NBC Sees Scandal in 'Abusive' Interrogations; MSNBC: 'More Lies' --10/5/2007
2. Thomas Confirms Toobin Never Spoke to Him; Toobin Calls Him 'Nut'
3. Newsweek Slants 'Ask Hillary' Questions to the Fluffy Left
4. 'View' Fight: Goldberg Belittles Hasselbeck's Abortion Position
5. Letterman's 'Top Ten Signs Hillary Clinton Is Getting Cocky'
Presuming Bush administration dissembling and illegality, NBC anchor Brian Williams considered it "big" news Thursday night that the administration "secretly authorized abusive interrogation techniques for terrorism suspects, including torture, despite denial from everyone from President Bush on down. And the policy remains even though the Supreme Court ruled against it." Picking up on the front page New York Times disclosure of the classified documents, which neither the ABC nor CBS evening newscasts considered newsworthy, the NBC Nighty News ran a very slanted story that, other than one short soundbite from White House Press Secretary Dana Perino about how "they were safe, necessary and lawful, these techniques, and have helped save American lives," aired only condemnatory comments as reporter Andrea Mitchell assumed the methods are torture.
She reminded viewers that "after a political firestorm, devastating pictures from Abu Ghraib and a Supreme Court ruling," last year the President promised "the United States does not torture" and "I will not authorize it," yet the New York Times reported that in 2005 the Justice Department under Alberto Gonzales issued memos "authorizing much harsher techniques, including head-slapping, waterboarding, frigid temperatures and 'combined effects' -- using several practices simultaneously, despite dissent on his staff. Today leading Democrats vowed to pass new laws." Without any consideration for how the memos could have been written to allow the use of the techniques in only the most dire circumstances, and thus the techniques may not have been employed, Mitchell warned: "There's also a big impact on foreign policy. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has promised U.S. allies that the administration does not use torture, even though officials say she knew about the memos."
MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, not surprisingly, led with the topic and at the top of the next hour, 9pm EDT, MSNBC's Live with Dan Abrams began by re-playing Mitchell's report, a story Abrams set up while "More Lies?" was displayed on screen under a photo of President Bush.
[This item was posted late Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
An excerpt from the lead of the October 4 New York Times article, at the top of the front page, "Secret U.S. Endorsement of Severe Interrogations," by Scott Shane, David Johnston and James Risen (Risen is the reporter who divulged the interception of overseas phone calls to suspected terrorists):
When the Justice Department publicly declared torture "abhorrent" in a legal opinion in December 2004, the Bush administration appeared to have abandoned its assertion of nearly unlimited presidential authority to order brutal interrogations.
But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales's arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.
The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures....
END of Excerpt
For the article in full: www.nytimes.com
A transcript of the October 4 NBC Nightly News story, which followed the lead story on Senator Larry Craig's refusal to leave the Senate:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: One of the other big stories of this evening: New revelations, first reported by the New York Times, that the Bush administration secretly authorized abusive interrogation techniques for terrorism suspects, including torture, despite denial from everyone from President Bush on down. And the policy remains even though the Supreme Court ruled against it. Our chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell, has more.
ANDREA MITCHELL: After a political firestorm, devastating pictures from Abu Ghraib and a Supreme Court ruling, last year the President made this promise:
During his Monday smackdown on the Laura Ingraham radio show, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin declined to say yes or no when Laura asked him if he had ever met or interviewed Justice Clarence Thomas before he had claimed, on CNN, that the Justice was "furious all the time." Toobin suggested Ingraham should ask Thomas. In a soundbite Ingraham aired at the top of the 10am EDT hour Thursday on her radio show, after his hour-long interview was done, Thomas confirmed that he granted no interview to Toobin. Thomas said he "would have no clue" who Toobin was if he saw him on the street.
The October 3 CyberAlert item, "Ingraham Smacks Down CNN's Toobin on Clarence Thomas's 'Rage,'" recounted:
On Monday night's Anderson Cooper 360, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin unspooled a wild, unsubstantiated theory that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is "furious all the time" and when Cooper asked if his "hatred of the media" started with the Anita Hill charges, Toobin said that event sent his rage into "the stratosphere." Toobin also criticized CBS for not cross-examining Thomas on sexual harassment on 60 Minutes, when "subsequent evidence" (books by liberal reporters) "generally favors Anita Hill, not him, in what really happened between them."
On Tuesday's Laura Ingraham radio show, Toobin accepted an interview invitation, and Ingraham, who was a clerk for Justice Thomas, lit into him about his Cooper interview. She found it "incredibly condescending," and also "appalling and stupid." She asked Toobin if he knew Thomas, and he changed the subject, referring to the theme of anger in his writings and speeches. Later, when Ingraham asked Toobin if he had ever met or interviewed Thomas for his new Supreme Court book, The Nine, he wouldn't even say yes or no. (Ingraham took that as a no.)
For the October 3 CyberAlert article in full: www.mrc.org
Deep into his Monday interview on NPR's Diane Rehm show, Toobin explained the difference between Justice Thomas and Justice Antonin Scalia. Thomas was "a nut." He added at show's end that Thomas's legal views were "highly unusual and extreme." He also predicted that if elected President, Hillary Clinton would nominate Barack Obama to the Supreme Court, a "political masterstroke" for Hillary since Obama would be an "unassailable nominee."
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Thursday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
When a caller from Texas asked if Thomas was competent enough to be on the Court, both Toobin and NPR's other guest, Jeffrey Rosen of The New Republic, agreed he was competent -- but Thomas was a nut:
TOOBIN: I think he's perfectly competent. I don't think that is the issue. I think what matters about these justices is what their ideologies are, and he is the most conservative justice to serve on the court, I think, since the 1930s, but is he capable-
Rosen disagreed with Toobin's theory that ideology was what mattered. It was still the question of Thomas's roiling anger: "Temperament, personality matter. It's the fact that Thomas is so angry...the fact that he can't get over this wound, this indignity, that he's always been so angry, that makes him more radical than people who are essentially ofthe same ideology like Scalia or even Roberts. This is an example of someone undone by his temperament."
At the end of the hour, a caller from Hillary Clinton's adopted area of Westchester, New York worried strangely that Thomas had returned to a " a fundamentalist, Calvinistic form of Roman Catholicism." (Calvinism and Catholicism are rarely confused as synonymous.) Toobin said religion doesn't matter: "What matters about Thomas is his legal views and they are highly unusual and extreme."
When asked what kind of Supreme Court justice Democrats would pick, and whether those picks would oppose the death penalty, Toobin placed Hillary in the political center:
TOOBIN: Hillary Clinton...she's no radical. She supports the death penalty. Not that you asked, but if Hillary Clinton's President, I think she'll appoint Barack Obama to the Supreme Court. [Rosen laughs.] It's no joke, absolutely.
For audio of the October 1 radio session: www.wamu.org
Newsweek has posted a Hillary Clinton question-and-answer session on their Web site, selecting eight questions out of "more than 1,000 queries from readers," but the "best questions" Newsweek plucked out of the pile often suggested a hostility to America's current state under Team Bush, with "huge deficits," a "collapsing" middle class, and a teacher "appalled" at the underfunded No Child Left Behind education plan. One asked how she could convince the "Clinton haters" to leave divisiveness behind. Another wondered whether she would plow on with investigations of the actions of "Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, etc.?" But there were no questions about her Iraq vote, Clinton scandals, or Democratic corruption of any kind.
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Thursday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Newsweek began its Q&A with the explanation: "Last month NEWSWEEK invited readers to submit questions to Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton. We received more than 1,000 queries from readers'€"the bulk of them about Iraq, the economy, health care and education. We forwarded a selection of the best questions to Sen. Clinton. Here are her answers." Left unsaid: Was Hillary handed just these eight inquiries? Or was she allowed to narrow it down further?
Here's how the questions appeared in order, with snippets of Hillary's answers. First, the "huge deficits" question, which could come across as centrist, sort of a Ross Perot/Concord Coalition query:
"How are you going to deal with the huge deficit? Where will you find the money to pay for health-care reform? -- Sarah, Miami"
Hillary said: "We have a lot of work to do to reverse President Bush's fiscal recklessness," and claimed she would put the country on the path to balanced budgets.
Then came the "haters" question: "Whether it's fair or not, you and your husband are polarizing figures to many Americans. America needs some healing after all of the divisiveness of the last eight years. During the campaign and after, how will you convince the Clinton-haters that you can be a good president for all the people? -- Cynthia, Denver"
Hillary insisted naysayers about her Senate career hardly stopped her from winning 67 percent of the vote in 2006 (against the almost unknown and unreported Mayor of Yonkers), and concluded: "Anyone who gets the Democratic nomination is going to be subjected to the withering attacks that come from the other side. I think I have proven that I can not only survive them but also surpass them." Translation: She's proven that the media will ignore the scandals, and then lightly gloss over them when forced to acknowledge them, with words like "Clinton haters" employed to describe those annoying people who actually want to see tax returns or other facts.
Then, the obligatory army-to-Darfur question: "For four years now, American citizens have been witness to the genocide and mass atrocities in Darfur. What specifically will you do as president to help bring this to an end? Will you authorize the use of U.S. military assets to help protect the lives of innocent Darfurian civilians? -- Kristen, Des Moines, Iowa"
Hillary wants UN peacekeepers on the ground, and maybe a NATO no-fly zone: "It is long past time that we bring the international community together through American leadership to end the genocide in Darfur. We must quit giving lip service and start acting."
Then: "If elected, how will you handle any investigations that may pop up into the actions of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, etc.? Should the investigations continue or should the country move on? -- Steven, Raleigh, N.C."
Hillary made no promises to impeach or imprison Team Bush players, but tried to throw some partisan red meat: "For the last six and a half years we have seen a dangerous experiment in extremism in the White House. The Bush-Cheney administration has elevated partisan politics and cronyism over competence and professionalism."
Cronyism over competence? This, from the woman who threw career employees out of the White House Travel Office and replaced them with buddies and relatives?
Next: "As the first woman president, what would you do differently from the men that have preceded you? -- Dan, Ladera Ranch, Calif."
What a toughie. Blah blah blah, she's not running because she's a woman, but, by the way, she's a wildly inspirational figure: "Fathers are driving long distances to bring their daughters to my events. Women in their 90s are telling me that they were born before women had the right to vote and that they want to live long enough to see a woman in the White House. When I am elected, we will have made history by working together."
Then, more sinking America: "The middle class seems to be collapsing. A few Americans are becoming well off, but many more are finding it harder and harder to live an acceptable life. What will you do to keep me, my family and my friends from sinking to low-income or poverty levels, as the jobs we did go away? -- Tim, Sandusky, Ohio"
Hillary agreed: "Americans are facing increasing costs of living, from housing to energy to health care to college; health-care premiums have nearly doubled in the last six years, while wages have been stagnant." In this answer, Hillary sounds the most like Bill scribbled in the margins: "I believe it's time to reject President Bush's philosophy of a 'you're on your own' society and to replace it with shared responsibility for shared prosperity."
Then: "As a 58-year-old self-employed female Realtor, I can no longer afford health insurance. If I become ill or partially disabled I will have to surrender my home, my car and any other assets in order to receive medical care. This is a constant worry. What is your health-insurance plan? -- Carol, Greenwood, Ind."
Don't say candidates never get open-ended sales questions any more. Hillary says her "American Choices Health Plan" will "put the consumer in the driver's seat by offering more choices and lowering costs." As if her last health plan did any of that.
The last question, on imaginary ruthless education cuts: "As a teacher I am appalled at No Child Left Behind. The emphasis is on testing for both children and teachers, yet no money is given to support this or anything else. Our classes are getting larger; help is being cut. What would you do to set education right again? -- Jeanne, Rockingham, Vt."
Hillary felt her pain: "It is an unfunded mandate that encourages teachers to teach to the test, and the curriculum is being narrowed. I hear story after story about music and art or physical education or field trips being cut out of the school day to make more time for drilling and routine work that prepare students for standardized tests."
The "exclusive Web forum," posted October 2, is online at: www.msnbc.msn.com
It's too bad Newsweek just published first names for these Hillary-pleasing questioners, which makes it little harder to wonder whether Cynthia in Denver runs the local Democratic Party, or Tim in Sandusky is an organizer for Kucinich for President.
Is Whoopi Goldberg becoming the Rosie O'Donnell type bully? It appeared that way on Wednesday's The View on ABC when a discussion about Hillary Clinton's $5,000 per baby entitlement plan quickly descended into a heated exchange between Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Whoopi Goldberg about abortion. When Hasselbeck noted that $5,000 a baby could lead to fewer abortions in the world, Whoopi told Hasselbeck to "back off" because Hasselbeck has never "been in a position" where she "had to make that decision."
Goldberg, who in 1997 outed Katie Couric as a fellow participant in a "pro-choice" march, also added that Hasselbeck should have "a little bit of reverence" for women who've had abortions and then she contended abortion was a made a right to prevent any more women from being "found bleeding, dead, with hangers in their bodies."
For the September 30, 1997 CyberAlert posting, "Katie Couric 'outed' by Whoopi Goldberg on Monday's Today -- outed as a closet 'pro-choice' abortion marcher," go to: www.mediaresearch.org
[This item, by Justin McCarthy, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The exchange on the October 3 edition of The View:
ELISABETH HASSELBECK: I was very, at heart, I'm very against this policy because I believe it's more of a gift.
From the October 4 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Signs Hillary Clinton Is Getting Cocky." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. Already selected her victory pantsuit
9. Canceled today's campaign appearances; Went to see "Good Luck Chuck"
8. Spent most of the last debate listening to her iPod -- just a reminder: The new iPod Touch is now in stock at your local Apple store
7. Hired Faith Hill to beat up women who've hit on Bill
6. Assembled a Las Vegas crew to steal her football memorabilia
5. Calling Giuliani during speeches to say she loves him
4. Already issuing memos about putting White House toilet seats down -- the ladies know what I'm talking about!
3. Responds to difficult questions with, "Oh no you didn't!"
2. Greeted Obama yesterday by saying, "Wanna be my bitch?"
1. Told Bill he can start dating again
- Canceled her order for 20,000 rigged voting machines
- To re-adjust to White House living, crawled into bed with George and Laura last night
- When candidates criticize her debates, she jots down their name while mumbling "Send to Gitmo"
Those are online at: www.cbs.com
-- Brent Baker