During Monday's "Morning Joe," Time's Mark Halperin and co-host Mika Brzezinski helpfully provided some spin for the White House to borrow as President Obama finishes his prepared remarks for Monday evening's address to the nation on the events in Libya.
President Obama has received sharp criticism for his foreign policy concerning Egypt and Libya, but Halperin threw cold water on that, calling Obama's strategy "extremely deft in a very tough situation." Brzezinski agreed with his premise, adding that his "deft" handling is also in accord with promises he previously made.
"He's pro-democracy, right? He's anti-violence. He's anti-unilateral U.S. intervention," Halperin noted of Obama, trying to connect his current policy with the peacemaker he claimed to be as a presidential candidate.
(Video below the jump. Comments begin at the 12:30 mark.)
Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, the Libyan rebel leader, has said jihadists who fought against allied troops in Iraq are on the front lines of the battle against Muammar Gaddafi's regime.
So how will the U.S. press deal with this hot potato?
In the lead-up to the Iraq War, the media "hammered Bush" about getting congressional approval, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell noted on last night's "Hannity" during the "Media Mash" segment. Yet such scrutiny has been missing in President Obama's actions on Libya, he noted.
What's more, the media have failed to press Obama on violating his own standards on presidential use of military force:
Is Obama more 'hawkish' and yet more charming than his immediate predecessor?
Apparently so, claimed Time's Mark Halperin and MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski on Thursday's edition of "Morning Joe."
Halperin believes that President Obama has been more cavalier than his predecessor, and Brzezinski thinks that although Obama has extended many of Bush's unpopular policies, he brings a different "characterization" to the table.
The panel harped on the irony of Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize despite his inexperience in the White House at the time (less than a year) and the fact that he has continued American wars overseas and started a third one in Libya. Liberals Mike Barnicle and Mika Brzezinski both admitted to having been taken aback by the 2009 decision to bestow the prize on the president in his freshman year in office. (Interestingly enough, this recalls an episode in 2009 when co-host Joe Scarborough mocked the Nobel committee's decision on the "Morning Joe" set.)
(Video after the jump. Comments from start until 3 minutes in.)
New York Times reporter Andrea Elliott won a Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for a series of articles about Sheik Reda Shata, an imam in Brooklyn. In a speech to the Times newsroom after her victory, her editor lauded the series for helping to tear down "the wall of hatred” against Muslims in America.
Sunday’s similar, 8,400-word magazine cover profile, “A Marked Man In America,” featured Yale Ph.D. candidate Yasir Qadhi, a conservative Muslim trying to make the case for non-violence to resistant and radicalized younger Muslims. Even while Elliott engaged in soft-pedaling Islamic extremism, as she did in her 2007 piece, Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project commented that Elliott’s “exhaustive profile of an Islamic cleric....makes the depth and severity of radicalization among some young Muslim Americans very clear,” even if she didn’t necessarily set out to do so.
But this paragraph by Elliott is wildly overstated.
On Thursday's Newsroom, CNN's Ali Velshi claimed that Rep. Peter King has a "seemingly strange obsession with Islam and Islamists, or whatever you want to call it," given the lead up and the first day of hearings looking into the radicalization of American Muslims. Velshi also bizarrely stated that "I don't quite understand how when you put an -ist at the end of it [Islamism], it changes the subject."
The anchor discussed the hearings with former FBI agent Foria Younis, CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen, and former Catholic turned Episcopal priest Rev. Alberto Cutie during the last segment of the 2 pm Eastern hour. Midway through the panel discussion, Velshi turned to Cutie and made his claim about the New York congressman, along with his doubt about the validity of "Islamist" as a term:
Amid the media's vilification of Rep. Peter King, their continuing coverage of Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison's "tearful struggle" stands in stark contrast.
"Amid the raw feelings of Thursday's House hearings on domestic Islamic radicalization, Rep. Keith Ellison could not fight back the tears" as he recounted a story about Mohammed Salman Hamdani. Rep. Ellison "choked up and spoke haltingly of how some tried to 'smear' Hamdani because of his faith," declared the Minneapolis Star Tribune on March 10. The manner in which Hamdani was defamed, and the identities of the guilty, has remained ambiguous to date.
Echoing Rep. Ellison's Twitter post "America is big enuf for all of us," USA Today declared "Rep. Keith Ellison" has made it clear "America is big enough for us all." Cursorily noting that "Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y. vowed not to bow to 'political correctness,'" it went on to give an in-depth reaction provided by a talk show host based out of Minnesota: "As I was wiping my tears," she said, "I was thinking what is it about my faith that is not being accepted as an American? My faith? My scarf? My ethnicity?"
Absent from all of the media's coverage of Rep. Ellison's weeping is the Title 1 of Section 102 in the Patriot Act passed by Congress after 9/11:
On Thursday's CBS Evening News, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes implied that the House Homeland Security Committee hearing on the radicalization of American Muslims was simply a political show put on by committee chairman Peter King: "Ignoring calls from Democrats to cancel his hearing...King embarked on the inquiry in a room newly decorated with fiery images from 9/11."
Cordes later declared that "King's own past assertion that most U.S. mosques are run by radicals" resulted in "poisoning the atmosphere" of the hearing. She remarked on how King's "relations with Muslim leaders there [in his Long Island, NY district] deteriorated after 9/11." A sound bite was then featured of Dr. Faroque Kahn of the Islamic Center of Long Island, who labeled King a "Muslim-basher."
MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell on Thursday brought the specter of bigotry into Representative Peter King's hearings on the threat of radical Islam in America. While interviewing Congressman Dan Lungren of California she awkwardly hinted, "Well, you know, you and I are both white."
The irritated Republican wondered, "What does that mean?" Mitchell lectured, "I'm just asking, get in their heads for a second and try to think about how it is to be a Muslim-American facing these kinds- this kind of testimony today. That's all I want to know."
In an earlier segment, the Andrea Mitchell Reports host casually insisted that the hearings are "a great lesson against the dangers of over-generalizing, of generalizing at all about particular groups."
An NPR correspondent recently went incognito for a sting operation aimed at exposing U.S. border agents who target Muslims for "interrogation" at the Canadian border.
Employing the same tactics used by James O'Keefe to bring down top NPR executives, counterterrorism correspondent Dina Temple-Raston draped herself in a headscarf, drove to the northern border, and recorded her encounter with a U.S. border agent. [Click here for audio.]
"An agent from Customs and Border Protection was sitting in what looked like a little toll booth," recalled Temple-Raston on the March 10 Morning Edition, who gave the agent no indication that he was being recorded. "He asked me to remove my sunglasses and peered into the car. I was wearing a headscarf and so was Kathy Jamil. He asked why we'd been to Canada."
On ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday, co-host George Stephanopoulos fretted over congressional hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims being "potentially explosive" and that "Critics are already calling this a witch hunt." The headline on screen throughout the segment read: "Hearings on Islamic Radicals: Witch Hunt or Reality Check?"
ABC was not alone in touting the "witch hunt" accusation. On CBS's Early Show, correspondent Nancy Cordes described how "already foes [of the hearings] are calling them discriminatory and a witch-hunt." On NBC's Today, co-host Meredith Vieira introduced a report on the hearings by noting how "critics say it amounts to a witch hunt."
Bowing to reality, President Obama has officially reneged on a campaign promise to his base, reversing a previous decision on detainees at Guantanamo Bay that will keep the prison camp for terrorists open indefinitely. It made the front page of Tuesday’s Washington Post but was buried near the back of the New York Times that day, on page 19: “Obama, in Reversal, Clears Way for Guantanamo Trials to Resume.”
Reporters Scott Shane and Mark Landler rounded up some suspiciously sympathetic quotes from left-wing figures, or as the Times calls them, “civil rights advocates," either cutting Obama some slack or even finding bright spots in the decision.
New York Times religion reporter Laurie Goodstein made Tuesday’s front page with an attack on Brigitte Gabriel, an activist who warns against the dangers of radical Islam in the United States: “Drawing U.S. Crowds With Anti-Islam Message.”
Interestingly, the piece is datelined Fort Worth, Texas, suggesting much of the relevant reporting was done last fall – Gabriel spoke to a Tea Party event in Fort Worth in September 2010, and Goodstein’s story includes a photo of Gabriel speaking at “a Tea Party event in September.”
Did some of this story come out of the freezer? It was surely released today to intersect with Rep. Peter King’s hearings on Islamic radicalism which begin on Thursday, but which the Times already bashed in its lead editorial today. The editors pointed an accusing finger at King: “Not much spreads fear and bigotry faster than a public official intent on playing the politics of division.”
Recently, the Los Angeles branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) released a video showing a group of protestors exhibiting anti-Muslim sentiments outside an ICNA fundraising dinner. Liberal media outlets ran with the press release as a way to highlight bigotry towards Muslims, with the video showing up on The Guardian, Think Progress, Salon, Mediaite, Huffington Post, and Hillary Clinton’s source for ‘real news’, Al Jazeera. Problem being, the video and press release is so wrought with false statements, distortions, and a cut and paste documentary style, it could have passed as a Michael Moore film.
Naturally, these news outlets casually gloss over the ICNA’s controversial ties to radical clerics, terrorist organizations, and the implementation of Sharia law. Outlined previously, the group has hosted events with such speakers as radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, and Siraj Wahhaj, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and one of the keynote speakers at this particular fundraiser. Additionally, the group has documented ties to Hamas, Jamaat-e-Islami, and the Muslim Brotherhood.
All facts which seemingly bear little relevance as to why there would be a protest in the first place. But even beyond an exploration of reasons behind the protest, is concern that these media outlets would present a distorted video as evidence of anything other than their own journalistic malpractice.
Mark Potok of the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center claimed on Monday's Newsroom on CNN that radical Islam wasn't "our biggest domestic terror threat," that instead, "that pretty clearly comes from the radical right in this country." Anchor Suzanne Malveaux touted Potok as "expert on extremism" from "one of the most highly regarded non-governmental operations that are monitoring hate groups."
Malveaux brought on the SPLC spokesman at the bottom of the 12 noon Eastern hour to discuss the upcoming hearings by the House Homeland Security Committee on the radicalization of American Muslims. The anchor first asked him, "From your study of tracking radical groups, potentially hate groups, what do you think of this hearing? Is al Qaeda radicalizing Muslims? Is that our biggest homegrown terrorism threat right now?"
Potok replied with his "radical right" claim, and went on to criticize the chairman of the House committee, Rep. Peter King:
Dan Gilgoff played up the Islamic community's concerns over upcoming congressional hearings on "the radicalization of American Muslims" in a Friday article on CNN.com. Gilgoff quoted Muslims 12 times in his article, versus only 3 times for Rep. Peter King, who will be convening the hearings, and omitted mentioning actual terrorist incidents from recent years that involved native-born or naturalized Muslims.
Hugo Lindgren, the new New York Times Magazine editor-in-chief, has already left his mark on the paper’s reputation by choosing an embarrassingly sympathetic portrait of convicted terrorist helper Lori Berenson as the cover story for the relaunch of the Sunday magazine. He compounds the error by hailing writer Jennifer Egan’s embrace of radical chic as “in every way a classic Times Magazine story,” in his self-congratulatory “Editor’s Letter” that will also appear in Sunday’s upcoming issue.
With even less excuse than Egan (the novelist who penned the 8,300-word cover story love letter to Berenson) Lindgren reveals his own lack of basic understanding of the case, showing the convinted collaborator as engaging in naive, youthful political hijinks, rather than knowingly and deceptively helping murderous left-wing terror group Tupac Amaru (abbreviated in Spanish as M.R.T.A.)
The New York Times Magazine is based on long-form narrative journalism, and this week’s cover article, by Jennifer Egan, is a prime example. It is about Lori Berenson, a New Yorker who moved to Latin America as a young adult, got mixed up in revolutionary politics in Peru and was promptly thrown in prison, where she spent the next 15 years before being paroled last year. Egan traveled to Lima, where Berenson must remain until 2015, and tells the story of a wounded but resilient woman struggling to sort out a place for herself in the world. It is in every way a classic Times Magazine story.
For the second consecutive day, the CBS and NBC evening newscasts failed to devote more than fleeting news briefs to the fatal terror attack against a bus full of US airmen in Germany. ABC, which covered the story in more detail on Wednesday, did not even mention the tragic attack on the Thursday "World News."
Arid Uka, described as a 21-year-old "radical Muslim," opened fire Wednesday on US airmen at Frankfurt Airport, killing two and injuring others, but CBS anchor Katie Couric and NBC anchor Brian Williams spent a scant 30 seconds each on the story during last night's newscasts.
The night of the shooting, neither the CBS "Evening News" nor the NBC "Nightly News" thought the slaying of American servicemen was worthy of more than terse news briefs, although ABC's Diane Sawyer covered the story more thoroughly on "World News."
American Lori Berenson, middle-class Manhattanite turned foreign terrorist helper, was sentenced to life in prison in Peru in 1996 for housing Marxist terrorists of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA), which took part in assassinations, kidnappings, and bombings during the 1980s and 1990s. Berenson let them use her apartment as a storehouse for ammunition. Standing before police, she exclaimed in Spanish: "There are no criminal terrorists in the M.R.T.A. It’s a revolutionary movement!"
Novelist Jennifer Egan interviewed Berenson in Peru over several months as she shuttled between parole and jail before being freed for good, and came up with a 8,300-word portrait for Sunday’s upcoming New York Times Magazine (It was posted online Wednesday).
Michael Calderone got a sneak peek at the cover shot of the newly revamped magazine, an image with her son that John Podhoretz at Commentary calls "consciously designed to make Berenson look like the Madonna with child."
Egan, a discerning fiction writer, brought none of that perception to this profile. Instead Egan found excuses for Berenson’s notorious outburst and terror ties, trying to put M.R.T.A.’s leftist political violence in context, offensively referring to a four-month hostage ordeal as the terrorist group's last "big idea," and chalking up Berenson’s own involvement to positive personal characteristics like her ability to “absorb fear and discomfort.”
Two US airmen were killed by a Muslim terrorist in Germany yesterday, but neither CBS nor NBC thought it worthy of more than 30 seconds of coverage on their evening newscasts Wednesday night.
While ABC devoted a full segment of the March 2 "World News" to the issue, the CBS "Evening News" and the NBC "Nightly News" offered only scant news briefs and buried the story deep into their broadcasts.
"Troops under attack in Germany, targeted by a gunman shouting in Arabic about jihad," intoned ABC anchor Diane Sawyer, introducing the segment.
USA Today's Wednesday cover story ("Killings Escalate Piracy Crisis"), has this reference to a quote obtained by the Associated Press:
Killing hostages "has now become part of our rules," said a pirate who identified himself as Muse Abdi in a statement to the Associated Press. "From now on, anyone who tries to rescue the hostages in our hands will only collect dead bodies," Abdi said. "It will never, ever happen that hostages are rescued and we are hauled to prison."
Pretty provocative, right? In fact, it resembles a declaration of war without the rules of war. You might even call it a declaration of t-t-t-t ... terrorism.
The problem is, Abdi's quote is no longer in any story at the Associated Press's home web site, and is rarely present in other Internet news reports.
One of the largest Muslim organizations in North America is considering plans to build a summer camp on 114 acres of land in the Adirondacks. Via the Albany Times Union:
“The Islamic Circle of North America, a Muslim advocacy group based in New York City, hopes to raise money to develop a camp for children and families of all religions on land donated to it last year.”
The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), based in Queens, New York, is not devoid of controversy in a history that spans over 40 years, yet there is scant mention of these controversies by the media. The Times Union article states that, “U.S. law enforcement agencies have investigated, but never prosecuted, ICNA for terrorist connections.” And there is coverage of a fundraiser involving speakers having made anti-American statements in the past, which is quickly justified by saying, “the meeting raised money for homeless women.”
But the ICNA has so much more to offer in the way of newsworthiness, including an event involving radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, as well as a link to the presently relevant Muslim Brotherhood.
For about ten minutes on MSNBC Monday, Harvard History professor Niall Ferguson offered a articulate, detailed, and biting indictment of President Obama's handling of the crisis Egypt – and those disagreeing on the usually Obamaphilic "Morning Joe" panel could offer little of substance in response.
Co-host Mika Brzezinski began the segment reading Ferguson's latest column – which is the latest Newsweek magazine cover story – and asked him to expound on Egypt, saying that "it actually seems like it went pretty damn well." Perhaps she is referring to the many joyful reports from Tahrir Square amidst jubilant masses, or maybe CBS' Harry Smith doling out kisses to the crowd – but Ferguson offered a more dire assessment of the situation.
"You cannot make the foreign policy of a superpower up as you go along," Ferguson stated. He bludgeoned the Obama administration's slipshod policy, calling it "flip followed by flop followed by flip." He added that "they admitted that they had not planned for this scenario. I find that absolutely astonishing."
Tuesday's "Morning Joe" featured guest Daisy Khan, wife of Imam Rauf who tried to establish a mosque two blocks away from the site of the 9/11 terror attacks. The panel praised Khan and her husband as peace-making moderates, and arrogantly questioned why more Americans couldn't accept the mosque at Ground Zero.
"America is the beacon of the world," co-host Mika Brzezinski said echoing Khan's earlier words affirming American freedom. "And yet, we had such a controversy about the community center that you and your husband were trying to start blocks away from Ground Zero," she added, questioning the American "understanding" of the center.
"One of the most depressing things to me was the fact that in 2010, Americans seemed to be less accepting of Muslim Americans than they were even in the months after 9/11," co-host Joe Scarborough lamented from his soapbox. "Why do you think we Americans had such a reaction – again, in New York, a place that's supposed to be the most open-minded and pluralistic?" he asked guest Lesley Jane Seymour, editor-in-chief of More magazine.
As pro-Mubarak forces continue to clash with democratic protesters in the streets of Cairo and the situation in Egypt remains volatile and uncertain, NBC's David Gregory confidently declared that the Muslim Brotherhood has no interest in turning Egypt into an Islamist state.
On the February 4 edition of MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports," the moderator of "Meet the Press" blithely dismissed concerns that the Brotherhood might exploit the power vacuum created by outgoing President Hosni Mubarak to codify Islamic law in Egypt.
"It was pointed out by one of the experts on the panel that [the Muslim Brotherhood] will also be aware of their position internationally," announced Gregory, referring to a recent panel he moderated at the Brookings Institution, a liberal think tank. "They don't want to overstep that. They don't want to turn it into an Islamist state. They have matured politically in that sense and are rather sophisticated."
While it is quite clear that the officials of WikiLeaks are leftists, there are more conservative media outlets picking through its scraps. The Telegraph in the U.K. has found a scandal: that the British government manipulated the Libyans into releasing a mass-murdering terrorist on his cancer diagnosis:
Every so often, MSNBC anchor Dylan Ratigan goes on a rhetorical bender that stupefies his guests and defies logic.
On his eponymous program today, Ratigan latched onto conflicting reports concerning the treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was arrested under suspicion of illegally downloading classified military documents and funneling them to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, to assert that the American justice system is akin to that of the Communist Chinese.
"Think about that in the context of 243 days in confinement, 23 hour-a-day lockdown, sleep deprivation," bemoaned Ratigan. "And you think China's bad?"
Ratigan also made repeated references to Guantanamo Bay, implying that Manning is being treated like an enemy combatant.
One would expect an editor of Time Magazine to argue with more logical force than a college freshman. But alas, in his effort to dismiss a looming congressional investigation into homegrown Jihadist terrorism, Romesh Ratnesar, Time's contributing editor-at-large, demonstrated a profound inability to lay out a coherent argument.
Among the article's highlights: the Fort Hood massacre wasn't actually terrorism and is therefore irrelevant to any discussion of Jihadist violence; most American Muslims are opposed to Jihadism and therefore the few who do endorse the ideology are not really a threat; and because recent terrorist attacks have failed, there is not a serious threat of future attacks.
On Friday’s Countdown show on MSNBC, host Keith Olbermann announced that the episode would be his last, and spent a few minutes near the end of the show saying goodbye. He mentioned a number of infamous and pivotal points in his show’s history when he went after the Bush administration:
The show gradually established its position as anti-establishment from the stagecraft of "Mission Accomplished," to the exaggerated rescue of Jessica Lynch in Iraq, to the death of Pat Tillman to Hurricane Katrina, to the "Nexus of Politics and Terror," to the first "Special Comment."
As he listed a number of prominent supporters of his show, he ended up notably giving credit to the late Tim Russert of NBC for being "my greatest protector, and most indefatigable cheerleader."
Below the fold is the video and a complete transcript of Olbermann's announcement from the Friday, January 21, Countdown show on MSNBC, from about 8:53 p.m.:
Just when Joe-mentum was building for Lieberman-Huffington '12!
Say this for Arianna Huffington: she didn't stab Joe Lieberman in the back. On Morning Joe today, the HuffPo founder went for the full frontal assault, telling the outgoing senator to his face "I sincerely hope for the sake of the country that you do not become Secretary of Defense."
Lieberman was not defenseless, at one point condescendingly spelling out for Arianna's sake the name of the author of a report he relied on to conclude Saddam was developing WMD. When Arianna huffed that the report proved nothing, Lieberman sniped "I don't think you've read it, sweetheart."