CNN’s Wolf Blitzer made little effort to hide his liberal viewpoint during an interview of Scott McClellan on Friday’s "The Situation Room." After asking the former White House Press Secretary about his "revival" of the question of whether President Bush used cocaine as a young man, the CNN host followed-up by asking, "I guess the question is, is the President -- this is a blunt question -- in your opinion, a serial liar?"
Earlier in the interview, which began 12 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, Blitzer addressed the issue of supposed "war crimes" related to the Iraq war. First, Blitzer played a video question from a viewer who asked McClellan, "Would you now consider testifying about your colleagues at a war crimes trial?" After listening to McClellan’s answer, Blitzer replied, "Knowing what you know now, do you believe war crimes, as this I-reporter suggests, were in fact committed?"
Prior to the airing of the video question, the on-screen graphic hinted at what was going to be asked: "‘Propaganda’ on Iraq: Were Crimes Committed?"
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith interviewed former Bush Administration advisor Dan Bartlett about Scott McClellan’s memoir and suggested that McClellan’s harsh criticism: "...actually confirms what a lot of people have come to believe, though, about the Bush Administration, that truth was secondary to policy and politics." On Wednesday, CNN’s John Roberts made a similar observation about the book.
In a report prior to Smith’s interview with Barlett, correspondent Jim Axelrod wondered: "So why would Scott McClellan write a book bound to cut him off from so many old friends?" Axelrod answered his question by playing a clip of former Clinton White House press secretary, Joe Lockhart: "It's setting the record straight, not taking the fall for things he didn't do, not looking like the patsy, but also there -- it strikes me that there's some -- there's some conviction in here that there's information that the public should have had they didn't have and somebody had to tell this story."
Eat your heart out Lyndon LaRouche. The Trilateral Commission is so 1970s. It's really "The Fellowship" that's really running the world according to religion professor Jeff Sharlet in his new book "The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power."
Despite being a fanciful yet unsubstantiated conspiracy theory, U.S. News & World Report dignified Sharlet's take on a little-known Christian organization with a May 28 article by Jay Tolson entitled "Exposing a Network of Powerful Christians.":
It is an elite and secretive network of fundamentalist Christians that has been quietly pulling strings in America's highest corridors of power for more than 70 years. Or so claims Jeff Sharlet, author of a new exposé, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. And in his telling, the group that calls itself the Fellowship operates at the very center of the vast, right-wing conspiracy that has promoted unfettered capitalism and dismantled liberal social policies at home, even while encouraging ruthless but America-friendly dictators abroad.
CNN congressional correspondent Jessica Yellin, during a segment on Wednesday’s "Anderson Cooper 360," accused her former bosses -- presumably those at MSNBC, where she worked prior to joining ABC in July 2003 -- of pressuring her to run positive stories about the Bush administration before the invasion of Iraq: "When the lead-up to the war began, the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war that was presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation... and my own experience at the White House was that, the higher the president's approval ratings... the more pressure I had from news executives to put on positive stories about the President."
[Yellin repeated her "patriotic fever" line in a clarification posted Thursday at CNN's AC360 blog.]
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show" co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer about the political fallout of Scott McClellan’s Bush-bashing memoir: "The White House is essentially dismissing McClellan's book as sour grapes from a disgruntled employee who was let go early...What do you make of all this?" Schieffer replied by declaring that: " Well, it generally happens in these kinds of things when an insider makes a disclosure, those that are still on the inside start to raise questions about motivations. But I think you have to look at what he said, these are some very serious allegations."
However, while Schieffer had no doubt of McClellan’s motives, when former CBS News reporter Bernard Goldberg wrote an editorial piece in the Wall Street Journal in 1996 accusing the network of liberal bias, Schieffer was shocked at the idea. In his first book, "Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News," Goldberg recounted how Schieffer reacted at the time: "It’s such a wacky charge, and a weird way to go about it...I don’t know what Bernie was driving at. It just sounds bizarre." Rather than being "serious allegations," Schieffer dismissed Goldberg’s charges as merely "wacky," "weird," and "bizarre."
CNN correspondent Carol Costello, covering the reaction to McClellan’s new "tell-all" book about the Bush administration on Thursday’s "American Morning," added some liberal-leaning psychoanalysis to the obligatory quotes from current and former administration officials and a clip from Rush Limbaugh. "Unflattering kiss and tells about the Bush administration are a dime a dozen. Spilling the beans: former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, former Iraq Envoy Paul Bremer, and former Senior Economic Adviser Larry Lindsay. From a psychological standpoint, that's not surprising. Analysts say the Bush administration demanded loyalty and suppressed dissent -- a perfect recipe for rebellion."
Costello included a clip of Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist, who noted that McClellan’s book "appears to be an act of revenge" done "in a potentially very self-destructive way." Because of this, she concluded that "you have to wonder about the guilt that they feel," because "they're asking for punishment, in a sense."
Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post's media writer and a CNN contributor, contended on Wednesday's "The Situation Room" that in the lead-up to the Iraq war, "anti-war voices had limited access, it seems, to the airwaves, while administration officials, of course, were on every day pounding on that message [in support of going to war in Iraq]." He also claimed that "[i]t was only when violence surged in Iraq and public opinion began turning against the war that ABC, CBS, NBC, and the rest of the media turned more skeptical."
Los Angeles Times media critic Tim Rutten, in his latest column titled "The rebirth of abortion," voiced his dismay that social conservatives are reviving the issue of abortion in the 2008 presidential campaign. "If there's one issue that epitomizes the culture wars that have so deeply divided American politics over the last eight years, it's abortion. That's why those who benefited most from those wars are desperate to revive abortion's single-issue virulence in this presidential cycle." He continued that "some on the right think they see an opportunity to hammer once more on the abortion wedge."
Rutten also launched an attack one key member of the so-called "hard cultural right:" Robert Novak. At one point, Rutten suggested that if Novak used a phrase like "abortion industry" to describe abortionists and their supporters, it would be legitimate to use a term like "under the sway of neo-fascist clericism" to describe Novak and his pro-life fellow travelers.
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased an upcoming segment on former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s new book attacking the Bush Administration: "Breaking news this morning -- a bombshell memoir. President Bush's former press secretary accuses him of misleading the nation on Iraq." Co-host Harry Smith then introduced the segment by declaring: "Sharp attacks on President Bush by his former Press Secretary, Scott McClellan, who is releasing a memoir."
Correspondent Thalia Assuras then reported that: "...in a book to be released Monday, former Press Secretary Scott McClellan takes direct aim at the administration. On the war in Iraq, which he defended daily – In some 350 pages of 'What Happened Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception,' McClellan accuses President Bush and his advisers of confusing a propaganda campaign with the honesty needed to ensure public support."
Later, Smith quoted from the book and emphasized McClellan's credibility as he talked to Mike Allen from the Politico, who broke the story:
CNN’s John Roberts wasted no time to herald Scott McClellan’s "revelation" on how the Bush administration supposedly used "propaganda" to push the Iraq war. After reading an excerpt from McClellan’s book on the issue, Roberts responded, "He finally articulates what we all came to believe... and further goes on to say that this war was unnecessary."
Roberts, who, during McClellan’s time as White House Press Secretary, was the White House Correspondent for CBS, made the comment during an interview of the Politico’s Mike Allen, who broke the McClellan story on Tuesday. Allen, like Roberts, was a White House correspondent during McClellan’s time as Press Secretary, first for the Washington Post, and then for Time magazine.
Allen, in reaction to Roberts’s commentary on McClellan, replied, "Well, John, I think that's right, that these aren't particularly novel observations." He continued that McClellan "has put on a new hat. He's put on a historian's hat. He's not an administration flack anymore...."
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" evening news anchors, ABC’S Charles Gibson, NBC’s Brian Williams, and CBS’s Katie Couric, were all on to promote an upcoming cancer research telethon, but near the end of segment, co-host Harry Smith asked about former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s new book in which McClellan claims the media did not ask tough questions leading up to the Iraq war and Couric agreed:
I think it's a very legitimate allegation. I think it's one of the most embarrassing chapters in American journalism. And I think there was a sense of pressure from corporations who own where we work and from the government itself to really squash any kinds of dissent or any kind of questioning of it. I think it was extremely subtle but very, very effective. And I think Scott McClellan has a really good point.
Perhaps a better example of "one of the most embarrassing chapters in American journalism" would be Couric’s predecessor, Dan Rather, using fraudulent National Guard memos to attempt to smear President Bush just prior to the 2004 election.
ABC reporter Martha Raddatz openly editorialized on Wednesday's "Good Morning America" that she is "disappointed" in former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan for not slamming the Bush White House sooner. McClellan, who has written a tell-all book bashing the President, Karl Rove and other operatives, was prominently featured as GMA's top story.
After being prompted by co-host Robin Roberts for her opinion, Raddatz unloaded: "...I'm really surprised....and disappointed." She lamented that as press secretary, "[McClellan] didn't stand up and say wait a minute, I'm not going to say these kind of things anymore. So, we're surprised." Co-host Diane Sawyer could not restrain herself from describing the new book in the most dire terms. In an intro, she breathlessly announced, "A scathing presidential review. One of the President's most loyal political aides turns on him..."
Barack Obama's penchant for gaffes is hardly anything new, but as the Illinois Democrat has come closer and closer to becoming the official Democratic presidential nominee, it seems the mainstream media have become less and less likely to note his gaffes. A cursory Web search finds a few instances of the mainstream media picking up on Obama gaffes in 2007, when Sen. Clinton was well ahead of Obama in the polls and was widely expected to be marching towards coronation in Denver.
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign, 46 days old on Tuesday, has run into some speed bumps, created because of a series of missteps magnified because he is under microscopic scrutiny.
It's too early to say whether the gaffes slow Obama's momentum -- or if they become barricades, extracting a more significant price for the Illinois Democrat's White House bid. They are getting noticed.
Consider the items that have been accumulating since Obama announced on Feb. 10:
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann seemed to mock John McCain's military service as he quipped that McCain was "awol" for not showing up for a Senate vote on providing college tuition to American troops, and further accused McCain, whom he called "Senator 'I Support the Troops,'" of "supporting himself instead of the troops." The MSNBC host also mocked McCain as being at the "front lines" of a fund-raiser in California. Notably, just a few weeks ago, Olbermann thought it was amusing to scold Ann Coulter for making a crack about Barack Obama being a "Manchurian candidate" because it might remind people of McCain, even though it was Olbermann, not Coulter, who drew a connection as he observed that the film The Manchurian Candidate was about a "presidential election and an American war hero POW who'd been brainwashed in Southeast Asia." (Video of Olbermann's "Manchurian Candidate" comments can be found here.) (Transcripts follow)
CNN correspondent Carol Costello compared Cindy McCain to a "Stepford Wife" due to her "low key" role in her husband’s campaign so far, in a segment on Wednesday’s "The Situation Room." Costello, detailing Mrs. McCain’s recent photo spread in Vogue magazine, stated the feature "projects an image quite unlike the Cindy McCain we see on the trail," and a talking head described this "Cindy McCain we see" as "low key... taking the traditional role of standing by her husband's side at events." Costello then quipped, "A role critics say makes Mrs. McCain look like -- well, Glenn Close in the movie ‘The Stepford Wives.’" [audio available here]
On the other hand, Costello described Michelle Obama’s Vogue spread more glowingly: "...Michelle Obama chose a traditional black dress with pearl earrings for her Vogue spread. As The Washington Post described it, it was if Michelle Obama was saying 'I am not some scary other.... I am Camelot with a tan.'"
"American Morning" substitute co-host Kyra Phillips pressed former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on the Iraq war on Wednesday, asserting that her liberal talking point was a fact. When Giuliani defended President Bush’s legacy, that he "will go down as he has protected us against terrorism when nobody thought it could be done," Phillips retorted, "But the Iraq war is not about protecting us from terrorism. It's been the most unpopular and controversial war." When the former mayor challenged this statement as her opinion, Phillips became rather defensive. "Oh, I’m not saying that. No, no, no, I'm not voicing my opinion.... I'm voicing what's out there. I’m voicing the realities" [audio available here].
During MSNBC's live coverage of the Kentucky and Oregon Democratic presidential primaries on Tuesday, NBC's Andrea Mitchell seemed to take seriously suggestions by Hillary Clinton "loyalists" who argue that Republicans in control of the election process in some red states Barack Obama hopes to carry may deny him a "fair vote" in the November general election. Mitchell: "Other Clinton loyalists, but realists, say that that electoral map is a stretch in one regard: There are ... Republican governors and Secretaries of State, if you will, Katherine Harris-type election officials in those states. ... [Obama] has to go up against the establishment, which would be Republican, and he has to figure out a way to get a fair vote, if he's the nominee, in those red states." (Transcript follows) [audio available here]
During an interview with Lisa Caputo of the Clinton campaign, Caputo commented that the possibility of Clinton winning the popular vote among Democratic primary and caucus voters while Obama wins the delegate count reminds her of the 2000 election. Matthews then contended that Al Gore "may well have won the election" if he had requested a statewide recount instead of "just a couple of counties" because Gore might have won most "intended votes."
Media Research Center Director of Research and NewsBusters Senior Editor Rich Noyes appeared on Fox News's "America's Election HQ" program shortly before 6 p.m. EDT today. The topic: The Bush White House's complaint about NBC's misleading editing of President Bush's interview with correspondent Richard Engel.
You can find an excerpt of the transcript below the page break, or the full segment by clicking the play button on the embed at the right. [audio available here]
For more of NB's archive on Engel's reporting, click here.
Lou Dobbs, during an interview on Monday evening with James Rubin, challenged the Clinton campaign advisor over his accusation that John McCain was a "hypocrite" and a "flip-flopper" in terms of dealing with Hamas, noting that CNN’s own interview of McCain contradicted Rubin’s charge. Dobbs chastised, "I would not have taken it as far. I would not put it as forward-leaning as you on the issue."
Doesn't Mika Brzezinski have any Republicans in her Rolodex? With Joe Scarborough home in Florida awaiting the birth of a baby, Mika has been filling in as anchor, and I sense doing much of the show's booking [mention is often made of her work in that regard]. Today's guest lineup consisted of six Dems/liberals versus a sole Republican, brought in almost at show's end.
Here's the list, in order of appearance, of today's political guests coming from outside the NBC/MSNBC family [Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell also appeared as guests, and Harold Ford, Jr. and Pat Buchanan served as panelists]:
Jonathan Capehart--WaPo editorial writer
Ted Sorensen--former JFK speechwriter
Doris Kearns Goodwin--historian and former LBJ aide
Tom Daschle--former Dem senator [check out the spiffy red spectacles]
Terry McAuliffe--Clinton campaign chairman
Jon Meacham--Newsweek editor and contributing editor of the center-left Washington Monthly
CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, during a discussion of President Bush’s recent trip to the Middle East on Monday’s "American Morning," cited her discussion with unnamed "analysts and experts," and concluded " it's hard to discern any evidence of any success on this trip whatsoever." "American Morning" substitute co-host Kyra Phillips, following-up to Amanpour’s analysis, remarked, "Well, critics have come forward and said, okay, whether it's his policies in Iraq, Lebanon, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he's failed everywhere."
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith interviewed Democratic Senator from Virginia, Jim Webb, about the Senator’s new book and began by declaring that: "...you seem to me the least political person I know who's ever run for political office." [Audio available here] Of course this is the same non-political Jim Webb that said he "wanted to slug" President Bush after a White House meeting in which the President asked how Webb’s son, a Marine serving in Iraq, was doing.
Smith went on to ask Webb: "What was that like? Talk about your experience of running for the Senate and were you really prepared for the rough and tumble of what it was really like?" Webb proceeded to give his resume, perhaps in preparation for a vice-presidential nomination: "I've been involved in political debate for my entire adult life. You know, I've got four years as a committee counsel in the Congress, five years in the Pentagon, was Secretary of the Navy, journalist, written a lot of – " Smith then interjected: "Phenomenal novels."Later in the interview, Smith also described Webb’s novels as "amazing."
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked to Democratic strategist Bob Shrum about Senator Ted Kennedy being hospitalized over the weekend and asked: "How important -- is there a way to measure this? Because everybody took a deep breath on Saturday and took a second to say, ‘oh, my gosh.’" Shrum responded: "I thought it was an incredible acknowledgment of the fact that this is probably the most effective and significant Senator in the last 50 years, one of the most significant in American history."
Shrum continued to lionize Kennedy: "...this is someone who literally has touched almost everybody's life in America. There isn't a bill for economic or social justice that doesn't bear his imprint. He's lived the Kennedy legacy, which we're all fascinated with, but he's vastly enlarged it." Smith followed up by describing how Kennedy even garnered respect from the Republican nominee:
We put a little bit of John McCain's statement up just a second ago. I want to put it up in full because this is really important. Here's a guy who should be his ideological opposite theoretically and this is what John McCain says: 'Senator Kennedy's role in the U.S. Senate cannot be overstated. He is a legendary lawmaker, and I have the highest respect for him.’
CNN contributor Roland Martin, asked about Democrats’ low poll results concerning national security on Friday’s "Election Center" program, answered using his best Barack Obama impression. "...John McCain, you're a war hero. You served. But you also voted for the war that's led to the death of 4,000 Americans. We have spent billions of dollars and, frankly, it has not stabilized the Middle East.... He's [Obama] going to put the cost of the war and how it has not done what it was supposed to on his back and say, you know what? Explain that, Mr. War Hero."
Twenty-four hours after CNN started giving covering fire for Barack Obama in response to President Bush’s "appeasement" remark, the network has now aided the Democratic spin machine in attacking John McCain as a hypocrite with regards to Hamas, based on a 2006 video clip provided by Clinton adviser James Rubin. In the excerpt, the Arizona Senator appeared to be endorsing negiotiations with the terror group. But CNN conducted its own interview of McCain at the same time, January 28, 2006, in which he insisted that Hamas "renounce this commitment to the extinction of the state of Israel. Then we can do business again." So CNN is trusting Rubin as the authority on what McCain’s stance was two years ago, instead of their own archival video [see video clip below]
UPDATE, 6:30PM ET: National Review's The Corner has a post up indicating that the full Rubin-McCain interview from 2006 also seriously undercuts Rubin's claims of hypocrisy.
Throughout the day on Thursday, CNN carried the water for the Democrats and portayed President Bush’s "appeasement" remarks before the Knesset in Israel as an attack on Barack Obama. "The Situation Room" host Wolf Blitzer began his program by stating that "President Bush slams Barack Obama from Israel." Senior political analyst Gloria Borger quipped, "I know that the White House press secretary says they were not talking about Barack Obama, but of course they were." Senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin remarked, "I think this is straight out of the usual Republican playbook." Jack Cafferty struck hard: "He is beyond irrelevant and he's not going to scare anybody. He just babbles away like Eliot Spitzer talking about matrimonial fidelity. It's a joke." CNN’s other senior political analyst, David Gergen, reminisced, "I can't remember as brazen a political shot by a President overseas in a political race back home... an especially jagged kind of criticism."
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show" an entirely one-sided story about the California Supreme Court ruling to allow gay marriage by correspondent John Blackstone, was followed by an entirely one-sided interview of a gay couple by co-host Julie Chen. Chen introduced the segment by declaring: "The landmark decision by the California Supreme Court yesterday to allow gay couples to marry..." while also fretting that the decision "... may be short-lived. Conservative groups hope to undo the ruling by putting a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on the ballot in November." However, the perspective of those "conservative groups" is never presented in the segment. [audio available here]
Blackstone then offered his report on the ruling, which talked to no lawyers or legal experts and discussed no details of the ruling. Instead, Blackstone began by exclaiming: "In the Castro District, San Francisco's predominantly gay neighborhood...The court's decision was seen as a huge victory for equal rights." In the middle of Blackstone’s statement an overjoyed gay woman proclaimed: "Thank you, goddesses."
Blackstone went on to portray liberal San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom as the hero of the day:
In light of the networks echoing Obama-campaign hypersensitivity on how Bush was allegedly comparing Obama to Nazi appeasers before the Knesset, as liberals suggest this is the lowest campaign tactic in years, talk-show hosts will probably notice that on The Huffington Post, it's apparently fine for that old Democratic campaign star Gary Hart to simply compare conservatives to Nazis, not to mention the authoritarian tendencies of those robotic "pre-programmed neo-conservative dittoheads":
Historians of early 21st century American politics will remark the degree to which radical forces, usually called neoconservatives, perverted language as recommended by the National Socialist Party in 1930s Germany. Continue to demonize liberals, blame them for all social and economic problems, and soon enough no one will be willing to admit to being a liberal. Claim that liberals and Democrats are too soft to combat terrorists and soon enough a majority, even in the oldest democracy on earth, will believe it.
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show" correspondent Bill Plante reported on President Bush’s speech before the Israeli Knesset and suggested the president was going after Barack Obama: "The president today is slamming Iran, embracing the Israelis, barely mentioning the Palestinians, and he's suggesting, without naming any names, that anyone who's in favor of talking to Iran, like say, Barack Obama, is in favor of appeasement." [audio available here]
Later in the report, Plante again claimed that the president was attacking the Democratic candidate: "The president is also taking what some will interpret as a slap at Barack Obama. He's saying that those who believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, and he calls that appeasement." Plante then dismissed the comments as nothing more that President Bush pandering to voters during an election year: "White House officials deny that Mr. Bush had Obama specifically in mind, but it doesn't take a whole lot of imagination to see this as reaching out to American Jewish voters in an election year."
On the June 7, 2004 CBS "Evening News,"after Ronald Reagan’s death, Plante attacked the former president for what he saw as Reagan’s appeasement of terrorists during the Iran-Contra scandal:
Minutes after President Bush began his speech to the Israeli Knesset, CNN quickly channeled outraged Democratic reaction to his "false comfort of appeasement" remark. "American Morning" co-host John Roberts, in a brief on the speech, claimed the President was "suggesting that Senator Barack Obama and other Democrats are in favor of appeasing terrorists in the same way that U.S. leaders appeased the Nazis in the run-up to World War II," though the President did not mention any Democratic official or the Democratic Party.
The graphic on the screen also reflected this belief that Democrats were being unfairly smeared: "Pres. Says Obama, Other Dems Want ‘Appeasement of Terrorists" and "Pres. Bush Compares Dems’ Stance on War to Appeasement of Nazis."