Twelve days ago when Democratic Congressman John Murtha, who had long been critical of the Bush administration’s running of the war, advocated withdrawing troops from Iraq, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts all emphasized his importance and influence as they led with his press conference. CBS showcased Murtha’s attack on Vice President Dick Cheney’s lack of military service and ABC ran a 90-second excerpt of Murtha. But on Tuesday night, after the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed (“Our Troops Must Stay”) from the 2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate, Senator Joe Lieberman, in which he cited “real progress” in Iraq and argued against withdrawing troops, ABC and CBS didn’t utter a syllable about his assessment. The NBC Nightly News, at least, squeezed in a soundbite from Lieberman, though David Gregory also highlighted a puny protest as he relayed how “opposition to the war followed the President today to a Denver fundraiser, as more than a hundred angry critics met Mr. Bush's motorcade.” In his op-ed, Lieberman had bemoaned: “What a colossal mistake it would be for America's bipartisan political leadership to choose this moment in history to lose its will and, in the famous phrase, to seize defeat from the jaws of the coming victory.”
ABC’s World News Tonight, which led with multiple stories from New Orleans on the three-month anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, held its coverage of Iraq to a brief item on “peace activists” taken hostage and anchor Elizabeth Vargas provided a 20-second preview of Bush’s Wednesday speech on his Iraq policy.
Snowstorms topped the CBS Evening News before David Martin provided a story on how Secretary of Defense “Rumsfeld rattled off signs of progress,” which Martin ran through. “For all the progress cited by administration officials,” Martin then ominously concluded, “one key factor shows no sign of improving: For the past two months, an average of three Americans has been killed each day in Iraq, and that's the highest since January." Anchor Bob Schieffer then turned to Lara Logan in Baghdad who said one of Rumsfeld’s assertions “simply isn't true” and undermined a couple of others. (Full transcripts of the CBS and NBC stories follow, as well as more on Murtha coverage.)
Associated Press reports today that routinely wacky CNN founder Ted Turner lectured at Kansas State University and echoed Howard Dean's line as a presidential candidate: "Media mogul Ted Turner said Monday that Iraq is 'no better off' following the U.S.-led invasion that ousted dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003."
Turner also said he thinks it's plausible that President Bush will launch a nuclear war:
He warned that a nuclear war could "kill everything on the planet" and said it could take place in an afternoon. Turner said he was afraid someone in power could make the mistake to launch a nuclear war, including President Bush, based on his previous decisions.
The media is buzzing about Ramsey Clark going to Iraq to serve on the defense team of Saddam Hussein. Every article called Clark “the former US Attorney General” and played up his role in the administration of an American President. Reuters called Clark a “U.S. civil rights lawyer”. The BBC called Clark “an outspoken critic of the trial” and a “left wing activist”. The New York Times did make mention of Ramsey Clark’s penchant for “offering legal advice to toppled foreign leaders”. According to the AP, Clark was just a “consultant” on Milosevic’s trial.
Ramsey Clark is so much more than a “left wing activist” and “anti-war advocate”. Clark is a Saddam apologist who is responsible for an anti-American group masquerading as an anti-war protest organizer.
After Lyndon Johnson left office, Ramsey Clark became the poster boy for the far left. He began supporting anyone that was against America. Clark visited with Qaddafi after the US bombed Libya. He even represented the PLO in a lawsuit filed by the family of murdered American, Leon Klinghoffer.
Re Mark's report, the "Today" show also brought up Hersh yesterday in assessing the war with Barry McCaffrey and Richard Haass. But I was struck (I shouldn't be surprised) by how gloomy and negative Hersh was in his interview on CNN's "Late Edition" on Sunday. Here's the first few exchanges:
BLITZER: All right. Before we get to some of the specifics, Iyad Allawi, these comments he makes in the new issue of "The London Observer" basically saying some of the torture, some of the issues that are going on in Iraq today are as bad if not worse than under Saddam Hussein. In this new article, you report that he has emerged as what you call the favorite of Washington in the run-up to the elections in Iraq.
Give me a moment, please. Got to let my head stop spinning. Been watching the Today show.
See, I thought we all agreed it was bad for presidents to be poll-driven, in the image of a Bill Clinton deciding everything from foreign policy to vacation destinations based on the latest shift in public opinion.
Turns out I was wrong, at least according to this morning's Today.
Matt Lauer interviewed New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh, or "Sy" as Lauer chummily called him, regarding Hersh's piece in the magazine's current edition. As Lauer described the article, it portrays Pres. Bush as believing he has a "divine mission" to bring democracy to Iraq. Asked who was telling him that, Hersh responded:
Some of the people in the last few months with whom I've been talking for years are suddenly opening up and telling me some of their deeper concerns about this president's inability to adjust, to accept new information. I think he really does think that he's not going to be judged by today. The events on the ground will be judged in 20 years, 30 years or whatever.
The military community is made up of active duty personnel, veterans, retire military and their families. While it is a constitutional truth that every American has the right of free speech, including members of the MSM, there is no segment of our population that is more deserving of that right than the men, women and family members who sacrificed themselves through separation, immense hardship, pain, blood and loss of lives on our behalf. These are some of their words about the War on Terror and the conduct of those at home.
Lieutenant General E.G. “Buck” Shuler, Jr. commanded the Strategic Air Command’s Eighth Air Force for three years and two months. He participated in Operation Just Cause in Panama, plus Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf. His 32-year military career included 23 years in SAC. The general is now retired and lives in Lake Martin, Alabama.
Fox News gives its audience what it wants, too. That's why, in 2003, a survey from the Program on International Policy Attitudes found that 67 percent of its loyal viewers believed the fallacy that Saddam Hussein was connected to al-Qaida, whereas only 40 percent of those who relied on print media were confused on that point. Welcome to the "informed" electorate of a newspaper-free world. It's already starting to give us the government we deserve.
(Notice that people who watch Fox are fallacious believers, while the people who consume her product and don't agree with her are simply "confused".)
Saddam connected to al-Qaida? That's a weird wild thought. Where on Earth would Fox News and this "informed electorate" get that "fallacious" idea? Let's see, maybe...
State of the Union Address January 28, 2003: "Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody, reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaida."
BBC Profile: "It is during this period that Zarqawi is thought to have renewed his acquaintance with al-Qaeda. He is believed to have fled to Iraq in 2001 after a US missile strike on his Afghan base, though the report that he lost a leg in the attack has not been verified. US officials argue that it was at al-Qaeda's behest that he moved to Iraq and established links with Ansar al-Islam - a group of Kurdish Islamists from the north of the country. He is thought to have remained with them for a while - feeling at home in mountainous northern Iraq."
Anyone who believes the Bush administration could appease the MSM and their political allies on the left via a major troop withdrawal from Iraq need look no further than this morning's Today show to be disabused of the notion.
Shades of Bush Sr.'s "read my lips" debacle, in which the very same Democrats who wheedled him into raising taxes turned immediately around and condemned him for breaking his promise.
For there was Katie Couric, questioning the wisdom of withdrawal and painting a bleak picture of a post-withdrawal Iraq.
Her guests were retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey and Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Katie's first question: "what are some of the problems about reducing the troop levels in terms of the state of Iraq? Are you worried about that?"
Anti-American left wing lunatic Ted Rall was not content with depicting the US military as rapists, pedophiles and idiots. In his latest piece of artwork, Rall portrays Iraq War Veterans as torturers and domestic abusers. The cartoon, Sex Lives of Iraq War Vets, published on November 26, 2005, shows the veterans torturing their girlfriends and the girlfriend's parents Abu-Ghraib style. The final frame shows a vet dropping bombs on his girlfriend's home in response to a break-up.
This latest attempt to undermine our military comes on the heels of Rall's cartoon depicting US soliders in Iraq as rapists and pedophiles.Ted Rall's drawings and his hate Bush rants are distributed by Universal Press Syndicates. Rall's work is distributed to over 140 media outlets including the New York Times, the LA Times and the San Jose Mercury News. Yahoo.com also publishes Rall's editorials as part of its opinion section. There is no mention of Al-Jazeerah being a subscriber to Rall's far left editorials.
It’s probably not the first time it has happened, but with the exception of ABC’s George Will – who, of course, has been a regular on that network’s “This Week” for many years – the networks’ Sunday political talk shows had no established conservative guests to participate in their weekly panel discussions. Joining George Stephanopoulos and George Will this morning were Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile, TIME magazine’s Jay Carney, and ABC’s Claire Shipman. NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show” featured Katy Kay of the BBC, Michael Duffy of TIME magazine, Norah O’Donnell of MSNBC, and Terry Neal of the Washington Post. CBS’s “Face the Nation” did its annual Thanksgiving “historians” program.
The most left-leaning of the panels was on NBC’s “Meet the Press” where Tim Russert invited Judy Woodruff, formerly of CNN’s “Inside Politics,” David Broder of the Washington Post, Eugene Robinson also of the Washington Post, and David Gregory of NBC News. While the “This Week” and “Matthews” panels actually engaged in a comparatively well-rounded discussion, the “Meet the Press” group spent the bulk of its half-hour talking about the “disaster” in Iraq. For instance, Robinson said, “I think that there's general agreement now that there will be a mess in Iraq when U.S. troops finally withdraw and it certainly won't be an Athenian democracy, as the administration said it was out to create.” Gregory agreed, “And unfortunately, perhaps the only outcome is a kind of low-level civil war that's akin to the Arab- Israeli situation with U.S. soldiers in the way.”
Woodruff then joined in by paraphrasing a recent article in the Atlantic Monthly:
Tired of public opinion polls? Well, an article in today’s New York Times might be an indication that Americans have seen enough polls in the past three months, and that a new strategy is necessary to inform them how to think. How does it work? Well, instead of releasing data that supposedly represents a statistical picture of the nation’s views on a subject, make the data significantly more real by putting names and faces to the numbers.
The article in question, entitled “Even Supporters Doubt President as Issues Pile Up,” effectively introduced this strategy in its first four paragraphs:
The big news story from Iraq yesterday was the suicide bombing in Mahmudiya which killed 31 people. The Washington Post story makes it clear what the "insurgents" are really doing:
A suicide attacker steered a car packed with explosives toward U.S. soldiers giving away toys to children outside a hospital in central Iraq on Thursday, killing at least 31 people. Almost all of the victims were women and children, police said.
Ellen Ratner, the short, liberal side of The Long & the Short of It on Fox & Friends Weekend, just let the liberal cat out of the bag. Discussing the Democrats' approach to Iraq withdrawal proposals, Ratner admitted:
"If you got [Dem leaders] in a room off camera everyone agrees, but people are trying to look tough on security so the Democrats can win the House back in 2006."
Jim Pinkerton, the long, conservative side of the equation, pounced on this rare bit of Dem candor:
"Viewers should note that Ellen basically said that Democrats will think one thing and say another."
Host Julian Phillips, who moderated the debate and is hardly a Bush administration shill, scored the point for Pinkerton:
The Associated Press and United Press International are reporting that another Democratic hawk, Norm Dicks (D-Washington), has changed his position on the Iraq war. They are both quoting from and referencing a Seattle Times article first published about 16 hours ago entitled “Defense hawk Dicks says he now sees war as a mistake.” Yet, they are conveniently ignoring previous statements made by Dicks concerning the war that were also reported by the Seattle Times.
I've recently described, here and here, how an unexpected streak of reasonableness broke out at the Today show. On successive days, Matt Lauer criticized the Democrats for trying to make political hay out of Iraq without offering any alternatives of their own.
Strangely, sanity has seemingly struck again. And this in the most unlikely person of NBC reporter Jim Maceda, who only last week, as I reported here was carping that the French were not appeasing their Muslim rioters assiduously enough.
This morning, Maceda was in Iraq interviewing US troops. He summarized their message in this blunt and refreshing way: "these soldiers think the politicians who want to pull out quickly are dead wrong."
In his Monday chat with Charlie Rose on PBS, Ted Koppel played armchair general or armchair Secretary of State and explained why he would not have gone to war with Iraq, didn't see the urgent need to remove Saddam, saw no connection with terrorism, and worst of all, smeared Ronald Reagan as not caring about the gassing of Kurds in northern Iraq in 1988. This is, as a matter of historical record, untrue. Reagan went and denounced the gassing from the podium of the United Nations. Secretary of State George Shultz also denounced it in no uncertain terms. The ironic thing about Halabja? Our media didn't cover it very hard or very long at the time. So take a look at how much Koppel sounds like Joe Biden or John Kerry:
On his Countdown show Wednesday night, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann devoted much of one segment to criticizing Vice President Cheney’s November 21 speech at the American Enterprise Institute, a speech in which the Vice President took exception with how the Associated Press characterized his attacks on Democratic Senators who have accused President Bush of lying about pre-war intelligence. Even though Cheney’s original speech on November 16 at the Frontiers of Freedom Institute made clear his comments were directed at "some U.S. Senators," rather than anti-war critics in general, the AP ran the headline, "Cheney says war critics dishonest, reprehensible," which gives the false impression Cheney was calling all opponents of the Iraq War "dishonest" and "reprehensible." Cheney’s November 21 statement that "I do have a quarrel with that headline" so offended Olbermann that he characterized Cheney’s well-founded, and relatively polite, complaint as "vitriol" toward the media. The Countdown host proceeded to distort Cheney’s words himself to prove his contention that the Vice President’s complaints were unfounded.
Ted Rall, the far left editorial cartoonist and anti-American pundit, has used his cartoons to slander our soldiers again. Remember - Ted was the one that mocked the death of Pat Tillman in one of his little drawings. This time he has really gone too far and I am shocked that no one has called him out on it.
In his little piece of so-called artwork from 11.10.05, Ted claims that the US Military is raping young boys in US custody. He cites McCain's anti-torture proposal as protecting detainees from "sodomy, anal rape and touching in the dirty place". In the last frame of his cartoon, Ted shows a blind-folded detainee bent over with one soldier telling another "Only rape the cute ones for now".
In his new web column, Newsweek's Paris bureau chief and Middle East regional editor Christopher Dickey writes about his dinner last Sunday with former Time White House columnist Hugh Sidey, who suffered a fatal heart attack the next day. Unfortunately, Dickey spoils his reminiscence of his friend with a lament/rant concerning the good old days when the liberal establishment media had the field all to themselves (emphasis added) :
For most of Hugh’s career, well into the 1980s, small-town newspapers told people what local editors thought they needed to know, and a handful of national media gave them what the press barons thought they ought to know. You could count the important national media on your fingers: Time and NEWSWEEK, The New York Times and to a lesser extent the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, AP, UPI, plus the three major broadcast networks—that was it. This could have been a terrible system, but in retrospect it seems a benevolent oligarchy. These media were not oblivious to market forces, but neither were they compelled to pander to them. They felt a duty to cover Washington politics, major economic issues and foreign news in considerable detail, even if only a fraction of their readers ever got past the headlines. They could dare to be boring, if that’s what it took to be responsible.
ESPN loves to run the clip of NFL coaching legend Vince Lombardi stomping down the sideline, demanding to know "what the hell is going on around here?"
Watching the Today show the last two mornings, one is tempted to ask the same question.
As reported here, Matt Lauer yesterday criticized the Democrats for their lack of a plan for Iraq. This morning, Matt & Co. were, mirabile dictu, back at it again.
Lauer introduced the segment in this surprisingly W-friendly way: "President Bush has taken a beating on Capitol Hill from Democrats unhappy with the way the war is going, but do the president's critics have an exit strategy of their own?"
Norah O'Donnell, who's never been accused of pro-Republican bias, narrated the segment entitled "Do Democrats Have Plan for Iraq?"
As reported by NewsBusters here, the media’s current fascination with Rep. John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania) completely ignores the decade of the ’90s when the congressman was a leading pork-barrel spender. Yet, maybe more curious, this love affair is thoroughly dismissing some rather recent earmarking that made the papers before Mr. Murtha became the media’s favorite anti-war spokesman.
Not the least of these articles was a front-page, 2,200 word expose in the June 13, 2005 Los Angeles Times by Ken Silverstein and Richard Simon. The headline set the tone: “Lobbyist's Brother Guided House Bill; A family member's ties to special interests raise questions in the case of Democrat John Murtha.” The crux of the article is that Murtha’s brother is a senior partner in a company called KSA Consulting. Said consulting firm received $20.8 million in defense contracts in 2004 (Times link expired):
Another example of network journalists creating their own self-fulfilling story. On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams set up a full story on how President Bush has returned to his Texas ranch “after an overseas trip that was not supposed to be about Iraq, but that topic ended up following him all the way around the world.” As if reporters, who were the ones posing the questions to him about Iraq and making it a topic on their newscasts, had nothing to do with it! Then, over video of Bush trying to open the closed doors in China, David Gregory opened his piece by finding deep meaning in the minor incident: “The President's botched exit from an impromptu press conference spoke volumes about this latest trip abroad." Gregory proceeded to act as if reporters were mere observers when they were directly responsible for imposing their news agenda: "All this month, from Latin America to Asia, foreign travel has provided Mr. Bush no escape from his political troubles. In Argentina, trade talks collapsed overshadowed by anti-America protests and persistent questions about Karl Rove and the CIA leak investigation." (Full transcript follows.)
On November 4, the night of Bush's press conference in Argentina, a NewsBusters item recounted how “the broadcast networks...treated as of great import how President Bush was 'dogged' at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina, with questions about Karl Rove and the CIA leak matter -- a self-fulfilling agenda since those questions were posed by reporters from the Washington press corps. In short, the media made its agenda the news and then marveled over it.” NBC's “Brian Williams stressed how Bush's 'political troubles following him to Argentina from faraway Washington.' Kelly O'Donnell zeroed in on how Bush's 'domestic woes came along, too' with 'four of five' press conference 'questions related to the political fallout from the CIA leak case.'”
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Why, thank you, Wolf. It's getting ugly out there. According to Vice President Cheney, if you question, if you dare question the use of pre-war intelligence, according to that speech this morning, you are dishonest and reprehensible.
My remarks today concern national security, in particular the war on terror and the Iraq front in that war. Several days ago, I commented briefly on some recent statements that have been made by some members of Congress about Iraq. Within hours of my speech, a report went out on the wires under the headline, "Cheney says war critics 'dishonest,' 'reprehensible.'"
One thing I've learned in the last five years is that when you're Vice President, you're lucky if your speeches get any attention at all. But I do have a quarrel with that headline, and it's important to make this point at the outset. I do not believe it is wrong to criticize the war on terror or any aspect thereof. Disagreement, argument, and debate are the essence of democracy, and none of us should want it any other way.
Ted Koppel closes up shop on "Nightline" tonight. He will be widely revered and remembered as a voice for hard news and serious long-form reporting. Several decades ago, Koppel’s format was even welcomed by conservatives at the time as a place to be heard for more than six seconds. ("The MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour" was another. Both were biased at times, but offered some space to be heard.) But Koppel also has a record with some serious (sometimes atrocious) liberal bias. One of the most recent: going to Vietnam to interview communists to prove John Kerry was right about his war record.
The first that comes to mind: "Nightline" devoted a one-hour special resurrecting the October Surprise myth that Ronald Reagan's 1980 campaign operatives nefariously delayed the release of American hostages in Iran for political gain. When media and congressional investigations again proved the theory a farce, we asked for a retraction and an apology, and a "Nightline" spokeswoman told us: "That is not a broadcast for Nightline. That's a headline. That's not a half-hour show." There’s a list of bias examples in this Brent Bozell column from 1997. For something more up to date, you can consider the hard-left sources Koppel dug up to explain those thuggish neoconservatives wanting to wage war on Saddam here.
An Associated Press article dated Saturday, November 19, 2005, quotes Representative John P. Murtha (D-PA) as saying “Our troops have become the enemy. We need a change of direction in Iraq.” The article went on to report that his “call a day earlier for pulling out troops sparked a nasty, personal debate over the war.”
Washington Post writer Charles Babington wrote on Saturday, “Democrats physically restrained one colleague, who appeared as if he might lose control of himself as he rushed across the aisle to confront Republicans with a jabbing finger. They accused Republicans of playing political games with the war.”
Commander Adam G. Alexander, USN (ret), or Whitefish, MT sees more villainy than child play in the political arena. He explains that he had a combat role in two wars, which were lost, naming Korea and Vietnam. He says they were lost, “…not by the military, but by the politicians. The politicians allowed themselves to be controlled by the actions of protesters. It is well understood that the large number of them were using the war for their own good, pushed by a very few people and the Communists. What we have now are the same type of people who are using this war only (in an) attempt to take over Congress and the White House.”
In case someone would actually buy the Chris Matthews fairy tale that America was a land of silence against those thuggish neoconservatives after 9-11, see the 2002 Best of Notable Quotables. The General Phil "Cheap Shot" Donahue Award chronicles media people suggesting George Bush knew and allowed 9-11. The Fourth Reich Award for Portraying John Ashcroft As A Fascist is rather self-explanatory. And so it continues, through the Give Appeasement A Chance Award and the Begala and Carville War Room Award for Bush Bashing, the Blame America First Award and the Bill Moyers (Subsidized) Sanctimony Award. You can't miss Helen Thomas.
On the other hand, Chris Matthews does not acknowledge how wonderful Iraq looked to the media then. The Good Morning Morons Award winner, for example: “Iraqi citizens are preparing to go to the polls to decide whether Hussein stays in office.” – Preview of an October 14 segment on CNN’s American Morning with Paula Zahn posted on CNN’s Web site. And ABC's David Wright won for silliest analysis for his evening echo the next night: “Seven years ago, when the last referendum took place, Saddam Hussein won 99.96 percent of the vote. Of course, it is impossible to say whether that’s a true measure of the Iraqi people’s feelings.” As for Matthews himself, see his conversation with liberal Newsweek reporters on February 11, 2002, just five months after the so-called Big Shutup began:
The hed isn't snappy, but I'm trying to come up with new slogans for a paper
that can't bring itself to accurately describe Rep. John Murtha.
There's a slim ray of hope from congressional reporter Shailagh Murray, who in a live chat today acknowledged there was more to his background than what we've been reading in her paper:
Why won't the Post tell its readers about Murtha's mixed record on the
Iraq War? For example, he said two years ago that he'd been misled
about WMD and joined with Rep. Pelosi in calling for high-level
administration resignations; he accused Bush of delaying a major
military callup until after the presidential election (a callup that
never happened); he joined a small minority in voting against a
resolution declaring the world safer for having been rid of Saddam; and
voted in favor of Rep. Rangel's (in my view, bogus) resolution to
reinstate the draft. He's entitled to these views -- but aren't the
Post's readers entitled to know about them, as opposed to the simple
"hawkish Democrat" narrative you and your colleagues are presenting?