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.
You can imagine the field day the media would have with this photograph were it President Bush delivering a lecture to Russian president Vladimir Putin over the Ukrainian crisis.
Earlier today, Fox News reporter Bryan Cole, snapped an photo of the president delivering remarks from a podium in a Washington, D.C., elementary classroom. The podium was resting atop a blue oval rug with the letters of the alphabet around the edge [see below page break for image]. After Mark Knoller of CBS radio tweeted about it, our friends at Twitchy had fun lampooning the president, among other folks in the conservative blogosphere.
CNN's Chris Cuomo ran to President Obama's defense on Tuesday's New Day, after former Senator Jim DeMint criticized the White House's handling of Russia's invasion of Ukraine: "Isn't the notion that only might can make right tired? The American people do not have appetite for more military action, and everyone is condemning Putin...Isn't this proof that President Obama's tactic of let's try to talk; let's try to be flexible – not everything is about having the biggest muscles – may be the way the world wants to proceed?"
Cuomo also ripped the GOP for standing in the way of passing the President's agenda through Congress: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
Appearing on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show on Monday, MSNBC host Joy Reid repeatedly refused to characterize either Russian president Vladimir Putin or Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as “evil.” During a contentious debate over Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine, Hewitt asked his guest point-blank, “Do you agree that what Russia is doing is evil?” [Video embedded below the break.]
The Obama administration's most recent abuse of the English language late last week involved its reluctance bordering on refusal to call Russia's military move into Crimea an "invasion." The press, unlike in 1970 when Richard Nixon sent U.S. troops into Cambodia for under three months, is largely following suit.
CNN (HT Hot Air) began the Team Obama-driven festivities on Friday by reporting that "According to the latest U.S. assessment, there has been an uncontested arrival of Russian military forces by air at a Russian base in Crimea. They are believed to be Russian land forces, CNN was told."
On Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, moderator David Gregory appeared to caution President Obama against aggressively confronting Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. Teeing up left-wing Daily Beast editor Tina Brown, Gregory declared: "Look, part of the Bush era that a lot of people recoiled against was the idea of talking tough and projecting American power as if some how feeling better about that makes the world better." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Brown replied: "Absolutely. I mean, there's no need to just go off and be bellicose. And then it's like, 'Now what?' Marco Rubio actually said, 'Now, you know, Secretary Hagel and Secretary Kerry should go immediately to Kiev.' And you think, 'Well, what then?' You know, you have to have this follow-up."
Appearing on NBC's Today on Monday, New Yorker magazine editor and former Washington Post Moscow correspondent David Remnick fretted that the United States lacked the moral authority to oppose Russia's invasion of Ukraine: "The United States also does not have the leverage it wants in historical terms. Invading countries is something the United States knows about from really raw experience. And Russia knows that and asserts that day in and day out on Russian television all the time. That's a cost, too." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Moments earlier, co-host Savannah Guthrie excused the Obama administration's poor handling of the situation: "So what is the White House supposed to do? I mean, on Friday we see the President coming out saying to Putin, 'There will be high costs if you invade.' The very next day, he invades. What leverage do we have?" Remnick replied: "Economic leverage, diplomatic leverage, but I don't think in any way the United States or Europe has any interest in making this military, making it a military clash between the United States and Russia, because we know how horrible and bloody that could get."
Bret Baier opened a panel segment on his show Friday night with a flashback to President Barack Obama’s snide ridiculing, of Mitt Romney’s now seeming prescient concern about Russia’s “geo-political” threat, during the October 22, 2012 presidential debate. “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the cold war has been over for 20 years,” Obama lectured.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, GOP Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin made what has turned out to be a prescient remark about the relevance of a U.S. president's resolve and its potential impact on Russia's posture with the old Soviet Union's satellite states. She observed: "After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama's reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia's Putin to invade Ukraine next."
Many in the press ridiculed that notion. Among them was Blake Hounshell, who was then blogging at Foreign Policy Magazine. Characterizing Palin's notion as "strange," he wrote: "As we've said before, this is an extremely far-fetched scenario." Hounshell, now a deputy editor at Politico Magazine, has handled Palin's self-effacing Facebook "I told you so" ("I could see this one from Alaska") and pile-ons by center-right blogs too numerous to mention with tweets demonstrating the class, dignity, and good sportsmanship you would expect from the high-brow commentariat, i.e., none (HT Twitchy).
Perhaps because President Obama is looking pitiably weak in his mano a mano with Vladimir Putin over the Ukraine, ABC News chose to bury the story during today's Good Morning America. Incredibly, the show-opening teaser didn't mention the Ukraine--but did highlight the latest on The Real Housewives of New Jersey. As the program unfolded, and before saying a word about the Ukraine, GMA inexcusably chose to air segments on rain in California, snow in the North, a laser being shined into a plane's cockpit, an airplane bird strike, the arrest of a Mexican drug lord, the cause of Philip Seymour Hoffman's death, and Mardi Gras in Brazil.
When GMA finally got around to the most serious story in the world right now, it did its best to protect President Obama. Two nights ago on FNC, Charles Krauthammer did a devastating take-down on President Obama's feeble statement, saying “the Ukrainians, and I think everybody, is shocked by the weakness of Obama’s statement. I find it rather staggering.” So how did GMA's reporter Alex Marquardt describe the Obama statement? As a "harsh warning." Gag me with a kalashnikov, and view the video after the jump.
Is this how Stalin charmed New York Times reporter/Soviet apologist Walter Duranty?
Former "Today" show co-host Meredith Vieira has become the latest example of a prominent figure in American media with a weak spot for an autocrat ruling Russia. Vieira appeared last night on "Late Show with David Letterman" and described covering the Winter Olympics in Sochi for NBC. (Video after the jump)
Season 2 debuts tonight of The Americans, the FX drama centered around husband and wife KGB undercover agents (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell as “Philip and Elizabeth Jennings”) who live with their kids as ordinary Americans in suburban Washington, DC when Reagan becomes President.
In the next to last episode of the first season, at a scene in a restaurant sometime in 1982, a source tells “Elizabeth” she can trust a U.S. Colonel, who wants to pass on information about the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), because “he’s completely disillusioned with the Chicken Hawks in the Reagan administration.”
What's missing from this list of people Mika Brzezinski blasted on today's Morning Joe for "making a lot of money at the Olympics" while Vladimir Putin's suppression of democracy in the Ukraine unfolds: "the people performing there, the people competing there, the people sponsoring there"?
Did somebody say NBC, Mika's own parent network? Give that guy a gold medal! To whom does Mika think "the people sponsoring there" are paying their millions to promote their products? Has Mika not noticed that regular programming on MSNBC itself has been pre-empted by the Putin Olympics? View the video after the jump.
During NBC's Saturday coverage of the Winter Olympics, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw spun the United States' worldwide campaign against communism during the Cold War: "In Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, and space, the U.S. spared little to defeat communism – at times, it seemed like a national obsession." [video below the jump]
Brokaw's slanted take on recent history came mere days after NBC glorified the Soviet Union as "one of modern history's pivotal experiments" as they broadcast the opening ceremonies from Sochi, Russia.
In a report aired on Monday's NBC Today from the Sochi Olympic games, correspondent Stephanie Gosk toured the Russian capital: "Moscow evokes powerful images. The Kremlin, Soviet leaders, the Red Army. But beyond the Cold War symbols, this city of 10 million people is a modern bustling metropolis..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Later in the segment, Gosk described the city's subway system as "one of Moscow's hidden gems," even to the point of praising the ruthless Soviet dictator who created it: "Stalin promised the metro would be a palace for the people, and so it is. Open architecture, mosaics, even chandeliers."
The London Daily Mail reported this week that “CNN caused a firestorm when it included a war monument in Brest, a city in the former Soviet republic of Belarus, in an article on the 'world's ugliest monuments' published last month.” This isn’t Ted Turner’s CNN, where a reporter would be disciplined for saying the word “foreign” in a sentence. The online article from a travel-piece contributor was intended as humor.
A Russian news commentator responded by suggesting the Marine Corps War Memorial – the Iwo Jima sculpture just north of Arlington National Cemetery – is “easy to mock” for its homoerotic look, and "you don't have to be very smart to get it." (video below):
For any media critic keeping score on whether NBC is cutting corners to be kind to help their Russian hosts, the sports-journalism blog Deadspin reports that International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach made a statement during the Opening Ceremonies that included a not-so-veiled punch at the Russians and their speech-squashing “gay propaganda” law, telling the athletes it’s possible to live together in harmony “with tolerance and without any form of discrimination for whatever reason.”
“Viewers worldwide heard the statement; NBC viewers in the U.S. did not, because the network edited it out.” Bach said in part:
NBC whitewashed Russia's communist legacy in the lead segment of its Friday broadcast of the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Game of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage narrated the network's lionization of the largest country by land mass: "Russia overwhelms. Russia mystifies. Russia transcends. Through every stage of its story, it's resisted any notion of limitation. Through every re-invention, only redoubling its desire to cast a towering presence."
However, Dinklage continued with a glorification of the Marxist-Leninist totalitarian state that slaughtered tens of millions of people between 1917 and 1991: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
A cyber security expert featured on the February 4 NBC Nightly News is alleging that producers edited the story in such a way as to sensationalize the threat that tourists at the Olympic Games in Sochi face from hackers.
Hadas Gold of Politico has the story in a piece at the paper's On Media blog:
Journalists love to preen as human rights watchdogs, congratulating themselves publicly for their roles – real or imagined – in securing the life and liberty of the downtrodden. That is, as long as it’s the right sort of downtrodden.
Take, for example, NBC’s coverage in the run up to the Sochi Winter Olympics. Because of Russian restrictions on gays’ free speechfor homosexuals, the official Olympic network repeatedly fretted about gay “human rights.” NBC speculated about the rights and safety of gay athletes and visitors to Sochi, reported extensively on Russia’s gay community, talked to every gay athlete in the NBC phone book and hyped President Obama’s appointing of prominent gays to the U.S. Olympic Delegation. Network hosts also tried to encourage athletes to make pro-gay statements while at the Games, at the risk of disqualifying themselves from competition. Video after the break.
Islamic terrorists were suspected in the terrorist bombings that just killed dozens in Russia. But reporters at ABC, NBC and CBS went out of their way to avoid the obvious connection or even to call the suspects “terrorists,” preferring instead the squishy word “militant.”
Friday, Sunday and Monday, three separate suicide bombings left at least 37 people dead in the Volgograd and Pyatigorsk, Russia. In October, a female suicide bomber killed 5 people on a bus in Volgograd. U.S. officials and terrorism experts believe these attacks are related instances tied to an Islamic Chechen rebel leader, Doku Umarov, who threatened of attacks in the area last summer. Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, is close to Sochi, the site for the upcoming Winter Olympics and a particular target for the attacks.
While interviewing openly gay U.S. women's hockey team player Caitlin Cahow on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer hoped for controversy during the games over Russia's "anti-gay laws": "[Openly gay former tennis player] Billy Jean King said that perhaps it is time for a 'John Carlos moment'....that moment in 1968 in Mexico City [Olympics] when [U.S. runners] John Carlos and Tommy Smith stood up and they gave the Black Power salute because they wanted to protest racial inequality. Would you be willing to be a part of some kind of a John Carlos moment in Sochi?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Cahow tried to tamp down Lauer's expectations: "Honestly I think that my John Carlos moment right now is going to Russia and being present and representing the United States. Like I said before, this delegation represents so much more than just LGBT diversity. We have a really remarkable diversity in the United States."
Earlier this week, NBC Sports announced that "Moscow-based TV journalist Vladimir Posner (also frequently spelled "Pozner") will be a correspondent for NBC Olympics’ late-night show with Bob Costas during the Sochi Games."
To call Posner's background "problematic" is like saying that Bob Filner, former Democratic Mayor of San Diego, has a bit of a problem with how he treats members of the opposite sex. Posner is an old hand at defending and dissembling the worst excesses of the Soviet Union, including but not limited to the following exchange from 1980 cited by Lisa de Moraes at Deadline.com on Wednesday (bolds are mine throughout this post):
The latest evidence of that detachment from reality came online Saturday evening at the New York Times, and appeared in today's print edition. Writer James McAuley, described as "a Marshall scholar studying history at the University of Oxford," wrote that Dallas collectively "willed the death of the president," and that it has prospered disproportionately in the subsequent 50 years because of "pretending to forget."