Regular viewers of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart are accustomed by now to the verbal battles that ensue when Stewart brings conservative guests on his show. The guests usually leave with a bit of egg on their faces, and Stewart comes off as the hard hitting, divisive and sarcastic critic.
But viewers were treated to a rare dose of sincerity and intelligent debate on Monday, when Stewart hosted former legal counsel for the Bush Justice Department John Yoo. Following up on what was a meaningful and intelligent interview Monday night, Stewart apologized to his audience on Tuesday for not being his usual cutthroat self, and daring to discuss issues in a civilized tone.
Yoo and Stewart duked it out for almost 30 minutes (videos below the fold), but the host did not manage to get the better of Yoo, who is now infamous among liberal circles for writing the legal briefs justifying expanded executive powers to combat terrorism under the previous administration.
Stewart ended the segment with a very uncharacteristic--given his tendency to demonize conservatives--call for civility in the public discourse (brief partial transcript after videos):
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took to the WhiteHouse.gov blog today to try to refute a devastating AP report showing that the the stimulus's highway and road funding has done next to nothing to improve the unemployment situation. Though he offered a couple of valid points, LaHood, pictured right in a file photo, actually did very little refuting.
The AP asserts in its report that "there was nearly no connection between stimulus money and the number of construction workers hired or fired since Congress passed the recovery program. The effect was so small, one economist compared it to trying to move the Empire State Building by pushing against it."
LaHood points out--fairly--that the AP examines the construction industry as a whole while the seven percent of the $787 billion that went towards funding highway and road construction (roughly $55 billion) only affects the transportation construction industry, not the industry as a whole.
On CNN's American Morning today, anchor John Roberts talked with correspondent Jim Acosta about "the politics" of terrorism. Part of the exchange:
ACOSTA: There is plenty punting going on in Washington, John. Hearings on the Detroit scare are planned for early next month, and the top Republican on that committee has already said there should have been a big red flag next to the suspect's name, and there are plenty of other issues, such as Guantanamo. Republicans are saying the president should shelve his plan to close Guantanamo at this point, John.
ROBERTS: So, shelve Guantanamo, but, at the same time, the president is trying to get some of his key appointments filled. They're being held up. And some of the key appointments that are still vacant are ones that are absolutely essential when it comes to maintaining security at our airports and on our jetliners.
ACOSTA: That's right. Those men and women at the airport wearing the blue shirts that say TSA, they don't have a full-time, permanent boss at this point. The temporary head of the TSA is a holdover from the Bush administration and, right now, the - the current appointee from the Obama administration to take the head of the TSA, a man by the name of Erroll Southers, he is still waiting to - to get his appointment confirmed. He is currently the assistant chief for the LAX Police Department, the Los Angeles International Airport out there in California, and his duties are head of Intelligence and Homeland Security. But, at this point, that nomination is on hold by Jim DeMint, the very conservative Senator from South Carolina. He's opposed to unionizing - fully unionizing the TSA, something that Southers apparently wants to do.
If you believe polls, current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke favorability has been slipping. A recent Rasmussen Reports poll indicates that only 21 percent of Americans favor his reappointment as the Fed chair.
And this hasn't gone unnoticed by some members of the Senate, where Bernanke's fate lies. Bernanke's reconfirmation passed through the Senate Banking Committee by a 16-to-7 vote on Dec. 17. But that margin calls into question how his reconfirmation vote on the Senate floor could go. And as CNBC "The Kudlow Report" host Larry Kudlow warned, that puts his reconfirmation in question.
"Look, ‘Helicopter' Ben passed the Senate Banking Committee vote on his reconfirmation," Kudlow said on his Dec. 17 program. "He got 16-to-7, but he lost seven votes. I think all the Republicans except Sen. Bob Corker voted against Bernanke, and they were joined by one Democrat, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon. Now the reconfirmation goes to the floor of the Senate. So, I think Bernanke's reconfirmation could be in some trouble when that Senate vote occurs. I'm going to bet that most, if not all, of the 40 Republicans are going to vote against Bernanke and that they are going to be joined by a number of Democrats."
On last night's "Rachel Maddow Show", the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh commended President Obama for taking the reins in Afghanistan. Hersh stated that Presidents must decide their own war strategies. But in the early stages of the war in Iraq, Hersh was a leading critic of similar actions by the Bush administration. Hersh's hypocrisy suggests he is more concerned with the political implications of military policy than strategic ones.
"Lincoln did not let McClellan write a report on how to win a war against the South," Hersh told Maddow, in reference to Gen. George McClellan, initially the top general for the Union during the Civil War. Hersh was offering a historical perspective on why Presidents should not rely on military commanders to form strategy--McClellan was a disastrous general, after all (video embedded below the fold).
The cat is out of the bag at the New York Times. The Times has exposed, albeit passively, the true motivation behind the White House's Fox News attacks. Contrary to the administration's claims, it is deriding Fox not because it doesn't report the news, but rather because it does.
It is news, after all, when an organization potentially receiving billions in federal funds aids and abets what it thinks is a criminal organization. It is news when a high-level White House adviser, responsible for the distribution of $80 billion in federal funds, is outed as a communist and a 'truther' conspiracy theorist. It is news when the president's chief communications officer admits her admiration for a murderous dictator.
How do you know that the White House's anti-Fox News campaign has gone seriously wrong? When CNN, let alone Anderson Cooper, begins to compare the Obama and Nixon administrations (video embedded below the fold, h/t Mediaite's Colby Hall).
On last night's "360," Cooper stated that "this White House is starting to look like another White House and the comparison is not flattering." He showed a clip of Sen. Lamar Alexander, documented yesterday by NewsBuster Noel Sheppard, offering a "friendly suggestion" to President Obama.
I have an uneasy feeling only 10 months into the new administration that we're beginning to see the symptoms of this same kind of animus developing in the Obama administration. And as those of use who served in the Nixon administration know, that can get you in a lot of trouble... Don't create an enemies list.
Is Barack Obama turning into Spiro Agnew? The White House's attacks on the Fox News smack of the distaste for media opposition espoused by Nixon's vice president almost 40 years ago but are being met with a decidedly different reaction today by the elite media.
Pundits have wondered aloud since last week why the White House would pursue a strategy that seems to be boosting the ratings of a purported 'opposition' news network. MSNBC's Joe Scarborough posited today that the White House's attacks on Fox News are designed to prevent the mainstream media from picking up on stories damaging to the administration (video embedded below the fold, h/t to NB reader Kirk W.).
Every time Fox breaks a story on the radical connections of a White House advisor or appointee, the news is potentially damaging to the administration. But damage is only really done if the rest of the media picks up on the story, reports it, and turns it into a national news sensation, a la Van Jones.
On the June 3, 2009 Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, host Rachel Maddow cited a false quote attributed to Rush Limbaugh in which the radio host supposedly said he wanted to award Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassin the Medal of Honor. Since Limbaugh expressed interest in becoming part owner of the St. Louis Rams in October, several MSNBC hosts have repeated that and other false quotes.
Reacting to Limbaugh calling then Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a racist, Maddow declared: “When you get called racist by the guy who says the assassin of Martin Luther King, Jr. should get the Medal of Honor, consider yourself honored. Also, nauseated.” Maddow’s dishonest rant was originally reported by NewsBusters’ D. S. Hube.
Before lying about Limbaugh, Maddow attacked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for also labeling Sotomayor as racist and not fully retracting his statement: “Last week, Mr. Gingrich used Twitter to declare that Judge Sotomayor is a Latina woman racist. Today, he issued a statement that seemed designed to take credit for retracting that comment without actually retracting it.” Viewers are still waiting for MSNBC to retract its charge of racism against Limbaugh based on fabricated quotes.
The New York Times announced today that it would appoint an editor to monitor 'opinion media'. In an attempt to respond to criticism that it has been too slow to pick up on stories first reported by conservative blogs and talk show hosts, the Times acknowledged poor coverage, but denied a political agenda.
The self-proclaimed 'paper of record' was extremely slow in picking up on two recent stories. The first, the 'trutherism' of former White House Green Jobs Czar Van Jones, was initially reported by Pajamas Media, and later by Glenn Beck on his Fox News talk show. The Times did not cover the story until after Jones had resigned.
Later, the Times neglected to report on the undercover sting operation that exposed ACORN for offering assistance in a bogus child prostitution ring. The Times reported on Congress's votes to de-fund ACORN, but neglected to mention the sting operation that inspired the votes.
I've been trying to give Chuck Todd the benefit of the doubt when it comes to classifying him as part of what Rush would call the state-controlled media. But that indulgence was strained to the breaking point on Morning Joe today when Todd flatly rejected the notion that the MSM had under-covered the Van Jones story and suggested that delving into his background would have been a waste of MSM time.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: You say this has been a Republican obsession, ACORN. It certainly hasn't been an obsession in the media. Mike Allen said the mainstream media was slow on the Van Jones story, also slow on this [ACORN] story. Is that a fair charge?
When Glenn Beck reports that a top-level White House advisor has endorsed communism, accused 'white polluters' of poisoning minority communities, called his political opponents a**holes, and believes an American president was complicit in the slaughter of innocent civilians, Beck must have a hidden agenda. When the mainstream media fails to report these facts, it's all an honest mistake.
Or so one might gather from listening to CNN contributor and Washington Post columnist Howard Kurtz. Kurtz continues to waffle between a cynical take on Glenn Beck's outing of Van Jones as a truther conspiracy theorist, and an apologetic approach to the mainstream media's virtual silence on the story until after Jones's resignation.
The Times's Managing Editor Jill Abramson offered a number of excuses for the lack of Van Jones coverage last weekend, chiefly that the paper's Washington Bureau was short-staffed. This did not stop the Times from sending two reporters to Boston for the weekend to cover the non-story of Joseph Kennedy II's Senate run (which he later said would not happen).
If you rely only on the three major broadcast networks or one of the top major national papers as your news sources, the name "Van Jones" might prompt you to say,"Who?" But, while the media had difficulty reporting on Van Jones the embattled member of the Obama Administration, it had no such trouble covering Van Jones the anti-Iraq War protestor.
Jones, who was President Barack Obama's so-called "green jobs czar" resigned in the middle of the night on Sept. 6 - a Saturday night/Sunday morning on Labor Day weekend. He had for weeks been embroiled in controversy after revelations that he had signed a petition demanding an investigation into whether the 9/11 terrorist attacks were an inside job by the U.S. government, was a self-described communist and had publicly derided Republicans as "a**holes." But the story had gotten little coverage from the mainstream media.
A top editor at the New York Times this week owned up to the paper’s lack of coverage of the controversy surrounding former Green Jobs Czar Van Jones. Rather than leaving it there, however, the editor noted the paper’s minimal online coverage, insisted that the Washington bureau was short-staffed, and suggested that Jones and his contentious positions really were not important enough to cover at length.
The Times did not print an article about Jones and his recently-discovered support of the ‘truther’ movement, which believes that the Bush Administration had foreknowledge of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, until Monday, when it ran a story on the front page.
“The Times was, in fact, a beat behind on this story,” admitted Jill Abramson, managing editor of the paper, in answer to a number of readers’ questions during an online Q&A session Monday. She went on to offer three excuses for the newspaper’s virtual silence on the controversy.
Powerline nicely summarizes the problems with (now former) Obama Administration official Van Jones:
Who do they have in the White House? A self-proclaimed Communist. A vulgar Marxist twice over. A supporter of cold-blooded cop killer Mumia Abu Jamal. A 9/11 Truther . A racist hater, whose hatred extends to the United States. And insofar as his current job is concerned, we have a man who sees the "green jobs" con as a tool for overthrowing capitalism. We have, in short, the complete left-wing nightmare package.
The contrast between the virtual silence of major news outlets on Green Jobs Czar Van Jones’s belief in the Bush Administration’s complicity in the 9/11 attacks and the hubbub made about those who believe the President is not an American citizen casts light on the politicized attitudes of the mainstream media.
NewsBusters has noted how the story has been ignored by the television media. Byron York in the Washington Examiner Friday noted that a Nexis news search for the Van Jones ‘truther’ controversy turns up exactly zero results from the New York Times, the Washington Post, and transcripts from ABC World News, NBC Nightly News, and CBS Evening News (though that newscast aired a full story Friday night).
So, as York noted, anyone who gets his or her news from one of these sources, or all five, is unaware that the President’s Green Jobs Czar is not only a self-avowed communist but also a supporter of the truther movement, which means he believes that the Bush Administration was complicit in—even orchestrated—the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Much of the mainstream media shares the Obama Administration's mistrust of-even outright hostility to-industry leaders, and its reverence for ‘sound science.' Too often, however, ‘sound science' simply is another way of saying conventional liberalism.
A good example of this is David Michaels, tapped by the president as OSHA administrator, praised by the New York Times in an editorial with the headline "A Champion for Workers' Safety." The Times said he would steer OSHA away from "eight years of lax oversight and favoritism to industry under the Bush administration."
Michaels shares the Times'sdistaste for "industry favoritism," exemplified by the title of his 2008 book, "Doubt is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health". In fact, doubt is a central element of sound science. We doubt claims until they are shown to be true.
"Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back alley abortions, blacks would sit in segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of million of citizens." -- Sen. Edward Kennedy, floor of the U.S. Senate, 1987.
I'm all for remembering a man's good qualities upon his death. But not at the price of ignoring—and denying—history. Yet that's just what David Shuster did during today's 4 PM hour on MSNBC when he claimed that Kennedy "didn't dabble in small personal attacks." This of the man who invented the dark political art form of "borking."
Reporting on Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation to the Supreme Court on Saturday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Wyatt Andrews declared: "...she’s not always the reserved, work-aholic judge she portrayed in the Senate hearings....The judge is also known for her can't-miss Christmas parties, which included salsa dancing inside the federal court of appeals in Manhattan." [Audio/video (1:25): Mp3 | WMV]
Andrews offered a detailed report on Sotomayor’s down-to-earth personality as he spoke with her friends and colleagues: "...according to friends, like former law clerk Allison Barkoff, the Judge has a big, engaging, New York personality." Barkoff exclaimed: "She is fun. She – she works hard and she plays hard." No mention was made in the segment of Sotomayor’s infamous "wise Latina" comments.
As an example of how the newest member of the Supreme Court "plays hard" Andrews described: "Melissa Murray clerked for two federal judges, including Sotomayor, and when both judges came to Melissa’s wedding, Sotomayor challenged the other judge to a dance-off." After describing Sotomayor’s "can’t-miss" Christmas party, Andrews added: "Sotomayor knew and invited everyone in the courthouse." Barkoff explained: "The people who work in the cafeteria, the security guards, the custodians, are equally as important as her colleagues."
It is not often that the women on “The View” are silenced by their own guest, but Michelle Malkin did exactly that when she appeared on the show August 2. Malkin’s new book, “Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Kronies” was bound to be attacked by the left-left leaning panel of “The View,” but Malkin did not give them an opportunity.
Malkin dominated the conversation from the beginning with facts and examples. When asked by Elisabeth Hasselbeck about the corruption her book uncovers, she had several examples. “I scoured from top to bottom,” and started to list some of the more known corruption scandals within the Obama administration, until Joy Behar interrupted and asked, “And there was nothing like that in the Bush administration?”
Might Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) have some "'splainin' to do" about racial insensitivity? Both Associated Press editor Michael Giarrusso and Politico's Glenn Thrush raised the question in blog posts filed this morning.
Shortly before noon, Giarrusso noted that "Sen. Tom Coburn evoked a 1950s TV show in a quip responding to Sonia Sotomayor’s scenario about what he might do if she -- hypothetically, of course -- attacked him."
For online readers unaware of the half-century-old pop culture reference, Giarrusso explained:
With the start of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination confirmation hearings the topic of abortion naturally arises – not only because it one of our most polarizing legal and social issues, but also because Sotamayor claims to be Catholic, a religion that adamantly and explicitly teaches the evil of abortion.
And while her Catholicism scares some liberals, others are using it as a selling point, and in doing so desecrating a holy image of the Virgin Mary. Felix Sanchez, the CEO of D.C. government and public relations firm TerraCom and chairman of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, has updated his Twitter page with a background of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Over Our Lady’s face, the likeness of Sotomayor has been superimposed (shown at right).
The patron saint of all the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe has a special place in the hearts of Hispanic Catholics, especially Mexicans (which Sotomayor is not). But Sanchez seemed to use the image to appeal to all Hispanics and to promote his plea to “Confirm Sonia Maria Sotomayor,” as his Twitter page says.
Reporting on Sonia Sotomayor responding to questions about her "wise Latina" comments during Tuesday’s confirmation hearing, CBS’s Wyatt Andrews glossed over the multiple times she made the remark: "What did she mean in her 2001 speech to Hispanic law students at the University of California that "a wise Latina woman...would reach a better conclusion than a white male?"
In addition to the Evening News story, Andrews similarly reported on Wednesday’s Early Show: "She said it in a speech to a mostly Hispanic audience at the University of California in 2001." In reality, Sotomayor made some version of that controversial statement at least four other times during speeches in 1994, 1999, 2002, and 2004.
In the Early Show story, Andrews went on to depict the comment as an isolated incident: "At the hearing, she first explained she was trying to inspire the students, that she was misunderstood. But pressed hard by Senator John Kyl, she admitted to some overheated rhetoric...But she also argued the comment did not reflect some deep-seeded bias."
NPR’s Nina Totenberg apparently needs to brush up on her knowledge of judicial philosophy and American jurisprudence. On the July 13 edition of “Charlie Rose,” Totenberg told Charlie Rose that Supreme Court nominee Sonya Sotomayor has “a pretty conservative record.” There are many words and phrases that could be used to accurately describe Sotamayor: intelligent, successful, to name a few. But conservative?
Totenberg went on to tell Rose that Sotomayor’s record is “very much in the mainstream,” and that “you could say that she's more conservative than some members of the Supreme Court, including Justice Scalia, perhaps.” Judge Sotomayor’s decision to uphold the New Haven firefighter case, Ricci v. DeStefano, which was overruled by the High Court this May, and whose majority included all four of the “conservative” justices, clearly illustrates that Sotomayor is in no way, shape, or form a conservative.
When a well-known individual creates a disruption at a highly public, widely televised event and is then arrested, any news organization worth the name would include the incident in its coverage of that event. Right?
Not CBS’ “Evening News with Katie Couric.” And NBC’s “Nightly News” only gave the story 21 words. On July 13, Norma McCorvey, better known as “Jane Roe” in the infamous Roe v. Wade case that made abortion legal, was arrested for disrupting Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill.
While discussing the Sotomayor confirmation hearings with former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, CBS Early Show co-host Harry Smith wondered: "Senator Lindsey Graham said, ‘unless you have a meltdown, you're going to get confirmed.’ So is this all theater then, or is this a process that should literally be paid attention to?"
Gonzales responded by describing the importance of a Supreme Court seat: "This is a lifetime appointment. She will be making decisions that will affect the lives of millions of Americans for decades. And so I think the members of the Senate have taken an oath of office to the Constitution and to the American people to ensure this is a person that should serve on the Supreme Court. So it's more than theater. I think it's – it’s a learning experience, a teaching experience."
Earlier, Smith asked Gonzales if Sotomayor’s assurances of objectivity would be enough for Republicans: "Because she pledged her fidelity to the law. She said, ‘my personal and professional experiences help me to listen and understand with the law always commanding the result in every case.’ Is that going to make any difference to Republicans? What she says and her track record?"
On Monday’s Newsroom program, CNN’s senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin stuck with his analysis of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor from late June- that the judge was “mainstream,” and that it would be difficult to use the reversal of her decision in the New Haven firefighters case and her “Wise Latina” comment against her.
When anchor Rick Sanchez asked if one of those issues was more problematic, Toobin replied, “I think it’s a combination....some Republicans will use [it] to paint a picture of her as kind of an activist...someone who is more interested in helping her community than in interpreting the law. That’s a very tough sell, but I think that’s the argument that they’re building towards.”
During an earlier appearance on the June 29, 2009 edition of the CNN program with anchor Heidi Collins, the very day that the Supreme Court issued its ruling in the Ricci/firefighters case, the analyst stated that the decision “will be a main focus of the attack against her by conservative senators, who will say that her views are out of step with the Supreme Court. Now, that will be a somewhat-tough argument to make, because...her views are clearly in-step with four justices on the Court, including the justice she will be replacing. So, it’s not like her position was so far out the mainstream on this case that you couldn’t even get a single justice to agree with her.”
Responding to Senator Jeff Sessions describing Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor as a "typical liberal activist judge" CBS Early Show co-host Harry Smith argued: "You feel like her record indicates that? I mean, she gets a glowing review from the American Bar Association. Her record doesn't seem to necessarily match up with her – what – some of the things she said."
Later in the Monday interview, Smith defended Sotomayor’s record, particularly her decision in the New Haven firefighter case: "But basically, she was following precedent. I think people who would actually look at it would agree she was kind of acting as any judge in that position probably would – most judges would have acted in that position. Do you really believe – you really believe her words indicate that there are – she's a different person than her record would indicate?" Sessions replied: "I think philosophically her – her statements indicate an approach to judging that's outside the mainstream so far as I can tell."
On Monday, CBS correspondent Wyatt Andrews reported on the beginning of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and declared: "To Democrats, Sotomayor is the perfect nominee. That a child of the projects would progress through Ivy League schools and later a 17-year career as a federal judge makes hers an all-American story."
The Early Show segment began with co-host Julie Chen citing poll numbers that showed the American people were not fully impressed with that "all-American story": "A new CBS poll finds that 23% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Judge Sotomayor [decrease from 33% in June], while 15% were unfavorable [up from 9% in June]. 6 in 10 are still undecided or have not heard enough yet [62%, up from 58%]. And 35% say it's very important to have another woman on the high court." An on-screen graphic of the numbers showed a shift from June, but Chen failed to note the change in people’s attitudes toward Sotomayor.
The Washington Post’s Saturday story on the approaching Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings tried to suggest that conservative allegations that the New York appeals judge is a liberal activist who rules with her feelings have been crushed.
The trio of reporters Robert Barnes, Michael Shear, and Perry Bacon cited "one recent study" that readers might suppose is nonpartisan – but the cited study came from a very liberal, pro-Sotomayor source, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University -- a think tank named after liberals' favorite activist justice. Here’s where that study emerged:
The White House and Sotomayor's supporters in the Senate and elsewhere say charges that she has let her feelings influence her rulings has not registered with the public in an environment roiled by the still-faltering economy and a showdown on health-care reform.
The allegation has also been refuted by a series of studies that show Sotomayor's decisions in 17 years as a district judge and on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit fit comfortably in the mainstream, if on the liberal edge of it. One recent study said that on matters of constitutional interpretation, she has sided with the majority 98 percent of the time.