For the second time in less than 24 hours I find myself wondering how an American television "news" network could have assembled such a collection of ignoramuses.
After MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell Monday evening claimed the Founding Fathers would have understood the need to raise the debt ceiling in order to protect the country's credit rating, Martin Bashir on Tuesday actually asked former Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo if he would have preferred President Obama's death over Osama bin Laden's (video follows with transcript and commentary):
What would you say was the best week in American history?
If you're a man named Chris Matthews who gets a thrill up his leg for Barack Obama, you would say the week in which Osama bin Laden was killed by a Navy SEAL team in Pakistan (video follows with transcript and commentary):
On Sunday's 60 Minutes, CBS's Steve Kroft failed to bring up key issues related to the killing of Osama bin Laden during an interview of President Obama, such as the enhanced interrogation of captured al Qaeda leaders which provided the first intelligence that ultimately lead to the Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan.
The journalist set the overall tone of his interview, which he conducted on Wednesday, by tossing a softball in his lead question to Obama: "Mr. President, was this the most satisfying week of your presidency?" After the chief executive gave his initial answer, Kroft followed up by asking, "Was the decision to launch this attack the most difficult decision that you've made as commander-in-chief?
The official White House account of Osama bin Laden's demise has seen more slapdash cosmetic surgery over the past week than your average "Real Housewives" reality-show star. President Obama's allies attribute the bungled "narrative" (their word, not mine) to the "Fog of War." But each passing day — and each new set of hapless revisions — shows that what really ails the administration is the Fog of Fog.
Errors happen. Miscommunications happen. Confusing the name of which of bin Laden's myriad sons died (Hamza, not Khalid), for example, is no biggie.
On NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, host David Gregory remained highly skeptical of the role enhanced interrogation tactics played in tracking down and killing Osama bin Laden: "Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times. And based on reporting this week in NBC News and outside, he never gave up the truth about the courier that led to bin Laden."
Gregory made the argument while speaking to a panel that included former CIA Director General Michael Hayden, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. In response to Gregory's assertions, Chertoff referred to political partisans debating the issue: "...there will be people who will never be persuaded one way or the other about this." Gregory argued: "But it's a question of whether it's knowable....Is it objectively knowable?"
While discussing what role President Bush and enhanced interrogations played in the death of Osama bin Laden, Fox News Sunday panelist Juan Williams referred to the terrorist's death as "murder."
Responding to conservative Paul Gigot, Williams dismissed, "But to somehow say it's because we were engaged in enhanced interrogation, and that led- and it's a very uncertain path that it leads directly to the murder of Osama bin Laden- it seems to me petty, and it seems to me an attempt to diminish President Obama's accomplishments."
Appearing on the May 06 edition of Hannity, Media Research Center President Brent Bozell indicted the media's coverage of Osama bin Laden's death, including comments made by "idiot" Joy Behar, co-host of The View.
The NewsBusters publisher derided journalists who have ignored George W. Bush's role in killing the terrorist: "But my God where were they when George Bush won us the war in Iraq? Why wouldn't they praise in him? And why can't they give him the most minimal praise? It is because of this man's techniques that they condemned all these years, because of those techniques that that man is dead today."
According to Behar, instead of inhanced interrogations on terrorists, it's possible "a six million dollar book deal would have worked just as well."
I in my innocence was, in the aftermath of SEAL Team Six's disruption of Osama bin Laden's bucolic life in posh Abbottabad, reading editorial comment by the great newspapers of this republic. As always, the Wall Street Journal was superb, pausing to congratulate President Barack Obama for "ordering a special forces mission rather than settling for another attack with drones or stand-off weapons from afar."
The Washington Post was, likewise, informative and appreciative of the president's prudent decision to let SEAL Team Six do its thing, skirting the laws of a sovereign nation and acting unilaterally to put a bullet hole in Osama's head.
There certainly has been a lot of interesting comments made by the Obama-loving media this week following last Sunday's successful raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan.
One of the most surprising came from the Washington Post's Bob Woodward who told "Meet the Press" host David Gregory, "Being holed up in that compound was smug. It was raising a middle finger to the United States and saying, 'Hey, look, we're hiding right under your nose'" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
For days, Bush hating media members have concocted a variety of mostly nefarious theories why former President George W. Bush opted not to join Barack Obama at Ground Zero Thursday.
The Washington Post's David Ignatius on this weekend's "Chris Matthews Show" claimed, "The reason that Bush didn’t go is the photograph of the two of them together would have locked the reelection of Barack Obama in 2012" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
I have to wonder if someone spiked that White House-brewed Kool Aid for MSNBC with hallucinogens.
Either that or the network's apologists suffer from pathological dishonesty.
How else to explain one of the most blatantly deceitful claims on MSNBC in memory, when Rachel Maddow on Wednesday dutifully cited the reasons why she agreed with Obama's decision against releasing photos of a deceased bin Laden.
After all, Maddow said, many Iraqis refused to believe that Saddam Hussein's sons were no longer alive after the US military released photos of them upon their deaths.
Not only that, Maddow argued, look at what happened after our military unveiled a photo of deceased terrorist Zarqawi (video after page break) --
"Let's Clear the Fog of War," suggested Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Timothy Egan in a recent blog post for the New York Times. Egan criticized the White House's decision to simply stop talking about what happened at the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed on Sunday night. "They owe us a complete story, an honesty story, one for the record," Egan wrote.
But in calling for truth, Egan, whether he realized it or not, perpetuated a falsehood concerning the Iraq war that those who opposed that war continue to invoke in support of the narrative that the war effort itself was premised on a falsehood.
Egan made his opposition to the effort in Iraq clear in labeling it "a disastrous and bankrupting war against a country that had nothing to do with the mass homicide on American soil." He went on to offer the tale of Pfc. Jessica Lynch as "emblematic of the whole phony campaign at the top. If the White House was willing to go to war on false pretenses, why shouldn’t low-level commanders follow suit on the ground?"
In a set of tweets a few minutes ago decrying the shooting of bin Laden, leftist filmmaker Michael Moore attacked the Obama administration for not capturing bin Laden and bringing him back alive for trial.
After comparing Confederate general Robert E. Lee and Confederate president Jefferson Davis to bin Laden, Moore groused, "I'm just saying, I want my America back."
He then added, "I dunno, maybe it never was. We are a nation founded on genocide and built on the backs of slaves."
Ever looking to criticize the American populace from his cardboard platform, filmmaker Michael Moore lashed out Thursday on CNN at supporters of Osama bin Laden's assassination. "We've lost something of our soul here in this country," he said of the mission to kill the al Qaeda leader rather than capture him and try him in court.
A guest on Piers Morgan Tonight, Moore contrasted the assassination with the post-World War II Nuremburg trials. He claimed that America then, unlike now, put itself above the level of its enemies by trying their leaders instead of simply executing them.
The liberal filmmaker ripped Americans' disregard for a trial and their support of an assassination. "The second you say that, you're saying that you hate being an American," he huffed. "You hate what we stand for, you hate what our constitution stands for....We should be standing up and saying 'listen, damn it, we're Americans. This is the way we do it. You commit a crime, we put you on trial.'"
Michael Moore and others on the far left have taken to moral preening over the killing of Osama bin Laden, finding it unseemly to celebrate the death of a man that killed 3,000 American citizens. (Of course, people would have cheered if Osama had been merely captured and not killed.) Friday's New York Times story by Benedict Carey validated that left-wing trend under the headline "Celebrating a Death: Ugly, Maybe, but Only Human."
Some Americans celebrated the killing of Osama bin Laden loudly, with chanting and frat-party revelry in the streets. Others were appalled -- not by the killing, but by the celebrations.
“It was appropriate to go after Bin Laden, just to try to cut the head off that serpent, but I don’t think it’s decent to celebrate a killing like that,” said George Horwitz, a retired meat cutter and Army veteran in Bynum, N.C.
Others were much more critical. “The worst kind of jingoistic hubris,” a University of Virginia student wrote in the college newspaper, The Cavalier Daily. In blogs and online forums, some people asked: Doesn’t taking revenge and glorying in it make us look just like the terrorists?
In report from Pakistan on Friday's NBC Today, news anchor and soon-to-be co-host Ann Curry offered this description of Osama bin Laden's widow, Amal al-Sada: "After more than 10 years of marriage, Amal was known to be devoted to him....and she was much like him: simple, pious, not interested in luxuries like his other four wives. And it appears she lived his life on the run." [Audio available here]
A sound bite was featured from terrorism expert Evan Kohlman, who like Curry, adopted a sympathetic tone toward the al-Qaeda leader's spouse: "She joined bin Laden and she traveled with him during one of the most difficult parts of his life, which when he was mostly on the run, traveling across Pakistan, Afghanistan with few luxuries. And yet, she stuck by him."
"If you listen very carefully, you can hear the sound of thousands of people in Washington, D.C., peeling egg off their faces," NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell quipped on the May 6 "Fox & Friends," referring to the naysayers who condemned enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding during the Bush administration.
Indeed, President Bush "is not getting the credit he deserves" for the finding and killing of Osama bin Laden.
It’s inevitable that the joy and national unity over the killing of that monster bin Laden would cool. Already we’re debating the journalistic and political ramifications. On Wednesday, President Obama told CBS he wouldn’t “spike the football” by releasing photos proving Osama is dead.
I agree with the President, as much as that pains my friend Sean Hannity and other conservatives (and non-conservatives like Juan Williams). Some argue that it will put to rest any conspiracy theories that this is but a hoax. No it won’t. Let’s go back to the American killing of Saddam Hussein’s sons Uday and Qusay in 2003. To deal with the paranoia and disbelief of Iraqis, the military allowed access to the bodies...after they did facial reconstructions to make the sons look more like they did before their faces were shot off. Guess what? None of that helped with many Iraqis, who continued to express skepticism. The failure of the Hussein sons to reappear (and now Osama) should be proof for the doubters, not so for fanatics. Before he had birthers; now we’ll have deathers.
MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell on Thursday had a highly-contentious interview with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
"The Last Word" host repeatedly interrupted his guest leading her to say after one such incident, "Lawrence, you have a bad habit with your guests. You never let them answer a question" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
A PBS viewer might be surprised that Tavis Smiley might recognize the killing of Osama bin Laden as a newsworthy event, since he believes Christians kill people in bombings every day in America. But on the day after the Osama mission succeeded, Smiley went straight to the radical left for the official PBS reaction. There's your tax dollars at work again, providing a megaphone for The Nation magazine and Pacifica Radio in the person of Jeremy Scahill, who brought the usual radical buzzkill. He described his mood as somber over the "idiotic" cheering that signals American "blood lust."
SMILEY: Does that mean that you had your stomach turned by all the cheering and jubilation outside the White House?
SCAHILL: Well, I think that quite frankly it’s idiotic to treat these kinds of international events like sporting events, like it’s the World Cup that we’re cheering for here. I think in a way it really is insulting to those who’ve lost loved ones in these wars and who lost loved ones on 9/11, to trivialize it by jumping up and down like that.
NPR's Ari Shapiro emphasized the possible political benefits for President Obama on Thursday's Morning Edition in the aftermath of the death of Osama bin Laden. Shapiro lined up sound bites from three pundits who touted the "big moment" for the "bold" President and how it amounted to a "fundamental shift in the way Americans perceive Mr. Obama."
Midway through his report, the correspondent introduced a clip from former Bill Clinton speechwriter Jeff Shesol: "He [Shesol] believes this week could mark a fundamental shift in the way Americans perceive Mr. Obama." The Clinton alum claimed that it would be "very hard after this moment to suggest that President Obama doesn't have the guts to make tough calls, to make bold and risky calls...and then to go ahead because he knows it to be the right thing to do."
As the headline proves, the Times has made itself quite comfortable with using the loaded word "torture" to describe broad interrogation methods like water-boarding and sleep deprivation that inflict temporary physical panic but not permanent damage.
The killing of Osama bin Laden provoked a host of reactions from Americans: celebration, triumph, relief, closure and renewed grief. One reaction, however, was both cynical and disturbing: crowing by the apologists and practitioners of torture that Bin Laden’s death vindicated their immoral and illegal behavior after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Not bad, it took her a mere 18 months to grasp this.
On her MSNBC show Monday night, the first time it ran after the death of bin Laden, Rachel Maddow cited several post-9/11 examples of terrorism targeting Americans in the US -- including the attack at Fort Hood in November 2009.
"Since Sept. 11, the story of terrorism targeting the United States itself has mostly, thankfully, been the story of thwarted attacks," Maddow said, such as the so-called shoe bomber and underwear bomber, a plot to detonate explosives in the New York City subway system, the failed bombing of Times Square, and the so-called Dallas bomber who targeted former president George W. Bush.
"And then there was the mass-casualty shooting at Fort Hood in Texas in 2009, carried out by Major Nidal Hasan," Maddow said.
Quite a contrast with how Maddow described the incident on her show Nov. 12, 2009, fully a week after the carnage (video after page break) --
President Bush received a short-term boost in a New York Times poll when Saddam Hussein was captured in December 2003, his job approval rating rising to 58% from 50%, while the assassination of Osama bin Laden similarly benefitted President Obama in yesterday's NYT/CBS poll, 57% to 46%. Yet it was Obama who got the warmer initial greeting on the New York Times's front page.
Support for President Obama rose sharply after the killing of Osama bin Laden, with a majority now approving of his overall job performance, as well as his handling of foreign policy, the war in Afghanistan and the threat of terrorism, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
The glow of national pride seemed to rise above partisan politics, as support for the president rose significantly among both Republicans and independents. In all, 57 percent said they now approved of the president’s job performance, up from 46 percent last month.
Anchoring NBC News special report coverage of President Obama visiting Ground Zero on Thursday, Meet the Press host David Gregory used the opportunity to take a shot at critics of the administration: "...this [killing bin Laden] was the ultimate leadership moment for a commander in chief who in some ways had not been tested on this order. Who had been the target of criticism from Republicans..."
Gregory noted how some of the President's critics "have said that he has not shown the kind of leadership necessary to demonstrate he was capable of protecting America," adding, "despite the continuity of this administration with the previous administration's fight against terrorism, whether it's detainee policy or the surge of forces in Afghanistan." Of course, President Obama certainly did not campaign on continuity with the Bush administration's national security policy, but begrudgingly adopted it out of necessity.
In Wednesday’s “Good Feeling Gone, In Congress, Anyway,“ New York Times reporters Jennifer Steinhauer and Carl Hulse suggested it was unseemly for Republicans to not accede to President Obama on domestic issues, after the killing of Osama bin Laden by Navy SEALS in Pakistan.
The article superficially appears to be an even-handed “pox on both houses“ story, but the text provided a tableaux of Democrats fuming over Republican actions or lack of same, as if Republicans had reacted to the unifying national moment of Obama’s capture with stubborn partisan obstruction. Two photo captions demonstrated Democrats seeing a "spirit of unity" dashed by the GOP:
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, complained about the “excessive regulation” of business.
Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, said he hoped a “spirit of unity” would prevail, but there was little sign of it Tuesday.
This morning on WMAL's "Morning Majority" program, former Clinton White House counsel Lanny Davis slammed liberals who were taking partisan pot-shots at former President George W. Bush in the wake of Osama bin Laden's killing on Sunday.
While Davis didn't name names, he made veiled references to MSNBC and its "Last Word" host Lawrence O'Donnell. O'Donnell, you may recall, bashed former President Bush on his Monday evening "Last Word" program, insisting that President Bush had dismissed bin Laden's capture or killing as unimportant to the war on terror as early as 2002.
But Bush's rhetoric downplaying bin Laden was strategic, not to be taken completely at face value Davis argued.
MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Wednesday mocked Rush Limbaugh's response to the killing of Osama bin Laden, deriding the conservative as a "walrus underwater." Matthews also made an odd grunting noise to back up this description.
After playing a clip of Limbaugh asserting that the media have played up Barack Obama's role in the action, the Hardball anchor berated, "You know, I don't even know what that is except just bitterness. I mean- [makes noise] Walrus underwater talking and what is he actually saying?"
Matthews introduced the segment by hitting Limbaugh as a "caricature" and a "cartoon."
According to the man ABC News relies on for religious analysis, it's impossible to say whether Osama bin Laden was "evil." Father Edward Beck, the network's religion correspondent, appeared with Bill O'Reilly on Tuesday and offered moral equivalence on the subject of the terrorist's death.
When the O'Reilly Factor anchor pressed Beck on whether bin Laden truly represented malevolence, Beck replied, "That's not for me to judge. His actions were certainly were evil."
O'Reilly pressed Beck on this point, prompting the ABC News analyst to assert, "No, I think that's up to God to ultimately decide who's evil."