Has CBS's Mike Wallace gotten soft in his old age? His usual knock-out style was nowhere to be found during his interview with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, writes in the New York Sun:
Mr. Wallace, a familiar figure to American television viewers, prides himself on being a tenacious interviewer, unafraid to mix it up with the best of them.But for some reason, Mr. Wallace was hesitant in this interview, unwilling to press the wily Iranian president, and was thrown off stride by the tough, even snide, comebacks, including a threat to end the interview prematurely.
Moreover, Mr. Wallace seemed unexpectedly charmed, perhaps even won over, by the president, which also may have dulled his usually sharp instincts.
Those mean-spirited Republicans. They're all about the politics of hate. And now this! Can you imagine, calling a political opponent an "evil, authoritarian, crypto-fascist puppet master"? Wait a sec. That wasn't a Republican. It's a Huff Poster describing Dick Cheney.
Oh, and for good measure he calls President Bush "a smiling, dry alcoholic with sadistic tendencies."
The author in question is Larry Beinhart, who, as per his web page, is a member in good standing of the liberal establishment: Fulbright Fellow, novelist and screenplay writer, written for Newsday, LA Times, International Herald Tribune, Esquire. Couple Emmys.
CBS's Mike Wallace spent a half-hour of network air time with Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and some of his questions were tough, about Hezbollah violence and Holocaust denial and the Iranian leader's desire to wipe Israel off the map. Most surprisingly, he suggested the Iranians were providing explosives to the Iraqi insurgents (something the American news media doesn't usually highlight), and ended by suggesting there were reports of Iran having 52,000 trained suicide bombers to launch against American and British targets in case they are attacked.
While it was measurably tougher than Dan Rather's embarrassing 2003 sit-down with Saddam Hussein, CBS did air moments of Wallace kissing up to Ahmadinejad. "I couldn't be happier with the privilege of sitting down with the President of Iran," he wallowed at one point, as Ahmadinejad claimed Wallace was getting angry.
60 Minutes contributor Mike Wallace engaged in a heart-to-heart with the man who says Israeli should be "wiped off the map" and the holocaust was a "myth."
The Associated Press reports that the elderly correspondent said of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "He's an impressive fellow, this guy. He really is. He's obviously smart as hell." Wallace also remarked, "I expected more of a firebrand. I don't think he has the slightest doubt about how he feels ... about the American administration and the Zionist state. He comes across as more rational than I had expected."
Bring back Katie! OK, perhaps that's not the solution, but the sycophantish display that Ann Curry put on for Queen Noor and her anti-Israel/pro-Hezbollah views was enough to make you pound the TV screen in frustration.
Noor is a Princeton-educated Arab-American who is the widow of the late King Hussein of Jordan. Curry's opening set the tone. Rather than asking a probing question, Ann invited Noor to lecture America: "what insights might you offer America about what Hezbollah wants and what it's willing to do to get it?"
Noor blamed the Jews and lauded Hezbollah: "Hezbollah was created as was Hamas in the Palestinian territories during a period of Israeli occupation which is on-going in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon. Hezbollah was largely responsible and credited by the Lebanese for having creating the pressure for having Israel withdraw from Lebanese territory."
Curry took Noor's notion a grotesque step further: "So it's almost seen as a savior."
Subbing for reporter/columnist Dana Milbank on the Washington Post's snarky "Zeitgeist Checklist" feature in the Sunday opinion section, Post reporter Michael Grunwald goes on a tear, with every time on the ten-item list having a lame connection to Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic drunk-driving rant. Here's how it starts with the number one issue of the week, the Middle East conflict:
Fighting intensifies in Lebanon, as dozens of innocents die, but President Bush senses a "moment of opportunity." Linguists note that in Chinese, the character for "opportunity" also means "quagmire." And "Hezbollah" means "Party of Mel Gibson."
Appearing on FNC's The O'Reilly Factor Wednesday, former CBS News anchor Dan Rather conceded there's a "problem" with America's media in its treatment of Hezbollah and Israel with "moral equivalence," even including himself as part of the problem. As host Bill O'Reilly brought up the topic, stating his criticism that "Some networks give moral equivalency to Hezbollah in the reporting of this war," Rather voiced agreement and went on to acknowledge the media's reluctance to label Hezbollah as a "terrorist organization." Rather: "It's a problem that those of us in journalism have been reluctant to address -- I do not exclude myself from this criticism -- reluctant to address that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. It's committed to the destruction of Israel. It isn't committed to trying to just gain territory. It's committed to its destruction." (Transcript follows)
TEHRAN, Iran -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ordered government and cultural bodies to use modified Persian words to replace foreign words that have crept into the language, such as "pizzas" which will now be known as "elastic loaves," state media reported Saturday.
The presidential decree, issued earlier this week, orders all governmental agencies, newspapers and publications to use words deemed more appropriate by the official language watchdog, the Farhangestan Zaban e Farsi, or Persian Academy, the Irna official news agency reported.
Bill O'Reilly got his show off to a surprising start this afternoon, with a novel theory as to why the big-city newspapers have tread lightly in criticizing Israel for its role in the current conflict. During his opening monologue O'Reilly theorized that the papers are fearful of turning off liberal Jewish readers.
As per Bill's hypothesis, papers such as the NY and LA Times, Boston Globe and Washington Post have been taking big hits in readership and profitability. With Fox News Channel's ED Hill in the studio, O'Reilly continued: "liberal Jewish readers are all [those newspapers] have left" as a significant market segment. If the papers were to be too critical of Israel, it could alienate their last remaining readership niche.
It is pretty amazing that CBS News can misquote, in headline form, someone they not only personally interviewed, but one that they themselves provided video clips of proving the inaptness of their headline. I guess they imagined that no one would actually take the time to watch the video clip?
Worse, the part of the video clip where William F. Buckley addresses Bush's status as a conservative isn't until the last two minutes of a 10-minute interview. Could they have assumed that many people would never stay with the interview all the way until the end to find out that the CBS headline is mere hyperbole and that Buckley never really said that Bush wasn't a "true conservative"?
Even the sub headline takes liberties with Buckley's words.
'Bolton and the other radicals in the administration want Israel to keep pummeling Lebanon a while longer.' No, they want Israel to keep pummeling Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon.
party of mutual Armageddon . . . the war party of Hamas, Hezbollah, the
Israeli right, the Iranian ultras, Rumsfeld, and Cheney.' Moral equivalence strikes again. The terrorists, and those who would stop the terrorists - same difference.
'Today' never showed us just who was holding that placard. But judging from his comments this morning, just how surprised would we be to find it was NBC's David Gregory himself?
Did David perhaps rev up for his appearance by reading this all-out assault on Bush foreign policy from in the LA Times? In any case, he came loaded for Bush bear with a totally bleak tour d'horizon that included these gems:
"The president's foreign policy was designed to make the the Middle East safer. It's not."
"Crisis after crisis has undermined the Bush doctrine."
"A foreign policy that has yet to produce the promised results."
"CBS Evening News" anchor Bob Schieffer participated in a phone interview with Bob Steele of the Poynter Institute yesterday. The discussion focused on Schieffer’s view of the current situation in the Middle East and caused Schieffer to pull out an old left wing talking point about war as he lamented:
"We have made a judgment that this is extremely important because this could set off a much wider war, a war that could, if it got big enough, could cause this country, for one thing, to have to reinstitute the draft."
I suppose, theoretically, Schieffer is correct, but is his fear logical? Is there serious discussion on Capitol Hill to bring back the draft? No, in fact the last time the idea of a draft came to a vote in 2004 it received 2 votes.
It is axiomatic that the goal of the foreign policy of the United States should be the advancement of the interests of the United States and not of any other country, no matter how sympathetic, including Israel. That said, should it not give Chris Matthews pause that his pointed anti-neo-con spiel has become indistinguishable from the well-rehearsed Pat Buchanan line on the matter? In a weird twist, Dem hyper-partisan Bob Shrum, a supporter of Israel, was the odd man out on this evening's Hardball.
To demonstrate my point, let's play a little game. Guess who made the following statements?
A. "The neo-cons are out there complaining that this president isn't tough enough. I have no idea what they mean. 50,000 dead in Iraq - it was supposed to be a cakewalk, Ken Adelman is out there today saying we should go other places, you have other guys that want to blow up every Arab country on the list."
The Shiite anti-Israeli terror group Hezbollah crossed from Lebanon into Israel on July 12, killing eight Israeli soldiers and kidnapping two others. Israel is responding with force, unleashing targeted air strikes against Hezbollah positions in Lebanon in an effort to get the kidnapped soldiers back.
The New York Times' coverage of Israel's counterattack has been generally fair, or at least more balanced than usual -- the prospect of wide-scale war appears to have clarified somewhat the paper's often-wishful thinking about the true aims of Israel’s foes.
One major annoying tic that remains is the paper's use of the term "captured" to describe kidnapped Israeli soldiers, when it comes to covering the June kidnapping by Hamas of Gilad Shalit at an Israeli Defense Forces outpost, and the two kidnapped soldiers resulting from the incursion by Hezbollah. "Captured" is a phrase used by anti-Israeli leftists like ANSWER and implies these soldiers were prisoners of war captured on the field of battle, not abducted over a border by a terrorist group.
I don't know about you, but whenever I have to choose whose military strategy to rely on - the Israeli IDF's or a member of the MSM - I'm going to go with the American media guy every time - particularly when the fellow in question is NBC Nightly News host Brian Williams. After all, what battles or wars has Israel ever won? In contrast, those fraternity parties back at Catholic University were an absolute minefield, not to mention the internecine battle scars Brian earned while working in Jimmy Carter's White House.
So it was that I listened with rapt attention to Brian's report from Tel Aviv this morning, and learned - to my horror - that the Israeli battle plan didn't meet muster with General Williams.
Is Harry Smith's goal at every stage of every war to stop it? If he had been around on June 6, 1944, would he have been asking what could be done to stop D-Day? The question arises in light of Smith's questions on this morning's Early Show to Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution.
Right out of the box, cease-fire seemed to be on Harry's mind: "We have Hezbollah content to fire rockets into Israel, just as we heard a couple of minutes ago from [CBS reporter] Sharyn Alfonsi. We have Israel intent on squashing Hezbollah. Is there any country in the world, any group of countries, for that matter, that can compel either side to stop?"
O'Hanlon didn't think so, noting that at this stage neither side shows the remotest interest in a cease fire.
Israel might be defending itself on two fronts this morning, but that might not be enough. The Today show was attacking on at least three. And in a brief-but-telling moment, Andrea Mitchell gave away the blame-Israel game with a spontaneous shake of the head.
Here's the gist of Today's reporting:
Israel's offensive against Hezbollah is based on a 'pretext.'
The Bush administration has dropped the diplomatic ball. It should have sent higher-level people in to mediate sooner. In the meantime, despite the concerns of America's European allies, the Bush White House has given Israel a dangerous 'green light' to attack.
The Bush administration is not responding effectively to the crisis because it is 'overwhelmed' and spread too thin by involvement elsewhere.
With ghoulish glee, Today wasted no time speculating on the possibility of $100/barrel oil resulting from the heightened tensions.
Give the Ragin' Cajun credit: the man works fast. In a Today show appearance lasting only six minutes, and shared with former Bush administration official Dan Senor, Carville managed to work variations on the word 'failure' into his comments no fewer than six times.
At the same time, I defy anyone to read the transcript or watch a replay of Carville's comments on Pres. Bush''s foreign policy and find one solitary instance in which he proposes an alternative or even offers constructive criticism. His rap was utterly bereft of any notion of what the Democrats would do, and do better, if they regained power.
As we head into the Fourth of July holiday, remember it was just last year, headed into a long Independence Day weekend, when NBC anchor Brian Williams compared our founding fathers to terrorists. How open-minded it was of Brian to perceive that perhaps our forefathers could have been considered "terrorists," when experts suggest the word wasn't really coined until years after our revolution. Here's how we summed up that June 30 evening newscast (watch it here):
Remote controls flew at TV sets across America last night as NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams came out of an Andrea Mitchell story on whether Iran's new President was one of the captors of U.S. hostages in 1979 during Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic revolution. Williams suggested a sickening moral equivalence between the Iranian radicals and America's Founding Fathers.
Readers of these columns might have noticed that I occasionally include at the foot the fact that I live in 'the liberal haven of Ithaca, NY.' To give you a flavor for what I'm talking about, consider today's op-ed page in my hometown daily, the Ithaca Journal. The Journal is a Gannett newspaper. That's the chain [led by USA Today] that, as I've documented, chose as a news editor someonewho believes calling VP Cheney 'Satan' makes for the best commencement speech ever.
For weeks, the MSM has been billing as a bellwether the congressional by-election in California to replace convicted felon Randy 'Duke' Cunningham. As per the conventional wisdom, if the Democrats managed to take the seat in what is normally a GOP-stronghold, it would be seen as a harbinger of horrible things to come for the Republican congressional majority.
Well, the election was held yesterday, and - whoops! - the Republican, Brian Bilbray, won. So how did Today spin it? Why, silence was suddenly golden. At least as of the crucial first half-hour, there was time for coverage of dust in the Arizonan desert, but not a word of the Bilbray victory. Insert your imagine-if-the-Dem-had-won comment here.
Over the weekend, Iraq's foreign minister, Hoshyar Zibari, and Iran's foreign affairs chief held a meeting to discuss, among other things, Iran's nuclear program. Afterward, the two held a press conference. CNN reported on the conference but instead of reporting that Iraq wanted Iran to guarantee its program was for peaceful purposes, the network implied that Iraq was backing its neighbor entirely.
Iran doesn't claim that they want to obtain a nuclear weapon or a nuclear bomb, so there is no need that we ask them for any guarantee now.
Here's what he actually said, as translated by Omar from the Arabic original:
We respect Iran's and every other nation's right to pursue nuclear technology for research purposes and peaceful use given they accept [giving] the internationally required guarantees that this will not lead to an armament race in the region.
Continuing a mini-trend at the New York Times of downplaying Holocaust denial among Middle East leaders, Thursday morning brings this headline to a Page 5 story regarding the latest anti-Semitic rantings of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "Iran's President Clarifies His Stand on Holocaust: It's a European Myth" The Iranian leader called the Holocaust a "myth" used by Europeans to create a Jewish state.
In contrast, the Washington Post gives the outburst much stronger play, with a story from one of its own foreign service reporters, not just using AP copy as the Times does. The Post also places the story on the front page, accompanied by a solid headline: "Iran's President Calls Holocaust 'Myth' in Latest Assault on Jews."
Last month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad caused quite a stir by violating every international agreement in existence when calling - at a government-sponsored conference - to "wipe Israel off the face of the map." (The Indispensible MEMRI has the full text of the President-Kidnapper's remarks here.)
The MSM continues peddle several myths about Iran. Essentially, they argue that Iran isn't all that dangerous because it doesn't mean what it says, couldn't do what it says even if it meant it, and anyway, its problem is with Israel, not with Jews in general.
Turns out that apparently nobody in the MSM has bothered to check out the website for the conference, despite the URL's prominent place on a banner behind Ahmadinejad while he was speaking.