After another round of attacks from the White House, this time from higher levels of the Obama administration, Brit Hume, a senior political analyst for Fox News, went to bat for his network.
On the Oct. 19 broadcast of Fox News Channel's "Special Report with Bret Baier," Hume gave his best effort to rationalize why White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Obama Senior Advisor David Axelrod used two Sunday morning news show appearances to beat up on the highly rated news channel. According to Hume, it was because they disapproved of the stories his channel broke over the last few months.
"It is a little hard to discern a strategy behind the White House campaign of criticism of Fox News unless it's simply this - an attempt to quarantine Fox and thereby discourage other media outlets from following up stories did originate here," Hume said. "The White House is clearly stung by the revelations about former aid Van Jones. He turned out to have harbored views that were out there where the buses don't run and he was forced to resign. And the White House could not much have cared for the hidden camera expose of ACORN - an organization with which the president had a past association and one whose voter registration drives have benefited the Democratic Party."
After months of investigation, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) released a report addressing accusations from some humanitarian groups that its use of white phosphorus (WP) munitions in the Gaza War was a violation of international law, as the report distinguishes between the use of WP as a weapon and the more common non-weapon purposes such as providing smoke screens to conceal troop movements. The pro-Israel group CAMERA recently quoted from the report in the article, "Did Israel’s Use of White Phosphorus Constitute a War Crime?" by Steven Stotsky, on its Web site. The report not only argued that the military's decision to explode the munition in the air was safer for civilians than it would have been to explode it on the ground, but it also suggested that the use of WP to facilitate troops movements also meant civilian casualties were lower than they otherwise would have been by making attacks on Hamas more accurate.
Last January, evening newscasts and some morning newscasts on the broadcast networks and on CNN and FNC reported on accusations from humanitarian groups – with varying degrees of accuracy – with CBS even referring to WP as a "banned weapon," and a "horrific new weapon, " and contending that the IDF may have committed "war crimes." At one point, CNN similarly incorrectly identified WP as a "banned substance." ABC showed a clip of a wounded Palestinian boy charging that Israelis have "no mercy" even for children. (MSNBC does not have a morning or evening newscast equivalent to NBC’s Today show or the NBC Nightly News, so MSNBC coverage was not examined.) But, according to a Nexis search, none of these news programs showed any interest in updating viewers once the Israeli military had made public its say on the matter.
As previously documented by NewsBusters, the January 22 CBS Evening News ran a report (video here), introduced by anchor Katie Couric, which left the impression that the Israeli military had used a "banned weapon," without informing viewers that there are non-weapon uses for WP, and passed on accusations of "war crimes." Couric: "Hamas just ended a bloody war with Israel in Gaza, and tonight there is growing evidence the Israelis may have used a banned weapon. Some even accuse them of war crimes."
On the January 25 World News Sunday on ABC, as he introduced a report by correspondent Simon McGregor-Wood, anchor Dan Harris played up complaints against "both sides" in the war, and even suggested that the Israeli side may have been worse in its conduct of the war as he highlighted that there was "especially tough criticism" leveled at Israel. Harris: "Both sides are being dogged now by complaints that they violated the rules of war. Israel has come under especially tough criticism for its use of a chemical agent."
However Brit Hume, now a senior political analyst for Fox News and regarded as a veteran figure at the news organization, took the White House head on. In his "Brit Hume Commentary" segment on Fox News Channel's Oct. 12 "Special Report with Bret Baier," Hume, pointed out this "feud" the Obama administration has decided to elevate is a bad idea.
"Every president ends up disgusted with the news media in general and with certain individuals or outlets in particular, but there is an old adage often attributed to Mark Twain that advises against picking fights with people who buy ink by the barrel," Hume said. "He is speaking of the big media of his day, which were newspapers."
On Monday's Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC, correspondent James Rosen filed a report describing the line of obstacles to acquiring a handgun legally in Washington, D.C., in spite of last year's Supreme Court ruling overturning the city's outright ban on handgun possession in the city. Host Baier introduced the report: "Correspondent James Rosen reports while it is now legal to get a handgun in the nation's capital, it is definitely not easy."
Rosen went through the steps of obtaining a gun during the report, and ended up playing a clip of NRA Executive Director Wayne LaPierre as he summed up the process. LaPierre: "What D.C. is doing is throwing up every obstacle, shackling the freedom to the point where it's no longer really a freedom."
Below is a compete transcript of the report from the Monday, October 5, Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC:
Former President Carter's recent claim that he never portrayed most tea party participants protesting against President Obama as being motivated by racism has been highlighted both on Friday's Special Report with Bret Baier and on Monday's The O'Reilly Factor on FNC. As previously noted by NewsBuster Matt Balan, the Thursday, October 1, American Morning on CNN showed a clip of Carter denying what he previously seemed to suggest in an interview with correspondent Candy Crowley. Carter's original accusations of racism by conservatives were reported by NBC and CBS, but those networks have ignored Carter's attempt to backtrack.
On Friday's "Political Grapevine" segment on FNC's Special Report, host Baier relayed to viewers: "Former President Jimmy Carter is walking back from comments he made last month about President Obama and racism. Thursday, Mr. Carter said he did not mean protesters were upset at the reality of a black President."
After reading Carter's denial, Baier then played Carter's original words: "I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity towards President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he is African-American."
On Friday's Special Report with Bret Baier, FNC correspondent Molly Henneberg filed a report relaying to viewers that a recently released Pew poll finds a continuing trend of pro-life sentiment gaining ground in public opinion in America. Last May, a Gallup poll showed a similar pro-life trend. After Baier introduced her report by observing that "popular support for abortion rights is on the decline," Henneberg began by relaying that, according to the poll, "fewer Americans than last year are comfortable with the idea of legal abortions in all or most cases."
On Thursday, FNC viewers got to learn of a little known diplomatic faux pas on the part of President Obama, as the administration announced on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland that America would back out of the plan for a missile defense shield previously worked out with Polish President Lech Kaczynski. On Special Report with Bret Baier, host Baier showed an interview with the Polish president who did not seem happy with President Obama’s foreign policy decisions.
Kaczynski signaled his belief that the deal he had worked on with the Bush administration was important to his country:
I thought that the August 2008 deal, I considered that to be a success. I worked very hard to bring about the deal, to make it successful. I would like to be honest with you, and I will just say that I did everything I could to just finalize the deal. I cannot say I was happy. It was a very important deal for us.
Baier then brought up the bad timing of the Obama administration’s announcement:
Baier related how the university in Fairfield, Connecticut also determined “almost 70 percent think the 'media are intent on promoting' his presidency and 56 percent say the 'media are promoting his health care reform agenda without objective criticism.'”
“The resignation of President Obama's green jobs 'czar,' Van Jones, might have come as a shock if you do not watch cable news,” FNC's Bret Baier observed at the top of his Monday night “Grapevine” segment. Of course, it would have been a surprise too if you rely on MSNBC. “In fact,” Baier continued, “the 'big three' evening newscasts and two of the nation's most-prominent newspapers barely covered the story.”
There was no mention of Jones by CBS, NBC, ABC, the Washington Post or the New York Times on Wednesday -- the night Jones' first issued an apology for past statements. The same was true on Thursday, although a Washington Post blog picked up the story. That night Jones again apologized for a slew of old remarks and the signing of that petition that alleged the Bush administration was behind the 9/11 attacks. ABC and NBC failed to cover the story on Friday after that, although CBS finally did....
Baier's rundown matched what NewsBusters has documented over the past several days (see links below).
"Obama has been accused during the campaign of associating with people who were radical, whether it be Bill Ayers or Reverend Wright. He has to do with Jones what he did with Wright, which is to cut his relationship off."
So said liberal Fox News contributor Bob Beckel about the growing controversy surrounding President Obama's "green jobs czar" Van Jones.
In this segment aired Friday evening during "Special Report," Beckel said a resignation is imminent (video embedded below the fold with full transcript):
On Thursday's Special Report with Bret Baier, FNC host Baier ran a report by correspondent James Rosen describing a "troubling pattern of behavior" by President Obama's Green Jobs Czar, Van Jones. The report noted some of the controversial statements and connections of Jones, who has not only described himself in the past with such words as "Marxist" and "radical," but has also been linked to 9/11 Truthers and radical groups such as one organization whose manifesto "equated those killed on 9/11 with, quote, 'the victims of U.S. imperialism around the world.'" The report also showed a clip of Jones from last year accusing "white polluters" of "steering poison" into minority communities.
Rosen ran a soundbite of University of Virginia Politics Professor Larry Sabato -- known for his willingness to criticize politicians of both parties -- who noted that such a controversial figure in the Bush administration would have ignited a "national hurrah of magnificent proportions." Sabato: "If a Bush official had made anything comparable to what Mr. Jones has said and done, no doubt there would have been a national hurrah of magnificent proportions."
On Monday's Special Report with Bret Baier, as FNC aired a special episode with host Baier stationed in Jerusalem to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, during the show's "Fox All Stars" segment, conservative columnist and FNC contributor Charles Krauthammer charged that as the Obama administration pushes for a peace agreement, the President has actually pressed Israel unusually far on the issue of construction within existing Jewish settlements, going further even than Palestinians had previously demanded in recent negotiations.
After proclaiming that the "delay in the peace process is a self-inflicted wound on the Obama administration," and after noting that the issue of settlements had previously "been in consensus," he continued:
The U.S. and Israelis had agreed, no new settlements, no new expansion of territory in settlements and dismantling of existing settlements. And the Palestinians had accepted that, had never refused negotiations for anything else. But then Obama adds a condition of no thickening of settlements, i.e., you don't construct a kindergarten if children are born, which the Israelis have rejected. And all of a sudden, the Palestinians and Arabs have said no negotiations until Israel jumps through this higher hoop.
ABC's Brian Ross and NBC's Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday night each listed some al Qaeda plots uncovered via CIA interrogations, but both balked when it came to vindicating former Vice President Dick Cheney on whether “enhanced interrogation techniques” (EITs) led to information which prevented attacks.
“Nowhere in the reports...does the CIA ever draw a direct connection between the valuable information and the specific use of harsh tactics,” Ross declared on World News in citing reports Cheney requested be released. NBC's Andrea Mitchell cited only Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and related how “administration officials say there is no way to know whether the same information could have be obtained from him without waterboarding or whether he would have given it up sooner had he been handled differently.”
On FNC, however, The Weekly Standard's Steve Hayes, quoting from the just-released 2004 report by CIA Inspector General John Helgerson, pointed out how even it noted regarding Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, the terrorist behind the USS Cole attack, “following the use of EIT's, he provided information about his most current operational planning as opposed to the historical information he provided before the use of the EIT's.” Hayes asserted: “I mean, it doesn't get clearer than that. So we can debate the morality, we can debate whether this was torture. We can't debate any longer about whether this was effective.”
NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard has focused again on what NPR reporters say on Fox News. Reporter Mara Liasson infuriated the liberal listeners of the taxpayer-funded network when she proclaimed on Tuesday's Special Report that "Cash for Clunkers is like a mini-Katrina here," Liasson said. "It's not good to start a government program and not be able to execute it."
Liasson quickly acknowledged she "crossed a line" in comparing Bush's hurricane response to Obama's eco-friendly initiatives:
"I said something really stupid, which I regret," Liasson told me. "I should have merely said anytime time the government does something less than competent, it makes it harder to get people to trust them with other programs. People died in Katrina because of government incompetence. I should not have used that as an analogy. I was thinking of an example of government incompetence and I picked one that was too big and egregious. I was over the top in my choice of a metaphor. It was a mistake."
President Obama's experience last year earning fawning press coverage as a “genius” on race relations lulled him into assuming “he can say anything on race and is so smart that he will be untouchable,” columnist Charles Krauthammer postulated Friday night on FNC in suggesting an explanation for why Obama so misunderstand how his remarks on Henry Louis Gates would ensnare him in controversy. Krauthammer opined: “A lot of the Obama presidency is a contest between his intelligence and his arrogance” and he thought “he can say anything on race and is so smart that he will be untouchable.”
One reason for that, Krauthammer contended, is that after he “gave the famous speech in Philadelphia” on race in March of 2008, in which “he did not renounce Jeremiah Wright” as “he blamed everybody for racism -- black, white and grandmother, except himself,” he nonetheless “was hailed by a supine press as the second coming of Lincoln at Cooper Union. So after, that you think you can say anything on race and be hailed as a genius.”
Indeed, hours after Obama's Tuesday, March 18, 2008 address, MSNBC's Chris Matthews, NewsBusters recounted, praised it as “worthy of Abraham Lincoln” and also claimed it bypassed Martin Luther King Jr.'s “I Have a Dream” address as the “best speech ever given on race in this country.”
As the broadcast network evening newscasts on Friday reported on Sarah Palin's decision to resign as Alaska's Governor, they gave little attention to the toll taken on the Governor by the onslaught of frivolous lawsuits from her political enemies. But, by contrast, FNC gave much of the credit for Palin's decision to these lawsuits that have tied up the Governor's time and forced her family to spend a fortune in legal expenses.
On Friday's Fox Report, FNC correspondent Carl Cameron informed viewers: "Those ethics complaints have all been dropped or dismissed, and yet they've taken a toll and she acknowledged as much earlier." Then came a soundbite of Palin from her news conference, which was partially played on the CBS Evening News but not on ABC or NBC. Palin:
Todd and I, we’re looking at more than half a million dollars in legal bills just in order to set the record straight. And what about the people who offer up these silly accusations? It doesn't cost them a dime. ... My staff and I spend most of our days, we're dealing with this stuff instead of progressing our state now.
On Tuesday’s Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC, substitute anchor Megyn Kelly read a brief story informing viewers that now more people oppose the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor than support it. According to a new Rasmussen poll, those in opposition outnumber supporters by 39 to 37 percent, in contrast with its poll from two weeks ago which found she was favored 42 to 34 percent.
Kelly: "Well, public support for Judge Sotomayor appears to be slipping. A new Rasmussen Reports survey indicates just 37 percent support her confirmation now, while 39 percent oppose it. Compare that to two weeks ago, when her confirmation was favored by a 42 to 34 percent margin."
Network reporters swooned over President Barack Obama hugging a woman, who has cancer and lacks insurance, at his Wednesday “town hall” on health care, as both CNN -- where Suzanne Malveaux heralded the hug as “a bold display of presidential concern” -- and NBC failed to point out how all the questions (just seven in total) were pre-selected or from members of pro-Obama groups. Instead, NBC's Savannah Guthrie showed a kid in a video (“My mommy and daddy have small businesses, and we need health care”) before she touted how Obama “solicited questions on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and in person, with a hug for a woman who says she cannot pay her medical bills,” while CNN's Ed Henry related “he fielded questions from YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and a live audience.”
CBS's Katie Couric showcased “an emotional moment” when “a 53-year-old cancer patient described her battle to get treatment she can afford.” Couric relayed how Obama “called her exhibit A in a system that's too expensive and too complicated,” but at least, unlike NBC and CNN, Couric noted the woman “is a volunteer for Mr. Obama's political operation Organizing for America” and “the White House invited her to attend.”
Filling-in as anchor on CNN's The Situation Room, Suzanne Malveaux painted Obama as a combination of General Patton and Oprah as she set up Henry in the 6 PM EDT hour:
President Obama has a message for some critics. He will get his way. Today he made a bold promise regarding health care reform. And, in a bold display of presidential concern, the President comforted a sick and emotional woman.
The news cycle has been dominated by celebrity deaths - Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and even TV pitchman Billy Mays - and President Barack Obama's health care initiative. Obama has used the compliant media to keep the focus to health care, and they are neglecting a critical largest news event that could impact the lives of every man, woman and child for the foreseeable future.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a 1,200-page climate change bill known as the "American Clean Energy and Security Act" sponsored by Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif. and Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., by a narrow 219-212 vote on June 26.
Prospects for that piece of environmental legislation might have been hurt had reporters pointed out the scientific censorship taking place in the Obama administration. A veteran of the Environmental Protection Agency strongly questioned the theory of manmade global warming in a report that was then silenced by the administration. That's exactly the opposite of how many journalists handled a similar controversy during the Bush administration.
Columnist Charles Krauthammer noted on FNC's Special Report that while “there wasn't exactly aggressiveness on the part of the press with a couple of exceptions” during the afternoon presidential press conference, “it looked as if the stupor that the press has been in for the last six months is lifting slightly.” Krauthammer quipped: “I say that as a psychiatrist who has a lot of experience in watching these things.”
Earlier in the program, Brit Hume declared “the head over heals phase of the honeymoon with the press is over” and he speculated: “I think the reporters down there were tired of being criticized for being soft on Obama.”
The media are so far into the tank for President Obama that even the fairly liberal Juan Williams decried:
We are going towards a weekend of high tide for kowtowing to the Obama administration. He's all over CBS this weekend and then he's going to be all over ABC. I don't know what's going on with big media in this country.
The brief assessment from Williams, a news analyst for NPR and former Washington Post reporter, came in response to Chris Wallace's request for ten-second “lightning round” offerings at the end of Friday's Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC.
On Wednesday, several FNC shows recounted the latest developments in the case of President Obama's suspicious, and possibly illegal, firing of former inspector general Gerald Walpin, after an investigation headed by Walpin found Obama friend and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson guilty of misusing over $800,000 in funding intended for the AmeriCorps program. Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity pointed to apparent inconsistencies in the story so far.
Beck, who had previously interviewed Walpin on Monday, interviewed him again on Wednesday, and informed viewers of a claim by the White House that Walpin had shown up at a meeting "disoriented," leading the President to dismiss him. Walpin charged that the administration was engaging in "an amazing slinging of mud" against him, and later added:
MRC President Brent Bozell sat down in the Fox News DC bureau yesterday morning to record his reaction to ABC News's planned special at the White House on health care. [audio available here]
Fox News Channel ran Mr. Bozell's comments in news updates throughout the day, including a full story by correspondent Mike Emanuel that aired during "Special Report with Bret Baier":
Just try to put into context how ridiculous this ABC quote-unquote discussion is. Just try to imagine a world wherein ABC would give George W. Bush a two-hour opportunity to have a quote-unquote "discussion with the American people" on the war on terror.
On Friday's Special Report with Bret Baier, FNC correspondent Jennifer Griffin informed viewers that the Obama administration has once again snubbed the British government, as the administration transferred a group of detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the British protectorate of Bermuda without first consulting the British government as protocol requires. Substitute anchor Chris Wallace raised the issue:
Let's talk about the Bermuda part of the story because Bermuda is a British protectorate. We supposedly have a special relationship with the U.K., but we didn't talk to them, we didn't inform them about our deal to put the Uighurs there.
Griffin described the administration's faux pas as "stunning":
FNC's Catherine Herridge traveled to Bermuda to meet the four Chinese Muslim Uighurs just released from Guantanamo Bay and she elicited from them that living in China is worse than life at Guantanamo. Talking to them through an interpreter at their new home, a pink bungalow with a swimming pool, Herridge reported how she “asked which was worse: Life at Gitmo versus China?” The interpreter relayed, over the voices of all of the men talking: “Of course it's China. There's no guarantee for human rights there.”
So, there's a new angle for the media: Guantanamo as a bastion of human rights protections. Not really much of a surprise in contrast to China, but it took a FNC reporter to frame the comparison between a U.S. military-run detention center and a communist nation.
FNC's Bret Baier on Wednesday night highlighted how the former top editor at the hardly conservative San Francisco Chronicle wrote a blog entry (Tuesday morning NB post by Noel Sheppard), “Love or Lust, Obama and the Fawning Press Need to Get a Room,” in which Phil Bronstein suggested “the Obama-press dance is a more consensual seduction where, in the old-fashioned sense, we're the girl” and asked: “Is there an actual limit to the number of instances you can be the cover of Newsweek?”
Using that as a segue, Baier picked up on a quote first reported by NewsBusters as he related how Newsweek's Evan Thomas “provided yet another example of the mainstream media's presidential crush” when Thomas oozed: “In a way Obama's standing above the country, above, above the world. He's sort of God.”
On his FNC show Wednesday night, Bret Baier looked at how the murder of an abortion doctor on Sunday has earned much more media attention than Monday's murder by a politically-motivated killer of a serviceman in Arkansas, a disparity matched by the condemnation of the first killing by an Obama administration which has ignored the second. Baier reported:
In the media, [George] Tiller was a top story for almost three days. Several liberal analysts blamed pro-life groups for inciting the murder [video from MSNBC]. In contrast, there has been relatively little coverage about the killing of Army Private William Long and the wounding of Private Quinton Ezeagwula outside the recruiting center in Little Rock, despite the fact that the alleged shooter was a convert to Islam who police say probably had political and religious motives for the attack.
After outlining how the Obama administration has failed to condemn the murder of the Army private, Baier related how “conservative media analyst Brent Bozell says the different responses come down to politics.” Viewers then heard this soundbite from the President of the Media Research Center: “Politics dictated that they be outspoken on the murder of Doctor Tiller, but be silent when American servicemen are gunned down.” [audio available here]
On Friday's Special Report with Bret Baier, FNC host Baier informed viewers that the Justice Department had dropped charges against New Black Panther members who engaged in blatant voter intimidation in Philadelphia last November. As previously documented by Newsbuster Noel Sheppard, last November Fox News ran a report by Rick Leventhal detailing the activity which was ignored by the mainstream media. On Friday's Special Report, Baier quoted a former 1960s civil rights lawyer: "The most blatant form of voter intimidation. They were positioned in a location that forced every voter to pass in close proximity to them. The weapon was openly displayed and brandished in plain sight of voters."
Friday's Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC gave attention to Vice President Biden's tendency to commit gaffes, with the notably centrist Morton Kondracke of Roll Call commenting that "I say little prayers every day for the health of Barack Obama, who is a lot more intelligent than Joe Biden." Kondracke went on to give a negative assessment of the Vice President's Senate career: "For all the time that Joe Biden was in the Senate, he was wrong about practically every foreign policy issue that there was."
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Fox All Stars segment from the Friday, May 22, Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC: