Regular viewers of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart are accustomed by now to the verbal battles that ensue when Stewart brings conservative guests on his show. The guests usually leave with a bit of egg on their faces, and Stewart comes off as the hard hitting, divisive and sarcastic critic.
But viewers were treated to a rare dose of sincerity and intelligent debate on Monday, when Stewart hosted former legal counsel for the Bush Justice Department John Yoo. Following up on what was a meaningful and intelligent interview Monday night, Stewart apologized to his audience on Tuesday for not being his usual cutthroat self, and daring to discuss issues in a civilized tone.
Yoo and Stewart duked it out for almost 30 minutes (videos below the fold), but the host did not manage to get the better of Yoo, who is now infamous among liberal circles for writing the legal briefs justifying expanded executive powers to combat terrorism under the previous administration.
Stewart ended the segment with a very uncharacteristic--given his tendency to demonize conservatives--call for civility in the public discourse (brief partial transcript after videos):
Left-wing talker Stephanie Miller inaccurately claimed on CNN’s Larry King Live on Thursday that former President Clinton “put the Cole bombers in jail.” Miller also predictably blasted former President Bush for not “taking responsibility for 9/11,” in contrast to President Obama’s recent acceptance of responsibility for intelligence failures prior to the attempted underwear bombing on Christmas [audio clip from the segment available here].
Host Larry King first turned to the leftist talk show host during a panel discussion which began 12 minutes into the 9 pm Eastern hour: “Stephanie, the President said the buck stops with him. Was that a good move today?” Miller immediately made her full Bush Derangement Syndrome apparent in her response:
MILLER: Well, it’s certainly a different move than we ever heard in the Bush administration. I never heard anybody taking responsibility for 9/11, for Katrina. I thought he stepped to the plate. And I couldn’t disagree with Paul Bremer [who appeared in the previous segment] more, Larry. I think he [Obama] is prosecuting the exact same way President Bush prosecuted the shoe bomber, Richard Reid, as a criminal. You don’t want to make them holy warriors. You want to prosecute them as what they are and that’s criminals, and that’s what Clinton did when he put the previous- you know, Cole bombers in jail, instead of letting them get away, like Osama bin Laden.
ChrisCuomo says there's no proof Mutallab will talk less as a lawyered-up criminal defendant than as an enemy combatant. Suggestions to the contrary are just politics. George Stephanopolous manifests the same problem his old boss did: he doesn't know what the meaning of "is," is. Steph claims Mutallab "is" singing. But reports are that the would-be mass-murderer was singing—but isn't any more.
It was all part of Good Morning America's defense today of Pres. Obama's decision to give the NWA 253 bomber the full ACLU treatment, rather than dealing with him as the enemy combatant he is.
Fortunately, Rudy Giuliani was there to set things straight . . .
On the December 30, 2008, The Early Show, anchor Jeff Glor reported on former Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney’s presence on a ship attempting to violate the Israeli blockade by delivering supplies to Gaza as the ship was "rammed" by the Israeli military. Glor notably misidentified McKinney as if she were a current member of Congress – which could make her appear to have more credibility – and did not inform viewers of Israel’s account of the incident or of McKinney’s controversial history, which includes links to anti-Semitic figures. Glor: "A relief ship carrying a Georgia Congressman, Cynthia McKinney, clashed with the Israeli navy this morning. The aid boat carrying activists and medical supplies destined for Gaza was reportedly rammed by an Israeli gunship. There were no casualties."
On the same day’s Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC, anchor Jim Angle reported on the boat collision during the show’s regular "Political Grapevine" segment, and passed on the Israeli response: "But an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman says the naval vessel made physical contact only after the supply ship failed to respond to repeated radio transmissions."
Trying to blame someone—anyone—other than his man Barack Obama for the security meltdown surrounding NWA 253, Ed Schultz ran head-first into history without a helmet tonight. Seeking to shift some of the onus onto England for not having alerted us about having denied young Umar entry into its country, Ed entertainingly claimed that the UK has probably been "our best ally since the country started."
Um, Ed: "since the country started"? You mean, like, when we started the country in 1776? When we declared our independence from, and fought a war against, uh, you know? That same "best ally" that—more than a third of a century later—we fought the War of 1812 against, in the course of which its forces occupied Washington, DC and burned down the White House?
Now it's true that for many years we have enjoyed a special relationship with the UK, one personified by the warm and respectful dealings between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. One that was strained, however, when shortly after his inauguration PBO removed the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and sent it back to the Brits.
Before his run-in with American history, Schultz also played the blame-Bush card.
The combatants were Pat Buchanan and Spencer Ackerman of the lefty Washington Independent. The topic was the treatment of Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab. Buchanan wanted the budding terrorist classified as an enemy combatant in order to extract the maximum amount of information from him. Ackerman, in ACLU mode, favored having young Umar tried in federal court and given all rights extended to US criminal defendants.
My antennae went up when at the end of their debate, Buchanan saw Ackerman off by wishing him "Merry Christmas." A bit of Googling reveals that Ackerman, who describes himself as a "very short Jew," has recently written of his "deep-seated contempt for white gentile culture."
Pres. Obama should find time in his busy vacation schedule to drop a palm-trees-and-sandy-beaches thank you postcard to NBC. On this morning's Today, successive network staffers defended the administration's [mis]handling of the Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab matter.
First, terrorism expert Roger Cressey [who usually plays it straight], claimed there wasn't enough information to "connect the dots" and move young Umar from the "watch list" to the "no-fly" list. Really? The guy's father, a respected international banker, was so concerned about his son's extremist Islamist views that he took the unusual measure of personally contacting the US embassy with a warning. Dots? How about a huge, flashing, neon exclamation point!?
Next, John Harwood backhands GOP criticism of the Obama admin's national security policy as "partisan."
A former war correspondent for CNN is threatening legal action against bloggers who suggest that video of him reporting the first Gulf War from a television studio is "fake news." The video shows Charles Jaco and another correspondent dramatically recounting events from the Persian Gulf, and later shows Jaco and the camera crew joking around in what appears to be a television studio (video embedded below the fold).
"My attorneys intend to act immediately against those of you receiving this who have sent and forwarded these emails accusing me of falsifying coverage," Jaco wrote in a memo to a local blogger who circulated the video via email. He also announced his intention to demand that LiveLink and YouTube remove the video from their respective sites.
With the demise of the Editor and Publisher this week, many media commentators are nostalgic for the hard-nosed trade journalism the newspaper industry publication often engaged in. E&P's strength was always in its core mission of reporting news industry trends. In its latter years, like a number of other outlets, it began to stray off-course into garden-variety, hypocritical leftist media criticism.
Greg Mitchell, E&P's editor since 2002, consistently called for newspapers to print more opinion in their coverage of major world events. Most notably during the Israel-Hamas conflict early this year, Mitchell lamented that media outlets were not taking sides.
"[A]fter more than eight days of Israeli bombing and Hamas rocket launching in Gaza, The New York Times had produced exactly one editorial, not a single commentary by any of its columnists, and two op-eds," he complained at the Huffington Post.
Despite all the campaign assurances that he would see the Afghan war effort through, liberals are incensed that Obama is following through on his pledge to, you know, win. The latest lefty to excoriate the president for pursuing America's enemies abroad is veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who today lamented that Obama must now be dubbed a "war president."
"Obama should remember his own battle cry and tell the hawks: 'Yes, we can,' " Thomas wrote today in her syndicated column for Hearst Newspapers. Maybe he should also remember his insistence that Afghanistan "is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity."
And he has remembered those wise words. But his supporters, who flocked to the "good war" cause as way to contrast Democratic national security efforts with the supposedly ill-intentioned Iraq war--and rip on George Bush in the process--have exhausted the political usefulness of Afghanistan, and are now calling for withdrawal.
Good Morning America’s Diane Sawyer on Wednesday conducted a generally tough interview with Joe Biden on the subject of Afghanistan, but ignored an embarrassing gaffe from the Vice President: "Our number one enemy concern is the existential threat, al Qaeda. Number two is the stability of a nuclear state called Afghanistan, under siege by radicals." Did the Vice President, perhaps, mean Pakistan? It's unclear as Sawyer didn't follow up. [Audio available here.]
Earlier in the segment, responding to Sawyer’s comment that Republicans believe setting a date for removing troops is a bad idea, Biden argued, "How are they emboldened, knowing that by the time we train up the Afghanis, we're going to be gradually handing off, beginning in 2003 [sic]?" Beginning in 2003? Would journalists allow Sarah Palin to get away with such obvious malapropisms?
Good Morning America host Diane Sawyer on Tuesday badgered Robert Gibbs from the left, quizzing the White House press secretary about Democratic resistance to a troop surge in Afghanistan. She began by fretting, "Is this the last time the President is going to ask for American troops from the American people?"
After Gibbs mentioned the dangerous threat of al Qaeda, Sawyer reiterated, "...If the generals come back in six months and say, we need just another 10,000, another 15,000 to finish this job, you're saying the answer will be no?"
The GMA host, who will become the new anchor of World News in January, worried about the cost of a troop surge: "What about the cost of the war? What do you say to members of the Democratic Party, the President's own party, who say we simply cannot afford this $100 billion cost?"
Previewing the President's speech tonight, NBC's Matt Lauer invited on Karl Rove, on Tuesday's Today show, and pressed the former White House senior adviser if the reason Afghanistan still required the U.S.'s attention is because the previous administration "took its eye off the ball in Afghanistan," and "concentrated too heavily on Iraq." Rove hit back, accusing Lauer and Bush administration critics of "revisionism." And later, when Lauer questioned if there were enough "resources" to counter the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan Rove fired back that any one in the Obama administration was in no position to criticize:
"Well look, first of all, they, resources were sent as they were needed, but I would remind you this, President Obama is in no position whatsoever to criticize what President Bush did. Because in 2007, President Obama, then a member of the United States Senate, voted against war funding for Iraq and Afghanistan. If this was so vital, then why did he not speak out? He was chairman of a committee overseeing NATO. He could have easily called a hearing to say, ‘I'm concerned about this issue.' He did not."
The following a complete transcript of the interview as it was aired on the December 1, Today show:
On last night's "Rachel Maddow Show", the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh commended President Obama for taking the reins in Afghanistan. Hersh stated that Presidents must decide their own war strategies. But in the early stages of the war in Iraq, Hersh was a leading critic of similar actions by the Bush administration. Hersh's hypocrisy suggests he is more concerned with the political implications of military policy than strategic ones.
"Lincoln did not let McClellan write a report on how to win a war against the South," Hersh told Maddow, in reference to Gen. George McClellan, initially the top general for the Union during the Civil War. Hersh was offering a historical perspective on why Presidents should not rely on military commanders to form strategy--McClellan was a disastrous general, after all (video embedded below the fold).
Uniquely among Wednesday’s broadcast network evening newscasts, ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson informed viewers that the Israeli navy earlier in the day intercepted a record quantity of weapons supplied by Iran and destined for Hezbollah, in violation of a United Nations resolution forbidding the arming of the Lebanon-based terrorist group. Host Gibson set up the report: "Israeli navy commandos today seized a ship off the coast of Cyprus. Israel's defense ministry says it was loaded with tons of weapons bound for Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. It is the largest cache of weapons ever interdicted by the Israelis, who say the arms came from one source: Iran."
Correspondent Simon McGregor-Wood opened his report by relaying that the quantity of weapons seized was enough to "keep the Islamic radicals of Hezbollah fighting for a month." And as he concluded the report, he also gave credibility to the conservative view that Iran should not be trusted in negotiations over its nuclear program: "Today's interception won't substantially reduce Hezbollah's military power, but it strengthens Israel's warning to those trying to negotiate with Iran – including the U.S. – it can't be trusted."
After President George W. Bush employed the words, "You’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists," addressing a joint session of Congress in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks – as the President prepared for the impending war in Afghanistan – liberals eventually treated those words with consternation as if the blunt declaration reflected poorly on America. But pro-democracy activists in Iran seem to like a similar message, as a group of protesters in Iran called on President Barack Obama to support their cause, chanting, "Obama, Obama, either you’re with them or you’re with us!"
Uniquely among the broadcast network evening newscasts, NBC Nightly News correspondent Ali Arouzi – stationed in Tehran – showed a clip of anti-government demonstrators chanting their message to President Obama, as he translated their words into English. During a report that focused mainly on the government-orchestrated anti-America protest organized to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Hostage Crisis, Arouzi also passed on the activities of anti-government activists: "On a day when anti-American sentiment runs high, the opposition was looking for support from President Obama, chanting, "Obama, Obama, either you're with them or you’re with us."
So much for politics ending at the water's edge . . .
Hillary Clinton has gone to Pakistan and bragged of having opposed Pres. Bush during her entire Senate career. Clinton also depicted the difference between Barack Obama and George W. Bush as being "like daylight and dark."
For good measure, Clinton played the moral equivalency card, declaring "we cannot let a minority of people in both countries determine our relationship." The Pakistani minority she had in mind is presumably composed of al Qaeda and its sympathizers. Clinton didn't specify which Americans she would equate with them.
Martha Coakley is the front-runner for the Dem nomination for Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat. In a recent debate, asked about her lack of foreign policy experience, the first credential Coakley offered in response was that "I have a sister who lives overseas, and she's been in England and now lives in the Middle East."
Conservative columnist Ann Coulter debated no less than two former Clinton operatives on Friday’s Good Morning America, guest host George Stephanopoulos and former State Department spokesman Jamie Rubin. On the show, she decried President Obama’s handling of Afghanistan as a "Hamlet routine."
Despite facing off against two liberals, Coulter went on the attack. She labeled 2009 as a "year where it's still Bush protecting us from terrorism. But the next four years, Obama's going around creating disasters across the world. He is lighting matches and throwing in gasoline."
Interrupting Rubin’s defense of the Obama White House’s Afghanistan policy, Stephanopoulos, who is rumored to be a candidate to replace Diane Sawyer on GMA, offered his own, similar appeal: "But, what is wrong, Ann, of having the President take a few weeks to get this decision right?"
MSNBC anchors David Shuster and Tamron Hall on Thursday lashed out at a speech Dick Cheney gave that was critical of Barack Obama, speculating on whether the Vice President is of a "rational, healthy mind." Attempting to attack the Bush administration’s handling of Afghanistan for eight years, News Live co-host Tamron Hall dismissed, "Is it selective amnesia?"
Shuster and Hall seemed particularly upset over Cheney’s speech on October 21 where the Vice President accused Obama of "dithering" on an Afghanistan strategy and also being "afraid" of making a decision. Talking to Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff, Hall bristled, "As a woman, of course, I read in all kinds of machismo with this language, you are afraid to come out with a decision, almost taunting there."
The liberal Shuster could barely contain himself. Commenting on Cheney’s frail physical condition, he taunted, "What do you think he is after here, assuming that he is of some sort of rational, healthy mind?"
After months of investigation, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) released a report addressing accusations from some humanitarian groups that its use of white phosphorus (WP) munitions in the Gaza War was a violation of international law, as the report distinguishes between the use of WP as a weapon and the more common non-weapon purposes such as providing smoke screens to conceal troop movements. The pro-Israel group CAMERA recently quoted from the report in the article, "Did Israel’s Use of White Phosphorus Constitute a War Crime?" by Steven Stotsky, on its Web site. The report not only argued that the military's decision to explode the munition in the air was safer for civilians than it would have been to explode it on the ground, but it also suggested that the use of WP to facilitate troops movements also meant civilian casualties were lower than they otherwise would have been by making attacks on Hamas more accurate.
Last January, evening newscasts and some morning newscasts on the broadcast networks and on CNN and FNC reported on accusations from humanitarian groups – with varying degrees of accuracy – with CBS even referring to WP as a "banned weapon," and a "horrific new weapon, " and contending that the IDF may have committed "war crimes." At one point, CNN similarly incorrectly identified WP as a "banned substance." ABC showed a clip of a wounded Palestinian boy charging that Israelis have "no mercy" even for children. (MSNBC does not have a morning or evening newscast equivalent to NBC’s Today show or the NBC Nightly News, so MSNBC coverage was not examined.) But, according to a Nexis search, none of these news programs showed any interest in updating viewers once the Israeli military had made public its say on the matter.
As previously documented by NewsBusters, the January 22 CBS Evening News ran a report (video here), introduced by anchor Katie Couric, which left the impression that the Israeli military had used a "banned weapon," without informing viewers that there are non-weapon uses for WP, and passed on accusations of "war crimes." Couric: "Hamas just ended a bloody war with Israel in Gaza, and tonight there is growing evidence the Israelis may have used a banned weapon. Some even accuse them of war crimes."
On the January 25 World News Sunday on ABC, as he introduced a report by correspondent Simon McGregor-Wood, anchor Dan Harris played up complaints against "both sides" in the war, and even suggested that the Israeli side may have been worse in its conduct of the war as he highlighted that there was "especially tough criticism" leveled at Israel. Harris: "Both sides are being dogged now by complaints that they violated the rules of war. Israel has come under especially tough criticism for its use of a chemical agent."
There is an inside joke for the veteran viewers of MSNBC’s morning show, ‘Morning Joe,’ which refers back to a time when Joe Scarborough was in a heated debate with Zbigneiw Brzezinski (Mika’s father) over the behind-the-scenes content of President Clinton’s Camp David accords. The elder Brzezinski grew rather frustrated with being out-shouted by Scarborough, and delivered the following zinger:
“You know, you have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on that it's almost embarrassing to listen to you.”
This crushing critique could also be applied to today’s appearance of the New York Times’ Sam Tanenhaus, author of 'The Death of Conservatism,' on that same show. Tanenhaus delivered the following two opinions with an admirably straight face:
SAM TANENHAUS: Yeah, and it was interesting to go to the Clinton school and tell the audience there that the last conservative president in America was Bill Clinton.
"President Obama reeling back the Bush administration's plans for a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, instead opting for a new system he says is better equipped to fend off an Iranian threat," "Fast Money" host Melissa Lee said on her Sept. 17 show.
On Monday's Special Report with Bret Baier, as FNC aired a special episode with host Baier stationed in Jerusalem to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, during the show's "Fox All Stars" segment, conservative columnist and FNC contributor Charles Krauthammer charged that as the Obama administration pushes for a peace agreement, the President has actually pressed Israel unusually far on the issue of construction within existing Jewish settlements, going further even than Palestinians had previously demanded in recent negotiations.
After proclaiming that the "delay in the peace process is a self-inflicted wound on the Obama administration," and after noting that the issue of settlements had previously "been in consensus," he continued:
The U.S. and Israelis had agreed, no new settlements, no new expansion of territory in settlements and dismantling of existing settlements. And the Palestinians had accepted that, had never refused negotiations for anything else. But then Obama adds a condition of no thickening of settlements, i.e., you don't construct a kindergarten if children are born, which the Israelis have rejected. And all of a sudden, the Palestinians and Arabs have said no negotiations until Israel jumps through this higher hoop.
On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, correspondent Lara Logan again highlighted the down side of an American troop withdrawal from Iraq as she focused attention on the plight of Iranian exiles living in Iraq who are now suffering from a violent crackdown by Iraqi police, having lost the protection the group had been receiving from U.S. troops. This group of Iranians, known as the MEK, have a history of alliance with the United States and are credited with relaying information about Iran's nuclear program to America. Anchor Katie Couric set up the story:
When the U.S. began turning over security to the Iraqis, it stopped protecting some valuable allies -- thousands of Iranian exiles -- and their camp outside Baghdad is now under attack. For two days, Iraqi police have been beating the residents. No food or doctors have been allowed in. All with the approval of Iran`s government. Here`s chief foreign affairs correspondent, Lara Logan.
NewsBusters previously documented a claim made by NBC News correspondent Richard Engel on the June 22 Countdown show on MSNBC that the apparent murder of 27-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan during a crackdown by Iranian government forces, and the possibility that she will become the visual symbol for her country’s pro-democracy movement, was reminiscent of the Mohammed al-Dura video of September 2000 which, at the time, was claimed to show a Palestinian boy being shot and killed by Israeli troops. But, while evidence has mounted over the years that the al-Dura video was likely a hoax, Engel and host Keith Olbermann both spoke of the al-Dura "shooting" as if the event were not in dispute, and Engel recounted to viewers that Palestinians see the event as a "symbol of injustice" perpetrated by Israelis against Palestinians. Engel: "I was thinking more, remember Mohammed al-Dura, the boy who was shot in Gaza in his father’s arms and who became a symbol of injustice? I think this is a similar moment."
The pro-Israel group CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) recounts on its Web site that after the group's executive director, Andrea Levin, on June 25 sent a letter of complaint to Engel -- which was also copied to NBC News President Steve Capus -- requesting that NBC revisit and "clarify" Engel's assertions, Capus sent a letter of response accusing CAMERA of "taking a cheap shot" at Engel, even suggesting that the pro-Israel group was not "truly dedicated to advancing journalism," as the NBC News head did not revise Engel's claims about the al-Dura case. Capus, as quoted by CAMERA on its Web site: "If you were truly dedicated to advancing journalism, you would be going out of your way to praise Richard for his work – rather than taking a cheap shot." The NBC News head went on to praise Engel as "a non-biased, dedicated journalist. NBC News considers itself lucky to have him."
Little has been made about yesterday's "The Fall of Capitalism and the Rise of Islam" conference that was held at the Hilton Hotel Grand Ballroom in Oak Lawn, IL. The conference was held by the group Hizb Ut Tahrir; a group that has been banned in Germany, Russia, Pakistan and several other Middle Eastern countries. Yet most mainstream media organizations in the United States didn't even bother to mention the event.
The estimated 800 attending the conference discussed issues related to the global capitalist economic system and Islamic alternatives to that system, said spokesman Mohammad Malkawi. Opinions about Hizb ut-Tahrir varied widely. Outside the hotel, protesters said the organization is simply another terrorist group. - Chicago Sun Times, Muslim group's economic session draws opponents
You have to dig pretty deep into the book of varied reality to classify this event as an economic session. The video accompanying this article is a direct promotional video for the event. If the video alone doesn't convince you of the group's aim then perhaps the reasons other countries have banned the group will.
On Monday’s GMA, ABC’s Martha Raddatz pressed Hillary Clinton from the left on the Obama administration’s stance towards North Korea: “From the beginning...the rhetoric seemed almost exactly like the Bush administration’s, and it didn’t do much good. So is it a real shift that you decided to dial back?” Earlier in the month, she also labeled the overall Obama foreign policy “very thoughtful.”
The ABC correspondent’s segment with the Secretary aired minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of the ABC morning program. Midway through the interview, Raddatz brought up the Obama administration’s dealings with North Korea. She asked Mrs. Clinton, “From the outside, it seems to me that after the latest missile launches, the rhetoric from the United States was dialed back a bit.” After the Secretary replied, the ABC News senior foreign affairs correspondent followed up with her question from the left: “But that’s a real shift- I mean, from the beginning of the Obama administration... the rhetoric [towards North Korea] seemed almost exactly like the Bush administration’s, and it didn’t do much good. So is it a real shift that you decided to dial back?”
On Monday’s Hannity show on FNC, actor Jon Voight accused the press of "protecting" and "covering for" President Obama by not giving enough coverage to dissatisfaction with the President’s economic policies, including the anti-tax TEA party protests:
But the press, the press brought him in, and now they want to make sure that nobody topples the throne, it seems. So they don't report anything that will interfere with his policies. But when the news is biased, it can, you know, it can control the people in a dangerous way. We see what's going on in Venezuela, and we're shocked. We're shocked to see Hugo Chavez closing down the, the opposition media. We're shocked when we see what's happening to the truth in Iran. But this same thing is happening in our country right now. The Obama regime is controlling the press. They protect him, they cover for him, and they don't want the truth to come out that there is this dissatisfaction, that people are waking up, and it's being expressed in these TEA parties.
He also charged that Obama had been dishonest in promising to protect Israel, and that the President had a "cunning ability" to push his policies through Congress without proper debate: