NBC Uniquely Reports Liberal Ruling Overturned, Olbermann Continues Impeachment Talk
Among Friday's broadcast evening newscasts, NBC Nightly News uniquely reported a federal appeals court ruling, tagged by anchor Lester Holt as a "victory for the Bush administration," regarding the controversial NSA spying program that involves warrantless monitoring of international phone calls when one participant is a terrorist suspect. Friday's court action overruled an August 2006 court decision against the program by a liberal judge appointed by President Carter.
As documented by the MRC's Rich Noyes, all three broadcast evening newscasts had trumpeted the earlier ruling against the administration on August 17 of last year. ABC's Charles Gibson had labeled it a "major legal defeat" while ABC's Martha Raddatz had called it a "significant blow" to the administration. But neither ABC's World News with Charles Gibson nor the CBS Evening News mentioned Friday's ruling. But even on NBC, while Holt read news of the ruling, the words "Domestic Spying" appeared on screen, thus not conveying to the audience the international nature of the calls. Those words had similarly appeared during the NBC Nightly News coverage of the August 17 ruling. (Transcripts follow)
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann also ignored Friday's ruling on his Countdown show, while last August he had trumpeted that day's anti-Bush court decision by interviewing liberal law professor Jonathan Turley, who maintained that Bush "could well have committed a federal crime not once, but 30 times." Olbermann had called the August ruling a "judicial smackdown" and a "stunning ruling" against the program, and had repeatedly referred to the NSA program as monitoring "our" phone calls or "our" emails. But in light of Friday's ruling that did not go the MSNBC host's way, there was silence on the issue.
But the Countdown host did introduce Friday's show relaying comments by former Reagan administration NSA director William Odom about the possibility of impeaching President Bush. Olbermann: "The top National Security officer from the Reagan administration insisting that the only way to protect the troops in Iraq is to get the Bush administration to bring them home, and the only way to do that may be to threaten the President directly with impeachment."
Below is a complete transcript of the NBC Nightly News Friday July 6 coverage of the day's court ruling, followed by Olbermann's comments about impeaching Bush from the Friday July 6 Countdown show:
From the Friday July 6 NBC Nightly News:
LESTER HOLT: A victory for the Bush administration today in the ongoing dispute over its warrantless wiretapping program. A federal appeals court dismissed a lawsuit challenging the program, saying the plaintiffs, which included the American Civil Liberties Union, had no standing to sue. The decision overturned a lower court ruling that the program violated privacy and free speech rights. The appeals court ruled 2 to 1 that the plaintiffs couldn't prove they were spied upon.
From the Friday July 6 Countdown:
KEITH OLBERMANN, in opening teaser: The Odom plan: The director of the National Security Agency, the NSA, under Ronald Reagan, General William Odom, says the best way to support the troops in Iraq is to get them home from Iraq, and that the administration is so out of control, that the only way to make that happen is to threaten the President with impeachment if he does not agree.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. It has been thus on every sinking ship from Titanic to the SS Minnow of Gilligan's Island. A few far-thinking visionaries try to get off first to get others to leave with them, then others begin to file off one by one, and after them, the deluge. And so it is for the Bush administration's policy in Iraq. Our fifth story on the Countdown, conservative Republican Senator Pete Domenici yesterday, conservative Republican Congressman John Doolittle today. Hope you can swim, boys. This while the top National Security officer from the Reagan administration insisting that the only way to protect the troops in Iraq is to get the Bush administration to bring them home, and the only way to do that may be to threaten the President directly with impeachment. The Commander-in-Chief having now supported the troops to a death toll of 3,592 with no end in sight. Conservative Congressman Doolittle of California, one-time Mormon missionary, today joining the others in his party in questioning whether the conflict is worth the loss of any more American lives. His remarks, though, making the Congressman sound less like a great humanitarian or patriot, and rather more like a huge xenophobe. "I am increasingly convinced," said Mr. Doolittle, "that we are never going to succeed in actually ending people dying in Iraq. I think it's going to be a constant conflict ... and if that is going to happen ... it needs to be the Iraqis dying and not the Americans."
OLBERMANN: The White House saying today it views any sort of precipitous withdrawal from Iraq as dangerous, the Pentagon that leaving early would leave that country a mess, but Lieutenant General William Odom, the director of National Security for President Reagan, the Bush administration says that, he says that the Bush administration, rather, should no longer be allowed to determine the vocabulary for the debate. General Odom's contention that supporting the troops actually means bringing them home, and now. Mr. Odom pointing out that Congress clearly and indisputably has two powers over the executive: the power of the purse and power to impeach. Should the first option fail, Mr. Odom saying lawmakers should not be afraid to threaten the second, having ample justification to do so. "An attempt to extort Congress into providing funds by keeping U.S. forces in peril ... surely would constitute the 'high crime' of squandering the lives of soldiers and Marines for his," the President's, "own personal interest."
OLBERMANN, beginning an interview with Retired General Wesley Clark: That plan that has been put forth by General Odom, would the main obstacle to that plan seem to be lawmakers in Congress having the guts to execute it?