During Tuesday morning’s inaugural coverage on MSNBC, Chris Matthews seemed to admit the liberal pro-Obama tilt of his network as he proclaimed that MSNBC "opened its heart to change," and that they are the "network of the 21st century," and that "this crowd knows us." Matthews: "It sure as hell helps to be on MSNBC today. Let’s talk straight here. This is the network that has opened its heart to change, to change and its possibilities. Let’s be honest about it. These people watch this network out here. ... This is the network of the 21st century, MSNBC, and I think we’re open to it, and that’s why this crowd knows us. ... We’re not crotchety about change and stuffy."
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of MSNBC’s January 20 inaugural coverage from 11:31 a.m.:
During Tuesday morning’s inaugural coverage on MSNBC, Chris Matthews twice compared the Bush family to the Romanovs as he contended that the Bushes are now likely to go into hiding because of President Bush’s unpopularity: "It’s going to be like the Romanovs, too, and I mean that. There’s a sense here that they are fallen from grace, that they’re not popular, that the whole family will now go into retreat." Even liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson had to call him out on the exaggeration as it sounds like he says in the background that "it didn’t happen exactly like the Romanovs," referring to the overthrow and execution of the Russian royal family after the Bolshevik communists seized power in 1917.
A few minutes earlier, claiming "this isn’t a partisan statement," Matthews raised the possibility that Obama could give such a good speech that he would join the "oratorical Mount Rushmore" of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy in making memorable inauguration speeches. Matthews: "And it seems like there’s a third opening there for Barack Obama. It’s almost the oratorical Mount Rushmore, that there’s so much open space among those Presidents. And only two stand out. And this isn’t a partisan statement. This is a fact. There’s FDR. There’s JFK. And there may be Barack Obama."
On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann delivered his latest "Special Comment," in which he called on President-elect Barack Obama to prosecute President Bush and administration members on a charge of torturing prisoners, and invoked extreme examples such as slavery leading to the Civil War, and the handling of Germany after World War I leading to the rise of Nazism and World War II, to illustrate that "this country has never succeeded in moving forward without first cleansing itself of its mistaken past," and that Obama must try to prosecute Bush for the sake of the country’s future. After quoting Bush’s recent words about the interrogation techniques he authorized against 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and statements by Obama expressing reluctance to pursue prosecutions against the Bush administration, Olbermann began invoking extreme examples from history.
This country has never succeeded in moving forward without first cleansing itself of its mistaken past. ... We compromised with slavery in the Declaration of Independence, and, fourscore and nine years later, we had buried 600,000 of our sons and brothers in a civil war. After that war’s ending, we compromised with the social restructuring and protection of the rights of minorities in the South. And a century later, we had not only had not resolved anything, but black leaders were still being assassinated in the cities of the South. We compromised with Germany in the reconstruction of Europe after the First World War. Nobody even arrested the German kaiser, let alone conducted war crimes trials then. And 19 years later, there was an indescribably more evil Germany and a more heartrending Second World War.
On Saturday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Bill Whitaker devoted a full story to an environmental activist in Utah, Tim DeChristopher, who disrupted an oil lease auction by illegally making bids that he knew he could not pay, which slowed down the process making it possible for Barack Obama to block President Bush’s directive allowing the auction. Anchor Russ Mitchell introduced the report: "The Bush administration has less than three days left, but almost to the end, it’s been taking actions that have environmentalists fuming. One young activist used an unorthodox tactic, as we hear from Bill Whitaker."
After recounting that DeChristopher moved to Utah to attend college and became enamored with the beautiful landscape, Whitaker continued: "But where DeChristopher sees beauty, others see bounty. When one of the last-minute acts of the Bush administration was to auction off some of this land for oil drilling, the 27-year-old student said he had to act."
On Wednesday’s The O’Reilly Factor, during the show’s regular "Miller Time" segment, Dennis Miller defended the practice of waterboarding terrorists to save the lives of Americans, calling the technique "heaven-sent." Miller: "Something that takes somebody who's willing to strap a bomb on and yet freaks them out to the point where they'll tell you where the next bomb is by pouring water down their nose and they don't even die, I think, wow, this is heaven-sent." He also heaped praise on President Bush for "keeping this country safe in the interim seven years" since the 9/11 attacks. Miller: "That's what I admire about him. He's willing to be hated for the rest of his life to do the right thing. And I just want to look in the camera. This is the last time I’ll be on this show when he's my President and my Commander-in-Chief and say, ‘Thank you, sir. I feel privileged that you were the President during this time in American history.’"
On Wednesday’s The O’Reilly Factor, during the show’s "Talking Points Memo," FNC host Bill O’Reilly slammed the New York Times and NBC News, presumably referring to MSNBC hosts like Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, accusing them of having "damaged their own country in a disgusting display of propaganda and outright lies" by "convincing the world that the USA is a nation of torture, a country that sadistically inflicts pain on both the innocent and the guilty." O’Reilly further attacked the "insane call for fishing expeditions to find something that will lead to prosecuting the President and Vice President," and added that he "despises, despises those who, in the name of ideology, want to weaken the country, putting us all in danger," and charged that doing so would be "un-American."
O’Reilly then hosted a discussion with FNC military analyst retired Colonel David Hunt and, to argue the liberal point-of-view, FNC analyst Bob Beckel, and Hunt contended that he had used "coerced interrogation" in the past that had "saved guys' lives."
On Tuesday’s Countdown on MSNBC, after a segment with the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson at the end of the program in which he and host Keith Olbermann lambasted Sarah Palin over her recent interview with Esquire magazine, the Countdown host made a crude joke at Palin’s expense as he introduced the Rachel Maddow Show. Olbermann: "But, apropos of Palin, I can’t remember who said this, but it came to mind: What’s the difference between a governor of Alaska and a pitbull? You can train a pitbull to occasionally keep its mouth closed. Do you know who said that? Because I can’t remember."
After laughing hysterically, Maddow responded: "No, I can’t. No, that’s new to me. Is that the safe thing to say here?"
Below is a complete transcript of the exchange from the Tuesday, January 13, Countdown on MSNBC:
One bright spot last week in CBS’s coverage of the war between Israel and the Gaza-based terrorist group Hamas came on Wednesday’s CBS Evening News as correspondent Richard Roth filed a story exploring Israeli life under a "siege mentality." Roth: " Spend a while in earshot of an air raid siren or cramped in a shelter, and it's hard not to have some sympathy. Or, if you want to understand what pushed Israelis past their limit, they'll tell you, just take a look at the numbers. Since the first one almost eight years ago, the army says more than 11,000 rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza at southern Israel."
But CBS was only starting to catch up with NBC, which had previously devoted two full stories to the situation in Sderot, Israel. After the Sunday, January 5, NBC Nightly News showed the first report, which was previously documented by Newsbusters, on Monday, January 5, correspondent Martin Fletcher filed a second piece for the show, as he spent time with a firefighter in Sderot who had been one of the Israeli settlers forced by the Israeli government to leave Gaza in 2005 in an attempt to make peace with the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Fletcher noted the failure of Israel’s withdrawal: "Israel gave the land back to the Palestinians, hoping for peace. It didn't happen. The conflict continued. And now rockets are fired from his old home."
Add NBC to the list of news organizations that have shown a clip of two doctors, one of whom is the controversial pro-9/11 Norwegian doctor, Mads Gilbert, supposedly trying to revive a deceased Palestinian boy at Shifa Hospital in Gaza – a scene which some critics charge appears staged. Last week, on the Sunday, January 4, NBC Nightly News, correspondent Richard Engel filed a report in which he recounted the story of a 12-year-old boy, Mahmoud Basrowi, the brother of "Ashraf, a Gaza-based television producer contracted by NBC News," as Ashraf claimed his brother was killed while playing on his family’s roof "when the house was hit by an Israeli shell or rocket."
But in the Gaza Strip now, streets are mostly empty, fuel is running out and there's no electricity. Hospital officials say at least 430 Palestinians have been killed, 30 just today, including 12-year-old Mahmoud Basrowi. His family says the boy was playing on his rooftop with a cousin when the house was hit by an Israeli shell or rocket. Two doctors, one a volunteer from Norway, tried to save Mahmoud. Wrapped in a white funeral shroud, Mahmoud was taken by his brother Ashraf, a Gaza-based television producer contracted by NBC News.
Dr. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor who has long been a pro-Palestinian activist and critic of Israel, and who, according to an article released by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), once expressed agreement with the 9/11 attacks which he considered to be a justified attack on civilians, has been seen numerous times in the last couple of weeks on broadcast network news shows – primarily on CBS and NBC. Without mentioning his extreme views, anchors and correspondents have treated him as a trustworthy source, as if he were a neutral foreign observer, regarding civilian casualties arriving at Shifa Hospital in Gaza amid the Israeli campaign against Hamas. But, according to CAMERA: "When asked by Dagbladet (a Norwegian publication) if he supported the terrorist attack on the U.S., he replied: 'Terror is a bad weapon, but the answer is yes, within the context I have mentioned.' (Sept. 30, 2001)"
The article "Norwegian Doctors in Gaza: Objective Observers or Partisan Propagandists?" by Ricki Hollander, can be found here.
On the January 5 The Early Show, correspondent Mark Phillips cited Gilbert’s charges that Israel was conducting an "all-out war against civilians" as "compelling evidence" contradicting "repeated claims by Israelis that civilians are not being targeted." Phillips: "Despite repeated claims by the Israelis that civilians are not being targeted and that they are even being warned by leaflets and phone calls to stay away from target sites, the dead and injured continue to be brought into Gaza's overrun hospitals. And the evidence provided by foreign doctors in Gaza is compelling." Then came a clip of Gilbert: "So anybody who tries to portray this as sort of a clean war against another army are lying. This is an all-out war against the civilian Palestinian population in Gaza, and we can prove that with the numbers."
On World News Saturday, during the show’s "A Closer Look" segment, ABC anchor David Muir gave attention to those who question whether CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta has sufficient qualifications to be Barack Obama’s surgeon general. Muir even played a clip of David Letterman poking fun at Gupta twice during the show: "The choice, it was between a Gupta, Dr. Phil, and a guy on Scrubbs. I don’t know what the hell-" He also recounted that Muir was forced to apologized to liberal filmmaker Michael Moore after making errors in a report fact-checking Moore’s film Sicko. As Muir gave voice to those in the pro-Gupta camp who believe it is important for the surgeon general to be well known to the public, the ABC anchor reminded viewers that Dr. C. Everett Coop talked about AIDS while President Reagan was "largely silent," and that President George W. Bush’s surgeon general resigned in protest in 2006 charging he had been "muzzled by the White House."
On Friday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Mark Phillips treated with credibility accusations by Palestinians, "supported by UN officials," that the Israeli military was "targeting" civilians in Gaza, and played a clip of a woman accusing Israeli troops of "herding" her family into a house and shooting her husband. And, without informing viewers of the blockade’s importance in preventing Iran or Syria from supplying weapons to Hamas, the CBS correspondent seemed to imply that Hamas leaders were actually concerned about the welfare of the civilian population as he referred to Hamas wanting an end to the Israeli blockade "strangling" Gaza right before adding that "the innocent suffer." Phillips: "Israel is not only demanding the rocket fire stop, but that Hamas be kept from re-arming itself. And Hamas keeps fighting because it wants the Israeli blockade that is strangling Gaza lifted. And the innocent suffer. Allegations, some of them supported by UN officials in Gaza, continue to be made of Israeli targeting of civilians. This woman told CBS News 20 members of her family were herded into a house by the Israelis, that her husband was shot, and that tank fire badly injured her children. The Israelis deny these accounts."
Among the anchors and correspondents on the broadcast networks, NBC’s David Gregory has been unique in conveying to viewers the nature of Hamas as, on two occasions during the opening weekend of the airstrikes by Israel in Gaza, Gregory referred to Hamas as a "terrorist organization that is bent on the destruction of Israel." He also recently gave attention to the Hamas doctrine that the purpose of a ceasefire is to regroup and resume fighting later with greater strength.
On last Sunday’s Meet the Press, he read form a blog posting by Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, in which Goldberg quoted Nizar Rayyan, the ranking Hamas member recently killed when the Israeli military bombed his home, as Rayyan once proclaimed his views about a ceasefire with Israel. Goldberg: "There was no flexibility with Rayyan. This is what he said when I asked him if he could envision a 50-year hudna (or cease-fire) with Israel: ‘The only reason to have a hudna is to prepare yourself for the final battle. We don't need 50 years to prepare ourselves for the final battle with Israel. There is no chance,’ he said, ‘that true Islam would ever allow a Jewish state to survive in the Muslim Middle East. Israel is an impossibility. It is an offense against God.’ ‘What are our crimes?’ I asked Rayyan. ‘You are murderers of the prophets and you have closed your ears to the Messenger of Allah,’ he said. ‘Jews tried to kill the Prophet, peace be unto him. All throughout history, you have stood in opposition to the word of God.’"
On Tuesday’s NBC Nightly News, correspondent Ron Mott filed a report featuring incoming Republican Congressman Joseph Cao, the first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress, and the man who defeated corrupt former Democratic Congressman William Jefferson in heavily Democratic New Orleans. Brian Williams introduced Mott’s piece: "There was new ground broken on Capitol Hill today, where the first Vietnamese-American Congressman in the history of this republic was sworn in. Joseph Cao of Louisiana is also the first Republican in more than a century to win the seat representing New Orleans."
Mott recounted Cao’s escape from Vietnam and his victory against Jefferson, who was involved in a bribery scandal: "The 41-year-old Republican Congressman, Joseph Cao, is now a standout on Capitol Hill, traveling a very long way to get there. As a boy, he was among tens of thousands airlifted out of Vietnam after the fall of Saigon, without his parents, who feared he was killed at the airport. ... He later studied for the priesthood, eventually became a lawyer, and then last year, took on a political institution in New Orleans, Democrat William Jefferson, embroiled in a bribery scandal."
On Friday’s The Early Show on CBS, correspondent Mark Phillips oddly used the word "victim" to describe one of the Hamas leaders, Nizar Rayan, who was killed in his home by Israeli airstrikes. He also seemed to treat with skepticism the Israeli military’s announcement that they make phone calls to some Hamas leaders to warn them in advance of airstrikes as he relayed that Israelis "claim" to do so. Phillips further declared that Israelis "admit" that they are targeting Hamas leaders, as if doing so were something to be ashamed of. Phillips: "The number of victims now well over 400. But there is one victim who's being talked about more than any other, and he is the one the Israelis say they targeted deliberately. Not only do the Israelis admit they are targeting Hamas leaders, they claim they are actually calling them on the phone to warn them the bombs are coming. If true, it is certainly an unconventional tactic, which the Israelis say allows potential targets to choose whether to take cover."
On Friday’s NBC Nightly News, correspondent Andrea Mitchell filed a report that reminded viewers of an embarrassing political episode from Hillary Clinton’s past: the controversial hug and kiss she shared with Yasser Arafat’s wife, Suha, during a trip to the West Bank. The NBC correspondent related that Clinton had taken a position favoring a Palestinian state early on, but, after her controversial "embrace" with Mrs. Arafat, she became known for being "an unrelenting supporter of Israel," and argued that Mrs. Clinton’s popularity in the Arab world, and that of former President Clinton, would be an asset as Secretary of State.
Mitchell: "As first lady, Hillary Clinton was an early advocate of a Palestinian state until a misplaced embrace of Yasser Arafat's wife, Suha, backfired politically back home. From then on, Clinton was an unrelenting supporter of Israel but, experts say, is still well known and liked by Arab leaders."
On Sunday’s NBC Nightly News, correspondent Martin Fletcher gave rare attention to the plight of Israelis who live in the towns of Sderot and Ashkelon, which have for years been frequent targets of rockets fired from Gaza by Hamas because of their relative proximity to the Gaza Strip. Devoting an entire report to the issue in which he informed viewers of how many years the rocket attacks have spanned over, Fletcher began: "This is why Israel invaded Gaza. Thirteen more rockets hit the town of Sderot today. Since April 2001, 5,000 rockets have hit in and around the town." After showing a clip of a boy named Angel Yamine expressing his fear of the Hamas rockets, Fletcher continued: "The threat to Israeli citizens from Hamas rockets is still very real. This is David and Panina Yamine in Ashkelon. They can't stop watching the war. They live in fear, afraid of rocket attacks."
Then came a soundbite of Angel's mother Panina: "Where you can live like this? Eight years people live like that. It's not life."
On Friday morning’s The Early Show on CBS, viewers were treated to what almost seemed like a parody of Barack Obama’s mainstream media paparazzi fawning over the Democratic President-elect, as the show ran a report exploring the question of "How cool is Obama?" and co-hosts Harry Smith and Tracy Smith referred to Obama as "the man" and "the epitome of cool," respectively. Audio of the classic rock group the Chiffons singing "He’s So Fine" even played as the piece on Obama’s "coolness" began. Tracy Smith oozed as she plugged the segment: "We’re actually talking about how a lot of people think that President-elect Barack Obama is the epitome of cool. Look at that guy. Everything, I mean, even in a baseball cap. Don’t you think?" After Harry Smith referred to a New York Times article about the significance of Obama spending his childhood in Hawaii, Tracy Smith added: "That makes him even cooler."
On Monday’s World News, ABC showed a letter written to Barack Obama that made a snide crack charging that President Bush and Vice President Cheney had left Obama a "hell of a mess to clean up," and sarcastically expressing hope that Bush and Cheney would not steal furniture from the White House, as correspondent Kate Snow filed a report about a former school teacher, B.J. Hill, who has spent a year walking across the country collecting letters from Americans for the next President. Of the five letters Hill was shown reading during the report, all came across as either pro-Obama or at least phrased from a liberal point-of-view, one even expressing a desire that the next President would "save science, including stem cell research," presumably referring to federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. But while no letters expressed any concerns about what Obama would do from a conservative point of view, one of the letters did take a shot at President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Hill, reading: "You have one hell of a mess to clean up after Bush and Cheney. I hope they leave some of the furniture."
On the Monday, December 22 World News, ABC host Charles Gibson took a moment to relay the latest milestone in good news from Iraq regarding how much violence has diminished in the country. Gibson: "From Iraq today, good news. Military authorities say violence is way down. A year ago, there were an average of 180 attacks a day. Last week, it was just 10. And the murder rate in Iraq last month was below pre-war levels for the first time."
Last week, Gibson similarly noted that the number of U.S. troops killed in combat in Iraq in December so far may signal that the month will turn out to "have the fewest U.S. casualties since the war began." Gibson, from the Thursday, December 18 World News: "Good news from Iraq today. There were no bombings reported anywhere in the country. Two U.S. troops have been killed in action so far this month. That puts December on a pace to have the fewest U.S. casualties since the war began."
On Thursday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann disputed Vice President Cheney’s recent contention that history would likely judge the Bush administration more favorably than current approval rating numbers would suggest, as the MSNBC host distorted the results of a July 2007 Rasmussen poll to discredit Cheney’s claim that views of President Ford have softened up over the 30 years since he pardoned Richard Nixon. Olbermann, who has a history of using distortion to attack conservatives, declared that Ford was the "twelfth most unpopular President of all time, even though he was only in office for 30 months."
During the show's regular "Bushed!" segment, after imitating Cheney’s voice while quoting the Vice President, Olbermann asserted:
During this week, NBC’s Tonight Show host Jay Leno took a couple of noteworthy jabs at the anti-Bush mainstream media in America, on Monday joking that the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush was "offered his own show on MSNBC," and on Tuesday quipping that "he was so anti-Bush, at first people just assumed he was an American journalist."
By contrast, CBS’s Late Show host David Letterman used the episode to jab Fox News as he cracked on Tuesday that the "hot head" Iraqi journalist with "poor journalistic skills" was "offered his own show on Fox News." Below are transcripts of the relevant comments from this week’s Tonight Show on NBC and the Late Show on CBS:
Tuesday’s The O’Reilly Factor on FNC showed a pre-recorded interview with CNN founder Ted Turner, in which O’Reilly got Turner to admit that he and Jane Fonda, who both opposed America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, had ignored the slaughter of millions by the Khmer Rouge communists in Southeast Asia after America’s withdrawal from the region. Turner: "You got me. I didn’t really think about it. You know, it didn’t make the news very much at the time."
The CNN founder, who was appearing to promote his biography, "Call Me Ted," readily admitted to "admiring" Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and expressed doubt when O’Reilly argued that Castro had murdered many people. Turner: "Well, I admire certain things about him. He’s trained a lot of doctors, and they’ve got one of the best educational systems in the developing world, and, you know, he’s still popular with a lot of people down there. He’s unpopular with a lot of people, too." After O’Reilly injected, "But he’s a killer. He’s a killer," Turner responded: "He’s not, that has never, to my knowledge, that’s never been proven."
But Turner only reluctantly praised President Bush after O’Reilly argued that Bush "has saved more lives, sent more money, and provided more medical care for the citizens of all the countries of Africa than any human being that’s ever lived." Turner: "I think he made a lot of mistakes, too, but you can’t, he did some good things, but I think you basically, he’s got a good heart."
On Friday’s The Situation Room on CNN, Jack Cafferty used his regular "Cafferty File" segment to attack Rush Limbaugh and other conservatives, citing Colin Powell’s recent words criticizing Limbaugh’s role in speaking for Republicans. After he quoted Powell’s remarks, Cafferty clarified that Powell was "talking about that gasbag Limbaugh," and posed the question for viewers: "Should Republicans stop listening to Rush Limbaugh?" Later in the program, all the viewer emails he read were harshly critical of Limbaugh, with one even comparing him and Sean Hannity to the Ku Klux Klan. Cafferty, reading email: "Connie in Chicago: ‘Yes! Limbaugh is a far-right agitator of the worst sort with a 1950's mentality of what values 21st century America should reflect. I expect him and other like-minded Sean Hannitys of the world to step out of their closet and display their white sheets and dunce caps. Limbaugh is a bad joke.’"
On Wednesday’s The O’Reilly Factor on FNC, during the show’s regular "Miller Time" segment, comedian Dennis Miller used humor to make a serious point about Barack Obama’s connections to corrupt and questionable characters in Illinois, and whether the President-elect was aware of the darker sides of his colleagues. Miller: "It’s just nice to know that my President-elect went through that entire system – all of these guys – Ayers, Blagojevich, Rezko, the Reverend Wright – and he didn’t notice any of them. At his worst, he is oblivious. At his absolute worst, he is disingenuous. He had to know something about some of these guys. ... We’re told that he’s the smartest guy on the planet on one hand. In the other hand, he never noticed any of this stuff. Come on, get the antenna up there, Barack. You got to wake up."
On Monday’s The Situation Room, CNN correspondent Jamie McIntyre conveyed a dissenting view of whether retired General Eric Shinseki, Barack Obama’s choice for Veterans Affairs Secretary, can accurately be described as having advised the Bush administration to send more troops to occupy Iraq. McIntyre: "But Shinseki has his critics, too, who say, in fact, he never stood up to Rumsfeld, never pressed for more troops for Iraq, and, when asked in a private meeting of the Joint Chiefs if he had concerns about the war plans, never said a word, according to two people who were in the room. Asked by Newsweek two years ago to respond to the criticism he didn't press his concerns, Shinseki e-mailed back: ‘Probably that's fair. Not my style.’"
On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann compared Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss’s 2002 campaign against then-Democratic Senator Max Cleland of Georgia to a "turkey-killing machine," as part of a segment with Bloomberg News’s Margaret Carlson, formerly of Time magazine, in which the duo mocked Sarah Palin’s part in a campaign rally for Chambliss. Olbermann: "What is the more grotesque event to be standing in front of and not paying attention to? What we`re seeing now, she`s standing in front of Saxby Chambliss who ran that campaign against Max Cleland six years ago, or standing in front of a turkey-killing machine?" As she laughed, Carlson responded: "Both are killers." Referring to the presence of the rapper Ludacris in Georgia as he campaigned for Democratic candidate Jim Martin, the pair also made cracks about Palin being "ludicrous" as Olbermann tagged her as "Governor Ludicrous of Alaska," and Carlson called her "Miss Slight Ludicrous."
On Sunday’s Chris Matthews Show, host Matthews led the panel in a discussion over whether conservatives would choose to cooperate with the Obama administration in making "historic changes" to repair the economy, rather than stand in opposition to his programs. The premise of the discussion seemed to be that times are too serious for conservatives to dare dissent from Obama’s plans. At one point, David Ignatius of the Washington Post suggested that "thoughtful" Republicans will work with Obama as he referred to John McCain’s concession speech. Ignatius: "I thought that John McCain set the tone for thoughtful Republicans in his concession speech election night, where he reached out to Obama. He was remarkably generous. One of the best speeches he's ever made, in my book."
As he teased the show, Matthews seemed to wonder if Republicans would try to stand in the way of Obama accomplishing "great things," or if they would see the light and cooperate. Matthews: "Will the mountain of crises our country faces make Barack Obama do great things? And with all the crises, will even Republicans see historic steps are required?"
In the interview for Wednesday’s Barbara Walters Special on ABC with Barack and Michelle Obama, excerpts of which were also shown on Wednesday’s World News with Charles Gibson, Walters asked few questions that put the Obamas on the defensive, in contrast with her January 2001 interview, aired on 20/20, with then-President-elect Bush in which she challenged him on a number of fronts. Most notably, she seemed to chide Bush for choosing John Ashcroft as Attorney General because he "openly opposes abortion," and claimed that Ashcroft was "not considered a friend to civil rights." She asked Bush about reports that, as governor of Texas, he "spent relatively little time studying specific issues," and "only does a few hours of work" a day. The ABC host also challenged Bush from the left on the trade embargo against Cuba, and even asked Laura Bush if her more "traditional" plans for her time as First Lady would be a "setback for women." It is also noteworthy that Walters asked Bush about his plans for dealing with Saddam Hussein and cited "people in the know" who contended that the Iraqi dictator was "stronger than ever."
As CNN founder Ted Turner appeared as a guest on Sunday's Meet the Press, after NBC host Tom Brokaw expressed concerns about trying to deal with Vladimir Putin's Russia after what happened when President Carter tried to deal with former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, Turner compared the Soviet Union's 1979 invasion of Afghanistan to America's invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq, and called the Iraq invasion "naked aggression" by the United States. Turner even tried to argue that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was more defensible than America's invasion of Afghanistan because "at least it's on the border of the former Soviet Union." When NBC host Tom Brokaw took him to task for trying to "justify" the USSR's actions, Turner responded, "Why can't I try and justify it?" Turner also contended that the old Soviet KGB was "an honorable place to work" like America's FBI, and claimed that it gave Soviet citizens "an opportunity to do something important and worthwhile."
TED TURNER: Well, we invaded Afghanistan, too, and it’s a lot further, at least it’s on the border of the Soviet Union, or the former Soviet Union or Russia. A lot of these countries have changed names several times.
TOM BROKAW: But, Ted, don’t try to go there in terms of justifying that. I mean, it was, the fact is that the Russians, it was a naked aggression.
TURNER: Why can’t I try and justify it?
BROKAW: Well, it was naked aggression on the part of the Russians at the time.
TURNER: Well, going into Iraq was naked aggression on the part of the United States.