ABC: Soldiers Are Terrorists Comment Reflects Kitchen Table Talk --5/25/2007
2. Using Corzine as Peg, CBS Scolds Bush for Not Wearing a Seatbelt
3. Olbermann Compares Dem Deal with Bush to Chamberlain with Hitler
4. NY Times Critic Loves Gore's 'Fiercely Argued' Anti-Bush Screed
5. Rather's CBS Producer Mapes a Speaker for Left-Wing Mag's Cruise
ABC's Dan Harris on Thursday's Good Morning America ludicrously contended that the shouting match on The View over Rosie O'Donnell's suggestion that U.S. soldiers in Iraq are the real "terrorists," reflects "a debate that is playing out over kitchen tables across the country." Really? Americans are having spirited discussions during supper over whether civilian deaths in Iraq makes U.S. soldiers terrorists? Citing the Wednesday fight between O'Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Harris maintained that "this is the latest example of how difficult it is to strike a balance between criticizing the war and supporting the troops." But O'Donnell had gone well beyond just criticizing the war when she posed the rhetorical question with a pretty clear implication about U.S. troops: "655,000 Iraqi civilians are dead. Who are the terrorists?" Co-host Robin Roberts had set up the Harris piece by suggesting O'Donnell is some kind of victim of a speech code as she insisted the O'Donnell-Hasselbeck feud is "sparking a larger debate about what we can and cannot say about the war."
[This item is based upon a Thursday posting, by Scott Whitlock, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Unlike CBS and NBC on Thursday morning, ABC's morning show attempted to draw a bigger meaning out of O'Donnell's assertions. The Early Show on CBS simply replayed the juiciest moments while anchors Julie Chen and Hannah Storm looked on and ate popcorn. Over on NBC, the Today show did much the same. However, co-host and former View alum Meredith Vieira made sure to mention that she is out of the loop and doesn't "get involved" in disputes between her former colleagues.
Thursday's CyberAlert recounted the heated exchange on the May 23 The View:
On Wednesday's The View, in widely highlighted confrontation, Elisabeth Hasselbeck stood up to Rosie O'Donnell's bullying as it got very personal between the two co-hosts, with finger-pointing and yelling, when O'Donnell condemned Hasselbeck for failing to defend her against reporting by cable channels that the week before O'Donnell had insinuated that U.S. soldiers in Iraq are the real "terrorists." O'Donnell repeatedly demanded: "Do you believe I think our troops are terrorists, Elisabeth?...Yes or no?" O'Donnell soon asserted: "You said nothing and that's cowardly." Hasselbeck retorted, "I'll tell you what's cowardly: Asking a rhetorical question that you never answer yourself."
For much more, and video:
On last Thursday's The View, Rosie equated the United States with terrorism, strongly implying U.S. soldiers have committed terrorist acts: "I just want to say something. 655,000 Iraqi civilians are dead. Who are the terrorists?" An appalled Elisabeth Hasselbeck demanded: "Wait, who are you calling terrorists now? Americans?" O'Donnell stood her ground: "I'm saying if you were in Iraq, and the other country, the United States, the richest in the world, invaded your country and killed 655,000 of your citizens, what would you call us?" Then on Monday's show, O'Donnell responded to the fallout from her moral equivalency rant as she claimed some cable news outlets "twisted" her words, and then got personal with token non-liberal Hasselbeck, calling her critics the "crappy shows" that "Elisabeth watches."
For the full rundown: www.mrc.org
Back to Thursday morning of this week, GMA co-host Robin Roberts began the May 24 segment by asserting that O'Donnell's over-the-top comments had larger implications:
Dan Harris began his piece: "You don't expect to see it on The View, do you? Robin, good morning. On some level, this may be a conflict between two people who have, shall we say, a tense personal relationship. But this is also a debate that is playing out over kitchen tables across the country. Here's the question, how far can you go in criticizing the war without insulting the troops?"
After showing several clips from Wednesday's shout-fest and the comedienne's comment's from the previous week that precipitated it, Harris explained how "this is the culmination of a fight that started last week on The View when Rosie O'Donnell said this:" Viewers then saw O'Donnell from May 17: "655,000 Iraqi civilians are dead. Who are the terrorists?" Harris observed: "Conservative critics said Rosie was calling U.S. troops terrorists...."
Following video of O'Donnell on Wednesday accusing Hasselbeck of acting "cowardly" for failing to defend her, Harris expounded on the larger meaning: "This is the latest example of how difficult it is to strike a balance between criticizing the war and supporting the troops."
Harris soon compared this situation to former on-air battles, such as William F. Buckley's famous 1968 verbal smack down of author Gore Vidal: "In every war, there's conflict between the hawks and the doves. Check out this Vietnam-era exchange between liberal Gore Vidal and conservative William Buckley."
As if President Bush needed any new actions for which to be criticized by the news media....In a Thursday CBS Evening News story on the federal government's Memorial Day weekend effort to get people to wear seatbelts, reporter Nancy Cordes maintained that President Bush "is taking heat" for not wearing a seatbelt while driving his pick-up truck at his Texas ranch. Cordes began with a new public service announcement (PSA) from New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine who was seriously injured in a high-speed auto accident ("I'm New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and I should be dead....I have to live with my mistake. You don't. Buckle up.") To watch the PSA: www.newjersey.gov
After showing how characters in television shows often don't wear a seatbelt, Cordes turned to Bush: "Corzine's not the only politician taking heat for his habits. The White House press corps wants to know why President Bush won't buckle up when he's tooling around his Texas compound." But she had to concede, as she led into a clip of White House Press Secretary Tony Snow: "It's not illegal. He's on private property, but still." As for "taking heat," that heat came in the very last question posed at Snow's May 22 briefing -- so hardly a priority for any journalist but those at CBS News.
The ABC and NBC evening newscasts managed to report on Corzine's PSA without using it as an opportunity to slap Bush.
From the end of the May 24 CBS Evening News story:
Nancy Cordes: "Corzine's not the only politician taking heat for his habits. The White House press corps wants to know why President Bush won't buckle up when he's tooling around his Texas compound. It's not illegal. He's on private property, but still."
On Wednesday's Countdown, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann attacked congressional Democrats for their "betrayal" of the voters for making a deal with President Bush on funding this "war of lies," and even found it insightful to compare their deal with Bush to the deal that Neville Chamberlain made with Adolf Hitler before World War II: "That's what this is for the Democrats, isn't it? Their 'Neville Chamberlain moment' before the Second World War. All that's missing is the landing at the airport, with the blinkered leader waving a piece of paper which he naively thought would guarantee 'peace in our time,' but which his opponent would ignore with deceit. The Democrats have merely streamlined the process. Their piece of paper already says Mr. Bush can ignore it with impunity."
Olbermann further charged that a "monomanical" President, and "the most selfish in our history," is "blackmailing his own people" as he holds American troops as "hostages" to get funding for the war, and accused Bush of "holding his breath and threatening to do so until innocent and patriotic Americans in harm's way are bled white." Video is available at RealClearPolitics.com: time-blog.com
Below is a complete transcript, checked against video of what aired, of Olbermann's "Special Comment" from the Wednesday, May 23 Countdown:
And lastly, as promised, a "Special Comment" about the Democrats' deal with President Bush to continue financing this unspeakable war in Iraq, and to do so on his terms. It is, in fact, a comment about betrayal. Few men or women elected in our history -- whether executive or legislative, state or national -- have been sent into office with a mandate more obvious, nor instructions more clear: Get us out of Iraq.
Yet after six months of preparation and execution, half a year gathering the strands of public support translating into action, the collective will of the nearly 70 percent of Americans who reject this War of Lies, the Democrats have managed only this: The Democratic leadership has surrendered to a president -- if not the worst president, then easily the most selfish, in our history -- who happily blackmails his own people, and uses his own military personnel as hostages to his asinine demand that the Democrats "give the troops their money."
The Democratic leadership has agreed to finance the deaths of Americans in a war that has only reduced the security of Americans. The Democratic leadership has given Mr. Bush all that he wanted, with the only caveat being, not merely meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government, but optional meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government. The Democratic leadership has, in sum, claimed a compromise with the Administration, in which the only things truly compromised, are the trust of the voters, the ethics of the Democrats, and the lives of our brave, and doomed, friends, and family, in Iraq.
You, the men and women elected with the simplest of directions -- "Stop the war" -- have traded your strength, your bargaining position, and the uniform support of those who elected you for a handful of magic beans. You may trot out every political cliché from the soft-soap, inside-the-beltway dictionary of boilerplate soundbites, about how this is the "beginning of the end" of Mr. Bush's "carte blanche" in Iraq, about how this is a "first step." Well, Senator Reid, the only end at its beginning is our collective hope that you and your colleagues would do what is right, what is essential, what you were each elected or re-elected to do. Because this "first step" is a step right off a cliff.
And this President. How shameful it would be to watch an adult hold his breath and threaten to continue to do so until he turned blue. But how horrifying it is to watch a President hold his breath and threaten to continue to do so until innocent and patriotic Americans in harm's way are bled white. You lead this country, sir? You claim to defend it? And yet when faced with the prospect of someone calling you on your stubbornness -- your stubbornness which has cost 3,431 Americans their lives and thousands more their limbs -- you, Mr. Bush, imply that if the Democrats don't give you the money and give it to you entirely on your terms, the troops in Iraq will be stranded, or forced to serve longer, or, what, have to throw bullets at the enemy with their bare hands. It is moronic. We have defunded wars before, sir, and this isn't even close to a true defunding. No harm has come to our troops.
How transcendentally, how historically, pathetic. Any other president from any other moment in a panorama of our history would have, at the outset of this tawdry game of political chicken, declared that no matter what the other political side did, he would insure personally -- first, last and always -- that the troops would not suffer. A President, Mr. Bush, uses the carte blanche he already has, not to manipulate an overlap of arriving and departing Brigades into a "second surge," but to say in unequivocal terms that if it takes every last dime of the monies already allocated, if it takes reneging on government contracts with Halliburton, he will make sure the troops are safe -- even if the only safety to be found is in getting them the hell out of there. Well, any true President would have done that, sir. You instead used our troops as political pawns, then blamed the Democrats when you did so.
Not that these Democrats, who had this country's support and sympathy up until 48 hours ago, have not earned all the blame they can carry home. "We seem to be very near the bleak choice between war and shame," Winston Churchill wrote to Lord Moyne in the days after the British signed the Munich accords with Germany in 1938. "My feeling is that we shall choose shame, and then have war thrown in a little later." That's what this is for the Democrats, isn't it? Their "Neville Chamberlain moment" before the Second World War. All that's missing is the landing at the airport, with the blinkered leader waving a piece of paper which he naively thought would guarantee "peace in our time," but which his opponent would ignore with deceit. The Democrats have merely streamlined the process. Their piece of paper already says Mr. Bush can ignore it with impunity.
And where are the Democratic presidential hopefuls this evening? See they not that to which the Senate and House leadership has blinded itself? Judging these candidates based on how they voted on the original Iraq authorization, or waiting for apologies for those votes, that is ancient history now. The Democratic nomination is likely to be decided tomorrow.
The talk of practical politics, the buying into of the President's dishonest construction "fund the troops or they will be in jeopardy," the promise of tougher action in September, is falling not on deaf ears, but rather falling on Americans who already told you what to do, and now perceive your ears as deaf, as closed to practical politics. Those who seek the Democratic nomination need to, for their own political futures and, with a thousand times more solemnity and importance, for the individual futures of our troops, denounce this betrayal, vote against it, and, if need be, unseat Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi if they continue down this path of guilty, fatal acquiescence to the tragically misguided will of a monomaniacal President.
For, ultimately, at this hour, the entire government has failed us. Mr. Reid, Mr. Hoyer, and the other Democrats have failed us. They negotiated away that which they did not own, but had only been entrusted by us to protect: our collective will as the citizens of this country, that this brazen war of lies be ended as rapidly and safely as possible. Mr. Bush and his government have failed us. They have behaved venomously and without dignity, of course. That is all at which Mr. Bush is gifted. We are the ones providing any element of surprise or shock here. With the exception of Senator Dodd and Senator Edwards, the Democratic presidential candidates have, so far at least, failed us. They must now speak, and make plain how they view what has been given away to Mr. Bush, and what is yet to be given away tomorrow, and in the thousand tomorrows to come.
Because for the next fourteen months, the Democratic nominating process, indeed the whole of our political discourse until further notice, has, with the stroke of a cursed pen, become about one thing, and one thing alone. The electorate figured this out six months ago. The President and the Republicans have not, doubtless will not. The Democrats will figure it out during the Memorial Day recess when they go home and many of those who elected them will politely suggest they stay there, and permanently. Because on the subject of Iraq, the people have been ahead of the media, ahead of the government, ahead of the politicians. For the last year, or two years, or maybe three.
Our politics is now about the answer to one briefly-worded question. Mr. Bush has failed. Mr. Warner has failed. Mr. Reid has failed. So who among us will stop this war, this war of lies? To he or she fall the figurative keys to the nation. To all the others, presidents and majority leaders and candidates and rank-and-file Congressmen and Senators of either party, there is only blame for this shameful and bipartisan betrayal. Good night and good luck.
END of Transcript
Liberal book critic Michiko Kakutani's review of the eco-activist (and former veep's) newest screed against Bush, The Assault on Reason, led Tuesday's Arts section in the New York Times. Kakutani contended Gore's new book is just as great as An Inconvenient Truth. She hailed it as "a fiercely argued brief about the current Bush White House that is grounded in copiously footnoted citations from newspaper articles, Congressional testimony and commission reports -- a brief that is as powerful in making its points about the implications of this administration's policies as the author's 2006 book, 'An Inconvenient Truth,' was in making its points about the fallout of global warming."
You can tell Kakutani liked the book because, as is her habit in such circumstances, instead of actually critiquing it, she simply pulled out chunks and strung them together into paragraphs. She wrote: "In 'The Assault on Reason' Al Gore excoriates George W. Bush, asserting that the President is 'out of touch with reality,' that his administration is so incompetent that it 'can't manage its own way out of a horse show,' that it ignored 'clear warnings' about the terrorist threat before 9/11 and that it has made Americans less safe by 'stirring up a hornets' nest in Iraq,' while using 'the language and politics of fear' to try to 'drive the public agenda without regard to the evidence, the facts or the public interest.'"
[This item is adopted from a posting, by Clay Waters, on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]
But don't think that Gore's book is some kind of hyper-partisan hit piece, like the kind those nasty neo-cons write. Back in January 2004, Kakutani described An End to Evil by conservative hawks David Frum and Richard Perle as having "all the subtlety of a pit bull on steroids...smug, shrill and deliberately provocative." See: www.timeswatch.org
Far from it: "And yet for all its sharply voiced opinions, 'The Assault on Reason' turns out to be less a partisan, election-cycle harangue than a fiercely argued brief about the current Bush White House that is grounded in copiously footnoted citations from newspaper articles, Congressional testimony and commission reports -- a brief that is as powerful in making its points about the implications of this administration's policies as the author's 2006 book, 'An Inconvenient Truth,' was in making its points about the fallout of global warming."
As good as "An Inconvenient Truth"? Truly a Times' stamp of approval.
For Kakutani's May 22 review: www.nytimes.com
Put aside for a minute the chuckles over a leftist magazine, dedicated to the poor of the earth and the worship of Mother Earth, holding a cruise for the rich on a big, polluting cruise ship. Guess who's coming to dinner on The Nation's Tenth Annual Seminar Cruise to Alaska? Mary Mapes, touted on the Nation Cruise Web site as the "Peabody Award Winning Former CBS News Producer." It should read: "Phony Document Specialist/Celebrated Smearer of Bush's National Guard Record."
For those who would protest this environmental violation, the Nation Cruise Web site also pleads its case that "The Nation has partnered with EcoLogic to reforest an area in Guatemala recently devastated by mudslides, planting enough trees to offset the carbon emissions produced by each Nation cruise passenger on this 7-day cruise." Of course, "the cost is $11 and is strictly optional." Imagine: the cruise could cost $8600 per person, but you can't spare the carbon offset change?
There's nothing on the Web site or in the print ad in The Nation magazine that suggests what topic Mapes will be speaking on. Let's hope it's not journalistic integrity.
The Nation's page for its July 28-August 4 cruise from Seattle: www.nationcruise.com
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Thursday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
There are other old major-media names on the speaker list. Robert Scheer, a long-time correspondent and columnist for the Los Angeles Times, is advertised. He may be best known to long-time MRC followers as the man who won our worst Quote of the Year in 1997 for lamenting conservative opposition to a Ted Kennedy-Orrin Hatch health plan for children: "The mood of the Republican congressional leadership is so ideologically obtuse as to doom even this modest first step down the path of responsibility. They would rather kill people than raise taxes."
Last year, one of the Nation Cruise speakers was Farai Chideya, who's served at Newsweek and ABC News, but now hosts National Public Radio's daily black-oriented News and Notes talk show. See: www.nationcruise.com
The ad in The Nation promotes the cruise with an odd religious theme (especially since the current issue also carries an American Atheists ad):
- Sunday: Dinner with Richard Dreyfuss
- Monday: Q&A with Ralph Nader and Liza Featherstone
- Tuesday: Ogling the Hubbard Glacier next to Mark Hertsgaard
- Wednesday Night: At the blackjack table with Victor Navasky
- Thursday: Cocktails with Katrina vanden Heuvel
- What's going on here? Did you die and go to heaven? Nope, you're on The Nation's Alaska Cruise!
-- Brent Baker