While the broadcast networks have generally empathized with the distress of airline passengers over the TSA’s new and intrusive airport searches, they have not — thus far, at least — gone so far as to impugn the Obama administration as launching a war against Americans’ civil liberties.
Indeed, NBC’s Matt Lauer on Monday even sympathized with TSA Administrator John Pistole: “I hate to even think of what happens if the government caves in on this, and relaxes these procedures, and someone manages to get something on board a plane and causes harm. Imagine the questions you'll be asked at that point.”
But that’s not the approach those networks took when it was the Bush administration taking steps to protect citizens against potential attack. Instead, as a 2006 analysis by the Media Research Center documented, the networks firmly aligned themselves with those who saw the Patriot Act and the electronic surveillance of international phone calls as a dire threat to civil liberties.
Eric Bolling's new show on the Fox Business Channel, Money Rocks, saw a significant display of fireworks this evening. During a discussion of some already controversial statements made by Democratic strategist, Bob Beckel, a very heated exchange developed involving Beckel and Atlas Shrugs publisher, Pamela Geller.
The controversy started when Bolling played a clip of Beckel's previous appearance on the show in which he stated:
"Look, at some point, I know it's sensitive here in New York and probably New Jersey, but we have to get over 9/11."
What did he mean by ‘we have to get over 9/11'? According to Beckel, this was simply an expression of frustration for a variety of things, such as extra security at airports and a few other minor inconveniences designed to catch "a bunch of non-existent terrorists."
The short list of ‘non-existent terrorists' since 9/11 that Mr. Beckel must be referring to, include the Madrid train bombers, Russian train bombers, Shoe Bomber, the Lackawanna Six, Fort Hood assassin, the Virginia ‘Jihad' Network, Christmas Day bomber, Fort Dix plotters, and the Times Square bomber.
Beckel might have been feeling the stress of trying to defend such a blatantly insensitive statement, by providing a blatantly inaccurate defense, as he experienced a misogynistic meltdown directed at Geller in the middle of the segment in which he said:
"You're a woman, you better be careful about saying who I carry water for."
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
With virtually zero debate - or media attention - President Barack Obama has signed a one-year extension for what many considered the most crucial and controversial aspects of the USA PATRIOT Act. The provisions, set to expire Sunday without the signature of Obama, include extensions to allow:
-1) "roving" wiretaps, permitting surveillance on multiple phones and e-mail addresses.
-2) court-approved seizures of records and property in anti-terrorism operations.
-3) surveillance on "lone-wolf" foreign nationals, who may not be part of a recognized terrorist group.
The New York Times has apparently discovered its inner patriot. The paper decided after a request from the White House to hold off publishing key information about the war effort in Afghanistan for fear of alerting the enemy to key U.S. intelligence.
The Times and its executive editor Bill Keller, who defended the decision, have left the nation collectively uttering, "It's about time." Now that's change we can believe in.
Keller told WNYC radio today that two Times reporters had a story ready to go on Thursday about the capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's top military commander in Pakistan. The paper decided to hold off on running the story until today, the date the White House requested.
The National Security Council, Keller recalled, "thought it had been a clean snatch and they were afraid once the word got out, other Taliban officials would go deeper underground or take measures to cover their tracks. So they asked us to hold off for a while."
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):
On his Nov. 9 broadcast of "Hardball," in an interview with Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Matthews compared the incident of Maj. Nidal M. Hasan at Ft. Hood to Sirhan Sirhan's 1968 assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
"You know, I have a hard time with this because people like Sirhan Sirhan, who is still serving time for killing Bobby Kennedy, didn't like what Bobby Kennedy had said on television," Matthews said. "Bobby Kennedy had made political statements saying we're going to sell arms, fighter planes directly to Israel, not under the table. We're going to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Those are the things that triggered his killing spree. He killed one person - Bobby Kennedy, horrifically. But did he become a different religious person because he committed the crime? And when did this happen?" [Audio: Part I here (925 KB), Part II here (1.18 MB)]
Some key parts of the Patriot Act are set to expire in December. When the anti-terrorism law was passed in the days after 9-11, Congress put eight-year time limits on the most far-reaching provisions. Since the Democrats didn't really favor a War on Terror, their preference for the civil liberties of terrorist suspects over the civil liberties of future terrorist victims is becoming clear. York looked at one exchange in the Senate with freshman Sen. Al Franken:
Even roving wiretaps, a widely accepted, common-sense feature of the Patriot Act, have come under question. At a Sept. 23 committee hearing, Sen. Al Franken, the newest member of the committee, challenged the constitutionality of such wiretaps, and in the process left an Obama Justice Department official -- who supports the law -- muttering in frustration.
New York Times Magazine critic Deborah Solomon conducted an all-over-the-map interview with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, alternating between conservative "terrorism," lesbianism and Girl Scout cookies. At one point she wondered, "But do you think certain radio and television hosts are feeding intolerance and even terrorism?"
Solomon’s interview, which will appear in the August 16 print edition of the Times, also included an attack on Glenn Beck of Fox News. After repeating the host’s contention that President Obama "has a deep-seated hatred for white people," the journalist derided, "Do you think a statement like that incites hate crimes?"
On Tuesday's Glenn Beck Program on FNC, host Beck picked up on P.J. Gladnick's recent NewsBusters posting which helped bring attention to President Obama's double standard in charging that Congress was "rushed" by the Bush administration into passing budgets and anti-terrorism measures with little time for debate -- in a 2004 interview with Randi Rhodes on the left-wing Air America -- even though as President he has pressed Congress to act quickly on a number of major spending proposals since taking office.
Beck also ran a clip of Congressman John Conyers as the Michigan Democrat scoffed at suggestions members of Congress should read and understand bills before voting for them. Conyers: "To get up and say, 'Read the bill.' What good is reading the bill if it's 1,000 pages and you don't have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?"
During the show's regular "Hot List" segment, Beck recounted: "The Web site NewsBusters.org posting a November 2004 interview with Air America's Randi Rhodes, where Senator-elect Obama complains about the Bush administration."
Then an audio clip of Obama from the 2004 interview ran:
Recycling the mid-1990s liberal smear campaign against grassroots conservatism, CNN has posted an article on the new DHS threat report complete with a Getty Images photo (shown at right) of neo-Nazi and white supremacist flags.
If the report were about Nazi extremists, that picture would be warranted. However, the DHS report warns against an amorphous “right-wing extremism,” failing to mention by name any particular threatening group or intelligence of any planned attacks.
The DHS report did cite returning war veterans as at-risk for recruitment by right-wing extremist groups. It seems strange to think that those men and women who risked their lives to protect this country and their government could be or become Nazis, but that seems to be the implication.
Moreover, one wonders where exactly the CNN report on the other extremism report was.
A search of Nexis between April 7 -- the day when pirates seized the U.S.-registered and American-crewed Maersk Alabama -- and today, April 10, shows that both the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times failed to even mention President Barack Obama in their stories on the ongoing hostage situation. The New York Times did, once, in a page A6 April 9 story by Mark Mazetti and Sharon Otterman, but it came 15 paragraphs into the 26-paragraph story and served to explain Obama's absence in the ongoing U.S. response:
At the White House, military and national security officials tracked the developments from the Situation Room, and they provided several briefings to President Obama and other administration officials throughout the day.
Mr. Obama first learned of the hijacking early on Wednesday morning after he returned to the White House from his overseas trip, and he later convened an interagency group on maritime safety, aides said. The White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said, ''Our top priority is the personal safety of the crew members on board.''
Basically, the nation's top three newspapers are letting President Obama off the hook from any scrutiny regarding his involvement or lack thereof in the ongoing hostage situation.
One of the few saving graces from watching "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC? Its unintended amusement value.
Such was the case Friday night when journalist and author Carl Bernstein reined in Maddow during a segment aptly titled, "Talk Me Down."
Before interviewing Bernstein, Maddow enthused about MSNBC colleague Keith Olbermann's "extraordinary" interviews with a former National Security Agency analyst turned whistleblower. Follow this link to see the seven-minute segment in its entirety; Maddow makes this assertion at 2:14 into the clip --
Far be it from me to sow discord in MSNBC ranks, to stir up old animosities between colleagues there. But if Joe Scarborough is going to do a mocking imitation of Keith Olbermann in full Special Comment rant, well then, blogging ethics compel me to report it.
The jumping-off point on Morning Joe today was Eugene Robinson's current WaPo column. After claiming that he didn't want to kick the president on his way out the door, Robinson proceeded to do just that. The columnist described a variety of measures adopted by the president in prosecution of the war against terror as "departures from American values and traditions." Robinson recommended an investigation if not a criminal prosecution. That led Pat Buchanan and Scarborough to cite, chapter and verse, the ways in which Bush's supposed abrogation of "American values and traditions" were small potatoes compared to the actions of predecessors including Lincoln, Wilson and FDR.
Without mentioning the Countdown host by name, Scarborough closed with an unmistakable impression of Keith Olbermann in pompous Special Comment peroration of the sort that can be seen here.
On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer seemed to be acting out a scene from Frost/Nixon as he questioned Vice Presdient Dick Cheney about the terrorist surveillance program: "Do you feel you went too far, Mr. Vice President, in your surveillance?...Do you -- do you believe that the president, in time of war, that anything he does is legal?"
Cheney shot back with some historical context: "I can't say that anything he does is legal. I think we do, and we have, a historic precedent of taking action that you wouldn't take in peacetime...If you hark back in our history you can look at Abraham Lincoln, who suspended the writ of Habeas Corpus in the middle of the Civil War...or FDR in World War II...when he provided for internment camps for Japanese-American citizens. Most people now look back and say that was wrong. But what we did was modest by those comparisons."
Later in the interview, Schieffer again questioned the legality of Bush Administration policies: "Let me talk to you a little bit about torture. You have said that you do not believe that waterboarding, for example, was torture...Would you do it again if you had to make those same decisions again? Because a lot of people now say that some of the things that happened here may be the reason that some of our casualties happened...because people saw the publicity of these things, the kinds of things that happened at Abu Ghraib." In fact, it was CBS News that broke the Abu Ghraib story, so by Schieffer’s logic, CBS caused American casualties by showing the pictures.
Well, it seems that the folks at Vanity Fair realized that they won't have George W. Bush to kick around any more. So they decided to launch the journalistic equivalent of thermonuclear war against him in an attempt to get its shot at a "draft of history."
In a 14 web-page tome (the photo at the top right is at its beginning) that fancies itself an "oral history," the magazine hauls out every criticism, real or imagined, hurled at the president during the past eight years. It reminds everyone that the media's favorite stereotype of conservatives and Republicans is that they're dumb (I guess Ike's orchestration of D-Day was some kind of accident, and George W. Bush's MBA -- he is the first president to hold one -- was some kind of gift from Poppy).
Sadly, the magazine finds a few former administration officials to pile on. One of them likens Bush to Sarah Palin (that's supposed to be an insult). We're left with the long-discredited meme of Dick Cheney as puppet master and Bush as impotent since Katrina (then how did Bush get that Iraq Surge past everyone and make it stick anyway?).
All you really need to know to spare yourself a truly painful read is what is in the tease paragraph after the headline. Brace yourself:
"Exclusive: Inside Account of U.S. Eavesdropping on Americans; U.S. Officers' "Phone Sex" Intercepted; Senate Demanding Answers," reads the headline and subhead for an ABCNews.com "Blotter" post by Brian Ross.
Written with fellow ABC staffers Vic Walter and Anna Schechter, Ross's October 9 post aimed to make National Security Agency phone monitoring of calls into and out of Baghdad out to be little more than a voyeuristic game of listening in on Americans talk dirty to each other:
"These were just really everyday, average, ordinary Americans who happened to be in the Middle East, in our area of intercept and happened to be making these phone calls on satellite phones," said Adrienne Kinne, a 31-year old US Army Reserves Arab linguist assigned to a special military program at the NSA's Back Hall at Fort Gordon from November 2001 to 2003.
Kinne described the contents of the calls as "personal, private things with Americans who are not in any way, shape or form associated with anything to do with terrorism."
[Update, 5:45 pm, by Matthew Balan: In the past year, Cafferty has called for the impeachment of Bush administration officials or criticized Democrats for failing to do so on 3 other occasions: August 21, 2007; January 7, 2008; and just over a month ago on June 12, 2008.]
You might call Jack Cafferty the Dennis Kucinich of the media. Actually, the CNN commentator would go the Dem congressman one better. Not content with mere impeachment, Cafferty has condemned Congress for not pursuing the possible prosecution of President Bush—to whom he sneeringly refers as "King George"—for war crimes.
The CNN commentator put war-crime prosecution on the table during his Cafferty File segment on this afternoon's CNN "Situation Room."
Overwhelming bipartisan majorities in the Senate and House agreed to a new Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) the President will happily sign, with the Senate -- including 21 Democrats -- voting for it Wednesday by 69 to 29, yet NBC and ABC painted it as “controversial” based on how the bill blocks lawsuits against telecommunications companies which cooperated with the President after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Though the program tracked communication between suspected terrorists overseas and people within the United States, not all of them Americans, NBC's Brian Williams delivered a more nefarious picture of firms that had “helped to spy on Americans” and ABC's Charles Gibson referred to “the ability to listen in on Americans without a warrant.” Williams announced:
The Senate approved controversial new rules allowing the government to listen in on phone calls and read e-mails. And what happened today is controversial in large part because America's telecommunications companies get unprecedented protection from lawsuits if they helped to spy on Americans in effect.
Gibson asserted: “One of the most controversial aspects of the bill will protect telecommunications companies from lawsuits for giving the government the ability to listen in on Americans without a warrant.”
On NBC, reporter Pete Williams fretted: “This dooms more than three dozen lawsuits against telephone companies and e-mail providers over what they did to help the government intercept communications after 9/11. So this means that no court can now be asked to rule on whether the Bush administration's eavesdropping program was ever constitutional.”
Just two weeks after getting into a brouhaha with Huffington Post editor Rachel Sklar, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has found himself in a tussle with one of the chairmen of the Netroots, Salon's Glenn Greenwald.
At the heart of this dogfight between two shameless liberal pols was Barack Obama's recent flip-flop on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and how Olbermann altered his own views on this subject in order to shelter the Democrat presidential nominee from criticism.
Grab some popcorn, folks, and let's get ready to rumble (h/t TVNewser):
NewsBusters readers are likely aware that Congress has for months been debating an amendment to 1978's Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to bring it up to date with technological and geopolitical changes in the past three decades.
Folks on the left view this modernization as an onerous intrusion on privacy rights, and have been preventing this bill -- which was originally signed into law on August 5, 2007, but expired in February -- from being renewed and made permanent.
On Wednesday, with Congress scheduled to adjourn for the Fourth of July recess, Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.) told his fellow Senators that the scare tactics being used by the left concerning this matter "feed the delusions of those who wear tinfoil hats around their house and think that 9/11 was an inside job" (video embedded right):
Actress Jessica Lange launched another assault on the Iraq War and the Bush administration on Friday as a speaker at her daughter Hannah Shepard’s commencement from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. "We are living in an America that, in the last seven and a half years, has waged an unnecessary war, established prison camps, condoned torture, employed corporate armies, eliminated the right of habeas corpus, practiced extraordinary rendition, and believe me, this is only a partial list," Lange said, before she launched into more personal observations about the joy of eating sun-warmed strawberries.
Lange has repeatedly launched public attacks on President Bush as a man who "has no heart," who runs a "regime of deceit, hypocrisy, and belligerence," and his tenure has been "an embarrassing time to be an American."
First, here is a larger chunk of Lange’s remarks at Sarah Lawrence, as transcribed and posted by the college:
I look out at your faces and guess most of you graduates are about 22 years old. I think of the world I was living in at that age. Very different from yours and yet, ominously similar.
It was a hot night of hard-left talk on PBS’s Tavis Smiley show on Thursday night, when Smiley’s guest was radical Pacifica Radio anchorwoman Amy Goodman. The host of the daily Democracy Now program was decrying how American liberties have disappeared under George W. Bush, and Smiley wasn’t asking hostile questions, but softballs: "How do you explain how this Patriot Act has, in fact, crushed so many people? Crushed people, threatened people, put people at all types of unease?" Smiley never named one.
Goodman played up how awful it was, with Big Bad Bush crushing librarians and booksellers: "It is a very big problem. It was written before 9/11; it was just passed after 9/11, and that's the big problem. I travel around the country and we support independent bookstores all over. It's not only the librarians; it's the independent booksellers who also fall under the purview of the Patriot Act. It says that they and the librarians have to hand over information."
Eric Lichtblau, who covers the Justice Department for the New York Times, has an article up on Slate's front page , adapted from his upcoming book "Bush's Law: The Remaking of American Justice," accusing the Bushadministration of lying to him about its anti-terrorist surveillance programs.
You may remember that Lichtblau and Times colleague James Risen, broke the news about the classified National Security Agency's wiretapping program in December 2005, ignoring pleas from the White House. Six months later those same two reporters, in an even more egregious revelation of classified information, revealed classified details about SWIFT, a U.S.-instigated international bank surveillance program.
Describing a tense pre-publication meeting in the White House, Lichtblau basically admitted the paper's bias against Vice President Dick Cheney:
The US media seems to think that their job description includes deciding what information is and is not legal to leak and print- never mind that we elect Presidents, Senators and Representatives to do this, not members of the scribbling class. This arrogance and complete lack of care for their fellow Americans was famously demonstrated in the NSA and SWIFT banking exposes by the New York Times resident anti-Americans, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau.
However, these are not the only such cases. Recently, Risen has once again exposed classified data with the aid of hidden law-breakers in the government. In this case, Risen exposed a CIA-Mossad operation to destabilize Iran. Risen has been subpoenaed by a federal court to reveal who gave him this data, but predictably, he sees his mission of aiding America's enemies and assisting said enemies to kill American citizens as more important that assisting the government to uphold laws about leaking sensitive information. And equally predictably, the rest of the mainstream media is rallying to his defense. Haaretz, an Israeli news source, reported on the topic today, casting Risen in the role of victim.
What follows is coverage of the February 28 presidential news conference. I focused mostly on the questions posited by the media. Video of the most biased questions should be posted shortly thereafter. [Update: White House transcript available here.]
Bottom line: Most of the really biased questions came down on the economy, particularly with regard to gas prices. Other than that and a question by Bill Plante about FISA immunity for telecom companies, most of the questions were fine, although the reporters often tried to draw Bush into handicapping the 2008 presidential contest or commenting on how his policies affect Sen. John McCain's chances:
Americans will be in far greater danger of a terrorist attack after midnight Saturday due to House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.), deciding to leave town for a break rather than vote on a surveillance bill that cleared the Senate Tuesday.
Sadly, the good folks at the Associated Press don't seem concerned, for instead of painting an accurate picture of this truly abysmal delay tactic by the left, the wire service chose to defend Pelosi and the Democrats while conveniently ignoring some key facts.
As reported moments ago (emphasis added throughout):