Former attorney general John Ashcroft was invited on this morning's Today show to promote his book Never Again but he found himself talking about somebody else's book instead. In the 8:30 half hour NBC's Meredith Vieira assaulted Ashcroft with excerpts from Bob Woodward's latest book and even went on to question Ashcroft about the "moral basis of the war on terrorism," and asserted, "Many people feel that our civil liberties have been chipped away bit by bit since, since 9/11."
Teasing the segment Matt Lauer called Ashcroft, "a very controversial figure," and in her opening Vieira noted he was "a lightning rod for criticism." Hmm, I wonder how many times Today referred to Janet Reno in those terms?
On Monday night's syndicated Geraldo At Large, Geraldo Rivera compared George Allen to Mark Fuhrman. Rivera, in his final commentary, aired the allegations of racism by Allen critics but never quoted Allen supporters. Teasing the segment Rivera made the Fuhrman comparison:
"Stand by everybody. What does the senator from Virginia have in common with the cop in the O.J. Simpson case? We'll be back in a flash with what may be the beginning of the end of a promising political career."
The following is the entire transcript of Rivera's segment from the September 26th edition of Geraldo At Large:
Rivera: "Do you remember the moment, the very moment that O.J. Simpson beat that murder rap, despite the mountain of evidence against him? I'll give you a hint it had nothing to do with the murders but everything to do with a lie. Watch."
While the Today show noted there was some good news for the Bush side in the declassified NIE report they spent most of their time emphasizing the negative. Today host Matt Lauer, in an interview with William Bennett, stressed the portion of the NIE report most likely to hurt Bush, highlighted a poll of Iraqis to push the Democratic line of early withdrawal and then quoted Hillary Clinton's most recent attack on the administration.
At the top of the show Lauer opened: "On Tuesday the President declassified parts of an intelligence report that's both good and bad news for the administration. While it claims that a victory in Iraq would demoralize the terrorists it also says the war there has strengthened the jihadist movement."
Viewers of this morning's Today expecting a balanced panel discussing Bill Clinton's outburst at Fox News were greeted with James Carville debating...Paul Begala? Meredith Vieira, for the most part, sat back as Carville and Begala pumped up Clinton, rallied the Democratic base and attacked everything from the administration's war on terror to Condoleezza Rice, to Fox News. There was no Michael Smerconish or any other vaguely right-of-center counterpart to make points against Clinton's outburst.
The following is a transcript of the entire segment:
Meredith Vieira: "Norah O'Donnell, thanks. Democratic strategists James Carville and Paul Begala worked closely with former President Clinton, their book, Take It Back: A Battle Plan for Democratic Victory is now out in paperback and updated with new material. Good morning to both of you gentlemen. I want to start with you James."
In this morning’s interview with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, Today host Matt Lauer mostly asked serious questions about Pakistan’s role in the war on terror and what more that country could do but right before the end of the interview Lauer asked Musharaff to elaborate on a charge he made about the Iraq war:
Lauer: "In your book you wrote, quote, 'I never favored the invasion of Iraq because I feared it would exacerbate extremism as it most certainly has. The world is not a safer place because of the war in Iraq, the world has become far more dangerous.' A recent classified National Intelligence Estimate, in this country, draws that exact same conclusion. So let me ask you, do you think then President Bush should be blamed for making the world a less safe place?"
Last night viewers of MSNBC's Hardball were greeted with this jarring intro from Chris Matthews: "The country thought Bush was a pleasant, down to earth guy who would not rock the boat. Instead, swayed by some inner impulse, or the influence of Dick Cheney, he has proved to be lawless and reckless.He started a war he cannot finish, drove the government into debt, and repeatedly defied the Constitution,' the words today of David Broder, the country's premier political reporter. Let's play Hardball." Matthews celebrated Broder's Washington Post column as Hardball highlighted it not once but three times.
In this morning's interview with Bill Clinton, as first observed here, NBC Today co-host Meredith Vieira treated the former president as a wise sage that could solve everything that's wrong with George W. Bush and his policies.
On Hugo Chavez's remarks calling the President, the "Devil" Vieira, gave some credence to the Venezuelan president's claims, as she asked the former President: "Do we need to change the way that we act?," and "is the developing world frustrated with the way that we treat them?"
Vieira then turned to Clinton for advice on Iran: "Let me ask you, then, about President Bush refusing to meet with the Iranian president Ahmadinejad, the other day. He said he would not do that, they wouldn't be in the same room together. If you were president today would you have met with the president of Iran?"
Meredith Vieira used the occasion of Laura Bush's in-studio appearance on this morning's Today to pepper the First Lady with criticisms from Hillary Clinton and even Republicans. The First Lady was on to promote her global literacy initiative but, not surprisingly, she ended up having to defend against Today's attack line of the day. After a set-up piece from NBC's Kelly O'Donnell that noted: 'some of the biggest names within [the President's] own party....continue to resist some of his plans for how terror suspects are treated,' Vieira asked if the First Lady's global literacy initiative would help restore the nation's reputation, presumably, destroyed by the President's anti-terror policies:
On her first day of work NBC's new Today co-host Meredith Vieira mistakenly called House Majority Leader John Boehner the "House Speaker." The blooper came as Vieira, in a segment with Tim Russert, referred to an earlier report by David Gregory, as he, once again, over-hyped a remark from Boehner. Vieira mistakenly asked Tim Russert:
Vieira: "Meanwhile you have, as David Gregory pointed out, the House Speaker saying, criticizing the Democratic, the Democrats for criticizing the President by saying that they're really soft on terrorism, that their commitment to fighting the war is not really there. That's worked effectively for the Republicans in the past, that argument. Do you think that it still will work?"
Jane Fonda, Rosie O'Donnell and Gloria Steinem team up for a new radio network and NBC's Today, not surprisingly, is ready to promote it. The Today show invited on the "legendary Jane Fonda," as Ann Curry called her, to plug the new Women's Radio Network this morning. In fact the Today cast couldn't contain their excitement for the "sometimes controversial" activist.
Curry: "By the way Jane Fonda, you look great. You look marvelous."
Lauer: "Yikes! She looks fantastic doesn't she? I don't think she can hear us otherwise she'd be saying thank you."
Yesterday Matt Lauer treated Hillary Clinton with kid gloves but on this morning's Today, Bush, once again, got the hostile treatment from Lauer. However in this morning's portion of Lauer's long interview with the President, Bush stepped up, even calling Matt out for trying to "justify" the Democratic position.
Lauer: "Do you know of any Democrats, that in your opinion, are trying to or would like to appease terrorists?"
George W. Bush: "I know Democrats who want to leave Iraq before the job is done and that would be a terrible mistake."
Lauer: "But those Democrats don't see the war in Iraq as inseparable from the overall war on terror."
On this morning's Today show NBC's Matt Lauer and Kelly O'Donnell advanced the Democratic Party's whine, er, line that Bush was politicizing 9/11. Lauer opened this morning's Today: "The politics of 9/11. President Bush makes a prime time speech calling for vigilance in the war on terror but some Democrats cry foul....Democrats are furious saying that he used the anniversary of 9/11 for political purposes."
In the 7 am half hour Ann Curry introduced O'Donnell's report:"Today's attack in Syria came just hours after President Bush warned in a prime time speech that terrorists are still bent on striking America but his defense of the war in Iraq on the 9/11 anniversary has some Democrats very angry. NBC's White House correspondent Kelly O'Donnell has more this morning."
While NBC's Matt Lauer baited Sen. Hillary Clinton to admonish the administration to say we're not safer, he attacked the President for, in fact, trying to make the nation safer. Lauer prompted Clinton: "Are you comfortable that the United States did not break the law in conducting that kind of interrogations in those secret sites?" Then later in the program, as first noted by MRC's Brent Baker, Lauer repeatedly attacked Bush over interrogation methods worrying: "Are you at all concerned that at some point, even if you get results, there is a blurring the lines of, between ourselves and the people we're trying to protect us against?"
Video clip of Lauer's combative exchange with Bush over treatment of terrorists (3:20): Real (5.6 MB) or Windows Media (6.5 MB), plus MP3 audio (1.1 MB)
Watching Tom Brokaw on this morning's Today show viewers couldn't help feel depressed as Brokaw painted a divided America that is disrepected abroad and losing the war on terrorism. On this morning's special 9/11 anniversary edition of Today, Brokaw opined: "Five years later there are more questions, more uncertainty. After all five years later the Taliban are back in Afghanistan, Iraq is on the verge of anarchy, Iran is more dangerous than ever. Five years later there have been no more attacks on the U.S. but the terrorists are still out there."
Brokaw worried about government overstepping its bounds and wrung his hands about the origins of Islamic anger:
"Just who else is listening in on our conversations? The Islamic rage, where does that come from?"
With our very own Matthew Sheffield, literally confronting him last night, it seems like Newsbusters has gotten into Chris Matthews’s head or at least his bookmarks. On last night’s Hardball Matthews confessed to regularly checking out what the blogosphere is saying about him and seemed close to mentioning Newsbusters as one of the sites he visits. The mention came during a discussion with Tom Curry of MSNBC.com and Tom Matzzie of Moveon.org, as Matthews attempted to portray himself as middle-of-the road, using the old excuse that he gets attacked from the left and right.
Chris Matthews: "Let me ask you about the whole world, you're not partisan. You know every morning I get up when I'm in a ridiculously open mood and I check and see how I'm doing on something like google, and I get a pasting from the left, from Moveon or not Moveon, generally, Mediamatters, almost every day. I get a pasting from Newsmakers or what's it called News..."
Egged on by NBC’s Ann Curry, 9/11 widow and media fave Kristen Breitweiser attacked Ann Coulter and the President on this morning’s Today. On to promote her new book, Wake-Up Call, Breitweiser was portrayed as merely a non-partisan 'stay-at-home-mother,' as Curry never mentioned her 2004 support for John Kerry.
Before playing a clip of Coulter with Lauer, Curry asked Breitweiser: "You know conservatives, as you know, well know, have attacked, criticized heavily 9/11 widows for, including you, for, for some of what you've said over these years, over these five years. In fact on this program, Ann Coulter, the writer, said something to, to Matt Lauer. Let's take a quick listen to what she said."
MSNBC's Chris Matthews invited on New York gubernatorial Green Party candidate Malachy McCourt, to state his case but when the brother of Angela's Ashes author, Frank McCourt, suggested George W. Bush be tried for war crimes and executed, the Hardball host didn't even flinch. The following exchange occurred on last night's Hardball:
Matthews: "Look, let me ask you this. Where are you on capital punishment?"
Malachy McCourt: "Capital punishment? I think that if, if I've got to find that guy in Spain who indicted Pinochet and get him for war crimes, and I get him to do the same thing for Bush. And in that case, I would be for capital punishment. Otherwise, I am against it. Spitzer, who is the other guy running here, he is for capital punishment for those who kill policemen. Well, my son is a cop in New York, and if somebody killed my son, and it wouldn't do me any good or give me any satisfaction to sit there in some death house in Sing Sing and watch them put some other person to death because they killed my son. That would not cheer me up one bit, Chris."
Leave it to the Today show to find the negative side of good economic news. Reporting on the discovery of the largest oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico, NBC's Martin Savidge admitted that "environmentalists might have a point," in worrying, "the discovery will hardly make a dent in America's reliance on foreign oil" and "it might cause Americans to stop conserving."
The following is the full segment introduced by Ann Curry:
Ann Curry: "Now to Today At the Pump and a major oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico. The average price of unleaded gas, nationwide, is now $2.72 a gallon according to the AAA. A steady drop over the last few weeks but drivers everywhere are wondering if the price of gas will drop even further with what could be the largest domestic oil find in 38 years. NBC's Martin Savidge has more on the potential of this new find. Hey Martin, good morning."
David Gregory, just scolded by White House press secretary Tony Snow for advancing Democratic talking points, pushed them again, along with Matt Lauer, on this morning's Today show. Gregory repeated Democratic attacks on Donald Rumsfeld: "Critics have a long list of complaints against Rumsfeld. The abuse at Abu Ghraib and his role in advocating tougher treatment of prisoners. Underestimating troop levels for the war. And what critics call his arrogance in the face of bad news, like this response two-years ago to a soldier complaining about inadequate armor."
Lauer then followed Gregory's lead, pounding Senate Majority Bill Frist on the Secretary of Defense. Lauer repeatedly interrupted Frist with the following anti-Rumsfeld questions:
On this morning’s Today show, MSNBC's Chris Matthews set the table for a Republican defeat this November declaring the GOP will have to resort to "fear tactics." Also NBC’s medical correspondent took a quick slap at the administration during a piece on the health of Ground Zero workers.
First up, during a preview of the midterm elections Today host Matt Lauer and Matthews discussed what kind of strategy the Republicans would employ.
Lauer: "Let's talk strategy. You're a Republican member of Congress right now, you're running for reelection. You have two choices basically. Stand by the President and his policies or keep an arm's length. What do you do and what's gonna work?"
NBC's Norah O'Donnell, substituting for host Chris Matthews on last night's Hardball, demanded White House counselor Dan Bartlett defend Donald Rumsfeld's comparison of war critics to Nazi sympathizers. O'Donnell claimed the criticism smacked of "desperation" and cited an L.A. Times editorial to Bartlett that called Rumsfeld's speech, "inane."
The following are the full questions from O'Donnell to Bartlett:
Norah O'Donnell: "Fascists, Nazis, communists. The new e-mail from the RNC that I saw today called Democrats, 'defeatocrats'. Some may argue that all of this name-calling reeks of desperation."
On the August 28th edition of Fox New's syndicated Geraldo At Large, Geraldo Rivera advocated for an illegal immigrant single-mother trying to fight deportation with the help of a Chicago church. The piece cast illegal immigration foes as almost heartless as Rivera asked Pat Buchanan: "Isn't it impossible almost, not to be sympathetic to this mom and her son?" and "Pat isn't it a kind of bait and switch? We lure the illegals here with the promise of work and now we're telling them, either leave or be arrested?"
Rivera noted the deportation stems from a 2002 arrest of her using a fake social security number but then tried to justify it by saying she paid the taxes: "One quick note about using a fake social security number. The tax is paid into the federal government but it's never paid out. So Elvira was paying taxes." Rivera then went further saying that some compare her "to Rosa Parks and other icons of the civil rights movement."
One of Rush Limbaugh’s many pet peeves with the "drive-by" media’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina has been reporters nagging that the Bush administration wasn’t doling out money fast enough only to turn around and then complain that much of money has been wasted in various scams. A prime example of this was NBC’s Norah O’Donnell on last night’s Hardball. O’Donnell, determined to deny the administration any successes, asked the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson:
"A year later and less than half of New Orleans residents have moved back. There have been, according to government watchdog groups, at least $2 billion in fraud and waste, scams, et cetera. Can Bush claim that there's any success in what's happened in the Gulf Coast in the past year?"
On this morning's Today, NBC's Matt Lauer asked New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin to address the conspiracy theory that the levees were intentionally blown up to protect white neighborhoods at the expense of African-Americans. Reciting a question Brian Williams posed in his special, Lauer asked Nagin: "And finally the elephant in the room, if you will, Mr. Nagin. There are still people in the black community, many people, and Brian Williams touched on this in a special last night on NBC, who believe that the day after Katrina struck New Orleans the levees were breached intentionally. That they were blown, if you will, to flood black and poor neighborhoods to spare middle-class white neighborhoods. It would seem very difficult for New Orleans to move forward until that's directly addressed. What do you say about it?"
Over the weekend on NBC’s syndicated "The Chris Matthews Show," Matthews and his media panel predicted the House would fall to the Democrats, prompting Matthews to wonder what sort of "scare tactic" Republicans would employ in the upcoming midterms. Matthews asked Time’s Michael Duffy if the Republicans were "gonna bring in the ethnic factor?"
Then later in the program Matthews honored the media’s Katrina coverage by highlighting this exaggerated report from an NBC cameraman: "Dead people around the walls of the Convention Center laying in the middle of the street."
Matthews and the panel began the show discussing the inevitability of the Democrats retaking Congress and what Republicans would stoop to, to prevent the takeover which led to this exchange between Matthews and Duffy:
It’s been noted on this site before that David Shuster’s reports for MSNBC’s Hardball read like DNC press releases and last night was no exception as he attacked the administration on Katrina and Iraq and even found time to slam Sen. George Allen. Shuster opened fire: "Almost a year since Hurricane Katrina swamped the Gulf Coast, left the country shocked at the Bush administration's ineptitude the Bush team is now engaged in damage control for the year after reminder."
During his report Shuster cited Nancy Pelosi to attack Bush on Katrina, Sen. John McCain to hit Bush on Iraq and Howard Dean to slam Allen. Then Shuster called the Democrat's "wise" and doomed the GOP with this sign-off: "Reminding voters of your opponent's mistakes is a wise political campaign strategy and between George Allen, the problems in Iraq and the anniversary of the Bush team's Katrina debacle Democrats are now having a field day. Republicans are simply trying to hang on just 75 days before the congressional elections. I'm David Shuster for Hardball in Washington."
Interviewing 9/11 Commission members Gov. Thomas Kean and Rep. Lee Hamilton on yesterday's Meet the Press, NBC's David Gregory repeatedly pushed his guests to admit Iraq was a distraction from the war on terror. Both Kean and Hamilton gave carefully-worded but clearly affirmative responses to Gregory's question but Gregory, substituting for Tim Russert, kept pushing for a harsher assessment of the administration. Gregory opened the segment reciting the cover of Newsweek: "Welcome both. Let me show you the cover of this week's Newsweek magazine. The banner headline: ‘Terror Now: A Plot Against Airlines, Bin Laden At Large, Iraq in Flames. Five Years After 9/11, Are We Any Safer? Governor Kean, are we?"
After a discussion about al Qaeda, Gregory prompted Kean: "Governor Kean, has that [Muslim] radicalization gotten worse since the 9/11 attacks, and why?" Kean cited a number of reasons including high-unemployment, poverty, U.S. support of Israel and the Iraq war. Out of that list, Gregory jumped on Iraq, as he launched into a barrage of anti-Iraq war questions:
It's been 18 years but the media still can't get over Michael Dukakis' defeat to George Bush and the Willie Horton ad they blame for that Bush victory. On this morning's Today NBC's Ann Curry brought on psychologist Jeff Gardere to discuss a new study that showed how emotions can overtake logic in decision-making. Curry introduced the segment: "Have you ever been accused of thinking with your heart and not your head well if so a new study reports your just like everybody else....This is just the latest biological evidence to suggest that next time you make a bad choice maybe you really can blame it on your emotions." Just seconds later NBC's producers ran the Horton ad as Exhibit A of emotions leading to the "bad choice," of voting for Bush.
On this morning's Today, NBC's Kevin Corke wondered how long the administration knew about the averted bombing plot and why they would withhold that information, asking: "If the administration has known about this potential plot what was the hold up in getting the word out, especially domestically?" Either this is a case of the media being overly-skeptical or just being clueless. Clearly the administration wouldn't want to release any information before any arrests were made so as not to tip off any suspects in the U.S. or Britain. The following is the full exchange between NBC's Ann Curry and Corke.
Ann Curry: "And British Prime Minister Tony Blair briefed the President overnight about this plot. Well NBC's Kevin Corke is in Crawford, Texas at the President's ranch this morning. Kevin, good morning. Any word from the President?"
Matt Lauer, Diane Sawyer and Harry Smith aren't dumb, they know a potential roadblock to Democratic success when they see one, and that's why all three of them collectively told Sen. Joseph Lieberman to drop out. Lieberman appeared on all three network morning shows and received identical reactions from all three hosts.
NBC's Matt Lauer on this morning's Today show: "Senator is there any phone call you could receive, is there anyone in the Democratic Party who could call you today and ask you to drop out that you would listen to?" ABC's Diane Sawyer on this morning's Good Morning America: "Senator, I heard you say I'm a Democrat. But you're talking about running as an independent and there are members of the party who've already said, commentators, that this is a selfish decision. How can you run against the party? What will happen?" CBS's Harry Smith on The Early Show: "A final quick question. You will run as an independent at risk of losing the seat to the Republicans? You understand that risk? By splitting the Democratic vote."