Establishment press outfits have an annoying and in my view fundamentally deceptive tendency to make the content of news reports disappear once they have been "updated" with new information. The Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, is one of this technique's most egregious practitioners.
There's really no good reason for this practice. Storage is cheap. But far more important, so is leaving tracks for the sake of the historical record. In the past 48 hours, AP has virtually deep-sixed a particularly damning incident involving Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as he crowed in front of U.S. troops about Bowe Bergdahl's release.
CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose scored an exclusive interview with Chuck Hagel on Friday. But rather than grill the Secretary of Defense on the latest details of the Veterans Affairs scandal, the journalist repeated talking points and wondered about whether it was "premature" for a top Obama official to resign.
Rose began by noting that there is "quite a concern" over the growing controversy and that some "argue that we need to know the facts." Talking to Hagel, the host then wondered, "Some in your party are calling for the head of the Veterans Affairs department to resign, General Shinseki. Is it 'Premature' to ask for his resignation?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
The plan by Barack Obama's government to "dramatically" shrink the size of the Army to its lowest level since World War II warranted a scant one minute and 56 seconds of total coverage on Monday's morning shows. Yet, CBS, NBC and ABC devoted 19 and a half minutes to such topics as TV shows, makeup and viral videos. [See video of ABC's coverage below. MP3 audio here.] None of the networks mentioned the President, shifting the responsibility solely to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
The Today show allowed the least amount of coverage, a mere 21 seconds. This despite the program's four hour running time. Natalie Morales revealed, "Under the plan, the Army would shrink to its smallest force since the World War II build-up." She asserted that "the proposal is likely to face fierce opposition on Capitol Hill." If that's true, why devote less than 30 seconds and allow no debate? Instead, the Today anchors spent almost nine minutes on the subject of makeup and body image.
Seven words I never thought I'd say -- keep up the good work, Michael Moore.
What prompted this was a tweet from the leftist filmmaker after Secretary of State John Kerry's appearance last night on MSNBC's "All In with Chris Hayes" during which Kerry described why military action against the Assad regime in Syria is justified. (Video after the jump)
The liberal media’s effort to demonize Sen. Ted Cruz continues. On last Friday’s episode of PBS’s Inside Washington, the mostly left-leaning panel of journalists piled on the criticism of the junior senator from Texas. The attacks were focused on Cruz’s questioning of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel during Hagel’s confirmation battle. Moderator Gordon Peterson presented the topic like this: “The Tea Party activists love this guy for being so aggressive. I’m wondering how this aggression so early in his career plays on in the Senate.”
But according to panelist Evan Thomas, a Politico contributor, Cruz is not merely aggressive; he is dangerous: “You need to watch this guy, because there are a lot of demagogues out there, but not that many who are that smart. He is really, really smart, and that makes him potentially dangerous.” [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Reporting on former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel's nomination to serve Obama as secretary of defense, the New York Times' Jeremy Peterstried to imply as he has before that the Republican move to filibuster Hagel, who bombed in hearings, was both uncollegial and unprecedented.
But Peters had to stretch in his Tuesday piece, limiting his examples to the narrow fact that Hagel is the first secretary of defense nominee to be threatened with a filibuster (ignoring the many other Republican nominees filibustered by Democrats, as well as the Democrats' outright rejection of Republican nominee John Tower in 1989).
On her 1 p.m. et hour MSNBC show on Thursday, host Andrea Mitchell mounted her high horse in condemning Republican senators who questioned defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel about his connection to what turned out to be a fake organization: "Without even checking the factual basis for their questions....You can ask anything and create a sound bite, and then people pick it up in social media, and it's off and running." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
People in glass houses should not throw stones. Mitchell infamously aired a deceptively edited clip of Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential race that made him seem out of touch. In September of 2011, she took Republican House Speaker John Boehner wildly out of context and accused him of being "disrespectful" to President Obama.
Ten years ago, then-Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) held together a Democratic filibuster of President Bush's nomination of Miguel Estrada to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Tom Curry of NBCNews.com notes that Republicans tried to end debate and proceed to an up-or-down vote seven times before eventually giving up. Frustrated with Daschle's obstructionism, President Bush called for filibuster reform, which Daschle dismissed out of hand, insisting,"The Senate is always going to be the Senate."
Fast forward to February 19, 2013. Appearing on MSNBC's The Cycle in part to promote his new book about the U.S. Senate, co-host Krystal Ball dutifully read back to Daschle a line from his new tome about the filibuster being abused. At no point, however, did Ball or anyone else on the panel, including token conservative S.E. Cupp, point out the Center for American Progress fellow’s hypocrisy.
NBC continues to lead the way in belittling any and all Republican attempts to stand up to President Obama. On Sunday’s Today, David Gregory rehashed the common left-wing talking point that Republicans are opposing Obama at every turn merely for the sake of being obstructionist.
Commenting on Republican opposition to the Chuck Hagel nomination, Gregory said, “There’s no question that this looks to be similar to what people are criticizing Republicans for doing on the economy or on spending, on these various battles they’ve had over the debt, which is just trying to jam the president up.” [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff had a rough night on Friday, putting her outrage at Republicans ahead of the facts. In her "Shields and Brooks" segment with liberal Mark Shields and former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson (subbing for David Brooks), she guessed "The Republicans, I gather, we're told, it is unprecedented, blocking the nomination -- or the confirmation so far of the man President Obama wants to be his defense secretary."
Did Woodruff completely forget Sen. John Tower's nomination for defense secretary, voted down by Democrats in 1989? The name never came up. Hagel's confirmation is only delayed, not defeated. But Woodruff expressed the need for GOP suffering: "Does somebody pay the price, though, for all this?" Naturally, the liberal expert agreed:
Newt Gingrich had a fabulous exchange with the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus on ABC's This Week Sunday that really speaks volumes about the media's reaction to Republican Senators filibustering Chuck Hagel's confirmation as Defense Secretary.
When Marcus spouted the typical liberal commentator line "Republicans just want to make themselves look even more obstructionist with a country that’s frustrated with that," Gingrich struck back saying, "This is just such Washington nonsense" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
The Republican filibuster of Chuck Hagel for defense secretary is utterly unprecedented, claims an insistent Rachel Maddow -- providing that you ignore previous examples of filibusters aimed at cabinet nominees.
On her MSNBC show last night, Maddow described GOP use of the filibuster to block Hagel's nomination as seismic in significance and astronomically rare in frequency. Not surprisingly, Maddow got it wrong as she's inclined to do. (video and audio clips after page break)
Following the failure of former Senator Chuck Hagel to receive enough votes in the Senate on Thursday to be confirmed as defense secretary, NBC, ABC, and CBS all immediately turned their ire on Republicans for daring to object to President Obama's appointment.
On Friday's NBC Today, news reader Natalie Morales fretted over the "partisan standoff." In the report that followed, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd mentioned Republican reasons for blocking the nomination, but brushed them aside as he concluded: "Ultimately, Hagel's issues with his former GOP colleagues are personal."
On today’s Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough repeated the fib that our country is currently operating without a secretary of defense. After playing a clip of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) explaining the Republican ill will toward nominee Chuck Hagel, Scarborough unleashed his venom:
You know... for the 66,000 troops currently serving in Afghanistan and for the families all across America this morning, I'm sure they're glad to know that we don't have a secretary of defense in place and we're not going to because of a seven-year-old political grudge. [Video after the break. MP3 audio here.]
The same network that wondered if Sen. Rubio's sip of water was a "big deal" is now asking just why Republicans are "so fixated on Benghazi" when they asked Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel about the Libya fiasco.
"This, despite testimony on Benghazi from General Petraeus, Hillary Clinton, Admiral Mike Mullen, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, General Martin Dempsey, among others. But it's not enough," an obviously flustered Carol Costello huffed. The CNN headline later flashed, "Why are Republicans so fixated on Benghazi?" [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer didn't have much sympathy for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) claim that Thursday's failed cloture vote on the Chuck Hagel Defense Secretary nomination "is one of the saddest spectacles I have witnessed in my 27 years in the Senate."
Appearing on Fox News's Special Report, Krauthammer said, "Perhaps he needs an antidepressant. I'd be happy to give him one."
For daring to oppose Chuck Hagel's nomination to be Secretary of Defense, Chris Matthews on Thursday snarled that Ted Cruz is the new Joe McCarthy. Comparing the Republican senator from Texas to liberalism's highest villain, Matthews ranted, "You know, I don't often say it, and I rarely say it, but there was echoes of Joe McCarthy there. Really strong echoes." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
The Hardball anchor came to this conclusion after playing a clip of Cruz pointing out that the "government of Iran [is] formally and publicly praising" Hagel's nomination. Matthews's guest, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, unsurprisingly agreed: "It was absolutely McCarthy-like!" Matthews's claim that he "rarely" compares people to McCarthy is just wrong. He's done it a number of times.
MSNBC's Martin Bashir made a bit of a fool of himself Thursday surprisingly with the assistance of NBC News's Kelly O'Donnell.
When Bashir claimed the just-ended failed cloture vote on Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary was "an example of the fractures in the Republican Party because at the beginning of the day we didn't think that Harry Reid would get any Republican votes," O'Donnell responded, "Actually, not a surprise, not a surprise" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
From the day President Obama nominated him, the New York Times has oozed sympathy for the plight of Chuck Hagel, Obama's nominee for secretary of Defense. Times reporters have warned darkly of the disappearance of congressional "comity" and "courtesy" (as if the clubbiness and glad-handing endemic to the U.S. Senate represents some shining exemplar of good government) among Republicans, who dare suggest Hagel came off grossly uninformed and confused on foreign policy issues in his congressional hearings.
Updated below page break: Politico covers for Reid with an update to their story | Responding to a NewsBusters.org telephone inquiry, a senior Defense Department official reacted to the claim made earlier today by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that at noon today the office of Secretary of Defense would be vacant.
Panetta would remain on the job until such time as his successor was both "confirmed and sworn in," noted the source. This directly contradicts the claim made earlier today on the Senate floor by the Nevada Democrat as he complained about a possible Republican filibuster of the nomination. Reported Politico at 10:35 a.m. EST (emphasis mine):
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) vowed Sunday to block the cabinet confirmations of John Brennan and Chuck Hagel if he doesn't get full disclosure from the White House concerning the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last year.
Appearing on CBS's Face the Nation, Graham said, "No confirmation without information."
Complaining about Senate Republicans being dissatisfied with former senator Chuck Hagel's refusal to turn over information related to speeches he delivered that were financed by foreign sources, MSNBC's Tamron Hall this afternoon took a conservative blogger out of context to suggest that even conservatives were frustrated with how the Senate GOP -- which, by the way, is the minority party in the Senate and lacks the votes to thwart a Hagel confirmation -- was handling the confirmation process.
In a February 8 NewsNation segment entitled "Hagel Holdup," Hall lamented that Republican "senators are also demanding that Hagel give them copies of every speech he's made in the past five years. It's a process Washington Post conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin says, quote, 'could be the most inept and disorganized confirmation effort in recent memory.'" While Rubin did write that Friday morning, the Post blogger was referring to the Obama administration and Mr. Hagel, not Republicans. From "A critical weekend for the Hagel nomination" (video follows page break; MP3 audio here):
The Senate's "advice and consent" role doesn't require it to rubber-stamp a presidential appointee for secretary of defense who senators believe would weaken America in this increasingly dangerous world.
Notwithstanding former Sen. Chuck Hagel's diminished view of the post — "I won't be in a policymaking position" — the secretary of defense is an exceedingly important position and must be filled with someone who understands the complexity and gravity of the threats we face.
Surprised they didn't opt for the auto da fe analogy . . .
On Chris Hayes's MSNBC show this morning, Ali Gharib, editor of the "Open Zion" blog at the Daily Beast, described the questioning of Chuck Hagel at his Senate confirmation hearing as "a Republican purge" and a "Maoist public shaming." Michael Hastings of the Rolling Stone begged to differ, finding it more reminiscent of "Stalin." View the video after the jump.
ABC on Thursday and Friday either downplayed or outright ignored the "bruising day" Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel endured in Washington. Friday's Good Morning America skipped the topic entirely, thus avoiding the tough questions by Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain. Nightline, which now airs after midnight, didn't get to the story until 1:05am.
Thursday's World News did cover the contentious hearings, but Diane Sawyer minimized Hagel's poor performance, which even liberal writer Peter Beinart mocked as "making Biden look rhetorically sure-footed." Sawyer solemnly opened the show: "...One man entered the arena. Chuck Hagel, the purple heart recipient from the Vietnam War, the former senator nominated to be Secretary of Defense. His former colleagues met him with a fuselage of critical questions..." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Former senator Chuck Hagel's shoddy performance at his confirmation hearing yesterday has not merely been panned by conservative outlets but also liberal ones. For example, in "What Happened to Hagel?", Daily Beast's Ali Gharib concluded that "a proud statesman" appeared "confused and unsure as he took body shots" from skeptical senators, all the while being unable to explain "some version—any version—of the sober views he's put forward over his years as a foreign policy thinker."John Judis of The New Republic complained that "[f]ormer Sen. Chuck Hagel didn’t acquit himself well.... He was equivocal, often unconvincing, and seemed taken aback by questions that had been swirling around the rightwing blogosphere for weeks."
But leave it to the Washington Post to dutifully carry the Obama administration's water. In his page A3 February 1 story, "Hagel sharply attacked at Senate hearing," Ernesto Londono took aim at the GOP for their "withering criticism" of Hagel. Londono conceded that "at times [Hagel] struggled" but insisted that he "nonetheless offered a full-throated endorsement of the United States' alliance with Israel, insisted he has never advocated for unilateral nuclear disarmament and called Iran an existential threat."
Sure, Chuck Hagel might have been a bumbling, stumbling mess at his confirmation hearing yesterday. But the real story was how awful were the Republicans who questioned him. That was the collective judgment of today's Morning Joe panel.
For example, so contemptuous was Joe Scarborough of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, that the Morning Joe host announced that he would not even mention him by name. "Clown show" was the panel's operative phrase for the Republican performance. Andrea Mitchell, Mika Brzezinski, Mike Barnicle et al. joined in the Republican roasting. View the video after the jump.
[UPDATED: Video added] MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Thursday assailed John McCain, slamming the "boiling hatred" aimed at Chuck Hagel, Barack Obama's Defense Secretary nominee. Matthews sneered, "Hatred, pure and simple, seeped from the mouths of John McCain and Lindsay Graham as they slashed away at war hero Hagel." (McCain is also a war hero. Graham is a veteran. Are those with military experience only allowed to speak out if they agree with Matthews?)
Most ridiculously, Matthews whined, "Whycan't politics be a matter of belief and honest disagreement, not hatred?" This coming from the man who has, more than once, compared his opponents to Nazis? This from a man whose show airs on a network that compared Rick Santorum to Stalin? The cable anchor ranted, "Badgering the witness is too nice a description of what went on today. The hawks swirled like buzzards sweeping down, pecking and pulling at the skin of a former colleague." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Former senator Chuck Hagel is a suave, energetic, spirited fellow. He is intelligent, and from his early youth apparently patriotic and undoubtedly courageous. He showed that in Vietnam. Hagel has been a Republican senator and an accomplished businessman. Now he is President Barack Obama's nominee for secretary of defense. Because he is President Obama's nominee for secretary of defense he is attracting dutiful scrutiny, and that is all to the good. This is not your ordinary presidency. In domestic policy and foreign policy President Obama is showing every indication of attempting to be an epochal president (with four million fewer votes for his second term than for his first).
That is to say, he poses a distinct break from Ronald Reagan's model of government and even from Franklin Roosevelt's. In the economy he seems to be resurrecting the welfare state on the model of France or perhaps Spain. In foreign policy he famously promises to "lead from behind," as illogical as that sounds. In both areas his exemplars are sure losers, but his party and his partisans seem not to have noticed.
I don't know about you, but when I want to know how William F. Buckley, Jr. would have felt about an issue, I always consult Arianna Huffington and Joe Scarborough. But seriously, who would you trust more to reflect how Buckley would have felt on an important issue of the day: the editors of the National Review--the magazine that WFB founded--or the combined wisdom of Huffington and Scarborough? In an editorial published before Hagel's nomination became official, the Editors at National Review wrote: "Chuck Hagel is a very poor choice for the next secretary of defense," concluding that he was "definitively not the man who should be the next secretary of defense."
But on today's Morning Joe, when Huffington asked "don't you think William F. Buckley would be endorsing Chuck Hagel now?", Scarborough responded with an emphatic "yes!" View the video after the jump.