On MSNBC's Hardball Friday night, four weeks to the day after he devoted his show to trying to convince viewers that the Bush administration tried to make the American public believe Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks to sell the Iraq War (see earlier Newsbusters posting for details), Matthews again pushed this myth, claiming that "many, many times" between the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq invasion, "the case was made that we were going after them, the people that had attacked us. It was clear, it was emotional, it was strongly passionate." The Hardball host also proclaimed, "This isn't an argument. It's a fact," and referred to "a very aggressive campaign to connect 9/11 and Iraq." In wrapping up the segment, he even threw in the charge that the administration argued that an Iraq invasion would be a "cakewalk," which is debunked by direct quotes, featured farther down, from administration officials dating back to several months before the war started.
While conservative talk radio blazed this week over DNC chair Howard Dean's comments on Iraq, that the idea we're going to win is "wrong," an important question arises: did the average American who does NOT listen to talk radio, but relies on network morning or evening news, hear the same uproar? Are the aware of the brouhaha? Don't bet on it. A quick search of the name "Howard Dean" in Nexis from Sunday to Friday showed no Dean mention on ABC. None on CBS. NBC had this snippet on Wednesday morning from Kelly O'Donnell: "The president dismissed comments from Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean, who compared Iraq to the Vietnam war." That's the closest the networks came.
What if you live in fly-over country and read the national papers online, or bought copies across the country of USA Today, or the New York Times? If you read USA Today last week, you'd know nothing of Dean's comments. The New York Times mentioned them in an A-5 story by Sheryl Stolberg on Wednesday headlined "Democrats Still Search for Plan on Iraq." Dean surfaced in paragraph 13. The Washington Post was rare for putting the story front and center on Tuesday, in a story by Jim VandeHei and Shailagh Murray headlined "Democrats Fear Backlash at Polls for Antiwar Remarks" featuring Dean's comments in paragraph two, on the front page. How about National Public Radio?
While appearing on MSNBC's Hardball on Friday December 9, NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell, reacting to a clip of John Kerry saying he would not vote to authorize the Iraq War if he had it to do again because, in his words, he was "misled about the intelligence," Mitchell responded by claiming, "It's true they were lied to, misled, however you want to characterize it."
Returning from a commercial break, a clip from that morning's Imus in the Morning was shown in which John Kerry was asked by Don Imus, "Knowing what you know now ... would you still vote to authorize the President's use of force?" Kerry responded, "Absolutely not, not a possibility," and then said that what changed his mind is, "the intelligence, above all. We've learned the ways in which we really were misled about the intelligence, and the intelligence that we believe, if you had that knowledge today, we wouldn't even have a vote."
Tonight, Democrat Congressman John Murtha stuck his foot in his mouth, again, in an interview on John Kasich's program, "Heartland," on Fox News. As part of his argument that American troops should be withdrawn, starting now, he said,
"The US military is not good at nation-building. President Bush said, when he ran the first time, We're not going to get into nation-building."
Source: No transcript is yet available, but this was TiVo'ed and the quote is accurate.
What President Bush said when he was first running, before 9/11, before Congress authorized "all necessary military force" in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere is irrelevant. It does not control what should/must be done, today.
Recently, Hardball with Chris Matthews has done a nightly segment called "Ending the War". The segment usually features one Republican and one left-wing Democrat to discuss how the war is going, the intelligence leading up to the War, and how the US can get out. On Thursday night's Hardball, Matthews said the following:
MATTHEWS: Did you—when you look back on the Vietnam War, if you remember—they used to have votes all the time in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House. They‘d have the Cooper-Church Amendment, there would be another amendment being offered at different times. You know, Mark Hathid (ph) always had an amendment to try to return the troops. How come we‘re not saying these test votes? I don‘t understand it. If there‘s a dispute over whether to come relatively soon, like Murtha said so, and the president says, “stay until the job gets done,” how come we don‘t see this coming to a vote ever?
Perhaps it was a slip of the mind, but there was a "test vote" last month. On Novemeber 17, House Republicans entered a resolution that would pull US troops out of Iraq. The bill failed miserably.
Was Matt Lauer wearing a Palestinian support scarf this morning?
Alright, I can already hear some folks out there chuckling at the notion.
But before you dismiss this as the product of the over-active mind of an MSM-bias hunter, consider:
So-called "Palestinian support scarves" have become items of radical fashion chic. Check out this web-site, which advertises "Palestinian support scarves," explaining:
"The traditional Palestinian headdress has become a symbol of support for the Palestinian people against the Israeli occupation. From political ralliesto talk shows, supporters of the Palestinian cause have begun donning this traditional scarf as a show of solidarity." [emphasis added]
The Truth? The Duelfer Report says no such thing. There's no such basis for Franken's claims.
In fact, this is what the Duelfer Report (.pdf file) said in part about President's Clinton's 1998 strikes, called Operation Desert Fox (emphasis mine):
“UNSCOM and IAEA inspectors departed Iraq just before the bombing and never returned. The Iraqis were satisfied with the outcome. They said, given a choice of sanctions with inspections or sanctions without inspections, they would prefer without." (Vol. 1, p. 11)
I heard Laura Ingraham notice Thursday that New York Times reporter Sarah Lyall used an L-word in her story on playwright and Nobel Literature Prize winner Harold Pinter's "furious howl of outrage" against America in his Wednesday acceptance remarks. It comes in paragraph five: "The literature prize has in recent years often gone to writers with left-wing ideologies. These include the European writers José Saramago of Portugal, Günter Grass of Germany and Dario Fo of Italy." Actually, these men could all be placed on the "hard left," if Lyall wanted to pick that label. Lyall's story is the top e-mailed story of the last 24 hours, as of 10 PM Eastern. The headline is wimpy in comparison to the howling speech: "Playwright Takes A Prize and a Jab at the U.S.," it says. See if the second paragraph sounds like a little "jab" to you:
Ted Rall has struck again - this time with words instead of his little cartoons. In his Dec. 6, 2005 editorial, "We're Looking for a Few Good Refuseniks", Rall attacks the US military and veterans again. Rall credits the "unelected" President Bush for the military turning its back on its once "honorable calling". Rall then blames the US soldiers for "torturing, maiming and murdering POWs, robbing and subjecting civilians to collective punishment, dropping white phosphorus and depleted uranium bombs on civilian targets."
Pooh-poohing the "they are just following orders" excuse, Rall reminds his readers that the illegal, immoral and unjust war could not have been waged without a "compliant and complicit US military". He calls for the "men and women of our armed forces" to be "held individually accountable for the carnage". Rall continues that our "government's poorly paid contract killers" do not deserve our support for blindly following orders. So much for "we support the troops but not their mission".
On his Countdown show Thursday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, while interviewing New York Daily News correspondent Ken Bazinet about rumors that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld would soon retire, wondered if there would be "rioting from the hard right" if Bush replaced him with a Democrat. While speculating on the possibility of Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman being chosen to replace Rumsfeld, Olbermann asked, "But a Democrat of any shape, stripe, or form in the Bush administration, would there not be rioting from the hard right?"
Since the Bush administration has already had a Democratic Cabinet member for almost five years, Bazinet reminded Olbermann, "Well, you know, we already have Secretary Mineta obviously at Transportation, so it's not out of the question," but then went on to voice agreement with Olbermann's expectations of conservative opposition: "I think that you might have a rebellion just this side of Harriet Miers on your hands, quite frankly."
While CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer on Wednesday night highlighted how, in a fresh CBS News/New York Times poll, President Bush’s approval rating has risen five points since October, he pointed out just one other survey finding -- one which matched a Democratic agenda item -- that “58 percent of those questioned said the U.S. should set a timetable for troop withdrawal; 39 percent said no.” But Schieffer skipped how the survey also discovered that the public agrees with Bush and rejects the policy urged by Congressman John Murtha and left-wingers, such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and DNC Chairman Howard Dean. As reported in the CBSNews.com summary of the poll: “Six in 10 say they would agree with President Bush’s statement that removing U.S. troops from Iraq now would be ‘a recipe for disaster.’" Specifically, 61 percent responded “yes” compared to 34 percent who replied with a “no” -- a nearly two-to-one ratio. (Transcript follows.)
Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard that despite the huge growth of the alternative media, including bloggers and talk radio, the mainstream media is still in charge as it remains able to determine the country's "conventional wisdom."
Last year, conservative talk radio, websites, and bloggers forced the Swift Boats vets story onto the national media agenda and instantly destroyed 60 Minutes's case against President Bush and his Texas Air National Guard service. But conservatives shouldn't get triumphal. The mainstream media still rules....
Consider the case of Democratic Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania, who recently called for an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. The mainstream media treated this as a shot out of the blue by a defense hawk who suddenly concluded that the war was unwinnable. Conservatives knew better--namely that Murtha had been criticizing the war for many months and that his call for withdrawal was utterly irresponsible.
The forces of NBC, in the persons of Matt Lauer and Barry McCaffrey, launched a major attack on the enemy this morning. No, not on Al-Qaida or the Baathist dead-enders. We're talking of a real MSM enemy: Donald Rumsfeld.
Lauer began the assault by using yesterday's release of a videotape featuring Al-Qaida deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to promote the notion of bad US troop morale. Lauer noted that Zawahiri was looking relaxed, answering questions, not bothering to be armed, and asked NBC employee, retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, whether seeing such a tape motivated or frustrated the troops.
When McCaffrey didn't respond with a negative assessment of troop morale, Lauer tried another tack to produce the desired result:
David Cloud reports on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's talk at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in "Rumsfeld Says the Media Focus Too Much on Negatives in Iraq," but devotes most of his small Tuesday story to anti-administration side issues and rebutting unrelated statements by Rumsfeld.
"Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday that news media organizations were focusing too much on casualties and mistakes by the military in Iraq and were failing to provide a full picture of the progress toward stabilizing the country. 'We've arrived at a strange time in this country where the worst about America and our military seems to so quickly be taken as truth by the press, and reported and spread around the world, often with little context and little scrutiny, let alone correction or accountability after the fact,' he said in a speech at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies."
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.")