In an effort to have a fair and balanced debate on the issue of the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes, "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer invited Democratic Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller, and liberal Republican, Senator Chuck Hagel, on to Sunday’s broadcast. Hagel proved to be left of Rockefeller:
We are saying what to the world? That the Army Field Manual applies to our Army people, our armed services people, but the C.I.A. and all these Blackwater-type variations of militias and armies are unaccountable to what? That's not who we are as Americans, Bob. We're better than that. We don't need that. The world wants us to be better than that. We want to be better than that. We need to be smarter. Burning tapes, destroying evidence, I don't know how deep this goes. Could there be obstruction of justice? Yes. How far does this go up in the White House? I don't know.
That does not sound like an opinion from the mainstream of the Republican Party.
On Sunday’s "Face the Nation" on CBS, host Bob Schieffer aksed in his commentary at the end of the show: "Have we helped our cause with the rest of the world when they come to believe we have sunk to using the tactics of those who oppose us?" Speaking in reference to the recent news that the CIA destroyed videotapes of the interrogations of terrorists, which some believe may have involved water boarding, Schieffer began his rant by invoking the name of the great liberal icon, Edward R. Murrow (video available here):
Finally today, Edward R. Murrow was one of the first to understand the power of worldwide communications, but it was the message, not the power to reach so many people, that concerned him...I thought about that as we learn more about the C.I.A.'s use of what our own Army and the Geneva Conventions define as torture and how officials destroyed evidence when a federal judge demanded tapes of the interrogation episodes.
Following two days of positive coverage of Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and his front-runner status in Iowa, on Wednesday the CBS "Early Show" decided it was time to tear down the former governor’s campaign: "He's being dogged by new reports that he had a much bigger role in the parole of convicted rapist Wayne Dumond while he was Governor of Arkansas than he had previously been claiming."
Compare that statement by co-host Harry Smith, with Smith’s previous assessment of Huckabee when previewing an interview with the candidate two days ago:
When he announced he was running for the Republican nomination, many people said Mike who? Hucka what? But Evangelical Christians, a powerful force here, have rallied to his support. Pro-life, traditional marriage, they have found their champion. But they have found something more, a candidate who is good on his feet...His thoughtful debate performances have set him apart.
It must be wonderful to be a Democrat and know that your indiscretions are very unlikely to get much attention by media minions only willing to cover the crimes and shortcomings of folks on the opposite side of the aisle.
Take for example James Michael McHaney, an aide to Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) who NewsBusters reported had been arrested last Friday for trying to lure a thirteen-year-old boy into a sexual encounter.
Not only did this get buried on Friday so as likely not to take focus away from Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) looking regal and presidential during that day's hostage crisis in New Hampshire, but also once the Associated Press deigned to actually inform subscribers on Monday that something potentially nefarious had occurred, press outlets either continued to ignore the subject, or buried it nicely so that precious few would be made aware of it.
On the television side, according to LexisNexis, the only outlet which felt this newsworthy was CNN which aired its only report on this matter during the 6:00 AM EST "American Morning" Tuesday:
Hillary Clinton fundraiser Norman Hsu was indicted earlier today in a $20 million Ponzi scheme. I received a text message e-mail alert to this effect shortly after 1:30 p.m. Eastern. Given the heated lead-up to Iowa and New Hampshire, it's major news. In a 24/7 media cycle, it's inconceivable that it major news organization Web sites could not or would not give it top billing shortly after the news broke.
Yet at 3 p.m. today, a review of some major media Web sites showed no prominence given to the story. MSNBC.com didn't have a teaser headline for it until its "local news" box for WNBC, the NBC network's East Coast flagship in New York City:
Fox News, by contrast, had this tease prominently displayed on it's front page:
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith teased the lead story of the day on a scandal involving Rudy Giuliani and the possible misuse of taxpayer money during Giuliani’s affair with now wife, Judith Nathan, "Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani goes on the attack against Romney as the former New York Mayor's extramarital scandals of the past return to haunt his campaign." This story came prior to analysis of the Republican YouTube debate on CNN and followed a story about the scandal on Wednesday’s "CBS Evening News."
CBS of course pounded Giuliani on the indictment of former NYPD Commissioner, Bernard Kerik, just three weeks ago. Meanwhile, the CBS "Early Show" never covered the Hillary Clinton fund raising scandal involving Norman Hsu. In addition, when Harry Smith interviewed author Sally Bedell Smith on her new book on the Clinton marriage in October, he never once referred to any of Bill Clinton’s "extramarital scandals."
Co-host Hannah Storm later introduced the segment, "But first the scandal that is rocking the presidential campaign of Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani. CBS News National Correspondent Byron Pitts has the story that won't go away." Apparently the Hillary-Hsu scandal never even arrived.
Abracadabra seems to be the magic word - at least for one New Hampshire Democrat and United Press International (UPI).
Prosecutors in Strafford County are claiming in court papers that former congressional candidate, Gary Dodds (D-NH) staged his own car accident and faked his disappearance in 2006 in order to garner sympathy and support for his weak campaign.
Without peeking, do you think the now infamous excerpt from White House press secretary Scott McClellan's not yet written book specifically referred to Valerie Plame Wilson, or anything to do with that scandal?
While you ponder, it is quite conceivable that this entire media frenzy is not only much ado about nothing, but an example of what happens when today's so-called journalists see what they believe to be Republican blood in the water despite the presence of red dye #2.
As cleverly pointed out by Lee Hempfling Thursday (emphasis added):
If Alan Colmes turns up at your Thanksgiving get-together sporting a couple shiners and a re-arranged smile, don't press the poor guy if he claims to have walked into a door. The FNC host just got clobbered by a certified DC heavyweight -- Bob Novak.
Novak was a guest on this evening's Hannity & Colmes. Colmes first questioned the venerable reporter about the item he published this week regarding the Clinton campaign's claim to have a scandalous story about Barack Obama. For the record, Novak stated this evening that since first reporting the story, "I've had substantiation from another source, another very, very good source, who with his own ears heard Clinton people putting out" allegations about Obama.
That's when Colmes decided to press his luck. Mistake.
NBC News White House correspondent David Gregory, accused of being a partisan, made a false statement about the "Scooter" Libby case. In reporting former White House press secretary Scott McClellan’s charge that the Bush administration fed false information, Gregory claimed Libby "went to jail for obstructing the leak investigation."
Although Libby was sentenced to 30 months of prison, Libby never actually went to jail as Gregory claims. President Bush commuted Libby’s sentence, eliminating the prison term yet still upholding a hefty fine and probation.
"Today," however, did not spend a lot of time on the McClellan charge, just a brief story. The transcript is below.
David Shuster has hurled a hand grenade in the direction of one of Washington's most venerable political reporters. The MSNBC "correspondent" has alleged that many people don't believe Robert Novak has "any credibility as a journalist."
Shuster sat in as a "Morning Joe" panelist today. His comment came in the context of a discussion regarding the Novak column from over the weekend stating that "agents of Sen. Hillary Clinton are spreading the word in Democratic circles that she has scandalous information about her principal opponent for the party's presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, but has decided not to use it."
Veteran Maryland political commentator, radio show host and White House correspondent Les Kinsolving often calls Maryland "The Land of Political Enchantment," and indeed the Old Line State never fails to enchant natives and outsiders alike with its bizarre --William Donald Schaefer comes to mind-- and often corrupt politicos.
Yet although the state is famously blue-hued with an overwhelmingly Democratic General Assembly, you can count on the media to ignore the party affiliation of Democratic state legislators who run afoul of the law.
Such was the case with the Associated Press today ignoring former state senator Thomas Bromwell's Democratic Party affiliation. AP follows the Washington Post's lead (see my July 24 article) in ignoring Bromwell's party connections.
Just two days ago, Gail Collins christened her column about the Pat Robertson endorsement "Pat Loves Rudy."
As I observed then, "a conservative columnist writing the equivalent might well be condemned for making an unsubtle appeal to homophobia. But Collins will surely get a pass in PC quarters, since it's a well-established fact that liberals are incapable of prejudice."
Then comes today's column -- and I'll be darned if Collins hasn't done it again.
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Russ Mitchell introduced a news brief in which reporter Byron Pitts speculated on a potential indictment of former NYPD Commissioner and Giuliani friend, Bernard Kerik. Mitchell began the segment by exclaiming:
Republican presidential hopeful, Rudy Giuliani, has stood by his good friend and associate, Bernard Kerik, through good times and bad. But that could change now that Kerik maybe in some big trouble.
Despite the fact that no indictment had actually been handed down yet, that did not keep Pitts from furthering the speculation: "CBS News has learned former New York City Police Commissioner, Bernard Kerik, could face indictment as early as today on criminal charges, including tax fraud and other counts."
While the "Early Show" had no hesitation in reporting a possible Giuliani scandal, the morning news program failed to mention the Hillary Clinton fund raising scandal involving fugitive Norman Hsu even once. That was true even when "Early Show" co-host, Harry Smith, had reported the story on the August 31 and September 6 CBS "Evening News" broadcasts, while filling in for anchor Katie Couric.
It seems that no bad Hillary Clinton deed goes unresponded to.
As we are in the midst of a presidential campaign, this by itself is not an issue. That it is the national media that is leading this charge is. One need focus on but the latest corners of the Clinton pantheon to come to light to see the full court press the press puts on when their girl needs them.
In an October 10 Boston Globe interview, Senator Clinton let her socialism slip a bit, saying "I have a million ideas. I can't do all of them. I happen to think in running a disciplined campaign - especially when it comes to fiscal responsibility, which is what I'm trying to do - everything I propose I have to pay for. You know, you go to my website, you'll see what I would use to pay for what I've proposed. So I've got a lot of ideas, I just obviously can't propose them all. I can't afford them all. The country can't afford them all." (Emphasis ours.)
When the Wall Street Journal in late August broke the fugitive Norman Hsu illegal fundraising scandal, it took ABC's World News three days to get around to reporting it -- and despite developments as the fugitive has moved through the court system, ABC hasn't mentioned him since. But after the Washington Post on Sunday disclosed the criminal past of an adviser to Fred Thompson's campaign, ABC pounced immediately with a full story Monday night. CBS also got into the action with a brief item. NBC, which waited two days to touch Hsu, got to Thompson with even less delay, citing the matter in a larger Nightly News story Sunday about Thompson's appearance on Meet the Press where Tim Russert asked him about the Post story. (In the EST and CST zones, only NBC had a newscast on Sunday night.)
On Monday, Thompson adviser Philip Martin gave the media a hook with his resignation from the campaign, but when the Clinton campaign announced on September 11 that it was returning $850,000 in suspect donations and when the Justice Dept. on September 20 filed a criminal complaint, ABC's World News was silent. Anchor Charles Gibson announced Monday night: “In the presidential race, another candidate has been embarrassed by the conduct of a major fund-raiser. This time it's Republican Fred Thompson.” ABC's Brian Ross explained how “the resignation comes just one day after ABC News,” apparently a reference to a Sunday posting on “The Blotter” blog, “and the Washington Post reported that not only was Martin a convicted drug trafficker, but that he had left a long trail of unpaid taxes in his business dealings.” Ross highlighted how “Thompson has been traveling in style during this campaign on a Cessna Citation Five private jet” owned by Martin.
A segment on Monday’s CBS "Early Show" by co-host Julie Chen about accusations by the late President Ford of Bill Clinton being a "sex addict," was in sharp contrast to an interview last week with author Sally Bedell Smith, when co-host Harry Smith referred to the Clintons as a "still-young couple" and "political rock stars."
Smith teased the Monday segment on Clinton’s sex addiction by saying, "Plus, a presidential scandal comes back in the spotlight. Find out who's calling Bill Clinton a sex addict." Contrast that statement with Smith’s glowing assessment of the Clinton marriage from last Tuesday’s segment on Bedell-Smith’s new book on the Clinton marriage:
A simple Google search reveals there are more than 40 books about this still-young couple. They met in law school, two bookish, wonkish, idealistic kids who somehow transformed themselves into political rock stars.
Strangely, in last week’s segment Smith never thought to ask a single question about the affect of Bill Clinton’s sex scandals on the marriage.
With a little help from Joe Scarborough, Valerie Plame Wilson tried this morning to paint herself as someone who, far from seeking "Vanity Fair" fame, had celebrity thrust upon her in a moment of distraction. Right.
And try this quick quiz:
Q. Is it possible to get through an extended interview of Valerie Plame Wilson without mentioning Richard Armitage?
For years now, Valerie Plame has been the toast of the liberal glitterati, a celebrated combat specialist against the Vast Bush Conspiracy. Every move the former CIA employee has made has oozed political and commercial calculation. She struck a book deal with Simon & Schuster worth more than $2 million. She struck a movie deal based on the book deal with Warner Brothers for millions more, so she can be played as a patriotic heroine on the silver screen by Nicole Kidman or Naomi Watts. How many millions more? Two million? Five million? Don’t wait for the media to ask. They're too busy playing her as victimized.
In the Clinton years, any opponent in a Clinton scandal was assumed to be overwhelmed with greed, desperate to get an agent and make millions with lies about the president, to sell "trash for cash." Since she's been encouraged to wage political war by Hillary Clinton, none of these assumptions have been applied to Valerie Plame, or her husband, Joe Wilson. Here’s a rundown of the Plame interviews and the number of questions about the Wilsons making millions:
As Valerie Plame does the interview rounds – CBS, NBC, CNN, NPR – someone might miss the far-left, Bush-hating blog interviews. On Firedoglake, the most notable pro-Plame blog, Plame did a typewritten chat with her leftist admirers on Monday. She loved the leftist bloggers at FDL – even had them to her home for dinner -- and declared her interviews on CBS and NBC were fair. Her husband, Joe Wilson, popped in to suggest that two people convinced the Wilsons to fight the pernicious far right: Sidney Blumenthal – and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Former Watergate figure John Dean also popped in – to suggest Plame could be Hillary’s CIA Director.
Both CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric and "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith portrayed Valerie Plame and her husband, Joe Wilson, as innocent victims, even though Plame admitted to being "partisan" in a "60 Minutes" interview with Couric on Sunday.
On Friday’s "Early Show," Smith opened a segment previewing the upcoming interview by explaining that, "Valerie Plame spent nearly 20 years in the shadows of the CIA. Then suddenly, she became a public figure." He later played a clip of the interview in which Couric exclaimed how "18 years of meticulously crafted cover were gone in an instant." Strangely there was no mention of the "Vanity Fair" photo op that Plame and her husband posed for, which Couric asked about in the "60 Minutes" interview:
Perhaps one of the most distorted stories in recent mainstream media history, the Valerie Plame CIA leak controversy, has become even more so with Plame’s upcoming "60 Minutes" interview with CBS Anchor, Katie Couric. On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked with Couric about the interview and began by describing Plame as "...beautiful, smart, a covert agent."
Smith then went on to summarize the media-manufactured scandal that ensued after Plame’s name was mentioned in Bob Novak's syndicated column:
Speculation was rampant that the leaking of her name, which is a crime, came from inside the Bush Administration, in retaliation for her husband's column. The leak grew into a scandal that embroiled the political elite in Washington....When it was all over, Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was charged and convicted of lying to investigators and obstruction of justice. President Bush later commuted sentence, no one was ever charged with knowingly leaking Valerie Plame's name.
The problem with this little summary is that it completely leaves out the fact that person responsible for giving Plame’s name to Novak was former Undersecretary of State, Richard Armitage, who mentioned her name in an interview with Novak and was never charged with any crime. Also missing was any indication of her husband, Joe Wilson, being a Kerry Campaign advisor in 2004.
"Washington Examiner" White House correspondent Bill Sammon reported to the October 8 edition of "Fox and Friends" that the Clinton campaign hired convicted document thief Sandy Berger. In questioning Sammon, guest co-host Greg Kelly asked if the story "has legs." Sammon responded noting the mainstream media’s double standard reputation.
"Greg, I think it's entirely up to the mainstream media. Let me give you an analogy. If one of the Republican campaigns had hired 'Scooter' Libby can you imagine the hue and cry? The guy would be run out of town on a rail. We will see how the mainstream media reports this. I have a feeling they won't work up quite as big a head of righteous indignation. "
Joe Scarborough: MSNBC's kind of Republican. The sort who not only tells a Democrat he's "very badly" needed in Washington. Who not merely expresses the desire to write him a campaign check. But who even volunteers [tongue-in-cheek, one would hope] to do illegal check-bundling for him a la Norman Hsu.
After recently putting in an embarrassingly sycophantish performance when interviewing Hillary Clinton, Scarborough was back ingratiating himself with another Dem today. Interviewing former Nebraska senator Bob Kerrey on "Morning Joe," talk inevitably turned to the possibility of Kerrey seeking a Senate seat again. Scarborough waxed wildly enthusiastic.