If Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and all of al Qaeda’s leaders in Iraq and throughout the world laid down their arms and surrendered to American forces, would the media report it as good news?
Judging from the initial press reaction to the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq by the American military on Wednesday, the answer appears to be no.
In fact, this tepid response to the death of the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq – a man who has at times in the past couple of years been depicted as more vital to this terrorist network than the currently in-hiding bin Laden – suggests quite disturbingly that America’s media are fighting a different war than America’s soldiers.
According to NewsBusters, CNN’s senior editor for Arab affairs Octavia Nasr said the following about Zarqawi’s death on “American Morning” Thursday:
"Some people say it will enrage the insurgency, others say it will hurt it pretty bad. But if you think about the different groups in Iraq, you have to think that Zarqawi's death is not going to be a big deal for them."
However, CNN didn’t always feel that Zarqawi’s death or capture would be so inconsequential. Just days after Saddam Hussein was found in his spider hole, Paula Zahn brought CNN national correspondent Mike Boettcher on to discuss a new threat in Iraq. Zahn began the December 15, 2003 segment:
It really has been fascinating to watch the left-wing hysteria this week over Ann Coulter’s new book “Godless: The Church of Liberalism.” Of course, from a publicity standpoint, Coulter must be thrilled about all the free attention these folks have given her.
Yet, maybe the most telling example of liberal disgust with Coulter came from Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Illinois) who actually took some time on the House floor to discuss his outrage over this book. In his minute-plus diatribe, he referred to Coulter as a “hatemonger.” Emanuel even likened Coulter to terrorists stating that, “The hate she spews is the same kind of hatred we're battling in the war on terror.”
Emanuel concluded by chastising Republicans for not speaking against the conservative author asking, “Does Ann Coulter speak for you?"
What follows is a transcript of this speech, and a video link, both courtesy of Crooks and Liars.
As the networks robotically followed the New York Daily News and its "Coulter Was Cruel" cover -- probably the best TV day for the Daily News since they put Newt Gingrich in diapers in the mid-90s -- they did not consider that some of the 9-11 widows she mocked were also champions of political trash talk.
It should go without saying that by writing in her new book that the widows were enjoying their husbands' deaths, Coulter didn't cross the line, she exploded it with a grenade. (On the other hand, these liberal widows drew hours of TV pundit time that many members of Congress will never see in their lifetimes.) Kristen Breitweiser, the most prominent Bush-trashing 9-11 widow, has sounded like a liberal version of Coulter at times on her huffing and puffing blog at the Huffington Post. For example, on April 5, after complaining that New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani shouldn’t be allowed to make a victim’s impact statement ("Which family member did Giuliani lose in the attacks?"), Breitweiser whacked the Bush administration with the snide stick:
At a time when left-wing Bush-haters regularly call the President a “liar” and a killer, ABC and NBC on Wednesday night pegged stories to the controversy over Ann Coulter’s criticism of the very political 9/11 widows, with NBC anchor Brian Williams adding a nice touch by harkening back to Joe McCarthy as he promised a look at “why some are now asking, 'Have you no shame?'" But while the NBC Nightly News focused solely on Coulter, on ABC’s World News Tonight Jake Tapper suggested “our democracy has always been messy and vulgar” and he cited some anti-Bush slams.
The opening teaser from Williams: "And is it crossing the line? A conservative author's attack on 9/11 widows. This time, has the debate in this country just gone too far?" Williams set up the last story of his newscast by pleading: “Just when you think it seems like there are no limits on anything, someone comes along and makes a comment that goes over the line.” Reporter Mike Taibbi turned to the media’s favorite conservative-basher, David Gergen, to answer whether Coulter had “gone too far?” Over on ABC’s World News Tonight, anchor Charles Gibson cited the “uproar” over Coulter, but conceded “there is a lot of what passes for commentary these days on both sides of the political spectrum that many people find despicable.” Tapper cited how the New York State Comptroller referred to putting “a bullet between the President's eyes” and how Harry Belafonte charged that Bush is “no better” than Osama bin Laden. (Transcripts follow)
Looks like another person on the CBS payroll missed a memo. First it was weatherman Dave Price giving positive reports on Iraq. Now, on this morning’s "Early Show" Colonel Randy Larsen, the director of the Homeland Security Institute and according to co-host Hannah Storm, a CBS News consultant, debunked a few myths that have been promoted by the media.
Larsen used the arrests in Canada to defend the National Security Agency’s (NSA) reported collection of phone records data and to illustrate its usefulness:
"But, it's a superb example, Hannah, of this controversy in the past few weeks about NSA and having the big database of telephone calls. When they arrested these people this weekend, they got cell phones and they got access to other phone numbers they didn't have before. And I'll tell you what, as a U.S. citizen, I'm really happy there's a database we can quickly look into now and see who they've been calling in the United States and start looking into that. So, there's a specific example of about how this data mining can really provide us more security here."
A wacky group of conspiracy theorists who think 9/11 was an inside job on the part of the Bush administration met in Chicago over the weekend, and got a respectful hearing from Times Metro reporter Alan Feuer.
“500 Conspiracy Buffs Meet To Seek the Truth of 9/11” made Page 1 of the Metro section, and that very headline gives the conspiracy-mongers the undeserved accolade of truth-seekers when they’re actually just crawling for scraps of evidence “proving” that Bush, not radical Islamic terrorism, was responsible for 9/11.
ABC chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross, along with colleague Richard Esposito, reported at “The Blotter” blog on Monday that they have been informed by a “senior federal law enforcement official” that their phone calls are being monitored to identify confidential sources: “‘It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick,’ the source told us in an in-person conversation.”
The blog continued: “Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.”
Why do Ross and Esposito believe they are being targeted? “Our reports on the CIA's secret prisons in Romania and Poland were known to have upset CIA officials. The CIA asked for an FBI investigation of leaks of classified information following those reports.” And: “People questioned by the FBI about leaks of intelligence information say the CIA was also disturbed by ABC News reports that revealed the use of CIA predator missiles inside Pakistan.”
Yet, Ross and Esposito confirmed what the administration has claimed about this program that is contrary to a recent USA Today cover story and most drive-by media reports on the subject:
It must have been a dream come true for the folks at NBC, as well as all those associated with the long-time comedy variety show “Saturday Night Live.” Last night, NBC welcomed former vice president Al Gore to open the show posing as America’s president addressing the American people five years after having "overwhelmingly" won in 2000 (hat tip to Expose the Left with video link to follow). In reality, despite the obvious left-leaning bias, this was a good piece of comedy, with Gore doing a very fine job. Some of the highlights:
“In the last 6 years we have been able to stop global warming. No one could have predicted the negative results of this. Glaciers that once were melting are now on the attack.”
“Right now, in the 2nd week of May 2006, we are facing perhaps the worst gas crisis in history. We have way too much gasoline. Gas is down to $0.19 a gallon and the oil companies are hurting. I know that I am partly to blame by insisting that cars run on trash. I am therefore proposing a federal bailout to our oil companies because - hey if it were the other way around, you know the oil companies would help us.”
“On a positive note, we worked hard to save Welfare, fix Social Security and of course provide the free universal health care we all enjoy today. But all this came at a high cost. As I speak, the gigantic national budget surplus is down to a perilously low $11 trillion dollars.”
“There are some of you that want to spend our money on some made-up war. To you I say: what part of ‘lockbox’ don't you understand?”
“There have been some setbacks. Unfortunately, the confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Michael Moore was bitter and divisive. However, I could not be more proud of how the House and Senate pulled together to confirm the nomination of Chief Justice George Clooney.”
What follows is a full transcript of this sketch courtesy of Crooks and Liars, and a video link courtesy of Expose the Left.
HBO’s Bill Maher has made some absurd statements on his “Real Time” program in the past. But, this one made during Friday night's installment should offend all Americans regardless of party affiliation.
In a discussion about recently sentenced terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, Maher contended that ExxonMobil’s CEO Lee Raymond failing to warn Americans about global warming was an equal crime as Moussaoui not warning America about 9/11.
Excuse me? What possible connection exists here, Bill?
Now, I imagine you might be thinking that this wasn’t the case, and that surely Maher couldn't possibly have said this. Well, read and/or watch for yourselves (hat tip to Expose the Left with video link to follow). Maher opined to his panel: “But let me ask you this: We put [Moussaoui] in jail because he knew about a pending disaster and failed to alert us. That’s his crime, right?” Maher then answered his own question (rough transcript follows with side chatter edited out):
“He knew about it and didn’t tell anybody. Okay, what about the people who knew about global warming? You know this guy...Isn’t that the same thing? Lee Raymond.”
On CNN’s “The Situation Room” Monday, Bill Bennett and Howard Kurtz had an interesting debate over CIA leaks, the leakers, and journalists that report such information (hat tip to Expose the Left with video link to follow). This was an absolutely fabulous discussion between two folks on obviously opposite sides of an important issue facing our nation: should journalists that report leaked military secrets during a time of war receive Pulitzer Prizes or jail sentences?
As one would imagine, Howard Kurtz supported the former: “As a card-carrying journalist, I would draw the line against forcing journalists to reveal their sources, which would totally chill the process of reporting, and potentially, as we saw in the case of Judith Miller, put them in jail, as well.”
Predictably, Bennett didn’t agree:
“It is against the law to publish classified national security information. And that's clearly been done in this case. What a lot of people don't understand, including me, is why when people do that, or in a time of war, all of a sudden it is claimed that they can't be touched. The leaker can be prosecuted, but the person who wrote it down, told every citizen about it, and told every enemy of every citizen of this country gets a Pulitzer Prize.”
What follows is a full transcript of this marvelous discussion, along with a must-see video link courtesy of Ian Schwartz of Expose the Left.
The controversial country rock singer Neil Young was interviewed on CNN’s “Showbiz Tonight” Tuesday evening (video link to follow). During the segment, Young talked about his new album which is largely devoted to anti-Bush and anti-war themes.
When CNN’s Sibila Vargas asked Young if impeachment, as discussed in his new song "Let's Impeach the President," was called for, Young responded:
“Yes, yes, I think it is. I think it`s called for, and so do a lot of other people. As a matter of fact, when I played in there for 100 people, they all stood up and gave me a standing ovation. There wasn`t one person that wasn`t standing. And we were looking for that kind of backing.”
As his answer ensued, Young made clear what this “backing” was:
Erica Jong, author of the books “Fear of Flying” and “Seducing the Demon,” was on HBO’s “Real Time” with Bill Maher Friday night. During the proceedings, Jong claimed that President Bush was aware of the pre-planning for 9/11, and intentionally did nothing to avert the attacks (hat tip to Ian Schwartz of Expose the Left with video link to follow). After Maher showed the famous picture of then White House chief of staff Andy Card telling the president that the nation had been attacked – a picture that Maher quipped “should be on the one dollar bill” – Jong said, “I account for the seven minutes by the fact that he wasn’t surprised, because he knew all about the planning for 9/11.”
Maher interjected incredulously, “Oh, come on. That’s ridiculous.” Now, this is an interesting moment on cable television – a Bush-hating guest on “Real Time” making an anti-Bush statement that Bill Maher doesn’t agree with. In fact, Maher was so opposed to this theory that he continued to admonish Jong: “That’s a scurrilous thing to say. I don’t like George Bush, but you’re telling me he knew the attack was going to happen?”
Following up on Brent Baker's report on the network coverage of Helen Thomas' exchange with President Bush during this morning's presidential press conference, it should be noted that during the 5pm hour of today's The Situation Room, the former UPI White House bureau chief sat down for an interview with anchor Wolf Blitzer. Thomas admitted that she "sort of" apologized to President Bush for her condemnation of him as "the worst president ever." However, it didn't take long for Thomas to resume her attacks on the Bush administration, which she slammed for "encouraging all of the horror that's going on" in Iraq. Thomas also placed the blame for the deaths of innocent civilians not on the terrorists, but on the United States.
Helen Thomas: "In this case, in the case of the President and his cohorts, I think they have really spread war throughout the Middle East. They have really encouraged all of the horror that's going on. We have killed so many innocent people.."
President Bush gave some details Thursday concerning foiled plots by al Qaeda to attack America, including one plan to fly a plane into the tallest building on the West Coast that was successfully averted. Unfortunately, those that rely on either The New York Times or The Washington Post for their news might have missed these revelations, for this story was curiously not placed on the front page of either of these papers.
The New York Times strategically placed its article on this subject on page A22. Times’ editors must have felt that more information about what the administration knew concerning the levees in New Orleans before Katrina hit, warnings on ADHD drugs, how Haiti elections are shaping up, a resignation at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, security issues at America’s borders, and how magazines use numbers on their covers to tantalize consumers were more important than America foiling al Qaeda attacks.
On Friday, the New York Times released results from its recent, comprehensive poll done along with CBS News. The Times devoted an entire article to this poll, and put it smack dab on the front page. Yet, the article curiously left out a few details that the Times editors must have thought were unimportant. For instance, 52 percent of those polled approve of the way the president is prosecuting the war on terrorism. This is the highest approval the president has received in this regard from a CBS News/New York Times poll since before Hurricane Katrina hit. This is quite surprising given all of the attention given to NSA eavesdropping over the past six weeks, and last week’s release of the Osama bin Laden tape.
Another finding of this poll that the Times omitted from its Friday article was that 50 percent of respondents said U.S.
If there was any doubt that the New York Times thoroughly despised President Bush, the last shreds were erased this morning. In an editorial entitled “Spies, Lies, and Wiretaps,” the Times presented a case against the Bush administration with similar gusto as it might attack an organized crime family and it’s Mafia Don. Assuming it had already received an indictment, the Times then prosecuted its case, and acted as both judge and jury to seal a conviction.
The piece began with a subtle reference to Woodward and Bernstein’s famous Watergate expose while sexistly ignoring the female members of the administration:
“A bit over a week ago, President Bush and his men promised to provide the legal, constitutional and moral justifications for the sort of warrantless spying on Americans that has been illegal for nearly 30 years. Instead, we got the familiar mix of political spin, clumsy historical misinformation, contemptuous dismissals of civil liberties concerns, cynical attempts to paint dissents as anti-American and pro-terrorist, and a couple of big, dangerous lies.”
After these opening remarks, the prosecution built its case. It began by discrediting what it perceived was lie number one:
There’s an old rule in marketing – stick to what sells. Lately, it appears that America’s media are doing exactly that.
Since the significant rebound in the president’s poll numbers from their October lows, along with an apparent lack of outrage by the public concerning the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal and revelations of domestic eavesdropping by the National Security Agency, the media seem to be downplaying reports on current events, and, instead, focusing attention on last year’s big story that was largely responsible for the decline in Bush’s favorability ratings.
In the past three days, the media have given more air time and print space to issues surrounding Hurricane Katrina, an event that occurred at the end of August 2005, than a one and a half-hour question and answer session in Kansas that the president held on Monday, and a one-hour address that the second most powerful intelligence figure in our nation gave concerning terrorist surveillance the same day.
All three major broadcast networks this evening covered President Bush’s speech in Kansas today concerning the domestic spying program. They all included the same quote of the president saying, “If I wanted to break the law, why was I briefing Congress?” And, they all referenced statements made today at the National Press Club by Deputy Director of National Intelligence and former National Security Agency director Gen. Michael Hayden. Unfortunately, none of them did justice to the extraordinarily compelling description of the NSA eavesdropping program offered by the general, or his explanation of errors and omissions that have been quite common in media reports on this issue.
Regardless, what was conspicuously absent from the “NBC Nightly News” report on this subject was the most compelling statement made today by Gen. Hayden: “Had this program been in effect prior to 9/11, it is my professional judgment that we would have detected some of the al Qaeda operatives in the United States, and we would have identified them as such.”
To be sure, it couldn’t have been a time issue that prevented NBC from including this key segment of Gen. Hayden’s statement. After all, toward the end of the broadcast, Brian Williams had plenty of time to discuss the person in the Kansas State University audience who asked President Bush if he had seen the movie “Brokeback Mountain,” as well as show footage of the president’s answer (from closed captioning): “I hadn't seen it. I would be glad to talk about ranching but I haven't seen the movie.” In fact, there was even time for Williams to speak glowingly about the film (also from closed captioning):
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos invited former presidential candidate John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) on “This Week” yesterday to discuss a variety of pressing issues facing the nation. Primary amongst them was how the senator felt about domestic spying, and current revelations revealed in a New York Times article last month. During the discussion, Kerry made a rather glaring contradiction (hat tip to reader “JDW”) that should have set off alarm bells in any investigative reporter. Instead, Stephanopoulos gave Kerry a pass.
As the discussion moved in the direction of NSA wiretaps, Stephanopoulos played a clip of Karl Rove saying: “President Bush believes if al Qaeda is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they're calling and why. Some important Democrats -- some important Democrats clearly disagree.” Stephanopoulos said: “He must have had you in mind. You've called the program a clear violation of the law.” To which Kerry replied: ‘We don't disagree with him at all. It is a violation of law and we don't disagree with him at all and this is exactly what Karl Rove does.”
The Associated Press is reporting an outpouring of support for al Qaeda in Pakistan, and, in particular, for Osama bin Laden as a result of America’s attack on al Qaeda operatives over a week ago:
“Sympathy for al-Qaida has surged after a U.S. airstrike devastated this remote mountain hamlet in a region sometimes as hostile toward the Pakistani government as it is to the United States.
“A week after the attack, villagers insist no members of the terror network were anywhere near the border village when it was hit. But thousands of protesters flooded a nearby town chanting, ‘Long live Osama bin Laden!’"
Harry Belafonte is at it again. The Associated Press reported last evening (hat tip to the Drudge Report) that the entertainer, in a speech to the Arts Presenters Members Conference, “compared the Homeland Security Department to the Nazi Gestapo on Saturday and attacked the president as a liar.”
The article quoted Belafonte as having said, “‘We've come to this dark time in which the new Gestapo of Homeland Security lurks here, where citizens are having their rights suspended.’” Belafonte once again had nothing but disdain for America’s current president: “Bush, he said, rose to power ‘somewhat dubiously and ... then lies to the people of this nation, misleads them, misinstructs, and then sends off hundreds of thousands of our own boys and girls to a foreign land that has not aggressed against us.’"
MSNBC “Hardball” host Chris Matthews got himself into some hot water Thursday evening when he suggested that Osama bin Laden in his recently released tape sounded “like an over-the-top Michael Moore here, if not a Michael Moore” (video link to follow). On last night’s installment, Matthews invited on MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough to discuss this issue in greater detail (video link to follow).
After being asked by Matthews if bin Laden was playing politician, Scarborough moved the discussion in a media direction: “You look at, like, for instance, him saying that George Bush went to war because of -- because he wanted to help his buddies out, his oil buddies out. Well, that sounds a lot like not only Michael Moore, it also sounds like Ted Kennedy who said this whole thing was invented, this war was invented in Texas by Karl Rove to help his political supporters out.”
As reported yesterday by NewsBusters’ Mark Finkelstein, Katie Couric of NBC’s “Today Show” wondered aloud on yesterday’s program if Osama bin Laden might be getting information from the New York Times. It turns out that Couric isn’t the only media representative asking this same question. A just released Editor and Publisher article reported on more such media opining. First, MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson said the following on that network’s “Scarborough Country” Thursday evening (full transcript to follow):
“By the merchants of war who financed Bush's presidential campaign, in the words of Osama bin Laden and many on the left. In other words, Halliburton is responsible for this war, every single talking point. I hate to think of Osama bin Laden reclining in his cave in Waziristan, reading the op-ed page of ‘The New York Times.’ But, clearly, he is. He's got every talking point. It's uncanny.”
According to E&P, Carlson wasn’t the only one to suggest that Osama is paying attention to the American press:
Joe Klein of TIME magazine fame wrote a fabulous piece recently entitled “How to Stay Out of Power; Why liberal democrats are playing too fast and too loose with issues of war and peace.” In it, the typically liberal Klein offered a typically liberal readership a side of the domestic spying issue that must have made many subscribers wonder if their mailman had accidentally put a copy of the National Review in their mailbox.
Klein began by addressing the hypocrisy of a letter that House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) recently released that was supposedly written on October 11, 2001 to then National Security Agency director General Michael V. Hayden. “In it she expressed concern that Hayden, who had briefed the House Intelligence Committee about the steps he was taking to track down al-Qaeda terrorists after the 9/11 attacks, was not acting with "specific presidential authorization."
Harry Belafonte recently compared George W. Bush and the architects of the Iraq war to those who planned the terrorist attacks of 9/11. In a speech on Sunday, January 15, he said:
"Killing is our easiest tool....It is an act that has driven fear and terror into the hearts of the American people. What is the essential difference in quality of our humanity for those who would do the cruel and tragic deed of flying an airplane into a building and killing 3,000 innocent Americans and those who would lie and lead the nation into a war that has killed hundreds of thousands? Excuse me, fellow citizens, if the line for me becomes a little blurred."
Ted Rall, the cartoonist that hates President Bush and the military, decries the January 13 “massacre” in Pakistan while claiming that the United States is committing “murder by mistake”. In his Jan 17 op-ed, “Death From Above: US Drone Planes Have a Nearly Perfect Record of Failure”, Rall states that the Hellfire Missiles “slammed into three local jewelers’ houses” and killed “at least 22 innocent civilians, including five women and five children.” He neglects to mention that the #2 Al Qaeda terrorist was supposed to be dining with the “jewelers”. He also neglects to mention that stories are now coming out that 3, possibly more, Al Qaeda terrorists are believed to have been killed in the air strike, including the bomb making mastermind, Abu Khabab al-Masri.
A Saturday New York Times editorial, “A Home for the Drawing Center,” celebrates the fact that a left-wing museum, originally to be located at Ground Zero, has found a new home in Manhattan, and accuses opponents of the project of opposing free speech.
“The Drawing Center, of course, was once part of other plans to rebuild Lower Manhattan. It was going to inhabit a planned cultural center at ground zero, until, in a memorable spasm of apparently unscripted patriotism, Gov. George Pataki made it impossible for the center to remain. If nothing else, the battle over culture at ground zero made it perfectly clear that Governor Pataki favors free speech, but only if it takes place in another part of town.”
In a new column just posted at MSNBC.com, Newsweek’s Michael Hirsh offered some truly defamatory comments concerning America’s current president. In fact, much of this article could have been written by Harry Belafonte.
“In fact, [Iranian President] Ahmadinejad, who has piled idiocy upon idiocy in a series of offensive remarks that have alarmed the world, has achieved a truly amazing feat. He has made George W. Bush look like a statesman.”
NBC’s Tim Russert invited the New York Times reporter who broke the NSA eavesdropping story three weeks ago onto “Meet the Press” this morning. Despite the obvious controversial nature of the guest and the subject matter, Russert asked no truly compelling or interrogative questions of James Risen, and, as a result, produced an interview that not only didn’t challenge Risen about the fortuitous timing of the article’s release, but also offered the viewer no new information concerning this matter.
For instance, Russert chose to ask Risen:
MR. RUSSERT: Amid much speculation as to why the The New York Times held this story, you had written it, you had finished it, you knew it was—what reflected what your reporting had shown. It may have played a role in the election of 2004 if it had been published in October. Why was it held?
However, here’s a list of potentially more provocative and important questions that Russert chose not to ask his controversial guest:
It’s been more than two weeks since the New York Times broke the National Security Agency eavesdropping story, and despite a media barrage on this subject, it appears the nation doesn’t feel the Bush administration is doing anything wrong. A survey released by Rasmussen Reports last week identified:
“Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans believe the National Security Agency (NSA) should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States. A Rasmussen Reports survey found that just 23% disagree.”
Despite the media’s efforts to paint a picture that this program is something newly hatched by the current administration, Americans aren’t buying it: