Monday's morning shows displayed the Democratic diplomacy that may take over the House and Senate next year. Newsweek's Jonathan Alter was openly dismayed that President Bush refers to North Korea's murderous communist tyrant, Kim Jong Il, as "'The Pygmy'...Not every helpful, actually." On NBC's Today, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman lamented that it's too late for Bush to salvage peace: "North Korea has concluded that this administration wants their, their head on a wall, basically, and therefore there's probably nothing the United States can do now, to really reassure the North to give up their nukes, which is really their life insurance policy." This came just a minute or so after Friedman described Kim as the "Tony Soprano of Pyongyang."
What does the "N-word" racial epithet and the pollster term "values voter" have in common? According to Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter, by some elastic calisthenics of the brain, the word "values" needs to be drained of its poison, deprived of its "sting" against liberals, deflated of any political advantage, so that liberals can be seen as just as morality-oriented as conservatives. In describing his column on MSNBC’s Imus in the Morning program on Monday, Alter said this "values voter" term is "driving me nuts," that certain people have a "monopoly" on "so-called traditional values." Alter also displayed an intense desire for the "demise" of "values voters" in the fall election. In his phone interview with Imus in the 6:30 am half hour, Alter told Imus:
As I mentioned on September 25, CBS News terror analyst Michael Scheuer pounced on President Clinton and asserted the Clinton administration did not try to get Osama bin Laden, as Clinton had claimed on "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace. That sentiment was echoed by MSNBC analyst and Congressional Medal of Honor winner, Colonel Jack Jacobs on Wednesday’s "Imus in the Morning." Jacobs maintained Clinton’s response to Chris Wallace was "pure fiction;" he accused the Clinton administration of not even trying to kill bin Laden, and described President Clinton as "...basically a junk yard dog with a little bit of polish and a lot of hair."
Colonel Jacobs first discussed the erosion of the nation’s intelligence capabilities and described it as having been broken for "a very long time. Decades as a matter of fact," and was critical of the way intelligence funds are spent now because it’s not "in an organized fashion, before airing his criticisms of President Clinton. Jacobs declared:
The incoming top editor of "Newsweek" magazine, Jon Meacham, cast aspersions on the legitimacy of President Bush on the same "Imus in the Morning" broadcast I referenced earlier. Meacham conjured up memories of the 2000 election, asserting that "Al Gore was elected by the American people, but not allowed to serve." Additionally, Meacham gave credence to the left wing blogosphere and claimed that it has been since 1988 since a candidate for president has won a clear majority of the popular vote without "any questions about the count in a presidential election."
President Bush won almost 51% of the vote in 2004, a clear majority. However, this is dismissed by Meacham, most probably because of "questions" of the vote count in Ohio. President Bush won the state of Ohio by 118,601 votes. First of all, it is highly unlikely that any "questions" about the vote would be enough to overturn that type of margin. Secondly, where did these "questions" come from? From the left wing blogosphere, people who would not have accepted a Bush victory by any margin and would have tried to delegitimize the vote regardless.
On Monday, a senior "Newsweek" editor, Jon Meacham, defended Bill Clinton’s performance on "Fox News Sunday," calling the interview, fantastic. Meacham also asserted that Clinton was articulate; there was a lot of merit to what he said, and that he was making a good case.
On Monday’s "Imus in the Morning," Meacham gushed over Clinton’s performance noting:
"For anyone who believes that character doesn’t matter in politics, that (the Fox interview) should be exhibit A."
He continued, defending Clinton’s performance:
"At the same time, he was, you know, making a good case that he had, you know, made, moved in the right direction on bin Laden, but flip it round, as we all remember, and you all are talking about, he was handcuffed by his own faults and flaws."
Monday, on "Imus in the Morning" guest Jonathan Alter of Newsweek magazine claimed Vice President Cheney has a "toxic combination of arrogance and incompetence," leading Mr. Imus to compare the Vice President to...the BTK killer.
Alter continued his ongoing diatribe against the administration, implying that the administration is un-American for wanting defined rules of interrogation for terror suspects, rather than a broad statement banning anything that "offends the decency of mankind" that is open to broad interpretation and could lead to interrogators later being accused of war crimes. Alter framed the debate as a debate between "heroic" figures like Senators John McCain, John Warner, and Lindsey Graham who want to limit interrogation tactics to our "American values," and the "chicken hawks" in the administration who allegedly favor torture.
On September 11's edition of the MSNBC show "Imus in the Morning," Don Imus hosted former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw, where Brokaw promised to underline in his NBC spots that "we still don't understand Islamic rage." And, in case you wondered if Tom was a wee bit liberal, he said he was a "big fan" of Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen -- who felt the death penalty wasn't appropriate for Timothy McVeigh. Imus brought up Quindlen to discuss her preference to stay in New York despite the terror threat, noted her new novel would be number one on the new New York Times: "I realize it's not a morning to promote books. I like her." Brokaw replied warmly: "You can promote Anna any time on my watch. I'm a big fan."
Declaring that "I think the next President's got to be stronger and smarter than this one," on Tuesday's Imus in the Morning, MSNBC's Chris Matthews went on a tirade for over two minutes against President Bush and those around him who filled his intellectual vacuum. Don Imus pleaded: "Did you plan on taking a breath at any point?"
"It's all ideology with this crowd. All they care about is ideology,” Matthews fretted as he charged: “The President bought it hook, line and sinker.” Matthews delivered insults as he asserted that Bush “trusts the intellectuals, the guys he knew at school. You know, they're a bunch of pencil-necks and now he buys completely their ideology because he didn't have one of his own coming in. That was his problem. I don't know what Bush stood for except 'I'm a cool guy and Gore isn't.'” The Hardball host yearned: “I hope the next election isn't a problem of who goes to bed with their wife at 9:30 at night or who knows how to tell a joke on a stage, but it's who has the sense of strength that comes from having read books most of their life, tried to understand history.” Though Matthews didn't warn of “every single” bad development in Iraq, he contended that “every single thing that's happened in Iraq was predicted by history” and lamented that “Bush didn't have the academic background to challenge” the ignorant ideologues who ignored history. (Transcript follows)
On Wednesday two correspondents reporting from Iraq had dramatically different takes on the protest by followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, who were said to be upset by President Bush’s recent trip to Baghdad. NBC reporter Richard Engel described it as "a relatively small" protest while Lee Cowan of CBS said protesters’ anger had "boiled over".
Ironically, early Wednesday CBS anchor Bob Schieffer offered high praise for NBC's Engel.
On the Wednesday CBS Evening News Lee Cowan offered this description of the protests, "Anger over the U.S. presence here and the President’s surprise visit yesterday boiled over. Thousands of followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr made it clear again today that the 130,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq should withdraw immediately and leave Iraq to its own devices."
Good on Don Imus! On today's 'Imus in the Morning,' he called NBC reporter Mike Boettcher on his attempt to spin a bombing in Baghdad as a "not good" response to the killing of Zarqawi.
Here's how it went down. Boettcher was reporting from Baghdad and had this to say:
Boettcher: "Well, good morning, Don. We have the response here right now [to the Zarqawi killing], it’s not good. There have been, there has been another bombing. Thirteen people are dead in central Baghdad. So that is apparently the current reaction from the insurgents to Zarqawi's death."
Imus: "How do we know that's a reaction to that, Mike?"
Boettcher started to back down: "We don't know for sure, Don. You’re right, you’re absolutely right."
In an appearance today on "Imus in the Morning," Andy Rooney quickly turned down the temperature in the CBS newsroom.
Don Imus: "So what do you think of these changes at CBS News?"
Andy Rooney: "I’m not enthusiastic about it. I think everybody likes Katie Couric, I mean how can you not like Katie Couric. But, I don’t know anybody at CBS News who is pleased that she’s coming here."
Chris Matthews was on “Imus in the Morning” Friday (hat tip to Crooks and Liars), and he went on quite a rant about the Bush administration (video link to follow). From suggesting that Helen Thomas was set up earlier in the week to intentionally be toyed with by President Bush, to alleging that Bush and Vice President Cheney both lied about Iraq having ties to al Qaeda in order to sell the war, Matthews was in rare form. Unfortunately, in his rant, Matthews made a number of false statements. For instance (rough transcript):
“Well I am just going to stick to this point that the president led us in there with the background music of American culture. Everybody was led to believe that we were getting payback, we were avenging what happened on 9/11 and that we are going to get them. Vice President Cheney said we are going to attack terrorism at its base. Over and over the language was, “this is where it came from.” In fact most recently the President suggested that it was always the hot pursuit, like a New York police chase, “we chased them back into their country.” “We pursued the terrorists back to Iraq” and it's all nonsense. The reason there are terrorists in Iraq today like Zarqawi is we created the opening by blowing the country apart.”
Well, that’s not actually true, is it Chris? It is widely accepted that Zarqawi moved to the northern section of Iraq in the summer of 2002 where he joined the Islamist Ansar al-Islam group. This was nine months before we invaded, Chris. However, after these material misstatements, Matthews then basically called the administration a bunch of liars:
You can watch Imus in the Morning for a couple of years before this will happen, Don Imus thinks a guest goes too far with a joke. Normally, the I-Man enjoys finding humor in the agony of public figures. On today’s program Craig Crawford tried to play along and tested his new Samuel Alito material at 6:44.
Craig Crawford: "I actually think, you know, the wife leaving the room crying, that made all the evening news and, you know, it was the better video and made him look like a sympathetic figure. Although, you know, she started crying when Senator, when Lindsey Graham said Alito is not a bigot, that seemed to make her cry. I guess she thought she had married a bigot. It was surprising to her to hear that he wasn’t a bigot."
On Friday morning’s Imus in the Morning program on MSNBC, Andy Rooney, from CBS, interrupted the I-Man’s positive description of Democratic Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., to state that he doesn’t like the term "African-American" and considered "Negro" to be "a perfectly good word."
Imus described Ford as an "African-American" prompting Rooney to interject, "I object every time I hear the word, words ‘African-American.’ You know? I don’t know why we have gotten caught with that." After saying he doesn’t want to be called an ‘Irish-American,’ Rooney went on to state his preference for another term, "The word ‘Negro’ is a perfectly good word, it’s a strong word and a good word. I don’t see anything wrong with that." Video Available: Windows Media or Real Player