2. Walter Cronkite: U.S. "Should Get Out Now" from Iraq
3. 60 Minutes Extols Murtha in Piece by Iraq War Opponent Wallace
4. Olbermann: Cell Phone Threat Leaked to Deflect from Bush's Spying
5. Read It Here First: FNC Scolds "Ultra-Conservative" Tag for Alito
Interviewing liberal Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter on Sunday's This Week, ABC's George Stephanopoulos devoted all of his questions about the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, to chafing over his position on abortion and how he will make the Court "more conservative." Stephanopoulos first asked: "You are pro-choice and you're voting for Judge Alito. Does that mean you're convinced he won't vote to overturn Roe v. Wade?" Next, Stephanopoulos worried that, unlike, Chief Justice John Roberts, Alito "wouldn't use the word 'settled law' to describe Roe v. Wade. And despite your best efforts, he also wouldn't describe it as a 'super-super precedent,' so he did seem to leave a lot of wiggle room there." Stephanopoulos then pointed out the guidance offered by the New York Times: "The New York Times editorial page said that abortion rights supporters like you should not be able to support Judge Alito in good conscience. How do you respond?" In his fourth and last question on the hearings, before moving on to "eavesdropping," Stephanopoulos fretted: "Isn't it very likely that now with Judge Roberts, and the likely confirmation of Judge Alito, that the Supreme Court is going to shift in a more conservative direction?"
[This item was posted Monday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your views, go to: newsbusters.org ]
The first four questions from Stephanopoulos to Specter, who appeared from Philadelphia, on the January 15 This Week:
George Stephanopoulos: "You are pro-choice and you're voting for Judge Alito. Does that mean you're convinced he won't vote to overturn Roe v. Wade?"
Talking about Iraq, Walter Cronkite declared on Sunday that the U.S. "should get out now." He made his recommendation during an appearance at the Winter TV Press Tour 2006 in Pasadena where he came on stage to promote PBS's planned July American Masters episode about his career.
An excerpt from Washington Post reporter Lisa de Moraes' January 16 story:
....Asked what was his proudest moment as a journalist, Cronkite quickly said it was the night he delivered his editorial on the increasingly unpopular Vietnam War. Nearly 38 years ago, he closed a broadcast with an editorial that is credited with hastening the U.S. pullout from Vietnam.
"To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past," Cronkite said that night. "To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion....It is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy and did the best they could."
On Sunday he was asked if he thought the Iraq war had reached the same point and would he have tried, if he were anchor today, to deliver a similar editorial (good luck on that).
"Yes, I would!" Cronkite blurted out before the reporter even got to the end of his question. The editorial he said he would have delivered following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, would have been: "Mother Nature has not treated us well and we find ourselves terribly missing in the amount of money it takes to help these poor people out of their homeless situation, to help rebuild some of our important cities of the United States, and therefore we are going to have to bring our troops home."
He told the reporters: "We would have been able to retire with honor.
"We've done everything we can. We're going to have to leave it with [the Iraqis] someday, and it is my belief that we should get out now."
END of Excerpt
For the article in full: www.washingtonpost.com
Cronkite: Time for U.S. to Leave Iraq
PASADENA, Calif. - Former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite, whose 1968 conclusion that the Vietnam War was unwinnable keenly influenced public opinion then, said Sunday he'd say the same thing today about Iraq.
"It's my belief that we should get out now," Cronkite said in a meeting with reporters.
Now 89, the television journalist once known as "the most trusted man in America" has been off the "CBS Evening News" for nearly a quarter-century. He's still a CBS News employee, although he does little for them.
Cronkite said one of his proudest moments came at the end of a 1968 documentary he made following a visit to Vietnam during the Tet offensive. Urged by his boss to briefly set aside his objectivity to give his view of the situation, Cronkite said the war was unwinnable and that the U.S. should exit.
Then-President Lyndon Johnson reportedly told a White House aide after that, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."
The best time to have made a similar statement about Iraq came after Hurricane Katrina, he said.
"We had an opportunity to say to the world and Iraqis after the hurricane disaster that Mother Nature has not treated us well and we find ourselves missing the amount of money it takes to help these poor people out of their homeless situation and rebuild some of our most important cities in the United States," he said. "Therefore, we are going to have to bring our troops home."
Iraqis should have been told that "our hearts are with you" and that the United States would do all it could to rebuild their country, he said.
"I think we could have been able to retire with honor," he said. "In fact, I think we can retire with honor anyway."...
END of Excerpt
The media's idolizing of Democratic Congressman John Murtha, who in November advocated withdrawing from Iraq, continued on Sunday's 60 Minutes, which featured a segment on him and his supposedly prescient forecast that most troops will soon leave Iraq, by Mike Wallace, a journalist who has already made clear that he shares Murtha's view of the war. In late November on FNC, Wallace contended that "Iraq is becoming a kind of Vietnam" and asserted that "we should never have gone into Iraq. We were sold a bill of goods." Back in 2004 at a Smithsonian forum, Wallace argued that "this is not, in my estimation, a good war" and declared that "it sure is not a noble enterprise.'"
Previewing, on Friday's CBS Evening News the Sunday 60 Minutes segment, Wallace bucked up Murtha's credibility by touting how he "is a decorated veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He was a Marine for 37 years, knows a lot about the military, been a Congressman for 32 years, so he knows a bit about politics, too." And "based on all of that, he told us that most American troops will be out of Iraq a lot sooner than we think." The brief excerpt from the Sunday 60 Minutes piece focused on Murtha's prediction that by the end of the year the "vast majority" of troops will be out of Iraq. Wallace relayed: "Murtha told us that mounting pressure from constituents in this election year will force the Congress to pass his withdrawal plan or something like it to bring the troops home."
The two paragraphs above appeared in the future tense in a Friday night posting on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. See: newsbusters.org
I ended the lead to that posting: "I'd bet the full 13-14 minute version on Sunday night will include a lot more admiration for Murtha and his cause."
In fact, despite Wallace's past remarks against the war and positive portrayal of Murtha in the Evening News excerpt, in the full 60 Minutes piece, while showcasing Murtha's anti-war agenda and claims, Wallace also challenged several of Murtha's key points. More on that following the rest of the Friday NewsBusters posting on Wallace's views and the Evening News excerpt.
Past Wallace remarks about Iraq:
# On the November 28 O'Reilly Factor, Wallace contended that "Iraq is becoming a kind of Vietnam" and asserted that "we should never have gone into Iraq. We were sold a bill of goods." Wallace, however, suggested Bush may not really have been in charge and thus may not be to blame: "Now, whether the President was sold a bill of goods or whether Dick Cheney was sitting in the chair at that time, I don't know." See: www.mrc.org
# The June 1, 2004 MRC CyberAlert recounted, with an accompanying RealPlayer clip, how "Mike Wallace, at a Smithsonian Institution '€˜National World War II Reunion' event on Friday [May 28] shown later by C-SPAN, denounced the war in Iraq. 'This is not, in my estimation, a good war,' Wallace declared a panel event, on World War II veterans as journalists,' held in a tent on the Capitol end of Mall the afternoon before the dedication of the World War II Memorial. 'I don't know how we got into a position where our present Commander-in-Chief and the people around him,' the 60 Minutes correspondent lamented, 'had the guts to take our kids and send them on what seems to be -- it sure is not a noble enterprise.'" For more and the video: www.mediaresearch.org
Bob Schieffer introduced the subsequent story: "Democratic Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania set off a major debate on Capitol Hill last November when he called for pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq. Well, in an interview for Sunday's edition of 60 Minutes, he tells Mike Wallace he believes most of those troops will be out of Iraq in a matter of months. Mike joins us now. Mike, why does he believe that?"
Mike Wallace, at the anchor desk: "Well, Bob, as you know, John Murtha is a decorated veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He was a Marine for 37 years, knows a lot about the military, been a Congressman for 32 years, so he knows a bit about politics, too. Based on all of that, he told us that most American troops will be out of Iraq a lot sooner than we think."
Earlier NewsBusters items I've posted about the media's infatuation with Murtha:
November 17: "Nets Lead With Murtha, Highlight His Ridicule of Cheney's Lack of Military Service" See: newsbusters.org
November 18: "CBS Portrays Murtha as Victim of Unfair Attacks, Insists His 'Patriotism Questioned.'" Got: newsbusters.org
November 18: "Michael Moore Goes 'Exclusively' to CNN Where Cooper Trumpets His Bush Attack." Check: newsbusters.org
November 19: "Murtha CNN's 'Play of the Week,' Blitzer Suggests Murtha the Cronkite of Iraq War." Go to: newsbusters.org
November 29: "Broadcast Nets, Which Led With Murtha, Ignore Lieberman." See: newsbusters.org
January 3: "Nightline Coddles Murtha & Treats Him as Sage Hero After ABC Had Castigated Cheney." Go to: newsbusters.org
After a clip from Murtha's November press conference, Wallace asserted: "And now he tells 60 Minutes the withdrawal is going to happen sooner than we think."
The story then moved through the same portion excerpted on Friday's CBS Evening News.
# Wallace: "Murtha says U.S. troops are now caught in the middle of an Iraqi civil war, not the fight against terrorists that the White House keeps talking about."
# Wallace: "Murtha's criticism prompted the President to launch a series of speeches to regain public support. [To Murtha] He says you're wrong."
# Wallace: "Murtha feels that all along the White House has been long on spin and short on truth."
# Wallace: "Murtha, who has two purple hearts, told us that if George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, or Donald Rumsfeld had been in combat themselves, they'd have been more reluctant to send young Americans into battle."
# Wallace: "You left college to fight in the Korean War. You stayed in the Marines for 37 years. Last week you said you would not have enlisted to fight in Iraq, and you wouldn't encourage others to enlist....General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he said your comments are damaging to recruiting and hurting the troops."
# Wallace, after Murtha claimed he hears from a lot of soldiers in Iraq who are disillusioned: "But while working on a story about soldiers wounded in Iraq, we heard from many of them with a very different opinion. You know, in talking to these various people who have lost legs and arms and traumatic brain injury and so forth, I was astonished. They're not taking any punches at the people who sent them there."
Wallace: "A year ago, you argued against what you're arguing for now. Let me quote: 'A premature withdrawal of our troops based on a political timetable could rapidly devolve into a civil war which would leave America's foreign policy in disarray as countries question not only America's judgment but also its perseverance.' Were you wrong a year ago?"
On Friday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann questioned whether the leaking of an FBI investigation of terror suspects who tried to buy untraceable cell phones from Target and Wal-Mart stores was timed to bolster the administration's case for its controversial NSA wiretapping program. The Countdown host, who has a history of questioning whether the Bush administration politically times terror alerts to distract attention from events embarrassing to the administration, made known his latest suspicions: "Reassure me it only looks too convenient to be believed." While interviewing Time magazine's Mike Allen, Olbermann proclaimed that "the administration sure gets a lot of these breaks. Their position is challenged, and then suddenly there is a hazy story about something that seems to at least tangentially justify that position."
[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]
Olbermann relayed to the audience that the recent leak by FBI sources, first reported by ABC News, regarding the arrests of terror suspects who had bought mass quantities of untraceable, disposable cell phones coincides with the NSA whistleblower who "suggests the illicit tapping of American phones is thousands of times larger and thousands of times less focused than the President claims." Olbermann reasoned that the story, if true, "makes the wiretapping look like a good idea and its leakers look like they've already helped terrorists outsmart the eavesdropping."
Then, voicing his suspicions about the story's authenticity and timing, he proclaimed, "Boy, you can't buy timing like that. I mean it. I'm asking seriously, you can't buy timing like that, right? Reassure me it only looks too convenient to be believed." Olbermann later noted that "several independent counterterrorism experts think any terror connection is only in the imagination of those officials."
Olbermann then brought aboard Time correspondent Mike Allen and posed the question to him that "the timing of that FBI cell phone investigation story, we'll never know for sure if that is or is not just an amazing coincidence that it falls right after the whole NSA whistleblower issue comes up, but, as we had pointed out here before, the administration sure gets a lot of these breaks. Their position is challenged, and then suddenly there is a hazy story about something that seems to at least tangentially justify that position."
Allen voiced agreement: "Yeah, Keith, who would think that a Target store in Hemet would be the salvation from a bad news cycle?" He then hearkened back to Olbermann's suspicions about the administration's timing of terror alerts as he declared that "it does maybe give flashbacks to the security, the terror threat alert changes. We haven't had one of those in a while, so the, you're right that sometimes these stories crop up, and it's not always clear why."
"Olbermann: Conspiracy of Terror Alerts to Cover Bush's Bad Days," read the headline over an October 12 CyberAlerts item: www.mrc.org
Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Friday January 13 Countdown show:
Keith Olbermann, about 8:04pm EST: "Meantime, late in the same week that an NSA whistleblower suggests the illicit tapping of American phones is thousands of times larger and thousands of times less focused than the President claims, suddenly we have FBI sources linking stories about Middle Easterners trying to buy vast quantities of untraceable, disposable American cell phones from K-Marts and Target stores. Which, if true, makes the wiretapping look like a good idea and its leakers look like they've already helped terrorists outsmart the eavesdropping. Boy, you can't buy timing like that. I mean it. I'm asking seriously, you can't buy timing like that, right? Reassure me it only looks too convenient to be believed."
After relaying the news that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will be testifying about the NSA wiretapping program to the Senate, and former President Clinton's comments on his administration's use of wiretapping, Olbermann returned to the story of terror suspects buying untraceable cell phones.
Olbermann: "While on a parallel track, maybe, there is that FBI leak about disposable cell phones. Federal officials telling ABC News that they have launched an investigation because of two shopping sprees in the past month. In one of them, six would-be cell phone shoppers at a Wal-Mart store in Midland, Texas, last month arrested after store employees became suspicious. The men were said to be of Middle East origin. The police report in the arrest identifying the six individuals as linked to a terror cell, but several independent counterterrorism experts think any terror connection is only in the imagination of those officials."
Olbermann then brought aboard Time's Mike Allen to talk about the day's political news.
Olbermann, about 8:10pm EST: "Last point, the timing of that FBI cell phone investigation story, we'll never know for sure if that is or is not just an amazing coincidence that it falls right after the whole NSA whistleblower issue comes up, but, as we had pointed out here before, the administration sure gets a lot of these breaks. Their position is challenged, and then suddenly there is a hazy story about something that seems to at least tangentially justify that position."
You read it here first. On FNC's Fox Newswatch over the weekend, host Eric Burns played, as an illustration of bias in coverage of the Samuel Alito hearings, NBC's Matt Lauer declaring that the Supreme Court nominee "is an ultra-conservative." Panelist Jane Hall agreed with Burns' concern: "I don't think Matt Lauer should characterize somebody as an 'ultra conservative' necessarily."
The Tuesday, January 10 CyberAlert had recounted: On Tuesday's Today, co-host Matt Lauer applied an extreme ideological tag to Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito, telling former Senator Fred Thompson: "Let's face it, he is an ultra-conservative and his track record on the bench is that he, he, [talking over Thompson] he goes to the right on key issues." Thompson rejected the label. Lauer also fretted that if Alito is confirmed, "eight of the nine Supreme Court justices will be men, eight of the nine will be white, eight of the nine will have law degrees from either Harvard or Yale, five of the nine will be Catholic. What does that say about the, the Court's ability to reflect and, and, and rule on behalf of the diverse population of this country?"
On Saturday's Fox Newswatch, after panelist Neal Gabler claimed that media coverage of the Alito hearings favored Republican spin, Burn jumped in: "Jane, I want to play some tape for you. You three may watch also. This is Matt Lauer on the Today show not giving a Republican talking point."
-- Brent Baker