2. CBS Early Show Delivers Valentine to 'Obama's Way with Words'
3. Only ABC Marks One Year Anniversary of Successful Surge in Iraq
4. Fonda Utters C-Word, Letterman's 'Top Ten Jane Fonda Excuses'
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann delivered his latest "Special Comment" rant against President Bush, this time attacking him for threatening to veto an extension of the Protect America Act unless it includes provisions to give immunity from lawsuits to telecom companies who have cooperated with government surveillance in the past.
Calling the President a "liar" who was "slinging crap" and using "a form of terrorism against his own people" to gain support, Olbermann accused President Bush of fascism: "If you believe in the seamless mutuality of government and big business, come out and say it! There is a dictionary definition, one word that describes that toxic blend. You're a fascist! Get them to print you a T-shirt with fascist on it! What else is this but fascism?"
Olbermann also had blunt words for Congressional Republicans who staged a walkout, as the Countdown host called them "crash dummies" who should "keep walking out of the country." Olbermann: "And your minions like John Boehner, your Republican congressional crash dummies who just happened to decide to walk out of Congress when a podium-full of microphones await them, they should just keep walking, out of Congress and, if possible, out of the country."
[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted late Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
As Olbermann began his February 14 "Special Comment," he quoted the President's contention that "if the bill was good enough" to be passed last summer, "why not pass the bill again?" and then invoked the past legality of slavery and, referring to Executive Order 9066, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II:
Now, as promised, a "Special Comment." A part of what I will say was said here first on January 31. Unfortunately it is both sadder and truer now than it was then. "Who's to blame?" Mr. Bush also said this afternoon, "Look, these folks in Congress passed a good bill late last summer. The problem is, they let the bill expire. My attitude is: If the bill was good enough then, why not pass the bill again?" You know, like the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Or Executive Order 9066. Or The Alien and Sedition Acts. Or slavery.
The MSNBC host soon accused the Bush administration of spying on Americans "under this flimsy guise" of seeking out terrorists:
It is bad enough, sir, that you were demanding an ex post facto law which could still clear the AT&Ts and the Verizons from responsibility for their systematic, aggressive and blatant collaboration with your illegal and unjustified spying on Americans under this flimsy guise of looking for any terrorists who might be stupid enough to make a collect call or send a mass e-mail.
Olbermann accused President Bush of fascism as he attacked the President's State of the Union reference to protecting telecom companies "believed" to have aided the administration:
But when you demanded it again during the State of the Union address, you wouldn't even confirm that they'd actually done anything for which they deserved to be cleared. "The Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America."
Believed? Don't you know? Don't you even have the guts Dick Cheney showed in admitting they did collaborate with you? Does this endless presidency of loopholes and even fine print extend here, too? If you believe in the seamless mutuality of government and big business, come out and say it! There is a dictionary definition, one word that describes that toxic blend. You're a fascist! Get them to print you a T-shirt with fascist on it!
Olbermann added, "What else is this but fascism?" before recounting the appearance of an AT&T employee on his show who talked about his role in such surveillance, comparing it to "Big Brother" The MSNBC host went on to label Bush a "liar." Olbermann: "And if there's one thing we know about Big Brother, Mr. Bush, it's that he -- well, you -- are a liar."
Citing Bush's contention that passage of the bill was important in protecting Americans against terrorism, the Countdown host soon continued: "This is crap. And you sling it with an audacity and a speed unrivaled even by the greatest political felons of our history."
Olbermann soon labeled congressional Republicans who staged a walkout as "crash dummies" who "should just keep walking ... out of the country." Olbermann: "And your minions like John Boehner, your Republican congressional crash dummies who just happened to decide to walk out of Congress when a podium-full of microphones await them, they should just keep walking, out of Congress and, if possible, out of the country."
The MSNBC host soon continued: "The lot of you are the symbolic descendants of the despotic middle managers of some banana republic to whom 'freedom' is an ironic brand name, a word you reach for when you want to get away with its opposite."
Olbermann concluded his rant by accusing the President of a "form of terrorism against his own people," and contended that people like him will not "fear" speaking out against the President:
As recently ago as 2006, we spoke words like these with trepidation. The idea that even the most cynical and untrustworthy of the politicians in our history, George W. Bush, would use the literal form of terrorism against his own people was dangerous territory. It seemed to tempt fate, to heighten fear. We will not fear any longer. We will not fear the international terrorists, and we will thwart them. We will not fear the recognition of the manipulation of our yearning for safety. We will call it what it is: terrorism. We will not fear identifying the vulgar hypocrites in our government. We will name them. And we will not fear George W. Bush. Nor will we fear because George W. Bush wants us to fear.
For the complete transcript of Olbermann's "Special Comment" from the February 14 Countdown show on MSNBC, check Brad's NewsBusters posting: newsbusters.org
On Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith introduced a fawning segment on Barack Obama: "On the campaign trail, Barack Obama is often treated like a rock star. People wait hours just to hear him speak." The segment did not focus on campaign strategy or policy, but rather it focused entirely on Obama's rhetoric as correspondent Tracy Smith touted MSNBC's Chris Matthews being "thrilled" by a speech from the Senator from Illinois: "They come in droves, by the tens of thousands at times, to hear Barack Obama speak...With soaring rhetoric, Obama is moving his audiences not just politically, but emotionally. Even some political commentators who've seen it all can't help but gush." Then the clip of Matthews was played: You hear Barack Obama's speech, my -- I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often."
[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
With "Obama's Way with Words" as the on-screen header, Tracy Smith continued by drawing the cliched comparison of Obama to JFK: "The stoic eloquence channels John F. Kennedy...Perhaps it's no surprise that legendary JFK speech writer, Ted Sorensen, supports Obama. He speaks regularly with the campaign's speech writing team." Time magazine's Joe Klein was also quoted: "Kennedy had this wonderful rise ironic sense, just as Obama does. Most of them are cool customers, which works really well on television."
Tracy Smith did include a brief response to Obama's rhetoric from presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain: "To encourage a country with only rhetoric, rather than sound and proven ideas, the trust and the strength and courage of free people is not a promise of hope. It's a platitude."
Following Tracy Smith's report, Harry Smith continued the segment by interviewing pollster Frank Luntz and made sure that everyone new Luntz was a Republican: "Joining us is long time Republican Strategist and Pollster Frank Luntz, author of the book Words that Work...You've worked so much with Republicans. I want to get the bona fides out here because you have been impressed by Barack Obama's use of words, have you not?"
Luntz's response added to the gushy segment: "More than impressed, I've been mesmerized."
Outdoing even Harry Smith's awe of Obama, Luntz exclaimed: "Obama says come on in. We will not divide by race, we will not divide by age, we will not divide by partisanship. And he talks about Republicans supporting him." Smith interjected: "Yeah. He calls them 'Obamacans.'" Luntz continued: "Yeah, it's unprecedented."
Smith went on to discuss the youth vote for Obama: "There's the thing, though. We look at these pictures, we see all of these young people. Do these young people, who love their lattes, as you said just a second ago, will they drop their lattes and actually go to the polls? Will they do -- will -- is he electable with those people?" Luntz responded: "There's an organization called 'Declare Yourself,' Norman Lear created this a few years ago. Do you realize that young people make up 12, 14, in some states, as much as 18% of the primary electorate? Not only will they drop their lattes, they'll take their ipods out and listen to him. And how great is it that for the first time in my lifetime the youth of America are energized, emboldened, and they can't wait to vote."
At this point, as the segment concluded, Smith made sure to mention that Luntz was a Republican one last time: "This comes from a Republican pollster." Luntz responded: "Although, I would argue that I've kind of left that career behind me."
Here is the full transcript of the segment:
7:01AM TEASER, MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Also, ahead this half hour, a closer look at the words of Barack Obama. How they're inspiring millions, even being put to music. We'll here why McCain and Clinton are worried about this and what Michelle Obama says about it.
7:16AM SEGMENT, HARRY SMITH: On the campaign trail, Barack Obama is often treated like a rock star. People wait hours just to hear him speak. Here's Early Show National Correspondent Tracy Smith.
TRACY SMITH: They come in droves, by the tens of thousands at times, to hear Barack Obama speak.
If the surge in Iraq did not work, you can be sure the networks would all use its one-year anniversary to highlight its failure, but on Thursday night only ABC's World News, of the three broadcast network evening newscasts, marked the anniversary. With "Surge Success" on screen, anchor Charles Gibson noted "it was one year ago today that the surge began in Iraq -- the troop buildup ordered by the President when so many of his critics were calling for a draw down of troops. 30,000 additional troops started arriving a year ago." From Iraq, Clarissa Ward began over matching video:
Ward proceeded to outline how residents of one Baghdad neighborhood "who had fled have flooded back in droves. "There is work," this mechanic told me. "Shops have reopened." But the Iraqi government has yet to capitalize on the relative peace. The hope is that the passing of the budget this week will spur the Iraqi government to act."
Ward concluded with how Petraeus is "normally very guarded in his assessment of the surge," but "now expresses cautious optimism." Petraeus asserted: "I have to tell you that having been here for a number of years, this is very encouraging, actually. This is potentially a big moment."
Thursday's CBS Evening News didn't have time for Iraq, but did make room for a five-minute long taped Katie Couric interview with Michelle Obama and the NBC Nightly News skipped the anniversary, but did end with a story on two-year old girl brought from Iraq (by Marines via a Tennessee church pastor) to Vanderbilt Hospital for a life-saving operation.
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Friday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The February 14 CyberAlert item, "ABC Uniquely Lists 'Crucial' New Laws Passed by Iraq's Parliament," recounted:
Unlike the Wednesday CBS and NBC evening newscasts, ABC's World News highlighted a favorable development in Iraqi political progress as anchor Charles Gibson gave 20 seconds to: "Overseas, in Iraq, a breakthrough for the country's government that has been so often criticized. Iraq's parliament approved three contentious, but crucial, new laws long sought by Washington. The laws set a budget for 2008, grant amnesty to thousands of detainees and define the relationship between the central government and the provinces."
That's online at: www.mrc.org
Media interest in Iraq has declined as conditions have improved. The February 4 CyberAlert item by the MRC's Rich Noyes, "As U.S. Troops Succeed, Media Retreat from Iraq War Story," reported:
...over the last five months, the broadcast networks have consistently reduced their coverage of Iraq, as if the story of American success in Iraq is less worthy of attention than their old mantra of American failure in Iraq.
Media Research Center analysts tracked all coverage of the Iraq war on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts from September 1 through January 31, and we documented a steady decline in TV coverage of Iraq that has coincided with the improving situation in Iraq. Back in September, the three evening newscasts together broadcast 178 stories about the war in Iraq; in January, that number fell to just 47, a nearly fourfold decrease....
For that CyberAlert rundown in full: www.mrc.org
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the story on the February 14 World News with Charles Gibson on ABC:
CHARLES GIBSON: It was one year ago today that the surge began in Iraq -- the troop buildup ordered by the President when so many of his critics were calling for a draw down of troops. 30,000 additional troops started arriving a year ago. Most remain. For our "Closer Look" tonight, we take stock of a year's changes. And the U.S. commander, General David Petraeus, found a way to demonstrate the changes. Clarissa Ward reports from Baghdad.
CLARISSA WARD: If you're looking for one measure of the impact of the surge, look at General David Petraeus, walking through a Baghdad neighborhood with no body armor and no helmet. It's one year since the beginning of what's known here as "Operation Fardh al-Qanoon." According to the U.S. military, violence is down 60 percent. One key to the success, reconciliation.
Prompted by Jane Fonda uttering the "C-word" on Thursday's Today show, from the February 14 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Jane Fonda Excuses." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. It was nickel beer at IHOP
9. Seemed like something people would want to hear first thing in the morning
8. Katie Couric used to say it all the time
7. It's not such a bad word when you think about it
6. Roker likes it when I talk dirty
5. It was today's entry on my word-of-the-day calendar
4. Too many years listening to Ted Turner
3. Ain't been right since injection from Roger Clemens' trainer
2. That pinhead Lauer dared me
1. Trying to be romantic on Valentine's day
-- Brent Baker