ABC anchor Diane Sawyer on Tuesday interviewed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for World News and Nightline, but offered no questions about the Obama administration's failure to seek congressional approval for air strikes in Libya. Instead, the journalist seemed fascinated by the decision-making process, repeatedly asking about Clinton's "decisive" role in going ahead with the bombing.
Sawyer quizzed, "We have read, repeatedly, that you were decisive in this. Did you persuade President Obama? Was yours the voice that turned around the opponents?" The intrigued World News anchor followed-up by asking if Secretary of Defense Robert Gates "opposed" her.
A vague Clinton prompted Sawyer to press, "So, you're not going to characterize yourself in the hierarchy?" Two parts of the interview aired on World News. A replay aired on Nightline. In all of this, Sawyer never wondered about Obama bypassing Congress. This was a topic journalists were keenly interested when it related to George W. Bush and Iraq.
Of the three morning shows, only ABC's Good Morning America on Tuesday highlighted anger and dismay on Capitol Hill that Barack Obama did not seek congressional approval for air strikes against Libya. Reporter Jake Tapper pointed out the "real disappointment" felt by "all the Republicans I spoke to and the liberal Democrats."
An ABC graphic asserted, "Obama faces critics on Libya." Yet, although NBC's Today found time for the latest on Charlie Sheen's escapades, the program couldn't manage a full report on Barack Obama's decision bomb Libya. CBS's Early Show also failed to cover this aspect of the story.
Tapper related, "There was a conference call over the weekend in which one Democrat, one liberal Democrat, read a quote from candidate Obama about the need to seek congressional approval before taking military action and the member of Congress said, 'I agree with candidate Obama.'"
Despite our air attacks in Libya this weekend, most Middle East experts view the growing rebellion in Bahrain as being far more important to America.
Yet according to the BBC's Katty Kay, who was a guest on the syndicated "Chris Matthews Show," the Obama administration doesn't want the press reporting what's going on there (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Leading the free world is highly overrated and so last century.
Just ask Time's Joe Klein, who is giddy that our European allies and the Arab League took a leading role in setting up a no-fly zone over Libya, some 31 days after Muammar al-Qadhafi started opening fire upon ragtag rebels.
From a March 18 entry entitled "Gaddafi Duck" at the magazine's Swampland blog:
An NPR correspondent recently went incognito for a sting operation aimed at exposing U.S. border agents who target Muslims for "interrogation" at the Canadian border.
Employing the same tactics used by James O'Keefe to bring down top NPR executives, counterterrorism correspondent Dina Temple-Raston draped herself in a headscarf, drove to the northern border, and recorded her encounter with a U.S. border agent. [Click here for audio.]
"An agent from Customs and Border Protection was sitting in what looked like a little toll booth," recalled Temple-Raston on the March 10 Morning Edition, who gave the agent no indication that he was being recorded. "He asked me to remove my sunglasses and peered into the car. I was wearing a headscarf and so was Kathy Jamil. He asked why we'd been to Canada."
Calls for a U.S. or NATO-imposed no-fly zone over Libya to aid the fledgling rebellion against dictator Muammar Qadhafi have been met with protests by Obama administration officials that it is a logistical nightmare requiring careful planning and forethought.
While that's something to that argument, fears of Libya's air force are way overblown, some retired Air Force officers argue, according to Aviation Week's David Fulghum, in his March 8 blog post, "Libyan Air Defenses Would Fade Fast" (emphases mine):
All you need to know about why people on the right were dissatisfied with Kathleen Parker as the supposedly conservative counterweight to Eliot Spitzer on the pair's recently-canned CNN show was crystallized on Morning Joe today. The panel unleashed an absolute gush-a-thon over Parker, Mika Brzezinski declaring her "one of my favorite people" and Willie Geist describing her as "a great writer."
For good measure, the MSNBC folks delighted in dumping on rival CNN. Mike Barnicle took top trash-talking honors, claiming Parker had been "brutalized" at the network.
In an interview with former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Erica Hill wondered if higher gas prices in the wake of Mideast unrest were the result of some sort of fraud: "We've seen prices skyrocket....Is the public right to feel taken advantage of in some ways here, or even scammed?"
Even the liberal Reich didn't accept the premise: "Well look, a lot of this is supply and demand. The country can feel a certain sense of taken advantage of. But some of this is the demand that's coming from China. I mean, you have developing nations all over the world....And their oil needs are very high. And so they are also putting pressure on oil prices. It's not just the Middle East."
On Sunday's Face the Nation, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman denounced the proposed White House plan to use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to curb rising gas prices: "That would rank in my top five worst ideas of 2011 so far....one thing we should finally be doing is using this opportunity to have a credible energy policy that begins to reduce our addiction to oil."
Friedman's idea of "credible energy policy" was to force Americans to continue to pay higher gas prices: "Gasoline is almost $4 a gallon. We know that's a red line where people really start to change their behavior. At a minimum, I'd be talking about a tax that basically says we're going to keep it at $4. If it goes below we'll true it up, if it goes above that we're not going to touch it."
Two US airmen were killed by a Muslim terrorist in Germany yesterday, but neither CBS nor NBC thought it worthy of more than 30 seconds of coverage on their evening newscasts Wednesday night.
While ABC devoted a full segment of the March 2 "World News" to the issue, the CBS "Evening News" and the NBC "Nightly News" offered only scant news briefs and buried the story deep into their broadcasts.
"Troops under attack in Germany, targeted by a gunman shouting in Arabic about jihad," intoned ABC anchor Diane Sawyer, introducing the segment.
Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's federal minister for minorities and that government's only Christian, was assassinated yesterday on the streets of Islamabad. Bloomberg News is reporting that the Pakistan Taliban is claiming responsibility for the shooting:
As many as four men ambushed Shahbaz Bhatti, a 42-year-old Christian, yesterday as he left home without a security escort, Geo television reported, citing a police official, Bin Yamin. Bhatti was dead when brought to the city’s Al-Shifa Hospital, the institution’s spokesman, Azmatullah Quraishi, said by telephone.
Television channels showed leaflets found at the scene in which the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for killing Bhatti. They said he was targeted for heading a government- appointed committee to review the blasphemy law, which prescribes the death penalty for anyone convicted of insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
Bhatti, a Roman Catholic and former leader of Pakistan’s main minority-rights group, was killed eight weeks after Salman Taseer, governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, was shot to death by one of his bodyguards. Both men had called publicly for changes to the [nation's blasphemy] law.
ABC, NBC and CBS news programs have mentioned the Muslim Brotherhood 135 times in 17 years, but only linked them to fundamentalist Islam 37 percent of the time. Just since the unrest in Egypt began in January, they've mentioned the Brotherhood 85 times, and decreased how often they report the nature of the group - just 32 percent of those stories mentioned the group's extremism.
Declaring "jihad" against the United States. Taking credit for deadly bombings in Cairo. Sponsoring Hamas. Assassinating Egyptian leaders. Making common cause with Nazi Germany. Openly calling for shariah law. Spawning prominent al-Qaida leaders.
Only the liberal network news media could paint a group with a resume like that as "peaceful" and "moderate." But that's precisely how the broadcast networks have often portrayed the Muslim Brotherhood.
"President Obama has been taking a truckload of flak from the right for his measured response to the crises embroiling the Middle East," MSNBC's Martin Bashir harumphed as he opened his "Clear the Air" commentary on the March 1 program.
"Measured is my word because it's certainly not one that right-wing pundits have been using," Bashir complained.
Of course the term "measured" implies deliberate calculation and an overarching strategy, whereas the timeline of the Obama administration response to Libya suggests there has been, objectively speaking, some amount of "dithering" by team Obama.
As the mainstream media have reported on the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s beliefs, failing to pick up on contradictory claims by its leaders that the Islamist group opposes terrorism, also ignored was the role that the Muslim Brotherhood has long played in fomenting anti-Jew hatred in the Middle East. After Nazi Germany financed and helped build up the previously struggling Brotherhood in the 1930s and 1940s, the group disseminated anti-Jew propaganda and inspired the kind of persecution that sent almost a million Jewish refugees fleeing violence, confiscation of property, and expulsion in Muslim countries between the 1940s and the 1970s. Some even estimate that the land confiscated from Jewish residents in Muslim countries amounts to four times or even five times the total area of the state of Israel. A number of Muslim countries saw their Jewish populations almost completely erased, including Egypt where the number dwindled from about 100,000 Jews to only a couple of hundred.
Even somewhat recently, Brotherhood leaders have made such incendiary statements as praising Adolf Hitler to declaring that Muslims should stop fighting each other and fight against Israel instead. As previously documented by NewsBusters, an interview on CNN's Parker-Spitzer helped reveal the tendency of Muslim Brotherhood leaders to twist the meaning of words, as one leader claimed that the group opposes terrorism and violence but then suggested that Palestinian militants are not engaged in terrorism against Israel but instead "resistance," which he rationalized. He also refused to give a straight answer on whether the group would support adherence to Egypt’s treaty with Israel.
But on the January 31 NBC Nightly News, not picking up on Muslim Brotherhood wordplay, correspondent Richard Engel claimed, "The Muslim Brotherhood denounces terrorism, but supports Islamic law, is anti-Israel, and opposes U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East."
So certainly such a provocative move should command coverage by the mainstream media, yet thus far among the Big Three networks, it appears from a search of Nexis that ABC has ignored the story while NBC and CBS have only done anchor briefs on the development.
As NewsBusters previously reported, MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Wednesday accused former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee of wanting to commit "ethnic cleansing" on Arabs in Israel's West Bank.
After conservative radio host Laura Ingraham played the "Hardball" clip to Huckabee on her radio program Thursday, the affable Fox News contributor had some choice words for the man that admits getting thrills up his leg when President Obama speaks (video follows with transcript and commentary):
During the Bush administration, the media perpetually pounded on news developments that highlighted real or imagined incompetence and/or the low regard with which the administration was held in foreign capitals.
But with the Obama administration's poor handling of the Libyan crisis, the MSM have been strangely mute.
Take for example the evaucation of American expatriates from Libya.
It is truly disgusting for me to hear politicians, national and international talking heads and pseudo-academics praising the Middle East stirrings as democracy movements. We also hear democracy as the description of our own political system. Like the founders of our nation, I find democracy and majority rule a contemptible form of government.
You say, "Whoa, Williams, you really have to explain yourself this time!"
On Wednesday's AC360 on CNN, ABC's Ashleigh Banfield punted on Nir Rosen's offensive Tweets against CBS's Lara Logan and tried to explain them away: "We're using a lot of electronics to get information out as fast as we can nowadays before we can really digest the ramifications of what we say...And so, I'm certainly not going to cast aspersions on Mr. Rosen. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."
Anchor Anderson Cooper turned to Banfield and Salon.com's Joan Walsh immediately after playing his taped interview with Rosen during the 10 pm Eastern hour. Cooper first asked Walsh for her take on the controversy, and she promptly criticized the disgraced journalist: "I thought it was horrible, Anderson, and I assumed that he was making light of a sexual assault...So, I'm not going to call him a liar. Only he knows what he knew. But it was incredibly insensitive, and even...aside from the sexual assault aspect, to be mocking someone that you don't like who has been injured and mistreated, I would rather think that we don't have those responses...Maybe that's naive of me."
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough thinks the GOP's house is already on fire in his latest Politico column, where he thrashes the party's leadership for a poor showing at CPAC. He ridiculed the gathering as "a conference cursed with dull speechmaking and intraparty battles."
"Like most Egyptians, the conservative movement still has no idea who will lead it through the next election," Scarborough writes. What is the biggest reason candidates have not entered the field, he thinks? They are scared to run against Obama.
Disgraced journalist Nir Rosen claimed on Wednesday's Anderson Cooper 360 that he didn't know Lara Logan was sexually assaulted when she was attacked by protesters in Egypt. However, Rosen's own Tweets, which he subsequently deleted, revealed that he indeed know about the nature of the attack and tried to downplay it: "Look, she was probably groped like thousands of other women."
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper aired his taped interview with the anti-war journalist during the 10 pm Eastern hour of his program. Cooper raised how Rosen brought the CNN personality into his attacks on Logan:
Why is it that Egyptians do well in the U.S. but not Egypt? We could make that same observation and pose that same question about Nigerians, Cambodians, Jamaicans and others of the underdeveloped world who migrate to the U.S. Until recently, we could make the same observation about Indians in India, and the Chinese citizens of the People's Republic of China, but not Chinese citizens of Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Let's look at Egypt. According to various reports, about 40 percent of Egypt's 80 million people live on or below the $2 per-day poverty line set by the World Bank. Unemployment is estimated to be twice the official rate pegged at 10 percent.
Much of Egypt's economic problems are directly related to government interference and control that have resulted in weak institutions vital to prosperity. Hernando De Soto, president of Peru's Institute for Liberty and Democracy (www.ild.org.pe), laid out much of Egypt's problem in his Wall Street Journal article (Feb. 3, 2011), "Egypt's Economic Apartheid." More than 90 percent of Egyptians hold their property without legal title.
Nir Rosen, one of the more rabidly left-wing foreign policy commentators out there has finally gotten some just desserts after he ridiculed CBS News correspondent Lara Logan after she was assaulted by a mob in Egypt. After learning the news of the attack on Logan, Rosen took to Twitter to ridicule her and in the process revealed his deep anti-Iraq war bias.
"Lara Logan had to outdo Anderson. Where was her buddy McCrystal," he wrote, apparently wishing that former U.S. general Stanley McCrystal and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper had been also sexually assaulted by a mob.
Rosen's disgusting comments got worse from there, even as the fellow at New York University’s Center on Law and Security attempted to rationalize his hatred. "Yes yes its wrong what happened to her. Of course. I don't support that. But, it would have been funny if it happened to Anderson too."
Liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson trashes conservative leaders in his latest column – for not taking a clear stand on the Egyptian crisis and for not supporting the populist protests. "Why don't conservatives love freedom?" he provocatively asked, concluding that if conservatives think 1.2 billion Muslims cannot be trusted to rule themselves, "that's not what I call loving freedom." His logic is deafening.
Robinson accused conservative leaders of opposing Obama's Egypt policy simply because they are thinking "heaven forbid the that the president get any credit." He used their "ambivalence" at CPAC – which he characterized as either silence or a vague shot at the Obama administration – to condemn what he thinks is their opposition to freedom in the Middle East.
"Mitt Romney went to CPAC and didn't mention Egypt at all, which was, you'd think he'd be paying attention," Robinson noted. He questioned other conservative leaders for being "so kind of silent, and/or grumpy throughout the CPAC gala, and even beyond, in the case of some conservatives. What we're talking about is freedom, which everybody wants and loves."
MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell on Monday expressed concern that someone like conservative author Ann Coulter has the "freedom" to make a joke about jailing journalists.
This was amazing expressed moments before "The Last Word" host applauded the free flow of information that enticed and united protesters to rebel in Egypt (video follows with transcript and commentary):
For about ten minutes on MSNBC Monday, Harvard History professor Niall Ferguson offered a articulate, detailed, and biting indictment of President Obama's handling of the crisis Egypt – and those disagreeing on the usually Obamaphilic "Morning Joe" panel could offer little of substance in response.
Co-host Mika Brzezinski began the segment reading Ferguson's latest column – which is the latest Newsweek magazine cover story – and asked him to expound on Egypt, saying that "it actually seems like it went pretty damn well." Perhaps she is referring to the many joyful reports from Tahrir Square amidst jubilant masses, or maybe CBS' Harry Smith doling out kisses to the crowd – but Ferguson offered a more dire assessment of the situation.
"You cannot make the foreign policy of a superpower up as you go along," Ferguson stated. He bludgeoned the Obama administration's slipshod policy, calling it "flip followed by flop followed by flip." He added that "they admitted that they had not planned for this scenario. I find that absolutely astonishing."
Muammar Gaddafi has resorted to the oldest trick in the Arab-dictator book: distract attention from authoritarian rule at home by beating the Palestinian drum. Nothing new there. But what is noteworthy is how Reuters seems happy to march to the Libyan strongman's beat.
Reuters' article "Gaddafi tells Palestinians: revolt against Israel" [h/t Drudge], fails to note the irony of an iron-fisted dictator calling for "popular uprising" and "revolution" . . . elsewhere. Indeed, the Reuters article, authored by Ali Shuaib and Salah Sarrar, fails even to identify Gaddafi as the dictator he is, referring to him respectfully as the Libyan "leader."
Over the past couple of weeks, as prominent Muslim Brotherhood members tried to sell themselves as harmless in interviews shown on the evening newscasts on ABC, NBC, and CNN, Eliot Spitzer of CNN’s Parker-Spitzer managed to coax spokesman Mohammed Morsy into defending violence against Israel by Palestinians, contradicting the Brotherhood spokesman’s claims in the same interview of being opposed to violence.
Earlier in the interview, which was first seen on the Thursday, February 3 Parker-Spitzer, Morsy had also sidestepped the question of whether the Muslim Brotherhood would support adherence to Egypt’s 30-year treaty with Israel, as he suggested that such matters would be in the hands of the parliament.
CNN correspondent Mary Snow replayed some of the interview on the next day’s Situation Room on CNN. After a clip of Morsy claiming that his organization would support freedom for all religions in Egypt, the piece continued: