The battle of the cable news networks rages on, and gets funnier and funnier by the minute. In this latest installment, a Fox News spokesperson has deliciously disparaged one of CNN’s biggest stars.
As reported by the New York Times (emphasis mine throughout):
A Fox News spokeswoman, Irena Briganti, said CNN was mainly looking for publicity in attacking its higher-rated rival. Of Mr. Cooper’s comment, she said, “Yet another cry for attention by the Paris Hilton of television news, Anderson Cooper.”
What was this recent fracas about? You’ll never guess:
At the beginning of Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Bush graciously discussed Nancy Pelosi and her history making role as the first female Speaker. He also congratulated Democrats on their new majority status. This, however, wasn’t enough for Paul Begala. The CNN contributor appeared on a post-speech edition of "Anderson Cooper" and digressed into a rant about how Bush referred not to the Democratic Party’s success, but, rather, the Democrat majority. According to the always polite Begala, this is something only the "kook right," "the fringe" and the "Rush Limbaugh crowd" engages in:
Paul Begala: "At the very beginning, [Bush] opened with this beautiful grace note to Nancy Pelosi, talked about how her father, Thomas D'Alessandro, had served in the House, and the daughter had grown up to become Speaker. It was beautiful....And then in the very next paragraph -- I have it marked here on the White House text -- he congratulated the new ‘Democrat’ majority, as he said. Now, the White House transcript says ‘Democratic.’ There is a difference. My party's the Democratic Party. But the sort of kook right, not the responsible Republicans, but the fringe, the Rush Limbaugh crowd, likes to call my party the Democrat Party. They think it's some sort of insult or something. And frankly, I guess it is insulting. Why would you do that when you're the president of both parties and the majority of your country now is affiliated with the Democrat Party? Why would you say that?"
In a fit of rapture over newly elected Democrat Jim Webb, going so far as to speculate that he might be presidential ticket material for team D, Newsweek's Johnathan Alter left the lede at the bottom of this piece. Too bad those who might appreciate it most will likely never get to the bottom of Alter's little Webb romance.
A Powerful Response Jim Webb tore up his party's playbook—and helped point the Democrats in a new direction.
Alter also failed to point out that a poll Webb used to claim the military doesn't support the war actually favors increasing troop numbers, as proposed by Bush - that item at bottom.
In his review of last night’s State of the Union address, Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales praised the performance of Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy, who apparently did a fine job of sitting in his chair and looking senatorial. “He looks so venerable and distinguished by now that it’s hard to get a bad picture of him,” Shales gushed. “In fact he seems more and more to resemble Claude Rains as a veteran white-haired senator in Frank Capra’s classic movie 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.' Life imitating art’s imitation of life.”
Three years ago, Shales was similarly ecstatic at Kennedy’s ability to strike a pose. “The best reaction shots were those of Ted Kennedy, whose stature seems to grow right along with his nose year after year after year. Kennedy has now reached a grand moment in the life of a senator; he looks like Hollywood itself cast him in the role,” Shales wrote after the 2004 State of the Union. “Kennedy looked great, like he was ready to take his place next to Jefferson on Mount Rushmore.
Q. How do you know a presidential candidate has thin national-security credentials?
A. When he has to cite his undergraduate major as evidence of his experience.
Barack Obama made the morning show rounds today. The amiable Robin Roberts interviewed him on ABC's Good Morning America. Inevitably, talk turned to his presidential prospects.
Roberts: "You're calling for a slight withdrawal of troops and I need to ask you this -- are you concerned that your lack of experience, when it comes to foreign policy, may hurt your chances in the run for the White House?" [Note Robin's apologetic "I need to ask you."]
Obama: "Well, actually, my experience in foreign policy is probably more diverse than most others in the field. I'm somebody who has actually lived overseas, somebody who has studied overseas. I majored in international relations.
The Washington Post’s coverage of their favorite new Senator, Virginia’s Jim Webb, whom Post writers describe as a "self-styled warrior-poet," was predictably folk-hero favorable after his typically prickly and pompous Democratic attack after the State of the Union address (although the Post account did avoid the word "Macaca.") Post reporter Michael D. Shear, a crucial part of Team Webb in taking down Sen. George Allen, shyly noted Webb became a "a folk hero among liberals and Democratic bloggers" for telling President Bush to shove off at a White House reception for new members of Congress. (Apparently, he had long been a folk hero to Shear, Tim Craig, and the editors of the Post.)
The headline characterized Webb’s speech as a "Blunt Challenge to Bush." Post editors also liked the words "aggressive" and "forceful," and a "blunt" manner that won voters’ hearts. There was no notion anywhere in the story that as Bush honored "Madame Speaker" and offered his olive branch (and the wallets of taxpayers) to the Democrats, that Webb responded to bipartisan overtures by slapping Bush around. Webb and a praising Harry Reid were the only sources in the story. Shear began:
As Americans, we all enjoy the right to criticize the president. But particularly on august occasions like the State of the Union, most agree that the office of the presidency is entitled to a modicum of respect. Or not -- at least in Meredith Vieira's case.
David Gregory set the stage on this morning's "Today,"with his depiction of W's mood:
"The president was more modest in his approach, he appeared humbled, a real sense that he reconizes that it's going to be difficult to keep both Democrats and Republicans on board here as he tries to persuade the country to stick with him on Iraq."
That's when Vieira put her own vulgar stamp on matters:
"Yeah, not exactly like a dog with his tail between his legs but obviously no posturing, either."
In response to president Bush's State of the Union Address, the Washington Post's main criticism (by reporter Glenn Kessler in the "news" section, not the editorial page) seems to be that Bush doesn't understand who "the enemy" is in the Global War on Terror. Yet as the Post proceeds to knock what they perceive as Bush's simple minded rhetoric with today's news article they only reveal it is they, rather, that has no idea who our enemies are.
In his State of the Union address last night, President Bush presented an arguably misleading and often flawed description of "the enemy" that the United States faces overseas, lumping together disparate groups with opposing ideologies to suggest that they have a single-minded focus in attacking the United States.
The headline was "President's Portrayal of 'The Enemy' Often Flawed." The Post's conception of "flawed" is just as ill considered as they imagine the president's to be and their analysis adds up merely to mirror the conception held by many Europeans.
Once again, a National U.S. paper "arguably" chooses sides with Europe's interests over that of America.
On the bright side, during MSNBC's State of the Union Coverage, correspondent David Shuster pointed out a couple of "misleading" claims made by Senator Jim Webb in the Democratic Response. After critiquing some of President Bush's statements, Shuster moved on to focus on Webb's speech. In response to Webb's complaint that wages "are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth," Shuster countered that "when you compare wages and salaries to cost of living," as economists normally do, "the sky is not falling in the way that Jim Webb suggested." And in response to Webb's complaint about manufacturing jobs being transferred overseas, Shuster pointed out that "high-tech jobs are coming to America." (Transcript follows)
A few minutes after President George W. Bush finished his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, ABC News White House reporter Martha Raddatz scolded him for repeating “sad echoes” of things he's said “so many times in the past.” As if that makes Bush's warnings, about the threat from Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda or how terrorists could come to the U.S. if we lose in Iraq, any less of a realistic threat.
Raddatz lectured: “I thought tonight there was some sad echoes of things he said so many times in the past. When he got to this global war on terror, when he got to Iraq, and you heard him concentrate on that global war on terrorism, those were the sad echoes. He brought up al Qaeda again, he brought up Osama bin Laden. He brought up Zarqawi in Iraq, who died many, many months ago. That's what he concentrated on. He avoided, to a great degree, the sectarian violence which is really the major problem in Iraq and once again, told Americans that if we didn't succeed in Iraq that the terrorists could come to the United States. And he's said that so many times in the past.”
While interviewing Senator Hillary Clinton Tuesday during MSNBC's State of the Union coverage, Chris Matthews referred to "ideologues on the right" who opposed her health care plan from 1994, saying they had planned to "kill this baby in its bassinette." Matthews wondered if Senator Clinton still felt the "sting of that strategy on the other side." (Transcript follows)
Below is a transcript of Matthews's question to Senator Clinton:
Matthews, to Hillary Clinton at 10:47pm EST.: "Back when you were working so hard on health care, back in the 90s, in the early 90s, and you really thought you could get some kind of compromise at the end, I believe, and the word came from the ideologues on the right, 'Kill this baby in its bassinette. Do not let them get a compromise health care bill that they can get credit for.' Do you still feel the sting of that strategy on the other side?"
Appearing on MSNBC's State of the Union coverage, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw praised President Bush for talking about global warming in his speech, lamenting that it was a subject the "Republican-dominated Congress has given very little attention to." Brokaw obverved that Bush had used the term "global warming" for the "first time since he's been President." Brokaw: "I think that you can give him an A for identifying the priorities that had been before this country for some time, and that the Republican-dominated Congress has given very little attention to. Global warming, he used that phrase for the first time since he's been President." (Transcript follows)
Just a couple of minutes before 9pm EST Tuesday night, as viewers awaited President Bush's State of the Union address, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer cued up Anderson Cooper to inform viewers of how there would be an “issue that’s presumably going to be thunderously missing from this speech.” Cooper explained: “Yeah, of course, you’re talking about Hurricane Katrina, you’re talking about the Gulf Coast states and Mississippi and the rebuilding of New Orleans. No mention of that in this speech tonight. That is certainly going to upset a lot of people in the Gulf Coast region who already feel that the country has moved on, that Washington has forgotten them. In the State of the Union, the President, as we have been told so far, will make no reference to New Orleans or to Mississippi, the rebuilding there. So much still needs to be done there, obviously, and we will not be hearing about that tonight from this President.” (Hat tip to MRC's Rich Noyes)
While TV listings suggested all three broadcast networks would stick with SOTU coverage until the late newscasts, CBS was the first network out at 10:27 Eastern time, and NBC followed about three minutes later. CBS had to make time for Charlie Sheen's character having sexual performance problems on "Two And A Half Men," while NBC burned a rerun of "The Office."
ABC was the only network to stick to news, as Charles Gibson interviewed presidential contenders John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama. Perhaps the campaign moment of the night, causing the glee for arrogant liberals, was when Gibson mildly suggest the Democrats still "distrust" President Bush on policy, and Senator Clinton laughed and said "We are an evidence-based party." As opposed to Republicans, who apparently believe truth has a liberal bias, as Stephen Colbert jokes. The other pukey moment was ABC political analyst George Stephanopoulos praising Jim Webb's typically pompous address as clearly composed by a writer. Stephy called the speech "lyrical." As if you could hear harps playing in the background?
CBS’s live coverage of the State of the Union speech was dominated by gloom for President Bush Tuesday night. Anchor Katie Couric described Bush as "resolute, yet resigned." In the very first seconds after Bush concluded, Couric jumped in with the fact that CBS News polls showed President Bush had an 82 percent approval rating at State of the Union time in 2002, just months after 9/11, and now "reverse it," CBS’s approval rating number for Bush was 28 percent, an "all-time low." CBS has traditionally held the lowest poll number of the media outlets. The other polls in the current time period aren't great either, but found numbers between 31 percent (Newsweek, also traditionally low) and 39 percent (LA Times-Bloomberg).
Couric then turned to Bob Schieffer, and stressed it was odd that Bush went from opposing nation-building in the 2000 campaign to now favoring the spread of democracy. (It could be argued you can support democracy-building without doing the tougher work of nation-building.) With a pessimistic tone, Couric asked "Has he changed any minds tonight?"
Fourteen months after CNN’s John King showcased retired Marine Colonel Jim Van Riper to illustrate military disillusionment with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush’s Iraq policy, on Tuesday night, barely an hour before the State of the Union address, King checked in from New Bern, North Carolina and again featured Van Riper’s criticisms as if they had fresh meaning. In a story, near the start of the 8pm EST Situation Room, about the stresses on Marines and soldiers caused by repeated deployments to Iraq, King highlighted how “retired Marine Colonel Jim Van Riper is more optimistic now that the Pentagon is under new leadership, but says strategic blunders by the President and his team have left the military near the breaking point.” Van Riper asserted: “It’s a horrendous operational tempo and along with that you’ve got equipment problems. These men and women now are operating at a much faster pace than we did, particularly in Vietnam or Desert Shield/Desert Storm.”
King, who in 2005 touted Van Riper's take as "telling," then depicted Van Riper’s view as “striking” in a such a pro-Bush state: “It is striking in a state like this, a place with a deep military tradition, respect for the Commander-in-Chief, a state President Bush carried in two presidential elections, to hear such open skepticism, in some cases open criticism and opposition to the President’s war plan.”
Add Keith Olbermann to the list of congressmen, intelligence officials and others to manifest an embarrassing unfamiliarity with the players in the civil strife in Iraq. On tonight's Countdown, Olbermann was trying to make the case that "recent claims from the president that Iran is providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq . . . is proving . . . suspect . . . The Bush administration is providing scant evidence to support the claims."
And what evidence did Olbermann provide to support his claim? "The Los Angeles Times [is] reporting that journalists traveling with US troops in Iraq have failed to see these extensive signs of Iranian involvement. A recent sweep through a stronghold of Sunni insurgents uncovering only a single Iranian weapon among dozens of arms caches." [Emphasis added].
As reported by NewsBusters, Keith Olbermann during Monday’s “Countdown” declared Insight magazine as part of a quartet of the Worst Persons in the World. Its crime? Publishing an article suggesting that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) attended a Muslim madrassa as a child.
In reality, KO should point that castigating finger at himself given that he hasn’t always been so critical of the conservative magazine. In fact, in the eight other times that a LexisNexis search identified KO referenced Insight, he quoted from the publication quite warmly as if it was a credible source (h/t NewsBusters member “mlong”).
What did all those eight instances have in common? Well, if you guessed that the magazine was criticizing President Bush or a member of his administration, you’d be correct.
Hysterically, the most egregious example of Olby’s hypocrisy on this issue was him actually using an Insight article to declare Karl Rove “The Worst Person in the World” on September 6, 2006: