During the 11:00 a.m. hour of MSNBC’s News Live, host Tamron Hall discussed possible developments late in a presidential campaign such as an October surprise or a terrorist attack. After Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus claimed that Bush would be remembered for his leadership after 9/11, her Democratic counterpart Keith Boykin tried to insist that Bush was to blame:
You know, I disagree with what Cheri said too about 9/11. 9/11 was a failure for George Bush. He was asleep at the switch on 9/11. He had a memo, he had a memo a month before.
NewsBusters readers are likely aware that Congress has for months been debating an amendment to 1978's Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to bring it up to date with technological and geopolitical changes in the past three decades.
Folks on the left view this modernization as an onerous intrusion on privacy rights, and have been preventing this bill -- which was originally signed into law on August 5, 2007, but expired in February -- from being renewed and made permanent.
On Wednesday, with Congress scheduled to adjourn for the Fourth of July recess, Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.) told his fellow Senators that the scare tactics being used by the left concerning this matter "feed the delusions of those who wear tinfoil hats around their house and think that 9/11 was an inside job" (video embedded right):
It would be hard to overstate the significance of Barack Obama's blunder. As a certain junior senator from New York said during the primary season, while John McCain has obviously passed the Commander-in-Chief threshold, it's not clear Obama has. If there is one fundamental challenge facing the Dem candidate in this campaign, it is to prove that he has the values and the toughness necessary to protect our country against the terrorists who seek to destroy us.
Yet now—in an interview with ABC's Jake Tapper—Obama has proposed a read-them-their-Miranda-rights approach to dealing with the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It's the policy equivalent of Dukakis-in-a-tank, and is likely, in this NewsBuster's opinion, to have an even more harmful impact on his campaign. The McCain camp has wasted no time in weighing in. In a conference call yesterday, former CIA director James Woolsey said Obama's advocacy of giving terrorists access to U.S. courts was an "extremely dangerous and an extremely naive approach to terrorism."
Discussion on Morning Joe today among, on the one hand, Barack fans Mika Brzezinski and WaPo's Jonathan Capehart, and on the other a Joe Scarborough preaching realpolitik, revealed just how vulnerable Obama is on the issue. I'd encourage readers to view the extended video clip here, but for present purposes will focus on one exchange:
The broadcast network evening newscasts gave as much emphasis Thursday night to the biting dissent as the majority opinion in the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling on behalf of the Guantanamo detainees, but told the story through the prism of the Bush administration getting rebuked by the decision characterized as “historic” and “landmark” -- with ABC's Martha Raddatz ominously warning “it could be very embarrassing for the administration.”CBS avoided any label for the majority while tagging the dissenters as “conservative” and only NBC noted how some of those already released have committed atrocities.
“The Supreme Court, for the third time, has slammed the Bush administration for its handling of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay,” CBS anchor Katie Couric announced. Wyatt Andrews asserted “the ruling essentially tells the Bush administration no more halfway justice at Guantanamo” as he segued to a soundbite from a representative of a left-wing group by relaying how “lawyers for the detainees called it a victory for America's reputation around the world.” Andrews, who applied no liberal labels, said the “ruling was bitterly rebuked by the court's conservatives.”
From Kabul, NBC's Brian Williams teased “a big defeat for the Bush administration,” though he later uniquely portrayed the “landmark ruling” as “victory” for the detainees, before Pete Williams tagged both sides, citing “the court's five more liberal members” and “the four conservative dissenters.” ABC anchor Charles Gibson reported that the court “today handed the Bush administration a stinging defeat.” Jan Crawford Greenburg applied the most accurate labeling, referring to how “moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the decision with the four liberal justices” while “conservative Justice Antonin Scalia read a sharp, almost personal dissent.”
Perhaps as a method of self-defense, The Washington Post offered op-ed space in Sunday's paper to former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer to object to his deputy Scott McClellan's charge in his book that the White House press corps were "complicit enablers" of the Bush agenda. As a "human pinata" in Bush's first two years, Fleischer wrote, that wasn't true:
At the risk of agreeing with one of my toughest protagonists in the briefing room -- NBC's David Gregory -- the press was tough, plenty tough. I have the scars -- and the transcripts -- to prove it.
Less than five hours after the Sept. 11 attacks, as we flew on Air Force One, the traveling White House press corps asked me if the "president should be satisfied with the performance of the intelligence community." "Has he asked to find out where the gaps were," reporters demanded. "Is he concerned about the fact that this attack of this severity happened with no warnings?"
CBS and NBC on Thursday night were as interested in highlighting the claims of torture, from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) and four 9/11 terrorist attack co-conspirators who were arraigned by a military commission court in Guantanamo Bay, as to informing viewers about the charges against them. ABC didn't consider the torture allegations relevant and so didn't mention the topic as Jan Crawford Greenburg uniquely described KSM as “evil.” In contrast to NBC which called him a “man” and “defendant,” CBS anchor Katie Couric at least described him as a “terrorist.”
CBS reporter Bob Orr, who emphasized that “some legal critics called the hearing...a complete and utter farce,” relayed how “the self-proclaimed mastermind of 9/11 said openly in court that he had been tortured by the U.S., and he called the case against him a sham.” With the quote on screen, Orr reported: “KSM, who the CIA admits was subjected to water-boarding, questioned the legitimacy of the military hearing. 'For five years, they torture,' he said. 'After the torturing they transfer us to inquisition-land in Guantanamo.'” Orr proceeded to showcase how Aziz Ali charged: “This government failed to treat me as a human for five years.”
On NBC, Jim Miklaszewski highlighted how KSM “called the legal proceedings 'evil'" and featured criticism from the ACLU. Miklaszewski also highlighted the “after five years of torture, they transfer us to inquisition land, Guantanamo” quote, before asserting: “Mohammed was water-boarded by the CIA. Defense attorneys had intended to challenge any of Mohammed's statements on the grounds he was tortured.”
When France 2 TV helped stoke a new wave of anti-Semitism and anti-Western sentiment and violence by presenting the world footage it claimed to show the Israeli military targeting and killing a Palestinian boy, Mohammed al-Dura, a scene that has been invoked by Osama bin Laden and many other terrorists and suicide bombers, the American news media also ran the story, showing the footage numerous times on major television news shows. But evidence has mounted over the years that Israeli troops likely were not the ones producing the gunfire seen in the video. And the sources of the footage at France 2 TV are under increasing fire for their role in the matter, last week losing a court battle to media critic Philippe Karsenty, who goes so far as to charge that the al-Dura footage was actually a staged scene, and that the boy may still be alive, part of what has become a reportedly common practice of Palestinian film makers as they record scenes of fake violence to be used as propaganda. A look at such filmmaking and acting has been examined in the documentary Pallywood, complete with a corpse in a fake funeral procession that gets up on its own after falling off the stretcher after the "Jenin massacre" hoax, and an ambulance that arrives immediately next to the body of a man literally two seconds after he is supposedly shot. CBS's 60 Minutes was among those accused of being duped into using scenes of staged violence as if they were real. (Transcripts follow)
If the mess in Florida had been resolved with as much skill and savvy as went into the making of the movie, the world might be a different place today -- presumably a better one, although no one can say for sure.
Little or nothing is ever accomplished by games of what-if, but it's hard to resist speculating how history, and not just political history, might have been different since the year 2000 with regard to such monumental events as the reaction to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11; response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina; and the war in Iraq, including whether there would have been one and whether a single American life would have been lost.
Message to Chris Matthews: when ripping a guest for his lack of historical knowledge, try to avoid making a history mistake of your own in the same segment.
It happened on this afternoon's Hardball. After lambasting a guest for not knowing his Neville Chamberlain history, Matthews surmised that the attack on the USS Cole in October, 2000 happened under . . . President Bush.
Interviewed by Bill Moyers for a PBS show to be aired on the night of April 25, 2008, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. accused people of trying to paint him as "un-American" or "some sort of fanatic" for purposes of harming the candidacy of Barack Obama. (AP Photo/PBS, Robin Holland, HO)
It is NBC Green Week, after all, so who can blame Andrea Mitchell for recycling two dilapidated defenses of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright?
Mitchell's heart didn't seem wholly in it, but like a burned-out public defender going through the motions, Andrea apparently felt constrained to mount some kind of defense of Rev. Jeremiah Wright's controversial remarks. And so she trotted out two hoary chestnuts:
that's the way it's done in African-American churches, and
Finding "jingoism" in a journalism museum? Only a hypersensitive New York Times critic could possibly uncover that.
The Newseum (which is precisely what it sounds like) opened in the nation's capital last weekend in a prominent spot along Pennsylvania Avenue. The Times's architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff found the design by turns "muddled" and "slapdash" -- but what he really disapproved of was the political message he managed to discern in a 9-11 exhibit titled "Attack on America," which he found to border "precariously on jingoism."
In another convoluted move, the museum exhibits the front pages of scores of daily newspapers along the street each day. At first it seems to be a salute to the newspaper's traditional function in a democratic society, and pedestrians seem to love it. But the row of newspapers is oddly punctuated by a pedantic display explaining its meaning.
As accusations against Americans go, surely there's none more serious than that of responsibility for 9/11. Yet Maureen Dowd has seen fit to level just such a charge against Condi Rice en passant: as a simple afterthought, no explanation offered.
There I was this morning reading Maureen's musings on yesterday's hearings with Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. Pretty standard Dowd fare: a couple Shakespearean quotes pressed into service, a snippy sobriquet [dubbing Petraeus and Croker the "Surge Twins"], when suddenly came this [emphasis added]:
"Good Morning America's" Diane Sawyer featured 9/11 conspiracy theorist Rosie O'Donnell for over 15 minutes on Tuesday and failed to ask about any of her numerous controversial statements. Despite this, Sawyer did find the time to laud the former talk show host's "singular take on the world" and to make crafts with the hard core leftist who once asserted that "radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America."
Sawyer glossed over the controversial statements O'Donnell made during her tenure as a co-host of the ABC program "The View." At one point, the GMA co-anchor even admitted, "So, I don't want to go back and rehash all of 'The View' stuff again." Some of the "stuff" Sawyer might have been referring to, included telling the lone conservative voice on "The View," Elisabeth Hasselbeck, on November 9, 2006, "Don't fear the terrorists. They’re mothers and fathers." During her GMA appearance to promote a new book on crafts, O'Donnell stated that one factor in her quitting "The View" was control. For her earlier program, "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," "...There was no one with a conflicting point of view." In her role as an interviewer, Sawyer certainly offered no conflicting point of view and failed to ask tough questions.
Now playing defense for Team Obama: Karen Hawkins and Christopher Wills of the Associated Press, as carried in the Washington Post ("Obama Found a Home in His Church") on Thursday.
Call it a Wright-wash -- Hawkins and Wills managed to avoid any mention of the main tenets of "Black Liberation Theology" (details after the jump) that form the foundation of the belief system of the Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC). Until recently (though TUCC's Pastoral Staff page at its web site still does not reflect the supposed change), TUCC was headed by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose preaching moved presidential candidate Barack Obama to join the congregation 20 years.
The AP pair also managed to avoid any mention of often inflammatory items in weekly bulletin articles published by the Church.
Nowhere in the story's 1,200-plus words was there any mention of the Church's belief system, which was outlined by McClatchy's Margaret Tavel on March 20:
As excuses go, it was right up there with "but oshifer, I was too drunk to see that stop sign." That's the league in which I'd put the defense of Barack Obama over the Rev. Wright mess that Mika Brzezinski offered this morning.
Responding to Chris Matthews' question on yesterday's Hardball as to why he never left Rev. Wright's church, Obama claimed "I never heard [Rev. Wright] say those things that were in those clips." On today's Morning Joe, two of the three panelists weren't buying. The genial Willie Geist came down off the fence where he often resides to frame the issue.
WILLIE GEIST: The fact remains, a lot of people, and these are people we've all talked to, say "if I went into a church with my children, and the pastor said 'God damn America' and the rest of these things, you just wouldn't go back to that church." There are other places to go.
That's when Brzezinski began her bad Johnnie Cochran impression.
Update: Reaction from document examiner Emily Will added at bottom of post (April 3 | 13:02 EDT)
Mary Mapes (file photo at right), the former CBS producer behind the Bush National Guard memo scandal that eventually felled Dan Rather's career has a post up at the liberal Nation magazine's Web site insisting that comparisons between Memogate and the L.A. Times falling for fake documents about Tupac Shakur's murder are "simplistic, unfounded and unfair." (h/t Patterico)
Apparently, there's a profound difference between trying to sway a presidential election with questionable documentary evidence and messing with Tupac.
Mapes defended her work in Memogate before turning, predictably, to fire on the Bush administration. Of course in doing so, Mapes, who had just finished defending her reliability as a journalist, laid out at least two commonly-repeated falsehoods propagated by the Left about the Iraq war. First, Mapes insisted that:
The greatest fraud perpetrated in modern journalistic history was the Bush Administration's linking of Iraq to September 11.
But the Bush administration never argued such a thing in the lead-up to the war. As the BBC, hardly a Bush cheerleader, rightly noted in September 2003:
Eric Lichtblau, who covers the Justice Department for the New York Times, has an article up on Slate's front page , adapted from his upcoming book "Bush's Law: The Remaking of American Justice," accusing the Bushadministration of lying to him about its anti-terrorist surveillance programs.
You may remember that Lichtblau and Times colleague James Risen, broke the news about the classified National Security Agency's wiretapping program in December 2005, ignoring pleas from the White House. Six months later those same two reporters, in an even more egregious revelation of classified information, revealed classified details about SWIFT, a U.S.-instigated international bank surveillance program.
Describing a tense pre-publication meeting in the White House, Lichtblau basically admitted the paper's bias against Vice President Dick Cheney:
Barack Obama's Philadelphia speech Tuesday was a transparent attempt to quell the controversy over his ties to fiery anti-American minister Jeremiah Wright. But the New York Times, along with the rest of the media, portrayed the speech just the way the Obama camp would have wanted -- as a transcendent address on race in America, past, present and future, with Obama's long connection to Wright a secondary matter.
It was an extraordinary moment -- the first black candidate with a good chance at becoming a presidential nominee, in a country in which racial distrust runs deep and often unspoken, embarking at a critical juncture in his campaign upon what may be the most significant public discussion of race in decades.
The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation. -- Barack Obama, Huffington Post, March 14, 2008
The key question before Barack Obama today was the one going to his integrity: was he was telling the truth when he claimed in his HuffPo piece of March 14th that he never heard Wright make, in public or private, the remarks "that are the cause of this controversy"?
I've enjoyed Tucker Carlson's show and can't let it pass into history, as it did last night, without a mention here. MSNBC has said that Tucker will remain at the network as an at-large commentator, and I have a feeling that, liberated from show-host concerns, he might become even more uninhibited in the expression of his quirkily conservative/libertarian views.
So let's usher Tucker out by focusing on one of our favorite nemeses, Rosa Brooks, the liberal LA Times columnist who appeared on the show's final episode. The unreconstructed Obama apologist offered the lamest excuse yet for his failure to have disassociated himself earlier from the ugly rhetoric of Rev. Jeremiah Wright: Barack simply wasn’t paying attention in the pews.
At the end of a Good Morning America segment today about Barack Obama's pastor, the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., an Obama campaign representative complained that John McCain's pastor had not been similarly "vetted." If that's true, then ABC or some other media outlet surely should and will do so.
Let's imagine that upon vetting, McCain's pastor is found to have made statements that were the mirror-image of those that Rev. Wright has made. How long would McCain remain a viable candidate? Judge for yourself, based on Rev. Wright's statements as exposed in the GMA segment that was the result of work by ABC's chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross. GMA aired a number of clips from sermons Rev. Wright gave at his Trinity United Church of Christ.
JEREMIAH WRIGHT: "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law, and then wants us to sing God Bless America? No, no, no! Not God bless America. God damn America! It's in the Bible, for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating its citizens as less than human!"
"The View" co-hosts, typically very loose with the facts, demonstrated that again on the March 10 edition. Ironically accusing the Bush administration of lying to take America into war with Iraq, Whoopi Goldberg put out false information herself.
GOLDBERG: Let me say, let me say this. Now, when it all went down at 9-11 and he said "we’re going get him." I was like "come on Georgie, let’s go."
GOLDBERG: But he didn’t go where he said we were going. See, that’s where I got, because I woke up the next morning, we were in Iraq. I was like, what? I don’t think we’re in Afghanistan. So, for me-
At their 2001 convention, the SPJ urged “tak[ing] steps against racial profiling in [the]coverage of the war on terrorism." It reminded journalists to stopusing "inflammatory" language and condescendingly said to “help audiences understand the complexities of the events in Pennsylvania, New York City and Washington, D.C.” Story guidelines are (all bold mine):
— Cover the victims of harassment, murder and other hate crimes as thoroughly as you cover the victims of overt terrorist attacks.
— When writing about terrorism, remember to include white supremacist, radical anti-abortionists and other groups with a history of such activity.
Grunge and hippie-folk rocker Neil Young, who opposes President Bush's war in Iraq and released an album last year "Living with War" with a song called "Let's Impeach the President," nonetheless came to Bush's defense recently, saying he's a "leader" with perseverance. As Reuters reported (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080213/ap_en_mu/film_neil_young), in a conversation at the Sundance Film Festival, former band mate David Crosby said there should be a law that persons who can't pronounce the word "nuclear" shouldn't have control over nuclear weapons. Neil Young promptly disagreed. As reported: "A lot of people have problems pronouncing words and spelling things correctly. It doesn't mean that they're not intelligent," Young tells Crosby. "You've got to give the guy credit. Do I agree with him? No. Do I think he's stupid? No. Do I think he's a leader? Yes. He led. He took this country where he wanted to take it. And he steadfastly stuck with it all the way."
Americans will be in far greater danger of a terrorist attack after midnight Saturday due to House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.), deciding to leave town for a break rather than vote on a surveillance bill that cleared the Senate Tuesday.
Sadly, the good folks at the Associated Press don't seem concerned, for instead of painting an accurate picture of this truly abysmal delay tactic by the left, the wire service chose to defend Pelosi and the Democrats while conveniently ignoring some key facts.
As reported moments ago (emphasis added throughout):
The February 13th New York Times online contained fifteen "Pictures of the Day". Their #1, lead photograph was what you see to the right, with the following description (emphasis added):
Security officials in Lebanon said Imad Mugniyah, 45, a senior Hezbollah military commander, was killed by a car bomb on Tuesday night in Damascus, Syria. Mr. Mugniyah had been accused in a series of bombings, hijackings and kidnappings during the 1980s and 1990s, including the 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 American service members. Mr. Mugniyah's father, Fayez, left, and grandfather held each other during a wake in Beirut.
A Yahoo photo slideshow of Ground Zero perfectly demonstrates the bias news agencies frequently insert into captions. Instead of just describing the photo, Yahoo included captions with partisan cheap shots unrelated to the image to score typical anti-War On Terror points (h/t NB reader Larry Jordan).
Out-of-place comments about waterboarding, the downturn in the economy and a criticism of Rudy Giuliani were captioned under photos of a smoking World Trade Center and Ground Zero rubble (bold mine throughout):
Slide 1: Early morning light illuminates the wreckage of the World Trade Center on September 25, 2001 in New York. The head of the CIA said Thursday it is uncertain whether the use of waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning widely condemned as torture, would be lawful if used today against Al-Qaeda detainees.
Philip Shenon, investigative reporter for the New York Times, has written a book on the 9-11 Commission and talked about it with Fresh Air host Terry Gross on National Public Radio Monday. Judging by Shenon's past willingness to heap all of the blame for 9-11 on the then eight-month old Bush administration (as opposed to the eight years of Clinton that preceded it), it's no surprise he praised Clinton's former National Security Advisor, the disgraced Sandy Berger, who got caught and convicted for shoving copies of classified documents into his socks.
One last State of the Union note. I found this introduction to an NPR interview with a Clinton speechwriter and a Reagan speechwriter on Monday's Morning Edition on a two-term president's last SOTU a little odd:
STEVE INSKEEP, anchor: It's a moment for any president to reflect on his accomplishments, as President Clinton did in his last State of the Union in 2000.
CLINTON: Never before has our nation enjoyed at once, so much prosperity and social progress with so little internal crisis and so few external threats.
How is it that NPR plays that clip thinking that it represents Clinton's accomplishments, instead of his utter cluelessness in retrospect about the gathering storm of 9/11?