GOP strategist Ari Fleischer set the record straight about the media infatuation with Mitt Romney's statements on the embassy attacks. On Wednesday's Anderson Cooper 360, he called out the media's "double standard" and defended Romney's criticism of the Obama administration.
"Debates about foreign policy are an absolute vital part of our democracy and I don't know why the media is rushing to criticize Mitt Romney for criticizing a foreign policy when they did not do that to Barack Obama or John Kerry when they exercised their right to criticize Republican foreign policy," stated Fleischer. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Speaking with NewsBusters at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer reacted strongly to the offensive joke made by ousted Yahoo News Washington bureau chief David Chalian that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his wife Ann.
"It baffles me that somebody like that could even be hired in the first place," Fleischer said.
Democratic strategist Cornell Belcher was up-in-arms Thursday over Herman Cain's remarks that African-Americans have been "brainwashed" to vote Democratic. Belcher, an African-American, called the remarks "racist" and "bigoted" and added that Cain "should be treated like a racist and bigoted person."
Belcher, who was furious for the entirety of the segment and repeatedly interrupted fellow guest Ari Fleischer, accused CNN of harboring a "double standard."
David Gergen not surprisingly believes that increased federal spending on education - or "investments" as Democrats like to say - is essential irrespective of our nation's current fiscal crisis.
On "Anderson Cooper 360" following the President's State of the Union address, former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer did his darnedest to explain to the CNN senior political analyst that our mammoth budget deficits should first be brought under control before any additional outlays are considered (video follows with transcript and commentary):
NBC's Richard Engel has done some good reporting from Iraq. But scratch the reporter's surface, and you find a political partisan eager to echo the anti-Bush party line. Witness his exchange with Ari Fleischer on Morning Joe today. Engel twisted the former Bush press secretary's words, accusing him of alleging an Osama Bin Laden connection with Iraq. Fleischer had palpably said no such thing.
The springboard was Fleischer's citation of a 1998 OBL interview in which the terrorist boss said America was weak because it is unable to see through long wars. Fleischer went on to argue that America's resolve will be tested should things go badly wrong in Iraq or Afghanistan, thus putting under pressure the arbitrary dates that have been set for US withdrawal from those countries.
Engel jumped in to accuse Fleischer of claiming an OBL tie with Iraq. Even after Fleischer made explicitly clear he was alleging no such connection, Engel obdurately pressed his point.
CNN anchor Don Lemon repeatedly defended rabidly anti-Israel columnist Helen Thomas as he interviewed Ari Fleischer late in the 7 pm Eastern hour of Sunday's Newsroom. After playing Thomas's remarks, Lemon lauded her in his first question to Fleischer: "Helen Thomas has broken down many barriers for women....She has a lifelong achievement...in journalism. Should that count for anything?" [audio clips available here]
The former press secretary strongly condemned Thomas's comments and proposed that "if somebody said that all blacks need to leave America and go home to Africa, they would have already lost their jobs," while stating that two of them "always ideologically disagreed, but I liked her." Lemon followed through on this point: "Yeah, that was my next point. It's- I know that people disagree ideologically- but you can still be friends or still be co-workers. Have you reached out to her at all? Have you tried to talk to her about why she said this?"
Former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer, who endured a lot of pointed Helen Thomas questions, told Sam Stein of The Huffington Post that Hearst Newspapers should dismiss Thomas for saying Jews need to "get the hell out of Palestine" and go back to Poland and Germany.
"She should lose her job over this," Fleischer said in an email. "As someone who is Jewish, and as someone who worked with her and used to like her, I find this appalling."
"She is advocating religious cleansing. How can Hearst stand by her? If a journalist, or a columnist, said the same thing about blacks or Hispanics, they would already have lost their jobs."
Thomas knows that she could never say the blacks should go back to Africa or the Hispanics should go back to Mexico, she would ruin her over-celebrated reputation as the "dean" of the White House press corps. Stein offered more details and an update:
CNN’s Anderson Cooper pushed down hard on the totalitarian analogies in a Monday night segment on Bush "torture" policy, comparing our handling of terrorist interrogations to the Nazis (stress positions) and the Khmer Rouge (waterboarding). In a debate with former Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer, Paul Begala brought his furrowed eyebrows and moral outrage to the set:
Our country executed Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American POWs. We executed them for the same crime that we are now committing ourselves. How do you defend that?
Over at The Corner on National Review, Mark Hemingway suggested Begala was mangling the historical facts:
What Begala said isn't true. Begala appears to be referencing Yukio Asano, a Japanese soldier convicted of war crimes. His case was popularized — in the context of waterboarding — by Ted Kennedy. See this Washington Post article from 2006:
MSNBC anchor Peter Alexander was more interested Friday afternoon in a Karl Rove v Joe Biden cat fight than in the accuracy of Biden's claim which prompted Rove's rebuke of him for telling a “lie” -- which led guest Ari Fleischer to scold the media for not checking into Biden's allegation. Indeed, MSNBC framed the segment around Rove's words, “Rove: Biden Is a Liar.” When Alexander asked if it is “appropriate for Karl Rove” to call a Vice President “a liar?”, Fleischer shot back: “Well, for heaven's sake, that's just about the only word Democrats wanted to use when they were talking about George W. Bush.”
Alexander began the segment, in the 3 PM EDT hour, playing the self-serving anecdote told by Biden in an interview earlier this week for CNN's The Situation about how, in an Oval Office meeting on an unidentified date, when President Bush told him “I'm a leader,” Biden had retorted: “Mr. President, turn around, look behind you, no one's following.” Alexander wanted to know who would benefit politically -- “Are these fights good for the GOP or for the Obama administration?” -- prompting Fleischer to wonder:
My question is, where is the press in all of this? If Dick Cheney had said that he had a private meeting with Bill Clinton and he in that meeting told Bill Clinton that Bill Clinton was wrong, I think all the press would have said to Cheney, “When did you do it? Back it up. Where are the dates?” There's no scrutiny here for Joe Biden....
As NewsBusters previously reported, Chris Matthews and Ari Fleischer had quite a debate Wednesday evening wherein the "Hardball" host acted like a shameless Democrat operative and the former White House press secretary behaved with grace and aplomb as he wiped the floor with his poorly-matched opponent.
Matthews must have realized how foolish he looked, for on Thursday he continued his debate with Fleischer, but curiously didn't invite Ari back to defend himself:
I didn`t catch something he said right at the end of his appearance just as I was thanking him for coming on. I didn`t hear it until I watched the 7:00 o`clock edition last night. But a lot of people caught it when it first aired and didn`t like it.
At issue was the following statement by Fleischer (video embedded below the fold along with full transcript):
I'm not sure I've ever witnessed a more disgraceful performance by a so-called journalist than what transpired on Wednesday's "Hardball."
In fact, from the moment MSNBC's Chris Matthews introduced his guest, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, the "Hardball" host went on the attack as if he was interviewing an enemy of the state.
Potentially most disgraceful - even beyond how rudely he treated a former member of the White House and a fellow American - was how Matthews made no pretense concerning his apparent affiliation and undying support for Barack Obama and the Party in power.
Viewers were given a clue early on when Matthews asked, "Doesn`t the economy that you left the country when your party left the country in our hands...?"
Yes, he really said "our hands." He also said, "Let me ask you about the financial crisis which we inherited." But that's just the beginning (video embedded below the fold along with full transcript, h/t NBer bigtimer):
Former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer appeared on the Thursday edition of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and stopped the program cold when he challenged the hosts as to whether they were "going after Democrat members of Congress for why they aren't distancing themselves from Keith Olbermann?" Co-anchors Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, who had been discussing the battle between the White House and Rush Limbaugh, were silent for a moment before Brzezinski admitted, "That was a good one. We're all thinking."
Fleischer pressed, "That's my point. It's a one-sided debate because, largely, the press loves it because the press doesn't like Rush." The quip occurred after Brzezinski attempted to trap Fleischer into saying that he would be following the tactics of attacking the radio host, were he in the same situation as the Obama White House. After Fleischer's jibe, Scarborough started sipping from his coffee and attempted to toss the potential network hot potato over to the show's other guest, Mike Barnicle. Scarborough joked, "I'm going to have a – I can't talk right now because I'm drinking. Mike?"A few seconds later, however, the token MSNBC conservative did admit, "No, that was good."
[Special thanks to MRC intern Mike Sargent for transcribing the segment.]
"1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" host David Shuster on Wednesday stepped up his attacks on Rush Limbaugh and suggested that if congressional Republicans "align themselves with Rush's statements about wanting the President to fail, they appear unpatriotic." For the second day in a row, Shuster berated a conservative guest about the radio talk show host. He repeatedly encouraged former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer to disagree with Limbaugh and complained, "And, Ari, first of all, when Rush says that all Republicans want the President to fail, Limbaugh's wrong, right?" [Audio available here.]
At one point, Shuster wondered why Republicans couldn't just denounce the "childish" comments by the radio host. He then seriously suggested that GOP members should say, "And we need to isolate Rush Limbaugh because we do have important issues to talk about." Later in the segment, the MSNBC anchor reiterated his assertion that Republicans might be unpatriotic. He challenged, "Ari, is it unpatriotic for somebody to say they hope the President fails?" After interrupting a responding Fleischer, he continued, "...Is it unpatriotic- since patriotism was such a crucial theme in the run-up to the Iraq war in the way the Bush White House defended it- is it unpatriotic to say that you hope the President fails?"
The Washington Post opinion pages on Sunday included a forum on how President Obama should conduct press conferences, complete with opinions from Helen Thomas, Sam Donaldson, and Dan Rather. Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush’s first press secretary, said he usually gave Bush a call list and a seating chart. But he suggested that sedate press conferences are in the best interest of the press, since they’re not pretty when they’re rowdy:
If President Obama wants to see the White House press corps hoist themselves on their own petards, he should grant them their wish. Instead of using a list to call on reporters at his next news conference, he should let them shout.
When trust in the media is dropping along with the number of people who read newspapers and watch the news, the last thing journalists should do is act like fools on national TV, seeing who has the loudest voice -- or the reddest dress -- with their hands raised, yelling "me, me, me, me."
After the firestorm that erupted Saturday over the Associated Press's classless story on the death of former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, I was hoping that the possibly-chastened wire service could get through its coverage of his funeral without getting in any gratuitous digs.
In that horrid Saturday story (blogged at NewsBusters and BizzyBlog), the AP's Douglass K. Daniel, with the assistance of longtime Bush basher Jennifer Loven, felt it necessary, within hours of Snow's passing, to characterize him as "not always (having) a command of the facts," questioning reporters' motives "as if he were starring in a TV show broadcast live from the West Wing," and turning his briefings into "personality-driven media event(s) short on facts and long on confrontation." In a further descent into tastelessness, they felt it necessary to tell us what Snow's salary at the White House was -- something I don't believe I have ever seen written in a story on anyone else's death. (11:00 a.m. update: See this comment below for an exception.)
Covering Snow's funeral Thursday, AP reporter Ben Feller stayed classy almost to the end. But then he apparently couldn't help himself, and followed the execrable example of his Saturday predecessors in his story's third-last paragraph.
Ari Fleischer today said he was a daily "human pinata" of the press corps. Here from the pages of Notable Quotables are some examples of how the liberal media obnoxiously questioned/assaulted Ari from 9/11 up to the first days of the Iraq War:
"Does the President believe that terrorists around the world get support, succor, funding in part because of Israeli policies of occupation, settlement, and reprisal and U.S. support for those policies? And as part of the campaign against terrorism, does the President believe those policies and U.S. support for them must change?" "But in understanding the phenomenon of terrorism in order to combat it, are Israel’s policies part of the problem?" "Have the events of September 11th brought more urgency or changed the U.S., the administration’s approach to the peace process in the Middle East?" -- ABC’s Terry Moran questions to White House spokesman Ari Fleischer at an October 5, 2001 briefing.
Perhaps as a method of self-defense, The Washington Post offered op-ed space in Sunday's paper to former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer to object to his deputy Scott McClellan's charge in his book that the White House press corps were "complicit enablers" of the Bush agenda. As a "human pinata" in Bush's first two years, Fleischer wrote, that wasn't true:
At the risk of agreeing with one of my toughest protagonists in the briefing room -- NBC's David Gregory -- the press was tough, plenty tough. I have the scars -- and the transcripts -- to prove it.
Less than five hours after the Sept. 11 attacks, as we flew on Air Force One, the traveling White House press corps asked me if the "president should be satisfied with the performance of the intelligence community." "Has he asked to find out where the gaps were," reporters demanded. "Is he concerned about the fact that this attack of this severity happened with no warnings?"
"Good Morning America" news anchor Chris Cuomo touted Bush-bashing author and former anti-terrorism official Richard Clarke on Thursday's "Good Morning America." Cuomo lauded Clarke's first book, "Against All Enemies," as "great." (In that book, Clarke slammed the White House for focusing too heavily on Iraq.) The GMA host also attempted to pass off the ex-government official's liberal comments as simple, non-partisan advice from an expert.
During the course of the segment, Clarke lamented the lack of action on global warming, Bush's failure to capture Osama bin Laden and the war in Iraq. A telling indicator of Cuomo's agreement with some of Clarke's liberal points was the way in which the anchor mangled the title of Clarke's new book, "Your Government Failed You." The ABC journalist misstated, "But this is 'Your Government Lied to You' -- failed you, rather."
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts, naturally, all led Wednesday night with Scott McClellan's attacks on the Bush White House, but CBS anchor Katie Couric inaccurately reported McClellan was “forced out” of his Press Secretary position “last year” (he left in early 2006) and, interviewing McClellan's predecessor Ari Fleischer, she tried to discredit White House defenders by demanding to know if they were reading from coordinated talking points. As if that's somehow improper.
Couric told Fleischer: “A lot of people seem to be saying, in response to this book, that 'this doesn't sound like' the Scott McClellan they knew. Let's take a listen.” Viewers then saw clips of Karl Rove (“This doesn't sound like Scott”), Dan Bartlett (“He's like a fundamentally different person than all of us knew”) and Trent Duffy (“The voice that comes out of this book is certainly not Scott McClellan's”). Couric insisted “it sounds as if you all are operating from the same play book,” before asking: “Did you get together and discuss how to respond to this?” Fleischer denied Couric's assumption: “No, I think that it's just that we all worked shoulder-to-shoulder with Scott for so long and we never heard Scott talk about manipulation, talk about propaganda.”
I haven't seen Chris Matthews this excited since a Barack Obama speech sent a certain sensation skyward.
The Hardball host is in an absolute frenzy over Scott McClellan's allegations. So much so that guests on this evening's show are having a hard time expressing themselves as Matthews expounds at length. Ari Fleischer finally called Chris on it. And while David Gregory didn't express his ire in words, his facial expression left little doubt as to his annoyance at being cut off in mid-sentence.
The screencap shows Gregory's grimace. But be sure to view the video here to get the full effect. A bit later, former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer appeared. He could be seen on many occasions attempting to speak, only to be submerged in a sea of ceaseless Matthews chatter. Talk at one point turned to VP Cheney's involvement in policy-making. Fleischer was again repeatedly frustrated in his attempts to talk, and finally had enough.
Before Scott McClellan was President Bush’s Press Secretary, there was Ari Fleischer, and when Fleischer left the White House he wrote his own book, “Taking Heat: The President, the Press, and My Years in the White House.” Unlike McClellan, Fleischer did not take pot shots at his former employer, but did include some telling examples of the liberal bias of press.
Perhaps not surprisingly, then, while McClellan’s yet-to-be-officially-published book has already become the liberal media’s favorite story of the day, a Nexis search shows that Fleischer’s memoir generated virtually no broadcast or cable news coverage, and no front-page coverage in the nation’s newspapers.
Indeed, TV coverage the week after Fleischer’s book was released was limited to just eight interviews, none given that much prominence: one on NBC’s Today (7:43am), one on CBS’s Early Show (last half-hour), one on MSNBC’s Scarborough Country, two on CNN (Lou Dobbs Tonight and Anderson Cooper 360) and three on FNC (Big Story, Special Report, and Hannity & Colmes).
CNN’s Anderson Cooper and "The Nation" editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel joined the attack on Bill Cunningham’s anti-Barack Obama comments at a rally for John McCain in Cincinnati, Ohio, comments that McCain himself repudiated. Cooper began his "Anderson Cooper 360" program on Tuesday by referring to Cunningham as a "talk show pit bull" and criticizing his use of Obama’s middle name. "Tonight: ugly words from a talk show pit bull about Barack Obama at a John McCain event, calling him a hack, using his middle name as a slander." Later, Cooper described Cunningham as a "a two-bit radio host." On Wednesday’s "Election Center" program on CNN, vanden Heuvel went even further than Cooper. "This talk radio guy is very unstable. He went from supporting McCain to Hillary and then Ralph Nader in one minute."