Former Republican house majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) had a large victory in court yesterday, but ABC and NBC didn’t think it was important enough to include in their evening news broadcasts.
As reported by the Washington Post: "Former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) won an early round in his money-laundering and conspiracy trial Tuesday by getting a judge aligned with Democratic candidates and causes removed from the case."
Yet, even though the announcement of DeLay’s indictment on September 28 was headline news, neither ABC nor NBC thought that this legal victory for the former majority leader warranted informing their evening news viewers.
There was a lot of media excitement today surrounding the rare “closed session” called in the Senate by Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada). In fact, a Google news search identified 684 articles and postings on the subject. For example, Reuters reported:
“Democrats forced the Senate into a rare closed session on Tuesday to protest what they decried as the Republican-led body's inattention to intelligence failures on Iraq and the leak of a CIA operative's identity.
“Invoking a little used rule, Democrats temporarily shut down television cameras in the chamber, cleared galleries of reporters, tourists and other onlookers, forced removal of staff members and recording devices and stopped work on legislation.”
MSNBC, with the assistance of the Associated Press, even reported this event as a huge win for the Democrats, with a sub-headline, “Following unusual closed Senate session, Democrats claim victory.”
Yet, from what I can tell, there was little if any discussion by most media outlets including Reuters, MSNBC, and AP concerning how rarely this rule is invoked, and under what circumstances in American history it has been employed.
“IT'S OFFICIAL: 2005 WILL BE the newspaper industry's worst year since the last ad industry recession.”
So began an article from yesterday’s Media Daily News.
“‘Sadly, 2005 is shaping up as the industry's worst year from a revenue growth perspective since the recession impacted 2001-2002 period,’ says the report from Goldman Sachs, adding a warning that meaningful growth in 2006 is ‘very unlikely.’"
Mary Mapes, the former CBS News producer who became famous for her involvement in a “60 Minutes II” segment last year concerning President Bush’s involvement in the Air National Guard, had an excerpt of her upcoming book, “Truth and Duty,” printed in the December issue of Vanity Fair.
An Editor and Publisher article published last evening stated the following:
“Mapes writes that she had felt the Guard segment was a big success after airing on Sept. 8, 2004, until the following morning at 11 a.m. when she learned that a bunch of ‘far-right’ Web sites were claiming that documents were forged.
"That same day about 3 p.m. she recalls staring at the Drudge Report and seeing a big picture of Rather at the top and a headline saying that he was ‘shaken’ and hiding in his office. The phone rang and it was Rather, telling her he'd just heard about the Drudge deadline and he wanted to assure her that he was not 'shaken' and was not hiding out.
"He signed off with a favorite expression of his: ‘FEA’ for ‘---- them all.’"
Do you remember all those predictions in September that gasoline prices were going to $5 per gallon? As a reminder, here’s a report from CNN/Money on September 21:
“Remember when gas spiked to $3-plus a gallon after Hurricane Katrina? By this time next week, that could seem like the good old days.”
“‘We could be looking at gasoline lines and $4 gas, maybe even $5 gas, if this thing does the worst it could do,’ said energy analyst Peter Beutel of Cameron Hanover. ‘This storm is in the wrong place. And it's absolutely at the wrong time,’ said Beutel.”
Within seconds of President Bush finishing his announcement of Samuel Alito as the nominee to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court, the CNN “American Morning” team was ready to attack and criticize this decision (video links to follow). First, Candy Crowley said, “I think what you're going to see is some disappointment that this is obviously a white male replacing a female, leaving just one female on the Supreme Court.”
Next up was Ed Henry:
“Candy is absolutely right. She set the stage perfectly. The word I'm hearing over and over from Democrats is ‘provocative.’ They basically say the president, A, did not consult with Democrats as he did with Chief Justice John Roberts, as he did before Harriet Miers was nominated. Also that they feel that Judge Alito is more conservative than they expected. They were hoping more of a consensus choice. This is already opening the door for Democrats to try to make the case that there are extraordinary circumstances here, i.e. that they may filibuster the nominee. That's why you heard the president immediately say that Judge Alito deserves an up or down vote. That is code for don't filibuster this nominee.”
Even in a free market democracy, policy makers are to blame for all of society’s ills.
According to “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” America is a nation in trouble, and the blame can be placed squarely on the shoulders of policy makers.
CNN’s Christine Romans began her October 28 report: “Lou, while policy makers wring their hands over this latest Washington scandal, as important as it is, the truth is there are fundamental problems in this country that are eating away the foundations of America and the numbers don't lie. Policy makers, this is what you've achieved.”
Romans’ sweeping attack on the nation, called “America’s Negative Numbers,” cited a variety of national “problems,” and literally blamed them all on “policy makers.” And though she claimed, “the numbers don’t lie” -- her data was at times faulty, incomplete or misleading -- Romans and the experts she interviewed never indicated what government policies were specifically the cause of such societal ills, or offered any policy suggestions to correct them.
In a blog offering at “The Huffington Post,” MSNBC’s senior political analyst Lawrence O’Donnell shared some rather scathing opinions of White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove yesterday, and made it clear that it would have been better for the president and the country if Rove had resigned on Friday:
“The pundit world, having spent years in awe of Karl Rove, will never understand how bad he is at his White House job. His second term agenda destroyed this presidency long before Patrick Fitzgerald’s press conference. Rove sent his president on a political death march on Social Security reform with the most hopeless legislative idea since the Clinton health care bill. That showed Congress how powerless the second-term Bush would be.”
Every day, somebody at CNN picks a couple of video segments for their “Best of TV” section on their video page. From what I can tell, they can come from any of the various news categories CNN reports on such as world, business, politics, sports, health, etc. Of all the segments that they air during a given day and reproduce for their video page, typically only a couple are chosen for the “Best of TV” section.
On Friday, one of the three videos that made CNN’s “Best of TV” list was a 53 second clip of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) making a variety of accusations directed at the Bush administration on “Larry King Live.” In her rant, Boxer blamed Bush for the entire Plamegate affair, while claiming that the intent was “to punish a man's family because he told the truth about weapons of mass destruction.”
What follows is a full transcript of what CNN felt was the “Best of TV” last Friday, along with a video link.
For those of you who haven’t seen this morning’s “Meet the Press,” I highly recommend that you do so that you can see William Safire at his best, as well as some great incites from David Brooks. What follows are key statements from the two of them concerning Plamegate, and the events of the week. Though chronological in order, the numbered quotes are separate ideas that did not immediately follow one another:
1. MR. WILLIAM SAFIRE: I think that was an excellent rundown and time line of a complicated series of accusations of a cover-up, but the most important single fact that emerged from the indictment is what was not in it. This whole thing started as an investigation of the violation of a law. And the law that was violated was you must not deliberately out an agent who is undercover. And what the special counsel found is that law was not broken.
For those who have read or seen a lot of press reports since the announcement of the indictments against I. Lewis Libby on Friday, you have likely observed a growing number of quotes from White House “aides” and “insiders” concerning a state of panic and disarray within the administration. Yet, most of these reports do not give the names of the sources, and, instead, suggest that the informants wish to retain anonymity due to the current environment within the White House.
Newsweek’s Howard Fineman and Richard Wolffe wrote an article for the upcoming issue entitled, “Flying Blind,” wherein they asserted, “Team Bush is in turmoil.” To be sure, the title is quite appropriate, for not one of the eight “quotes” or paraphrases from White House “aides” identified the name of the source. In fact, two of these (the second and third bullets below) were referenced by George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week" this morning:
In the upcoming issue of Newsweek, senior editor Jonathan Alter suggests that the tactics of the Bush administration have acted to lessen democracy in America.
In a piece entitled, “The Price of Loyalty is Incompetence,” Alter states, “The same president who seeks democracy, transparency and dissent in Iraq is irritated by it at home.” The premise of the article is that Bush and Company require rubberstamps of approval from all who work in the administration without any dissent if one wants to continue to be part of the team:
Less than 36 hours after the indictments of I. Lewis Libby were announced, America’s first poll results concerning the matter were released just in time for them to be part of all the Sunday political talk shows tomorrow morning.
As reported by the Washington Post, the results of a new Washington Post/ABC News survey suggest that:
“55 percent of the public believes the Libby case indicates wider problems "with ethical wrongdoing" in the White House, while 41 percent believes it was an ‘isolated incident.’ And by a 3 to 1 ratio, 46 percent to 15 percent, Americans say the level of honesty and ethics in the government has declined rather than risen under Bush.”
The poll also puts Bush’s job approval at 39 percent. Yet, one has to wonder about its methodology. As the article indicated, “The survey of 600 randomly selected Americans represents a snapshot of initial reactions to the Libby indictment.” To be sure, 600 is an extremely small sample. Moreover, there is no indication of what the breakdown was of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents surveyed, which is particularly important given the belief by most pollsters that weekend surveys normally produce a greater percentage of Democratic respondents than is representative of the population. Regardless, the article by Post journalists Richard Morin and Claudia Deane made some pretty grave conclusions from this data:
At “The Huffington Post’s” blog, Al Franken’s most recent post is called, “Happy Fitznukkah, Everybody!” In it, Franken expressed hope that yesterday’s indictments of I. Lewis Libby weren't a “one-day holiday like Fitzmas” - a not-so comical conglomeration of the words Fitzgerald and Christmas - and waxed elatedly about the possibility of other presents to come such as indictments to Ari Fleischer and Karl Rove:
“The only disappointment was the lack of a ‘treason’ indictment. Looks like thirty years is the most Scooter will get. But who knows? He might get squeezed and end up ratting out the other guys, and get only eight to twelve.”
Yet, maybe the most enlightened opinion - and certainly the most comical - at this thread was posted in the comments section:
Former chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker released a list today of 2,200 companies that apparently bribed Saddam Hussein for access to contracts related to the United Nations oil-for-food program. Topping the list were such household names as Germany’s Siemens Corporation, Germany’s Daimler Chrysler, and Sweden’s Volvo. Yet, Richard Roth, reporting on CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” began his piece on this story by focusing on Oscar Wyatt, Jr., an oil trader from Texas:
“More than 2,000 companies were accused of doing illegal business with Saddam Hussein feasting on the oil-for-food program. One prominent American businessman was Texas oil trader Oscar Wyatt, Jr., who in a case of bad timing for him, was also arraigned last week in federal court charged by the government with paying millions of dollars of kickbacks to win oil contracts with Iraq.”
Tim Russert of “Meet the Press” was on the "NBC Nightly News” this evening talking about Harriet Miers. He stated that the announcement of her resignation this morning is part of a new strategy by President Bush to “get control of his second term that is spiraling out of control.” In addition, according to Russert, Republicans are calling this "The week from hell.”
In Russert’s view, Republicans weren’t interested in seeing what would happen on November 7 when the confirmation hearings were scheduled to begin, and instead advised the president to “lance it now.”
Finally, Russert said that if indictments do indeed come tomorrow from Patrick Fitzgerald, "[Republicans] hope there are plea bargains and this issue is quickly resolved and settled to spare the president’s second term."
What follows is a full transcript of this report, and a video link.
In a report last night on CNN’s “Newsnight,” David Ensor continually referred to CIA employee Valerie Plame as being “undercover.” In fact, the entire report was about the dire consequences to the agency as a whole as a result of such an "outing," as well as to Plame:
“Forty-two-year-old Valerie Plame Wilson, whose husband referred to her as 'Jane Bond,' is clearly now the most famous female spy in America. Exposing her as a CIA undercover officer did damage to U.S. intelligence, U.S. officials say. They refuse to be more specific.”
Unfortunately, nowhere in the report did Ensor relay to the viewer that Plame has not been undercover since 1997, and, instead, has been working for the CIA on American soil ever since. In fact, as reported by USA Today back in July 2004:
In the days and weeks following the disaster in New Orleans, many in the media suggested that the federal government’s “slow” response to Hurricane Katrina was caused by the race and economic condition of those impacted. President Bush had to regularly answer the questions of reporters concerning this, while media members opined at will.
Most famous of such assertions was reported by NewsBusters when rapper Kanye West said during a televised Katrina relief fundraiser that, "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Earlier that day, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said, “Almost all of them that we see, are so poor and they are so black.” And, as also reported by NewsBusters, CBS News’s Nancy Giles said: “[Bush] has put himself at risk by visiting the troops in Iraq, but didn't venture anywhere near the Superdome or the convention center, where thousands of victims, mostly black and poor, needed to see that he gave a damn."
As the CIA leak investigation comes to a conclusion, America’s media have started to sell the public the man in the middle of the maelstrom, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Tonight, CBS News jumped on the bandwagon in a report filed by Jim Axelrod for “The Evening News” (video link to follow).
Like many such reports in the past week, Axelrod began by trying to dispel the notion that politics are in any way involved in this episode: “44-year-old Pat Fitzgerald, an intense and, by all accounts, apolitical prosecutor who's pursued mob bosses, crooked politicians, and Osama bin Laden like a pit bull with lockjaw.”
In the months leading up to the imminent announcement from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald concerning “Leakgate,” there has been an endless stream of gloomy predictions from mainstream media representatives that indictments would destroy the Bush administration, and totally dismantle the president’s agenda for the rest of his second term. For example, as was reported here, David Gergen stated on yesterday’s “Early Show,” “If indictments are handed down, it's going to be a real blow to the administration and comes at a terrible time.” And, “If [Bush] were to lose Karl Rove, he'll lose a right arm. And it’s really hard to climb out of a hole without your right arm.”
By contrast, CBS’s Hannah Storm had Democratic strategist James Carville and Republican strategist Ed Rollins on “The Early Show” this morning, and the two high-profile pols didn’t agree with this assessment. In fact, both stated that if indictments are issued for Lewis Libby and Karl Rove which force them to resign, it could end up being a good thing for this White House (video link to follow):
A New York Times editorial this morning referred to the results of the recent Iraq referendum as being “modestly encouraging”:
“The results of the referendum in Iraq, finally made official yesterday, were at least modestly encouraging, with 79 percent of Iraqis voting in favor of the new constitution.”
To try to put this in perspective, can you imagine 79 percent of Americans agreeing on anything? If a referendum in this nation passed by garnering 79 percent of the votes cast, would any media outlet have the gall to suggest that the result was “modestly encouraging?” Yet, the editorial staff continued:
As reported here by NewsBusters, U.S. News and World Report’s editor-at-large David Gergen on CBS’s “Early Show” last Friday made the claim that the Wilson/Plame affair had some similarities to Watergate. Today on the same program, Gergen changed direction, and is now comparing this “scandal” to former President Clinton’s impeachment proceedings (video link to follow):
“Well, you know, the country went through a large conversation about that just a few years ago about Bill Clinton because the underlying events there with Monica Lewinsky were not illegal. But what he got charged with and what he was impeached by in the house was whether he had lied about it after the fact. So -- and we know -- you know, Harry, going way back to Watergate, that the standing rule -- standard rule in Washington is the cover up is always worse than the crime. So I would be cautious in dismissing the idea that if there's no underlying crime, there's nothing serious about this. Perjury and obstruction of justice have long been regarded as serious crimes. You're expected under the majesty of the law, to tell the truth to investigators. And Richard Thornburgh, a former Republican attorney general, has taken a view, I think rightly, that perjury and obstruction are in and of themselves serious.”
Peter Baker and Jim VandeHei of the Washington Post pulled no punches in their front-page article this morning about the challenges currently facing President Bush:
“Rarely has a president confronted as many damaging developments that could all come to a head in this week. A special counsel appears poised to indict one or more administration officials within days. Pressure is building on Bush from within his own party to withdraw the faltering Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers. And any day the death toll of U.S. troops in Iraq will pass the symbolically important 2,000 mark.”
Rarely? I guess 9/11 doesn't count, for regardless of what happens this week, it’s got to be a cakewalk by comparison to the days following the first attacks on this country since Pearl Harbor.
It seems to come earlier and earlier every year, doesn’t it? No, not Christmas ads on TV, but the annual media festival of gloom and doom surrounding holiday-related retail sales.
This year, it started in August, when temperatures were in the 100-degree range across much of the country. Hurricane Katrina wasn’t even a ripple off the coast of Africa, and CNN was doing a downbeat piece called “Dreaming of a Blue Christmas.” Four full months before the holiday, CNN was asking how higher fuel prices were going to negatively impact America’s Christmas cheer: “Consumers are pinched. Retailers are squeezed. Who'll get bruised first by higher fuel prices as the countdown to the holiday shopping season gets underway?”
The results of a recent poll by Zogby International were just released, and they show President Bush’s job approval back to where it was in July well before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans:
“President Bush, his job approval rating beleaguered by poor marks in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, rebounded from historic lows this summer to 45% in Zogby International’s latest poll, with job approval numbers bumping back up into the range where they have hovered for most of his second term.
“The survey also found that, while voters do not give the President passing marks on his handling of the Iraq War, half (50%) believe the recently-passed Iraqi constitution is a major step in the right direction for the strife-torn nation that will lead to peace and democracy."
And, Americans are starting to feel better about where the country is heading:
“Bush’s bounce appears to be tied to overall perception of the nation’s direction; three weeks ago, just 40% said the nation was on the right track. This number now stands at 45%.”
Yet, maybe most fascinating about the right-track/wrong-track numbers is their strict partisanship:
“The trend is even more pronounced along party lines. While Republicans are overwhelmingly optimistic about the nation’s direction, with 75% saying the nation is on the right track, among Democrats, this drops to 17%. Independents lag behind the national average at 42%.”
On this morning’s “The Chris Matthews Show,” Matthews played a videotape of British broadcaster David Frost interviewing former president Richard M. Nixon. In that interview, Nixon spoke about anti-war activist Daniel Ellsberg. After the clip, Matthews suggested that the “outing” of CIA agent Valerie Plame was the current White House’s attempt to eliminate dissention to the Iraq war:
Chris: Sometimes you do things on your own and the boss afterwards says things like “Is this one of yours?” Or sometimes you know you're supposed to do something, and you do it. Could this be the story -- the pattern we see here of how a White House gets into trouble? Of course, the reigning champion of White House scandals was Watergate. Here is Richard Nixon telling David Frost years later that the scheme to trash anti-war activist Daniel Ellsberg was really to discredit all opponents of the Vietnam War.
Many Americans that are truly concerned about bias in the media fear that what is reported by the press will immediately be accepted as fact by the citizenry regardless of accuracy. This morning on ABC’s “This Week,” Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean cited the opinion of an ABC News correspondent, Martha Raddatz, as evidence that rampant fraud occurred in the recent Iraq referendum (video link of Raddatz's comments to follow):
Dean: Secondly, on "Washington Week" this week Martha Raddatz from ABC said she had recorded on tape I believe that she saw a gentleman come in, fill out seven ballots, yes, yes, yes and stick them all in the box. If that's what we're fighting for in Iraq, we don't belong there.
John Dean, former counsel to president Richard M. Nixon, wrote a column for FindLaw yesterday that is an absolute must read. In it, he gave a thorough analysis of the issues facing special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, while indirectly discrediting the parade of media representatives who have declared in the past couple of weeks that chief White House aide Karl Rove, and Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, will be indicted next week.
The crux of his argument is that unless Libby and or Rove perjured themselves or suborned perjury, it would be difficult to prove that their actions were not in the interest of national security:
“It is difficult to envision Patrick Fitzgerald prosecuting anyone, particularly Vice President Dick Cheney, who believed they were acting for reasons of national security. While hindsight may find their judgment was wrong, and there is no question their tactics were very heavy-handed and dangerous, I am not certain that they were acting from other than what they believed to be reasons of national security. They were selling a war they felt needed to be undertaken.
“In short, I cannot imagine any of them being indicted, unless they were acting for reasons other than national security. Because national security is such a gray area of the law, come next week, I can see this entire investigation coming to a remarkable anti-climax, as Fitzgerald closes down his Washington Office and returns to Chicago.
“In short, I think the frenzy is about to end -- and it will not go any further.”
There has been a lot of outrage in the media concerning the burning of a couple of dead, Taliban fighters in Afghanistan in early October. Yet, the Australian journalist who videotaped the proceedings, Stephen Dupont, stated in an interview on National Public Radio yesterday (audio link to follow courtesy of Bareknucklepolitics.com) that he believed the bodies were burned purely for reasons of hygiene when the local villagers refused to retrieve them, and that the American soldiers didn't do anything wrong. (Video links to an SBS "Dateline" promo for Dupont's piece as well as an SBS interview with him on the subject also follow):
“I actually believe that the guys who were involved in the burning did it with honorable, you know, reasons. They did it through their orders, or they did if for hygiene. I had no doubt in my mind that they were telling me the truth. If they were doing something that was problematic or controversial, there’s no way they would have shown me this. There’s no way they would have let me go up there and film this.”
Lee Cowan did a report on the "CBS Evening News" tonight concerning Rep. Tom DeLay’s (R-Tex) first day in court. To demonstrate that even people on the right don’t like the embattled congressman, Cowan interviewed Beverly Carter, the Republican precinct chairwoman of Fort Bend County, Texas:
“I've not heard of any Republicans that are supporting Tom at this point win, lose or draw. Whether he's guilty or not guilty, they've kind of had it with him. Pigs get fatter but hogs get slaughtered, and Tom has been a hog.”
Cowan interjected with: “And that's coming from a Republican precinct chairwoman in his home district.”
The problem is that Carter has been an outspoken foe of DeLay’s for quite some time. John Judis of the New Republic wrote of this in May: