Perhaps Katie Couric was only playing the reporter's role of devil's advocate, but one sensed she was speaking her own mind in interviewing Dem Rep. John Murtha on this morning's Today show.
And just what was on Katie's mind? That Iraq would dissolve into chaos and terror were the US to beat the kind of hasty retreat that Murtha advocates.
Murtha repeatedly praised the US military, but when it came down to it, flatly claimed that: "this mission is not something they can accomplish, not something they can do."
Murtha sought to distinguish between terrorism, of the type we fought in Afghanistan, and insurgency, of the kind we face in Iraq. His argument was that fighting insurgency amounts to nation-building that we cannot achieve.
Yesterday, I posted an article here concerning a piece by Jonathan Alter of Newsweek. The inherent hypocrisy of Alter's column generated the following op-ed from me that I wanted to share for those that might be interested:
America’s mainstream media are in high dudgeon over efforts by our military to get its story out in Iraq, where winning hearts and minds is an important component of victory. Typical is Newsweek’s senior editor Jonathan Alter, who wrote an article for this week’s issue entitled “The Real Price of Propaganda.” In it, Alter came down strongly against the behavior alleged last week by the Los Angeles Times - that the Pentagon is buying placement of articles in Iraqi newspapers.
Here's an interesting item from the Associated Press about former Attorney General Ramsey Clark. As Saddam Hussein walked into the courtroom for the day's proceedings, "most of the defendants and several of the defense lawyers, including Clark, stood up out of respect when Saddam entered."
In an interview with Greg Jarrett on Fox News Live today, Bob Beckel said “I don't know any democrat that called George Bush a liar.” Obviously Beckel needs a refresher:
June 2, 2005 interview with Rolling Stone – Harry Reid – Q: “You’ve called Bush a loser.” Reid: “And a liar.” Q: “You’ve apologized for the loser comment.” Reid: “But never for the liar, have I.”
November 18, 2005: Sen. Edward M. Kennedy: Bush and Cheney “have begun a new campaign of distortion and manipulation.” The two men could not find weapons of mass destruction and “they can’t find the truth either.”
No, I'm not speaking of the situation on the battleground in Iraq. I'm referring to the Today show's attitude toward the Bush administration and the war in Iraq. In recent posts, here, here and here, I'd noted a surprising moderation in Today's tone.
But this morning, it was back to good old Bush-administration bashing. The segment's essence was a questioning of the administration's truthfulness. "Rhetoric vs. Reality" read the on-screen graphic, asking "When Can U.S. Troops Come Home?"
With a little help from his friend Katie Couric, NBC reporter Jim Miklaszewski narrated the segment.
Couric introduced him by noting that this is "a deadly time for US troops," and Miklaszewski began his report by echoing that notion.
As the total number of US dead and wounded were displayed on screen, Miklaszewski observed: "those American casualties continue to climb."
Well, true. But then again, how could the total number of dead and wounded ever decline?
Then it was on to a gloomy take on the training of the Iraqi military. Of all the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi soldiers, Today chose to play a clip of one who was a caricature of a skinny sad sack, literally being pushed by his US trainer.
The Washington Post puts on the top left of its front page Monday reporter Robin Wright's story that "among the Democratic foreign-policy elite...there are stark differences -- and significant vagueness -- about a viable alternative" to ending the Iraq war successfully. "In interviews, veteran policymakers offered no end of criticism" of Bush's handling, "but only one had a clear vision of what he would do if the Iraq problem was handed over to a Democratic administration tomorrow." The Post headline: "Democrats Find Iraq Alternative Is Elusive." A better headline: "Democrats Have No Plan."
"I'm not prepared to lay out a detailed policy or strategy," said Richard Holbrooke, "widely considered the leading candidate to be secretary of state" if Kerry had won the presidency in 2004. "It 's not something you can expet in a situation that's moving this fast and has the level of detail you're looking for." Translation: wooh, aren't you glad the Democrats didn't win? We'd be stuck with Unfrozen Caveman Secretary of State: the Iraqi terrorists' modern ways of war frighten and confuse him. Then turn inside.
Newsweek’s senior editor Jonathan Alter wrote an article for this week’s issue entitled “The Real Price of Propaganda” wherein he came down strongly against recent revelations that the Pentagon might be “buying” articles to be placed in Iraqi newspapers. On the one hand, there is some delicious irony in seeing an anti-propaganda column in an American periodical that is periodically so full of it. Yet, maybe more curious is how Alter seemed mostly disgusted by the amount of money the Pentagon might be paying for such an exercise without recognizing how inexpensive this is compared to the cost of waging a war measured in both dollars and lives. This is made even more hypocritical given Newsweek’s antagonism to this war. However, none of these glaring holes seemed to deter Alter from making his argument.
It is interesting that one of Alter’s major sources for this piece is that venerable bastion of geopolitical opinion, Rolling Stone magazine:
As reported by NewsBusters here, the New York Times’ William Safire made some statements on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on October 30 concerning his view of a changing tide in the media’s opinion of the president. This morning’s panel on NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show” proved Safire as being rather prophetic.
To refresh everyone’s memory, Safire said that day: “Now, the wonderful thing about American attention and media coverage, is the narrative has to change. It can't stay the same, or else it's not newsworthy. And so the story will be the comeback.”
Newsweek’s Susannah Meadows, with help from Howard Fineman and John Barry, wrote what appeared to be a 2008 presidential advertisement presenting Sen. Hillary Clinton to readers as a pro-military hawk. In doing so, Meadows unintentionally exposed an interesting hypocrisy in the senator’s stance that she, like others in Congress, was misled by President Bush prior to her October 11, 2002 vote to authorize the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.
First, Meadows went to great lengths to present Sen. Clinton as not being a dove:
Friday’s American Morning on CNN featured an interview session with two members of a Cleveland-area Marine reserve unit just back from Iraq who outlined how their one-on-one experience with Iraqi people showed the situation isn’t nearly as hopeless as the media portray it. Miles O'Brien set up the segment: "The story we get out of Iraq on a daily basis, whether it's through politicians or through the media, is generally a story which doesn't paint a rosy picture of the situation there. A couple of Marines who are just back from some very difficult duty in Iraq would like to tell you a little different story.” Corporal Stan Mayer relayed how “we saw a lot of transformation in the towns we went into. They really kind of, they got a lot safer, we got a lot more smiles after we spent enough time in a certain area." O'Brien pressed: "The big picture analysis here is that, that, militarily, this is a -- it may not be a war that the U.S. can win. Do you disagree with that?" Corporal Jeff Schuller shot back: "Definitely."
Doing a search on Yahoo News, I discovered how CNN found them: They were the focus of a Monday Christian Science Monitor story which reported that “soldiers clearly feel that important elements are being left out of the media's overall verdict” on Iraq. Focusing on the 3/25 Marine unit, reporter Mark Sappenfield traveled to Brook Park, Ohio and found that “amid the terrible scenes of reckless hate and lives lost, many members of one of the hardest-hit units insist that they saw at least the spark of progress” and that “their conversation could be a road map of the kind of stories that military folks say the mainstream media are missing.” Sappenfield relayed how “the Iraq of Corporal Mayer's memory is not solely a place of death and loss. It is also a place of hope. It is the hope of the town of Hit, which he saw transform from an insurgent stronghold to a place where kids played on Marine trucks. It is the hope of villagers who whispered where roadside bombs were hidden. But most of all, it is the hope he saw in a young Iraqi girl who loved pens and Oreo cookies.” (Full transcript of CNN's segment follows as well as an excerpt from the CSM article.)
Readers of my NewsBusters entries know that Ellen Ratner, the short end of the "Long & Short of It" feature at Fox & Friends Weekend, has been a frequent object of my ire, as seen here, here and here.
It's thus saying a mouthful that the puerile performance of pinch-hitter Ellis Henican this morning was almost enough to make one long for the short Ratner. Almost.
Henican took on fellow Newsday columnist Jim Pinkerton, who normally locks horns with Ratner in the segment.
The topic was Iraqi pre-war intelligence. At one point it was noted that Hillary Clinton has posted an item on her web site criticizing the pre-war intelligence provided by the Bush administration and suggesting that if she knew then what she knows now, she might not have supported the war.
The San Francisco Chronicle created a comic today to suggest what it would look like if al Qaeda planted propaganda stories in US newspapers. This is evidently a take on the recent story of the US using the means necessary to do what needs to be done in Iraq.
Let me be the first to suggest al Qaeda doesn't need to; MSM is doing just fine on their own. But seriously, if they were to plant stories the headlines might read like this:
The New York Times claims "An American-backed program appears to defy the basic tenets of freedom of the press" as it continues to play catch-up to the Los Angeles Times, which had the dubious honor of breaking the story of the Pentagon-led PR-journalism campaign in support of the U.S. effort in Iraq.
On Friday, NYT reportrs Eric Schmitt and David Cloud file "Senate Summons Pentagon To Explain Effort to Plant Reports in Iraqi News Media." The text box: "An American-backed program appears to defy the basic tenets of freedom of the press."
Washington Post fashion writer Robin Givhan (pronounce that zhiv-AHN, darlings) has drawn great attention to herself in the last five years by writing about the fashions of America's top politicians, often with a nasty edge toward conservatives and a thoroughly enraptured take toward liberals. But today's column is a wonder. She can trash Katherine Harris, and Dick Cheney, and John Bolton. But you have to hand it to Saddam. He's a fashion plate. The title is "The Dictator, Dressing Down the West." Make that "former dictator," thanks. He reminds her of Sinatra in Vegas. He was...
On Thursday night's CBS Evening News, while filing a story about a "change in tone" by the Bush administration that is "an answer to critics who claim the President won't acknowledge errors or learn from them," correspondent John Roberts distorted soundbites by both President Bush and Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace to boost Roberts' story theme which implied that the administration is finally admitting to mistakes in conducting the war in Iraq. Remarks by both men were characterized by Roberts as part of a "campaign of contrition."
In Pace's remarks, made in a speech at the National Defense University on Thursday December 1, the Joint Chiefs Chairman, rather than admitting to any mistakes in conducting the war, merely lamented that military people like him "have not articulated well enough" positive developments "in Iraq and in Afghanistan" to the American public to combat negative portrayals by the media. Roberts, evidently desperate to find something in Pace's speech he could characterize as "admitting mistakes," ignored the overall positive theme of the speech that much progress has been made in Iraq, and zeroed in on the rare self-critical remark Pace made in the speech.
On this evening's (December 1, 2005) edition of Fox News' Hannity and Colmes, Alan Colmes misleadingly suggested that many or all of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were "destroyed by Bill Clinton."
COLMES: ... And Bill Clinton and his pinpoint bombing in the Iraqi facilities in 1998 destroyed many of those weapons that President Bush and Cheney said were there.
GEN. TOMMY FRANKS (guest): I also want to point out, there was little doubt in David Kay's mind that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. I think we all know that he had used weapons of mass destruction on his own people.
COLMES: But they were destroyed by Bill Clinton.
Colmes did initially say "many" of Iraq's WMD were destroyed (a problematic claim in its own right), but his response to Gen. Franks clearly implied that Clinton's 1998 strikes eliminated Saddam's WMD. Unfortunately, Colmes echoes a common deceptive talking point. The whole truth? David Kay has stated that he believes that the 1998 Desert Fox strikes simply played a contributingrole in dismantling Saddam's chemical weapons. ("Information found to date suggests that Iraq's large-scale capability to develop, produce, and fill new CW munitions was reduced -- if not entirely destroyed -- during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Fox, 13 years of UN sanctions and UN inspections." [link to Kay text]) Biological weapons and nuclear weapons are an entirely different matter. In Kay's 2003 speech, he mentions no such destruction of these weapons as the result of Desert Fox. (In fact, "We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002.")
After leading their evening newscasts with Democratic Congressman John Murtha’s call for a withdrawal from Iraq, the ABC and CBS shows on Tuesday skipped Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman’s disclosure that, after a recent trip to Iraq, he saw "real progress" and argued against withdrawing troops. The NBC Nightly News merely gave Lieberman a brief soundbite. But on Wednesday’s Tonight Show on NBC, Jay Leno raised the perspective of the 2000 Democratic Party’s vice presidential candidate with Howard Dean, the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Leno characterized Lieberman’s position as one which “more or less agrees with the President” as he pressed Dean: “How about Joe Lieberman now? Obviously a prominent Democrat....He came back, and he's been there a few times to Iraq. And he more or less agrees with the President, correct?" Dean, who dismissed Bush’s speech as “repetitive dribble,” began his answer: “Everybody gets to march to their own drummer in this party...” (Transcript of the exchange follows.)
CNN's Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night speculated about whether America has reached a Walter Cronkite Vietnam war assessment "tipping point" as Cooper set up a laudatory profile of anti-war Republican Congressman Walter Jones. After an ad break, Cooper went to Christiane Amanpour who asked French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin if he feels his anti-war efforts have now been "vindicated?" Cooper recalled: "On hearing Walter Cronkite say the war in Vietnam had reached a stalemate after the Tet offensive, President Lyndon Johnson famously said, 'If I've lost Walter Cronkite, I've lost middle America.' Fast forward thirty-seven years, there's no Walter Cronkite to speak for middle America, but reporting from middle America, from a congressional district where support for the military and the President traditionally runs high, we do have CNN's John King." King described Jones' "dramatic transformation" against the war and highlighted a pro-war veteran as well as a retired Marine Colonel who declared: "I'm more convinced than ever that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld will be the Republicans' Robert S. McNamara." King then contended: "Such talk in a patriotic place like this is telling."
In the next segment of Anderson Cooper 360, Amanpour sat down with the anti-war de Villepin, who as "France's Foreign Minister, was way out in front voicing French dissent." Amanpour cued him up: "You obviously did not support it, and you raised many of the issues that are currently unfolding there right now. What do you think? Do you feel vindicated when you look at what Iraq is going through right now?" Amanpour soon relayed de Villepin's shot at violence in the U.S.: "And on France's fiery unrest, two weeks of rioting by French youths of African and Arab origin, de Villepin admits these people do face discrimination, but he downplays the violence compared to what's happened in the U.S." (Transcripts of both stories follow.)
Yesterday afternoon the Washington Post filed to its website a quick take on Bush's speech to the Naval Academy on Iraq, including the president's emotional quotation from a letter found on the laptop of Marine Cpl. Jeffrey Starr, six months to the day after his death in a firefight in Ramadi.
"Reading from a letter written by a U.S. soldier on his lap-top computer before his death, an emotional Bush said America owes those who have died in Iraq to 'take up their mantle, carry on the fight and complete their mission.'"
By contrast, the Times online story from Christine Hauser made no mention of Starr's letter. Perhaps one reason why: As Michelle Malkin first learned, The New York Times quoted Starr's letter in a story last month, but managed to miss the point, leaving off the very part Starr's family and President Bush found significant.
Sometimes even Marxists get it right, and no, I'm not speaking of John Kerry. It was Karl Marx himself who famously said "history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”
To judge by his treatment at the hands of Matt Lauer this morning, John Kerry: Part Deux teeters on the brink of being dismissed as farce even by his quondam comrades in the MSM.
Kerry was in to offer his critique of Pres. Bush's speech of yesterday in which he laid out his plan for victory in Iraq.
When Kerry argued that "the insurgency has to be dealt with through a political reconciliation," Lauer cut him off peremptorily. "With all due respect," interrupted Lauer, not-so-subtle code for "not much respect is due." Lauer pointed out that "the President talked about the political process as well and laid that out in his plan for victory."
ABC’s Jessica Yellin, live on Wednesday’s Good Morning America, exploited First Lady Laura Bush’s tour of White House Christmas displays, cards and decorations to hit her with an emotion-laden inquiry about regretting the war in Iraq: “Have you ever met with a mother whose own loss has made you question, even for a moment, whether the U.S. should be in Iraq?" Mrs. Bush replied with how “every loss is too many” and said that “I want to encourage Americans to reach out to our military families who suffer the most.” Yellin followed up by continuing her agenda: "And do you hope the U.S. will be out of Iraq by this time next year?" Yellin posed her serious questions about three minutes into Mrs. Bush’s descriptions of the cards and ornaments in the East Room. (Transcript follows.)
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."