2. Olbermann Invokes Nazi Germany, Answers Andy Card's Criticism
3. ABC's Ross Hits Clinton from the Left on Ties to Wal-Mart
4. CBS's Early Show Praises 'Amazing Grace' of Elizabeth Edwards
5. Today Show Fails to Cite Party of Democrat Caught in Sex Scandal
6. 'Top Ten Things Overheard at Dick Cheney's Birthday Party'
Doyle McManus, Washington Bureau Chief for the Los Angeles Times, and one of the three members of the mainstream media who posed questions at Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate on CNN, neglected to mention Hillary Clinton's previous waffling on the subject of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants when he presumed she opposed them for illegal immigrants. His formulation of a question to the former First Lady: "Senator Clinton, Senator Obama has said that he favors allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses, and you opposed that idea. Why?"
[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
As CNSNews Editor-in-Chief Terry Jeffrey noted after the November 15, 2007 Democratic debate (where Clinton answered that she did not support licenses for illegal immigrants), Clinton, with that answer, contradicted what she had said in an interview with the Nashua (New Hampshire) Telegraph on October 17, 2007, almost a month earlier. In the interview, Clinton voiced support for New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's plan to give illegal immigrants driver's licenses, stating that "it makes a lot of sense." When Tim Russert asked Clinton about the issue at the Democratic presidential debate in Philadelphia two weeks later on October 30, she gave, as Jeffrey put it, "a long and apparently contradictory series of answers about whether to give illegals driver's licenses."
For Terry Jeffrey's CNSNews article: www.cnsnews.com
For FactCheck.org's report on Hillary Clinton's various stances on driver's licenses for illegal immigrants: www.factcheck.org
Clinton initially avoided answering McManus' question. Instead, she answered the previous question made by Jeanne Cummings of the Politico, who asked a viewer's question on the negative economic impact of illegal immigrants on African-Americans' wages and unemployment rate. She only briefly mentioned the licenses issue at the end of her answer.
Debate moderator Wolf Blitzer didn't immediately ask a follow-up question to Clinton on the licenses issue. Instead, he asked Obama about what he meant when he said that he stood for a "humane and intelligent immigration policy in a way that, frankly, none of my other opponents did." After Obama defended his support for "comprehensive immigration reform," Blitzer asked Clinton about whether she was "missing in action" when senators, including Obama, began "formulating comprehensive immigration reform."
When Clinton defended her record of supporting "comprehensive immigration reform," Blitzer finally returned to the issue of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants: "Very quickly, Senator, why not then, if you're that passionate about it, let them get driver's licenses?" Clinton's answer: "Well, we disagree on this. I do not think that it is either appropriate to give a driver's license to someone who is here undocumented, putting them, frankly, at risk, because that is clear evidence that they are not here legally. And, I believe it is a diversion from what should be the focus at creating a political coalition with the courage to stand up and change the immigration system."
This prompted Obama to respond, correcting the record for both Clinton and McManus:
BARACK OBAMA: The only point I would make is -- is Senator Clinton, you know, gave a number of different answers over the course of six weeks on this issue, and that did appear political. Now, you know, at this point, she's got a clear position. But it took awhile. And-
Clinton immediately responded that Obama himself had trouble answering the question during the Democratic debate on November 15, 2007: "I just have to correct the record for one second, because, obviously, we do agree about the need to have comprehensive immigration reform, and if I recall, about a week after I said that I would try to support my governor, although I didn't agree with it personally, you were asked the same question and could not answer it. So, this is a difficult issue, and both of us have to recognize that it is not something that we easily come to because we share a lot of the same values. We want to -- we want to be fair to people, we want to respect the dignity of every human being -- every person who is here. But we are trying to work our way through to get to where we need to be, and that is to have a united Democratic party, with fair-minded Republicans who will join us, to fix this broken immigration system."
On Thursday's Countdown show shortly before 9:00pm EST, just an hour before hosting a special Countdown to discuss CNN's Democratic debate, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann delivered his latest "Special Comment," this time attacking President Bush for threatening to veto a new FISA law if Congress refuses to include liability protection for telecom companies that have assisted in surveillance in the war on terrorism, arguing that Bush would be endangering Americans by delaying the bill's passage. The MSNBC host, who once scolded public figures who use Nazi references, made his own latest invocation of Nazi Germany, as he compared the telecoms to the Krupp family who were convicted of war crimes at Nuremberg: "It begins to look like the bureaucrats of the Third Reich trying to protect the Krupp family industrial giants by literally rewriting the laws of Germany for their benefit. And we know how that turned out. Alfred Krupp and 11 of his directors were convicted of war crimes at Nuremburg."
[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Friday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org]
For Olbermann's 2005 "Bloggermann" entry, "Enough with the Nazi references!" see: www.msnbc.msn.com
Olbermann also included a response to former Bush Chief-of-Staff Andy Card's criticism of Olbermann's and Chris Matthews' "cynical" attitude toward Monday's State of the Union Address:
For more on Card's rebuke, see the January 30 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
The Countdown host, who recently admitted to sometimes recusing himself from interviewing certain Republicans, deferring to Matthews, because of Olbermann's past criticisms of them, on Monday night did not take part in interviewing Card, and did not respond after Card called out Olbermann and Matthews during a live interview. Card from Monday: "I can't tell you how cynical you two sound, and almost every guest you've had on has been very cynical. You can't even find an objective skeptic to interview."
Olbermann concluded his Thursday "Special Comment":
Below is a complete transcript of Olbermann's "Special Comment" from the Thursday, January 31 Countdown show on MSNBC:
And finally tonight, as promised, a "Special Comment" of FISA and the telecoms. In a presidency of hypocrisy, an administration of exploitation, a labyrinth of leadership, in which every vital fact is a puzzle inside a riddle wrapped in an enigma hidden under a claim of executive privilege supervised by an idiot, this one is surprisingly easy. President Bush has put protecting the telecom giants from the laws ahead of protecting you from the terrorists. He has demanded an extension of the FISA law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, but only an extension that includes retroactive immunity for the telecoms who helped him spy on you. Congress has given him, and he has today signed, a 15-day extension which simply kicks the time bomb down the field, and which has changed nothing of his insipid rhetoric, in which he portrays the Democrats as soft on terror and getting in the way of his superhuman efforts to protect the nation when, in fact, and with bitter irony, if anybody is soft on terror right now, it is Mr. Bush.
In the State of the Union Address, sir, you told Congress if you do not act by Friday, our ability to track terrorist threats would be weakened, and our citizens will be in greater danger. Yet, you are willing to weaken that ability. You will subject us, your citizens, to that greater danger. This, Mr. Bush, is simple enough even for you to understand. If Congress approves a new FISA act without telecom immunity and sends it to your desk and you veto it, you by your own terms and your own definitions, you will have just sided with the terrorists. You gotta have this law or we're all going to die, but you might veto this law.
It's bad enough, sir, that you are demanding an ex post facto law which would clear the phone giants from responsibility for their systematic, aggressive, and blatant collaboration with your illegal and unjustified spying on Americans under this flimsy guise of looking for any terrorists who are stupid enough to make a collect call or send a mass email. but when you then demand it again in the State of the Union Address, that Congress retroactively clear the Verizons and the AT&T's, you wouldn't even confirm that they actually did anything for which they deserve to be cleared. The Congress must pass liability protection for companies "believed" to have assisted in the efforts to defend America.
Believe?! Don't you know? Does the endless hair-splitting of your presidential fine print extend even here? If you, sir, are asking Congress and us to join you in this shameless, breathless literal textbook example of fascism, the merged efforts of government and corporations who answer to no government, you still don't have the guts to say the telecom companies did assist you in your efforts. Will you and the equivocators who surround you like a cocoon who never go on the record about anything, even the stuff you claim to believe in?
Silly me. Of course Mr. Bush is going to say "believed." Yes, it sounds dumber than if he referred to himself as the "alleged President," or had said today was "reportedly Thursday," or had claimed "mission accomplished" in Iraq. But the moment he does say anything else, any doubt that the telecoms knowingly broke the law is out the window and with it, any chance that even the Republicans who are fighting this like they were trying to fend off terrorists using nothing but broken beer bottles and swear words could not consent to retroactively immunize corporate criminals. Which is why the Vice President probably shouldn't have phoned into the Rush Limbaugh propaganda festival yesterday. Sixth sentence out of Mr. Cheney's mouth: The FISA bill is about, quote, "retroactive liability protection for the companies that have worked with us and helped us prevent further attacks against the United States."
Oops. Mr. Cheney is something of a loose cannon, of course, but he kind of let the wrong cat out of the bag there because Mr. Bush and the corporations that he values more than people, did not want anybody to verify what Mark Klein says. Mark Klein is the AT&T whistle blower who appeared on this newscast last November, who explained in the placid, dull terms of your local neighborhood IT desk how he personally attached all of AT&T's circuits, everything, carrying every phone call, every e-mail, every bit of Web browsing, into a secure room, room number 641A at the Folsom Street facility in San Francisco, where it was all copied so the government could look at it. Not some of it, not just the international part of it, certainly not just the stuff some truly patriotic and telepathic spy might be able to divine had been sent or spoken by or to a terrorist -- everything. Every time you looked at a naked picture, every time you bid on eBay. Every time you phoned in a donation to a Democrat. "My thought was George Orwell's 1984," Mr. Klein told me, reflecting back, "and here I am, forced to connect the 'big brother machine.'"
You know, Mr. Bush, if Mr. Klein's "big brother machine," the one the Vice President conveniently just confirmed for us, if it was of any damn use at all at actually finding anything, you could probably program it to find out who started that slanderous e-mail about Barack Obama. Use room 641A to identify that e-assassin, sir, and I'll stand up and applaud you. Yeah, I'm holding my breath on that one, too. But, of course, sir, this isn't about finding that kind of needle in a hay stack. This is not even about finding a haystack. This is about scooping up every piece of hay there ever was and laying the ground work for the next little job which you have to outsource to AT&T and Verizon and all the rest.
It was your Director of National Intelligence, Mr. McConnell, letting this one out of that same bag. The need for Homeland Security to stave off cyber attacks against the government's computer networks. And how do they do that, sir? By constantly monitoring the Internet -- the whole Internet. And who actually physically does that, Mr. Bush? Right. The same telecom giants for whom you want immunity quickly, so quickly you wouldn't believe it, because this previous domestic spying, and this upcoming policing of the Internet, they may be completely evil, indiscriminate, unlawful, so you have to dress it all up as something opposite. It's isn't evil, it's, you said, "to protect America." It isn't indiscriminate, you said it's "the ability to monitor terrorist communications." It isn't unlawful, it's just the kind of perfectly legal thing for which you happen to need immunity.
There's yet another level to this, and here we move from big brother to sleazy son. Mr. Bush's new Attorney General, Mr. Mukasey, the one who's already taken four different positions on waterboarding, and who may yet tie that record on this subject of telecom immunity, he has a very personal stake in all this. There happens to be a partner in the law firm of Bracewell and Giuliani named Mark Mukasey. And Bracewell and Giuliani and the Attorney General's son Mark just happen to represent Verizon. You know, Verizon, telecom giant. And all of a sudden, this is no longer just a farce in which protecting the telecoms is dressed up as protecting us from terrorist conference calls. Now it begins to look like the bureaucrats of the Third Reich trying to protect the Krupp family industrial giants by literally rewriting the laws of Germany for their benefit. And we know how that turned out. Alfred Krupp and 11 of his directors were convicted of war crimes at Nuremberg.
Nevertheless, for those of us watching a President demand this specific law, the ones the Germans had was called the Lechs Krupp, there is one surprising bit of comfort in all of this. Clearly, Bush is at his hyperbolic worst here. Consider how his former Chief of Staff, Andy Card, came on and scolded Chris Matthews and me after the State of the Union Address. "The President's address tonight was very important," Card said, "because it really was a sobering call to reality for us. And the reality is we have an enemy who wants to hurt us. The primary job of the President is to protect us. He talked about protecting us. He talked about the needs to have the tools to protect us."
Indeed, Mr. Bush. The primary job of any President is to protect us, not just those of us who own Internet and telephone companies, but all of us. And even you, sir, with your intermittent grasp of reality, even with your ego greater than 100 percent approval rating, even with your messianic petulance, even you could not truly choose to protect the corporations instead of the people. I'm not talking about ethics here. I am talking about blame. Even if it's you throwing out the baby with the bath water, Mr. Bush, it still means we can safely conclude there is no baby. There is not a choice of protecting the telecoms from prosecution or protecting the people from terrorists, sir. There is a choice of protecting the telecoms from prosecution or pretending to protect the people from terrorists.
Sorry, Mr. Bush, the eavesdropping provisions of FISA have obviously had no impact on counterterrorism, and there is no current or perceived terrorist threat, the thwarting of which could hinge on an e-mail or a phone call that's going through room 641A at AT&T in San Francisco next week or next month. Because if there were, Mr. Bush, and you were to, by your own hand, veto an extension of this eavesdropping and some terrorist attack were to follow, you would not merely be guilty of siding with the terrorists, you would not merely be guilty of prioritizing the telecoms over the people, you would not merely be guilty of stupidity, you would not merely be guilty of treason, sir, but you would be personally and eternally responsible. And if there is one thing we know about you, Mr. Bush, one thing that you have proved time and time again under any and all circumstances, it is that you are never responsible. Good night and good luck.
ABC investigative reporter Brian Ross attacked Hillary Clinton from the left on Thursday's Good Morning America. The correspondent looked into the Democrat's ties to Wal-Mart during the late '80s and early '90s. He found the image of a "very corporate Hillary Clinton" and someone who played "the loyal company woman" to the successful business.
However, the news wasn't all bad for Clinton. GMA co-host Robin Roberts led into the piece with an almost apologetic tone. She labeled the New York Senator "probably one of the most investigated politicians in American history." Ross began his segment by informing viewers that Clinton "served for six years on the board of Wal-Mart, the huge retailer criticized by many for its treatment of workers and its strident opposition to unions."
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Ross also stereotyped anti-union forces by highlighting what seems like the most over-the-statement he could find. He observed that former Wal-Mart board member John Tate said this of unions: "Labor unions are nothing but blood-sucking parasites living off of the productive labor of people who work for a living!"
In 2007, Ross developed a habit of focusing his investigative reports on Republicans. During that year, GMA featured four hard hitting segments on GOP presidential candidates and only one on a Democrat. By contrast, in early January of '08, he investigated Barack Obama's connections to indicted Chicago political operative Tony Rezko and followed that up with the January 31 look at Clinton's connections to Wal Mart. See the December 6, 2007 CyberAlert for more on Ross's investigations of Republicans: www.mrc.org
And the January 11 CyberAlert for his Rezko piece: www.mrc.org
However, in questioning whether the former First Lady fully supported the liberal mantra of decrying Wal Mart, Ross actually left out some aspects of his GMA report that were highlighted in an online version. The ABC News Blotter highlighted a New York Times piece which pointed out the following:
According to the New York Times, Sen. Clinton "maintains close ties to Wal-Mart executives through the Democratic Party and the tightly knit Arkansas business community." The May 20, 2007 article also reported that her husband, former President Clinton, "speaks frequently to Wal-Mart's current chief executive, H. Lee Scott Jr." and held a private dinner at the Clinton's New York home in July 2006 for him.
Ross skipped this part for the GMA piece. For entire article, see ABC News Blotter: abcnews.go.com
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:31am on January 31:
ROBIN ROBERTS: But first, never before seen video of Hillary Clinton inside the Wal-Mart empire. She is probably one of the most investigated politicians in American history. And this morning, you're going to see her in a way you've never seen her before, serving on the board of Wal-Mart. ABC News chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross is here with details on this. Good morning, Brian.
On Thursday's Early Show on CBS, co-host Harry Smith continued the media's love affair with John and Elizabeth Edwards following the former Senator dropping out of the presidential race: "John Edwards says he is stepping aside so 'history can blaze its path.' And it will tonight. Also this morning, we're going to look at the amazing grace of Elizabeth Edwards who has campaigned passionately beside her husband all these months despite her diagnosis that she is terminally ill." In a later segment, CBS correspondent Tracy Smith began by exclaiming: "They've been a team since the start. And that's how they went out. Elizabeth by John's side. It's the end of a campaign made all the more difficult by a disease that would have made a lesser woman give up long ago."
While Harry Smith portrayed Elizabeth Edwards as graceful, reporter Tracy Smith referred to her as being an "attack dog" against the likes of Ann Coulter, whom Edwards ambushed on MSNBC's Hardball on June 26 of last year: "In fact, Elizabeth has been her husband's most trusted adviser, an outspoken attorney, she sometimes played attack dog like the time she took on Ann Coulter." A clip of Elizabeth Edwards' attack on Coulter was played: "I'm the mother of that boy who died. I don't think that's serving them or this country very well."
Read the full transcript of Elizabeth Edwards on the June 26, 2007 Hardball: newsbusters.org
Media piling on detailed in the June 29 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
This is the same Elizabeth Edwards who accepted the "Rage for Justice Award" in June of last year, as outlined in a column by MRC President Brent Bozell: www.mrc.org
[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Tracy Smith portrayed the Edwards' in a sympathetic light throughout the segment: "Law school sweethearts, John and Elizabeth met at the University of North Carolina, got married and started a family. They had two children, Kate and Wade. But in 1996, their picture-perfect life was shattered when 16-year-old Wade was killed in a car crash. But somehow Elizabeth Edwards looked into the face of unbearable sadness and found hope. At the age of 48, aided by modern medicine, she gave birth to Emma Clare. And two years later, Jack. They were a frequent and amusing presence in their father's 2004 bid for the vice presidency."
Tracy Smith concluded the segment with this glowing proclamation: "Harry spoke with Elizabeth in New Hampshire...In what would ultimately be her final campaign appearance, causing some to speculate whether she even had the strength to stand by her husband's side anymore. But yesterday there she was...And the Edwards campaign will be remembered not just for the issues that he took on but for the grace, endurance and strength she showed, win or lose."
Here is the full transcript of the January 31 coverage:
7:00AM TEASER, HARRY SMITH: Edwards drops out. Blazing a trail in history tonight as Clinton and Obama ready for a one-on-one debate, assuring the country will have the first woman or black as a candidate for president.
7:01AM TEASER, SMITH: This debate as John Edwards says he is stepping aside so 'history can blaze its path.' And it will tonight. Also this morning, we're going to look at the amazing grace of Elizabeth Edwards who has campaigned passionately beside her husband all these months despite her diagnosis that she is terminally ill.
RUSS MITCHELL: As we reported, Senator John Edwards bowed out of the presidential race in the same city where he declared his candidacy, New Orleans. Standing by his side were his three children and Elizabeth, his wife of 31 years. Early Show national correspondent Tracy Smith reports.
Whenever a Republican gets caught in a sex scandal the GOP party affiliation seems permanently affixed to that person's name in the media -- think most recently of Larry Craig. However when it comes to labeling Democratic politicians caught in affairs, reporters often suffer from brief bouts of amnesia. Such was the case on the Thursday Today show where co-host Ann Curry forgot to note the party affiliation of the Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in her report on his recent ordeals.
[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
You can't spot the (D) label in the following January 31 Today show story:
ANN CURRY: A scandal involving private text messages forced a popular mayor of a major, a major U.S. city to make a very public apology last night and to beg for forgiveness.
[On screen headline: "Detroit Mayor Apologizes, Begs For Forgiveness"]
MAYOR KWAME KILPATRICK [No party label noted on screen]: Good evening Detroit, I want to start tonight by saying to the citizens of this great city, "I'm sorry."
From the January 31 Late Show with David Letterman, inspired by Vice President Dick Cheney's 67th birthday on Wednesday, the "Top Ten Things Overheard at Dick Cheney's Birthday Party." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
9. "That's nice -- a card from Osama"
8. "He must be happy -- he's sneering from ear to ear"
7. "MMMMM! chocolate cake with Lipitor frosting"
5. "Dick, you don't look a day over 93"
4. "Hey, his daughter is making out with Condoleeza"
3. "Instead of a pinata, we're gonna beat a Gitmo inmate"
2. "How about a rousing chorus of 'For He's a Miserable, Old Prick!"
-- Brent Baker