The evening newscasts of all three broadcast networks tonight reported on the unanimous decision in NLRB v. Noel Canning in which the U.S. Supreme Court found that President Obama overstepped his constitutional authority in making recess appointments when the U.S. Senate was technically in session. Rather than couching the ruling as a stunning rebuke of presidential overreach by Mr. Obama, however, coverage on CBS and NBC made it sound like an intrusion on presidential prerogative. ABC's Terry Moran described the ruling as the Court saying "no, no president has [the] power" to make recess appointments when the Senate declares itself to be in session (no matter how sparsely attended).
By contrast a search of Nexis transcripts reveals that on June 28, 2004, when the Supreme Court reached a 6-3 decision in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld -- a Fifth Amendment due process case regarding an American citizen captured in Afghanistan as an enemy combatant -- the network evening newscasts hailed the ruling as "a real blow to the Bush administration" (ABC's Charles Gibson), a ruling that "struck at the very core of the way President Bush has been conducting the war on terrorism" (ABC's Manuel Medrano), with "the justices... say[ing] the Bush administration cannot expect the courts to stay on the sidelines in the war on terror" (NBC's Pete Williams).
On Tuesday's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, during a segment about foreign policy challenges involving Russia and the turmoil in the Middle East, MSNBC.com Executive Editor Richard Wolffe oddly suggested that President Obama finds it to be a "satisfying challenge" because it is "intellectually rigorous" to deal with such substantial foreign policy problems.
He also not surprisingly took a jab at former President Bush, blaming him for the chaos in the Middle East, and asserted that "there's a lot of cleanup there."
Host O'Donnell wondered about what things are like inside the White House as he posed:
Appearing as a guest on Wednesday's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, MSNBC.com executive editor Richard Wolffe mocked former Vice President Dick Cheney for his recent criticism of President Obama, and inaccurately claimed that "there was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq" before Cheney "led the decision to invade Iraq."
After dismissing Cheney as being in his "last throes," Wolffe recalled: "Let's just revisit a little bit of history. Before Dick Cheney led the decision to invade Iraq, and led the disastrous occupation of Iraq, there was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq. He allowed Al-Qaeda to get a foothold in Iraq."
On Tuesday's New Day show, during an interview with Paul Wolfowitz, CNN's Chris Cuomo was confrontational toward the former Bush administration Deputy Defense Secretary as the New Day co-host complained about Republicans blaming President Obama's troop withdrawal for the chaos in Iraq, arguing that such talk undermines the President from dealing with the situation because there is not a "united front."
At one point, after Wolfowitz rhetorically asked if he and Cuomo should "sit here and tell Speaker Boehner to shut up," Cuomo shot back, "Yes," and soon complained, "It's hard for" President Obama "to be strong when he's getting attacked by his own."
And, while complaining that Republicans are undermining President Obama's handling of the crisis by blaming him, Cuomo himself tried to push blame onto President Bush, suggesting Bush administration members should express "contrition." Cuomo:
Paul Whitefield "is a 30-year veteran of the Los Angeles Times who is copy chief of the editorial pages and a writer/scold for the Opinion L.A. blog." He also has a serious but far from unique case of Bush (and Cheney) Derangement Syndrome and an extraordinary ignorance of the history of last decade's war in Iraq, which included a victory in 2008 the U.S. press, with rare exceptions, refused to recognize.
Clueless Paul, in a Thursday post, claimed that what has happened recently in Iraq proves (italics are his) that "the invasion ... in 2003 wasn’t a very good idea" Admitting that "I don’t know how these things keep sneaking up on us" (I can help you with that, Paul), he petulantly wrote: "Send Mr. (George W.) Bush and Mr. (Dick) Cheney over there and let them try to negotiate a solution," because "they’re the ones who created this mess in the first place." Well no, Paul. Excerpts from Whitefield's work, followed by a pointed riposte from a National Review op-ed, follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
On Friday's NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams strongly hinted that the recent Islamist blitzkrieg in Iraq was completely former President Bush's fault: "Make no mistake: what's happening in Iraq right now is a direct outgrowth of the U.S. decision to invade the country over a decade ago." However, he glossed over the Obama administration's failure to negotiate a continued U.S. presence and pulling out all American forces in late 2011 as a factor in the crisis.
Williams repeated his point to David Gregory: "How does the President sell any action at all to the component of the American people who feel...it's not our dance...even though...we broke it?" Gregory seconded his contention: "Right, that Pottery Barn rule: you broke it; you own it; you got to somehow fix it." Later, Stephanie Gosk did reference the troop pullout, but didn't mention President Obama by name: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
President Obama's West Point speech was panned by consensus as hard to follow, which was even acknowledged in media-elite salons like Washington Week on PBS. But on Wednesday's edition of The Diane Rehm Showon NPR, some journalists were trashing Bush instead.
After Katrina Vanden Heuvel of The Nation credited Obama for "always looking out for a younger generation" that's more peaceful, former Newsweek correspondent Michael Hirsh (now with National Journal) said the public isn't war-weary, but reasonable to support Obama after a "decade of disaster" under George W. Bush:
Julie Pace at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, is used to carrying water for the Obama administration. Last year, she proudly reveled in how she and her wire service sat on information it had about secret U.S.-Iran negotiations for eight months. My immediate take was that "They didn't report it until the Obama administration said it would be okay to report it." The AP denied it; unfortunately for the self-described "essential global news network," another news organization confirmed that it and AP "both had versions of it independently early & were asked to not publish til end of Iran talks." There's not a chance in Hades that the AP would have similarly accommodated a Republican or conservative administration.
After that heavy lifting, Pace surely found that giving readers the impression in a Friday report about President Barack Obama's sacking of Eric Shinseki that the problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs have more to do with its growing caseload than with incompetence and potential criminality was relatively easy.
During a live webcast on NBCNews.com immediately following Wednesday's 10 p.m. ET airing of his interview with Edward Snowden, Nightly News anchor Brian Williams wondered why the National Security Agency was not more receptive to Snowden's claims of unconstitutional spying: "Knowing that in war powers times...the Bush administration use of war powers with Bush and Cheney, isn't the general counsel at the NSA a little bit on guard for a perversion, as Snowden put it?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
That question was prompted by national security analyst Michael Leiter observing: "Imagine you're the general counsel at the National Security Agency and you get an email which says, 'Listen, I think that you're violating the law here, this is unconstitutional.' And the general counsel gets this note and he says, 'Well, gosh, the Congress has authorized this over and over, the FISA court says it's okay.'"
When George W. Bush was president, a week didn't go by when the press wasn't dismissing his intelligence and proclaiming his administration's incompetence. Over the weekend, President Obama made a surprise visit to the troops in Afghanistan. Someone on his staff demonstrated truly jaw-dropping incompetence by accidentally releasing to 6,000 journalists the name of the CIA station chief in Afghanistan as part of Obama’s welcoming delegation. That is a death sentence, not just for the agent but for all those around him.
Try to imagine the media firestorm this would have created had the transgression occurred during the W years. Remember the endless coverage, day after day, week after week, over the disclosure of Valerie Plame's name, a veritable D.C. paper-pusher by comparison? She became the poster child in a relentless campaign to undermine President Bush's foreign policy -- and the man himself.
New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro issued a gushing profile Sunday of Jeb Bush, former Republican governor of Florida, possible presidential contender, and, apparently, the smart Bush: "Jeb Bush Gives Party Something To Think About." By contrast, President George W. Bush, who "left Yale with gentleman’s C’s after four years" (shouldn't that at least be "graduated Yale"?) is a potential millstone around Jeb's neck.
There is much praise of Jeb Bush's voracious book reading and formidable intelligence, but a Barbaro tweet reveals a side agenda – denigrating GWB: "My deep dive into the intellectual life of Jeb Bush, who's definitely not his brother." (Barbaro has previously gone to silly extremes to denigrate Republican politicians.)
During the Pentagon Papers controversy over the release of Vietnam-related military and other documents in 1971, if a columnist had written that "the private companies that own newspapers, and their employees, should not have the final say over the release of government secrets, and a free pass to make them public with no legal consequences," and that "that decision must ultimately be made by the government," he or she would have been tagged in the press as a "(Richard) Nixon defender" and "an enemy of press freedom."
How ironic it thus is that Thursday, in his New York Times review of Glenn Greenwald's new book ("No Place to Hide"), current liberal Vanity Fair columnist and former CNN "Crossfire" host Michael Kinsley used that very language as he went after Greenwald, who has been NSA eavesdropping leaker Edward Snowden's go-between for the past year, with a vengeance. And yes, he did it at the Times, the very newspaper which was at the heart of the Pentagon Papers litigation that was ultimately decided in its favor.
During the Monday evening edition of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart accused the reporters at the Fox News Channel of having “hypocritical outrage and sanctimony” regarding the war in Iraq a decade ago compared to the situation in which four Americans were killed in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012.
It didn't take long for Greta van Susteren -- host of the weeknight On the Record program on Fox News – to tweet that even if his assertion regarding the Iraq conflict was correct, “2 wrongs don't make a right.” Meanwhile, Megyn Kelly said during an interview with Eric Kelsey of the Reuters news agency that Stewart had called her after the host of The Kelly File said on the air that he was being mean to her, and when he went “looking for absolution,” she didn't give him any.
Former CBS investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson had some harsh words to share about the Obama administration and its supporters while she was a guest on Monday morning's Fox & Friends program.
After viewing some clips from Sunday's edition of ABC's This Week With George Stephanopoulos in which conservative pundit Laura Ingraham and Democratic analyst David Plouffe clashed over the death of four Americans in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, Attkisson said she believes that a concerted effort is taking place to divert investigations into that deadly attack, an effort that is being orchestrated by people close to the White House. [See video below.]
The news that Barack Obama is "facing the worst poll numbers of his presidency" warranted a mere 18 seconds of attention from Good Morning America on Tuesday. This scant coverage is despite the fact that ABC conducted the poll in question (along with the Washington Post).
Reporter Amy Robach briefly explained, "And President Obama is returning to Washington today, facing the worst poll numbers of his presidency. His approval rating has dropped to 41 percent, mostly because of the economy." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] In contrast, when George W. Bush's approval rating dropped to 42 percent on March 7, 2006, GMA offered two segments. Co-host Robin Roberts trumpeted, "President Bush's job approval rating has sunk to a new career low." In another story, Roberts hyped, "We begin with the President's slumping poll numbers."
CNN's Chris Cuomo tried to get former Assistant Secretary of State Jamie Rubin to defend President Obama's response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine during a segment on Wednesday's New Day. Cuomo cited how Russian President Vladimir Putin "did this in Georgia.....under President Bush" in 2008, and wondered, "Is it fair to look at this situation and say, the weakness or perception of weakness of President Obama has given a window of opportunity to Putin?"
The anchor didn't identify Rubin as either a former Clinton administration official or as the husband of CNN personality Christiane Amanpour. Interestingly, the State Department veteran didn't give Cuomo the response he was looking for: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
MSNBC contributor Jimmy Williams blurred the lines of reality while arguing with Republican strategist Ron Christie on Sunday’s Weekends with Alex Witt. The two men were sparring over the desire among some Republicans to impeach Attorney General Eric Holder. [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Witt asked how Holder can work with Republicans when some of them are calling for his impeachment, and Christie responded with an example from the George W. Bush presidency:
On Friday night’s The Kelly File on the Fox News Channel, host Megyn Kelly took up the shoe-throwing incident with Hillary Clinton. “That was former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, dodging a shoe that was hurled at her during a keynote speech on Thursday. But this is not, of course, the first time that a political figure sadly has been targeted with flying footwear.”
She then showed the two shoes thrown at President Bush in Iraq, and brought on MRC president Brent Bozell to explain the disparity in media coverage. “And our next guest says the media's reaction to these two incidents could not be more different.” (Video below)
On Friday, all three network morning shows fretted over a woman throwing a shoe at Hillary Clinton during a speaking event in Las Vegas. NBC Today co-host Tamron Hall was particularly melodramatic: "I mean, but how scary is that?...Had it hit her, that would have been awful. It would have been awful." Weatherman Al Roker added: "Jeez, that's frightening." Hall declared: "It's hard for me to watch, actually." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The shoe was on the other foot in 2008, when an Iraqi journalist threw two shoes at then-President George W. Bush during a Baghdad press conference. At that time, ABC and CBS referred to the shoe-thrower as a "celebrity" and "folk hero" who "thrilled the Arab world." In 2009, then-MSNBC host David Shuster actually cheered the release of the footwear assailant from prison. Tamron Hall happened to be on the show at the time and observed that people would have been "more outraged" if someone threw a shoe at President Obama.
More than five years after the end of his term, George W. Bush still finds himself the target of attacks from the liberals at MSNBC. On Wednesday’s All In with Chris Hayes, the network found a new way to smear the former president – by criticizing his paintings. Fill-in host Ari Melber actually brought on an art critic, Jerry Saltz from New York magazine, to dissect some of President Bush’s paintings, now displayed in an exhibit at the George W. Bush Presidential Center. But Melber offered his own commentary as well. Remarking on the fact that Bush has painted several self-portraits and portraits of world leaders, Melber griped about what the ex-president has not painted:
“These are not pictures of people at Abu Ghraib or Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice. He's positioning himself, as you said, either at the most personal or at the diplomatic level with foreign leaders. We're not seeing any sort of focus on other worst parts of his legacy.” [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
David Letterman shocked the late night talk show world, last week, when he announced he was going to retire in 2015. But over the last few years Letterman had been losing the ratings war to his less liberal competitor Jay Leno. While Leno tried to be more even-handed in his jokes against Republicans and Democrats, Letterman took a decidedly leftist turn. A recent study of Letterman’s 2012 campaign jokes found he took more shots at Mitt Romney (44) than Barack Obama (9).
In the 2000’s Letterman throttled Republicans like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, questioning if they had any “humanity.” He also conducted his own personal war on GOP women as he called Michele Bachmann a “whacko” and depicted Sarah Palin and her daughter in “slutty” terms. But when it came to Obama, Letterman was positively awe-struck when the President came on his show, as he gushed “how satisfying it is to watch you work.” [Video compilation after the jump]
Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, The Washington Post’s David Ignatius did his best to shill for President Obama following the president’s interview with CBS anchorman Scott Pelley.
Speaking with moderator Bob Schieffer on Sunday, Ignatius opined, “It's crucial for statesmen to try to see the world as their adversaries see it” while urging President Obama to see the world through Vladimir Putin’s eyes. [See video below.]
According to a new report released on Wednesday by the Pew Research Center, the liberalMSNBC channel's prime-time audience fell 24 percent to 619,500 during the last calendar year, more than the Cable News Network -- which dropped 13 percent to a viewership of 543,000 – and the Fox News Channel, which lost 6 percent but still easily held onto first place with 1.75 million viewers.
As if that weren't bad enough, the “Lean Forward” network's revenue in 2013 lost 2 percent to total only $475 million. During the same period, CNN's income grew 2 percent to reach $1.11 billion, and the revenue for Fox News increased 5 percent to a tidy sum of $1.89 billion.
Introducing a story on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer touted the Washington Post publishing the resignation letter of Massachusetts kindergarten teacher Suzi Sluyter, who decided to quit her job after being "frustrated by what she says is too much emphasis on test scores and testing instead of the kids themselves." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed – amid clips of Sluyter reciting her letter on camera – correspondent Ron Mott declared: "A sobering assessment about standardized tests, how children are damaged by what she calls a broken system more focused on scoring them." He soon found who to blame: "When President George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind into law in 2002, supporters applauded the sweeping reform for holding schools and teachers accountable for student performance. But it wasn't long before complaints surfaced."
On Monday's New Day, CNN's John King refreshingly spotlighted one of President Obama's key campaign promises from 2008 about foreign policy during a discussion about how to respond to Russia's aggression in Crimea. King wondered if "a President who came to office saying he could unite the world and would have better international diplomacy than George W. Bush – at least on this one, doesn't have any good options."
The anchor was responding to a comment from Margaret Talev of Bloomberg News, who noted how "the White House doesn't really want to give a whole lot of military assistance here, and they don't think that...most of Europe is going to go along with significant sanctions." [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
Appearing on NBC's Late Night on Tuesday – aired early Wednesday morning – New Yorker editor and former Washington Post Moscow correspondent David Remnick defended Barack Obama's poor handling of the Ukrainian crisis by bashing George W. Bush: "I think President Obama was elected not to get into more wars....his predecessor, President Bush, foolishly, at the very best, got into a war in Iraq that was a disaster." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Remnick continued: "And by the way, it gives [Russian President Vladimir] Putin some justification [to invade Ukraine]. He says, 'Don't lecture me. Don't lecture me about invasion,' and so on. No matter how justified or not that may be, that's a point he goes out and makes in front of his own people."
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman went on PBS’s Charlie Rose show Monday night and defended President Obama’s soft foreign policy approach to the crisis in Ukraine. [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Of that approach, which so far has consisted of sanctions against 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials, Friedman said:
On Tuesday, all three broadcast network evening newscasts devoted full reports to President Obama honoring 24 members of the military – only three still living – with the Medal of Honor. CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley trumpeted how the President "righted a historic wrong. He presented the nation's highest military award to 24 Americans, after a review determined that they had been passed over because they were Hispanic or African-American or Jewish." [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
However, during the fifth year of former President George W. Bush's presidency, the Big Three channels furiously covered the allegations against several U.S. Marines, who were accused of killing civilians in Iraq in November 2005. Between May 17 and June 7, 2006 – a three week period – ABC, CBS, and NBC devoted three and a half hours of air time to the accusations of misconduct. These same networks aired only 52 minutes of reporting on 20 military heroes from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq during a five-year period between September 2001 and June 2006.
Longtime CBS reporter Bill Plante gave an interview to Steve Johnson at his hometown Chicago Tribune and discussed how we face a “state-run media” in recent years. It began under Bush, he suggested.
“He was neither as stupid or as disconnected as people thought, not at all. If he saw somebody leaking he didn't like it,” Plante said. “And this president doesn't like it any more than that.” He said it’s “just a lot harder” to get information now from squabbling camps inside the White House staff. So Plante made waves last year when he said Obama was undercutting the First Amendment and defining what the news was:
Viewers of ABC's morning and evening newscasts on Friday would have been left unaware of President Obama's gaffe of elementary proportions during a White House concert on Thursday evening. Both Good Morning America and World News omitted how the Democrat left out the first "E" in the title of Aretha Franklin's most famous song: "When Aretha first told us what R-S-P-E-C-T meant to her."
By contrast, the network's competitors at CBS and NBC covered the President's trip-up on their morning shows and evening news broadcasts. NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams even mentioned a infamous spelling flub by a former Republican vice president: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]