MSNBC’s Krystal Ball substituted for Ronan Farrow as host of his MSNBC show on Friday and remarked with a guest during a segment on the Islamic terror group ISIS that their reported waterboarding of their captives, including the late James Foley, can be blamed on the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and what happened at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.
After shifting gears from talking about the increased terror alert in the United Kingdom and fears across western Europe that hundreds of their citizens have joined ISIS and could return to commit terrorist attacks, Ball mentioned an article in The Washington Post that reported ISIS captives were waterboarded. She then asked MSNBC terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann what he thought about this news. [MP3 audio here; Video below]
Politico's Josh Gerstein was in top keister-covering mode last night in dealing with President Barack Obama's latest stated indication that U.S. foreign policy is adrift.
To him, the President's admission that “We don’t have a strategy yet” was just an "awkward choice of words" and an "inartful phrase." (By the way, over six years after after one of Obama's flaks first used it to defend the then-candidate's flip-flop on DC's strict gun ban, something he originally believed was constitutional until the Supreme Court's ruling in the Heller decision, "inartful" is still not a recognized word. Yet its use continues to spread.) Excerpts from Gerstein's grief-stricken groaner follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Alexander the Great. Stonewall Jackson. George S. Patton. To this list of some of history's greatest military strategists, a new name must be added: that of Barack Obama. That is, if you agree with Joe Scarborough's take on President Obama's statement at yesterday's press conference that "we don't have a strategy yet" regarding possible attacks on ISIS in Syria.
According to Scarborough, speaking on today's Morning Joe, President Obama's "no strategy" statement was "straight out of The Art of War where when you were weak, you make your enemies think you were strong. When you were strong, you make your enemies think you were weak." It's what Scarborough would have done, he told viewers, if he were president. When Sam Stein said that he couldn't tell if Joe was joking, Scarborough assured him: "I'm serious. Dead serious . . . I am dead serious. I am not joking." View the video after the jump.
I struggle to come up with a reason, other than an irresponsible attempt to minimize the impact of the horror, why the headline at a Thursday evening Associated Press story by Zeina Karam and Ryan Lucas about "more than 160 Syrian government troops" massacred by ISIS is "JIHADISTS KILL DOZENS OF CAPTURED SYRIAN SOLDIERS."
While competing newscasts on ABC and CBS led tonight with the president's stunning admission at a press briefing that he hasn't formulated a strategy to deal with ISIS yet, NBC placed the story in the third slot in the lineup, after a lead-off report regarding the NFL's "tough new policy" on domestic violence and a story by New York-based correspondent Katy Tur about comedian Joan Rivers's hospitalization.
On top of that, Nightly News substitute anchor Lester Holt completely left out both ISIS and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia from his opening-credit tease. By contrast, both ABC's Amy Robach and CBS's Maurice DuBois led off their opening-credit teases by citing the most quotable nugget from today's presidential presser [LISTEN to MP3 audio here; WATCH video montage below page break]:
Sean Hannity confronted Anjem Choudary on his Fox News Channel program on Wednesday over the Islamist's unapologetic support of ISIS. The two repeatedly talked over each other, with the American talk show host hounding Choudary if he supported the terrorist group's genocidal campaign in Iraq and Syria.
The U.K.-based radical Muslim contended that the multiple account of atrocities by ISIS forces, especially against Christians and Yazidis in northern Iraq, were lies that were being used to discredit the Islamist group: [video below the jump]
Lumping one’s political adversaries with the vicious jihadists of ISIS seems to be the new new thing. Last Thursday, Dinesh D’Souza alleged that “the common thread between ISIS and [the looters] in Ferguson is you have these people who basically believe that to correct a perceived injustice, it's perfectly OK to inflict all kinds of new injustices...And all of this is then licensed by the left and licensed to some degree by the media.”
On Saturday, Washington Monthly blogger David Atkins responded to D’Souza, asserting that ISIS is not at all left-wing; rather, the terrorist group stands for “bedrock principles of political conservatism wherever it appears in the world,” such as “eschew[ing] ‘foreign’ western impulses, roll[ing] back the clock on progressive social reforms, and aggressively institut[ing] a more traditional religious approach to society.”
Last week I noted how MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who usually has tingles down his leg for the president, was taken aback by Barack Obama's statement regarding the ISIS beheading of American freelance journalist James Foley.
Tonight a frustrated Matthews expressed his frustration with Mr. Obama once again, asking his guests Bobby Ghosh and Howard Fineman why the president didn't couch the U.S. response to the bloodthirsty Islamist terrorists as a defense of American honor. Why, Matthews wondered, did Obama stick to business as usual "playing golf last week when he had the American people's attention?" Why doesn't Obama "fight like a street fighter when it comes to defending the lives of Americans"? The relevant transcript appears below the page break (emphais mine; MP3 audio here; video follows page break):
Dan Rather, former anchor of the CBS Evening News, appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources to harshly criticize those in Congress calling for the U.S. to take military action against the terrorist group ISIS.
Speaking to anchor Brian Stelter on Sunday, August 24, Rather proclaimed that he will only listen to those who advocate boots on the ground “if you tell me you are prepared to send your son, your daughter, your grandson, your granddaughter to that war of which you are beating the drums.” [See video below.]
In a Friday op-ed which appeared in the paper's international print edition on Saturday and which can reasonably be seen as giving voice to an editorial board which wouldn't dare put their name to it, La Salle University Political Science Professor Michael Boyle strenuously objected to recent characterizations of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
We can't call ISIS "evil." We also shouldn't call them a "cancer," or "savage," or "barbaric." Oh, and the fact that George W. Bush called Al Qaeda "evildoers" is why ISIS came to be, and why our problems with radical Islam are now worse. Excerpts follow the jump:
On Sunday, August 24, This Week moderator George Stephanopoulos bizarrely worried that the U.S. might take too much action in combating the terrorist group ISIS.
Speaking to Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine, wondered “it struck me how quickly this has all moved. From ISIS being a minor threat, the president talking about it several months ago as the junior varsity, to now an imminent threat, the words of Chuck Hagel, to the United States. And I guess I wonder, is there a danger here of overreacting?” [See video below.]
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, veteran journalist Bob Woodward had some harsh words for the Obama Administration over it’s handling of the terrorist group ISIS.
Speaking on Sunday, August 24, Woodward blasted the White House for having a confusing message on how to combat the terrorist group, insisting “there's an inconsistency here. I mean, Hagel and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs have said -- and Kerry, the Secretary of State, made it very clear, all options are on the table, and the president has said no boots on the ground.” [See video below.]
The press never let George W. Bush forget about that "Mission Accomplished" banner on the USS Abraham Lincoln after Saddam Hussein was overthrown and his government's military was routed in Iraq. They often pretend that Bush said it, or adopted it. He did no such thing, saying only that “Our mission continues.”
So while the press has come close to making a claim Bush 43 never made an article of faith, it is virtually ignoring something current U.S. President Barack Obama actually said, namely that, concerning ISIS, "The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant." Kristina Wong at the Hill is a rare exception. She reminded readers of what Obama said in January as she reported Thursday on how the nation's defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff completely disagree (bolds are mine):
"I don't know why he used the word 'justice.' It's not appropriate here. This is an attack on our country, we have to react to it," an upset Chris Matthews reacted to a video excerpt of President Obama's statement today about the beheading by an ISIS member of American freelance journalist James Foley.
"This is our country versus this group that's declared war on us. What's justice mean in this con-- I don't know why the word's used, like we're going to go to the World Court with this?!" Matthews sneered to guest Howard Fineman of the Huffington Post Media Group on the August 20 edition of Hardball. Later in the segment, an irate Matthews insisted "no American president can survive if he lets Americans be beheaded on international television with impunity. Impunity! He has to strike back, as an American, it's in our soul!" [LISTEN to MP3 audio here; WATCH video below the page break]
In a stunning report by ABC News online, we learned that President Barack Obama and his White House knew that ISIS "recently threatened to kill U.S. journalist James Foley to avenge airstrikes the United States has conducted in Iraq." A video surfaced on Tuesday showing what appears to be an ISIS terrorist beheading Foley with the stated reason of revenge on Obama, suggesting they will do it again.
President Obama recently downplayed the ability of ISIS to carry out significant damaging acts of violence, referring to the terrorists as the JV (Junior Varsity) team compared to Al Qaeda, in an interview with The New Yorker magazine's David Remnick.
On Thursday, August 14, all three network morning shows did their best to defuse the conflict between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama following Clinton’s criticism of the White House’s foreign policy.
The “big three” (ABC, CBS, and NBC) insisted that any dispute between the two Democrats had subsided with ABC and NBC pushing the White House line that when the two met for a birthday party on Martha’s Vineyard “a good time was had by all.” [See video below.]
On Wednesday, August 13, all three network morning shows did their best to minimize the conflict between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama following Clinton’s criticism of the White House’s handling of the militant group ISIS.
The “big three” (ABC, CBS and NBC) networks all played up how Clinton plans to “hug it out” with President Obama when they meet at a party on Martha’s Vineyard. Speaking to “The Atlantic” magazine, Clinton criticized Obama’s foreign policy by insisting that “great nations need organizing principles. Don’t do stupid stuff is not an organizing principle.” [See video below.]
Today's New York Times op-ed page includes a wide-ranging interview on foreign policy that Thomas Friedman conducted with President Obama. Let's break down some of the low-lights. Excerpts from interview in italics, with my comments following. And sure, when President Obama said "I don't worry about Israel's survival," he explained his insouciance in terms of Israel's military might. But was he telling a deeper truth?
Obama made clear that he is only going to involve America more deeply in places like the Middle East to the extent that the different communities there agree to an inclusive politics of no victor/no vanquished.
LOL. Yup, lions laying down with lambs any day now. So is Obama really saying that the US will not be involved in the Middle East ever again? And how does he square his statement with the attack he ordered on ISIS? Isn't that all about vanquishing them? More after the jump.
On Tuesday's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, during a segment about foreign policy challenges involving Russia and the turmoil in the Middle East, MSNBC.com Executive Editor Richard Wolffe oddly suggested that President Obama finds it to be a "satisfying challenge" because it is "intellectually rigorous" to deal with such substantial foreign policy problems.
He also not surprisingly took a jab at former President Bush, blaming him for the chaos in the Middle East, and asserted that "there's a lot of cleanup there."
Host O'Donnell wondered about what things are like inside the White House as he posed:
Anti-American commandos from Iran are already helping the Iraqi military by doing the sort of logistical coordination that President Obama promised from the U.S. Army today, NBC's Richard Engel noted in a June 19 Nightly News report from Baghdad. "The image I've had in my head all day, Brian, is of this driver's ed car with two steering wheels, with one with the U.S. Army now about 300 people on one steering wheel and the Iranian Quds Force-- which is often hostile to the United States at the other wheel -- and I'm not sure that Iran and the U.S. have any intention of driving this car in the same direction," the network's chief foreign affairs correspondent told viewers at home.
In a remarkably tough interview with Secretary of State John Kerry aired on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie interrogated the nation's top diplomat on the Obama administration's failure to prevent terrorists from invading Iraq: "It seems like the U.S. was totally caught off guard by this....did you act too slowly? I mean, [Iraqi Prime Minister] Maliki was asking for help with air strikes in the last few weeks as this was coming, as ISIS was coming toward this part of Iraq. Why didn't we act then?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Later in the exchange, Guthrie pressed: "What's happening now in Iraq is directly related to the situation in Syria. Did the U.S. – did the President miss the moment, make a huge mistake by not trying to turn the tide in Syria then and what's happening in Iraq now is just the chickens coming home to roost?"
Liberal vs. neo-con. Isolationist vs. interventionist. The clash over Iraq strategy between John Heilemann and Bill Kristol on today's Morning Joe had it all.
Things got heated as Heilemann assailed Kristol's call for intervention as "absurd." Kristol responded by suggesting that Heilemann's invocation of "American blood" was a cheap "rhetorical line." View the video after the jump.
Following the insulting trend of tagging every objection or concern raised about Obama administration policy and conduct as exclusively the province of Republicans and conservatives to an outrageous extreme, Rebecca Kaplan at CBS News opened her Monday story about whether the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) might plan terrorist acts in the U.S. as follows: "Republicans are sounding the warning that the next 9/11-like terror plot could emerge from the regions of Iraq and Syria that are currently dominated by an extremist group bearing down on Baghdad." Really, Rebecca? No one else is worried about that? Wanna bet?
Kaplan also seemed to believe that it would calm readers' nerves if they learned that it will be "at least a year before ISIS might pose more of a serious threat to the U.S." If that was meant to make me feel better, it didn't work. Excerpts follow the jump (links are in original; bolds are mine):
The people at NBC who are agonizing over David Gregory's ongoing audience freefall at his Meet the Press perch need only look at the first half of his interview with 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to see why it's happening.
Gregory basically refused to acknowledge the existence of Romney's core argument, which is essentially that he wouldn't have done what President Obama did in withdrawing from Iraq so hastily and leaving things to run on auto-pilot. Instead, he insisted on sticking with a "Well, what would do now?" line of questioning, even though, as Romney indicated, he doesn't have access to intelligence briefings necessary to assert an informed opinion. When that didn't work, he tried to hold Romney to a stale 2007 quote from when conditions were obviously very different. The fact is that wouldn't be facing the present quandary if Obama hadn't acted directly against the (often privately expressed) desires of Iraqi leaders and U.S. intelligence officials to maintain at least a significant advisory presence there. Video and a transcript of the Iraq-related portion of the interview follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Q. How do you know that Barack Obama's feckless foreign policy poses a serious threat to the security of the free world? A. When a leading foreign policy voice of the Washington Post agrees with a leading foreign policy voice of the Wall Street Journal that such is the case.
It happened on today's Morning Joe, when WaPo's highly-respected David Ignatius agreed with a WSJ op-ed by Daniel Henninger, "While Obama Fiddles," that darkly concludes: "past some point, the world's wildfires are going to consume the Obama legacy. And leave his successor a nightmare." Said Ignatius: "those are harsh words from the Wall Street Journal, but I think there's a lot of truth to them." View the video after the jump.
"[D]espite years of public hand-wringing in the West over Syria’s bloody and rapid decline, the country is continuing to plummet into new depths of the abyss" as witnessed by instances of crucifixion at the hands of Islamist extremists, Jacob Siegel of the Daily Beast reported today.
It remains to be seen if the Big Three networks pick up on the story, but somehow we doubt they will. A search of Nexis and our DVR system show they certainly haven't done so thus far. Siegel adds:
After White House emails released on Tuesday showed the Obama administration had a direct hand in crafting false talking points about the Benghazi terrorist attack in 2012, Wednesday's CBS This Morning was the only network broadcast to cover the latest developments in the ongoing scandal. None of the network evening newscasts covered the story Tuesday night, with NBC and ABC continuing to be out to lunch Wednesday morning.
Introducing a full report on the Benghazi emails, This Morning co-host Charlie Rose announced: "New emails are renewing controversy this morning over the Obama administration's response to Benghazi. The documents were obtained by the conservative organization Judicial Watch. Four Americans died in the 2012 assault, including Ambassador Chris Stevens." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
It must be nice for a major news network to self-congratulate itself by bringing on someone to give them an award. Such was the case on Wednesday April 3, when “CBS This Morning” brought on Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Ira Glass to present co-host Charlie Rose with a Peabody Award for an interview he conducted with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
Hunter-Gault hyped the “surprise” she had for Rose before proclaiming that “This amazing get of one of the arch villains of the world whom you treated with respect and yet you didn't back off, you pressed him, and we all got to see what this man is made of and how he thinks.” [See video below.]
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman went on PBS’s Charlie Rose show Monday night and defended President Obama’s soft foreign policy approach to the crisis in Ukraine. [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Of that approach, which so far has consisted of sanctions against 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials, Friedman said: