If private citizens met a few years ago with the ambassador of a hostile country, then top US officials should do the same in the current sensitive context. That was the liberal logic Ellen Ratner of Talk Radio News put on display this morning during 'The Long & the Short of It' segment on Fox & Friends Weekend. The topic was the conflict in the Middle East. Ratner decreed that the time had come for bringing in the "partners" in the area, and that in addition to Lebanon, "that means Syria." Syria? Partner? What-evuh.
Complained Ellen: "We have not even spoken to the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations" adding - as if this clinched the case - "somebody Jim and I met with!" Concluded Ratner: "The United States has not spoken to him in a year-and-a-half, and he's in Washington!"
CBS anchor Bob Schieffer on Friday night forwarded the idea that the Israeli situation in Lebanon matches the U.S. miscalculation in Iraq. “Despite this heavy bombing that Hezbollah's been getting from the Israelis,” Schieffer told reporter David Martin, “they continue to attack and some critics are saying the Israelis may have made the same mistake that the United States made in Iraq, and that is underestimated what they were up against.” Martin didn't address Schieffer's comparison of the Israel-Hezbollah war with the Iraq war, but he did confirm that “Pentagon officials say both U.S. and Israeli intelligence have underestimated the strength, capabilities, and resilience of Hezbollah.” (Transcript follows)
Along the way, Cooper states as fact the usual misleading clichés about Bush’s “go-it-alone approach” to diplomacy and war.
“For the past year, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has worked assiduously to resurrect the importance of traditional diplomacy and building consensus among world leaders after America’s go-it-alone approach to Iraq.”
For your viewing pleasure, MSNBC decided to add to the Friday Night Fights series with a special Thursday edition. However, as "Hardball's" producers must have believed the challenger in the left corner, host Chris Matthews, was going to be outmatched by the challenger in the right corner, they decided to film the segment with an audience conveniently stocked with Ann Coulter haters. As a result, the fight turned more into a tag-team wrestling match than traditional mono-a-mono boxing.
It was quite evident from the onset that this was going to be a team effort by Matthews and his audience when he began:
Now, I want to know right off the front -- we`re going to use our audience in a very profane way. Who loves Ann Coulter? (APPLAUSE) Who vomits at the mention of her name? (APPLAUSE)
Nice way to introduce your guest, Chris. It seems impossible to imagine you introducing someone like Al Franken in such a fashion. Yet, Matthews wasn’t done. His next uppercut came only seconds later when he asked Coulter, “Do you have a soul?” This was followed a bit later with a right hook when Matthews said Ann was "All brain, no heart."
With that as pretext, this is a melee that must be watched to be fully appreciated. Here is the video. Pay particular attention to the people standing behind Coulter strategically placed to always be shaking their heads in disgust on virtually every one of her words. And, make sure that you have no drinking vessels around when Matthews asks Coulter to elaborate on the position she recently espoused concerning a former president’s sexual preference. (Transcript follows).
“The United Nations said Wednesday that its top officials in New York and its officers on the ground in Lebanon made numerous calls on Tuesday to the Israeli mission and the Israeli military to protest repeated firing on its outpost in Lebanon where four unarmed observers ended up being killed.
“Jane Holl Lute, the assistant secretary general for peacekeeping operations, said at an emergency meeting of the Security Council that over the six-hour period in which the United Nations’ warnings were being conveyed to the Israelis, the observation post at Khiam, in southern Lebanon, continued to come under fire.
“The firings persisted even after rescuers reached the hilltop site, she said, and in all it was subjected to 21 strikes, 11 of them aerial bombardments and at least 6 artillery rounds.
“She described the observation post as ‘well known and clearly marked’ and added that no Hezbollah activity was reported in the area.”
During the ’90s, many conservatives referred to CNN as the “Clinton News Network.” In an op-ed published Thursday by FrontPage Magazine, radio talk show host Michael Reagan coined a new term for the cable news outlet that might come into vogue: the Terrorist News Network.
At issue for former President Ronald Reagan’s son was a story written by NewsBuster Rich Noyes on July 19, with a follow-up on July 24. Reagan began: “On July 18, CNN correspondent Nick Robertson aired a report from Beirut. Throughout his entire report on ‘Anderson Cooper 360,’ Robertson accepted uncritically the claims of a Hezbollah ‘guide’ about what he was seeing.” After quoting much of Noyes’s initial report, Reagan pointed out:
Raeed Tayeh, who will lead today’s event, is former head of the public relations office of the Muslim American Society, a national civil rights group. He also served as a speechwriter for Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, D-Georgia. His articles have appeared in major newspapers and magazines, and he has been a guest speaker on several radio and television programs including, "The O'Reilly Factor." Tayeh is also the author of "A Muslim's Guide to American Politics and Government."
I glad the reporter from the Rocky knew how to type, so she could transcribe this from the press release word for word. Either that, or she can cut-and-paste with great aplomb, with the same great skill I used to bring it to you. Actually being a reporter, and finding out something about her subject seems to be beyond her, at least when she's on deadline.
Declaring that "I think the next President's got to be stronger and smarter than this one," on Tuesday's Imus in the Morning, MSNBC's Chris Matthews went on a tirade for over two minutes against President Bush and those around him who filled his intellectual vacuum. Don Imus pleaded: "Did you plan on taking a breath at any point?"
"It's all ideology with this crowd. All they care about is ideology,” Matthews fretted as he charged: “The President bought it hook, line and sinker.” Matthews delivered insults as he asserted that Bush “trusts the intellectuals, the guys he knew at school. You know, they're a bunch of pencil-necks and now he buys completely their ideology because he didn't have one of his own coming in. That was his problem. I don't know what Bush stood for except 'I'm a cool guy and Gore isn't.'” The Hardball host yearned: “I hope the next election isn't a problem of who goes to bed with their wife at 9:30 at night or who knows how to tell a joke on a stage, but it's who has the sense of strength that comes from having read books most of their life, tried to understand history.” Though Matthews didn't warn of “every single” bad development in Iraq, he contended that “every single thing that's happened in Iraq was predicted by history” and lamented that “Bush didn't have the academic background to challenge” the ignorant ideologues who ignored history. (Transcript follows)
On Monday’s "Anderson Cooper 360," CNN’s Anderson Cooper related his visit to a Hezbollah-controlled section of Beirut where he was supposed to photograph certain damaged buildings, part of the terrorist group’s strategy of generating news stories about Lebanese civilian casualities caused by Israeli bombs.
But instead of merely transmitting Hezbollah’s unverified and unverifiable claims to the outside world, Cooper — to his credit — exposed the efforts by Hezbollah to manipulate CNN and other Western reporters. It’s quite a contrast from the much more accommodating approach taken by his colleague, Nic Robertson, in a report that aired on a variety of CNN programs (including AC360) back on July 18, a report that Robertson himself has now conceded was put together under Hezbollah's control.
Unlike Robertson, Cooper was explicit about how Hezbollah’s operatives had set all of the rules: “Young men on motor scooters followed our every movement. They only allowed us to videotape certain streets, certain buildings,” he explained. He countered Hezbollah claims that Israel targets civilians by pointing out that the group based itself in civilian areas and that Israel's air force drops leaflets warning of attacks.
She describes the divide between the Shiites in the vulnerable South and the more cosmopolitan Lebanese of the North and uses the term "folk hero" in a description of the leader of the terrorist group Hezbollah:
"For the south, which suffered for more than a decade under Israeli occupation, Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, is a folk hero who helped drive out the Israelis. But many middle-class Lebanese who have worked for the past decade to generate an economic revival are tired of war and resent Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12."
Bill O'Reilly's down to his last strike. As noted here, on his radio and TV shows yesterday, Bill propounded the theory that the big-city newspapers have tread lightly in the current Middle East conflict for fear of alienating their liberal Jewish readers. As Bill put it, liberal Jews "are all the papers have left" when it comes to significant market niches.
While Bill singled out the NY Times as the paper most loath to offend its liberal Jewish readers, he also mentioned the Boston Globe by name on his radio show. As discussed here, the NY Times came out this morning guns ablazin', so to speak, for an immediate cease-fire.
Turns out the Boston Globe has done the same thing. Excerpts from its editorial of today, While Lebanon Burns:
Back to the drawing board for Bill O'Reilly. As noted here, on his radio and TV shows yesterday, BOR propounded the theory that the big-city newspapers have tread lightly in the current Middle East conflict for fear of alienating their liberal Jewish readers. As Bill put it, liberal Jews "are all the papers have left" when it comes to significant market niches.
BOR particularly singled out the New York Times as a paper reluctant to take any positions that could be construed as contrary to Israel's interests. As of this morning's NY Times editorial, No More Foot-Dragging, that theory might be 'inoperative.' For the Times, in flat contradiction of Israeli desires, is now calling for an immediate cease-fire:
On Monday's World News, ABC anchor Charles Gibson segued from coverage of the Israel-Hezbollah battle to remind viewers of how badly things are going in Iraq. Over an on-screen graphic of the numbers of civilians and military members killed in Iraq compared to the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, Gibson announced: “Well the focus of the world, in recent days, has been on Israel and Lebanon. And attention has been diverted from Iraq. But it should be noted that in the thirteen days since the Israeli/Lebanese crisis began, more Iraqi civilians have died  than Lebanese . And more U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq these past two weeks  than Israeli soldiers have died in their conflict . Also somewhat overlooked is the fact that Saddam Hussein has been on a two-week hunger strike. ABC's Terry McCarthy is in Baghdad tonight....”
Wasn't Tucker Carlson supposed to be MSNBC's conservative counterweight to Olbermann, Matthews, & Co? I might have to rethink that one, judging by the opening roll of his 'Tucker' show this afternoon, which clearly cast Israel as the heavy in the current conflict. Here's how it went:
Open to video of an Israeli tank firing rounds, as an off-screen voice breathlessly announces "Lebanon, under siege" as the scene changes to smoke rising from an urban Lebanese landscape.
Cut to a Lebanese couple, with the woman informing us that "our house is bombed, everything is bombed."
Cut to what looks like a mosque in ruins. Announcer: "Israel's attack on Hezbollah marches on, and so does the devastating toll on civilian life."
Cut to woman in Muslim head shawl comforting distraught young boy with kiss on head.
Bill O'Reilly got his show off to a surprising start this afternoon, with a novel theory as to why the big-city newspapers have tread lightly in criticizing Israel for its role in the current conflict. During his opening monologue O'Reilly theorized that the papers are fearful of turning off liberal Jewish readers.
As per Bill's hypothesis, papers such as the NY and LA Times, Boston Globe and Washington Post have been taking big hits in readership and profitability. With Fox News Channel's ED Hill in the studio, O'Reilly continued: "liberal Jewish readers are all [those newspapers] have left" as a significant market segment. If the papers were to be too critical of Israel, it could alienate their last remaining readership niche.
Better late than never? On CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday, CNN’s senior international correspondent Nic Robertson added all of the caveats and disclaimers that he should have included in his story last week that amounted to his giving an uncritical forum for the terrorist group Hezbollah to spout unverifiable anti-Israeli propaganda.
Back on July 18, Hezbollah took Robertson and his crew on a tour of a heavily damaged south Beirut neighborhood. The Hezbollah “press officer” even instructed the CNN camera: “Just look. Shoot. Look at this building. Is it a military base? Is it a military base, or just civilians living in this building?”
Honestly, NBers, this one took several reads to believe. In fact, I’ve checked the link numerous times, as well as multiple media websites, and this really was reported by the Associated Press: “Mideast diplomats were pressing Syria to stop backing Hezbollah as the guerrillas fired more deadly rockets onto Israel's third-largest city Sunday.”
Now, I know what you’re thinking: this was buried deeeeep inside the article. Nope. This was actually the first sentence of a wire piece entitled “Arabs Press Syria to End Hezbollah Support.”
Shocking? Certainly. However, the best was yet to come:
In our ongoing “Friday Night Fights” segment, an amazing barnburner occurred July 21 that will remind folks of Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd's old "Point/Counterpoint" skit on “Saturday Night Live” with the only thing missing being the famous line “Jane you ignorant slut.”
On the left was Fox News’s Juan Williams. On the right was conservative radio host Laura Ingraham filling in for Bill O’Reilly on “The O’Reilly Factor” (very enthusiastic hat tip to Ian at Expose the Left and Ms. Underestimated with absolutely must-see video to follow!).
From the beginning, this fight perfectly exemplified the divergence in opinion concerning the most recent flare up in the Middle East. Juan enunciated the liberal view that Israel is largely to blame for the rise in hostilities, and that America needs to put pressure on it to force an expedient ceasefire even if it goes counter to Israel’s ongoing security. Here’s a perfect example of Juan’s solution to the current problem:
'Bolton and the other radicals in the administration want Israel to keep pummeling Lebanon a while longer.' No, they want Israel to keep pummeling Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon.
party of mutual Armageddon . . . the war party of Hamas, Hezbollah, the
Israeli right, the Iranian ultras, Rumsfeld, and Cheney.' Moral equivalence strikes again. The terrorists, and those who would stop the terrorists - same difference.
The New York Times op-ed page has a feature today called 'A First Step Back From the Brink.' As the Times describes it:
"With chaos threatening to engulf Lebanon, the need to resolve the conflict in the Middle East has rarely seemed so urgent. The Op-Ed editors went to seven experts with experience in the region, asking each of them what should be the first step toward defusing the crisis."
The Times did accord Richard Perle the opportunity to make the case that 'Israel must see the current fighting through to a conclusion that is unambiguously a defeat for Hezbollah and Hamas.' But most if not all of the other contributors call for an immediate cessation of hostilities, including Judith Kipper of the Council on Foreign Relations who wants to negotiate with Hezbollah and Hamas and describes them as 'political parties and social welfare organizations', albeit with 'military wings.'
On Friday's World News, ABC's Charles Gibson highlighted a Lebanese blog poster who implied that most Israelis are not "reasonable" enough to care about the safety of innocent Lebanese civilians. Responding to an Israeli poster, also quoted by Gibson, who had expressed wishes that the Lebanese people be safe during the airstrikes, the unnamed Lebanese poster implied that most Israelis are unreasonable while complimenting the Israeli poster: "I can rest a little easier in this difficult time because I have found reasonable voices in Israel."
Gibson opened the segment declaring that although "the Israeli and Lebanese governments are not talking to one another," citizens on both sides were communicating through the Internet by posting on blogs. He first quoted an unnamed Israeli soldier: "I'm sending you my best wishes and hope that you and your family will be strong and be alright until this horrible situation will be over." (Transcript follows)
Everyone knows that when it comes to winning wars and achieving peace, the model to follow is that laid out by France, other Europeans, and the UN.
Elizabeth Vargas, steadfast Euro-UN-ophile, is savvy enough to recognize that the US needs to fall in line behind wiser heads and 'condemn or rebuke' Israel. Sadly, an obdurate Bush administration, in the person of spokesman Tony Snow, just wasn't getting the message in a Good Morning America interview this morning.
Vargas: "Tony, this is day ten now of the conflict in the Middle East and only now is the US government considering sending Secretary Rice to the region. Why waiting so long to do so?"
Snow: "Well, first, Elizabeth, you have to understand even though Secretary Rice hasn't been to the region, we've had a high-level . . . delegation . . . there last week. . . Secretary Rice thought she would wait until we had a moment . . . when the time is ripe. Now she views this as a good time to go."
Vargas: "You mentioned European allies. The US has thus far been alone in its refusal to either rebuke or condemn Israel for its excessive force, as Kofi Annan called it last night. And in addition it has refused to call for any cessation of hostilities. At what point does the administration say to its close ally Israel, 'enough'?"
'Today' never showed us just who was holding that placard. But judging from his comments this morning, just how surprised would we be to find it was NBC's David Gregory himself?
Did David perhaps rev up for his appearance by reading this all-out assault on Bush foreign policy from in the LA Times? In any case, he came loaded for Bush bear with a totally bleak tour d'horizon that included these gems:
"The president's foreign policy was designed to make the the Middle East safer. It's not."
"Crisis after crisis has undermined the Bush doctrine."
"A foreign policy that has yet to produce the promised results."
One of the central tenants of professional journalism is the notion that reporters remain objective in their analysis and reporting. Generally, it is the responsibility of a newspaper’s management to ensure that individuals who express a desire to maintain emotional and psychological distance from stories they cover are employed to report news under the title of a “journalist.” If the writer is an opinion writer, this is known as a “pundit.”
That stated, the Washington Posthosted an online “Live from Syria” chat session this past Monday on their website. The forum was conducted by a Syrian writer named Sami Moubayed. The Posts’ description of the writer is “PostGlobal Panelist/Syrian Political Analyst, Journalist and Author.” Flipping to the writer’s website and reading the “About” section, however, shows that Mr. Moubayed has some conflicts of interest when it comes to covering the Lebanon-Israel conflict. From Moubayeb’s profile:
"CBS Evening News" anchor Bob Schieffer participated in a phone interview with Bob Steele of the Poynter Institute yesterday. The discussion focused on Schieffer’s view of the current situation in the Middle East and caused Schieffer to pull out an old left wing talking point about war as he lamented:
"We have made a judgment that this is extremely important because this could set off a much wider war, a war that could, if it got big enough, could cause this country, for one thing, to have to reinstitute the draft."
I suppose, theoretically, Schieffer is correct, but is his fear logical? Is there serious discussion on Capitol Hill to bring back the draft? No, in fact the last time the idea of a draft came to a vote in 2004 it received 2 votes.
Heart-rending images of small children being lifted across a fence. Outraged American/Lebanese evacuees alleging indiscriminate Israeli bombing ["they are bombing streets, gas stations, food stores, ranches."] A crying Lebanese man with blood on his shirt after his brother was killed by an Israeli bomb. And the only two reporters on the scene reporting from . . . Beirut. That was the way the 'Today' largely saw fit to cover the Middle East conflict this morning.
While none of the words or images are necessarily inaccurate [and we were treated to one evacuee heartily thanking Pres. Bush], they utterly fail to tell the whole story. Yes, Israel is militarily superior to its immediate neighbors. So it is easy to portray it as the bully in this fight. But let's look at the larger picture - Israel, a small strip of land, with relatively few people or natural resources, surrounded by hundreds of millions of largely Muslim Arabs in more than a dozen states. Have a look at the map. Israel is a barely discernible dot in the Muslim sea. And just as it is geographically dwarfed so too is it overwhelmed when it comes to natural resources - oil
It is axiomatic that the goal of the foreign policy of the United States should be the advancement of the interests of the United States and not of any other country, no matter how sympathetic, including Israel. That said, should it not give Chris Matthews pause that his pointed anti-neo-con spiel has become indistinguishable from the well-rehearsed Pat Buchanan line on the matter? In a weird twist, Dem hyper-partisan Bob Shrum, a supporter of Israel, was the odd man out on this evening's Hardball.
To demonstrate my point, let's play a little game. Guess who made the following statements?
A. "The neo-cons are out there complaining that this president isn't tough enough. I have no idea what they mean. 50,000 dead in Iraq - it was supposed to be a cakewalk, Ken Adelman is out there today saying we should go other places, you have other guys that want to blow up every Arab country on the list."
On the same day that a Hezbollah rocket killed two children in Nazareth, Israel, NBC's Brian Williams visited an Israeli Defense Force artillery outpost in northern Israel and noted how the soldiers “don't think a whole lot about where these shells go” in Lebanon and laid a guilt trip on an Israeli officer by predicting how one of his shells will inevitably “kill a six-year old boy.” Williams proposed to the officer: “One of these shells today or tomorrow, if we go with the law of averages, is going to kill a six-year-old boy somewhere. And it's not the intended target of one of these shells."
Earlier on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, Richard Engel highlighted how “in Qasmiya in south Lebanon, an Israeli bomb left a crater where children were playing. Ismail lost his son today. 'They were small children. Do you see Hezbollah here?' he asked." Martin Fletcher soon related how a Hezbollah rocket “smashed into the roof of a car dealership in the Arab town of Nazareth. Two boys playing in the garden were killed instantly. They were ages three and nine.” (Partial transcript of Williams follows)
Last night (Tuesday) on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, senior international correspondent Nic Robertson touted his “exclusive” exchange with a Hezbollah propagandist who led Robertson on a tour of a bombed-out block of southern Beirut. Hezbollah claimed to show that Israeli bombs had struck civilian areas of the city, not the terrorist group’s headquarters.
The Hezbollah “press officer,” Hussein Nabulsi, even directed CNN’s camera: “Just look. Shoot. Look at this building. Is it a military base? Is it a military base, or just civilians living in this building?” A few moments later, Nabulsi instructed CNN to videotape him as he ran up to a pile of rubble: “Shoot me. Shoot. This is here where they said Sheikh Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, is living. This is wrong!”