Vice President Dick Cheney squared off with CNN host Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday in a contentious, multi-part "Situation Room" interview. Blitzer seemed to openly adopt the mantra and talking points of the Democratic Party. In fact, in a tease for the interview, Blitzer promised, "The Vice President takes on his critics, including me." Cheney, whose wife Lynne aggressively sparred the cable anchor back in November, told Blitzer that a question about administration blunders was "hogwash." Elaborating on a clip of Democratic Senator Jim Webb, the "Situation Room" host asked Cheney about Bush failures:
Wolf Blitzer: "And it’s not just Jim Webb. It’s some of your good Republican friends in the Senate and in the House are now seriously questioning your credibility because of the blunders, of the failures. Gordon Smith– Gordon Smith--"
Dick Cheney: "Wolf. Wolf. I simply don’t accept the premise of your question. I just think it’s hogwash."
Blitzer: "That what? That there were no blunders? The President himself says there were blunders."
At the beginning of Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Bush graciously discussed Nancy Pelosi and her history making role as the first female Speaker. He also congratulated Democrats on their new majority status. This, however, wasn’t enough for Paul Begala. The CNN contributor appeared on a post-speech edition of "Anderson Cooper" and digressed into a rant about how Bush referred not to the Democratic Party’s success, but, rather, the Democrat majority. According to the always polite Begala, this is something only the "kook right," "the fringe" and the "Rush Limbaugh crowd" engages in:
Paul Begala: "At the very beginning, [Bush] opened with this beautiful grace note to Nancy Pelosi, talked about how her father, Thomas D'Alessandro, had served in the House, and the daughter had grown up to become Speaker. It was beautiful....And then in the very next paragraph -- I have it marked here on the White House text -- he congratulated the new ‘Democrat’ majority, as he said. Now, the White House transcript says ‘Democratic.’ There is a difference. My party's the Democratic Party. But the sort of kook right, not the responsible Republicans, but the fringe, the Rush Limbaugh crowd, likes to call my party the Democrat Party. They think it's some sort of insult or something. And frankly, I guess it is insulting. Why would you do that when you're the president of both parties and the majority of your country now is affiliated with the Democrat Party? Why would you say that?"
Tuesday’s "Good Morning America" attempted to simultaneously trash George Bush while also building up the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, who, according to anchor Robin Roberts, is "electrifying" the presidential race. Meanwhile, the ABC program chose to allow political columnist Mary Ann Akers to assert President Bush will be delivering his 2007 State of the Union address "from the gutter." GMA correspondent Claire Shipman set up the nasty quote by remarking on how little applause is expected during the speech:
Claire Shipman: "And we’re also told that the speech will run about an hour, that’s taking into account anticipated applause. But, of course, they can't be counting on an overwhelming amount of that this year. The State of the Union address is normally an occasion marked by steady applause, lawmakers scrambling over each other to glad-hand the President. This year’s address, Bush's first in front of a Democratic Congress, may have an entirely different tone."
Mary Ann Akers (Columnist, Washington Post website) "Essentially, President Bush is going to be delivering his State of the Union address from the gutter. His approval ratings are dismal. The American people, according to the latest polls, are relying more on Congress than they are on the President to resolve the Iraq war."
Akers has delivered snarky, liberal-pleasing comments in the past. She previously wrote the "Heard on the Hill" column for Roll Call. And in 2006, as a Huffington Post columnist , Akers sarcastically wrote about George Allen’s campaign troubles, noting that the Senator’s newly found Jewish heritage had resulted in a nickname: "Macacawitz."
Documentary filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi, daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has directed a new film that takes a look at the evangelical movement in America. Appearing on Monday’s "Good Morning America," she discussed the now disgraced Reverend Ted Haggard who served as a guide for her film crew’s tour of Red State America. Pelosi told host Diane Sawyer that most people think of evangelical Christians as "holy roller Jesus freaks," and seemed surprised that Haggard didn’t fall into that category. During the discussion, both the ABC anchor and the filmmaker appeared to be trying to treat evangelicals with respect. However, each succumbed to the occasional condescending sounding slip-up. Sawyer asked Pelosi whether the trip to conservative parts of America left her feeling as though "you had to get a visa to a foreign country." And later, Pelosi described the journey "as sort of a sociological field trip." It was the "Jesus freak" comment, however, that appeared too much for even Diane Sawyer:
Alexandra Pelosi: [On the Ted Haggard scandal] "I was heartbroken. Because pastor Ted was my tour guide. And he was so good to me. He took me under his wing and said, ‘Let me explain the red states to you’. And it was hard for me to understand, most people think of evangelicals as being these holy roller Jesus freaks, and Ted wasn't like that. And so, it was interesting for me to understand and say, these are good people. He was reasonable. He was reasonable. He was a normal, every day man. And so, it was hard to stomach, what had happened."
Sawyer: "Yes, and I'm going to have everybody write you who wants to write about ‘holy roller Jesus freaks,’ okay?"
When Diane Sawyer interviewed Nancy Pelosi on Friday’s "Good Morning America," the ABC anchor seemed more interested in subjects such as building up the new House Speaker’s reputation for toughness and talking about trash, then she did on quizzing Pelosi about Iraq. While Sawyer did ask about the conflict, she also pressed the San Francisco Democrat from the left, twice wondering if Pelosi would consider cutting off funds. More often, Sawyer characterized Pelosi in positive, almost glowing terms. She began, however, by asking whether toughness or determination would be a better description of the new Speaker:
Diane Sawyer: "For two centuries in America, the Speaker of the House looked like this. [Montage of former Speakers, all male obviously] So, how is it a 66-year-old mother of five, and grandmother, broke the mold? Like a freight train she's already moved six major pieces of legislation through the House. Everything from stem cells to minimum wage. And whatever side you're on, when this new Speaker moves, she moves fast. Nancy Pelosi says power is not handed to you. You have to know how to win it. When she walks into a room, she is quiet, polite. But her fellow politicians say she's galvanized steel with a smile. Now, 100 hours. 100 hours in. What's the word that you, that you would use for yourself in those first 100 hours? Tough? Determined? What's the word?"
As already noted on NewsBusters, "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer conducted a fawning interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on such issues as Iraq. However, the ABC journalist also opened and closed the segment by obsessing over how Pelosi picked up lint from the floor of the Capitol Rotunda. For many people, this would be a minor detail. Sawyer, however, saw it as a historic event and teased her colleagues about it prior to the interview:
Diane Sawyer: I’m going to tell you what she did, I’m willing to bet, no Speaker of the House has ever done in the entire history of the United States of America. You want to guess? Sam? David? Robin?"
Later on, Sawyer giddily recounted the exciting event:
Diane Sawyer: "We're walking along with the camera, she looks at the carpet. It has lint on it, little scraps of paper. She can't stand it. She gets down and cleans the carpet so we could walk. And she looks up at me and says, ‘It’s just the bonus of having a female Speaker of the House."
Robin Roberts: "Yeah. Don’t think any of the guys did that. All right, Diane. Have a safe trip back home"
Conservative fans of the right-leaning TV show 24 shouldn’t be surprised that liberals such as Keith Olbermann are now savaging the program. However, the leftist host also mentioned NewsBusters in his diatribe. "Newsweek" magazine went further and speculated that the show is a "neocon sex fantasy."
The recent announcement by Illinois Democratic Senator Barack Obama that he’s running for President resulted in media swooning over his "big step." "Good Morning America" wondered if Obama’s "fluid poetry" could overcome Hillary’s "hot factor." (Another example of hard hitting journalism?)
On Thursday’s "Good Morning America," reporter Claire Shipman effusively previewed the looming presidential battle between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. How, Shipman wondered, would Obama’s "fluid poetry" stand up against Mrs. Clinton’s "hot factor?" The tone of the January 18 piece seemed to indicate that, although members of the media may think both candidates are terrific, Obama hasn’t lost his "flavor of the month" status. In the segment, Shipman noted the New York Senator’s flip-flops on Iraq and that, despite being a "devout Methodist," she rarely talks about religion. However, it was this over-the-top praise that really demonstrated who the current media darling is:
Claire Shipman: "Though the change in [Clinton’s] views also mirrors the nation’s and the increasingly grim situation in Iraq, she could appear politically calculating while Obama seems principled. And the side-by-side talent show? Next to Obama's fluid poetry, Hillary Clinton's delivery can seem overly cautious."
On Wednesday, "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer spoke with all 16 female members of the Senate. The January 17 interview, broken up into two segments, ranged from silly questions, such as whether more women leaders could result in less war, to queries about whether America is too prejudiced to accept a female president. One question that did go unasked is whether Senator Barbara Boxer, who didn’t appear on camera, should apologize for her recent insinuation that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is oblivious to the effects of war because she doesn’t have children. One would think that in a group of professional women this would be an important topic. Apparently not. Sawyer began by asking the assembled ladies whether or not more women presidents would lead to peace:
Sawyer: "Do you believe that if there were more women presidents in the world, there would be less war? How sure are you that there would be less war? Do you think, actually, war would be--"
On Tuesday, jury selection began in the trial of Lewis Libby. And "Good Morning America" reporter Claire Shipman couldn’t resist spinning this occasion into an attack against President Bush. Libby, the former Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice. He does not, however, face prosecution for publically outing Wilson's wife, CIA agent Valerie Plame. However, through sloppy phrasing and omission, Shipman encouraged the assumption that this is yet another example of the Bush administration’s misconduct. The most brazen example is the GMA reporter’s description of the "original crime":
Claire Shipman: "Prosecutors are trying to show that Libby lied to investigators about conversations he had with reporters regarding CIA officer Valerie Plame, the undercover agent who was outed. Libby blames a faulty memory. And in classic Washington style, Libby isn't in trouble for the original crime, outing Plame, but, rather, the, quote, ‘the cover up,’ according to the prosecutor."
No government official has been charged with revealing the identity of Valerie Plame. So, how can there be an "original crime?"
On Tuesday’s "American Morning," Miles O’Brien reported on the statement by evangelical leader James Dobson that he could never support Arizona Senator John McCain’s bid for the White House. O’Brien twice referred to the comments as attacks from "the far right." Political correspondent Bob Franken went on to characterize the remarks by Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, as "lashing out at Senator John McCain." Franken followed by recounting McCain’s sometimes rocky relationship with Christian conservatives. In the process, the CNN reporter simplified and omitted some important facts about the Senator’s record. But first, Miles O’Brien led with classic labeling bias:
7:26 (story tease)
Miles O'Brien: "Plus, Senator John McCain takes not-so friendly fire from the far right. Why he is fending off criticism from an evangelical leader."
O'Brien: "Senator John McCain is fending off fire from the far right flank this morning. A leading evangelical minister says there's no way he could support McCain for president. 'American Morning's' Bob Franken joining us live from Washington with more. Good morning, Bob."
According to ex-CNN reporter Judy Woodruff, both her former network and PBS are "God-fearing, America loving" organizations. The veteran journalist, who is now promoting a documentary on young people for public television, appeared on the Thursday, January 11 edition of Stephen Colbert’s "Colbert Report." Before discussing Ms. Woodruff’s new investigative report, the Comedy Central host shifted into his faux-conservative mode and attacked CNN and PBS. This exchange followed at 11:50pm:
Stephen Colbert: "Now, you used to work for CNN. Now, you're doing this documentary, which sounds fascinating, for PBS. Is that– Is it– But, you've gone from, you know, an organization that clearly hates America to an organization that is proto, like, commie. Is it possible to go further left then PBS on television?"
Judy Woodruff: "Now, no. Absolutely not. You know that's not true."
Colbert: "I do not not know that’s true. I do not not know that’s true? Yes. Bill Moyers is, like, got his Mao’s little red book in his back pocket, right? You're wearing a pink outfit."
Woodruff: "PBS is a God-fearing, America-loving organization. Just like CNN."
Last week saw the dawning of the new Democratic majority and members of the media seemed to be charmed by the event. ABC reporter Cokie Roberts described a photo-op of new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holding her grandchild as "fun" and "completely natural." CBS’s Bob Schieffer interviewed Pelosi and pressed her to raise taxes. And "60 Minutes" commentator Andy Rooney became nostalgic for Democrats of old, saying it’s "hard to dislike Jimmy Carter."
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann continued his fevered attack on all things Republican and conservative. He’s now accused White House Press Secretary Tony Snow of "bald-faced lying" about a Bush speech. Olbermann’s cohort in liberalism, Chris Matthews, described the Vice President of the United States as someone "who always wants to kill." Later in the week, he told his "Hardball" audience that he was "terrified" of the President’s plans for Iran. Chris, calm down!
On the day after President Bush announced a troop surge in Iraq, CNN chose to commemorate an odd "anniversary." As of January 11, it has now been five years since the first terrorist suspects arrived at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The cable network’s "Your World Today" program used this date to highlight the "allegations of mistreatment amounting to torture" at the facility. On Thursday, the hour-long show featured two segments and a news brief on the subject, all heavily focusing on how the camp could be shut down, not whether it should be closed. After an intro piece on the history of the camp, anchor Hala Gorani interviewed Human Rights Watch Executive Director Ken Roth and began her questioning with this loaded lead-in:
Hala Gorani: "Well, Human Rights Watch says detaining hundreds of men without charge at Guantanamo has been a legal and political debacle of historic proportions. But what can human rights groups do to shut the facility down or put pressure on governments? Human Rights Watch executive director Ken Roth joins us now live from Washington. That was a quote from you, ‘a legal and political debacle of historic proportions,’ Ken. Did you imagine in 2001, that in 2007 Guantanamo Bay would still be operating?"
On the Tuesday edition of "Situation Room," host Wolf Blitzer asked Ted Kennedy whether Iraq and U.S. interests would be better off with Saddam Hussein still in power. The CNN anchor spent much of his interview wondering how the Massachusetts Senator would stop President Bush from increasing troop levels in Iraq. However, he only briefly challenged Kennedy on what should be done in Iraq, preferring questions such as, "So, is this Vietnam?" Another example is his query on whether the world's interests would be better served if a dictator such as Hussein were still in power:
Wolf Blitzer:"You voted against that original resolution way back. And you say that was the best vote in your 42 years in the United States Senate. Saddam Hussein was executed, as you know, in the last few weeks. Was the country better off, was the U.S. interests in that part of the world better off under Saddam Hussein?"
Perhaps the strident liberalism of Rosie O’Donnell and Joy Behar is emboldening Barbara Walters? On the Monday edition of "The View," the ABC journalist insisted that America went to war with Iraq without knowing the facts. Walters made her assertion follwing comments from the liberal O’Donnell, who touted the fact that she wore a "No War" t-shirt prior to the 2003 invasion, and co-host Behar’s claim that "they [the Bush administration] lied to us!" The veteran correspondent responded to these statements by sounding like more of an activist and less of a journalist:
Barbara Walters: "We didn't have the facts at that time."
Joy Behar: "That's right."
Walters: "We did not have the facts. And it is true that we have not seen– We have– We- The most brutal pictures we saw were the pictures of Saddam Hussein being hanged. We have not seen some of, some of the terribleness that have happened to our men and women. And I do think, and if you look at the polls, that the tide is turning. What the answer is, nobody seems to know."
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper began the Thursday edition of his "AC: 360" program by announcing that he intended to "keep them [the Democrats] honest." A few seconds later, reporter Dana Bash described Nancy Pelosi’s elevation to Speaker as "a moment to savor." For everyone? Ms. Bash elaborated, saying that portents of Democratic power could be seen everywhere, including the appearance of Hollywood celebrities and the sight of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert sitting in the back of the chamber:
Anderson Cooper: "Day one for lawmakers who are promising a whole host of legislation in their first 100 hours of work. We're here tonight to help keep them honest. So, throughout the hour, we will be looking at how Democrats hope to make law. First, though, CNN's Dana Bash on how they are making history."
Dana Bash: "A moment to savor -- Nancy Pelosi seized the gavel and, with it, power for the Democrats, an ambitious agenda, but, today, history, the first female Speaker, second in line to be president."
The new year may have just begun, but members of the media are relying on time-tested bias to attack conservatives and Republicans. Chris Matthews recently slimed Fox News host Bill O’Reilly by linking him to such despotic leaders as Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
During the funeral of President Gerald Ford, Katie Couric attacked the Reverend Billy Graham for being "remarkably partisan." A "Time" magazine correspondent slammed the departed Ford for not criticizing the Iraq war publically, calling it "unpardonable."
Proving that he can be just as hard on Democrats as Republicans, CNN’s Jack Cafferty savaged the Democratic Party--for going easy on George Bush. Appearing on Thursday’s edition of "The Situation Room," the veteran journalist slammed Dems in Congress for stating that they won’t impeach the President, for refusing to cut funding for Iraq, and generally not standing up to Bush. According to Cafferty, this makes them "no better than the people committing these crimes."
The CNN host began by lamenting the agenda of the incoming Democrats:
Jack Cafferty: "But the Democrats are focused on raising the minimum wage. That’s fine, I guess. They’ve already said they won’t impeach President Bush. They’ve already said they won’t cut funding for the war. And several Democrats are hedging on the issue of independent ethics oversight of Congress. Gee, we don’t need that, do you?...If the Democratic Party refuses to confront this administration in a meaningful way on the issues that are threatening the very survival of our nation, then they’re no better than the people committing these crimes."
Amidst all the media hype over what CBS’ Bob Schieffer called the congressional Democrats’ "ambitious schedule" to reform ethics rules and regulations, Wednesday’s "Anderson Cooper 360" actually provided a tough, worthwhile report on what real ethical reform would be. According to CNN correspondent Drew Griffin, convicted members of Congress still receive thousands of dollars in pensions. Yes, disgraced felons such as James Traficant, Randy Cunningham, and Dan Rostenkowski each year accrue large sums of taxpayer money. Host Anderson Cooper introduced the subject and seemed to issue a challenge to the Democrats:
Anderson Cooper: "Well, the new Congress convenes tomorrow with Democrats in control, who have pledged to pass a number of bills in the first 100 legislative hours. They have also promised to change some ethic rules on Capitol Hill. One law that they're not tackling is pensions for convicted members of Congress. That's right, tax dollars used to pay for the retirement of felons."
For CNN, New Years Eve arrived on January 4. "Situation Room" anchor Wolf Blitzer literally counted down the seconds until the Democrats officially took control of Congress. However, when the Republican Revolution swept the GOP into power in 1994, the cable network did not display such a running tally. At 11:45am, Mr. Blitzer hosted a special edition of his program and explained the digital readout:
Wolf Blitzer: "Right now, we’re counting down to the power shift. Both the House and the Senate will be called to order at noon eastern. That’s when our countdown clock runs out and ceremonies ushering in the new era in Congress begin."
Apparently deciding that one puff piece on a Democratic leader isn’t enough, Wednesday’s "American Morning" featured a virtual DNC press release on incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her childhood city of Baltimore. Reporter Andrea Koppel noted that the Congresswoman comes from a neighborhood "full of proud American-Italian Catholics" and that Pelosi hopes voters will recognize the fact that she "places a premium on family values." The piece featured no criticism of the soon-to-be Speaker, only praise for her "historic moment":
Andrea Koppel: "Now, as Congresswoman Pelosi walks into the history books, becoming the first female Speaker of the House, she plans to pay tribute to her Baltimore roots. Professor Matthew Crensen says the visit could help her refashion her image."
Matthew Crensen (John Hopkins professor): "That she's not just a well-dressed lady from San Francisco, who is married to a millionaire, that she came from a working-class ethnic, religious neighborhood, that she's one of them."
Koppel: "And with Democrats set to take control of Congress this week, that message, that Pelosi places a premium on family values, is one that she, and her party, hope will resonate with middle-class America..."
On Wednesday’s "American Morning," CNN reporter Dana Bash profiled incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and revealed some "startling" details: The Nevada Democrat’s childhood nickname was "Pinky." Additionally, Reid enjoys listening to his iPod and reading "People" magazine. Unsurprisingly, Ms. Bash didn’t find time to mention the various scandals swirling around Reid. (Judicial Watch recently named him the tenth most corrupt politician of 2006.) The CNN correspondent, who traveled to Reid’s home of Searchlight, Nevada, began her piece by promising surprising revelations. Apparently the Senator’s musical taste fall into this category:
Dana Bash: "The senator from Nevada fights for Sin City but doesn't gamble or drink. A square-looking guy who listens to hip songs on his iPod."
[On camera: Harry Reid plays a 'Cowboy Junkies' song on his stereo]
Bash: "Cowboy Junkies!"
Reid: "You know the Cowboy Junkies?"
Bash: "And how does he keep up with music? Get this: Did I read that you're a ‘People’ magazine reader?"
Reporting for the Tuesday edition of CNN’s "Newsroom," correspondent Arwa Damon labeled Saddam Hussein’s execution "an act of sheer revenge" and predicted it would have only negative consequences. Damon now joins NBC reporter Richard Engel who last week also described the death of the tyrant as "revenge." Additionally, Ms. Damon characterized the grainy cell phone footage of Hussein’s death as "chilling" and noted that onlookers "taunted" Saddam. The CNN reporter suggested that the execution of the former Iraqi leader would further split the country apart:
Arwa Damon: "With Shia chants defining Saddam Hussein's last moments, it turns his execution into an act of sheer revenge and risks driving even moderate Sunnis further away from the Shia-led government that they already have little faith in to begin with. And so, rather than uniting Iraqis, it appears that Saddam's death is really only further dividing them."
Previewing a segment on the January 1 edition of "Situation Room," a CNN graphic confused the world’s most wanted terrorist with Senator Barack Obama. Anchor Wolf Blitzer teased a piece on the hunt for Osama bin Laden by wondering about "another man feared and hated around the world. That would be Osama bin Laden."Unfortunately, the onscreen graphic asked "Where’s Obama?" Perhaps the cable network was just following the lead of Ted Kennedy, who famously referred to the Illinois Senator as "Osama Obama."
As 2006 draws to a close, the MRC has once again ranked the most egregiously biased quotes from members of the media. So, who made the cut as "the best of the worst?" Click here to find out.
Christmas may be arriving soon, but NPR chose the week before December 25 as the appropriate time to broadcast an atheist message of holiday intolerance. Showing that radio can still compete with television for extreme examples of bias, the taxpayer-supported NPR also wondered if ailing Senator Tim Johnson’s family "has the right" to ruin the Democratic majority.
The media’s flirtation with Senator Barack Obama doesn’t seem to have lessened their love affair with Hillary Clinton. "Today" show co-host Meredith Vieira told Mrs. Clinton that it’s now "more imperative that we need a village to raise healthy, secure children." The New York Senator also received a very warm welcome on "The View."
This week, Dan Rather appeared on CNN’s "Reliable Source" and claimed that Saddam Hussein was more honest than President Bush. Rather also reiterated his attacks on the Fox News Channel.
On Thursday’s "American Morning," CNN correspondent Dan Lothian reported on the controversy over a new Christian video game that, according to co-host Soledad O'Brien, "critics say" encourages "hate and religious intolerance." Who are these critics? Well, if you believe CNN, they are simply parents and concerned citizens.
In reality, the experts are actually committed left-wing activists. The video game in question, "Left Behind: Eternal Forces," is based on the popular series of religious books. Mr. Lothian informed his cable audience that some people have attacked the game, which features characters battling the anti-Christ and fighting for souls, as bigoted. During the segment, Lothian talked with Rebecca Glenn, who he described simply as "a Christian" and who the onscreen graphic labeled a "parent." Left out of the story? Glenn is also the co-president of CrossWalk America, a left-wing, "progressive" group that fights "radical fundamentalism." Oh, and her organization is also leading a boycott of the game. Think CNN and Dan Lothian should have mentioned that fact?
Now that times are difficult in Iraq, it’s easy for the media to claim they are simply reporting the bad news that is obvious to everyone. But how did networks such as CNN and MSNBC report more positive events? According to a new study by the MRC, overall, Fox News generated the most balanced coverage of news on the ground, while the other two cable networks consistently emphasized negative stories. FNC also displayed the highest enthusiasm on days such as June 8, when U.S. air strikes killed al-Qaeda in Iraq mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Over on MSNBC, while the anchors generally reported the event as good news, the network also chose that day to broadcast four stories on military deserters. On this seemingly happy occasion, CNN aired two reports on the already heavily hyped Haditha case.
During a presidential news conference on Wednesday, members of the media made it very clear to President Bush that they do not support increasing troop levels in Iraq. Although no such plan has been officially announced, several print and television reporters appeared to be launching a preemptive strike against the idea and in support of a quick withdrawal. During the hour long question and answer session, a "New York Times" reporter made comparisons to Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam. CBS correspondent Jim Axelrod asked how much longer the President will continue to defy the polls, and NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell tried to trap Bush into a game of criticizing Donald Rumsfeld. Early in the news conference, Reuters reporter Caren Bohan commenced the media attack on any plan that would increase troop strength in Iraq:
Caren Bohan: "If you conclude that a surge in troop levels in Iraq is needed, would you overrule your military commanders if they felt it was not a good idea?"
Bush: "That’s a dangerous hypothetical question. I am not condemning you, you are allowed to ask what you want. Let, let me wait and gather all the recommendations from Bob Gates, from our military, from diplomats on the ground. I’m interested in the Iraqis point of view, and then I will report back to you as to whether or not I support a surge or not. Nice try."
On December 18, the first 2008 Democratic presidential candidate made the (soon to be) required pilgrimage to talk with Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show." The liberal comedian lavished considerable praise on Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, while attacking President Bush with a vulgar expletive. Though Stewart tried to cast his comments in a humorous style, one has to ask if, in 2008, he’ll be a comedian or simply a high profile booster of the Democratic crop? The Comedy Central host began the interview with typical softballs and then shifted into his standard attack on President Bush:
Jon Stewart: "Are you excited? Is it- Is it a whirlwind so far? Have you been on any bigger shows than this?"
Tom Vilsack: "No. This is it. This is the first show."
Stewart: "You're going to get crushed. [Cheers and applause ]Give me a sense of the Vilsack doctrine, if you would. What is– What do you feel like– You know, we've had a president who was the governor of a state for eight years. The criticism was he didn't have a lot of experience outside of his state and not that he hasn't done a great job but what, what do you bring to the table that's different other than you're not, you know, seemingly an a–[bleeped]." [Cheers and applause ]