When asked on left-leaning MSNBC why President Barack Obama refrained from describing the Boston bombings as a "terrorist attack" David Axelrod, Obama's longtime political advisor, readily saw a political opportunity. The blood had not yet been washed away from the streets. We had yet to count up the casualties. Yet Axelrod saw a political opening, an opportunity to advance one or another of his pet political issues. So he said, "I'm sure what was going through the president's mind is — we really don't know who did this — it was tax day." Yes, tax day!
This is not the response of a normal mind. A normal mind would not, given the promiscuity of public bombings in the Middle East and now another bombing here in America, think it was provoked by "tax day." Conceivably the bombs in Boston were the work of small-government libertarians or of Tea Partiers. They could even be the work of vegetarians, but that was not the question. Axelrod was asked why the president was not describing the bombings as a terrorist attack. It certainly looked more like the work of terrorists — either left-wing lunatics or right-wing lunatics — than tax protesters.
Shane and his headline writer harped on the "nonpartisan" nature of the Constitution Project, despite the fact that it clearly leans left, as a scan of the group's priorities (not to mention the personal remarks of its very own president in the Times itself) reveals.
This morning at the Christian Science Monitor, Staff Writer Peter Grier demonstrated a stunning level of ignorance about the Boston Marathon's significance. He then built on that ignorance to posit that yesterday's bombing at the Marathon's finish line "could indicate that the bomber was a local or at least a native of the United States."
Among other things, Grier seems completely ignorant of the fact that Boston is one of six "World Marathon Majors" (the other five are New York, London, Tokyo, Berlin, and Chicago). The related paragraph from Grier's report, followed by other indicators of the Marathon's worldwide significance, follow the jump:
Those who might have given the Associated Press's Jimmy Golen the benefit of the doubt early this morning for writing that the Boston Marathon bombings "raised alarms that terrorists might have struck again in the U.S." are going to have a tougher time doing so with his 8:15 a.m. report, in which he wrote that "the blasts among the throngs of spectators raised fears of a terrorist attack." In context, readers can insert "that it was" to replace "of." (If he meant to write "that there will be another terorrist attack," he would have. He didn't.)
The first several paragraphs of Golen's report (since revised; the referenced report is saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) follow they jump:
On Monday, Matt Vespa at NewsBusters noted the reluctance of the Associated Press to characterize what it would only call an "extremist attack" in Mogadishu, Somalia as "terrorism."
In his early morning dispatch in the wake of the bombings at the Boston Marathon, the AP's Jimmy Golen at least used the word. But, incredibly, despite law enforcement authorities and others describing the bombings as an act of terrorism, Golen was still strangely tentative:
According to contemporary reports, as here and here, Egyptian protesters who pelted the motorcade of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with tomatoes during her visit to Egypt last July were chanting "Monica! Monica!"
So who did Al Sharpton, on his MSNBC show this evening, blame for the tomato pelting? Why, Glenn Beck and Michele Bachmann, of course! According to the Reverend Al, it was the raising by Beck and Bachmann of the possible connection of Hillary's top aide, Huma Abedin, to the Muslim Brotherhood that outraged the Egyptian horde. Sharpton says "there is absolutely nothing" to back the claims of Abedin family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. That is simply false, as this National Review item documents. View the video after the jump.
Saturday's New York Times took an offensively soft approach to the death of a Hamas terrorist instigator who raised her sons to kill Jews: "Mariam Farhat, 64, the 'Mother of Martyrs.'" The text box couched the terrorism in passive terms: "A woman who took unusual pride in how three of her sons died." The word "terrorism" didn't even appear in the obituary by William Yardley, who also called the murderous part of Hamas the "military wing."
As I noted earlier this evening, Obama spoke last week under a banner of Yasser Arafat, "the father of modern terrorism." That move is being seen as a gaffe by the very few, almost none of whom are in the establishment press, who have even noticed it. What if it's not a gaffe, but rather an intentional move? That may be the case if what Al Arabiya reported on Friday, seen after the jump, is indeed true (HT Examiner.com):
In a brief item Friday at Politico, Donovan Slack reported that President Obama has withdrawn his nomination of Caitlin Halligan for the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.
Concerning Republican senators' opposition to her nomination, Slack said it was "because they said she had a record of advocacy and an activist view of the judiciary" without citing specifics. It's almost as if Slack knew he had to write something, but wished to keep a rare Republican success at stopping an objectionable court nominee as vague and quiet as possible. In early March, the folks at Eagle Forum compiled a useful list of how awful Halligan would have been had her appointment made it through the Senate (bolds are mine throughout this post):
In a report for Thursday's NBC Today, investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff reported on plans for a $150 million renovation of the Guantanamo Bay prison still housing 166 terror detainees and sympathetically described how "despite improvements in recent years" of the facility, "the detainees' hopes of getting released were crushed when President Obama stopped talking about closing it." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Isikoff noted that some of the detainees were "engaged in a hunger strike...as an attempt to regain attention." A sound bite played of new the commanding general of the prison expressing his frustration with President Obama: "Nothing in the inauguration speech about closing it. Nothing in the State of the Union. You know, he's not re-staffing the office that was, you know, focused on closing or transferring."
New York Times reporters Scott Shane and Michael Shear found "right-wing conspiracy" mongering in the aftermath of the unusual 12-hour filibuster by Republican Sen. Rand Paul protesting the White House's failing to rule out the use of drone strikes on American soil or against U.S. citizens: "Visions of Drones Swarming the Skies Touch Bipartisan Nerve."
That slightly dismissive headline on the front of Saturday's edition ("Visions" assumes an abstract and an unreasonable fear) is matched by the story, which tilts a little to the left in labeling and to the Obama administration in its dismissive tone toward White House critics, pitting "liberal activists" against "right-wing conspiracy theorists" and "self-proclaimed defenders of the Constitution." In contrast, during the Bush years the Times took seriously the most paranoid fears of liberals about the Patriot Act.
If you’re going to hurl insults petulantly at someone with whom you disagree, it helps if (1) you have some evidence to support your insinuations, and (2) the descriptors you use can’t be easily turned back on you.
MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell failed on both counts on Thursday’s “The Last Word.” The hot-tempered O’Donnell, who famously challenged Mitt Romney’s son to a fist fight on air, went off on a tangent on Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who shook up Washington on Wednesday with his 13-hour filibuster. Seemingly oblivious to the praise Paul’s old-school performance earned from hard-left opponents such as erstwhile Obama green energy czar Van Jones and the protest group Code Pink, O’Donnell tossed out words like “infantile” and “empty-headed” to characterize the senator.
Ed Schultz touts his radio program as the place "where America comes to talk" -- providing that "America" agrees with Schultz.
Good example of the habitually acerbic Schultz's response to criticism was heard on the show yesterday when a caller questioned the basis for Schultz's support of President Obama's use of drones to kill suspected terrorists. (audio clip after page break)
Way to go out on a limb, Harold!. . . Of all the Morning Joe regulars, Harold Ford, Jr. is on my short list of those who bring the least to the table. Ford seems more interested in cultivating friends and avoiding offense than in saying anything interesting or—heaven forfend—controversial.
Ford took his penchant for finding something good to say about everyone to absurd new heights on today's show. On the one hand, Harold showed respect for Rand Paul's filibuster. On the other, he actually broke out the hoary "my dear friend" in saying he wasn't as worred about the drone policy as is Ron Wyden. And Harold is confident that President Obama will uphold the Constitution. Ford even claimed that AG Eric Holder did "a phenomenal job" in answering questions on the drone policy. We're running out of hands, here, Harold! Matters reached an absurd crescendo when, after observing that those who hang out with terrorists put themselves in peril, Ford proclaimed "I don't dine, socialize or spend time with people who are on a terrorist list around the globe." Good to know! View the video after the jump.
Republican Sen. Rand Paul's filibuster on Attorney General Eric Holder's refusal to rule out drone strikes against U.S. citizens, which ended early Thursday morning, was absent from the front page of Thursday's New York Times. The Times buried its coverage of Paul's striking "talking" filibuster, in which he held the floor for nearly 13 hours, ostensibly in opposition to Obama's choice of John Brennan for CIA director. Brennan was serving as a proxy for Paul's demand that Holder rule out drone strikes on American citizens or on U.S. soil.
Paul's performance did not merit a full news story in the Times. Coverage was limited to a few paragraphs in the middle of a more comprehensive story by Charlie Savage on bipartisan criticism of Attorney General Eric Holder, and a single sentence deep into Scott Shane's front-page story "C.I.A.'s History Poses Hurdles For a Nominee." Liberal columnist Gail Collins also wrote about it, in snotty fashion. There wasn't even a print-edition photo of the dramatic filibuster.
During the Wednesday edition of her CNN program “Outfront,” host Erin Burnett and her producers just could not stop themselves from deriding Kentucky Republican Rand Paul’s filibuster effort to block a Senate vote on John Brennan, President Obama's choice for CIA director.
While the show did give some serious discussion to the substance of Paul’s concern on behalf of Americans’ civil liberties, during the introduction of the segment, Burnett treated the matter rather flippantly and featured a graphic of the senator entitled “Sen. Paul Drones On… And On…”
Syndicated columnist George Will on ABC's This Week Sunday made a marvelous observation about the upcoming Academy Awards.
In his view, “Zero Dark Thirty” should win as best picture as a “rebuke to Senators Levin, Feinstein, and McCain who have enough to do without being movie critics and falsely accusing that movie of taking a stand on torture it does not take” (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
As press secretary to President Obama, Robert Gibbs was often in the obfuscation business. Now that he's been freed from that role and become a news analyst—albeit at MSNBC—Gibbs has become considerably more candid. Readers will recall, for example, that he described Chuck Hagel as "unimpressive and unprepared" at his Senate confirmation hearing.
Today, Gibbs took that frankness a significant step further. On Up With Chris Hayes, Gibbs stated that as press secretary, he had been ordered not to acknowledge the existence of the drone program. View the video after the jump.
On the eve of Sunday's Academy Awards presentation, former George W. Bush CIA Director Michael Hayden has made a strong statement about the hunt for Osama bin Laden film "Zero Dark Thirty."
In an interview to be aired on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS Sunday, Hayden said, "If you look at the movie, it was artistically true, not factually true. Artistically, it portrayed the CIA interrogation program, but factually it was overwrought and inaccurate" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, "fabricating" hypocrite. Her Sunday column about the lack of veracity in the current crop of award-nominated movies, "The Oscar for Best Fabrication," has some interesting revelations on the true history behind the stories of "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Lincoln."
But Dowd is the last person to credibly comment on the subject, given her own history (item #3) of fabricating quotes, in the form of leaving out vital words from her May 14, 2003 column on President Bush's pursuit of the Taliban – a tale broken on Times Watch. Dowd wrote on Sunday:
That's right -- not just Nixon ... Nixon and Bush. Can vilification from the left get much worse than that?
Cornel West continues to demonstrate why parents might want to think better of sending their children to Princeton, where West purportedly teaches when he isn't gushing over hip-hop and engaging in arcane rants over the airwaves. (audio clips after page break)
Former Fort Hood police sergeant Kimberly Munley, one of two officers who helped stop Major Nidal Hasan's deadly shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas in November 2009, and who was a guest at President Obama's 2010 State of the Union address (something the Politico chose to remind everyone of just yesterday), now says, according to ABC News, that "Obama broke the promise he made to her that the victims would be well taken care of."
Excerpts from ABC's web story in anticipation of a Nightline report tonight follow the jump (bolds are mine):
In a lengthy article in March's Esquire "reported in cooperation with" the leftist-advised Center for Investigative Reporting, CIR Executive Chairman Philip Bronstein told readers that the unnamed Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011 was a year ago "wondering how he was going to feed his wife and kids or pay for their medical care." According to Bronstein, the answer is (read these words carefully): "[A]fter sixteen years in the Navy, his body filled with scar tissue, arthritis, tendonitis, eye damage, and blown disks, here is what he gets from his employer and a grateful nation: Nothing. No pension, no health care, and no protection for himself or his family."
The "no health care" portion of that statement is inarguably false. Yet Bronstein, as will be seen shortly, stands by it. On Monday, Megan McCloskey at Stars & Stripes explained something which would be known to any journalist genuinely interested in finding out how the military's pay and benefits arrangements work (link is in original; bolds are mine):
Suppose our enemies declared war on us—and we didn't show up? In a variation on the pacifist line from the 60s, that's essentially what Chris Hayes has proposed as American policy.
On his MSNBC show this morning, the hopelessly naive Hayes suggested that rather than debating "big war"—boots on ground—versus "small war"—targeted strikes—we go for a third option "no war." In Hayes's fantasy-land, America declares the war on terror over and "declares itself at peace." View the video after the jump.
While the NBC and CBS morning shows on Friday both covered troubling Thursday testimony from outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that revealed President Obama's lack of engagement during the Benghazi terrorist attack, ABC's Good Morning America completely ignored the story. In addition, none of the networks mentioned the testimony on their Thursday evening newscasts.
Friday's CBS This Morning provided the most coverage, with a full report by correspondent Nancy Cordes, who explained: "Panetta revealed that he briefed the President at the start of the attack, but the two men did not speak again that night....Republicans say it's a sign that the President was disengaged the night of the attack. Panetta said his aides and the President's were in touch, but he said as well that he did not speak to Secretary Clinton the night of the attack either."
Sure, you might be cool with Barack Obama calling up a drone strike on an American citizen. But don't forget: a Republican [shudder!] could become President!
That was the Washington Post editorialist Jonathan Capehart's warning to Donny Deutsch when the ad-man-turned-pundit proclaimed he had no problem with the president, under desperate circumstances, ordering a drone strike against an American. View the video after the jump.
With this afternoon's Senate confirmation hearings for CIA director nominee John Brennan in view, the February 7 broadcast of Now with Alex Wagner devoted significant attention to the Obama administration's use of armed drones and the recently-leaked DOJ White Paper defending the legitimacy of drone strikes that explicitly targeted American civilians overseas.
For her part, host Alex Wagner failed to mention Anwar al-Awlaki’s activities as a terrorist operative affiliated with al-Qaeda. The Now host merely tagged al-Awlaki as an American-born cleric, even though he served as a talent recruiter within the organization and inspired Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hassan. Al-Awlaki also had contact with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the terrorist who attempted to blow up a passenger airliner on Christmas Day of 2009. None of that was mentioned on the show.
News that the New York Times and Washington Post kept secret until recently the secret U.S. drone base in Saudi Arabia is once again raising questions on the paper's politicized double standards on keeping state secrets related to the war on terror.
Contrast the deference paid to the Obama administration's request for secrecy, going along with the national security arguments advanced by Obama (until Wednesday's expose of White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, Obama's choice to head the CIA) with how the paper routinely leaked secrets during the Bush administration that may have hurt anti-terrorist programs. Here are just some of the national security low-lights and double standards Times Watch has documented at the Times over the years.
President Obama's media acolytes must really be disappointed – they're comparing his administration's unilateral behavior in the war on terror to that of George W. Bush. The new interest was kicked off by a Justice Department document leaked on Monday that offered a legal analysis of when the president can order the targeted killing of an American citizen suspected of terrorism, without due process. Wednesday's lead New York Times article from Yemen was a rundown of the fatal drone strikes authorized by President Obama and his "kill list" coordinator John Brennan, now Obama's nominee to head the C.I.A.
The Times relegated the actual news about the leaked document to page 11, in the International section, in a "news analysis" by reporters Scott Shane and Charlie Savage that dug into the politics of the controversy under an odd, vague headline: "Report on Targeted Killing Whets Appetite for Less Secrecy."
In the wake of the leaked Department of Justice memo detailing the legality of targeted killings by drones on American citizens, the PBS NewsHour found it fitting to have the ACLU defend its position in why these strikes are troubling, and why American-born al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki should’ve been kept alive to plan acts of terror against the United States.
Of course, this is maddening to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Liberal publications, like The Nation, detail the dark future of drone warfare, and some anti-drone journalists, like Conor Fierdorsdorff of The Atlantic, have compared Obama to Bush. However, even with the media either criticizing, or ignoring, this development, last night’s broadcast of the PBS NewsHour didn’t take into account the hypocrisy of liberals who were on the warpath a few years prior after release of Bush memos related to enhanced interrogation techniques.