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."
As more and more states recognize the basic right to defend yourself NBC’s Today, not surprisingly, took a dim view. On this morning’s Today, Ron Mott in a segment headlined by the graphic: "License To Kill, Self-Defense Gone Too Far," Mott slanted his story with alarmist rhetoric and unbalanced talking heads.
Matt Lauer introduced the story: "Now a debate. How far can you go in the name of self-defense? In a growing number of states people have much more leeway to use deadly force. Supporters say that's a good thing but critics argue it's a case of shoot first and ask questions later. We have more on this now from NBC's Ron Mott."
On this weekend's syndicated The Chris Matthews Show, Matthews made one last pitch for Ned Lamont in his bid to unseat Sen. Joseph Lieberman. Matthews is openly "anti-war" so when he urged a "huge turnout," in the Connecticut primary and declared: "If Democrats in Connecticut think this war has not been good for America they should use their precious ballot, fought and died for, for two centuries of patriots to say so," it sounded an awful like a final Get Out The Vote, rally cry for Lamont. Matthews made that pitch in his final commentary but he stoked the anti-war fires early in the program when he compared the Bush administration to the "imperial presidency" of Richard Nixon.
Fidel Castro is a brutal dictator but you wouldn't know it from listening to many of the current reports about his health. Time and time again members of the U.S. media fall over themselves in describing Castro in poetic terms. On last night's Geraldo At Large, Fox News' Geraldo Rivera went over board in his final commentary about Castro's legacy with such flowery descriptions of the man as: "the iron man of revolutionary rhetoric,""romantic revolutionary," and "charismatic commie."
Oh to be sure Rivera acknowledged "to some" he's "a ruthless and absolute dictator," but when he counters that he is also "Loved and admired by many," Rivera engaged in that game of moral equivalency so often played by liberal reporters where, "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."
On yesterday's The Early Show, as noted by Michael Rule, CBS's Dave Price blamed the current heat wave on global warming but over on NBC's Today this morning, as noted by Mark Finklestein, Al Roker refused to take Matt Lauer's bait to do the same. While Roker hedged a bit and didn't completely rule out global warming as a cause, the fact that he expressed some reservations contrasted with Price who went as far to take time out of the weather update to cite his "experts." Still one can only assume Roker will be brought back in line by Lauer. After all it was Lauer who brought viewers this very serious and sober piece of journalism. The following is a quick recap of the different takes taken by the CBS and NBC morning weathermen:
On last night's Hardball, leftist and Pacifica radio talk show host Amy Goodman patted Chris Matthews on his back for his long held anti-war stance. Prior to a big anniversary celebration at Rockfeller Center, Goodman started to congratulate Matthews on MSNBC's 10th year in business but then took the moment to slam its executives for firing Phil Donahue for his anti-war stance. Goodman roared: "they didn't want him to be the face of this network, an anti-war face at a time when the other networks were waving the flag." However when Matthews reminded Goodman that: "if being against the war was a problem here, I'd have been out of here about four years ago, " the Democracy Now host quickly realized her error and made good by congratulating Matthews.
Fresh from his most recent trip to the Middle East, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman returned to offer his latest rationale for Bush hatred. Appearing on yesterday's Meet the Press Friedman theorized: "What this administration has done, is actually stolen something from people. Whether it's an African or a European or an Arab or Israeli, it's that idea of an optimistic America out there. People really need that idea, and the, the sort of dark nature of the Cheneys and the Bushes and the Rices, this, this sort of relentless pessimism about the world, this exporting of fear, not hope, has really left people feeling that the idea of America has been stolen from them."
Just a week ago Friedman, right before his departure to the Mideast, sat down with NBC's Russert to espouse the miraculous benefits of a gas tax. Friedman returned just in time, to the still warm seat across from Russert, to the following welcome from the Meet the Press host:
In the July 31st edition of Newsweek, Senior Editor Jonathan Alter declared Bush's veto of stem cell funding "may well doom thousands to die prematurely," and blamed the decision on Bush's "inflexibility, obsession with his conservative base, religious arrogance and contempt for scientific consensus."
Alter began this week's column, entitled, "It Was A Veto Of A Lifetime," in ominous tones: "July 19, 2006, was a dark day for anyone who, like me, has experienced life-threatening illness. President Bush's veto of a modest bill that would have merely allowed surplus embryos from fertility clinics to be used for pathbreaking research instead of tossed in the garbage is more than a political blunder. And for those with a friend or relative who is sick - in other words, almost everyone—it is more than an abstraction. By slowing cures for several major diseases, this decisionmay well doom thousands to die prematurely. It contradicts the whole idea of what it means to be 'pro-life.'"
Tim Russert and Tom Friedman don't think you're paying enough at the gas pump, in fact they seemed downright giddy about the prospect of increasing the gas tax as a way to end America's "oil addiction." Appearing on this weekend's CNBC's Tim Russert program the New York Times columnist was asked for his solutions to America's energy crisis.
Friedman warned: "Tim if we don't find an alternative to fossil fuels to fulfill their dreams, we're going to burn up, choke up, heat up and smoke up this planet so much faster than even Al Gore predicts," and then he issued this clarion call for green technology: "Green, my fellow Americans, is the new red, white, and blue. That's my motto." Then Friedman, egged on by Russert, went even further by calling for a "miracle tax," on gas.
So there you are enjoying your morning coffee, perusing Sports Illustrated’s Web site for the latest training camp information on your favorite NFL team and then whammo, you get hit with liberal bias. Is anyplace safe from it? Sports Illustrated’s Peter King couldn’t finish his ramblings about the goings on of the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants without plugging Al Gore’s enviro-flick An Inconvenient Truth. King pleaded to his readers:
"This is not exactly the venue to warn the world about global warming, but all you football junkies readying for your fantasy drafts should do one real-world thing in the next couple of weeks: take two hours to see this movie. I'm not saying you'll be glad you did, because it's going to slap you around mentally a bit. But it's something you need to see. You don't want to wake up in 15 years with the Earth permanently damaged and huge portions of the Earth's surface under water, forever."
Apparently the sight of George W. Bush surrounded by cute babies is enough to make Time's Joe Klein "want to throw up." On this weekend's syndicated Chris Matthews Show, the panel discussion turned to Bush's veto of expanded stem cell research and his appearance with "snowflake babies." For Time magazine's Joe Klein it was too much to take: "That photo-op, this week with all of those babies made me want to throw up.It is so transparently political and cynical."
Substituting for Chris Matthews, NBC's David Gregory teased the segment at the top of the show: "Most voters favor full-speed ahead on stem cells but the President hit the brakes. Could this be political disaster in November?" Gregory opened the panel discussion with a soundbite from Nancy Pelosi declaring: "In vetoing the legislation, the President will be saying no to 75 percent of the American people." NBC's Andrea Mitchell then noted that while the veto will energize some in Bush's base it also: "Doesn't track at all politically with people in his own party, with, you know, the soccer moms, with other constituencies that Republicans have been trying to court. It flies in the face of that." Gregory then threw it to Klein:
If you are a celebrity, businessman or ex-president with a liberal persuasion and you have a cause to promote chances are someone from NBC's Today will traverse many miles to place a microphone in front of your face. On this morning's Today show Brad Pitt, Bill Clinton and Bill Gates all got face-time to promote their causes. However it was Pitt who stole the show with this piece of Greenie hyperbole: "We just can't keep consuming ourselves into extinction."
In the first half-hour of Today NBC's Campbell Brown highlighted Bill and Melinda Gates and Clinton's efforts to combat disease in Africa and in the 8:30 half-hour Ann Curry trudged through flood-ravaged New Orleans to promote Brad Pitt's effort to rebuild the city. On the surface one has to applaud any charitable effort to fight disease in Africa or reconstruct New Orleans but it would be nice if viewers were spared the liberal hero worship such as Brown calling Gates and Clinton, "two of the most fascinating people in the world."
"President Bush has broken the law!" That's how viewers of MSNBC's Hardball were greeted last night when Chris Matthews first came on the air. You get the sense that Matthews has been dying to utter those words for a long time now and the Supreme Court's Guantanamo decision gave him the excuse to do so. In the MRC's annals of jarring and incredibly biased openings this ranks right up there with Katie Couric's: "Good morning, the Gipper was an airhead!" The following is Matthews full introduction to last night's Hardball:
Chris Matthews: "President Bush has broken the law. That's the verdict of the Supreme Court. Bush says he can try prisoners on Guantanamo without courts martial or Geneva Convention rules. The court says he's wrong, that he's overreached his lawful powers as president. Let's play Hardball. Good evening. I'm Chris Matthews and welcome to Hardball. President Bush's wartime powers took a major hit today when the Supreme Court ruled he overstepped his authority in creating military tribunals for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The Court concluded by a 5-3 vote that the tribunals were illegal and violated the Geneva Conventions and U.S. military law."
On last night's Hardball actress Mia Farrow slipped in the old "Bush went to war for oil," canard during a discussion about Darfur. MSNBC's Chris Matthews asked Farrow what she wanted the American people and government to do about the crisis in Darfur to which Farrow demanded: "Support the relief agencies, and urge our leadership. There is, of course, a lack of political will. There is no oil in Darfur, only human beings."
The following is the fuller exchange between Farrow and Matthews:
Chris Matthews: "Well, tell us what the American people watching right now and what they're government can do. Individuals can't do much. What do they want or you want the government of the United States to do?"
Fox News's Geraldo Rivera came to Dan Rather’s defense on last night’s syndicated "Geraldo At Large." Teasing an upcoming report on the Rather firing, Rivera let CBS have it: "Still ahead, shame on them. CBS kicks Dan Rather out on the street after 44 years of usually wonderful work." Thankfully, later in the show, Rivera's colleague Laurie Dhue reminded viewers of the reason for Rather's axing: "CBS has agreed to let Dan Rather go after 44 years at the network. The 74-year-old newsman has not been on the air much since he stopped anchoring the 'Evening News' a year ago, six months after running a later-discredited story about President Bush's military service."
NBC's Campbell Brown couldn't contain her laughter this morning as The Nation’s liberal columnist Calvin Trillin poked fun at George W. Bush. Promoting his new collection of poems A Heckuva Job: More of the Bush Administration In Rhyme, Trillin cracked up Today show co-host Brown with such old poetic knee-slappers as: "Obliviously on he sails with marks not quite as good as Quayle's." Brown went on to praise Trillin's latest work as "great stuff" and predicted, "It's going to be a hilarious book." Brown even urged Trillin to recite verses from A Heckuva Job:
Brown: "But the new, the title of your book came from what you, perhaps feel, is the President's most memorable line thus far?"
Looks like Chris Matthews really isn't sure who the good guys are in Iraq. Over the weekend on his syndicated show Chris Matthews speculated that after Haditha the public may realize: "that we might be the bad guys." After brushing over the success of killing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Matthews asked the panel about the political damage done by Haditha:
Chris Matthews: "Let me talk about Haditha or ask you to talk about Haditha. It seems to me a lot of people would like to have some reason to get out of Iraq. We can't win is a good reason. There's too much bloodshed would be a good reason. But on the other hand, the difficulty of the task is an argument for a lot of people to stay in. ‘We know it's tough,' the President says. ‘We know we're taking casualties, but we gotta win this one and these people are sacrificing their lives and their family members for this work. All the more reason to stick with the fight.' But there's one thing that turns people off. The sense that we might be the bad guys. My Lai, Haditha. In your reporting for Time, do you think Haditha is gonna measure up to one of those pivotal moments where ya say, ‘This war smells bad, it tastes bad. We're getting into situations of counterinsurgency, which are brutal. We don't want to be there.'"
Fox News Channel's Geraldo Rivera came out in favor of same-sex marriage on the June 5 edition of his syndicated Geraldo At Large. Throughout the show, Rivera teased his final commentary proclaiming: "25 years after the discovery of AIDS is this the time to ban gay marriage?....The gay community takes another hit, 25 years to the very day that AIDS first ravaged their community." At the end of the show, Rivera chastised the President and advocated same-sex marriage as a way to prevent the spread of AIDS:
Rivera: "Exactly 25 years ago today federal officials first warned gay men that five homosexuals in Los Angeles had contracted a rare form of pneumonia. The disease that became AIDS was largely spread initially by the promiscuous, sometimes drug-fueled sex exemplified by the gay bathhouses where an uninformed generation contracted the disease that ultimately killed tens of thousands of them and many millions of others here and around the world. Beginning soon after the outbreak responsible voices began an aggressive campaign to educate young men raised in the era of those anonymous sexual contacts of the grave dangers involved. Public service announcements and information campaigns were launched. Red ribbons were also worn in sympathy as one after another public figure like actors Rock Hudson and Brad Davis, Queen’s Freddie Mercury and tennis great Arthur Ashe were diagnosed, some succumbing to the disease. While they are not all gay and may have contracted the disease in other ways like bad blood transfusions the majority got AIDS through sex. The recognition of that scary fact led to profound changes in social conduct. Most bathhouses were closed or closely regulated. Safe sex became a mantra. And something even more profound happened, marriage, where at least solid, stable relationships began replacing promiscuous sex as the norm in the gay community. Which is why on the 25th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic the current efforts to breathe life back into the amendment to ban gay marriage seems so counterproductive and blatantly anti-social."
Coming on long after Ann Coulter presumably left the Today show set Kathy Griffin couldn't resist taking a shot at the conservative author. Griffin cracked Al Roker up when she called Coulter a "nut-ball" and asked Al: "Doesn't she just make stuff up?"
Kathy Griffin: "I like to make fun of everybody. I think nobody is sacred, everybody can be ridiculous. And I love making fun of just all of celebrity culture."
Al Roker: "So you basically have gone after, you, you've made Steven Spielberg angry, now you're going after Oprah."
Griffin: "I go, although I'd like to go after Ann Coulter. I saw that nut-ball on the show earlier."
Matt Lauer has two different sets of standards for politically provocative authors. If you are on the left he laughs with you, if you are on the right he slams you. On this morning’s Today show Ann Coulter’s statements drew outrage from Matt but last October when Al Franken suggested Karl Rove and Lewis Libby be executed for treason Matt and the Today show crew laughed. Lauer’s interview with Coulter got particularly testy when he read excerpts from Coulter’s new book and demanded she defend them. Below are the most explosive portion of this morning’s Coulter v. Lauer showdown
Looks like NBC's Matt Lauer isn't missing Katie Couric too much. Emceeing a fundraiser last Wednesday night for the ahem, taxpayer funded Sesame Workshop, Lauer had a good laugh at the expense of Couric. In a bit with Elmo, Lauer uttered what sounded like a set-up line for the muppet: "Katie is moving on to a wonderful challenge, and it's one of those days that reminds me of that very famous saying..." Elmo piped in with this punchline: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, I'm free at last!" The following appeared in Lloyd Grove's column:
Matt Lauer was sure in a lovely mood the night Katie Couric left the "Today" show for good.
Well the final goodbye came this morning but Today has been drawing out Katie Couric's farewell for what seems like forever or at least the last few weeks. Starting back on May 15th Today as been running a regular Goodbye Katie segment featuring some fond adieus from Katie's buddies in the media, entertainment and political worlds. Below you can find a list of those who said goodbye and no surprise it's full of liberal politicians and celebrities. Republicans are few in number, only four to be exact. Some of the goodbyes were particularly syrupy, like this long-winded goodbye from Bill Clinton on yesterday's Today: Video: Windows Media or Real Player Plus MP3
Hey got a new book? Want it featured on the Today show? Try putting Ann Curry on the cover! The new book Extraordinary Women: Fantasies Revealed was featured in the 9:30 half hour of this morning's Today show. The cover of the book happens to feature Curry actually embracing the Earth. Curry even appeared as a guest on the segment with the book's authors. Natalie Morales conducted the interview and revealed Ann's not-so-secret fantasy: "And Ann the reason you are holding the globe is you talk about wanting to be a humanitarian, which as a journalist, I mean you do, I mean that's really a priority in your life." But one of the book's authors Ilene Leventhal pointed out Curry, as a liberal crusading journalist, is already living her dream: "I said to Ann, I said, 'Ann you already are a humanitarian.'"
Geraldo Rivera slammed the President's immigration policy on the Fox News syndicated Geraldo At Large. Rivera said the National Guard wouldn't be effective in stopping illlegal immigration but warned if they were successful: "Who will mow our lawns, pick our apples, patch our roofs, sew our garments? You can bet it won’t be those screamers demanding the National Guard. What we need is a sensible and humane approach to immigration. What we need is what the President has advocated up until now. The deployment of the National Guard is political baloney. Get ready everybody for $10 artichokes."
It was a Greenie love fest on this morning's Today. First Today show viewers were treated to Al Gore wishing Katie a fond farewell, video which featured an early 1990s clip of Couric actually giving him dance lessons in the White House. Then at the end of the show Ann Curry promoted Sting’s annual rainforest concert with his wife Trudie Styler, complete with this promotion of global warming: "To also remind people, I mean, most scientists really agree that if we don't protect this band of rainforest in the middle part of, lower middle part of the Earth that we will, could affect the environment in a dramatic way. Some now, there's a lot more debate now today about climate change and more concern about the environment. You've seen this go up and down, the interest and the political wave of it. Where are we now and how hopeful are you that people will be able to talk about this, do something about?"
Without a doubt the most absurd claim made during all the recent NSA stories has to come from Fox News' Geraldo Rivera when he warned: "If Congress doesn’t stop this guy, General Hayden, next he’ll be peeking in our bedrooms. " The following came from Rivera's final commentary segment on last night's syndicated Geraldo At Large:
Geraldo Rivera: "Now it’s your problem too. Remember when President Bush acknowledged that the super secret National Security Agency was indeed spying on Americans without search warrants by listening in to and taping international phone calls? Remember how the President justified it?"
[George W. Bush: "If they’re making phone calls into the United States we need to know why to protect you."]
NBC’s Today hyped hybrid cars this morning but didn’t give consumers the full skinny on them. At the top of this morning’s Today show Katie Couric promoted an upcoming segment on the popularity of hybrids by way of taking this shot at the President’s poll numbers: "Then another crisis facing this administration, those soaring gas prices. A poll out today says only 13 percent of Americans approve of the way President Bush is managing the situation right now and now many people are trying to save money at the pump by turning to hybrid vehicles but there's a big catch, they're getting harder and harder to find."
A few minutes later NBC’s Peter Alexander’s devoted a whole piece to the increased demand for the hybrids as drivers look to lower costs in the face of high gas prices. Alexander piously declared: "Not long ago people said hybrids were for hippies. Those same people are driving them now."