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Mark Finkelstein | March 17, 2007 | 11:09
For his level-headed professionalism, Lester Holt is on my [admittedly short] list of MSM faves. But while Holt did hit former Ambassador [to Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe] Joseph Wilson with one tough question on this morning's "Today," he let Valerie Plame's husband hijack the beginning of the interview, lobbed him numerous softballs, and failed to challenge Wilson on his blatant misrepresentation of Plame's role in sending him to Niger.

View video here.

In the set-up piece preceding the interview, "Today" aired a clip of Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) asking Plame, during yesterday's congressional hearing, whether she was a Republican or a Democrat. For the record, Plame sardonically acknowledged that she was indeed a Dem.

NB Staff | March 17, 2007 | 11:00

So what are you doing to celebrate St. Paddy's Day?

Brent Baker | March 17, 2007 | 02:36
Friday night on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, Dan Rather praised left-wing comedians with television shows, namely Bill Maher and Jon Stewart, for “speaking truth to power” at a time when journalists have “lost our guts.” Then, though last July Rather declared he "absolutely" believes "the truth" of his discredited Bush National Guard story based on forged memos, actor Jason Alexander hailed Rather: "I am really honored to be sitting next to a man that I think was one of the beacons of integrity in news journalism." Alexander, who is best-known for playing "George Costanza" on Seinfeld, proceeded to lean across fellow guest Martha Raddatz of ABC News to shake hands with Rather.

Rather declared to Maher that “comedians, such as yourself, Jon Stewart and others, are a valuable supplement” to the mainstream news media since “good journalism...speaks truth to power,” but “we've lost our guts. We need a spine transplant. What's happened is comedians, in their own way, speak truth to power and fill that vacuum that we in journalism have too often left, particularly post 9/11.”

Brent Baker | March 16, 2007 | 21:51
The three broadcast network evening newscasts were similar Friday night in featuring full stories on Valerie Plame's testimony before the House Government Reform Committee, including video of Plame with a woman behind her wearing a pink “Impeach Bush” T-shirt -- ABC even caught a moment when the woman was making the “shame” sign with her fingers (see screen shot to right) -- and not mentioning Richard Armitage, the former Deputy Secretary of State who was the source for columnist Robert Novak's reporting of her name. CBS's Gloria Borger, remarkably, concluded her report by listing every big name involved but Armitage's: “When asked whether she'd gotten an apology from the President, the Vice President, Karl Rove or Scooter Libby, she said no.”

But there were differences. Only NBC Nightly News led with Plame as fill-in anchor Campbell Brown announced: “The CIA operative at the heart of a scandal tells Congress the Bush administration blew her cover and wrecked her career.” NBC's Chip Reid uniquely highlighted how Plame contributed to Al Gore's 2000 campaign and that she conceded “I am a Democrat.” While CBS's Borger concluded with a missing apology to her, ABC's David Kerley ended his piece by noting how Plame is taking advantage of her situation: “While Plame may have lost the undercover job she loved, the blown cover is allowing her to find a new career. She signed a book deal for more than $1 million. And oh, about all those ingredients for a Hollywood movie, there will be one of those, as well.”

NB Staff | March 16, 2007 | 18:26

Original caption: Meredith Vieira, co-host of the NBC 'Today' television program, appears with her dog Jasper during a segment of the program, Friday morning March 16, 2007, about a dog's learning abilities and vocabulary recognition.

Julia A. Seymour | March 16, 2007 | 16:39

Jack doesn't live in this house; Mike does.

Mike Strizki lives in the very first solar-hydrogen house in the U.S. and according to The Christian Science Monitor, "It sounds promising, even utopian: homemade, storable energy that doesn't contribute to global warming."

But the very positive profile of Strizki and his unusual new home left out the cost to other New Jersey residents.

 “The total cost, $500,000, was paid for in part with a $250,000 grant from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities,” correspondent Jared Flesher wrote on March 15.

Let's see ... a grant from New Jersey. Since New Jersey isn't a person that means the $250,000 came from taxpayers.

Scott Whitlock | March 16, 2007 | 16:34

As already noted on NewsBusters, "20/20" anchor Barbara Walters interviewed Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for a segment airing on the March 16 edition of the program. And although she did occasionally challenge authoritarian leader, Walters spent much of the interview discussing important topics such as whether Chavez likes coffee, marriage, and generally regurgitating the Venezuelan President’s propaganda.

Walters, appearing on the Friday edition of "Good Morning America" to plug the interview, even touted a Chavez run for political office in the U.S.:

Robin Roberts: "Did he think he would do very well if he ran for office here in this country?"

Barbara Walters: "He said, ‘You know, if I came to this country, I would run, I could run an election if I changed my name to Nicky Chavez because I am for humanity. I am for disseminating the wealth. I am for helping people.’ He says, ‘I would win.’ So put his name down on the list."

Tim Graham | March 16, 2007 | 16:00

Los Angeles Times columnist (and longtime political reporter) Ron Brownstein tackles the issue of the Nevada Democratic Party dumping Fox News Channel as a debate partner. He thinks this rejection is similar to how "conservatives deal with mainstream media organizations they consider biased against them." Put aside for a minute the odd notion that Republican Party organizations or politicians would refuse to do debates thrown by liberal networks. As if. In his March 16 column, Brownstein's peddling the old canard that Fox News is exponentially more biased than "mainstream" news organizations:

The situation isn't exactly parallel. For all the howling on the right, it's difficult to argue that mainstream news organizations operate with anything approaching Fox' partisan and ideological agenda. (E-mails: commence now.) But there's no question many conservatives feel as wronged by elements of the mainstream media as Democrats do by Fox.

Dan Gainor | March 16, 2007 | 15:17

UPDATE (16:10 EDT): Video added.

At least one reporter understands economics. CNBC’s Melissa Francis told “On the Money” viewers March 15 that their taxes were going to get hiked “if the Democrats get their way.” The fun twist? Francis and her colleagues couldn’t find any Democratic politician, strategist or even a think tank cohort to come on the show and tell the American people why raising their taxes would be a good idea.

“I don’t understand. How does raising taxes and stifling economic growth keep America great?” Francis asked her guests, Pat Toomey of the Club for Growth and Jack Burkman, a Republican strategist. The rest of the segment was shooting fish in a barrel, pointing to the economy’s strong growth following the 2003 tax rate cuts.

And Francis proved she has more of an economic understanding than a majority of reporters: “If there were a Democrat that was willing to come on this show tonight, they might say something like, you know, they’re trying to pay for the budget, or they’re trying to, you know, slim down the deficit,” Francis said. “But I was always taught when I studied economics that when you raise taxes, you might end up with less revenue.”

Video clip: Real (1.54 MB), plus MP3 (272 KB).

Tim Graham | March 16, 2007 | 14:28

While Washington Post reporters Dan Eggen and Paul Kane are getting keyboard blisters probing the White House shenanigans around U.S. attorney dismissals by Team Bush, know this: in 1993, the Post published no stories investigating what Bill Clinton, or Hillary Clinton, or their Little Rock henchman, Webster Hubbell, was doing behind the scenes.

About two weeks after the mass firing, on April 3, 1993 the Post front page reported on how Hubbell surfaced for a Senate confirmation hearing, and reporter David Von Drehle thought it was “pretty funny” that the Wall Street Journal would portray him as an “ominous” figure. “The Judiciary Committee can ask Mr. Mysterious all the questions the Journal and others have been dying to pose.” Notice the Post thought it was “funny” anyone had a question to pose. They’d like people to think they’re equal-opportunity investigators, but they certainly don't look that way on U.S. attorney firings.

Mark Finkelstein | March 16, 2007 | 14:14
Next week marks the fourth anniversary of Operation Iraq Freedom. How does CNN plan to observe the event? An update, perhaps, on General Petraeus’ new strategy to win the war, and the initial positive – if still early – reports from the battlefield?

Please. I did say "CNN." The network is set to run a one hour special: “Death Squads Reveals Links between Shia Death Squads, Iraqi Security Forces.” CNN's report will in significant part be based on the work of an anonymous journalist.

Before considering the CNN report, let's review some of the recent developments in Iraq, as gleaned from MNF spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell's press conference of March 14th:

Rich Noyes | March 16, 2007 | 12:31
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos grilled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys on Wednesday, telling him that “something does seem fishy here,” suggesting that the Bush White House was punishing U.S. Attorneys who were not pursuing a GOP-friendly agenda.

But as a White House spokesman back in 1993, Stephanopoulos faced exactly the same question over President Clinton’s decision to fire U.S. Attorney Jay Stephens along with the other 92 U.S. Attorneys. “There is also a tradition of permitting prosecutors to remain on cases until current cases are completed,” a reporter told Stephanopoulos in a March 25, 1993 briefing. Referring to the investigation into House Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski for embezzling money from the House Post Office, a reporter asked, “Is there any intention to keep Jay Stephens until the Rostenkowski case is finished?”
Scott Whitlock | March 16, 2007 | 12:11

Friday’s "Good Morning America" featured Democrats talking about Democratic hopes. Anchor Chris Cuomo, the son of liberal Governor Mario Cuomo, and George Stephanopoulos, former White House aide to President Bill Clinton, discussed the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys and pushed the speculative Democratic talking points of whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would be fired.

Stephanopoulos, who expressed no awkwardness over the fact that Clinton, his former boss, fired all the U.S. Attorneys upon assuming office, chose not to talk about what is factually known in the case. Instead, he supplied the perspective of Congressional Democrats by repeatedly talking up a Gonzales resignation:

Dan Gainor | March 16, 2007 | 12:00

     While viewers were told that the interview with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez “pulled no punches,” you sure could have fooled anyone watching. ABC’s March 16 “Good Morning America” treated Chavez as a man who “does like this country.”

     She actually meant the United States.

     Flashback to the same network in 2005. Reporter Dan Harris of ABC’s “World News Tonight” was more up front about Chavez in a Nov. 6, 2005, report: “Venezuelan leftist leader Hugo Chavez, who led an anti-American rally while talks for free trade were taking place.”

Matthew Sheffield | March 16, 2007 | 11:48
This Friday's joke: A blonde and a lawyer were seated next to each other on a long flight. To pass the time, the lawyer suggested that they try to stump one another with trivia.

"If I ask you something that you don't know, you owe me $5. The same goes if you ask me something I don't know." The blonde refused.

"Okay. If you don't know an answer, you pay me $5, but if I don’t know an answer, I pay you $50." The blonde accepted.

Noel Sheppard | March 16, 2007 | 10:53

You probably didn’t hear about a rather topical debate concerning man’s role in global warming that took place in New York City Wednesday night.

Want to know why the media will likely ignore this fascinating event? Well, because the panel of skeptics beat the believers.

How large was the victory?

Well, before the debate took place, the tough New York crowd was polled, and the results showed that they believed global warming was a crisis by a margin of 57 percent to 30 percent. However, after the debate, this changed to the crowd feeling it wasn’t a crisis, with skeptics topping believers 46 to 42 percent.

So much for consensus, huh? As reported by Marc Morano at the EPW blog (emphasis added throughout):

Tim Graham | March 16, 2007 | 10:39

Newsweek's Eleanor Clift complained on Friday's Diane Rehm show on NPR that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has drained all the independence out of his office, that he's acting too much like the president's "personal lawyer." In 1993, when Janet Reno announced the mass dismissal of all 93 U.S. Attorneys, no one demanded her resignation for her lack of independence from the White House. In fact, it could be because someone else was coordinating with the White House on how to run the Justice Department, the felonious Webster Hubbell. At that time, the Wall Street Journal editorial page found a "fascinating exchange" in an interview Reno granted to NBC anchor Tom Brokaw just after the Waco debacle on April 19:

BROKAW: Once the fire broke out, what did you tell President Clinton?

Mark Finkelstein | March 16, 2007 | 10:02

A senior US officer in Afghanistan has suggested that our forces there have snatched the initiative from the Taliban, and that the vaunted spring offensive will be ours, not the Taliban's.

View video here.

The MSM/Dem drumbeat has been that by fighting the war in Iraq, the United States has taken its eye off the ball in Afghanistan, that a big Taliban offensive is about to begin there, and that it could be a key to the Taliban fully re-establishing itself in the country.

Take, for example, the comment made by Sen. Barack Obama in a Today appearance yesterday in the context of the publication of the confession of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: "I think we have ended up being distracted, particularly in Afghanistan, from dealing with the kind of real threats we heard about today."

But a senior officer on the ground has expressed a different perspective. Colonel David Enyeart, now on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, is Deputy Commander of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix V, charged with training the Afghan National Army and police. In a conference call with the Colonel in which I participated recently, COL Enyeart expressed the view that the spring offensive could actually be the Taliban's last stand.
Lynn Davidson | March 16, 2007 | 08:56

Call Tom Cruise and pass out the vitamins because conservatives are officially sad. It seems Time magazine is trying to top last week’s “Verdict on Cheney” cover that photoshopped storm clouds over the lightning-rod vice president. The cover for the March 26 issue shows a close-up headshot of the late Ronald Reagan who appears to have a single tear on his cheek, ala Iron Eyes Cody. The “photo illustration” is accompanied by the caption, “How The Right Went Wrong,” referring to “these gloomy and uncertain days” for conservatives.

Both images are hoaxes. Iron Eyes Cody was featured in one of the most memorable environmentalist promotions that showed a lone “Indian” crying about littering and pollution with a single tear sliding down his cheek in the final shot. Iron Eyes Cody was known as the “crying Indian,” but his family knew him as Espera DeCorti, the son of Italian immigrants. This cover is as accurate as that fake glycerine tear that gently slid down Iron Eyes Cody’s cheek.

Radar Online states that Time table of contents gives the “somewhat cryptic” credits for the cover in small print as, “Photograph by David Hume Kennerly. Tear by Tim O’Brian” but does not specifically state that it the cover is photoshopped. Time responded to Radar, defending their cover:

Tim Graham | March 16, 2007 | 07:43

The Washington Post's reverence for protests -- the leftist ones, that is -- is clearly on display on the front of Friday's Metro section, with advance publicity for a Saturday "peace" march on the Pentagon starring Ramsey Clark, fresh from his unsuccessful defense lawyering for Saddam Hussein. (That fact is never mentioned in Steve Vogel's article.) On roughly the fourth anniversary of the initial blitz on Baghdad and forty years after the violent "levitate the Pentagon" protests of 1967, the Post splashes photographs down most of the front page of Metro, of 1967 at the top and 2007 at the bottom. The story sprawled out across most of B-3, and included another story by Michael Ruane on Christian "peace witness" at the White House.