Great moments in political prognostication, from the May 8 edition of MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.”
David Shuster: "Well, Karl Rove's legal team has told me that they expect that a decision will come sometime in the next two weeks. And I am convinced that Karl Rove will, in fact, be indicted. And there are a couple of reasons why.
"First of all, you don't put somebody in front of a grand jury at the end of an investigation, or for the fifth time, as Karl Rove testified a couple -- a week and a half ago, unless you feel that`s your only chance of avoiding indictment. So, in other words, the burden starts with Karl Rove to stop the charges."
It's been reported that Karl Rove will not be indicted for the Valerie Plame case. But that doesn't mean Reuters doesn't wish the opposite would have occurred. The organization resurrected a picture from last month and ran it this month after news that Karl Rove was off the hook.
The monthly magazine Vanity Fair is still a Hollywood-crazed chronicler of the rich and famous, but in the past few years it's also become an increasingly shrill anti-Bush voice -- sort of a more elegantly written, hard-copy version of the Huffington Post.
Writer Marie Brenner, a frequent contributor to VF, sounded a little shrill herself this past weekend, claiming that "the atmosphere against the press right now is as onerous as I can ever remember it," and that judicial demands for reporters to reveal confidential sources may result in a comeback for "the anti-press hysteria of the Nixon years."
Brenner, whose 1996 VF piece on Jeffrey Wigand was the basis for the 1999 movie The Insider, spoke at a journalism conference in San Antonio. Excerpts from a story by Sheila Hotchkin in the San Antonio Express-News:
This weekend's captionfest features a picture of Joe Wilson, media dahling, with his supersecret paperpusher wife Valerie Plame, heading to the DC premier of Al Gore's environmentalist movie "An Inconvenient Truth."
Original Reuters caption, complete with false information on Plame's "agent" status: "Former diplomat Joe Wilson and his wife, former CIA agent Valerie
Plame, attend the East Coast premiere of the movie 'An Inconvenient
Truth' in Washington May 17, 2006. 'An Inconvenient Truth' tells the
story of former U.S. Vice President Al Gore's commitment to expose the
myths and misconceptions that surround global warming and inspire
actions to prevent it. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts."
As reported by NewsBusters, MSNBC’s David Shuster declared on Monday’s “Hardball” that the “outing” of Valerie Plame Wilson negatively impacted America’s ability to track the development of nuclear weapons by Iran. Stephen Spruiell of National Review’s “Media Blog” reported Saturday that the Washington Post’s Dana Priest doubts the accuracy of Shuster’s claim.
Apparently, during a WaPo live chat on Thursday, Priest stated: “It was reported before that she worked on proliferation issues for the CIA. The leap in this new round of information is that her outing significantly impacted our current intel on Iran.” Priest continued: “I don't buy it. First, no one person who quit clandestine work four years ago is going to make that big of a dent in current knowledge.” And, to Shuster’s detriment, continued: “But also, nothing like this came up at the time of her outing and I believe it would have. Think we need some actual details.” And concluded: “At present it just doesn't smell right.”
Spruiell also referenced some points made by Tom Maguire of Just One Minute. Apparently, Priest made some similar statements during an online chat in November shortly after her secret terrorist prisons story was released:
The New York Times reported on Saturday that Valerie Plame Wilson has been given over $2.5 million for her memoirs: “The book, whose working title is ‘Fair Game,’ is scheduled to be published in the fall of 2007 by Crown Publishing, an imprint of Random House. Steve Ross, senior vice president and publisher of Crown, said the book would be Ms. Wilson's ‘first airing of her actual role in the American intelligence community, as well as the prominence of her role in the lead-up to the war.’"
This makes one wonder if the drive-by media are going to praise the Bush administration for giving Wilson a new, significantly more profitable writing career. After all, she will likely make more money from this book than she made her entire life working for the CIA.
Now, of course this is being said with a tad bit of tongue in cheek. However, the media have made it one of their goals to regularly drive home the point that this affair ruined Wilson’s career. In fact, as reported by NewsBusters, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and David Shuster both made such assertions during Monday’s version of “Hardball.” For instance, Shuster began Monday’s report:
The story hasn't been on the media radar much of late, but the legal
team of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former Bush admin official at the
center of the Valerie Plame Wilson leak investigation, came out
swinging this week, landing a number of blows against reporters and
news organizations in a court filing defending Libby's desire to compel
them to submit evidence he deems essential to his defense.
After the Libby team began poking holes in the stories of journalists
Tim Russert, Judith Miller, and Matt Cooper and others, the press
hasn't been especially interested in following the story. There are a
few blogs doing a good job of chronicling the battle between Libby and
special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. One such blog is JustOneMinute,
which has provided a PDF version (and some cogent
analysis) of Libby's most recent filing in two parts, here
The American Thinker has a great
summary of the filing by attorney Clarice Feldman:
been granted a window on the struggle between Lewis
“Scooter” Libby and
the elite media over his access to their internal documents. Libby is
charged with federal crimes because his versions of conversations with
reporters differ from the accounts of the media people. He seeks
evidence from their files about what they knew and what they privately
wrote at the time. In a “he said/she said”
confrontation, access to
supporting evidence becomes critical to the ability to mount a
On Tuesday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann attacked the Bush administration over the leak of Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA agent, implying that the President has "done more to help terrorists and rogue states than hurt them," as he linked Plame's work on WMD to the current standoff with Iran. But Olbermann had previously not expressed worries about threats to national security from other leakers, instead referring to them as "whistleblowers," including those who leaked the CIA's use of secret prisons in Europe, and the existence of the controversial NSA spying program.
Olbermann opened the Tuesday May 2 Countdown show: "The irony was already inescapable and infuriating. In the middle of a war that started over nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, the administration of President George W. Bush was willing to destroy the cover of a secret American agent on the trail of actual weapons of mass destruction in order to deflect criticism over how badly it had fouled up or puffed up its wobbly evidence about phony weapons of mass destruction." (Complete transcript follows)
On Monday’s 5PM EST version of “Hardball,” host Chris Matthews and MSNBC correspondent David Shuster made a number of factual misrepresentations and suppositions involving Valerie Plame/Wilson and the Bush administration (video link to follow). The most absurd part of this segment was Shuster’s suggestion that the current stalemate with Iran over its nuclear ambitions was exacerbated by the release of Wilson’s name to the press: “Intelligence sources say Valerie Wilson was part of an operation three years ago tracking the proliferation of nuclear weapons material into Iran. And the sources allege that when Mrs. Wilson`s cover was blown, the administration`s ability to track Iran`s nuclear ambitions was damaged as well.”
Of course, neither the names nor the positions of such sources were revealed by Shuster in this report. Also, there were absolutely no details given to support this wild assertion as to specifically what Plame was working on at the time, or what information concerning Iran ended up being missed by the Administration as a result of her departure from the CIA.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only problem with this report. In his preview of the segment, Matthews said:
I linked to a Wall Street Journal editorial
about the elite media's double standard on leaks, especially how leaks
to the New York Times and Washington Post that damaged the Bush admin's
anti-terrorism efforts are awarded prizes while syndicated columnist
Robert Novak is condemned for revealing the occupation of an outspoken
Bush critic. Today, the Journal prints a letter from NYT executive
editor Bill Keller which responds to some of the editorial's charges.
Unsurprisingly, Keller makes no mention of the Valerie Plame Wilson
matter, a scandal which his paper's news and editorial pages have
overhyped since its inception. Instead, he focuses exclusively on leaks
which he does find not only acceptable but praiseworthy, that is the
disclosure that the U.S. may secretly be imprisoning suspected
terrorists (leaked to the Washington Post), and that Americans said to
be communicating internationally with terrorists are being spied on by
the NSA (leaked to the New York Times).
Keller bristles at the Journal's suggestion that the Times's and Post's sources are partisans:
Fired CIA officer Mary O.
McCarthy went on offense Monday, denying through her lawyer that she
has done anything wrong. But the agency is standing by its claim that
she was dismissed last week because she "knowingly and willfully shared
classified intelligence." It has been reported that one of her media
contacts was Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, who just won a
Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on the so-called "secret" prisons that
the CIA allegedly used to house top level al Qaeda detainees in Eastern
We're as curious as anyone to see
how Ms. McCarthy's case unfolds. But this would appear to be only the
latest example of the unseemly symbiosis between elements of the press
corps and a cabal of partisan bureaucrats at the CIA and elsewhere in
the "intelligence community" who have been trying to undermine the Bush
Leading with Karl Rove's grand jury session, on Wednesday's CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer painted CBS's coverage through a set of facts forwarded by Bush enemies as he justified his news judgment, “It is the story that is keeping Washington on edge: Who outed one of the CIA's secret agents whose husband happened to be a critic of the President and his war policy?” Jim Axelrod framed his story around how Rove being “called back in front of the grand jury yet again makes it crystal clear” that he's “still very much under a cloud of suspicion.” Axelrod seemed almost sorry for the Bush team as he concluded: "The President's poll numbers are at an all-time low, gas prices are through the roof, he's got an unpopular war and a divisive immigration debate to handle, and his chief political advisor is under this cloud. It just couldn't come at a worse time for the President.” Then, as if the media's news judgment has nothing to do with it, Schieffer observed: "I would agree that this White House just can't seem to talk about what it wants to talk about. I think today probably what they wanted to talk about was the naming of a new Press Secretary."
On the NBC Nightly News, which also led with Rove, anchor Brian Williams similarly marveled at how “the White House today was hoping for favorable coverage of one story in particular: The naming of the President's new Press Secretary, Tony Snow. And it was the story of the day from the White House right up until Karl Rove became the story.” Williams also highlighted “a new record the President may not be so proud of," an "all-time low" approval number for Bush in “our polling.” But the 36 percent approval in NBC's new poll is three points higher than a Fox News poll last week and four points above what CNN found this week. (Transcripts follow.)
MediaBistro runs an email from NYT Executive Editor Bill Keller sent to liberal journalist Murray Waas, in which Keller claims the Bush adminstration is "declaring war at home on the values they profess to be promoting abroad."
"I'm not sure journalists fully appreciate the threat confronting us -- The Times in the eavesdropping case, the Post for its CIA prison stories, and everyone else who has tried to look behind the war on terror. Maybe we're suffering a bit of subpoena fatigue. Maybe some people are a little intimidated by the way the White House plays the soft-on-terror card.
"Whatever the reason, I worry that we're not as worried as we should be. No president likes reporters sniffing after his secrets, but most come to realize that accountability is the price of power in our democracy. Some officials in this administration, and their more vociferous cheerleaders, seem to have a special animus towards reporters doing their jobs. There's sometimes a vindictive tone in way they talk about dragging reporters before grand juries and in the hints that reporters who look too hard into the public's business risk being branded traitors. I don't know how far action will follow rhetoric, but some days it sounds like the administration is declaring war at home on the values they profess to be promoting abroad."
On Friday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann plugged the Rolling Stone cover story by historian Sean Wilentz which argued that George W. Bush may be the worst President ever, citing the opinions of over 400 historians. As he introduced his interview with Wilentz, Olbermann sympathetically referred to the recently fired CIA employee who leaked classified information on the agency's use of secret prisons in Europe in the War on Terrorism, calling her a "whistleblower," and asked the question: "President Bush, whose administration is now firing, perhaps prosecuting whistleblowers, is he simply the worst?"
While introducing the segment, Olbermann listed several of Wilentz's attacks against Bush without challenging their validity, including accusations of "fabricated evidence" of WMD, a "retro fiscal policy" of "massive tax cuts" for the wealthy that "racked up monstrous deficits," and a criticism citing an unnamed Republican strategist who claimed that the Republican Party is "the first religious party in U.S. history." Olbermann, who perennially makes comparisons between George Orwell's novel 1984 and the Bush administration, managed to work in yet another reference to Orwell as he ended the interview mocking the administration's use of the term "pre-9/11 thinking," charging that Bush would accuse Wilentz and the other historians of being "guilty of pre-9/11 thinking, as George Orwell might have said." (Transcript follows)
Of the three broadcast network evening newscasts, the NBC Nightly News delivered the most negative assessment of the situation facing a White House which made some personnel changes, with reporter David Gregory using the moves as a chance to resurrect the Plame case and to maintain, in an amazing coincidence of his personal agenda matching that of “Republicans I've been talking to,” that “the President needs a Press Secretary who will be more open with the media." CBS's Jim Axelrod also got in a snarky shot that certainly put imagery over substance: "The metaphor of the day came from the President's chopper. Technical problems kept it from getting off the ground, just like grounded poll numbers and a stalled agenda are making it harder to fill top jobs.”
NBC anchor Brian Williams led his newscast: “These are tough times these days at the Bush White House. The President's approval rating has hit its lowest point yet. Complaints have been coming in from fellow Republicans. And there is concern the coming midterm elections this year could spell colossal defeat for his own party.” Gregory proceeded to bring up how the portfolio change for Karl Rove “comes at a time when Rove remains under investigation in the CIA leak case.” Moving on to McClellan, Gregory again raised the Plame matter: "But his critics, including Republicans close to the White House, felt McClellan wasn't effective, didn't click with the press corps and lost credibility during the leak investigation when he vouched -- incorrectly it turned out -- for two key figures in the case, Scooter Libby and Rove." (Transcript follows.)
On his Countdown show Tuesday, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann hyped an article posted on the Vanity Fair Web site, by Washington Post and Time magazine veteran Carl Bernstein, which called for congressional hearings into, as described by Olbermann, "the entirety of the Bush administration." Olbermann referred to the crusading journalist of Watergate fame as an "eminent voice" calling for Congress to find out if the Bush White House is "worse than Watergate." He then brought aboard Bernstein for what the Countdown host touted as an "exclusive interview," to discuss the article, during which Bernstein referred to the "distressing, terrible situation" of having a Bush administration that "has not been very truthful" when it comes to "almost everything important that we have been told by this President." Bernstein also described the controversial NSA surveillance program as a "totally illegal...usurpation of power...under the guise of national security," equating it to the illegal wiretapping by the Nixon administration. Bernstein recalled how "there was an article of impeachment against Nixon for wiretapping." (Transcript follows)
Yesterday, Times Watch wondered when the New York Times would correct its front-page story from last Friday suggesting the White House and Lewis Libby had willfully misled reporters on an intelligence finding on Saddam Hussein’s quest for uranium, a story based on bad information released by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald’s office had to correct its court filing on Tuesday.
On Thursday morning, the Times files an Editors’ Note on the matter, and runs an article that refutes the thrust of its front-page story -- but on Page A17.
Here’s the correction in full, including the paper’s lame explanation for why it took the Times until today to correct, when the Washington Post, for instance, had the correction story on Wednesday.
Watching Chris Matthews and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) on Tuesday’s “Hardball,” it was impossible to differentiate between the political talk show host and the Democrat senator searching for mid-term votes for her party. In fact, at times, it seemed that the host was the Democrat senator, as Matthews appeared to be beseeching his guest to censure President Bush regarding terrorist surveillance.
Matthews began the segment (hat tip to Expose the Left): “Let me ask you this, Senator, are you going to follow through with this? Are you going to try to get him censured?” As Boxer answered, Matthews could regularly be heard in the background saying “Right” to the senator’s statements as if he was one hundred percent in agreement with everything one of the most liberal members of Congress was saying.
For example, when Boxer said, “Now we see how hard the president himself tried to hurt Ambassador Joe Wilson, who told the truth about Saddam Hussein and the nuclear weapons program. He told the truth that it wasn`t happening,” Matthews said, “Right.” Boxer continued, “And yet in fact, this president wanted to release information that even he knew, and the administration knew, was suspect.” Matthews again interjected, “Right.”
Matthews then went into full cheerleader mode sans miniskirt and pompoms:
Newsweek's lame weekly "Conventional Wisdom Watch" box in the up-front "Periscope" section this week announces its theme as the "Exterminated Edition," that "The CW won't have Tom (The Hammer) DeLay to kick around anymore. Luckily, there's no shortage of power-abusing hacks to take the arrows." DeLay was awarded one last down arrow, with the snippy line: "Guy who led Clinton impeach claims he's a victim of 'politics of personal destruction.' That's a good one."
President Bush gets another down arrow (and even the up arrows and sideways arrows are often accompanied by negative takes on Bush): "Old CW: I'll fire anyone who leaks classified info. New CW: Of course, I didn't mean me." This is not to say "Conventional Wisdom" feels the need to be accurate. As Newsweek's sister publication The Washington Post explained, "In June 2004, Bush replied 'yes' when asked if he would fire anyone who leaked the agent's [Valerie Plame's] name. In other statements, Bush has pledged to 'take the appropriate action' if anyone in his administration leaked classified information." (In this 2005 story, Bush had grown more specific to making "committing a crime" the firing offense.) Other typical liberal-media "conventional wisdom"?
On this weekend's McLaughlin Group, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift -- referring the President Bush's September 2003 insistence, in the wake of the Valerie Plame controversy, that “I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information,” a technical accuracy since he had apparently declassified information released in order to counter claims made by Plame's husband, Joe Wilson -- charged: “President Clinton's manipulation of words did not set off a chain of events that took us into an unnecessary war and cost people's lives. It was a personal indiscretion of so much lesser magnitude than what we're dealing here.” Assessing Bush's credibility, she saw him as less credible than Wilson and accused Bush of having “lied” with the “consequence” of thousands being killed, “Wilson's credibility versus the President's credibility: I'd put my money on Wilson. This is a crystalizing piece of information that people can understand the storyline. The President lied, they see the video clips and they know the consequences of a war with over two thousand people dead.” (Partial transcripts follow.)
Any faithful watcher of “The McLaughlin Group” knows that one of the most transparently biased members of the antique media over the past two decades has been Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift. Week in and week out, Eleanor rips apart every Republican on the political landscape while oozing nothing but adoration for those on the opposite side of the aisle even when they are found guilty of serious transgressions.
Clift’s op-ed posted at Newsweek’s website on Friday is a fine example. After somewhat misrepresenting the seriousness of the recent allegations that have emerged from Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff I. Lewis Libby concerning unclassified information from a National Intelligence Estimate by President Bush, Clift went right into a stump speech: “The only way the American people can stop Bush’s imperial expansion of power short is to turn out in massive numbers to take back one or the other body of Congress from Republican control.”
When things got a bit contentious this morning between conservative Jim Pinkerton and liberal Ellen Ratner on Fox & Friends Weekend's 'Long & the Short of It' segment, Pinkerton proposed a peace plan that other warring parties might well wish to adopt: "let NewsBusters.org sort this out."
The bone of contention was just what what it was that President Bush declassified - some would say leaked - and that Scooter Libby is in turn alleged to have provided to the press - presumably in the person of Judy Miller of the NY Times.
Ratner: "This was a Nixon bad-list kind of trick [presumably a reference to Nixon's 'enemies' list] to get . . . "
Host Kiran Chetry [back from maternity leave - and beautiful as ever, I might add]: "Why?"
Reminiscent of Al Franken on the Late Show last October, on Friday's Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, actor Ben Affleck charged that President Bush “probably also leaked” Valerie Plame's name and so “if he did, you can be hung for that! That's treason!” In full rant, an apoplectic Affleck asserted: “You could be killed. That's not a joking around Tom DeLay 'I'll do a year, I bribed the state officials with corporate money.' That's like they shoot you in the battlefield for doing that.”
Affleck appeared on Maher's panel with Senator Joe Biden and Bill Sammon of the Washington Examiner. A couple of minutes later, after Sammon suggested Tom DeLay's resignation means the loss of a “poster boy for the left” so they can't use him anymore to raise funds, Affleck besmirched DeLay as a “criminal” while simultaneously demonstrating his political naivete. Though the Texas redistricting orchestrated by DeLay made his district less Republican, Affleck contended: "Tom DeLay personally gerrymandered that district so severely that it looks like a map of Italy....There won't be a Democrat elected in that seat for a thousand years. You can't say he's the poster boy for the left. He happens to be an incredibly powerful Republican who is a criminal and now you blame Democrats for pointing it out!"
Video clip of Affleck talking about hanging and shooting Bush for treason (35 seconds). Real (1.1 MB) or Windows Media (1.25 MB), plus MP3 audio (200 KB).
Like the cable networks during the day, the three broadcast networks on Thursday night were hyperbolic over the revelation that Vice President Cheney's former top aide, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, testified that in July of 2003 President Bush had authorized the leaking of parts of a classified pre-war report on Iraq in order to correct misinformation being spread by Joe Wilson. All the newscasts led with the allegation and stressed Bush's hypocrisy in denouncing leaks while leaking material himself, but NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was the most dramatic in employing the most nefarious language. He intoned: “There is an allegation tonight that President Bush authorized the leak of government information -- sensitive, classified information about Iraq -- in order to get back at a critic of his administration and the build-up to war.” Referring to Libby's charge, Williams asserted: “If what he is saying is true, it would mean he was used, in effect, by the President and Vice President to leak secrets. It is a story of much intrigue, big names, and potentially very high stakes.”
Bob Schieffer teased the CBS Evening News: “President Bush has long made clear he despises leaks and leakers. But tonight, he is accused of authorizing a leak of classified intelligence." ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas asked: “Did the White House practice the opposite of what it preached?" White House correspondent Martha Raddatz equated Bush's supposed divulging of a pre-war assessment of a regime which no longer existed with those who disclosed ongoing operational information about the efforts to prevent terrorist attacks: “The Bush administration has vigorously pursued investigations of those who leaked documents pertaining to the secret domestic spying program, and to disclosures of secret prisons run overseas." (Partial transcripts follow.)
The women of ABC’s The View quickly pounced on the Cheney shooting story. The Monday, February 13 edition featured co-host Joy Behar, who stated that the incident shifted Cheney’s image "from Dr. Evil to Dr. Stupid." She added, "So, in a way, it’s kind of like, hey, I’m not so evil anymore. I’m just dumb." Behar then finished her critique when she quipped, "It’s in the historical context of Dan Quayle."
Barbara Walters also participated in the segment, airing at 11:18AM EST. She wasn’t interested in the shooting accident, but preferred to convict Cheney for involvement in the CIA leak case:
"I mean, I think he’s possibly in more trouble because his chief of staff, Scooter Libby, who has been indicted for releasing information about a CIA agent, which is against the law, has said that it was his superiors, or superior, who said that he could do this. Who is his superior? Richard Cheney."
On Thursday's "Countdown," we learned from Keith Olbermann that:
The CIA leak investigation roars back to life. Scooter Libby claimed he had been authorized to reveal classified information, authorized by his boss, the vice president.
Newly disclosed documents indicating that the vice president's former chief of staff already has testified that he was authorized by his superiors to disclose classified information to reporters in order to make the a case for war in Iraq...
If he's defending himself by saying, Well, he did, and saying the vice president told him to, because that's not really germane to this case, did he just throw the vice president of the United States under the proverbial bus?
Note how the wording of these statements leaves the impression that the authorization claimed by Libby included the Plame leak. Did it? What is it that Olbermann isn't telling us this time?
CBS decided that the night before President Bush’s State of the Union address would be a good time to launch its “State of the...” series with a look at the "State of the Scandals," a judgment which allowed the CBS Evening News to revive the Plame case. Gloria Borger insisted that “on the eve of the President's State of the Union speech, official Washington is distracted, not by policy debates or the war, but by scandal.” She started with Jack Abramoff and how his links to Tom DeLay and Bob Ney have set back their congressional roles. She moved on to point out how President Bush “won't reveal the pictures taken of him with the lobbyist at White House functions.”
Borger then urged viewers: "Don't forget that other Washington scandal that still haunts the White House: the CIA leak investigation. Federal prosecutors want to know who, if anyone, inside the White House knowingly leaked the identity of an undercover CIA agent to Washington journalists.” Though the commonality of such knowledge is in play, she then declared as fact: “That's a crime. And lying about it is a crime too. That's what Scooter Libby, Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff, has been charged with.” She asked: “Will Dick Cheney testify?” Borger jumped to how “top presidential advisor Karl Rove is still under investigation for his role in the leaks.”
Borger did, however, note that “while Democrats haven't received any money from Abramoff's own checkbook, they did receive one-and-a-half million he directed to them through his clients.” And she gave rare, yet brief, air time to how “Democrat Bill Jefferson was the target in an FBI sting in which cash was found in his freezer.” (Transcript follows.)
National Public Radio released a poll recently with some rather startling results that the media are likely not going to share with the public. After months of focusing America’s attention on “scandals” surrounding Valerie Plame, I. Lewis Libby, Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, and Bill Frist, the nation’s mainstream press outlets must have been very disappointed to see the following numbers concerning the citizenry’s view of politics and ethics. The pollsters asked 800 Americans the following question:
"Now I would like to read you a list of issues and for each one please tell me whether you think George W. Bush or the Democratic Party would do a better job handling that particular issue. Improving ethics in Washington, D.C."
The results? 43 percent answered “George W. Bush,” while 41 percent said “the Democratic Party.”
Anyone who thought Hardball with Chris Matthews couldn't get any more antagonistic to the Bush administration should have watched the show with Norah O'Donnell substituting tonight. Not that Matthews is exactly Mr. Fair & Balanced, but Norah didn't even attempt to disguise her disdain for all things Republican.
For her first panel, the two lawyers she chose to discuss the Plame matter fell over each other in agreeing that it was absolutely inescapable that Karl Rove would be indicted. Even that wasn't quite enough to satisfy Norah, as she avidly inquired as to the prospects that VP Cheney would face prosecution.
Norah took a parting shot suggesting that revelations by DC lobbyist Jack Abramoff could lead to congressional indictments, mentioning only Republicans DeLay and Ney as possible targets despite Abramoff's ecumenism in doling out donations across party lines.
Jim Kelly, Managing Editor of Time magazine, appeared on Friday's Today show. The segment, airing just prior to 8AM, teased the identity of Time’s "Person of the Year" and indicated it might be a choice that would make liberals very happy. Kelly listed two finalists from the world of politics: President Bush and Valerie Plame. He noted that Bush "hasn’t had a very good year" and then added, "this would not be the first time we put the President on with a bad year. Lyndon Johnson was on in '67 with the war in Vietnam and bad opinion polls." Kelly appeared to be much more intrigued by Valerie Plame as a candidate: "Valerie Plame really interests me because without Valerie Plame there's no Patrick Fitzgerald. there's no Karl Rove in trouble."
Kelly recounted meeting Plame a few months ago, describing her as a "absolutely charming, really interesting person." Matt Lauer jumped in and asked, "But wouldn’t it be kind of different? I mean, she didn’t do anything on purpose to be put in that position. And shouldn’t someone have to initiate some kind of behavior or some kind of action?" Kelly noted this and replied, "Well, that’s fair enough. You could do Patrick Fitzgerald, I suppose."