MSNBC Hits Bush's 'Verisimilitude' Speech from the Left --9/14/2007
2. CBS and NBC Note Bush's Anger at MoveOn's Anti-Petraeus Ad
3. Vieira Asks Retiring Anti-War Republican Hagel: 'Why Quit Now?'
4. Snow on CNN: Journalists' Credibility Ratings Lower Than Bush's
5. NBC Runs 2nd Hsu Story, Highlights $73 Million in Ponzi Schemes
6. WPost Helps Far-Left Protesters Say They're Not Fringy, Bush Is
Thursday night, after President Bush's address to the nation on Iraq, MSNBC featured a discussion dominated by ridicule of Bush from the left, which bolstered the views of liberal guests talk radio host Rachel Maddow and Democratic Senator Joe Biden while challenging conservative guest and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Chris Matthews showed repeated fascination with the President's reference to 36 nations fighting in Iraq, calling it "ludicrous." When Maddow compared America's toppling of Saddam Hussein's government to attempts by insurgents to topple the current elected government by remarking that "it's like getting a lecture on the evils of prostitution from David Vitter," Keith Olbermann seemed impressed as he hailed her words as "the first zing of the night."
After the Democratic response had aired, at about 9:24pm EDT, Olbermann commented as he co-anchored with Matthews: "The thing I'm struck by, going back to the President's speech, the word is 'verisimilitude.' It isn't true, it doesn't have to be true, but it sure sounds like it could be true. That was what that speech was about, wasn't it?"
[This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted early Friday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Matthews remarked that the President's reference to 36 nations taking part in the war in Iraq was "ludicrous" and "only opens him up to ridicule." Matthews: "The idea that we're one of 36 countries fighting the war, I think, is ludicrous. And why the President would throw that out there, I think it only opens him up to ridicule."
As Olbermann brought aboard Maddow, he accused the President of "cherry-picking" and of providing "a whole other set of stuff for the Democrats." Olbermann: "As much as Pat [Buchanan] thinks perhaps that this is providing material for Republicans to go and work with out in the constituencies and in the halls of Congress, did he not provide a whole other set of stuff for the Democrats?"
Maddow went on to label some of Bush's comments as "bizarre" and ridiculously suggested it was hypocritical to oppose the toppling of Iraq's current government by terrorists after supporting the overthrow of the despotic regime of Saddam Hussein: "There's almost nothing weirder than hearing George Bush, of all people, warn ominously about people who want to topple Iraq's government. It's like getting a lecture on the evils of prostitution from David Vitter. It was so, such a weird way to start the speech, and I think it was kind of a harbinger of a lot of weird assertions by him."
Olbermann responded approvingly: "Rachel Maddow with the first zing of the night at half past the hour."
Senator Biden then came aboard, and the MSNBC hosts set up questions that invited Biden to attack Bush. Olbermann asked if the President had "gone too far in terms of stating facts that may not hold up" while Matthews wondered "who are the 36 nations fighting at our side in Iraq." Matthews further wondered if Bush "lived in" a "strange world" or "does he just sell it?" Matthews: "We're given the picture of a country over there, an ally, you know, like Chiang Kai Shek used to be against the Japanese, or Hungary against the Soviets, an ally, a country we care about, and it's fighting for its life against our enemy, which is al-Qaeda....The notion that we're one of 37 countries fighting over there against the bad guys. There's so much of this that's truly, and I don't mean this in a cartoon sense, fantastic. When you're with the President, does he live in this world? Or does he just sell it?"
When Huckabee came aboard and was asked by Matthews what he thought of Bush's address, the former Arkansas Governor notably began by commenting: "I think, obviously I'm going to take a little different position than everybody else you've had on so far..."
Matthews soon challenged Huckabee for labeling war critics as "politicians," as he seemed to mock Huckabee by asking if he was talking about Bush, with the MSNBC host pointing out the President is also technically a politician: "Are you talking about the President? He's a politician as well as the other people on Capitol Hill. He's as much of a politician as, there's nothing wrong with a politician."
Olbermann brought up Vietnam in the final question to Huckabee: "Do you think in retrospect of the last 32 years of history since we walked away almost literally from Vietnam that there was a better solution to that, that we have been harmed irreparably by how that war ended in the early seventies?"
Below is a transcript of relevant portions of MSNBC's post speech coverage, which began around 9:24pm on September 13:
KEITH OLBERMANN: The thing I'm struck by, going back to the President's speech, the word is "verisimilitude." It isn't true, it doesn't have to be true, but it sure sounds like it could be true. That was what that speech was about, wasn't it?
OLBERMANN: Rachel Maddow, again, I'll use that word "verisimilitude." There was a certain amount of, again, to be kind, I think, cherry-picking, just the point that Pat mentioned, this reliance on what's happening in Anbar. But what's happening in Anbar is that the man, the principal sheik that the President met with 10 days ago, was blown to bits today, and the switching of sides there from al-Qaeda in Iraq for many of the local sheiks to the U.S. side, had begun before the surge, and really don't have anything to do with the surge. As much as Pat thinks perhaps that this is providing material for Republicans to go and work with out in the constituencies and in the halls of Congress, did he not provide a whole other set of stuff for the Democrats?
OLBERMANN: Something that Thomas Ricks said during the interview that I did with him before the speech, Senator, was this question of whether or not the President would be somewhat restrained in terms of his certitude or his modesty, and I just had a couple of examples I wanted to throw out and then ask you if you thought he was restrained or had a little too much certitude. "They," referring to Crocker and Petraeus, "concluded that conditions in Iraq are improving and that we are seizing the initiative from the enemy," and that "the troop surge is working." And the second point that seemed to address this, the entire discussion of Anbar, as I mentioned, to Rachel. Is this, did he go too far in terms of stating facts that may not hold up?
MATTHEWS: Open-ended question: What did you think of the President's remarks?
In his speech preview over lunch with television anchors and Sunday hosts, President George W. Bush expressed anger over the MoveOn.org ad which maligned General David Petraeus, a view Katie Couric vaguely relayed Thursday night without mentioning MoveOn.org while, on NBC, Brian Williams and Tim Russert specifically highlighted Bush's "outrage." Russert related how Bush said "those who are responsible could, in effect, stuff it." On ABC's World News, George Stephanopoulos, who attended the lunch, discussed some of Bush's comments during the gathering, but didn't mention his take on the full page ad, in Monday's New York Times, which declared: "GENERAL PETRAEUS OR GENERAL BETRAY US? Cooking the Books for the White House."
[This item was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
On the September 13 CBS Evening News, Couric relayed: "The President was as defiant and unwavering as ever. And visibly angry about those who question the integrity of General Petraeus, calling it 'disgraceful' and suggesting it was an effort to undermine the General's testimony."
Over on the NBC Nightly News, with the ad on screen, Williams cued up Russert: "He had a lot to say about the ad by MoveOn.org that went after General Petraeus the day his testimony was to start on Capitol Hill. This ran full page in several newspapers." Russert confirmed: "He said that he was just absolutely outraged by the trashing of this General, that those who are responsible could, in effect, stuff it. He was very energized and quite angry, Brian, in terms of that ad."
NBC's Meredith Vieira actually seemed disappointed that a Republican Senator wasn't running for re-election, of course that Republican Senator, Chuck Hagel, is a noted war-critic. On the Thursday Today show, a crestfallen Vieira asked: "Senator, very quickly now, this, this week you announced that you are not running for any office in 2008. Why quit now, given how impassioned you are about this war?...But why did you decide not to run for President? That surprised a lot of people." Vieira also suggested, of President Bush's prime time address, "his words may fall on deaf ears" and she pressed Hagel: "When the President speaks about Iraq tonight do you believe that he will have any credibility?"
[This item, by Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Thursday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Just before the Hagel interview Vieira plugged NBC News' primetime coverage of the President's Thursday night speech, but didn't exactly give it a hard sell as she wondered if anybody would even care: "Meanwhile we're gonna turn now to President Bush addressing the nation tonight about the future of U.S. troops in Iraq, but his words may fall on deaf ears."
In fact, Vieira's first question to the Nebraska Senator, on the September 13 Today, emphasized the view the President speech wasn't worth watching: "And you can watch the President's address to the nation tonight at 9pm Eastern time, right here on NBC. Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel is a vocal critic of the President's policies in Iraq. Senator, good morning to you. Let me ask you right out of the bat. When the President speaks about Iraq tonight do you believe that he will have any credibility?"
During a heated interview over the Iraq war on Thursday's The Situation Room with substitute CNN host Suzanne Malveaux, outgoing White House Press Secretary Tony Snow went on the offensive against the mainstream media. In response to a question from Malveaux about how President Bush could "regain credibility" with the American people over the success of the troop surge in Iraq given 71 percent disapproval of how he's handling Iraq, Snow retorted: "Well, you know what Suzanne, your credibility rating -- journalists' credibility ratings are lower than the President's."
The most heated exchange came in the last three minutes of the 5pm EDT hour interview. Malveaux brought up the results of a recent New York Times/CBS News poll that found 71 percent of those polled disapproved of the way President Bush is handling Iraq.
[This item, by Matthew Balan, was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org ]
Snow appeared, from the White House lawn, as part of the lead-up to President Bush's address from the Oval Office on Iraq. The seven-and-a-half minute interview started on a confrontational note. Malveaux asked Snow about the recent assassination of a Sunni tribal leader in the Anbar province of Iraq: "If the U.S. could not protect this key figure, how do you expect that they're going to protect the other Iraqis who might want to join in the effort?" Snow reminded the response from the other tribal leaders was to reaffirm their commitment to the fight against al Qaeda, which is the primary suspect in the assassination.
A transcript of the heated exchange over poll numbers and whether Bush or the media have less public respect:
MALVEAUX: Let's talk about his [President Bush's] speech a little bit. For better or for worse, no matter what President Bush says today, the latest polls, and I want you to take a listen to this CBS News/New York Times poll, really showing that the problem the President faces here is whether or not anybody is going to believe him or listen to him. It says, in terms of whether or not they approve or disapprove of the way he's handling the situation in Iraq, 71 percent disapprove of the execution of the war and what he is doing here. So, why should the American people listen to him in the first place tonight?
Malveaux concluded her interview with a bit of a snarky statement: "Tomorrow's your last day, you know, perhaps fighting and spinning to the very end. We will really appreciate you being on The Situation Room."
It should be clarified that the specific poll question (question number 65) in the CBS News/NY Times poll asked: "Would you say this troop increase is making the situation in Iraq better, making it worse, or is it having no impact on the situation in Iraq so far?" 35 percent of those polled thought the situation is better, 12 percent worse, 45 percent saw no impact, and 7 percent either don't know or didn't give an answer: www.nytimes.com
The September 11 CyberAlert looked at how CBS ignored its own finding about more of the public believing the surge has "made things better" in Iraq:
On the day of the long-anticipated report from General David Petraeus on the "surge," the CBS Evening News ignored how its latest poll discovered the third straight month of an increase in the percent of Americans who believe the surge has "made things better" in Iraq. As the percentage has gone up, CBS's interest in the result has gone down. In July, anchor Katie Couric led with how only 19 percent thought the surge was "making things better" and a month later, in August, when that number jumped to 29 percent, CBS and Couric gave it just 12 seconds 20 minutes into the newscast..
While Monday's CBS Evening News skipped how the share crediting the surge for "making things better" rose to 35 percent in the survey conducted through Saturday, the newscast found time to highlight three other findings that stressed public opposition to the war and distrust of President Bush. Jim Axelrod relayed how "in the latest CBS News/New York Times poll, just four percent think Iraq will become a stable democracy in the next year or two. More than half [53%] say it'll never happen. [On screen: Yes, but it will take longer: 42%] And just five percent think the Bush administration best able to make the right calls on the war. [Congress: 21%; U.S. military commanders: 68%]." A bumper before the first ad break showcased how on "U.S. troop levels in Iraq," 30 percent said they "should increase/keep the same," while 65 percent responded they "should decrease/remove all."
For the September 11 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
Two weeks after NBC Nightly News was the first broadcast evening newscast to air a story on Norman Hsu, the fugitive donor to Hillary Clinton's campaign, on Thursday the show uniquely ran a full story on Hsu's court appearance following his capture and new accusations about the extent of his fraud. Noting that Hsu is now being held on a $5 million bond, anchor Brian Williams asserted "he is at the center of a series of alleged money scams that are becoming a serious embarrassment now for the Democratic front-runner."
Over video of a frail Hsu at a court appearance in Grand Junction, Colorado, Andrea Mitchell cited his "remarkable fall" from "once hobnobbing with the Clintons and other top Democrats, then on the run, escaping a sentencing hearing on an overnight train" from California heading east. Mitchell highlighted "new accusations" of "$73 million in alleged Ponzi schemes in California and New York," then asked: "So how did Clinton not know Hsu had been a fugitive for 15 years?" After a soundbite of Senator Clinton claiming "obviously we were all surprised by this news," Mitchell noted "the campaign is scrambling to control the damage. It has returned more than $850,000, a record amount, from 260 donors solicited by Hsu, an average of $3,300 each. Experts say that alone should have been a red flag."
[This item was posted late Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Since a Wednesday Wall Street Journal article about the Ponzi scheme is behind a paid wall, check this Thursday Washington Post story for a good summary of the latest disclosures about Hsu: www.washingtonpost.com
So far, including Thursday night, the ABC and CBS evening newscasts have each run one full story on the Hsu scandal while NBC has aired two. CBS and NBC, but not ABC, have aired two additional 20-second or so anchor-briefs. In sum, over the past two weeks, that's two full stories on NBC, plus a brief update; one full story and a brief item on CBS; and just one full story on ABC. The rundown:
# NBC Nightly News featured a full story on Thursday, August 30. For details, check the August 31 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
# ABC and CBS caught up the next night, Friday, August 31. See the September 4 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
# A week later, on Friday, September 7, CBS and NBC aired brief items on how Hsu was captured in Colorado after failing to appear for a bail hearing in California. For more, go to the September 10 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
# Then on Tuesday, September 11, the news that the Clinton campaign decided to refund the largest amount ever, $850,000 solicited by Hsu, led CBS's Katie Couric to give the development barely 20 seconds -- about half the time she devoted to the death of "Alex the Parrot" -- and NBC allocated 25 seconds, but only after a three-minute piece framed around how Rudy Giuliani's 9/11 image "stirs angry resentment." See the September 12 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
NBC's second full story on Hsu, on the September 13 Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: In Colorado there was a hearing today for a major Democratic fundraiser who's now behind bars. Norman Hsu, whose story we've been following, is being held on $5 million cash bond. He is at the center of a series of alleged money scams that are becoming a serious embarrassment now for the Democratic front-runner. The story tonight from NBC's Andrea Mitchell.
ANDREA MITCHELL: On a courtroom monitor from jail, Norman Hsu, one of Hillary Clinton's top fifteen fundraisers, appeared frail, shaky, after writing what read like a suicide note.
The radical left is planning more "anti-war" protests in Washington, DC starting on Saturday and, like clockwork, the Washington Post publicized and sanitized it. No ideological labels were applied to the Stalinists of International ANSWER or Cindy Sheehan, but counter-protesters belonged to the "conservative group Free Republic." The Thursday Post story, "Week of Antiwar Events To Start With a 'Die-In,'" even quoted leftists saying they were the mainstream: "The antiwar movement 'is far from where Bush would like you to think we are, that we are the fringe. They are the fringe. We are the mainstream,' said Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society's Freedom Foundation, which encourages Muslim civic participation."
[This item is adapted from a posting, by Tim Graham, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Reporters Michelle Boorstein and Allison Klein calmly noted that the obligatory "die-in" will be followed by other events: "War opponents are scheduled to go to Washington area military recruitment centers Monday to try to shut them down." If abortion opponents walked into "women's health centers" to try and shut them down, do you think the Post would just calmly report it as legitimate protest tactics?
Keep in mind that the ANSWER organizers are talking a big numbers game again, which they may have to retract: "The group's permit with the U.S. Park Police is for 10,000 people, a source said, but ANSWER, which stands for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, expects tens of thousands, [ANSWER National Coordinator Brian] Becker said. More than 1,000 people had signed up on the group's Web site as of yesterday to lie down at the die-in, he said, which is meant to represent Americans, Iraqis and others who have died in the war. Organizers expect the number to double or triple by Saturday."
For the September 13 Washington Post "Metro" section article: www.washingtonpost.com
-- Brent Baker