Just yesterday a reader brought to my attention the sudden TV ubiquity of John Harwood. He pointed out that - CNBC and Wall Street Journal credentials notwithstanding - Harwood is a predictable liberal voice. And sure enough, it was none other than Harwood that David Gregory chose for a comment on L'Affaire Kerry on this morning's 'Today.' And darn if that reader wasn't right about Harwood's leftward tilt. Let's read and analyze Harwood's statement:
"It's difficult to see, in a campaign dominated by unhappiness about the Iraq war, how these comments will be a driving force in the last few days."
Here at NewsBusters, the last thing we'd want to do is sow discord among the liberal house columnists of the New York Times. But present purposes oblige me to let Bob Herbert know that his colleague Maureen Dowd doesn't read his column.
That's the only way to explain Dowd's claim in her column this morning that the people "tut-tutting" about Barack Obama's presidential ambitions are Republicans. According to Dowd, those mean GOP types are putting Obama down because of his lack of foreign policy experience.
You, mean, Maureen, as in this statement?:
"In an appearance on “Meet the Press” yesterday, [Obama] made it clear that he was considering . . . a run. With all due respect to Senator Obama, this is disturbing. . . [he] has a very slender résumé, very little experience in national politics, hardly any in foreign policy."
Rahm Emanuel missed his calling in life. Rather than heading the Dem congressional campaign committee, he should have become a professional in the sport of freediving - holding your breath and diving without any breathing apparatus. Judging by his performance on today's Good Morning America, there's no doubt Rahm would have been a world champion.
In the closely-controlled world of the first half-hour [really 22 minutes] of the morning news shows, hosts keep a tight rein on their guests. Even notorious gabbers like Joe Biden are lucky to get in 15 seconds in before being cut short. Katie Couric, for all her liberal leanings, was a master of the technique.
"I'll see your disgruntled Republican and raise you an anti-war veteran, a pro-illegal-immigrant naturalized American and a Christian conservative who knows others planning to stay home."
That's how you might describe the bidding in the ABC/NBC game of Texas Talk 'Em Down. You might recall that last week I reported here on how NBC's David Gregory unearthed an Ohio bookstore owner, described as a "life-long Republican," who was thinking of voting Democrat.
That all you got, Today? Bookstore-owner high? Good Morning America beat that handily this morning with a full house!
Jake Tapper conducted the folks-in-the-Middle-American-diner segment, an obligatory bit of MSM pre-election shtick. ABC's chief DC political correspondent found himself out at Tommy's Diner in Columbus, Ohio, the same town in which Gregory disinterred his disillusioned Republican. Place must be a hotbed of disgruntled GOPers!
As Tim Graham reported here earlier this week, NBC reporter Richard Engel, who spends much of his time in Iraq, has declared: "I think war should be illegal...I'm basically a pacifist."
This morning's 'Today' ran a feature Engel had put together focusing on depression among American troops serving in Iraq. Engel spoke with men of the 1st Platoon, 562nd Engineer Company. At one point, Engel asked the soldier pictured here:
"You ever worry one day your number's gonna come up?'"
Replied the soldier, in words echoing those of comrades over the generations: "Yeah, but you try to keep that in the back of your head. You just focus on today and what you've got to do to get it right and bring everybody back home alive."
Haven't the MSM been suggesting it's only Republicans who engage in mean-spirited tactics in the closing weeks of a campaign? Yet in her column this morning, the LA Times Rosa Brooks dug deep into the dreck, depicting W as a drunk. She writes:
"When it comes to Iraq, being a citizen in George W. Bush's America is like being a passenger in a car driven by a drunk driver."
Shades of the 2000 campaign, when just days before the election a decades-old Bush DUI surfaced, under circumstances giving reason to believe a Gore aide was behind the leak.
When NBC military affairs correspondent Jim Miklaszewski posed an ill-founded question to Donald Rumsfeld at a Pentagon press briefing today, the Secretary of Defense responded in, shall we say, animated fashion, leaving very little doubt as to where he stood on the matter.
The Mik apparently asserted that every time a security benchmark has been laid down, the Iraqis have failed to meet it.
You can view the Defense Secretary's muscular response - cataloguing Miklaszewski's myriad mistakes - here.
Reading their respective pay-per-view columns this morning, it's a gauge of just how far out Paul Krugman is on the port side of politics that his New York Times colleague Bob Herbert sounds positively moderate by comparison.
In The Obama Bandwagon Herbert expresses salutary - and surprising - caution when it comes to the current outbreak of Obama-mania:
"It’s a measure of how starved the country is for a sensible, appealing, intelligent, trustworthy leader that a man who until just a couple of years ago was an obscure state senator in Illinois is now suddenly, in the view of an awful lot of voters, the person we should install in the White House."
Mr. Mallaby goes on a long diatribe that contradicts itself so many times that an informed reader would get whiplash from the experience. And all those head turing points are attacks against the effectiveness, sincerity, and well-meaning of American policy.
He begins his screed by negatively invoking a Ronald Reaganism, saying "It's not exactly morning in America", after which he regales us on how nothing worthwhile has come from Iraq, "a special Rumsfeldian screw-up".
Will someone please explain to me the MSM's standards for airing graphic footage?
At the time of 9-11 itself, the MSM apparently made a collective decision that it wouldn't show any of the graphic evidence of the horror that had been visited on thousands of our fellow citizens. No pictures of victims. No close-ups of the poor souls who chose to jump rather than being consumed by the flames. Even years later, there was somber MSM discussion, as here and here, as to whether movies like 'World Trade Center' or 'Flight 93' had come too soon.
I DVD'ed Olbermann overnight to check just how fawning a performance he would put in with his guest Barack Obama - whom FCC regulations require me to describe as "the rising star of the Democratic party." When it came to Olbermann's sycophancy, I wasn't disappointed. After accusing Republicans of "terrorizing" Americans, the MSNBC host continued:
"proposing an alternative course for American politics, one that replaces fear with - of all things - hope, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and his new book, The Audacity of Hope."
The midterm elections are approaching and some members of the media are revving up their bias. MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann recently suggested that President Bush might be as big a threat as the terrorists. This was only a day after referring to conservative talk show hosts who visited the White House as the "Legion of Doom." CNN’s Jack Cafferty wondered if Karl Rove is planning an "October surprise" to salvage the Republicans’ chances in the midterm elections.
The print media have also offered unrestrained attacks from the left. A "Washington Post" report described House Speaker Dennis Hastert appearance as "a cross between Wildford Brimley and Jabba the Hutt." Nothing quite like objectivity, huh? A former "New York Times" bureau chief recently characterized the Christian right as "fascist." Perhaps he’d been chatting with "Newsweek" columnist Jonathan Alter. Alter told Don Imus he hoped the country has seen the last of "values voters."
The "Today" show fawned over Barack Obama, describing him as "electrifying" and a "rock star." This was on the same day that they giddily predicted a "perfect storm" to wipe out the Republicans in the midterms. Another early AM program, CNN’s "American Morning"encouraged author David Kuo to call for Christians to boycott the upcoming election.
Imagine you're a leading news magazine. You've published a major story claiming that Afghanistan is a brewing disaster in which Al-Qaeda can once again roam with impunity. So bad is the situation, say you, that for purposes of your article you've dubbed the country "Jihadistan."
Now comes the Pentagon, and in painstaking, point-by-point fashion, refutes so many of your article's assertions as to call its overall validity into question. How do you respond?
A. In a rigorous, systematic manner, you contest the Pentagon's arguments and prove that you were correct in the first place.
Despite the harsh headline: Hillary Hits Bottom, Hillary Clinton might actually welcome Rosa Brooks' LA Times column of this morning condemning her for supporting legislation allowing torture in ticking-bomb cases. Call it a 'Sistah Rosa' moment that Hillary can point to as proof she's not too soft on terror to be president.
But I wonder. Is Brooks aware - while bashing the presumptive presidential candidate for supporting legislation permitting torture in narrowly delineated cases - that Hillary is echoing her husband?
Has Brooks read this column by Alan Dershowitz? The Harvard law prof reports on Bill's recent NPR interview in which he said:
On his show yesterday, MSNBC's Tucker Carlson congratulated Diane Sawyer of ABC for leaving the comforts of home to report from North Korea. Judging by her report this morning, you'd have to say the rigors have been worth it. Sawyer has been on a week-long stay in Dear-Leader Land, and this morning she scored an important story. A top N. Korean general flatly told her that his country has the means to deliver a nuclear weapon.
Sawyer: "We asked him what the words of North Korea meant when they said there would be a 'merciless blow' in response to any sanctions? He said he couldn't say specifically but pointed out they have short- and long-range missiles. He said 'President Bush wants us to kneel down. We cannot agree on that. If it continues, I think it will be natural to have war.'"
Amidst all the MSM reports about this being the deadliest month for US troops in Iraq in a long time, there was a stunning bit of candor today from NBC reporter Richard Engel suggesting this is not mere coincidence, but a conscious effort by the terrorists to elect Democrats.
At the end of his report on this morning's 'Today' on the situation in Iraq, having spoken with US soliders, Engel reported:
"They believe insurgents are intensifying attacks against American soldiers now in an attempt to influence November's mid-term elections."
As I mentioned last week, CBS was pushing the notion that the Bush administration ought to kowtow to North Korean demands and agree to bilateral talks. This theme was again highlighted on Wednesday’s "Early Show" by co-host Harry Smith. Smith had the opportunity to speak with Wendy Sherman, President Clinton’s former North Korea adviser, and while he noted that people like former Democratic Senator Sam Nunn, whom Smith describes as "a very wise guy about this stuff," think we should talk directly with the North Korean regime, he omitted any questions about Ms. Sherman’s role in the Clinton administration and its failed polices regarding North Korea. At the end of the 7:00 half hour, Smith inquired:
I don’t know about you, but I love it when a liberal member of Congress tries to talk tough about terrorism. It’s kind of like watching my 13-year-old daughter try to bully my 18-year-old son. Such was the case on the “O’Reilly Factor” last night when Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) tried to look tough in front of Our Boy Bill – sorry for the “Carousel” pun to those who caught it (hat tip to Hot Air with video link to follow).
The scrum started early when O’Reilly brought up the Military Commissions Act just signed by the President, and the fact that Rangel voted against it. Charlie weakly replied: “Not only is the bill unconstitutional, but it was brought up on the eve of an election to give some type of feeling that Republicans were tough on terrorism.”
Rangel stepped into an uppercut with that offering, and O’Reilly didn’t miss the opportunity:
If you're looking for some fair-and-balanced commentary on the situation in Iraq, there's nothing like relying exclusively on a scholar with two degrees from Berkeley - particularly if that same person is a frequent NPR guest.
That was Good Morning America's approach this morning. The only expert invited to comment on the situation in Iraq was Shibley Telhami of the Brookings Institution. Predictably, he painted matters in the bleakest possible light:
"I believe that the United States has lost the ability to control events in Iraq. And it lost them long ago."
A quick Googling reveals that Telhami has both a doctorate and masters from Berkeley. He was an undergrad at Queens College in NYC, another liberal hotbed. According to his Wikipedia entry, Telhami was born into an Arab family in Israel and is a regular guest on NPR.
"General Pelosi, I'm Matt Lauer, and I'm reporting for duty!"
OK, Matt didn't quite say that as 'Today' kicked off its 'The War at Home' three-part series this morning on the lives of American veterans once they return home from war. But judging from the opening episode and the tease for what's to come tomorrow, he might just as well. NBC is clearly doing its part to tend the Dems' Victory Garden.
Of all the reporters in the NBC News stable, 'Today' tapped for this segment Jonathan Alter, a regular guest on Al Franken's Air America show and a consistently liberal columnist at Newsweek. And of all the hundreds of thousands of veterans, Today just happened to choose Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs while co-piloting a Black Hawk helicopter in Iraq, and who now just happens to be . . . running for Congress as a - give me a sec here, OK, got it - Democrat.
On the syndicated Chris Matthews Show NBC's Andrea Mitchell and CBS's Gloria Borger sounded like Blame America Firsters when explaining what the American public wants in a candidate for '08. Mitchell worried that world views the U.S. as "bullies" and "arrogant." Borger punctuated Mitchell's theory saying the American voter is "done with the arrogance of American foreign policy." The following exchange occurred on the October 15th edition of The Chris Matthews Show:
Andrea Mitchell: "That and I think what might most, could be the most profound problem beyond our men and women overseas in harm's way is how much hated the United States is for a variety of reasons. Fairly or not fairly. There is a perception abroad and it's in Europe and it's in the Islamic world and it's in Asia is that we are bullies, is that we're arrogant. It goes back to decisions that were made or perceptions of decisions, the wars. And whether it's fair or not somebody's gotta fix that and that cannot be fixed with Radio Free Europe or its descendants. It is a big, big problem."
I experienced an eerie sense of déjà vu this morning while reading an AP article entitled "Iran Blames U.S. for N. Korea Nuke Test." I could swear that I had already read this same blame-America analysis somewhere else. That sent me scrambling back to my report on the piece by LA Times columnist Rosa Brooks, "A Good Week for the Axis of Evil" contained in my NB item of yesterday [but please don't read just yet]. And sure enough, I found language there that closely tracked the statement from Tehran.
So, let's have a little fun. I'll set the two statements out below, and you try to guess. Which was issued by the Men of Mahmoud, and which by a homegrown member of the Blame America Brigades? Answer below.
Contrary to what these so-called news reporters lead their readers to believe, ex-Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbechev did NOT help us "end the cold war" in any other way but to LOSE it! He was not on the same level with Ronald Reagan who is really the one responsible for ending the Cold War.
I have seen this many, many times, but it is always a good idea to continue pointing out this bias to keep people aware of just what Gorbachev's role was in the Cold War. "News" services like Reuters continue to uplift Gorby to the level of benevolent leader and kindly grandfather for helping us "end the cold war". But it just isn't true at all. Should Gorby have had his way, Russia would STILL be under the crushing thumb of the U.S.S.R. and its oppressive system.
You remember Rosa Brooks. She's the LA Times columnist who vehemently denies hating George Bush. To judge by her column of today, she has an odd way of proving it. In A Good Week for the Axis of Evil, Brooks lumps Pres. Bush in with the most evil dictators from around the globe, past and present.
After arguing that it's been a good week for "Dear Leader Kim Jong Il," Saddam Hussein and the leaders of Iran and Al-Qaeda, Brooks claims "this week's news was a humiliating setback for the United States' homegrown authoritarians — a.k.a. the Bush administration."
I was dutifully working my way through Robert Kuttner's Boston Globe column of this morning, Cleaning Up the Mess, on the lookout for some outrageous MSM morsel with which to arouse NewsBusters readers.
But all I was getting were Kuttner's "on the one hand, but on the other hand" arguments as to whether it is in Democratic interests to retake one or both houses of Congress come November. His thesis is that America is such a mess thanks to years of Republican misrule that fixing it could be a thankless task for Dems, who might be better off waiting for the deluge of the 2008 presidential elections. For the record, Kuttner does come down on the side of taking power now.
For Maureen Dowd, politics are primarily personal. This morning she managed to reduce the current Korean conflict to an image of two boys behaving badly. Meanwhile, is mocking John McCain's POW past a smart move for Hillary? Dowd offered a stunning insight into the Hillary campaign that suggests it might not be the ready-for-presidential-primetime operation some might imagine.
The topic of Maureen Dowd's subscription-required column of this morning, Is Chivalry Shivved?, is the war of words between Hillary and John McCain, as the two top presidential contenders recently fired some early shots over the other's bow on the topic of responsibility for the N. Korean nuclear mess.
With timing in the tradition of the Foley fiasco leak - geared for maximum impact on the coming elections - a study was published earlier this week by The Lancet, a British medical science journal, claiming that 655,000 Iraqis have died “as a consequence of the war.” The MSM predictably accorded the study great attention.
In this item yesterday, I noted that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and MNF Commander Casey rejected the study's findings, which is wholly at odds with the US government estimate of 30-50,000 Iraqi civilians killed.
Now, as a Pentagon official has made known, a range of experts - who notably come from across the foreign policy spectrum - has cast doubts on the report's methodology and conclusions. Moreover, one of the study authors has been revealed as an anti-war partisan as has the editor of the Lancet itself. The first is a former Democratic congressional candidate, the latter made recently outlandish accusations as to the motivations of the governments leading the war effort.
The MSM had a field day Wednesday with two reports. The first was by a Johns Hopkins scientist, suggesting that there have been more than 600,000 civilian deaths in Iraq during the current conflict - a full order of magnitude greater than the US-government estimate of 30-50,000. Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies criticized the way the estimate was derived and noted that the results were released shortly before the Nov. 7 election."They're almost certainly way too high. This is not analysis, this is politics," Cordesman said.
The second report was one suggesting that the Army was planning to maintain current troop levels in Iraq through 2010.
There's a saying along the lines that liberals will always oppose the use of US force - except where US security interests are not at stake. The New York Times editorial of this morning, The Age of Impunity, provides a perfect case in point.
The central thesis is this:
"Bush has squandered so much of America’s moral authority — not to mention our military resources — that efforts to shame or bully the right behavior from adversaries (and allies) sound hollow."
Along the way, the Times recommends that Pres. Bush pander to the rogue regimes in Pyongyang and Tehran by making "a clear pledge — no caveats and no fingers crossed behind his back - that he would not try to overthrow" their governments.
"Didn't the MSM get the memo? Keep Foley on the front page!" That seemed to be Chris Matthews' attitude when he was interviewed on this afternoon's MSNBC Live regarding Pres. Bush's press conference of this morning.
Appearing during the 2-2:30 PM ET slot, the transparently ticked-off Hardball host was asked: "The Mark Foley scandal has been dominating the news for over a week now. It was barely touched upon in the news conference today. Was the president, do you think, successful in refocusing attention on to the economy and national security today?"
A palpably PO'd Matthews:
"Well, he was successful to a large extent because the press, for whatever reason, decided not to ask him about the Foley scandal, which has dominated this network and so much else of the media for the last couple weeks and has been a big part of the American conversation. I don't know why though the correspondents - and they're the best in the business - chose to stick right to the issue of Iraq and North Korea, but they did, giving the president a chance to grab the headline tomorrow morning and tonight, with a big story about North Korea and his position on that topic. He has won the day on controlling the topic."