On Monday evening's NBC Nightly News, host Brian Williams used a perhaps revealing verb to describe a belief held by former Soviet foreign minister and Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze, who died on Monday at 86.
It would be good to look back and learn how Shevardnadze came to say what he said a decade ago before getting to how Williams framed it. As reported in Doug Martin's obituary at the New York Times (bolds are mine throughout this post):
On Tuesday's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, during a segment about foreign policy challenges involving Russia and the turmoil in the Middle East, MSNBC.com Executive Editor Richard Wolffe oddly suggested that President Obama finds it to be a "satisfying challenge" because it is "intellectually rigorous" to deal with such substantial foreign policy problems.
He also not surprisingly took a jab at former President Bush, blaming him for the chaos in the Middle East, and asserted that "there's a lot of cleanup there."
Host O'Donnell wondered about what things are like inside the White House as he posed:
It's the latest viral video burning up the Internet, the talk of watercooler conversation all over the country today: President Obama looking positively goofy strenuously working out with a set of dumbbells. [I'll pause to let you write your own punchline]
It was video too good to ignore for both ABC's World News and CBS's Evening News, while NBC Nightly News decided to take a pass. Of course, both networks worked in a relatively positive spin for the president, with ABC worrying about and subsequently dismissing the notion of the video being a "security breach" while CBS's Maurice DuBois hailed the president as an disciplined athlete who sleepily hit the gym while on a grueling overseas trip. [See the relevant transcripts below the page break; Listen to MP3 audio here; Video follows page break]
CNN's Chris Cuomo tried to get former Assistant Secretary of State Jamie Rubin to defend President Obama's response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine during a segment on Wednesday's New Day. Cuomo cited how Russian President Vladimir Putin "did this in Georgia.....under President Bush" in 2008, and wondered, "Is it fair to look at this situation and say, the weakness or perception of weakness of President Obama has given a window of opportunity to Putin?"
The anchor didn't identify Rubin as either a former Clinton administration official or as the husband of CNN personality Christiane Amanpour. Interestingly, the State Department veteran didn't give Cuomo the response he was looking for: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
Q. How do you know when Barack Obama has set a dubious new record for presidential weakness? A. When Jimmy Carter's former top adviser mocks his anemic response to an international crisis.
On today's Morning Joe, Zbigniew Brzezinski argued that the US needs to discuss with Ukraine the provision of defensive weapons in the face of the Russian threat. He then mockingly observed: "the Ukrainians did ask us for help in that regard. Do you know what our answer has been? We offered them prepackaged food for their soldiers. Well, you can't win a military conflict by throwing pancakes at somebody." The laughter on the normally Obama-friendly set should still be ringing in the President's ears. View the video after the jump.
Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, The Washington Post’s David Ignatius did his best to shill for President Obama following the president’s interview with CBS anchorman Scott Pelley.
Speaking with moderator Bob Schieffer on Sunday, Ignatius opined, “It's crucial for statesmen to try to see the world as their adversaries see it” while urging President Obama to see the world through Vladimir Putin’s eyes. [See video below.]
Less than three months into 2014 and leftist loose-cannon Ed Schultz may have already provided the year's best example of projection in media. It's too much to expect Schultz to comprehend that criticism he directs at Republicans applies more accurately to himself.
On his radio show Monday, Schultz lashed out at Republicans for daring to second-guess President Obama for his handling of the crisis in Ukraine, even though Schultz never hesitated to condemn Obama's predecessor as commander in chief on a daily basis while we were fighting wars in two countries. That wasback when dissent was patriotic. (Audio after the jump)
At President Barack Obama's press conference in The Hague, Netherlands today, as part of a much longer question, ABC's Jonathan Karl asked Obama whether "Mitt Romney had a point when he said that Russia is America’s biggest geopolitical foe? If not Russia, who?"
It's important to note that Obama's response to that portion of Karl's question pertained to and was directed at Romney. A video containing Karl's question and Obama's answer ("With respect to Mr. Romney’s assertion that Russia’s our number- one geopolitical foe, the truth of the matter is that, you know, America’s got a whole lot of challenges. Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors -- not out of strength, but out of weakness") shows that the President's tone at that point was generally calm with a bit of a defiant edge which seemed directed at Romney and Karl (perhaps not in that order). That didn't stop the establishment press from claiming that Obama's statement was really an insult directed at Russia (it wasn't) and that the President supposedly directed his "derisive" statement towards Russian President Vladimir Putin (he didn't).
While on Tuesday evening the networks hyped President Obama "talking tough" to Russia and "belittling" them, only ABC pressed him on whether he was wrong about Russia during the 2012 campaign.
ABC's White House correspondent Jonathan Karl asked the President, "In the light of recent developments, do you think Mitt Romney had a point when he said that Russia is America's biggest geopolitical foe?" The World News aired the clip, as well as Obama's response that Russia is only a "regional power."
On Monday's New Day, CNN's John King refreshingly spotlighted one of President Obama's key campaign promises from 2008 about foreign policy during a discussion about how to respond to Russia's aggression in Crimea. King wondered if "a President who came to office saying he could unite the world and would have better international diplomacy than George W. Bush – at least on this one, doesn't have any good options."
The anchor was responding to a comment from Margaret Talev of Bloomberg News, who noted how "the White House doesn't really want to give a whole lot of military assistance here, and they don't think that...most of Europe is going to go along with significant sanctions." [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney had some harsh words for President Obama over his handling of the crisis in Ukraine.
Appearing as a guest on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday March 24, Governor Romney reaffirmed statements he made during the 2012 election that Russia was America’s number one geopolitical foe by reiterating that we “really need to understand that Russia has very differentinterests than ours, this is notfantasyland, this is reality.” [See video below.]
Providing, of course, that the Secret Service prevents kryptonite from being brought anywhere near the president.
The Obama-as-godlike-figure meme has appeared again, this time on MSNBC, though it's a safe bet on any given day that this is where it will surface, usually before the end of "Morning Joe." (Video after the jump)
Remember back in the Bush years when the left deemed dissent to be the most glorious form of patriotism? As every conservative knew, that allegedly principled belief was contingent upon a Republican serving as president.
Once a Democrat returned to the White House, this ardent trumpeting of dissent as humanity's highest calling oddly began falling into disrepute, as to be expected whenever cults of personality take hold around leaders of dubious strength. (Audio after the jump)
You're MSNBC. That hurts I know, but work with me. So, what would you like to feature: President Obama getting Putinized? Syria flouting the WMD agreement? Iran's inexorable march toward nukes? The ongoing Obamacare debacle?
Not so much. Say: why not make like CNN and go all in on MH-370? Which is precisely what Morning Joe did today. The first 103 minutes were devoted exclusively to the story of the missing plane, as an endless series of experts and panelists speculated to no particular avail. Rare that we agree with Madeline Albright. But long into the second hour, during—finally—a Ukraine segment, Albright said "I know we're all focused on the airplane," but suggesting that Ukraine is by far the more critical issue. Mika Brzezinski reacted defensively. View the video after the jump.
Appearing on NBC's Late Night on Tuesday – aired early Wednesday morning – New Yorker editor and former Washington Post Moscow correspondent David Remnick defended Barack Obama's poor handling of the Ukrainian crisis by bashing George W. Bush: "I think President Obama was elected not to get into more wars....his predecessor, President Bush, foolishly, at the very best, got into a war in Iraq that was a disaster." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Remnick continued: "And by the way, it gives [Russian President Vladimir] Putin some justification [to invade Ukraine]. He says, 'Don't lecture me. Don't lecture me about invasion,' and so on. No matter how justified or not that may be, that's a point he goes out and makes in front of his own people."
Former liberal CNN contributor Roland Martin launched a left-wing tirade on his TV One news program on Wednesday, aimed mainly at conservative opponents of President Barack Obama's foreign policy: "Who the hell is America fooling to tell somebody else in another country who you can invade and cannot invade?...the United States, under President Reagan, invaded Grenada....Yet, here we are telling another sovereign nation what countries you can't invade. It's called being hypocritical. It is called being shameless, and frankly, we look silly."
Despite targeting Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham by name for their criticism of Obama, Martin threw a much wider net in his rant: "So Americans, can you please stop with the hypocritical nature of your criticism?...The fact of the matter is, America has always invaded other countries." The host also included some of the left's usual examples of America's meddling around the world: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman went on PBS’s Charlie Rose show Monday night and defended President Obama’s soft foreign policy approach to the crisis in Ukraine. [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Of that approach, which so far has consisted of sanctions against 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials, Friedman said:
On Wednesday, the Politico's Dylan Byers, imitating the president his web site so loves and adores, unilaterally decided ("new rule") that those of us who are making the self-evident observation that President Barack Obama's foreign policy performance has been weak can't do so unless we articulate what he should be doing.
How quaint. I don't recall seeing, hearing or reading of anyone at Politico or in the rest of the establishment press trying to place such firm conditions on those who opposed the Iraq War or how it was being conducted, the Bush 43 tax cuts, or any other performance, initiative, or idea during the previous presidential administration. Byers' tweet and several choice responses to it follow the jump (HT Twitchy):
In a Facebook posting on Monday, far-left director Oliver Stone touted the "popularity" of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the wake of the move against Crimea. Stone credulously hyped, "The Crimean Referendum now going on, and seems clear more than 90% of Crimeans consider themselves Russian."
The filmmaker proceeded to shift the blame onto George H.W. Bush for his actions after the fall of the Soviet Union: "The entire world would be a far more peaceful place now if Bush father had any vision or generosity like Roosevelt or Kennedy, but instead he turned out to be another Truman in his time."
On Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, moderator David Gregory touted the United Nations slamming the "human rights record" of the U.S. as it condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine: "You know, when we deal with Vladimir Putin, this issue of hypocrisy comes up....The United Nations pointedly criticized the U.S.'s human rights record over drone strikes, NSA surveillance, the death penalty." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Turning to Democratic Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and Republican Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, Gregory worried: "Does it make it hard to deal with the likes of Putin and Lavrov when you've got the U.N. criticizing the U.S. that way?"
As of 11 P.M. Eastern Time Sunday evening, searches at both the Associated Press and at the Politico on "radioactive" returned nothing relating to a comment made on TV by Russian "journalist" Dmitry Kiselyov reminding viewers that his country, as translated by the wire service AFP, "is the only one in the world "realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash." Reuters also has a story here. Further evidence of AP disinterest is the fact that its two "10 Things to Know for Monday" relating to Russia as of 9:03 p.m. noted the West's intent to impose sanctions and penalties but did not mention the Russian threat.
Kiselyov isn't some freelancer mouthing off for "look at me" attention. As such, the failure of these two outlets to report what is clearly a serious escalation in rhetoric emanating from Russia is breathtakingly negligent, even by their non-standards. It's as if they're desperately trying to keep Kiselyov's statement from becoming an item on the U.S. morning news shows.
Talking to Donald Trump on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer complained about the Celebrity Apprentice host and CPAC speaker criticizing President Obama's poor handling of the Ukranian crisis: "You've been critical of the President and his handling of the situation with Ukraine and Crimea. I think you said, I'm paraphrasing here, but basically Putin was playing with or toying with Obama. That is kind of a common refrain of yours....you always think that Obama is being weak." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Trump, on to promote the 2014 Miss USA pageant set to air on NBC in June, pointed out that "a lot of other people" had been equally critical of Obama's foreign policy. Lauer countered: "What would you have done differently than he did in the days before Russian troops went into Crimea?" Trump replied: "Well, first of all, it should have never happened." Lauer pressed: " But what would you have done immediately?"
As an embarrassed Joe Scarborough said, Mika Brzezinski didn't have her "filter on" this morning. On today's Morning Joe, Brzezinski broke out a lurid tale of how as a young woman she had been held "hostage" by the son of the President of Lebanon, who apparently had hijinks on his mind.
Scarborough had just teased Mika with a variation on his running joke of how she vacations in the south of France. Joe jibed that in retaliation for France's sale of warships to Russia, Ukraine notwithstanding, Mika would be imposing personal sanctions on France by cutting back her weekend trips there from 26 to 23 yearly. In response, Brzezinski described how 25 years ago, the son of the President of Lebanon held her "hostage" in the south of France, took her to porn flicks, and bought her bikinis "with only one piece." View the video after the jump.
Appearing on Thursday's CBS Late Show aired early Friday morning, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw discussed the Russian invasion of Ukraine with host David Letterman and observed: "...when chemical weapons were used in Syria and they were discovered, I didn't think it was President Obama's finest moment. He said there's a red line, then he kept moving that sucker....[Vladimir Putin] might have taken the measure of President Obama and said, 'I may be able to test this guy'....it has that appearance." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
That analysis was prompted by Letterman noting: "And people are saying this [Russian invasion of Ukraine] is because of the negotiations, or the unilateral negotiations regarding Syria, when he [Putin] stepped in looking for weapons of mass destruction...and Obama had to sort of acquiesce that because it was not a bad idea. So now he [Putin] feels like he can get away with this. Is that part of it?" Brokaw replied: "Well, I think that's pretty astute."
With Russia poised to seize control of Ukraine, Rachel Maddow might be among the few remaining fans of voluntary nuclear disarmament -- as is Russian president Vladimir Putin, specifically for former Soviet republics that have gotten too uppity for their own good.
How will Maddow handle this one, I wondered, after the Russian military took control of the Crimea. Sure enough, in her first show after the crisis began, Maddow addressed the awkward fact that Ukraine relinquished control of its nuclear weapons to Russia twenty years ago. But typical of Maddow, she couldn't bring herself to ask the blindingly obvious question -- did Ukraine's fateful decision to disarm in the mid-1990s leave it vulnerable to future Russian aggression? (Video after the jump)
Anchor Liz Wahl of Russia Today’s Washington, D.C. bureau abruptly resigned her position during a live broadcast this week because she said she “cannot be part of a network, funded by the Russian government, that whitewashes the actions of Putin.” However, ABC’s Barbara Walters was unimpressed by this young anchor’s brave stand. [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
On Thursday’s episode of The View, Walters responded to Wahl’s resignation with the haughtiness of a veteran journalist. She huffed, “I think what she did is fine, it's a personal choice, but don't make her a hero for protesting. She is working for the government.”
Talking to MSNBC Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough on Thursday's NBC Today about the Ukranian crisis, co-host Matt Lauer saw the Republican Party, not Russia, as President Obama's fiercest adversary: "We're six days into this crisis now, the rhetoric seems to be heating up. Not between Russia and the United States, but between Republicans in Congress and the administration." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Lauer pressed Scarborough: "You heard John McCain say it was a massive intelligence failure and a misreading of Vladimir Putin's intentions. Lindsay Graham weighed in, saying, 'What we're seeing in the Ukraine right now is a result of failed policies in Syria and Benghazi.' Do you agree with those assessments?" Scarborough immediately dismissed the GOP criticism: "No, absolutely not....Barack Obama didn't lose Ukraine any more than George W. Bush lost Georgia in 2008, anymore than Ike lost Hungary in 1956."
Bryan Preston of the PJ Media blog spotlighted in a Wednesday post how Russia Today anchor Liz Wahl resigned from her position at the network's Washington, DC division during a live broadcast because, in her words, she "cannot be part of a network, funded by the Russian government, that whitewashes the actions of Putin."
During her impromptu commentary, Wahl referenced how fellow RT on-air personality Abby Martin condemned Russia's invasion of the Crimea peninsula inside the borders Ukraine (video of Wahl's statement, via Washington Free Beacon's YouTube account, below the jump):
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough got rather self-righteous on Wednesday’s Morning Joe, chiding Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and others who have criticized President Obama’s weak-kneed response to the crisis in Ukraine. [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Scarborough asserted his belief that “politics should really end at the water's edge” during international crises like this, proclaiming, “I'm old-fashioned enough to believe that harshly criticizing the commander-in-chief during dangerous international crises, whether it’s with the likes of Saddam Hussein or Vladimir Putin, well, that provides comfort to nation-states who choose to be our enemies.”
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NBC has been the only Big Three broadcast network to look back to President Obama ridiculing Mitt Romney for calling Russia a U.S. "geopolitical foe" in 2012. On Wednesday's NBC Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander reminded viewers: "Republicans have repeatedly attacked President Obama's Russia policy as weak and naive....Helping fuel that criticism, this moment from the 2012 campaign, where President Obama mocked Governor Mitt Romney for calling Russia America's number one geopolitical foe." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Neither ABC's Good Morning America nor CBS This Morning managed to work that into their coverage of the unfolding international crisis on Wednesday.