In a blog offering at “The Huffington Post,” MSNBC’s senior political analyst Lawrence O’Donnell shared some rather scathing opinions of White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove yesterday, and made it clear that it would have been better for the president and the country if Rove had resigned on Friday:
“The pundit world, having spent years in awe of Karl Rove, will never understand how bad he is at his White House job. His second term agenda destroyed this presidency long before Patrick Fitzgerald’s press conference. Rove sent his president on a political death march on Social Security reform with the most hopeless legislative idea since the Clinton health care bill. That showed Congress how powerless the second-term Bush would be.”
Bloggers are beginning to speculate about a new scandal that may effect New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Jon Corzine. Enlighten-New Jersey writes of an allegedly damaging videotape that may surface within the next few days. At this point the story involves nothing more than speculation.
Whether or not the story is true, the MSM's silence is significant. Had this story related to a Republican, every morning talk show would be speculating about it. The MSM had Rove convicted of outing a spy more than two years ago. The same shows have been speculating about secret grand jury proceedings for weeks.
Every day, somebody at CNN picks a couple of video segments for their “Best of TV” section on their video page. From what I can tell, they can come from any of the various news categories CNN reports on such as world, business, politics, sports, health, etc. Of all the segments that they air during a given day and reproduce for their video page, typically only a couple are chosen for the “Best of TV” section.
On Friday, one of the three videos that made CNN’s “Best of TV” list was a 53 second clip of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) making a variety of accusations directed at the Bush administration on “Larry King Live.” In her rant, Boxer blamed Bush for the entire Plamegate affair, while claiming that the intent was “to punish a man's family because he told the truth about weapons of mass destruction.”
What follows is a full transcript of what CNN felt was the “Best of TV” last Friday, along with a video link.
For those of you who haven’t seen this morning’s “Meet the Press,” I highly recommend that you do so that you can see William Safire at his best, as well as some great incites from David Brooks. What follows are key statements from the two of them concerning Plamegate, and the events of the week. Though chronological in order, the numbered quotes are separate ideas that did not immediately follow one another:
1. MR. WILLIAM SAFIRE: I think that was an excellent rundown and time line of a complicated series of accusations of a cover-up, but the most important single fact that emerged from the indictment is what was not in it. This whole thing started as an investigation of the violation of a law. And the law that was violated was you must not deliberately out an agent who is undercover. And what the special counsel found is that law was not broken.
For those who have read or seen a lot of press reports since the announcement of the indictments against I. Lewis Libby on Friday, you have likely observed a growing number of quotes from White House “aides” and “insiders” concerning a state of panic and disarray within the administration. Yet, most of these reports do not give the names of the sources, and, instead, suggest that the informants wish to retain anonymity due to the current environment within the White House.
Newsweek’s Howard Fineman and Richard Wolffe wrote an article for the upcoming issue entitled, “Flying Blind,” wherein they asserted, “Team Bush is in turmoil.” To be sure, the title is quite appropriate, for not one of the eight “quotes” or paraphrases from White House “aides” identified the name of the source. In fact, two of these (the second and third bullets below) were referenced by George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week" this morning:
Here's another nugget of recent media history on indictment coverage of Democrats. While the networks have found a grave problem in Vice President Cheney's office in Scooter Libby, the same networks weren't hot to report the indictment of Maria Hsia, who helped arrange Al Gore's infamous Buddhist Temple fundraiser. On July 8, 1998, in the middle of Monicagate, Brent Baker reported in the CyberAlert that Hsia was indicted:
A 13-second item on CBS is all the coverage devoted Tuesday night to the indictment of Maria Hsia of temple fundraiser fame. Some notes on Tuesday night, July 7 coverage:
As ABC, CBS, and NBC all dived into live coverage today to report the indictment of Vice President Cheney's top aide Scooter Libby, this is not at all the way the networks covered indictments of cabinet officers in the Clinton years.
In September 1997, we reported in Media Watch that when former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy was indicted on 39 counts, the networks aired a single evening news story. Three of the four networks -- ABC, CNN, and NBC -- underlined that the Smaltz inquiry had so far cost $9 million. None of them noted civil penalties originating from targets of Smaltz's inquiry amounted to more than $3.5 million. The next morning, CBS's morning show, called CBS This Morning, didn't even mention Espy's indictment. Months later, I noted in a Media Reality Check that on December 11, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros was indicted on 18 counts for misleading the FBI about payoffs to a mistress, Linda Medlar. NBC Nightly News filed one story; ABC's World News Tonight gave it 18 seconds. CBS Evening News didn't arrive on the story until the next night, and gave it nine seconds, a fraction of the two minutes Dan Rather gave the nightly El Nino update, about the weather "giving a gentle lift to the monarch butterfly." The morning shows were worse: NBC's Today passed on two anchor briefs, and ABC's Good Morning America and CBS This Morning ignored it.
Matthew Mosk of the Washington Post today reports on a racist attack lodged by a liberal blogger on Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele (R), an African-American, who is the front-runner in the Republican primary for US Senate in 2006. Mosk also notes how this controversy has touched a Democrat seeking statewide office in Virginia.
A racially charged image of Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele on the Web site of a liberal blogger brought recriminations from both Democrats and Republicans yesterday.
The doctored photo of Steele (R) as a minstrel, and accompanying slurs, prompted Virginia gubernatorial candidate Timothy M. Kaine (D) to pull an ad from the site, stevegilliard.blogspot.com . Kaine's campaign had purchased the space through a broker that put his advertising on numerous liberal-leaning blogs.
Former chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker released a list today of 2,200 companies that apparently bribed Saddam Hussein for access to contracts related to the United Nations oil-for-food program. Topping the list were such household names as Germany’s Siemens Corporation, Germany’s Daimler Chrysler, and Sweden’s Volvo. Yet, Richard Roth, reporting on CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” began his piece on this story by focusing on Oscar Wyatt, Jr., an oil trader from Texas:
“More than 2,000 companies were accused of doing illegal business with Saddam Hussein feasting on the oil-for-food program. One prominent American businessman was Texas oil trader Oscar Wyatt, Jr., who in a case of bad timing for him, was also arraigned last week in federal court charged by the government with paying millions of dollars of kickbacks to win oil contracts with Iraq.”
As the CIA leak investigation comes to a conclusion, America’s media have started to sell the public the man in the middle of the maelstrom, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Tonight, CBS News jumped on the bandwagon in a report filed by Jim Axelrod for “The Evening News” (video link to follow).
Like many such reports in the past week, Axelrod began by trying to dispel the notion that politics are in any way involved in this episode: “44-year-old Pat Fitzgerald, an intense and, by all accounts, apolitical prosecutor who's pursued mob bosses, crooked politicians, and Osama bin Laden like a pit bull with lockjaw.”
In the months leading up to the imminent announcement from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald concerning “Leakgate,” there has been an endless stream of gloomy predictions from mainstream media representatives that indictments would destroy the Bush administration, and totally dismantle the president’s agenda for the rest of his second term. For example, as was reported here, David Gergen stated on yesterday’s “Early Show,” “If indictments are handed down, it's going to be a real blow to the administration and comes at a terrible time.” And, “If [Bush] were to lose Karl Rove, he'll lose a right arm. And it’s really hard to climb out of a hole without your right arm.”
By contrast, CBS’s Hannah Storm had Democratic strategist James Carville and Republican strategist Ed Rollins on “The Early Show” this morning, and the two high-profile pols didn’t agree with this assessment. In fact, both stated that if indictments are issued for Lewis Libby and Karl Rove which force them to resign, it could end up being a good thing for this White House (video link to follow):
The first half-hour of today's Early Show featured a brief anchor read by Hannah Storm on the 1,998th and 1,999th American deaths in Iraq, followed two segments later with a Bill Plante segment on the Valerie Plame leak investigation (sandwiched between was an obituary for civil rights icon Rosa Parks who died yesterday). At the end of Plante's piece, he suggested the upcoming 2000-fatality benchmark is just the cherry on top of the problems the White House is having with the Miers nomination and the Plame investigation:
Adding to the President's problems, of course, the fact that the U.S. death toll in Iraq will soon pass 2000, and that links directly back to the argument at the heart of the leak investigation, the justification for the war. Hannah?
Yet the particular political tussle which sparked the leak and hence the investigation---the assertions of Valerie Plame's husband Joseph Wilson--- has since been discredited or severely questioned in a bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report, a fact Plante doesn't mention but was reported prominently at the time, including Susan Schmidt of the Washington Post on July 10, 2004:
Peter Baker and Jim VandeHei of the Washington Post pulled no punches in their front-page article this morning about the challenges currently facing President Bush:
“Rarely has a president confronted as many damaging developments that could all come to a head in this week. A special counsel appears poised to indict one or more administration officials within days. Pressure is building on Bush from within his own party to withdraw the faltering Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers. And any day the death toll of U.S. troops in Iraq will pass the symbolically important 2,000 mark.”
Rarely? I guess 9/11 doesn't count, for regardless of what happens this week, it’s got to be a cakewalk by comparison to the days following the first attacks on this country since Pearl Harbor.
In "Bushies Feeling the Boss' Wrath" Thomas M. DeFrank, the New York Daily News Washington bureau chief portrays President Bush as "frustrated, sometimes angry, and even bitter" of late.
And in case you don't get DeFrank's drift from his litany of setbacks for the Bush administration interspersed with anonymous administration sources, the editors at the Daily News were kind enough to offer this unflattering photo of the President, available here.
You'll note the filename 906-w_scowl.jpg. I guess the first 905 takes just wouldn't do?
Filing a report from the White House lawn shortly after 7:30 this morning on CBS's Early Show, White House correspondent Bill Plante described Vice President Cheney's chief-of-staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby as both high-profile and little-known:
Fitzgerald has turned out to be more thorough than just about anyone has anticipated. He has focused on two of the President's highest-profile aides: Karl Rove and Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Both of whom talked to reporters about the Valerie Plame case and her husband Joseph Wilson. Libby is the Vice President's chief-of-staff and his national security adviser. A little-known but key analyst and confidante. A major proponent of the war in Iraq, Libby was reportedly enraged by Valerie Plame's husband Joseph Wilson's criticism of the war. His testimony to the grand jury about what he said and when may be at odds with that of some reporters.
Of course, Rove has been a source of mainstream media fascination as well as a left-wing bogeyman since President Bush took office. Lewis Libby, however, has not had the same cachet. A search in Nexis of "Karl Rove" in CBS News transcripts from January 20, 2001 (President Bush's first inauguration) to October 1, 2005 produced 178 hits while a search for "Lewis Libby" in the same time frame produced only 25 hits, with all but six of them occurring since June 2004. A search for "Scooter Libby" produced 17 hits, some of which were duplicates of the "Lewis" search.
For weeks now, the media have breathlessly hyped the possibility that presidential advisor Karl Rove might be indicted by the grand jury looking into the leak of CIA employee Valerie Plame’s identity to columnist Robert Novak. Or, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald could choose not to indict anyone, and instead issue a detailed report of who knew what, when they knew it, and from whom they heard it.
Given the ridiculously overwrought coverage of the last month, if Fitzgerald’s report confirms media suspicions that Rove and/or vice presidential aide Lewis Libby talked to reporters about Valerie Plame and weren’t completely forthcoming to investigators, you can expect the networks to go absolutely nuts, whether anyone is indicted or not.
On this morning’s “The Chris Matthews Show,” Matthews played a videotape of British broadcaster David Frost interviewing former president Richard M. Nixon. In that interview, Nixon spoke about anti-war activist Daniel Ellsberg. After the clip, Matthews suggested that the “outing” of CIA agent Valerie Plame was the current White House’s attempt to eliminate dissention to the Iraq war:
Chris: Sometimes you do things on your own and the boss afterwards says things like “Is this one of yours?” Or sometimes you know you're supposed to do something, and you do it. Could this be the story -- the pattern we see here of how a White House gets into trouble? Of course, the reigning champion of White House scandals was Watergate. Here is Richard Nixon telling David Frost years later that the scheme to trash anti-war activist Daniel Ellsberg was really to discredit all opponents of the Vietnam War.
John Dean, former counsel to president Richard M. Nixon, wrote a column for FindLaw yesterday that is an absolute must read. In it, he gave a thorough analysis of the issues facing special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, while indirectly discrediting the parade of media representatives who have declared in the past couple of weeks that chief White House aide Karl Rove, and Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, will be indicted next week.
The crux of his argument is that unless Libby and or Rove perjured themselves or suborned perjury, it would be difficult to prove that their actions were not in the interest of national security:
“It is difficult to envision Patrick Fitzgerald prosecuting anyone, particularly Vice President Dick Cheney, who believed they were acting for reasons of national security. While hindsight may find their judgment was wrong, and there is no question their tactics were very heavy-handed and dangerous, I am not certain that they were acting from other than what they believed to be reasons of national security. They were selling a war they felt needed to be undertaken.
“In short, I cannot imagine any of them being indicted, unless they were acting for reasons other than national security. Because national security is such a gray area of the law, come next week, I can see this entire investigation coming to a remarkable anti-climax, as Fitzgerald closes down his Washington Office and returns to Chicago.
“In short, I think the frenzy is about to end -- and it will not go any further.”
There has been a lot of outrage in the media concerning the burning of a couple of dead, Taliban fighters in Afghanistan in early October. Yet, the Australian journalist who videotaped the proceedings, Stephen Dupont, stated in an interview on National Public Radio yesterday (audio link to follow courtesy of Bareknucklepolitics.com) that he believed the bodies were burned purely for reasons of hygiene when the local villagers refused to retrieve them, and that the American soldiers didn't do anything wrong. (Video links to an SBS "Dateline" promo for Dupont's piece as well as an SBS interview with him on the subject also follow):
“I actually believe that the guys who were involved in the burning did it with honorable, you know, reasons. They did it through their orders, or they did if for hygiene. I had no doubt in my mind that they were telling me the truth. If they were doing something that was problematic or controversial, there’s no way they would have shown me this. There’s no way they would have let me go up there and film this.”
The introductory spread for the lead story in U.S. News & World Report’s October 24 issue could serve as bulletin-board or even wall-poster fodder for fans of the media’s things-just-keep-getting-worse-and-worse-for-President-Bush narrative. Against a black background, a striking mustard-yellow headline and white subhead read, “FACING THE MUSIC/It started with the New Orleans blues. Now it’s sounding like a real dirge.”
Over at Human Events, Todd Manzi reports the timeline on the Bill Bennett gaffe story shows a liberal press-release campaign (John Conyers, NAACP, People for the American Way, Leadership Conference on Civil rights) to get AP and other media outlets to pick it up.
According to the Google timeline, all of the above press releases were issued BEFORE any of the main stream media (MSM) published one story about the Bennett call. At this moment the only people in the general public who knew what Bennett said were those who heard it on the radio. [Or as Manzi, acknowledges, monitor Media Matters.]
This unseemly group of barnacles attempted to get ahead of the issue and attach themselves to it for their own self promotion. They were also sending a strong signal to the (AP) that they want this to be a national story.
In a mostly nice interview with the Vice President's wife this morning, Today co-host Katie Couric had to go from Lynne Cheney's new book on history to current events, the touchy investigation of White House staff telling reporters about Valerie Plame's CIA job, with all liberal media eyes currently on the Vice President and his staff. This is NOT how she interviews Hillary Clinton. Asked Couric: "Let me ask you real quickly about what's going on, what's making history right now and obviously there's this investigation into the CIA and I know you're not at liberty to discuss it but John Tierney in the New York Times wrote about the fact that this is just really hardball politics at work. Do you think that's the case? That it's, it's more of a political thing that's going on rather than a legal issue?" Mrs. Cheney declined to answer. She also asked Mrs. Cheney to address the possibility that "there might be sexism at work" in criticism of Harriet Miers. Mrs. Cheney disagreed. Let's just pick one example of Katie Couric interviewing Hillary Clinton and skipping the scandal beat.
The Washington Post sent its ace reporter, Dana Milbank, to cover yesterday’s grand jury appearance by chief White House aide, Karl Rove. Milbank gave the reader a fascinating blow-by-blow of the proceedings, including letting the curious know that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald does indeed use public restrooms:
“Almost three hours after Karl Rove entered the grand jury chambers yesterday morning, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald walked hurriedly from the room and toward the waiting reporters.
“‘Just going to the men's room,’ he announced, continuing past the media pack. ‘Don't want to create any buzz.’"
Yet, never one to miss an opportunity to belittle a member of the Bush administration, Milbank relayed a vision of female protestors from Code Pink standing in front of the courthouse dressed as condoms:
In the midst of the feeding frenzy concerning contentions that the video teleconference between President Bush and soldiers stationed in Iraq was staged (video link to follow), most of America’s media forgot to tell the public what actually happened during the event. In fact, there was a lot of great news offered by these soldiers that has largely gone unreported as a result.
For instance, as reported by Gerry Gilmore of the American Forces Press Service:
On last night's Hardball Chris Matthews claimed his colleagues at the current White House Press Corps weren't tough enough, declared current Republican problems worse than Watergate and thought Reagan, "got away with a lot."
The following is the relevant portion of Matthews interview with Craig Crawford on his new book:
Chris Matthews: "Welcome back to Hardball. Are politicians partly responsibility for America`s distrust of the media? Congressional Quarterly columnist Craig Crawford thinks so. He argues in his new book Attacking the Messengers: That [sic] Politicians Have Deflected Criticisms of Themselves by Convincing Americans to Blame the Media. Welcome."
Craig Crawford, Congressional Quarterly: "Hi."
Matthews: "Who has succeeded with this new device of blaming the messenger?"
NBC's Tim Russert proclaimed, "It's a year away but the Democrats are feeling almost giddy this morning," as he ran down the negative news from NBC's own poll. Matt Lauer opened this morning's Today show with a teaser for the Russert political analysis segment:
Lauer: "Then to Washington where it rains it really pours. President Bush says he doesn't look at the poll numbers. He might not want to. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows his approval rating is at its lowest level ever. And there's some astounding numbers when it comes to African-Americans and their support for the President. Tim Russert's gonna be here and crunch those numbers in a little while."
During the media's coverage of Katrina the race card was played again and again so it's no surprise that Lauer and Russert led with the fruits of their labor.
Former FBI Director Louis Freeh wasn't on this morning's Today show for very long before his credibility was immediately questioned by Couric. After her introduction and a generic 'why did you want to write this book?' query Couric pounced in just her second question:
Couric: "You know many people have viewed this book in reviews and, and newspaper accounts so far as your effort to settle scores with the President. Do you think, you obviously, there's no love lost between the two of you, that's very, very clear. Do you think your personal animus might be coloring your professional perspective so much that you can't be objective about what was really going on during the administration?"
While the buzz around Freeh's book surrounds his account of the Clinton scandals Couric managed to ask just two questions about them before to asking about the FBI's pre-9/11 preparedness.
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews led Monday’s Hardball by framing the Valerie Plame case around her husband Joe Wilson’s spin on the case, despite inconsistencies in his claims and how a much more innocent explanation is equally plausible -- that White House officials just wanted to explain why such a publicity-seeking critic, who claimed he was on a mission for the Vice President, would have been sent to Niger to check out whether Iraq sought uranium. “If you don't think this leak case matters,” Matthews intoned, “ask yourself what was the most frightening case you heard for going to war with Iraq? Probably it was that Saddam Hussein was buying uranium yellow cake in Africa to build nuclear weapons.” Matthews insisted that “the Vice President repeated with military precision, almost like a Gatling gun. Saddam Hussein, nuclear weapons. Saddam Hussein, nuclear weapons.” Matthews declared: “But it wasn't true. There's no evidence even now that Saddam tried to buy nuclear materials in Africa.” The British, however, maintain there is such evidence.
Matthews proceeded to provide the most nefarious interpretation of conversations between White House officials and journalists: “Did they try and kill the messenger? Did they use the enormous media power of the White House to discredit the ambassador, his mission and his wife at the CIA who suggested him for the mission? And in doing so, did they abuse the office and the power to which the President was elected? Did they break the law? Did they conspire to punish a critic of the war?”
The New York Times ran an op-ed this morning by controversial biographer Kitty Kelley. As the subject matter was George W. Bush, it should not be surprising that this article had nothing positive to say about the president:
“SECRECY has been perhaps the most consistent trait of the George W. Bush presidency. Whether it involves refusing to provide the names of oil executives who advised Vice President Dick Cheney on energy policy, prohibiting photographs of flag-draped coffins returning from Iraq, or forbidding the release of files pertaining to Chief Justice John Roberts's tenure in the Justice Department, President Bush seems determined to control what the public is permitted to know. And he has been spectacularly effective, making Richard Nixon look almost transparent.”
At issue this morning is an executive order that Bush signed in November 2001 concerning the release of any former president’s private papers. Kelley sees this as another sinister move by the president:
Even though the big news event this week was the president’s nomination of Harriet Miers to replace retiring justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court, NBC’s Chris Matthews this morning, on a show that bears his name, chose to lead with Karl Rove’s upcoming testimony in front of a grand jury. To assist him, Matthews stocked his panel with the likes of Andrea Mitchell, Clarence Page, Judy Woodruff, and a lone “conservative” voice, Howard Fineman.
Of course, when Howard is the sole “right-wing” member of a panel, you’re certainly not going to get a fair and balanced discussion on any issue. As a result, what ensued was quite a Rove bash-a-thon, with dire prognostications of what the meaning of this fourth appearance in front of the grand jury could mean for Rove as well as the Bush administration.