On yesterday’s installment of CNN’s “The Situation Room,” Ali Velshi and Bill Schneider fantasized about talk-show megastar Oprah Winfrey supporting a presidential run by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-New York) in 2008. Clinton and Winfrey met at the International Emmy Award ceremony on Monday, and in Schneider’s words, “had a very interesting and possibly politically significant encounter.” Schneider's view:
"What would a Hillary Clinton-John McCain race look like? The CNN-'USA Today'-Gallup poll pitted the two frontrunners against each other among registered voters nationwide. The result: McCain leads Clinton by 10 points.
"Why? Men. Men give McCain a huge lead over Clinton. Women are divided. Maybe an endorsement from Oprah Winfrey could make a difference. If she were to rally women to support Hillary Clinton, the race could become a lot closer."
What follows is a full transcript of this exchange.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Why, thank you, Wolf. It's getting ugly out there. According to Vice President Cheney, if you question, if you dare question the use of pre-war intelligence, according to that speech this morning, you are dishonest and reprehensible.
My remarks today concern national security, in particular the war on terror and the Iraq front in that war. Several days ago, I commented briefly on some recent statements that have been made by some members of Congress about Iraq. Within hours of my speech, a report went out on the wires under the headline, "Cheney says war critics 'dishonest,' 'reprehensible.'"
One thing I've learned in the last five years is that when you're Vice President, you're lucky if your speeches get any attention at all. But I do have a quarrel with that headline, and it's important to make this point at the outset. I do not believe it is wrong to criticize the war on terror or any aspect thereof. Disagreement, argument, and debate are the essence of democracy, and none of us should want it any other way.
CNN reporter Dana Bash did some ‘bashing’ of the President’s actions during his trip to Asia.
She begins the segment with the President attempting to open a locked door at the end of a press conference. She said reporters on the scene immediately dubbed this "the no exit strategy press conference". Even the sheepish President couldn't ignore the obvious metaphor.
Bash continued her segment by concluding President Bush's trip to Asia was a failure because of the failures at home in the US.
When Bush was asked “Is that evidence that your party is increasing splitting with you on Iraq?”, Bash dubbed his answer as "talking points".
Bash called Vice President Cheney’s speech as "red hot Iraq rhetoric" and then said his speech was to "discredit Democrats criticizing the war". She referred to the statement released by the White House that compared Murtha to Michael Moore as a "blistering statement".
She concluded the segment by noting a reporter that asked a “question on many minds”, "Mr. President you seem to be a little bit of your game". Bush responded with "have you ever heard of jet lag". Bash gave the reaction of "how dare he say that".
On Friday’s Situation Room, CNN’s Bill Schneider awarded Congressman John Murtha his “Play of the Week,” and after Schneider’s piece host Wolf Blitzer suggested the call by Murtha, “a very moderate conservative” (whatever that is), to withdraw troops is reminiscent of CBS anchor Walter Cronkite’s 1968 assertion the U.S. was losing in Vietnam, and so Republicans “probably realize they’ve got some serious problems." Schneider explained his pick: “In 1968, Walter Cronkite returned from Vietnam and told Americans that, in his opinion, the Vietnam War had become a stalemate. That was a turning point. Now, it's too early to tell whether what happened this week was a turning point in Iraq, but it certainly was the political 'Play of the Week.'” Schneider played up Murtha’s influence: "He rarely speaks to the press. When he does, Washington listens. This week, Murtha spoke.”
When Schneider finished his recap of Murtha’s remarks and the reaction to them, Blitzer reminded him and viewers: "Bill, you’ll remember what President Johnson said when he heard what Walter Cronkite had said at that point, after coming back from Vietnam. He said if he’s lost Walter Cronkite, he’s probably lost the country. And I suppose that some Republicans are saying now if they’ve lost John Murtha, a very moderate conservative Democrat, a strong supporter of the military, they, they probably realize they’ve got some serious problems." Schneider agreed: "I think they do." (Complete transcript follows.)
The stunt by Senate Democrats who forced the chamber into closed session so they could get publicity for demands for an immediate probe into administration use of pre-war intelligence, earned a favorable tirade Tuesday afternoon from CNN’s Jack Cafferty who charged that “there's a perception in this country that we were lied to about the run-up to the war in Iraq.” Most believe they were “lied” to? More like Cafferty channeled the claims of the radical left. Cafferty proceeded to concede that “maybe we were, and maybe we weren't, but there are a lot of people who think we were.” Cafferty rued, as if WMDs were the only reason for the war: “A half a trillion dollars and 2,000 of our kids later, we're still there. We're mired in a thing that has no visible end” and so “if they lied to us, if there was some kind of intent to deceive, then they ought to find out who did it, and tear their fingernails out, and then get rid of them.” He insisted that “it's about what's right and what's wrong and what people who are entrusted to govern this country do with the power we give them. If it's being abused, we damn well have a right to know, and something should be done about it.”
In the days and weeks following the disaster in New Orleans, many in the media suggested that the federal government’s “slow” response to Hurricane Katrina was caused by the race and economic condition of those impacted. President Bush had to regularly answer the questions of reporters concerning this, while media members opined at will.
Most famous of such assertions was reported by NewsBusters when rapper Kanye West said during a televised Katrina relief fundraiser that, "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Earlier that day, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said, “Almost all of them that we see, are so poor and they are so black.” And, as also reported by NewsBusters, CBS News’s Nancy Giles said: “[Bush] has put himself at risk by visiting the troops in Iraq, but didn't venture anywhere near the Superdome or the convention center, where thousands of victims, mostly black and poor, needed to see that he gave a damn."
CNN's Jack Cafferty, on Monday afternoon's The Situation Room, took a cheap shot at Karl Rove's weight and expressed delight in the possibility Rove will be indicted. Just past 3pm EDT, Cafferty announced his question of the hour: “What should Karl Rove do if he is indicted?” Cafferty then answered his own question: “He might want to get measured for one of those extra large orange jump suits, Wolf, 'cause looking at old Karl, I'm not sure that he'd, they'd be able to zip him into the regular size one." Wolf Blitzer pointed out: “He's actually lost some weight. I think he's in pretty good shape." Cafferty conceded: "Oh, well then maybe just the regular off the shelf large would handle it for him." Blitzer then cautioned the indictment might not come: "Yeah, but you know, it's still a big if. It's still a big if." A giddy Cafferty replied: "Oh, I understand. I'm, I'm just hoping you know. I love, I love to see those kinds of things happen. It does wonders for me."
Just under a month ago, Cafferty took a shot at Tom Delay: "Has he been indicted yet?" And then a week later insisted that "I had no inside information on DeLay's upcoming indictment,” but boasted of how “it's probably a piece of videotape that I'm going to hang onto." (Full transcript, and links to his earlier comments, follow.)
Just before 5pm EDT Friday, during The Situation Room's review of blog postings, CNN's Jacki Schechner recited examples of blog sites critical of the media's hyping of the so-called “staged” live tele-conference Thursday between President Bush and soldiers in Iraq. With a shot of the NewsBusters posting, “Shocked, Just Shocked Network Reporters Hype 'Staged' Bush Event with Troops” on screen, Schechner relayed: “From NewsBusters, this is a group site that was put together to combat what they call the liberal media bias, saying there is nothing wrong with figuring out 'who should answer which question' or telling soldiers, who aren't familiar with media interviews, to 'take a breath' before answering.”
Thursday's NBC Nightly News led, yes led, with how, as anchor Brian Williams put it, President Bush had that morning conducted “a staged event" via satellite with ten U.S. soldiers and one Iraqi soldier in Iraq. “Today's encounter was billed as spontaneous,” Williams intoned. “Instead, it appeared to follow a script.” Andrea Mitchell warned that “the troops were coached on how to answer the Commander-in-Chief” and, indeed, not until two minutes into her three-minute story -- after showing clips of how a DOD official had told the soldiers the questions Bush would ask -- did Mitchell note how “the White House and at least one of the soldiers says the troops weren't told what to say, just what the President would ask." So, the answers were not staged. The soldiers, naturally nervous about appearing on live TV with the President of the United States, were simply told who should answer which question and to “take a breath” before answering. Scandalous! Over video of Bush on the aircraft carrier, Mitchell went on to remind viewers of how “this isn't the first time this administration used troops to help sell the Iraq war.” But she also admitted a media double-standard: “Many administrations, Democrat and Republican, stage-manage events and often the news media ignore the choreography.”
ABC's World News Tonight also devoted a full story, though not the lead, to the media-generated controversy. Terry Moran contended that “the fact that this was so carefully choreographed...shows just how urgently the White House wants not just a success on the ground in Iraq, but a PR success at home for this embattled President." Over on the CBS Evening News, anchor Bob Schieffer opined that “unfortunately for the President, after satellite cameras caught administration aides rehearsing the soldiers beforehand, Democrats dismissed the whole thing and said the troops deserved a lot better.” Lara Logan managed to cover other material in her story and uniquely showcased a soldier who told CBS: "The truth is that everything that was said was meant to be said, though it may have sounded scripted in some places. Nerves kick in, for one. Two, everyone puts their thoughts together. You put it down, you go over and over it a hundred times."
MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann also led Thursday with the “staged” event and the AP distributed a story breathlessly headlined, “Bush Teleconference With Soldiers Staged.” But on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, Hume noted complaints the event was "not entirely spontaneous" before Carl Cameron pointed out that Bush posed an unplanned question to the Iraqi soldier. In the panel segment, Washington Times reporter Bill Sammon recalled how when “back in December” a soldier asked Rumsfeld about armor, a question that “had been planted by a reporter, I didn't hear any outcry from the press.” (UPDATE with CNN coverage and transcripts follow.)
Wolf: James Dobson's claims about Harriet Miers making it into the Cafferty File today. Jack is in New York, and he's smiling, as only Jack can do.
Jack Cafferty: I love this. I mean, I...this is just going to be one of the great shows, unless she backs away, one of the great shows we've seen in a while. If the Miers nomination to be a Supreme Court justice wasn't in trouble before, it is now. And by the way, it was in big trouble before. With evangelical leader Dobson hinting he might have secret information about Miers' views on such issues as abortion, and with his acknowledgment that he talked with Karl Rove at the White House about her nomination, Miers' opponents have been handed a loaded gun. Even if Dobson is called before the Senate Judiciary Committee and actually testifies, there'll always be a suspicion that we're not getting the whole story on her. Nevertheless, all that being said, I can't wait for the hearing. I mean, I wish they'd start this afternoon. Here's the question. Should evangelical leader James Dobson have to testify, be subpoenaed and be forced to testify at Harriet Miers' confirmation hearings...I hope he does. And I hope she does, and I just...I mean, I just can't wait. This is going to be a dream for people like me.
WB: You might have to wait until early December for those hearings, though, Jack.
Jack Cafferty: Yeah, but I mean, you know, this is going to be like watching those super trains that go from the Tokyo airport into downtown Tokyo, go off the tracks at maximum speed. I mean, you just won't see anything better than that.
So let me get this straight .. the pain, suffering, and death of hundreds of people is equal to the Judiciary Committee's questioning of Harriet Miers? Jack never ceases to amaze me. Download .WMV
Wolf Blitzer, CNN’s “The Situation Room,” had Angelina Jolie on yesterday. After a discussion on the Katrina disaster and her reaction to the newly discovered “poverty” there, the topic shifted to her relief work in Africa and HIV/Aids issues, and eventually, of course -- to funding. Wolf Blitzer, jumping on an opening, had the following line ready to go [emphasis added] - brief disussion followed:
BLITZER: Bono, another star who has been deeply involved in trying to help people around the world. He was quoted in "Time" magazine in June as saying, "the most important and toughest nut is still President Bush. He feels he's already doubled and tripled aid to Africa, which he has, but he started from far too low a place."[Here is the point from which the interview should develop. Clinton admin. was doing way too little, now we are doing much more. How much more?] Are you getting involved in the politics here in Washington, as well, trying to excite people, Democrats and Republicans?
As reported by Brent Baker in today’s CyberAlert, Wolf Blitzer was taken aback by CNN founder Ted Turner’s defense of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il and his treatment of the North Korean people. Turner disputes Blitzer's charge that the North Korean leader's regime is "despotic", insisting, "he didn't look too much different than most other people." When Turner declared we should "give 'em a break," and insisted that North Korea poses a "non-existent" threat to the U.S., Blitzer suggested North Korean missiles could reach Alaska. In response, Turner stated: "Well, what, the Aleutian Islands? There's nothing up there but a few sea lions."
On CNN’s The Situation Room last evening, Wolf Blitzer adroitly set up Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean with questions surrounding racism in Hurricane Katrina rescue and prevention efforts:
“Do you believe the response from the federal government, the Bush administration specifically, the president of the United States, that there were racist or racial overtones in that response?”
“Some, as you know, critics of the president, Kanye West, the rap artist, have accused him of being a racist. I want you to listen to what Laura Bush said last night.”
Reading viewer email at the bottom of 4:00 hour of CNN's "Situation Room," Jack Cafferty dismissed a call from a viewer "try to be 'fair and balanced'" in his commentary segments, deriding the audience member's suggestion as a "thinly veiled reference to the F-word network."
And finally, John writes: Cafferty, your liberal opinions are not appreciated by a majority of the viewers. Your smart remarks about our President and Vice President are not welcome. If at all possible, try to be "fair and balanced."
I think that was a thinly veiled reference to the F-word Network, Wolf. What do you think?
On this evening’s The Situation Room, CNN’s Jack Cafferty ran a poll asking the following question concerning ongoing rescue efforts in New Orleans: What should be done with the people who refuse to leave?
“Officials want everybody out of town because the health risks of the contaminated water are simply too great. But not everybody wants to leave.”
This raises an interesting question that seems to be eluding media representatives like Mr. Cafferty: If a large percentage of people don’t want to leave now as the health risks in the water that is surrounding them are mounting and obvious, why should we be surprised that a similarly large percentage of the New Orleans population didn’t leave prior to the hurricane making landfall?
On last evening’s The Situation Room, CNN’s Ed Henry did a report on the politicization of Hurricane Katrina. One of the first segments was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) with some rather unkind words about our president:
“He chose someone with absolutely no credentials. You know what? When I said to the president that he should fire Michael Brown, he said why would I do that? I said because of all that went wrong with all that didn't go right last week. He said what didn't go right.
“Oblivious, in denial. Dangerous.”
And that was just the beginning of Ed’s report. It gets even better.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Friday afternoon repeatedly prodded reluctant Congressional Black Caucus member Elijah Cummings to blame racism for delays in rescuing hurricane victims in New Orleans. Blitzer asked Cummings on The Situation Room: “Do you believe, if it was, in fact, a slow response, as many now believe it was, was it in part the result of racism?” When Cummings demurred from such a blanket accusation, Blitzer wouldn’t give up: “There are some critics who are saying, and I don't know if you're among those, but people have said to me, had this happened in a predominantly white community, the federal government would have responded much more quickly. Do you believe that?"
Later, on CNN’s NewsNight, Aaron Brown took up the same agenda with Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones: “What I'm wondering is, do you think black America's sitting there thinking, if these were middle class white people, there would be cruise ships in New Orleans?” When she wouldn’t take the bait, Brown lectured: “Now, look, here's the question, okay? And then we'll end this. Do you think the reason that they're not there or the food is not there or the cruise ships aren't there or all this stuff that you believe should be there, isn't there, is a matter of race and/or class?”
Opening the NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams predicted that the "catastrophic hurricane strike, and the U.S. government response to it, will in the years or decades to come, perhaps necessitate a national discussion on race, on oil, politics, class, infrastructure, the environment and more.” ABC’s Ted Koppel charged on Nightline that “the slow response to the victims of Hurricane Katrina has led to questions about race, poverty and a seemingly indifferent government.”
Today during CNN's "Situation Room," anchor Jack Cafferty suspected the Bush administration had turned the timing of the help sent to New Orleans into a political stunt.
CAFFERTY: Do you suppose, Wolf, that the arrival of the relief convoys and the political photo ops on the Gulf Coast happening at the very same time were a coincidence today? BLITZER: Well, I'm sure our viewers have some thoughts on that as well.
Later Blitzer said, "Jack, a final thought before I let you go." Responded Cafferty, "It's embarrassing."
From CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Thursday, September 1, 2005, covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: (audiotape on file, emphasis mine)
BLITZER: "You simply get chills every time you see these poor individuals, as Jack Cafferty just pointed out, so tragically, so many of these people, almost all of them that we see, are so poor and they are so black, and this is going to raise lots of questions for people who are watching this story
Two days after CNN's Jack Cafferty demanded to know, as detailed in a Tuesday NewsBusters item, “Where's President Bush? Is he still on vacation?”and snidely suggested that “based on his approval rating in the latest polls, my guess is getting back to work might not be a terrible idea,” on Thursday's Situation Room Cafferty took off after Bush again. At about 3:30pm EDT during his “Cafferty File” segment, he suddenly found the conservative New Hampshire Union Leader very wise and quoted approvingly from their Wednesday editorial: “'A better leader would have flown straight to the disaster zone and announced the immediate mobilization of every available resource....The cool, confident, intuitive leadership Bush exhibited in his first term, particularly in the months following 9/11, has vanished.'” He piled on with how a New York Times editorial excoriated Bush “for 'appearing casual to the point of carelessness.'”
Cafferty soon launched a rant: “I have never, ever seen anything as badly bungled and poorly handled as this situation in New Orleans. Where the hell is the water for these people? Why can't sandwiches be dropped to those people that are in that Superdome down there? I mean, what is, this is Thursday. This is Thursday. This storm happened five days ago. It's a disgrace.”
In the 5pm EDT half hour of CNN's The Situation Room today, Jack Cafferty used the hurricane as an excuse to trash President Bush for being on vacation, as if the location of Bush, who already authorized federal action, has any impact on that federal response to the devastation. Cafferty asked host Wolf Blitzer: “Where's President Bush? Is he still on vacation?”Blitzer answered that “he's cut short his vacation. He's coming back to Washington tomorrow.” Cafferty snidely contended: “Well, that would be a good idea. He was out in San Diego, I think, at a Naval air station giving a speech on Japan and the war in Iraq today. Based on his approval rating in the latest polls, my guess is getting back to work might not be a terrible idea.”
Full transcript of the exchange, between Cafferty in Manhattan and Blitzer in Washington, DC, follows.
Yesterday CNN’s Wolf Blitzer tried to get Bill Clinton to answer whether or not entering Iraq was a “mistake.”
BLITZER: So I assume that the answer is, yes, the war was a mistake. Is that your answer?
CLINTON: You're trying to get me to make news, and I'm trying to educate people. It doesn't matter whether it was a mistake to go in or not at the time. I thought we should have let the U.N. inspectors finish. We are where we are. We can't undo what has happened. 58 percent of Iraqis voted in the last election. That's more than we had turn out in 2004...(transcript)
Blitzer responded, “That's my job. I'm a newsman. That's what I try to do, is make news. And you try to avoid news. That's your job.”