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.
Remember the media’s love affair with George W. Bush during his first term? Me neither. But PBS’s Tavis Smiley and Rolling Stone journalist and author Michael Hastings recall such a scenario. According to Hastings, the media loved President Bush from 2001 to 2005, just as they love President Obama now: “...if you look back at the first four years of the Bush administration, the media – same sort of dynamic. There was a lot of love for George W. Bush. Remember they hated Al Gore, and Bush was their favorite. And things didn’t really go south for Bush with the media until Katrina happened, and, you know, an unpopular war.”
Hastings concluded that media bias always favors the sitting president: “So the bias - the media bias is always towards power; it’s always towards whoever’s in the White House.” Smiley seconded that notion, saying, “I’m glad you said it, and I would have said it if you didn’t, which is that there is a bias toward power.” [See video after the jump. MP3 audio here]
CNN's Larry King provided more proof that his network does indeed "play favorites," contrary to the claim of their recent ad, by bringing on three liberals on his program on Monday to discuss WikiLeaks' latest document release. Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers infamy praised Julian Assange as a "truth-teller," while Michael Hastings of Rolling Stone defended the website.
Former Clinton administration official James Rubin joined Ellsberg and Hastings for a panel discussion during the first half hour of King's 9 pm Eastern hour program. The outgoing host turned to Ellsberg first and asked as his second question, "Knowing how you release things, what should not be reported?"
The Vietnam-era hero of the left referenced a more recent cause celebre of his ideological peers in his answer and mouthed their talking point on it:
NBC's Today show invited on the reporter, whose Rolling Stone article essentially got General Stanley McChrystal fired, on Thursday's show to complain that the Pentagon denied him an embed because the war in Afghanistan isn't going well. After Today co-anchor Meredith Vieira questioned Michael Hastings for his explanation as to why the Pentagon denied him an embed, Hastings concluded "This is a symptom of essentially the war, and how the war is going...The war has hit its all-time low." This caused Vieira, herself, to cry censorship, as she asked: "Do you think the military is trying to say to reporters,'We will stifle you, if you don't tell the story the way we want it told?'"
MEREDITH VIEIRA: So why do you think, ultimately, you lost this, this right to an embed? I mean, what do you think is going on? Is it the McChrystal article or is there something much bigger than that?
MICHAEL HASTINGS: I think it's, I think it's much bigger. This is not just about a Rolling Stone reporter being banned from an embed. This is a symptom of essentially the war, and how the war is going. June and July were the deadliest months that we've ever seen in the war in Afghanistan. The war has hit its all-time low in approval ratings, so clearly there's great concern in Washington about how the war is going, and the response to this embed. The response to me on this embed sort of indicates that. I think it's important to, to just let you know, with this helicopter story, these are stories that I'm very passionate about telling. And it is a great privilege to tell the story of the troops.
Lara Logan, CBS’s chief foreign affairs correspondent, took to CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday to accuse Michael Hastings, who was interviewed by Howard Kurtz in the preceding segment, of using subterfuge and Rolling Stone of pushing an agenda in their hit piece on General Stanley McChrystal, both of which unfairly tarnished McCrystal and will lead to more military wariness toward the journalists. Logan castigated Hastings:
The question is, really, is what General McChrystal and his aides are doing so egregious, that they deserved to end a career like McChrystal's? Michael Hastings has never served his country the way McChrystal has.
As for Hastings’ insistence he didn’t break any “off the record” ground rules, Logan declared: “Something doesn't add up here. I just -- I don't believe it.”
The subterfuge really infuriated Logan: “What I find is the most telling thing about what Michael Hastings said in your interview is that he talked about his manner as pretending to build an illusion of trust and, you know, he's laid out there what his game is. That is exactly the kind of damaging type of attitude that makes it difficult for reporters who are genuine about what they do....Clearly, you've got someone who is making friends with you, pretending to be sympathetic, pretending to be something that they're not...”
Geraldo Rivera on Friday excoriated Rolling Stone writer Michael Hastings actually comparing him to al Qaeda terrorists.
Discussing the article that effectively destroyed General Stanley McChrystal's career, Rivera told Fox News's Bill O'Reilly, "These guys, particularly the staffers who gave the most damning statements about the civilians in office, including the vice president of the United States, these guys had no idea that they were being interviewed by this guy."
Rivera then made a staggering analogy (video after the break with full transcript and commentary):
Two days before 9/11, two al Qaeda terrorists posing as journalists got up to Sheik Massoud, our most valuable ally in Afghanistan. They blew themselves and Sheik Massoud up, a tremendous setback. I maintain historically that the removal of General McCrystal at the hands of this freelance reporter for "Rolling Stone" has almost comparable strategic significance.
In the midst of this week's Gen. Stanley McChrystal controversy, a possibility concerning statements allegedly made by him and his staff has largely gone overlooked: might they have been speaking off the record when they were around Rolling Stone's Michael Hastings?
This certainly would explain some of the bizarre comments allegedly made by military members knowing full well how the chain of command works and that the President is clearly at the top.
With this in mind, the Washington Post explored this possibility in a front page piece Saturday entitled, "Gen. McChrystal Allies, Rolling Stone Disagree Over Article's Ground Rules":
While the media are attempting to grapple with the change in leadership of the Afghanistan war and what that all means, one thing that could be learned from this, which has been ignored, are valid criticisms of President Barack Obama and his ability to command the U.S. military.
Hastings was asked if McChrystal had perhaps gotten the whole strategy wrong, but Hastings explained it was the President that didn't know what he was really getting into.
"I think that ship had sailed last year," Hastings said. "I think once the decision was made to do a counterinsurgency strategy, they had a pretty clear idea in mind what they wanted to do and I think this is quite interesting. I think this is one of the issues Obama didn't really understand what counter-insurgency meant and when the military said they wanted to do a counterinsurgency strategy that that actually meant 150,000 troops. Obama thought he could get away with just sending 21,000 over and getting a new general."
Spreading the WordAs we reported earlier, former Newsweek reporter Michael Hastings drops one rhetorical bomb after another on the media in a new article for GQ magazine. All of them reinforcing what we already knew, best summarized by Hastings himself: the press's "objectivity is a fallacy."
It has been a horrendous year for the media's credibility, and Hastings's statements only make it worse. "If (it) sounds like I had some trouble being ‘objective,' I did. Objectivity is a fallacy. In campaign reporting more than any other kind of press coverage, reporters aren't just covering a story, they're a part of it-influencing outcomes, setting expectations, framing candidates-and despite what they tell themselves, it's impossible to both be a part of the action and report on it objectively."
Hastings is utterly derisive of both former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Senator and Presidential nominee John McCain, both of whom he covered during the Republican primary. He in fact dreamed repeatedly of doing Giuliani harm as some sort of warped civic duty.