In a free-swinging democracy such as ours, rare are the restraints on political speech by our elected representatives. One exception are rules of decorum, such as those governing the House of Representatives that prohibit members from speaking in negative personal terms about their colleagues and other officials.
There is a similar, unwritten rule by which former presidents do not criticize their successors. And while the occasional lapse has occurred over the history of the republic, no president has so thoroughly trashed the tradition as Jimmy Carter, who has made stinging criticism of the Bush administration a virtual art form. Earlier this year, for example, Carter publicly labelled the Bush administration "the worst in history."
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," host Harry Smith interviewed former president Jimmy Carter, who he introduced as "Nobel Peace Prize Laureate President Jimmy Carter." Smith then proceeded to launch into a discussion about Iran citing an "an exhaustive investigative piece in the New Yorker...by Sy [Seymour] Hersh." Apparently Harry and ‘Sy’ are good buddies. Smith described how Hersh’s article "chronicles the building up, the drum beats of the potential of war with Iran" and asked Carter: "Is there a best way to find peace with Iran?"
Asking the president who oversaw the disastrous Iranian hostage crisis how to deal with Iran is like asking the dictator of Sudan how to bring about an end to the genocide in Darfur. Oh wait, Carter has talked to the Sudanese tyrant about that very issue:
Writing at her "Couric & Co." blog this morning, CBS's Katie Couric gave journalist/feminist polemicist Susan Faludi a platform to flesh out her theory that the mainstream media have harnessed fears of terrorism post-9/11 to socially repress women and resurrect myths of the Old West. Here, for example, is Faludi's response to Couric's question about why Faludi penned her latest book:
It did not take long after the infamous Rush Limbaugh smear for Democrats to call for a return of the Fairness Doctrine. On the October 3 edition of "Fox and Friends" at 7:33 AM, Congressmen Joe Sestak (D-PA) and Mike Pence (R-IN) discussed Rush Limbaugh’s "phony soldiers" remark. When Congressman Pence asserted that this is an excuse for the Democrats to re-insert the Fairness Doctrine, Congressman Sestak called for a return to "ensure the tone changes if we are to approach this war correctly."
SESTAK: We should be talking about the Fairness Doctrine. And what we should be doing is saying, Mike, this war is it hurting or helping our security? How can we bring about a better end to this? And that's what I believe needs to be done. Do I think both sides' words are wrong? The tone is absolutely wrong. So let's not defend either side and say whether we think or don't think.
Ah, those diversity-loving liberals. You know, the kind who would stifle free speech with their Orwellian "Fairness Doctrine," who threaten legal action against mom-and-pop T-shirt makers who criticize MoveOn.org. Wesley Clark would now take things one step further, whacking Rush Limbaugh off the Armed Forces Network radio airwaves.
"Today" co-anchor Meredith Vieira interviewed the retired general and former Dem presidential candidate on this morning's show.
With liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appearing on "The View" "objective" journalist Barbara Walters hit Speaker Pelosi from the left. After briefly discussing the renewed Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill controversy, Walters attacked Pelosi for not doing enough to retreat from Iraq.
BARBARA WALTERS: The Democrats came in. They were going to try to bring the troops home. They were going to try to end the war. What happened?
HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: Well, we are trying to do that. We have a contrast her between a ten year, $1 trillion war that the president is proposing and we’re talking about a year that, that redeployment begins as soon as safely possible and ends within a year. That’s the debate.
As Brent Baker of MRC/NB has documented, MSNBC has been among the worst MSM offenders in propagating the falsehood that Rush Limbaugh had accused all anti-war military members of being "phony soldiers."
A point of light at that same network this morning, however, as Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist combined to debunk the Media Matters allegation, accusing the organization of using a "phony story about a phony soldier" to go after Rush.
It began at 6:04 A.M. EDT today, during the "Morning Joe" opening coffee klatsch.
Of all people, you'd think a movie director would understand the importance of sticking to the script. But no . . .
There was a delicious moment on this afternoon's "Hardball." Host Chris Matthews had billed a new movie as standing for the proposition that Saudis hate Americans [note the screen graphic]. But when the movie's director came on, he declined to buy into Matthews's sweeping generalization, pitched capitalism as the answer to the region's problems, and even speculated that Iraq war has helped America's relations in the Middle East.
In his opening tease, Matthews proclaimed "Let's talk about why the Saudis hate us . . . in our second story tonight, why do Saudis hate Americans?"
Then, after an interview about Iran with Mario Cuomo [yes, he's still around], Matthews, teasing the next segment:
David Shuster's tasteless game of "gotcha," that we reported here and here, in which the MSNBC "correspondent" exploited the name of a fallen American soldier to put Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on the spot, is getting considerable media attention. Brit Hume featured it in last night's "Grapevine" segment of "Special Report."
Joe Scarborough is still trying to wring mileage out of bashing Bill O'Reilly over his Sylvia's comments. After calling the "Factor" host a "moron" yesterday, the "Morning Joe" host was back at it today.
DAVID SHUSTER: On Monday evening while guest-hosting the 6 p.m. evening hour, I conducted an interview with Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn. The congresswoman spoke at length about a newspaper ad that criticized General Petraeus. In what I believed was an effort to examine Representative Blackburn's priorities, I then asked her to name the last soldier from her congressional district killed in Iraq.
She responded "the name of the last soldier killed in Iraq from my district, I do not know." After that response, I identified who I believed to be that fallen soldier, a Tennessean killed in Iraq last month. But according to Pentagon documents, that young man came from a town inside a neighboring congressional district, not from Representative Blackburn's, and for that, I apologize for that mistake.
Figures. Who else would Mika Brzezinski's ink-stained doppelganger be but Maureen Dowd?
"Morning Joe" has apparently introduced a new feature, "Three Things to Read Today," in which each of the panelists recommends an item from that morning's newspaper crop. Willie Geist went first today, and being the pop-culture maven he is, suggested the New York Post's coverage of the sexual harrassment lawsuit that a former female New York Knicks employee has brought against coach Isiah Thomas.
It's not enough that the media is waving the white flag of defeat in Iraq but now they're declaring yet another war lost. NBC's "Today" co-host Meredith Vieira seemed so convinced that the U.S. had lost the war in Afghanistan she was perplexed when Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai didn't share her assessment of failure. On the Monday "Today" show, in a taped interview, a bewildered Vieira responded to Karzai's statement of victory with: "What have you won?"
The following exchange occurred in the 7am half-hour of the September 24, NBC "Today" show:
There's a fabulous column by Ed Driscoll (HT to NixGuy in an e-mail) about the evolution of media and reporting from the invention of radio to our current circumstances.
It's the title of Driscoll's work, "Atlas Mugged: How a Gang of Scrappy, Individual Bloggers Broke the Stranglehold of the Mainstream Media," that misses the mark a bit.
Ed has the "stranglehold" part nailed:
By the early 1970s, mass media had reached its zenith (if you’ll pardon the pun). Most Americans were getting their news from one of three TV networks’ half-hour nightly broadcasts. With the exception of New York, most big cities had only one or two primary newspapers. And no matter what a modern newspaper’s lineage, by and large its articles, except for local issues, came from global wire services like the Associated Press or Reuters; it took its editorial lead from the New York Times; and it claimed to be impartial (while usually failing miserably).
As a service to you the reader I'm watching the presidential news conference as covered on Fox News Channel. My goal here is to give you the questions the various reporters ask and if feasible, go back and clip video of the most biased questions.
Wrap-up, 11:27: There were no questions on the Hsu scandal and Hillary Clinton nor about Dan Rather's lawsuit, even though Memogate promulgated a bogus storyline intended to negatively impact Bush's 2004 reelection. The Jena Six controversy was raised by two reporters although it's had very little national media coverage. And unsurprisingly, no one asked about the Petreaus smear by MoveOn.org except Bill Sammon of the Washington Examiner (and also a Fox News contributor).
* * * * * * ** * * *
Bush turns over press conf to Michael Leavitt for q's on SCHIP, 11:20, Fox News fades out of press conference, as do other cable networks.
Bill Sammon, Washington Examiner, 11:19: What is your reaction to the MoveOn.org ad that mocked Petraeus. Would you like to see Democrats including presidential candidates repudiate the ad?
An August 22 article in the UK's Times Online gave some insight into the paper's behind-the-scenes views with this headline, “Paris vacates the moral highground to give Washington a helping hand” (h/t Fausta).
For the Times, France's “moral highground” was a four-year diplomatic lock-out with Iraq that began after the “US-led invasion” (and, interestingly, at the end of several Frenchmen profiting from the corrupt UN Oil For Food scam) that Sarkozy broke by sending his Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to Baghdad yesterday for a three-day fact-finding trip with the goal of helping the Iraqis, through the UN, rebuild and stabilize a country that could easily devolve into genocide without adequate attention.
Melanie Morgan might not have a profile as high as some other pundits on the right, but she is emerging, in my book, as one of conservatism's most fearless and articulate advocates.
Last month, I noted an epic dust-up on "Hardball" between talk radio host Morgan and feminist Naomi Wolf. On today's show, the two again clashed. Last time around, I suggested that Wolf might be America's most passive-aggressive woman. Today, she showed herself to be one of its most alarmist. The topic was the controversy over the extent to which Alberto Gonzales [at the time Pres. Bush's White House counsel] pressured a then-hospitalized Attorney General John Ashcroft into approving the extension of the anti-terror wiretap program.
MELANIE MORGAN: Anbody that doesn't get what a truly dangerous world we live in should just take a look at this wireless wiretapping program. It was a valuable program and it still is. And if there was pressure applied by Gonzales, then good! . . . We needed that program and I'm really glad that if there was pressure applied, it kept it in place, because otherwise, Americans could die.
Wolf's response was a case study in breathless, alarmist, deconstruction-speak.
NAOMI WOLF: What's scary to me about listening to Melanie and various people at the White House is how Orwell [bonus points for Orwellian allusion] describes people who want to close down an open society don't just lie, they make lies the ground of the discourse. There's this extraordinary fudging [demerit for use of everyday word; consider "circumvention" next time] of reality, not just to change the record, but to disorient us [seems to have worked on Naomi].
On November 17, 2005, Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Pa.), who had previously supported the Iraq war, announced his call for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The story led all three broadcast network evening news reports.
A mirror-image shift of position was reported today: a previously anti-war Dem has announced, after a visit to Iraq, that he now opposes withdrawal at this time. Will the MSM give anything like equal time to the story?
Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wa.) is a five-term member of Congress, representing Washington's 3rd District. Baird voted against the initial resolution authorizing the war. But now, having recently returned from Iraq, he has another perspective on events there, telling his hometown newspaper, the Olympian, as reported in this article, the following, :
We're on the ground now. We have a responsibility to the Iraqi people and a strategic interest in making this work.
I think we're making real progress.
I think the consequences of pulling back precipitously would be potentially catastrophic for the Iraqi people themselves, to whom we have a tremendous responsibility … and in the long run chaotic for the region as a whole and for our own security.
I thought it was those French existentialists who were supposed to be the gloomy ones, morosely sipping their espressos at Left Bank cafés while contemplating the end of everything. But according to Agence France Presse, of all people it's Fred Thompson who wallows in the Slough of Despond.
Check out this line that AFP, which has an odd corporate status by which it is partially controlled and subsidized by the French government, slipped into the end of an article on Thompson's campaign plans:
He harbors a dark world view of looming future threats and has accused NATO allies of slumbering through a showdown with Al-Qaeda's forces of "nihilism."
CNN released a poll on the 16th that claims that 53% of Americans don't trust the U.S. Military assessment of what is going on in Iraq and that 72% won't have their mind changed on their view of the war no matter what General Petraeus says about the surge next month. But if one reviews the questions of the poll and the method by which it was conducted is considered (at least the only hint of that method that was released), it makes one suspicious that it was anywhere near a fair and balanced scheme. In fact, there are so many questions about how this poll was carried out that the results must be viewed with skepticism.
To start with, of course, the poll is conducted by Hillary Clinton supporter Vin Gupta's Opinion Research Corporation, the organization CNN has hired to run their political polling -- a convenient situation for the Clinton campaign, to be sure. This single fact alone is enough to inform that the poll could likely be weighted to skew toward the ideas that Hillary Clinton is propagating in her campaign.
Discussing foreign policy on this afternoon's "Hardball," host Matthews advanced this astonishing theory.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Do you have a sense, though, well certainly I have it, that just by his name, Barack, ah, Barack Hussein Obama, by his background, having grown up in Indonesia which is a largely Muslim country, that he would have a feel perhaps other presidential candidates don't have of how to connect with that part of the world, the billion people, that we seem to have such a problem connecting with and avoiding war with.
Not surprising, but the Time magazine contributor and "Swampland" blogger slapped around President Bush for moving to empower the federal government to freeze assets held by the terrorist-sponsoring Revolutionary Guard Corps of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Yet two weeks ago, Joe Klein slammed President Bush for not confronting U.S. ally Pervez Musharraf about terrorist sympathizers that work covertly against U.S. interests from within the Pakistani military.
Here's Klein's August 15 post, after which I add more commentary:
Is it just me, or did the New York Times just drop a bombshell?
By the headline of its editorial this morning, Wrong Way Out of Iraq, and its introductory paragraphs -- about how the British model of withdrawing to bases in Basra hasn't worked, I was sure we were headed for a demand for total, rapid withdrawal. When suddenly came this conclusion:
The United States cannot walk away from the new international terrorist front it created in Iraq. It will need to keep sufficient forces and staging points in the region to strike effectively against terrorist sanctuaries there or a Qaeda bid to hijack control of a strife-torn Iraq.
Today's Los Angeles Times op-ed page item "The art of war" contains drawings on the subject of the Iraq war done by students of visual arts teacher Steve Brodner at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. The drawing displayed here, of Pres. Bush in a bubble floating over a mound of skulls, typifies the attitudes expressed, all of which are opposed to the war and the Bush administration in one form or other.
Perhaps as telling as the drawings is this statement by Brodner that accompanies them:
The pieces reprinted here -- including one I did myself -- are the result of a group project I assigned. I felt that while they were in my class, students should focus on what I believe to be the most urgent issue of our time: the Iraq war.
The L.A. Times has morphed Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama's over-the-top campaign rhetoric that he would attack Pakistan into "suggestions by U.S. politicians that American forces unilaterally strike" that country. But, no where did the story mention Obama, nor that no Administration officials are advocating such a move. How is it that Obama's absurd gaffe has suddenly become a U.S. political policy that the Pakistanis fear is impossible to know, but the way the L.A.Times wrote the story, one would cast blame on the Bush Administration instead of Obama for this slight to Musharraf and the Pakistani government.
The story written by Laura King revolves around Musharraf's increasing security concerns and calls for him to step back from power. It also reveals the fact that Musharraf is sending prime minister Shaukat Aziz to the jirga (a traditional council) in Afghanistan instead of attending himself, a move that supposedly surprised the Bush Administration. According to the L.A.Times, one of the reasons Musarraf made this decision is because U.S. "officials" are saying we should invade his country. But the only person who said such a thing in such a public forum was Barack Obama, who's hardly in a position to be setting U.S. policy toward Pakistan. Yet, the Times acts as if the U.S. government is advocating for just such an attack which, in the way the Times writes, makes it seems as if this is a Bush gaffe.
On August 3, NewsBusters contributor Scott Whitlock noticed the network morning shows largely ignored Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) dovish blanket assertion that he would rule out the use of nuclear weapons in "any circumstances" in dealing with terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan. At the time, Sen. Hillary Clinton called the pronouncement unwise. But according to the Associated Press, it appears Clinton is contradicting a statement she made in April 2006 that aligns with Obama's stance.
On August 2, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) took the opportunity to disagree with Obama's dovish stance. As the Washington Post reported in the August 3 paper:
One needs to look no further than the Associated Press's story on the Scott Beauchamp saga to understand why the general public not following the news closely doesn't "get" just how biased and antagonistic towards the war, the military, and American soldiers Old Media outlets are.
In the case of Scott Beauchamp, now that their brethren at The New Republic (TNR) have been caught red-handed publishing made-up stories, John Milburn and Ellen Simon of the Associated Press appear to be doing everything they can to cover for them -- first, with a headline (probably determined elsewhere within AP) that fails to communicate anything resembling the essence of the story, and second, by struggling mightily in their reporting to make it appear that this is a "he said, she said" dispute, instead of a situation where Beauchamp and TNR have been thoroughly discredited.
Here's the headline:
Army denounces articles written by GI
Trouble is, Paragraphs 4 through 7 of the story make it clear that this is no mere denunciation -- it's a complete repudiation that the person the Army is supposedly only "denouncing" agrees with:
Forget Nurse Ratched. Pat Buchanan and Willie Geist have birthed a new metaphor for Hillary Clinton: the mean schoolmarm.
On "Morning Joe" today at about 6:55 A.M. EDT, the pair were discussing the way in which Clinton has cuffed Barack Obama around for his ill-considered statement that he would invade Pakistan under certain circumstances. Geist has been guest-hosting for Joe Scarborough this week. Buchanan hypothesized a situation in which the U.S. did have intelligence about OBL's location within Pakistan.
Awaiting the presidential press conference shortly before 10:30 this morning, CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric tossed a question to Pentagon correspondent David Martin. But Couric apparently wasn't informed that Martin has lost his voice and was ill-equipped to go live on national television as he could barely whisper the answer to Couric's question.
The day after Barry Bonds set a dubious record, CNN's Kyra Phillips [file photo] might have set one of her own. Rather than "Career Home Runs," file this one under "Tasteless and Inappropriate Questions Posed to a Soldier in a War Zone."
At about 3:40 P.M. EDT on this afternoon's CNN Newsroom, co-anchor Phillips was interviewing Lt. General Raymond Odierno, the MNF second-in-command in Iraq.
CNN Anchor Kyra Phillips: You know there's been a lot of shifting around in positions, a lot of positions lost, key positions. Do you think that this job that you've taken on could be career suicide?