On Tuesday's Hardball, the discussion turned to Jimmy Carter's remarks at the funeral of Coretta Scott King. The former president had brought up wiretapping. Host Chris Matthews observed: "Of course that‘s hot because J. Edgar Hoover was wiretapping Dr. King and feeding all the dirty to LBJ, you know?"
The former FBI chief had indeed wiretapped the late civil rights leader, but not on his own authority and initially not for President Lyndon Johnson. King biographer David Garrow wrote in a 2002 Atlantic Monthly article:
"On October 10, 1963, U.S. Attorney General Robert
F. Kennedy committed what is widely viewed as one of the most
ignominious acts in modern American history: he authorized the Federal
Bureau of Investigation to begin wiretapping the telephones of the
Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Kennedy believed that one of King's
closest advisers was a top-level member of the American Communist
Party, and that King had repeatedly misled Administration officials
about his ongoing close ties with the man."
On today's CNN American Morning, anchor Soledad O'Brien began a story with: "Lots of people in New Orleans wondering exactly what happened last night. They listened to the president for about 47 minutes before there was even a mention of their city."
After playing a clip from President Bush's State of the Union address, she continued: "And that was kind of it. The president went on for just about a minute. A little bit less. Didn't offer any new money, any new aid."
CNN correspondent Dan Lothian then said New Orleans people believe, "That it was a slap in the face. And this comes, of course, after
residents have been telling us that they don't believe the White House
has been doing nearly enough to help." He then spoke to a handful of people who complained. $85 billion in government money has already been committed to the region, he mentioned, but "of course, people here simply don't believe that they're getting any of that money or that that money is nearly enough."
Writing in today's Chicago Tribune, author and former Tribune political writer Jon Margolis begins his "Tribal America defends right to ignore facts" by flatly asserting: "The flap over intelligent design poses a special quandary for us Americans. Our puzzlement has nothing to do with the merits of the intelligent design argument. There are none."
Having established where he's coming from, Margolis then moves on to criticize rock celebrity Ted Nugent for criticizing actress Pam Anderson: "Aha! An object for the anger, the artificially enhanced TV star who has supported People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an animal-rights group that opposes hunting." Three sentences later, Margolis states that "there is no visible anti-hunting movement."
Today's Oprah Winfrey program featured her interviewing James Frey, author of "A Million Little Pieces." The book has come under fire for being much less than accurate. Greatly due to Ms. Winfrey's endorsement of the book, even after its inaccuracies and fictions had been detailed, "A Million Little Pieces" enjoyed incredible success.
This morning Ms. Winfrey told Frey, "I really feel duped." Reuters reports: "In 19 years in television 'I've never been in this position before,' said Winfrey. . ."
The talk show host was being disingenuous She's been duped before. Journalist Michael Fumento notes one example from 1987, when the talk-show host asserted:
In today's front page story on Bobby Rush, "Pastor Rush stirs hope, skeptics in Englewood," the Chicago Tribune describes the Illinois Democrat as a "former militant Black Panther turned mainstream Democratic congressman."
One wonders what the Tribune considers mainstream.
Rush's voting record in Congress, as measured by assorted special interest groups, reflects little in the way of moderation. In their most recent evaluations, for example, the National Abortion Reproductive Rights Action League awarded him a 100 percent rating. The National Taxpayers Union gave him a puny 11 percent while Americans for Tax Reform ranked him at 10 percent.
Getting a 100 percent rating from the American Civil Liberties Union, the AFL-CIO, Americans for Democratic Action, and the National Education Association, Rush received a zero percent rating from the American Conservative Union and the National Rifle Association, and 10 percent rankings from both the American Security Council and Citizens Against Government Waste.
Much coverage has been accorded the woman who was issued a restraining order by Santa Fe District Court Judge Daniel Sanchez against talk-show host David Letterman. Typical was Keith Olbermann on Countdown's December 27th program:
"Colleen Nestler of Santa Fe, New Mexico, somehow managed to get a temporary restraining order issued against Letterman last week saying he had to stay at least three yards from her at all times. But the judge who granted that order today reversed himself, lifted it.
Ms. Nestler had alleged since 1994 Letterman had been using coded words during his broadcasts and gestures and, quote, "eye expressions," unquote, to show that he wanted to marry her.
Today, of course, when asked for proof of her allegations by Judge Daniel Sanchez, she could offer none."
Today's Chicago Tribune notes that Kwanzaa was created "by African-American scholar Maulana Karenga." A check of the Tribune's own archives discloses that he could have been characterized somewhat differently.
On October 7, 1970 the newspaper reported: "Black militant Ron Karenga was arrested with three of his followers today on charges he tortured two young women with a soldering iron and a vise. . .Investigators said the women were held at gunpoint, forced to disrobe and were beaten. At one point, it was charged, Karenga forced a hot soldering iron inside the mouth of one of the victims while the other woman's toe was squeezed in a vise."
Today's Chicago Tribune story on a group protesting Republican Congressional efforts to curb social spending identifies Rev. Jim Wallis as a "Christian activist." The article reports he is a leader of "a Christian social justice group" and speaks of "Wallis and other progressive religious leaders."
It would be more accurate to describe Wallis as an activist liberal Democrat. He's long been a force within the Democratic party and, as noted in the Weekly Standard, has a " 35-year history of effectively pacifist, anti-capitalist, pro-socialist positions. With the exception of abortion and family values, the political issues that animate him today are the direct descendants of those that launched him into a career of activism back in his student days, when he and his friends were being tear-gassed protesting U.S. involvement in Vietnam, in the heyday of the New Left."
Today's Chicago Tribune carried a New York Times News Service article on the passing of Eugene J. McCarthy. The story notes: "As a senator, Mr. McCarthy was an unabashed liberal unafraid to take on Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) and his alarmist warnings about the communist menace."
No doubt Senator Eugene McCarthy was an unabashed liberal on many issues. And it's very likely that he, at a minimum, questioned Senator Joe McCarthy's anti-Communist crusade. But, as a senator, he most certainly didn't "take on Sen. Joseph McCarthy."
Last Friday on MSNBC’s “The Abrams Report,” Hoda Kotb made an appearance to plug that evening’s NBC “Dateline” program centering on John Lennon’s murderer, Mark Chapman. Ms. Kotb said that in listening to 100 hours of audiotape she was struck by Chapman’s being “so meticulous. He’s so calm. He’s so measured; all the while he is plotting out one of the most heinous crimes of the century.”
Lennon’s killing was tragic, as most killings are, but categorizing it as “one of the most heinous crimes of the century” is a gross overstatement.
This is, after all, the century in which we saw millions of people killed by Mao. Millions of people killed by Stalin. Millions of people killed by Hitler. And what of the more than 900 who died in 1978 at the hands of Leftist “Reverend” Jim Jones in Guyana? Then there were Leopold and Loeb, Susan Smith, Charles Manson, Andrew Cunanan, Timothy McVeigh, Dennis Rader, Charles Whitman, Richard Speck, John Wayne Gacy, and Charles Starkweather. Moreover, there were Columbine, Heaven’s Gate, the Zebra Killers, the Tylenol murders, the Birmingham church bombing and the Atlanta youth murders. The list could go on and on.
Sunday is a day of worship. So today’s Chicago Tribune devoted more than 50 paragraphs to venerating Illinois Senator Barack Obama.
In the front page “Obama's national appeal rallies an army of backers,” correspondent Jeff Zeleny details how popular the junior senator is among the rich and famous. Warren Buffett is a fan and has contributed to Obama’s political action committee, as have Hollywood’s Jeffrey Katzenberg, David Geffen and Steven Spielberg.
On Monday's Hardball, Chris Matthews asked former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle if he "share(d) the public view that Dick Cheney knew what his guy was up to, Scooter Libby?"
This was not the first time Matthews referenced a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll that indicated more than half the respondents thought Vice President Dick Cheney was aware of Lewis Libby's actions in leaking the name of a CIA employee.
What Matthews has failed to mention, however, is the level of awareness of the participants in the poll. When asked: "How well do you, personally, understand this case: very well, somewhat well, not too well or not at all," only 22 percent declared they understood the case "very well." More than three out of ten stated they understood the case either not too well or not at all.
On CNN's Live at Daybreak this morning, anchor Carol Costello described a TV ad in New Jersey's governor race: "The ad highlights comments from Democratic Senator Jon Corzine's ex-wife. She says, 'When I saw the campaign ad where Andrea Forrester said, 'Doug never let his family down, and he won't let New Jersey down,' all I could think was, Jon let his family down, and he'll probably let down New Jersey, too.'"
This led to the following exchange with CNN meterologist Jaqui Jeras.
JERAS: Nice. COSTELLO: So, isn't that nasty? JERAS: Like she's going to say something good? COSTELLO: Pardon? JERAS: Would you expect an ex-spouse to say something nice? COSTELLO: No. But I wouldn't expect my political opponent to use the words of my ex-wife either in a campaign. JERAS: Yes. COSTELLO: I mean, that's just downright nasty.
Apparently not qualifying as a downright nasty campaign tactic was an ad run by the Corzine campaign that features a young man paralyzed in a wresting match three years ago. The young man says: "Doug Forrester doesn't support embryonic stem cell research, therefore, I don't think he supports people like me and doctors who say a cure is coming."
U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. hasn't generated the rabid opposition many in the media would like to see. So now he's being made fun of for not being sufficiently cool.
In today's Washington Post, Dana Milbank takes the judge to task for assorted failings. Alito, we're told, wears a rumpled and ill-fitting suit as he makes the rounds of senatorial offices. We learn that "At Princeton, he skipped the selective eating clubs to join Stevenson Hall, known as a haven for dweebs." While coaching Little League, the judge wore a baseball uniform. He has a picture of former Phillies star Mike Schmidt hung in his appellate chambers. He's gone to a baseball fantasy camp.
After weeks of joyous anticipation by many in the media, a Bush Administration official, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was today indicted by a federal grand jury. NBC's Washington bureau chief Tim Russert wanted to emphasize the event's importance, telling his MSNBC audience: "This is significant, it's the first time in 130 years a White House official has been indicted."
Not according to MSNBC's own Web site. It's "Fact File: White House Staff Indictments" provides a "brief
history of indictments in recent administrations." Going back only into the mid-1970s, it identifies eight people, including a Reagan Cabinet member and two Clinton Cabinet members, who were indicted on various charges. These included conspiracy, obstruction, embezzlement, illegal stock trading, lying to the FBI and grand larceny. One Clinton official was indicted on 39 corruption counts related to acceptance of gifts from a company he was responsible for regulating.
On CNN's In the Money today, Jack Cafferty suggested that President Bush is devoting too much time to the natural disasters in the southeastern United States: "President Bush is calling on Americans to drive less, in between the trips on Air Force One to the Gulf Coast, which seems to be happening about every six hours in the last week or ten days."
Yet only weeks ago, Cafferty was berating the President for not doing enough. On August 31, he sarcastically asked Wolf Blitzer, host of CNN's The Situation Room, "Where's President Bush? Is he still on vacation?" When Blitzer told him that Mr. Bush was cutting his vacation short because of the devastation, Cafferty said that "would be a good idea."
This morning on NPR, host Ed Gordon interviewed Jesse Jackson concerning comments made recently by former secretary of education Bill Bennett about aborting black babies. Helpfully, Gordon asked Jackson if what Bennett said represented "a pattern that we are seeing in terms of growth with the ability to say this kind of thing (emphasis in original) in public?"
Knowing a softball when he sees one, Jackson dutifully denounced a "certain ideology in our country that is unfortunately sick and racist and dangerous and violent."
Newshound Ed felt no need to follow up by asking more about this "sick and racist and dangerous and violent ideology," but ended the interview with a friendly, "Rev, thanks for joining us."
On CNN's "American Morning" today, anchor Soledad O'Brien played part of a taped interview with former President Clinton. Ms. O'Brien raised what she thought would be an impediment to Clinton and President Bush getting along: "I mean you raised tax cuts and that's sort of a good issue because when people talk about, OK, how do we pay for Hurricane Katrina when you're talking about an atmosphere where it's clearly going to be very expensive. We have troops in Iraq. We have troops in Afghanistan. We have promised tax cuts. We've got Social Security reform. We have prescription drug plans. I mean, the list goes on and on and on."
Yes, the list - and the Democratic talking points - do go on and on. It was thoughtful of Ms. O'Brien to remind viewers of the "good issues" Democrats want the American public to focus on.
In reporting on a Chinese company marketing condoms under the brand names Clinton and Lewinsky, USA Today notes that Clinton "was accused of having a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern."
Clinton himself ultimately admitted he "did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong." Moreover, a Federal judge fined Clinton more than $90,000 for providing ""false, misleading and evasive answers" about his relationship with Lewinsky.
No, Clinton was not just "accused" of intimacy with a White House intern. Simple justice requires an accurate account of what he did.
In reporting her death, ABC News highlighted former National Organization for Women president Molly Yard's opposition to Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork. What went unmentioned is that Ms. Yard also vehemently opposed Justice David Souter's nomination. She ended her written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee:
"Are you prepared to deny freedom to women? Are you prepared to deny reproductive health to women? Are you prepared for lawlessness, and for the death of your daughters and your granddaughters? I tremble for this country if you confirm David Souter. But most of all I tremble for the women of America and their families."
On Tuesday evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews joined the pack in identifying Pat Robertson as a Republican leader: "Otherwise, it will look like a major leader in the Republican Party on the conservative side of things...who won the Iowa caucuses back in ‘88, by the way...for president, is out to get this guy (Hugo Chavez)."
There's a problem with this analysis: Pat Robertson didn't win the 1988 Iowa caucuses.
Winning one primary (Washington State) almost 20 years ago makes Mr. Robertson neither a major leader nor spokesman for the Republican Party.
Candlelight vigils showing support for antiwar protester Cindy Sheehan were held on Wednesday evening. On his Thursday night Countdown program, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann reported: "Americans in all corners of the country gathering by candlelight, a massive show of support for the Gold Star mothers‘ cause, Orange County, California, South Carolina, Las Vegas, and more, not exactly hotbeds of political activism, many of them, the suburbs and exurbs, deemed crucial to President Bush‘s reelection, 1,600 candlelight vigils estimated by the Associated Press. . ."
In a piece on the passing of Ebony publisher John H. Johnson, syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts writes that Mr. Johnson, "codified African-American dreams between glossy four-color covers. And because he showed us ourselves as doers, achievers and people of worth."
Well, not always. For years, Ebony published a list of the 100 most influential black Americans. For years, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas didn't make that list. Certainly one of the nine highest judicial officers in the Nation should have qualified. Justice Thurgood Marshall did.
Justice Thomas wasn't included because he's considered a conservative. In 2000, Ebony asked: "Why does it appear that he consistently votes for issues supported by racists and archconservatives, and opposed by white liberals and almost all blacks?"