2. ABC's Cuomo Exploits Disaster to Push FDR-Like Government Growth
3. MSNBC's Olbermann Rationalizes Looting, "What Would You Do?"
4. CNN's O'Brien Urges Imposition of a "National Price Cap" on Gas
5. Mitchell/Matthews Use Calamity to Mock Conservatives and Hit Bush
6. "Top Ten Ways Osama Bin Laden Can Boost His Popularity"
Live from the White House in the 7am EDT half hour of Thursday's Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer pressed President George W. Bush to respond to a series of liberal talking points, starting with how "people have worried that the National Guard is stretched too thin" with "so many overseas" in Iraq. Later, she demanded: "Do we have to make a choice, at some point, between what we're doing in Iraq and what is needed, right now, to funnel massive amounts of money" to the hurricane victims? She also wanted Bush to "guard against price gouging" and wondered: "Is this a time to call on Americans to simply pull back, not use the gas? Pull back and stay at home and save the gas for those who are in dire need." Sawyer forwarded how "some people have said that the oil companies, themselves, should simply forfeit some of their profits in this time of national crisis." She suggested the federal government owes everyone a job as she asked "how far the federal government is going to go to get their lives back? Do you promise jobs? Do you promise that they will be moved back into housing, and how soon?"
Intermixed with those queries were questions about the suppose slowness of the federal response and her concerns about how those looting only did so because they were "desperate" and so should not be prosecuted, a notion Bush rejected.
The MRC's Brian Boyd took down all of Sawyer's questions posed to Bush in the Roosevelt Room on the September 1 Good Morning America:
# "I know you get private briefings on the human tolls so far. What can you tell us about anticipated death and those who are missing?"
# "And the private death toll at this point?"
# "Everyone who watches the pictures go by and I should say here in the situation room we have on the screen, a screen where you have teleconferencing and the pictures can go by as well, is there one image that symbolizes to you the dimension of what happened?"
# "And in fact, Mr. President, this morning as we speak, as you say, there are people with signs saying 'Help. Come get me.' People still in the attic waving, nurses are phoning in saying the situation in hospitals is getting ever more dire, that the nurses are getting sick now because no clean water. And some of the things they have asked our correspondents to ask you, they expected, they say to us, that the day after this hurricane that there would be a massive and visible armada of federal support. There would be boats coming in, there would be food, there would be water and it would be there within hours. They wondered what's taking so long?"
# "But given the fact that everyone anticipated a hurricane 5, a possible hurricane 5, hitting shore, are you satisfied at the pace at which this is arriving and which it was planned to arrive?"
# "Couple of quick questions about the concerns. Any signs of disease outbreaks, yet?"
# "National security, another problem, and security in the region. We've seen the looting before. National Guard troops, as we have said, are now up to 22,000, I think, by tomorrow, coming in. But people have worried that the National Guard is stretched too thin. So many overseas. And the governors themselves, bi-partisan number of governors, have worried out-loud that with so many National Guard deployed, so many places, they don't have the full quadrant it may take."
# "I wanted to ask a question, if I can. It's kind of a philosophical question about the looters, themselves, because there's been so much debate. Many of them going in have said 'We're only going in because we're desperate. We need shoes to walk around in because our feet are being cut. We need food for our children.' What is your view of what prosecution should and shouldn't be, of what arrests should and shouldn't be in a situation like this? What's justified and what's not?"
# "A lot of people around the country are asking what else they could do. You have mentioned giving cash to charities and to the Red Cross. But, gas prices going up at the pumps. We've seen in Atlanta, the lines backing up and some of the prices are going up to $4, $5. First of all, what do you want to say about what is the government putting in place to guard against price gouging? And then also, is this a time to call on Americans to simply pull back, not use the gas? Pull back and stay at home and save the gas for those who are in dire need."
# "We know you talked to the Saudis. Have the Saudis agreed to increase production?"
# "Some people have said that the oil companies, themselves, should simply forfeit some of their profits in this time of national crisis. Conservative commentator, popular one, called last night for 20 percent reduction in the profits. Do you call on them to do this?"
# "Well, I was going to ask about that. We saw Chris Bury's report about the movement from the Superdome to the Astrodome. And the prospect, some people are saying, of a million American refugees in place for a very long time. It's really a two part question, which is what are you saying to them about how far the federal government is going to go to get their lives back? Do you promise jobs? Do you promise that they will be moved back into housing, and how soon?"
# "And can America afford this cost? Because a number of people, again, are saying right now we are straining at the seams a bit. We are paying the war in Iraq, and the cost of that in the tens and tens of million dollars a day. Do we have to make a choice, at some point, between what we're doing in Iraq and what is needed, right now, to funnel massive amounts of money-?"
# "What about the other nations of the world? Are they offering the kind of help that you expected them to help, you want them to help, and there is a report that you're going to deploy your father again and President Clinton again to go out there and seek it. What is it you are expecting from them and will you get it?"
# "There was worry about the levees breaking, as we know, years before; and replacing New Orleans in a situation where you have to have massive expenditures in order to protect it. Do you want to see it in the same place?"
# "When are you going to go?"
# "Some people, Democratic critics, have begun to say that they were surprised that you didn't come back to the White House on Tuesday, and start to organize this cabinet meeting that you did yesterday."
# "I'm struck by the fact that the picture that we saw of you sitting and looking outside the plane at this disaster and the picture of 9/11 were so similar when you looked down. Very different emotions for you?"
# "The stampede in Iraq, the casualties there, the natural disaster that has taken place, do you feel the anxiety in the country now?"
Today may demand an equal effort." Interviewing Randy Cohen, ethics columnist for the New York Times Magazine, Cuomo asserted: "Hurricane Katrina is perhaps the most economically destructive event in American history since the Great Depression, the last time the country responded with unprecedented sweeping changes to help the least fortunate. Today may demand an equal effort. Couldn't this hurricane be something that is a historically relevant event that may change how we deal with each other in this society?"
For a taped piece on the August 31 ABC News special which aired at 10pm EDT/PDT, 9pm CDT/MDT, Cuomo, the son of former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, raised with Cohen the ethics of looting and price gouging, before getting to this proposition in the form of a question:
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann defended and rationalized the looting in New Orleans which goes far beyond taking food, water and necessary clothing. "It's easy to dismiss the more successful looters as opportunistic criminals," Olbermann sniffed on Wednesday's Countdown. He previewed video "of people blithely looting a Wal-Mart and using the store's own shopping carts to carry off the merchandise. But what exactly would you do trapped in a city in waist-high water where stores are closed and social services have been washed away along with your shoes?" Reporter Martin Savidge in New Orleans agreed with Olbermann's sentiment, relating that "I sympathize obviously with the people who are looting because, as you point out, this is a huge community in which there is no power, no electricity, there is no food, there is no water." He went on to show video of two New Orleans police officers looting the Wal-Mart and at least acknowledged: "Now, the fellow who walked out with the large television, I have a beef with him because, let's face it, there's no electricity either, so it's hard to justify that one."
"Stealing for Salvation" read the on-screen heading during Olbermann's #4 story for August 31, as taken down by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth.
Olbermann: "It is an image that will live with anybody who saw it, an image at once tragic and comic and iconic. Our fourth story in the Countdown tonight, looting and the world's worst looter. He has opportunity and tools, yet the thing that he is throwing might as well have been made out of rubber [man throwing object at a window in attempt to break it], a symbol of frustration and of a lot else. It's easy to dismiss the more successful looters as opportunistic criminals. It'll be easy to be astounded by the video when we show it to you in a moment of people blithely looting a Wal-Mart and using the store's own shopping carts to carry off the merchandise. But what exactly would you do trapped in a city in waist-high water where stores are closed and social services have been washed away along with your shoes?"
Savidge went on to show himself confronting two female New Orleans police officers inside a Wal-Mart who claimed to be stopping looters, but were really looters themselves loading up a shopping cart.
Forwarding economic nonsense, on Wednesday's American Morning on CNN, co-host Soledad O'Brien pressed Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman about enacting, at a time when supply is the problem, "a national price cap" on the retail price of gasoline. "What about a national price cap," she pleaded, "so that people aren't paying" $3.50 a gallon? When he demurred and went on to tout other Bush administration policies, she seemed disappointed: "It sounds like you're saying no to a national price cap, then." But an anti-free market "price cap" would exacerbate the situation by leading to shortages and waiting lines.
The MRC's Megan McCormack caught O'Brien's agenda during the 7:40am EDT interview on the August 31 CNN show. Bodman appeared from the White House lawn.
O'Brien began by asking him about releasing fuel from the strategic reserve. She followed up: "So, you're not going to give us the numbers yet of exactly how much you're releasing at this moment. That's going to come a little bit later. Some people would say sir, that's fine for the crude oil, but what's actually needed is the refined oil product. What can you, and what can the President do, to help people, because the prices are clearly spiraling out of control?"
Bodman answered by talking about trying to provide more supply and fixing the pipelines through Mississippi.
O'Brien then proposed: "What about a national price cap? There are some people who say, gas is going to cost us $3 a gallon, the average will be $3 a gallon by the end of the week -- by next week. What about a national price cap, so that people aren't paying, $3.50 is the number we've heard as well?"
That ended the session.
At about 4:40pm EDT Wednesday afternoon on MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell marveled at how Venezuela, "perhaps with a bit of a sense of irony," has offered assistance despite the call by Pat Robertson, whom she identified as a "colleague" of the Bush administration, for the assassination of Venezuela's President. Chris Matthews soon piped up about how "we often argue about states' rights and the need to reduce the size of the federal government, yet in a crisis, it's the federal government which has the resources, the money, the manpower, the personpower I should say, to do the job."
Mitchell contended FEMA was ineffective until Bill Clinton became President and was going well until a second Bush took over the White House. She contended that "since the Clinton days," FEMA has shown "that it can move very effectively," but "we've seen also, post-9/11, that federal disaster assistance and coordination was sorely lacking." She also wanted to know "how much the National Guard deployments from around the region to Iraq and Afghanistan and other parts of the world has depleted the resources that were available?"
[This item was posted early Wednesday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters: Exposing and Combating Liberal Media Bias: newsbusters.org]
The MRC's Tim Graham learned, from National Review Online's Kathleen Jean Lopez, about the remarks from Matthews and Mitchell, who in separate Washington, DC studies (Matthews at the North Capitol St. facility and Mitchell at WRC-TV on Nebraska Ave., I believe) spoke over video of hurricane damage. The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video.
Andrea Mitchell: "We should point out that Venezuela, perhaps with a bit of its, a sense of irony, has also volunteered aid, energy assistance. That coming in the aftermath of the continuous criticism by this administration of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and, of course, the flap between a past Republican presidential candidate and administration colleague, dare we say, Pat Robertson, who, in fact, threatened and said that the United States should try to assassinate Hugo Chavez for his communist leanings and his relationship with Fidel Castro. That was at least criticized by the administration, but in any case, they're not rushing to embrace any offer of help, of oil assistance from the Venezuelans."
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From the August 31 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Ways Osama Bin Laden Can Boost His Popularity." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. Release all videotaped messages in high-definition
9. Claim responsibility for terrorist attack on Suge Knight's Leg
8. Start a daily beard care blog
7. No more five-week vacations to his ranch in Islamabad
6. Make April 27th "take your goat to work day"
5. Guest star on an episode of "Will & Grace" as Jack's new hottie boyfriend Todd
4. Offer employee pricing on all 2005 camels
3. Come up with signature catchphrase such as "oh, for the love of hummus!"
2. Go on Oprah and bravely discuss battle with low self-esteem
-- Brent Baker