Hard to believe, but Rachel Maddow once engaged in something resembling journalism in response to the attack in Benghazi.
It came on her MSNBC show only two days after the jihadist onslaught that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans last September, on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. Maddow described how security in Benghazi had deteriorated for months-- while she inadvertently damned the Obama administration for not providing adequate protection as conditions worsened.
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.]
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):
While the NBC and CBS morning shows on Friday both covered troubling Thursday testimony from outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that revealed President Obama's lack of engagement during the Benghazi terrorist attack, ABC's Good Morning America completely ignored the story. In addition, none of the networks mentioned the testimony on their Thursday evening newscasts.
Friday's CBS This Morning provided the most coverage, with a full report by correspondent Nancy Cordes, who explained: "Panetta revealed that he briefed the President at the start of the attack, but the two men did not speak again that night....Republicans say it's a sign that the President was disengaged the night of the attack. Panetta said his aides and the President's were in touch, but he said as well that he did not speak to Secretary Clinton the night of the attack either."
Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer made a scary statement Tuesday.
Appearing on Fox News's O'Reilly Factor, Krauthammer said, "China is developing a huge and sophisticated navy which it never had. And it is quite clear what the objective is: to expel the United States from its coastal waters in the Western Pacific where we have been the prevailing power for the last 50 years since the fall of Japan."
The big three networks have, thus far, shown little interest in investigating the nearly one million dollars in commuting costs spent by Barack Obama's Defense Secretary. According to the Washington Times, Leon Panetta's weekend flights home cost $32,000 and have totaled $860,000 as of early April.
Yet, ABC, NBC and CBS have skipped this subject, even as White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was pressed on it, Wednesday. Yet, on January 29, 2012, 60 Minutes profiled Panetta about his California farm. Journalist Scott Pelley puffed, "He and his brother planted these walnut trees sixty-five years ago with their father...Did you pick the walnuts?"
Jake Tapper of ABC News wrote a remarkable story last week revealing the players in the Obama administration’s internal debate on the contraception mandate.
According to Tapper, President Obama’s top advisers on the issue included Vice President Joe Biden, former White House Chief-of-Staff Bill Daley, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, former Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes, White House Senior Advisers Valerie Jarrett and Pete Rouse, former White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, two U.S. Senators – and Planned Parenthood Federation for America CEO Cecile Richards:
In a season in which there is very little "peace on Earth" and even less "good will towards men," it is a particularly tough time for Jews, who may be finding it more and more difficult to tell who their real friends are.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta fired an unusually harsh salvo across the Israelis bow. In a speech at a Brookings Institution forum, he urged Israel to get to the "d--n table" for peace talks. It must have escaped Panetta's notice that the Palestinians are the ones refusing to come to the "d--n table" unless their unacceptable demands are met. These include, depending on the day, the cessation of construction projects, even on pre-1967 Israeli land, the so-called "right of return" of "Palestinian refugees," a concession by Israel to re-draw its borders to 1967 lines -- though such borders would be completely indefensible against an inevitable attack -- and the re-division of Jerusalem, which Israel rightly sees as its capital. Meanwhile, the Palestinian side concedes almost nothing and fulfills none of its promises. Neither is it held accountable for its behavior.
Controversy ain't what it used to be, not at MSNBC.
The network's Rachel Maddow cited two odd examples of what she deems controversial on her show Thursday, in the first and only time both examples will ever be cited as controversial (video after page break) --
The killing of Osama bin Laden on Sunday has reignited the debate over so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding. Early reports (information is still coming out) indicate that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed released vital information about bin Laden's courier, who eventually led American intelligence forces to the compound where they both were killed. But it's not clear exactly which interrogation techniques led to that information, since it's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to separate out the different interrogation methods and claim that a single piece of informaiton was obtained through this method, but not that one.
Hence the blanket claim that waterboarding did not produce intelligence that led to bin Laden's death is simply un-provable, as CIA Director Leon Panetta, recently tapped by Obama for Secretary of Defense, illustrated in this exchange with Brian Williams:
The New York Times's lead story Sunday was on a C.I.A. program allegedly concealed from Congress by Dick Cheney, and abruptly ended by new C.I.A. director Leon Panetta when he learned of it. The headline to intelligence reporter Scott Shane's story huffed: "Cheney Is Linked To Concealment Of C.I.A. Project." Democrats are of course calling for an investigation.
The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agency's director, Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday.
Sounds serious, yes? But the program that the conniving Cheney hid from Congress turns out to have been not much of a secret after all, as demonstrated but not acknowledged in Tuesday's follow-up story by Shane and Mark Mazzetti: "After 9-11, C.I.A. Had Plan To Kill Al Qaeda's Leaders." (Well, one would hope so!)
There was a tell-tale moment during Ed Schultz's repugnant rant on today's Morning Joe. In the course of alleging that Dick Cheney wants Americans to die in a terrorist attack, Schultz boasted: "I got a lot of support when I said that on the Ed program, I got a lot of support overnight when I said it again." [H/t reader Melody and Mitchell Blatt.]
Translation: the ratings-starved Schultz will say pretty much anything if it garners him a few more eyeballs on the paranoid-lefty fringe.
On World News Sunday, ABC News anchor David Muir read a brief story relaying to viewers an attack on former Vice President Cheney by CIA Director Leon Panetta which appeared in the New Yorker magazine. In the interview, Panetta suggested that Cheney may desire to see terrorists hit America again for his own benefit. Muir recounted:
During her screed last night about Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., MSNBC's Rachel Maddow made an unintentionally revealing comment --
Accountability -- every one of us who lived through the Bush administration has a measure of it as an American. Those of us who lived through it as Americans who were also members of the United States Senate, we have a big measure of it to contend with.
Yes, mon ami -- "we."
Last I checked, Maddow fulminates at MSNBC and Air America Radio but has not been elected nor appointed to the US Senate. Then again, Maddow is not a duly designated spokeswoman for the incoming Obama administration either, but this doesn't prevent her from acting as such.
President-elect Barack Obama is bringing back yet another Clinton retread. While many question former Clinton White House chief of staff Leon Panetta as the best choice to head up the CIA, due to his lack of experience in the world of intelligence, the Washington Post's David Ignatius has nothing but praise for Obama's pick.(my emphasis throughout:)
Here's the message, according to Obama's advisers: Panetta is a Washington heavyweight with the political clout to protect the agency and help it rebuild after a traumatic eight years under George Bush, when it became a kind of national pincushion.
"Leon is not going to preside over the demise of the CIA," explains one member of the Obama transition team. "The CIA needs to have someone who can represent them well."
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith talked to Michael Crowley, editor of the liberal magazine The New Republic, about some of Obama’s recent appointments, including former Clinton chief of staff, Leon Panetta, for CIA director: "Dianne Feinstein, had her, you know, was -- her feathers were ruffled to say the least. Is this just the way of the Senate saying you've got to go through us first? Or is there real opposition to Leon Panetta?"
Crowley explained that their was some "real opposition" to Panetta: "Now, a little bit controversial here...some people are concerned that Panetta does not have an intelligence background. Has never worked at the agency, never had a national security-specific job." However, Crowley quickly added: "Other people say he is a competent, tough, good organizer, and someone Obama trusts. So, looks like he's going to have a smooth confirmation after a little bit of initial complaints." Smith agreed and remarked: "Somebody who can connect the dots, maybe. That's the most important thing."
To paraphrase Forrest Gump, "inexperienced is as inexperienced does." At least that is what comes to my mind when hearing that Barack Obama has picked the inoffensive, completely inexperienced and unqualified Leon Panetta to be the new director of the CIA. Really. Leon Panetta? The onetime director of the Office of Management and Budget Panetta, that Leon Panetta? This old Clinton partisan has absolutely no experience whatsoever with intelligence gathering or the administration of the same. None. Zip. Nada.
Now, if George W. Bush had picked such an inexperienced man for any government position much less one at cabinet level, the media would have crucified him -- in fact, it did if you recount the Harriet Meyers for SCOTUS debacle. So, in "Obama's intel picks short on direct experience" does the Associated Press scoff at the pick? Do they lambast Obama for picking such a completely unqualified man for CIA in a day when we are besieged on all sides by enemies from whom our ability to gather intelligence is a major weapon of protection? Do they decry this pick of a man with not even the tiniest amount of experience for one of the most delicate and important positions of the day?
Barack Obama nominates someone to head the CIA whose major qualification is his inexperience. Even Democrats are dismayed. John Travolta's son, sadly, died. So in its crucial first half-hour this morning, the Early Show naturally devotes almost five minutes to the Travolta story while ignoring the controversy surrounding Leon Panetta's appointment. Far from revealing that even senior Dems like Senators Feinstein and Rockefeller have signalled their displeasure over the naming of Panetta, CBS' Chip Reid painted the pick as a sign of how Obama is briskly taking charge. Here was the sum total of the Early Show's discussion of the matter:
CHIP REID: He may not be Commander-in-Chief just yet. But Mr. Obama is wasting no time, on Monday picking former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta to head the CIA, and retired Admiral Dennis Blair to be director of national intelligence.