MSNBC’s Chris Matthews led Monday’s Hardball by framing the Valerie Plame case around her husband Joe Wilson’s spin on the case, despite inconsistencies in his claims and how a much more innocent explanation is equally plausible -- that White House officials just wanted to explain why such a publicity-seeking critic, who claimed he was on a mission for the Vice President, would have been sent to Niger to check out whether Iraq sought uranium. “If you don't think this leak case matters,” Matthews intoned, “ask yourself what was the most frightening case you heard for going to war with Iraq? Probably it was that Saddam Hussein was buying uranium yellow cake in Africa to build nuclear weapons.” Matthews insisted that “the Vice President repeated with military precision, almost like a Gatling gun. Saddam Hussein, nuclear weapons. Saddam Hussein, nuclear weapons.” Matthews declared: “But it wasn't true. There's no evidence even now that Saddam tried to buy nuclear materials in Africa.” The British, however, maintain there is such evidence.
Matthews proceeded to provide the most nefarious interpretation of conversations between White House officials and journalists: “Did they try and kill the messenger? Did they use the enormous media power of the White House to discredit the ambassador, his mission and his wife at the CIA who suggested him for the mission? And in doing so, did they abuse the office and the power to which the President was elected? Did they break the law? Did they conspire to punish a critic of the war?”
After Monday's CBS Evening News showed a clip of a Marine recruit at Parris Island explaining that he volunteered because “I want to be fighting the evils that did what they did to us on September 11th," reporter Sharyn Alfonsi related how “all three of the recruits we sat down with say they enlisted because of September 11th.” Alfonsi, however, couldn't let such an apparent link between 9/11 and the war in Iraq go unchallenged and so she quickly admonished the naive recruits as she stressed how “politicians will argue whether the war and 9/11 are related” -- though she added that “clearly here, to these recruits, the two are inseparable."
Alfonsi's clarification about 9/11 connections came in an otherwise very positive story about three Marine recruits and their disappointment that more Americans are not closely following the war. Her piece was the first of a new series, “CBS News Road Tour: The Home Front,” which will take Alfonsi and her mini-van to Ft. Benning in Georgia on Tuesday. Full transcript follows.
Last month, I noticed after a few seconds of Googling that "novice protester" Patrice Cuddy of Kansas, highlighted by Washington Post reporter Petula Dvorak, was not a novice at all, and could be easily found marching against the war before it even began in 2003. Chris Fotos at PostWatch notes that the Post finally put up a "correction" of sorts yesterday, drily acknowledging that "Cuddy had participated in three other large rallies against the war, two in Washington and one in New York."
But then look what Fotos found on the Post website: in the correction appended to the story, it betrayed a clue into the real feeling at the Post: "A Sept. 23 Metro article about people coming to Washington for the Sept. 24 demonstration against the war in Iraq described ^ (don't want to say "incorrectly" in this case) Patrice Cuddy, 56, of Olathe, Kan., as a novice protester. Cuddy had participated in three other large rallies against the war, two in Washington and one in New York." How on Earth would someone in charge of "corrections" say they wouldn't want to say it's "incorrect" in this case? They "don't want to" give off the appearance of caring about accuracy more than political impact?
In one of Newsweek’s online chats, political reporter Howard Fineman is floored by the hard-left harangues the chatters are offering up. (It’s par for the course for this site, but let’s hope Fineman doesn’t think of this gang as representative of public opinion in general. It might be representative of Newsweek subscribers in general.) The headline: Fineman’s circle thinks the GOP is toast in ‘06, and a little puzzled that Newsweek is being mistaken for a Republican shill sheet :
Las Cruces, NM: Why are there not calls for Mr. Bush's resignation or impeachment?...Could there be a public referendum—an open election with no Republican-led Electoral College—by the people, for the country's future? Howard Fineman: I've been hearing impeachment stuff for a few months or more now. I doubt that it will come to that, but the consensus here now is that the Repubs are going to get whacked next year.
Asked this afternoon on FNC's DaySide whether “good things” happening in Iraq are being overlooked by the U.S. media, Kayla Williams, an Arabic interpreter for the U.S. Army who held the rank of Sergeant and appeared on FNC to tout her new book, Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army, replied: “Absolutely.” She explained that “one of the things that sticks out most clearly in my mind would be driving down the road and we would pass schools where children were getting to go to school for the first time in a generation. They would lean out their windows of their classrooms cheering and waving to us in their little school uniforms. And you don't see the images of soldiers passing out school supplies."
National Guardsman Jason Christopher Hartley, author ofJust Another Soldier: A Year on the Ground in Iraq, offered a more generous assessment of media coverage, pointing out that even if you have good news on water treatment plants, voting and schools, but in “the process of those things, three civilians get killed,” then “there's going to be a lot of focus on that” and, therefore, “there is enough horrible things happening that kind of like overshadows maybe all of the great things that might take place there." Transcripts of the exchanges follow.
Our friends at the American Thinker have found a fabulous piece about falsified Iraq war propaganda at a British website called Sir Humphrey’s. What SH has identified is a series of pictures of “insurgents” in Iraq taken by an Associated Press and Reuters photographer that clearly appear to have been posed or set up. Even better, the same posed vignettes became part of a BBC report about violence in Iraq.
I may be a little late to the linking party, but InstaPundit brought many to this fascinating "Anatomy of a Photograph" from the Zombietime blog about a San Francisco Chronicle photograph from the local "peace" rally on September 24. If you haven't seen it, take a look. Every step back adds what Dan Rather loves to call "context and perspective." The truth about the "peace" organizers and marchers gets clearer. Many are vulgar. Many are not exactly geopolitically in sync with the USA (especially the girl in the Vietnam flag shirt).
The Chronicle got enough complaints, so they felt they had to respond on Sunday:
The Associated Press published an article today about Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb’s new album, with much focus given to one song that contains an anti-war theme, as well as Streisand’s political leanings:
“Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb hadn't worked together in 25 years. But Gibb still knew the best way to express what Streisand was thinking -- especially when it came to the war in Iraq.”
“‘I loved the first stanza, because to me this war is kind of senseless, and I don't know why we're there,’ Streisand told The Associated Press.”
There are suspicions surrounding the faux-martyrdom of New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who decided she'd rather go to jail than reveal a source in the Valerie Plame case. The source turned out to be Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby.
Even liberal reporter Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post suspected grandstanding. As reported by Newsbusters' Ken Shepherd, Froomkin said on Sept. 30:
"Can it be? That after all that, New York Times reporter Judith Miller sat in jail for 12 weeks to protect the confidentiality of a very senior White House aide -- even though the aide repeatedly made it clear he didn't want protecting?...
The letter from Reuters Global Managing Editor David Schlesinger called on Warner to raise widespread media concerns about the conduct of U.S. troops with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who is due to testify to the committee on Thursday.
Schlesinger referred to "a long parade of disturbing incidents whereby professional journalists have been killed, wrongfully detained, and/or illegally abused by U.S. forces in Iraq."
He urged Warner to demand that Rumsfeld resolve these issues "in a way that best balances the legitimate security interests of the U.S. forces in Iraq and the equally legitimate rights of journalists in conflict zones under international law"...
On CNN's “American Morning” today, host Miles O’Brien and correspondent Aneesh Raman downplayed the significance of the announcement that the number 2 al Qaeda operative in Iraq was killed on Sunday by a joint Iraq/U.S. maneuver. In fact, their exchange suggested that even if the head of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, was killed or captured, things still wouldn’t improve in that country:
RAMAN: But, Miles, it's always unclear whether the capture of anyone outside of the Zarqawi himself, will really impede this organization.
M. O'BRIEN: Well, you have to ask the question, if they get Zarqawi, will that stop it either?
Yet, maybe more interesting is that the report began with Raman discussing a suicide bombing in Baqubah that killed nine innocent Iraqis rather than the news about the death of the #2 al Qaeda operative.
What follows is a complete transcript of this report, and a video link.
The dramatic aftermath of Hurricane Rita moved the latest “antiwar” rally to page 12 on Sunday's New York Times (although the front page accidentally sent readers to page 14). But the warp and woof of the reporting was the same. Reporter/publicist Michael Janofsky’s report followed all the traditional rules.
1. Highlight the massive turnout. “Vast numbers of protesters from around the country poured onto the lawns behind the White House on Saturday to demonstrate their opposition to the war in Iraq, pointedly directing their anger at President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.” Give Janofsky credit for noticing the rally’s central focus: anti-Bush anger.
2. Channel protest-organizer claims that this wasn’t another scattershot rally attacking every problem from a different radical direction. “[B]ut unlike the more varied themes of recent protests against administration policies, antiwar sentiment on Saturday was consistent throughout.” This certainly does not match conservative reporter Byron York at National Review : “For a demonstration that was ostensibly about the war, there was a lot of talk about other things. Especially Katrina.”
On this morning's Today Katie Couric and Tim Russert looked like NFL linebackers diving for a loose ball as they piled on Bush from so many different directions. First up was the gas price angle:
Couric: "I know the President is calling on the American public to conserve gasoline by driving less and he even sent a memo to all federal agency and department heads saying, the federal government, quote, 'must lead by example and further contribute to the relief effort by reducing its own fuel use during this difficult time.' How much political pressure is the President under given these rising fuel costs?"
Russert: "Enormous, Katie. It's the one issue that cuts across all class and geographic lines and as we just heard in Alexis' report it's not only gasoline cost for this fall but come this winter particularly in the Midwest and Northeast there's expectations that fuel heating costs can go up as much as 70 percent. Enormous political pressure. Why? Those are the battleground, undecided states that Republicans must continue to control to retain and control both houses of Congress."
Saturday's “anti-war” protest in Washington, DC featured a long list of little-known characters from a litany of far-left and even further out groups with an America-hating agenda. But amongst the speakers on the stage, as shown live by C-SPAN, was actress Jessica Lange. She denounced President Bush's “propensity to lie” and how he's “a man who traffics in deadly lies.” Lange argued that those behind the war want “a continuing military presence in the Middle East, control over the region, control over the oil. They have their eyes on the prize, the master plan.” Citing how “not one military funeral has been attended by George Bush or his Cabinet,” she charged that “this disregard for human life only reinforces the knowledge that this man has no heart.” Lange also maintained that “when I hear his empty words with phrases like 'armies of compassion' or 'culture of responsibility,' I understand how deep their mendacity runs: They are a lie.”
Back in 2002 in Spain, Lange claimed “the election was stolen by George Bush and we have been suffering ever since under this man’s leadership” and that “it is an embarrassing time to be an American. It really is. It’s humiliating.” That won her the “The I’m Not a Geopolitical Genius But I Play One on TV Award” at the MRC's DisHonors Awards. For a RealPlayer video clip.
Full transcript of her Saturday rant at the rally follows.
Roy Hallums, the American hostage rescued September 7, 2005 appeared on 60 Minutes to discuss how life was when he was held captive and when he returned home. Lesley Stahl conducted the interview and tried ever so hard to get Roy to give an anti-Bush remark.
STAHL: Has anyone from our government called you, like our President? HALLUMS: No STAHL: Senator? HALLUMS: No STAHL: Congressman? HALLUMS: No STAHL: Noone? HALLUMS: No STAHL: Nothing? HALLUMS: No, no one has called me. STAHL: How do you feel about that? (with a huge grin) HALLUMS: If nobody calls thats small potatoes compared to what I was in. You know, I'm just happy to be back.
On ABC’s “This Week”, host George Stephanopoulos cherry-picked a recent USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll, and referenced yesterday’s anti-war rally, to press Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) on how to pay for New Orleans reconstruction:
“Seems like the American people disagree with you across the board. Let me show you this poll from 'USA Today'/CNN/Gallup poll. How should we pay? 54% say cut Iraq spending, 17% say raise taxes, 15% say increase the deficit. Only 6% say cut the spending you're talking about.”
This last sentence is a misrepresentation of the poll results as well as McCain’s statement. What Stephanopoulos neglected to mention is that this poll question asked, "If you had to choose, which of the following would you say would be the best way for the government to pay for the problems caused by Hurricane Katrina: increase the federal budget deficit, raise taxes, cut spending for the war in Iraq, or cut spending for domestic programs such as education and health care?"
McCain wasn’t talking about cutting education or health care. McCain was talking about cutting pork out of fat pieces of legislation like the Highway Bill:
As part of its massive love letter to the left-over hippies and their anti-war march in D.C. yesterday, the Washington Post left out some pretty laughable details. While one Style section piece called protester Cindy Sheehan “the Rosa Parks of this generation,” the Post ignored the true nature of the event, evident to those who tuned in to the speakers on C-Span.
Viewers of the C-Span broadcast got to see the wide range of wackos that filled the stage protesting virtually everything except the war in Iraq -- from Israel, to Puerto Rico to Haiti, racism and Katrina. Toward the end, the speakers nearly outnumbered the audience, outraging lefties watching from their homes who filled the Internet with complaints about their own protest. Finding mention of the organizing group A.N.S.W.E.R. and its true anti-U.S. and anti-Israel agenda was hard to do if you relied on the Post.
LONDON — A former ABC News correspondent accused the network of dropping his contract because he refused to go to Iraq and other war zones, and he sought $4.2 million in lost earnings at an employment tribunal Friday.
ABC says war zone assignments are voluntary and argues that the decision not to renew Richard Gizbert's freelance contract was motivated by budget pressures.
Mimi Gurbst, ABC's vice president of news coverage, said at the hearing that Gizbert was one of many staffers dropped after she was ordered to cut costs by 10 percent over two years. She said those laid off included many who regularly accepted assignments in conflict zones, and Gizbert's refusal to do so was not the reason for his dismissal.
A few weeks ago, the Washington Post newsroom forced the Post to back out of sponsoring a "Freedom Walk" on September 11 sponsored by the Pentagon, since that would compromise their appearance of neutrality. (On the bright side, the controversy actually caused the Post to give that event front-page coverage, rare for a perceived "pro-war" rally.) But the Post newsroom has no protest when they publish stories on "anti-war" rallies that are nothing but press releases -- especially when they trot out the two common protest publicity angles: that (1) the war's so unpopular that there will be protest rookies/newbies/virgins; and (2) the protesters come from all political ideologies. These are both attempts to rebut the skeptical reader's question about the newsworthiness of these protests: Isn't it just the same motley crew of America-bashers, and are they really representative of America as a whole? But the Post carries major protester water today with the top of the Metro section carrying a story/press release with the headline "Antiwar Rally Will Be First for Many: Focused Message Draws Protesters of All Stripes."
On the Thursday, September 22, 2005, 4 pm PDT broadcast of the National Public Radio (NPR) news, newscaster Corey Flintoff appeared to give Cindy Sheehan's forthcoming anti-war demonstration a free plug. After playing an audio clip of President Bush from a press briefing at the Pentagon, Flintoff tagged the clip with the following (audiotape on file):
"The President spoke ahead of an anti-war protest planned in Washington on Saturday by activists, including Cindy Sheehan. Sheehan helped to coalesce opposition to the war by leading a month-long protest outside President Bush's ranch in Texas."
It has often been noted, throughout history, that one of the problems of unsuccessful leaders is that they spend time fighting the last war, instead of the next one. The US media has been as guilty of that as any group ever in their coverage of Iraq, being determined since day 1 to fit it into the Vietnam template of unnecessary and unpopular war, led by incompetent dishonest leaders, resulting in a quagmire. Every piece of news gets run through that Vietnam filter (which is why we see quotes from the people doing the work over there saying that "if I got my news from the newspapers also I'd be pretty depressed as well!")
Well, the Associated Press is at it again (Bush's Words on Iraq Echo LBJ in 1967). And they've dropped any pretense to subtlety. Apparently concerned that all of the Vietnam talk, all of the quagmire speak for the last three years hasn't made it clear for the people to understand, the AP has decided that it's time to run a news story explaining to everyone why Iraq is Vietnam, and why Bush is LBJ, a President who became so unpopular that he failed to even run for re-election. Almost two months ago, the President made a fairly generic comment, of a sort that he's made repeatedly over the past 3 years, that "we will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq." Last night, someone at the AP finally discovered that, hey! Lyndon Johnson said something like that in 1967!
Phil Donahue (more like Dona-who?) appeared on The O’Reilly Factor
tonight and battled it out with Bill. While discussing the War in Iraq,
Donahue told Bill he doesn’t know what he’s talking about because he
doesn’t have a family member serving. Actually, Donahue is the one who
doesn’t know what he’s talking about because Bill’s nephew just
enlisted. O’Reilly gave Donahue the yelling of a life time for
disgracing the service of his nephew.
The hurricane may have knocked anti-war Bush-hater Cindy Sheehan off the news pages of the New York Times, but she still has enough liberal cred to make a local splash, as shown in a Monday Metro Section report in the Times by Marc Santora on Sheehan's visit to a church in Brooklyn, "Mother Who Lost Son in Iraq Continues Fight Against War."
"Cindy Sheehan, the mother of an American soldier killed in Iraq, last night brought her campaign to end the war to New York, where she accused Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of not doing enough to challenge the Bush administration's Iraq policies. Speaking in front of more than 500 supporters in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, Ms. Sheehan, speaking of Senator Clinton, said, 'She knows that the war is a lie but she is waiting for the right time to say it.'"
Santora ignores the far-left nature of Sheehan's posse: "Since leaving Texas, Ms. Sheehan, of Vacaville, Calif., has been traveling around the country, rallying people against the war. Her entourage includes other parents who lost their children in the war, families of soldiers overseas, and veterans who have returned from Iraq."
Santora also ignores Sheehan's latest bizarre statement, but the New York Sun did not, noting: "Ms. Sheehan wrote a letter posted on filmmaker Michael Moore's Web site in which she accused the federal government of evacuating people unnecessarily in the days after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. 'George Bush needs to stop talking, admit the mistakes of his all around failed administration, pull our troops out of occupied New Orleans and Iraq, and excuse his self from power,' she wrote."
Just 40 minutes into the Emmy Awards presentations Sunday night on CBS, Blythe Danner, in accepting the award (picture of acceptance) for the Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role in Showtime’s Huff, relayed views she attributed to her late husband Bruce Paltrow, best known as the producer of St. Elsewhere, though it was unclear if her political statement about Iraq, coming after a tribute to New Orleans, was her own or just what she believed her husband would have thought: "I know Bruce would want me to pay tribute to New Orleans, his favorite city, and all the Gulf Coast and our kids in Iraq. Let's get the heck out of there!” Just under two hours later, however, in accepting (picture of acceptance) the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her starring role on NBC’s Medium, Patricia Arquette delivered a classier appreciation of the troops in Iraq. She announced: “My prayer for you is that when you get home you can come home safe and sound."
Afterwards, on the E cable channel’s post-Emmy coverage, Arquette elaborated: “I think even though the troops aren’t on television all the time, they’re part of our country and it’s important to remember they’re there and to reach out and remind them that we haven’t forgotten them.”
On to promote her book Talking Back, NBC's Andrea Mitchell offered a mea culpa on pre-war reporting and asked to recall her favorite interviews called Fidel Castro, "engaging" and Bill Clinton, "fun."
At 8:44 am Katie Couric began the interview asking Mitchell about her start in the business and how it has changed.
Couric: "Well you know obviously a lot has changed in the business since you started and you've been at NBC since 1978, right? Andrea how has, how has newsgathering changed? I guess the technology..."
Mitchell: "Oh it's, it's completely different and that's one of the reasons I wrote the book because we are now in this environment where everyone is being inundated by information. There's the internet and cable and broadcasting. When I started there were three broadcast networks. There was a 6:30 news or a 7:00 o'clock news. That was it. And now you have so many different choices and I think people are really, not only confused, but we've seen the polling. Our own credibility is, you know, has really gone down. So as journalists I think we have to be concerned about our profession and particularly after the war and the misjudgments that we and political, you know, leaders made. We have to ask ourselves so I wrote about that. I took a really hard look at myself, my colleagues and political people."
On Friday’s Good Morning America, ABC’s Charlie Gibson and Barbara Walters, while doing a promo for her upcoming interview with former Secretary of State Colin Powell to be aired on 20/20 later that evening, appear to have distorted the meaning of some of Powell’s statements:
Gibson: There's a number of things in this. Number one you ask about whether he, he laid out in that speech some connection between terrorism and Saddam Hussein and you asked him about that.
Walters to Powell: When you learned that you had been misled how did you feel?
This is creative editing to make a point different than what Powell was stating. Gibson asked Walters about a connection between terrorism and Saddam Hussein. However, Walters’ question to Powell about having been misled was concerning weapons of mass destruction. This is how the ABC News website related the exchange:
Over at That Liberal Media, Jim Miller notes that the September issue of the American Enterprise magazine has three numbers from a Nexis search that tell a tale about the news media's priorities in covering the war in Iraq. Paul Smith, a 33-year-old married man with two children, won the Medal of Honor for giving his life for his country. Lynndie England won infamy for grinning through pictures of prisoner humiliation at Abu Ghraib. "Koran abuse" was all the rage as a news story soon after. The magazine's count of Nexis mentions:
ABC's Terry Moran this afternoon put politics at the forefront in hurricane disaster coverage when, on a storm-ravaged Biloxi street, he confronted President Bush about how “one of the things you hear here is people saying 'there's a lot of resources being devoted to Iraq. Now this country needs them.' And they're frustrated about that. What do you say to the people who say there's too much money being spent on Iraq and it's time to bring it home?” ABC News led its 1:22pm EDT special with anchor Dan Harris insisting that spending on Iraq is “a common complaint -- what we're hearing from many people about the resources being spent in Iraq.”
In the middle of a Thursday CBS Evening News story on the destruction in Slidell, Louisiana, across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, reporter Mark Strassmann showcased a distraught man “with a message for the President” who blasted Bush for how he responded in Iraq while not doing so for Louisiana. Anthony Nata charged: "You can go into Iraq and come in with big helicopters and set stuff up for people, but you can't do this for us? Come on, Bush. You can do better than that."
Over video of flattened houses, Strassmann set up that soundbite from Nata: “This community is a landscape of loss -- subdivision after subdivision flattened or flooded. Police whisper to you they suspect hundreds of bodies in those homes. Anthony and Edith Nata now live in a lean-to by the side of the road with a message for the President.”
Of course, going into Iraq took months of logistical and transport efforts.