NBC and ABC on Monday night gave time to short items on Al Gore's charge, leveled during a morning speech, that President Bush's “domestic surveillance” means he “has been breaking the law repeatedly and insistently." And MSNBC's Countdown led with it as host Keith Olbermann showcased a clip of Gore with his allegation before Olbermann insisted: "Just more old-fashioned partisanship? Not when it's Bob Barr joining Gore in the same complaint about NSA spying. Not when it's Arlen Specter calling for a full investigation." Seeing great import in the Gore-Barr alliance, Olbermann ruminated about how “the creations of the last two serious third political parties in this country define the cliche politics makes strange bedfellows.” Seemingly suggesting a potential repeat scenario, Olbermann recalled how in 1854 Republicans “started as a third party with disaffected Democrats abandoning their own sitting President and the Whigs, who had been in office until a year earlier, deserting en masse, putting aside their personal hatreds to create a one-issue party against slavery.”
NBC anchor Brian Williams relayed how “Gore made some of the toughest charges yet from a prominent Democrat. He called for an independent investigation of the NSA spy program which he called a threat to the very structure of our government." After a clip of Gore's declaration, “What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law [rising applause] repeatedly and insistently," Williams offered no contrary view and then passed along how "Al Gore noted that he gave the speech on Martin Luther King Day because Dr. King himself had been a victim of illegal domestic spying by the FBI." But in holding the FBI accountable for the “spying,” Williams obscured who was behind it: Liberal heroes Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy. ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas at least pointed out that while “Gore called for an independent counsel to investigate the program,” it's a policy “which the administration has said is, in fact, legal." (Transcripts follow.)
A Saturday New York Times editorial, “A Home for the Drawing Center,” celebrates the fact that a left-wing museum, originally to be located at Ground Zero, has found a new home in Manhattan, and accuses opponents of the project of opposing free speech.
“The Drawing Center, of course, was once part of other plans to rebuild Lower Manhattan. It was going to inhabit a planned cultural center at ground zero, until, in a memorable spasm of apparently unscripted patriotism, Gov. George Pataki made it impossible for the center to remain. If nothing else, the battle over culture at ground zero made it perfectly clear that Governor Pataki favors free speech, but only if it takes place in another part of town.”
Winston Churchill was once quoted as saying that "a fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject." Whether it's an actual Churchill quote or not, I'm not certain. I am certain, however, that it's an apt description of the Associated Press. They are, and have been, obsessed with the Bush administration's war on terrorism, and have repeatedly gone out of their way to drag in unrelated items to use as clubs against the Bush administration. I tire of writing that "the AP is at it again," but the AP is at it again.
Just a heads up for a great piece on the New York Times’ latest entry into the “liberal phony photo-journalism posing as editorial content” category.
Kudos to Thomas Lifson of The American Thinker who has busted the Old Grey Lady once again:
Is a fake staged photo fit to print? What if it staged in a way that makes the US forces fighting the War on Terror look cruel and ineffective? The evidence argues that yes, it can run, and in a prominent position - at least in the case of the New York Times website.
Once might be excused as an aberration. Twice signals a troubling trend.
On Saturday, Julian Phillips - the over-promoted host of Fox & Friends Weekend - downplayed the threat posed by Iran's nuclear ambitions. He implied that there was limited cause for concern since Iran has agreed to allow International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to carry out surprise inspections of its nuclear sites with as little as two hours notice.
On Sunday, Phillips was back at it . His guest was Barry Schweid, senior diplomatic correspondent for AP and a Fox News contributor. And once again, Phillips trotted out his pet theory:
"They agreed to protocols with the UN in 2003 for snap inspections in two hours or less. Why are these inspections not enough?"
In the aftermath of a U.S. air strike in Pakistan targeting Osama bin Laden's righthand man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, ABC's World News Tonight played up Pakistani anger at America over the operation on its Saturday January 14 show. Anchor Dan Harris prominently featured Pakistani "outrage and condemnation" at the attack and introduced reporter John Yang's piece on the subject intoning that "there is most definitely a reaction in Pakistan, and it's an angry one." ABC also downplayed the importance of killing the senior al-Qaeda member, with Yang calling a potential kill a "largely symbolic victory."
With the words "Attack Condemned" featured on-screen, Harris teased the January 14 show: "Taking aim at al-Qaeda's number two man: The U.S. government doesn't know yet whether it hit its target, but in Pakistan tonight, this attack is provoking outrage and condemnation." After leading with a story on the CDC's warning on drug-resistant flu strains, Harris set up reporter John Yang to focus on Pakistani anger toward the U.S., ending his introduction by noting that "there is most definitely a reaction in Pakistan, and it's an angry one." While Harris read his introduction, the words "Attack Condemned" again appeared, this time in the background, above a photograph of targeted al-Qaeda leader Zawahiri.
You know the Ted, Chuck & Joe Show flopped when even Chris Matthews accuses the Dems of "buffoonery" in the Alito hearings. Yet that is exactly what Matthews did in his appearance on this morning's Today show:
"I don't think any points were scored by the Democrats. There was a lot of buffoonery by Democratic senators."
For whatever reason, Matthews was on his most 'fair & balanced' behavior. For example, in discussing Pres. Bush's joint appearance with German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday, Matthews described Merkel's predecessor, the left-wing Gerhard Schroeder, as "very obnoxious," having taken "one cheap shot after another at us" and exploited our tribulations in Iraq for his own political gain.
On Friday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann questioned whether the leaking of an FBI investigation of terror suspects who tried to buy untraceable cell phones from Target and Wal-Mart stores was timed to bolster the administration's case for its controversial NSA wiretapping program. The Countdown host, who has a history of questioning whether the Bush administration politically times terror alerts to distract attention from events embarassing to the administration (see NewsBusters postings covering his Oct. 11 and Oct. 12 shows for details), made known his latest suspicions: "Reassure me it only looks too convenient to be believed." While interviewing Time magazine's Mike Allen, Olbermann proclaimed that "the administration sure gets a lot of these breaks. Their position is challenged, and then suddenly there is a hazy story about something that seems to at least tangentially justify that position."
Olbermann relayed to the audience that the recent leak by FBI sources, first reported by ABC News, regarding the arrests of terror suspects who had bought mass quantities of untraceable, disposable cell phones coincides with the NSA whistleblower who "suggests the illicit tapping of American phones is thousands of times larger and thousands of times less focused than the President claims." Olbermann reasoned that the story, if true, "makes the wiretapping look like a good idea and its leakers look like they've already helped terrorists outsmart the eavesdropping."
At an event attended by Hillary Clinton, Harry Belafonte said that President Bush has begun to "suspend our Constitution" and that doing so is an "act of terror." The pop singer made these comments after giving a speech at a children’s charity dinner. The exchange was reported on the January 13th edition of Fox and Friends, at 7:08AM EST. Co-hosts Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade and E.D. Hill began by discussing Mr. Belafonte’s earlier comments, where he referred to the President as "the greatest terrorist in the world." (Noel Sheppard reported this story for Newsbusters.) Ms. Hill set up the new Belafonte statements by saying, "You know what we did? We sent someone from Fox News Channel to go find out if that’s what he really meant to say." Mr. Belafonte told FNC:
While Ted Koppel is signing up with NPR and the New York Times, another veteran of his classic "Nightline" has found a new gig. Reporter Dave Marash is signing up with the English-language version of al-Jazeera. As Newsday's Verne Gay reports this morning, Marash insists that despite al-Jazeera's reputation as a mouthpiece for al Qaeda terrorists, "conventional and, dare I say, informed opinion is that the channel is thoroughly respected."
Dave Marash, the veteran "Nightline" correspondent who left the program late last year, has landed at Al-Jazeera International, the new English-language news channel that will be spun off from Al-Jazeera later this spring....
On the Thursday January 12 CBS Evening News, anchor Bob Schieffer let slip to the audience that he already considers the Bush administration's controversial NSA wiretapping program to be "illegal," even though this issue is in dispute.
Correspondent Mika Brzezinski filed an unrelated story about phone record availability, which conveyed that anyone can purchase another person's cell phone records without that person's permission, and whether there should be government protection for the privacy of cell phone subscribers. After the story's completion, Schieffer quipped that the government could just buy people's phone records instead of doing "illegal eavesdropping":
Bob Schieffer: "Well, thank you very much, Mika. I mean, maybe the government doesn't need to do this illegal eavesdropping. They could just buy it."
Over at the American Thinker, William Tate has a good post on how the New York Times, which is currently scourging the Bush Administration over concerns it's "abusing" surveillance powers, blythely ignored evidence of greater "abuse" of such powers by the Clinton Administration. Here's an excerpt from the conclusion:
[D]uring the Clinton Administration, evidence existed (all of the information used in this article was available at the time) that: an invasive, extensive domestic eavesdropping program was aimed at every U.S. citizen; intelligence agencies were using allies to circumvent constitutional restrictions; and the administration was selling at least some secret intelligence for political donations.
These revelations were met by the New York Times and others in the mainstream media by the sound of one hand clapping. Now, reports that the Bush Administration approved electronic eavesdropping, strictly limited to international communications, of a relative handful of suspected terrorists have created a media frenzy in the Times and elsewhere.
In a new column just posted at MSNBC.com, Newsweek’s Michael Hirsh offered some truly defamatory comments concerning America’s current president. In fact, much of this article could have been written by Harry Belafonte.
“In fact, [Iranian President] Ahmadinejad, who has piled idiocy upon idiocy in a series of offensive remarks that have alarmed the world, has achieved a truly amazing feat. He has made George W. Bush look like a statesman.”
As MRC colleague Brent Baker reported, former National Security Agency official Russell Tice unveiled himself on ABC News last night as one of the sources for last month’s New York Times scoop on the National Security Agency’s terrorist surveillance program.
Stephen Spruiell at National Review Online predicted something like this last week, asking: “If Tice turns out to be one of the NY Times' anonymous sources for its NSA stories, didn't the Times readers deserve to know that its information came from a potentially unbalanced ex-employee with an ax to grind?”
Spruiell is referring to the fact that Tice lost his job after the NSA revoked his security clearances, citing psychological concerns."
As we detailed here, on yesterday's Today show Matt Lauer yesterday blurted out in the midst of an interview "let's face it, [Alito] is an ultra-conservative."
If that weren't slur enough in the liberal mindset, Dem strategist James Carville continued the assault on this morning's Today, accusing Alito of being: "completely enamored and impressed with power."
Carville and consulting sidekick Paul Begala were in to chew the fat with Katie Couric over the Alito hearings and the pair's new book, "Take it Back," their prescription for reforming the Democrat party and the country at large.
A leitmotif of the interview was Katie Couric's exasperation with Democrats. Exasperation at Dem failure to sufficiently rake Alito over the coals, exasperation at Dems for ignoring the Carville-Begala bromides for recapturing power.
In the latest issue of The Weekly Standard there is an interesting article by Stephen F. Hayes titled “Saddam’s Terror Training Camps”. In it the author reports the former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein... “Trained thousands of radical Islamic terrorists from the region at camps in Iraq over four years immediately preceding the U.S. invasion, according to documents and photographs recovered by the U.S. military in postwar Iraq.”
Now this can’t possibly be correct. The mainstream media and the liberal left have repeatedly told us there were no terrorists in Iraq and it was only the United States involvement in mid-east that brought terrorists into the country. This is the stock statement when anything on the matter is broadcast or placed in print. It would be difficult indeed, to find an article in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times or the New York Times that makes those contrary statements penned by Stephen Hayes.
Call me overly suspicious, but the story of 16-year-old Farris Hassan traveling to Iraq on a whim strikes me as unbelievable. The Florida teen of Iraqi descent was all over the news in December when he apparently took off without telling his family and headed to Iraq to see what all the fuss was about. Hassan was able to finance his plane ticket to Kuwait with money he earned trading stocks on the Internet.
All the media coverage portrayed Hassan as a naïve young man who simply wanted to, in his own words, "experience…the same hardships ordinary Iraqis experience everyday." In an essay written by Hassan and e-mailed to his teacher from Kuwait, he seemed to have pro-American views and he spoke passionately about the need to defeat the terrorists in Iraq. He was also interested in a career in journalism and after taking a course in "immersion journalism," he made the decision to go to Iraq. In the process, he found himself smack dab in the middle of a war zone.
Amid all the media-fueled angst over the Bush administration’s “domestic spying” program — a word formula chosen to make the National Security Agency’s monitoring of terrorist communications seem as if ordinary Americans were the target, not the beneficiary — today’s Wall Street Journal reminds us that real domestic spying took place not that long ago, during liberals’ Golden Age, the 1960s.
As federal judge Laurence Silberman revealed in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last July, the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover “had allowed — even offered — the bureau to be used by presidents for nakedly political purposes. I have always thought that the most heinous act in which a democratic government can engage is to use its law enforcement machinery for political ends.”
The magazine to the stars, Variety, called the New York Times’ James Risen a “journalistic hero.” In an article about the problems that Risen’s new book, "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration," might pose for the Times, Variety reporter Michael Learmonth began by offering great praise for the author: “After years of entanglement with Judith Miller, the New York Times can celebrate a true journalistic hero in James Risen, the reporter who uncovered the NSA eavesdropping story.”
“The book also indicates Iraq had abandoned its nuclear weapons program shortly after the first Gulf War, but that information was ignored by the neocons selling an invasion of Iraq. Those on the selling end of the equation had the ear of Miller, whose W.M.D. stories got most of the headlines when it mattered.”
Learmonth concluded by expressing concern for the future of this new “hero”:
The Associated Press reported that American singer Harry Belafonte, as part of a delegation visiting Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez that included actor Danny Glover and Princeton University scholar Cornel West, publicly stated that President Bush is “the greatest terrorist in the world.”
“‘No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush says, we're here to tell you: Not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people … support your revolution,’ Belafonte told Chavez during the broadcast.”
Tom DeLay’s ouster from the House leadership is the “one good thing that's come out” of the Abramoff scandal, CBS’s Andy Rooney declared Friday night during a live appearance on CNN’s Larry King Live. Asked by King about “the tapping of phones in the interest of national security,” Rooney called it “a disgrace, an absolute disgrace. And how the President has convinced himself or how the Vice President has convinced the President that this is a good thing to do, in the interests of American security, it's a disgrace." But when King suggested that “you think it's despots that do that in times of,” before King got to the word “war,” Rooney rejected King’s characterization of Bush: “Yes, they certainly do. I'm not willing to call President Bush a despot.” Rooney went on to regret how Bush gets bad information: “I don't know where he gets his information, but I don't think it's very good."
NBC’s Tim Russert invited the New York Times reporter who broke the NSA eavesdropping story three weeks ago onto “Meet the Press” this morning. Despite the obvious controversial nature of the guest and the subject matter, Russert asked no truly compelling or interrogative questions of James Risen, and, as a result, produced an interview that not only didn’t challenge Risen about the fortuitous timing of the article’s release, but also offered the viewer no new information concerning this matter.
For instance, Russert chose to ask Risen:
MR. RUSSERT: Amid much speculation as to why the The New York Times held this story, you had written it, you had finished it, you knew it was—what reflected what your reporting had shown. It may have played a role in the election of 2004 if it had been published in October. Why was it held?
However, here’s a list of potentially more provocative and important questions that Russert chose not to ask his controversial guest:
In her most recent Human Events column titled 'This Is Why We Don't Trust Democrats With National Security', Ann Coulter relates that "The Democratic Party has decided to express indignation at the idea that an American citizen who happens to be a member of al Qaeda is not allowed to have a private conversation with Osama bin Laden," adding that "If they run on that in 2008, it could be the first time in history a Republican president takes even the District of Columbia."
Once again Miss Coulter has managed to hit the nail squarely on the head, so to speak, just as she's done so many times in the past. Indeed, how suicidal do you have to be, both politically and actually, to argue that President Bush doesn't have the right to order the interception of communications between individuals in the U.S. and known terrorists overseas unless, as Congressional Democrats require, he first asks some lawyer in a black robe for permission?
Did the NSA, the government's international communications monitoring arm, spy on CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour? Lots of lefty blogs are upset about the possibility (see the Moderate Voice's listing of them).
Apparently, the fuss started with a transcript of an "NBC Nightly News" interview with New York Times reporter James Risen, according to NBC, accidentally included a question and answer that was not broadcast:
MITCHELL: You don't have any information, for instance, that a very prominent journalist, Christiane Amanpour, might have been eavesdropped upon?
RISEN: No, no I hadn't heard that.
After the story broke, the NSA said to CNN that it had not spied on Amanpour, marking one of the first times the agency has responded to a story broken by blogs.
There's a media story here for sure, but is there a political one? Michelle Malkin argues no considering the alleged spying likely occurred entirely outside the U.S. and thus was not illegal.
On January 4, FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume aired a segment that discussed Hollywood’s portrayal of terrorism. The story, airing at 6:38PM, featured a quote from George Clooney, star and producer of "Syriana." The clip appeared to be from the movie’s press junket. Fox News reporter William La Jeunesse stated that "'Syriana' is based on the true story of a CIA operative sent to assassinate Saddam Hussein." He adds:
"But in the hands of actor/producer George Clooney, the story changes Saddam into an benevolent Arab prince. And Hezbollah saves the agent's life. Americans are shown to be greedy and corrupt, while suicide bombers are presented as freedom fighters." Real Player or Windows Media
Harvey Silvergate writes that although the Bush administration is trying to go after those in the government who leaked the wiretap story to the New York Times, the government could just as easily indict those who work for the paper itself.
A variety of federal statutes, from the Espionage Act on down, give Bush ample means to prosecute the Times reporters who got the scoop, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, as well as the staff editors who facilitated publication. Even Executive Editor Bill Keller and Publisher Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger Jr., could become targets — a startling possibility, just the threat of which would serve as a deterrent to the entire Fourth Estate.
Silvergate himself is no fan of Bush and says the Times revealed "reckless conduct" by the White House.
CBS’s Harry Smith on Wednesday’s “The Early Show” saluted New York Times reporter James Risen, who in a December 16 front-page article exposed an ongoing National Security Agency (NSA) intelligence-gathering operation aimed at thwarting al Qaeda attacks in the U.S., and whose new book, “State of War,” amplifies his concerns with the way the U.S. government has pursued the war on terror.
Shortly after 7:30 this morning, Smith touted his upcoming interview with Risen, advertising him as “the author of a new book the Bush administration does not want you to read.” A few minutes later, he introduced Risen by asserting that the NSA’s surveillance program “has shocked many Americans.” Smith used sinister language to describe the NSA program:
The New York Times evidently sensed a need to respond to last week’s announcement of a Justice Department investigation into who leaked to Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau for their December 16 scoop on surveillance of terror suspects in the U.S.
Wednesday’s editorial, “On the Subject of Leaks”, attempts to explain how one set of leaks (Plame’s identity as a CIA employee) was very bad, possibly criminal, and certainly worthy of investigation, while another set of leaks (uncovering the Bush administration’s surveillance of terror suspects without warrants) was a noble and patriotic deed that shouldn't be questioned. It's rough going for the paper, and basic logic doesn’t fare well either.
Intelligence reporter James Risen co-wrote the Times’ December 16 front-page scoop about government spying on terror suspects in the U.S. without first obtaining search warrants. As was later revealed by Drudge (but not by the Times), the story seemed rather conveniently timed to coincide with his upcoming book, “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration”).
Risen’s book is out now, and Katie Couric interviewed him for the Today show Tuesday morning, where he said of his many anonymous sources:
“…many of these people had grown up in the environment of knowing that in order to get to listen in on Americans you had to get a court order and they saw something was happening in which that was not being done. That there were, that the courts were being skirted, the Congress, that the laws had not been changed. And they believed that for whatever reason the Bush administration was skirting the law. Now that'll be something that we can all debate about whether or not they did skirt the law? But that was the reason the people came forward. They believed that something was going wrong."