Last Wednesday, former vice president Dick Cheney received the Keeper of the Flame award from the Center for Security Policy in Washington, where he denounced President Obama for dithering on Afghanistan. This sent several left-wing columnists and radio hosts into a rage. But there’s rage, and then there’s the wild ravings of host Mike Malloy, who was thinking Cheney was a baby-eater:
Cheney, by the way looks very ruddy; I couldn't get over that like he must have feasted on a Jewish baby, or a Muslim baby; he must have sent his people out to get one and bring it back so he could drink its blood, because that's what somebody like Cheney does to get that ruddy look.
On Sunday’s CBS Evening News, political analyst John Dickerson brushed aside criticism from former Vice President Dick Cheney that the Obama administration was “dithering” on Afghanistan: “...it puts Cheney out there as a kind of boogie man the administration can point to. He’s not terribly popular outside of conservative circles...in some ways, Dick Cheney is a gift for the White House.”
Dickerson, who is a contributing writer for the left-leaning blog Slate.com, has also filled in for Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer twice in the last six months, on the October 18 and July 5 broadcasts. He was responding to a question from Sunday Evening News anchor Russ Mitchell, who cited Cheney and wondered: “Are you hearing other sentiments out there along those lines?” Dickerson claimed: “Well, there’s been some elite opinion about the pause in the President’s thinking.”
An October 9 CBS News poll showed that there was more than simply “elite opinion” on the subject: “President Obama has a slide in his approval ratings on his handling of the situation in Afghanistan. In April, 58 percent approved of his handling of the conflict; by August, that number had fallen to 48 percent. In the most recent survey it has hit its lowest level yet, 42 percent.” An October 18 ABC News/ Washington Post poll placed public approval of the President’s handling of Afghanistan at 45 percent, with 47 percent disapproving of his handling.
Three weeks after their gushing praise of President Obama's meeting with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the media have taken a cue from the lack of action that followed.
It was a good run while it lasted.
Word from the conflict became more dire almost by the day as Obama's cabinet squabbled. The American media, having sensed Afghanistan could be lost without action, chose to cover for their favorite president and begin the process of mentally preparing the public for defeat.
The Washington Post published a perfect example of the new meme in Howard Kurtz's column on October 23. Kurtz attacked Republicans as "armchair quarterbacks" for their criticism of Obama's stalling and said it was "rich" of Dick Cheney to demand a new plan. As for what that plan might be, Kurtz's Vietnam defeat song sounded all too familiar:
Though its $1.4 trillion red-ink result was mostly known well ahead of its final issuance, the Treasury Department either conveniently got its year-end accounting work done in time for a Friday afternoon release of the final Monthly Treasury Statement, or held it until that time. Last year's report was released on Wednesday, October 15.
The final statement shows receipts of $2.105 trillion, "outlays" of $3.522 trillion, and a "deficit" of $1.417 trillion. That is $962 billion higher that last year's "deficit" of $455 billion.
The terms "outlays" and "deficit" are in quotes for reasons I will explain in this post.
There is good news and bad news about the reporting on the results by the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger. The good news is that after at least three months of obsessing over how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were contributing to the massive increase in this year's "deficit" compared to fiscal 2008 when they have been almost completely if not totally irrelevant (here, here, and here at NewsBusters; here, here, and here at BizzyBlog), Crutsinger correctly dropped them from the discussion. Of course, that means he was repeatedly wrong to cite those wars or even defense spending as a whole as a contributing factor in the first place. But don't wait by the phone for Martin's apology.
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith glossed over President Obama’s indecision over sending more troops to Afghanistan by describing it this way: “...there are so many moving parts in this part of the world. And here is President Obama in this long contemplation about what to do next in Afghanistan with our troops.”
Smith discussed the war in Afghanistan with the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, who was equally happy to mask Obama’s inaction in thoughtful terms:
He’s really got his own dynamic in Afghanistan and I think you’re going to see everything slow down on decision making. In part because of the winter, there’s no real urgency to get more troops in right now. Also the administration has already signaled they want to see what happens internally in Afghanistan, whether there’s new elections, more important, what kind of government is formed. So I think the administration’s going to hold back sending more troops for quite a while.
Einstein said the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” That may be so, but it certainly is the definition of stupidity. Which is why the behavior of Obama administration and congressional liberals is so puzzling.
Wasn’t the Obama administration supposed to be populated by the elite of Ivy League intelligentsia, each cabinet secretary brighter than the last? Just weeks after the election, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos swooned "We have not seen this kind of combination of star power and brain power and political muscle this early in a cabinet in our lifetimes." Newsweek called Obama economic adviser Larry Summers “brash and brilliant” and part of “a team of Harvard and Yale types whose SAT scores have not been equaled since the Kennedy administration.”
The infusion of blue gray matter into Washington was going to calm the economic waters, create entire new “green” industries and maybe usher in a golden age for D.C.’s art-house movie theaters. Heck, Obama even tapped Hillary (“World’s Smartest Woman”) Clinton to be Secretary of State.
In 2006, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz found that NBC correspondent Richard Engel had strong political feelings: "I think war should be illegal...I'm basically a pacifist." That pacifist opinion is still surfacing, Kurtz reported Monday, although he didn’t recall the sentence from 2006:
Richard Engel, NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent, has kicked up a fuss with some decidedly pessimistic comments on the war in Afghanistan.
"I honestly think it's probably time to start leaving the country. I really don't see how this is going to end in anything but tears," Engel said last week on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." He added: "The idea of going in to nation-build and win hearts and minds, I think, over the long term is kind of a loser."
That there has been little love lost between posters and commenters here at NewsBusters and CBS correspondent Lara Logan over the years is not exactly a secret (see previous NB posts by yours truly, Brent Baker, Kyle Drennen, and just warming up).
I don't know what has happened in past couple of years (or is it months?) to knock some sense into Logan ("good war" Afghanistan vs. "bad war" Iraq? Motherhood and/or marriage, even if as a result of seamy circumstances?). But her clear-headed, passionate, alarming interview with CBS News's Bob Orr about the situation in Afghanistan is a must-see (HT Hot Air). In the process, she leaves a number of leftist myths and fantasies, including the rubbish about how pursuing war aggressively only helps the enemy in their recruiting, in shreds on the floor.
Following an interesting back story about our Secretary of Defense's apparent intent to water down what Obama ultimately got to see, the Logan interview goes from about 1:35-8:30 of the YouTube video (don't waste your time with what follows, which is about a Ralph Nader book).
Even Barack Obama’s fan club on NBC’s Today were stunned at the President’s winning of the Nobel Peace Prize. Co-host Matt Lauer found it baffling: “We’re less than a year into the first term of this president and there are no -- I'm not trying to be, you know, rude here -- no major foreign policy achievements, to date.”
Meet the Press moderator David Gregory felt the need to point out the “left-leaning” impulse of the Europeans who christened Obama as the world’s leading peacemaker for 2009: “This is a lot more about tone than it is substantive accomplishment. In many ways, this is a European body who is more left-leaning, certainly, and opposed to the administration of George W. Bush.”
Lauer followed up: “So, what you're saying in some ways and, again, not to be rude here or sarcastic, that in some ways he wins this award for not being George W. Bush?”
Between his daily radio show and nightly television program on MSNBC, which boasts of itself as "the place for politics," Ed Schultz somehow managed to miss the news of President Obama's ambivalence about "victory" in Afghanistan.
A caller to Schultz's radio show on Monday told Schultz of this, but Schultz wasn't buying (click here for audio) --
SCHULTZ: Do we send 40,000 more troops in? Brian, what do you think?
CALLER: You know what? I heard someone say we're not in it to win, we're not in it for victory. And I was stunned when I heard that, so ...
SCHULTZ: Well, what do you mean we're not in it for victory?
Hard-left "anti-war" protesters – so far to the left that they’re protesting Barack Obama – were awarded the top left of The Washington Post on Wednesday. This "event" protesting the eighth anniversary of war in Afghanistan not only topped page one, it covered about 75 percent of page A6, including four color photographs.
The headline was "For Antiwar Protesters, the Cause Isn't Lost: But Will D.C. Rally Spark Groundswell?" Post reporter Eli Saslow softly implied it wasn’t going well, that "this time the organizers believed they could revive the beleaguered anti-war movement, once such a force in U.S. policy. The next 48 hours would put their optimism on trial."
If there was a journalistic award for beating around the bush, Saslow and the Post could win it. After 25 paragraphs, Saslow finally revealed that the Post’s idea of news judgment isn’t based on numbers: the reporter counted...176 protesters.
For the second night, CBS devoted time in its “Afghanistan: The Road Ahead” series -- which consumed the entirety of Tuesday's CBS Evening News -- to stressing how the decision to go into Iraq undermined success in Afghanistan. Lara Logan, CBS's chief foreign correspondent, rued “the U.S. allowed Osama bin Laden to escape from the Tora Bora mountains” and then, in endorsing the view she credited to “many,” she contended:
What many here see as the gravest error of all: Afghans were wary as the U.S. turned its attention to invading Iraq. And they were right. Everything from reconstruction and aid to the fight itself suffered as the U.S. shifted its resources and its focus away from Afghanistan and the commitment it had made to the Afghan people. Not surprisingly, Afghan support for the war began to fade.
Unaddressed: President Barack Obama is wavering on that commitment since he's now resisting General Stanley McChrystal's recommendation for a big troop increase to protect the Afghan population from the Taliban while Vice President Joe Biden is advocating an air strike-centered approach which will leave Afghan citizens in danger.
On Monday's CBS Evening News, Katie Couric delivered a “How We Got Here” review of Afghanistan after eight years of U.S. troops on the ground, culminating with Couric conveying as fact -- based on the view of Clinton administration Secretary of State Madeleine Albright -- the relatively simplistic liberal critique of how Iraq distracted the U.S. from the more important battle in Afghanistan.
“With Hamid Karzai in place as the interim leader of Afghanistan, the drum beat of war moved west to Iraq,” Couric recalled in using the loaded “drum beat of war” language, leading intoAlbright's scolding of former President Bush: “The problem was that he took his eye off the ball and linked two things that didn't go together, which is al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden and so things got much worse.” Couric pounded home the point: “By October of 2006, there were 148,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and just 21,000 in Afghanistan.”
Viewers then heard corroboration from John Nagle, President of the liberal-leaning Center for a New American Security where Albright sits on the Board of Directors. Nagle asserted: “We gave the Taliban time to re-group, chased them out of Afghanistan, they re-grouped in Pakistan and now the years of neglect are coming back to haunt us.” Couric concluded with how President Obama is following through on his pledge to fix the misjudgment: “Making good on a campaign promise, President Obama called for a troop increase in Afghanistan, bringing the number of U.S. forces there to a record 68,000.”
Those who read the New York Times's coverage of the unsuccessful results of Barack and Michelle Obama's attempt to seal the 2016 Summer Olympics bid for Chicago on Friday afternoon ('For Obama, an Unsuccessful Campaign") might want to read it again.
If it doesn't seem the same, it's because it isn't.
An excerpt of the item's first five paragraphs posted at FreeRepublic at 4:44 Eastern Time on October 2 shows that the article was apparently originally published under the same title with Peter Baker's byline sometime Friday afternoon.
There are even more substantive differences noticed by Weasel Zippers I will get to shortly, but the first five paragraphs alone were obviously worked over, while Jeff Zeleny's name was added to the byline.
After the jump, on the left you will see the original as excerpted at FreeRepublic; on the right are the first five paragraphs currently at the Times web site (saved here at my host for future reference; click here or on the graphic to view a larger side-by-side version in a separate window):
Is it possible for a sitting president to ignore a war his own country is waging?
According to the Boston Globe, it depends on who that president is.
The war in Afghanistan has presented a rare look at two different presidents faced with the same situation in the same theatre.
Following initial Allied success, 2003 saw the Taliban regroup for a long-term fight, and by late 2007 Bush had begun to draw up plans for a troop surge. Two years later, generals on the ground say our presence is still not enough.
Now, with President Obama in charge, those in the mainstream media portray his leadership in a starkly different light than that of former President Bush.
The Boston Globe is a prime example of the double standard (continued).
During the Bush administration, journalists and liberal politicians were up in arms against a Defense Department policy that forbade the photographing of caskets coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. Now that we have a Democrat as a commander in chief, however, the caskets are old news, and are getting little to no coverage.
Critics of the Bush Administration's policy of refusing to allow the photographing of caskets returning from the battlefield claimed that the Pentagon was attempting to hide the true cost of war from the American public to maintain support for the war efforts.
A lawsuit in April 2005 forced the release of hundreds of such photos. University of Delaware professor Ralph Begleiter, who brought the suit against the administration, citing the Freedom of Information Act, said of his victory that it was "an important victory for the American people, for the families of troops killed in the line of duty during wartime and for the honor of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country."
He added that the decision would "make it difficult, if not impossible, for any U.S. government in the future to hide the human cost of war from the American people."
As Byron York notes in today's Washington Examiner,
In April of this year, the Obama administration lifted the press ban, which had been in place since the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Media outlets rushed to cover the first arrival of a fallen U.S. serviceman, and many photographers came back for the second arrival, and then the third.
But after that, the impassioned advocates of showing the true human cost of war grew tired of the story. Fewer and fewer photographers showed up. "It's really fallen off," says Lt. Joe Winter, spokesman for the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where all war dead are received. "The flurry of interest has subsided."
On Sept. 2, when the casket bearing the body of Marine Lance Cpl. David Hall, of Elyria, Ohio, arrived at Dover, there was just one news outlet -- the Associated Press -- there to record it. The situation was pretty much the same when caskets arrived on Sept. 5, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 16, 22, 23 and 26. There has been no television coverage at all in September.
The journalists that rushed to show the country what two wars really can cost, and the pols that ceaselessly defended them, are silent now the country has an agreeable (liberal) president. That Obama allows the photographing of caskets seems to have taken all of the spice out of it. Coverage at Dover Air Force Base was seemingly more about Bush's policy of forbidding coverage of the return of fallen warriors than it was about the warriors themselves, as so many claimed.
So far this month, 38 American troops have been killed in Afghanistan. For all of 2009, the number is 220 -- more than any other single year and more than died in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 combined.
With casualties mounting, the debate over U.S. policy in Afghanistan is sharp and heated. The number of arrivals at Dover is increasing. But the journalists who once clamored to show the true human cost of war are nowhere to be found.
Has the Dem infighting for 2012 begun? Is Hillary exploiting Pres. Obama's waffling over Afghanistan to launch an offensive against her ostensible boss?
The question arises after former senior Clinton aide Dee Dee Myers described PBO as looking "indecisive" and "pushed around" in his handling of Afghanistan, and Hillary herself laid down a heavy marker, describing in graphic terms the dangers of an al Qaeda resurgence were the Taliban permitted to succeed.
There is an inside joke for the veteran viewers of MSNBC’s morning show, ‘Morning Joe,’ which refers back to a time when Joe Scarborough was in a heated debate with Zbigneiw Brzezinski (Mika’s father) over the behind-the-scenes content of President Clinton’s Camp David accords. The elder Brzezinski grew rather frustrated with being out-shouted by Scarborough, and delivered the following zinger:
“You know, you have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on that it's almost embarrassing to listen to you.”
This crushing critique could also be applied to today’s appearance of the New York Times’ Sam Tanenhaus, author of 'The Death of Conservatism,' on that same show. Tanenhaus delivered the following two opinions with an admirably straight face:
SAM TANENHAUS: Yeah, and it was interesting to go to the Clinton school and tell the audience there that the last conservative president in America was Bill Clinton.
Somebody really needs to find the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger some OCD therapy. It seems that he has a not-magnificent obsession with the two major theaters of the War on Terror (yeah, I still call it that), and that he seemingly won't be able to conquer it without outside intervention.
In his report on August's federal budget deficit, the AP reporter continued to cite the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as contributors to the increase in the federal budget deficit, when they are in fact virtually if not totally irrelevant. Additionally, he betrayed a critical misunderstanding of how the government has decided to account for "investments" the Treasury Department has made in many financial entities, General Motors, and Chrysler.
This is the third consecutive month for Crutsinger's war-connected crud:
As NewsBusters reported Tuesday, syndicated columnist and ABC News contributor George Will created quite a firestorm last week with his call for American troops to be pulled out of Afghanistan.
Readers are encouraged to review the article in question as well as the criticisms here.
On Sunday, at the beginning of the panel segment of ABC's "This Week," Will took on his critics by reading a letter he received from Marine Commandant General Charles Krulak (video embedded below the fold):
Reacting to the Associated Press's decision to publish -- against a grieving father's wishes -- a photo of a mortally-wounded Marine, MRC President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell blasted the news wire in a statement today:
The Associated Press should be ashamed for even thinking something as preposterous as this. This photo will do nothing but cause great sorrow for the family of a hero. As the father of a Marine, I cannot imagine the pain they will endure because of its publication and the damage it will cause in their grief.
Way to go, AP. On the eve of the federal holiday dedicated to the American worker, you are causing pain for the family of a hero that has given the ultimate sacrifice of his life in labor for his country.
The AP defended its decision by insisting the decision came "after a period of reflection" and was done to convey "the grimness of war and the sacrifice of young men and women fighting it."
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has also slammed the AP's decision, reports Mike Allen of The Politico:
On a Sunday evening in August four summers ago the NBC Nightly News devoted its “In Depth” segment to how Cindy Sheehan was “single-handedly bringing the Iraq debate to Mr. Bush’s doorstep” with her protest in Crawford, Texas. But Sunday night this year, after Sheehan departed Martha's Vineyard without earning any network media coverage as President Barack Obama's wrapped up his vacation there, NBC's Ron Allen began a story: “Hours before President Obama's vacation ended, he treated his girls to ice cream and candy -- the kind of family time the President said he had in mind for the week on Martha's Vineyard. A chance, friends say, to renew himself.”
A week ago, a MRC Media Reality Check asked: “Will Nets Note Sheehan's Anti-Obama Protest? Media Embraced Cindy Sheehan's Anti-Bush Push in 2005; ABC Anchor Now Says: 'Enough Already.'” (NB posting) The answer: No. Though she spent four days on the island and held an event on Thursday right next to the media set up in the Oak Bluffs School, her anti-Obama efforts were ignored by all the networks (cable too) as well as major newspapers.
Media Embraced Cindy Sheehan's Anti-Bush Push in 2005; ABC Anchor Now Says: "Enough Already"
When Cindy Sheehan arrives on Martha’s Vineyard tomorrow (Tuesday), to protest against President Barack Obama, will the news media be as drawn to her as they were in the summer of 2005 when she was condemning George W. Bush?
Last week, ABC anchor Charles Gibson declared “enough already” when asked on Chicago’s WLS Radio about Sheehan’s plan to travel to Obama’s island vacation spot to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. When she camped near Bush’s Crawford, Texas ranch four years ago, that was hardly the view of Gibson and his colleagues. At the time, NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell aptly dubbed her “a media magnet.”
Back then, the networks were eager to publicize her cause from the moment she arrived. Katie Couric, for instance, showcased Sheehan at the top of NBC’s Today show: “A mother’s vigil. Her son died in Iraq. Now this woman is camping outside the Bushes’ Texas ranch and demanding a meeting with the President today, Monday, August 8th, 2005.”
As Noel Sheppard noted earlier today in picking up from the Washington Examiner's Byron York how ABC World News anchor Charles Gibson declared “enough already” when asked on Chicago's WLS Radio (audio) about Cindy Sheehan's plan to travel to President Barack Obama's Martha's Vineyard vacation spot next week to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. York observed how “that's a remarkably different stance from the one Gibson took four years ago” when he was co-host of Good Morning America. Specifically, York recalled:
On August 9, 2005, the ABC anchor conducted an extensive on-air interview with Sheehan. “Cindy Sheehan is her name,” Gibson began. “She says she's not moving until the President meets with her, and I had a chance to speak with her a few minutes ago. Cindy Sheehan, bottom line, what do you hope to accomplish with all this?”
During the next week, Gibson and ABC continued to cover Sheehan. On August 17, 2005, when Sheehan left Crawford, Gibson reported, “We're going to turn next to the standoff that is playing out near President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. Cindy Sheehan, you know, the mother who lost a son in Iraq, is now on the move, but she's still standing her ground. ABC's Geoff Morrell is in Crawford with the details…” The next day, Gibson reported, “All across the country last night, people held candlelight vigils in support of Cindy Sheehan…”
Does the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger moonlight as a Code Pink operative?
There has to be something that explains what I'll call his Iraqnaphobia.
Last month (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the AP reporter erroneously cited the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a "major factor" explaining why "the deficit has widened." In a quick review of the related June 2009 Monthly Treasury Statement, I cited three examples of higher spending in other areas of government that were larger than last year, both in dollar and percentage terms, than the $33 billion, 7% increase in total defense spending. NB commenter Arminius further pointed out that "Our military spending amounts to 5 percent of GDP. Iraq and Afghanistan amount to 15 percent of that 5 percent. Obviously, as Tom notes, larger culprits are responsible for the massive deficit."
It's simply not possible that the two wars can be a "major factor." No matter -- This month, in an otherwise fairly decent report, Crutsinger did it again (bold after title is mine):
On Monday’s GMA, ABC’s Martha Raddatz pressed Hillary Clinton from the left on the Obama administration’s stance towards North Korea: “From the beginning...the rhetoric seemed almost exactly like the Bush administration’s, and it didn’t do much good. So is it a real shift that you decided to dial back?” Earlier in the month, she also labeled the overall Obama foreign policy “very thoughtful.”
The ABC correspondent’s segment with the Secretary aired minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of the ABC morning program. Midway through the interview, Raddatz brought up the Obama administration’s dealings with North Korea. She asked Mrs. Clinton, “From the outside, it seems to me that after the latest missile launches, the rhetoric from the United States was dialed back a bit.” After the Secretary replied, the ABC News senior foreign affairs correspondent followed up with her question from the left: “But that’s a real shift- I mean, from the beginning of the Obama administration... the rhetoric [towards North Korea] seemed almost exactly like the Bush administration’s, and it didn’t do much good. So is it a real shift that you decided to dial back?”
In reaction to a propaganda video of the Taliban holding an American soldier hostage in Afghanistan, on Monday’s CBS Early Show, terrorism analyst Jere Van Dyk argued: “What they [the Taliban] are saying is that ‘we can treat American soldiers, we can treat prisoners, better than Americans are treating them.’”
Speaking to co-host Maggie Rodriguez about the capture of Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl, Van Dyk continued to explain his observation: “There’s a story in the New York Times this morning, also in the Wall Street Journal earlier, about prisoner abuse, Americans abusing prisoners in Afghanistan. What they [the Taliban] are saying to the -- to the Afghan public is that ‘we can do a better job, do not be afraid of us in the future.’” Rodriguez accepted that premise and added: “Because he’s clean, the place looks like -- he’s being fed. They’re taking care of him.”
Van Dyk went on: “…that’s a signal there. He’s wearing nice clothes, he’s being fed, he has a cup of tea there… what they are saying is that ‘we will protect to the death… a guest in our home.’ He is in someone’s home right now.” He went on to predict: “My belief is, my hope of course is, and my cautious feeling is that he will be protected. He will not be harmed.”