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.
"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Booth Luce
So consumed is NBC with animosity toward President Bush and VP Cheney that there is virtually no good thing that it cannot spin into a negative. Take these bookend moments from this morning's "Today." In the course of a segment she narrated on the fallout from the Libby verdict for VP Cheney, Andrea Mitchell mentioned that "Cheney says his value to the president is that he has no political ambition for himself." She then ran a clip of the Veep saying "I'm not worried about what the folks in Iowa are going to say in the caucuses of January of next year. I'm here to do a job, and that is to call 'em as I see 'em."
You might think there's no way the offering of principled advice devoid of personal political ambition could be spun into a negative. Come on, you're not thinking creatively enough. Andrea found an angle: "But others say that is also a weakness, making Cheney . . . less sensitive to the political fallout from his own advice." On that theory, I suppose Mitchell will be counseling Hillary to ignore Bill's advice, since, like Cheney, he's not running either.
Tim Russert appeared on Wednesday’s Today to discuss the Libby verdict. Unsurprisingly, anchor Meredith Vieira asked her co-worker no tough questions about his controversial role in the case. The NBC duo underscored how historic and how damaging the verdict was, with Russert asserting it will "connect with people in a large way." Then, in the strangest line in the interview, after blowing Libby’s conviction into the Trial of the Century, when asked about the verdict Russert said he "took no joy in it."
On Wednesday, attorney Victoria Toensing wrote an article for National Review Online suggesting Russert’s pretense that he didn’t know what lawyers did was a good reason for appeal: "The court prevented the defense from impeaching Tim Russert: The NBC anchorman, who has a law degree, testified he did not know a lawyer could not accompany a witness before the grand jury. The defense then exhumed three clips where Russert had said on the air that a lawyer cannot go into the grand jury with his client. The judge would not allow the jury to hear that other honorable people sometimes forget or misspeak when being grilled on the witness stand."
The headline is that Ann Redington, Libby juror #10, wants Scooter to get a pardon. But there's actually a bigger story. It is Redington herself. If you have a chance to watch a replay of her appearance on this afternoon's Hardball, billed as an exclusive, I'd urge you to do so. She is enough to renew one's faith in the goodness and intelligence of our fellow Americans.
As Matthews observed, Redington demonstrated an impressive ability to separate the wheat from the chaff in the trial, and appeared open, honest and without any political ax to grind.
View video here. The clip is longer than usual because I consider Redington's comments to be of historical and cultural significance.
Excerpts from the interview:
Matthews: "What did you think of Scooter?"
Re: I thought he seemed like a really nice guy. It wouldn't matter if he were a nice guy or not, the whole thing was obviously very difficult to have someone's future in your hands. But he seemed like a ton of fun."
On Wednesday’s "Good Morning America," anchor Diane Sawyer framed of the conviction of Lewis "Scooter" Libby through the perspective of anti-Bush liberals, continuing a tradition that began with the previous day’s evening news programs. An ABC graphic described Libby, a former top aide to Vice President Cheney, as the "fall guy" and Sawyer wondered if he was "a scapegoat."
And nowhere in the segment did the GMA co-host find time to mention some very pertinent points, such as the fact that CIA Agent Valerie Plame, wife of ex-Ambassador Joe Wilson, had her identity revealed to reporter Bob Novak by an administration critic, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Sawyer interviewed Denis Collins, a juror from the trial, and a sampling of her questions seems to reveal who she thinks is responsible:
Diane Sawyer: "Do you think that Scooter Libby got in trouble because he was trimming the truth to protect his boss?"
Sawyer: "You said the Vice President had clearly tasked [Libby] to talk to reporters about CIA agent Valerie Plame. How do you think the Vice President should feel this morning?"
Sawyer: "At the end of the day, what's the big message sent by this jury and this verdict?"
The ABC anchor also failed to mentioned the apparent conflict of interests shared by juror Collins, including his friendships with reporter Bob Woodward and the fact that he was a former neighbor of Tim Russert.
Commenting on the Scooter Libby trial yesterday, Rush Limbaugh made a very astute point about the whole nasty affair: Libby's conviction ought to tell Republican politicos they can't trust the liberal elite Washington press corps.
Don't try to convince them, don't try to be their friend, the number-one talker asserted. They come to any interview with you with their story already written out beforehand.
Their minds are already made up, because they have a prejudice about what Republicans and conservatives are. So the whole point of talking to members of the administration -- Republicans and otherwise -- is trip 'em up, and what happened here? Russert, Matt Cooper and Judith Miller? It's a bunch of journalists at the center of this and what Libby told 'em, and then the FBI and grand jury and so forth. This juror that came out and talked. He said they have "a lot of sympathy" for Judith Miller, the New York Times info babe that ended up in jail for not revealing her sources to Fitzgerald. The juror said, “I really feel sorry for her. The defense was just pounding her. They were just too hard on her.”
You don't hit the girl. It is one characteristic or aspect of that. But until people learn that you're not going to be able to bring a bunch of reporters in from Washington or New York, and explain conservatism or your policy and have a sympathetic ear (or even an ear that wants to understand what you're trying to do) is beyond me. Why they keep thinking they can do this is also beyond me. I know what you're saying. "What would you do? You have to talk to them."
Meredith Vieira was in a light-hearted mood at the top of this morning's "Today," joshing with substitute co-host Ann Curry about the estrogen on the set and kiddingly offering to leave her husband for the winner of the Mega Millions lottery. But we shouldn't have let the idle chatter fool us. When it came to discussing the repercussions of the Libby conviction, Meredith's leopard-skin blouse should have been a clue -- because she pounced.
Discussing the trial with NBC host-turned-star-prosecution-witness Tim Russert [file photo], Meredith displayed and read this quotation from Republican strategist [and former Dole campaign manager] Scott Reed that appeared in a New York Timesarticle this morning:
“The trial has been death by 1,000 cuts for Cheney. It’s hurt him inside the administration. It’s hurt him with the Congress, and it’s hurt his stature around the world because it has shown a lot of the inner workings of the White House. It peeled the bark right off the way they operate.”
Vieira then asked Russert: "Is this the beginning of the end, do you believe, for the Vice President?"
Avuncular he might be, but Bob Schieffer can sling Dem spin like a Shrum.
Appearing on the CBS Evening News to comment on the Libby verdict, not only did Katie Couric's predecessor in the anchor chair paint things in
the grimmest possible terms for Vice-President Cheney, he took things an unsolicited
step further. Katie Couric asked Schieffer "how badly does this reflect on Mr. Cheney in your view?"
Schieffer: "Very badly, and it's hard to conclude otherwise."
During Tuesday’s "Situation Room," Jack Cafferty used the conviction of a former aide to Vice President Cheney as a springboard for wild attacks against George W. Bush. According to the CNN correspondent, a decision by the President to pardon Lewis "Scooter" Libby would be symptomatic of "an administration that has come to view things like the Constitution and the nation’s laws as inconveniences that only serve to get in the way of their agenda."
Cafferty, who once giddily joked about Karl Rove being indicted in the CIA leak case, also furiously speculated about just who Lewis Libby is "protecting":
Jack Cafferty: "Remember this?"
George W. Bush (file footage): "America wants somebody to restore honor and dignity to the White House. That’s what America is looking for."
Cafferty: "That’s an interesting clip in light of today’s conviction of Vice President Cheney’s former top advisor Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby. He was found guilty on four of five counts against him and they all had to do with lying and obstructing justice when it came to details about Valerie Plame’s identity. Why would he lie? Who was he protecting? We’ll probably never know the answer to that."
As we prepare for a network TV onslaught on the Scooter Libby conviction today, remember that on March 2, 2000, an aide to the Vice President was convicted of illegal funneling foreign money to Democrats, crimes that benefited the 1996 Clinton-Gore re-election campaign. Her name was Maria Hsia (pronounced like Shaw). Vice President Gore at that time was the all-but-certain Democratic nominee for president. Coverage was minimal. ABC gave it 19 seconds and CBS gave it 23 seconds. On NBC, Tom Brokaw skipped it. A few days later on the "Imus in the Morning" show, Brokaw had this telling exchange on Gore.
Imus jumped in: "He acted like he barely knew that this Maria Hsia, didn’t he? Like he was ready to drag her up out of a park someplace." Brokaw agreed: "Oh, I know, yeah, it was: ‘Did I miss that?’ It was as if he were saying, ‘Did she get convicted?’ He said, ‘It's still in the courts.’ It's no longer in the courts! The jury has ruled! Guilty! Five counts! Imus shot back: "Well, if he's watching NBC News he missed it." Brokaw conceded: "Yeah, well that's true." Imus: "And he only saw 19 seconds of it with Dan [Rather]." Brokaw: "Yeah, I know."
Washington Post reporter Lyndsey Layton reported Thursday that House Republicans will move for an unusual vote protesting the new committee assignment of Democratic Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana, the congressman still under investigation for the $90,000 in bribe money found in his home freezer. After removing Jefferson from the powerful Ways and Means Committee last year as the Democrats ran against a "culture of corruption," Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi now wants to place him on the Homeland Security Committee.
Layton's story highlights Jefferson's role as a "vocal critic of FEMA's performance" in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans as a rationale for his Homeland Security appointment. But the Post left out Jake Tapper's September 2005 scoop on Jefferson using the government to check on his personal property in the hurricane aftermath: "Amid the chaos and confusion that engulfed New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck, a congressman used National Guard troops to check on his property and rescue his personal belongings — even while New Orleans residents were trying to get rescued from rooftops, ABC News has learned."
ABC Nightline co-host Terry Moran helped expose the anti-Christian prejudice of John Edwards’ official campaign bloggers (who’ve since quit the campaign), asking three weeks ago on his ABCNews.com blog whether Edwards condoned “hate speech” by refusing to fire the pair. But Moran himself failed to mention the controversy in a two-segment profile of Edwards on Monday’s Nightline.
Back on February 6, Moran listed some examples of the hostile anti-Christian views espoused by Edwards’ campaign blogger Amanda Marcotte on her own personal site and suggested the issue reflected poorly on Edwards himself:
Questions: What, if anything, does it tell us about Edwards that he's joined up with this blogger? Is Edwards' association with a person who has written these things a legitimate issue for voters, as they wonder--among other things--whom he might appoint to high office if he's elected?
Democratic Presidential candidate and former North Carolina Senator John Edwards appeared Sunday on CBS’s "Face the Nation." While Mr. Edwards was on the program for more than nine minutes, host Bob Schieffer followed NBC’s lead and neglected to ask the former Senator about his anti-Christian bloggers Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan. Both have since left the Edwards campaign, but it is unknown whether they left voluntarily or were pushed out because the networks have avoided covering this story.
While Schieffer failed to inquire about these two bloggers, he did ask the former Vice Presidential candidate some tough questions on Iraq. Particularly, Mr. Schieffer pressed Edwards about the President’s stance:
Hey NBC your double-standards are showing! On last night's Hardball, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was in awe of the Clinton spin machine as he called them "pros" and "good leakers" but MSNBC correspondent David Shuster labeled Dick Cheney's behavior in the Scooter Libby leak case as "ruthless," and "obsessed."
First up Hardball host, Chris Matthews, asked Williams for his take on Hillary Clinton's rapid defense in her David Geffen-fueled spat with Barack Obama. Williams, seemed to admire the Clinton machine's prowess in both past and current crises, as he admitted: "They were pros politically. They were good leakers. They were good attackers, and they were good defenders.Hillary Rodham Clinton has some pros working for her.We've had some experience with them, all of us in this business have."
So if campaign staffers for a prominent presidential candidate make hateful and bigoted remarks about Christians that's big news right? Not according to NBC's Meredith Vieira. The Today show co-anchor failed to question John Edwards about his former bloggers Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan calling Christianity a "mythology" and depicting Bush supporters as his "wingnut Christofascist base." Instead Vieira focused her questions from the left on Iraq, as first noted here, and his opinion of the dust-up between rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The following are all of Vieira's questions to John Edwards on the February 22, Today show:
Liberated by her firing-qua-resignation, ex-John Edwards blogger Amanda Marcotte has reverted to form: using vulgarity to insult her political opponents. On a whim I thought I'd check in at Marcotte's site, Pandagon, and wasn't surprised to find her slurring Michelle Malkin, with shots at Ann Coulter and the two leading conservative women's organizations thrown in for good measure.
Marcotte decided to respond to an inquiry from a poster she labelled a troll who had written: "does it bother you that one of the major architects of your demise was herself a strong woman, Michelle Malkin?"
That set Marcotte off on this tirade that included these gems of logic and literary flair [editing mine; unexpurgated vulgarity in the original]:
"I do want to address this false premise that someone like Malkin is a 'strong woman' Women who kow-tow to male dominance by aggressively attacking women who actually do rebel against oppression can expect to have sexist men blow this particular 'strong woman' smoke up their --- all the time. It means nothing. To the degree that these men mean it, they are mistaking a------ry for strength."
When the Air Pelosi brouhaha arose in the last few weeks, the first story that came to my bias-obsessed brain was the Air Sununu scandal in 1991, a crusade led by The Washington Post. The White House chief of staff John Sununu (father of the current senator) drew great controversy for his use of government jets and then, a government limo trip to a stamp auction. Comparison to other scandals, including congressional travel, came in our newsletter MediaWatch. Consider the comparison of the Post's investigative vigor:
Air Pelosi, 2007: One story on A-15, headlined "Pelosi Catches Nonstop Flights Home," a header designed for yawns, 272 words.
Air Sununu, 1991: 25 stories in 68 days (April 21-June 27), eleven on Page 1.
I'm just getting to the February 19 editions of the news magazines today. The objective? Did they report on the vulgar anti-Christian and anti-Catholic blogs of the now-retired feminist John Edwards bloggers? Not with any specifics. Each papered over the controversy.
Time's Massimo Calabresi devoted his story to the trouble with campaign bloggers and how their "bravado can backfire." In reporting on bloggers for McCain and Hillary as well for Edwards, Calabresi quoted Amanda Marcotte's snarky comments about how guilty the Duke lacrosse players were, but not her giggling over the idea of aborting Jesus after she was filled with the "hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit" so Christians would have to find another "ancient mythology" to excuse their hatred for women:
Are Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh to blame for left-wing vulgarity from the likes of blogger Amanda "%$@#" Marcotte, late of John Edwards presidential campaign blog? That's the argument from Time senior writer and columnist Joe Klein, now writing at Time's Swampland blog.
a newcomer to this blogging business, I've been interested in the
Edwards dust-up. As readers know, I've been critical of the tone of the
left-wing blogosphere in the past. But I think that Yglesias raises an
important point here
and anyone reading the comments section of any Swampland post knows
that troglyditic right-wing cavedwellers fester there, in a vomitously
vile manner, too.
The New York Times political blog "The Caucus" and editor Kate Phillips seemed to sympathize with two bloggers, Andrea Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, who recently quit the John Edwards campaign after coming under fire for bigoted, irresponsible, and vulgar statements they'd written on their own blogs in the past.
In every electoral cycle, the liberal media informs us that the Democratic Party will fight fiercely for the votes of religious Americans and refute the ugly, even slanderous caricature that the Democrats are the party that mocks God, prayer, and everything most Americans hold dear.
And then, suddenly the alleged caricature has a name. Meet Amanda Marcotte.
Marcotte is a hater – to be precise, a hater of the Christian religion and how it apparently warps society with its oppressive myths. For some mysterious reason, John Edwards, just a few years removed from being inaccurately hailed by coddling correspondents as a Southern centrist balancing the John Kerry ticket, hired Marcotte as one of his official bloggers.
The novelty of the 2008 presidential campaign is the apparent necessity for every campaign to have an official blogger or two. The problem, it seems, is that Edwards never seemed to read – let’s hope he never read – a thing his sneering new employee wrote over a period of months. It was all summed up in one outrageous alleged joke from last summer:
In the Scooter Libby trial, the jury heard a tape of NBC Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert sounding very much like a liberal Democrat expressing glee at approaching indictments in the Plamegate prosecution of Patrick Fitzgerald on MSNBC's Imus in the Morning on October 28, 2005 (in the 8:30 half hour). He said "Santa Claus is coming tomorrow." MRC's Mike Rule dug out the tape to give people outside the courtroom some of the flavor of that giddy conversation:
Imus: "Here's somebody, if this person who we're going to talk to now doesn't know [who will be indicted in the CIA leak case, or even if indictments are coming] nobody knows. The Washington Bureau Chief for NBC News and the host of 'Meet the Press' Tim Russert. Good morning Mr. Russert."
The vicious anti-Catholic (and in general, anti-religious) bloggers hired by the John Edwards campaign came under surprising condemnation from liberal columnist (and PBS NewsHour pundit) Mark Shields and liberal NPR reporter Nina Totenberg on the Friday night TV talk show "Inside Washington." Shields said he hesitated to agree with Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, but he was "right." Shields dared go where media accounts have not, explicitly reading Amanda Marcotte’s sleazy joke about the sperm of the Holy Spirit and Mary aborting Jesus with the Plan B pill, saying "if she had written similarly about a Jewish person, an Islamic person, a gay or a lesbian, she would be banished to the outer darkness." Totenberg called it "disgusting."
Only Newsweek’s Evan Thomas seemed to try and make excuses for Edwards by slamming bloggers in general: "Read blogs. They're full of that kind of stuff."
Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards' inflammatory new campaign bloggers Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan will be retained by the campaign after making public apologies for past postings that were controversial, to put it mildly. In a surprise, the New York Times played the story on Friday's front page, albeit under the mild headline "Edwards Learns Campaign Blogs Can Cut 2 Ways").
Marcotte is notorious for a January 7 post on the Duke lacrosse "rape" case, one she later eliminated after it became an issue after her hiring: "Can't a few white boys sexually assault a black woman anymore without people getting all wound up about it? So unfair."
CNN isn't the only media outlet reporting on the anti-religious John Edwards campaign bloggers in a painfully incomplete manner. Howard Kurtz carved out a little space deep in today's Washington Post Style section (on page C-7) for a story headlined "John Edwards Keeps Controversial Bloggers." Although bloggers on both sides are identified by labels, there's no ideological "liberal" or "feminist" label used for the Silky Pony's poison pens:
Former senator John Edwards said yesterday that while he is offended by some inflammatory remarks written by two bloggers before he hired them for his presidential campaign, he is keeping them on anyway.
John Edwards is retaining his attack-dog leftist bloggers. His campaign has a statement on the Edwards blog, and the candidate claimed "they have both assured me that it was never their intention to malign anyone's faith, and I take them at their word. We're beginning a great debate about the future of our country, and we can't let it be hijacked."
As anyone who's read the Kathryn Lopez smackdown on their blazing blog guns at Catholics (and Pope Benedict, the alleged dictator) knows, it's quite clear they intended to malign a faith. The subject emerged on CNN's The Situation Room Wednesday night, but the most disturbing part of the story appeared on screen. The graphic emphasized unproven allegations:
What? Kathryn's beginning made the vicious anti-Catholic flavor of Amanda Marcotte's blogging very clear:
After more than a week of ignoring the controversy over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s request for access to an extravagant plane, the three network morning shows finally covered the subject on Thursday, albeit briefly. CBS and ABC both offered full reports during the 7AM hour of the February 8 shows, while only CBS included a quote from a Republican lawmaker who criticized the possible ethical issues raised by having the opportunity to fly friends home in a posh C-32 jet. NBC’s "Today" show mentioned the story only in a news brief and then co-host Matt Lauer briefly asked correspondent David Gregory about the plane controversy.
All three networks included snarky reports on this "hot controversy." Lauer wondered if the incident would make Pelosi "look bad from a PR standpoint," while Cuomo used the pithy term, "turbulence." One wonders why it took a week for the media to jump on such a "hot controversy." At 7:06am, "Good Morning America’s" Cuomo introduced Jake Tapper with a few quips about "plane envy:"
Chris Cuomo: "We begin with the turbulence over Speaker Nancy Pelosi request for a new plane. A request that has been quickly turned down. Senior national correspondent Jake Tapper has the latest on the controversy from Capitol Hill. Jake, is this about security or ego? Sounds like a case of jet envy."
Has Chris Matthews watched one too many episodes of "Oz," the hyper-graphic HBO original series about prison life?
Discussing the Scooter Libby trial on the 7 PM ET edition of this evening's Hardball, Chris spun a sanguine scenario in which Libby, facing the prospect of a long prison sentence in a vulnerable environment, might turn on Vice-President Cheney.
Matthews: "If Scooter's convicted, if you're looking at the number of counts facing him. If that jury really does go to town -- and I hope they're not watching -- and hits him with four or five counts, they add up to big time in some federal penitentiary, not necessarily Allenwood [known as the country club of federal prisons]. Someplace where a guy like Scooter Libby would not bevery protected from the fellow prisoners. If he faces 20 years somewhere in maximum security, he's going to think again about his situation, isn't he?"
On Friday night's edition of Inside Washington airing locally on Washington PBS station WETA, the first topic was whether the media's been unfair to President Bush, given his abysmal approval ratings. NPR reporter Nina Totenberg said Bush received a "free ride" for years, so now the worm has turned and the coverage is fierce. Then the host turned to Newsweek's Evan Thomas, who was frank in his assessment of the media's role:
Gordon Peterson: "What do you think, Evan? Are the mainstream media bashing the president unfairly?"
Evan Thomas: "Well, our job is to bash the president, that's what we do almost --"