2. To Guest Bill Bennett, Matt Lauer Stresses the Worst About Iraq
3. Olbermann Hits 'Ming the Merciless' Ailes for Criticizing Clinton
4. WashPost TV Critic: 'Exhilarating' Clinton, 'Sissy-Pants' Wallace
5. Fallout from Greenhouse Speech Trashing Bushies, 'Fundamentalism'
6. ABC's Tapper Bows to Salon, Publicizes Allen 'N' Word Charges
7. Geraldo Rivera Compares George Allen to Mark Fuhrman
On Wednesday's Situation Room on CNN, Jack Cafferty went on a rant over the Bush administration's handling of the war on terror. After noting that Presidents Musharraf and Karzai, of Pakistan and Afghanistan respectively, are publically feuding over dealing with al-Qaeda and the Taliban, Cafferty "spoke" the words he believed the two men wish to say, but can't: "I think both of these guys are probably reluctant to say, 'You know President Bush, you're part of the problem. You decided to invade Iraq. You had the Taliban on the run. You had killed a lot of the people in Al Qaeda. You had, uh, uh, what's his name, Osama bin Laden cornered in Tora Bora. You had all these people in your gun sights when all of a sudden, Afghanistan became number two on your priority list because you wanted to run off and wage war against Saddam Hussein.' But nobody's going to say that, 'cept maybe me."
[This item, by Scott Whitlock, was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Well, nobody except congressional Democrats, from whom Cafferty seems to have borrowed talking points.
The entire "Cafferty File" commentary, which aired at 4:33pm EDT on the September 27 Situation Room:
Another example of Cafferty taking his cues from left wingers is the line about the Saudi royal family being "close, personal and business friends of the Bush family." One could note that many U.S. politicians have maintained tight diplomatic relations with this group. But the real point here is that Cafferty essentially repeated the allegations and conspiracy theories of Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 9/11.
The CNN anchor apparently got himself so worked up that, after the above rant, he almost forgot to pose his question to the audience and had to be reminded by Situation Room anchor Wolf Blitzer:
While the Today show on Wednesday noted there was some good news for the Bush side in the declassified NIE report they spent most of their time emphasizing the negative. Today host Matt Lauer, in an interview with William Bennett, stressed the portion of the NIE report most likely to hurt Bush, highlighted a poll of Iraqis to push the Democratic line of early withdrawal and then quoted Hillary Clinton's most recent attack on the administration.
[This item, by Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Wednesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
At the top of the September 27 show, Lauer opened: "On Tuesday the President declassified parts of an intelligence report that's both good and bad news for the administration. While it claims that a victory in Iraq would demoralize the terrorists it also says the war there has strengthened the jihadist movement."
Then during the 7am half-hour Lauer wondered if the NIE report could hurt Republicans as he asked Bennett: "Let's talk about this National Security Estimate 2006. Classified, leaked, now declassified. Some good news for the administration in here but here's what's getting a lot of attention. Quote, 'The Iraq conflict has become the cause celebre for the jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.' How bad is this intelligence, Bill, when the Bush administration goes to the voters in five weeks and says, 'are you safer today than you were before we took control?'"
Just a little bit later Lauer asked Bennett to comment on the results of a recent poll of Iraqis: "Let me go to something in the Washington Post today. These are results from State Department polling, Bill. These are questions being asked to Iraqis living in Baghdad. The question of, 'Would you feel safer if U.S. forces and other foreign forces were to leave Iraq?' Nearly three-quarters of Iraqis in Baghdad said they would feel safer. 65 percent said they wanted immediate pull-out of those forces. What do you do with those results if you're the President?"
Before ending the interview Lauer couldn't let Bennett go before citing Hillary's 9/11 slam of Bush:
On Wednesday's Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann attacked Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes during his regular "Worst Person in the World" segment because Ailes criticized Bill Clinton's angry response to Fox News host Chris Wallace's question about why Clinton failed to capture Osama bin Laden. Olbermann, who just days ago conducted a sympathetic interview with Clinton, attacked the Fox News chief for calling Clinton's reaction "an assault on all journalists" as the Countdown host referred to Ailes as "Ming the Merciless," the villainous character from the Flash Gordon series." Olbermann also personally insulted Ailes as "having achieved the perfectly circular shape" as the Countdown host awarded the night's top "Worst Person" dishonor to Ailes.
Wikipedia's page on "Ming the Merciless": en.wikipedia.org
For a look at Olbermann's very friendly session with Clinton, check the September 25 CyberAlert item, "Olbermann Invites Clinton to Attack Bush, Hits Fox's Wallace," online at: www.mrc.org
A transcript of Olbermann's slam on Ailes, on the September 27 Countdown, as part of his daily "Worst Person in the World" segment:
On his weblog at TVWeek.com, Washington Post television critic Tom Shales defended Bill Clinton's "exhilarating kind of tension" to his fight with Chris Wallace, hoping the ex-President would "pop him one." Clinton was "energized and galvanizing; he spoke with force and finesse" and was "smart to come armed with articulate and persuasive responses." Wallace was a "baby" and "behaved like a sissy-pants" when he was attacked. Somehow, within a few sentences, Shales was attacking former CBS reporter Bernard Goldberg as "yelping like a dog" at his critics, and then Shales weirdly compared him to a radical Muslim: "It's like the Islamic extremists who, if you call them prone to violence, threaten to kill you for insulting them."
The critic's odd venture into Goldberg-hating isn't as surprising when you remember his love for Dan Rather and his "compelling" producer, Mary Mapes. See: newsbusters.org
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Shales led his September 26 TV Week posting by wrongly claiming that Clinton's critics were attacking his style and not his hyperbolic substance:
When people can't argue content, they always attack style. We can assume Bill Clinton made valid points during his now-famous verbal tussle with Chris Wallace on Fox News because of the hysteria with which some people attacked Clinton afterward. He struck a nerve, it appears; instead of disagreeing with what he said, critical observers are attacking the way he said it, where he said it, when he said it, how he said it, and who he said it to.
Chris Wallace handled himself well enough during the discussion but why, afterward, did he have to whine and complain as if the former president had been mean to him? Especially since Wallace violated the ground rules for the session by asking only a couple perfunctory global warming questions (Clinton's current cause celebre) and then pouncing on terrorism and making Clinton as much a target as an interviewee.
Both the political right and left in this country seem overstocked with crybabies, but many on the right seem quicker to whimper and simper. A few years ago, a sad old TV correspondent wrote a blistering book assailing the media for being too liberal -- that tired charge. The book was vicious and malicious. But if anyone attacked it, its author went nuts with indignation, yelping like a dog whose paw someone stepped on -- crying "foul" when anyone did to him what he'd done to many people in his book.
It's like the Islamic extremists who, if you call them prone to violence, threaten to kill you for insulting them -- an inconsistency examined by the brilliant Charles Krauthammer in a recent column.
Face-to-face with Clinton, Wallace obviously wanted to show off and "get tough," but then quickly turned into a baby when Clinton had left and Wallace was asked for comment. His father Mike Wallace, one of the greatest of all network news personalities, never dished out what he couldn't take. He never behaved like a sissy-pants when someone he'd roughed up got mad.
Nobody really owes anybody an apology for the Clinton-Wallace session because it was good TV. And it wasn't just fireworks but a meaningful if abbreviated dialogue. Clinton has every right to defend himself vigorously, as does anybody who's being interviewed and feels they've been wronged or taken advantage of. Clinton was energized and galvanizing; he spoke with force and finesse. Ronald Reagan was The Great Communicator but, except for his penchant for being long-winded, Clinton was at least The Very Good One. He was wise to be on the defensive when venturing into Fox territory and smart to come armed with articulate and persuasive responses.
There was an exhilarating kind of tension to the encounter, perhaps because in the backs of our minds we wondered if Clinton might feel so taunted by Wallace that he'd lose control and pop him one. As it was, he leaned forward and got into Wallace's space, if not his face, and turned a testy little tiff on a cable news network into the most riveting television of the week.
END Excerpt from Shales' blog
Shales' blog: blogs.tvweek.com
David Folkenflik's Tuesday NPR story on the crying-at-Simon-and-Garfunkel speech at Harvard in June by New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse displayed a stunned Daniel Okrent, the first New York Times "public editor"; a troubled editor of the Oregonian newspaper; a supportive Jack Nelson, her former Washington Week colleague on PBS, who admitted he wouldn't be as supportive if Greenhouse were spouting pro-Bush sentiments; and a set of Times editors who will not comment on the record.
Folkenflik recounted how "she had wept at a Simon and Garfunkel concert when she was struck by the unfulfilled promise of her own generation. Greenhouse went on to charge that since then, the U.S. government had 'turned its energy and attention away from upholding the rule of law and toward creating law-free zones at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Haditha and other places around the world -- [such as] the U.S. Congress.'
[This item is adopted from a Wednesday afternoon posting, by Tim Graham, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Folkenflik's story on NPR.org (not an exact match with the story aired on NPR Tuesday) claimed that "charged commentary" wasn't common in our mainstream media: www.npr.org
Such charged commentary can be found almost anywhere you turn these days -- except from hard news reporters. Daniel Okrent was the Times' first public editor -- or in-house journalism critic. He says he is amazed by Greenhouse's remarks.
"It's been a basic tenet of journalism...that the reporter's ideology [has] to be suppressed and submerged, so the reader has absolute confidence that what he or she is reading is not colored by previous views," Okrent says.
Charges of media bias are routinely thrown at the Times and other media outlets, from both the left and the right. Okrent says he never received a single complaint about bias in Greenhouse's coverage. He wonders whether journalists really need to smother their private beliefs to be fair in their articles.
END of Excerpt
I find that hard to believe that no one ever complained about a Greenhouse article or statement. It's not like TimesWatch has never complained: www.timeswatch.org
Sandy Rowe, editor of the Oregonian and a past chairwoman of the executive committee of the Pulitzer Prize board. Rowe praises Greenhouse's work -- but questions her judgment.
Greenhouse tells NPR, "I said what I said in a public place. Let the chips fall where they may."
Jack Nelson, former Washington bureau chief for The Los Angeles Times, blanches at hearing of Greenhouse's remarks, but agrees with her tough critique of the White House.
"If I was the Washington bureau chief and she was my Supreme Court reporter, I might have to answer to the editors in L.A. for that," Nelson says. "But I would do my best to support her."
Asked if he would defend Greenhouse had she said something he disagreed with, however, Nelson laughed -- and said he would take issue if she had backed Bush policy.
The New York Times ethics policy bans political activism by its journalists and advises them not to say things on television they could not publish in the paper. But it doesn't appear to address this precise situation.
Rowe says the reputation of Greenhouse's newspaper is at stake when the reporter expresses her strong beliefs publicly.
Greenhouse "was asked to speak, as wonderful as she is, because she works for The New York Times. In that situation, any of us has to be careful between our own personal views -- which we no doubt have -- and whether it casts doubt on our own work or on the credibility of the institution we represent."
Top New York Times editors Bill Keller and Jill Abramson declined to be interviewed for this story.
END of Excerpt
Here we are again, with Keller & Co. failing to address internal matters with the rest of the press, just as they did on the NSA-terror-surveillance leaks. Can anyone ever tolerate a Times staffer showing umbrage at "no comment" responses from any other public figure or institution?
It's interesting that Folkenflik never engages professional media critics outside the newsroom -- not only ideological media-watchdog groups, but even more unaffiliated media critics, from Jeff Jarvis to Jack Shafer to Jay Rosen.
For audio of Folkenflik's September 26 story on NPR's All Things Considered: www.npr.org
For the prepared text of Greenhouse's remarks at Radcliffe's reunion event in June where she was the "2006 Radcliffe Institute Medalist": www.radcliffe.edu
ABC hired reporter Jake Tapper from the partisan left-wing Web site Salon.com in 2001. On Wednesday night's World News, Tapper patted his old employers on the back by publicizing their unsubstantiated charges "by at least five" accusers that conservative Senator George Allen used the "N" word in his college days at the University of Virginia. (He made no mention of the old signers of his paycheck.) Tapper let Allen deny it, but Allen's accusers weren't rebutted by Allen's first wife or college teammates. Mimicking all the other liberal reporters, Tapper recounted it as part of a weeks-long narrative about racial and ethnic gaffes, and professed that the best Republicans "can hope for is that he survives this November's election."
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Thursday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide a transcript.
Charles Gibson introduced the September 27 story: "There's a Senate race we want to look at tonight, the race in Virginia where Senator George Allen was thought to be a shoo-in for re-election. But he's made a series of gaffes that are giving him serious trouble. Here's ABC's chief national correspondent Jake Tapper."
Tapper started with the usual tap-dance, focusing not on whether the charges are true, whether they have any substance, or whether this is a viciously negative charge being generated by the Democratic Party. Instead, the focus was on Allen's campaign struggling with constant setbacks, without acknowledging the media that's working so hard to set him back. It's like a bully knocking a child down and kneeling on his chest with all his weight, then narrating it all as if he's not the one kneeling on you:
Tapper did not acknowledge that Shelton has been a registered Democrat, as are most of the accusers that keep turning up. Tapper failed to rebut Shelton with Allen's first wife or college teammates. Wilkins is not a leader of any civil rights group, but a far-left professor with stints in Lyndon Johnson's administration, then at the Washington Post and the New York Times. At the very least, for a few seconds, Tapper acknowledged Allen's opponent:
But Tapper did not note that Webb acknowledged using the N-word repeatedly in his novel "Fields of Fire," or mention the fact that Webb's blogging staffers have been promoting the "nigger" story on the Internet, so the idea that might be planted here, that Webb's being gentlemanly on this story, is bizarre. Then Tapper returned to recycling all the old liberal gotcha scenes:
In his quick and dirty piece, Tapper also failed to acknowledge that Allen bristled at questions about his Jewish ancestors because it came from the same local reporter that had earlier in the debate hounded him about the "Macaca" comment, and failed to note the audience applauded Allen when he professed amazement that the question had anything to do with the issues before the people of Virginia.
The story might remind viewers to re-read Tapper's book on the 2000 presidential campaign, "Down and Dirty." On page 11, he decried George W. Bush and "his Bob Jones University-visiting, Confederate flag-waving, itchy-death-row-trigger-finger-wiggling, South Carolina-racist-pandering cracker Texas ass." This story seemed like a return to his old liberal and partisan Salon.com form.
On Tuesday night's syndicated Geraldo At Large, Geraldo Rivera compared George Allen to Mark Fuhrman. Rivera, in his final commentary, aired the allegations of racism by Allen critics but never quoted Allen supporters. Teasing the segment, Rivera made the Fuhrman comparison: "Stand by everybody. What does the senator from Virginia have in common with the cop in the O.J. Simpson case? We'll be back in a flash with what may be the beginning of the end of a promising political career."
[This item, by Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The following is the entire transcript of Rivera's segment from the September 26th edition of Geraldo At Large:
-- Brent Baker