Clarke's Conflicts Skipped But Rice's "Contradictions" Stressed --3/31/2004
2. Walters Scolds Hughes Over Bush Ads with "Graphic" 9-11 Scenes
3. Outsourcing Politically Detrimental, Not Economically Beneficial
4. WashPost: Kerry at "Philosophical Center of Party" and "Country"
Condoleezza Rice's "contradictions" over Richard Clarke's. A Tuesday New York Times story revealed how "a senior national security official who worked alongside Richard A. Clarke on Sept. 11, 2001, is disputing central elements of Mr. Clarke's account of events in the White House Situation Room that day, declaring that it 'is a much better screenplay than reality was.'" But on Tuesday night, ABC and CBS, which ran numerous stories over the previous ten days with Clarke's charges against the Bush administration, and which normally eagerly picks up on Times stories, ignored the Times piece. Yet, in the wake of the White House deciding to allow Rice to testify publicly, the two networks found time to highlight contradictions in what Rice and other White House officials have said.
Pointing out a difference between Rice and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, ABC's Linda Douglass declared: "There are contradictions between what Rice and others have said." Douglass treated Clarke's claim as authoritative as she failed to remind viewers of his contradictions, such as having earlier said the opposite about how the Bush team approached terrorism, but she managed to find time to repeat Clarke's most damning charges, such as replaying this soundbite from 60 Minutes about Bush: "He came back at me and said, 'Iraq, Saddam, find out if there's a connection,' in a very intimidating way."
CBS's John Roberts promised that Rice will "face tough questions on significant White House contradictions." On Clarke, he asked, "was he 'out of the loop' as Dick Cheney claims or 'in every meeting about terrorism' as Rice says? And was his strategy to deal with al-Qaeda 'not tough enough,' as Rice claimed last Monday, or worthy of 'praise,' as she said two days later?"
In the second of two stories on the Rice decision, which led the March 30 World News Tonight on ABC, Douglass asserted, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "The 9/11 commissioners have many questions for Condoleezza Rice."
After a clip of 9-11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean saying they want to ask about threats before 9-11, what happened the day of and the immediate response, Douglass outlined some contradictions: "There are contradictions between what Rice and others have said. Example: Before September 11th, did the Bush administration have a plan to attack al-Qaeda? Rice says yes. [over graphic of her column in Washington Post] 'Our plan called for military options to attack al-Qaeda and Taliban leadership, ground forces and other targets.' One commissioner read Rice's statement to the Deputy Secretary of State."
Over on Tuesday's CBS Evening News, White House correspondent John Roberts, after a soundbite from Kean, promised: "Commission members also want to ask her if terrorism was an urgent priority before 9/11, and she'll face tough questions on significant White House contradictions. For example, this statement eight months after the attacks:"
In worrying about inconsistencies in statements from White House officials, Douglass and Roberts (as did the broadcast network morning shows) skipped over a March 30 New York Times story by David Sanger, "Colleague of Ex-Official Disputes Part of Account," which called into question the accuracy of Clarke's claims in his book. An excerpt:
A senior national security official who worked alongside Richard A. Clarke on Sept. 11, 2001, is disputing central elements of Mr. Clarke's account of events in the White House Situation Room that day, declaring that it "is a much better screenplay than reality was."
The official, Franklin C. Miller, who acknowledges that he was often a bureaucratic rival of Mr. Clarke, said in an interview on Monday that almost none of the conversations that Mr. Clarke, who was the counterterrorism chief, recounts in the first chapter of his book, "Against All Enemies," match Mr. Miller's recollection of events....
In the book, Mr. Clarke describes himself as "the nation's crisis manager" that day, though he acknowledges periodically turning over his seat in the Situation Room, in the basement of the West Wing, to Mr. Miller.
"He did a hell of a job that day," Mr. Miller said of Mr. Clarke in an interview on Monday that was suggested by the White House. "We all did." But then he disputed many of the most dramatic moments recalled by Mr. Clarke, from conversations with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld to the question of whether another aide in the room was yelling out warnings that a plane could hit the White House in minutes. Efforts to reach Mr. Clarke on Monday through his publisher were unsuccessful....
In Mr. Clarke's account, in a chapter called "Evacuate the White House," he heads into the Situation Room at the first word of attack and begins issuing orders to close embassies and put military bases on a higher level of alert -- not the kind of operational details usually handled by the National Security Council staff. He describes how Mr. Miller came into the room, squeezed Mr. Clarke's bicep, and said, "Guess I'm working for you today. What can I do?"
"I wouldn't say that," Mr. Miller said Monday. "I might say, 'How can I help.'"
Mr. Miller disputes Mr. Clarke's recollection that the Secret Service asked for fighter escorts to protect Air Force One after it lifted off from Sarasota, Fla., where President Bush was visiting an elementary school. A young aide in the Situation Room made that suggestion to Mr. Miller, he said, who recalls telling the aide he had seen too many movies. A moment later, reconsidering, Mr. Miller asked Ms. Rice whether to call up fighter support, and she told him to go ahead, he recalled.
Mr. Clarke's book says Mr. Miller urged Mr. Rumsfeld to take a helicopter out of the Pentagon, part of which was still burning, and that Mr. Rumsfeld responded, "I am too goddamn old to go to an alternate site."
But Mr. Miller said he never talked to Mr. Rumsfeld that day.
Similarly, Mr. Clarke recounts how a career official in the Situation Room called out, "Secret Service reports a hostile aircraft 10 minutes out," left the room, then returned minutes later to report, "Hostile aircraft eight minutes out." Presumably that was the same aircraft that led to the panicked evacuation of the White House and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building that day. The evacuation turned out to be based on a false alarm.
Neither Mr. Miller nor Sean McCormack, the spokesman of the National Security Council, who was in the Situation Room that morning, say they recall hearing the aide warn that a plane could be only minutes away. They say the aide himself reports that he made no such announcement, but he declined to be interviewed.
Mr. Miller also provided a different account of why the officials working in the Situation Room stayed while the rest of the White House was being evacuated.
In Mr. Clarke's telling, he gathered the staff around and told them to leave for their own safety, particularly those with young children. They declined, and according to Mr. Clarke, Mr. Miller then "grabbed a legal pad and said, 'All right. If you're staying, sign your name here,'" so that a list could be e-mailed out of the building. The purpose, he recalled Mr. Miller saying, was "so the rescue teams will know how many bodies to look for."
Mr. Miller said he made no such statement. According to Mr. Miller's account, there was no question that the staff members were staying -- they were told to keep the Situation Room running by the deputy national security adviser, Stephen Hadley. "That paragraph was a complete fiction," Mr. Miller said....
END of Excerpt
For the New York Times story in full: www.nytimes.com
One exchange from Clarke's appearance before the 9-11 Commission last week, an exchange the media have forgotten about, would seem to undermine his case that the Bush administration's supposed lack of urgency on terrorism really mattered:
Commissioner Slade Gorton: "Now, since my yellow light is on, at this point my final question will be this: Assuming that the recommendations that you made on January 25th of 2001, based on Delenda, based on Blue Sky, including aid to the Northern Alliance, which had been an agenda item at this point for two and a half years without any action, assuming that there had been more Predator reconnaissance missions, assuming that that had all been adopted say on January 26th, year 2001, is there the remotest chance that it would have prevented 9/11?"
Barbara Walters on Monday night pressed Karen Hughes to have the Bush re-election campaign cease airing its ads which supposedly "contained graphic scenes of Ground Zero on 9/11." Walters contended that "the fact is that some of the victims' families feel that the President has exploited them in this campaign." She demanded of Hughes: "Do you think that he owes them an explanation or an apology?" When Hughes argued that "September 11th was a shared experience for our entire nation. It's not owned by anyone," Walters fired back: "That's not the point, really. The point is that should September 11th be part of a political, partisan campaign?"
Hughes responded: "I don't see how it can't. It's too important." To which Walters sputtered: "So those commercials will continue?"
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson caught the exchange during a special Monday night, March 29, 20/20 which featured a pre-taped interview to promote a new book by the close Bush advisor.
Walters: "And earlier this month, Hughes was on point when the President's reelection campaign launched its new television commercials. The spots were highly controversial, and Hughes's assignment was to publicly defend them."
Of course, the ads hardly showed "graphic images of Ground Zero." The Ground Zero scenes lasted barely four seconds and were simply of the framework of a destroyed wall and a distance shot of firefighters carrying out a flag-draped casket.
The March 5 CyberAlert documented how the networks distorted the ads: The Bush campaign may have $100 million to spend, but the Kerry team has the news media as part of its base, a reality demonstrated on Thursday, a day John Kerry took off and didn't even campaign. Based on a single news story in the New York Daily News quoting a single firefighter and a few members of families with 9-11 victims, the morning and evening shows on ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC, as well as CNBC and MSNBC in prime time, picked up the charge that new Bush campaign TV ads, which very briefly show images from 9-11, somehow improperly exploit that day for political gain. In the morning, Karen Hughes was quizzed about it and in the evening the supposed "controversy" led or was the number two story on every evening newscast. ABC's Diane Sawyer, CBS's Harry Smith and CNN's Soledad O'Brien and Paula Zahn highlighted how the "firefighters union" protested the ad, but failed to point out how that union long ago endorsed John Kerry. www.mediaresearch.org
Outsourcing as politically detrimental over economically beneficial. On Tuesday night ABC's Claire Shipman listed "the President's chief economic adviser's claim that sending jobs overseas is a good thing" as a "damaging gaffe" and CBS's Dan Rather highlighted how Treasury Secretary John Snow said "that outsourcing American jobs to other countries is a normal part of trade that can boost the U.S. economy." Rather recalled how "another Bush administration official who made similar remarks recently was forced to apologize." But neither Shipman nor Rather noted how a study released on Tuesday determined that outsourcing in the technology industry "created over 90,000 net new jobs in 2003."
ABC's Claire Shipman, on Tuesday's World News Tonight, took "A Closer Look" at the departure last year from the White House of Karen Hughes. Shipman maintained: "Many frustrated Republicans, both in and out of the White House, will tick off a concrete list of damaging gaffes that they say Hughes might have averted had she been in Washington full time: President Bush in front of the infamous 'Mission Accomplished' banner, declaring major combat over; The President's chief economic adviser's claim that sending jobs overseas is a good thing..."
That economic advisor was N. Gregory Mankiw, who made the indisputable economic observation in February that, in the long term, outsourcing benefits the economy.
CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather on Tuesday night highlighted a fresh comment from an administration official which matched Mankiw. Rather treated it as a gaffe: "Treasury Secretary John Snow said in a newspaper interview published today that outsourcing American jobs to other countries is a normal part of trade that can boost the U.S. economy. Another Bush administration official who made similar remarks recently was forced to apologize."
Snow's comments appeared in Tuesday's Cincinnati Enquirer. For the March 30 article: www.enquirer.com
The AP distributed a story on Tuesday about Snow's comments, but Rather overlooked another AP dispatch, one headlined, "Study: Outsourcing Tech Jobs Aids U.S." The AP's Rachel Konrad, in San Jose, began her story: "Outsourcing white-collar jobs to low-wage countries such as India and China has thrown some Americans out of work, but a new report predicts that the trend will ultimately lower inflation, create jobs and boost productivity in the United States.
For the AP dispatch in full: story.news.yahoo.com
For the executive summary in full, a PDF: www.itaa.org
John Kerry in the "center" of the country's political spectrum? In a front page "analysis" story on Sunday, Washington Post reporter Dan Balz conceded that Kerry "has one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate," but stressed how "on some key votes in the 1990s and in statements in the years before launching his candidacy, Kerry edged toward the centrist policies of the Democratic Leadership Council." Balz soon declared that Kerry has become a moderate: "Kerry has emerged from the primaries at the philosophical center of the party if not the country."
But in an opinion piece in the very same day's Post, Northeastern University political science professor William G. Mayer contradicted Balz's premise. In the "Outlook" section article, Mayer ran through vote rating scores for Kerry and then, seemingly addressing misguided observers like Balz, concluded:
Journalists, nonetheless, are having trouble accepting that reality.
"Kerry Under Pressure for a Blueprint" announced the headline over the front page March 28 Washington Post story brought to my attention by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth. The subhead: "Compelling Agenda Needed, Experts Say." An excerpt from the piece by Dan Balz in which he tried to demonstrate how Kerry's ideology isn't very clear and that he certainly isn't all that liberal:
Bill Clinton ran for President in 1992 as a New Democrat, and eight years later, George W. Bush ran as a compassionate conservative. But even after presumptively winning the Democratic nomination, Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) has yet to put a distinctive stamp on his candidacy, his party or the shape of a Kerry presidency.
He has one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate, but on some key votes in the 1990s and in statements in the years before launching his candidacy, Kerry edged toward the centrist policies of the Democratic Leadership Council. In the heat of the Democratic nomination battle, when anger toward President Bush and opposition to the war in Iraq were dominant attitudes among activists, his rhetoric often tilted to the left, but not always his positions.
Kerry has emerged from the Democratic primaries as the "generic Democrat" at a time when the pragmatic goal of defeating Bush has trumped philosophical differences within the party. He embraces establishment Democratic thinking that more government spending is needed on domestic programs but that deficits are a serious problem, that U.S. foreign policy should be muscular but also multilateral when possible, that free trade is desirable but with a growing list of reservations....
Kerry has emerged from the primaries at the philosophical center of the party if not the country. His greatest strengths are his biography and the perception among Democrats that he has the experience and credentials to defeat Bush. A strategist who worked for one of Kerry's rivals said he worried about whether that profile of what he called the generic Democratic position will be enough to attract swing voters in November....
For the Post story in full: www.washingtonpost.com
Is Sen. John F. Kerry a liberal? As the presidential campaign unfolds over the next seven months, the parties will no doubt spend a lot of time debating this question, with Republicans insisting that he is and Democrats just as vehemently denying it....
Kerry's voting record is a very liberal one, according to both rating systems. The ADA's Web site notes that "those Members of Congress considered to be Moderates generally score between 40% and 60%." By that criterion, Kerry's record falls well outside the "moderate" range.
The same point is borne out by a comparison of Kerry's ratings with those of other Democrats who are often classified as moderates, such as Sen. John Breaux of Louisiana. Breaux's lifetime average ADA score through 2002 is 55. When Lloyd Bentsen of Texas was a senator, his lifetime ADA score was 41. Former Georgia senator Sam Nunn had a lifetime ADA average of 37. Al Gore had a 65 average. Joe Lieberman, who is sometimes described as a liberal and sometimes as a moderate -- he has a generally liberal voting record but also dissents from several important liberal positions -- has a lifetime ADA score of 76 through 2002.
At the other end of the spectrum, three senators are often singled out as the most liberal: Barbara Boxer of California, Pat Leahy of Vermont and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. Their lifetime ADA scores through 2002 are, respectively, 96, 93 and 90 -- statistically indistinguishable from Kerry's.
In recent weeks, a number of commentators have asserted that Kerry's voting history is complicated to classify. The evidence doesn't bear this out. If you were to take the numbers shown here, cover up Kerry's name and then ask a sample of American political scientists, "I have here a senator who in the past 10 years has had an average ADA score of 92 and an average ACU score of 6. Is he a liberal, a moderate or a conservative?" they would have no difficulty in classifying the 2004 Democratic candidate as, for better or worse, a liberal.
END of Excerpt
For Mayer's take in full: www.washingtonpost.com
# Karen Hughes is scheduled to appear tonight, Wednesday, on Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
-- Brent Baker