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Matthews Bellows: Is GOP 'The Party of Tax Cuts and Torture?' --4/22/2009


1. Matthews Bellows: Is GOP 'The Party of Tax Cuts and Torture?'
The Dick Cheney-obsessed Chris Matthews opened Tuesday's Hardball by taking umbrage with the former Vice President's criticism of Obama declassifying CIA interrogation memos, as the MSNBC host compared Cheney to "The Empire" in Star Wars, and called him "The Bush administration's tail gunner manning his burp gun with that same nasty look we recall from the war comics." Matthews went on to wonder if Cheney's outspokenness was a good thing for the GOP as he questioned: "If the Republican Party really wants to be branded right now as the party of tax cuts and torture?"

2. ABC Touts Meghan McCain as Moderate GOP Voice on Gay Marriage
Good Morning America on Tuesday highlighted a controversy involving gay marriage and a beauty contest and touted Meghan McCain as an example of a moderate Republican. Reporter David Wright referenced the daughter of Senator John McCain in a piece on the developing story over the Miss USA pageant and whether or not an answer on gay marriage caused the contestant from California to lose the title. After asserting that gay rights are more mainstream these days, Wright reminded viewers of a decision by the Iowa Supreme Court legalizing same sex marriage. He spun: "And over the weekend, the daughter of the former Republican standard bearer, Meghan McCain, suggested she is all in favor of it." ABC then played a clip of Ms. McCain calling herself a Republican. Of course, just as MSNBC did in a story Monday on McCain, Wright made no mention of the fact that the senator's daughter voted for John Kerry in 2004 and supported Al Gore in 2000.

3. Hilton on CBS, No Mention of Vulgar Insults of Miss California
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen talked to gay blogger Perez Hilton about his question to Miss USA contestant Carrie Prejean about gay marriage: "Miss California, Carrie Prejean, decided to tell gay blogger and judge Perez Hilton what she really felt about same-sex marriage, and it might have cost her the Miss USA crown...Hilton reacted angrily after the show, posting this video blog on his website." Chen played a clip of Hilton's video blog tirade in which he said he was "disappointed" in Prejean, but not the portion in which the blogger called her a "dumb b***h." Chen also failed to mention that during live coverage on MSNBC on Monday, Hilton declared that he was not sorry for using that language and even went on to say that he wished he had used the "c-word" to describe Prejean. Chen only vaguely alluded to Hilton's vulgarity as she asked her first question: "Perez, let me begin with you. When you first heard her answer, what did you think? And please keep it clean, this is a live morning program." The only thing depicted as controversial in the segment was Prejean's answer to the question, not the question itself or Hilton's attacks.


Matthews Bellows: Is GOP 'The Party of
Tax Cuts and Torture?'

The Dick Cheney-obsessed Chris Matthews opened Tuesday's Hardball by taking umbrage with the former Vice President's criticism of Obama declassifying CIA interrogation memos, as the MSNBC host compared Cheney to "The Empire" in Star Wars, and called him "The Bush administration's tail gunner manning his burp gun with that same nasty look we recall from the war comics." Matthews went on to wonder if Cheney's outspokenness was a good thing for the GOP as he questioned: "If the Republican Party really wants to be branded right now as the party of tax cuts and torture?"

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

Matthews didn't waste any time getting to the Cheney bashing as seen in the following intro to the April 21 edition of Hardball on MSNBC:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: The Empire Strikes Back! Let's play Hardball! Good evening, I'm Chris Matthews. Leading off tonight. Clash of civilizations. Two different views of the universe out there right now. That's what's at war in Washington today. The dark view of Dick Cheney that sees no shame in brutal interrogations. Indeed refuses to blame America for anything. That against the new view of Barack Obama that America does best in the world when it upholds a moral standard and admits past failings. Who believes our government lost its moral bearings in pushing the moral envelope in our treatment of those prisoners. Two different views of the universe. And last night the old empire struck back as the former vice president, who refuses to leave Washington, took aim at the new values system.
(Clip of Dick Cheney)
MATTHEWS: So why doesn't Dick Cheney listen to his former boss and just keep quiet? Why's he acting like the Bush administration's tail gunner, manning his burp gun with that same nasty look we recall from the war comics?

Not long after that intro Matthews, in a segment with guest panelists Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post and Newsweek's Howard Fineman, depicted the GOP in stark terms:

MATTHEWS: I wonder Howard if the Republican Party really wants to be branded right now as the party of tax cuts and torture? I mean that's what they're selling. I mean tax cuts are always happy to be heard about, even if they're not possible. But the torture part - the image of, of a party that seems to have attached itself to this method, this difficult, hard to justify, sometimes, perhaps necessary, method of getting to the truth in, in urgent circumstances. Is it what you want to be known for?
HOWARD FINEMAN, NEWSWEEK: No, that's the short answer. Certainly not in those terms. And I agree with Gene [Robinson] I think Dick Cheney, this is a personal crusade in part. Don't forget the United Nations repertoire on torture and, and the, and the international treaty and the United States law and increasingly some of the things President Obama himself is saying and Eric Holder, the attorney general, are at least implying the possibility that Dick Cheney himself, as Vice President, has some kind of legal culpability here-
MATTHEWS: Yeah.
FINEMAN: -in national and international terms. So Cheney is trying to defend himself. As far as the politics of it, Chris, I think for some young people, for some post-9/11 kids who, you know, who've grown, grown up with Jack Bauer and in the days after 9/11 it may be a little bit of a closer question than you may think on the question of torture. But overall the idea that you're gonna defend these methods is, is a political loser for the Republican Party.
MATTHEWS: I just wonder where you draw the line? Because if waterboarding is okay, why not put the guy's head in a vice like they did in Casino. Why not just go all the way? If you really say, the end justifies the means, what means aren't justified? That's the problem with this argument.

Fineman went on to doubt the "credibility" of Cheney's claim that interrogation techniques helped thwart more 9/11 style attacks, even though, as reported by CNSNews.com, the CIA still stands by its 2005 memo stating an attack on Los Angeles was prevented due to information gained from the waterboarding of al-Qaeda leader Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

FINEMAN: Look he doesn't have a whole lot of credibility Chris, given all the videotape that there is of the testimony he gave the American public about what we were gonna find, about what we knew, about what the rationale for the war in Iraq was, about a host of different things. Yes it's a dangerous world, Mr. Former Vice President, but you've got to prove it in specific ways. I'm wondering, I have to wonder what's actually in whatever CIA memos exist. If he could have gotten a hold of them to make his case, I think he would've started lickety-split to do it and the fact that he's only now saying he's gonna do it, makes me have to question, given his track record, what really did we gain from those things? And I think it's a very open question and his own history doesn't help his credibility on this.
MATTHEWS: Right and he used that same avuncular tone in selling the war in Iraq with bogus evidence.

Before closing the segment Matthews and Fineman challenged the "stupidity" of Cheney's "dark side," critique of Obama's performance at the Summit of the Americas:

MATTHEWS: Let's move on now to the broader charge. I opened the show by saying there is a battle of the universe going on here, Gene and Howard, and it's a battle of universes. The one universe is, "Let's be the good guys in the world and the world will rally to us." The other side, the darker side if you will, and Cheney calls it that, says, "No let's be the toughest guys on the block and people will respect us." Here's Cheney reminding us of the dark side, saying that our new president, Barack Obama, is just too darned weak. Here he is talking about the President's behavior this past weekend with Venezuela's Chavez....He doesn't mind being King Gringo as long as we're the boss. He doesn't mind what they call us, as long as we got the stick. Howard?

...

FINEMAN: But the point is that, that, that strength is defined in different ways. Stupidity is not strength. And there were, you know, you can give George Bush credit, if you want, for saying that there is such a thing as evil in the world, okay? And Dick Cheney said the same thing. But what they didn't understand and still don't is that, that's the beginning of the discussion, not the end of the discussion. If there is evil in the world you have to be shrewd about dealing with it. And not making enemies unnecessarily is not strong or smart. And what Obama is trying to do, is to try to see what's out there on the table. I mean Obama is examining the poker table, now, for the first time. He's sitting down at it, he's seeing who has what cards. I guarantee you he's gonna be a tough player but he's not gonna try to turn the table upside down before he starts.

To read about the CIA's confirming that interrogation techniques were helpful in preventing another 9/11-style attack see: www.cnsnews.com

ABC Touts Meghan McCain as Moderate GOP
Voice on Gay Marriage

Good Morning America on Tuesday highlighted a controversy involving gay marriage and a beauty contest and touted Meghan McCain as an example of a moderate Republican. Reporter David Wright referenced the daughter of Senator John McCain in a piece on the developing story over the Miss USA pageant and whether or not an answer on gay marriage caused the contestant from California to lose the title.

After asserting that gay rights are more mainstream these days, Wright reminded viewers of a decision by the Iowa Supreme Court legalizing same sex marriage. He spun: "And over the weekend, the daughter of the former Republican standard bearer, Meghan McCain, suggested she is all in favor of it." ABC then played a clip of Ms. McCain calling herself a Republican. Of course, just as MSNBC did in a story Monday on McCain, Wright made no mention of the fact that the senator's daughter voted for John Kerry in 2004 and supported Al Gore in 2000. See a April 21 CyberAlert posting for more on MSNBC's coverage: www.mrc.org

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Wright explained the background, that contestant Carrie Prejean was asked by a pageant judge, the liberal (and openly gay) blogger Perez Hilton, if she supported gay marriage. She said no and went on to ultimately lose. Wright added, "Hilton wasted no time in blogging his contempt." The ABC journalist featured a clip of the gossip blogger calling her response "the worst answer in history." What Wright completely ignored, however, is the hateful language Hilton has used since. In posts and on television, he referred to Ms. Prejean as a "bitch" and stated that he wanted to use the "c-word." Isn't his vulgarity and anger relevant to the story?

Wright, in reference to Prejean's opposition to gay marriage, did close the piece by noting, "She's in good company. The voters in California clearly agree with her, even though the state Supreme Court there does not." But, using a Gore and Kerry supporter (and not mentioning those facts) as an example of GOP moderation on the subject of same sex marriage is misleading at best.

A transcript of the April 21 segment, which aired at 7:15am, follows:

CHRIS CUOMO: Now, we have the latest development for you in a growing and divisive cultural issue, gay marriage. Next week, Iowa will become the first Midwestern state to recognize gay marriage as a right, several more states are considering laws. But 30 states have taken measures to limit gay marriage. This has become a cultural divide that was on full display Sunday night at the Miss USA pageant. ABC's David Wright has more.
DAVID WRIGHT: Miss California USA, now says she now believes this moment cost her the crown.
ABC GRAPHIC: Miss USA Pageant Gets Political: Fallout From Gay Marriage Question
BILLY BUSH: Your question comes judge number eight, Perez Hilton.
WRIGHT: Gossip blogger Perez Hilton didn't ask a softball about world peace.
PEREZ HILTON: Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit?
CARRIE PREJEAN: I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anyone out there.
WRIGHT: Hilton wasted no time in blogging his contempt.
HILTON: The worst answer in pageant history.
WRIGHT: That's probably overstating it. But Hilton says Carrie Prejean deserved to lose.
HILTON (Gossip blogger, Miss USA judge): The thing that upset me the most about Miss California's answer was how polarizing it was. It instantly alienated me and millions of gay and lesbian people.
WRIGHT: She isn't the first beauty queen to anger the gay community. Back in the '70s, former Miss America Anita Bryant famously campaigned against gay rights. But these days, the issue is becoming more mainstream. Starting next week, couples in Iowa can start tying the knot. Four states have legalized it. Others may soon follow suit. And over the weekend, the daughter of the former Republican standard bearer, Meghan McCain, suggested she is all in favor of it.
MEGHAN MCCAIN: I have lots and lots of gay friends. And, yes, I am a Republican.
WRIGHT: Even so, Carrie Prejean told Billy Bush's radio show, she stands by her answer.
PREJEAN: It did cost me my crown. But I don't care, because I stood up for what I believe in.
WRIGHT: She's in good company. The voters in California clearly agree with her, even though the state Supreme Court there does not. For Good Morning America, David Wright, ABC News, Washington.

Hilton on CBS, No Mention of Vulgar Insults
of Miss California

On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen talked to gay blogger Perez Hilton about his question to Miss USA contestant Carrie Prejean about gay marriage: "Miss California, Carrie Prejean, decided to tell gay blogger and judge Perez Hilton what she really felt about same-sex marriage, and it might have cost her the Miss USA crown...Hilton reacted angrily after the show, posting this video blog on his website." Chen played a clip of Hilton's video blog tirade in which he said he was "disappointed" in Prejean, but not the portion in which the blogger called her a "dumb b***h." Chen also failed to mention that during live coverage on MSNBC on Monday, Hilton declared that he was not sorry for using that language and even went on to say that he wished he had used the "c-word" to describe Prejean. Chen only vaguely alluded to Hilton's vulgarity as she asked her first question: "Perez, let me begin with you. When you first heard her answer, what did you think? And please keep it clean, this is a live morning program."

Hilton's initial video blog rant here: michellemalkin.com

Hilton's hateful comments on MSNBC here: michellemalkin.com

[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The only thing depicted as controversial in the segment was Prejean's answer to the question, not the question itself or Hilton's attacks. Chen asked Hilton: "So give me a good example of how you think she should have handled it and still staying true to her beliefs, Perez." Hilton basically called for her to have dodged the question: "A very simple way she could have answered it is, 'as a future Miss USA it is my job not to be a politician, but to be someone who represents and inspires the women and the troops, and I think it's great that the states get to decide for themselves.' Something like that, she could -- she would not have had to insert her own personal politics into it." It's good Hilton did not insert his "personal politics" into the pageant.

Chen also spoke with Miss USA pageant co-director Shanna Moakler about the controversy: "Shanna, what do you think? How did she handle it? Did it cost her the title? What are your thoughts? You've been down this road." Moakler acknowledged the question was the reason for Prejean losing: "...this is not the first conservative Christian title holder. And, you know, I have to applaud her that she was willing to miss out on the opportunity of being Miss USA, you know, to stay true to her convictions. But, on the same token, you know, I think she has muddied the waters a little bit by -- by making -- just by -- her question was insensitive. And it's now become more about compassion, being compassionate in the way that she answered her question."

Moakler went on to explain: "...we're not abandoning her and we don't hate her. But it puts us in a difficult situation because we do have a difference of opinion. And we also have sponsors, and people that have supported her, and helped get her to where she was standing on that stage, that I think there's now become a sense of betrayal. So it's just, you know, that's where I'm saying it's become a topic of sensitivity, and she needed to answer her question with more compassion."

Here is the full transcript of the April 21 segment:

7:13AM TEASE:
JULIE CHEN: And the blogging queen versus the beauty queen. We'll talk to Perez Hilton about the same-sex marriage controversy at the Miss USA pageant.

7:24AM TEASE:
HARRY SMITH: Coming up, the same-sex marriage debate hits the Miss USA pageant. We're going to talk with celebrity blogger Perez Hilton when we come back.

7:31AM TEASE:
CHEN: Anyway, ahead this morning we have a lot coming up. It's something we're calling the blogging queen versus the beauty queen. Perez Hilton caused quite a stir at the Miss USA pageant when he asked Miss California about same-sex marriage. We're going to ask Perez all about it as we get into that debate.

7:35AM TEASE:
SMITH: Up next, Miss California is at the middle of a same-sex marriage controversy. And celebrity blogger Perez Hilton started it. We're going to talk to him when we come back.

7:39AM SEGMENT:
JULIE CHEN: There was controversy at the Miss USA competition Sunday night when out and outspoken celebrity blogger Perez Hilton asked Miss California a question about same-sex marriage.
PEREZ HILTON: Do you think every state should follow suit, why or why not?
CHEN: Miss California, Carrie Prejean, decided to tell gay blogger and judge Perez Hilton what she really felt about same-sex marriage, and it might have cost her the Miss USA crown.
CARRIE PREJEAN: You know what, in my country, and in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there. But that's how I was raised. And that's how I think that it should be between a man and a woman. Thank you.
CHEN: Hilton reacted angrily after the show, posting this video blog on his website.
HILTON: I am so disappointed in Miss California representing my country. Not because she doesn't believe in gay marriage, but because she doesn't inspire and she doesn't unite.
CHEN: Joining us from his computer via Skype is Perez Hilton and in Los Angeles Miss USA pageant co-director Shanna Moakler. Good morning to you both.
SHANNA MOAKLER: Hello.
HILTON: Good morning.
CHEN: Perez, let me begin with you. When you first heard her answer, what did you think? And please keep it clean, this is a live morning program.
HILTON: Absolutely. Well, when I first heard her answer, I was shocked. Because, I thought, having been from California, a state that recently passed proposition 8 outlawing same sex marriage, she should have been better prepared to answer that question. Also I didn't think-
CHEN: Are you saying she should have lied? I mean, that's what she believes.
HILTON: No, not at all. I never said that, Julie. Don't put words in my mouth. I think she should have been better prepared. There were various other ways she could have answered that question, and still stayed true to herself without alienating millions of people.
CHEN: Okay. So give me-
HILTON: She didn't answer it-
CHEN: So give me a good example of how you think she should have handled it and still staying true to her beliefs, Perez.
HILTON: A very simple way she could have answered it is, 'as a future Miss USA it is my job not to be a politician, but to be someone who represents and inspires the women and the troops, and I think it's great that the states get to decide for themselves.' Something like that, she could -- she would not have had to insert her own personal politics into it. And I'm not saying it's bad to insert your own personal politics. But you have to answer the question as Miss USA, not as Carrie Prejean.
CHEN: Perez, did it cost her the crown and the title?
HILTON: I think she was definitely one of the front-runners. But I think it's kind of very rude of her to be saying in interviews, like she was yesterday, that if she had been given another question she would have won. And that she felt like a winner. You know, Miss North Carolina, congratulations to you. She did a great job. She earned that crown.
CHEN: Let me turn to Shanna. Shanna, what do you think? How did she handle it? Did it cost her the title? What are your thoughts? You've been down this road.
MOAKLER: Yes, first of all I just want to say congratulations to you on your pregnancy.
CHEN: Oh, thanks.
MOAKLER: But I also -- but I also want to state, you know, this is not the first conservative Christian title holder. And, you know, I have to applaud her that she was willing to miss out on the opportunity of being Miss USA, you know, to stay true to her convictions. But, on the same token, you know, I think she has muddied the waters a little bit by -- by making -- just by -- her question was insensitive. And it's now become more about compassion, being compassionate in the way that she answered her question. So-
CHEN: Shanna, do you think-
MOAKLER: And I have to say this, too, you know, I am her state director. And I want it to be known and, you know, be clarified that we're not abandoning her and we don't hate her. But it puts us in a difficult situation because we do have a difference of opinion. And we also have sponsors, and people that have supported her, and helped get her to where she was standing on that stage, that I think there's now become a sense of betrayal. So it's just, you know, that's where I'm saying it's become a topic of sensitivity, and she needed to answer her question with more compassion.
CHEN: Shanna Moakler, Perez Hilton, we thank you both.
MOAKLER: Thanks
HILTON: Thank you.

-- Brent Baker