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:
Appearing on Thursday's CBS Late Show aired early Friday morning, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw discussed the Russian invasion of Ukraine with host David Letterman and observed: "...when chemical weapons were used in Syria and they were discovered, I didn't think it was President Obama's finest moment. He said there's a red line, then he kept moving that sucker....[Vladimir Putin] might have taken the measure of President Obama and said, 'I may be able to test this guy'....it has that appearance." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
That analysis was prompted by Letterman noting: "And people are saying this [Russian invasion of Ukraine] is because of the negotiations, or the unilateral negotiations regarding Syria, when he [Putin] stepped in looking for weapons of mass destruction...and Obama had to sort of acquiesce that because it was not a bad idea. So now he [Putin] feels like he can get away with this. Is that part of it?" Brokaw replied: "Well, I think that's pretty astute."
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough got rather self-righteous on Wednesday’s Morning Joe, chiding Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and others who have criticized President Obama’s weak-kneed response to the crisis in Ukraine. [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Scarborough asserted his belief that “politics should really end at the water's edge” during international crises like this, proclaiming, “I'm old-fashioned enough to believe that harshly criticizing the commander-in-chief during dangerous international crises, whether it’s with the likes of Saddam Hussein or Vladimir Putin, well, that provides comfort to nation-states who choose to be our enemies.”
Appearing on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show on Monday, MSNBC host Joy Reid repeatedly refused to characterize either Russian president Vladimir Putin or Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as “evil.” During a contentious debate over Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine, Hewitt asked his guest point-blank, “Do you agree that what Russia is doing is evil?” [Video embedded below the break.]
Kudos to the Daily Beast for reporting this story. Don't hold your breath for the network news outlets to pick up on it and doggedly pursue it.
In an exclusive published at the website today, Josh Rogin and Noah Shachtmanexplain how there's credible evidence that regime of Syrian dictator Basharal-Assad may have used chemical weapons in January 2014, something that U.S. intelligence officials are denying but which eyewitnesses on the ground insist occurred (excerpt follows; emphasis mine):
At Wednesday’s White House press briefing, ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked point-blank if the Obama administration’s handling of Syria has been an “absolute failure.” ABC didn’t report the exchange on Wednesday evening, however.
Karl asked White House press secretary Jay Carney, “isn’t it time to acknowledge that easing the humanitarian crisis in Syria, that the President’s policy has been an absolute failure?” He cited national intelligence chief James Clapper, who told Congress that the crisis has become an “apocalyptic disaster.” Carney bristled and defended the administration’s record.
Journalists love to preen as human rights watchdogs, congratulating themselves publicly for their roles – real or imagined – in securing the life and liberty of the downtrodden. That is, as long as it’s the right sort of downtrodden.
Take, for example, NBC’s coverage in the run up to the Sochi Winter Olympics. Because of Russian restrictions on gays’ free speechfor homosexuals, the official Olympic network repeatedly fretted about gay “human rights.” NBC speculated about the rights and safety of gay athletes and visitors to Sochi, reported extensively on Russia’s gay community, talked to every gay athlete in the NBC phone book and hyped President Obama’s appointing of prominent gays to the U.S. Olympic Delegation. Network hosts also tried to encourage athletes to make pro-gay statements while at the Games, at the risk of disqualifying themselves from competition. Video after the break.
Apparently to Time magazine and Reuters, using the term "martyr" to refer to a Christian slain for the sake of his or her faith -- often at the hands of "radical Islamists" -- is deserving of scare quotes.
How shambolic of a smoking ruin is the Obama presidency? When Tina Brown surveys the wreckage, the best—the best!—thing she sees, the thing she believes will be Barack Obama's shining legacy, is his handling of Iran and Syria, which she declares to be "smart," and of course, "nuanced."
The Obamacare catastrophe? Not to worry. On today's Morning Joe, Brown assured us that those problems are "transient." No, look over here, at President Obama's masterful handling of foreign policy! Yes, years from now, when the minor hiccups of the Obamacare rollout will be long forgotten, people will still be marvelling at how well Barack Obama dealt with Iran and Syria. View the video here.
It goes without saying that the reason Susan Rice was scrapped from consideration to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State last year was due to the claims she made on numerous television programs the Sunday after our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked.
Despite this, when CNN's Fareed Zakaria did a twelve minute interview with Rice Sunday, he didn't mention Benghazi at all.
On Monday's The Last Word show, after former chess champion and Russian political activist Garry Kasparov charged that President Obama had "blown up [the] reputation of his office" by allowing Russian President Vladimir Putin to talk him down from his "red line" warning against Syria, MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell tried to argue that Obama had not really lost face since he never specifically promised military action, even though the President warned of "enormous consequences" if chemical weapons were used.
The back and forth started after O'Donnell asked "what advice" the Russian activist had for Secretary of State John Kerry's "day to day negotiations" on the matter, prompting Kasparov to respond:
MSNBC’s Alex Witt loves to ask questions that try to steer her guests toward a certain response, and she was at it again on Saturday’s edition of Weekends with Alex Witt. The host attempted to get three separate guests to agree with her that President Obama was last week’s “big winner” for stumbling onto a potential diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis. When the third guest was critical of Obama, an incredulous Witt challenged his answer.
During the first hour of her two-hour program, Witt was discussing the recent U.S.-Russia deal to try and get Syrian President Bashar al Assad to give up his chemical weapons. She asked Reuters columnist David Rohde: “You know, doesn't President Obama actually come out the big winner here ultimately? Because without firing a shot, you said you believe that Syria will get rid of its chemical weapons.” [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Expecting Syria to live up to an agreement between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for the cataloging, inspection, removal and eventual destruction or sequester of chemical weapons is a subtle seduction.
Why would a dictator like Bashar al-Assad relinquish his most potent weapon in the midst of a civil war? President Obama and his sycophants claim it was the threat of military action against Syria that focused Assad's mind. That hardly seems credible after Kerry's promise that any U.S. missile strike would be "unbelievably small."
In a 66-paragraph masterpiece, Journal reporters Adam Entous, Janet Hook, and Carol Lee gave a behind-the-scenes look of how, "Through mixed messages, miscalculations, and an 11th-hour break, the U.S. stumbled into an international crisis and then stumbled out of it." Among other things disclosed, "The same day [Secretary of State John] Kerry made his fateful remark" that Syria could simply give up its weapons to the international community, "the State Department sent Congress a memo detailing: 'Russian Obstruction of Actions on Syria.'" It really is a great exploration of the Keystone Kops nature of the Obama team's bungling of Syrian foreign policy. Here's a taste (emphasis mine):
CNN's Chris Cuomo teed up Sen. John McCain to bash fellow Republicans on Monday's New Day, for putting partisanship before the country on Syria and the budget.
"Do you believe if there were President Romney that members of your party would have the same resistance to going in that they are showing right now?" Cuomo pressed McCain on a Syria intervention. Would Cuomo ask if Democrats were supporting President Obama's foreign policy purely out of partisanship? [Video below the break. Audio here.]
If President Barack Obama is losing Al Hunt, there is definitely trouble in Lefty-land.
But let's not go too far. In the midst of leveling criticisms at Obama as "bordering on incompetence," the former host of CNN's Capital Gang and executive editor at Bloomberg News, who is now a Bloomberg View columnist and host of a Bloomberg TV's Political Capital Sunday news show, cited three examples of supposedly indisputable George W. Bush administration incompetence, none of which fits the description.
According to the reporters on Monday's Good Morning America, Barack Obama's "potentially groundbreaking" plan for Syria faces "heat" from critics who think it's a "bad deal." In a shift from last week, ABC allowed more skepticism for the President's handling of the ongoing situation. Yet, Jon Karl still touted, "John Kerry accomplished a big first step. Getting [Russia] to agree that Syria must give a comprehensive accounting of all its chemical weapons within one week."
George Stephanopoulos wondered if "this weekend's potentially groundbreaking deal will really eliminate Assad's chemical weapons." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] The GMA/This Week anchor touted his "exclusive interview" with the President from Sunday, but noted that Obama's "critics say he made a bad deal on Syria."
Thanks, Dylan Byers. You've done those who recognize liberal establishment press bias as an irrefutable reality a big favor.
The Politico media reporter's lengthy excerpt from a longer column — I'd call it a "tease," but it's 14 paragraphs — is entitled "Obama Loses the Media." That means Obama has had 'em in his pocket until now. The rumors of permanent loss are likely exaggerated. Several paragraphs from from the lengthy excerpt and the column itself follow the jump.
In a bizarre writeup which alternates between harsh criticism and a pity party about President Barack Obama's "toughness" or lack thereof in the wake of the withdrawal of Larry Summers from consideration as the next head of the Federal Reserve, Politico's Jonathan Allen unleashed a ridiculous assertion about the history of the administration's Syrian adventure: "In another debate that never came up for a vote the White House could have easily lost, Obama was led into asking Congress for approval to bomb Syria."
One wonders how the leader of the still most powerful country on earth can be "led" into anything, but especially in this case, given that it was Obama who came up with the "brilliant" idea of asking for Congressional authorization even though he said he didn't need it.
CNN’s Candy Crowley did her best Hillary Clinton Sunday.
During a State of the Union discussion about the American-Russian agreement concerning Syria, Crowley asked a skeptical Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), "Who cares" that "Russia got the diplomatic edge?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan had a rather shocking observation about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comments about American exceptionalism in his New York Times op-ed last week.
Appearing on PBS’s McLaughlin Group Friday, Buchanan said, “He’s not only appealing to the people of the world. He’s appealing to that half of the United States to whom Barack Obama himself was appealing.”
On Inside Washington Friday, PBS’s Mark Shields and NPR’s Nina Totenberg predictably echoed the Administration’s claims that its threats of force in Syria led Russian President Vladimir Putin to broker a chemical weapons deal.
Fortunately for viewers, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer was present to scold his fellow panelists for “spinning from the White House” (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Bill Maher came back from his summer vacation predictably attacking conservatives while defending Barack Obama.
During his New Rules segment, the HBO Real Time host said with pictures of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on screen, “Scientists must study the correlation between not having a chin and being an a—hole” (video follows with commentary):