I suppose that quoting Al Franken for evidence of liberal media bias is, if you'll excuse the expression, like shooting fish in a barrel.
Nevertheless, perhaps it's useful for the archives to record one of Franken's remarks this evening in the course of his appearance on MSNBC's 'Scarborough Country.'
Commenting on Vice President Cheney's decision not to follow Harry Whittington to the hospital, Franken mused:
"It's inconceivable that you don't go to the hospital unless there's a reason you don't go to the hospital. If you had been drinking, you wouldn't go to the hospital. Or, you're an amazing jerk, that's the other. Or both."
Since Sunday, Vice President Cheney has been accused of trying to cover up his hunting accident, since the media establishment wasn’t notified right away about the mishap; he has been fodder for late night comedians, and today on the Early Show on CBS, he had his manhood questioned by super liberal Katrina vanden Heuvel: "...I’m not sure real men hunt..."
Vanden Heuvel was on the program with Bay Buchanan. For viewers, this would be a balanced perspective on Mr. Cheney’s hunting incident, right? Wrong. Hostess Hannah Storm asked pointed questions of Ms. Buchanan, even following up on a few, but tossed slow pitch softballs at Ms. vanden Heuvel, allowing her to take political shots at the Bush administration and spout talking points one would expect to find at Moveon.org with impunity, as Storm allowed the comments to go unchallenged. For instance, take the following exchange between Hannah Storm and Bay Buchanan:
Thirty-six minutes into tonight's Hardball, host Chris Matthews finally permitted a Cheney defender, former Cheney aide Ron Christie, to grace his program. Even then, Christie was denied an unobstructed opportunity to make his case, having to share the segment with hyper-partisan Dem consultant Bob Shrum - he of the record-breaking number of losing presidential campaigns - who tried to drag in everything from Iraq to Hurricane Katrina.
Until Christie's belated appearance, Hardball was an absolutely ceaseless cavalcade of criticism heaped on the Veep and his handling of the shooting incident that included:
clips of NBC reporter David Gregory haranguing Scott McClellan;
file footage of Gloria Borger supposedly tripping up Cheney over the Saddam/Al-Qaeda connection;
MSNBC reporter David Shuster's decidedly downbeat portrayal of events;
a grim assessment from Washington Post reporter Jim Vandehei;
a pessimistic view of Whittington's medical situation by former NIH director Bernadine Healy; and finally
a panel discussion with former Clinton Press Secretary Dede Myers and DC factotum David Gergen
The negative portrayal of the Vice-President and of the administration's handling of the matter was absolutely unrelenting.
Television producer and “McLaughlin Group” regular Lawrence O’Donnell is offering an explanation of the now infamous weekend quail hunting accident at the Huffington Post: Vice President Dick Cheney was drunk. O’Donnell’s proof? All the lawyers that he’s talked to since the news of this event was first released on Sunday say so, and wealthy Republicans are all drunks. I’m not kidding.
O’Donnell began his piece:
“The L.A. Times is edging closer to the most likely reason for the 18 hour delay in reporting that the Vice President of the United States shot someone:
“‘This was a hunting accident,’ said Gilbert San Miguel, chief deputy of the Kenedy County Sheriff's Office. ‘There was no alcohol or misconduct.’"
Much like the Richard Dreyfuss character in the movie "Jaws," O’Donnell doesn’t believe this was a hunting accident:
Let me begin by stating the obvious, the media has overblown the coverage of Vice President Cheney’s hunting accident, and nowhere was that more clear than on CBS’s "The Early Show" this morning. There were a total of 6 stories dealing with the subject this morning, as well as one story tease. Four of these stories plus the story tease occurred in the first fifteen minutes of the broadcast.
Julie Chen opened the program:
Julie Chen: "Good morning, I'm Julie Chen. Hunting for answers, there's a growing firestorm over the delay in reporting Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident as White House spokesperson Scott McClellan was pounded with questions at a press briefing Monday, we'll have all the latest"
In the wake of Vice President Cheney’s hunting accident, Harry Smith did a segment on hunting safety in the 8:00 half hour of this morning’s "The Early Show" on CBS complete with broomsticks. Dressed in an orange vest and holding a broom, Smith may have been confused for a member of the cleanup crew out on the plaza. However, we were informed that the orange vest was a hunting vest and we were supposed to pretend that the broom was a shotgun. But, if they were using brooms to represent shotguns, were the vests necessary, or were they truly fearful that the brooms may accidentally fire?
I can understand why Harry Smith and CBS wouldn’t want to use real guns for the segment, safety concerns for instance, but couldn’t CBS have spent $20 and bought some toy guns for the segment? In any case, Harry Smith’s explanation suffers from delusions of grandeur:
Let the record show that it took the MSM less than a day to float the possibility that Dick Cheney intentionally shot Harry Whittington.
And who better to surmise that the Vice-President might have been trying to bump off his buddy than Ron Reagan, that primetime speaker at the Kerry convention who moonlights as an MSNBC "political analyst"?
Reagan appeared on tonight's Hardball with Chris Matthews, and in decrying the fact that the Secret Service apparently denied local law enforcement immediate access to Cheney, said the following:
"Law enforcement is entitled to investigate this case, to find out what happened, to find out if he had anything against Mr. Whittington, and to find out - again I don't mean to suggest anything - to find out if anyone had been drinking . . ."
The American media have been in full lather over the existence of pictures containing former lobbyist Jack Abramoff with President George W. Bush. TIME magazine published the first such “evidence of a White House connection” at its website on Saturday, with The New York Times following suit on Sunday. TIME reported: “Now, finally, the first such photo has come to light. It shows a bearded Abramoff in the background as Bush greets an Abramoff client, Raul Garza, who was then the chairman of the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas; Bush senior advisor Karl Rove looks on. The photograph was provided to TIME by Mr. Garza.” The Times said: “By itself, the picture hardly seems worthy of the White House's efforts to keep it out of the public eye. Mr. Abramoff, a leading Republican fund-raiser who pleaded guilty last month to conspiring to corrupt public officials, is little more than a blurry, bearded figure in the background at a gathering of about two dozen people.”
After that statement, the Times became more conspiratorial:
When's the last time you recall a prominent elected official being called a morning malt liquor drinker on live national TV? It just happened on the Today show.
Today was no doubt looking for a light touch when co-host Campbell Brown interviewed New Orleans magician, comic and eccentric extraordinaire Harry Anderson in a pre-Mardi Gras piece on "Life after Katrina." But the NBC show surely got more than it was bargaining for.
When Anderson took some shots at FEMA and the federal response to Katrina, Brown, in an apparent bid for balance, responded:
"Let me ask you about Mayor Nagin, because your mayor has come under a lot of crticism too for how he's handled the rebuilding effort. What do you think of the mayor?"
For two consecutive nights, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has ignored the recent report from AP detailing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's dealings with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. But on Friday, the MSNBC host devoted a segment on his Countdown show to discussing an email written by Abramoff that disputes President Bush's claim that he does not know Abramoff.
Olbermann compared Bush's memory to the excellent memory of Richard Nixon, recounting the story of Nixon's 1959 meeting with the Chicago White Sox in which the then-Vice President knew all of their names. After reading an email Abramoff wrote to Kim Eisler of Washingtonian magazine in which Abramoff claimed Bush "has one of the best memories of any politician I have ever met," Olbermann brought aboard correspondent David Shuster to discuss whether Bush has been honest in his denial of knowing Abramoff.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that Senate minority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has much stronger ties to former lobbyist Jack Abramoff than had been previously believed. Yet, most of the mainstream media have ignored this stunning revelation suggesting that, contrary to press assertions, this isn’t just a Republican scandal.
According to AP: “Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid portrays convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff's activities as involving only Republicans. But Abramoff's billing records and congressional correspondence tell a different story."
The article continued: “The activities -- detailed in billing records and correspondence obtained by The Associated Press -- are far more extensive than previously disclosed. They occurred over three years as Reid collected nearly $68,000 in donations from Abramoff's firm, lobbying partners and clients.”
No more than a couple years ago, headlines invoking Britney Spears in a "lap" controversy might have brought to mind images of graphic goings-on in the Champagne Room.
But time marches on, and Britney-the-new-mother is now caught in a lap-gate of an altogether different sort after photos were snapped of Britney driving her car with her four-month old son in her lap rather than secured in a car seat. In the latest development, according to this LA Times article, a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy went to her Malibu home on Tuesday "to collect information for child welfare investigators" in connection with the matter. For the record, Spears says she was feeling hounded by paparazzi and drove off with the baby in her lap to escape them.
MSNBC isn’t the only network mentioning the I-word. Fox News Analyst and Cavuto on Business regular Gregg Hymowitz recently raised the specter of impeaching President Bush. On the February 4th edition of his show, Neil Cavuto opened a roundtable business discussion. At about 10:42AM EST, he asked whether Wall Street should support President Bush’s wiretapping program. Hymowitz quickly jumped in and responded:
"Stocks go up in free and open societies. Here we have an administration that has violated the law and the law, by the way, which allows-... A law which allowed for secret wiretaps and for warrants retroactively. This is a complete violation of the law and quite frankly, you may not like this, but the president should be impeached for this."
Citing liberal Republican Senator Arlen Specter as his authority on whether President Bush's actions were “illegal,” and with “Invoking the 'I' Word” on screen beneath a picture of Bush, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann opened his Monday night Countdown program: “So if the Republican Chairman of the Senate committee investigating the wiretaps says the wiretaps were illegal, and the President says he personally authorized the wiretaps, doesn't that mean the President should be impeached?"
Olbermann proceeded to fondly recall, without any notion that those hearings led to impairing intelligence agencies, how back in the 1970s, “Democratic Senator Frank Church of Idaho and other lawmakers became the first to lift the veil on the super-secret world of the National Security Agency. Our fifth story on the Countdown: Deja vu all over again. New President, new technology, same danger, perhaps. Today's re-make of the cautionary drama beginning with promise, Senate Judiciary Chair Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, repeating, in milder form, his Sunday talk show conclusions that the present-day spying program is or could be illegal." Olbermann soon cued up his guest, John Dean: “Not to put too fine a point on this, but if the authorization of wiretaps without warrants is indeed illegal, as its critics say it is, has the President committed an impeachable offense?” Dean agreed: “Well he certainly has.” (Transcript follows.)
The mainstream press absolutely refuses to cast the NSA terrorist surveillance program in anything other than a negative light. The latest example is this piece from Time Magazine. In addition to continued use of the adjective "domestic" when talking about international calls ("U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales speaks about domestic wiretapping policies at Georgetown University"), the article focuses on AG Gonzales' expected testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary committee this coming week.
Specter's hearing, which is scheduled to last most of Monday, will focus on presidential powers in wartime and will examine whether Bush took legal shortcuts in implementing the program, which allows the National Security Agency to monitor communications involving suspected al-Qaeda members if one party to the conversation is inside the U.S. The program began soon after the Sept. 11 attacks and was exposed by the New York Times in December. Since then, lawmakers have complained that the administration's legal arguments are shaky, and have contended that briefings for the House and Senate intelligence committees were inadequate or misleading.
Washington Post political reporter Jim VandeHei did the Post website's daily politics chat, and the most interesting thing to draw from it is that a) the Democrats want to build their strategy around the Abramoff scandal, and b) coincidentally or not, the Post reporter thinks Abramoff-gate is a "huge deal."
A questioner from New Madrid, Missouri asked:
My question, why are the Democrats not raising more of an outcry about the spying and the Abramoff scandal?
Jim VandeHei: ...I think democrats are making a big deal out of both issues. There is some hesitation about taking Bush on politically over the spying program, but not on the policy. Democrats are basically building their election strategy on the Abramoff scandal.
As Brent Bozell has written, it seems bizarre to conservatives to think Democrats are going to run against a "culture of corruption" when they have been engaged in so much of it in recent history. It may be quite a challenge for Republicans to run against the Democrats on this when the reporters want to pretend to have massive attacks of amnesia on the Clintons, and so on back through the 1990s and 1980s. But the questions got weirder. Apparently, they're hoping a mob-style murder could really make for a big national GOP scandal:
CBS decided that the night before President Bush’s State of the Union address would be a good time to launch its “State of the...” series with a look at the "State of the Scandals," a judgment which allowed the CBS Evening News to revive the Plame case. Gloria Borger insisted that “on the eve of the President's State of the Union speech, official Washington is distracted, not by policy debates or the war, but by scandal.” She started with Jack Abramoff and how his links to Tom DeLay and Bob Ney have set back their congressional roles. She moved on to point out how President Bush “won't reveal the pictures taken of him with the lobbyist at White House functions.”
Borger then urged viewers: "Don't forget that other Washington scandal that still haunts the White House: the CIA leak investigation. Federal prosecutors want to know who, if anyone, inside the White House knowingly leaked the identity of an undercover CIA agent to Washington journalists.” Though the commonality of such knowledge is in play, she then declared as fact: “That's a crime. And lying about it is a crime too. That's what Scooter Libby, Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff, has been charged with.” She asked: “Will Dick Cheney testify?” Borger jumped to how “top presidential advisor Karl Rove is still under investigation for his role in the leaks.”
Borger did, however, note that “while Democrats haven't received any money from Abramoff's own checkbook, they did receive one-and-a-half million he directed to them through his clients.” And she gave rare, yet brief, air time to how “Democrat Bill Jefferson was the target in an FBI sting in which cash was found in his freezer.” (Transcript follows.)
With all the speculation about Katie Couric moving to the CBS Evening News anchor desk, a guy like me whose shtick is to cover her antics at the Today show could be concerned about his blogging future.
Not to worry. Flipping over to Good Morning America today reassured me: there is an apparently inexhaustible supply of liberal media bias and the talking heads to spout it.
The topic was President Bush's impending State of the Union Address. In assembling its panel, GMA resorted to an old MSM trick - coupling a fire-breathing liberal opponent of the president with someone ostensibly from the Republican side, but who in many ways is an opponent-in-disguise. And so it was that host Charlie Gibson's guests were James Carville and Bay Buchanan, who in her own right and on behalf of brother Pat have been antagonists of the Bushes on many an issue from Iraq, to Israel to trade for many years.
Just when you thought the MSM elites couldn't get any more condescending . . .
Ellen Ratner pulled back the veil this morning and exposed what she and surely others in the liberal media think of their fellow Americans: we're just too damn dumb to understand how the Bush administration is abusing us. Her proposed solution? Democrats need to explain matters to us "in very simple terms."
Ratner's comments came at the end of this morning's "The Long & the Short of It" feature on Fox & Friends Weekend, in which Ratner regularly locks horns with conservative columnist Jim Pinkerton.
Pinkerton broached the NSA surveillance issue, asserting that it is playing very well for President Bush, and suggesting that "if the Dems were smart they'd be talking about Medicare and things like that but they can't get off their ACLU reflex."
At the conclusion of his interview with Senator George Allen, Hardball host Chris Matthews issued a preview for the upcoming segment after a commercial break. The next segment would cover the meaning of the alleged photographs of President Bush pictured with Jack Abramoff. Matthews said that President Bush is "horny for those pictures".
MATTHEWS: Up next, will we ever see those pictures of Jack Abramoff and The President. We're all looking for them, the President is horny for those pictures, you're watching Hardball on MSNBC.
On yesterday's Today show, Howard Dean did his best angry imitation of Bill Clinton's "I did not have sex" and/or Rafael Palmeiro's "I have never used steroids" performances. His voice rising, Dean insisted over Katie Couric's attempts to claim otherwise that:
"Katie, not one dime of Jack Abramoff money ever went to any Democrat. Not one dime."
Confronted by such intransigence, Katie politely observed that "we'll have to look into that and clarify that for our viewers." That's apparently just what the Today researchers did overnight, and Matt Lauer, with Tim Russert in tow, informed viewers this morning of their findings.
Interviewing Howard Dean this morning, you could almost hear Katie Couric thinking: "sure, he's a fellow member of our great Democratic family. But darn it, this guy is killing us!" And thus it was that Couric gave Dean the crazy uncle treatment, hitting him with tough questions almost as if to speak over him to the rest of us out here, apologizing for the untoward antics of this unwelcome but unavoidable visitor.
Suggested Katie regarding the NSA surveillance: "If this potentially stops another terrorist attack like 9/11, why not give the White House some latitude?" Dean riffed in reply about a president who "has a habit of putting himself above the law." But Katie was dubious when Dean complained that the program "poking around into people's private lives."
When John Roberts wrapped up his report Wednesday night, about President Bush's visit to the National Security Administration (NSA) in Maryland, by relaying how “one Republican Senator told CBS News tonight she might consider loosening the standards for approving the wiretap and allowing more officials at the Justice Department, not just the Attorney General, to authorize eavesdropping, so that it could begin just as soon as the NSA needed it,” CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer seemed astounded: "Now, just a second, John. Are you telling me there's a feeling amongst Republicans up in the Congress that they're going to give more people in the government the authority to eavesdrop without warrants? Is that what you're saying here?" Roberts confirmed how “that's what one Republican Senator is suggesting.” Schieffer remained astonished: "Well, what do you think the mood is up there? Do you think anything like that could pass?" Roberts passed along how “it's certainty being considered by Republicans. They've got the majority in the Senate and in the House, and if they want it they'll probably get it.” To which Schieffer shot back: "Well, we'll sure see about that.” (Transcript follows.)
Straight to the point: Oprah has a lot of explaining to do. After reading the article, you're almost forced to conclude one of two things:
She runs an operation that's so intimidating that people within her company who knew better felt they couldn't speak out.
Or, she knew about Frey's Lies and has been an active participant in a monumental literary hoax.
Are there any other choices?
Specifically, addiction counselors at the rehab center where Frey was treated, including a frequent guest on Oprah's show, are outraged at Frey's descriptions of what happened there; are concerned that Frey's Lies may keep others from getting needed treatment; and claim that Oprah's people, if not Oprah herself, knew well in advance that the parts of Frey's book relating to his rehab were largely false (free registration required; link within story added by me; bolds are mine):
These pictures may be worth more than a thousand words. On Monday, White House officials acknowledged that, yes, photographs did exist of President Bush in a classic grip-and-grin with Jack Abramoff, the disgraced Republican lobbyist at the center of a bribery and corruption scandal in the capital. But that did not mean, they said, that Mr. Bush had a personal relationship with him.
Wow. Are you reading an issue of The Nation? No - it is none other than an objective, balanced and fair-minded NYT reporter suggesting that a half-dozen pictures of President Bush with Jack Abramoff at various events and fundraisers over the past five years is somehow proof of nefarious wrongdoing.
It really is amusing, on occasion, to watch the mainstream press go after non-stories that could make the President look bad. The latest example comes from Time Magazine, all worked up about the fact that there are allegedly pictures showing President Bush with Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist at the center of a congressional lobbying scandal. And the AP has decided that Time's non-story is news.
Bush himself has said that he doesn't recall meeting Abramoff.
Both Washingtonian and Time magazines have reported the existence of about a half-dozen photos showing the two together, however.
The folks over at Rasmussen Reports recently released results of a new poll with some rather stunning findings that are not likely to make their way into mainstream media reports. Apparently, not only aren’t Americans shocked by the activities of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, but they hold such a lowly view of members of Congress that they perceive used car salesmen as being more ethical:
“Forty percent (40%) of Americans say that used-car salesmen are generally more ethical than members of Congress. A Rasmussen Reports survey finds that just 27% believe the nation's elected representatives are more ethical.”
Lying to the FBI? Obstruction of justice? A possible "coverup at high levels of our government"? Sure. But what the Los Angeles Timesreally wants you to know about the completed investigation of former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros is how much it cost. Check this out from yesterday's Times (Friday, January 20, 2006) (emphasis mine):
PAGE A1, in a preview block at the bottom corner of the page, under a picture of Cisneros: "Prosecutor Ends Cisneros Probe: After about 10 years and $21 million spent ..."
PAGE A2, Today's News (a preview section), "Coverup is Alleged: ... The inquiry began in 1995 and cost $21 million."
In his report released Thursday on Henry Cisneros, Clinton's HUD Secretary for several years who had pled guilty in 1999 to some charges, Independent Counsel David Barrett asserted that his probe was hindered by Clinton administration officials, even after they left office. But the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News, which had time for some hardly hot news stories, such as a popular restaurant in New Orleans, didn't utter a word about Barrett's complaint. ABC's World News Tonight allocated 35 seconds to Barrett and Cisneros. Anchor Bob Woodruff pointed out how “Barrett accused Clinton officials of using their power to quote, 'blunt any effort to bring about a full and independent examination.'” Woodruff added: “Critics called Barrett's investigation 'incompetent,' 'wasteful' and 'without merit.'"
Barrett maintained in his report: "Beginning in the summer of 1997, the OIC developed, to the extent it could, evidence concerning efforts by officials of DOJ and the IRS to contain and limit the investigation of Cisneros's actions.” Barrett specifically cited Janet Reno and rued: “In the end enough high-ranking officials with enough power were able to blunt any effort to bring about a full and independent examination of Cisneros' possible tax offenses in the face of what seemed to many to be obvious grounds for such an inquiry." (What CBS and NBC covered instead, the ABC item in full and links to stories on Barrett's report, follow.)
In an effort to continue the ongoing cover-up that the NYT admits the Clinton Justice Department (via Janet Reno) was responsible for, the results of the anticipated Barrett Report by an independent council David Barrett released this week are presented in a biased manner (just look at that headline) that differs from the paper’s overblown coverage of Tom DeLay’s laughable indictments by Ronnie Earl. Here are some background explanations by other media outlets and pundits besides the NYT.