Well, this should be fun. President Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will hold a joint press conference in a few minutes in the Rose Garden. The last joint press conference the president held -- on May 13 with British Prime Minister David Cameron -- was met with some tough questions by the AP's Julie Pace.
Below the page break I'll be live-blogging the questions from journalists. As usual, please give us the questions you would like answered in the comments section. Also, who do you think might ask the toughest questions and who might try to help the president out with a softball? Let us know your thoughts.
Sure, it was just one of those tongue-tied moments we've all experienced. But if it had been George W. Bush mispronouncing the name of a world leader who is very much in the news, imagine the field day the MSM would have had with it.
At his press appearance with British PM David Cameron today, aired on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports, President Obama was seen pronouncing the name of the Syrian dictator Bashir Assad as "Bassar Ashad." PBO pauses before pronouncing, seeming to sense he's about to get it wrong, but decides to plunge ahead. There's another priceless moment: when the show cuts back to the studio, guest-hosting Chuck Todd is seen with a hilariously baffled look on his face. View the video after the jump.
The email announcing the supposedly momentous occasion of another column by the Politico's Glenn Thrush arrived in my mailbox with the following headline and subhead: "Obama: Hey guys, I'm still here -- The president's press conference brimmed with frustration and was filled with tantalizing promise."
On clickthrough, I learned that the online website's massagers-in-chief changed those items (but not the underlying URL, which reflects the email) to the following in the published article: "President Obama: I’m still relevant -- Obama finds himself hemmed in by the familiar constraints of partisanship and world events." Thrush's text identifed another problem supposedly hemming Obama in, complete with a slavery analogy: "the shackles of his own commitments." Poor guy; he has to deal with the world as it is, not how he'd like it to be, and those darned things he promised to do to get elected and reelected. Gosh, life is just so unfair, isn't it? Excerpts following Thrush's theme follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
President Barack Obama will take to the podium in the White House press briefing room at 10:30 a.m. Eastern for a press conference. The occasion: today is the 100th day of his second term in office. We at NewsBusters will be watching and I'll be live-blogging the questions from reporters. Pardon my inaccuracies as I'll be transcribing on the fly.
In the comments section, leave some question that YOU would ask if you were in the room. Which questions should be asked but likely won't?
NBC's Chuck Todd made some stunning statements Sunday about recent revelations concerning Syria's use of chemical weapons on its people.
Appearing on Meet the Press, Todd first said the Administration regrets President Obama's claim that this would be a "red line" adding "They didn't want to go public last week that they had this early evidence" and only did so because "they knew Congress was going to get this briefing and it was all going to get out" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Veteran journalist Howard Kurtz chided the media's "romance" of departing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on CNN's Reliable Sources on Sunday, asking "But, particularly in those TV interviews, could you see any Republican outgoing cabinet member getting that kind of treatment?" Another example came in Sunday's New York Times's front-page review of Clinton's career by Michael Gordon and Mark Landler, "Backstage Glimpses of Clinton as Dogged Diplomat, Win or Lose." The Times opened with the administration's hand-wringing over assisting the Syrian resistance (Clinton's more activist support for the rebels was rebuffed at the White House).
Yet the more damaging controversy over the assassination of four Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was mentioned just twice in the 1,674-word story, once as a "low point" for Clinton, but balanced with the "biggest highlight" of her term -- the diplomatic opening to Myanmar. The other reference noted that while the incident may have "marred" her last months of service, she still has the highest favorability ratings of her career.
The original report comes from Al Jazeera (HT Gateway Pundit via frequent home blog commenter dscott), so caution is advised. But the related video appears to be from an independent source, and the IB Times in the UK is reporting the related attack as an actual event.
According to IBT: "The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been accused of resorting to chemical weapons after seven people died from poisonous gas fumes in an assault on Homs." From what I could tell, as of shortly before 10 a.m. ET, the U.S. establishment press had not filed a story. More from IBT after the jump (bolds are mine):
In August, President Barack Obama "secretly" authorized support for Syria's rebels. It was so "secret" that Reuters had a story about it. It "broadly permits the CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust Assad."
At the Daily Beast, former Obama administration State Department member P.J. Crowley believes that " Later this year or early next, Washington may formally recognize the Syrian opposition as a viable alternative to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad." Well, okay, sometimes you have to back a less undesirable alternative, but if you do, I would think Obama owes it to the American people to have them understand the true nature of those you're backing. As of this moment, very few Americans know what the rebels would want to do if they achieve power. MEMRI does, because its people watch Middle Eastern TV and videos. What follows is a transcript from an October 21 broadcast (HT Weasel Zippers):
Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer made a dire prediction Monday concerning declining conditions in Syria.
Appearing on Fox News's Special Report, Krauthammer said that if the "inevitable" regime change takes place, "we might be forced to send in our troops simply as a way to secure [Syria's vast supply of chemical weapons] because of the jihadists among the rebels."
CNN's Piers Morgan just couldn't let his Republican guest denounce President Obama's foreign policy. He spouted the White House spin on all the President's accomplishments while not holding him accountable for the Libya fiasco, on his Monday night show.
"I would say one of the things that Barack Obama has done incredibly successfully is restore a lot of America's very damaged reputation around the world since the eight years of George Bush and all the warfare that came with it," claimed Morgan. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Introducing a report on the ongoing civil war in Syria on Monday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams made sure to promote PR from the White House: "...the State Department and the Pentagon are now working together on plans for Syria after Assad, hoping to avoid the chaos they believe broke out because of the lack of planning for a post-Saddam Iraq." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
However, the report that followed by chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel seemed to undermine the notion of a well-planned U.S. strategy in Syria against the Assad regime: "A rebel commander with a hundred fighters in [the city of] Aleppo told us today if the rebels don't receive a massive influx of weapons within the next 72 hours, they'll have to give up the fight."
ABC’s Barbara Walters will do most anything to score a big interview. Now, she’s been forced to apologize for trying to help a former aide to Syrian President Bashar Assad land a job or get into college in America in exchange for her Assad interview last December. Sheherazad Jaafari was a press aide to Assad and daughter of Bashar Jafaari, the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations. Last October, UN Ambassdador Susan Rice and the U.S. delegation to the UN walked out on a Jafaari speech.
Walters said in a statement issued Tuesday she rejected Jaafari's later request for a job at ABC News, saying it was a conflict of interest. But she said she contacted people on Jaafari's behalf and "I regret that." London’s Daily Telegraph acquired some of the friendly e-mails of Walters, like this one to Jafaari:
On Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, a piece by correspondent Andrea Mitchell incorrectly claimed that Mitt Romney "doesn't say how" he believes the Obama administration should assist rebels who are fighting against Bashar Assad's rule of Syria, giving the impression that the GOP presidential candidate was criticizing President Obama without offering constructive ideas. She even hinted that Romney had not voiced support for arming rebels as she noted that "Others, including John McCain, say the U.S. should arm the rebels."
On Sunday's Meet the Press, host David Gregory teed one up for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that was specifically designed to mock the Republican presidential candidates while allowing her to brag uninterrupted about the foreign policy successes of Barack Obama (video follows with transcript and commentary):
The text box works in a typical crack at Bush administration foreign policy: “Using force when justified but not going it alone.” The implication, common in the pages of the Times, is that Bush somehow went it alone in the invasion of Iraq. For the record, the United States actually led a 30-nation coalition in Iraq (35 countries joined the fight in Afghanistan).
Tina Brown seems to be very conflicted about her opinion of Dick Cheney.
After telling the "Morning Joe" panel the former Vice President is a "wrecking ball" who "seems to be totally in denial still about Iraq," the Daily Beast-Newsweek editor said moments later, "He's been validated by Obama" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Referencing Dick Cheney's revelation in his new memoir that he urged President Bush to bomb a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, CNN's Kyra Phillips posed this obnoxious question to her panel: "Was Cheney even more of a hawk than we gave him credit for?"
The upcoming release of Cheney's memoir, "In My Time," should re-ignite the media's decade-long war on the former Vice President, as he himself has predicted that the book will have "heads exploding" in Washington. In the book he detailed a meeting in 2007 where he was the only one the room supporting the bombing of the Syrian nuclear reactor. President Bush declined to take that approach, and Israel bombed the site months later.
CNN foreign affairs analyst Fareed Zakaria – who has recently had off-the-record conversations with President Obama on foreign issues – noted the president's "restraint" in his dealing with the "Arab Spring" and the conflict in Libya Wednesday. Zakaria previously gave a thumbs-up for Obama's Mideast speech in May and later defended the president's plan for removing American troops from Afghanistan.
The point-of-note is that this is the same analyst whom, according to the New York Times, President Obama "sounded out" while shaping his foreign policy. The two simply had "off-the-record" conversations on foreign issues, according to Zakaria, and the CNN host claimed he was not an advisor to the President.
While Israel’s armed response to the attempted invasion on its border with Syria was at least somewhat justified, Syrian authorities themselves in the last weeks have slaughtered over 1,000 of its rebelling citizens, actual human rights atrocities that have only sporadically made the Times's front page. In this way the Times is playing into the hands of Syria, which is using the all-purpose enemy Israel as a distraction from its own internal oppression.
On CBS’s Sunday Morning show, during his regular commentary, right-leaning CBS contributor Ben Stein gave a pessimistic view of the "Arab Spring" movement to topple authoritarian governments in the Middle East, charged that America would regret allowing Hosni Mubarak lose power in Egypt, and predicted that the radical Muslm Brotherhood would take over there.
He also gave rare attention to the Muslim Brotherhood’s history of alliance with Nazi Germany during World War II. Stein:
The most potent political force in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, hates the U.S., loathes Israel, condemns the killing of bin Laden whom they praise as a martyr, and they've been wedded to terror for their entire existence. Oh, P.S., they were closely connected with Adolf Hitler. They'll probably take over Egypt completely sooner or later.
As NewsBusters previously documented, Nazi Germany helped build up the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1930s to spread anti-Jew hatred in the Middle East.
On Friday's "Inside Washington," during a discussion about American foreign policy in the Middle East and Africa, PBS's Mark Shields actually said, "The most urgent priority that we have is to find jobs somehow, not simply for Americans, which is an urgent priority, but for young Egyptians" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
As Syrian President Bashar al-Assad defiantly refused to implement democratic reforms and his security forces fired on protesters on Wednesday, the networks continued to ignore Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Sunday comments labeling the dictator as a "reformer."
On Wednesday's CBS Evening News fill-in anchor Erica Hill read a news brief on the latest crackdown by the Syrian government: "There's more turmoil in Syria today after a hard-line speech by President Bashar al-Assad. Instead of announcing reforms, as expected, Assad blamed recent protests on a foreign conspiracy....In the port city of Latakia, witnesses say Syrian troops opened fire during an anti-government protest." Despite Clinton having made her gaffe on CBS's Face the Nation, Hill did not mention it.
Appearing on Sunday's Face the Nation on CBS, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dismissed the idea of U.S. military action in Syria, claiming that unlike Libya's Qadhafi, Syria's Bashir Assad was considered to be a "reformer" by "many of the members of Congress." Schieffer failed to challenge the assertion. In the days since, CBS, ABC, and NBC have ignored the comment.
In contrast to Clinton's remark, a 2009 State Department review of human rights in Syria, released in a March 2010 report, found: "During the year the government and members of the security forces committed numerous serious human rights abuses, and the human rights situation worsened. The government systematically repressed citizens' abilities to change their government. In a climate of impunity, there were instances of arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life. Members of the security forces tortured and physically abused prisoners and detainees."
So certainly such a provocative move should command coverage by the mainstream media, yet thus far among the Big Three networks, it appears from a search of Nexis that ABC has ignored the story while NBC and CBS have only done anchor briefs on the development.
ABC's Jake Tapper reported Tuesday that the Obama administration is going to support Israel in the wake of international outrage over the flotilla incident off the coast of Gaza Monday morning.
If Tapper is correct, one has to wonder whether the typically pro-Palestinian media here in America will stand with the President on this one.
Such seems especially intriguing given Obama's plummeting approval ratings and his increasingly frosty relations with press members that helped him get elected two years ago but now feel he's snubbing them at every turn.
Here's what Tapper wrote hours ago at ABC's Political Punch blog (h/t Hot Air's Ed Morrissey):
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."