The last two presidents have been elected on the very dubious campaign promise of “changing the tone” of Washington. Either could have proven his sincerity by shredding the press credentials of the White House press corps Dean of Mean, Helen Thomas. Her tone was nasty, and her “questions” usually meant more as insults than as requests for information. Still, presidents and journalists alike bowed and scraped before her, as if she were the Queen of All Media.
Her reign ended with an implosion. A rabbi and two high-school kids in yarmulkes exposed Thomas as not merely anti-Israel, but anti-Semitic. Asked her opinion about the Jews at a Jewish heritage event at the White House, this daughter of Lebanese immigrants said they should “get the hell out of Palestine,” and when asked where they should go, she snapped “home” to Germany and Poland, where so many were massacred in the Holocaust.
Thomas apologized quickly, then retired from her Hearst column after these remarks. Whether it was voluntary or mandatory is unclear. What is clear, however, is that some in the press returned immediately to kissing her ring. “Few White House correspondents ever achieved her high profile and respectability,” raved Jeremy Peters in the New York Times. “From her coveted seat in the front row of the White House briefing room to her ability to cow even the most hardened White House press secretary, Ms. Thomas was a legend in Washington.”
In the May/June issue of “Cato Policy Report,” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough lamented conservative foreign policy as overly dogmatic and ideological and questioned whether winning the war in Afghanistan is in America’s national security interest.
“Dogma and rigid ideologies are the enemies of conservative foreign policy,” lectured Scarborough. “Those who are still arguing in 2010 that we can somehow export democracy across the globe and rebuild other countries on the other side of the world in our image–these are the people that we have to call out today, tomorrow, and everyday, as the dangerous radicals that they are.”
With a broad stroke, Scarborough--who was the keynote speaker at the libertarian Cato Institute’s “Escalate or Withdraw? Conservatives and the War in Afghanistan” event in March--labeled all conservatives who support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as radical. But in the same address, the MSNBC anchor made the radical pronouncement that the war in Afghanistan is not a vital national security interest.
“And I would like Barack Obama, I would like Harry Reid, I would like Nancy Pelosi, I’d like John Boehner, I’d like Mitch McConnell,” rambled Scarborough. “I’d like Republicans and Democrats alike to tell me at this point in 2010 what is ‘vital to US national interests’ in Afghanistan?”
Helen Thomas was her typical, Israel-hating self Tuesday when during the White House press briefing, she called the previous day's flotilla incident a "deliberate massacre, an international crime."
When she got her chance to ask White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs a question at the proceeding, Thomas was relentless in her accusations.
"If any other nation in the world had done it, we would have been up in arms," she said.
"What is the sacrosanct, iron-clad relationship where a country that deliberately kills people and boycotts -- and we aid and abet the boycott?" (video follows with transcript and commentary, h/t Hot Air's Allahpundit):
ABC's Jake Tapper reported Tuesday that the Obama administration is going to support Israel in the wake of international outrage over the flotilla incident off the coast of Gaza Monday morning.
If Tapper is correct, one has to wonder whether the typically pro-Palestinian media here in America will stand with the President on this one.
Such seems especially intriguing given Obama's plummeting approval ratings and his increasingly frosty relations with press members that helped him get elected two years ago but now feel he's snubbing them at every turn.
Here's what Tapper wrote hours ago at ABC's Political Punch blog (h/t Hot Air's Ed Morrissey):
According to the geniuses at ABC News, the flotilla incident between Israel and pro-Hamas activists Monday endangers American troops stationed in the Middle East.
At the conclusion of what had been a relatively well-balanced "World News" report concerning what happened off of the coast of Gaza early Monday morning, ABC's Jim Sciutto apprised viewers of the angry reaction to the event by Muslims in the region.
"While the facts remain in dispute, demonstrations extended across the Muslim world to Muslim communities in Europe," began Sciutto.
"A public outpouring like this one poses a danger for America's relations with the Muslim world as well," he continued.
"The popular perception of America has real consequences for American soldiers undermining already weak support for U.S. military action in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Since February 2006, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann has used the signoff of his Countdown show almost nightly to mock President Bush by recounting the number of days have passed since the former President stood on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln and declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq. The speech, which President Bush delivered while a sign with the words "Mission Accomplished" could be seen in the background, has been referred to by Olbermann and other war critics as Bush’s "declaration of ‘Mission Accomplished.’" The signoff mocking Bush had continued even after the former President left office.
But as of this week, the MSNBC host has finally dropped his former signoff and instead recounts the number of days since the beginning of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The last time Olbermann signed off attacking President Bush was on Thursday, May 20: "That’s Countdown, for this, the 2,576 th day since the previous President declared "Mission Accomplished" I Iraq. I’m Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck."
On Friday, Olbermann did not use the sign off because each Friday he ends the show by reading a short story from James Thurber, and deviates from his regular signoff, but on Monday, he had a new signoff referring to the oil spill, which he kept up through Thursday of this week:
A promo for a new Chris Matthews special on the "Rise of the New Right" is pretty much what you'd expect: Rand Paul, 9/11 Truther Alex Jones, and lots of militiamen shooting guns. That is the doctrinaire leftist snapshot of the Tea Party movement, so it stands to reason that Matthews will extrapolate it into some dire warning about our political future.
"There is a rising tide on the right," Matthews's ominously declares. "The tea party is determined to take power, what does that mean for America?" A claim by a militiaman that "the government's too big" is immediately followed by gunshots - a not too subtle way to paint Americans who favor less government (a majority, by the way) as extremists ala the infamous Hutaree Militia.
The promo opens with Rand Paul's "message from the Tea Party: we've come to take our government back." Paul's recent gaffe - he said he would not have voted for Title II of the Civil Rights Act - will probably give Matthews an easy segue into discussion of the horrible racists that make up the movement. The presence of Alex Jones suggests that Matthews will try to paint Tea Partiers as conspiracy theorists as well (video below the fold).
Former United Nations ambassador John Bolton had one of the best lines on Friday's "Real Time" when after he got some scattered applause from the typically liberal audience in attendance, he said to Bill Maher, "You let Republicans in."
As the subject turned to America's military operations abroad, the HBO host told his guest, "You can't really believe that radical Muslim terrorists...need Afghanistan to launch an attack on us."
"I think there are plenty of alternative places," replied Bolton. "And I would say the bigger strategic interest going forward is keeping those nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists."
This produced some scattered applause from the crowd leading Bolton to marvelously say, "You let Republicans in" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
"The United States of America does not quit once it starts on something. You don't quit, the American armed services does not quit. We keep at it. We persevere." -- Pres. Obama to US troops in Afghanistan, March 28, 2010
"Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is calling for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. combat brigades from Iraq, with the pullout being completed by the end of next year. 'Let me be clear: There is no military solution in Iraq and there never was,' Obama said." -- Obama calls for immediate withdrawal from Iraq, AP, Sep. 12, 2007 [emphasis added]
There are lies, damned lies, and then the kind of brazen rewriting of what a man stands for that Barack Obama engaged in yesterday.
Is The Washington Post playing favorites with causes that inspire people to exercise their First Amendment rights and take to the streets to protest? When it comes to opposition to Democratic efforts to reform health care versus opposition to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it appears so.
In a March 20 Washington Post story headlined "Obama delivers plea to 'help us fix this system,'" Ben Pershing, Paul Kane and Lori Montgomery suggested House Democrats were gaining momentum in their pursuit of the 216 votes needed to pass health care reform legislation, despite "hundreds" of "tea party" protesters rallying outside the U.S. Capitol. (h/t Amanda Carpenter)
"Outside the Capitol, hundreds of 'tea party' protesters rallied against the legislation, jeering Democratic lawmakers as they passed and holding signs reading 'We'll Remember in November' and 'Revolution,' Pershing, Kane and Montgomery wrote.
Seven of the eight Marines charged in the alleged "massacre" of 24 civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha in 2005 have been acquitted or had their charges dismissed. Yet the cover of the New York Times's Sunday Book Review is splattered with the charge that Marines at Haditha committed a "crime."
Of all the crimes that sullied the record of the United States military in Iraq -- the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the killings of 24 Iraqi men, women and children by Marines in November 2005 in Haditha -- the murder of an entire Iraqi family in the village of Yusufiya may rank as the most chilling.
In an interview with Matt Damon near the end of Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith helped promote the actor's latest film, 'Green Zone,' which attacks the Bush administration over the Iraq war: "What was it like to make a movie like this? Because it's a little – it's – I'm not sure if this is an apt analogy, but it's a little 'Bourne' meets 'Hurt Locker.'"
Smith alluded to Damon's role as Jason Bourne in the action movie series and the Oscar-winning film 'Hurt Locker,' which chronicles bomb defusing teams in Iraq. Smith introduced the pre-recorded interview by touting Damon's latest film as a "new Iraq war thriller."
Lending credibility to the 'Green Zone' screenplay, Smith noted the movie was: "loosely based on a book that was written by a correspondent for the Washington Post, but the characters in it are fictional." Damon explained the premise of the film: "The guy I play is based on a real guy, he's leading a mobile exploitation team. We had these teams follow the Army....exploiting these sites where we thought the WMD were....they start realizing that there aren't any weapons there." Smith added: "Yeah, and he's a true believer." Damon replied: "Oh, absolutely."
On Saturday’s Fox News Watch, FNC contributor and panel member Jim Pinkerton of the New America Foundation twice cited the Media Research Center – parent organization to NewsBusters – the first time as he pointed out that ABC News had given six times as much attention to attacking Republican Senator Jim Bunning’s efforts to delay the extension of unemployment benefits – as if doing so were a scandal – as opposed to covering the actual scandal of Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel’s unethical activities. Pinkerton recounted:
Striking, as Scott Whitlock at MRC pointed out, ABC News devoted six times more coverage to trashing Bunning where Jonathan Karl, the reporter, went all Jesse Watters on Bunning, following him around in the Senate and trying to barge into the elevator, than they did on Chairman Rangel's, of the Ways and Means Committee's, forced resignation in a scandal. So a two-day procedural thing was six times bigger news to ABC than a genuine corrupt scandal. [Audio available here.]
The FNC contributor cited the MRC a second time during a discussion of the media’s coverage of Iraq as he noted that the mainstream media have lost interest in the subject and have not asked a question at a White House press conference since June 26. Host Jon Scott brought in Pinkerton by bringing up a recent article in the Daily Beast about positive developments in Iraq which did not mention former President Bush:
On Friday's Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy picked up an item reported on by NewsBusters on Wednesday about MSNBC cropping President George W. Bush's face out of the latest Newsweek cover. As Doocy explained: "...on MSNBC...They have cropped all of President Bush's face out. So why does the mainstream media have so much trouble giving him credit?"
Doocy discussed the issue with a political panel that included Democratic strategist Doug Schoen, who acknowledged: "What MSNBC did makes no sense." He later added: "...that makes no sense at all. Because to do that is just plain mean-spirited and wrong." Another panelist, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Karen Hunter, later admitted: "perhaps cropping him out completely may not be too fair."
On Wednesday's Morning Joe program on MSNBC a picture of the Newsweek cover was shown, but with only President Bush's arm visible, his face had been completely cut out of the original image.
The night before NBC’s Today show on Friday had an “exclusive” with Karl Rove to plug his new book, ‘Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight’ in which he assured readers President George W. Bush did not “lie us into war,” the NBC Nightly News led by giving him a brush back, regurgitating the arguments the Bush administration went to war in Iraq for illegitimate reasons. Anchor Brian Williams framed his top story:
It will go down in history among the events that shaped our times, the decision by President George W. Bush to go to war in Iraq after the United States had been attacked on 9/11 with no direct connection between the two. The United States has paid a heavy price for the war, which will be seven years old later this month. That's a year longer than all of World War II....The Iraq war is back in the news tonight because of new violence there, just like the old days, and because of a new take on the war from an old hand in the Bush operation, Karl Rove.”
Andrea Mitchell recounted how Rove “says if not for the threat of weapons of mass destruction, there probably would have been no Iraq war,” but “since no such weapons existed, Rove asks, ‘So, then, did Bush lie us into war?’ His answer: ‘Absolutely not..”
But, she countered, “others say President Bush had decided to go to war long before the U.N. could evaluate the evidence. As early as July 2002, former State Department official Richard Haass writes, Condoleezza Rice ‘brushed away’ his ‘concerns’ about Iraq, ‘saying the President had made up his mind,’” and then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair was told in a memo: “It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin.”
“Despite persistent violence and a critical election coming up, President Obama hardly ever mentions the war in Iraq,” Joseph Curl reports in today’s Washington Times, and the news media are largely aiding in this neglect. Curl discloses that “the last time a White House reporter asked about the Iraq war was June 26,” while ABC, CBS and NBC aired just 80 minutes of coverage in all of 2009.
The near-media blackout means that the success of President Bush’s “surge” policy in 2007 — a policy opposed by President Obama and Vice President Biden when both were presidential candidates and ridiculed by the networks as a "Lost Cause" — has gone virtually unreported in the past year. This week’s Newsweek is an exception, with a big Iraq War cover story declaring “Victory at Last.”
On Wednesday's Morning Joe on MSNBC, host Joe Scarborough pointed out the cover of the latest edition of Newsweek magazine, which proclaimed "Victory At Last; The Emergence of A Democratic Iraq" and featured a picture of President George W. Bush walking the deck of an aircraft carrier. However, the image of Newsweek that appeared on screen cropped out President Bush's face entirely (h/t George Miller).
The magazine cover showed Bush on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln in 2003, after making his "Mission Accomplished" speech following the successful invasion of Iraq. While Newsweek cropped the picture to include half of Bush's body and face, MSNBC further cropped the image to leave only the arm of the former president visible (See original Newsweek cover below).
One of Scarborough's guests, Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass, reacted to Newsweek's declaration of victory in Iraq: "Too positive....For sure. We're going to take months to see a new government formed and we don't know how well the new government's going to operate....Too soon to take out the champagne, if ever." Show co-host Mika Brzezinski added: "Still a lot of controversy as to why we went in."
At The Corner on NRO, former Bush speechwriter Peter Wehner greeted the new "Victory at Last" Iraq cover story in Newsweek by throwing a hardball back at Iraq pessimists in the media, like Time’s Joe Klein and Tom Ricks of The Washington Post, who insisted the Iraq war was a "fiasco" and the surge was ridiculous:
Those like Joe Klein and Tom Ricks, who claimed the Iraq war was "probably the biggest foreign policy mistake in American history" (Klein's words) and "the biggest mistake in the history of American foreign policy" (Ricks's words), were wrong. Ricks went so far as to say in 2009 that "I think staying in Iraq is immoral."
Now, if we had followed the counsel of Klein and Ricks and not implemented the surge, their predictions might have been closer to the mark. (Bush's decision was one of "adolescent petulance" and "the decision to surge was made unilaterally, without adequate respect for history or military doctrine," Klein wrote on April 5, 2007.) As it is, if the positive trajectory of events continue and Iraq does end up reshaping the political culture of the Arab Middle East, the Iraq war will, on balance, have advanced American interests in the region.
Words never spoken before by a CBS News journalist: “Do you think also that George Bush would also need a little thanks for that? I mean, does he share in the credit or not?” That very unusual quest to credit former President Bush came from Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation, since even for him Vice President Joe Biden’s claim -- “Iraq, I think, is going to be one of the great achievements of this administration” -- was too much. Cuing up a retort from former VP Dick Cheney on ABC’s This Week aired just over an hour earlier, Schieffer challenged Biden:
You said the other night to Larry King in an interview that you thought Iraq could be one of the “great achievements” of this administration. And I must say a lot of people, when you said that, said their response was “what?” This administration didn’t have very much to do with Iraq and your friend, Dick Cheney, had a thought about that, as well. So let’s listen to this.”
Cheney suggested “for them to try to take credit for what’s happened in Iraq strikes me as little strange” and recommended “it ought to go with a healthy dose of ‘thank you, George Bush,’ upfront.”
Conservative talk radio and political blogs all jumped on Vice President Joe Biden’s claim on CNN’s Larry King Live Wednesday night that the successful resolution of the Iraq war “could be one of the great achievements of this administration.” Biden and President Obama, then both Senators, strongly opposed President Bush’s 2007 troop surge that marked the turning point in the war.
On his Thursday show, Rush Limbaugh scoffed that “I was all set to say that I think maybe Obama is dumber than Biden, until I heard that....This is worse than chutzpah, folks. This is insulting everybody’s intelligence.”
But during the 2pm of MSNBC Live on Thursday, anchor Tamron Hall -- noting that "the Right [is] really honing in on this comment" -- sought reassurance from the Huffington Post’s “senior congressional correspondent” Ryan Grim, who insisted that Biden was correct. “If you can have 90,000 troops leave there, and if it were still a stable country, then actually leaving the country would be a great achievement,” Grim declared, adding: “And it would also, it’s worth nothing, be an achievement for the anti-war movement.” [Video at right, audio link here.]
Grim also refused to see any connection between Bush’s troop surge and the resulting drop in violence: “It’s an open question exactly what led to the decrease in violence that coincided with the surge.” And he deplored how conservatives blame Obama for the poor state of the economy, but refuse to let Obama take credit for the success in Iraq: “This is just utter nonsense.”
Bloomberg News managed to pen a full obituary of the late Congressman Jack Murtha today, calling him a "Supporter of Troops" in the headline, without once mentioning his incendiary--and unfounded--claims that a group of Marines had murdered 24 Iraqis in cold blood (h/t Washington Examiner's Mark Hemingway).
Murtha, himself a former Marine, said in 2005 after two dozen Iraqis were killed in the city of Haditha, "there was no firefight, there was no IED that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."
Eight Marines were charged in the killings. Charges against six of them have been dropped, one has been found not-guilty, and the case against the remaining Marine is pending. Murtha was unrepentant about the slanderous accusations he leveled against these Marines. He even compared the Haditha incident to the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War (see video below the fold).
John Murtha, who represented the 12th district of Pennsylvania for 35 years, died Monday. David Stout's obituary in Tuesday's edition of the New York Times, "Representative John P. Murtha Dies at 77; Ex-Marine Was Iraq War Critic," focused on Murtha's influential anti-war turn and "history of hawkishness," but omitted Murtha's smear of the military -- his preemptory claim that Marines in the town of Haditha, Iraq had killed women and children ''in cold blood'' in a November 2005 incident. Of the eight Marines accused, only one still faces possible charges -- the rest were either acquitted or had the charges dropped.
Stout hit the sordid highlights of Murtha's legislative career, including the Abscam scandal, which he survived by the skin of his teeth, turning down money from an undercover FBI agent posing as a sheikh but said would be willing to talk about it later. Stout called it an "awkward moment." But Stout made Murtha's anti-Iraq war position a running theme of the obituary, while not once bringing up Murtha's smear of the Marines at Haditha.
Rather than lie low, Murtha further made himself a target with public comments in the spring of 2006 pressuring the Marine command to investigate allegations of civilian casualties at Haditha, Iraq. This infuriated many Marines, and critics argued that the congressman had become more partisan himself out of loyalty to Pelosi.
But Murtha went beyond pressing for a formal military investigation, which is a legitimate call any congressman could and should make after an incident like Haditha. The former Marine practically declared the Marines at Haditha guilty by saying they have killed "in cold blood."
Watching the media's inability to find relevant investigative news during the Obama era is like watching a bald-headed fellow named Fudd hunting for ‘wabbit'.
Such is the case of the main stream media's complete and utter ignorance involving the administration recently steering a $25 million no-bid contract to a Democratic campaign contributor.
While Fox News reporter James Rosen did an in-depth investigative report (and follow up) on the deal with Checchi & Company - despite working for what the administration considers a non-news network - the entire media establishment had ignored a significant reneging of campaign promises, right up until that deal was canceled.
Doing his best impersonation of a crystal ball, NewsBuster Tom Blumer correctly foretold the future when he questioned the media response to the story:
"Will the rest of the establishment press risk the tattered remnants of its credibility, follow the White House's suggestion, and ignore the story because it's coming from Fox?"
Based on the two pictures seen at the right, it doesn't exactly take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that the people at the Associated Press who decide on what pictures to use to tease the wire service's assorted video clips are not all favorably inclined towards Tony Blair.
Rather than show a picture of the former UK Prime Minister, the AP chose pics of a demonstrator outside where the inquiry was held.
As of about 8 PM ET, the "Raw Video" feed was still in the rotation and easily accessible at many hosted.ap.org pages carrying an international story. An accessible link to that vid is here at YouTube.
The Washington Post's free Express tabloid found it noteworthy that longtime liberal Fox News host Alan Colmes thinks it's inhumane to execute a man who murdered thousands of innocent men, women, and children in the infamous attack at Halabja:
Is it humane to execute, even if the person being executed committed heinous acts? Ali Hassan al-Majid, a cousin of Saddam Hussein known as “Chemical Ali,” was executed in Iraq. He was sentenced to death last week for the gassing of 5,000 Kurds in 1988.
Is this how dramatic you have to be to demonstrate you're 100 percent opposed to the death penalty in Liberal Land?
Managing Editor's Note: The following was originally published at Greyhawk's Mudville Gazette blog on January 25, 2010.
Wow - growing evidence that multiple identical letters appearing in multiple different newspapers under multiple names implies some sort of astroturf campaign. I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, at this development.
Just wait 'til the even bigger news sites discover this story. I don't have to wonder what will happen - I know - and whoever launched these various letter-writing campaigns should be well aware of what's coming, too. After all, it's happened before, and not long ago... (screen wavers, fades out... and...)
On Thursday’s The O’Reilly Factor, FNC host Bill O’Reilly used the show’s regular "Reality Check" segment to highlight comments made by Hearst columnist Helen Thomas in which she questioned whether terrorists really should be called "terrorists," and seemed to express a view of moral equivalence between the United States and the terrorists with which America is at war.
When asked in an interview with Mediaite what her point was in repeatedly asking Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan at a January 7 press conference why al-Qaeda terrorists are trying to kill Americans, as if to suggest that such behavior was provoked by wrongdoing by the U.S., Thomas responded:
I was trying to find out why, why, what’s, look, we’ve been in this war, eight, nine years, against this so-called terrorism. And I do say "so-called" because in the newspapers, if you read, you read about the militants, you don’t read about us bombing everybody, and never really explaining why, and going into three, four different countries, Middle East, Africa, and so forth. Who are we? And why are we doing this?
On Monday’s The O’Reilly Factor, the FNC host had previously highlighted Thomas’s bizarre exchange with Brennan from January 7: