Totenberg “Ashamed of My Country"; Thomas: Bush “Stand Up Guy to Tool of Right”

<img vspace="0" hspace="0" border="0" align="right" src="/media/2005-11-04-PBSIWTotThom.jpg" />Picking up on a Wednesday <i>Washington Post</i> story about how “the CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe,” on <a href="http://www.insidewashington.tv/"><i>Inside Washington</i></a> this weekend NPR’s Nina Totenberg declared her shame of her country: “We have now violated everything that we stand for. It is the first time in my life I have been ashamed of my country.&quot; Totenberg’s first thought about Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito: &quot;We know he's very conservative.&quot; She also managed to squeeze in her near-weekly blast at tax cuts as she chided the Senate for how it “cut $35 billion from the poorest people in the country and food stamps and things like that and at the same time they're going to try to cut, boost tax, tax cuts for the wealthiest people in this country by $70 billion.&quot; In fact, the Senate proposal is only an effort to slow the rate of spending growth.<br /><br />Appearing on the same show, <i>Newsweek</i> Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas asserted that Bush’s decision to dump Harriet Miers “takes him from stand-up guy to tool of the right.” Thomas urged Bush to move left and drop Rove who “is the problem because Rove's entire engine is to polarize the country.” Thomas recommended: “If he's ever going to moderate, and if he's ever going to create any kind of national unity, Rove is going to have to go.&quot;<br /><br /><b>Video</b> of Totenberg’s “ashamed” comment, in <a href="/media/2005-11-04-PBSIW.rm">Real</a> or <a href="/media/2005-11-04-PBSIW.wmv">Windows Media</a>. [UPDATE, 9:25pm EST Saturday: Version of show with ads ends seconds before Totenberg's &quot;ashamed&quot; remark. Details below.]<br /><br />
<!--break--> I caught Totenberg’s latest outburst on the Friday night airing of <i>Inside Washington</i> on WETA-TV channel 26, Washington, DC’s PBS affiliate. The program is taped at ABC’s Washington, DC affiliate, WJLA-TV, channel 7 (actually in Arlington, Virginia), where it airs Sunday morning at 10am after This Week. It also runs Saturday nights at 7pm on NewsChannel 8, the local all-news cable channel owned by the ABC affiliate.<br /><br />More extended versions of the quotes cited above:<br /><br />Evan Thomas on dumping Miers: <br /><blockquote>&quot;It takes him from stand-up guy to tool of the right. If he wants to save his presidency, he's got to change that image of somebody's who, and let me just finish this thought, Rove is the problem because Rove's entire engine is to polarize the country, to go to the base, to make sure that base is always with you, to never neglect the base, which keeps him on the right. If he's ever going to moderate, and if he's ever going to create any kind of national unity, Rove is going to have to go.&quot;</blockquote><br />Nina Totenberg on tax cuts: <br /><blockquote>&quot;We are now looking at a situation where this week the Senate, which is the so-called liberal body within the Republican Party, cut $35 billion from the poorest people in the country and food stamps and things like that and at the same time they're going to try to cut, boost tax, tax cuts for the wealthiest people in this country by $70 billion.&quot;</blockquote>She was prompted by<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/03/AR200511... this November 4 <i>Washington Post</i> article</a>, “Senate Passes Plan to Cut $35 Billion From Deficit.”<br /><br />For a rundown of Totenberg’s recent calls to drop tax cuts and/or to raise taxes, check this <a href="http://newsbusters.org/node/2431">October 23 NewsBusters item</a>.<br /><br />Totenberg, on secret CIA prisons: <br /><blockquote>&quot;I just want to say: Who are we? We are people who have always been for inspections of prisons, for some degree of human rights and now we're defending neither.&quot;<br /><br />Thomas: &quot;Think about the time. After 9/11 we were sure that they were coming after us and coming after us big and strong and fast and soon.&quot;<br /><br />Totenberg: &quot;I agree and I don't blame anybody for anything that was done in the first six months to a year, but this is after that and we keep expanding the program. We have now violated everything that we stand for. It is the first time in my life I have been ashamed of my country.&quot;</blockquote><b>[UPDATE, Saturday at 9:25pm EST:</b> The NewsChannel 8 airing Saturday night of Inside Washington, which includes commercials, and therefore has less program time than the airing on PBS affiliate WETA-TV channel 26, ended seconds before Totenberg asserted: “We have now violated everything that we stand for. It is the first time in my life I have been ashamed of my country.&quot; After Totenberg said, &quot;I just want to say: Who are we? We are people who have always been for inspections of prisons, for some degree of human rights and now we're defending neither,&quot; the producers edited in this from host Gordon Peterson to end the show: “And now we’re out of time. Thanks. We’ll see you next week.” Presumably, that’s what will air when the program is carried Sunday morning at 10am local time on Washington, DC’s ABC affiliate, WJLA-TV channel 7. I guess this is one time to be grateful for PBS and its lack of in-program ads.] <br /><br />
<p> </p><p> “CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons: Debate Is Growing Within Agency About Legality and Morality of Overseas System Set Up After 9/11,” read the headline over the </p><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/01/AR200511... 2 <i>Washington Post</i> story</a> by Dana Priest about a classified secret the media didn’t mind exposing. It began:<br /><blockquote>“The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.<br /><br />“The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents.”</blockquote>

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center