and cable TV shows do not promote violence … Glenn Beck’s radio and cable TV shows do not promote violence … so now that Glenn Beck’s followers are [...]
The Reid Report

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How tweet it is.  To follow Climate Progress on Twitter, click here.

http://www.artsjournal.com/aboutlastnight/AP%20teletype.jpg

But why should you follow this blog on twitter?  Two reasons:

  1. It’s a modern, portable version of a news teletype.
  2. Your (online) neighbors are doing it!

Let me elaborate:

1.  It’s like a modern news teletype.  Some may think Twitter is only for dishing out 140 characters of trivial information to the kind of people who are interested in what Ashton Kutcher had for lunch.  But in fact, for a blog, Twitter is more akin to an old fashioned “teleprinter (teletypewriter, Teletype or TTY),” which for much of the second half of the 20th century was a must-have in newsrooms and anywhere else that wanted to keep up with the latest breaking news.

As Climate Progress articles are posted, Twitter followers get the headline plus a TinyUrl to access the whole piece.  Since the next several months will likely to see lots of breaking news on the EPA, the disinformers, and clean energy, you’ll get the news delivered immediately to you ahead of everyone else.  Not only won’t this cost you a penny, it’s surely a lot better than this ever was:

http://technologizer.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/computerworld.png?w=535&h=463

2.  Your (online) neighbors are already following Climate Progress on Twitter! Since going on Twitter in April 2009 (see “How tweet it is“) I have amassed over 10,000 followers (as of today), which I’m told is a lot.  I’m also told that latest behavioral psychology research says the best way to persuade people to adopt a certain behavior is to make sure they know that their neighbors and people are doing it.  Well, they are.  All the time.  Do they know something you don’t?  Do they also have more compact fluorescent light bulbs and a bigger solar PV system and a smaller carbon footprint than you?  Get with it, readers.

Plus, it is just possible that this year, finally, there will be actual tweeting from ClimateProgress separate from the posts.

To follow Climate Progress on Twitter, click here.  Do it for your kids.

Of course, you can still do it the “old”-fashioned way, with my RSS feed, where you get the previous 24 hours’ posts delivered to your  inbox — click here.  Or visit the site a couple times a day.  Or make Climate Progress your homepage!

Ah, tweet mystery of life, at last I’ve found thee!
Ah! I know at last the secret of it all!

Climate Progress

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Ask the federal Minister for Tourism about the Swat Valley, which used to be a major tourist attraction — the “Switzerland of Pakistan” (Swat-zerland?). In recent years, it has become a war zone, courtesy of his “true followers of Islamic ideology.” One supposes he’s quite alright with that, or just conveniently blames the infidels.

“Taliban true followers of Islamic ideology: Pakistan minister,” from Indo-Asian News Service, November 24 (thanks to AIC):

Islamabad, Nov 24 (IANS) The Taliban are ‘the true followers of Islamic ideology’, says a Pakistan minister who also believes that ‘America is the biggest terrorist of the world’.

According to federal Minister for Tourism Maulana Attaur Rehman: ‘Ulema and Taliban are the true followers of Islamic ideology and America is the biggest terrorist of the world, which is creating hatred against them.’

Dawn quoted Rehman as saying at a public gathering in Allai area in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province Tuesday that terrorism could not be brought to an end until the US and the world gave equal rights and respect to the Muslims.

‘It is a misconception that ulema and Taliban are against co-existence of people with different religions. In fact it is America which is against the interfaith harmony to maintain its hegemony on the world,’ said Rehman.

The Pakistan Army has been battling heavily armed Taliban guerrillas in the mountainous Waziristan region. The well-entrenched rebels put up a stiff resistance against the advancing soldiers.

The country has faced a string of terror strikes and the Taliban has been blamed for the Dec 27, 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi.

Jihad Watch

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Targeting the People of the Book. More on one of the stories Raymond Ibrahim discusses here and Marisol Seibold here. “Qaeda group in Iraq says Christians ‘legitimate targets,’” from AFP, November 3 (thanks to Alan of England):

DUBAI (AFP) - An Al-Qaeda group in Iraq has declared Christians “legitimate targets” as a deadline expired for Egypt’s Coptic church to free women allegedly held after converting to Islam, SITE monitors said Wednesday.

The self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) said in an Internet statement its action was justified by the church’s refusal to indicate the status of the women it said were being held captive in monasteries, the US-based monitoring group said.

“All Christian centres, organisations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the mujahedeen (holy warriors) wherever they can reach them,” said the statement.

The group which claimed the capturing of Christians in a Baghdad church that ended Sunday with the killing of 46 worshippers in a rescue drama, had said that the attack was to seek the release of the alleged converts in Egypt.

“Let these idolaters, and at their forefront, the hallucinating tyrant of the Vatican, know that the killing sword will not be lifted from the necks of their followers until they declare their innocence from what the dog of the Egyptian Church is doing,” the ISI said in its latest statement.

It also demanded that the Christians “show to the mujahedeen their seriousness to pressure this belligerent church to release the captive women from the prisons of their monasteries.”

The women, Camilia Shehata and Wafa Constantine, are the wives of Coptic priests whom Islamists have said were forcibly detained by the Coptic Church after they had willingly converted to Islam.

Shehata disappeared for a few days in July, setting off Coptic protests. Police found her and escorted her back home, triggering protests by Islamists who said the church was detaining her after she converted to Islam.

Footage of a woman claiming to be Shehata after converting to Islam surfaced on the Internet, firing up the protests. The Coptic Church says she was not the woman in the footage….

Jihad Watch

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Millions of Virgins; Millions of Martyrs. These Guys Have Followers and They Really Mean It
by Barry Rubin

Yes, it’s true; a fringe minister with just fifty followers in America wanted to burn a Koran. But he didn’t. Meanwhile another nut wants to kill all Jews, wipe Israel off the map, destroy the United States, eliminate all Christians, indoctrinate children into being suicide bombers, and carry out a revolutionary war of terrorism for decades no matter how many die and how much destruction occurs.

Oh, and by the way, he and his colleagues have several hundred thousand followers and are ruling what amounts to an independent state bordering on the Mediterranean.

When you study the Middle East seriously you get used to this kind of rhetoric, yet somehow the seriousness and importance of such talk doesn’t seem to register with many Western government officials, journalists, and academics who explain away these movements and regimes as somehow rational and moderate.

Maybe that’s because when you look at the situation honestly it’s really rather scary. Another word for finding something scary is to have a “phobia” toward it.

So it wasn’t some silly, obscure guy who said this but…well, please wait just one more paragraph to find out.

In the speech, this fellow said that it was really great to be a martyr for Islamic revolution because there are 2.5 million black-eyed virgins waiting at the gates of a palace-just one, so presumably there are more-in the Garden of Eden just waiting for them. You do the math: 500 gates, 5,000 virgins per gate.

Who said this? Ahmad Bahr, a Hamas leader and speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council. In other words, he’s the Palestinian equivalent of Nancy Pelosi.

Bahr and his colleagues aren’t just joking; they aren’t just telling tall tales to titillate the yokels. Nor are they making this stuff up, since Bahr is quoting one of Muhammad’s chief lieutenants and a caliph in his own right. This speech was broadcast on al-Aqsa television on September 5, 2010. It was intended to mobilize the masses to go out and die for Hamas and the Islamic revolution. So presumably a good number of Palestinians take this seriously, too.

Now how is this plan going to be implemented? Basically, Bahr said that every Muslim should have a lot of sons and train them to be terrorists and hence martyrs. He concluded:

“If this is the culture of the nation today, who will be able to stop it?…As long as we continue on this path, nobody on Earth will be able to confront the resistance, or to confront the mujahideen, those who worship Allah and seek martyrdom.”

So it doesn’t matter how hopeless the odds seem, how many will die, how much suffering will take place. Peace is not more attractive than war; having a nice future for your children is not the top priority. Goals are not set by a cost/benefit analysis but on the basis that the creator of the universe is calling the shots, insists on this path, and will ensure its victory.

OK, you say, but maybe Bahr just hates Israel and would be satisfied if it is wiped out and then the struggle would end? Nope. Maybe he just wants an independent Palestinian state and then will leave everyone else alone? Again, nope.

Here’s what he said in 2007 in a speech broadcast on Sudan television:

“‘You will be victorious’ on the face of this planet. You are the masters of the world on the face of this planet. Yes, [the Koran says that] ‘you will be victorious,’ but only ‘if you are believers.’ Allah willing, ‘you will be victorious,’ while America and Israel will be annihilated, Allah willing. I guarantee you that the power of belief and faith is greater than the power of America and Israel. They are cowards, as is said in the Book of Allah: ‘You shall find them the people most eager to protect their lives.’ They are cowards, who are eager for life, while we are eager for death for the sake of Allah. That is why America’s nose was rubbed in the mud in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Somalia, and everywhere….

“America will be annihilated, while Islam will remain. The Muslims ‘will be victorious, if you are believers.’ Oh Muslims, I guarantee you that the power of Allah is greater than America, by whom many are blinded today. Some people are blinded by the power of America. We say to them that with the might of Allah, with the might of His Messenger, and with the power of Allah, we are stronger than America and Israel.”

Again, this is one of Hamas’s top leaders, and others in the leadership-not to mention their Iranian, Hizballah, and Syrian allies-have said similar things. This is not a joke. Middle East: This is your life!

Do you mind if I’m perfectly frank with you? I suspect that deep down most Westerners think people like Bahr are as corrupt and hypocritical as an Upper-West-Side-of-Manhattan progressive thinks is true for a Southern televangelist. They probably expect Bahr steps out of the pulpit then goes to a bar for a scotch and a ham sandwich.

If they would only apply to Bahr-whose extremism they tend to ignore, feel overrated, or can easily be turned into moderation-the same standards as they do to Christian Pentecostals-who they despise without tolerance-that would be one step in the right direction. Then keep going, adding on that, unlike Christian “fundamentalists” in America, revolutionary Islamists have murdered tens of thousands of people and want to kill many more; unlike those Christians they command thousands of armed soldiers; unlike those Christians they will kill anyone who changes to another religion or who doesn’t behave as they want; and, too, their program is to seize state power, establish totalitarian states, and attack other countries.

No, Bahr isn’t just speaking for effect. He’s dead serious, and that expression isn’t chosen by accident, betting his life on his cause while much of the Western elite trembles at merely being unfashionable. And what Bahr says and believes word-for-word also applies to Hizballah; the Egyptian and Jordanian Muslim Brothers; Iran’s regime; the Taliban; Islamists in areas of Russia; Islamists in Indonesia and Pakistan; clerics in Syria and many other countries; and is heard in certain meetings and mosques throughout Europe and North America.

By no means all Muslims, or even most, but a heck of a lot do talk like Bahr. Not a very small minority of believers; a very big minority of believers. And if they are not stopped they will be the majority of believers and the rulers of multiple countries.

Given the number of martyrs that have been and are going to be generated, there’s going to be a need for all 2.5 million of those virgins Bahr mentions. Actually, that won’t be enough because at 99 per (male) martyr that’s only enough for about 25,000.

Very few Muslims are publicly making fun of such statements or battling against them, though many are fighting the Islamists on political grounds.

Doesn’t all of this matter a bit? Shouldn’t this be something people in the West know about, the mass media cover fully? Mightn’t this kind of talk and thinking convey something of why nobody should try to bring Hamas or similar groups into the diplomatic process, give it aid, or help it in any way? Isn’t this a bigger threat than some marginal haters of everything Muslim who just aren’t going to become martyrs? In the face of this threat should people be demonized and intimidated if they dare talk about it?

I can’t imagine why there should be any doubt about the answers to these questions.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). He has a blog at http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com.


The Moderate Voice

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By Barry Rubin

Yes, it’s true; a fringe minister with just fifty followers in America wanted to burn a Koran. But he didn’t. Meanwhile another nut wants to kill all Jews, wipe Israel off the map, destroy the United States, eliminate all Christians, indoctrinate children into being suicide bombers, and carry out a revolutionary war of terrorism for decades no matter how many die and how much destruction occurs.

Oh, and by the way, he and his colleagues have several hundred thousand followers and are ruling what amounts to an independent state bordering on the Mediterranean.

When you study the Middle East seriously you get used to this kind of rhetoric, yet somehow the seriousness and importance of such talk doesn’t seem to register with many Western government officials, journalists, and academics who explain away these movements and regimes as somehow rational and moderate.

Maybe that’s because when you look at the situation honestly it’s really rather scary. Another word for finding something scary is to have a “phobia” toward it.

So it wasn’t some silly, obscure guy who said this but…well, please wait just one more paragraph to find out.

In the speech, this fellow said that it was really great to be a martyr for Islamic revolution because there are 2.5 million black-eyed virgins waiting at the gates of a palace-just one, so presumably there are more-in the Garden of Eden just waiting for them. You do the math: 500 gates, 5,000 virgins per gate.

Who said this? Ahmad Bahr, a Hamas leader and speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council. In other words, he’s the Palestinian equivalent of Nancy Pelosi.

Bahr and his colleagues aren’t just joking; they aren’t just telling tall tales to titillate the yokels. Nor are they making this stuff up, since Bahr is quoting one of Muhammad’s chief lieutenants and a caliph in his own right. This speech was broadcast on al-Aqsa television on September 5, 2010. It was intended to mobilize the masses to go out and die for Hamas and the Islamic revolution. So presumably a good number of Palestinians take this seriously, too.

Now how is this plan going to be implemented? Basically, Bahr said that every Muslim should have a lot of sons and train them to be terrorists and hence martyrs. He concluded:

“If this is the culture of the nation today, who will be able to stop it?…As long as we continue on this path, nobody on Earth will be able to confront the resistance, or to confront the mujahideen, those who worship Allah and seek martyrdom.”

So it doesn’t matter how hopeless the odds seem, how many will die, how much suffering will take place. Peace is not more attractive than war; having a nice future for your children is not the top priority. Goals are not set by a cost/benefit analysis but on the basis that the creator of the universe is calling the shots, insists on this path, and will ensure its victory.

OK, you say, but maybe Bahr just hates Israel and would be satisfied if it is wiped out and then the struggle would end? Nope. Maybe he just wants an independent Palestinian state and then will leave everyone else alone? Again, nope.

Here’s what he said in 2007 in a speech broadcast on Sudan television:

“‘You will be victorious’ on the face of this planet. You are the masters of the world on the face of this planet. Yes, [the Koran says that] ‘you will be victorious,’ but only ‘if you are believers.’ Allah willing, ‘you will be victorious,’ while America and Israel will be annihilated, Allah willing. I guarantee you that the power of belief and faith is greater than the power of America and Israel. They are cowards, as is said in the Book of Allah: ‘You shall find them the people most eager to protect their lives.’ They are cowards, who are eager for life, while we are eager for death for the sake of Allah. That is why America’s nose was rubbed in the mud in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Somalia, and everywhere….

“America will be annihilated, while Islam will remain. The Muslims ‘will be victorious, if you are believers.’ Oh Muslims, I guarantee you that the power of Allah is greater than America, by whom many are blinded today. Some people are blinded by the power of America. We say to them that with the might of Allah, with the might of His Messenger, and with the power of Allah, we are stronger than America and Israel.”

Again, this is one of Hamas’s top leaders, and others in the leadership-not to mention their Iranian, Hizballah, and Syrian allies-have said similar things. This is not a joke. Middle East: This is your life!

Do you mind if I’m perfectly frank with you? I suspect that deep down most Westerners think people like Bahr are as corrupt and hypocritical as an Upper-West-Side-of-Manhattan progressive thinks is true for a Southern televangelist. They probably expect Bahr steps out of the pulpit then goes to a bar for a scotch and a ham sandwich.

If they would only apply to Bahr-whose extremism they tend to ignore, feel overrated, or can easily be turned into moderation-the same standards as they do to Christian Pentecostals-who they despise without tolerance-that would be one step in the right direction. Then keep going, adding on that, unlike Christian “fundamentalists” in America, revolutionary Islamists have murdered tens of thousands of people and want to kill many more; unlike those Christians they command thousands of armed soldiers; unlike those Christians they will kill anyone who changes to another religion or who doesn’t behave as they want; and, too, their program is to seize state power, establish totalitarian states, and attack other countries.

No, Bahr isn’t just speaking for effect. He’s dead serious, and that expression isn’t chosen by accident, betting his life on his cause. And what Bahr says and believes is word-for-word also applies to Hizballah; the Egyptian and Jordanian Muslim Brothers; Iran’s regime; the Taliban; Islamists in areas of Russia; Islamists in Indonesia and Pakistan; clerics in Syria and many other countries; and is heard in certain meetings and mosques throughout Europe and North America.

By no means all Muslims, or even most, but a heck of a lot do talk like Bahr. Not a very small minority of believers; a very big minority of believers. And if they are not stopped they will be the majority of believers and the rulers of multiple countries.

Given the number of martyrs that have been and are going to be generated, there’s going to be a need for all 2.5 million of those virgins Bahr mentions. Actually, that won’t be enough because at 99 per (male) martyr that’s only enough for about 25,000.

Very few Muslims are publicly making fun of such statements or battling against them, though many are fighting the Islamists on political grounds.

Doesn’t all of this matter a bit? Shouldn’t this be something people in the West know about, the mass media cover fully? Mightn’t this kind of talk and thinking convey something of why nobody should try to bring Hamas or similar groups into the diplomatic process, give it aid, or help it in any way? Isn’t this a bigger threat than some marginal haters of everything Muslim who just aren’t going to become martyrs? In the face of this threat should people be demonized and intimidated if they dare talk about it?

I can’t imagine why there should be any doubt about the answers to these questions.

Note: the 2007 quote is translated from MEMRI but available only by subscription

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan), Conflict and Insurgency in the Contemporary Middle Eastand editor of the (seventh edition) (Viking-Penguin), The Israel-Arab Reader the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria(Palgrave-Macmillan), A Chronological History of Terrorism (Sharpe), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).




YID With LID

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A new study by the Pew Research Center found that Barack Obama gets his highest approval ratings from people that watch MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, as well as from readers of the New York Times.

The numbers are rather staggering, as 84 percent of regular viewers of MSNBC’s "Countdown" give the President high marks for his job performance.

This compares to 80 percent for regular viewers of "The Rachel Maddow Show" and 79 percent for regular readers of the Times.

But that’s just one of the interesting findings in the Pew survey released Sunday:

  • Americans are spending more time with the news than was the case a decade ago. As was the case in 2000, people now say they spend 57 minutes on average getting the news from TV, radio or newspapers on a given day. But today, they also spend an additional 13 minutes getting news online, increasing the total time spent with the news to 70 minutes. This is one of the highest totals on this measure since the mid-1990s and it does not take into account time spent getting news on cell phones or other digital devices .
  • Only about one-in-four (26%) Americans say they read a newspaper in print yesterday, down from 30% two years ago and 38% in 2006. Meanwhile, online newspaper readership continues to grow and is offsetting some of the overall decline in readership. This year, 17% of Americans say they read something on a newspaper’s website yesterday, up from 13% in 2008 and 9% in 2006.
  • Overall, cable news continues to play a significant role in peoples’ news habits - 39% say they regularly get news from a cable channel. But the proportions saying they regularly watch CNN, MSNBC and CNBC have slipped substantially from two years ago, during the presidential election.

The partisan divide in cable news is stunning if not shocking:

  • Only Fox News has maintained its audience size, and this is because of the increasing number of Republicans who regularly get news there. Four-in-ten Republicans (40%) now say they regularly watch Fox News, up from 36% two years ago and just 18% a decade ago. Just 12% of Republicans regularly watch CNN, and just 6% regularly watch MSNBC.
  • As recently as 2002, Republicans were as likely to watch CNN (28%) as Fox News (25%). The share of Democrats who regularly watch CNN or Fox News has fallen from 2008.

Interesting. So both Democrats and Republicans are reducing their viewership of CNN. Doesn’t say much for the supposedly must trusted name in news, does it?

  • Eight-in-ten Americans (80%) who regularly listen to Rush Limbaugh or watch Sean Hannity are conservative - roughly twice the national average of 36%. And at the other end of the spectrum, the New York Times, Keith Olbermann, the Daily Show, the Colbert Report and Rachel Maddow have regular audiences that include nearly twice the proportion of liberals than in the public.
  • News audiences also vary widely when it comes to opinions about current issues and topics. For instance, those who describe themselves as supporters of the Tea Party movement make up disproportionately large proportions of the audiences for Limbaugh’s radio show and Fox News opinion programs. This also is the case for supporters of the NRA (National Rifle Association).
  • By contrast, supporters of gay rights make up large shares of regular New York Times readers, viewers of the Colbert Report and NPR listeners. Several ideologically divergent news audiences - including Wall Street Journal readers and viewers of the Colbert Report and Glenn Beck show - include larger-than-average percentages of self-described libertarians.

Here’s where things really got interesting:

  • Overall, the share of Americans who say keeping up with the news is something they enjoy a lot has dipped, from a consistent 52% in recent biennial news consumption surveys, including 2008, to 45% in 2010.
  • The decline is linked to partisanship and ideology: in 2008 67% of liberal Democrats said they enjoyed the news a lot, compared with just 45% today. By contrast, about as many conservative Republicans say they enjoy keeping up with the news today as did so two years ago (57% now, 56% then). This has resulted in a switch in news enjoyment. Today, conservative Republicans enjoy keeping up with the news more than any other ideological and partisan group; just two years ago it was the liberal Democrats who held that distinction.

How much of this is economic? After all, the news was far better when Pew last did this study in 2008. There certainly is less to "enjoy" today.

On the other hand, that doesn’t explain the ideological divide. Maybe liberals liked things better when Bush and the Republicans were being blamed for all the problems in the world, and just can’t stand watching their politicians take any heat at all.

By contrast, it seems conservatives enjoy keeping up with the news regardless of which Party is getting scrutinized. That says something, doesn’t it?

  • Search engines are playing a substantially larger role in people’s news gathering habits - 33% regularly use search engines to get news on topics of interest, up from 19% in 2008.

This is a predictable but yet concerning finding, for it makes it essential that search engines don’t have their own biases. As conservatives have pointed fingers at Google’s algorithms for years, the more people rely on search engines to guide them to news sources, the more impartial such engines better be, especially for the following reason:

  • About eight-in-ten (82%) say they see at least some bias in news coverage; by a 43% to 23% margin, more say it is a liberal than a conservative bias.

This makes search engine neutrality essential or conservatives are really going to have a hard time leveling the playing field.

That said, we’ve saved the best for last:

  • Among news audiences, Obama gets his highest approval ratings among regular viewers of Keith Olbermann (84% approve) and Rachel Maddow (80%); his rating is nearly as high among regular readers of the New York Times (79%). Obama gets his lowest ratings among regular Sean Hannity viewers (7%) and Rush Limbaugh listeners (9%).

So Obama gets his highest approval ratings from folks that watch Olbermann, Maddow, and read the New York Times.

What does this say about the journalistic standards at MSNBC and the Gray Lady?

After all, depending on which poll you look at, half or less of the nation currently approve of the job Obama is doing. 

If Olbermann and Maddow watchers, along with Times readers, have such a drastically different view of the President than the rest of the nation, these entities must be doing a horrible job of reporting the news to their patrons. 

Is there any greater example of the dangers of liberal media bias and the need to aggressively combat it? 

NewsBusters.org - Exposing Liberal Media Bias

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