On Wednesday, during an interview with Dick Cheney, "Situation Room" anchor Wolf Blitzer continued to badger the Vice President and quizzed Cheney about the month-old story of the pregnancy of his lesbian daughter, Mary. (Hat tip to Drudge) Cheney bluntly responded to the CNN anchor, " I think you're out of line with that question." That comment came after Blitzer, who appeared to be attempting to drive a wedge between conservatives and the Vice President, quoted a Focus on the Family statement, from December 6, 2006:
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 5:35pm on January 24, follows:
Wolf Blitzer: "Your daughter Mary, she's pregnant. All of us are happy. She's going to have a baby. You're going to have another grandchild. Some of the -- some critics, though, are suggesting, for example, a statement from someone representing Focus on the Family: ‘Mary Cheney's pregnancy raises the question of what's best for children. Just because it's possible to conceive a child outside of the relationship of a married mother and father, doesn't mean it's best for the child.’ Do you want to respond to that?"
Dick Cheney: "No, I don't."
Blitzer: "She's obviously a good daughter."
Cheney: "I'm delighted -- I'm delighted I'm about to have a sixth grandchild, Wolf, and obviously think the world of both of my daughters and all of my grandchildren. And I think, frankly, you're out of line with that question."
At the beginning of Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Bush graciously discussed Nancy Pelosi and her history making role as the first female Speaker. He also congratulated Democrats on their new majority status. This, however, wasn’t enough for Paul Begala. The CNN contributor appeared on a post-speech edition of "Anderson Cooper" and digressed into a rant about how Bush referred not to the Democratic Party’s success, but, rather, the Democrat majority. According to the always polite Begala, this is something only the "kook right," "the fringe" and the "Rush Limbaugh crowd" engages in:
Paul Begala: "At the very beginning, [Bush] opened with this beautiful grace note to Nancy Pelosi, talked about how her father, Thomas D'Alessandro, had served in the House, and the daughter had grown up to become Speaker. It was beautiful....And then in the very next paragraph -- I have it marked here on the White House text -- he congratulated the new ‘Democrat’ majority, as he said. Now, the White House transcript says ‘Democratic.’ There is a difference. My party's the Democratic Party. But the sort of kook right, not the responsible Republicans, but the fringe, the Rush Limbaugh crowd, likes to call my party the Democrat Party. They think it's some sort of insult or something. And frankly, I guess it is insulting. Why would you do that when you're the president of both parties and the majority of your country now is affiliated with the Democrat Party? Why would you say that?"
Q. How do you know a presidential candidate has thin national-security credentials?
A. When he has to cite his undergraduate major as evidence of his experience.
Barack Obama made the morning show rounds today. The amiable Robin Roberts interviewed him on ABC's Good Morning America. Inevitably, talk turned to his presidential prospects.
Roberts: "You're calling for a slight withdrawal of troops and I need to ask you this -- are you concerned that your lack of experience, when it comes to foreign policy, may hurt your chances in the run for the White House?" [Note Robin's apologetic "I need to ask you."]
Obama: "Well, actually, my experience in foreign policy is probably more diverse than most others in the field. I'm somebody who has actually lived overseas, somebody who has studied overseas. I majored in international relations.
In response to president Bush's State of the Union Address, the Washington Post's main criticism (by reporter Glenn Kessler in the "news" section, not the editorial page) seems to be that Bush doesn't understand who "the enemy" is in the Global War on Terror. Yet as the Post proceeds to knock what they perceive as Bush's simple minded rhetoric with today's news article they only reveal it is they, rather, that has no idea who our enemies are.
In his State of the Union address last night, President Bush presented an arguably misleading and often flawed description of "the enemy" that the United States faces overseas, lumping together disparate groups with opposing ideologies to suggest that they have a single-minded focus in attacking the United States.
The headline was "President's Portrayal of 'The Enemy' Often Flawed." The Post's conception of "flawed" is just as ill considered as they imagine the president's to be and their analysis adds up merely to mirror the conception held by many Europeans.
Once again, a National U.S. paper "arguably" chooses sides with Europe's interests over that of America.
Tuesday’s "Good Morning America" attempted to simultaneously trash George Bush while also building up the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, who, according to anchor Robin Roberts, is "electrifying" the presidential race. Meanwhile, the ABC program chose to allow political columnist Mary Ann Akers to assert President Bush will be delivering his 2007 State of the Union address "from the gutter." GMA correspondent Claire Shipman set up the nasty quote by remarking on how little applause is expected during the speech:
Claire Shipman: "And we’re also told that the speech will run about an hour, that’s taking into account anticipated applause. But, of course, they can't be counting on an overwhelming amount of that this year. The State of the Union address is normally an occasion marked by steady applause, lawmakers scrambling over each other to glad-hand the President. This year’s address, Bush's first in front of a Democratic Congress, may have an entirely different tone."
Mary Ann Akers (Columnist, Washington Post website) "Essentially, President Bush is going to be delivering his State of the Union address from the gutter. His approval ratings are dismal. The American people, according to the latest polls, are relying more on Congress than they are on the President to resolve the Iraq war."
Akers has delivered snarky, liberal-pleasing comments in the past. She previously wrote the "Heard on the Hill" column for Roll Call. And in 2006, as a Huffington Post columnist , Akers sarcastically wrote about George Allen’s campaign troubles, noting that the Senator’s newly found Jewish heritage had resulted in a nickname: "Macacawitz."
If Hillary isn't quite getting out the long knives, let's just say she's oiling the scabbard. As we noted earlier, on this morning's "Today" Clinton drew an invidious comparison between herself and John Edwards, referring to him as "on the sidelines" while she's in "the arena."
And after some persistent questioning by Diane Sawyer on today's Good Morning America, Hillary took a little swipe at her other major opponent, Barack Obama.
Sawyer: "Yesterday, talking about Senator Barack Obama, when asked specifically if he is qualified to be commander-in-chief, to be president, you didn't answer, you said 'I'm going to let the American people decide.' You know the office, you know him. Why not say?"
Gee, I wonder whom Hillary had in mind when she blamed her bad image on "radio and cable TV" this morning? She didn't quite name Rush, Hannity et al. as the "evildoers," but there was no mistaking the object of her disaffection.
The comment came in the course of a "Today" interview with Meredith Vieira. Meredith began with a slow-pitch softball, asking whether Hillary believes the public has stopped listening to President Bush. Hillary allowed that "there's a great discouragement about the president's leadership."
But Meredith maximized the MPH with her next question:
"Many voters still have this very negative opinion of you, and some of the words that are used to describe you are not very kind." As Vieira beginning ticking off the awful adjectives: "strident, cold, scripted, phony," Hillary burst into this political season's most insincere laughter.
Meredith took note of Clinton's feigned frivolity: "You're laughing at that. Advisors have said that they want to humanize you. Why do people seem to have that perception of you after knowing you for 15 years."
Having hit Chris Matthews hard here in recent weeks, let's give him credit for flashing some real reporter's instincts in going after Hillary aide Howard Wolfson on this afternoon's Hardball on the issue of whether the campaign is conducting opposition research on its Dem rivals.
And while Wolfson wouldn't flatly admit it, by the end of the interview there was little doubt that Hillary's campaign is actively digging for dirt on its Dem opponents.
Matthews: "Let me ask you about opposition research. Is that part of your campaign: checking out other candidates's possible flaws in their resumes? Are you guys going to engage in that kind of politics to win the nomination?"
When Wolfson gave an evasive answer to the effect he and Hillary believe she can win by focusing on her record, Matthews persisted:
In perhaps an ominous sign of the fawning media coverage Senator Hillary Clinton will receive as she runs for president, CBS News correspondent Joie Chen proclaimed that "it may be easier to get an audience with the Wizard of Oz than steal Clinton’s thunder right now." Yet isn’t it the media that is creating this thunder? Monday’s "Early Show" ran four stories pertaining to Hillary Clinton entering the Democratic race for president, including an interview with her top advisor, Howard Wolfson, and to be fair, "Early Show" co-host Hannah Storm did ask him some tough questions. Yet, when top tier Republican candidates have announced their intentions, as Arizona Senator John McCain, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney have all formed exploratory committees, the "Early Show" has not provided any coverage at all.
Don't look for ABC's Cokie Roberts to turn up anytime soon on that comfy couch featured in Hillary's announcement video, enjoying one of those cozy "conversations" Clinton claims to want.
Appearing on This Week today, Roberts left little doubt that she views Hillary as a seriously flawed candidate - if not person. Roberts began by damning Hillary with faint praise:
"I think she's got a lot of great attributes: she's a very disciplined candidate, she's very smart, she can raise more money than God, she has a terrific staff, she's been through a presidential campaign or two and knows how rough it is, which is really important as everyone at this table knows. And I think that all works for her."
Roberts than inserted the shiv: "What works against her is that issue of anger. And not just anger, sort of coldness."
If the timing came as a bit of surprise, nothing could have been less unexpected than Hillary's "I'm In" announcement of today.
But have a look at the video of her announcement. Rather than her "let's chat" rap, please focus on the background. Look out the door. Presumably the announcement was shot in one of Hillary's homes: Chappaqua or Georgetown. Now I know it's been a mild winter, but even so, surely the leaves are gone from the trees and bushes in either spot. And check out the yellow spot in the bushes. At first I thought it was just a warm dapple of sunshine. But freeze the frame when, about 1/4 of the way through, Hillary says "how to end the deficits that threaten Social Security." That's not sunshine -- those are flowers in bloom.
When Diane Sawyer interviewed Nancy Pelosi on Friday’s "Good Morning America," the ABC anchor seemed more interested in subjects such as building up the new House Speaker’s reputation for toughness and talking about trash, then she did on quizzing Pelosi about Iraq. While Sawyer did ask about the conflict, she also pressed the San Francisco Democrat from the left, twice wondering if Pelosi would consider cutting off funds. More often, Sawyer characterized Pelosi in positive, almost glowing terms. She began, however, by asking whether toughness or determination would be a better description of the new Speaker:
Diane Sawyer: "For two centuries in America, the Speaker of the House looked like this. [Montage of former Speakers, all male obviously] So, how is it a 66-year-old mother of five, and grandmother, broke the mold? Like a freight train she's already moved six major pieces of legislation through the House. Everything from stem cells to minimum wage. And whatever side you're on, when this new Speaker moves, she moves fast. Nancy Pelosi says power is not handed to you. You have to know how to win it. When she walks into a room, she is quiet, polite. But her fellow politicians say she's galvanized steel with a smile. Now, 100 hours. 100 hours in. What's the word that you, that you would use for yourself in those first 100 hours? Tough? Determined? What's the word?"
As already noted on NewsBusters, "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer conducted a fawning interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on such issues as Iraq. However, the ABC journalist also opened and closed the segment by obsessing over how Pelosi picked up lint from the floor of the Capitol Rotunda. For many people, this would be a minor detail. Sawyer, however, saw it as a historic event and teased her colleagues about it prior to the interview:
Diane Sawyer: I’m going to tell you what she did, I’m willing to bet, no Speaker of the House has ever done in the entire history of the United States of America. You want to guess? Sam? David? Robin?"
Later on, Sawyer giddily recounted the exciting event:
Diane Sawyer: "We're walking along with the camera, she looks at the carpet. It has lint on it, little scraps of paper. She can't stand it. She gets down and cleans the carpet so we could walk. And she looks up at me and says, ‘It’s just the bonus of having a female Speaker of the House."
Robin Roberts: "Yeah. Don’t think any of the guys did that. All right, Diane. Have a safe trip back home"
Conservative fans of the right-leaning TV show 24 shouldn’t be surprised that liberals such as Keith Olbermann are now savaging the program. However, the leftist host also mentioned NewsBusters in his diatribe. "Newsweek" magazine went further and speculated that the show is a "neocon sex fantasy."
The recent announcement by Illinois Democratic Senator Barack Obama that he’s running for President resulted in media swooning over his "big step." "Good Morning America" wondered if Obama’s "fluid poetry" could overcome Hillary’s "hot factor." (Another example of hard hitting journalism?)
Diane Sawyer didn't go totally Katie Couric on Nancy Pelosi in her exclusive interview aired on GMA this morning. The ABC host stopped just short of any "you go, girls." But neither did Sawyer call Pelosi when, twice, the new Speaker washed her hands of responsibility for the most pressing issue of the day.
When Sawyer asked if the Dems would turn off funding for the surge, Pelosi responded:
"Democrats will never cut off funding for our troops when they are in harm's way. But we will hold the president accountable; he has to answer for his war. He has dug a hole so deep he can't even see the light on this; it's a tragedy, it's a historic blunder."
On Thursday’s "Good Morning America," reporter Claire Shipman effusively previewed the looming presidential battle between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. How, Shipman wondered, would Obama’s "fluid poetry" stand up against Mrs. Clinton’s "hot factor?" The tone of the January 18 piece seemed to indicate that, although members of the media may think both candidates are terrific, Obama hasn’t lost his "flavor of the month" status. In the segment, Shipman noted the New York Senator’s flip-flops on Iraq and that, despite being a "devout Methodist," she rarely talks about religion. However, it was this over-the-top praise that really demonstrated who the current media darling is:
Claire Shipman: "Though the change in [Clinton’s] views also mirrors the nation’s and the increasingly grim situation in Iraq, she could appear politically calculating while Obama seems principled. And the side-by-side talent show? Next to Obama's fluid poetry, Hillary Clinton's delivery can seem overly cautious."
On Wednesday, "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer spoke with all 16 female members of the Senate. The January 17 interview, broken up into two segments, ranged from silly questions, such as whether more women leaders could result in less war, to queries about whether America is too prejudiced to accept a female president. One question that did go unasked is whether Senator Barbara Boxer, who didn’t appear on camera, should apologize for her recent insinuation that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is oblivious to the effects of war because she doesn’t have children. One would think that in a group of professional women this would be an important topic. Apparently not. Sawyer began by asking the assembled ladies whether or not more women presidents would lead to peace:
Sawyer: "Do you believe that if there were more women presidents in the world, there would be less war? How sure are you that there would be less war? Do you think, actually, war would be--"
Here's Hillary's idea of diplomacy: bend to her will, or she'll put your life in danger. And that's how she treats our allies.
Yikes. In the spirit of bi-partisanship, let me try to send a message to Hillary's handlers: emergency personality makeover required! A couple more appearances as angry and unpleasant as this morning's on Today and Hillary's odds of winning the Dem nomination will be as slim as those she accorded to that of the surge succeeding.
The strategy for Hillary's conversation with Matt Lauer was transparent. Because her substantive position on Iraq is not as anti-war as that of Obama or Edwards, Hillary sought to compensate, in appealing to Dem primary voters, by sounding angrier about our policy than either of her rivals. From that perspective, you might say: Mission Accomplished. This was Hillary, rhetorically speaking, packing an M-4, grenades slung, knife between teeth.
But at what cost to her likability? Don't voters have to be able to warm up to a candidate? Yet Hillary hovered barely above absolute zero.
Beyond her tone, her message was about as cold-blooded as you can get. Twice she suggested threatening to cut off funding for the personal security of Iraq's leaders. As Hillary put it: "I don't think we should continue to fund the protection for the Iraqi government leaders or for the training and equipping of their army unless they meet certain conditions."
This was no idle threat. It was clearly a key element of Hillary's plan, one she repeated later:
"I [suggest] putting leverage on them and saying 'you know what, we provide security for the members of this government, we're cutting funding for that.'"
On Tuesday’s "American Morning," Miles O’Brien reported on the statement by evangelical leader James Dobson that he could never support Arizona Senator John McCain’s bid for the White House. O’Brien twice referred to the comments as attacks from "the far right." Political correspondent Bob Franken went on to characterize the remarks by Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, as "lashing out at Senator John McCain." Franken followed by recounting McCain’s sometimes rocky relationship with Christian conservatives. In the process, the CNN reporter simplified and omitted some important facts about the Senator’s record. But first, Miles O’Brien led with classic labeling bias:
7:26 (story tease)
Miles O'Brien: "Plus, Senator John McCain takes not-so friendly fire from the far right. Why he is fending off criticism from an evangelical leader."
O'Brien: "Senator John McCain is fending off fire from the far right flank this morning. A leading evangelical minister says there's no way he could support McCain for president. 'American Morning's' Bob Franken joining us live from Washington with more. Good morning, Bob."
You can take the man out of CNN - and stick him in Congress - but you can't take the CNN out of the man. As per this Robert Novak column, Steven Kagen, a Democrat elected in November to represent a Wisconsin district in Congress, recently bragged of having insulted First Lady Laura Bush, President Bush, Vice-President Cheney and Karl Rove at a White House function for new members.
The details of Kagen's insults, set forth below, boggle the mind. What kind of person would do something like this? The kind of person that CNN would hire to be a consultant. A quick Googling uncovered the fact that, as per the Democratic Congressional Committee's official web page, Kagen, a doctor, "for seven years was the Allergy Consultant for CNN."
Here is Novak's description of Kagen's vulgar and unseemly actions.
"Newly elected Rep. Steven Kagen, a rich allergist who self-financed his campaign in Wisconsin, by his own account taunted President and Mrs. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and presidential adviser Karl Rove during a White House function for new members of Congress in December.
"Kagen told a group of activists that after he found himself in the restroom with Rove, he blocked the White House deputy chief of staff's departure by holding the door closed. According to Kagen, he then said: "You're in the White House and you think you're safe. . . . My name's Dr. Multimillionaire and I kicked your ass."
Free Republic, a conservative website familiar to many at NewsBusters, is normally not in the business of breaking news stories. FR's raison d'etre is to serve as a gathering place for conservatives to post and comment on stories found elsewhere in the media - including at NB.
But today comes some interesting investigative reporting at Free Republic, billed as an FR Exclusive. As reported by FReeper Howlin, CNN has recently signed a deal to provide poll data for the '08 prez contest with a polling firm controlled by an avid Clinton supporter.
How do you know when someone's gone off the deep end of the liberal pool? When she manages to outdo Keith Olbermann at the art of invective.
On this evening's Countdown, Olbermann and Arianna Huffington were discussing Joe Lieberman's support of President Bush's Iraq policy. Olbermann's opening bid was to suggest, given Lieberman's backing of traditional Dem positions on ethics and global warming and the fact that "he could give the Senate to the GOP if he feels crossed or just feels like it," that the independent Democratic senator from CT was a "necessary evil" from the Dems' viewpoint.
"Necessary evil"? Was that weak beer the best Keith could do? Arianna easily trumped Olbermann's opprobrium: "this is like somebody having a horrible disease and looking at some positive side-effect. Like having terminal cancer and saying 'but, I'm losing weight in the process.'"
For Chris Matthews, there is one constant to be considered in analyzing the prospects of the presidential contenders on both the GOP and Dem sides: the presumed bigotry of his fellow Americans.
Kibitzing about '08 on this afternoon's Hardball with a conservative-free panel composed of Chris Cizzilla of the Washington Post, Mike Allen of Time and Howard Fineman of time immemorial, Matthews first handicapped the Dem field in these terms:
"Is the low estimate of [Democrats'] belief in [Hillary's] electability low enough thatthey think that an African-American guy has a better shot than she does? I mean that's a statement, I think, of pessimism about her shot if you shift to him for electability reasons."
Fishing around in the now widely-known Samoan exception to the recently passed Minimum Wage bill (where tuna industry workers there are apparently being paid $3.26 an hour), Andy's Angle cast a wide net and hauled in the following:
The interesting thing, however, is that the largest employer in American Samoa is Del Monte Foods' StarKist Tuna, home to over 75% of the island's workforce. Del Monte Foods, as it turns out, is headquartered in the District of the new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Smelling a whiff of impropriety, House Republicans have thrown up some serious questions about the exemption and who inserted it into the bill.
NewsBusters points out that few in the Mainstream Media will cover this story given their breathless love for the new Speaker. FoxNews has picked up the story, questioning the potential influence Del Monte may have as a major player in the Speaker's District. Doing my own research, however, I've discovered that the impropriety is much deeper. Speaker Pelosi's husband Paul, it turns out, owns something to the order of $17 million in Del Monte stock!
(Editor's Note -- The previous sentence is noted in Wikipedia and has not otherwise been verified.
Commenter #3 at the related BizzyBlog post, claiming to be Tom Elliott of FunkyPundit, says he was told that no one holds more than $14 mil worth of DLM stock [except Heinz]. BizzyBlog Commenter #4 Kevin says that this item was entered into Wiki at 3:04 PM Jan. 12 [GMT, it is believed]; that link is here. The link claiming $17 mil in Del Monte ownership by Paul Pelosi goes to Nancy Pelosi's Wiki page. The Del Monte ownership interest is not claimed at that page. Thus, there is reason to believe that the claim of such ownership interest on the part of Paul Pelosi is suspect.)
I wonder if he stands to benefit should StarKist avoid an additional $2 hike in hourly wages... (actually, for the Samoans, it would be a $3.99 hike from $3.26 to $7.25 -- Ed.)
Last week saw the dawning of the new Democratic majority and members of the media seemed to be charmed by the event. ABC reporter Cokie Roberts described a photo-op of new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holding her grandchild as "fun" and "completely natural." CBS’s Bob Schieffer interviewed Pelosi and pressed her to raise taxes. And "60 Minutes" commentator Andy Rooney became nostalgic for Democrats of old, saying it’s "hard to dislike Jimmy Carter."
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann continued his fevered attack on all things Republican and conservative. He’s now accused White House Press Secretary Tony Snow of "bald-faced lying" about a Bush speech. Olbermann’s cohort in liberalism, Chris Matthews, described the Vice President of the United States as someone "who always wants to kill." Later in the week, he told his "Hardball" audience that he was "terrified" of the President’s plans for Iran. Chris, calm down!
Could Meredith Vieira be emerging as one of the morning shows' most incisive inquisitioners? As we noted here, Katie Couric's replacement at "Today" recently gave Ted Kennedy a rather rough going-over regarding his legislative proposal to require the president to obtain congressional approval for a surge.
This morning, she took on the hitherto untouchable Barack Obama. And while her tone and line of questioning were not disrespectful, neither was there any hint of the kind of MSM cheerleading that the junior senator from IL has no doubt come to expect.
Before we get to Vieira's questions, take a good look at the screencap. By his super-serious mien and the marble-pillared setting he chose for the interview, Obama was clearly trying to project the image of a ready-for-prime-time Commander-in-Chief. Call him "Stone Cold Barack Obama."
In other words, what follows is from an officially released May 30, 2004 interview of Nancy Pelosi by Tim Russert. At the time, what Pelosi said was blessed by the party, and what she said is that there should be more troops in Iraq (bolds are mine):
No, of course the Democratic Party in Washington doesn't have a problem with the real or perceived masculinity of its male senators and congressmen.
Absolutely not. What in the world are you talking about?
You're all excited just because Maureen Dowd calls Barack Obama "Obambi," had to listen to him complain to her because she wrote that his ears are big (he's sennnnnnsitive about them, y'know), and told him that she's trying to "toughen him up."
Oh, and you still remember Al Gore bringing in Naomi Wolf in to help him during the early stages of his 2000 presidential campaign because:
..... he is a beta male, a subordinate figure, and must learn to become an alpha male, or leader of the pack, before the public can accept him as President .....
Your point is?
And I'll just bet you're going to try to make hay out of that Sunday New York Times Week in Review feature (requires registration) about the new Democratic Alpha Males:
Looks as if Nancy Pelosi has found a rooting section at ABC. As we detailed here yesterday, Charley Gibson fawned over Nancy Pelosi's baby-clutching photo-op. This morning, Cokie Roberts joined the claque. Appearing on This Week, she enthused:
"Great images, you're absolutely right. And completely natural. . . That baby knew that grandmother even though it's only a few weeks old. All those other children were completely comfortable with her. And it was, it was just, fun. It wasn't in any way stilted and awful."
The AP isn't the only one going ga-ga over the ascension of Nancy Pelosi to become the "first Female Speaker of the House". We are seeing the fawning on just about every news outlet out there. And it is, indeed, quite an historic change from the long line of gentlemen that have taken the Speaker's gavel.