Wednesday’s The Situation Room aired an interview of author Ron Suskind, who alleges in his new book that the Bush administration engaged in a "disinformation campaign" by forging documents in the lead-up to the Iraq war. This came a day after host Wolf Blitzer made the allegations in the book lead items on the program.
Blitzer’s interview of Suskind aired in two separate segments in the 5 pm and 6 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. In his introduction to the first segment, Blitzer referred to "bombshell allegations against the Bush White House. A new book claiming, among other things, that it ordered -- yes, ordered the CIA to forge a letter drawing connections between Iraq and al Qaeda to justify the 2003 invasion."
In his first question to Suskind, Blitzer referred to the author’s charge that the "the alleged crimes of President Bush and Vice President Cheney are worse than Watergate." Suskind explained that "if, ultimately, in congressional hearings and whatnot -- if they're able to show that the White House directed the CIA -- as I show in the book with lots of testimony -- that the CIA was directed by the White House to do this disinformation campaign on this letter, there will be issues of legality that will be debated in terms of high crimes."
Deciding to showcase the allegations in Ron Suskind's new book which “says President Bush committed an impeachable offense” by ordering “the CIA to forge a letter to bolster his case for the war in Iraq,” CNN's Jack Cafferty posed as one of his “Cafferty File” questions on Tuesday: “What does it mean, do you suppose, if the White House did, in fact, order the CIA to forge a letter in order to bolster its case for the war in Iraq?” (Anchor Wolf Blitzer marveled: “We're just hearing now, Jack, that there may be an effort in the Congress to now go ahead and have some hearings on this explosive, explosive charge.”)
All the responses Cafferty highlighted later in the hour presumed the accuracy of Suskind's claims and condemned President Bush, including “Kirk,” who asserted:
If true, then Bush, Cheney, et cetera deserved to be clapped in irons, held for trial and executed for treason.
Cafferty also read aloud the complaint from Tom in Boston that “it means we should be ashamed as Americans. Bill Clinton was impeached for not being honest about his sexual indiscretion,” but Bush gets away “scot-free.” Joanne in Maine declared: “George Bush is not only the worst President in the history of this country he's also the biggest criminal.” A Canadien, “Ron from Winnipeg,” lectured those in the lower 48:
To put it simply, the Bush administration made you all out for fools then proved themselves right. How you ever reelected this bum, is beyond me. Good luck.
CBS, NBC, MSNBC and CNN all jumped Tuesday to publicize the claims in a new book by a left-wing journalist, Ron Suskind, that President Bush knew before the war Iraq had no WMD and that to justify the war the administration forged a letter to prove a connection between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaeda. The journalists were unfazed by denials from former CIA Director George Tenet, which they dutifully cited, nor the fact the letter couldn't have impacted the public before the war since it didn't become public until nine months into the war.
In the morning, NBC's Today showcased an “exclusive” interview with Suskind as Meredith Vieira trumpeted the “new bombshell book that claims the White House deliberately misled the American public about the case for war in Iraq. The author, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist.” (Geoff Dickens' NB post on that interview.) CBS's Early Show ran a full story and Wolf Blitzer made it his lead on CNN's The Situation Room.
In the evening, the NBC Nightly News aired a full report while MSNBC's Countdown, not surprisingly, led with Keith Olbermann's “cable exclusive” with Suskind on what MSNBC described on screen as “WAR CRIME” -- followed by John Dean on the imagined prosecutorial implications. NBC anchor Brian Williams saw “gasoline” being “thrown on a fire that's never really gone out,” as if the media aren't pouring it:
Tonight, gasoline has been thrown on a fire that's never really gone out. The accusation that the Bush administration badly misled the American public about the case for war with Iraq. In a new book, journalist Ron Suskind claims he has new evidence to show the case was more than a failure of intelligence -- it was, he writes, an out and out deception.
CNN commentator Jack Cafferty, on Thursday’s The Situation Room, found racist overtones to the recent McCain campaign ad comparing the hype surrounding vapid celebrities like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears to the hype surrounding Barack Obama: "I think it's very much playing the race card to put a highly educated, articulate, middle-aged black family man into a television commercial with two blonde bimbo airheads with a combined I.Q. of a box of cereal. And if you have any doubts about what I'm talking about, it's the same kind of thing that was done to Harold Ford down in Tennessee in 2006 and it stinks. It's more subtle, but it stinks just the same."
Cafferty was referring to the spot the RNC ran against Harold Ford in the 2006 Tennessee Senate race which made light of how Ford appeared at Super Bowl party thrown by Playboy magazine in 2005. In the ad, an attractive young blonde joked about how she met Ford at the Playboy bash, and asked him to call her. Liberals reacted harshly to the supposed racist insinuation made by the ad. The NAACP condemned it as a "a powerful innuendo that plays to pre-existing prejudices about African-American men and white women."
Apparently, it must have not been enough for Jack Cafferty on Monday to merely call Barack Obama’s overseas trip "almost flawless" on Monday’s The Situation Room. On Tuesday’s program, Cafferty opined that it was a "mystery" that Obama didn’t have more of a lead in the polls. "It seems like that Obama should be miles ahead of McCain when you consider the political climate. Americans can no longer stand President Bush or the Republican Party or the war in Iraq, and, of course, there's the deteriorating economy." He continued: "...Obama has run a pretty flawless campaign, highlighted by that hugely successful trip overseas last week. John McCain, on the other hand, spent last week making one mistake after another."
Pretty flawless, Jack? How do you so quickly forget issues like the Illinois senator’s church that he attended for two decades and his pastor, Reverend Wright? How about his "bitter" comments about people in Pennsylvania?
CNN commentator Jack Cafferty, back from a short vacation, gushed shamelessly about Barack Obama’s week-long trip to the Middle East and Europe on Monday’s The Situation Room: "Barack Obama’s overseas trip -- it was almost flawless." He then heralded the Democrat’s enthusiastic reception internationally and how the past week was a blow to his Republican opponent: "We saw foreign citizens waving American flags instead of burning them, or having the host country’s military holding back angry protesters, and, while Obama was away shoring up his foreign policy credentials, it seems the week turned out to be devastating one for John McCain."
When the Israeli government and the terrorist group Hezbollah carried out a prisoner release agreement in which Israel released five Lebanese prisoners while Hezbollah released the bodies of two Israeli soldiers who had been killed, there was a substantial contrast in the way the broadcast network evening newscasts reported the story. While ABC’s Charles Gibson and Simon McGregor-Wood reported on World News that one of the prisoners, Samir Kuntar, had been convicted of the "vicious murder" of an Israeli man and his four-year-old daughter, and that upon release he was "greeted in Beirut as a returning hero," NBC and CBS both skipped over any details of Kuntar’s crime, and CBS’s Katie Couric even listed the prisoner exchange as one of several "glimmers of hope" in the conflict between Israelis and Arabs. Couric: "For the first time in years, there are some glimmers of hope in the Arab-Israeli stalemate -- a virtual cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, a prisoner exchange with Hezbollah, and the beginning of low-level talks between Israel and Syria."
CNN and FNC further detailed the brutality of Kuntar’s crime, and FNC noted his popularity among many in Lebanon. FNC’s Morton Kondracke: "What’s most disgusting is that the Lebanese performance, tens of thousands of people turning out to welcome home a terrorist who had killed a policeman, a civilian, and then bashed in the head of the civilian's four-year-old daughter. And he's being welcomed home as though he’s a national hero, with the president there, the prime minister there, the speaker of the parliament. This is supposed to be an ally of the United States, Lebanon. What it indicates is that Lebanon, that Lebanese politics is now owned by Hezbollah ... they have veto power over whatever the Lebanese government does, you know. Lebanon is close to being lost." (Transcripts follow)
CNN’s chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, reporting on Barack Obama’s speech in Berlin on Thursday’s “The Situation Room,” expressed her shock that the European crowd didn’t seem to have the same mania for the Democrat that the media has: “I did ask some people as they were leaving what they thought. Everybody said good, good. But I was surprised that there wasn't this sort of euphoria afterwards, given how many people had come to listen and how much it had been anticipated.” She later stated in the segment that one unnamed political analyst talked about how “people [in Europe] want a political redeemer -- I mean, that's very specific language, and he said it's not really based on facts, the -- what they think about Obama, because they don't really know. It's based on expectations.”
During the segment, which began just after the top of the 5 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, host Wolf Blitzer asked Amanpour, “why do they apparently like him so much, not only in Germany, but throughout Western Europe?” She gave the standard media talking point about Obama in general: “They like him, some people say, because he is something new, he is a new generation, he's promising change, and people here are desperate for change.” Amanpour then reported on how Europeans apparently like Obama because “he is not President Bush, and they're slightly traumatized still from the last seven years of this ‘go-it-alone’ policy, which has seen so much war and has created so much division.”
CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer’s interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday's Situation Room drew some attention as she claimed President Bush was a "total failure." Blitzer’s questions were challenging – Pelosi’s lashing out at Bush came in response to a question about Congress having an approval rating of 14 percent in the latest Gallup tracking poll. But Blitzer aired three "CNN i-Reports" questions from the public, and all three came from citizens further left than Pelosi. One dismissed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as useless against the Republicans, one lamented the Democrats’ failure to achieve withdrawal from Iraq, and one complained about taking the impeachment of Bush "off the table."
In the 4 pm hour, Blitzer asked about criticism from Pelosi’s right, from President Bush and from House Minority Leader John Boehner (whose name seems to rarely come up on CNN). But the "public" was on the hard left:
BLITZER: Madam Speaker, we invited viewers to send in their questions for you via our CNN i-Reports. Jordan Klein of Los Angeles is a 16-year-old high school student, and has this question.
CNN personalities Jack Cafferty and Howard Kurtz made a sudden confession of the mainstream media’s imbalanced coverage of Barack Obama versus John McCain on Thursday’s "The Situation Room." First, in his 5 pm Eastern hour "The Cafferty File," Cafferty labeled the media’s planned coverage of Obama’s first overseas trip since becoming the presumptive nominee an "extravaganza." He then gave some disclosure concerning the breakdown of the coverage between the two presidential candidates: "The three broadcast network newscasts, which have 20 million viewers combined, spent about 114 minutes covering Obama since June, compared to 48 minutes for McCain. Obama's been on the cover of Time and Newsweek 12 times in the last three years -- five for John McCain." Despite this admission, Cafferty gushed as predicted that Obama would be received in Europe "like the Rolling Stones tour coming to town." Later in the hour, Kurtz picked up the same theme and gave some more details about the imbalance in coverage in another report.
[Update, 5:45 pm, by Matthew Balan: In the past year, Cafferty has called for the impeachment of Bush administration officials or criticized Democrats for failing to do so on 3 other occasions: August 21, 2007; January 7, 2008; and just over a month ago on June 12, 2008.]
You might call Jack Cafferty the Dennis Kucinich of the media. Actually, the CNN commentator would go the Dem congressman one better. Not content with mere impeachment, Cafferty has condemned Congress for not pursuing the possible prosecution of President Bush—to whom he sneeringly refers as "King George"—for war crimes.
The CNN commentator put war-crime prosecution on the table during his Cafferty File segment on this afternoon's CNN "Situation Room."
So much of the liberal bias on cable networks is visual. It can impact the casual viwer on the treadmill at the gym watching with the audio off. Case in point is the video embedded at right from the July 15 edition of "The Situation Room" on CNN. [audio available here]
In it, anchor Wolf Blitzer tries to put a substantial wedge between House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and presumptive GOP nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) over drilling for oil in ANWR. Notice that while Boehner defends opening up a small patch of the national Arctic wilderness for oil exploration, CNN producers make Boehner share a split-screen with footage of frolicking wildlife. The caption on screen reads, "Republicans at Odds Over Oil: McCain Against ANWR Drilling."
The message is clear: the GOP is the party that wants to shed [animal] blood for oil.
A couple days ago at the gym, listening to a Hugh Hewitt podcast and perhaps not paying as much attention as I should have while pedaling away, I heard Hugh mention that Barack Obama doesn't understand the role of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. What was Hugh referring to? As the British would say: the penny just dropped. A few minutes ago, CNN's Situation Room played a clip of Obama saying this about his plan for Iraq:
BARACK OBAMA: I'm going to call in the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and give them a new mission, and that is to bring the war in Iraq to a close. We are going to get out.
There's only one problem. The Joint Chiefs of Staff does not have operational command of U.S. military forces. That authority resides in the commanders of the various Unified Combatant Commands. CENTCOM is the command with responsibility for Iraq [and 26 other countries including Afghanistan and Pakistan]. Earlier this month, the Senate confirmed Pres. Bush's appointment of Gen. David Petraeus as CENTCOM commander. Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno is the new US commander for Iraq, replacing Gen. Petraeus. Those are the people, along with the Secretary of Defense, to whom the orders Obama spoke of would be issued.
One of Congress's most outspoken critics of the war as well as last year's surge in troops, Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Penn.), told a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, news station on Thursday that he believes things have gotten better in Iraq.
Yet, apart from CNN, his statements appear to have gone largely unnoticed.
This of course is in stark contrast to the media frenzy that occurred in November 2005 when Murtha called for an immediate withdrawal of troops.
In a report on Monday’s "The Situation Room" purporting to clarify how Barack Obama "really voted on abortion" (as the graphic on-screen at right stated), CNN correspondent Carol Costello misconstrued the Democrat’s stance on legislation during his time in the Illinois state senate that would have protected infants that survived abortions. Besides the two votes specifically mentioned by Costello in the report, Obama also voted against it at the committee level, and when he was committee chair, denied a simple up or down vote on the legislation. The CNN correspondent also misrepresented the apparent pro-life stance of pro-abortion senators like "liberal Ted Kennedy" when the U.S. Senate voted on similar legislation. The bill passed by unanimous consent, so none of the senators actually voted yes or no on it.
Substitute host John Roberts introduced the segment, and asked Costello, "what are the allegations and what's the truth about Obama's abortion record?" Though the CNN correspondent did present both sides of the debate on the issue, she left out key details about Obama’s voting record.
Who cares if Barack Obama won't protect a child who is born alive after an abortion? Gas is over $4/gallon!
So argued Donna Brazile when Bill Bennett pressed her on the matter today. The issue arose during a post-Obama press conference kibitzing session on CNN's Situation Room. Bennett was making the point that the complaisant media in attendance had failed to press the candidate on tough issues.
The MSM is sure to have a field day with McCain advisor Charlie Black's statement that a terror attack on U.S. soil "would be a big advantage" to the Republican candidate. McCain has been quick to dissociate himself from the remark, and surely Black would have been well-advised not to make it. Predictably, CNN's Jack Cafferty has been leading the charge against Black. In his "Cafferty File" question this afternoon, the CNN commentator called Black's remark "breathtaking in its stupidity" and asked viewers whether Black should be fired.
But does Cafferty, in all his outrage, realize that Hillary Clinton made a remark almost identical to Black's? Here's Hillary, in a report from . . . CNN entitled "Clinton: Terrorist attack would help GOP" [emphasis added]:
As my colleague Brent Baker previously reported, Wolf Blitzer opened Friday's "CNN Election Center" with Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama's disgusting warning that the Republicans will play the race card in order to defeat him in November:
We know what kind of campaign they're going to run. They're going to try to make you afraid. They're going to try to make you afraid of me. They're going to say you know what, "He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. Did I mention he's black?"
Blitzer played this soundbite a few hours earlier during the 6PM installment of "The Situation Room," and Jack Cafferty called Obama's comments "very shrewd" and "pretty much on the mark."
I kid you not.
Here's Cafferty's full statement concerning this matter (video embedded upper right):
CNN’s senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, during a report on Thursday’s "The Situation Room," must have thought it was a foregone conclusion that Barack Obama would give up on his pledge that he would accept public financing for his presidential campaign. "If you raised more than a quarter billion dollars in the primary season, would you limit yourself to $85 million in the fall campaign? Duh!" While she did point out Obama’s previous statements affirming his dedication to public financing, both she and Wolf Blitzer used subdued language to describe this broken promise, and tried to spin how this might be a potential issue in the campaign.
As we've noted at NewsBusters, there's been scant coverage of a new scandal involving Sens. Chris Dodd (Conn.) and Kent Conrad (N.D.). Both senators chair committees with oversight of the financial industry and Dodd is behind a bailout package for mortgage lender Countrywide. Both senators got "VIP" treatment from Countrywide Financial for refinancing agreements on their respective mortgages.
So today I thought I'd check our internal records at the MRC and the transcripts at Nexis to see what sort of coverage the three broadcast networks have devoted to this story.
What I found was a big fat zero.
Countrywide did, however, pop up three times on NBC newscasts between the beginning of June and today. All three stories were about celebrity Ed McMahon's foreclosure woes.
Six months after he chastised Congress for not following George McGovern's advice to impeach President Bush, CNN's Jack Cafferty on Thursday scolded House Democrats for disposing of the latest impeachment effort by the far-left Dennis Kucinich (earlier NB post on Cafferty's blog entry). Fretting that “the House of Representatives voted to send an impeachment resolution against President Bush to a committee where it will die,” Cafferty used his “Cafferty File” segment during the 4 PM EST hour of The Situation Room to lecture:
Congress continues to refuse to exercise its constitutional responsibility, which is oversight of the executive branch of our government. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi long ago said impeachment is off the table. This is a joke. We have a President who has abused the power of his office over and over and over again. It's what got the Democrats elected to the majority in Congress in 2006. The Democrats, no doubt, are worried what it will look like to many voters if they spend their time on impeachment. To hell with what's right or wrong.
CNN continued to harp about "big oil’s" record profits and the Democrats’ proposed windfall taxes on companies like ExxonMobil on Wednesday. In an interview of Kansas Senator Sam Brownback on "American Morning," co-host John Roberts was amazed over the Republican’s opposition to the tax proposal. "There were a couple of other provisions in this bill. One of them were to roll back the $17 billion in annual tax breaks so that these five biggest oil companies get. Together, they made... $36 billion in profits in the first quarter this year. Why do they need $17 billion in tax breaks?" Later, during "The Situation Room," host Wolf Blitzer returned to his laser-beam focus on ExxonMobil as a particularly "guilty" part of "big oil." He asked former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, "Explain why it's appropriate at this time of rising gas prices, for ExxonMobil, for example, to get additional tax cuts."
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer pressed McCain campaign adviser Carly Fiorina about oil companies "awash in record profits" on Tuesday’s "The Situation Room." The CNN host used ExxonMobil as an example five different times in his questioning. "...ExxonMobil has got these billions and billions of dollars in record profits. They can afford to not necessarily get additional tax cuts."
After Fiorina outlined McCain’s proposal to lower the federal business tax rate at the beginning of the segment, which began 14 minutes into the 5 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, Blitzer took a persistent stance in asking if the reduction in taxes included "big oil." First, the CNN host asked, "Would that reduction of the tax rate also include, as Obama says, ExxonMobil and the other big oil companies, who are awash in record profits?"
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer made little effort to hide his liberal viewpoint during an interview of Scott McClellan on Friday’s "The Situation Room." After asking the former White House Press Secretary about his "revival" of the question of whether President Bush used cocaine as a young man, the CNN host followed-up by asking, "I guess the question is, is the President -- this is a blunt question -- in your opinion, a serial liar?"
Earlier in the interview, which began 12 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, Blitzer addressed the issue of supposed "war crimes" related to the Iraq war. First, Blitzer played a video question from a viewer who asked McClellan, "Would you now consider testifying about your colleagues at a war crimes trial?" After listening to McClellan’s answer, Blitzer replied, "Knowing what you know now, do you believe war crimes, as this I-reporter suggests, were in fact committed?"
Prior to the airing of the video question, the on-screen graphic hinted at what was going to be asked: "‘Propaganda’ on Iraq: Were Crimes Committed?"
Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post's media writer and a CNN contributor, contended on Wednesday's "The Situation Room" that in the lead-up to the Iraq war, "anti-war voices had limited access, it seems, to the airwaves, while administration officials, of course, were on every day pounding on that message [in support of going to war in Iraq]." He also claimed that "[i]t was only when violence surged in Iraq and public opinion began turning against the war that ABC, CBS, NBC, and the rest of the media turned more skeptical."
Time magazine managing editor Richard Stengel made an open confession about the mainstream media’s pro-Obama leanings on Monday’s "The Situation Room." " I would be a liar if I said that there hasn't been a certain amount of glee in the press corps about Hillary Clinton not doing that well. To use a very fancy word, there's some schadenfreude among the press." Despite this candor, he then went on to say that the press doesn’t "play favorites," almost contradicting what he had said earlier about the press coverage of Hillary Clinton.
CNN correspondent Carol Costello compared Cindy McCain to a "Stepford Wife" due to her "low key" role in her husband’s campaign so far, in a segment on Wednesday’s "The Situation Room." Costello, detailing Mrs. McCain’s recent photo spread in Vogue magazine, stated the feature "projects an image quite unlike the Cindy McCain we see on the trail," and a talking head described this "Cindy McCain we see" as "low key... taking the traditional role of standing by her husband's side at events." Costello then quipped, "A role critics say makes Mrs. McCain look like -- well, Glenn Close in the movie ‘The Stepford Wives.’" [audio available here]
On the other hand, Costello described Michelle Obama’s Vogue spread more glowingly: "...Michelle Obama chose a traditional black dress with pearl earrings for her Vogue spread. As The Washington Post described it, it was if Michelle Obama was saying 'I am not some scary other.... I am Camelot with a tan.'"
Throughout the day on Thursday, CNN carried the water for the Democrats and portayed President Bush’s "appeasement" remarks before the Knesset in Israel as an attack on Barack Obama. "The Situation Room" host Wolf Blitzer began his program by stating that "President Bush slams Barack Obama from Israel." Senior political analyst Gloria Borger quipped, "I know that the White House press secretary says they were not talking about Barack Obama, but of course they were." Senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin remarked, "I think this is straight out of the usual Republican playbook." Jack Cafferty struck hard: "He is beyond irrelevant and he's not going to scare anybody. He just babbles away like Eliot Spitzer talking about matrimonial fidelity. It's a joke." CNN’s other senior political analyst, David Gergen, reminisced, "I can't remember as brazen a political shot by a President overseas in a political race back home... an especially jagged kind of criticism."
In the last presidential election, leftist special interest groups and socialist billionaires like George Soros waged war with an unprecedented tsunami of negative TV attacks on the Republican incumbent, suggesting he was a draft dodger that knowingly lied us into war. Adding fuel to the fire, Hollywood uncorked nasty – and equally distorted -- documentaries like "Fahrenheit 911." The Bush-bashing wave was so big Byron York wrote a whole book about it called "The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy." This year, our "objective" media turned their eyes on the November race, but they’re seeing only one negative side of the street – a right-wing conspiracy to lie, cheat, and smear their beloved Barack Obama.
A truly fair and balanced media might foresee a really tough election contest – on both sides. But instead, we have a partisan chorus, whining in four-part harmony. They’re not waiting for Hillary Clinton to discover her Titanic has sunk. They are getting their general-election assault on the "Republican attack machine" under way.
The general election has apparently begun. This week, the liberal media launched a pre-emptive attack on Republican campaign tactics even as TV interviewers slobbered all over Barack Obama. Here are the Media Research Center’s "Worst of the Week" (audio and video links below the fold):
# GOP: Merchants of Slime and Hate. It’s Hillary Clinton’s campaign, not the GOP, which has pummeled Barack Obama these past weeks, but journalists are nevertheless impugning Republicans as dirty campaigners. The May 19 Newsweek cover story channeled Democratic talking points to claim "the Republican Party has been successfully scaring voters since 1968." (Ever listen to Democratic rhetoric on Social Security?) Co-authors Richard Wolffe and Evan Thomas questioned whether John McCain really wanted to "rein in the merchants of slime and sellers of hate who populate the Internet...who exercise their freedom in ways that give a bad name to free speech."