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Lauer Laughs at Franken's Re-Run Rove and Libby "Execution" Quip --10/25/2005


1. Lauer Laughs at Franken's Re-Run Rove and Libby "Execution" Quip
On this morning's (Tuesday) Today, at 8:52am, Al Franken was on to promote his new book The Truth (with Jokes) and repeated his twisted quip from Friday's Late Show with David Letterman in which he predicted that Karl Rove and Lewis "Scooter" Libby will be "executed" for treason. Franken's "joke," that "George H.W. Bush, the President's father, said...that outing a CIA agent is treason. I agree. So I think that Rove and Libby will be executed," drew laughter from Matt Lauer and those in the Today show studio.

2. Olbermann Compares Bush to Clinton-Era "White House in Crisis"
Four days after Keith Olbermann first suggested a parallel between the Clinton White House "in crisis" during the Lewinsky affair and the Bush one now, on Monday night's Countdown he resurrected Clinton-era MSNBC video of the introduction of a "White House in Crisis" special. He set it up, with his voice getting lower and more dramatic after his "or" option, as well as a smirk: "Is this just another in the endless historical parade of political controversies through which every President since Washington has had to steer, or is it in fact, the White House in crisis?"

3. In 2000, Networks Didn't Care About Hillary's False Testimony
For weeks now, the media have breathlessly hyped the possibility that presidential advisor Karl Rove might be indicted by the grand jury looking into the leak of CIA employee Valerie Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak. Or, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald could choose not to indict anyone, and instead issue a detailed report of who knew what, when they knew it, and from whom they heard it. But the networks just yawned five years ago when Hillary Clinton was found by an independent counsel to have lied to investigators looking into one of the Clintons' very first abuses of power, the firing of White House Travel office employees.


Lauer Laughs at Franken's Re-Run Rove
and Libby "Execution" Quip

On this morning's (Tuesday) Today, at 8:52am, Al Franken was on to promote his new book The Truth (with Jokes) and repeated his twisted quip from Friday's Late Show with David Letterman in which he predicted that Karl Rove and Lewis "Scooter" Libby will be "executed" for treason. Franken's "joke," that "George H.W. Bush, the President's father, said...that outing a CIA agent is treason. I agree. So I think that Rove and Libby will be executed," drew laughter from Matt Lauer and those in the Today show studio.

[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted late this morning on the MRC's NewsBuster.org blog. To watch video of it, as rendered by the MRC's Michelle Humphrey, in either RealPlayer or Windows Media formats, go to: newsbusters.org ]

The October 24 CyberAlert recounted: "And so basically, what it looks like is going to happen is that Libby and Karl Rove are going to be executed" because "outing a CIA agent is treason," left-wing author and radio talk show host Al Franken asserted Friday night, to audience laughter, on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman. Franken qualified his hard-edged satire: "Yeah. And I don't know how I feel about it because I'm basically against the death penalty, but they are going to be executed it looks like." Franken later suggested that President Bush is at risk of receiving the same punishment, since Karl Rove likely told him what he did, but he added a caveat: "I think, by the way, that we should never ever, ever, ever execute a sitting President."

For RealPlayer and Windows Media video clips of Franken on the Late Show, go to either the October 24 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

Or to the original NewsBusters.org posting: newsbusters.org

In a follow-up blog posting, the MRC's Rich Noyes recalled how while Lauer just smiled and laughed when left-wing radio host Al Franken predicted the execution of Karl Rove and Lewis Libby, a few weeks ago when Pat Robertson called for the assassination of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, an anti-American dictator who has cozied up with Iran's ayatollahs and Cuba's communists, Today was outraged enough to lead the show with Robertson's supposed transgression.

"We fine broadcasters for using four-letter words, we say that's offensive. So is it offensive to call for the assassination of a world leader?" NBC's Matt Lauer castigated back on August 23. But a left-wing host suggests the execution of top ranking officials of the executive branch -- that's just a joke, right? Or perhaps Today's indignant reaction to Pat Robertson was, shall we say, a little "staged," such has Today's "canoegate." See: newsbusters.org

For Rich's NewsBusters.org posting where you can add your comment: newsbusters.org

Now, Franken on Tuesday's Today, picking up with the exchange which included Franken's "execution" line:

Matt Lauer: "All right, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby what's their future? What's your prediction in terms of indictments? Yes or no?"
Franken: "Oh they, they'll be indicted. I, I am absolutely sure and this is about, of course, the war in Iraq really. It's about the justification for the war and smearing Joe Wilson by outing his wife who's a CIA agent. George H.W. Bush, the President's father, said, as, when he was head of the CIA, that outing a CIA agent is treason. I agree. So I think that Rove and Libby will be executed."
Lauer laughed along with others in the studio: "That aside, given the fact it has a lot to do with the mood in this country and the, and the thought process in this country prior to the war in Iraq how much do you think the average American cares about this story right now? We had James Carville on this morning, said about a two on a scale of 1 to 10. Laura Ingraham said minus one. What do you think?"
Franken: "I think Laura Ingraham is an idiot."
Lauer chuckled: "Well you don't have a lot of nice things about a lot of conservatives."
Franken: "Well no but minus, I mean people, I think-"
Lauer: "But how much do you think people care about it?"
Franken: "I think people care, I think people care that people close to the President and the Vice President are, are outing CIA agents and lying and lying before, I think this is, and, and when they get indicted and when people start looking at this it's gonna be very, very big."

Earlier in the interview Franken drew laughs from in studio when he called the President "incompetent." Taking it from the top of the interview here is the conversation:

Lauer gladly reciting the title of Franken's first book: "The liberal voice of Al Franken first came calling when he declared Rush Limbaugh is A Big Fat Idiot, now the political satirist turned radio talk show host has a new book on the shelf simply titled, The Truth With Jokes. Al Franken, good morning. Just a little light reading? That, that by the way in the New York Times, that costs a fortune, that ad."
Al Franken: "Yes, you know that shows exactly how much faith they have in this book."
Lauer: "Yeah?"

[Graphic read: "Laughs From the Left"]

Franken: "Oh yeah."
Lauer: "How are, how are, how are conservatives gonna feel about this book?"
Franken: "They will love it!"
Lauer: "Yeah, you think so?"
Franken: "Yeah well what's, see the book is prescient. When I was writing the book there were, there were a number of people in this country who thought the President was competent."
[Laughter in the studio]
Franken: "And now, now, now, now we know he's not and that he is corrupt too so that's, yeah, yeah?"

At the end of the interview Franken couldn't resist joining the rest of the left and many in the media in their ghoulish countdown to 2,000 deaths.

Lauer: "You don't have a solution for the problem we're in Iraq right now. That fair to say?"
Franken: "That's very fair to say. We do this on my show, I have a three hour show everyday on Air America and we talk to conservatives and we talk to liberals and we talk to people trying to figure out, 'cause we've been put in a terrible situation there. And we've been put in there by this President and they won't tell us the truth. That's the problem is that you can't rely on these guys for the truth. And that's what's so important. This is why this isn't a negative one. This was about trying to smear a guy who is saying they, they didn't try to buy nuclear material from, from Niger, you're lying. They lied. So I think that's kind of important and you can ask the families of the 2000 troops that died how important that is."

Olbermann Compares Bush to Clinton-Era
"White House in Crisis"

Four days after Keith Olbermann first suggested a parallel between the Clinton White House "in crisis" during the Lewinsky affair and the Bush one now, on Monday night's Countdown he resurrected Clinton-era MSNBC video of the introduction of a "White House in Crisis" special. He set it up, with his voice getting lower and more dramatic after his "or" option, as well as a smirk: "Is this just another in the endless historical parade of political controversies through which every President since Washington has had to steer, or is it in fact, the White House in crisis?"

[This item was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your comment, or to watch a video clip in both RealPlayer and Windows Media formats, as well as for a 1998 picture of Olbermann, go to: newsbusters.org ]

A Friday CyberAlert item recounted how Olbermann "forwarded the notion that the Bush White House is in a 'crisis' similar to that which enveloped the Clinton White House after the Monica Lewinsky revelation. Interviewing former Clinton Chief-of-Staff Leon Panetta, Olbermann pointed out how "the rundown for tonight's show was given a title by our producer that shook me. The title simply was, 'White House in Crisis.' I already hosted a news show on this network that had that title some years ago. Is it applicable now? Is in fact in your opinion this White House in crisis?"

For the October 21 CyberAlert item: www.mediaresearch.org

A brief transcript from the October 24 Countdown with Keith Olbermann, picking up with what he squeezed in between speculating with Washington Post reporter Jim Vandehei about what could happen to Rove and Libby and interviewing 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign spokesman Terry Holt:
Olbermann: "Is this just another in the endless historical parade of political controversies through which every President since Washington has had to steer, [lowering tone of voice] or is it in fact [dramatic pause, with a smirk], the White House in crisis?"
Video and announcer from, presumably, 1998: "This is an MSNBC special: 'White House in Crisis.' Here is Keith Olbermann."
Olbermann, in old video: "Good evening. In a dramatic development tonight-"
Olbermann live: "Now you know how my hair got gray. Well I figure if I'm going to have a flashback, you're going to have a flashback too."

Actually, no one needed such a flashback.

In 2000, Networks Didn't Care About Hillary's
False Testimony

For weeks now, the media have breathlessly hyped the possibility that presidential advisor Karl Rove might be indicted by the grand jury looking into the leak of CIA employee Valerie Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak. Or, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald could choose not to indict anyone, and instead issue a detailed report of who knew what, when they knew it, and from whom they heard it. But the networks just yawned five years ago when Hillary Clinton was found by an independent counsel to have lied to investigators looking into one of the Clintons' very first abuses of power, the firing of White House Travel office employees.

[This item, by the MRC's Rich Noyes, was posted Monday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]

Given the ridiculously overwrought coverage of the last month, if Fitzgerald's report confirms media suspicions that Rove and/or vice presidential aide Lewis Libby talked to reporters about Valerie Plame and weren't completely forthcoming to investigators, you can expect the networks to go absolutely nuts, whether anyone is indicted or not.

That's why it's worth recalling how the networks just yawned five years ago when Hillary Clinton -- who, one might recall, was a pretty high level individual in the last administration -- was found to have lied to investigators looking into one of the Clintons' very first abuses of power, the firing of White House Travel office employees:

In a report released October 18, 2000, independent counsel Robert Ray determined Hillary had given false testimony when questioned about the travel office firings, a crime that Ray declined to prosecute. FNC reporter David Shuster (now with MSNBC) explained on that night's Special Report with Brit Hume:
"The investigation began in the administration's first term when seven members of the Travel Office staff were terminated and replaced by a company run by Clinton friends. The issue for prosecutors was whether anybody in the White House tried to cover up alleged mismanagement of the firings.
"Under oath, Mrs. Clinton flatly denied any role and denied that she had any input, but later a memo surfaced from administration chief David Watkins suggesting Mrs. Clinton wanted the travel staff fired. Watkins said there would be hell to pay if swift action was not taken in conformity with the First Lady's wishes. A friend of Watkins also alleged that Watkins was told to quote, 'fire the sons of bitches.'
"While that claim could not be substantiated, Independent Counsel Robert Ray cited eight separate conversations between the First Lady and senior staff and concluded: '€˜Mrs. Clinton's input into the process was significant, if not the significant factor influencing the pace of events in the Travel Office firings and the ultimate decision to fire the employees.'"
Shuster then showed George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley: "It essentially says that she satisfies all of the components of an indictment and is ultimately safe from trial simply by the discretion of the prosecutor. That's pretty damning."

So what did the three networks do that night? The CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News didn't utter a word about it, while ABC's World News Tonight gave it just 20 seconds, less than one-sixth the time allocated to a story on the "subway series" between the New York Yankees and Mets. The October 18 Inside Politics on CNN gave the development 21 seconds.

The short item read by ABC anchor Peter Jennings: "The independent counsel investigating various activities of Mr. and Mrs. Clinton said today that Mrs. Clinton gave false testimony about her role in the firing of White House travel workers seven years ago. But Robert Ray concluded she should not be prosecuted because there was insufficient evidence that she intended to influence the decision."

If the current special prosecutor offers a similar bottom line verdict on Rove or Libby, it's not a stretch to suggest the networks would be at the front of the liberal lynch mob insisting that they lose their jobs. But five years ago they snoozed when they learned about Hillary Clinton's false testimony.

-- Brent Baker