Just when you thought the media had closed the book on the Cheney hunting accident, the Associated Press fired one last salvo at the Vice President today. In their article, VP Accident Tale Filled with Discrepancies, Calvin Woodward and Nancy Benac rehash the same litany of talking points that flooded the media this week. Woodward and Benac revisit the shifting blame, belated acknowledgment of beer consumption, discrepancies in the shooting, the aftermath and how it was reported.
Scott McClellan was cited for promoting the "blame the victim" defense when he repeated Katherine Armstrong's comments on the accident. Cheney's first public comment on the accident amounted to an "about face" according to the AP.
National Public Radio provided publicity to the leftist website Salon.com on three shows Thursday for their release of previously unseen (if not notably different) pictures of American abuses at Abu Ghraib. Nowhere in their three dollops of publicity did NPR label Salon as liberal or left-wing, or explain that they oppose President Bush and the war in Iraq.
The Huffington Post has a video clip of the introduction to Friday’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” on HBO. In it is a satirical advertisement for a new rap album by Dick Cheney, the real “ODP.” Predictably, the piece lampoons Cheney’s recent hunting accident, while bringing up some old favorites including his infamous expletive directed at a member of Congress, as well as some not-so-nice words for a member of the press.
The lyrics (not suitable for children) as transcribed from the video follow. To see the video, go here.
The Programme Complaints Committee of the BBC looked into charges that one of its news reports was unfair towards the Conservative Party. Almost a year after the broadcast, the committee has ruled that the story did indeed breach "the guidelines on accuracy and impartiality."
According to a Friday BBC story, "Governors said rules were broken when Harri said the then Conservative leader was booed, but did not mention the same thing had happened to Tony Blair."
The reporter in question is Guto Harri, who now peddles his fair and balanced reporting as BBC's North American correspondent.
Remember when actor Alec Baldwin threatened to leave America if George W. Bush was elected president, and then welshed on his promise? Well, Alec is at it again at the quickly becoming blog site for the stars to rant non sequiturs with total impunity Huffington Post. This time, Baldwin set his sights on Vice President Dick Cheney – color me surprised. Baldwin began:
“So, I suppose the question is...what kind of civil trial will we see, or not see, between Cheney and Whittington? Whittington is certainly no stranger to a court room and to civil litigation. Will Cheney pay him off, preemptively? Will they go to court? I would imagine if a guy with a few beers in him shoots you in the face on a hunting trip, how could you turn down that opportunity?”
Then, Baldwin mumbled some truly unintelligible nonsense concerning Cheney, Enron, former California Governor Gray Davis, and current Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. I must caution the reader to hold tightly onto something as you read this drivel, and try to do it on an empty stomach, for this malarkey is destined to repeat, and repeat often:
The Associated Press issued a somewhat peculiar story this afternoon. The story? Rush Limbaugh made an error. Yup. Rush apparently mistook the fact that Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is a white man and not black, as he had announced on the air. According to the story, Limbaugh received e-mails from listeners correcting him. "Uh, Sherrod Brown's a white guy? Then I'm confusing him with somebody. OK, I'm sorry," Limbaugh is quoted as saying.
And ... this ... is ... news? I'm ... confused. That the Associated Press would find this episode newsworthy is almost weird.
Many posters at Free Republic are equally bewildered. "Must be a slow news day for the AP?" wondered one. My favorite: "The AP finds the speck in Rush's eye but ignores the log in theirs."
NRO's Media Blog notices something that is too common: Clintonistas who spent eight years warning us against the "politics of personal destruction," against diverting people's attention from the issues "that matter to their lives" onto scandalous personal behaviors, doing exactly that with Republicans. (Of course, the Clintons and their spinners commonly dug into the mud of the personal lives of their antagonists in an attempt to shut them up or discredit them.) In the case of Cheney, Paul Begala came on CNN to demand blood samples to prove the accidental shooting wasn't fueled by alcohol, earning him the "Count Begala" title:
BEGALA: The vice president's performance yesterday leaves a whole lot of questions unanswered. First and most importantly, why was he drinking, how much was he drinking and did that affect his ability — his cognitive ability — while he was hunting?
Stephen Spruiell notes: "Then Begala goes from dumb to downright creepy, repeatedly calling for [victim Harry] Whittington's blood." How classy:
ABC and CBS, which both led Friday night with Harry Whittington’s first public appearance since his hunting accident with Vice President Dick Cheney, held their coverage to Whittington’s comments as well as remarks from Cheney at the Wyoming Capitol. But while NBC, for the first time since the incident didn’t lead with the topic, David Gregory highlighted Whittington’s praise for the media and explored whether Cheney “has become a political liability.” Gregory, the leading antagonist on the issue in the White House press corps, ignored a poll by NBC’s own WNBC-TV which determined the overwhelming majority want no further investigation of the incident, and began his story by suggesting some vindication: “Harry Whittington left the hospital in Texas today, and ironically began his remarks by thanking the news media for its coverage of this incident."
After a clip of Cheney and then of President Bush dismissing the controversy as “noise,” Gregory saw wisdom in one conservative columnist as he brought up a piece from the day before on the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page: "Republicans are now faced with the question of whether...the Vice President has become a political liability, the hunting accident being just the latest example. Conservative pundit Peggy Noonan suggested in the Wall Street Journal the President might consider pushing the Vice President to step down. 'Dick Cheney has been the administration's hate magnet for five years now,' Noonan wrote. But many Republicans say Mr. Cheney serves an important function...." Gregory, who through his vocal hectoring of White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, made sure the story became a distraction, concluded that “this week” Cheney “was a distraction." (Transcript, and more on the WNBC-TV poll, follows.)
It wasn't enough for Chris Matthews to analogize the Bush administration to a family of Mafia killers. He had to call President Bush "Fredo," the weak brother. Matthews' theory was that Bush was unable to control Cheney's handling of the shooting incident in a manner similar to which Fredo was unable to control his wife.
As he amply demonstrated at his press conference today, Harry Whittington is not on life support, but Matthews was working as feverishly as an EMS on a heart attack victim to keep the Cheney story alive. And in doing so, Matthews managed to be ungracious to perhaps the most gracious man in America, the very same Harry Whittington himself. Said a sneering Matthews:
"They dressed up Mr. Whittington rather well, with a lot of make-up, he looked great, I'm glad he's back, but he walked right back into the hospital again. What was that? "
Could the Nazis take over America? It’s one thing for the ridiculously incendiary notion to be raised in a major magazine by an aging Hollywood lefty.
It’s quite another for it to be raised by writers for the most powerful newspaper in the world. Twice. In the same edition. I don’t know if The New York Times film reviewers Stephen Holden and Caryn James share notes or simply a distain for the Bush administration, but the each managed to link the administration to Hitler’s Nazis in articles appearing on the front page of the “Arts” section.
Longtime CBS and CNN political reporter Bruce Morton is retiring, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer announced after Morton filed his last piece (on the changing significance of the vice presidency) shortly before 5pm EST on Thursday’s The Situation Room.
“Beyond his years of solid, hard news reporting, Bruce brings something very special to television journalism, a truly unique voice, smart and wry, with a perspective you could only get by covering politics for five decades,” Blitzer enthused. “When we need a certain kind of piece we immediately know is Bruce material, ‘Morton-esque,’ as many of us like to say right here.”
In case you didn't see it on the MRC home page, Vaughn Ververs from the "Public Eye" blog at CBSNews.com offered us space this week in their weekly "Outside Voices" feature. Their blog was set up in the wake of Rathergate to demonstrate more "transparency" or CBS news-making and also serve as "a forum for debate, a conversation about the news between the people who produce it and the people who consume it."
I tried to offer the CBS News staff and the wider media community a small sense of how we answer the questions and critiques we've received over the almost 20 years the MRC has been taping and transcribing and exposing. One accusation, an indirect attack from Bill Moyers, suggested conservative media critics want right-wing unanimity with no disturbing liberal counter-argument:
With a hat tip to the Drudge Report and CNS News, actor Richard Dreyfuss, speaking in front of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, called for the impeachment of President George W. Bush stating “‘There are causes worth fighting for even if you know that you will lose.’"
Dreyfuss continued (from video): “Unless you are willing to accept torture as part of a normal American political lexicon; unless you are willing to accept that leaving the Geneva Convention is fine and dandy; if you accept the expression of wiretapping as business as usual, the only way to express this now is to embrace the difficult and perhaps embarrassing process of impeachment."
And continued by claiming that impeachment “‘is a statement that we refuse to endorse bad behavior.’" “‘If we refuse to debate the appropriateness of the process of impeachment, we endorse that behavior, and we approve the enlargement of executive power,’ regardless of whoever may occupy the White House in the future, he said.”
Updated with video (30 secs), as aired on Friday's (Feb. 17) Hannity & Colmes on FNC: Real (900 KB) or Windows Media (1 MB)
In the wake of the Cheney flap in which the MSM vented its fury over the Veep's failure to disclose facts rapidly enough to suit their taste, and in where even dark cover-up theories were floated, isn't it ironic that an MSM icon has refused to reveal her age, even though that fact was very relevant to the story she was covering?
Barbara Walters has been guest-hosting on Good Morning America this week, and this morning conducted a segment on an index that has been developed that with good accuracy predicts the likelihood of death within four years for people 50 and older.
Walters' guest was GMA Medical Contributor Dr. David Katz. The good doctor had run the index on Barbara, and the happy news is that she is very likely to be with us for some time to come.
Bob Ehrlich, Republican Governor of Maryland, retaliated against the reporting of two Baltimore Sun reporters by barring all state employees from talking to them. The paper sued in federal court, claiming the First Amendment rights of reporter David Nitkin and columnist Michael Olesker were being violated. A lower court refused to hear their case, and a higher court ruled in favor of the governor.
4th Circuit judges J. Michael Luttig, Paul Niemeyer and William B. Traxler Jr. said they could not accept the newspaper's argument that the governor's directive "created a chilling effect any different from or greater than that experienced by The Sun and by all reporters in their everyday journalistic activities."
The Cheney story is in decline today, with the first story on page A-5, the county sheriff’s report. There’s a don’t-go-hunting joke to lead off Al Kamen’s column on the Federal Page, and then two columns: Eugene Robinson’s second Cheney pounding of the week, and Charles Krauthammer sternly taking on the media: "This news briefing got famously out of control (as a psychiatrist I found the groups I ran for inpatient schizophrenics far more civilized)." And he mocked their odd objection to the veep's secrecy:
Secrecy? This was hardly an affair of state. And it was hardly going to be kept secret. Arrogance? The media laying these charges are the same media that just last week unilaterally decided that the public's right to know did not extend to seeing cartoons that had aroused half the world, burned a small part of it and deeply affected the American national interest. Having arrogated to themselves the judgment of what a free people should be allowed to see regarding an issue that is literally burning, they then go ballistic over a few hours' delay in revealing an accident with only the most trivial connection to the nation's interest or purpose.
"They say that all good things must end, someday, "Autumn leaves must fall, "But don't you know, that it hurts me so, "To say goodbye to you "Wish you didn't have to go "No no no no." - A Summer Song, Chad & Jeremy
Yes, it was so beautiful for the MSM while it lasted. Seemingly endless days beneath sunny South Texas skies, filled with breathless stories of possible White House cover-ups, press secretaries under the gun, earnest doctors displaying models of damaged hearts, why, even talk of the Vice-President having to step down under fire.
But the first hint that the beautiful affair could be ending came two days ago when Mr. Cheney had an earnest meeting with another man, that suave Brit Hume. Then the president announced he was satisfied with the account of the matter. And finally those party poopers at the sheriff's office had to announce yesterday that the case was closed with no charges filed.
ABC and CBS largely moved on from the Dick Cheney hunting mishap story Thursday night as, for the first time this week, they led with other subjects. Both held their Cheney coverage to short items on President Bush expressing satisfaction with Cheney’s Wednesday explanation to FNC’s Brit Hume. But for the fifth straight day, the NBC Nightly News led with the topic with reporter Kelly O’Donnell stressing Cheney’s alcohol consumption. Anchor Brian Williams set up her piece by asserting “the questions that continue tonight have to do mostly with the damage this bizarre accident has caused.” O’Donnell zeroed in on how the local sheriff’s department report relayed how victim Harry Whittington “called it an accident and told investigators, 'foremost there was no alcohol during the hunt.'” O’Donnell, however, raised doubts about such a conclusion: “The report makes no other reference to any drinking or that any blood alcohol tests were ever done. The Vice President did say in his Fox TV interview that he had a beer at lunch, noting that was hours before the shooting.”
She then moved on to how “observers say the whole ordeal has weakened Mr. Cheney's influence." Her “observers”? One soundbite from David Gergen. O’Donnell concluded with how “senior advisors make the claim that because the White House has now answered some questions, the American people should be satisfied, too.” (Transcript follows.)
In celebrities section of Newsweek this week, the "Q&A" feature is an interview with actor and director Robert Redford. Newsweek's David Gates asked him about how did he "start getting obsessed with Watergate." Redford said when he heard reporters whispering after the break-in that there was more to it, "But nobody wanted to f--- with him." He said of Nixon: "He gave me an award once -- I was 13, he was a senator. I remember being struck by what a bad vibe I got from the guy." Then Redford grew more desperate in tone:
Newsweek: What's the political landscape look like to you today? Redford: Now you pick up the paper and there's a Watergate every day. I don't think anyone's connecting the dots and saying to the public, "Wake up, folks, because you could end up in a totalitarian nightmare, wondering what happened to your country."
Over at NRO's Media Blog, Stephen Spruiell hits a point I meant to hit. As much as I disliked the Post's flood-the-zone Cheney-hunt coverage today (Top of page one, then two more stories on A-10, Kurtz on the Hume interview on front page of Style), there were two stories that showed the Post thinking outside the typical liberal-media box.
The first is "The Legal Woes of Rep. Jefferson" — a front-page look at a Democrat mired in scandal that punctures the notion, promoted by Democrats, that Republicans are the only ones with ethics problems:
The investigation of Jefferson and the recent guilty plea by a former aide give Republicans the chance to argue that corruption in Washington has a bipartisan tinge.
Republican groups frequently invoke the Jefferson case in defending their party from broad-brush charges of corruption. Even Public Citizen, a liberal consumer watchdog group, featured Jefferson on an "Ethics Hall of Shame" list recently.