For a TV host, there's nothing much more difficult than interviewing a family member of someone who has been killed or seriously harmed. So when the uncle of one of the US soldiers kidnapped and killed in Iraq called for the offering of a massive ransom and a prisoner exchange, give Matt Lauer credit for having had the courage to challenge him.
Here's how it went down.
Lauer was interviewing Ken MacKenzie, a well-spoken, well-informed uncle to PFC Kristian Menchaca. Asked Lauer:
"A group linked to al-Qaeda on its website has claimed that they actually took Kristian and another soldier. What's your reaction to that?"
"My reaction is the United States government should have immediately notified these Shura Council mujahadeen that the United States government was offering a $100-million reward and offering to exchange the 2,500 mujahadeen detainees that Prime Minister al-Maliki of Iraq plans to release several weeks from now. I think the U.S. government was too slow to react to this, they should have had a plan in place. Because the U.S. government did not have a plan in place, my nephew has paid for it with his life."
Know what the problem is with the Bush administration? They take terror threats too darn seriously. And that causes a 'backlash.'
At least, that's the claim of author Ron Suskind, who was on the Today show this morning to discuss his recently-released book, 'The One Percent Doctrine'. Suskind is a former Wall Street Journal reporter. Those who might think that would indicate a conservative bent should be aware that, perhaps more than at any other paper in America, there is a remarkable contrast in the political leanings of the news and the editorial operations of the WSJ. Yes, the editorial page is keenly free-market conservative. But as per a 2004 study, the Journal's news operation is 'the most liberal of all 20 news outlets [studied]', more liberal than even the New York Times.
As this op-ed column from today's Los Angeles Times illustrates, the MSM and the left-dominated American academy continue to side, in the name of 'human rights', against measures designed to protect us from another 9/11 and with those who might potentially do us harm.
Author David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University and volunteer attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, was co-counsel to the plaintiffs in Turkmen vs. Ashcroft. He condemns the district court ruling in that case, which, as described in this article from Jurist, held:
Pinkerton reports on his brief foray inside the belly of the 'immigrant rights' beast. Far from being an echo of the black civil-rights movement of the '60s based on non-violence, Pinkerton says that it's a radical 'movimiento' animated by dreams of 'reconquista.'
Pinkerton explains that earlier this week he attended a panel discussion entitled "The New Immigrants Movement," part of a "Take Back America" conference convened in Washington, D.C., by the left-wing Campaign for America's Future.
After being off the last two days, Harry Smith returned to CBS’s "Early Show" this morning and apparently he didn’t forget the bias. Today Smith interviewed Dan Bartlett, a counselor to President Bush. While Smith set up Senator Joe Biden on June 5 to go on the offensive against the war, he tried his best to keep Bartlett on the defensive while downplaying President Bush’s surprise visit to Iraq yesterday.
Smith began the questioning:
"Well, the Iraqis now have a constitution. Now they actually have a government as well. What they don't have in Baghdad is day-to-day security or even electricity. How does the president's visit change that?"
Has Katie Couric's departure had a salubrious effect on Matt Lauer? Freed his inner moderate? The jury's still out. And to be sure, in his interview of Bill O'Reilly this morning Lauer managed to take shots at Ann Coulter and the Iraq security situation. Still, when an MSM host suggests that releasing prisoners from Guantanamo could result, of all things, in an 'international Willie Horton,' it does make you sit up and take notice.
Meanwhile, BOR himself, fresh from his visit to Guantanamo, energetically made the case for the current system of detaining enemy combatants.
Lauer did start things out with a quick jab at the state of security, or lack thereof, in Iraq:
Here’s everything Reuters and the NY Times are telling readers at nytimes.com (3:30 p.m. eastern, Jun. 13) about today's press conference Israel's Defense Minister Amir Peretz held concerning the explosion last week that killed seven Palestinian civilians ("Israel Denies Role in Deadly Gaza Beach Blast")
Israel on Tuesday denied responsibility for an explosion on a Gaza beach last week that killed seven Palestinian civilians and led militant group Hamas to call off a 16-month truce.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz told reporters the explosion was not caused by the Israeli Defense Forces but did not provide an explanation for what might have caused the blast, which killed several members of the same family.
Major General Meir Califi, who headed the army's investigation into Friday's incident, said Israel's shelling of Gaza had stopped by the time the beach explosion occurred.
"The chances that artillery fire hit that area at that time are nil,'' Califi told a news conference.
Hamas, which heads the Palestinian Authority after winning elections earlier this year, has blamed Israel for the explosion, which came on a day of heavy shelling of Gaza.
Israel frequently fires artillery rounds into the coastal strip in response to Palestinian rockets fired at Israel.
There has been a surge in violence between Israel and the Palestinians since the beach explosion, the immediate aftermath of which was caught on film and showed an 8-year-old girl desperately searching for her dead father.
An investigator from international rights group Human Rights Watch told reporters in Gaza earlier that evidence pointed to Israel having fired the shell, but he had to leave the door open to the possibility that the explosion was caused by something else.
You can almost imagine Chris Matthews wracking his brain as the minutes counted down to Hardball hitting the air this evening. He couldn't permit Pres. Bush's surprise trip to Iraq to stand as an unalloyed triumph. Was Matthews bouncing possible lines off his producers and assistants?
In any case, Chris gave it his best Holy Cross try. Opening the show, he mused:
"The bravado of visiting Baghdad helps Bush, but does it hurt Iraq's new Prime Minister to have the American president look like a boss on an inspection tour?"
Matthews ran the same line up the flagpole when when NBC's Richard Engel came on. Reporting live from Baghdad, Engel at first weakly saluted but - to his credit - ultimately offered a different take.
What's gotten into Campbell Brown? I'd had her pegged as a conventional MSM liberal, but in recent times, she has manifested a refreshing streak of independence that was very much on display in her interview of Howard Dean on this morning's Today show.
Things came to a head over the Dems' vague and conflicting positions over Iraq.
Began Brown: "Let me ask you about Iraq. I want to ask a straightforward question. What is the Democrats' position on Iraq? What solution do Democrats have?"
Dean: "We believe that the President is wrong to say this will be left to the next president. That's not the right approach. Secondly, we believe there needs to be a transition, that the Iraqis need to take over and our troops need to come home and be redeployed to other parts of the world to fight terrorism. The war on terror has nothing to do with the war with Iraq, or at least it didn't until the president got us in there. We believe in transition. This is now the responsibility of the Iraqis. And we believe that this cannot be left to the next administration. It needs to be dealt with now."
Hit back Brown: "But 'dealt with now', that's not that different from President Bush's position."
Here's a strategy for pro-life activists: start talking up the fact that humans share 90% [or whatever the number is] of their DNA with seals. It might win you more sympathy from the MSM. For while the liberal media love to celebrate 'a woman's right to choose', they go all weepy at the prospect of baby seals biting the dust, er, ice.
The Today show was at it again this morning with a segment on the baby seal harvest in Canada, complete with the predictable footage of those cuddly baby seals at the mercy of heartless hunters. 'Today' even warned us that "what you are about to see may be disturbing to some people."
What have the Dems and their MSM echo-chamber been clamoring for, nay, demanding, when it comes to Iraq? Why, a troop withdrawal, of course. Yet there was Matt Lauer on this morning's Today, fretting that President Bush might . . . withdraw troops.
Lauer's lament came in the course of his interview of former General Barry McCaffrey, looking ahead to the Iraq summit that Pres. Bush is holding at Camp David beginning today with his top national security advisers.
" Do you worry about a political side of this, that the administration may pull a substantial number troops out of Iraq just prior to November's mid-term elections simply to sway public opinion?"
On the day of the running of the final leg of the Triple Crown, we've got a new leader in the Wackiest Zarqawi-Take Stakes. The new favorite in the kooky conspiracy derby is far from a colt. Galloping ghosts! It's De-Frosted Anti-Vietnam War Man and battle-hardened Jane Fonda veteran Tom Hayden. His winning notion? That Zarqawi might really have been our guy in Iraq.
In thisHuffington Post piece, Hayden tries to give himself cover by stating "I have no reason to believe Zarqawi was an [American] agent," but then immediately goes on to contradict himself, darkly musing:
If Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and all of al Qaeda’s leaders in Iraq and throughout the world laid down their arms and surrendered to American forces, would the media report it as good news?
Judging from the initial press reaction to the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq by the American military on Wednesday, the answer appears to be no.
In fact, this tepid response to the death of the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq – a man who has at times in the past couple of years been depicted as more vital to this terrorist network than the currently in-hiding bin Laden – suggests quite disturbingly that America’s media are fighting a different war than America’s soldiers.
According to NewsBusters, CNN’s senior editor for Arab affairs Octavia Nasr said the following about Zarqawi’s death on “American Morning” Thursday:
"Some people say it will enrage the insurgency, others say it will hurt it pretty bad. But if you think about the different groups in Iraq, you have to think that Zarqawi's death is not going to be a big deal for them."
However, CNN didn’t always feel that Zarqawi’s death or capture would be so inconsequential. Just days after Saddam Hussein was found in his spider hole, Paula Zahn brought CNN national correspondent Mike Boettcher on to discuss a new threat in Iraq. Zahn began the December 15, 2003 segment:
I'm on a quick strike down to NYC today to attend a talk radio convention.
And speaking of quick strikes, Matt Lauer launched one at Karen Hughes on this morning's 'Today.' Hughes, who serves as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, was on to discuss US relations in the Arab world in the, ahem, wake of the killing of Zarqawi.
At the end of the interview, Lauer hit Hughes with this 21/2-month old quote from Donald Rumsfeld:
"If I were grading, I would say we probably deserve a D or a D-plus as a country as to how well we’re doing in the battle of ideas that’s taking place in the world today. And I’m not going to suggest that it’s easy, but we have not found the formula as a country."
The Times newspaper in the UK, in typical MSM style, labels US Envoy to the UN, John Bolton, a "right-winger" while UN Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown is just called a "former journalist" in a report about Bolton's reply to Brown's disparaging of "middle America's" citizens in a speech the later made a few days before.
Malloch Brown told a meeting of New York Democrats that there was “too much unchecked UN-bashing and stereotyping” by "Rush Limbaugh" and "Fox News". He also said that the role of the UN was a "mystery in Middle America" in an apparent criticism of the ability of average Americans to understand what it is the UN does or is supposed to do.
For weeks, the MSM has been billing as a bellwether the congressional by-election in California to replace convicted felon Randy 'Duke' Cunningham. As per the conventional wisdom, if the Democrats managed to take the seat in what is normally a GOP-stronghold, it would be seen as a harbinger of horrible things to come for the Republican congressional majority.
Well, the election was held yesterday, and - whoops! - the Republican, Brian Bilbray, won. So how did Today spin it? Why, silence was suddenly golden. At least as of the crucial first half-hour, there was time for coverage of dust in the Arizonan desert, but not a word of the Bilbray victory. Insert your imagine-if-the-Dem-had-won comment here.
While considerable attention focuses on Ann Coulter's more superficial charms, from a conservative perspective Ann's real beauty is her absolute refusal to buy into liberal logic, no matter how pervasive. That independence of mind was on display this morning during her 'Today' interview with Matt Lauer. Ann was on to tout her new book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, released today on . . . 6/6/6 - sign of the devil and all that. [See today's open thread.]
The first example came in the context of President Bush's current push for a constitutional amendment that would prohibit gay marriage. The liberal mantra on his initiative, as exemplified by Ann Curry's performance on yesterday's Today, is that this is a cynical political ploy and a waste of time when there are myriad 'real' issues out there to be addressed.
The headline reads 'US probe of Ishaqi killings no surprise for Iraqis.' You might have thought the headline and accompanying article were from Al-Jazeera. But no, it's Reuters that wrote the headline that, dripping with skepticism, suggests that the US military inquiry that cleared American soldiers from wrongdoing in connection with the killing of civilians at Ishaqi was a whitewash. That same cynicism persists throughout the article. Consider these excerpts:
"Isa Khalaf doesn't want cash from the U.S. troops he says massacred his relatives in a March raid. He wants an explanation he may never get now that a U.S. probe has cleared them of any wrongdoing."
"The U.S. investigation that cleared soldiers of any misconduct in Ishaqi may have allowed the soldiers to move on with their lives. But the farming town will be haunted by memories of the bloodshed."
The host might be different, but the partisan bias is the same.
Norah O'Donnell sat in for Chris Matthews on this evening's Hardball. The first half hour was devoted to a discussion of Haditha, with Norah making frequent allusions to a "failure of leadership" and wondering why President Bush didn't know the facts and disclose them to the press sooner.
But speaking of disclosure . . . Norah didn't find it necessary to disclose to viewers that two of her three guests were partisan Democrats.
Paul Hackett, shown in the first photo, was the Democratic candidate for Congress from Ohio's 2nd District, and later sought the Democratic senatorial nomination. But Norah introduced him only as "a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and also ran for office in Ohio." Unsuspecting viewers might well have thought that, if anything, the Marine vet was a Republican.
For the second day running, Chris Matthews has run a Hardball segment entitled "Does Hill Fit the Bill?" It's his way of asking whether Hillary Clinton would make a good presidential candidate, and, presumably, by play-on-words, whether she's up to the political standard set by Bill.
While Matthews hasn't squarely answered his own question, he clearly seems skeptical about Hillary's personal and political qualities.
His first guest on the topic this evening was the urbane Roger Altman, Hillary adviser and a Deputy Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration. Matthews grilled Altman on Hillary's hawkishness.
Matthews: "A lot of people in her party, maybe four out of five Democrats, especially New York Democrats, are against this war. Think we never should have gone into Iraq. Hillary on the other hand OK'd the president's authority to go to Iraq and has subsequently stuck to that position, that that was a decision that she still honors, believes in, is by most standards a hawk. How can she lead a doveish party as a hawk?"
The topic was the disconnect between Hillary Clinton's support for the Iraq war and the fact that her coterie is composed of hard-core, anti-war liberals. In discussing it with guest Dee Dee Myers on this evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews let slip that he equates liberalism with 'caring' for peace and human rights.
Here's how it went down. Discussing Hillary's inner circle, Matthews suddenly interjected:
"Here's something I find to be a mystery, and it just came to me, Dee Dee. You can answer it, you can solve it. When I think about the people who are really loyal to Senator Clinton, they're all pretty much liberals - and I mean liberals - I don't mean just on big spending programs at home, but they really care about peace, and they care about human rights, and they're very suspicious of foreign policy intrigue and overreach. And yet Hillary Clinton is for that. She was for the war with [sic] Iraq. She still is. How can she build a campaign for president on the backs of people who don't agree with her on the central issue of our time?"
There are surely Bill O'Reilly experts out there who have carefully charted the history of his pronouncements on the Iraq war. But as a casual observer, it seemed to me that in this evening's Talking Points, O'Reilly struck an altogether more negative tone on Iraq, with implications for future US foreign policy.
Here's what he had to say: "The chaos in Afghanistan and Iraq will never end, because there will always be people who hate Americans. And we are an occupying force in those countries. The very important question is how do we as citizens process what's going on in those theaters of war? In Afghanistan, the Taliban are just waiting until we leave and will always be waiting. Whether the Karzai government will ever be strong enough to defeat them is an open question.
You almost expected The Edwin Hawkins Singers to turn up on set. For, short of Hillary raising her right hand on the steps of the Capitol some time in January of 2009, it just doesn't get much happier for Today than this morning. In one fell news cycle, George Bush and Enron evil-doers laid low.
It couldn't have come quick enough for Katie Couric. Interviewing Tim Russert on the president's mea culpa performance of yesterday, in which he and Tony Blair admitted to mistakes in his handling of Iraq, she asked:
"Do you think both men should have tried this approach sooner?"
Lest anyone think that the president's remorse will appease the MSM, it was obvious that, now with a taste of blood, the liberal media pack will only call for more. Couric wasted no time in going after Donald Rumsfeld:
In one fell segment, Chris Matthews pulled back the curtain and revealed his view of America's foreign policy intentions as fundamentally pernicious. For him, far from the liberator of Iraq, the United States is no better than a 'colonial master.'
Matthews' guest on this evening's 'Hardball' was John Batiste, one of the former generals calling for Donald Rumsfeld's removal as Secretary of Defense. Not long ago, the Today show accorded Batiste a platform to make his Rumsfeld-must-go pitch. The topic at hand tonight was the failure to anticipate the insurgency with which we have been been faced in Iraq.
Describing the miscalculation, Matthews said: "It's like the British coming in to New York at the beginning of the Revolution and saying they weren't going to face any resistance."
Imagine you're a newswire editor writing the headline for a story in which former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has accused Pres. Bush of 'religious absolutism.' What would be a fair headline? Something like:
Albright Accuses Bush of 'Religious Absolutism'
Now consider Reuters' actual headline:
Albright Critical of Bush's Religious Absolutism
Note the not-so-subtle difference. We've moved from Albright accusing Bush of religious absolutism, to Reuters effectively reporting Bush's absolutism as a fact, of which Albright is simply critical. Not even a set of quotation remarks around 'religious absolutism' to clarify that the words are Albright's, and not unquestioned fact.
A number of Canadian news websites are reporting that the Iranian parliament passed a law this week requiring non-Muslims in the country to wear certain insignia identifying them as such (hat tip to Drudge). As reported by Canada’s National Post: “Human rights groups are raising alarms over a new law passed by the Iranian parliament that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims.”
The article continued: “‘This is reminiscent of the Holocaust,’ said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. ‘Iran is moving closer and closer to the ideology of the Nazis.’"
Apparently, this has been confirmed by Iranians now living in Canada: “Iranian expatriates living in Canada yesterday confirmed reports that the Iranian parliament, called the Islamic Majlis, passed a law this week setting a dress code for all Iranians, requiring them to wear almost identical ‘standard Islamic garments.’"
It must have been a dream come true for the folks at NBC, as well as all those associated with the long-time comedy variety show “Saturday Night Live.” Last night, NBC welcomed former vice president Al Gore to open the show posing as America’s president addressing the American people five years after having "overwhelmingly" won in 2000 (hat tip to Expose the Left with video link to follow). In reality, despite the obvious left-leaning bias, this was a good piece of comedy, with Gore doing a very fine job. Some of the highlights:
“In the last 6 years we have been able to stop global warming. No one could have predicted the negative results of this. Glaciers that once were melting are now on the attack.”
“Right now, in the 2nd week of May 2006, we are facing perhaps the worst gas crisis in history. We have way too much gasoline. Gas is down to $0.19 a gallon and the oil companies are hurting. I know that I am partly to blame by insisting that cars run on trash. I am therefore proposing a federal bailout to our oil companies because - hey if it were the other way around, you know the oil companies would help us.”
“On a positive note, we worked hard to save Welfare, fix Social Security and of course provide the free universal health care we all enjoy today. But all this came at a high cost. As I speak, the gigantic national budget surplus is down to a perilously low $11 trillion dollars.”
“There are some of you that want to spend our money on some made-up war. To you I say: what part of ‘lockbox’ don't you understand?”
“There have been some setbacks. Unfortunately, the confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Michael Moore was bitter and divisive. However, I could not be more proud of how the House and Senate pulled together to confirm the nomination of Chief Justice George Clooney.”
What follows is a full transcript of this sketch courtesy of Crooks and Liars, and a video link courtesy of Expose the Left.
In this AP article is an ironic twist of Sophoclean proportions. An Israeli company has cut off - get this - gasoline supplies to the Iranian-funded Palestinian territories for non-payment of bills:
An end to fuel supplies could cripple hospitals, halt food deliveries and keep people home from work - a devastating scenario for an economy already ravaged by Israeli and international sanctions.
Right. The "economy" has been "ravaged" by Israeli sanctions. It's nothing whatever to do with the fact that Arafat and his friends - and that includes the current President, the Holocaust-denying, walking Hamas assassination target, Mahmoud Abbas - have spent the last fifteen years shipping everything that's not nailed down (and if they can pry it loose, it's not nailed down) out of the country. Which, as of the last AP report, was the reason that Hamas got elected in the first place, not their hostility to Israel, if you remember.
Check out the screen capture from this morning's Today show. NBC respectfully describes the Iranian head of state - he of the threats, among other things, to wipe Israel off the map - as "President Ahmadinejad." And our own president? He's just "Bush."
Today aired the graphic in the course of Matt Lauer's interview of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Despite mental meanderings in Ahmadinejad's letter that prompted the Wall Street Journal to editorialize this morning about "Crazy Mahmoud", Lauer seemingly attached great significance to the missive, repeatedly pressing Secretary Rice to seize the occasion to open direct talks with the Iranians. In doing so, Lauer was perhaps channeling former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, who just yesterday wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal urging the administration to commence such talks with a view to settling "all issues of mutual concern."