Kudos to "Fox and Friends" as they were the only morning news program on Thursday to extensively cover the Sandy Berger story. Mr. Berger, former National Security Adviser to President Clinton, pled guilty in federal court for stealing classified documents from the National Archives, but a Wednesday AP story revealed that the details of Mr. Berger's offense were far more damning then we had previously known including that he hid the documents in a construction site before destroying them. CNN’s "American Morning" and ABC’s "Good Morning America" both offered brief news reads on the subject. CNN’s coverage totaled 24 seconds while ABC’s totaled 23 seconds. CBS’s "Early Show" and NBC’s "Today" both ignored the story completely.
A classic MSM damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't moment on this morning's "Today". Tim Russert declared that when it comes to his surge-or-not-to-surge decision on Iraq, President Bush is in "a lose-lose situation."
According to Russert, if the president proceeds with the surge, the Dem-controlled Congress will hold hearings with experts "and they will give the president a very difficult time on the surge capacity."
Continued Tim: "On the other hand, if the president decides not to go forward with the surge of American troops, many members of his conservative base, particularly the neo-conservatives who have been supporting this war, will be agitated with him."
Somebody needs a hug. Asked by David Gregory on this morning's "Today" whether his dismal poll numbers would deter a presidential run, Kerry responded: "Not in the least. You know, most of those other people haven't had several hundred million dollars worth of negative framing against them."
Aw-w-w. Love Hillary or hate her, but I'd say that over the last 12 years a penny or two's worth of "negative framing" has been laid on her. Yet according to the poll NBC displayed she has a more than 3:1 lead over Kerry.
Kerry did offer a huge ray of hope, informing us that he's "sitting here in Damascus, trying to figure out how we're going to solve the problems of the Middle East."
That's Meredith Vieira beaming at Hillary Clinton on this morning's Today. Someone might suggest to Meredith that when trying to ingratiate oneself with Hillary, it's advisable to avoid words bringing "imperious" to mind. But if the execution was flawed, no one can deny the fervor with which Vieira endorsed Hillary's paean to big-government, 'It Takes A Village'. Here's how Vieira opened the interview:
"I want to start with 'It Takes a Village' '07 because this book came out ten years ago, and a lot has happened in the past ten years that makes it I think even more imperative that we will need a village to raise healthy, secure children."
You might think the media, given the fact that they helped engineer a Democratic victory in the midterms, and that it’s almost Christmas (sorry, Holiday), would ease their assault on President Bush. And you would be wrong. "Hardball" host Chris Matthews recently remarked that President Bush is demonstrating "messianic nuttiness." CNN’s Jack Cafferty finds it "strange" that Democrats aren’t racing to impeach President Bush.
Over on MSNBC, the reliably biased Keith Olbermann has become completely unhinged. On December 9, he smeared Bush as "authoritarian" and the "worst ever" president. But, Keith, do you like him or not?
On CBS, "Evening News" host Katie Couric labeled Bush’s new poll numbers "devastating" and "stunning."
But not all politicians are bad, especially those with that "D" next to their names. Long time ABC reporter Barbara Walters named Nancy Pelosi the "most fascinating person of 2006." And, no, the network did not bestow a similar honor on Newt Gingrich in 1994. "The Los Angeles Times" provided an even more glowing description, calling the San Francisco Congresswoman an "American Everywoman."
The longer President Bush refuses to completely accept the Iraq Study Group's recommendations the more irked NBC's Tim Russert and Meredith Vieira seem to get. On this morning's Today show Vieira and Russert seemed dumbfounded that the President has yet to wave the white flag in Iraq as they ran down the results of the latest NBC News poll. Vieira declared to Russert: "As polls go it is as bad as it gets for the President." and after running a clip of Bush cynically pondered: "It sounds like the same old President Bush to me. How much do you think he has taken from this listening tour?" Russert, pivoting off the negative poll results quipped: "Real pessimism. When the Iraq Study Group came out and said the situation was 'grave and deteriorating,' that resonated with the American people. I think the President's political condition as we sit here this morning is 'grave and deteriorating."
Well, at least he didn't blame it on Bush. In his column of yesterday, Market Watch's Jon Friedman tells us not to rule out this explanation of CBS Evening News's disappointing third-place finish under Katie Couric's baton:
"America wasn't truly ready for the first solo woman evening-news anchor, let alone someone smart and attractive with pretensions to sounding puckish and hip."
Oh, please. Does Friedman really believe that? From Maureen Dowd [love her or hate her] to Oprah to Katie herself back in her 'Today' days, millions of Americans are comfortable getting their news and views from women opinion-leaders. Katie hasn't flopped because of her sex. She's been unsuccessful because she's done nothing to distinguish herself from her liberal media competitors - with the exception of letting her show's precious few minutes of hard news be crowded out by the awkward "Free Speech" segment.
Meredith Vieira stopped short of breaking out the pom-poms, but the 'Today' crew otherwise did its best to cheer Barack Obama and his appearance on last night's Monday Night Football. For those who missed MNF, the broadcast opened with a deadpan Obama seemingly on the verge of announcing his candidacy for president, before simply endorsing his home-state Chicago Bears.
Call me a grump, but watching it live last night my first reaction was "how's this for millions in free advertising, courtesy ABC-ESPN?"
But the folks at NBC clearly weren't troubled by a little politicking by their rivals at ABC. Nary a discouraging word was heard, and to the contrary, the Today cast tried to outdo each other with their praise for Barack and his performance:
It was an all-Obama Monday as each of the three network morning shows highlighted the Illinois Senator’s weekend trip to New Hampshire. NBC, ABC and CBS all hyped the prospect of a potential Barack Obama presidential campaign as the senator made his rounds through the state, host of the first presidential primary. The trip was hailed as a successful venture by all the networks. ABC’s Jake Tapper on Good Morning America declared Obama’s appearance to be "very successful", while Norah O’Donnell over on Today, as the MRC’s Geoff Dickens noted, stated that Obama was "mobbed by supporters" and "ignited excitement," among New Hampshire Democrats. CBS’ Harry Smith on The Early Show went further, calling the buzz surrounding Obama’s trip a "sensation," during a question to political analyst Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report:
Harry Smith: "Front page USA Today, Barack Obama right there, front page, Washington Post, Barack Obama right there. I could go on and on and on and on and on. Why is this single appearance causing such a sensation?"
Aside from sharing the same last name NBC's O'Donnells, Kelly and Norah, share the same penchant for liberal bias. On this morning's Today show Kelly O'Donnell highlighted Republican division on Iraq while Norah O'Donnell pointed out Democratic "excitement," over Barak Obama.
First up Kelly O'Donnell, in a report about Bush seeking answers in Iraq, noted, 'while he is seeking advice his party is splitting over the war." Then later in the 7am half hour the other O'Donnell, Norah, fawned over Obama: "Barack Obama's first ever visit to New Hampshire ignited excitement!"
The following are the complete reports filed by both O'Donnells on the December 11 Today show with relevant portions highlighted in bold:
Monday’s edition of "American Morning" featured a decidedly one sided segment that advocated for Democratic legislation, generously highlighted Ted Kennedy and promoted San Francisco as the wave of the future. Correspondent Alina Cho used the piece to boost a bill that would require employers with more than 15 workers to give seven sick days a year. Disparaging America’s primitive stance on the issue, she noted that "139 countries provide paid sick leave for workers. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not pay." Cho almost entirely ignored opposition to this plan. Her segment also highlighted a supposed victim of this problem who is actually on the board of directors of a group that lobbies for similar laws. (Somehow, this didn't come up.) The entire story sounded like something taken straight from a DNC press release:
Alina Cho: "...For many Americans, taking a sick day is not a big deal. You take it for granted. But by most estimates, more than half of all Americans who work in the private sector do not get a single day of paid sick leave. Not a single day. Well, all of that could change now that the Democrats are about to take control of Congress. And for some families, it could make all the difference. Rachel Sobel, mother of two, quit her job last December when she was forced to make a choice: her job or her son. Leo had broken his arm and needed her care."
On the Iraq War, Sen. Chuck Hagel has long been one of those people we call the "Even Republicans," that species of politician who often side with the Mainstream Media Party to please reporters, who can say "Even Republicans are opposed" to something liberal reporters oppose. On Friday's Today, MRC's Justin McCarthy noted that just after White House reporter David Gregory was finished underlining the importance of swallowing every bite of James Baker's glorious "fruit salad" of negotiating with terrorists and other acts of political wisdom, this comedic line emerged:
Gregory: "Politically, time is running out. The White House has begun to lose critical support even among Republicans."
What is it about leaving a network gig that makes news anchors even more biased? Ex-host Tom Brokaw told a "Harball" audience that Barack Obama is a "rock star," lavished praise on Jon Stewart, and claimed that Ronald Reagan neglected "Mother Earth."
Speaking of NBC stars who suck up to environmentalists, Matt Lauer recently encouraged Al Gore to run for president and "save the planet." Way to stay objective, Matt!
The "Today" anchor continued his global warming obsession in another segment, lauding actor Leonardo DiCaprio for "standing up to get people thinking" about the issue. (Funny, I don’t recall the "Today" host complimenting many pro-life activists for "standing up.")
Lobbying for global warming can be tiring work, as NewsBusters editor Matthew Sheffield noted when he pointed out that CNN host Miles O’Brien fell asleep during recent hearings on the subject.
This week, the "mainstream" media continued lobbying for a complete acknowledgment of total failure in Iraq. "Time" magazine likened the Iraq Study Report to a drug intervention. Discussing the same subject, "Hardball" guest host Mike Barnicle wondered if President Bush is "delusional," " isolated" or "stubborn." Those are certainly some great options to chose from!
It seems Matt Lauer and Tom Brokaw can't get their story straight. On this morning's Today show Brokaw falsely stated the U.S. went to war in Iraq without allies but apparently this was news to Matt Lauer as he opened the show identifying British Prime Minister Tony Blair as a "war ally." Appearing live from Pearl Harbor, Brokaw comparing World War II to the current action in Iraq declared: "The irony of course is that we're trying to get out of one war in which we had no allies..." But in the same hour Today host Lauer opened the program this way:
"Good morning the study is finished, now comes the test. President Bush meets this morning with his war ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a day after that scathing report from the Iraq Study Group."
How do you know the Iraq Study Group's suggestion of reaching out to Iran is in trouble? When of all people a leading MSM light like Matt Lauer approvingly cites leading neo-con Richard Perle to shoot down the idea.
The Baker-Hamilton duo was making the TV rounds this morning. Appearing on 'Today,' it wasn't long into their chat with Matt that he hit them with this:
"Let's talk about this idea of reaching out to the people in the neighborhood - Syria and Iran. Richard Perle said recently that 'talking to Iran about Iraq will be seen throughout the region as an indication of American weakness."
To drive home the point, 'Today' displayed a graphic with Perle's photo and the language cited above.
Matt Lauer is getting greener by the minute. Fresh off his promotion of Al Gore the Today co-host turned to noted environmental activist/actor Leonardo DiCaprio to plug his latest enviro-flick. Initially on to promote his movie on the African diamond trade, Blood Diamond, Lauer couldn’t resist asking DiCaprio about his first liberal love, global warming. DiCaprio went on to push his upcoming movie, Eleventh Hour, that featured the "greatest minds in the world," on the subject of global warming. DiCaprio claimed his scientists represented "over 90 percent of the collective thought," on the issue but absurdly lamented they don’t get the appropriate amount of time in the media claiming: "But then when it's on the media you have that 10 or five percent and there sitting opposite on a chair and it becomes an argument when they are actually the minority."
Not only did Matt Lauer push Al Gore to run for President, as pointed out here, on this morning's Today show, he also repeatedly plugged Gore's An Inconvenient Truth DVD and pushed the former Vice President to call the President's decision to invade Iraq, "The worst strategic mistake in the entire history of the United States." First Lauer pressed Gore on the Iraq Study Group's findings: "So it's being described by some as 'cut and stay,' as opposed to 'cut and run.' Does it do enough to acknowledge the results of the midterm election and, and the message that voters were sending this administration, if these are listened to, these recommendations?" Then Gore moved on to Gore's pet cause, the environment, and pressed him to run for President with the following questions:
In all my years of Today-watching, I'm not sure I've ever seen anything quite like the display Matt Lauer put on this morning. In beseeching Al Gore to run for president, Lauer literally portrayed him as the planet's potential savior.
"If you were to run for president, you could take this issue to the next level, even if just during a campaign. And if you were fortunate enough to win the presidency, you would sit in the most powerful office in the free world with a real chance to make . . . " Matt stopped himself at the immensity of the prospect before exclaiming "you could be in a position to save the planet!"
It's understood there's a professional partnership between Newsweek and NBC/MSNBC, but it really seemed like the crew at Today on Tuesday were pounding consistently on the Newsweek drum of the week, that the crucial question in Washington is whether George W. Bush will listen to critics -- or to be more precise, whether George Bush will bend to the will of the liberal media establishment. NBC could have started the day be saying "We at NBC News, after consultations, have decided to ask today whether President Bush will listen."
MRC's Geoff Dickens noted that in the show's first minute, Ann Curry began: "Today, confirmation hearings begin for President Bush's pick to be the next defense chief, and tomorrow the Iraq Study Group releases its highly anticipated report. But just how open is President Bush to suggestions? We're gonna ask the man who's worked closer with him than probably anyone else, his former chief of staff Andy Card."
The Iraq Study Group's recommendations are about to be released. Think about it: what should be the media's focus? I'd say attention should center on what those recommendations are, and whether if implemented they would advance - or impair - US interests in Iraq.
But that's not the MSM's focus at all. From the cover of Newsweek to the Today show, the concern is not whether the recommendations are good, but only whether President Bush will accept them.
In the course of Matt Lauer's interview of former Bush chief-of-staff Andy Card, 'Today' flashed the Newsweek cover shown here. When Card began
Ever wonder what makes Keith Olbermann such a fine journalist? Well, according to the former sportscaster, it’s the fact that he doesn’t "make the facts up" like Rush Limbaugh does.
PBS host Jim Lehrer trumpeted his objectivity in a more creative way. Using a food analogy, the anchor deemed himself the "flavor of neutrality." (Just a thought, but where do the liberal flavors originate? Ben and Jerry's?)
Perhaps longing for the "good old days," NBC News chose no less an authoritative source than Matt Lauer to announce that the situation in Iraq is a civil war. Maybe NBC is attempting to recreate the famous "Cronkite moment"?
Interestingly, this same network that is so eager to declare a civil war, has, at times, been hesitant to label Hezbollah a terrorist group.
'Today' continued this morning its campaign of promoting the Baker-Hamilton slo-mo surrender. Chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell left little doubt as to her inclinations with this mini-editorial in the guise of a report:
"Americans might well be asking today after all the high-profile summits this week on two continents 'is the administration any closer now to an exit strategy for Iraq?'"
Noting that "time is running out and options limited," Mitchell wanted to know whether President Bush is "ready to change policy before events overtake him?" She then launched into a description of the policy changes to be proposed by the Baker-Hamilton Study Group.
Yesterday, I noted here the pride of place 'Today' accorded Richard Haas, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, to trumpet his abjectly bleak view of Iraq. Haas confirmed Meredith Vieira's assessment of his position: "You do not believe that there is anything about the situation that is winnable, I take it." He added that Iraq would be seen as a "colossal foreign policy failure."
All this sets the stage nicely for the forthcoming, much-leaked recommendations of the Baker Study Group, which effectively will be calling for a slow-motion retreat and surrender.
Enter John Podhoretz. In his NY Post column of today, Podhoretz excoriates both the Study Group's members and its recommendations. Excerpts:
It's hard to be a sunny optimist when considering the situation at Iraq. Things are tough, no doubt. That said, was Today, the show whose NBC News parent famously declared "civil war" earlier this week, giving us a fair-and-balanced view of matters this morning when the only expert we heard from expressed the most unalloyed pessimism on Iraqi prospects?
Meredith Vieira interviewed Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations and former principal adviser to then Secretary of State Colin Powell. At the end of their conversation, Vieira summed up Haas's views this way: "You do not believe that there is anything about the situation that is winnable, I take it."
The other networks are not quite ready to jump on NBC's "civil war" bandwagon. "Secretary of State Matt Lauer" (according to Howard Kurtz) and other NBC reporters have decided to declare the situation in Iraq a civil war, a move that is praised by some in the MSM and denounced by others. Reports the New York Observer:
“It was their decision to make and their process,” said Jon Banner, the executive producer of ABC’s World News. “We constantly discuss editorial matters here—all the time, every day. How that decision got made there I have no idea, nor do I want to guess.”
“To be honest with you, I think it’s a political statement, not a news judgment,” said Rome Hartman, the executive producer of the CBS Evening News. “We deal with the events of the day, and we decide the best way to describe those events based on the news of the day, not by—never mind, I’m not gonna go there.”
Then he did.
This morning, New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller announced the paper will follow NBC's lead and allow its reporters to refer to the conflict in Iraq as a "civil war."
Keller said in a statement to Editor & Publisher:
"After consulting with our reporters in the field and the editors who directly oversee this coverage, we have agreed that Times correspondents may describe the conflict in Iraq as a civil war when they and their editors believe it is appropriate. It's hard to argue that this war does not fit the generally accepted definition of civil war. We expect to use the phrase sparingly and carefully, not to the exclusion of other formulations, not for dramatic effect. The main shortcoming of 'civil war' is that, like other labels, it fails to capture the complexity of what is happening on the ground. The war in Iraq is, in addition to being a civil war, an occupation, a Baathist insurgency, a sectarian conflict, a front in a war against terrorists, a scene of criminal gangsterism and a cycle of vengeance. We believe 'civil war' should not become reductionist shorthand for a war that is colossally complicated."
Amid all of the media excitement of NBC’s choice to grandly pronounce the ongoing violence in Iraq a “civil war,” some (like MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann) are gleefully touting NBC’s editorializing as a “Walter Cronkite moment,” referring to the then-CBS Evening News anchor’s 1968 editorial declaring that the U.S. had become “mired in stalemate” in Vietnam.
In their desire for a U.S. retreat in Iraq, journalists had previously pronounced Cindy Sheehan’s protesting in Crawford, Texas and Democratic Congressman John Murtha’s calling for a withdrawal of troops to be “Cronkite moments” of the Iraq war, each time apparently hoping that the weight of the media's pessimism finally forces a change in U.S. policy.
My antenna went up when Matt Lauer opened this morning's "Today" with these words: "Good morning. Civil war. A bloody weekend of sectarian clashes in Iraq and no sign it's letting up."
"Civil war"? I was certain I hadn't heard Today employ the term before. And sure enough, Lauer shortly thereafter declared: "For months the White House rejected claims that the situation in Iraq has deteriorated into civil war. For the most part news organizations like NBC hesitated to characterize it as such. After careful consideration, NBC News has decided the change in terminology is warranted and what is going on in Iraq can now be characterized as civil war."
Lauer later brought in retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey to make the case for the change in terminology.
Anyone who tunes into late-night comedy shows knows that many black comedians utter the n-word with rapid-fire frequency. Perhaps Michael Richards mistakenly thought that what was sauce for the goose was sauce for the white gander. In any case, in a Today show appearance this morning, Jesse Jackson declared that he would be working to "prohibit" the use of the word. He didn't offer specifics, but one question naturally arises. Would Jackson's n-word ban begin where the word is most frequently in use - the black community?
Interviewed by weekend host Lester Holt [one of my MSM favorites for his level-headedness, I might add] on the Michael Richards mess, Jackson floated his proposal in these terms:
Wednesday’s Fox and Friends discussed the recent feud between Rosie O’Donnell and Kelly Ripa. Co-host Gretchen Carlson said what so many of us are thinking.
Kelly Ripa complaining about singer Clay Aiken covering her mouth on TV: "Regardless of whatever the sexual orientation is, it was outrageous, it was out of line, it was unprofessional, and he wouldn't have done it to you because there is respect there." (End Video)
Gretchen Carlson: "Maybe he should do it to Rosie O'Donnell. You know what? This really just upsets me. Just stay out of everyone else's business, Rosie. I mean, for goodness sake, Kelly Ripa is the host of this show. Clay Aiken made a mistake in putting his hand over her mouth. You just don't do that to the host of a show when you are a guest and by the way, according to Kelly Ripa, he did not even say thank you for being the co-host of her show that day. I don't think Kelly Ripa should get any blame for what she said. She says 'look, it's cold and flu season, when I said I don't know where that hand's been,' she did not mean-"