Being a regular Fox News Watch viewer, there was nothing surprising, tuning into last evening's discussion of the Clinton-Chris Wallace dust-up, in hearing lefty panelist Neal Gabler take his employer and colleagues to task.
Among his moves, Gabler:
Claimed "this network's reputation [presumably as right-leaning] precedes it."
Asserted that Chris Wallace "did not frame the question properly. He asked 'why didn't you do more?' Which is like asking 'will you stop beating your wife?'"
Defended Wallace only at the expense of other Fox colleagues: "He is not a Hannity, he's not an O'Reilly he's not a Brit Hume, Cavuto, Gibson." Hume of course is not merely an on-air personality but also the powerful FNC managing editor.
Spurned host Eric Burns' entreaty to add someone from another network to his list of partisan TV personalities.
Later, amiable liberal Jane Hall chimed in - after smilingly mentioning that she was glad she had recently re-signed with FNC [and thus presumably was not vulerable to recriminations]. Claimed Jane: "this network's commentary beat up on him, beat up on Clinton, and did not beat up on Bush."
If torturing analogies were a war crime, Maureen Dowd might soon find herself in the defendant's dock at The Hague.
In her subscription-required New York Times column of this morning, Dowd desperately seeks to associate herself with Sacha Baron Cohen, the brilliant British comic who Thursday took DC by storm.
First in his HBO series 'Ali G' and now on the big screen, Cohen has brought to life 'Borat,' his racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, sex-mad alter ego from Kazakhstan. Borat's MO is to lure unsuspecting people into his bigotry, as when in an infamous Ali G episode he induced Arizona bar patrons to applaud and even join in his rendition of the supposedly Kazakh song 'Throw the Jew Down the Well.' On the occasion of this week's meeting between Pres. Bush and Kazakhstan's president, Borat turned up at the White House gates to extend his invitation to a private screening of his new movie, 'Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,' to be followed by a reception at Hooters.
I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised that a TV host whose idea of a show-closer is tossing wadded-up balls of paper at the camera would indulge in middle-school-worthy taunts about someone's weight. And yet . . . I actually was surprised when on tonight's show, Keith Olbermann unleashed a string of jibes aimed at Roger Ailes' physique. So surprised that when Olbermann first began his barrage, with a comment about Ailes doing something "between pies," I truly wondered whether I had misheard him or perhaps misunderstood his intent. Fat jokes? Could my fellow Cornellian really be stooping that low?
He could. Olbermann's mean-spirited motive soon became manifest. Displaying what was presumably the least flattering photo of the Fox chief he could find [shown here], Olbermann followed that comment with this string of insults:
When the Pope recently accused Muslim extremists of using violence to advance their ends, they responded . . . with violence. Not to compare myself to the Pontiff, but I recently accused a liberal columnist of being consumed with Bush-hatred, and she has now responded . . . by cataloguing the many things she hates about Bush.
This morning's big political news at 'Today' was the Bob Woodward book, State of Denial. Turf battles and rivalries in a White House - who would have thought it? Dems are presumably clinging to it as the Last Best Hope for Liberal-kind.
But in terms of revealing the liberal MSM mindset, I found much more interesting a few off-the-cuff comments made by members of the Today cast. At the end of the first half hour, the entire gang gathered on the studio couch, and talk centered on a just-completed segment on a proposal in NYC to ban the use of trans-fats by city restaurants.
Rejection is painful. Spurned suitors often-if-contradictorily condemn the very object of their affection, while reserving a good measure of bile for their successful rivals. Democrats have suffered lots of unrequited political desire in recent years, and the strain is really starting to show. We all know about Bush Derangement Syndrome. Yesterday I described a new strain, Gas Price Derangement Syndrome, and mentioned an even more insidious disease afflicting many on the left - Controlled Demolition Dementia.
Today comes more evidence of the left's painful struggle to deal with its diminished standing and repeated rejection at the polls. In the subscription-required Why Voters Like Values, Times columnist Judith Warner claims that "the Christian right's ability to stir voter passions is based not on values, but on psychology." Warner describes having bravely gone inside the belly of the conservative beast, recently attending a Values Voters Summit in DC, and declaring it "imbued with so much intolerance and hate." This is presumably in contrast with liberal love-ins at Daily Kos, Moveon, etc., where Bush & Co. are regularly depicted as liars, murderers, Hitlers, etc. For that matter, Warner herself doesn't adumbrate many shades of gray in painting those on the right as filled with hatred.
A. telling a story in which the n-word is liberally used, or
B. driving through a black neighborhood, flaunting rifles and yelling racial epithets?
I'm going with 'B.' So why did Chris Matthews devote the first half of this afternoon's "Hardball" to the n-word story, and not one second to the driving-through-the-black-neighborhood story?
You don't suppose, do you, that it could have anything to do with the fact that 'A' concerns Republican George Allen, and 'B' his Dem challenger, James Webb?
Matthews opened Hardball with an extended segment featuring Patricia Waring, who in 1978 was apparently the wife of the coach of the University of Virginia rugby club team. She claims that, attending one game, she overheard George Allen telling a story in which he repeatedly used the n-word. She says she confronted him about it, asking him not to use the word.
With one of his inimitable montages, Rush Limbaugh documented today the way in which the MSM got hung up on a handshake - one the media reported didn't come off between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart Pervez Musharraf during their recent White House visit.
Though WH spokesman Tony Snow has reportedly indicated that the pair did shake hands off-camera, the media tea-leaf readers seemingly imbue The Handshake That Didn't Happen with dire implications for the achievement of US goals in the region. Ironically, on the very same day, the MSM has yet to report on a major, positive development in the region - one that would bring a smile to the lips of even a Nancy Pelosi or a New York Times editorialist - were they not solemnly sworn to ac-cen-tu-ate the negative from now till Election Day.
If you see a fellow walking down the block on his hands today, you can be pretty sure he's a Democrat. For, at least from now till Election Day, Dems inhabit a topsy-turvy world in which good news is bad and bad news is good - unless the bad news is very bad, which would be bad. Got it?
By now we're all familiar with BDS - Bush Derangement Syndrome. In recent weeks, a new, virulent strain has mutated: GPDS. No, not a virus affecting the positioning gizmo in your car permitting men to achieve nirvana - never again having to ask for directions. We're talking about Gas Price Derangement Syndrome in which Democrats - depressedly deranged by dropping gasoline prices - blame the good news on a diabolical plot concocted by Karl Rove and carried out in the covens of Exxon-Mobil and company.
Rush Limbaugh just mentioned that the Dems' latest strategy to keep the NIE story bubbling is to make a hullabaloo over the Bush administration's decision not to declassify and release the entire NIE report. I then turned to the Yahoo News page, and what do I find but an Associated Press article with this headline and lead paragraph:
White House refuses to release full NIE
WASHINGTON - The White House refused Wednesday to release the rest of a secret intelligence assessment that depicts a growing terrorist threat, as the Bush administration tried to quell election-season criticism that its anti-terror policies are seriously off track.
Anytime Maureen Dowd writes about Hillary, I figure it's good for an NB item. But reading and re-reading the pay-per-view Another Clinton Seduction at cock's crow, I just couldn't get a handle on what Dowd was getting at. Coming back to it in the light of a beautiful Ithaca morning, it suddenly dawned on me: Mo is mad at Hillary, and there are two reasons:
Hillary hasn't been tough enough on George Bush; and
Incredible as it might sound, Hillary - in contrast with certain NY Times columnists - has figured out a way to make men like her.
Dowd's ire is unmistakeable when it comes to Hillary's insufficient Bush bashing: "She has been like a silent-film star,lacking a voice in this chilling time when the Bush administration has Photoshopped the Constitution, portrayed critics as traitors, and spurred terrorism with a misconceived and mismanaged war in Iraq."
"Good morning, this is Harry Smith reporting from London today, June 10th, 1940. With Luftwaffe pilots now brazenly carrying out daylight bombing raids on London, it's clear that the war against Nazism is a failure."
Judging by his take on Iraq, that's presumably how Harry would have reported matters had he been around during the dark days of WWII. Fortunately, Churchill was there:
"Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age."
Who would have thought that Howard Dean would come off looking like the relatively statesmanlike DNC Chair? Dean has acknowledged that Chris Wallace was "tough but fair" in his questioning of Bill Clinton. Meanwhile, Dean's DNC predecessor Terry McAuliffe, with all the class and dignity for which he's known, has attacked Wallace as a Republican "tool," suggesting along the way that Tucker Carlson must be on drugs.
McAuliffe was a guest on Carlson's MSNBC show this afternoon. Tucker touched things off with this observation:
"It's interesting to see the attack machine cranked up again. I notice you're trying to paint Chris Wallace as some sort of right-wing lunatic. I don't think Chris Wallace is a right-winger for one thing. He had Donald Rumsfeld on his show, I'm not here to defend Fox I'm just telling the truth, and he gave Rumsfeld a hard time on 9-11 too. Why is that every time someone calls the Clinton people to account, they all of a sudden start screaming 'you're a right-winger, you're part of the conspiracy against us'? Why can't they evaluate criticism on its own terms?"
Since one of the main issues at hand was Fox News' alleged bias, you would have thought NBC would have assembled a more 'fair & balanced' panel than James Carville and liberal sidekick Paul Begala. But just when you thought Meredith Vieira was going to lead a one-sided seance, she actually hit the liberal duo with two tough questions.
Carville provided the opening, ill-advisedly claiming that "not one 'assertation' of fact" by Clinton during his FNC interview has been challenged. Guess what, James? We've got some serious 'assertatin' goin' on over he-ah, in the person of Condi Rice, and Vieira was quick to point that out.
Vieira: "Not everybody agrees what he said is fact."
Let's play one of our favorite games: WIACHSI, which of course stands for "What If a Conservative Had Said It?"
Ready? OK, let's play. What if a conservative attacked a female liberal icon by calling her promiscuous? How many Dem pols, NOW leaders, assorted Naomi Wolfs of the world . . . and Air America hosts would be popping up all over the MSM to proclaim their outrage?
And yet, on today's edition of Tucker Carlson, Air America host and class-action trial lawyer [nice two-fer!] Mike Papantonio leveled the loose-woman charge at none other than Ann Coulter.
The subject was a new book, "I Hate Ann Coulter", written by four authors who have chosen to remain anonymous out of their supposed fear of "gun-toting abortion-clinic bombing, self-proclaimed wing nuts who follow Coulter."
A liberal is someone who will always be able to find the dark lining, so long as it's a Republican sun that's shining. And so here's the latest dispatch from the No-Good-Deed-Goes Unpunished Directorate of the Department of Dark Linings:
Energy prices are down, maybe heading even lower . . . and that's bad.
So writes HuffPoster Raymond Learsy today. He begins by citing that irrefutable authority, Al Gore, for the proposition that "we are near the tipping point of climatic catastrophe." He next bemoans that "never or at least rarely ever, has there been a serious discussion on curtailing the availability of gasoline." By all means, I'd encourage Democrats everywhere to run on that platform!
If there's one person whose essence, whose very being, whose every fiber stands for the proposition that the Roman Catholic church is the one true religion, it is the Pope. The Church does define him as the Vicar of Christ, after all.
So you might forgive the Pope for advocating the notion that his religion is superior. But somehow that notion deeply offends Boston Globe columnist - and former Roman Catholic priest - James Carroll. In his column of today, Pope Benedict's hierarchy of truth, faith, Carroll takes the Pope to task for asserting the superiority of his faith. Referencing the Pope's recent address that has caused a stir, Carroll writes:
Summer's over, but it's still way too warm for hell to freeze over. And yet . . .
The usually reliably liberal Neal Gabler has lambasted Jim McGreevey for his more-than-we-needed-to-know confessions about his homosexuality. Even more shockingly, Gabler singled out Sean Hannity for praise for conducting the toughest interview of the Oprahfied former governor.
On last evening's Fox News Watch, there was unanimity from right to left that McGreevey's book, 'The Confession', and his media blitz to promote it, was an unseemly undertaking in which his family paid the price while he basked in the limelight - and cashed large checks for advances and royalties.
Gabler's fellow liberal Jane Hall was not in a forgiving mood. She let it be known that had she been in Oprah's audience, she would not have been applauding. She noted the pain McGreevey had caused his wife and the "corrupt way" in which he put his alleged lover in office. When Hall spoke disparagingly of McGreevey's "coming of age," Gabler chimed in sarcastically about McGreevey's supposed "courage."
A soldierasked the Secretary to define just who is the enemy. In professorial, avuncular fashion, Rumsfeld carefully described how a limited number of Muslim extremists have hijacked their faith and sought to impose their warped vision on their co-religionists. That others were seeking to regain power lost when the United States deposed dictatorial regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. And that still others are simply criminal elements.
This is shaping up as a day for lefty unilateralism. As noted here, liberal LA Times columnist Rosa Brooks saw no nuance in her Bush-hatred fueled tirade against any expansion of permitted techniques in interrogating terrorists.
Later, Good Morning America staged a global warming love-in, in which nary a dissenting voice was heard and the only question was whether it was too late to implement Al Gore's costly nostrums.
Diane Sawyer's guests were Gore and British magnate Richard Branson. The proximate cause was the announcement that over a recent breakfast, Gore managed to convince Branson to devote 100% of the profits from Virgin Airlines to the effort against global warming [someone check the OJ for Grey Goose].
The bio of Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks couldn't be much more impressive in terms of conventional credentials: Harvard, Oxford, Yale. Adviser to State Department. Kennedy School Fellow.
But despite having her ticket prestigiously punched time and again, her column of today reveals that nowhere has she learned much in the way of nuance or common sense. Her opposition to President Bush's efforts to clarify interrogation rules so as to allow some more forceful techniques is absolute and implacable, utterly failing to acknowledge the realities of terrorism on a scale unimaginable when the Geneva Convention was drafted.
For NewsBusters types, the question has always been whether Meredith Vieira would be as liberal as her Today show predecessor, Katie Couric. As of this morning, we have our answer. Yesterday, Hugo Chavez stood on the world stage and called the President of the United States a "devil" and claimed the speakers platform still stunk from his presence. Today, Meredith Vieira went on national TV and warned us not to be too quick to dismiss his message.
Interviewing Bill Clinton, she said:
"Now, it's easy to dismiss somebody like Chavez -- and some have -- as a nut. But do you think he is giving voice to to wider frustration in the developing world about this country and this country's policies? Do we need to change the way we act?"
Chris Matthews sees W's favorables going up and the Dem generic congressional edge going down. He's ticked, and on tonight's Hardball he made clear his explanation for this revoltin' development: the MSM isn't churning out enough bad news from Iraq.
Matthews first floated the idea during a segment with GOP strategist Ben Ginsburg and Dem counterpart Steve McMahon. I'll mention as an aside that McMahon strikes me as one of the more reasonable, straightforward Dem partisans.
Quoth Chris: "Does it bother you gentlemen both that when you watch television now that the war seems to have left the TV screen to a large extent and that's helping your [GOP] party? Does that bother you that this war is largely off television now? We're not being shown it that much."
Far be it from ABC to take sides in the fight against nuclear terrorism. As depicted by Good Morning America today, yesterday's UN speeches by Pres. Bush and Iran's Ahmadinejad were simply a battle of equals. And if anything, the guy who wants to wipe Israel off the map came off looking better in ABC's portrayal.
Host Chris Cuomo [son of Mario, brother of current New York AG candidate Andrew] set the tone: "We begin with the showdown at the United Nations, pitting President Bush against Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The philosophical battlefield: Iran's nuclear program. Senior national correspondent Claire Shipman is in Washington with more on two leaders, sharply divided."
Interviewed by 'Today' host Matt Lauer this morning, former NJ Gov. Jim McGreevey blamed the "immoral and ugly" way he acted out on his homosexuality on the fact that his parents were straight and thus couldn't serve as role models for him.
Lauer: "Not only as governor but as a state employee, you were living a very risky life-style. Anonymous sex with random men at places like highway rest stops. You write 'I was promiscuous and sexually active in ways I consider immoral and ugly, and I justified this by telling myself I had no other choice and that my sexual urges were irrepressible.'
Asked a sympathetic Lauer: "How hard was it to try to control them?"
That's when McGreevey got off his blame-the-straight-parents defense:
President Bush might have successfully avoided Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the UN yesterday, but he couldn't escape Meredith Viera's backseat driving on Iran policy on this morning's 'Today.' Perhaps convinced of the value of a good gabfest by her years on "The View," Vieira left little doubt she thinks that George and Mahmoud should soon sit down for nice coffee klatsch.
Vieira's guest was Tim Russert. Alluding to the way that Pres. Bush and Ahmadinejad avoided each other yesterday, Vieira asked him:
"Eventually will [Pres. Bush] have to sit down with this man? How much saber-rattling can you do if you're talking about the potential of going to war?"
If there's one thing you might have thought Meredith would have learned over the last 51/2 years, it's that when George Bush raises the sword, he ain't necessarily planning just to rattle it.
In the course of the last few weeks Keith Olbermann's "Special Comments" have become a Countdown staple in which the host plays to his Daily Kos demographic with vitriolic condemnations of all things Bush. I thought Olbermann had reached the nec plus ultra of nastiness with his suggestion a couple weeks ago that the Bush administration represented "a new type of fascism." I might have been wrong. MRC's Brad Wilmouth has comprehensively documented Keith Olbermann's 'Special Comment' of last night. In the course of those comments, Olbermann chose to invoke, of all things, the people's right to overthrow a tyrannical government.
You wouldn't think that someone who wrote a book condemning all religions as dangerous hokum and who favors higher taxes, drug decriminalization and gay marriage would be in danger of becoming the right's favorite liberal. But in the wake of his LA Times column of today, Head-in-the-Sand Liberals, Sam Harris might be on the way to being celebrated by conservatives and castigated on the left.
The column's subtitle really tells the story: "Western civilization really is at risk from Muslim extremists," and Harris' essential point in that liberals refuse to recognize that fact.
In a surreal clash of the sacred and the profane, the New York Times - that citadel of secularism - has declared in its editorial of this morning that Pope Benedict "needs to offer a deep and persuasive apology," for having quoted a 14th century Christian emperor who said:
“Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
The Times is only being fair and balanced, I suppose. After all, hardly a week goes by that you can't pick up the paper and read an editorial condemning this or that mullah, imam or ayatollah for the latest fatwa ordering the death of such-and-such infidel or the destruction of entire countries found to be an annoyance. Or not.
The Boston Globe refers to Charlie Savage as a "staff writer." But judging by the hyper-partisan comments he made on Fox News Channel this afternoon, Savage belongs over on the opinion page.
Interviewed with two other legal reporters by FNC's Martha MacCallum, Savage took these shots at President Bush and his fellow Republicans:
President Bush is "terrorizing" Americans with the terrorism issue for political gain.
Speaking of the current rift between the president and Sen. McCain over interrogation rules for suspected terrorists, Savage snidely observed that McCain had been a POW in Vietnam while Bush spent the war "back in Texas."