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:
The Zogby and Rasmussen polling organizations released some interesting survey results before Christmas that the mainstream media will certainly not report to their loyal customers. Taken in their totality, these polls show:
President Bush’s job favorability numbers are back to the levels they were at well before hurricane season began
The revelations of NSA eavesdropping are not having a negative impact on the president
Americans are feeling better about the War on Terror than they have since more than a year ago
Americans are feeling better about things in Iraq than they have all year
First, Rasmussen released presidential job favorability numbers on Saturday:
It seems like a common pattern lately. A mainstream media outlet publishes a bombshell story, and within days, the whole thing unravels quicker than a cheap sweater swarmed by kittens. Such is beginning to look like the case for The New York Times’ eavesdropping controversy, which is showing a lot of wear and tear for its age.
Wednesday wasn’t a very good day for the ongoing health of this story, or for members of the media hoping that the recent revelations concerning National Security Agency espionage tactics could lead to impeachment proceedings against President Bush.
The day started with a former member of the Clinton White House voicing strong words of support for the Bush administration’s behavior. In a Chicago Tribune op-ed entitled “President Had Legal Authority to OK Taps,” former associate attorney general John Schmidt refuted media protestations concerning the illegality of the National Security Agency eavesdropping on American citizens who are in contact with known members of al Qaeda without a court order allowing it to do so:
The New York Times reporter whose National Security Agency eavesdropping article last Friday started a national debate about this issue didn’t appear as concerned with such espionage tactics when Bill Clinton was in the White House.
As reported by NewsBusters on Monday, an intricate international communications espionage network, codenamed Echelon, has been in existence for many years. Yet, a LexisNexis search of the word “Echelon” and the name “James Risen” produced only one result. The article, entitled “The Nation: Don’t Read This; If You Do, They May Have to Kill You” appeared in the Times on December 5, 1999. By contrast to last Friday’s article condemning NSA eavesdropping, this 1999 one by Risen almost praised it:
There’s an old saying: What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. When it comes to mainstream media reporting, nothing could be further from the truth.
No finer example of a media double standard has been recently evident than in the furor that has evolved over revelations of National Security Agency eavesdropping. To be more precise, the press response to The New York Times report on this subject last Friday is in stark contrast to how they reacted in the ’90s when the Clinton administration was found to be engaging in extraordinarily similar activities.
A perfect example surfaced in a Washington Postarticle written yesterday by Charles Lane. In it, Lane referred to changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act under former President Clinton after the Aldrich Ames affair. For those unfamiliar, Ames was a CIA agent that was convicted in 1994 of working for the former Soviet Union:
CBS’ Thalia Assuras did a piece for “The Early Show” this morning concerning the domestic spying controversy (video link to follow). In it, she exclusively presented the views of Democrat members of Congress as well as a “legal scholar” who believes this program is illegal. Yet, she chose to not question any Republicans concerning this issue, or bring on a constitutional attorney with an opposing view. As a result, she presented a segment wherein Democrats and detractors of this program were seen countering each videotaped position the president made during his press conference yesterday. This gave the appearance that the president is on an island with nobody in Congress or in the legal community willing to defend this newly revealed covert program.
The folks over at The New York Times must be laughing their heads off. With the President’s poll numbers on the rise, a fabulous election result in Iraq, and the potential extension of a key antiterrorism bill that the administration holds dear, the Times stole Christmas from the White House last week with the release of one carefully-timed article.
After some pretty horrible months in September and October, President Bush has been fighting his way back up from a virtual poll abyss. The economy—regardless of left-wing protestations to the contrary—has been humming. Energy prices—regardless of, well, you get the point—have been plummeting. And, the Sunnis, who largely boycotted the past two elections in Iraq, were giving signs that they would participate in Thursday’s elections in very large, enthusiastic numbers.
All the President needed to make this holiday season a truly joyous one was a relatively safe, incident-free day at the Iraqi polls Thursday, and the Patriot Act to be extended before Congress adjourned for the year on Friday.
The Grinch…err., I mean, the Times had something else in mind.
As NewsBusters’ Clay Waters reported, a National Security Agency surveillance program, codenamed “Echelon,” – apparently similar to what the NSA is doing today to counter terrorist activities that has garnered tremendous media outrage in the past four days – existed some years ago. In fact, according to a February 27, 2000 Associated Press article, the ACLU had been expressing its concern regarding this program for quite some time:
“Nevertheless, the American Civil Liberties Union has been requesting congressional hearings on Echelon for nearly a year. In a letter sent to the House Government Reform Committee in April 1999, the ACLU said: ''It is important that Congress investigate to determine if the Echelon program is as sweeping and intrusive as has been reported.''
This AP article also referenced a letter that the NSA had sent to Congress concerning the upcoming “60 Minutes” story:
Unlike the other major broadcast network Sunday talk shows (as reported by NewsBusters), NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show” led with Thursday’s historic elections in Iraq, while mentioning the surveillance scandal raised in a New York Times article Friday as almost an afterthought. Then, after the break, Matthews began on another topic that is likely much more of a concern to Americans than the legality of wiretaps on terrorists, illegal immigration.
After introducing his guests – Joe Klein of TIME, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, David Brooks of The New York Times, and syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker – Matthews went right into Thursday’s Iraqi elections. With the notable exception of Klein, the panel seemed in agreement that this was an historic event on Thursday, and that democracy in Iraq now seems possible. Mitchell stated, “I think there is a better chance than we have ever before seen of Iraq actually creating a government of these people working together, and of this country not blowing apart.” Matthews agreed, “I think it's the most amazing week in this whole war this week.”
An extraordinary election occurred in Iraq on Thursday. However, all three major network Sunday talk shows – ABC’s “This Week,” NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and CBS’ “Face the Nation” – all began their programs this morning with a discussion about revelations released on Friday by The New York Times that the White House has been authorizing surveillance of potential terrorists on American soil without getting court orders.
CBS’ Bob Schieffer, after introducing his guests Senators Joe Biden (D-Delaware) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), began the segment (from closed captioning):
“Gentlemen, we have to start this morning with this story. It is against the law, of course, to eavesdrop or wire tap U.S. citizens in this country without a court order from a federal judge. But the "New York Times" says that is exactly what the president is authorized the government to do since 9/11. The secretary of state said this morning that the president has statutory and constitutional authorization to do what he did. So I'll start with Senator Graham. Does he have that authority, senator?”
As reported by the MRC’s Brent Baker, the media are in full dudgeon over new revelations of a secret eavesdropping, antiterrorism strategy by the White House. However, there are some key elements of this story that the president just discussed in his weekly radio address as reported by the Associated Press that The New York Times and others either neglected to share with the public, or downplayed in their reports:
“Bush said the program was narrowly designed and used ‘consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution.’ He said it is used only to intercept the international communications of people inside the United States who have been determined to have ‘a clear link’ to al-Qaida or related terrorist organizations.”
In a post-9/11 world, this does seem to be a reasonable strategy to avert further terrorist attacks. Wouldn’t most Americans wish that the 9/11 hijackers all had their “international communications” intercepted regardless of the existence of a court order to do so?
Paul Farhi wrote an article for today’s Washington Post that confirmed yesterday’s Drudge Report exclusive sited by NewsBusters that the New York Times failed to disclose a major story it broke surrounding U.S. spying in America was part of a soon to be released book by one of its columnists, James Risen. In addition, Farhi indicated that the timing of the release of this report might indeed have been designed to correspond with a Congressional vote to renew the Patriot Act. The antiterrorism bill was blocked last evening in the Senate with members claiming revelations in the Times article may have been the death knell.
According to the Post:
“The [Times] offered no explanation to its readers about what had changed in the past year to warrant publication. It also did not disclose that the information is included in a forthcoming book, ‘State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration,’ written by James Risen, the lead reporter on yesterday's story. The book will be published in mid-January, according to its publisher, Simon & Schuster.”
And what about the timing surrounding the renewal of the Patriot Act?