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CBS Again, and NBC Too Warn Alito Will Move SCOTUS "To the Right" --1/25/2006


1. CBS Again, and NBC Too Warn Alito Will Move SCOTUS "To the Right"
For the third time in fewer than two weeks, the CBS Evening News on Tuesday night made sure that viewers realize how the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito would move the court "to the right." (Neither the ABC or NBC evening newscasts have shown such concern for alerting viewers as to the ideological direction of the Supreme Court, though NBC's Today fretted about it Tuesday morning.) Anchor Bob Schieffer recalled how "the President promised during the election to move this court to the right. And from what we heard in these hearings, what we've already seen with Judge Roberts on the bench, it is moving to the right, isn't it?" Jan Crawford Greenburg of the Chicago Tribune agreed: "That's right" and so "that means this court is poised for an historic shift to right on those key social issues like abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, the death penalty, and perhaps even questions of presidential power." Last Wednesday (January 18), Schieffer proposed: "This court is moving to the right, isn't it?" Greenburg provided the same answer as she would six days later: "That's right." And six days before that, Greenburg said: "There's little question...he would move this court to the right..."

2. CBS Trumpets How Many Iraq Vets Coming Home to Run Against War
Monday's CBS Evening News trumpeted how, in the words of reporter Jim Axelrod, "never...have so many vets come home so soon to run against the war they were just fighting. Not even after Vietnam." Axelrod led with Ohio Senate candidate Paul Hackett, "a Democrat and a trial lawyer," so "it's no surprise Hackett is a big critic of the President, especially when it comes to the war." But though the CBS Evening News championed him when he ran unsuccessfully for a House seta last summer, Axelrod then pretended Hackett's background is a shock: "The surprise is that just ten months ago, candidate Paul Hackett was fighting in Fallujah as Marine Corps Major Paul Hackett." Axelrod marveled: "Hackett is in the first wave of post-9/11 veterans running for Congress. And of a dozen signed up so far, get this: ten of them are Democrats running against the war." After airing four soundbites from Hackett, Axelrod ran two from a pro-Iraq war Republican, but then concluded with the suggestion that who wins the elections "may tell us more than the polls about how Americans really feel about the war."

3. Assuming Eavesdropping Illegal, Couric Cites Terrorists' Lawyer
ABC's Charles Gibson and NBC's Katie Couric on Monday morning pounded away at White House counselor Dan Bartlett, hitting him repeatedly with only the view that the NSA eavesdropping is illegal, and quoting their favorite Republican, John McCain. Gibson seemed astonished by Bartlett's gall: "Are you going to try to make a political asset out of wiretapping Americans without a warrant?" Gibson told Bartlett that "independent experts say that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act prohibits such wiretaps without a warrant" and that "there are members of your own party, John McCain says he doesn't think you have the legal authority right now to do it." On Today, Couric touted how "the non-partisan Congressional Research Service concluded that the administration's limited briefings for Congress were quote, 'inconsistent with the law.'" Couric trumpeted the take of Jonathan Turley, though she failed to mention that Turley is currently part of the appeals team for convicted terrorist Ali al-Timimi who once cheered the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster: "Many people believe that the President broke the law. For example, law professor Jonathan Turley of GW told lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Friday quote, 'What the President ordered in this case was a crime.'"

4. Belafonte Says Bush "No Better" than Osama, Stands by Nazi Slam
In a tough interview conducted by CNN's Wolf Blitzer live on the 7pm EST hour of Monday's The Situation Room, and re-played during Tuesday's 5pm hour, radical-left singer Harry Belafonte stood by his recent declarations that President Bush is both "the greatest tyrant in the world" and the "the greatest terrorist in the world," as well as how the Department of Homeland Security is the "new Gestapo." Blitzer ridiculed Belafonte's ludicrous comparison: "But no one has taken you or anyone else, as far as I can tell, to an extermination camp and by the tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, even millions decided to kill them, which is what the Nazis did." Blitzer soon pressed: "Are you saying that President Bush is worse than Osama bin Laden?" Belafonte responded that "I'm saying that he's no better," and proceeded to reiterate how "I do believe" that Bush is "a terrorist. I do believe that what our government does has terror in the center of its agenda."


CBS Again, and NBC Too Warn Alito Will
Move SCOTUS "To the Right"

For the third time in fewer than two weeks, the CBS Evening News on Tuesday night made sure that viewers realize how the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito would move the court "to the right." (Neither the ABC or NBC evening newscasts have shown such concern for alerting viewers as to the ideological direction of the Supreme Court, though NBC's Today fretted about it Tuesday morning.) Anchor Bob Schieffer recalled how "the President promised during the election to move this court to the right. And from what we heard in these hearings, what we've already seen with Judge Roberts on the bench, it is moving to the right, isn't it?" Jan Crawford Greenburg of the Chicago Tribune agreed: "That's right" and so "that means this court is poised for an historic shift to right on those key social issues like abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, the death penalty, and perhaps even questions of presidential power."

Last Wednesday (January 18), Schieffer proposed to Greenburg: "This court is moving to the right, isn't it?" Greenburg provided the same answer as she would six days later: "That's right." She went on to point out how "President Bush said he was going to nominate conservatives like Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas." And six days before that, on Thursday, January 12, Schieffer cued up Greenburg with an open-ended version of the same question: "How is he [Alito] going to make the court different than Sandra Day O'Connor, who he is going to replace?" Greenburg replied: "There's little question, Bob, that he would move this court to the right..."

[This item is a modified version of a Tuesday night posting on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]

With on on-screen graphic of "The Right Stuff, Bush Shifts Supreme Court," Matt Lauer set up a Tuesday Today story: "On Close Up this morning, the right stuff. With the Senate Judiciary committee set to advance the Supreme Court nomination of Samuel Alito later today President Bush is one big step closer to putting his conservative imprint on the federal judiciary for decades to come." David Gregory cautioned: "Democrats lack the necessary votes to block the President's nominees and chose not to filibuster but some predict that if the High Court shifts to the right on issues like abortion Republicans will pay a price." Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore, warned: "When voters see the sharp shift to the right they will react negatively against that and I think Democrats will do better in elections in the future as a result of that reaction."

Lauer soon pressed guest Bill O'Reilly: "If he's confirmed and David touched on this in his piece a lot of people assume that he will immediately or sooner or later take the Court to the right. But some people say if that, if that happens the Republicans will pay a price in the next election. How do you feel about that?"

Back to the CBS Evening News' triad of concern:

# January 24 CBS Evening News, after story on Senate Judiciary Committee approving of Alito:
Bob Schieffer: "I'll tell you one thing, Jan, and I want to see what you think about this, the President promised during the election to move this court to the right. And from what we heard in these hearings, what we've already seen with Judge Roberts on the bench, it is moving to the right, isn't it?"
Jan Crawford Greenburg, in front of the Supreme Court: "Well, that's right. The White House is confident that new Chief Justice John Roberts and Sam Alito will be solid, principled conservatives and they won't drift to the left once they've been up here a while as many believe Sandra Day O'Connor did. That means this court is poised for an historic shift to right on those key social issues like abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, the death penalty, and perhaps even questions of presidential power."

# January 18 CBS Evening News after an abortion ruling with O'Connor in the majority:
Bob Schieffer: "Well, let's talk about that because this was probably Sandra Day O'Connor's last case. The new Chief Justice is now settled in. This court is moving to the right, isn't it?"
Jan Crawford Greenburg: "That's right. And President Bush said he was going to nominate conservatives like Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas. We've seen evidence of that this week. The new chief justice joined those two in supporting the Bush administration's efforts to ban physician-assisted suicide. Conservatives say they expect to see those three together a lot in the years to come, joined by Justice Sam Alito once he's confirmed to replace the moderate Sandra Day O'Connor."

# January 12 CBS Evening News, on the last day Alito appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee:
Bob Schieffer: "I want to call in our legal analyst, Jan Crawford Greenburg, of the Chicago Tribune now. She's at the Supreme Court tonight. She's been in the hearings all day. Jan, it appears that Judge Alito is going to be confirmed, if something doesn't go wrong here, but let me ask you, let's say that he is confirmed. How is he going to make the court different than Sandra Day O'Connor, who he is going to replace."
Jan Crawford Greenburg, at the Supreme Court: "Well, there's little question, Bob, that he would move this court to the right. Justice O'Connor provided the critical fifth vote with liberals on key social issues like abortion, religion, affirmative action, and the death penalty. Alito's record suggests he sees those issues differently, and would change the direction of the court."

CBS Trumpets How Many Iraq Vets Coming
Home to Run Against War

Monday's CBS Evening News trumpeted how, in the words of reporter Jim Axelrod, "never...have so many vets come home so soon to run against the war they were just fighting. Not even after Vietnam." Axelrod led with Ohio Senate candidate Paul Hackett, "a Democrat and a trial lawyer," so "it's no surprise Hackett is a big critic of the President, especially when it comes to the war." But though the CBS Evening News championed him when he ran unsuccessfully for a House seta last summer, Axelrod then pretended Hackett's background is a shock: "The surprise is that just ten months ago, candidate Paul Hackett was fighting in Fallujah as Marine Corps Major Paul Hackett." Axelrod marveled: "Hackett is in the first wave of post-9/11 veterans running for Congress. And of a dozen signed up so far, get this: ten of them are Democrats running against the war." After airing four soundbites from Hackett, Axelrod ran two from a pro-Iraq war Republican, but then concluded with the suggestion that who wins the elections "may tell us more than the polls about how Americans really feel about the war."

Last August, just a few days before the special election, CBS Evening News anchor Russ Mitchell had hyped how the contest "is shaping up as a referendum on Mr. Bush's Iraq policy" and reporter Drew Levinson touted Hackett as "a tough talker" who "goes as far as saying President Bush is a greater threat to U.S. security than Osama bin Laden." Yet when that referendum went the wrong way, and Hackett lost, CBS fell silent, not mentioning the outcome. See the August 4 and August 3 CyberAlerts: www.mediaresearch.org www.mediaresearch.org

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth checked the transcript against the video for the January 23 CBS Evening News story.

Anchor Bob Schieffer: "With the latest U.S. casualties in Iraq today, the number of American service men and women killed there now stands at 2,234. The wounded total well over 16,000. As veterans of the Iraq War come home, some are enlisting in a new battle, a political battle. Jim Axelrod has their story in tonight's 'Eye on America.'"

Jim Axelrod: "In Columbus, Ohio, the capital of America's red versus blue political divide, U.S. Senate candidate Paul Hackett is recruiting support."
Paul Hackett, Ohio Senate candidate: "I'm running for United States Senate in Ohio."
Axelrod: "A Democrat and a trial lawyer, it's no surprise Hackett is a big critic of the President, especially when it comes to the war."
Hackett, to Axelrod as two sit on a bus: "What's going on in Iraq is part of what's wrong with this administration, and it's part of the misdirection of our country."
Axelrod: "The surprise is that just 10 months ago, candidate Paul Hackett was fighting in Fallujah as Marine Corps Major Paul Hackett. No longer on active duty, he's still a reservist."
Hackett: "When I'm on active duty wearing the uniform, I don't criticize. But again, I didn't sign up to serve my country and fight for my country to be told what I can and can't say."
Axelrod, standing by the Vietnam and Korean War memorials in Washington, DC: "Hackett is in the first wave of post-9/11 veterans running for Congress. And of a dozen signed up so far, get this: 10 of them are Democrats running against the war. It is one of America's oldest political traditions. Veterans come home from war and run for office, but never, never, say the people who study these things, have so many vets come home so soon to run against the war they were just fighting. Not even after Vietnam."
Hackett: "I think probably what we all share is we share the belief that the military's being misused in Iraq."
Axelrod: "If Paul Hackett represents this fundamental change-"
Van Taylor, Texas congressional candidate: "I fought for you in Iraq. I'd like to go fight for you in Washington."
Axelrod: "-then Republican Van Taylor marches in the tradition of vets who run to support the commander-in-chief. Do you agree with the way the Bush administration is prosecuting the war on terror and the war in Iraq?"
Taylor: "I think that we're doing as, we're doing a phenomenal job in Iraq."
Axelrod: "Taylor also served in Iraq as an officer in the Marine Corps Reserve, but, running in the conservative Texas district that includes the President's ranch, it's no surprise that he doesn't share his fellow veterans' anti-war positions.
Axelrod to Taylor: "As a military guy, does something not sit right, though, with the troops turning around and criticizing the command, if you will?"
Taylor: "That's their choice. I know why I'm running, and I know what I believe in."
Axelrod: "So as the next campaign season approaches, seeing who wins these battles may tell us more than the polls about how Americans really feel about the war. In Columbus, Ohio, I'm Jim Axelrod for 'Eye on America.'"

Assuming Eavesdropping Illegal, Couric
Cites Terrorists' Lawyer

ABC's Charles Gibson and NBC's Katie Couric on Monday morning pounded away at White House counselor Dan Bartlett, hitting him repeatedly with only the view that the NSA eavesdropping is illegal, and quoting their favorite Republican, John McCain. Gibson seemed astonished by Bartlett's gall: "Are you going to try to make a political asset out of wiretapping Americans without a warrant?" Gibson told Bartlett that "independent experts say that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act prohibits such wiretaps without a warrant" and that "there are members of your own party, John McCain says he doesn't think you have the legal authority right now to do it." On Today, Couric touted how "the non-partisan Congressional Research Service concluded that the administration's limited briefings for Congress were quote, 'inconsistent with the law.'" Couric trumpeted the take of Jonathan Turley, though she failed to mention that Turley is currently part of the appeals team for convicted terrorist Ali al-Timimi who once cheered the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster: "Many people believe that the President broke the law. For example, law professor Jonathan Turley of GW told lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Friday quote, 'What the President ordered in this case was a crime.'"

The MRC's Geoff Dickens caught Couric's citation of Turley and posted a NewsBusters.org blog item about it, "Couric Cites Terrorist Lawyer's Claim of Bush's 'Crime.'" See: newsbusters.org

His posting linked to two stories. On MSNBC.com: "Defense in terror cases to challenge NSA spying; In at least three cases, lawyers will argue surveillance of clients was illegal." Go to: msnbc.msn.com

And, "Islamic leader 'overjoyed' by shuttle crash," a September Washington Times article: washingtontimes.com

Now, the questions posed to Bartlett, who appeared from the White House, on the January 23 morning shows, starting with GMA as taken down by the MRC's Brian Boyd:

# Charlie Gibson: "Dan, you usually come on the broadcast when you have an argument you want to make on behalf of the President. Are you going to try to make a political asset out of wiretapping Americans without a warrant?"
Dan Bartlett: "Well, Charlie, it would be our choice not to have to talk about this at all, but the fact of the matter because this was leaked to the New York Times and it's put out there in a way that is not necessarily descriptive of what exactly is going on. We thought it was very important that we aggressively explain to the American people what this terrorist surveillance program actually is and, just as importantly, what it is not...."
Gibson: "But even though the President said wiretaps would have warrants and even though most independent experts, not your Justice Department I understand, but independent experts say that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act prohibits such wiretaps without a warrant."
Bartlett: "Well, Charlie, the President was talking about a specific provision in the Patriot Act that talks about roving wiretaps and that has to do with domestic to domestic conversations. What this is, is a foreign surveillance program connected to people here...."
Gibson: "But there are members of your own party, John McCain says he doesn't think you have the legal authority right now to do it. And he said, 'Why didn't you come,' he said yesterday, 'Why didn't you come to the Congress and ask for it? We probably would have given it to you.'"


# NBC's Today, Couric to Bartlett: "The administration seems to be, as you well know Dan, pulling out all the stops to justify this eavesdropping program but that doesn't change the fact that many people believe that the President broke the law. For example, law professor Jonathan Turley of GW told lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Friday quote, 'What the President ordered in this case was a crime.' What's your reaction?"

Couric: "Well Dan apparently not everyone agrees with that. Last week a legal analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service concluded that the administration's limited briefings for Congress were quote, 'inconsistent with the law.' John McCain has suggested that the White House should sit down with members of Congress and discuss changing the laws. On Fox News Sunday he said, 'I know of no member of Congress, frankly, who, if the administration came and said here's why we need this capability, that they wouldn't get it.' Furthermore Arlen Specter, Republican plans to hold hearings on this. So everyone is not on the same page in terms of the legality of the President's actions. Would you concede that's true?"

Couric: "Well then why is this non-partisan Congressional Research Service saying that your limited briefings for Congress were inconsistent with the law, Dan?"

Couric: "So in closing on this subject you have no regrets about how the White House has proceeded thus far?"

Belafonte Says Bush "No Better" than
Osama, Stands by Nazi Slam

In a tough interview conducted by CNN's Wolf Blitzer live on the 7pm EST hour of Monday's The Situation Room, and re-played during Tuesday's 5pm hour, radical-left singer Harry Belafonte stood by his recent declarations that President Bush is both "the greatest tyrant in the world" and the "the greatest terrorist in the world," as well as how the Department of Homeland Security is the "new Gestapo." Blitzer ridiculed Belafonte's ludicrous comparison: "But no one has taken you or anyone else, as far as I can tell, to an extermination camp and by the tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, even millions decided to kill them, which is what the Nazis did." Blitzer soon pressed: "Are you saying that President Bush is worse than Osama bin Laden?" Belafonte responded that "I'm saying that he's no better," and proceeded to reiterate how "I do believe" that Bush is "a terrorist. I do believe that what our government does has terror in the center of its agenda."

Blitzer read what the Raleigh News and Observer last week quoted Belafonte as charging: "When you have a President that has led us into a dishonorable war, who has killed tens of thousands, many of them our own sons and daughters, what is the difference between those who would fly airplanes into buildings killing 3,000 innocent Americans? What is the difference between that terror and other terrors?" Blitzer then asked: "Now that raises the issue of moral equivalency. Are you saying what the Bush administration, what the President is doing is the moral equivalent of what al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden ordered on 9/11?" Belafonte maintained that "I don't want to make those kind of comparisons," but then ran through how "al Qaeda tortures. We torture. al Qaeda's killed innocent people. We kill innocent people."

[This item was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your comments, or to get links to previous NewsBusters items on Belafonte, go to: newsbusters.org ]

Blitzer, in DC, interviewed Belafonte from New York City a bit past the halfway mark of the 7pm EST hour of the January 23 The Situation Room (a segment re-run during the 5pm EST hour on January 24):

Blitzer: "The 'new Gestapo.' You know, those are powerful words, calling an agency of the U.S. government, the Department of Homeland Security with, what, about 300,000 federal employees, the 'new Gestapo.' You want to take that back?"
Belafonte: "No, not really. I stand by my remarks. I am very much aware of what this has provoked in our national community. And I welcome the opportunity for us to begin to have a dialogue that goes other than where we've been having one up until now. People feel that I talk in extremes. But if you look at what's happening to American citizens, a lot is going on in the extreme. We've taken citizens from this country without the right to be charged, without being told what they're taken for, we've spirited them out of this country, taken them to far away places and reports come back with some consistency that they're being tortured, that they're not being told what they've done. And even some who have been released have come back and testified to this fact."
Blitzer: "But let me interrupt for a second. Are you familiar -- and I'm sure you are, because you're an intelligent man -- what the Gestapo did to the Jews in World War II?"
Belafonte: "Absolutely."
Blitzer: "And you think that what the Department of Homeland Security is doing to, you know, some U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism is similar to what the Nazis did to the Jews?"
Belafonte: "Well, if you're taking people out of a country and spiriting them someplace else, and they're being tortured, and they're being charged without -- or not being charged, so they don't know what it is they've done. It may not have been directly inside the Department of Homeland Security, but the pattern, the system, it's what the system does. It's what all these different divisions have begun to reveal in their collective. My phones are tapped. OK? My mail can be opened. They don't even need a court warrant to come and do that as we once were required to do."
Blitzer: "But no one has taken you or anyone else, as far as I can tell, to an extermination camp and by the tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, even millions decided to kill them, which is what the Nazis did."
Belafonte: "Well, Mr. Blitzer, let me say this to you, perhaps, just perhaps had the Jews of Germany and people spoken out much earlier and had resisted the tyranny that was on the horizon, perhaps we would never have had-"
Blitzer: "Well, wait a minute, wait a minute, are you blaming the Jews of Germany for what Hitler did to them?"
Belafonte: "No, no, no. What I'm saying is that if it an awakened citizenry, begins to oppose the first inkling of the subversion of government, of the subversion of our democracy, then perhaps an early warning would have saved the world a lot of what we all experienced. I'm not accusing the Jews at all."
Blitzer: "Well, I just heard you say perhaps if the Jews of Germany had done something earlier then that might not have happened. That's what I thought you were getting at."
Belafonte: "Well, what I was getting at really is that if all citizens, the Jewish community, the Christian community and all else had taken a very early aggressive stand rather than somehow suggesting or thinking or feeling that this would have gone away, we might have found that Germany would have been in a far different place than it wound up in."
Blitzer: "Let me get through some of these other points, because we don't have a whole lot of time."
Belafonte: "Okay."
Blitzer: "When you were in Venezuela with Hugo Chavez, you said that Bush is 'the greatest terrorist, the greatest tyrant.' Are you saying that President Bush is worse than Osama bin Laden?"
Belafonte: "I'm saying that he's no better. You know, it's hard to make a hyperbole stick. I obviously haven't had a chance to meet all the terrorists in the world, so I have no reason to throw around the words like the greatest or make some qualitative statement. I do believe he's a terrorist. I do believe that what our government does has terror in the center of its agenda. When you lie to the American people, when you've misled them and you've taken our sons and daughters to foreign lands to be destroyed, and you look at tens of thousands of Arab women and children and innocent people being destroyed each day, under the title of collateral damage, I think there's something very wrong with the leadership."
Blitzer: "What you did say in Venezuela was that President Bush was, and I'm quoting now, 'the greatest tyrant in the world' and 'the greatest terrorist in the world.'"
Belafonte: "Yes, I did say that."
Blitzer:" So you did use the word, 'the greatest.' Here's what you were quoted as saying in The Raleigh News and Observer on January 16th. And I'll let you amend or clarify your remarks: 'When you have a President that has led us into a dishonorable war, who has killed tens of thousands, many of them our own sons and daughters, what is the difference between those who would fly airplanes into buildings killing 3,000 innocent Americans? What is the difference between that terror and other terrors?' Now that raises the issue of moral equivalency. Are you saying what the Bush administration, what the President is doing is the moral equivalent of what al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden ordered on 9/11?"
Belafonte: "I think President George W. Bush, I think Cheney, I think Rumsfeld, I think all of these people have lost any moral integrity. I find what we are doing is hugely immoral to the American people and to others in the world."
Blitzer: "And the same, or if not worse than al Qaeda? Is that what you're saying?"
Belafonte: "Well, I don't want to make those kind of comparisons. I'm not too sure all of what al Qaeda has done. Al Qaeda tortures. We torture. Al Qaeda's killed innocent people. We kill innocent people. Where do the lines get blurred here?"
Blitzer: "Well, I think the argument is, and correct me if I'm wrong, that al Qaeda deliberately wanted to kill as many people as possible in the World Trade Center and those two buildings. They didn't care if they were executives or janitors or cooks or anybody else. They just wanted to kill as many Americans as possible. The U.S., when it goes after terrorists, there may be what's called collateral damage, but they're trying to kill enemies of the United States, those who have engaged in terror or similar actions. You understand the difference?"
Belafonte: "I understand the difference. What I don't want to get stuck with, or be guided by, is what you call collateral damage. That does not cleanse us morally. All of a sudden, it's beyond our capacity or our means to have made a difference in what we've done to thousands and thousands of Arabs. I'm quite sure if you went through each and every body, you would find that somebody was a baker, somebody was a store keeper, somebody was a cab driver, somebody was a student. I don't know, you know, murder is murder. And just because you may do it under different guises does not remove the moral imperative. We are in this war immorally and illegally. And we have no business doing what we do."
Blitzer: "What about -- and these were very, very damning words that you said a few years ago, and I wonder if you still stick by them. When you call Colin Powell, the Secretary of State at that time, or Condoleezza Rice, the President's National Security Adviser now the Secretary of State, 'plantation slaves.' It's one thing to disagree with them, but when you get involved in name calling with all the history of our country, plantation slaves, isn't that crossing the line?"
Belafonte: "Not at all. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of plantations in America where people are slaving away their lives. You know, one of the big problems that we have in this country is the inability to be honest and to be straightforward. We have never had a dialogue in this country on the real issues of slavery. I don't even want to get stuck there. But what I said about Colin Powell is that he serves his master well. And in that context, I was asked to describe what that meant. And I used the metaphor of slavery and the plantation. And I stand by it. I mean, so Colin Powell was viewed to be this rather moderate, honest human being. He stood before the United Nations and lied and knew he was lying. I mean, where do we draw these lines here?"
Blitzer: "How do you know Colin Powell knew he was lying? He says, and he's said as many times, he says he thought he was giving accurate information, although he subsequently learned that it was not accurate. But there's a difference between mis-speaking and lying."
Belafonte: "Mr. Blitzer, you have access to a lot of information. More than once we've discussed the fact that Colin Powell went before his President, went before others and said, 'I can't say this. It is not correct. There are things about it that touch me deeply and disturb me.' And all of a sudden there he was in front of the UN, despite this disclaimer, doing what he did. The world's at war. People are dying every day. These are human lives. Where do you draw this line of distinction? Is it because they're over there and we're here? Is it because we sit on some righteous place saying that we're the finest nation in the world and that all else is less than we are? That's unacceptable in 21st century society."
Blitzer: "Harry Belafonte, unfortunately we have to leave it there, we're out of time. But it was kind of you to spend a few moments with us here in The Situation Room. I see you're not backing away from one word of what you said."
Belafonte: "No, I can't. Dr. King is my mentor and I believe in truth, and that's what I'm doing."

-- Brent Baker