Diane Sawyer sat down to ask Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [MA] some tough questions today, and a weather report broke out. Having spent last week in Syria, Diane is now in Iran on the second leg of her All-Dictator Tour. She began her interview of MA, televised on this morning's GMA, by asking him "are you sending Iranian weapons into Iraq?"
In lieu of an answer, MA went Sam Champion on Sawyer: "Let me first say good morning to our viewers all over the states and its good people, and let me tell them that we have spring weather here in Tehran, and I hope it will be spring all over the world."
He stopped just short of giving a shout-out to his homies Parvin, Roshan and Farzan in Bel-Air.
What followed was a series of non-denial denials that were laughable in their evasiveness.
When a despot you're interviewing denigrates the value of democracy in another country, wouldn't your journalistic instincts prompt you to ask him about the utter lack of democracy in his own? Not in Diane Sawyer's case.
The ABC powerhouse is in Syria this week. This morning's GMA aired an interview she scored with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Joe Biden would surely declare Assad "articulate;" the tyrant does speak excellent English and has a mild-mannered, urbane demeanor. But, in his case, appearances are definitely deceiving. Assad is the ruthless ruler of one of the most oppressive regimes on earth. On a scale of 1-7, Freedom House recently gave Syria its lowest possible rating of '7' on political rights. Bashar is of course following in the bloody foosteps of his father, Haffez. Among other acts of rule by terror, the previous tyrant infamously erased from the face of the earth the Syrian town of Hama, massacring an estimated 10-25,000 people in the process.
"We have met the enemy and he is us." - Pogo comic strip, 1971
Nicholas Kristof has apparently embraced the Walt Kelly view of America. When it comes to the war in Iraq, the only evildoers the New York Times columnist seems to see are Americans.
At the foot of his pay-to-play of column of January 23rd, Kristof invited readers to submit their literary analogies for President Bush and Iraq. In today's columnn, Kristof mentions having received over 400 reader responses.
And which entry does Kristof choose to feature at the column's beginning and that might fairly be taken as his unofficial winner? One that analogizes the various actors in the play to characters from Harry Potter. I set forth below the reader's analogies, followed by a description of the character as culled from their Wikipedia entries.
If only Joe Biden had seized the moment with one brilliant burst of brevity . . .
This morning on GMA, Biden had the chance to turn his presidential candidacy announcement into a funny, feel-good moment that would have won him untold millions in free coverage. Sadly, the senator from Delaware couldn't resist his proclivity to pontificate.
Diane Sawyer had the scoop: Joe Biden appeared on this morning's Good Morning America to make it official -- he's running for president.
First came the obligatory questions about Iran and Iraq. Diane next tried lure Biden into expanding on his statement that Hillary's nostrums for Iraq would be a "disaster." Biden wouldn't bite: "I have great respect for Hillary Clinton . . . she is fully qualified to be president . . . She is a first-rate person."
Biden similarly declined to rise to Sawyer's bait about Obama's inexperience, responding: "This guy's incredible. He's fresh, he's new, he's got great ideas."
Talk then turned to Biden's Achilles heel: his famed motor mouth. Sawyer: "The Washington Post says your friends have told you that you have to learn to 'put a sock in it' and not talk so much, and that you're taking their recommendation to heart."
Biden launched into a 93-word response in which claimed he was taking his friends' advice to heart, but in the same breath added that "if it takes more than three minutes" to give an answer, he's going to do it.
Imagine if in response to Diane's question, Biden, after a pregnant pause, had let his entire answer be a big, smiling "yup!"
It would have been priceless, and splashed all over the media. But Joe just couldn't "hep" himself. Joe Biden: once again, victim of his own verbosity.
In response to president Bush's State of the Union Address, the Washington Post's main criticism (by reporter Glenn Kessler in the "news" section, not the editorial page) seems to be that Bush doesn't understand who "the enemy" is in the Global War on Terror. Yet as the Post proceeds to knock what they perceive as Bush's simple minded rhetoric with today's news article they only reveal it is they, rather, that has no idea who our enemies are.
In his State of the Union address last night, President Bush presented an arguably misleading and often flawed description of "the enemy" that the United States faces overseas, lumping together disparate groups with opposing ideologies to suggest that they have a single-minded focus in attacking the United States.
The headline was "President's Portrayal of 'The Enemy' Often Flawed." The Post's conception of "flawed" is just as ill considered as they imagine the president's to be and their analysis adds up merely to mirror the conception held by many Europeans.
Once again, a National U.S. paper "arguably" chooses sides with Europe's interests over that of America.
Loyal NB readers might recall that on the eve of President Bush's recent address on the new way forward in Iraq, I had the chance to participate in a conference call for bloggers with White House press secretary Tony Snow and Brett McGurk of the National Security Council.
With the State of the Union Address just a few hours away, Tony Snow - after a long day making the media rounds - organized a similar event in which your faithful NewsBuster again took part.
I had a chance to ask a question this time around, and chose to focus on recent events in Iraq. After referring to the headlines that have been made by the recent arrest of some 600 militiamen in Iraq, I noted a lesser-publicized report that the Iraqi army had arrested a senior aide to Moktada al-Sadr, Sheikh Abdul al-Hadi Darraji. He was arrested last Friday in a raid on a Baghdad mosque near Sadr City.
I asked Snow whether those events signal that we have in some way turned the corner in obtaining the willingness of the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki in going after Shia militias, and if so, how have we been able to achieve this?
One of the common themes emanating from the media in recent years is that the world and the Middle East were much safer places before America invaded Iraq in March 2003. In their view, all of the geopolitical problems began that very month, and prior to that point, the earth was a happy place whose citizens all got along like two-year-olds in a sandbox.
Unfortunately, this position hypocritically and absurdly ignores what happened eighteen months earlier in Manhattan and Washington, D.C., as well as the hatred for America and its allies as depicted in the cartoon to the right published in a Bahrainian newspaper on June 10, 2002, fully nine months before America invaded Iraq.
For those interested, the Jewish caricature in the cartoon is demanding that the Bush caricature say “I Hate the Arabs!” In response, Bush is replying, “I hate the Arabs, I hate the Arabs!”
Chris Matthews and John Fund had something of a nuclear showdown on this afternoon's Hardball. Matthews' current kick is worrying that President Bush might launch an attack on Iran without congressional authorization. In that context, talk turned to Saddam's nuclear program and that of North Korea.
Has Chris Matthews surged and accelerated his war against President Bush? Did the MSNBC host and analyst refer to the Commander-in-Chief as "evil"?
In the course of Matthews dialogue with Lester Holt, guest-hosting on this morning's "Today," Holt raised the possibility that President Bush might choose to expand the war into Iran:
Holt: "The president of course has stepped up language against Iran for its interference within Iraq. He sent a naval aircraft carrier group to the Persian Gulf. If he makes this now against Ahmadinejad, if Ahmadinejad becomes the 'poster thug' in this case, does that increase support for the war?"
Matthews: "Well, the president may well choose to widen the war for political reasons . He may do it for military reasons. We do have our troops under assault in Iraq and he has to protect the troops. And if there is Iraqi [sic, presumably Iranian] involvement in the other side he has to take steps. The danger is we might cross the border into Iraq [sic, again surely referring to Iran], therefore triggering a reaction from Iraq, from Iran rather, and then we go to war with Iran. And I think the President might well want to do that. Who knows what evil lurks? But the fact of the matter is that the American public may never get a say in this. The Congress may never get a say in it."
It's not enough to embrace defeat in Iraq. The United States should preemptively capitulate to Iran too. That's not Noam Chomsky's latest fevered pronouncement, nor the impassioned plea of Cindy Sheehan at the gates of Gitmo. It is the opening paragraph of a column in this morning's Boston Globe by Robert Rotberg. And who is Rotberg? Former President of Lafayette College, former professor at MIT, now Director of Harvards's Kennedy School Program on Intrastate Conflict and Conflict Resolution.
"The only way to promote sustainable peace, stability, and order in Iraq is to forge an unholy alliance with Iran -- and accept Iran's dominant influence in the Middle East. Only by accepting Iranian hegemonic pretensions, odious as they are, can the United States extricate itself somewhat honorably from Iraq."
In case we missed the point, here's how Rotberg concludes his column:
All throughout last night's Hardball, MSNBC's Chris Matthews kept pressing the line the administration was headed for war with Iran, so much so, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow felt the need to calm down Matthews. When an agitated Matthews demanded: "Tony, will the President ask Congress' approval before any attack on Iran?,' Snow countered, "You're getting way ahead of yourself, Chris. Nobody here is talking about attacks on Iran." Snow even attempted to tone down the admitted film buff's active imagination as he warned the excitable Hardball host: "Well, you've been watching too many old movies featuring your old friend Slim Pickens is what you're doing now, come on."
There’s really no other way of putting this: Keith Olbermann is a disgrace, and the idea that any major media outlet would give him a daily platform to spew his vitriol from is similarly so.
Such an observation certainly comes as no great surprise to NewsBusters readers who have been regularly subjected to videos and transcripts of this man’s vapid and insipid rantings since this blog was first started. Though Thursday night’s “Special Comment” on MSNBC’s “Countdown” was not necessarily out of the ordinary for Olbermann, coming a day after President Bush’s speech to the nation concerning Iraq, its contents were all the more offensive (video available here).
Last week saw the dawning of the new Democratic majority and members of the media seemed to be charmed by the event. ABC reporter Cokie Roberts described a photo-op of new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holding her grandchild as "fun" and "completely natural." CBS’s Bob Schieffer interviewed Pelosi and pressed her to raise taxes. And "60 Minutes" commentator Andy Rooney became nostalgic for Democrats of old, saying it’s "hard to dislike Jimmy Carter."
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann continued his fevered attack on all things Republican and conservative. He’s now accused White House Press Secretary Tony Snow of "bald-faced lying" about a Bush speech. Olbermann’s cohort in liberalism, Chris Matthews, described the Vice President of the United States as someone "who always wants to kill." Later in the week, he told his "Hardball" audience that he was "terrified" of the President’s plans for Iran. Chris, calm down!
Appearing on this morning's Imus show, Chris Matthews [file photo] painted a portrait of a bloodthirsty VP Cheney.
Matthews: "I don't think we should get deeper and deeper into the sands of Arabia with more troops. I think these decisions to keep going forward, which is what he’s doing, is getting us into a quicksand situation where the more you struggle, the more you sink. I think that's where we're headed and it‘s because of his ideology, because of the neocons who have grabbed his arm again, this guy Fred Kagan has grabbed hold of him [the president] again and they've using [retired General] Jack Keane to do it, and they’re working through Cheney, of course, who always wants to kill, and they’ve dragged us back into the same mentality that we're looking for any reason to strike, and I think that's the way he is towards Iran right now."
"How can you talk about bombing a country when you won't even talk to them?" said Clark. "It's outrageous. We're the United States of America; we don't do that. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the military option is off the table - but diplomacy is not what Jim Baker says it is. It's not, 'what will it take for you boys to support us on Iraq?' It's sitting down for a couple of days and talking about our families and our hopes, and building relationships."
When we asked him what made him so sure the Bush administration was headed in this direction, he replied: "You just have to read what's in the Israeli press. The Jewish community is divided, but there is so much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office seekers."
Eleanor Clift of Newsweek asserted on this past weekend’s McLaughlin Group that John Negroponte was moving from the role of Director of National Intelligence to become the number two man at the State Department because Vice President Cheney and President Bush wanted a yes man in the intelligence position who would "support their desire to make war with Iran." Clift also portrayed Vice President Cheney as a bully on intelligence matters as she claimed that had Negroponte remained the Director of National Intelligence, "he’d spend the next two years agreeing with Dick Cheney that we have to wage war with Iran, or he’d be pushing back unsuccessfully."
Yet in her indictment of the President and Vice President over wanting war with Iran, Clift neither condemned any of Iran’s provocative actions, nor did she mention paths the Bush administration is pursuing to avoid war, such as working through the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions.
Chronicle staff writer, Robert Collier, wants the US to "negotiate" with the radical, Islamist, terrorists and the old guard Saddamists that are vexing Iraq's attempts to move into the 21st century preventing them in their laudable attempt to build a nation answerable to Iraqis of every stripe.
"U.S. must negotiate with insurgents and militias, experts say", Collier breathlessly informs us. His "experts", though, leave much to be desired for reliability.
Collier seems to think the insurgents and terror outfits should be treated as if they are merely interested parties, as if they were the same kind of political party or faction we are used to in the west. Someone has not taken the time to inform Mr. Collier about exactly what these factions want in the Middle East, sadly.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's nuclear ambitions; his flouting of the recent unanimous UN Security Council resolution to stop his march toward acquiring nuclear weapons; his repeated vows to wipe Israel off the map and his various threats to the US, including at least one to achieve "a world without America"?;
Israel's possible plans to defend itself and eliminate Iran's nuclear program?
If you're NBC, the choice is clear: the answer is #2. Consider the editorializing that crept in the news item NBC's Amy Rohbach "news" item on this morning's "Today."
During the year-end awards edition of his weekly syndicated chat show, Chris Matthews asked his panel to vote on the “Dangerous Despot” of 2006, and then listed the nominees: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il, Venezuelan boss Hugo Chavez, Iran’s nuclear-seeking threat Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — and Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly!
“How in the hell did this guy get in there?” Matthews asked in mock surprise as O’Reilly’s face popped up next to America’s worst enemies. “How did he get in there?”
Later in the same discussion, BBC Washington Correspondent Katty Kay pointed out “there’s a despot missing from this crowd, too, and that’s [Russian President] Vladimir Putin," who is suspected of ordering the killings of political opponents.
“We bumped him for O’Reilly,” Matthews interjected, eliciting laughter from the rest of the panel. “What do you think?”
The passing of President Ford has New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof fantasizing about the ignominy that President Bush's obituary will heap on him for his handling of Iraq. In what Kristof claims to be "the holiday spirit," he offers W ten suggestions to rescue his legacy. After all, what says "holiday spirit" more than dreaming about someone's death?
You can read all ten suggestions here if you've anted up to the Times, but for those loath to lard the Times' coffers, let me focus on two of Kristof's recommendations:
"Seriously engage Iraq’s nastier neighbors, including Iran and Syria, and renounce permanent military bases in Iraq. None of that will solve the mess in Iraq. But these steps will suggest that you are belatedly trying to listen and are willing to give diplomacy a chance."
We haven't listened to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Sure we have: he wants to develop nuclear weapons and erase Israel from the map. For starters. And just why should we renounce the prospect of bases giving us the ability to defend American interests in the most volatile region of the world?
Tom Brokaw took the occasion of the ceremonies attending the death of President Ford to take shots at the foreign policy of both Presidents Ford and Reagan. Speaking with Chris Matthews on MSNBC during the 6 PM ET hour, Brokaw observed: "President Ford and Henry Kissinger, fairly I think you can say, were over-infatuated with the Shah of Iran. Iran was an important launching pad for the United States should a war with the Soviet Union break out. It was also the source of great oil [sic], but there was already at that time very strong evidence in Iran that there was an Islamic uprising that eventually overthrew the Shah of Iran."
The Shah fell largely because Jimmy Carter abandoned him. Is Brokaw saying the US should have jumped earlier on Ayatollah Khomenei's bandwagon?
..... On Saturday, the Security Council voted unanimously to impose sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, increasing international pressure on the government to prove that it is not trying to make nuclear weapons.
..... Iran insists its nuclear program is intended to produce energy, but the U.S. and European nations suspect its ultimate goal is the production of weapons.
That's "funny." Here's an AP story from December 11 by Alicia Chang, AP Science writer, about potential global cooling that might occur as the result of a nuclear war that says:
Somebody needs a hug. Asked by David Gregory on this morning's "Today" whether his dismal poll numbers would deter a presidential run, Kerry responded: "Not in the least. You know, most of those other people haven't had several hundred million dollars worth of negative framing against them."
Aw-w-w. Love Hillary or hate her, but I'd say that over the last 12 years a penny or two's worth of "negative framing" has been laid on her. Yet according to the poll NBC displayed she has a more than 3:1 lead over Kerry.
Kerry did offer a huge ray of hope, informing us that he's "sitting here in Damascus, trying to figure out how we're going to solve the problems of the Middle East."
Yet Another Poser (Mostly) Gets Through the Media 'Filter'
Yesterday, in his story about Rosemarie Jackowski, the "new folk hero" of the antiwar movement, John Curran of the Associated Press quoted a gentlemen who was arrested with Jackowski in a 2003 protest incident in Vermont:
She's not a loony toon by any means," said Andrew Schoerke, 73, a retired U.S. Navy captain who was arrested with her. "She's a very down to earth, sensible, caring person with some very strong convictions."
But what about her "character witness," Mr. Schoerke?
I did a Google Main search on his name in quotes last night. At the time, the very first item (it has moved down since) was A May 19 column by Mr. Schoerke, "Stop Bush's Next War", which he believes to be Iran, and where he is described as follows -- "Andrew Schoerke, United States Naval Reserve Captain (ret.), lives in Shaftsbury, VT and is a member of vermontpeacetrain." At the very least, he's not just another "unlikely peace activist," as Jackowski is described in the headline.
Vermont Peace Train of Bennington is "a 'grassroots' organization formed by residents of Southwest Vermont in order to promote and practicethe non-violent resolution of conflicts." That's career peace activist-speak.
So that made me wonder if Schoerke has been arrested on other occasions. Googling "ex-Navy officer arrested" (not entered in quotes) -- Surprise, surprise (not), at the very first item, this guy's in the "big leagues":
Media: Keith Olbermann wants a raise (despite still remaining in fourth-place). The champion of the people is gunning for $4 million a year. TV reporter Max Robbins says CNN is purportedly interested in hiring the left-wing commentator but I doubt that.
"Why did CNN and MSNBC give air time to David Duke? What purpose did it serve the viewers?" Media columnist Jon Friedman asks today. Easy answer: Because to them, Duke represents two useful commodities: 1) he pisses people off, and 2) he represents what the right "really" thinks about race, in the view of the average liberal producer (HT: TVN).
Of course, when it comes to racists, if you're a non-American willing to bash President Bush, it earns you a suck-up interview in Time magazine and such accolades from that same magazine as "global Everyman," "champion of the dispossessed.
Politics: Illinois senator Barack Obama is being hyped so much, but if he's smart he won't believe it, John Fund argues.
Tennessee governor Phil Bredensen is under fire for putting a "young Muslim woman" on his official Christmas cards. Apparently it was some sort of goodwill gesture gone horribly awry.
Check out the top ten politically incorrect words of 2006.
For those who enjoy watching a well-known racist and unapologetic anti-Semite get beat up by a television anchorman, CNN’s “The Situation Room” was the place to be Wednesday. Host Wolf Blitzer invited former Ku Klux Klan member David Duke on to discuss the Holocaust conference in Tehran, and the fireworks started immediately. After being introduced, Duke came right out of his corner, and attacked Wolf (must-see video available here):
Well, first off, Mr. Blitzer, I resent the introduction you made of me. You mentioned the Ku Klux Klan 11 times. That was over 30 -- well, 30 years ago in my life, and since that time I got elected to the House of Representatives, I became -- and I received a full doctorate, I have been a teacher, I have one of the best selling books in the world.
And you interview many former communists in governments all over the world and you don't introduce them by saying former communist and certainly not 11 times. I think you're biased because you're a former lobbyist for AIPAC. You're a Jewish extremist, supporter of Israel, so you want to bias anyone who criticizes Zionism.
Nice way to start an interview, wouldn't you say? Blitzer then asked, “Well, do you hate Jews?” Duke responded:
Those looking for a true conservative to enter the Republican presidential field might be feeling a bit perplexed in the wake of Sam Brownback's performance on this morning's Fox News Sunday. The senator from Kansas:
Endorsed the ISG report and appeared to strongly support negotiations with Iran and Syria.
Called for a timetable for US withdrawal.
Spoke approvingly of a Bidenesqe division of Iraq into three ethnic regions.
Declined to swing at the softball host Chris Wallace lobbed at him regarding Mitt Romney's flip-flops on abortion and gay rights.
Seemingly described himself as a "compassionate conservative."
Invited by Wallace to comment on the ISG report, Brownback was surprisingly supportive: "I think [Pres. Bush] really should look at these recommendations very seriously as well. And it seems to me that what Baker-Hamilton provides us is a chance to kind of reset the table and get a bi-partisan buy-in and not just a bipartisan buy-in, a global buy-in to what we can do to move forward in Iraq and get our troops out of harm's way and out of the sectarian violence. I think this is an important moment, like senator Dodd identifies as well"
Slim pickings indeed. Perhaps we need to start looking for inanimate objects (e.g., 1982 - The Computer; 1988 - Endangered Earth), symbolic people (1950 - American Fighting Man; 1956 - Hungarian Freedom Fighter; 2003 - The American Soldier), or groups of people (1960 - US Scientists; 1966 - 25 and Under; 1969 - The Middle Americans; 1975 - American Women; 1993 - The Peacemakers; 2002 - The Whistleblowers). The list of all previous winners is here.
Perhaps YouTube, online forums, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, and online media should be the Thing of the Year: The Shadow Media. Of course, Time would be writing about its own likely eventual demise, but it would fit.
Perhaps in an attempt to surpass even David Gregory for most egregious bias, CNN reporter Suzanne Malveaux derided President Bush as a "Kool-Aid" drinker who won’t admit failure in Iraq. In a report for the Friday edition of "American Morning," the White House correspondent discussed Bush’s news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In additional fits of bias, Malveaux, described the President’s frustration at the lack of progress in Iraq as "the closest you'll get from this president to admitting failure" and noted that "for Mr. Bush, it's not easy to admit mistakes." But nowhere did Ms. Malveaux make her editorial point more clear, that Iraq is a total failure and Bush is in denial, than when she drew an allusion to Jonestown and the infamous mass suicide by Kool-Aid:
Suzanne Malveaux: "President Bush and his closest ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, have stood shoulder to shoulder on the Iraq war since the very beginning. Critics calling Mr. Bush 'the cowboy' for stubbornly leading the charge, and Mr. Blair 'the poodle' for obediently following. But three years since the U.S. invasion, the two are still adamant their Iraq mission is sound. President Bush didn't just drink the Kool-Aid, he made it. But perhaps now it's a little less sweet."