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:
If you rely only on the three major broadcast networks or one of the top major national papers as your news sources, the name "Van Jones" might prompt you to say,"Who?" But, while the media had difficulty reporting on Van Jones the embattled member of the Obama Administration, it had no such trouble covering Van Jones the anti-Iraq War protestor.
Jones, who was President Barack Obama's so-called "green jobs czar" resigned in the middle of the night on Sept. 6 - a Saturday night/Sunday morning on Labor Day weekend. He had for weeks been embroiled in controversy after revelations that he had signed a petition demanding an investigation into whether the 9/11 terrorist attacks were an inside job by the U.S. government, was a self-described communist and had publicly derided Republicans as "a**holes." But the story had gotten little coverage from the mainstream media.
By Friday, after White House Secretary Robert Gibbs would only say that he still was a part of the administration, it was obvious that Jones's resignation was only a matter of time. The 9/11 truther and other evidence accumulated by Glenn Beck, Gateway Pundit, WorldNetDaily, and others was simply overwhelming.
But it seems to me that it would have been more convenient had the White House waited until early Sunday afternoon to announce Jones's resignation. Given the establishment media's near blackout of his past statements and actions, it's likely that the Sunday morning network talk shows would have avoided Jones completely, or would have given the topic very short shrift. A Sunday afternoon resignation would have been much more invisible -- except for something that came out on Saturday evening.
I believe that Jones's resignation may have been moved up by 12 hours or so. That's because on Saturday evening, Scott Johnson at Powerline presented proof that roughly 40 hours after the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred, avowed Communist Jones publicly declared that the U.S. deserved what happened. I'm not kidding.
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):
With the Obama administration and their friends in the media denouncing the sometimes loud dissent that liberals are facing in town hall meetings on health care, it’s worth recalling how some of those same journalists celebrated the anti-Bush dissenters and denounced what they claimed was the Republican administration’s attempts to stifle dissent.
Back in 2006, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann attacked what he called President Bush’s “portable public chorus” (does President Obama have one of those?) For telling “those who dissent...[that] we are somehow un-American.” PBS’s Bill Moyers in 2003 found it “galling” to see “all those moralistic ideologues in Washington...attacking dissenters as un-American.”
In 2003, Olbermann saluted protests: “It is political dissent that created this country and sustained it and improved it.” But on Friday’s Countdown, Olbermann called the anti-Obama protests “societal sabotage,” determined that the grassroots groups are “fake” and insisted that “the protestors are not interested in hearing any voices other than their own.” (But the anti-Bush protesters were open-minded?)
There have been a couple of constants where Iraq War cinematography is concerned. One, movie makers ignore the public appetite for movies supporting the anti-terror war message in favor of drab, depressing, preachy anti-war politicking featuring marquee names and little else.
Two, those movies, which predictably bomb at the box office, are the rage of the film critics who levitate in ecstasy at the opportunity to praise that which trashes Bush, the war on terror and the military all at once.
So how to explain “The Hurt Locker” and the critical rapture that surrounds it? Here’s a new offering that has none of the political messaging of Hollywood, doesn’t contain a single marquee name, and the critics are cheering.
New York Times tastemaker A.O. Scott bluntly proclaimed it "The best nondocumentary American feature made yet about the war in Iraq." Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal also raved: "A first-rate action thriller, a vivid evocation of urban warfare in Iraq, a penetrating study of heroism and a showcase for austere technique, terse writing and a trio of brilliant performances."
The plot is disarmingly simple, if I can use that pun. The film follows a team of U.S. Army technicians in Baghdad disarming IEDs (improvised explosive devices). The audience shares the unnerving tension, even paranoia of the soldiers, feeling the prospect of death lurking around every corner, hidden behind every wall, and in the slightest of movements of every Iraqi stranger.
Morgenstern is not kidding about "austere technique." This has to be the quietest war movie ever made, and it’s a quiet movie about… bombs? Outside of a few breaks of inside-the-movie music (rock music from boom-boxes or video games), there is no mood-establishing music until the 1:02 mark – a sensual eternity.
Director Kathryn Bigelow never provides the viewer with the audio cues warning of impending crisis, leaving the viewer conditioned to expect disaster constantly. There is no Dolby-Stereo wizardry or enormous special-effects monsters in "The Hurt Locker." This film operates on a maddeningly vulnerable, heart-pounding human scale.
This is not a pro-war movie; it is a movie about war, period. It is certainly the first Iraq War movie that drains all of the political rhetoric out, offering instead just the microcosm of American troops in a theatre where terrorists really are blowing people up with a quick dial on their cell phones.
Some leftist critics have found that lack of politicking to be political. Tara McKelvey of the American Prospect complained that the movie was "propaganda," an "effective recruiting tool" for the Army. Yet McKelvey can't even seem to convince herself. In another passage, she stated the movie "shows the paranoia, rage, and brutal recklessness of soldiers trapped in the downward death spiral of the Iraq war."
The soldiers here are not bigoted monsters. In New York magazine, critic David Edelstein suggested "The Hurt Locker might be the first Iraq-set film to break through to a mass audience because it doesn't lead with the paralysis of the guilt-ridden Yank."
The central character of the movie, Staff Sgt. Will James, is not guilt-ridden, but he's also not your standard G.I. Joe action hero. The soldiers under his command are so unnerved at his reckless bomb-disabling antics that they briefly consider taking him out with friendly fire to keep him from getting them killed.
Ice seems to flow through Will's veins as he takes apart bombs that could blow up a city block. And yet when he returns home to his wife and infant son, he's clearly unnerved by the tedium of rolling through a supermarket deciding which cereal to buy, as the syrupy sounds of Muzak suggest a stark contrast with the exploding ordinance of a war zone. While his squad dreams of going home in one piece, he's clearly much happier hovering over a bomb fuse. There is no dramatic "Top Gun" hero ending, where he's applauded by a cast of hundreds. In the end he’s as conflicted as when he was first introduced.
Some Iraq veterans have complained the movie isn't militarily realistic about what Army bomb squads actually do, but that reminds us of the D-Day vets who said the opening act of “Saving Private Ryan” wasn’t realistic enough. The viewer certainly feels he is trudging along with the troops on very perilous ground.
It’s a good movie to see, if only to remember the next time you come across a veteran deserving a nation’s gratitude.
On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, correspondent Lara Logan again highlighted the down side of an American troop withdrawal from Iraq as she focused attention on the plight of Iranian exiles living in Iraq who are now suffering from a violent crackdown by Iraqi police, having lost the protection the group had been receiving from U.S. troops. This group of Iranians, known as the MEK, have a history of alliance with the United States and are credited with relaying information about Iran's nuclear program to America. Anchor Katie Couric set up the story:
When the U.S. began turning over security to the Iraqis, it stopped protecting some valuable allies -- thousands of Iranian exiles -- and their camp outside Baghdad is now under attack. For two days, Iraqi police have been beating the residents. No food or doctors have been allowed in. All with the approval of Iran`s government. Here`s chief foreign affairs correspondent, Lara Logan.
On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann delivered a "Special Comment" lambasting members of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of centrist House Democrats because most of the group's members have pressured more liberal congressional Democrats compromise in their push for public health insurance. After reciting campaign contributions received by some Blue Dog members from the health care industry, he suggested that these Democrats should just be called "dogs." Olbermann: "I could call them all out by name, but I think you get the point. We do not need to call the Democrats holding this up Blue Dogs. That one word 'dogs' is perfectly sufficient."
The MSNBC host also shamelessly tried to use Senator Ted Kennedy's illness to suggeset that Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln, a centrist Democrat from Arkansas, should feel guilty about her role in forcing more liberal Democrats to compromise. Olbermann: "Senator Lincoln, by the way, considering how you're obstructing health care reform, how do you feel every time you actually see Senator Kennedy?"
In May 2007, Matt Mabe was a junior Army officer who had done two tours of duty in Iraq and was leaving the service for good to pursue a career in journalism -- or so he thought.
In "One of Us," which appears in the new issue of the Columbia Journalism Review, Mabe reveals that of his journalism school colleagues, "most, it seemed, had never met a veteran," although that didn't stop them and their teachers and lecturers from hostile stereotyping of military members as troubled, poor, scheming, and stupid.
In his report's apparent final incarnation early Tuesday morning, the AP writer:
Told us the amount of June's deficit ($94.3 billion), but didn't disclose the figures for June's receipts ($215.4 billion) or "outlays" ($309.7 billion), or how they compared to June of last year. In doing so, he "succeeded" in concealing the accelerating decline in tax collections.
Didn't tell us that the past month's deficit is by far the worst June ever.
"Forgot," as he did in May, to tell readers that the deficit would be hundreds of billions of dollars higher if it weren't for an "accounting change" retroactively put into place by Treasury in April that changed the definition of "outlays."
Cited the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as contributors to the deficit situation, while not identifying several other expenditure categories that have been worse offenders by far.
Found an economist, without dissent, to support the claim that what the Obama administration has done had to be done.
And that doesn't even count Crutsinger's Krugmanesque rewrites of the history of the 1930s Depression era and 1990s Japan, or the apparatchik-like tone present in a few of his paragraphs.
The death of Vietnam War-era Robert McNamara unsurprisingly led liberal journalists to once again see the Iraq War as a Vietnam sequel. In a Sunday Outlook section piece in The Washington Post, former Post Pentagon reporter Bradley Graham promoted his new Donald Rumsfeld biography by asking when Rumsfeld will apologize like McNamara for the war that "many Americans see as a damnable misadventure, too costly in lives, money and national image."
It doesn’t matter how Iraq’s democracy looks now, compared to Vietnam’s concentration camps and dictatorship. The liberal author finds Rumsfeld is "bitter" about one-sided media coverage:
I pressed him, during a final interview for my recently published biography, on whether he had any regrets about his conduct of the war, he dismissed the question as a favorite press query unworthy of reply.
Rumsfeld remains filled with a bitter sense that perceptions of the war and of his role in it have been badly distorted by one-sided media coverage, much of it based, in his view, on self-serving accounts by State Department and National Security Council officials.
One has to wonder if working for the Washington Post fits the Obama definition of a "shovel-ready" job given the paper's penchant for burying the lede.
Deep within his July 9-filed story "Protesters Clash With Police in Iran," Washington Post Foreign Service correspondent Thomas Erdbrink noted a very interesting development bearing implications on the Obama administration's foreign policy regarding Iran and handling of the global war on terror.
The last six paragraphs of Erdbrink's 18-paragraph story -- which ran in the July 10 print edition on page A12 -- note how the theocratic regime in Tehran praised the Obama administration for its relative silence on the Iranian election aftermath just one day before the U.S. government released Iranian detainees captured two years ago in Iraq (emphasis mine):
On Monday's CBS Evening News, correspondent Lara Logan relayed to viewers concerns that U.S. troops may be pulling back too quickly for the sake of security in some parts of Iraq. As Logan filed a report about the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Mosul, as part of the security arrangement supported by the Iraqi government, the CBS News correspondent reported that some Iraqi military officers would have preferred U.S. troops stay a while longer to help in the fight against al-Qaeda.
After quoting Iraqi civilians who voiced their beliefs that things would improve after American troops left, Logan continued: "But this city is also where the main fight against al-Qaeda and their allies is still being fought. And off camera, several senior Iraqi officers told us they would have liked to have U.S. soldiers on the city streets with them for another six months."
Below is a complete transcript of the story from the Monday, June 29, CBS Evening News:
"Obama's intelligent speech in Cairo has had a big impact in the Muslim world, and it is obvious that it is his presence in the White House – far more than any BBC broadcast – that is giving hope to the demonstrators in Tehran...I do not believe it could possibly have happened had John McCain been elected...Who knows whether [the Iranian protestors] will succeed, but we can safely say that the BBC and Barack Obama have done more to change Iran than Fox News and George W Bush."
So wrote London's mayor in an astonishing display of Obama Derangement Syndrome Monday.
By now, you may have actually believed the typical NY Times line that they have to disclose everything, secret prisons, NSA tactics, interrogation tactics, because the public has the right to know everything and information has to be free, despite the risks it puts on our military or citizens.
What you probably didn't know is that David Rohde, a NY Times reporter, had been held by kidnappers in Kabul for the last seven months. Fortunately he was able to escape. Bill Keller wrote in a memo today "the consensus of experts we consulted -- and the judgment of the family -- was that a storm of publicity would at best prolong David's captivity by increasing his apparent value, and could well put him in imminent danger." Somehow I think that's a lesson that will be forgotten as soon as someone in a uniform faces the same fate. The Times withheld this information along with at least 40 other news outlets. No, the media never conspires together in the dark.
Keller continues: "I expect we will be besieged by understandable questions about who did what to make this happen. I hope that if any of you are probed on the subject you'll keep in mind that anything we say about our efforts to get David out -- whether authoritative or speculative -- risks becoming part of the playbook for future kidnappers." You've already given the terrorists every other playbook we have, Bill, why prude up now? Was the decision to keep quiet the right one? Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. But how do the rest of us get the same treatment as journalists?
Did you ever in your wildest dreams imagine reading a New York Times column not written by a conservative that claimed "the forces for decency, democracy and pluralism" in the Middle East "have a little wind at their backs" due to the policies of former President George W. Bush?
Neither did I, but much to my surprise, such was said by Thomas Friedman in his most recent piece entitled "Winds of Change?"
Readers are strongly advised to fasten their seatbelts tightly across their waists, for you are about to enter an alternate media reality:
On Monday’s Newsroom program, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez tried to justify that Cindy Sheehan is still worth covering, as the unrelenting left-wing activist recently protested near the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush. When Republican strategist Rich Galen advised that she should stop protesting and that the press ignore her, Sanchez went out of his way to find an angle for covering her.
Sanchez brought on Galen and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona to discuss the Sheehan protest during the bottom half of the 3 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. He first asked Cardona, “Should she [Sheehan] let it go?” The strategist answered by putting her cause in the wider context of all the parents of servicemen who were killed during the Iraq war. When she concluded her answer by asking rhetorically, “who are we to say yes or no” to Sheehan, Galen jumped in and replied, “I can say yes or no. The answer’s no, I’m afraid.”
New York Times Book editor Barry Gewen selected Simon Schama's big-think book, "The American Future -- A History" for review in his "Books of the Times" piece on Tuesday, and took condescending aim at Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin in the process.
Columnist David Brooks had some fun with the British-born Schama in his May 24 review, consigning Schama's book to a long line of self-consciously "Brilliant Books" whose authors as a group Brooks satirized:
Along the way, his writing will outstrip his reportage. And as his inability to come up with anything new to say about this country builds, his prose will grow more complex, emotive, gothic, desperate, overheated and nebulous until finally, about two-thirds of the way through, there will be a prose-poem of pure meaninglessness as his brilliance finally breaks loose from the tethers of observation and oozes across the page in a great, gopping goo of pure pretension.
Gewen saw Schama as celebrating a new kind of patriotism "in the age of Barack Obama," far superior to the "belligerent...chauvinism" of Dick Cheney or the "ostentatious flag lapel pin" of Sarah Palin.
This interview is a little old, but worth sharing. Socialist actor Ed Asner appeared on PBS’s Tavis Smiley show on May 21 to promote his new Pixar film "Up." Asner typically kvetched about the wasteful disaster of Iraq and blundered into an odd quote when he lamented "The crime is you can convince all those Congressional people and the people through the media to piss away all that money overseas and it becomes socialism to convince them to piss away the money here at home."
He also suggested illegal Mexicans are taking some of the racist hate off black people, which Smiley protested, since he didn’t want anyone thinking we were living in "post-racial" (or post-racist) America. Asner also patted himself on the back for having the political courage to play a slave-ship captain on the 1977 ABC miniseries "Roots."
SMILEY: I only know that because I saw you in "Roots" when I was a kid. You played that villain pretty good.
ASNER: I regard that villain as, let's call him, a guy who was trying to be a good Nazi and he failed.
It must have been a while since David Gergen dropped his resume in the hopper for Team Obama, so it’s no small surprise that it was about for him to turn on the rhetorical firehose and gush some love the White House’s way.
On the June 4 “Anderson Cooper 360,” Gergen was asked by the host to give his initial reaction to President Obama’s speech in Cairo. Gergen immediately mugged for the camera:
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson, there was no way he could quite reach the summit with this speech. He couldn't please everyone. We're hearing a lot of nitpicking on aspects of the speech.
But, overall, it was the most powerful and the most persuasive speech any American president has ever made to the Muslim populations around the world, perhaps back of his background.
Cooper, to his credit, was immediately incredulous:
On Tuesday's Hannity show on FNC, while interviewing author Brigitte Gabriel, host Sean Hannity suggested that, rather than make apologies for America in the Muslim world, that President Obama should point out that Muslims have benefited from America's assistance in various countries, and Gabriel pointed out that the United States sided with Muslims against Christians in the former Yugoslavia.
Hannity posed the question: "Shouldn't the President be highlighting, for example, the sacrifice of America to help save some Kuwaiti Muslims and in Somalia and in Afghanistan and in Iraq and in other parts of the world?"
On Memorial Day, 2002, FNC's Hannity and Colmes held an interview with U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Troy Dunlap, who was held in Iraq as a POW during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and his attorney, Steve Fennell, to discuss a lawsuit against the Iraqi government because of torture Dunlap and other POWs endured. During the current debate over how high-level Al-Qaeda prisoners should be treated, and the practical impact harsh interrogations may have on the treatment of American POWs in future wars, it is noteworthy that this kind of review of the violent treatment American POWs have a history of receiving, even before the debate over waterboarding terrorists even began, has been so absent in the media.
Fennell summed up the treatment POWs endured in 1991 in Iraq, despite the fact that the country was a signatory of the Geneva Convention:
We have 17 POWs, the injuries range from broken legs, fractured skulls, beatings that were so bad that the body looked like it had been dipped in indigo dye. Techniques that were used where things such as beatings to the point where most of the beatings stopped only when the POW reached unconsciousness, use of electric shock, cattle prods, drug injections.
On April 5, 2002, the Washington Post article, "Hussein Sued by Ex-POWs; U.S. Gulf War Veterans Say They Were Beaten, Tortured," by Peter Slevin, reported: