Joe Scarborough prides himself on being an independent thinker. Apparently that extends to not uttering a peep of protest, and indeed tending to concur, when a left-wing guest flatly accuses the Bush administration of using Nazi tactics to suppress democracy.
At about 7:45 A.M. EDT today, Naomi Wolf was a guest on "Morning Joe," there to promote her new book, the pretentiously-entitled The End of America: A Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot. The operating thesis of this alarmist screed is that the Bush administration represents a clear and present danger to democracy.
Melanie Morgan might not have a profile as high as some other pundits on the right, but she is emerging, in my book, as one of conservatism's most fearless and articulate advocates.
Last month, I noted an epic dust-up on "Hardball" between talk radio host Morgan and feminist Naomi Wolf. On today's show, the two again clashed. Last time around, I suggested that Wolf might be America's most passive-aggressive woman. Today, she showed herself to be one of its most alarmist. The topic was the controversy over the extent to which Alberto Gonzales [at the time Pres. Bush's White House counsel] pressured a then-hospitalized Attorney General John Ashcroft into approving the extension of the anti-terror wiretap program.
MELANIE MORGAN: Anbody that doesn't get what a truly dangerous world we live in should just take a look at this wireless wiretapping program. It was a valuable program and it still is. And if there was pressure applied by Gonzales, then good! . . . We needed that program and I'm really glad that if there was pressure applied, it kept it in place, because otherwise, Americans could die.
Wolf's response was a case study in breathless, alarmist, deconstruction-speak.
NAOMI WOLF: What's scary to me about listening to Melanie and various people at the White House is how Orwell [bonus points for Orwellian allusion] describes people who want to close down an open society don't just lie, they make lies the ground of the discourse. There's this extraordinary fudging [demerit for use of everyday word; consider "circumvention" next time] of reality, not just to change the record, but to disorient us [seems to have worked on Naomi].
In December 2005, the New York Times broke the story of the National Security Agency's monitoring of communications between people in America and terror suspects overseas. Many say the revelations hurt the anti-terrorist program. Over the weekend, the House and Senate passed, by surprisingly bipartisan votes, changes to the terrorist surveillance measure that left many liberals angry at the Democratic Congress's betrayal of civil liberties.
The Times seems rather disappointed in the Democrats as well.
Anybody who reads Web forums dedicated to current events is familiar with the phenomenom of BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) in which leftwingers rant wildly about the supposed crimes of the EVIL Bush regime. Most of the time those postings can be written off as just another case of the left having mental problems handling the fact that they do not control the executive branch of government. However, we might now have a case in which BDS has the positive effect of actually causing a high level government leaker of super secret information to expose himself. The story about the alleged leaker to the press of the FISA (Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act) program details was written up in the August 13 Newsweek article, Looking For a Leaker:
On Wednesday's The Situation Room, CNN host Wolf Blitzer, while interviewing Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison about his recent trip to Iraq, asked the Congressman about his recent controversial remarks comparing President Bush to Hitler, words that could be interpreted as a suggestion that Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks, and comments that have received little media coverage. Blitzer gave Ellison the chance to "explain exactly what you did mean," and asked if the Congressman agreed that the "comparison of Bush and Hitler" was "inappropriate." (Transcript follows)
In his recent blog ("Making Headlines: The Law, Summer 2007"), CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen describes his midsummer night's dream of legal headlines he would "like to see, but probably won't." In the tradition of another more-famous CBS employee, Cohen lists his "top ten" legal headlines - a wish list with an obvious liberal slant.
Here are some of Cohen's headlines, along with the necessary translation.
On Friday’s "Good Morning America," and again on Sunday, ABC anchors eagerly touted the idea that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales could be fired at any second. On July 27, GMA host Chris Cuomo discussed sworn Senate testimony given by Gonzales and wondered if the Attorney General had been "caught in a lie with the whole nation watching?" (An ABC graphic helpfully asked, "Is Atty General lying?")
Mentioning claims that Gonzales testimony has been contradicted by FBI Director Robert Mueller, Cuomo, whose brother is the Democratic Attorney General of New York, asked "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos, "...Bottom line, is Alberto Gonzales out of a job at end of business today?"
Sunday's New York Times led with Scott Shane and David Johnston's "Mining of Data Prompted Fight Over U.S. Spying," on what the intelligence reporters characterized as a fierce Justice Department debate over the use of "data mining" in the war on terror.
"A 2004 dispute over the National Security Agency's secret surveillance program that led top Justice Department officials to threaten resignation involved computer searches through massive electronic databases, according to current and former officials briefed on the program.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer conducted a hardball interview of White House press secretary Tony Snow on Thursday's edition of The Situation Room about the Democrats' subpoena of Karl Rove and the possible perjury investigation against Alberto Gonzales. Blitzer asked Snow a series of tough questions that you might find on any Democrat pundit's list. Contrast this with Blitzer's colleague at CNN, John Roberts, who earlier the same day, did a softball interview of Sen. Charles Schumer, which helped the New York Democrat echo his talking points. Actually, both Roberts and Blitzer helped forward the Democrat talking points, but the major difference was the approach towards the person being interviewed.
She may no longer be spreading wild 9-11 conspiracy theories on ABC's The View, but Rosie O'Donnell's still using her blog to push wildly inaccurate theories, like this amazing one under the headline "scary plus":
Bush Outlaws All War Protest In United States
In one of his most chilling moves to date against his own citizens, the American War Leader has issued a sweeping order this week outlawing all forms of protest against the Iraq war.
Say what? On July 17, President Bush issued an Executive Order with the legalese title of "Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization in Iraq." (A bit more rhetorical finesse might have been in order on the headline.) It's meant to try and stop "charitable" aid to Iraqi terrorists. But on Rosie's blog, the commenters are crazed, with lots of "WTF" and "Holy S---" ranting about the end of democracy as we know it. This one's priceless:
As if allowing this anti-American Bush-hater to have his own series wasn't enough, the brilliant folks at HBO decided to give Bill Maher another comedy special to rail against all things conservative.
For those on the left hoping for some truly vile attacks on the GOP, Saturday's "Bill Maher: The Decider" surely must have hit the spot.
In fact, of the 60 minutes Maher was given, upwards of 40 were spent eviscerating the President, his staff, Republican presidential candidates, and religious figures. In reality, this was a virtual campaign video for Democrats.
With that in mind, what follows are some of the lowlights in no particular order. However, the reader is cautioned that this is not edited for content, and contains some truly vulgar language.
There was an epic dust-up on this afternoon's show between feminist Naomi Wolf and conservative radio talk show host Melanie Morgan.
At the risk of burying the lead a bit, I can't resist observing that Naomi Wolf might just be the most passively aggressive woman in America. She has an amazing, infuriating, ability to keep a smile plastered on her face while saying the nastiest of things. It took her no more than a few seconds to get into it with guest host Mike Barnicle on this evening's Hardball. Barnicle invited Wolf to comment on the WaPo story about Hillary showing cleavage on the floor of the Senate, introducing her as a Democratic consultant and former advisor to Al Gore who had advised him to wear earth tones. But before responding, Naomi had some correctin' to do.
NAOMI WOLF: Mike, let me just stop you right there. You basically have not done your homework, no offense [right]. First of all, I'm not a Democratic consultant, I'm a writer. Second of all, I was advising Gore 2000 on women's issues that I've been talking about for 15 years . . . so you've just been, the Republican National Committee came up with a bunch of urban legends, and I'm afraid they pulled the wool over your eyes.
Pretty aggressive. Yet Wolf managed to maintain a brilliant, nay, beatific smile throughout. But when it came to aggression, Wolf was just clearing her throat.
In his Monday "Media Notes" column in The Washington Post -- for some reason, the whole column was demoted to page C-7 -- Howard Kurtz reported (in his second item) that National Public Radio's FBI reporter, Dina Temple-Raston, recently did a report quoting the American Civil Liberties Union. That wouldn't be shocking, except that Temple-Raston is also co-author of a new book with the executive director of the ACLU on "the dangerous erosion of the Bill of Rights in the age of terror."
Temple-Raston claimed she's aware of the "perception issue," but will try to be "really, really balanced." (So is NPR, which includes the data in her online bio.) This hire is a complete insult to the idea of creating an impression of a fair, nonpartisan public-radio news network. It would be bad enough if an NPR reporter gave money to the ACLU, or attended their fundraising dinners. But this reporter has written a book, cheek and jowl, with the leader of the ACLU, endorsing their leftist worldview on a blooming Bush dictatorship. How on Earth can NPR think it doesn't look transparently partisan from the first broadcast word?
Bruce Fein was a member of the Reagan Administration, but during the Dubya years, Fein sounds a lot like your typical "Bush hater," comparing the president to a long list of historical villains, which makes him a more acceptable guest for Bill Moyers or NPR’s Diane Rehm show. Here are the actual places in the Friday Bill Moyers Journal interview where squeaky-voiced Fein took Bush to the historical dark alley and tried to rough him up:
– Today’s Japanese Internment Camps?
FEIN: Take World War II. We locked up 120,000 Japanese Americans, said they were all disloyal. Well, we got 120,000 mistakes. They lost their property. They lost their liberty for years and years because we made a huge mistake. And that can be true after 9/11 as well.
Among Friday's broadcast evening newscasts, NBC Nightly News uniquely reported a federal appeals court ruling, tagged by anchor Lester Holt as a "victory for the Bush administration," regarding the controversial NSA spying program that involves warrantless monitoring of international phone calls when one participant is a terrorist suspect. Friday's court action overruled an August 2006 court decision against the program by a liberal judge appointed by President Carter.
As documented by the MRC's Rich Noyes, all three broadcast evening newscasts had trumpeted the earlier ruling against the administration on August 17 of last year. ABC's Charles Gibson had labeled it a "major legal defeat" while ABC's Martha Raddatz had called it a "significant blow" to the administration. But neither ABC's World News with Charles Gibson nor the CBS Evening News mentioned Friday's ruling. But even on NBC, while Holt read news of the ruling, the words "Domestic Spying" appeared on screen, thus not conveying to the audience the international nature of the calls. Those words had similarly appeared during the NBC Nightly News coverage of the August 17 ruling. (Transcripts follow)
A federal appeals court today overturned a Carter-appointed judge's opinion last August that the National Security Agency's terrorist surveillance program, dubbed by opponents as "domestic spying," was unconstitutional. Eleven months ago, the media latched on to the decision as a "major legal defeat" for the Bush administration, with CNN's Jack Cafferty crowing about how the decision proved "President Bush violated his oath of office, among other things, when he swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States."
Both ABC and MSNBC hosted constitutional lawyer Jonathan Turley, who suggested the President should be impeached as a result of the ruling.
Two days after ABC correspondent Liz Marlantes suggested that the Bush administration engages in abuses that are worse than illegal CIA activities from decades ago, on Tuesday's World News with Charles Gibson, ABC's Terry Moran made his own comparison between the past when the CIA was "running amuck" and modern times. Moran: "But many experts say [the documents] also shed light on this era, on the question of what the agency should and shouldn't be doing at a time when the CIA is running secret prisons, using coercive interrogation techniques like waterboarding and expanding its role in the war against al-Qaeda and other terrorists.
Below is a complete transcript of Moran's report from the Tuesday June 26 World News with Charles Gibson, with the critical portion in bold:
On ABC's World News Sunday, during a story about the release of classified information regarding the CIA's "cloak and dagger" past, correspondent Liz Marlantes suggested that the Bush administration engages in abuses that are worse than the illegal activities detailed in the documents. Marlantes: "But this all comes when the CIA is under fire for an alleged array of current abuses, including the use of secret prisons and torture. Some say the activities of the past may look mild by comparison."
As anchor Dan Harris set up the report, he conveyed that the documents "detail 30 years of illegal CIA operations, from assassination plots to experiments on humans." Marlantes listed some of the activities that included "assassination conspiracies against foreign leaders like Fidel Castro, the infiltration of anti-war groups, and screening of private mail, including letters to actress and antiwar activist Jane Fonda," and "putting journalists under surveillance." (Transcipt follows)
On Sunday night’s “1/2 Hour News Hour,” comedian Dennis Miller gave Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) the on-air tongue-lashing that every conservative in America has longed for since Reid replaced Tom Daschle as the Democrats’ top guy in that chamber of Congress.
In a two and a half-minute evisceration, Miller referred to Reid as a “dim bulb” stating that he’s had it with the Senator’s “projectile naysaying” while deliciously presenting his views “with no due respect.”
Bizarrely enough, the terror plot in New York City to blow up airport terminals and fuel lines at Kennedy International Airport didn't make the front page -- or even the national news section -- of Sunday's New York Times. Instead, it received a front-page "tease" and topped the Times' Metro section of regional news. By contrast, the Washington Post put the story on the front page, and the Los Angeles Times made it Sunday's lead item.
The story by Cara Buckley and William Rashbaum went to some length to downplay the seriousness of the threat:
"Mark J. Mershon, the assistant director in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation field office in New York, said all four men had 'fundamentalist Islamic beliefs of a violent nature,' although they appeared to be acting on their own and had no known connection to Al Qaeda.
New York Times reporter Kareem Fahim reported on an open house conducted by a New Jersey mosque connected to the Fort Dix Six terrorism investigation in Saturday's Metro section ("Open House At Mosque Of Suspects Proves Tense"). His slant was apparent throughout the story, as the Times once again soft-pedaled the radical Islamic origins behind the terror plot.
"The man sat in the back row of the mosque, his arms folded, unsure whether his hard opinions would change.
"'I'm concerned about the Muslims,' the man, Richard Smekal, 68, said just before an open house at the mosque, the Islamic Center of South Jersey, where four of six men accused of plotting to kill soldiers at Fort Dix had worshiped.
"It is unclear what role, if any, religion played in the attack Mr. Shnewer and the five other men are charged with planning. (The sixth suspect, Agron Abdullahu, had no apparent connection with Al-Aqsa or the South Jersey Islamic Center.) The authorities have described the suspects as Islamic extremists, but the lengthy criminal complaint summarizing the F.B.I.'s 15-month undercover investigation of the group does not mention where -- or how often -- they prayed. Certainly there is no evidence that they picked up radical ideas at either mosque."
On his must-read "Best of the Web Today" column for Opinion Journal, the online home of the excellent Wall Street Journal editorial page, James Taranto did a nice analysis on Associated Press reporter Mark Sherman:
Despite its huffy, self-righteous editorial page, the New York Times never has been anywhere close to a paragon of moral consistency. The latest example of the Grey Lady's hypocrisy is on the subject of data-mining, a subject which the editorial side of the paper repeatedly condemned last year. Data-mining is basically a fancy way of compiling user data in an advanced manner. According to the Times, data-mining is wrong when it is done to help fight terrorism. When it's done to fatten the wallets of fatcat liberal newspaper execs then it's ok.
Barely a year after their reporters won a Pulitzer prize for exposing
data mining of ordinary citizens by a government spy agency, New York
Times officials had some exciting news for stockholders last week: The
Times company plans to do its own data mining of ordinary citizens, in
the name of online profits.
Can Bill Maher do an entire episode of “Real Time” without attacking President Bush?
For those that can actually bear watching his program on HBO, the answer would be a resounding, “NO!” Yet, in the March 16 installment, Maher came very close.
Having seemingly suffered through more than 55 whole minutes without saying something disgraceful and offensive about the most powerful man on the planet, Maher, who must have been having an allergic reaction to the uncharacteristic civility on display, made up for it in spades during his final “New Rule” rant.
Entitled “Orewell That Ends Well,” Maher repeatedly made the asinine assertion that since 9/11, President Bush has actually stripped Americans of their civil rights (video available here):
Catching up on an item from Monday's The Situation Room on CNN, which has already been covered by conservative talk radio host Mark Levin, CNN's Jack Cafferty condescendingly labeled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as a "glorified waterboy for the White House" as he called for Gonzales to resign over the controversial firing of U.S. attorneys. After asking viewers to email him with their thoughts, Cafferty further called Gonzales a "weasel." Cafferty: "If you look up the word weasel in the dictionary, Wolf, you'll see Alberto Gonzales' picture there."
Below is a complete transcript of Cafferty's comments on Alberto Gonzales from the March 12 The Situation Room on CNN:
ABC’s Rosie O’Donnell has said some pretty disgraceful things on “The View” since her arrival. However, this might be the worst.
On Thursday’s installment, O’Donnell actually said that the only reason al Qaeda terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessed to any of his actions is because he is being held and tortured by the United States government.
In a warning to the sanctity of free speech in a democratic nation, France is about to show us what happens when the state is allowed to legally determine who is allowed to be a "journalist", or who is a "legitimate" source of news: You get the criminalization of speech.
The French Constitutional Council has approved a law that criminalizes the filming or broadcasting of acts of violence by people other than professional journalists. The law could lead to the imprisonment of eyewitnesses who film acts of police violence, or operators of Web sites publishing the images, one French civil liberties group warned on Tuesday.
This would, in fact, place the power to silence whistleblowers from being able to expose abuse by government officials into the hands of those very officials in the case of police abuse, for instance.
After some very controversial remarks on Wednesday’s edition of The View comedian and neoconservative Dennis Miller appeared on Thursday. After discussing John McCain’s announcement and the recent feud between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Miller joked about Nancy Pelosi’s rapidly blinking eyes, leading Barbara Walters to defend her as "terrific." Miller also debated Rosie O’Donnell on the finer points of the Patriot Act. The exchanges are below.
Joy Behar: "How about Nancy Pelosi, what do you think of her?"
Dennis Miller: "Well, listen. If they pick her as the VP, I’m not going to be able to watch State of the Unions. Because if she is back there like, with the blink- it looks like she was signaling the Carpathia that she hit an iceberg or something."
Yesterday I dismissed the idea that PBS couldn't find anyone conservative to comment on the Bush team's alleged war on the press. Talk-radio host and blogger Hugh Hewitt, a long-time host for PBS in Los Angeles, explained on his blog that the Frontline folks at PBS tried to cajole him into an interview for their "News War" four-hour marathon, but he ultimately declined. Here's his story:
Producer Raney Anderson journeyed to California to make the case for why I ought to participate, and I declined. I spent a decade inside the PBS system, and while I think Ms. Anderson is a talented and sincere documentarian, the form is inherently biased as the moment a cut gets made, an editorial choice has been rendered, and I didn't trust a PBS team, however talented, to make those choices about what I have to say about media, new and old.