This is a developing story, so there's room for it to play out a bit, but the law firm congressional Democrats are hiring to help plow through the U.S. attorney firings, Arnold & Porter, has a history of heavy donations towards Democrats.
The ladies of "The View" tackled the U.S. attorney firing controversy with more false information, comparisons to the mob, and once again Rosie O’Donnell called for impeachment. Rosie reported her take of how the attorney firings went down.
O’DONNELL: Okay, Republican officials who supposedly called these judges that were fired and said, are you going to prosecute this Democratic, and they said, I can't talk about that because I'm actually a judge, and it's illegal. And they said "click," and they got fired.
O’DONNELL: Now what is really scary, are the ones who they called and said yeah, sure I will. And they're still on the bench. That’s even more frightening.
Writing in the "Swampland" blog for Time magazine today, Karen Tumulty insisted the U.S. attorney firings deserved"massive commitment of journalistic resources" before going on to cite a study showing that media attention in the past few weeks has skewed heavily towards the non-scandal scandal:
before all our commenters jump on me, let me stipulate: I think the
unfolding U.S. Attorneys story is a huge one, it deserves a massive
commitment of journalistic resources, it is not likely to go away any
time soon and I'm skeptical that Alberto Gonzales is going to survive
it. I also believe that history has shown us many times that the
broadest measures of public interest are a lagging indicator of the
significance of a story. Finally, the blogosphere deserves huge credit
for leading the way on it.
Translation: "the public don't know it yet, but this is an important story, we're going to make it an important story, and, kudos to liberal bloggers for making a fuss over it."
In 1993, Time magazine didn't show the same interest in blowing up the Clinton/Reno firings into a story the public would care about. [continued...]
One of the nice things about having a television and newsletter archive at MRC is being able to bring up the old newscasts and recall how very different the tone and approach of the news was when a Democrat was in the White House. The U.S. Attorney-firing scandal is a strong example of how the network news can on one hand, sell a scandal as incredibly damaging for a political party it does not support, but downplays scandal as damaging to democracy and the people when it affects the political party it favors. Our latest Media Reality Check reminds readers of how different the news sounded ten years ago, when a Republican Congress investigated illegal foreign donations, mostly to national Democratic Party accounts. Take NBC:
NBC theorized that the media were too Clinton-scandal obsessed in 1997. On June 17, 1997, Today co-host Katie Couric asked reporter Bob Woodward: “But are members of the media, do you think, Bob, too scandal-obsessed, looking for something at every corner?”
Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly finally provided some perspective on the U.S. attorney firing story with some information the mainstream media will not report. On the March 22 edition of "The O’Reilly Factor," O’Reilly exposed much of the media spin on the situation from members of the White House press corps to several print media outlets. He then explained plausible reasons why three of the eight U.S. attorneys were fired.
The mainstream media hinted that the administration fired San Diego attorney Carol Lam for prosecuting former Republican Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham. What they failed to report is that Ms. Lam did not aggressively prosecute illegal alien criminals. Her lax approach concerned even Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein. Paul Charlton was not aggressive in pursuing marijuana cases, and even the liberal "Los Angeles Times" editorialized against fired attorney Kevin Ryan.
On Wednesday’s "American Morning," CNN co-host Soledad O’Brien must have surprised former Clinton administration official and Illinois Representative Rahm Emanuel (D) with a tough question concerning the Bush administration’s use of executive privilege versus the Clinton administration’s use. Emanuel tried to claim the privilege is usually "reserved for national security," which even CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin wasn’t buying. Here’s the exchange:
SOLEDAD O’BRIEN: "You worked in the White House, the Clinton Administration, where they claimed executive privilege for Bruce Lindsey and for Sidney Blumenthal in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, essentially. Why that time around was the efforts you made -- it failed, but there was an effort to say executive privilege. Let's protect these guys. They shouldn't have to go testify before Congress. It failed. But that was what was claimed, so why this time around does it not seem fair?"
"The Early Show" continued its double standard treatment of Democrats and Republicans. "Capitol Bob" Schieffer added some analysis to the Alberto Gonzales situation. On the March 20 edition, Schieffer editorialized that Gonzales, who is not under any criminal investigation, "may not be a dead man walking right now, but he’s certainly a wounded man limping" and "there’s (sic) some very serious questions here to be answered."
In 1993, however, Schieffer interviewed then Democratic Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, who was under criminal investigation at the time, and later convicted. Schieffer only raised the concern in passing at the end of a long interview.
First, Congress should relent and allow these sessions to take place in private. Sure, I would love to see Rove grilled in public— who wouldn’t? I mean, watching Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, question Rove could be a pay-per-view event in many parts of the country. A long, savory public hearing would be good for my career, I suspect, and sure would beat talking more about the paternity hearing for Anna Nicole Smith’s baby. But I am willing to get behind private sessions if it gives the President a measure of comfort about releasing his subordinates to talk candidly about who did what to whom and why when it came to firing those eight federal prosecutors. So, Point One of my Plan is: Private Hearings.
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," anchor Chris Cuomo used a none-to-subtle visual aid to continue the program’s campaign to have Attorney General Alberto Gonzales fired over the Justice Department’s dismissal of eight U.S. Attorneys. Early in the 7am hour, co-host Robin Roberts introduced Cuomo, who stood at the news desk with stacks of paper, meant to represent the 3000 pages of documents released on the case, piled half way to his shoulders:
Roberts: "Look at all that you have there, Chris." [Roberts points to a huge stack of papers that Cuomo has piled on his news desk.]
Chris Cuomo: "You see this stack of paper? Very relevant today. Good morning to you and good morning, everyone. The number of the day is 3,000. That's how many pages, just like this, the Justice Department handed out overnight. They offer an up-close look inside the controversial firing of eight federal prosecutors."
CBS continues to pound away the US attorney firings story. On the March 16th edition of "The Early Show," reporter Bill Plante lead his story stating "the hole just keeps getting deeper." Plante then played a sound bite from Democratic hyper partisan Senators Chuck Schumer at Patrick Leahy. After playing a few clips of White House staffers Karl Rove and Tony Snow, they hyped Republicans calling for their resignation, touting Senator Gordon Smith and playing a sound bite of Representative Dana Rohrabacher implying Gonzales should go.
Anchor Harry Smith sought some expert opinion from Republican strategist Ed Rollins and Democratic strategist Mike Feldman. Fair and balanced debate? Not from what Mr. Rollins said from the start.
HARRY SMITH: Ed, let me start with you. Alberto Gonzales, two questions, should he stay or should he go?
The big three networks seem to have found religion. Bush-bashing religion, but faith nonetheless. ABC’s "Good Morning America" and "Nightline" highlighted Mayan "spiritual leaders" who protested a visit by President Bush to Guatemala.
The two shows focused on the "evil spirits" that the President supposedly brought and worried that the Commander in Chief has "angered the gods." NBC’s "Today" noted the protesters plans to "purify" the site and featured a demonstrator who chanted "Gringo go home."
This week, NewsBusters told you what the rest of the media won’t: While the Bush White House played a roll in the dismissal of eight U.S. Attorneys, Bill Clinton fired all 93 attorneys at the beginning of his first term.
On "Good Morning America," host George Stephanopoulos, who was a Clinton spokesman in 1993 and defended the then-President’s firing, hypocritically grilled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for firing 85 fewer attorneys.
For his level-headed professionalism, Lester Holt is on my [admittedly short] list of MSM faves. But while Holt did hit former Ambassador [to Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe] Joseph Wilson with one tough question on this morning's "Today," he let Valerie Plame's husband hijack the beginning of the interview, lobbed him numerous softballs, and failed to challenge Wilson on his blatant misrepresentation of Plame's role in sending him to Niger.
In the set-up piece preceding the interview, "Today" aired a clip of Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) asking Plame, during yesterday's congressional hearing, whether she was a Republican or a Democrat. For the record, Plame sardonically acknowledged that she was indeed a Dem.
While Washington Post reporters Dan Eggen and Paul Kane are getting keyboard blisters probing the White House shenanigans around U.S. attorney dismissals by Team Bush, know this: in 1993, the Post published no stories investigating what Bill Clinton, or Hillary Clinton, or their Little Rock henchman, Webster Hubbell, was doing behind the scenes.
About two weeks after the mass firing, on April 3, 1993 the Post front page reported on how Hubbell surfaced for a Senate confirmation hearing, and reporter David Von Drehle thought it was “pretty funny” that the Wall Street Journal would portray him as an “ominous” figure. “The Judiciary Committee can ask Mr. Mysterious all the questions the Journal and others have been dying to pose.” Notice the Post thought it was “funny” anyone had a question to pose. They’d like people to think they’re equal-opportunity investigators, but they certainly don't look that way on U.S. attorney firings.
Friday’s "Good Morning America" featured Democrats talking about Democratic hopes. Anchor Chris Cuomo, the son of liberal Governor Mario Cuomo, and George Stephanopoulos, former White House aide to President Bill Clinton, discussed the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys and pushed the speculative Democratic talking points of whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would be fired.
Stephanopoulos, who expressed no awkwardness over the fact that Clinton, his former boss, fired all the U.S. Attorneys upon assuming office, chose not to talk about what is factually known in the case. Instead, he supplied the perspective of Congressional Democrats by repeatedly talking up a Gonzales resignation:
Catching up on an item from Monday's The Situation Room on CNN, which has already been covered by conservative talk radio host Mark Levin, CNN's Jack Cafferty condescendingly labeled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as a "glorified waterboy for the White House" as he called for Gonzales to resign over the controversial firing of U.S. attorneys. After asking viewers to email him with their thoughts, Cafferty further called Gonzales a "weasel." Cafferty: "If you look up the word weasel in the dictionary, Wolf, you'll see Alberto Gonzales' picture there."
Below is a complete transcript of Cafferty's comments on Alberto Gonzales from the March 12 The Situation Room on CNN:
CBS finally picked up the Clinton administration’s record of firing 93 federal prosecutors, but they still rushed to Clinton’s defense with false assertions. On the March 15 edition of "The Early Show," reporter Bill Plante sought to make this distinction between the Bush and Clinton firings.
"Mr. Bush isn't the first president to fire US attorneys and replace them with his own appointments. At the beginning of his first term, President Clinton cleaned house, ousting all 93 US attorneys. Not unusual, they serve at the pleasure of the president. The difference this time, the charge that politics played a role in their dismissal."
The media’s historical omission of Clinton’s mass dismissal of 93 U.S. Attorneys has led to demands on the MRC archive for footage of Janet Reno’s declaration of the act – and our staff found an April 12, 1993 CNN special report where reporter Ken Bode called it a “one-day clean sweep.” Reno declared: “I have asked for their resignations at the request of the President…It’s important that we build a team that reflects our desire to have a Justice Department marked by excellence, marked by diversity, marked by professionalism, and integrity. I want teamwork where we’re both interested in achieving justice throughout America.” Video clip: Real (1.7MB) or Windows (1.9MB) plus MP3 (295KB).
If Stephen Colbert is going to pretend to be a conservative, perhaps he shouldn’t play along when a guest compares President Bush to a genocidal dictator like Adolf Hitler. On the March 13 edition of "The Colbert Report," the Comedy Central host had University of Missouri professor Dr. Donald Shield on to discuss the (media generated) controversy over the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys.
Shields was appearing to tout a study claiming that federal prosecutors investigated Democrats over Republicans by a five-to-one margin. However, the discussion quickly degenerated into Nazi comparisons with Colbert happily joining in:
Stephen Colbert"...The Republicans are in power so they're using the full force of the federal government to target the Democrats specifically to make sure they get all the corrupt ones out of there. I mean, that's government efficiency."
Dr. Donald Shields: "Well, that's kind of the way Hitler started out in Nazi Germany, isn't it?"
Colbert: "Well, I mean, he started out efficiently. He got bad later. But first it was about making the trains run on time. You gotta give me that. You gotta give me that!"
CBS legal pundit Andrew Cohen is back at it again with a new blog post at Katie's e-sandbox, "Couric & Co.":
always, thank you for taking the time to read my post and to write a
response. The more dialogue and discussion and debate we have on this
topic the better. It is true that Janet Reno, as her predecessors
before her had done, asked for the resignations of U.S. Attorneys. This
is standard operating procedure designed to allow the President to have
in place his own federal prosecutors. What is different about this
current episode is that a Republican White House sought to replace
Republican-appointed federal prosecutors mid-stream who were by all
accounts doing precisely what they had been asked to do. We now know,
from last week’s testimony, why in some cases this was so and the
answers we got make it clear that the reasons were not high-minded or
Newsbusters reported several times that the mainstream media is pounding the Bush administration for firing eight US attorneys, but ignored the Clinton administration firing 93 US attorneys early in its term. CBS’s Harry Smith was no exception, but also of note was his interview style of partisan Democrat Joe Wilson versus Republican Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Tim Graham reported that after the "Scooter" Libby verdict, Smith gave a very soft interview to Ambassador Joe Wilson. One week later, on the March 14 edition of "The Early Show," Smith put Attorney General Gonzales in the hot seat interrupting the attorney general several times, and coming close to echoing Democratic talking points. The CBS anchor seemed concerned about the "perception" the attorneys were fired for political reasons. He was also outraged that Carol Lam, who prosecuted "Duke" Cunningham, was among those eight, as if one case guarantees job security. The transcript is below.
In a stunning news conference in August 2004, then-Governor Jim
McGreevey (D-NJ) acknowledged that he was "a gay American" and announced he
was stepping down as chief executive of the Garden State. At the time
McGreevey had some dark clouds hanging over his governorship, but the
gay subplot distracted media attention from his ethically-plagued
Standing by his side throughout the press conference was the wife and mother of his child, Dina Matos.
Now McGreevey wants his wife to pony up child support. You just can't pass up a story like that, so the Associated Press filed a story.
curiously, McGreevey's party affiliation went unmentioned. Also left
out of the article, McGreevey's sexual
advances on aide Golan Cipel, an Israeli citizen, was hardly scratching the surface of the scandal. Rather than a simple case of sexual harassment at the very least, Cipel's hire for a key homeland security post was inadvisable from the start. Cipel, it turns out, was granted the security-sensitive
post without the proper scrutiny. Indeed, Cipel, an Israel citizen, didn't even have an FBI clearance.
The March 13 Washington Post erupted on the front page with the revelation that the White House played a role in the dismissal of eight U.S. Attorneys. "Firings Had Genesis In White House," screamed the headline. Documents showed that back in 2005, White House counsel Harriet Miers recommended the idea to the Justice Department that all 93 U.S. Attorneys be replaced. Instead, the Bush team dismissed only eight.
But something quite amazing was omitted by those hard-charging Post reporters Dan Eggen and John Solomon digging through White House E-mails for their scandalized front-page bombshell. Didn’t Bill Clinton’s brand new Attorney General Janet Reno demand resignations from all 93 U.S. attorneys on March 24, 1993? Wouldn’t that fact be relevant to the story? Wouldn’t it have the effect of lessening the oh-my-God hyperbole on the front page if the reader was shown that what Bush did was one-tenth as dramatic as what Team Clinton did? Yes, and yes.
As most people are likely aware, the Democrats have pulled out of a presidential debate to be held in Nevada this August. Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly was none too pleased about this announcement, and made his feelings known Monday evening (video available here):
The dishonesty of the far left on display again…Within the Democratic party, there are two elements, moderate Dems and radical left Dems. The radical movement is funded by George Soros and Peter Lewis, who pour millions of dollars into candidates and websites like MoveOn to do their bidding. Soros and Lewis have given MoveOn at least $5 million.
That was just the beginning. I suggest you fasten your seatbelts, for O’Reilly was loaded for bear:
[Scroll below for 5:24pm EDT] On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," ABC anchor Robin Roberts speculated and fretted over the allegations that some U.S. attorneys were fired because they wouldn’t aggressively investigate Democrats. Roberts dramatically stated that the firings highlight "a trail that points straight to the top" and wondered "how big could this be?"
Yet when President Clinton fired 93 attorneys at the beginning of his first term, ABC never mentioned the story.
The entire GMA report, filed by correspondent Pierre Thomas, was framed from the perspective of how the Democrats perceive this growing scandal and whom they suspect:
While members of "mainstream media" have eagerly covered Ann Coulter’s use of an vulgar term at a conservative conference, HBO host Bill Maher’s obnoxious comment about the Vice President, that "more people would live" if Dick Cheney had been assassinated, drew only sparse attention from the press.
Commenting on the diversity of the 2008 Democratic contenders, MSNBC host Contessa Brewer remarked of Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, "It’s sort of like we’re rooting for everybody all at once."
CNN put together a story featuring reporter John Roberts that absolutely hammered Vice President Cheney on Wednesday night’s Paula Zahn Now, concluding with an anonymous Republican suggesting the party needed an "exorcism" to rid itself of all its missteps and corruption.
When the Laura Ingraham show played clips, Ingraham suggested reporter John Roberts should call in – and he did. Roberts protested that the source was a "devout Republican," and not former Clinton aide David Gergen, as callers joked.
He suggested his story was "very narrowly sliced" to deal just with Cheney, and not the Libby trial. It was narrow, alright. (MP3 audio at NRO.)
Remember how Team Clinton always disparaged their enemies as peddlers of "trash for cash," selling their stories to book publishers and movie studios? The liberal media played along then, but not now. The March 5-11 edition of Variety notes that Warner Bros. moved quickly to secure the screen rights to "Fair Game," Valerie Plame’s upcoming memoir of her life at the CIA. Michael Fleming sells it: "It’s a delicious political thriller of secret government power, covert identity and White House manipulation tht would make for a great movie." Fleming doesn’t note the tale is much more "delicious" if you hate Team Bush.
With the story arriving before the verdict, Fleming warned "the path to release is strewn with land mines" with movies based on real life. Plame’s memoir has yet to be approved by the CIA, and sometimes real-life stories take "unpredictable turns." It turns out that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and the D.C. jury that convicted Scooter Libby enhanced the bankability of Valerie Plame, The Movie.
Fresh off of testifying in the case against Dick Cheney's aide Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, NBC's Tim Russert, along with Andrea Mitchell, attacked the Vice President himself as they and Today host Meredith Vieira blamed Cheney for getting everything "wrong," pushed for his resignation and even compared him to "Darth Vader." On this morning's Today, Mitchell first pulled out the knife-
Mitchell: "Good morning, Ann. The White House says that the Vice President remains the President's most trusted counsel but many are now asking how badly has the conviction of his closest aide hurt Dick Cheney? He is the most powerful Vice President in history but is he beginning to lose his clout? Critics caractiture Dick Cheney as the Darth Vader of the Bush White House. They say wrong on everything from the treatment of prisoners to Saddam Hussein's weapons."
Just an update from Wednesday night's Hardball: Newsweek's Howard Fineman effusively praised Libby trial juror (#10) Ann Redington on MSNBC, and he did it again Thursday morning in an interview in studio on the Laura Ingraham Show. He called Redington "bright...level-headed...eloquent" and even "probably correct" on wanting Libby to get a pardon.
Of course, he also strained a logic muscle by claiming that Libby messed up in the grand jury room because he didn't realize the special prosecutor who's sending him to jail is somehow his buddy. "Fitzgerald was their friend," said Howard, since he didn't end up convicting anyone under the covert-agent-identity-protection law. Yeah, and Ken Starr was Hillary's buddy, too, since she didn't end up indicted.