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Keane Rebukes Zakaria Who Charged Army 'Presided Over' Cleansing --9/6/2007


1. Keane Rebukes Zakaria Who Charged Army 'Presided Over' Cleansing
Pillars of the news media and foreign policy establishment were scolded Wednesday night on ABC by Jack Keane, a retired four-star General and former Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, who asserted both are living "in the past" in their pessimistic warnings about Iraq. Fareed Zakaria, Editor of Newsweek International, had asserted that "the American Army has presided over the largest ethnic cleansing in the world since the Balkans." For World News, anchor Charles Gibson gathered Zakaria, Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Keane to assess Iraq. Zakaria charged: "It's sad to say, but the American Army has presided over the largest ethnic cleansing in the world since the Balkans. When people say bad things are going to happen if we leave, bad things have already happened. Where were you for the last four years?" Haass maintained: "We should be realistic. Iraq is likely to be a messy and slightly dysfunctional country for the foreseeable future." Keane pounced: "Both of you are really not describing what's happening in Iraq. I mean, you're in the past, to be quite frank about it. The Sunni insurgency has gone through a conversion. They have thrown the towel in. They have now saddled up along side of us..."

2. Sergeant on CBS Rues Missing 'Good Things Soldiers Do for Iraqis'
With Katie Couric in Iraq, the CBS Evening News on Wednesday allowed viewers to hear directly from U.S. soldiers who regretted how people back home don't hear more about "the good things soldiers do for the Iraqis" and warned that a pullout by the U.S. would lead to "mayhem." Couric asked a small group of soldiers: "What would you like people to know that you don't think they're hearing back home?"Army Sergeant Jamie Wall answered: "The good things that happen out here, the good things that soldiers do for the Iraqis and how the Iraqis react to us." Sergeant Brady Marcus predicted: "If we pulled out now, the gangs would take over, the streets would be in mayhem, and this place would be a disaster area." Couric responded by suggesting it "sounds like, in your opinion, there's no easy answer," which prompted Marcus to reproach Couric's simplistic appraisal: "There's not an easy answer. We're at war, Katie, and it's not an easy thing to get through."

3. NBC's Today Gives Half-Hour to Team Billary, Lauer Pushes New Tax
NBC's Today show devoted the entire 7:30am half-hour of its Wednesday morning program to Bill and Hillary Clinton as it invited on the former President to tout his wife's candidacy and his new book, Giving. During almost 13 minutes of one-on-one interview time with Clinton, Matt Lauer brought up the issue of too much money in politics and suggested a new "lobbying tax," but never raised Bill's or Hillary's fundraising scandals, and asked about Republican Larry Craig's sex scandal, but didn't mention Bill's own personal indiscretions and even let Clinton rant about the GOP's "Swift boat tactics" against Hillary. Dreaming of re-directing money spent on politics to the former President's charitable causes, Lauer ruminated: "Wouldn't it be a great idea if we took, even half of that money, that's spent by corporations and special interests trying to influence politics and, and dedicated it to changing the world for the better?" Lauer also fantasized about imposing a new tax: "What about a lobbying tax? If you're gonna spend a certain amount of money lobbying for a special interest cause, you have to match that amount of money by giving it to help education or to fight AIDS?" Clinton, naturally, considered it a great idea.

4. Mitchell Touts Bill as Hillary's 'Biggest Asset,' Skips Critics
On NBC's Today on Wednesday morning promoted Bill Clinton's political cause -- his wife -- and his new book, Giving: How Each of Us Can Change The World, as Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira repeatedly heralded how the idealistic former President would arrive to tell viewers "how you can change the world," a play on the book's subtitle. To set up the interview (see item #3 above), NBC's Andrea Mitchell compiled a typical story on the Clintons, with no conservative or Republican critics in it, and the toughest, most skeptical expert in the piece was Dee Dee Myers, the former Clinton press secretary. Myers declared that Hillary has the problem that her husband is "a global rock star and one of the most popular people on the face of the planet." Mitchell concluded that the former President is "one of her biggest assets."

5. WashPost Gushes, PBS's Smiley Emcees Clinton Book Launch Event
The launch of Bill Clinton's new book, Giving, already has loads of media help (see items #3 and #4 above) and Wednesday's Washington Post carried a gooey article from reporter David Segal about a Harlem book launch event and panel discussion for Clinton hosted by Tavis Smiley, the nightly PBS chat-show host. The headline on the front of the Style section: "Bill Clinton's Got What It Takes for 'Giving.'" Segal couldn't get over how Clinton consistently sounds like a genius, and how it makes him long for the glory days: "He still has this way of presenting his ideas for reforms as simple, elegant solutions that would all but enact themselves if enough people get behind them or merely get out of their way. He spoke, at one point, of 'whittling down materials to retrofit buildings to combat global warming in Bangladesh,' and whatever it means, it sure sounds like a good idea....Listening to the man think out loud again, it was hard not to pine for an era before bad news got really bad, before Sept. 11 showed up on the calendar every year as Patriot Day."


Keane Rebukes Zakaria Who Charged Army
'Presided Over' Cleansing

Pillars of the news media and foreign policy establishment were scolded Wednesday night on ABC by Jack Keane, a retired four-star General and former Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, who asserted both are living "in the past" in their pessimistic warnings about Iraq. Fareed Zakaria, Editor of Newsweek International, had asserted that "the American Army has presided over the largest ethnic cleansing in the world since the Balkans." For World News, anchor Charles Gibson gathered Zakaria, Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Keane to assess the road ahead in Iraq. Zakaria charged: "One of the dirty little secrets about Iraq is that Iraq has increasingly been ethnically cleansed. It's sad to say, but the American Army has presided over the largest ethnic cleansing in the world since the Balkans. When people say bad things are going to happen if we leave, bad things have already happened. Where were you for the last four years?" Haass maintained: "We should be realistic. Iraq is likely to be a messy and slightly dysfunctional country for the foreseeable future."

Keane pounced: "Both of you are really not describing what's happening in Iraq. I mean, you're in the past, to be quite frank about it. The Sunni insurgency has gone through a conversion. They have thrown the towel in. They have now saddled up along side of us..."

ABCNews.com has posted a transcript of the entire session which includes portions not aired: abcnews.go.com

[This item was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Back in 2005, Zakaria highlighted a description of President Bush as a less rational "Ayatollah."

The February 2, 2005 MRC CyberAlert recounted:

Prompting cheers from the audience, on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central, Zakaria passed along how an Iraqi politician told him that "there are two Grand Ayatollahs running Iraq: Bush and Sistani -- and Sistani seems the more rational."...

....[I]n a discussion about how the Shia have refrained from attacking Sunnis, Stewart described Ayatollah Sistani as "seemingly a very reasonable man."

That cued Zakaria, a regular panelist on ABC's This Week, to recall: "He seems to be a very reasonable guy. There's an Iraqi politician who said to me, I quote him in last week's column, he said 'there are two grand Ayatollahs running Iraq: Bush and Sistani and Sistani seems the more rational.'"...

He did indeed conclude an article, in the January 24 Newsweek, with the same anecdote he recounted on the Daily Show: "In the words of one of his [Sistani's] aides, 'the representation of our Sunni brethren in the coming government must be effective, regardless of the results of the elections.' As an Iraqi politician said to me, 'There are currently two Grand Ayatollahs running Iraq: Sistani and Bush. Most of us feel that Sistani is the more rational.'"

For the February 2, 2005 CyberAlert article: www.mediaresearch.org

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth provided these highlights from what aired on the September 5 World News on ABC:

CHARLES GIBSON: So let's frame this around two central questions: How do we leave, and when do we start? First of all, is the President right that leaving would be a disaster?
RETIRED GENERAL JACK KEANE: Well, I think leaving precipitously before we have the kind of security that we have to have in place would clearly be a disaster -- particularly now, when we've made some significant progress. Precipitous withdrawal makes no sense in my judgement, and what we should do is begin to leave, and then go back to the pre-surge level forces. I think we can do that in '08 for sure.

...

GIBSON: If we go through some sort of a reduction strategy, are we opening things up for some kind of genocide, ethnic cleansing, that will go on, and we'll simply have 50, 60, 70,000 troops standing by and watching this?
FAREED ZAKARIA, NEWSWEEK INTERNATIONAL: No, because one of the dirty little secrets about Iraq is that Iraq has increasingly been ethnically cleansed. It's sad to say, but the American Army has presided over the largest ethnic cleansing in the world since the Balkans. When people say bad things are going to happen if we leave, bad things have already happened. Where were you for the last four years?
RICHARD HAASS, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: But we should be realistic. Iraq is likely to be a messy and slightly dysfunctional country for the foreseeable future.
KEANE: Both of you are really not describing what's happening in Iraq. I mean, you're in the past, to be quite frank about it. The Sunni insurgency has gone through a conversion. They have thrown the towel in. They have now saddled up along side of us, and they want to protect their communities, but they don't want separate militia to do it. They're going to do it as members of the Iraqi security forces, which is very, very encouraging.

Sergeant on CBS Rues Missing 'Good Things
Soldiers Do for Iraqis'

With Katie Couric in Iraq, the CBS Evening News on Wednesday allowed viewers to hear directly from U.S. soldiers who regretted how people back home don't hear more about "the good things soldiers do for the Iraqis" and warned that a pullout by the U.S. would lead to "mayhem." Couric asked a small group of soldiers: "What would you like people to know that you don't think they're hearing back home?"Army Sergeant Jamie Wall answered: "The good things that happen out here, the good things that soldiers do for the Iraqis and how the Iraqis react to us." Sergeant Brady Marcus predicted: "If we pulled out now, the gangs would take over, the streets would be in mayhem, and this place would be a disaster area." Couric responded by suggesting it "sounds like, in your opinion, there's no easy answer," which prompted Marcus to reproach Couric's simplistic appraisal: "There's not an easy answer. We're at war, Katie, and it's not an easy thing to get through."

[This item was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the segment, with Couric at an outdoor location under a tent with the soldiers, on the September 5 CBS Evening News:

KATIE COURIC: Finally tonight, we hear from the people on the street, including the service men and women fighting this war. I sat down with a number of them to get their take on what's happening here.
COURIC TO THE SOLDIERS: Do you feel like the surge is working?
PFC JOHN MARSHALL, U.S. ARMY: I think the surge is working. It's going to take a lot of time to actually do its job and complete the mission.
SERGEANT ELIZABETH SANCHEZ, U.S. Army: You do interact with Iraqis often, and the hardest part is when they say, you know, we love America, we love that you're here helping us, but, honestly, life was better before you got here. And that, I think that hurt a lot to hear that.
CAPTAIN AMY CRONIN, U.S. Army: We're working from the bottom up from my level, and something really needs to be coming from the top down, from the Iraqi government, you know, putting systems in place so that we're not just putting band-aids on everything.
COURIC: What would you like people to know that you don't think they're hearing back home?
SERGEANT JAMIE WALL, U.S. Army: The good things, the good things that happen out here, the good things that soldiers do for the Iraqis and how the Iraqis react to us. It's not all bad.
SERGEANT BRADY MARCUS, U.S. Army: If we pulled out now, the gangs would take over, the streets would be in mayhem, and this place would be a disaster area. That's just my opinion.
COURIC: Sounds like, in your opinion, there's no easy answer.
MARCUS: There's not an easy answer. We're at war, Katie, and it's not an easy thing to get through.

NBC's Today Gives Half-Hour to Team Billary,
Lauer Pushes New Tax

NBC's Today show devoted the entire 7:30am half-hour of its Wednesday morning program to Bill and Hillary Clinton as it invited on the former President to tout his wife's candidacy and his new book, Giving. During almost 13 minutes of one-on-one interview time with Clinton, Matt Lauer brought up the issue of too much money in politics and suggested a new "lobbying tax," but never raised Bill's or Hillary's fundraising scandals, and asked about Republican Larry Craig's sex scandal, but didn't mention Bill's own personal indiscretions and even let Clinton rant about the GOP's "Swift boat tactics" against Hillary.

Dreaming of re-directing money spent on politics to the former President's charitable causes, Lauer ruminated: "Wouldn't it be a great idea if we took, even half of that money, that's spent by corporations and special interests trying to influence politics and, and dedicated it to changing the world for the better?" Lauer also fantasized about imposing a new tax: "What about a lobbying tax? If you're gonna spend a certain amount of money lobbying for a special interest cause, you have to match that amount of money by giving it to help education or to fight AIDS?" Clinton, naturally, considered it a great idea.

Lauer concluded the interview session by wishing for even more time to take in the wisdom of the ex-President: "Can you stick around for two-and-a-half more hours? I got a lot more to ask you."

After NBC's Andrea Mitchell finished her glowing set-up piece (see item #4 below), Lauer pressed Clinton from the left about public financing of campaigns and wondered if lobbying money should be taxed so more money could be spent on charities but never mentioned the name Norman Hsu: "I'm curious. When you think about giving and going back to money for a second. When you think about giving and making a difference do you ever think about how much money is in politics? In political contributions, in lobbying, and wouldn't it be a great idea if we took, even half of that money, that's spent by corporations and special interests trying to influence politics and, and dedicated it to changing the world for the better?"
Clinton: "It would be a good idea but in order to do it, we either have to have free television advertising or publicly-financed campaigns."
Lauer: "Or a little of both. What about a lobbying tax? If you're gonna spend a certain amount of money lobbying for a special interest cause, you have to match that amount of money by giving it to help education or to fight AIDS?"
Clinton: "Well that's not, that's not a bad idea."

Lauer also brought up the GOP-harming Larry Craig sex scandal but didn't ask the former President if his trysts would be harmful to the former First Lady's campaign: "Let me ask you about Senator Larry Craig. He resigned last week, amid a scandal. He plead guilty to disorderly conduct charges stemming from a gay sex sting in an airport in Minneapolis. Now his office says he may want to rethink that resignation. First, let's start there. Can he survive? Based on what you know about Washington and what you know about political scandals, can he survive?"
Clinton: "Well he's legally entitled to the rest of his term. So unless-"
Lauer: "But for all intents and purposes can he survive?"
Clinton: "Unless they vote to expel him, which they can do, that's a judgment, you know, that's something that he and the Republicans will have to work out."
Lauer: "Were, were you surprised at how quickly key Republicans pushed him overboard? People like John McCain and Hoekstra and, and Mitch McConnell and, and Mitt Romney?"
Clinton: "Well maybe he was carrying a little of the baggage for, you know, they, they did, they decided to say nothing about Senator Vitter and then they decided to say everything about Senator Craig..."

Lauer did press Clinton about Hillary's low likability rating, but that only served to send Bill into a vast-right-wing conspiracy-style rant against the GOP's "Swift boat tactics."

Lauer: "Let me, let me ask you about politics now. And, and there's a poll that just came out in Iowa that, that deals with your wife. And when, when people there were asked about who they respect most and who they trust most in the areas of leadership, handling of Iraq, protecting against terrorism, Hillary Clinton ranked tops out of four candidates. When they asked the people in Iowa, who do you like? She ranked fourth out of four candidates. Now this has got to be something that puzzles you, not only as a keen political observer, but as a husband. Why do you think, when asked on a number of occasions, people simply say they're not sure if they like Hillary Clinton?"
Clinton: "Well because she's the only person running, who for 15 years, has been regularly hit by the Swift boat tactics of the Republicans."

[This item, by Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The following is the complete transcript of the entire interview as it occurred on the September 5 edition of the "Today" show:

Matt Lauer: "President Clinton's new book is Giving: How Each of Us Can Change The World. President Clinton good to have you back in our studio. Good morning."
Bill Clinton: "Thanks, Matt."
Lauer: "I want to go through a political potpourri in a second but let's start with your book. And, and I think that when people see the title they're gonna say, 'Well giving, I mean we can all write a check, we can change the world.' But I'm struck by how much of this book you spend talking not about giving financially but giving of your time or your talents."
Clinton: "Yeah, what I tried to do in this book was to say whatever your age, whatever your income group, and whatever your time availability or whatever you know, whatever talents you have, everybody can do something. And there's an explosion of giving around the world that has the capacity, really, to change things in a way that private citizens have never done before."
Lauer: "And, and on a one-on-one basis, there's a section in the book and there's some examples of this, where you talk about giving the gift of reconciliation and new beginnings. In other words, mend a fence, you know, settle a dispute with someone you've been fighting with. Do you have personal experience with that? What inspired you to write that aspect of the book?"
Clinton: "Well I think my long friendship with Nelson Mandela started me thinking about what a unique gift it is. I mean he gave a gift to a country. He showed a country how he could get over 27 years in prison. Invite not only his jailers to his inauguration but his persecutors into his government. And basically that's what we're all gonna have to do to get through this new and unprecedented time. So politically it's a good thing. But I was, also, profoundly moved because of my continuing involvement with Rwanda with the things I've seen there. I'll never get over meeting a woman who lost her husband and six children. They were literally killed right in front of her. They, the people who attacked them thought she was dead. She woke up and instead of living her life in vengeance she started adopting orphans, without regard to whether they had been part of the tribe that she was a member of or part of the group that killed them. And I see things like that in Rwanda all the time, where people reaching across the divides. I saw two neighbors holding hands. Two women. One of them lost her husband and brother in the genocide, the other's husband was in jail awaiting war crimes tribe, war crimes trial for doing it. You just see this over and over again."
Lauer: "And so many examples in the book. Everything from a six-year-old boy who cleans up beaches to the, the story that we talk so much about, Osceola McCarty who's a cleaning woman who put aside so much of her earnings throughout her life and ended up giving away something like 60 percent of her earnings-"
Clinton: "To the scholarship, scholarships-"
Lauer: "-to scholarship fund. I'm curious. When you think about giving and going back to money for a second. When you think about giving and making a difference do you ever think about how much money is in politics? In political contributions, in lobbying, and wouldn't it be a great idea if we took, even half of that money, that's spent by corporations and special interests trying to influence politics and, and dedicated it to changing the world for the better?"
Clinton: "It would be a good idea but in order to do it, we either have to have free television advertising or publicly-financed campaigns."
Lauer: "Or a little of both. What about a lobbying tax? If you're gonna spend a certain amount of money lobbying for a special interest cause, you have to match that amount of money by giving it to help education or to fight AIDS?"
Clinton: "Well that's not, that's not a bad idea. I, when I was President, we removed the tax deduction for lobbying expenses because I didn't think the taxpayers should be subsidizing that as an ordinary business expense. After all they were trying to get political decisions made. Even though lobbyist groups I liked, you know, for the consumer groups and others, I just didn't, if they weren't, if they were for-profit organizations I didn't think they should be able to deduct that. But, keep in mind, there, enormous amount of money is given in this country and I'm trying to get more given. Probably about 2.5 percent of our national income is given by people. Far more than we spend on political campaigns. But I think we can do a lot better."
Lauer: "Let me, let me ask you about politics now. And, and there's a poll that just came out in Iowa that, that deals with your wife. And when, when people there were asked about who they respect most and who they trust most in the areas of leadership, handling of Iraq, protecting against terrorism, Hillary Clinton ranked tops out of four candidates. When they asked the people in Iowa, who do you like? She ranked fourth out of four candidates. Now this has got to be something that puzzles you, not only as a keen political observer, but as a husband. Why do you think, when asked on a number of occasions, people simply say they're not sure if they like Hillary Clinton?"
Clinton: "Well because she's the only person running, who for 15 years, has been regularly hit by the Swift boat tactics of the Republicans. The first year when I ran for President, the eight years I served, the six years she was in the Senate. I guess 16 years now. None of the others have been subject to that. They will be if one of them is nominated."
Lauer: "But it seems that personality, it, it doesn't seem about policy, it doesn't seem about ideology. It seems that there's something in her personality, people are saying they're not comfortable with."
Clinton: "Yes, but it's something they've been preconditioned to think about by 17, 16 years of attacks. The reason I know this is true, I have two pieces of evidence for you. When she ran for reelection in New York she carried 58 of the 62 counties, 36 of the 40 counties President Bush carried in 2004 with 60 percent of the vote."
Lauer: "So you're saying she can reach across party lines?"
Clinton: "Yeah, I know she can. And they like her because they know her not what they have been told about her. In Arkansas, a red state, that I'm the only person that's carried it twice since Franklin Roosevelt and it's clearly red state. She is well ahead of all the Republicans, all of them, including our former governor. Why? Because she lived there 18 years. They know her, not the cartoon that's been presented. I hear people, all the time, say, you know, her friends, I saw her best friend in Chicago, that she grew up with, the other day. And I said, 'Do you ever have the feeling that they're talking about somebody you're not familiar with?' She said, 'All the time. They just don't know her. And as soon as they do, they'll feel the same way about her that I do.'"
Lauer: "Let's talk about electability and recently you called this issue a canard and not worth a hill of beans. But you hear very often, President Clinton, that, that your wife probably is a shoe-in for the nomination of the Democratic Party but then is gonna have a tough time winning the general election, perhaps because of what we were just talking about, that personality issue."
Clinton: "No but I disagree with that."
Lauer: "Why don't you think there's merit to that theory, that she could have a tough time in the general election?"
Clinton: "I think she'll have a more difficult time winning the primary."
Lauer: "Why?"
Clinton: "Because I think, because people like you, ask questions like this and Democrats want to win the election. And because, not that there's anything wrong with the question, but what happens is, keep in mind when I was nominated on June the second, 1992, I was running third in the polls. Six weeks later I was first and never lost the lead. Why? Because independent voters and people who don't like hearing all these negative attacks think you're polarizing if someone attacks you, not if you attack someone else."
Lauer: "Yeah one of the big differences back in '91, '92 is there [was] a lot larger group of undecided voters, at this stage game, than there are right now."
Clinton: "Well I, you know, I don't know there was maybe 10 percent undecided but in the latest national polls, I saw, she was defeating all the Republicans, number one. Number two, in the latest state polls she was 10 points ahead of Mayor Giuliani in Florida. She was winning in Kentucky. She's way ahead in Arkansas. So in other words she's ahead in many states that Senator Kerry and Vice President Gore lost. So I think the data doesn't support that. But the main thing is the American people are fundamentally fair-minded. So as soon as the Republicans and the Democrats pick their nominee the independent voters will take a fresh look at both of them."
Lauer: "There's another major difference between you running for President in '91 and 92 and your wife running now and that is that you were the upstart candidate back then. You were somewhat unknown and now her opponents, in the Democratic Party, are painting Hillary Clinton as the establishment candidate. Let me play you something she said recently, because there's been a debate between Senator Clinton and, and Senator Obama about experience versus change. Let me play you what your wife said on Monday."
Hillary Clinton: "Some people think you have to choose between change and experience. Well, with me, you don't have to choose. I have spent my entire life fighting for change."
Lauer: "Can she have it both ways? Can, can she go out there as the candidate of experience and eight years in the White House with you and her years in the Senate and also say she's the candidate of change?"
Clinton: "Well sure, because by definition, we would change the policies that President Bush had followed. We disagreed with him. And she has proved an astonishing ability to work in the Senate and get things done. And keep in mind, that's important, because we can't pass health care reform, we can't pass energy reform, which I think is the key to creating jobs unless we get some Republican votes. We have to have 60 votes for anything in the budget to pass in the Senate. So I think that experience is the key to change. I think that one of the reasons that I was effective as president when I came in was that I was the senior governor in America. I was the young upstart on the national scene but I had worlds of experience that was highly relevant to the challenges America faced at the time. I don't think experience is a bad thing. And, you know, they, they often use President, they, Cheney and Rumsfeld and they say, 'Well if experience counted, look,' you know, they say this to Democratic audiences. But that's like saying that because all malpractice is committed by doctors, next time you need surgery you should go to an auto mechanic or someone else. I don't think it's a good argument."
Lauer: "Let me ask you about Senator Larry Craig. He resigned last week, amid a scandal. He plead guilty to disorderly conduct charges stemming from a gay sex sting in an airport in Minneapolis. Now his office says he may want to rethink that resignation. First, let's start there. Can he survive? Based on what you know about Washington and what you know about political scandals, can he survive?"
Clinton: "Well he's legally entitled to the rest of his term. So unless-"
Lauer: "But for all intents and purposes can he survive?"
Clinton: "Unless they vote to expel him, which they can do, that's a judgment, you know, that's something that he and the Republicans will have to work out."
Lauer: "Were, were you surprised at how quickly key Republicans pushed him overboard? People like John McCain and Hoekstra and, and Mitch McConnell and, and Mitt Romney?"
Clinton: "Well maybe he was carrying a little of the baggage for, you know, they, they did, they decided to say nothing about Senator Vitter and then they decided to say everything about Senator Craig that, I don't know, why they made the decisions they did but it's really a, this should be viewed, on the one hand, as a personal matter. A challenge for Senator Craig and his family and I don't even know what the facts are. I know what he says, I know what the prosecutors say. I saw what, all of you, put on the media. But I think the, you know, on that level, I think we should let him work that out. And then on the political level, it's really up to the Republicans. They'll determine what happens here."
Lauer: "Let me read you something about Iraq. On Monday, your wife said this, she said, 'As soon as I'm President I will call the joint chiefs together, my Secretary of Defense, my security advisers, and give them a very simple directive. Start planning now to bring them home as soon as we responsibly can.' I'm struck by the fact, I'm curious. Is that all that different from what President Bush is saying? He's saying when security on the ground can be sustained, when political progress-"
Clinton: "Oh yes, very different."
Lauer: "-can sustain that security, then I'll talk about bringing the troops home. What's the difference?"
Clinton: "Because that's not security she's talking about. She's talking about the security of our troops. For example, it's not all that easy to withdraw from a war situation. If you look at what happened to the Russians when they withdrew from Afghanistan, they did it very rapidly and hundreds of Russian troops were killed on the way out of the country because they presented themselves as targets. And what, the reason she's been pushing so hard for the Pentagon, right now, to have a plan for withdrawal, is she says, rightly so, 'Okay the President can disagree with me about when we should withdraw. I think we should to begin withdraw right now. But whenever we withdraw we've got to have a plan because otherwise a lot of our people will be killed and wounded who shouldn't be."
Lauer: "And, and your, and Hillary doesn't believe that the President has a plan to protect the troops upon withdrawal?"
Clinton: "Well the Pentagon has acknowledged as much. That's why she's pushing them to plan for it. If they have, they certainly haven't discussed it with the country. And the important thing here is to have a plan. Now I personally think we have no choice but to take some troops out of there this year because we don't have enough ground forces to meet any kind of unforeseen challenge to our national security. The Army, the Marine Corps, the National Guard and Reserves are all over-stressed. The Navy is training in infantry tactics. And, and so we're going to have a real problem maintaining our military unless there is a withdrawal this year. And we got a problem maintaining our mission in Afghanistan."
Lauer: "Former President Bill Clinton. Can you stick around for two-and-a-half more hours? I got a lot more to ask you."
Clinton: "I'd love to-."
Lauer: "Yeah."
Clinton: "-I'm proud of this book."
Lauer: "The book is called Giving: How Each of Us Can Change The World. President Clinton, thanks for being here."
Clinton: "Thank you, Matt."

To see how last Thursday the NBC Nightly News covered the Norman Hsu scandal that Lauer failed to bring up with Bill Clinton, go to: www.mrc.org

The ABC and CBS evening newscasts caught up Friday night: www.mrc.org

Mitchell Touts Bill as Hillary's 'Biggest
Asset,' Skips Critics

On NBC's Today on Wednesday morning promoted Bill Clinton's political cause -- his wife -- and his new book, Giving: How Each of Us Can Change The World, as Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira repeatedly heralded how the idealistic former President would arrive to tell viewers "how you can change the world," a play on the book's subtitle. To set up the interview (see item #3 above), NBC's Andrea Mitchell compiled a typical story on the Clintons, with no conservative or Republican critics in it, and the toughest, most skeptical expert in the piece was Dee Dee Myers, the former Clinton press secretary. Myers declared that Hillary has the problem that her husband is "a global rock star and one of the most popular people on the face of the planet." Mitchell concluded that the former President is "one of her biggest assets."

[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The MRC's Geoffrey Dickens labored through the goo to get the transcript. Matt Lauer opened the show in part with this promo over the theme music: "And, running mate. Former President Bill Clinton talks about politics, his wife Hillary's run for President, the polls and how you can change the world today, Wednesday, September 5th, 2007."

At 7:23am, Lauer echoed the promo, complete with cozy kidding and friendly giggling off-camera from the NBC staff: "Coming up in our next half-hour former President Bill Clinton on how you can change the world, on presidential politics and he'll make a bold prediction right now, who will be the nominee for President on the Republican side?"
Bill Clinton: "I don't have a clue." [Raucous staff laughter]
Lauer: "That's a tease! We'll talk to Bill Clinton after your local news."

At 7:30am, Meredith Vieira echoed the you-can-change-the-world promo yet again: "And coming up in just a moment former President Bill Clinton. He could be headed back to the White House but if he does it will be his wife, Hillary, leading the way this time. And his biggest challenge may be letting her take the spotlight while he helps her on the campaign trail. Coming up we'll talk to him about the race for the White House and his new book, explaining how each of us can change the world."

Twenty seconds later, after the promos were all read, Matt Lauer then began the segment: "But let's begin this half hour with former President Bill Clinton. The nation's 42nd commander-in-chief is out with a new book. We're gonna talk to him about that, in just a moment. But it's his role as campaigner-in-chief that's getting a lot of attention these days. NBC's Andrea Mitchell has more. Andrea, good morning to you."

[On screen headline: "The Bill Factor, The Power Of President Clinton."]

Andrea Mitchell: "Good morning, Matt. Well experts in both parties say he is the best political strategist in the business and now he's got another book that is sure to be a bestseller. So how will that affect the political fortunes of his wife at a critical point in the campaign? He's not the typical candidate's spouse. Whether on book tour, on Oprah or on the campaign-"
Hillary Clinton: "Don't you miss having a president who sounds like that?"
Mitchell: "He is a huge draw. John Edwards has labor endorsements."
John Edwards: "And we are marching together."
Mitchell: "Barack Obama is attracting big crowds. But for Democrats, Bill Clinton has more star power than any of the candidates, perhaps even his wife."

David Letterman: "Constitutionally he could be a vice presidential candidate. Could he?"
Hillary Clinton: "Apparently not."
Letterman: "Apparently not?"
Hillary Clinton: "No and believe me, he looked into that."

Mitchell: "Tuesday night, it was his turn."

Letterman: "You have to be careful, politically, what, what you say now."
Bill Clinton: "Now what I say can impact her campaign so I try to show some discipline about what I say, you know? For example I got 10 rules about coming here tonight: 'Don't make news, don't make news, don't make news, don't make news.'"
Letterman: "I see."

At this juncture, the supposed tough part of the story kicked in, about how the country might have mental problems with her:

Mitchell: "But could he overshadow her, even as she is trying to break through the political glass ceiling?"
Dee Dee Myers, former Clinton press secretary: "The fact that she has a man standing over her shoulder and a man who was once president and who is a global rock star and one of the most popular people on the face of the planet raises, again, a set off issues that this country has never dealt with."

Ellen Degeneres: "Hi!"
Hillary Clinton: "Hi!"
Degeneres: "Look who it is!"

Mitchell: "She gets asked about him at every turn."

Unidentified man: "The question on everybody's mind is, while you're out campaigning will Bill actually take care of the house?"
Hillary Clinton: "He, actually, does some things but we have help."

Mitchell: "And he gets asked about her."

Bill Clinton on Oprah: "Some days I get a call from around the country saying, 'You realize I'm 15 years older than you were, when you did this?' And I say, well nobody made you run girl. I like what I'm doing."

Mitchell: "And so far what he is doing is a big asset to his wife's campaign. In fact, Hillary Clinton is getting her biggest crowds when her husband is campaigning at her side. But her aides say that she is running on her own record, even if, for now, the former President is one of her biggest assets."

The pom-pom-shaking Wednesday morning story was an echo of the story Mitchell reported on Tuesday's Nightly News -- a story dedicated to giving the Clintons more media on the topic of how much media they're doing, from Ellen to Oprah to Letterman. But NBC never wondered whether the Clintons were only doing easy, friendly media opportunities -- or whether it might be their responsibility to be display a greater instinct for tough questioning than the light, giggly forums with Ellen, Oprah, or Dave.

WashPost Gushes, PBS's Smiley Emcees
Clinton Book Launch Event

The launch of Bill Clinton's new book, Giving, already has loads of media help (see items #3 and #4 above) and Wednesday's Washington Post carried a gooey article from reporter David Segal about a Harlem book launch event and panel discussion for Clinton hosted by Tavis Smiley, the nightly PBS chat-show host. The headline on the front of the Style section: "Bill Clinton's Got What It Takes for 'Giving.'" Segal couldn't get over how Clinton consistently sounds like a genius, and how it makes him long for the glory days: "He still has this way of presenting his ideas for reforms as simple, elegant solutions that would all but enact themselves if enough people get behind them or merely get out of their way. He spoke, at one point, of 'whittling down materials to retrofit buildings to combat global warming in Bangladesh,' and whatever it means, it sure sounds like a good idea....Listening to the man think out loud again, it was hard not to pine for an era before bad news got really bad, before Sept. 11 showed up on the calendar every year as Patriot Day."

[This item is adapted from a posting, by Tim Graham, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Segal professed amazement at the crowded event, and how "Sprinkled throughout was an assortment of recognizable faces so random they seem popped from a lottery machine number jumbler," from Pat O'Brien to Rachael Ray:

Same question, Pat O'Brien. Although, first, what are you doing here?

"I'm actually a commissioner in the state of California for California Volunteers," he said. "Appointed by Schwarzenegger."

Aha.

"He's amazing," said O'Brien, referring to Clinton. "To me, it's a Bobby Kennedy thing. A lot of politicians have tried it and he actually made it work."

Rachael Ray -- who has her own cooking-related charity, Yum-o! -- you feeling any nostalgia for those earlier times?

You bet she is!

"There was no debt, we had hope, we were largely at peace," she gushed. "Recession shmession."

END of Excerpt

For the September 5 Washington Post article in full: www.washingtonpost.com

-- Brent Baker