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Olbermann Charges Joints Chiefs Faked 'Gulf of Tonkin' with Iran --1/15/2008


1. Olbermann Charges Joints Chiefs Faked 'Gulf of Tonkin' with Iran
On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann used his regular "Worst Person in the World" segment to accuse the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Michael Mullen, of trying to "fake" a "Gulf of Tonkin" incident with Iran over the recent U.S. Navy confrontation with Iranian navy speed boats in the Strait of Hormuz. Referring to reports that, out of five Iranian boats, only one unarmed boat approached the U.S. Navy ships, and that the threatening message received could have come from a "well-known marine heckler" of the area, Olbermann awarded the "Worst Person" dishonor to Mullen: "So you guys tried to fake another Gulf of Tonkin incident using some clown with a CB radio and the lethal threat posed by the S.S. Minnow? Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen, on behalf of the Bush administration, today's 'Worst Person in the World'!"

2. New York Times Slimes U.S. Veterans with Dubious Crime Stats
The New York Times relied on dubious statistics about U.S. soldiers returning home and committing crimes to link the Vietnam War with Iraq. Sunday's front page story, "Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles," overlaid the template of the "troubled Vietnam Veteran" (who came home irrevocably damaged, a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder) onto soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. But the Times also leaned on an outdated, exaggerated study to make an ideological point about the horrors of war, while relying on shaky statistics to link the historically unpopular Vietnam War with Iraq. In the first in a series, "War Torn -- Casualties on the Home Front," the Times' Deborah Sontag and Lizette Alvarez did some dubious research, without context or reference to the larger population, and unearthed a grand total of 121 cases in which veterans were charged with a killing after coming home from war, claiming that "In many cases, combat trauma and the stress of deployment appeared to play a role."

3. Only ABC Notes Jindal Inauguration, Iraq 'Political Breakthrough'
ABC on Monday night, unlike the CBS and NBC evening newscasts, noted two political developments which conservatives cheer: Anchor Charles Gibson highlighted the inauguration in Baton Rouge of Republican Bobby Jindal as Governor of Louisiana, the first non-white Governor since Reconstruction in the state dominated by Democrats -- though Gibson didn't emphasize Jindal's party affiliation -- and "a significant political breakthrough in Iraq." On Jindal, Gibson relayed on World News, over video of the inauguration: "History was made in Louisiana today. Bobby Jindal took office as the state's new Governor. Jindal is 36, the son of Indian immigrants. He's Louisiana's first non-white Governor since Reconstruction, and the nation's first elected Indian-American Governor. Jindal, a former Republican Congressman, vowed to clean up Louisiana politics and speed hurricane recovery."

4. Today Devotes More Time to Dems, Auto Show than GOP Michigan Race
Is NBC's Today show obsessed with the Democratic race? Judging from Monday's show it appears so. On the day before an important primary for Republicans in Michigan, Today devoted almost seven minutes to the fight between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton compared to just 33 seconds to the GOP race. In fact, Today allocated almost eight more minutes to the Detroit Auto Show in Michigan, than they did to the Republican primary in that same state.

5. CNN's Borger: 'The Guys Are Ganging Up on Hillary Clinton!'
So much for feminism. On the syndicated Chris Matthews Show over the weekend, CNN's senior political analyst, Gloria Borger admitted she felt like Hillary Clinton was being ganged up on by "the guys." During a discussion about how female voters in New Hampshire reacted to Hillary Clinton being criticized by her political opponents, Borger seemed to undercut the whole concept of women wanting to be treated as equals, in effect saying, sometimes you just can't pick on the girl: "I thought, whoa, the guys are ganging up on Hillary Clinton!"

6. Barnes: Press 'Loathes Romney for Moving Right on Social Issues'
Catching up with an article in last week's Weekly Standard, veteran Washington journalist Fred Barnes, a regular panelist on FNC's Special Report, asserted that the press corps "loathes Romney for moving to the right on social issues." In "The All-Too-Resistible Romney: He has everything going for him but voters," Barnes, Executive Editor of the magazine, marveled: "I've been amazed at the raw antipathy that so many otherwise reasonable people in the media feel toward Romney. The word they use is 'inauthentic.' But all presidential candidates are inauthentic to one degree or another. Even Mr. Straight Talk, Senator John McCain, talks differently today about tax cuts and immigration than he used to, but the press doesn't hector him about it. There's something unique about Romney that repels the press..."

7. Late Show's 'Top Ten Little-Known Facts About Mike Huckabee'
From the Late Show with David Letterman Web site, the winning entries in last week's "Top Ten Contest," the "Top Ten Little-Known Facts About Mike Huckabee."


Olbermann Charges Joints Chiefs Faked
'Gulf of Tonkin' with Iran

On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann used his regular "Worst Person in the World" segment to accuse the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Michael Mullen, of trying to "fake" a "Gulf of Tonkin" incident with Iran over the recent U.S. Navy confrontation with Iranian navy speed boats in the Strait of Hormuz. Referring to reports that, out of five Iranian boats, only one unarmed boat approached the U.S. Navy ships, and that the threatening message received could have come from a "well-known marine heckler" of the area, Olbermann awarded the "Worst Person" dishonor to Mullen: "So you guys tried to fake another Gulf of Tonkin incident using some clown with a CB radio and the lethal threat posed by the S.S. Minnow? Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen, on behalf of the Bush administration, today's 'Worst Person in the World'!"

[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

A transcript of the relevant portion of Olbermann's regular "Worst Person in the World" segment from the Monday, January 14 Countdown show on MSNBC:
"Our winner, your friendly U.S. government, epitomized here by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mullen. This is about the little thing in the Straits of Hormuz, which the administration tried to sell as a near act of war by Iranian patrol boats against three giant U.S. warships, complete with provocative maneuvers and somebody radioing the U.S. ships, quote, 'I am coming to you. You will explode after minutes.' Admiral Mullen, it was, who said of the video of the incident, 'To my knowledge, I have not seen one as both provocative and dramatic as this.' Five minutes later, though, he added: 'First of all, I haven't seen the full video myself.'
"Now, the Navy Times newspaper echoes a lot of online reporting saying that the threatening radio message may have come from a well-known marine heckler whose radio abuse is legendary around the Persian Gulf. Oh, and that the only Iranian boat that actually came close to one of the U.S. warships was unarmed. So you guys tried to fake another Gulf of Tonkin incident using some clown with a CB radio and the lethal threat posed by the S.S. Minnow? Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen, on behalf of the Bush administration, today's Worst Person in the World!"

DOD's bio for Navy Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: www.defenselink.mil

New York Times Slimes U.S. Veterans with
Dubious Crime Stats

The New York Times relied on dubious statistics about U.S. soldiers returning home and committing crimes to link the Vietnam War with Iraq. Sunday's front page story, "Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles," overlaid the template of the "troubled Vietnam Veteran" (who came home irrevocably damaged, a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder) onto soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. But the Times also leaned on an outdated, exaggerated study to make an ideological point about the horrors of war, while relying on shaky statistics to link the historically unpopular Vietnam War with Iraq.

In the first in a series, "War Torn -- Casualties on the Home Front," the Times' Deborah Sontag and Lizette Alvarez did some dubious research, without context or reference to the larger population, and unearthed a grand total of 121 cases in which veterans were charged with a killing after coming home from war, claiming that "In many cases, combat trauma and the stress of deployment appeared to play a role."

[This item is adapted from a Monday posting, by the MRC's Clay Waters, on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]

From the Sunday front-page story, accompanied by a photo collage of killer veterans:

The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war. In many of those cases, combat trauma and the stress of deployment -- along with alcohol abuse, family discord and other attendant problems -- appear to have set the stage for a tragedy that was part destruction, part self-destruction.

Three-quarters of these veterans were still in the military at the time of the killing. More than half the killings involved guns, and the rest were stabbings, beatings, strangulations and bathtub drownings. Twenty-five offenders faced murder, manslaughter or homicide charges for fatal car crashes resulting from drunken, reckless or suicidal driving.

....

The Times used the same methods to research homicides involving all active-duty military personnel and new veterans for the six years before and after the present wartime period began with the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

This showed an 89 percent increase during the present wartime period, to 349 cases from 184, about three-quarters of which involved Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. The increase occurred even though there have been fewer troops stationed in the United States in the last six years and the American homicide rate has been, on average, lower.

SUSPEND Excerpt

Commenting on that methodology, in Monday's "Best of the Web Today" from the Wall Street Journal's editorial page, James Taranto observed: "What the Times has discovered, then, is a dramatic increase in the number of news reports in which homicide defendants are identified as servicemen or recent veterans. Does this mean that those who've served their country are more crime-prone now than they were in peacetime? Or does it mean that reporters are more prone to perpetuate the wacko-vet myth than they were during peacetime? The Times is trying to prove the truth of a media stereotype by references to media reports. It might have proved nothing more than that it is a stereotype."

For the January 14 Best of the Web Today: online.wsj.com

The Times reached back not only to Vietnam but to Ancient Greek mythology to make its case for the psychological horrors of post-war life:

Decades of studies on the problems of Vietnam veterans have established links between combat trauma and higher rates of unemployment, homelessness, gun ownership, child abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse -- and criminality. On a less scientific level, such links have long been known.

"The connection between war and crime is unfortunately very ancient," said Dr. Shay, the V.A. psychiatrist and author. "The first thing that Odysseus did after he left Troy was to launch a pirate raid on Ismarus. Ending up in trouble with the law has always been a final common pathway for some portion of psychologically injured veterans."

END of Excerpt of the January 13 article: www.nytimes.com

John Hinderaker at the Powerline blog put the numbers in context, something the Times didn't bother doing:

As of 2005, the homicide rate for Americans aged 18-24, the cohort into which most soldiers fall, was around 27 per 100,000. (The rate for men in that age range would be much higher, of course, since men commit around 88% of homicides. But since most soldiers are also men, I gave civilians the benefit of the doubt and considered gender a wash.)

Next we need to know how many servicemen have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan. A definitive number is no doubt available, but the only hard figure I've seen is that as of last October, more than 500,000 U.S. Army personnel had served in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Other sources peg the total number of personnel from all branches of the military who have served in the two theaters much higher, e.g. 750,000, 650,000 as of February 2007, or 1,280,000. For the sake of argument, let's say that 700,000 soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors have returned to the U.S. from service in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Do the math: the 121 alleged instances of homicide identified by the Times, out of a population of 700,000, works out to a rate of 17 per 100,000 -- quite a bit lower than the overall national rate of around 27.

But wait! The national rate of 27 homicides per 100,000 is an annual rate, whereas the Times' 121 alleged crimes were committed over a period of six years. Which means that, as far as the Times' research shows, the rate of homicides committed by military personnel who have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan is only a fraction of the homicide rate for other Americans aged 18 to 24. Somehow, the Times managed to publish nine pages of anecdotes about the violence wreaked by returning servicemen without ever mentioning this salient fact.

END of Excerpt

For the Powerline posting: www.powerlineblog.com

For the stats from the Department of Justice: www.ojp.usdoj.gov

Move America Forward made a similar argument:

To make the Iraq-Vietnam comparison explicit, Sontag and Alvarez unearthed a study from 1988.

The National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study, considered the most thorough analysis of this population, found that 15 percent of the male veterans still suffered from full-blown post-traumatic stress disorder more than a decade after the war ended. Half of the veterans with active PTSD had been arrested or in jail at least once, and 34.2 percent more than once. Some 11.5 percent of them had been convicted of felonies, and veterans are more likely to have committed violent crimes than nonveterans, according to government studies. In the mid-1980s, with so many Vietnam veterans behind bars that Vietnam Veterans of America created chapters in prisons, veterans made up a fifth of the nation's inmate population.

As Iraq and Afghanistan veterans get enmeshed in the criminal justice system, former advocates for Vietnam veterans are disheartened by what they see as history repeating itself."

See: www.moveamericaforward.org

But back in August 2006 the Times itself reported a debunking of the 1988 study that cut the negative findings in half: www.nytimes.com

In a February 2006 story, Alvarez accepted as fact the myth of minorities as "cannon fodder" on the front lines: www.timeswatch.org

Check TimesWatch daily for the latest on liberal bias in the New York Times: www.timeswatch.org

Only ABC Notes Jindal Inauguration, Iraq
'Political Breakthrough'

ABC on Monday night, unlike the CBS and NBC evening newscasts, noted two political developments which conservatives cheer: Anchor Charles Gibson highlighted the inauguration in Baton Rouge of Republican Bobby Jindal as Governor of Louisiana, the first non-white Governor since Reconstruction in the state dominated by Democrats -- though Gibson didn't emphasize Jindal's party affiliation -- and "a significant political breakthrough in Iraq." On Jindal, Gibson relayed on World News, over video of the inauguration: "History was made in Louisiana today. Bobby Jindal took office as the state's new Governor. Jindal is 36, the son of Indian immigrants. He's Louisiana's first non-white Governor since Reconstruction, and the nation's first elected Indian-American Governor. Jindal, a former Republican Congressman, vowed to clean up Louisiana politics and speed hurricane recovery."

Jindal's Web site: www.bobbyjindal.com

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Just as ABC's World News was ahead of CBS and NBC in October and November with news of improving conditions and decreased violence in Iraq, on Monday night ABC alerted weekday viewers to a positive development on the political front over the weekend. Gibson introduced a January 14 World News story from Hilary Brown in Baghdad:
"Overseas next, a significant political breakthrough in Iraq. Security has been improved there, but critics have wondered when political progress would come. Well, now Iraqi lawmakers have put their differences aside and agreed to allow some members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party to take government jobs. It's a key benchmark sought by the United States. ABC's Hillary Brown reports..."

The MRC's early December Media Reality Check by Rich Noyes, "Good News = Less News on Iraq War; MRC Study: As Surge Succeeds and Casualty Rates Fall, ABC, CBS and NBC Lose Interest In Iraq War," discovered:

Of the three evening newscasts, ABC's World News was the first to take serious note of the improving situation (back on October 1), and has offered the most stories (9 field reports, 7 from Iraq) detailing the progress. "Not only is there a huge increase in Iraqi citizens groups who are coming forward to help the Americans, but overall levels of violence have gone way down," Terry McCarthy enthused on November 22. In a Thanksgiving week interview with President Bush, anchor Charles Gibson was congratulatory: "You took a lot of doubting and rather skeptical questions about the surge. I'll give you a chance to crow. Do you want to say I told you so?"

For the Media Reality Check study in full: www.mediaresearch.org

Today Devotes More Time to Dems, Auto
Show than GOP Michigan Race

Is NBC's Today show obsessed with the Democratic race? Judging from Monday's show it appears so. On the day before an important primary for Republicans in Michigan, Today devoted almost seven minutes to the fight between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton compared to just 33 seconds to the GOP race. In fact, Today allocated almost eight more minutes to the Detroit Auto Show in Michigan, than they did to the Republican primary in that same state.

The January 8 CyberAlert article, "ABC Morning Show Devotes 15 Minutes to Dem Race, 31 Secs to GOP," recounted: "Are the two major political parties hosting primaries this winter? Or is it just the Democrats? Viewers who saw Monday's edition of Good Morning America might assume the latter. The ABC program devoted a lopsided 14 minutes and 56 seconds to breaking down the race between Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. A scant 31 seconds were given to the competitive Republican race." See: www.mrc.org

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

In the 7am half-hour Today aired an Andrea Mitchell report on the racial undertones in the Obama vs. Clinton race followed by a full segment with co-host Meredith Vieira interviewing the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson and Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson for a total running time of 6 minutes and 50 seconds. In contrast the January 14 edition of Today granted the GOP race only two anchor reads from Ann Curry totaling just a mere 33 seconds. Today then went to CNBC's Phil Lebeau, who reported live from the Detroit Auto show, for four full segments totaling 8 minutes and 27 seconds.

CNN's Borger: 'The Guys Are Ganging Up
on Hillary Clinton!'

So much for feminism. On the syndicated Chris Matthews Show over the weekend, CNN's senior political analyst, Gloria Borger admitted she felt like Hillary Clinton was being ganged up on by "the guys." During a discussion about how female voters in New Hampshire reacted to Hillary Clinton being criticized by her political opponents, Borger seemed to undercut the whole concept of women wanting to be treated as equals, in effect saying, sometimes you just can't pick on the girl: "I thought, whoa, the guys are ganging up on Hillary Clinton!"

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

The following exchange occurred on the January 13 edition of The Chris Matthews Show:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I want the two women to talk about this. This is a time of exposed nerves. I know so many women who read the papers, keep up with events as much as all of us do who have very complicated feelings about her, and not necessarily positive, yet in the maelstrom of this past weekend in New Hampshire, they began to say, "You guys are killing this woman, stop it."
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Women feel like everyone else, that they've known Hillary for a long time. And they have opinions about her, and a lot of women don't like Hillary Clinton. But at that debate when John Edwards decided to team up with Barack Obama and hit her and say, you know, and criticize her together and gang up on her, which they did.
MATTHEWS: You felt that?
BORGER: I thought, whoa, the guys are ganging up on Hillary Clinton!

Barnes: Press 'Loathes Romney for Moving
Right on Social Issues'

Catching up with an article in last week's Weekly Standard (but with Mitt Romney making his last stand in Tuesday's Michigan primary it remains topical), veteran Washington journalist Fred Barnes, a regular panelist on FNC's Special Report, asserted that the press corps "loathes Romney for moving to the right on social issues." In "The All-Too-Resistible Romney: He has everything going for him but voters," Barnes, Executive Editor of the magazine, marveled: "I've been amazed at the raw antipathy that so many otherwise reasonable people in the media feel toward Romney. The word they use is 'inauthentic.' But all presidential candidates are inauthentic to one degree or another. Even Mr. Straight Talk, Senator John McCain, talks differently today about tax cuts and immigration than he used to, but the press doesn't hector him about it. There's something unique about Romney that repels the press..."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

An excerpt from the article in the January 14 edition of The Weekly Standard:

....He moved to the right on social issues -- abortion, stem cells, marriage, guns -- before entering the Republican race. And he has insisted that his new take on these issues represents the real Romney.

I suspect he's right about this. He was probably a good bit more conservative than he appeared when he ran as a moderate against Democratic senator Teddy Kennedy in 1994 (he lost) and for governor of Massachusetts in 2002 (he won).

But changing any of his positions under duress now would produce two results, both bad. The first is that switching probably wouldn't help his campaign. The second is that it would inflame a press corps that already loathes Romney for moving to the right on social issues.

I've been amazed at the raw antipathy that so many otherwise reasonable people in the media feel toward Romney. The word they use is "inauthentic." But all presidential candidates are inauthentic to one degree or another. Even Mr. Straight Talk, Senator John McCain, talks differently today about tax cuts and immigration than he used to, but the press doesn't hector him about it.

There's something unique about Romney that repels the press and keeps him from making a connection with hordes of Republican voters. What is it? Romney is obviously a decent guy with a devoted family. People who've worked for Romney speak of him in glowing terms. He succeeded famously in tougher environments -- business turnarounds, running the 2002 Winter Olympics -- than electoral politics. And he's the smartest guy in the presidential field.

I think his problem is that he's a technocrat who doesn't come across as a regular guy. Bush senior managed to overcome a similar problem and connect with voters. His years in Texas politics transformed Bush. He learned to talk comfortably about country music and ate pork rinds....

END of Excerpt

For the article in full: www.weeklystandard.com

Late Show's 'Top Ten Little-Known Facts
About Mike Huckabee'

From the Late Show with David Letterman Web site, the winning entries in last week's "Top Ten Contest," the "Top Ten Little-Known Facts About Mike Huckabee." The list of winners was posted on Saturday. Late Show's home page: www.cbs.com

10. Has a bigger pantsuit collection than Hillary

(Stuart F, Melbourne, Australia)


9. Once placed 2nd in a Richard Nixon lookalike contest

(Craig H, Billings, MT)


8. In the 80s, briefly changed his name to Mike "Cougar" Huckabee

(Navindra S, Pleasant Hill, CA)


7. Before big decisions he asks himself, "What would Gomer Pyle do?"

(Jason A, Wake Forest, NC)


6. Weight loss secret: all bacon diet

(Peter N, North Kingstown)


5. When speaking in public, pictures himself naked

(John S, Sacramento, CA)


4. Able to broadcast Major League baseball games without express written consent

(Tom C, Bedford, TX)


3. Every Saturday night, he and Chuck Norris go to pool halls and beat up punks

(Tom S, St. Louis, MO)


2. His biggest campaign contributor: Leona Helmsley's dog

(Jim W, Hopkins, SC)


1. He's running for President

(Adam P, Lehman)

-- Brent Baker