The top Washington story on Monday, March 26 came straight from the Sunday morning chat shows: the support for embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was slipping, even among Republicans.
Which Republicans? There are conservatives who are not big fans of Gonzales, who would have preferred the President had chosen someone bolder, more confrontational, someone willing to make a case for conservatism. But none of those people were seen on ABC, CBS, or NBC. Viewers saw instead the "even Republicans," the ones who specialize in ratifying the conventional liberal media wisdom, as in "Even Republicans say Gonzales is cooked." If the media think Gonzales is crippled and Bush is wretched, then it’s not that hard for them to find Republicans will spit that line back to them, for emphasis. They aren’t Republicans. They merely play them on TV.
Fred Thompson, who is exploring the possibilty of a presidential candidacy, went on Fox News Sunday yesterday, strongly criticized Roe v. Wade and said the answer to it was "good judges." But on this morning's "Today," Andrea Mitchell flatly stated that Thompson doesn't want to overturn Roe. So where does Thompson stand on Roe, and how can we explain Today's depiction of his views?
For answers, let's go to the videotape. The first portion of the clip is from this morning's "Today," the second portion from Thompson's Fox News Sunday appearance yesterday.
On "Today," laying out Thompson's positions on key issues, Andrea Mitchell stated Thompson is "anti-abortion but opposes overturning Roe v. Wade." Where did she get that from? A good clue comes from the fact that just previously she had just played a clip of Thompson's appearance on yesterday's Fox News Sunday. While the clip had nothing to do with abortion [Thompson merely described his rationale for a possible run], it does demonstrate that Mitchell had watched Thompson's appearance and was likely relying on it as the latest, best evidence of his views.
So what did the former Tennessee senator tell Chris Wallace about his views on Roe? Again, have a look at the video.
Chris Wallace: "Do you want to overturn Roe v. Wade?"
Thompson: "I think Roe v. Wade was bad law and bad medical science. And the way to address that is through good judges. I don't think the court ought to wake up one day and make new social policy for the country that's contrary to what it's been for the last 200 years. We have a process in this country to do that. Judges shouldn't be doing that. That's what happened in the that case. I think it was wrong."
As the Managing Editor of Fox News Channel's Washington, DC bureau, you might have thought Brit Hume would have taken great umbrage at John Edwards' high-profile decision to spurn a debate of Dem presidential contenders that Fox had organized for August in Nevada. The Edwards pull-out ultimately led to a cancellation of the debate by the Nevada state Democratic party. Edwards had come under pressure from liberal netroots and organizations such as Move.on, which had organized a petition drive calling for cancellation of the debate.
But in a fair-and-balanced comment reflecting an appreciation of real politik, Hume has praised Edwards' move as "shrewd" -- at least in the short run. During the panel discussion on this morning's Fox News Sunday, Hume observed:
Chris Wallace asked about the 2008 presidential race: "We asked people who under no circumstances would they vote for, and you came in second on that dubious list at 64 percent, behind Ralph Nader, but far ahead of everyone else. And I should add 44 percent of Republicans said they would not vote for you. Why do you think that so many voters say Newt Gingrich, forget it?"
Gingrich answered: "Well, there was a column written by Brent Bozell recently about Nancy Pelosi becoming speaker and me becoming speaker. And he contrasted the initial media coverage of the two of us. And if you go back and look, you know, I had a — Time magazine savaged me as Scrooge who stole Tiny Tim's broken crutch — didn't just steal the crutch. I broke it, on the cover of Time. Newsweek had me as the Grinch that stole Christmas. I was a Dr. Seuss figure."
Since Rep. John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania) became the media’s antiwar darling, he has been allowed to say virtually anything he wants with total impunity. Ignoring rules of engagement that clearly don't apply to him, FNC’s Brit Hume finally took the congressman to task on the most recent installment of “Fox News Sunday.”
During the panel discussion, host Chris Wallace played a video clip of a recent statement by Murtha concerning Iraq. Hume took issue with the congressman's views, and said what many on the right have been waiting for since the media unjustly crowned this man as a voice of reason concerning all things military (video available here):
It's turning out to be quite a day for pugilistics. Earlier, I noted how Hillary threatened to "deck" her opponents. Now, just about a month to the day after the holiday is observed by the Brits, Brit Hume celebrated a personal Boxing Day of his own. On this morning's Fox News Sunday, the FNC DC managing editor landed some heavy body blows on Chuck Hagel and John Kerry.
I'd say Bill Kristol nailed it on this morning's Fox News Sunday. And while his comments were directed at Democrats, they're equally applicable to the MSM IMHO, making them NB-worthy.
Kristol: "People are being too complacent or forgiving to the Democrats: 'Oh, it's politics; one of them has a non-binding resolution and another one has a cap.' It's all totally irresponsible. It's just unbelievable. The president is sending over a new commander, he's sending over troops, and the Democratic congress, either in a pseudo-binding way or a non-binding way is saying: 'it won't work -- forget it! You troops, you're going over there on a pointless missions. You Iraqis who might side with us, forget it, we're going to pull the plug." It's so irresponsible . . . You really wonder: do they want it to work or not? I really wonder that. . . Do they want this to succeed or not?"
For those that missed it, a classic – and sometimes heated – debate about the Iraq War transpired on the most recent installment of “Fox News Sunday”. In the left corner was NPR’s Juan Williams. In the right corner, as a fabulous conservative tag team, were Fox News’ Brit Hume, and the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol. This one did not disappoint (video available here).
The fun really got going when Kristol made the following observation about recent changes in position regarding the war: “Some of the Republicans are going wet or squishy, or whatever one wants -- that was a shock. Sam Brownback said to you just a few minutes ago he has growing impatience with the war in Iraq. Senator Smith said he's at the end of his rope.”
Williams eventually took issue with this:
Let me just say this. Squishy, impatient, you know, they'll be in the land of milk and honey -- the insurgents will be? What do you imagine, that somehow there's -- an American administration is coming in, Republican or Democrat, after President Bush that's just going to lay down and run away like scared little...
And that’s when the party started (partial transcript follows, but it really should be read along with the video to capture the priceless expressions on the faces of the participants):
Those looking for a true conservative to enter the Republican presidential field might be feeling a bit perplexed in the wake of Sam Brownback's performance on this morning's Fox News Sunday. The senator from Kansas:
Endorsed the ISG report and appeared to strongly support negotiations with Iran and Syria.
Called for a timetable for US withdrawal.
Spoke approvingly of a Bidenesqe division of Iraq into three ethnic regions.
Declined to swing at the softball host Chris Wallace lobbed at him regarding Mitt Romney's flip-flops on abortion and gay rights.
Seemingly described himself as a "compassionate conservative."
Invited by Wallace to comment on the ISG report, Brownback was surprisingly supportive: "I think [Pres. Bush] really should look at these recommendations very seriously as well. And it seems to me that what Baker-Hamilton provides us is a chance to kind of reset the table and get a bi-partisan buy-in and not just a bipartisan buy-in, a global buy-in to what we can do to move forward in Iraq and get our troops out of harm's way and out of the sectarian violence. I think this is an important moment, like senator Dodd identifies as well"
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts" the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, something Congressman Charles Rangel seemingly never picked up. In the Fox News Sunday segment which featured Barney Frank attacking Fox News, host Chris Wallace presented to Congressman Rangel findings from a Heritage Foundation Study that the military are in fact from a healthier economic background and better educated than the general American public. Rangel, with the facts in front of him, reverted to his original talking points disputing those very facts. He even made a John Kerry-like claim implying those serving in the military are not particularly patriotic or even very smart. The question is, will the mainstream media pick up on it?
Taking a cue from Bill Clinton, Dem. Congressman Barney Frank bashed Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace on the air, and denounced Fox News as "substantially worse" than the other networks. Reports the New York Sun:
"I've got to say, Chris, you have an odd view of balance," Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts told the host of "Fox News Sunday," Chris Wallace. "I am struck by the tenor of your questions. You advertise this as giving us a chance to talk about what we're going to do, but everything is aimed at trying to put us in a kind of a bad light and look at the most controversial and not very representative things that we plan to do," Mr. Frank said.
The congressman objected to Mr. Wallace's questioning at four different points during the segment, which featured three soon-to-be chairmen of powerful committees, Rep. Charles Rangel of Manhattan and Queens, Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, and Mr. Frank.
Howard Kurtz profiled White House press secretary Tony Snow for Thursday's Washington Post. He emphasized his talk-radio style of combat with reporters, and his availablity for GOP fundraisers: "It's Gloves Off (and Pass the Hat) for Bush Spokesman." That sounds a little like he's taking a collection for his personal use. White House reporters asked for comment in the piece come across as, surprise, hard-bitten and cynical:
"He definitely likes the combat," says Martha Raddatz, ABC's White House correspondent. "One of his devices is he stops and smiles at you. The megawatt smile is supposed to punctuate his sentences, but it hasn't worked as well for him lately. It's a pretty tight-lipped administration, and that hasn't changed."
Since last week, MSNBC's Countdown show has reached new levels in displaying personal insults as host Keith Olbermann, as well as regular guest Craig Crawford of Congressional Quarterly, have repeatedly made fat jokes about the subjects of their conversation. Both their targets were conservatives – Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes and Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert. While Ailes was at the receiving end several times last week, once directly called "fat ass" by Olbermann, on Monday's show guest Crawford took a cheap shot at Hastert's weight. While discussing the possibility that Republicans would "throw Hastert under the bus" by forcing him to resign over his handling of the Mark Foley sexual abuse scandal, Crawford quipped: "Well, if he fits, if the bus has a lot of clearance." (Transcripts follow)
I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised that a TV host whose idea of a show-closer is tossing wadded-up balls of paper at the camera would indulge in middle-school-worthy taunts about someone's weight. And yet . . . I actually was surprised when on tonight's show, Keith Olbermann unleashed a string of jibes aimed at Roger Ailes' physique. So surprised that when Olbermann first began his barrage, with a comment about Ailes doing something "between pies," I truly wondered whether I had misheard him or perhaps misunderstood his intent. Fat jokes? Could my fellow Cornellian really be stooping that low?
He could. Olbermann's mean-spirited motive soon became manifest. Displaying what was presumably the least flattering photo of the Fox chief he could find [shown here], Olbermann followed that comment with this string of insults:
On Wednesday's Countdown show, MNBC's Keith Olbermann attacked Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes during his regular "Worst Person in the World" segment because Ailes criticized Bill Clinton's angry response to Fox News host Chris Wallace's question about why Clinton failed to capture Osama bin Laden. Olbermann, who just days ago conducted a sympathetic interview with Clinton, attacked the Fox News president for calling Clinton's reaction "an assault on all journalists" as the Countdown host referred to Ailes as "Ming the Merciless," the villainous character from the Flash Gordon series." Olbermann also personally insulted Ailes as "having achieved the perfectly circular shape" as the Countdown host awarded the night's top "Worst Person" dishonor to Ailes. (Transcript follows)
Here’s something you don’t see every day – a member of the Hollywood elite saying something bad about former president Bill Clinton. Somebody pinch me. Not possible, right?
Well, here it is at HuffnPuff, screenwriter and director Nora Ephron of "Sleepless in Seattle" fame speaking negatively rather than glowingly about Clinton’s recent meltdown on “Fox News Sunday”:
So Bill Clinton was sandbagged by Chris Wallace. By Chris Wallace? And he lost it. And he wasted a television appearance - when he could have been talking about taking back Congress - talking about (no surprise) Bill Clinton. Poor Bill Clinton.
That was only the beginning, for it got much better:
Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich says Bill Clinton's "outburst" to "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace was no accident. He rallied the base for the election with Fox-bashing and tough talk on terrorism.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich believes former President Clinton's blow up during an interview on "Fox News Sunday" — and the escalating war of words over whether he or President Bush mishandled opportunities to catch or kill Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks — was premeditated to shore up support for Democrats ahead of the November midterm elections.
"I think that as the most experienced professional in the Democratic Party, he didn't walk onto that set and suddenly get upset," Gingrich said. "He probably decided in advance he was going to pick a fight with Chris Wallace."
Pundits are pondering Bill Clinton’s feverish attack on “Fox News Sunday,” laying into Chris Wallace for alleged oh-so-clever smirking and pounding the host’s leg with his pointy finger for emphasis.
No one asked if Clinton’s outburst hurt the publicity for his “Clinton Global Initiative.” (It didn’t help.) The first question was: staged outrage, or a spontaneous reaction? It’s quite a commentary on the Slick One that millions on both sides of the political fence would guess he plotted this tantrum in advance. Count me in on that number. I believe it was staged, a plan to please left-wingers who loathe Fox News with a passion and want them demonized as the communications center of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.
Last week, former president Bill Clinton took some time out of his busy dating schedule to have a not so friendly chat with Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday. Given his rabidity, Mr. Clinton might consider taking a few milligrams of Valium the next time he allows himself to face “fair and balanced” questions, assuming once wasn’t enough that is.
This wasn’t Mr. Clinton’s finest hour. In fact, it could be by far the worst performance of his career, which is saying a lot given that his acting skills were typically much more apparent than his policy-making acumen when he was in office.
From the onset, Mr. Clinton seemed ill at ease. This is understandable, as he didn’t see the normally comforting initials of the “Clinton News Network” proudly displayed on the video cameras in front of him.
In his rant against Chris Wallace of Fox News on Friday, former president Bill Clinton claimed that (bold is mine):
I tried. So I tried and failed. When I failed I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke.
You would wait forever for someone in The 527 Media to do what blogger Patterico did earlier today. In the course of a longer entry dispelling other myths and falsehoods in the Clinton-Wallace interview, Patterico busted the Clinton claim about the anti-terror transition from his administration to the incoming Bush Adminstration. He located this interview of Richard Clarke in early 2002 that was cleared for distribution by the White House in 2004 and published at Fox News' web site in March of that year.
By now, nearly everybody who cares has probably seen former President Bill Clinton's -- let's say 'animated' -- response to 'Fox News Sunday' host Chris Wallace's questions about his administration's failed efforts to demolish al-Qaeda before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
But Wallace himself hit on the key media bias question in an interview with FNC's Eric Shawn around 11am this morning (Sunday). Trying to explain Clinton's hot reaction, Wallace said he read the transcripts of the ex-President's other media appearances in the last few days -- on NBC's 'Meet the Press,' CNN's 'Larry King Live,' FNC's 'On the Record with Greta van Susteren,' among other programs. Wallace said he was "astonished" that none of the others even bothered to raise the terrorism question with Clinton, particularly with his team's attacks on ABC's "Path to 9/11" docu-drama.
As reported by NewsBusters here, Bill Clinton recorded a rather heated segment with Chris Wallace to be aired on the upcoming “Fox News Sunday.” FNC's Jim Angle interviewed Wallace on Saturday to discuss the fireworks that ensued. Wallace claimed:
I've been in the business a long time and I've never seen anything quite like this. Certainly not involving a president or former president.
For those that are interested, the video of Angle's interview with Wallace is available here. What follows is a rough transcript of this entire segment.
As Brad Wilmouth reported, former president Bill Clinton will be appearing on “Fox News Sunday” September 24 in a pre-recorded segment. In it, he becomes quite defensive with host Chris Wallace, makes some seemingly negative suggestions about Fox News, and, in un-Clintonlike fashion, loses his cool. For those interested, here is a video of a brief clip of this interview showing a very testy former president (hat tip to Drudge). Update 2: More completevideo link here with the second half here, both courtesy of our dear friend at Ms Underestimated.
What follows is a rough transcript of the interview to be aired in its entirety on Sunday:
Well, I thought I had hope of late, as did MsUnderestimated, for Juan Williams. This past week, Juan has been on many radio and TV talk shows promoting his book "Enough," about the lunacy of the continuing victimhood embodied in the likes of current black leaders like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Farrakhan. Well, tonight on Fox News Sunday, I was snapped back to reality. MsUnderestimated has video and partial transcript of the panel today, but suffice it to say, Juan is back to his old liberal "can't-we-all-just-get-along" ways. Thankfully, Brit Hume is there to bring him a reality check that is much needed. Juan SNAP OUT OF IT, MAN!
If once is an aberration, and twice a trend, what's three times?
The first time Joe Biden told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace that he was "praying," it got my attention. By the third time - using the variant "I pray to God" - I was thoroughly curious. Then something happened at the end of the interview that might provide a clue as to Joe's sudden bout of religiosity.
By the way, Biden claimed to be 'praying' in response to various pieces of evidence that Wallace confronted him with suggesting that, at long last, the security situation in Iraq might be improving. Biden repeatedly responded that he was 'praying' that Wallace was right, all the time suggesting that in fact there was no real reason for optimism.
As Brit Hume put it, "Senator Specter, who gets worked up over anything, doesn't seem bothered by the NY Times disclosure of [the anti-terror banking program]. He's going to 'look into it'."
Indeed. Specter, who began his political career as a prosecutor, played defense lawyer for the Gray Lady on this morning's Fox News Sunday. Host Chris Wallace asked the senior senator from PA "do you think the Times was wrong to publish this story as well as the NSA warrantless wiretap story, and does it rise to the level that they should be prosecuted?"
"Well, we have seen the newspapers in this country act as effective watchdogs. You had Jefferson lay out the parameter saying if he had to choose a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, he'd choose newspapers without government . . . I don't think that the newspapers can have a totally free hand. But I think in the first instance, it is their judgment.
BRIT HUME: That is not an exercise simply of First Amendment rights. This was a violation of her oath and her responsibility.
CHRIS WALLACE: All right. I'm going to...
JUAN WILLIAMS: Let me -- no, let me...
CHRIS WALLACE: No, no, no. No.
WILLIAMS: Let me just quickly respond.
Brit, she took a risk. She was very aware of what she had signed. She is now bearing the cost of having broken that pledge.
WALLACE: So this is an act of conscience?
WILLIAMS: And so in that sense, yes, I do believe it's an act of honor.
WALLACE: And if it's an act of conscience, then why did she do it surreptitiously?