On this weekend’s McLaughlin Group, veteran Newsweek Washington bureau reporter Eleanor Clift hailed the secret session of the Senate stunt as “a welcome show of spine that Democrats needed.” She proceeded to predict that “the Democrats are going to push” the contention that President Bush “abused his authority” in going to war and so “frankly, if the country, according to the polls, believes by a margin of 55 percent that President Bush misled us into war, the next logical step is impeachment and I think you're going to hear that word come up and if the Democrats ever capture either house of Congress there are going to be serious proceedings against this administration." Sounds like a motivation for journalists covering next year’s campaigns. (Clift had concluded her weekly Friday column on MSNBC.com: “On the day the Scooter Libby indictments were handed down, Conyers invoked the language of Watergate: 'What did the President and the Vice President know, and when did they know it?’ If the political tables turn, impeachment may not be so far-fetched after all.”)
Picking up on how fellow McLaughlin Group panelist Pat Buchanan described the administration’s use of pre-war intelligence, Clift charged: “'Hyped,’ 'cherry-picked,’ 'misled,’ whatever the words you use to me are criminal offenses when you see the suffering that has gone into this war and the cost of this war. It was a war of choice that was sold to American people on fear." Asked to predict if Karl Rove will resign, Clift said no before she condescendingly asserted that President Bush “can't tie his shoelaces without Karl Rove."
Video of Clift raising impeachment, in Real or Windows Media. (Fuller quotations of Clift follow as well as an excerpt from her posted column.)
Outcry continues over the Times' omission of quotes from the last letter of Marine Cpl. Jeffrey Starr. As recounted yesterday on TimesWatch, a Times story by James Dao last week marking the death of 2,000 U.S troops in Iraq printed one part of a letter from Cpl. Starr, to be delivered to his girlfriend in case of Starr's death. That portion of the letter showed the Marine foreseeing his own death.
But as Michelle Malkin first revealed, after receiving a letter from Cpl. Starr's uncle, the Times left out the very next part, which explained what Starr considered the greater meaning of his sacrifice in Iraq. In doing so, the Times left readers with a diminished, one-dimensional portrait of a doomed Marine, instead of one who saw his sacrifice in the context of something greater and worthwhile.
We interrupt our regular programming for a left-wing blast at American foreign policy.
About three-fourths of the way through last night’s ERon NBC, a character giving a dinner table blessing began her prayer with rhetoric that could have been lifted from MoveOn.org's Web site: “Thank you, Lord, for the blessings we are about to receive. Look over those now who cannot be with us, including the countrymen who fight to protect us in an overseas war founded on lies told to us by our government.”
Up to that point, there had been no discussion of the war or politics at all (the main plot line was about a sick baby monkey being treated secretly by the ER docs). After the anti-war protest, the story resumed without any further political references.
In constructing a balanced panel to discuss a president's fortunes, one does not normally select one person who opposes him and. . . another person who opposes him and ran against him in a general election.
But that was the Today's show notion of 'fair & balanced' this morning. In to discuss W's drooping poll numbers were former Clinton spokesperson Dee Dee Myers and Patrick Buchanan. In introducing Buchanan, Couric highlighted his GOP credentials. But while stating Buchanan had been an aide in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan White Houses, Katie conveniently omitted mentioning that in 2000 he had, as the presidential nominee of the Reform Party, run a bitterly critical campaign against George W. Bush and has since been an incessant Bush critic, particularly on the centerpiece of Bush's foreign policy - the war in Iraq.
In tomorrow’s (Friday) Washington Post is a front page article entitled “Youths in Rural U.S. are Drawn to Military.” The title is correct. The lede, however, is a single sentence that displays for all to see the bias of the Post against the war and against its volunteer military. It reads:
“As sustained combat in Iraq makes it harder than ever to fill the ranks of the all-volunteer force, newly released Pentagon demographic data show that the military is leaning heavily for recruits on economically depressed, rural areas where youths' need for jobs may outweigh the risks of going to war.”
The second paragraph reads:
“More than 44 percent of U.S. military recruits come from rural areas, Pentagon figures show. In contrast, 14 percent come from major cities. Youths living in the most sparsely populated Zip codes are 22 percent more likely to join the Army, with an opposite trend in cities. Regionally, most enlistees come from the South (40 percent) and West (24 percent).”
Former President Jimmy Carter has a new book and is making the morning show rounds. He appeared on American Morning with Soledad O'Brien via satellite from Washington, DC, and in an excerpt of a taped interview with Rene Syler aired in the 7:00 a.m. half-hour of CBS's The Early Show. Syler's full interview will air at a later date, but if today's excerpt is any indication, it won't be a tough interview with balanced questions.
Syler lets Carter make unsubstantiated claims without asking him for evidence, particularly Carter's assertion that the President always intended to start a war with Iraq, well before 9/11, and his hinting that there is likely a sinister explanation for faulty intelligence before the Iraq war. Syler didn't ask Carter about his fellow Democrats, including former President Clinton, who had similar intelligence from the CIA and made equally alarming claims about the threat from Hussein with weapons of mass destruction in years past.
Columnist Michelle Malkin hits New York Times reporter James Dao for leaving off a vital part of a quote of a Marine killed in Iraq, a portion that showed how committed the Marine was to the cause of freedom there.
As Malkin describes in a column in the New York Post:
"Last Wednesday, the Times published a 4,624-word opus on American casualties of war in Iraq. '2,000 Dead: As Iraq Tours Stretch On, a Grim Mark,' read the headline. The macabre, Vietnam-evoking piece appeared prominently on page A2. Among those profiled were Marines from the First Battalion of the Fifth Marine Regiment, including Cpl. Jeffrey B. Starr."
The last moments on CNN for the network's most liberal anchor, Aaron Brown, were spent channeling Joe Wilson's talking points. (As noted by Noel Sheppard, CNN on Wednesday announced the departure of Brown and the end of NewsNight. The two-hour block starting at 10pm EST will now carry the Anderson Cooper 360 title while The Situation Room gets the 7pm EST hour.) Brown was last on CNN on Friday night wrapping up headlines at 11:01pm EDT before an airing of CNN Presents narrated by David Ensor, "Dead Wrong: Inside an Intelligence Meltdown." Just before that, at 10:54pm EDT, Brown conducted his last interview on CNN, a brief live session with Ensor, in which he pushed the spin of the radical anti-war left. He told Ensor that “people who are opposed to the war say that it wasn't just that the intelligence was wrong. It's that the intelligence was cooked." Ensor inconveniently admitted that “I also thought that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction,” before Brown followed up: “At some level, this is about Joe Wilson saying -- I'm not, I'm not saying he's right about this, I'm just saying what he said -- is that they took the country to war, when they knew the evidence was at least ambiguous and they never framed it in an ambiguous way."
Below are a few examples of Brown's bias from his CNN years -- he left ABC News in 2001 -- which the MRC's Rich Noyes and I quickly collected from NewsBusters and the MRC's archive. These quotes, some with video, include how Brown, after Katrina, pressed a black Congresswoman to agree that race was behind the delayed response in New Orleans; how Brown one night trumpeted a Republican who turned against the war and wondered if the administration has been “honest”; how he ridiculed the contention that John Kerry didn't earn his Purple Heart; how he insisted that while some “will see willful deception on the part of CBS” in the Memogate scandal, “smarter and more reasoned heads know better”; how he declared the “record unambiguous” that “John Kerry was a war hero”; how, without uttering a syllable about questions about Kerry's Vietnam record, on Memorial Day 2004 Brown delivered a panegyrical, event-by-event tribute to Kerry's heroic Vietnam service; how he boasted of “a permanent smirk” spurred by Rush Limbaugh's drug troubles; how he proposed that the White House “twisted or ignored” global warming science; and how Brown swooned over Jimmy Carter: “In many places, dusty and difficult places, James Earl Carter has brought hope and dispelled, as well as anyone alive these days, the vision of the ugly American."
The broadcast network morning shows did segments today concerning yesterday’s surprise “closed session” in the Senate demanded by Democratic minority leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada). All three appeared quite pleased with what occurred while suggesting that it was a big win for the Democrats, and indicating that the Republicans were very angered by “the stunt.” However, even though they have now had almost a day to research the history of such events, much like what was reported by NewsBusters yesterday, not one of the programs discussed just how rare these sessions are, or questioned why this subject matter warranted a closed session. (Video links of the CBS and NBC segments to follow.)
The stunt by Senate Democrats who forced the chamber into closed session so they could get publicity for demands for an immediate probe into administration use of pre-war intelligence, earned a favorable tirade Tuesday afternoon from CNN’s Jack Cafferty who charged that “there's a perception in this country that we were lied to about the run-up to the war in Iraq.” Most believe they were “lied” to? More like Cafferty channeled the claims of the radical left. Cafferty proceeded to concede that “maybe we were, and maybe we weren't, but there are a lot of people who think we were.” Cafferty rued, as if WMDs were the only reason for the war: “A half a trillion dollars and 2,000 of our kids later, we're still there. We're mired in a thing that has no visible end” and so “if they lied to us, if there was some kind of intent to deceive, then they ought to find out who did it, and tear their fingernails out, and then get rid of them.” He insisted that “it's about what's right and what's wrong and what people who are entrusted to govern this country do with the power we give them. If it's being abused, we damn well have a right to know, and something should be done about it.”
No one could blame you if you guessed it's from one of the "secret CIA prisons" whose existence is being reported today.
After all, that is the legend that the Today show imposed over the photo. Katie Couric opened the show with it, ominously asking: "could there be another Abu Ghraib out there?"
In fact, the photo is from Abu Ghraib. But it was only when the same photo was displayed later in the half-hour that that fact clearly emerged.
Consider Today's cunning in choosing the photo it displayed. On the one hand, it is so lurid as to be sure to draw viewers' attention. On the other, Today avoided using one of the famous man-on-a-leash photos, since viewers would have immediately realized it was from Abu Ghraib.
There was a lot of media excitement today surrounding the rare “closed session” called in the Senate by Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada). In fact, a Google news search identified 684 articles and postings on the subject. For example, Reuters reported:
“Democrats forced the Senate into a rare closed session on Tuesday to protest what they decried as the Republican-led body's inattention to intelligence failures on Iraq and the leak of a CIA operative's identity.
“Invoking a little used rule, Democrats temporarily shut down television cameras in the chamber, cleared galleries of reporters, tourists and other onlookers, forced removal of staff members and recording devices and stopped work on legislation.”
MSNBC, with the assistance of the Associated Press, even reported this event as a huge win for the Democrats, with a sub-headline, “Following unusual closed Senate session, Democrats claim victory.”
Yet, from what I can tell, there was little if any discussion by most media outlets including Reuters, MSNBC, and AP concerning how rarely this rule is invoked, and under what circumstances in American history it has been employed.
[Judith Miller] knew early on that Libby was using the media to punish former U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV for exposing President Bush's false claim that Iraq sought nuclear material from the African nation of Niger.
The words I want to examine here are "punish" and "false claim". If there was information given to a reporter, it wasn't to punish Joe Wilson, it was to expose him. By the time he went to Niger, he had a long history of not just being against the war, but being against a regime change in Iraq. This was no impartial panel to examine evidence. This was one guy going over there without even being paid, lying about who sent him [Cheney], to [his words mind you] "drink sweet tea and meet with people." Did he look at spy sat imagery? No. Did he examine hardware with a Geiger counter? No. Did he meet with CIA HUMINT informants? No. He simply asked a dozen people if they were selling yellowcake to Saddam. What would you answer if the U.S. asked you that?
And in the end, Joe Wilson didn't even say it definitely didn't happen. His finding was "that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place." Do you read that caveat in newspaper articles?
Meanwhile, the IAEA, an organization that does more than ask people questions, determined that yellowcake was found in scrap metal originating from Iraq. What does Joe Wilson have to say about that?
The report indicated that there was enough intelligence to make a “well-founded” judgment that Saddam Hussein was seeking, perhaps as late as 2002, to obtain uranium illegally from Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo (6.4 para. 499). In particular, referring to a 1999 visit of Iraqi officials to Niger, the report states (6.4 para. 503): “The British government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger's exports, the intelligence was credible.”
Back to the claim that Bush made a "false claim". Given that we have intelligence and physical evidence that contradict Joe Wilson, as well as a solid foundation for Joe Wilson's motive, what is this "false claim" Bush made based on?
In Saturday's lead editorial, "The Case Against Scooter Libby," the New York Times tries to tie the complicated Joseph Wilson-Valerie Plame-Niger-uranium affair up with a bright-red conspiratorial bow by making out that columnist Bob Novak was out to get diplomat turned (discredited) anti-war activist Joseph Wilson.
By the Times' tendentious reading, the "conservative hawk" Novak went after Wilson for contradicting the White House on Saddam Hussein seeking uranium in Niger: "Mr. Novak reported that Mr. Wilson's wife worked at the C.I.A. and had suggested Mr. Wilson for the mission. In the eyes of Mr. Novak and other conservative hawks, that made the trip suspect because they saw the C.I.A. as an adversary. The office where Mrs. Wilson worked was not toeing the line on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction."
In a blog offering at “The Huffington Post,” MSNBC’s senior political analyst Lawrence O’Donnell shared some rather scathing opinions of White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove yesterday, and made it clear that it would have been better for the president and the country if Rove had resigned on Friday:
“The pundit world, having spent years in awe of Karl Rove, will never understand how bad he is at his White House job. His second term agenda destroyed this presidency long before Patrick Fitzgerald’s press conference. Rove sent his president on a political death march on Social Security reform with the most hopeless legislative idea since the Clinton health care bill. That showed Congress how powerless the second-term Bush would be.”
On Sunday's The Chris Matthews Show, Norah O’Donnell claimed that Wolfowitz and Libby were "two of the angriest people" over the fact the US did not take out Saddam in the first Gulf War. The two then shared a laugh over Saddam's capture:
O'DONNELL: Two of the angriest people after the first Gulf War that we didn't go in and take out Saddam were Paul Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby. They've been holding that grudge ---
MATTHEWS: I thought Cheney was kind of upset too, wasn't he?
O'DONNELL: Yes, but not publicly. BUT Wolfowitz and Libby were.
MATTHEWS: Well they got their way didn't they?
O'DONNELL: HAHAHA! (Eerie laugh)
*****At the end of the show, Chris Matthews said the milestone of 2,000 dead troops is the reason why we should pull out of Iraq now.
I wish the morality of this was clear for all to see, that the loss of these happy faces makes by it self the case against this war.
Every day, somebody at CNN picks a couple of video segments for their “Best of TV” section on their video page. From what I can tell, they can come from any of the various news categories CNN reports on such as world, business, politics, sports, health, etc. Of all the segments that they air during a given day and reproduce for their video page, typically only a couple are chosen for the “Best of TV” section.
On Friday, one of the three videos that made CNN’s “Best of TV” list was a 53 second clip of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) making a variety of accusations directed at the Bush administration on “Larry King Live.” In her rant, Boxer blamed Bush for the entire Plamegate affair, while claiming that the intent was “to punish a man's family because he told the truth about weapons of mass destruction.”
What follows is a full transcript of what CNN felt was the “Best of TV” last Friday, along with a video link.
In case NewsBusters readers needed reminding that liberal media bias exists outside the major TV networks/New York Times-Washington Post/newsmagazines iron triangle, a Knight Ridder News Service story this weekend did just that. As you'll see, the first few paragraphs of this overheated "news analysis" by Ron Hutcheson and Steve Thomma speak for themselves.
I should first note that Knight Ridder publishes 32 daily papers, some of them, such as the Miami Herald and Philadelphia Inquirer, in major markets, so Hutcheson and Thomma's piece probably found a large readership. That became even more likely when at least one non-KR paper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, also picked up the article.
For those of you who haven’t seen this morning’s “Meet the Press,” I highly recommend that you do so that you can see William Safire at his best, as well as some great incites from David Brooks. What follows are key statements from the two of them concerning Plamegate, and the events of the week. Though chronological in order, the numbered quotes are separate ideas that did not immediately follow one another:
1. MR. WILLIAM SAFIRE: I think that was an excellent rundown and time line of a complicated series of accusations of a cover-up, but the most important single fact that emerged from the indictment is what was not in it. This whole thing started as an investigation of the violation of a law. And the law that was violated was you must not deliberately out an agent who is undercover. And what the special counsel found is that law was not broken.
For those who have read or seen a lot of press reports since the announcement of the indictments against I. Lewis Libby on Friday, you have likely observed a growing number of quotes from White House “aides” and “insiders” concerning a state of panic and disarray within the administration. Yet, most of these reports do not give the names of the sources, and, instead, suggest that the informants wish to retain anonymity due to the current environment within the White House.
Newsweek’s Howard Fineman and Richard Wolffe wrote an article for the upcoming issue entitled, “Flying Blind,” wherein they asserted, “Team Bush is in turmoil.” To be sure, the title is quite appropriate, for not one of the eight “quotes” or paraphrases from White House “aides” identified the name of the source. In fact, two of these (the second and third bullets below) were referenced by George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week" this morning:
In the upcoming issue of Newsweek, senior editor Jonathan Alter suggests that the tactics of the Bush administration have acted to lessen democracy in America.
In a piece entitled, “The Price of Loyalty is Incompetence,” Alter states, “The same president who seeks democracy, transparency and dissent in Iraq is irritated by it at home.” The premise of the article is that Bush and Company require rubberstamps of approval from all who work in the administration without any dissent if one wants to continue to be part of the team:
While introducing an interview with former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean on his Countdown show Friday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann implied that Plamegate is worse than past White House scandals because, in contrast to scandals from the Nixon, Reagan, and Harding administrations, a sitting White House staff member has been indicted. Referring to Bush supporters who were offended by the title of Dean's book, Worse than Watergate, Olbermann quipped that because of Libby's indictment, "the protests about John Dean's title might instead be coming from the fans of Presidents Nixon, Reagan and Harding."
Also, referring to the possibility that the indictment could bolster the belief by some that the White House lied about the rationale for the Iraq invasion, Olbermann wondered: "Is the damage here, perhaps, that as the nation has solely gotten around to questioning the justification for the war in Iraq, what we've all been asking has been: Did the government and people in it make false statements? Are they liars? And now there is a charge of false statements and basically lying against a man who was prominent in that government?" A complete transcript of Olbermann's interview with Dean from the Friday October 28 Countdown show follows:
The excitement and anticipation radiating from the mainstream media, as American deaths in Iraq inched toward the 2,000 mark, has been more than evident. It has also been a time of struggle for those of us who deeply mourn the loss of these heroic young men and women. Now, in addition to the pain and suffering we truly understand, the American public must also endure the pre-planned platitudes of a press strongly opposed to this combat action.
Headlines and editorials condemning the war or calling for withdrawal of our troops have been everywhere. News and editorial leads have all sounded the theme of Washington’s wrong doing. For example, Bob Herbert’s column in the October 27 New York Times reads, “Thousands upon thousands are suffering and dying in Iraq while, in Washington, incompetence continues its macabre marathon dance with incoherence.”
Former chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker released a list today of 2,200 companies that apparently bribed Saddam Hussein for access to contracts related to the United Nations oil-for-food program. Topping the list were such household names as Germany’s Siemens Corporation, Germany’s Daimler Chrysler, and Sweden’s Volvo. Yet, Richard Roth, reporting on CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” began his piece on this story by focusing on Oscar Wyatt, Jr., an oil trader from Texas:
“More than 2,000 companies were accused of doing illegal business with Saddam Hussein feasting on the oil-for-food program. One prominent American businessman was Texas oil trader Oscar Wyatt, Jr., who in a case of bad timing for him, was also arraigned last week in federal court charged by the government with paying millions of dollars of kickbacks to win oil contracts with Iraq.”
Unlike ABC and CBS, on Thursday night, NBC informed viewers of a report on the United Nations Oil-for-Food scandal, as NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams stated that "2,000 companies paid nearly $2 billion in kickbacks directly to Saddam Hussein" and that "the country with the most companies involved in this was Russia, followed by France." A complete transcript of the story from the October 27 NBC Nightly News follows:
Anna Quindlen hasn't been a New York Times columnist for more than a decade, but she'd still fit in quite well on her old paper's op-ed page. In her opinion piece for the October 31 Newsweek, Quindlen takes up the inclination to psychoanalyze President Bush from one current Times columnist, Maureen Dowd, and the Iraq-is-Vietnam argument from another, Frank Rich.
Early in the column, Quindlen asserts that the Bush administration's Iraq policy
became a moving target. First there were weapons of mass destruction that were not there and direct links to the terrorists who attacked on September 11 that didn't exist. The removal of Saddam Hussein was given as the greatest good; it has been done. Then it became the amorphous goal of bringing freedom to the Iraqi people, as though liberty were flowers and we were FTD. The elections, the constitution, the rubble, the dead.
Are you a Republican or conservative? Want to get invited on a morning MSM show? No problem! Just be prepared to do one thing - criticize the Bush administration.
We've seen the pattern in recent weeks at the Today show. First there was Bill Kristol, fiercely attacking the Miers nomination. Yesterday, GOP congressman-turned-MSNBC-host Joe Scarborough upped the ante, accusing VP Cheney of a "lie."
And this morning brought an appearance by conservative uber-celebrity Ann Coulter.
The first hint that a warm reception was planned for Ann was the fact that Today chose Matt Lauer to interview her, rather than Katie Couric with whom Ann had famously clashed on air after having described Couric as an "affable Eva Braun."
What earned Ann her invite? Matt gave it away when he cited to Ann her recent comment "in which you compared the Bush White House with the Nixon White House."
Bingo! Any conservative willing to invoke the Nixon White House in discussing W is welcome on Today!
Gary Hall passed along yesterday that MoveOn.org is telling their members on their E-mail list that the media are failing to give enough publicity to the 2,000-dead "milestone" in Iraq:
"Dear MoveOn member, Yesterday we reached the sad milestone of 2,000 killed in Iraq. But for the most part, the national media are ignoring this tragic milestone."
MRC's Rich Noyes rebutted this strange idea yesterday (with data from Brent Baker's CyberAlert) in a Media Reality Check. While the networks downplayed the Iraqi government's announcement that 79 percent of Iraqis had voted in favor of a new constitution, they played up the 2,000 "milestone."
The headline in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times is, "U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Hits 2,000." It is accompanied by another front-page Iraq piece with the title, "Deadly Surge." These articles continue inside to three full pages which include a large, half-page graph ("A Mounting Toll"), a large half-page map of the U.S., and color photos under the banner "U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq."
In all, there are three stories about U.S. deaths in Iraq covering 4,228 words. They are accompanied by a total of nine color photos.
Meanwhile, the Times takes the major historical event, "Iraq Charter Ratified by Big Margin in Final Tally" ... and puts it on page A6. And for this, they give readers 1,056 words with one black-and-white photo and a map of Iraq.
CBS's David Martin filed a report on today's Early Show on the sacrifice paid in Iraq by small towns across the country as 25 percent of the Iraq war dead are from rural areas compared to 20 percent of the military as a whole hailing from rural America. Martin focused on the July death of Sergeant Victor Anderson in his story. Anderson was a reservist from Ellaville, Georgia, a town with a population of 2,000, which Martin noted in the closing of his report, the same number of US deaths in Iraq.
Martin's piece put a face on the 2,000 benchmark and used the number to illustrate the loss of life in the Iraq war already as equal to that of a small tight-knit, patriotic Southern town. But in August, the Atlanta Journal Constitution gave its readers a fuller look at Anderson as a person, a Reservist who worked hard to lose weight and pass physical muster to be shipped out to Iraq rather than work a desk stateside: