As NewsBusters’ Clay Waters reported, a National Security Agency surveillance program, codenamed “Echelon,” – apparently similar to what the NSA is doing today to counter terrorist activities that has garnered tremendous media outrage in the past four days – existed some years ago. In fact, according to a February 27, 2000 Associated Press article, the ACLU had been expressing its concern regarding this program for quite some time:
“Nevertheless, the American Civil Liberties Union has been requesting congressional hearings on Echelon for nearly a year. In a letter sent to the House Government Reform Committee in April 1999, the ACLU said: ''It is important that Congress investigate to determine if the Echelon program is as sweeping and intrusive as has been reported.''
This AP article also referenced a letter that the NSA had sent to Congress concerning the upcoming “60 Minutes” story:
Unlike the other major broadcast network Sunday talk shows (as reported by NewsBusters), NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show” led with Thursday’s historic elections in Iraq, while mentioning the surveillance scandal raised in a New York Times article Friday as almost an afterthought. Then, after the break, Matthews began on another topic that is likely much more of a concern to Americans than the legality of wiretaps on terrorists, illegal immigration.
After introducing his guests – Joe Klein of TIME, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, David Brooks of The New York Times, and syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker – Matthews went right into Thursday’s Iraqi elections. With the notable exception of Klein, the panel seemed in agreement that this was an historic event on Thursday, and that democracy in Iraq now seems possible. Mitchell stated, “I think there is a better chance than we have ever before seen of Iraq actually creating a government of these people working together, and of this country not blowing apart.” Matthews agreed, “I think it's the most amazing week in this whole war this week.”
An extraordinary election occurred in Iraq on Thursday. However, all three major network Sunday talk shows – ABC’s “This Week,” NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and CBS’ “Face the Nation” – all began their programs this morning with a discussion about revelations released on Friday by The New York Times that the White House has been authorizing surveillance of potential terrorists on American soil without getting court orders.
CBS’ Bob Schieffer, after introducing his guests Senators Joe Biden (D-Delaware) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), began the segment (from closed captioning):
“Gentlemen, we have to start this morning with this story. It is against the law, of course, to eavesdrop or wire tap U.S. citizens in this country without a court order from a federal judge. But the "New York Times" says that is exactly what the president is authorized the government to do since 9/11. The secretary of state said this morning that the president has statutory and constitutional authorization to do what he did. So I'll start with Senator Graham. Does he have that authority, senator?”
Newsweek correspondant Howard Fineman and New York Times' writer Anne Kornblut appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews to discuss the Times report that the NSA was given permission by the Bush administration to spy on potential terrorists. This report just so happened to be printed on the front page of the Times a day after the successful election in Iraq. Surprisingly, Chris Matthews wanted to get the reason why the newspaper decided to print this information on the front page when the historic event in Iraq should have been the only story receiving big headlines. Matthews asked Kornblut "why did you break it today", only to get a simple response that "there was room in the paper". Matthews later followed up with "you have no criticism on this" [referring to the Times' decision to put this on the front page], Kornblut said "I was working on other things today so I don't know". How convenient.
The New York Times finally checks out the Democrat-Jack Abramoff connection -- briefly, anyway.
Philip Shenon's "Democrat Returning Donations From Abramoff's Tribal Clients" reports that Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, ranking Democrat on the Senate committee investigating controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff, is "returning $67,000 in political contributions from Mr. Abramoff's former partners and Indian tribe clients."
But although there is an obviously juicy hypocrisy angle to this story (Dorgan has been an outspoken critic of Abramoff), Shenon's story is relegated to a short piece at the bottom of page 24 in Wednesday's edition.
"The ranking Democrat on the Senate committee investigating the Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff announced on Tuesday that he was returning $67,000 in political contributions from Mr. Abramoff's former partners and Indian tribe clients. The lawmaker, Senator Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, has been accused of hypocrisy by Republicans for having not acknowledged the contributions from Mr. Abramoff's clients while at the same time sharply criticizing him in hearings of the Senate panel, the Indian Affairs Committee."
At the Huffington Post yesterday, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell stated that President Bush, who is rumored to watch reruns of the television program O’Donnell is the executive producer for, should be watching recent episodes of NBC's “The West Wing” to learn how to deal with problems in his own administration:
“In episode four this season, Toby confessed to the chief of staff that he did it. In episode five, Toby offered his letter of resignation to the president, who refused to accept it and fired Toby on the spot. Toby marched out of the White House on his way to being indicted. By flipping over to ‘The West Wing’ after ‘60 Minutes,’ Bush could have learned that the right thing for West Wing staffers to do is quit/get fired before getting indicted -- that the violation of the president's trust and the public trust is more than enough reason to leave the White House. That is something Karl Rove is never going to tell him.”
The Associated Press/Ipsos released results of a new poll concerning the public’s opinion of political corruption. In its report about this survey, the AP categorized the public’s negative view as being almost exclusively a Republican problem. In fact, not one Democrat is specifically named in this article, while seven Republicans are. Yet, buried very deep in one of the final paragraphs is the finding that, within the poll’s margin of error, Democrats and Republicans are considered equally ethical.
Tired of public opinion polls? Well, an article in today’s New York Times might be an indication that Americans have seen enough polls in the past three months, and that a new strategy is necessary to inform them how to think. How does it work? Well, instead of releasing data that supposedly represents a statistical picture of the nation’s views on a subject, make the data significantly more real by putting names and faces to the numbers.
The article in question, entitled “Even Supporters Doubt President as Issues Pile Up,” effectively introduced this strategy in its first four paragraphs:
As reported by NewsBusters here, the media’s current fascination with Rep. John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania) completely ignores the decade of the ’90s when the congressman was a leading pork-barrel spender. Yet, maybe more curious, this love affair is thoroughly dismissing some rather recent earmarking that made the papers before Mr. Murtha became the media’s favorite anti-war spokesman.
Not the least of these articles was a front-page, 2,200 word expose in the June 13, 2005 Los Angeles Times by Ken Silverstein and Richard Simon. The headline set the tone: “Lobbyist's Brother Guided House Bill; A family member's ties to special interests raise questions in the case of Democrat John Murtha.” The crux of the article is that Murtha’s brother is a senior partner in a company called KSA Consulting. Said consulting firm received $20.8 million in defense contracts in 2004 (Times link expired):
In the New York Times Sunday book review, Newsweek Senior Editor Jonathan Alter checks out "Truth and Duty," the apologia from Mary Mapes, the disgraced former CBS News producer of "Memogate" infamy, in which she blames right-wing bloggers and everyone but herself for how her "expose" of Bush's National Guard duty blew up in the face of her network.
The liberal Alter is highly critical of Mapes and CBS, but makes a rather paranoid and over-the-top claim about "Buckhead," the Atlanta attorney who originally questioned the fake documents used by CBS's "60 Minutes II" to attack President Bush's Texas Air National Guard service record.
"Buckhead"'s posting on the right-wing FreeRepublic website began the blogosphere's speedy evisceration of the forged memos, but Alter has this novel spin: "The blogger's anonymous assertion, within hours of the broadcast, that the proportional spacing and type font of the Killian memos did not exist in those days was only one of many falsehoods spread by political hit men."
Bob Woodward's own paper, the Washington Post, reports that the Watergate hero's new revelations might help Scooter Libby with his legal troubles.
The revelation that The Washington Post's Bob Woodward may have been the first reporter to learn about CIA operative Valerie Plame could provide a boost to the only person indicted in the leak case: I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
Legal experts said Woodward provided two pieces of new information that cast at least a shadow of doubt on the public case against Libby, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, who has been indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges....
The Libby legal team plans to use Woodward's testimony to try to show that Libby was not obsessed with unmasking Plame and to raise questions about the prosecutor's full understanding of events. Until now, few outside of Libby's legal team have challenged the facts and chronology of Fitzgerald's case.
News Flash: Scandal-plagued left-wing radio network pitches the New York Times and obtains hoped-for "good press."
Radio host Brian Maloney, who broke many of the stories this summer on the financial scandal at Air America, wonders "was Sunday's upbeat New York Times piece on Air America hosts Rachel Maddow and Randi Rhodes at least partly the result of a 'pitch' by the liberal radio network's public relations department?....After receiving a document-backed inside tip, the Radio Equalizer is investigating whether Air America's Jaime Horn convinced New York Times reporter Susan Brenna to write a self-serving piece on Air America's female hosts."
Maloney obtained an email allegedly from Horn to some fellow Air America Radio staffers, subject line: "Good press is on the way...I hope!" Horn certainly wasn't wrong about that, as the paper lauded the "rising stars" of Maddow and Rhodes.
For more bias from the New York Times, visit TimesWatch.
As financial scandal was breaking at the left-wing radio network Air America (in the blogosphere at least) this summer, the Times could spare just one weak Metro-section story on the network "borrowing" $875,000 from a Bronx Boys and Girls Club, despite the easily exploitable hypocrisy angle (liberals taking money from poor kids!).
Times Public Editor Barney Calame even made the unusual step (online, anyway) of actually chiding his paper for being slow on the uptake.
Well, at last the Times has another Air America story -- but it's a puff piece on the network's female "rising star" hosts Randi Rhodes and Rachel Maddow.
Susan Brenna's story for Sunday's Arts & Leisure is headlined: "They Look Nothing Like Rush Limbaugh -- As women and lefties, Air America's rising stars are rarities in talk radio. But perhaps not for long."
Every now and then, America wakes up to hear the nonsensical and pathetic whinings of what many believe to be America's worst president in the last 50 years. I refer to Jimmy Carter, who lately, cannot seem to appreciate the immortal words of Clintonista James Carville, who pondered over the wise and sagacious "glory of the unspoken thought."
In Carter's case, that would mean honoring the unwritten yet scrupulously-adhered to history of former presidents not attacking a sitting-president. Carter not only throws this maxim out the window, he even writes a book about it.
Oh the beauteous words we use to describe freedom! And she is indeed worth it, or at least used to be. The bitch of it is, in order for the words to carry any weight, you must back them up with action, lest you look like a wretched lip-server. And action is where we have—of late—fallen terribly, terribly short.
There was a day when traitors were hanged, not honored. There was a day when a treacherous hand was removed, not salved. There was a day when a coward hung his head in shame instead of strutting arrogantly before crowds and contingencies.
Last evening, NBC’s “Nightly News” began its program with a report from the Pentagon concerning new rules governing the torture of prisoners. In a two minute forty-four second piece, a total of 15 seconds was devoted to demands by Republican leaders of Congress for an investigation into who leaked information about overseas CIA detention centers to the Washington Post.
Brian Williams began the segment by bringing up Abu Ghraib, and passed it off to Jim Miklaszewski at the Pentagon, who, of course, began with stories of Abu Ghraib as pictures of abuse there rolled across the screen. Miklaszewski finished the segment (video link to follow):
Although the focus of the article is deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, TIME.com is reporting (hat tip to Drudge Report) that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Treasury Secretary John Snow will also be part of an imminent White House reorganization:
“Karl Rove's colleagues don't know exactly when it will happen, but they are already laying out the reasons they will give for the departure of the man President George W. Bush dubbed the architect. A Roveless Bush seemed unthinkable just a few months ago. But that has changed as the President's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff remains embroiled in the CIA leak scandal.”
“Several well-wired Administration officials predict that within a year, the President will have a new chief of staff and press secretary, probably a new Treasury Secretary and maybe a new Defense Secretary.”
In yesterday’s (Saturday) Washington Post is a brief article in its Metro section, responding to well-attended press conference the previous day in front of the newspaper’s offices.
The press conference accused the Post of violating the privacy rights of certain individuals on the website FreeRepublic.com This exchange, printed by the Post, explains the charge, and thenewspaper’s response to it, so far:
"How in good faith could The Washington Post access a private Internet account without the express permission of the account holder?" Kristinn Taylor, a spokesman for the conservative FreeRepublic.com, asked in a morning news conference in front of The Post's offices in Northwest Washington.
"In response, R.B. Brenner, The Post's Maryland editor, said: ‘As part of our reporting, we needed to verify that the chat room postings were authentic. We were authorized to view them, and it was appropriate to do so under the circumstances.’ [Sic: This was not a "chat room." This was a private e-mail exchange between two individuals.]
It's not every day a major al Qaeda figure with a huge bounty on his head gets captured, so when that happens, you'd expect it to lead the news. But apparently not at CBS, where the Early Show led instead with President Bush's latest poll numbers and the Lewis "Scooter" Libby court appearance today.
First, the teasers from the opening credits tipped off the readers to which story the Early Show found more important:
Hannah Storm, co-host: "The Vice President's former chief of staff, Lewis 'Scooter' Libby will be arraigned today in the CIA leak case. This as President Bush's approval rating hits an all-time low. We'll get the latest from the White House."
Harry Smith, co-host: "I'm Harry Smith. In the war on terror, one of America's most wanted men, a key al Qaeda leader with a $5 million bounty on his head has been captured in Pakistan. We'll have details."
As reported by NewsBusters here and here, there was a lot about the closed session held in the Senate on Tuesday that the media chose to ignore. However, now that the damage has been done, and public opinions of this issue have been formed, the Washington Post today decided to share some of the facts with its readers.
First, the decision to have a closed session is normally made with the consent of both parties:
“The rule's existence was widely known, and closed sessions had been held by bipartisan agreement as recently as 1999, regarding President Bill Clinton's impeachment. But the notion of one party springing the rule on the other party without warning was so alien that senators could not cite a previous example.”
Newsweek’s senior editor Jonathan Alter has an article that was just posted at MSNBC.com wherein he stated that Karl Rove could be guilty of violating Executive Order 12958 concerning the release of classified national security information, and, as a result, could lose his security clearance. As Alter sees it:
“According to last week’s indictment of Scooter Libby, a person identified as “Official A” held conversations with reporters about Plame’s identity as an undercover CIA operative, information that was classified. News accounts subsequently confirmed that that official was Rove. Under Executive Order 12958, signed by President Clinton in 1995, such a disclosure is grounds for, at a minimum, losing access to classified information.”
Wednesday's CBS Evening News touted a new poll by the network which found, as anchor Bob Schieffer relayed, that “the President's job approval has reached the lowest level yet” at “only 35 percent” with Congress “rated even lower” at a mere “34 percent,” but Bush and Congress are doing a lot better than Vice President Cheney whose “favorable rating is down nine points this year to just 19 percent.” Over side-by-side head-shot videos on screen of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush, with Bush's 35 percent approval below his image and Gallup's 27 percent finding beneath the shot of Nixon, John Roberts pointed out how “the only recent President lower at this point in their second term was Richard Nixon.” Roberts asked and answered: “What's behind the slide: 2,000 war dead in Iraq, an indictment in the CIA leak, the aborted Harriet Miers nomination, the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina."
Roberts warned that “yesterday's shutdown of the Senate shows the political danger of presidential drift. Democrats sat back and watched for an opening, then moved right in." He proceeded to deliver an unobjectionable rundown of advise offered by Reagan chief-of-staff Ken Duberstein: “This week's Alito nomination and the President's bird flu speech were the first steps in a turnaround, says Duberstein, but the White House still needs to lose the bunker mentality, let in new ideas." In conclusion, Roberts cautioned, "So far, there's no indication that President Bush is considering any of the outside advice to shake up the White House, but one thing is clear: If he doesn't find his footing soon, suggestions for change will quickly turn into demands." (Full transcript follows)
Mary Mapes, the former CBS News producer who became famous for her involvement in a “60 Minutes II” segment last year concerning President Bush’s involvement in the Air National Guard, had an excerpt of her upcoming book, “Truth and Duty,” printed in the December issue of Vanity Fair.
An Editor and Publisher article published last evening stated the following:
“Mapes writes that she had felt the Guard segment was a big success after airing on Sept. 8, 2004, until the following morning at 11 a.m. when she learned that a bunch of ‘far-right’ Web sites were claiming that documents were forged.
"That same day about 3 p.m. she recalls staring at the Drudge Report and seeing a big picture of Rather at the top and a headline saying that he was ‘shaken’ and hiding in his office. The phone rang and it was Rather, telling her he'd just heard about the Drudge deadline and he wanted to assure her that he was not 'shaken' and was not hiding out.
"He signed off with a favorite expression of his: ‘FEA’ for ‘---- them all.’"
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: