Appearing on CNN's Larry King Live on Wednesday, comedian Bill Maher, while discussing the recent John Kerry gaffe interpreted by many as an attack on the intelligence of American troops, wondered why Americans would believe a "true war hero" like Kerry would be "against the troops." Ignoring Kerry's history in the 1970s of giving testimony before Congress accusing American troops of committing war crimes, and his 2005 charge that American troops in Iraq were "terrorizing" civilians, Maher contended that Kerry should have "called out" President Bush, referring to the President as a "draft dodger."
Below is a transcript of Maher's comments from the November 8 Larry King Live:
On Wednesday's Countdown, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, while interviewing E.J. Dionne of the Washinton Post, seemed to fret about whether Democrats would sufficiently investigate and rein in the Bush administration on issues such as habeas corpus and the Military Commissions Act. After wondering if Democrats "ignore at their peril the wing of their party that donated and campaigned on the promise of intensive oversight, of hearing subpoenas," Olbermann moved on to his concerns about habeas corpus as he wondered if Democrats would either "dismantle" the Military Commisions Act or if they would otherwise be able to "keep that monster under the bed." Olbermann: "Of particular concern here in terms of what the Democrats will do unto the Senators recoiled in horror at its passage and anybody who remembers good old habeas corpus. The Military Commissions Act, do the Democrats have a plan to dismantle that or is their presence in power enough by itself to keep that monster under the bed?" (Transcript follows)
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sat for interviews Wednesday with reporters for all the networks. NBC's Brian Williams and CBS's Katie Couric put the most emphasis on her presumed “history-making” ascension to House Speaker and allowed her to offer the most-benign descriptions of the policies she will pursue. “Our conversation with Nancy Pelosi, a woman on the verge of making American history,” Williams trumpeted in teasing the NBC Nightly News. Over video of President Bush, with Vice President Cheney and House Speaker Hastert behind him at a State of the Union address, Williams relayed how Pelosi “says she is most excited to change this picture, to put a female face in this frame of three male faces for the very first time." Williams sycophantically gushed to her: "Let's talk about history because I know history was riding along with you as you watched the results last night. I know you have thought today about your mother. I know you have thought today about your father, your own children and grandchildren."
A smiling and spellbound Couric wondered: "A lot has been made of the fact that you, if elected, and it appears that you will be, that you will be the first woman Speaker of the House and the highest ranking woman in the United States government. What does that mean to you?" Pelosi replied: "It's pretty exciting, I have to say. I'm just so excited that a Democrat will be Speaker of the House." To which Couric oozed: "So you're a Democrat first, a woman second?" (Transcripts follow)
Three flights and 11 hours after leaving Ithaca I made it to our rendezvous spot in Charleston, SC, the Sheraton North, and met two of my three team members: Navy Lt. Corey Schultz of CENTCOM, who did an absolutely wonderful job organizing the trip stateside and who will now accompany us to and around Iraq, and Dave Kelso, classic rock DJ extraordinaire at KRXO in Oklahoma City.
We shared dinner in the hotel restaurant, and I rolled tape [as you'll see the lighting was dim but the stories were good enough to justify sharing less-than-perfect footage with you]. In this montage, Corey explains the reason behind our middle-of-the-night flight schedule, and Dave tells a moving story from a previous trip to Iraq.
“CNN's decision to show video of Iraqi insurgent snipers targeting U.S. troops,” FNC's Brit Hume relayed in his Wednesday “Grapevine” segment, “has gotten it kicked out of one Midwestern hotel chain.” Hume reported how James Thompson, owner of the Stoney Creek Inns in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin, “has dropped CNN and Headline News from the cable lineup in his ten hotels” because “he made a quote, 'judgment of conscience' after seeing the sniper video, which he calls an 'obscenity' that was quote, 'personally offensive and shocking.' He says his company 'will not be a party to propaganda for terrorists.'"
Tim Graham's October 24 NewsBusters item on Congressman Duncan Hunter scolding CNN for airing the video from the point of view of snipers shooting U.S. soldiers and Marines. MRC President Brent Bozell's October 25 column: “CNN, Stenographer to Terror.”
The MRC's Rich Noyes this afternoon reminded me of how the CBS Evening News smeared Robert Gates, nominated Wednesday by President George W. Bush to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense, when President George H.W. Bush nominated him to become CIA Director in 1991. A short item in the June, 1991 MediaWatch, a monthly newsletter the MRC published at the time, recounted:
SPOOKING CBS. President Bush's May 14 selection of Robert Gates to head the CIA was well received by leaders of both parties, but you'd never know that from watching CBS reporter Eric Engberg. Instead, he linked Gates to the Iran-Contra affair through tabloid-style innuendo: "During the time when William Casey was secretly overseeing the sale of arms to the Iranians and aid to the Contras, as laws were broken and money flowed, his loyal number two at the CIA was Robert Gates." Engberg put on Tom Blanton of the (unlabeled) leftist National Security Archive (NSA) to proclaim: "The worst case is that Bob Gates participated in a coverup. The best case is that Bob Gates is a hear-no-evil, see-no-evil, speak-no-evil bureaucrat who watched all this information come through his office and looked the other way."
With Donald Rumsfeld now on his way out as Secretary of Defense, some liberal media types are undoubtedly grinning from ear to ear, for they have made their antipathy to Rumsfeld very well known. Just on Monday, for example, CNN’s Jack Cafferty blasted Rumsfeld as “an obnoxious jerk and a war criminal.” Back in August, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann slammed Rumsfeld as a fascist and a “quack.”
But reporters have been distressed by Rumsfeld since before the war in Iraq. A few examples of the liberal media’s anti-Rumsfeld attitude:
Upset by Talk of Old Europe. “Secretary Rumsfeld...has dismissively referred to France and Germany as ‘Old Europe,’ and today, Secretary Powell, who warned France not to be ‘afraid’ of its responsibilities. Is that the rhetoric of a great power, and is that really the most effective way of building alliances?”
Is this more offensive to Democrats or Republicans? At least five separate reporters described incoming freshman Democrat Congressmen as conservative. On Wednesday’s "Early Show" Bob Schieffer noted "these Democrats that were elected last night are conservative Democrats." Later in the same program, CBS News Captiol Hill correspondent Sharyl Attkisson highlighted, "...a lot of these new Democrats who’ve been elected are social conservatives." Seconds later, CBS Political Correspondent Gloria Borger observed that with the Democrats taking the House, "the committee chairmen are going to be liberal and the people coming in are going to be these moderate conservatives." The trend continued on "Imus in the Morning" as NBC’s David Gregory remarked, "She’s [Nancy Pelosi] going to have a lot of center-right Democrats who won..."
During President Bush’s news conference Wednesday afternoon, New York Times writer Jim Rutenberg phrased his question to President Bush in terms utilized on the Times editorial page on Wednesday repudiating President Bush’s leadership. Earlier, David Gregory portrayed President Bush as out of touch with Americans and inquired as to whether now that the voters have spoken, is he "listening to the voters or the vice president."
During the press conference Jim Rutenberg questioned:
"But the results are being interpreted as a repudiation of your leadership style in some quarters. I wonder what your reaction is to that, and should we expect a very different White House? Should we expect a very different leadership style from you in these last two years given that you have a whole new set of partners."
It seems we were misled by Dan Rather about playing it "straight" on The Daily Show on Election Night. He made a brief appearance to draw laughs by spouting a few canned "Ratherisms," in case anyone missed the biennial tradition of the disgraced CBS anchor’s homespun Texas phrases. (By the way, we coined the term "Ratherisms" in Notable Quotables back in 1992, and were recounting the election-night expressions back in NQ’s first year, 1988.) On Tuesday, Rather gave a bland analysis of the state of play, allowing Stewart to set up the gag:
Stewart: "We sort of brought you in here to, you know, give us a little bit more of that Dan Rather. You know what I am saying? A little bit more of that home-spun kind of... ?
Rather, faking confusion: "How so?"
Stewart: How about Hillary Clinton? We knew she would win in a landslide. How would you, Dan Rather, describe the largeness of her victory?
Rather: It was a healthy margin. [Stewart mugs and urges the Ratherism.] How about...She ran away with it like a hobo with a sweet potato pie?" [Wild applause, cheers.]
In the giddy aftermath of a Democratic victory, the cheery tone of morning television can begin to look like excessive enthusiasm. On Wednesday morning's Today, co-host Meredith Vieira interviewed Montana's liberal Democratic Senate challenger, Jon Tester, who at the time was narrowly ahead and not yet declared the winner. Vieira noticed that despite the close call, "yet, you have a smile on your face, sir." When asked how he came this far, Tester said people came out to vote for honesty and integrity, about Iraq, and health care.
Vieira perkily concluded: "Well I hope you keep the smile on your face there Jon Tester. Thank you very much. Back to you, Matt."
Although not as bumpy as the road the GOP encountered last night, I've hit some turbulence on the first day of my Iraq trip. With weather socked in on the East Coast, my US Airways flight out of our little Ithaca airport was cancelled. A quick phone call later I was on the road to Syracuse. For my sins I decided to listen to Air America all the way - the Stephanie Miller Show as it turned out. They spoke of being in "full gloat mode," and that was no overstatement. Multiple renditions of the "nah-nah-nah-nah, goodbye" song, endless repetitions of Paul Begala's slur of Rush Limbaugh, fantasies of Tom DeLay slipping in his own sick - a class act all around.
Oddly, I didn't find it getting under my skin much. After 12 years in the wilderness, I suppose it's just human nature for Dems to revel in the moment. Every dog has its day. Then again, on election night 1994 I don't recall the GOP revolution, welcome as it was, sending me into paroxysms of puerile chest-pounding. Sidenote: the Air Americans mocked the Fox & Friends cast's notion that, after all, many of the successful Dem candidates were of a moderate to conservative stripe. Miller & Co. are apparently expecting Pelosi to govern in accordance to what they gleefully referred to as her "San Francisco values."
In the second half-hour of Wednesday's Good Morning America, ABC financial expert Mellody Hobson insisted Democratic majorities in Congress are "probably going to be very good for the economy," since it will lead to "gridlock," which means "it's not easy to spend money."
Co-host Robin Roberts introduced Hobson: "She is president, also, of Ariel Capital Management. Let's start money first, Mellody. The first time in twelve years that the Democrats have control of the House, not sure what's going to happen in the Senate right now. What does that mean for the economy?"
CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien talked with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on Wednesday and displayed a snide attitude over the Republicans’ midterm losses. She even tried to goad DeLay into bashing Karl Rove:
O’Brien: "Think Karl Rove is still a genius?"
Delay: "Oh, yes. Just because you lose one ball game doesn't remove your genius."
O’Brien: "Really, you think that -- this is kind of a big ball game to lose. Some people might say, yes, but if you lose the big one, it actually could chip away at your title."
Apparently victories in 2000, 2002 and 2004 don’t mean anything.
Starter topic: Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer on the election's impact: "There are some people who want to argue that ... this was what the
Republicans needed, a kick in the pants [...] But it’s also a
shift of responsibility to the Democrats. They now have to join in the
government in a very hard situation in Iraq and elsewhere. If things
don’t go well, they will share in the blame."
Like Chris Matthews last night, The Times seems to be bitter about not having everything go the Democrats' way last night, putting its usual racism spin on one of the GOP's few bright spots -- Bob Corker's win over Harold Ford Jr. in the race for Senate in Tennessee.
"Tennessee's open Senate seat stayed in Republican hands on Tuesday night after a campaign that drew national attention for its nastiness and for Democratic hopes that it would break a longstanding race barrier."
Nossiter blames racism in Tennessee:
"In addition, Mr. Ford was trying to become the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction.
MRC President Brent Bozell appeared with other conservative leaders at the National Press Club this morning to urge that the Republican Party respond to their election defeat by returning to their conservative Reaganite roots. During his remarks, Bozell lambasted the national media’s biased campaign coverage, blasting them as “a laughingstock when it comes to the idea of objective journalism.”
In the press conference televised live on C-SPAN, Bozell listed the missed opportunities and strategic errors made by the Republicans, then focused on the media’s hand in crafting yesterday’s outcome:
“And then they [the Republicans] had the problem with the national press. I will say this unequivocally: In 25 years of looking at the national media, I have never in my life seen a more one-sided, distorted, vicious presentation of news and non-news by the national press.
In their story on the Democrats winning the House of Representatives, al-Jazeera’s English-language Web site blamed the “unpopular war in Iraq” for the GOP defeat and highlighted Nancy Pelosi’s speech demanding a “new direction” on Iraq.
“Staying the course has not made our country safer,” al-Jazeera quoted Pelosi as saying last night. “We cannot continue down this catastrophic path.”