Cued up by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Tuesday's Countdown, Al Franken repeated the same “joke” he told on Letterman and the Today show about how he's “worried” that “Rove and Libby and others...may be executed." Olbermann then quipped: “But it would be a hell of a story for cable news." To which Franken chipped in to laughter from Olbermann: "It would. Especially if it got to the President and the Vice President because, and I think there should be a constitutional amendment passed as soon as possible that we can't execute either a sitting or recently-impeached President and Vice President." Olbermann picked up on a Monday NewsBusters item by Dave Pierre which highlighted how “in a 'comedy' skit for a promotional video at Amazon.com, Al Franken knees a self-described 'right-wing jerk' in the groin.” After playing an excerpt from the video, Olbermann didn't mention the name “NewsBusters,” but made his target clear as he denigrated the MRC's President: “One of the blogs affiliated with noted media watcher Brent Bozell, or as he's sometimes known, 'Red Beard the Pirate,' asks, 'Is there a theme of violence in Al Franken's work?'"
Four days after Keith Olbermann first suggested a parallel between the Clinton White House “in crisis” during the Lewinsky afffair and the Bush one now, on Monday night's Countdown he resurrected Clinton-era MSNBC video of the introduction of a “White House in Crisis” special. He set it up, with his voice getting lower and more dramatic after his “or” option, as well as a smirk: “Is this just another in the endless historical parade of political controversies through which every President since Washington has had to steer, or is it in fact, the White House in crisis?"
A Thursday night NewsBusters item recounted how Olbermann “forwarded the notion that the Bush White House is in a 'crisis' similar to that which enveloped the Clinton White House after the Monica Lewinsky revelation. Interviewing former Clinton Chief-of-Staff Leon Panetta, Olbermann pointed out how “the rundown for tonight's show was given a title by our producer that shook me. The title simply was, 'White House in Crisis.' I already hosted a news show on this network that had that title some years ago. Is it applicable now? Is in fact in your opinion this White House in crisis?" (Brief transcript and vintage picture of Olbermann follows.)
A presumptuous Bob Schieffer? A Freudian slip? Or merely a stumble? With pictures of Karl Rove, Lewis “Scooter” Libby and President Bush over a shot of the White House, the CBS Evening News anchor on Monday plugged an upcoming piece on the 6:30pm EDT feed: “Coming up, playing the waiting game. Indictments are soon to come in the CIA leak investigation.” Schieffer then backtracked, “or there's word they may. White House insiders most at risk in tonight's 'Inside Story.'” The closed-captioning provided what Schieffer was probably supposed to say: “Coming up, playing the waiting game. Indictments are expected soon in the CIA leak investigation. White House insiders most at risk in tonight's 'Inside Story.'”
Declaring “it's not far-fetched,” movie director Spike Lee affirmed on Friday night’s Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, that he believes Louis Farakhan’s allegation that a levee was destroyed in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in order to flood the nearly all-black ninth ward. Lee contended that “a choice had to be made, one neighborhood got to save another neighborhood and flood another 'hood, flood another neighborhood.” ABC News reporter Michel Martin chimed in with how “anybody with any knowledge of history can understand why a lot of people can feel this way, that that's a reasonable theory.” But she went on to dismiss the theory, prompting Lee to demand: "Presidents have been assassinated. So why is that so far-fetched?" To hearty applause from the Los Angeles audience, Lee asked: "Do you think that election in 2000 was fair? You don't think that was rigged?" Lee argued: “If they can rig an election, they can do anything!" Lee soon got into a heated exchange with MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson as he raised the “Tuskegee experiment” as proof the U.S. government is capable of any abuse of blacks. Lee made similar allegations on CNN back on October 11, as recounted in the Washington Times. What he said on HBO and CNN follows.
When, on this weekend’s Inside Washington, host Gordon Peterson recited a list of issues Democratic congressional candidates could use against Republican incumbents -- “you've got Iraq, you've got Harriet Miers, you've got Katrina, you got Tom DeLay being indicted. You've got a lot of ammunition” -- NPR reporter Nina Totenberg jumped in to shout: "And you've got the tax cuts!" She soon offered her recommendation on how Democrats should campaign: “One of the other things is you say, 'look, we're in this mess fiscally and they want to increase the tax cuts for the most wealthy people in the United States,’ the top one half of one percent would get a hundred thousand dollars, people who make over a million dollars or something like that." (Still shot of Totenberg and John Harwood.)
Totenberg’s been on a crusade. On the same show last month, as detailed in a September 24 NewsBusters posting, she dismissed the idea of cancelling $24 billion of transportation bill earmarks, to pay for Katrina recovery, as small change and suggested that “if you canceled the tax cuts, you'd get $225 billion." A week earlier, she asserted that President Bush’s New Orleans speech “would have been a great opportunity to say, 'look, I'm for tax cuts, but we need a Katrina tax, we need to really pay, to do this and to pay for it.’" And two weeks before that, as recounted with a video clip on NewsBusters, Totenberg blamed tax cuts for the levee breakage: “For years, we have cut our taxes, cut our taxes and let the infrastructure throughout the country go and this is just the first of a number of other crumbling things that are going to happen to us.”
"And so basically, what it looks like is going to happen is that Libby and Karl Rove are going to be executed” because “outing a CIA agent is treason,” left-wing author and radio talk show host Al Franken asserted Friday night, to audience laughter, on CBS’s Late Show with David Letterman. Franken qualified his hard-edged satire: "Yeah. And I don't know how I feel about it because I'm basically against the death penalty, but they are going to be executed it looks like." Franken later suggested that President Bush is at risk of receiving the same punishment, since Karl Rove likely told him what he did, but he added a caveat: “I think, by the way, that we should never ever, ever, ever execute a sitting President."
Friday's Washington Post provided quite a juxtaposition of biased headlines, stressing how many dislike the Republican gubernatorial candidate while the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor is emphasizing positive issues, over two stories about November's Virginia elections which the paper placed on the front page of the “Metro” section. “Kilgore's Record May Polarize Voters in Va.” declared the headline about Republican Jerry Kilgore which ran across the top of the “Metro” section in the Virginia edition of the newspaper. At the bottom of the same page, readers saw this headline over a look at liberal Democrat Leslie Byrne: “'Kitchen Table' Issues at Heart of Byrne's Lt. Gov. Campaign.” The Post's online posting, which located the article on page B-5, instead of B-1 where it appeared in the hard copy of the Virginia edition, carried this slightly different headline, “'Kitchen Table' Issues Are Byrne's Focus,” followed by this unctuous sub-head: “Lt. Governor Candidate's Pitch: Help for Head Start, Small-Business Health Insurance.” The lead to that article follows.
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann led Countdown again Thursday with what he's whittled down to the simple heading as “The Leak,” and soon forwarded the notion that the Bush White House is in a “crisis” similar to that which enveloped the Clinton White House after the Monica Lewinsky revelation. Interviewing former Clinton Chief-of-Staff Leon Panetta, Olbermann pointed out how “the rundown for tonight's show was given a title by our producer that shook me. The title simply was, 'White House in Crisis.' I already hosted a news show on this network that had that title some years ago. Is it applicable now? Is in fact in your opinion this White House in crisis?" Panetta agreed.
Maybe Olbermann's old 1998-99 show carried that title for a while or was a sub-title, but I believe his 8pm EDT show back then was titled The Big Show. And on that program in the summer of 1998, Olbermann infamously ruminated about how “it finally dawned on me that the person Ken Starr has reminded me of facially all this time was Heinrich Himmler, including the glasses.” Olbermann also wondered, “would not there be some sort of comparison to a persecutor as opposed to a prosecutor for Mr. Starr?" (Fuller quotations follow, as well as a link to video of Olbermann's 1998 smear.)
The first words out of Chris Matthews' mouth, at the top of Wednesday's Hardball on MSNBC, raised the specter of Watergate: "What did the President know and when did he know it?” Matthews proceeded to trumpet “the New York Daily News now out in front on this story, reported this morning that President Bush rebuked ramrod Karl Rove over the leak story.” Repeating his tease, Matthews previewed his first segment: “So tonight on Hardball, we try to figure it out again if people in the Bush administration crossed the line separating political hardball -- tough, clean, Machiavellian politics -- and criminality. We're led tonight by the news coverage to that unsavory tandem of questions: What did the President know and when did he know it?”
On Tuesday night, Matthews opened with a dire scenario for a Vice President with a bad temper: “Did the fierce battle of leaks between elements of the Central Intelligence Agency who opposed going to war in Iraq and the hawks in the Vice President's office escalate to actual law breaking? Did the Vice President in an effort to defend himself from an onslaught of charges by Joseph Wilson urge his staff to silence the former ambassador? Did Cheney, through anger or loss of temper, create a climate for political hardball and worse? Did he stoke his staff in the late spring and early summer of 2003 to such a level of ferocity that some of its members crossed the line into illegality? And will Patrick Fitzgerald determine that in doing so, he crossed that dire line himself?"
Actress/comedian Roseanne Barr, who claims to be a psychic (“I channel the higher mind, the higher universal mind”), used the made-up word “overcomeable” and employed teenage phrases such as “like” and “totally,” insisted on Monday night's Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC that she would win a battle of intelligence with President Bush. Barr recounted how she's “going around telling jokes about our country and our people and the world and how screwed up everything is. And I just basically bitch.” She soon maintained about Bush: "I could totally win him in a mind contest." Barr, the star of the mid-1980s to early 1990s ABC sit-com Roseanne, elaborated: “Like if it was like a psychic thing and he was like, okay Rosanne, bring your best powers against my best powers, even though he's like totally world-wide connected, and I'm not so world-wide, I could so totally still win on account of like being female, being a grandmother and like, you know, being intelligent. I could totally win."
Barr, who made the appearance to plug a new DVD of the first season of the Roseanne sit-com, boasted: “I have been psychic since I was very young, about three-years-old. Whenever I touch someone, I pick up all their vibes and stuff. So that's why I don't like to shake hands or touch people because I see like, you know, them dying in horrible car wrecks and stuff like that and it's depressing." Apparently, that was just a joke. (Full transcript follows.)
Recalling how Watergate “didn't take off until people started talking about higher ups” in the White House, on Tuesday night’s The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, CBS’s Lesley Stahl predicted that the Valerie Plame case “could possibly take off the way the Watergate one did." Stahl fondly remembered how Watergate “really took off as a big story when it went into the Senate and there were hearings held by the opposition party.” That, she dejectedly noted, “isn't likely to happen in this case" given GOP control of both houses of Congress. When Stephen Colbert, a veteran of Comedy Central’s Daily Show, whimsically pointed out on the second night of his new 11:30pm EDT/PDT show that “if you look at the issues, Nixon was a pinko. I mean, it was education and stopping the draft and women's rights and the environment. I mean, he was the boogie man at the time. But he's way to the left of John Kerry," Stahl disagreed and credited (or is it blamed?) Reagan for moving America to the right: "I wouldn't say that necessarily. But the whole country shifted right ever since Reagan. Reagan really moved us off to the right." A resigned Stahl soon added: "The center of the country has definitely shifted to the right. And there we sit." She didn’t seem pleased about it.
ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas set up a Tuesday World News Tonight story, about Saddam Hussein's trial set to start Wednesday, by noting how “many Iraqis are eager to see him in the docks, finally held accountable for atrocities committed by his regime.” But then came the inevitable “but,” as in: “But already, human rights groups are worried about the fairness of the trial.” In the subsequent story, reporter Jim Sciutto in Iraq devoted most of his piece to how Iraqis are angry at Hussein and glad he's going on trial. Sciutto quoted one man who argued that “he should be tortured the same way he tortured the people.” Sciutto, however, ended with the concern earlier highlighted by Vargas: “Human rights groups doubt the former dictator will get a fair trial, with five inexperienced judges unable to resist pressure for swift justice, and his legal team with little time to answer the charges.”
A little bit on CBS's story, and a full transcript of the ABC story, follow.
CNN's Jack Cafferty, on Monday afternoon's The Situation Room, took a cheap shot at Karl Rove's weight and expressed delight in the possibility Rove will be indicted. Just past 3pm EDT, Cafferty announced his question of the hour: “What should Karl Rove do if he is indicted?” Cafferty then answered his own question: “He might want to get measured for one of those extra large orange jump suits, Wolf, 'cause looking at old Karl, I'm not sure that he'd, they'd be able to zip him into the regular size one." Wolf Blitzer pointed out: “He's actually lost some weight. I think he's in pretty good shape." Cafferty conceded: "Oh, well then maybe just the regular off the shelf large would handle it for him." Blitzer then cautioned the indictment might not come: "Yeah, but you know, it's still a big if. It's still a big if." A giddy Cafferty replied: "Oh, I understand. I'm, I'm just hoping you know. I love, I love to see those kinds of things happen. It does wonders for me."
Just under a month ago, Cafferty took a shot at Tom Delay: "Has he been indicted yet?" And then a week later insisted that "I had no inside information on DeLay's upcoming indictment,” but boasted of how “it's probably a piece of videotape that I'm going to hang onto." (Full transcript, and links to his earlier comments, follow.)
On this past weekend'sReal Time with Bill Maher on HBO, comedian Bill Maher pointed to the liberal scriptwriters of NBC's West Wing for political guidance. Maher touted how “Alan Alda plays a Republican Senator who tells the Christian Right to go screw.” Maher yearned: “Why can't we have that in real life?” Last Tuesday (October 11) on MSNBC's Hardball, the Chicago Tribune's Jim Warren had also held up how the Alda character "confronts a top Christian Right official who insists on a public pledge that Alan Alda, if elected President, will only pick anti-abortion judges to the federal court. And Alan Alda, seeing the world as much more complicated, declines to do that." Maher proceeded to wonder: “Why can't we have a real Alan Alda character who says to the Christian Right what the Democrats basically say to the black people, which is, 'you know what? Where else are you going to go?'"
Full transcripts of Maher's comments, the Alan Alda character's lines on the October 9 episode of The West Wing and links to previous NewsBusters items on The West Wing, follow.
On Friday’s Washington Week on PBS, Washington Post reporter Michael Fletcher informed the panel that “the little bit we know about” the “record” of Harriet Miers “indicates kind of a, you know, bridge-builder, moderate” and “so there's deep concern among conservatives, some of whom have called for her to withdraw." That prompted befuddled fill-in host Michel Martin, of ABC News, to seemingly presume moderation and consensus-building should be higher values than conservative ideology: "Is that a dirty word, 'bridge-builder,’ 'moderate,’ consensus builder? I'm sorry. I wasn't aware that those were epithets." Gwen Ifill is the usual host of the show. (More complete transcript of the exchange follows.)
A follow-up, with Friday morning coverage, to the Thursday night NewsBusters posting, “Shocked, Just Shocked Network Reporters Hype 'Staged’ Bush Event with Troops,” which detailed how the NBC Nightly News LED with the supposed scandal and how the other networks devoted full stories to it. The network obsession, with the ordinary preparation for a presidential event involving nervous participants, continued on Friday morning. Plugging upcoming stories at the top of Good Morning America, ABC’s Charles Gibson referred to “an embarrassing, staged photo-op.” Diane Sawyer soon cited the event as a “new embarrassment” for the administration and reporter Claire Shipman asserted that “an embarrassing White House blunder lifted the veil on the Bush administration's meticulously managed photo-ops." With “WAS TALK WITH TROOPS SCRIPTED?” plastered on-screen, NBC’s Today made the incident its story of the day as Katie Couric announced: "On Close-Up this morning, is the Bush administration using staged events to sell the war in Iraq?”
Over on CNN’s American Morning, co-host Miles O’Brien insisted to Major General Rick Lynch in Iraq that the participating soldiers were “coached.” Though Lynch repeatedly denied the soldiers were told what to say, O’Brien stuck to his claim they were “coached,” citing how the Pentagon official told them, “here's what he's going to say, here's what you might want to say in response, right?" Lynch maintained that “those soldiers yesterday were giving their opinion." To which an oblivious O’Brien replied: “Well, I guess it's too bad, if that's true, that people would have another impression this morning, because of the way they were coached." But the best O’Brien could come up with was how the Pentagon’s Allison Barber suggested how to segue to another soldier for an answer and that “a few smiles wouldn't hurt back here on the TV.” When news reader Carol Costello wondered: "Is anything spontaneous in politics, really? I don't think so," O'Brien heralded a left-winger: "Jeez. Dennis Kucinich, maybe?" O'Brien also had the gall to contend that “truth be told, if they were not coached, they would have said things that the administration would have liked to hear, I'm convinced. Because they are, you know, these troops are gung ho about their mission. And so it's a shame that they have cast this cloud." Wow, that’s chutzpah given it was O’Brien and the media which cast the “cloud.” (Full transcripts follow.)
Just before 5pm EDT Friday, during The Situation Room's review of blog postings, CNN's Jacki Schechner recited examples of blog sites critical of the media's hyping of the so-called “staged” live tele-conference Thursday between President Bush and soldiers in Iraq. With a shot of the NewsBusters posting, “Shocked, Just Shocked Network Reporters Hype 'Staged' Bush Event with Troops” on screen, Schechner relayed: “From NewsBusters, this is a group site that was put together to combat what they call the liberal media bias, saying there is nothing wrong with figuring out 'who should answer which question' or telling soldiers, who aren't familiar with media interviews, to 'take a breath' before answering.”
Thursday's NBC Nightly News led, yes led, with how, as anchor Brian Williams put it, President Bush had that morning conducted “a staged event" via satellite with ten U.S. soldiers and one Iraqi soldier in Iraq. “Today's encounter was billed as spontaneous,” Williams intoned. “Instead, it appeared to follow a script.” Andrea Mitchell warned that “the troops were coached on how to answer the Commander-in-Chief” and, indeed, not until two minutes into her three-minute story -- after showing clips of how a DOD official had told the soldiers the questions Bush would ask -- did Mitchell note how “the White House and at least one of the soldiers says the troops weren't told what to say, just what the President would ask." So, the answers were not staged. The soldiers, naturally nervous about appearing on live TV with the President of the United States, were simply told who should answer which question and to “take a breath” before answering. Scandalous! Over video of Bush on the aircraft carrier, Mitchell went on to remind viewers of how “this isn't the first time this administration used troops to help sell the Iraq war.” But she also admitted a media double-standard: “Many administrations, Democrat and Republican, stage-manage events and often the news media ignore the choreography.”
ABC's World News Tonight also devoted a full story, though not the lead, to the media-generated controversy. Terry Moran contended that “the fact that this was so carefully choreographed...shows just how urgently the White House wants not just a success on the ground in Iraq, but a PR success at home for this embattled President." Over on the CBS Evening News, anchor Bob Schieffer opined that “unfortunately for the President, after satellite cameras caught administration aides rehearsing the soldiers beforehand, Democrats dismissed the whole thing and said the troops deserved a lot better.” Lara Logan managed to cover other material in her story and uniquely showcased a soldier who told CBS: "The truth is that everything that was said was meant to be said, though it may have sounded scripted in some places. Nerves kick in, for one. Two, everyone puts their thoughts together. You put it down, you go over and over it a hundred times."
MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann also led Thursday with the “staged” event and the AP distributed a story breathlessly headlined, “Bush Teleconference With Soldiers Staged.” But on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, Hume noted complaints the event was "not entirely spontaneous" before Carl Cameron pointed out that Bush posed an unplanned question to the Iraqi soldier. In the panel segment, Washington Times reporter Bill Sammon recalled how when “back in December” a soldier asked Rumsfeld about armor, a question that “had been planted by a reporter, I didn't hear any outcry from the press.” (UPDATE with CNN coverage and transcripts follow.)
Ripped from the headlines: The plot for Wednesday's Law & Order on NBC is inspired by the Schiavo case -- and it looks like one of those fighting to keep the Schiavo-like character alive may also be a murderer since the NBC Web site's description of the episode says that “a car bomb kills the husband of an incapacitated woman shortly before the victim planned to disconnect her feeding tube.” I would caution, however, that L&O plots often first pursue logical suspects before discovering an alternate motivation for the crime.
In a promo aired Tuesday night on NBC, the announcer plugged, "On Law and Order: A comatose woman." Then the video jumped to a man addressing protesters with signs: "The feeding tube will remain in place." Finally, over video of a car exploding, the announcer asserted: "In a case that rocked a nation." The show plot, as listed on NBC's Web page for the show, follows.
The Internet Movie Database's plot summary for the film: "A fictionalized account of the first major successful sexual harassment case in the United States -- Jenson vs. Eveleth Mines, where a woman who endured a range of abuse while working as a miner filed and won the landmark 1984 lawsuit." That would place the lawsuit filing seven years before anyone heard of Anita Hill. (More of what Harrelson told Letterman follows.)
The opposition from the religious right faced by the fictional Republican presidential candidate on NBC's The West Wing, symbolizes for Jim Warren, the former Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Tribune who is now a Deputy Managing Editor for the paper, how real-life conservatives, upset over the Harriet Miers pick, will never be satisfied. On Tuesday's Hardball on MSNBC, Warren admired how the fictional drama's Alan Alda character “confronts a top Christian Right official who insists on a public pledge that Alan Alda, if elected President, will only pick anti-abortion judges to the federal court. And Alan Alda, seeing the world as much more complicated, declines to do that.” Warren asked and answered his own question: “Why is that relevant? I think it's relevant because just like Bill Clinton could never satisfy his left, it seems that Bush can never satisfy a group for whom he has cut taxes, delivered Saddam Hussein on a platter, done what they want on late term abortion and stem cell research, come out against gay marriage and picked a whole lot of conservative judges.”
Full transcript of his proposition, and the West Wing scene, follows.
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews led Monday’s Hardball by framing the Valerie Plame case around her husband Joe Wilson’s spin on the case, despite inconsistencies in his claims and how a much more innocent explanation is equally plausible -- that White House officials just wanted to explain why such a publicity-seeking critic, who claimed he was on a mission for the Vice President, would have been sent to Niger to check out whether Iraq sought uranium. “If you don't think this leak case matters,” Matthews intoned, “ask yourself what was the most frightening case you heard for going to war with Iraq? Probably it was that Saddam Hussein was buying uranium yellow cake in Africa to build nuclear weapons.” Matthews insisted that “the Vice President repeated with military precision, almost like a Gatling gun. Saddam Hussein, nuclear weapons. Saddam Hussein, nuclear weapons.” Matthews declared: “But it wasn't true. There's no evidence even now that Saddam tried to buy nuclear materials in Africa.” The British, however, maintain there is such evidence.
Matthews proceeded to provide the most nefarious interpretation of conversations between White House officials and journalists: “Did they try and kill the messenger? Did they use the enormous media power of the White House to discredit the ambassador, his mission and his wife at the CIA who suggested him for the mission? And in doing so, did they abuse the office and the power to which the President was elected? Did they break the law? Did they conspire to punish a critic of the war?”
After Monday's CBS Evening News showed a clip of a Marine recruit at Parris Island explaining that he volunteered because “I want to be fighting the evils that did what they did to us on September 11th," reporter Sharyn Alfonsi related how “all three of the recruits we sat down with say they enlisted because of September 11th.” Alfonsi, however, couldn't let such an apparent link between 9/11 and the war in Iraq go unchallenged and so she quickly admonished the naive recruits as she stressed how “politicians will argue whether the war and 9/11 are related” -- though she added that “clearly here, to these recruits, the two are inseparable."
Alfonsi's clarification about 9/11 connections came in an otherwise very positive story about three Marine recruits and their disappointment that more Americans are not closely following the war. Her piece was the first of a new series, “CBS News Road Tour: The Home Front,” which will take Alfonsi and her mini-van to Ft. Benning in Georgia on Tuesday. Full transcript follows.
Only on fantasy television would anyone predict the New York Times would endorse a Republican presidential candidate, but that's what occurred on Sunday's episode of NBC's drama, The West Wing. On the October 9 show, the GOP nominee, California Senator “Arnie Vinick” (played by Alan Alda), lays out a series of proposals on immigration (such as doubling the border patrol), aimed to put his Hispanic Democratic opponent, Congressman “Matt Santos” (played by Jimmy Smits), in a box. In one scene, “Vinick” campaign advisor “Bruno Gianelli” (played by Ron Silver), a former campaign adviser to Democrats including the show's “President Bartlet,” walks into a meeting and declares: “The New York Times loves your guest worker program. Think we might have a shot at an endorsement." At least another campaign staffer points out the naivete of the Democratic operative who has switched sides: "Kiss of death for a conservative." But another adds: "New York has 31 electoral votes."
Liberal commentator Lawrence O'Donnell serves as Executive Producer of the series and Sunday's episode also featured "Vinick," who is Hollywood's dream of a Republican who is “pro-choice,” pro-minimum wage, environmentalist and anti-religious right, going on a rant against the head of the "American Christian Assembly." Vinick asserts: "Tell that lying little creep the United States Senate gets to advise and consent on judges, not the clergy." More on that scene, and links to past NewsBusters and MRC CyberAlert items on the liberal advocacy in the series, follows.
During the roundtable segment on Sunday’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, ABC reporter Cokie Roberts charged that “I do think there's sexism here” and went on to approvingly cite a left-wing Democratic Senator: “I do think that there is a degree of sexism, as Barbara Mikulski has also said, and I do think that there is a certain Ivy League prejudice going on here.” Roberts contended that Miers’ “experience on the Dallas city council showed her to be a great pragmatist and that's what people are really worried about." Roberts soon gushed: “Praise the Lord she doesn't have a judicial philosophy." She cited Justice O’Connor’s approach as desirable: “You're presented with a case on the Supreme Court instead of an argument, and you decide the case and that's exactly what Sandra Day O'Connor did and that's exactly what makes conservatives angry."
When former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich suggested that “a lot of conservatives are worried that she is going to be another David Souter,” Roberts interjected: "A pragmatist." (So, Roberts sees the liberal Souter as merely a "pragmatist"? Or, maybe she was trying to correct Reich and just meant that conservatives are upset not by how Miers will be another Souter but by how Miers might be another "pragmatist.") She also lamented how “the people who are complaining about this didn't complain about Clarence Thomas, who was hardly a distinguished jurist when he was picked for the bench." To that, George Will shot back: “He was, however, a jurist on America's most distinguished appellate court.” (Transcribed excerpts from the October 9 This Week follow.)
MSNBC viewers are used to seeing Hardball host Chris Matthews take on Republicans from the left, but in a new twist, he'll being doing the same this weekend on NBC's Sunday drama, The West Wing. As shown on Friday's Hardball, Matthews plays himself in a scene in which the “Josh Lyman” character, the campaign manager for imaginary left-wing Democratic presidential candidate “Matt Santos” (played by Jimmy Smits), cheers on Matthews for his questions to “Arnie Vinick,” the very un-conservative Republican presidential candidate played by Alan Alda. “Lyman” exclaims, "Yeah, welcome to Hardball, Arnie!" and "Chris, baby, keep slugging!"
Following the preview, MSNBC aired a taped interview by Matthews with Alda from the West Wing set. Matthews conceded “the script was written for me,” but he that he “thought it was really smart.” Matthews applauded Hollywood's ideal GOP candidate: “You come off as kind of a Giuliani guy. You're for abortion rights, but you don't like the idea of partial birth. You're kind of a maverick Republican, you're from California. You shine your own shoes. What an interesting guy you are.” Matthews admired how “your character this last season [said] he'd studied the Bible...and you just couldn't go along with having people die because they didn't go to church or didn't honor the Sabbath, but yet slavery was okay in the Bible back in those days.” Matthews fretted: “It's a very thoughtful sort of inquiry, but do you think a guy like that could ever be elected President in this church-going country of ours?"
Indeed, as recounted in an April MRC CyberAlert item: “Hollywood's ideal Republican President, as brought to life two weeks ago by NBC's The West Wing, is 'pro-choice,' 'pro-environment,' will save the party from the 'right wing,' engineers a deal to raise the minimum wage and lectures about keeping religion out of politics.” (See full rundown below)
Asked this afternoon on FNC's DaySide whether “good things” happening in Iraq are being overlooked by the U.S. media, Kayla Williams, an Arabic interpreter for the U.S. Army who held the rank of Sergeant and appeared on FNC to tout her new book, Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army, replied: “Absolutely.” She explained that “one of the things that sticks out most clearly in my mind would be driving down the road and we would pass schools where children were getting to go to school for the first time in a generation. They would lean out their windows of their classrooms cheering and waving to us in their little school uniforms. And you don't see the images of soldiers passing out school supplies."
National Guardsman Jason Christopher Hartley, author ofJust Another Soldier: A Year on the Ground in Iraq, offered a more generous assessment of media coverage, pointing out that even if you have good news on water treatment plants, voting and schools, but in “the process of those things, three civilians get killed,” then “there's going to be a lot of focus on that” and, therefore, “there is enough horrible things happening that kind of like overshadows maybe all of the great things that might take place there." Transcripts of the exchanges follow.
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, on Tuesday night, quoted and played some video from a September BBC interview with actor Donald Sutherland, including a tearful rant against President Bush and American conservatives: "We have children. How dare we take their legacy from them? How dare we? It's shameful what we are doing to our world.” Scarborough read how Sutherland, who plays the villainous Republican Speaker of the House on ABC's Commander in Chief, charged that Bush and GOP leaders “only care about profit. They will destroy our lives. And so it's something you have to care about if you're passionate about the lives of our children because we've stolen their future.” I tracked down the BBC's September 27 posting of a 25-minute RealPlayer video of the interview aired on the September 16 HARDtalk Extra and when asked about “mean-spiritedness" in U.S. politics, Sutherland bemoaned the censoring of Kanye West from NBC's re-play of the fundraising concert, as well as how, after the Dixie Chicks were critical of President Bush, a radio chain supposedly “organizes a purchase of all of their CDs and then has tractors running over them in Detroit. I mean, we're back in burning books in, wherever, in Germany."
On Wednesday's World News Tonight, ABC's Dan Harris highlighted conservative criticism of the selection of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court, but delivered something unusual in network TV news -- story-concluding spin from a conservative perspective. Harris wrapped up his October 5 piece: "The faith angle is tricky for the President. He's argued Miers won't change twenty years down the line. But twenty years ago, before she was born again, she was a Democrat. Which raises the question: If she's changed once, can't she change again?" Earlier, he had relayed criticism from the right, such as former Bush 43 speechwriter David Frum's observation which encapsulated why so many conservatives are disappointed: “If you put someone like Harriet Miers in that room with someone as brilliant and charming as Stephen Breyer, she's never going to win any arguments with him."
Concluding her Tuesday NBC Nightly News story on conservative resistance to the nomination of Harriet Miers, Andrea Mitchell asserted that while “critics on the right say” that it “leaves them depressed and disappointed," their “opposition may not matter for Miers' confirmation. So far, no Republican Senator has joined the chorus of critics." But those who watched ABC or CBS heard something very different. On World News Tonight, ABC’s Terry Moran reported that “in a sign of potential trouble ahead, Republican Senator San Brownback, a leading conservative on the Judiciary Committee, released a statement today saying: 'I am not yet confident that Ms. Miers has a proven track record and I look forward to having these questions answered.'" Over on the CBS Evening News, John Roberts related how “many members of the President's own party remain perplexed by his choice for this critical swing seat." Viewers then heard this soundbite from the Kansas Republican Senator: "You had a number of outstanding potential nominees who had been or were, or are, sitting judges. And so you look at this one and you say, well, why did you go here when you had so many other opportunities?"