To Rumsfeld's Amusement, Stephanopoulos Probes "Biggest Mistake" --3/21/2005
2. Jennings Hails Wisdom of George Kennan's Criticism from the Left
3. ABC Rails Against Congressional "Interference" in Schiavo Case
4. Media Laud Liberal Book on Supreme Court, Skip Conservative One
Can't resist going to the negative. On Sunday's This Week, ABC's George Stephanopoulos reminded Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld how on Friday he had predicted that an accurate history of the Iraq war would someday be written. Stephanopoulos then asked: "When it is written what would it cite as the biggest mistake in prosecuting the war?" Rumsfeld mused: "Isn't that wonderful? That's the question that everyone wants to know. Not what are the biggest successes." Stephanopoulos retorted: "You just laid them out. That's why I'm asking about mistakes." But Rumsfeld's previous answer came in response to another negatively oriented question from Stephanopoulos who had raised how a poll found that more think the war has made the U.S. "weaker in the world."
The exchange from the start of the interview on the March 20 This Week:
Stephanopoulos: "Let me start out with a poll that ABC News did this week about the war in Iraq and America's views towards that and there were two findings that I wanted to ask you about. First, we asked Americans, 'was the war worth fighting' and they say, yes, 45 percent. But, no, 53 percent. And then we asked them, 'has the war made the U.S. stronger or weaker in the world?' Stronger, 28 percent. 41 percent think it's made the United States weaker in the world. What do you say to those Americans?"
Peter Jennings paid special tribute to the late George Kennan on Friday night, empathizing with his criticism, from the left, of U.S. foreign policy and naivete of the public. After crediting Kennan with the "containment" policy which "was the cornerstone of U.S. policy until the Soviet Union collapsed 44 years later," Jennings relayed how "Kennan came to regret the policy. Everyone lost, he said, the Cold War cost too much in military expenditure. And he thought the U.S. became too aggressive." Then Jennings sounded as if was quoting himself: "Kennan said in later years that if the U.S. developed a respect for the culture of other countries, we would understand why they did what they did and would be less likely to go to war. George Kennan, an inspiration to three generations of American diplomats and politicians." And, it sounds, to at least one network news anchor.
The CBS and NBC anchors on Friday night also paid tribute to Kennan, but didn't turn it into a lecture as did Jennings.
Bob Schieffer on the March 18 CBS Evening News: "The veteran U.S. diplomat and Pulitzer Prize-winning author George Kennan has died. Some people get to witness history, some get to write about it and some make it. Kennan got to do all three through much of the last half of the 20th century. After World War II, it was Kennan who said the way to defeat the Soviet Union was through containment, not by war. George Kennan died at his home in New Jersey. He was 101."
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams: "One of the towering figures of U.S. foreign policy has died. George F. Kennan quite literally had a hand in shaping the world after the second world war. While he was the author of 17 books and won two Pulitzer Prizes, his single most famous piece of writing was anonymous, at least at first, until the truth started trickling out that the real author of the article signed simply 'X' and advocating the containment of communism was George Kennan. Kennan, who was Princeton-educated, spoke eight languages. He was married for 74 years and was the father of four. George Kennan died at his home in Princeton, New Jersey, at the age of 101."
On World News Tonight, Jennings trumpeted Kennan's wisdom:
There may be a split amongst conservatives over whether congressional action to allow a federal court to have jurisdiction over the Terri Schiavo case represents a proper defense of a citizen's right to life or an abandonment of the conservative principle of state's rights in favor of grandstanding, but ABC's World News Tonight on Friday approached the subject purely from the left, attributing nefarious and illegitimate motives to conservatives without any mention of how virtually no Democrats had risen in opposition.
"We're going to begin tonight with the extraordinary last-minute attempt by members of the Congress to interfere, or to intervene, in the case of Terri Schiavo," Peter Jennings announced before relaying how "the Florida judge...didn't think much of the interference." Linda Douglass highlighted GOP talking points about how "this is a great political issue...this is a tough issue for Democrats." Jennings next stressed how few people showed up to protest outside of the hospice center and Jeffrey Kofman fretted that while before the Florida legislature "there are huge issues -- hurricane recovery, education -- and yet almost a quarter of the legislative calendar has been devoted to Terri Schiavo." Reporter Jake Tapper devoted a whole piece to how "members of Congress made claims contradicting experts in medicine and bio-ethics." He concluded with this blast: "Terri Schiavo and her family deserved better than the way Congress worked this week."
Weekend newscasts were dominated by the Schiavo case, with the cable networks providing live coverage of House action early Monday morning, but none that I saw was as skewed as the condescending approach delivered Friday night on ABC.
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth checked the closed-captioning against the video to provide an accurate transcript of the series of stories on the March 18 World News Tonight.
Peter Jennings teased up top: "On World News Tonight, a judge in Florida says Congress has no business trying to keep Terri Schiavo alive. Today, her feeding tube was removed."
Jennings led: "Good evening, everyone. We're going to begin tonight with the extraordinary last-minute attempt by members of the Congress to interfere or to intervene in the case of Terri Schiavo, the young woman who has been in a vegetative state for seven years. The Florida courts have decided that Schiavo's husband does have the legal right to remove her feeding tube as of today. Not good enough for some members of the Congress. The man in that pickup truck [vide of pickup] flew from Washington to Florida this morning carrying a subpoena from a committee of the Congress for Schiavo and the workers who care for her. The Florida judge, as we hear on the telephone, didn't think much of the interference."
Linda Douglass checked in: "Well, Peter, despite the fact that the feeding tube now has been, as you say, disconnected, some Republicans are saying they're going to continue using their congressional power to try to have it reconnected. The chairman of the House Government Reform Committee is demanding that Terri Schiavo, her husband Michael, two doctors and the hospice administrator appear at a congressional hearing at Schiavo's bedside next week."
Jennings then lectured: "Just a couple of things about Ms. Schiavo's condition. She has been in this vegetative state for 15 years. It is her parents who want to keep her alive. They say she can be rehabilitated. They also say that she will now die a painful death, though there does not seem to be any support for that argument in the medical community. Some questions this evening for our correspondent in Florida, Jeffrey Kofman. Jeffrey, first of all, this case, as we all recognize, has generated a lot of noise. How many people actually showed up today to demonstrate to keep her connected to the feeding tubes?"
Jennings moved on to the next story: "As we have reported, the judge who ruled that Terri Schiavo's feeding tube may be removed said today Congress had no reason to intervene. Mr. Schiavo told ABC News today the Congress isn't getting its facts straight. And his attorney said that Terri had become a pawn in a political football game. So why is the Congress involved? Here's ABC's Jake Tapper."
In fact, the ABC News/Washington Post, which Tapper characterized as posing a question about whether people "would want to be kept alive in the condition Schiavo's doctors say she is in," actually presented a fairly broad question which included the term "life support" which many probably interpreted to mean artificial breathing, a condition which does not match the Schiavo case. The question: "As you may know, a woman in Florida named Terri Schiavo suffered brain damage and has been on life support for 15 years. Doctors say she has no consciousness and her condition is irreversible. Her parents and her husband disagree on whether or not she should be kept on life support. In cases like this who do you think should have final say, (the parents) or (the spouse)?" Follow up: "If you were in this condition, would you want to be kept alive, or not?" See (a PDF): abcnews.go.com
A conservative bestseller on the Supreme Court hasn't yet earned any mainstream media reviews or interviews, but a little-bought liberal book by Mark Tushnet, A Court Divided: The Rehnquist Court and the Future of Constitutional Law, has received mainstream media attention, the Washington Post noted in a Sunday story on how the conservative media has publicized Mark Levin's book, Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America, which reached #3 on the New York Times bestseller list. Charles Lane pointed out: "A Court Divided came out a week before Men in Black; it has been reviewed, mostly favorably, in the Los Angeles Times, The Post and the New Republic. Tushnet has been interviewed on National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation."
Amazon ranks Levin's book at #16, Tushnet's at #14,408. And journalists wonder why the public thinks they are out of touch.
An excerpt from Lane's March 20 article, "Conservative's Book on Supreme Court Is a Bestseller":
The Supreme Court is not often the stuff of bestsellers, but in recent weeks a conservative lawyer's full-throated attack on the court has been flying off the shelves, reaching as high as third place on the New York Times bestseller list.
The 288-page book, "Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America," by Mark R. Levin, arrived amid expectations of a pitched battle in Washington over a replacement for ailing Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. It argues that the court's decisions in favor of abortion rights, gay rights, economic regulation and affirmative action have created "de facto judicial tyranny" and an economy "lurching toward socialism."...
With endorsements for the book from Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other conservative media icons, Levin has also reached millions through appearances on radio and television, providing his audience with intellectual ammunition for the impending struggle over the court's future.
Yet this publishing phenomenon has gone almost completely unnoticed outside conservative circles....
"It's a classic case of a fired-up red-state America," said conservative talk-radio host Laura Ingraham, who has had Levin on her show. "It's a classic case where the mainstream media misses the boat of a whole segment of society that has a big, big problem with the courts injecting themselves into matters that should be left up to the people."
"Men in Black" was the brainchild of executives at Eagle Publishing Inc., the corporate parent of Regnery Publishing....
In mid-2004, Eagle approached Levin, a former aide to President Ronald Reagan's attorney general, Edwin Meese III. Levin turned the book out in time for release Feb. 7.
"Our audience has been screaming for a book on the courts," said Jeff Carneal, president of Eagle Publishing....
Carneal said the initial press run for "Men in Black" was 80,000 -- a large number for a nonfiction book -- and that Eagle has ordered 85,000 more copies in response to the demand. Company officials estimate that half of all the books printed so far have sold. The list price is $27.95 per hardback copy.
"Men in Black" offers a conversational but uncompromising version of a familiar conservative legal critique: that "judicial activists" on the bench frequently toss aside black-letter law or constitutional text in favor of their own policy preferences....
"It's written in plain English and not for Harvard Yard," says Levin, who received a bachelor's degree at the age of 19 from Temple University and later graduated from law school at the same institution.
Levin says that he has done 150 to 200 interviews on talk radio, the vast majority on shows hosted by conservatives. He has appeared on Fox News -- but his book has not been reviewed in such major daily newspapers as the New York Times or The Washington Post.
Mark Tushnet, a liberal law professor at Georgetown University who clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, said he has watched the rise of Levin's book with some bemusement.
Tushnet's own book, "A Court Divided: The Rehnquist Court and the Future of Constitutional Law," was aimed at "the educated general public," he said. It argues that the court is a relatively moderate institution and chides writers who "cheer or boo" the court's rulings depending on their own ideology.
"A Court Divided" came out a week before "Men in Black"; it has been reviewed, mostly favorably, in the Los Angeles Times, The Post and the New Republic. Tushnet has been interviewed on National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation" -- but not on conservative radio or television. Sales of "A Court Divided" have been respectable for a nonfiction book but still nowhere near "Men in Black's" numbers....
Asked about Tushnet's book at the reception for "Men in Black," Regnery's Carneal said he had not heard of it.
Tushnet said he has not read "Men in Black" and does not know anyone who has.
END of Excerpt
To read the article in full: www.washingtonpost.com
Amazon.com's page for Levin's book: www.amazon.com
For Tushnet's tome: www.amazon.com
-- Brent Baker