Scanning the columns at Townhall.com is part of my early-morning routine, and it was at about 6 A.M. today that I read Charles Krauthammer's "Obama Bombing." I marveled at how perfectly the Pulitzer Prize-winning author had captured the essence of Hugo Chavez, calling the Venezuelan thug "a malevolent clown."
Krauthammer's words obviously impressed Matt Lauer, too. For barely an hour later, I was pleasantly surprised to find the psychiatrist-turned-pundit's phrase turning up on the screen at "Today," with Lauer clearly seeming to advance the conservative commentator's theory.
Lauer was interviewing MSNBC's Chris Matthews on this week's Hillary-Obama dust-up.
"TODAY" CO-ANCHOR MATT LAUER: Let me ask you about this debate, the issue that came out of the debate, this whole inexperience-versus-change thing, when Barack Obama answered that in the first year of his presidency he would meet with people like Castro and Chavez. Let me read you what Charles Krauthammer wrote in the Washington Post this morning:
Do the Democrats want to risk strike three, another national security question blown, but this time perhaps in a final presidential debate before the '08 election, rather than a midseason intraparty cattle call? The country might decide that it prefers, yes, a Republican -- say, 9/11 veteran Rudy Giuliani -- to a freshman senator who does not instinctively understand why an American president does not share the honor of his office with a malevolent clown like Hugo Chavez.
The current political buzzword is "naive." That's of course what Hillary called Obama, and he has responded in kind. But when it comes to being an ingenue, Obama has a long way to go to top Sally Quinn, grande dame of the DC set and wife of former WaPo editor Ben Bradlee. Here's what she said on this afternoon's "Hardball."
SALLY QUINN: The fact is that the new word these days is 'dialogue.' [Ed.: New? Well shut Socrates mouth!] And so many of these dictators, quote, dictators [Ed.: we wouldn't want to offend Assad or Kim Jong Il] are really sort of shallow people who are looking for respect, andif you talk to them, you can immediately sort of get them down and get them on your side.
Nothing says "idealistic" like brutally suppressing freedom and imprisoning courageous advocates of democracy. At least in the view of CBS News, apparently.
At 7:21 a.m. EDT on this morning's "Early Show," CBS's Kelly Cobiella reported from Havana on the occasion of Cuba's national day. Co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez asked Cobiella about the prospects for change.
CBS "EARLY SHOW" CO-ANCHOR MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: There's no question that Fidel and [his brother] Raul are different types of leaders. I'm sure we'll see it when he speaks later. He doesn't have Fidel's charisma and he seems a little bit more open to change. As he solidifies his power, what kind of changes do you think Cubans can expect to see?
That's when Cobiella went into Fidel-fan mode . . .
On July 25, two of the major morning news shows, "Today" and "The Early Show," covered the recent foreign policy disagreements between Senators Obama and Clinton with very stark contrasts.
Bob Schieffer on CBS’s "Early Show"hyped her supposedly inevitable nomination exclaiming "it’s Christmas in July for Mrs. Clinton" and "this is going to be Mrs. Clinton’s nomination to lose." Scheiffer, noting Clinton’s response to Obama, fawned "boy...she jumped on this one" and tied it in to her "experience." To top it off, Schieffer claimed "this Clinton machine is now really running."
Tim Russert on NBC’s "Today," by contrast, forecasted "a fight to the finish" because Obama "punches back" by accusing Clinton of irresponsibility voting for the Iraq War. Russert also opined that Hillary risks hurting the left wing base of her party.
The New York Daily News perpetrated an interesting, yet subtly misleading headline about president Bush's Charleston, South Carolina speech on Al Qaeda in Iraq today in theirs titled "W still ties Iraq, 9/11." Following the left's playbook of claiming Bush has illicitly linked Saddam's Iraq to 9/11 their headline made it seem as if Bush, indeed, "still ties" 9/11 to Iraq.
It is, of course, a false claim that Bush linked Iraq to 9/11 either then OR now, but the New York Daily News doesn't seem too interested in the truth. And for the headline to say "still ties" they are certainly saying that Bush is using past tense verbiage. But, for the most part, Bush is clearly talking present tense in his speech and he still never linked "Iraq" to "9/11" in the way the Daily News headline seems to claim.
Unlike their "American Morning" counterparts who liked most of the candidates, CNN legal analyst Jeff Toobin and CNN contributor Roland Martin had clear favorites on who was the best Democrat at the CNN/YouTube.com debate. In the post-debate special on Monday night, host Wolf Blitzer asked Toobin about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's response to a YouTube video questioner who asked whether the candidates would meet with the leaders of rogue counties like Iran, Syria, and North Korea in their first year in office. Toobin gushed, "I thought on this issue, and throughout the debate, this debate was Gladys Knight and the Pips. Hillary Clinton is the dominant figure in the party. She's the dominant figure in the debate. And everybody else was responding to her." About twenty minutes later, Martin took issue with Toobin's comments, and argued that Obama did as well as Hillary in his answer.
Is MSNBC becoming Catfight Central? A few days ago I noted this epic dust-up on the cable network between conservative radio talk show host Melanie Morgan and feminist Naomi Wolf. Today's "Morning Joe" brought more fireworks of a feline variety, as NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd took some serious swipes at Anderson Cooper and his hosting of last night's CNN/YouTube presidential debate.
NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR CHUCK TODD: I thought the questions were good, it was a good candidate forum. The downside was that the moderator [Anderson Cooper] missed opportunities to create a debate. That was my one frustration. Obama tried to take a shot at Hillary about being a Johnny-come-lately when it comes to withdrawal from Iraq, and it just disappeared, the attack disappeared. Obama's way of attacking Clinton sometimes is soft; he softpedals his attacks. Maybe Cooper didn't see it; maybe he needs to be hit with a sledgehammer, but he just immediately went to the next question.
Hmm, what would a Freudian say about Chuck imagining Cooper being hit with a sledgehammer?
During the course of tonight's CNN/YouTube Dem debate, Barack Obama got off this zinger at Hillary's expense.
BARACK OBAMA: One thing I have to say about Senator Clinton,s comments a couple moments ago: I think it's terrific that she is asking for [Iraq withdrawal] plans from the Pentagon [A+ for condescension there, Barack!], and I think the Pentagon response was ridiculous. But what I also know is that the time for us to ask how we were going to get out of Iraq was before we went in. And that is something that too many of us [like you, Hillary] failed to do. We failed to do it.
The screencap shows Hillary's reaction. What was going through her mind?
There was an epic dust-up on this afternoon's show between feminist Naomi Wolf and conservative radio talk show host Melanie Morgan.
At the risk of burying the lead a bit, I can't resist observing that Naomi Wolf might just be the most passively aggressive woman in America. She has an amazing, infuriating, ability to keep a smile plastered on her face while saying the nastiest of things. It took her no more than a few seconds to get into it with guest host Mike Barnicle on this evening's Hardball. Barnicle invited Wolf to comment on the WaPo story about Hillary showing cleavage on the floor of the Senate, introducing her as a Democratic consultant and former advisor to Al Gore who had advised him to wear earth tones. But before responding, Naomi had some correctin' to do.
NAOMI WOLF: Mike, let me just stop you right there. You basically have not done your homework, no offense [right]. First of all, I'm not a Democratic consultant, I'm a writer. Second of all, I was advising Gore 2000 on women's issues that I've been talking about for 15 years . . . so you've just been, the Republican National Committee came up with a bunch of urban legends, and I'm afraid they pulled the wool over your eyes.
Pretty aggressive. Yet Wolf managed to maintain a brilliant, nay, beatific smile throughout. But when it came to aggression, Wolf was just clearing her throat.
The 9-10 mentality is alive and well and living at the Los Angeles Times. In A really bad case of 'reality', house columnist Rosa Brooks approvingly cites unnamed "experts" thusly:
[Al Qaeda] was little more than an obscure group of extremist thugs, well financed and intermittently lethal but relatively limited in their global and regional political pull. On 9/11, they got lucky — but despite the unexpected success of their attack on the U.S., they did not pose an imminent mortal threat to the nation.
As straight news articles go, it was a heck of an editorial that appeared on the front page of yesterday's New York Times. The ostensible subject of Bush to Bolster Abbas and Seek Peace Talks was President Bush's announcement Monday of "a regional peace conference this fall to be led by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that would include high-level Arab envoys and their counterparts from Israel and the Palestinian West Bank."
All well and good. But in the course of the article, author Helene Cooper managed to work in these two swipes at the Bush administration:
The planned meeting, the first of its kind in Mr. Bush’s presidency, signals another pivotal shift for an administration that is desperately seeking some kind of foreign policy victory in the volatile Middle East that would draw attention away from the war in Iraq.
But now the United States is mired in Iraq and looking for a way to build good will among Arab allies that have pushed for America to re-engage in Middle East peace talks.
Hardly a week goes by without the New York Times editorializing for more government regulation of something or other. But the Grey Lady takes things to another level in its jeremiad of this morning: scolding the Chinese communists for insufficient regulation of their economy.
Now it's true that a variety of defective Chinese products have made their way into international commerce, from, as the Times enumerates, toothpaste sweetened with an industrial solvent [NB: file photo, not of defective brands] to tainted antibiotics. But for entertaining irony, it's hard to beat the spectacle of the New York Times criticizing a communist government for insufficient regulation of its society.
On last night's Fox News Watch, panelist and conservative columnist Jim Pinkerton mentioned that, when it came to analyzing the reasons for the collapse of John McCain's candidacy, Media Research Center [MRC] got it right: it was the Arizona senator's avid support for the amnesty-based immigration plan, and not his backing of the Bush Iraq policy, that did him in with GOP primary voters.
FOX NEWS WATCH PANELIST JIM PINKERTON: The mainstream media said "[McCain's] toast because of the Iraq war. In fact, he's toast because of the immigration bill, and it was only the MRC that caught that, saying the real thing that hurt him with the Republican base, the people in the primaries, was immigration and not Iraq.
A terrorist website releases a tape of Osama Bin Laden, claiming it's new. And how do the MSM react? By rushing to air it, or in the case of wire services like AP, trumpet it in print. As of 6:30 A.M. EDT this morning, the AP story Bin Laden Appears in New al-Qaida Video was featured on Drudge.
There's only one problem. A senior Bush administration official informs this NewsBuster that:
"intelligence agencies have determined the video was previously aired as a portion of a longer show first on MBC TV (Middle East broadcast station) on April 17, 2002."
What's the result of the MSM's sloppy "air-first-verify-later" approach? The world’s most evil and despicable terrorists are given tons of free air time and print exposure.
Is ABC's Bill Weir a TV journalist -- or a recruiter for Team Defeat? You had to wonder, watching his interview on today's "Good Morning America" of Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.). Alexander has co-sponsored legislation that would make the Iraq Study Group recommendations the basis for future U.S. strategy in Iraq.
GMA CO-HOST BILL WEIR: You have introduced an idea now that really centers around redeploying our troops over there. What would it take for you to get behind a timetable for withdrawal?
This could be an MSM first: breaking out a variation on the old used-car salesman line: "what would it take to get you to buy this car today?"
Later in the interview, Weir returned to his effort of luring Lamar to the surrender side.
WEIR: The Democrats say your proposals don't have enough teeth. They really want to see some movement here. But as you watch the President this week, "stay the course," yet again [bad, bad, intransigent President!]. You're defying him in a way just by introducing this. Do you hope that he'll come around to you, or are you eventually just drifting towards an eventual [support for] withdrawal?
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States. -- U.S. Constitution Article II, Section 2.
The faces occasionally change at "Today," but the bias remains the same. Natalie Morales sat in for Meredith Vieira this morning, but the show didn't lose a liberal beat, as Natalie knocked President Bush for his temerity in asserting his constitutional role as Commander-in-Chief.
Chatting with Tim Russert at about 7:10 A.M. EDT, Morales offered this take on W's comments of yesterday:
NBC'S NATALIE MORALES: Tim, what was striking yesterday was the aggressive tone the President took with Congress yesterday,with lawmakers, saying it is not their job to manage the war. Not since Vietnam has there been such a clash between the executive and the legislative branches. If the President is trying to build support, did he lose some of that yesterday?
Ann Curry didn't even bother with the "some say" dodge. On this morning's "Today," she flatly suggested to Michael Chertoff that we are losing the war on terror because of a "misguided focus" on Iraq.
The Secretary of Homeland Security was on to discuss reports that a new assessment from U.S. counterterrorism analysts indicates that al-Qaeda has rebuilt itself and poses the greatest threat to the U.S. since before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
When Chertoff confirmed the report's basic accuracy, Curry went on offense.
NBC'S ANN CURRY: You're saying that this report is true. Well, how is this possible? How is it possible that after six years and U.S. attacks, that al-Qaeda could now could be at about the same level it was pre-9-11?
As Chertoff tried to respond, Curry interrupted, her voice suddenly thick with emotion.
CURRY: And what does it say specifically about whether we're losing this war on terror and if in fact that's because our focus is misguided, that's it's on Iraq, and not on this area of Pakistan?
If I hear one more MSM outlet ascribe the implosion of John McCain's candidacy to his support for the war in Iraq, I'm going to scream . .
Let's see. Why don't we check out this morning's "Today"?
NBC REPORTER CHIP REID: He's been falling steadily in the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll from 29% in December to 24 in March and last month just 14%. His unwavering support of the Iraq war is unpopular with moderate Republicans and he insists he won't change his position for political purposes.
Reid did go on to mention McCain's support for "immigration reform" [read amnesty] as another issue hurting his campaign. But anyone who thinks McCain's support for our Iraq policy [a position shared by the frontrunners] is his main problem with GOP primary voters is as out of touch with the Republican base as only the MSM can be.
Does NBC have some inside dope? Is John McCain, till now one of the staunchest supporters of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, about to bug out? An unusual question from Matt Lauer to Tony Snow this morning raised that possibility.
Here's the exchange that came on this morning's "Today" at 7:08 A.M. EDT, toward the end of Lauer's interview of White House press secretary Snow:
TODAY CO-HOST MATT LAUER: If, and you hate hypotheticals, I know, so hate me later, but if John McCain comes back [from his current Iraq trip] and joins the ranks of those other Republicans who say it's time to rethink this strategy, how big a blow is that to the President, considering how supportive John McCain has been to the strategy?
WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY TONY SNOW: You've got to understand that for the President, although politics is clearly important in building public support, succeeding is the most important thing of all. If we fail in Iraq, and this is something [U.S. Ambassador to Iraq] Ryan Crocker was pointing out as well, if you have failure in Iraq, you are going to see consequences that are going to be extraordinarily dire in the region, throughout the world and for the United States.
If Neal Gabler had been around in the late 1930s, would he have been praising Neville Chamberlain's complacency toward Hitler while condemning Churchill and FDR for their "hysteria"? Maybe so, judging by the liberal Fox News Watch panelist's comparison of the reaction of the British and the Americans to terror.
Gabler appeared on last evening's Fox News Watch.
FOX NEWS WATCH PANELIST NEAL GABLER: The [British] coverage was I think very responsible, very even-tempered, very fact-based, very cool, and I'm wondering if this isn't a function of the way the British government responded, which was very even-handed, very temperate, very cool . . . When we get terrorist threats in this country, I mean they are hyped, there's hysteria, and is that a function of the fact that the admistration hypes these things?
In all the time I've been monitoring the liberal media, rarely have I seen a host assail a guest with the ferocity David Shuster displayed in going after Fouad Ajami today. Shuster, guest-hosting for Chris Matthews on this afternoon's Hardball, was seemingly infuriated by a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece Ajami had written that analogized Scooter Libby to a fallen comrade who, pursuant to the Soldier's Creed, should not be left behind.
Set forth below are excerpts from Shuster's diatribe against Ajami, the Lebanese-born Director of the Middle East Studies Program at Johns Hopkins. But words alone don't do justice to the vituperation with which Shuster expressed himself. I urge readers to view the video. I might note that Ajami, perhaps inured to hyperbole by his many years in the Middle East, reacted to Shuster's verbal assaultswith equanimity.
SHUSTER: Mr. Ajami [never does Shuster refer to him by the honorific "Professor"], do you really believe Scooter Libby is like the 3,600 soldiers killed in Iraq?
AJAMI: I really don't need to be lectured on the soldiers killed in Iraq. I spent an enormous amount of time in Iraq. I've spent an enormous amount of time with the American soldiers in Iraq . . . I have a nephew serving with the American military as a lieutentant . . .
SHUSTER, interrupting: Which makes all this even more puzzling, with all due respect Mr. Ajami [translation: with no respect at all], to take someone like Scooter Libby and to compare him with somebody like your nephew or somebody who's actually wearing the uniform raises an awful lot of questions, and we're just trying to get at those questions [right].
AJAMI: You're following in the footsteps of Paul Krugman, who had a column in the New York Times. You have to be able to handle a metaphor. This really was a metaphor . . .
SHUSTER: Mr. Ajami, if it was a metaphor, why didn't you point out that it was a metaphor in your column? "Metaphor" is never in your column.
Michael Yon doesn't have an answer (HT to NewsBuster reader "acumen") as to why Old Media won't cover the Al Qaeda massacre of a small village near Baqubah, Iraq that he reported earlier this week (related NewsBusters posts are here and here):
Coordinates to the area of the gravesites are MC 679 381.
In my dispatch, I reported that six people were killed, but mentioned that Iraqi soldiers were still digging out bodies when I left. A few hours ago, Colonel Hiduit put the number at 10-14, and said the search for bodies had ended. I made video of the graves, bodies and of interviews with Iraqi and American soldiers while we still were at the scene and have been working to make material from this available on this website.
..... But for those publications who actually had people embedded in Baqubah when the story first broke and still failed to cover it, their malaise is inexplicable. I do not know why all failed to report the murders and booby-trapped village: apparently no reporters bothered to go out there, even though it’s only about 3.5 miles from this base. Any one of the reporters currently in Baqubah could still go to these coordinates and follow his or her nose and find the gravesites.
I was confident the New York Times would find a way to pour cold water on the Fourth of July. Still, turning to it this morning, I was curious to see just what kind of wet [with that cold water]blanket the Times would throw on our national holiday. And the Grey Lady didn't disappoint, with a sour, melancholy editorial viewing America through the eyes of other countries -- and naturally finding us wanting.
Looking Outward on the Fourth begins with a lament over "these very difficult times, four years deep into a war that has turned much of the world against this country." Got that? It's America's fault that times are tough, not that the world seethes with madmen who want to destroy the West. The editors then take a shot at unnamed "political leaders" [who could they be?] who "seek to arrogate the idea of freedom as their own political preserve."
If American media fails to cover this with the same amount of gusto that they have pursued Haditha and Abu Ghraib, they will be demonstrating their preference for whom they wish to win this conflict. The press has to tell the story that evil really does exist in this world. Imagine if the story of the Holocaust was never told because the media was only interested in reporting Allied atrocities. Yes, by failing to treat this war objectively, the media does indeed enable massacres such as this one and history will judge the coverage of this war very harshly.
The wicket has gotten sticky for those who, in the wake of terror attacks, seek to blame the West for the disaffection of a few Islamist youths gone wrong. The profile of those involved in the latest rash of terror incidents in the U.K. has stood that theory on its head.
Consider the dialogue on this morning's "Today" at 7:06 a.m. EDT between NBC's Lester Holt and Lisa Myers, both reporting from London.
NBC'S LESTER HOLT: Lisa, we always hear when these sort of things happen in the U.K. about disaffected young Muslim men, sort of home-grown terrorists. When you talk about physicians, does this change the nature of what anti-terror authorities here would expect in these cases?
NBC'S LISA MYERS: Absolutely, Lester. This greatly complicates the profile. Most of the recent plots had been the work of so-called home-grown cells with ties to Pakistan; disaffected young British Muslims who in some cases went to Pakistan for terror training. Here you have a group of highly-educated foreigners, the kind of people that this country actually encourages to come to Britain. So that makes it very tough, Lester.
Maybe this afternoon's oppressive heat and humidity on the Hardball Plaza in DC were getting to Chris Matthews. I'm not sure how else to explain his complaint, to the effect that it is wrong of the Roman Catholic Church to apply its rules to politicians as it does to other adherents.
His remark came in the course of a debate on religion on this afternoon's edition of "Hardball" between Christopher Hitchens, author of the atheist polemic "God Is Not Great", and the Reverend Al Sharpton.
HARDBALL HOST CHRIS MATTHEWS: Today you have the Roman Catholic church through its bishops challenging the rights of Catholic office-holders to take positions for abortion rights. They basically say you have to be for imprisonment of people involved with abortion or else you're not a Catholic and you'll be excommunicated. It seems to be an era, not just because of Islam, to keep religion out of politics . . . Why are they foisting themselves, why are the religious leaders jumping into the political marketplace and saying to politically-elected people, who are duly elected, "you cannot take that position and be in our church, or we will excommunicate you"? That seems to be what's going on.
Mika Brzezinski is at it again. As noted here and here, the daughter of Jimmy Carter's former National Security Advisor is inclined to inject her personal political views into her MSNBC newsreading role.
At 6:10 am EDT on today's "Morning Joe," Mika read an item reporting that Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) had called for a change of course in Iraq and expressed support for the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, co-chaired by James Baker and Lugar's fellow Hoosier, Lee Hamilton.
Mika couldn't restrain herself, archly asking:
MSNBC NEWSREADER MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Whatever happened to the Iraq Study Group, because I believe President Bush asked for those pieces of advice, correct?
Host Joe Scarborough immediately called Mika on her editorializing.
MSNBC HOST JOE SCARBOROUGH: The thing is, Mika, if you write for the front page of the New York Times, they don't let you go into the editorial room.
Tuesday mornings’s Democratic presidential candidates forum, aired live on MSNBC and moderated by Chris Matthews, had a few, to put it mildly, strange moments. Billed as a forum, the event was little more than a union-sponsored soapbox for the three leading Democratic candidates, Senators Clinton and Obama, and former Senator Edwards.
The left-leaning American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, which organized the soapbox, was quick to cheer for the most mundane of liberal catch phrases while descending into boos and hisses at the very mention of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.
I look forward to complaints that China has only a sixth of the world's population but emits a quarter of its CO2, that Chinese auto emissions standards aren't good enough (Mr Gore?) and that China hasn't signed Kyoto .....
As we've documented at NewsBusters, last year the media, particularly the Washington Post, raked then-Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) over the coals for his infamous "macaca" insult, and his ensuing profuse apologies for same. We've also documented that Democratic politicians' jokes about India and Indian-Americans have been largely ignored (see below the jump).
The latest racial incident kicking up dust on the 2008 campaign trail is yet another Democratic gaffe, dubbed by some, "Punjab-gate," after an Obama presidential campaign research memo cheekily described rival Hillary Clinton as a Democrat from Punjab, a province in India.
Of course, as the oppo memo itself notes, and as John McCormick of the Chicago Tribune reported in the Trib's "The Swamp" blog, Obama's staff were referring to another "lame attempt at humor" (my emphasis, see below jump) by the junior senator from the Empire State about her electoral chances were she to decide to relocate to India: