Here are two dueling news stories that caught my attention today within seconds of each other. The first comes from MSNBC.com:

White House won’t try to directly limit exec pay

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration, which partly blamed out-of-whack executive pay for the nation’s financial crisis, says it won’t try to directly limit such pay, choosing instead on Wednesday to try to tame compensation through shareholder pressure.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the administration will ask Congress to give shareholders a nonbinding voice on executive pay and to require corporate compensation committees to be independent from company management. That second provision would give the Securities and Exchange Commission authority to strengthen the independence of panels that set executive pay.

Separately, the administration is preparing to issue new, more specific regulations governing pay at financial institutions that have received infusions from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Those regulations, following legislation already passed by Congress, would limit top executives at these companies to bonuses no greater than one-third of their annual salaries.

An official said the administration will appoint a “special master” to oversee compensation at firms receiving large amounts of government assistance. The pay overseer would have the power to reject excessively generous pay plans.

The second comes from the New York Times:

Overseer to Set Executive Pay at Rescued Companies

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration on Wednesday appointed a compensation overseer with broad discretion to set the pay for 175 top executives at seven of the nation’s largest companies, which have received hundreds of billions of dollars in federal assistance to survive.

The mandate given to the new compensation official, Kenneth R. Feinberg, a well-known Washington lawyer, reflects the federal government’s increasingly intrusive role in the corporate affairs of deeply troubled companies. From his nondescript office in Room 1310 of the Treasury building, Mr. Feinberg will set the salaries and bonuses of some of the top financiers and industrialists in America, including Kenneth D. Lewis, the chief executive of Bank of America; Vikram S. Pandit, the head of Citigroup, and Fritz Henderson, the chief executive of General Motors.

The compensation of executives at some companies receiving aid provoked a firestorm of political outrage earlier this year. In revising a previous proposal to set pay limits, the administration has decided to take an approach that will leave the success or failure of the effort to curtail high compensation at the assisted companies in the hands of Mr. Feinberg. (Mr. Feinberg himself will not receive any government compensation.)

So which is it? Is the Obama administration planning on overseeing executive pay or not? Just looking at the title of the MSNBC article, you’d come away with the idea that the White House is not limiting exec pay, but the third paragraph puts the lie to the title. The New York Times title and article are in complete agreement. For this article at least, the Grey Lady is reporting the news, while the MSNBC article is spinning the news. Shame on MSNBC for attempting to deceive their readers. And shame on the Obama administration for their heavy-handed actions. So, what’s the correct term to describe government control of business?

When I read the two headlines in my RSS news feed, I recognized instantly that they couldn’t both be true, and in my mind’s ear I heard the Dueling Banjos tune, so here’s a good rendition you can listen to while rereading the two dueling stories.

I found two news stories today to be interesting. Let’s compare the headline and first paragraph from each. The first one comes from The New York Times:

G.D.P. Grows at Tepid 1.9% Pace Despite Stimulus

The American economy expanded at a weaker-than-expected 1.9 percent annual rate between April and June, the Commerce Department announced Thursday, while numbers for the last three months of 2007 were revised downward to show a contraction the first dip since the recession of 2001.

The second story reporting the same news comes from MSNBC:

Economic growth picked up in second quarter
Tax rebates energized consumers; contraction recorded at end of 07

WASHINGTON – Economic growth picked up in the second quarter as tax rebates energized consumers. The rebound followed a treacherous patch where the economy jolted into reverse at the end of 2007.

Did you notice the difference? The New York Times article is gloom and despair, with a shiv to President Bush’s stimulus package right in the article’s title. And as an added bonus, reports that the fourth quarter of 2007 showed negative growth for the first time since *ominous noise* 2001. The MSNBC article also identifies the negative growth in Q4 2007, but is upbeat about the second quarter report of 2008.

If you continue to read, you’ll find out in the second paragraph of the MSNBC article that the Q2 growth was double the Q1 growth. That’s a good thing, right? The New York Times article doesn’t bring up the Q1 growth of 0.9% until the seventh paragraph. Oh, and The New York Times article says it was published August 1st, 2008 — proof positive that they have a time machine.

But there’s no bias in the news.

None.

If you’ve been following the story of the New York Times leaking a once-secret and legal tool for tracking the financial dealings of terrorists, you may be interested in this response by Treasury Secretary John Snow to the excuses the New York Times has given about choosing to run this story. Sec. Snow is my new hero.

Mr. Bill Keller, Managing Editor
The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036

Dear Mr. Keller:

The New York Times' decision to disclose the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, a robust and classified effort to map terrorist networks through the use of financial data, was irresponsible and harmful to the security of Americans and freedom-loving people worldwide. In choosing to expose this program, despite repeated pleas from high-level officials on both sides of the aisle, including myself, the Times undermined a highly successful counter-terrorism program and alerted terrorists to the methods and sources used to track their money trails.

Your charge that our efforts to convince The New York Times not to publish were “half-hearted” is incorrect and offensive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Over the past two months, Treasury has engaged in a vigorous dialogue with the Times – from the reporters writing the story to the D.C. Bureau Chief and all the way up to you. It should also be noted that the co-chairmen of the bipartisan 9-11 Commission, Governor Tom Kean and Congressman Lee Hamilton, met in person or placed calls to the very highest levels of the Times urging the paper not to publish the story. Members of Congress, senior U.S. Government officials and well-respected legal authorities from both sides of the aisle also asked the paper not to publish or supported the legality and validity of the program.

Indeed, I invited you to my office for the explicit purpose of talking you out of publishing this story. And there was nothing “half-hearted” about that effort. I told you about the true value of the program in defeating terrorism and sought to impress upon you the harm that would occur from its disclosure. I stressed that the program is grounded on solid legal footing, had many built-in safeguards, and has been extremely valuable in the war against terror. Additionally, Treasury Under Secretary Stuart Levey met with the reporters and your senior editors to answer countless questions, laying out the legal framework and diligently outlining the multiple safeguards and protections that are in place.

You have defended your decision to compromise this program by asserting that “terror financiers know” our methods for tracking their funds and have already moved to other methods to send money. The fact that your editors believe themselves to be qualified to assess how terrorists are moving money betrays a breathtaking arrogance and a deep misunderstanding of this program and how it works. While terrorists are relying more heavily than before on cumbersome methods to move money, such as cash couriers, we have continued to see them using the formal financial system, which has made this particular program incredibly valuable.

Lastly, justifying this disclosure by citing the “public interest” in knowing information about this program means the paper has given itself free license to expose any covert activity that it happens to learn of – even those that are legally grounded, responsibly administered, independently overseen, and highly effective. Indeed, you have done so here.

What you've seemed to overlook is that it is also a matter of public interest that we use all means available – lawfully and responsibly – to help protect the American people from the deadly threats of terrorists. I am deeply disappointed in the New York Times.

Sincerely,

[signed]

John W. Snow, Secretary

U.S. Department of the Treasury

Hat tip to Little Green Footballs. Michelle Malkin does a great job of putting this into perspective by comparing it to leaks during WWII at Hot Air.

It almost makes me wonder if the liberals in the media have any desire to see the U.S. emerge victorious from the threat of Islamic nutjobs who delight in cutting off infidels’ heads. Just in case you haven’t been paying attention, you are an infidel to these people unless you believe exactly as they do. And converting to Islam is no guarantee of safety. Just look at the hundreds of Iraqi Muslims who have been murdered by other Muslims. Imagine a bunch of Lutherans blowing up Catholics over minor differences of dogma.

But I’m wandering from the point of this post. From the New York Times article:

Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.

As Michelle Malkin points out, “‘Secret?’ Not anymore.” The NYT claims that revealing this government tool for catching terrorists is in the “public interests.” Obviously they’d rather handicap the authorities by exposing their tools than serve the “public interests” of not having Islamic nutjobs kill Americans here in America.

Since this is far from the first time that the media has published secret tools the government has used to combat terrorists, Daniel Solove of Concurring Opinions gives the media this template for further reports.

Under a top secret program initiated by the Bush Administration after the Sept. 11 attacks, the [name of agency (FBI, CIA, NSA, etc.)] have been gathering a vast database of [type of records] involving United States citizens.

“This program is a vital tool in the fight against terrorism,” [Bush Administration official] said. “Without it, we would be dangerously unsafe, and the terrorists would have probably killed you and every other American citizen.” The Bush Administration stated that the revelation of this program has severely compromised national security.

“This program is a threat to privacy and civil liberties,” [name of privacy advocate] said. But [name of spokesperson for Bush Administration] said: “This is a very limited program. It only contains detailed records about every American citizen. That’s all. It does not compromise civil liberties. We have a series of procedures in place to protect liberty.”

“We’re not trolling through the personal data of Americans,” Bush said, “we’re just looking at all of their records.”

The [name of statute] regulates [type of record] and typically requires a [type of court order]. Although the [name of agency] did not obtain a [type of court order], the Bush Administration contends that the progam is “totally legal.” According to the Attorney General, “we can [do whatever we did or want to do]. The program is part of the President’s emergency war powers.”

Nice little job of tongue-in-cheek writing, but Solove missed an extra paragraph.

[Bush Administration official] acknowledged that since the publication of the story by [self-aggrandizing media outlet], the terrorists have changed their tactics and are harder to capture before plots like [successful terrorist plot] occur.

There is an old Russian joke, dating back to the Soviet Union’s heyday when the two government newspapers were called Izvestia and Pravda. Izvestia means “news,” and Pravda means “truth,” leading to the joke, “There’s no news in the Truth, and no truth in the News.” At times I look at the major media here in the United States, and I wonder if we could say the same thing.

On June 16th, the 9-11 Commission held meetings and, as the New York Times put it, “Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie“. Here is a quote from that Times article: “However, the commission said in a staff report, ‘We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States.’” Oddly, the quoted phrase shown in the Times does not appear in any of the pdf files released by the 9-11 Commission on June 16th. The Times article says in its first paragraph, “[T]here did not appear to have been a ‘collaborative relationship’ between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.” It is again interesting that the phrase “collaborative relationship” does not appear in a search of the four pdf files released on Wednesday.

But here is a quote from another New York Times article: “Both indictments offer new information about Mr. Bin Laden’s operations, including one deal he is said to have struck with Iraq to cooperate in the development of weapons in return for Mr. Bin Laden’s agreeing not to work against that country. No details were given about whether the alleged deal with Iraq led to the development of actual weapons for Mr. Bin Laden’s group, which is called Al-Qaeda.” This article was published on November 5, 1998, and it certainly reads as a “collaborative relationship” to me.

Here is what former Illinois governor and 9-11 commissioner James Thompson said the next day on CNN with Soledad O’Brien:

In fact, the report says that President Bush and Vice President Cheney are correct. It’s a little mystifying to me why some elements of the press have tried to stir this up as a big controversy and a big point of contradiction because there is none. We said there’s no evidence to support the notion that Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein collaborated together to produce 9/11. President Bush said that weeks ago. He said it again yesterday. The vice president said it again yesterday. I said it again yesterday in television interviews. What we did I say was there were contacts between Al-Qaeda and the Iraqi administration of Saddam Hussein, and the president has said there were contacts. The vice president has said there were contacts. They may be in possession of information about contacts beyond those that we found, I don’t know. That wasn’t any of our business. Our business was 9/11. So there is no controversy; there’s no contradiction, and this is not an issue.

But it is an issue, because the liberal media has spun the story to convey information quite different from the commission’s actual findings. Vice President Cheney met on CNBC’s “Capitol Report” show with Alan Murray and Gloria Borger. The following is a transcript of this show:

BORGER: But obviously first the news of the week is the 9-11 Commission report. And as you know, the report found, quote, “No credible evidence that al-Qaida collaborated with Iraq or Saddam Hussein.” Do you disagree with its findings?

Vice Pres. CHENEY: I disagree with the way their findings have been portrayed. This has been enormous confusion over the Iraq-al-Qaida connection, Gloria. First of all, on the question of whether or not there was any kind of a relationship, there clearly was a relationship. It’s been testified to. The evidence is overwhelming. It goes back to the early ’90s.

It involves a whole series of contacts, high-level contacts between Osama bin Laden and Iraqi intelligence officials. It involves a senior official, a brigadier general in the Iraqi intelligence service going to the Sudan before bin Laden ever went to Afghanistan to train them in bomb-making, helping teach them how to forge documents. Mr. Zarqawi, who’s in Baghdad today, is an al-Qaida associate who took refuge in Baghdad, found sanctuary and safe harbor there before we ever launched into Iraq. There’s a Mr. Yasin, who was a World Trade Center bomber in ’93, who fled to Iraq after that and we found since when we got into Baghdad, documents showing that he was put on the payroll and given housing by Saddam Hussein after the ’93 attack; in other words, provided safe harbor and sanctuary. There’s clearly been a relationship.

But after a clear answer like that, Gloria Borger continued to harangue the Vice-President about this issue. Clearly, some liberal leftists in the media are creating a political mountain out of a non-existent molehill. Why are they doing this? Quite simply, because they disagree with the President’s agenda.

In a world where the enemies of this nation have cut off the heads of American noncombatants simply because they are Americans, we need to be united in our response to terrorist murderers. Instead the liberal press portrays to the world, and to al-Qaeda, a weak and divided America. The media will fill up the papers and airwaves with outrage over the mistreatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib Prison for months, but when truly horrific events such as the September 11 attacks and the decapitation of Paul Johnson and Nicholas Berg occur, they will hold off publishing the evidence. Why? Because such information would put steel in the backbone of Americans, and we would unite behind our President as he directs the war against this evil. And the press can’t allow that to happen.