2. Newsweek's Jonathan Alter Slams Sarah Palin as 'So Lame'
3. NYT on Medicare: Obama's Benign 'Overhaul' vs. GOP's 'Big Cuts'
4. CNBC's John Harwood Pins Obama Down on Blackberry, Topless Photos
5. ABC's GMA Touts 'Amazing' Obama Crayon Sculpture
6. Two New Stars of Fox's '24' Denounce Bush's 'Torture'
7. Sign Up to Receive the MRC's Notable Quotables Via E-Mail
Discussing on MSNBC Thursday night his latest screed for Time magazine ("The Bush Administration's Most Despicable Act"), Joe Klein maligned the Bush-Cheney administration, telling 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue host David Shuster: "I think this has been a profoundly un-American administration." Klein, whose piece for the January 19 edition of the magazine contended Vice President Dick Cheney and other officials "perpetrated what many legal scholars consider to be war crimes," lamented on MSNBC that "it's going to be very hard to prosecute these people" but, he ruminated about "the fanciful idea" that "it might happen overseas" with "Cheney being snatched mid-stream while, you know, fly fishing in Norway as Augusto Pinochet, the dictator in Chile, was."
In the magazine harangue posted Thursday, Klein argued that Bush "led directly to the abuses" of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo "when he signed a memorandum stating that the Third Geneva Convention -- the one regarding the treatment of enemy prisoners taken in wartime -- did not apply to members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban." He declared: "It was his single most callous and despicable act. It stands at the heart of the national embarrassment that was his presidency."
As opposed to the national embarrassment to sober journalism that is Joe Klein?
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
"It would be interesting," a churlish Klein speculated in Time, "just for the fun and justice of it, to subject Rumsfeld to four hours in a stress position -- standing stock still with his arms extended, naked, in a cold room after maybe two hours' sleep."
He concluded the magazine rant with his idea for "a Bush Memorial in Washington: a statue of the hooded Abu Ghraib prisoner in cruciform stress position -- the real Bush legacy."
Shuster made Klein the "Muckraker of the Day" for his 6 PM EST program and pronounced it a "great column."
An excerpt from the piece posted on Thursday, January 8:
"This is not the America I know," President George W. Bush said after the first, horrifying pictures of U.S. troops torturing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq surfaced in April 2004. The President was not telling the truth. "This" was the America he had authorized on Feb. 7, 2002, when he signed a memorandum stating that the Third Geneva Convention -- the one regarding the treatment of enemy prisoners taken in wartime -- did not apply to members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban. That signature led directly to the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay. It was his single most callous and despicable act. It stands at the heart of the national embarrassment that was his presidency....
Since we live in an advanced Western civilization, there needs to be legal justification when we torture people, and the Bush Administration proudly produced it. Memos authorizing the use of "enhanced" techniques were written in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Council. Vice President Dick Cheney and his nefarious aide, David Addington, had a hand in the process. The memos were approved by Bush's legal counsel, Alberto Gonzales. A memo listing specific interrogation techniques that could be used to torture prisoners like Mohammed al-Khatani was passed to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He signed it on Dec. 2, 2002, although he seemed a bit disappointed by the lack of rigor when it came to stress positions: "I stand for 8-10 hours a day," he noted. "Why is standing limited to four hours?"
It would be interesting, just for the fun and justice of it, to subject Rumsfeld to four hours in a stress position -- standing stock still with his arms extended, naked, in a cold room after maybe two hours' sleep. But that's not going to happen. Indeed, it seems probable that nothing much is going to happen to the Bush Administration officials who perpetrated what many legal scholars consider to be war crimes. "I would say that there's some theoretical exposure here" to a war-crimes indictment in U.S. federal court, says Gene Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School. "But I don't think there's much public appetite for that sort of action." There is, I'm told, absolutely no interest on the part of the incoming Obama Administration to pursue indictments against its predecessors....
END of Excerpt
For the entire piece: www.time.com
On Thursday night's Hardball, Chris Matthews played several clips from documentarian John Zeigler's interview with Sarah Palin, in which the former GOP VP candidate criticized Katie Couric and the press as a whole for bias against her, but his guest, Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter, dismissed Palin's charges as "so lame," and called her "a Nixonian Nanook of the North." Alter noted "the subtext of this is that somehow the Democratic candidates are treated better by the press," a notion he dismissed: "Ask Bill Clinton the way he was treated, you know, by the press. I mean it's just not true."
[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Thursday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org
The following exchanges were aired on the January 8 edition of Hardball:
First up, after Matthews aired a clip of Palin criticizing the McCain campaign for forcing her to conduct continuing interviews with Couric, Alter called the Alaskan governor: "So lame."
CHRIS MATTHEWS: There ought to be a law against politicians blaming their handlers. What do you think Jonathan?
Then after a clip of Palin wondering if Caroline Kennedy would get better coverage in her quest for the New York Senate seat because of a "class issue," Alter insulted Palin as acting like a "Nixonian Nanook of the North."
ALTER: Chris you wrote the book on Kennedy and Nixon. You know this is Sarah Palin acting kind of like a Nixonian Nanook of the North. She's trying to play that class argument against the Kennedys. That goes back a long way. It's had some success in American politics. But you know this, at this point it's kind of comparing apples and oranges. She was on the threshold of becoming Vice President and possibly President. Caroline Kennedy hasn't even been, you know, chosen yet for the U.S. Senate, as one of 100. So you know the standards in covering them aren't quite comparable. Not to mention the fact that Caroline's had a pretty tough press so far. She has hardly been handled by kid gloves in the last couple weeks.
Finally right before the close of the show, Alter denied Palin's claim of liberal bias that she would've received positive coverage if she was on the Democratic ticket:
MATTHEWS: Jon, Jon would she have gotten better treatment had she been on the "D" ticket instead of the "R" ticket?
To read about Zeigler's interview with Palin, visit: bighollywood.breitbart.com
With a liberal Democrat coming to power, it seems the New York Times has gotten over the false fear of "big cuts" in Medicare it displayed when Republicans tried to reduce the rate of growth of the program back in 1995. Thursday's lead story by Jeff Zeleny and John Harwood, "Obama Promises Bid To Overhaul Retiree Spending," characterized the President-elect's stated willingness to tackle huge entitlement programs Social Security and Medicare in mostly positive terms. The reporters described Obama's vague proposal as an "overhauling," an "approach to rein in Social Security and Medicare," and an "effort to cut back the rates of growth of the two programs."
[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Thursday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]
An excerpt from the article:
President-elect Barack Obama said Wednesday that overhauling Social Security and Medicare would be "a central part" of his administration's efforts to contain federal spending, signaling for the first time that he would wade into the thorny politics of entitlement programs.
Speaking at a news conference in Washington, he provided no details of his approach to rein in Social Security and Medicare, which are projected to consume a growing share of government spending as the baby boom generation ages into retirement over the next two decades. But he said he would have more to say about the issue when he unveiled a budget next month.
Should he follow through with a serious effort to cut back the rates of growth of the two programs, he would be opening up a potentially risky battle that neither party has shown much stomach for. The programs have proved almost sacrosanct in political terms, even as they threaten to grow so large as to be unsustainable in the long run. President Bush failed in his effort to overhaul Social Security, and Medicare only grew larger during his administration with the addition of prescription drug coverage for retirees.
END of Excerpt
For the entire January 8 story: www.nytimes.com
The headline's subhead noted the "potential for risky fight" over the move, which Obama has provided no details on. Still, the story cast his vague "overhaul" in positive terms. Compare that to how the paper treated the last serious attempt to fix Medicare, back in the mid-1990s.
After taking over Congress in 1994, Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress proposed to slow the growth of the Medicare program by slicing spending by around $250 billion over a seven-year period. That would have trimmed the Medicare programs annual growth rate from 10 percent to around 7-to-8 percent -- not an actual spending cut, just a slowdown in the rate of spending increase. But the GOP's gallant (and failed) attempt to at least somewhat rein in the growth of Medicare spending was falsely blasted by the media as butchering the safety net with "big cuts."
A front-page Times story on October 26, 1995 was headlined: "Americans Reject Big Medicare Cuts, a New Poll Finds." A May 8, 1995 front-page headline read: "Gingrich Promises Big Medicare Cut With Little Pain."
The paper's myriad inaccuracies were documented by the MRC's Tim Graham in July 1996. Reviewing 18 months of news stories, Graham found that the Times used the false description of "cuts" far more often than more accurate terms like "cuts in growth." He wrote:
The New York Times filed 508 stories matching the search terms, with 386 references to "cuts." Reports of "savings" came on 144 occasions, "cuts in growth" on 112, and "cuts in projected spending" on 76. On May 11, 1995, reporter David Sanger wrote: "But when it came to the details, they balked at many of the most extreme cuts, from the deepest slashes in Medicare to the elimination of the Commerce Department."
On October 27, the Times reported a controversy over its poll question: "If you had to choose, would you prefer balancing the budget or preventing Medicare from being significantly cut?"
END of Excerpt
For the study, "The Health Program That Grows by Leaps and Bounds Mysteriously Described as 'Cut,'" in full: www.mediaresearch.org
Just one day after Ann Coulter chided NBC News' Matt Lauer and Brian Williams, on the Today show, for softball questions to Barack Obama, CNBC's John Harwood, on Thursday's Today, outdid them both in Obama puffery. In an excerpt of a one-on-one interview with the President-elect which aired the night before on CNBC, Harwood asked such hard-hitting questions as what kind of "family advice" he got from his lunch with the former presidents, if he is being allowed to use his Blackberry, and whether recent topless photos of him in Hawaii were "an embarrassment."
[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Thursday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Today co-host Meredith Vieira teased the interview, claiming Harwood "sat down with Obama to talk about the economic challenges," ahead but instead the segment focused on less weightier matters, as seen in the following exchange:
JOHN HARWOOD: As of this moment, you still have your Blackberry?
The following is the full transcript of the segment as it ran on the January 8 Today show:
MEREDITH VIEIRA: President-elect Barack Obama is set to deliver what aides are calling a major speech on the economy later today, and it comes just 24 hours after the Congressional Budget Office put the federal deficit for 2009 at $1.2 trillion. CNBC's chief Washington correspondent John Harwood sat down with Obama to talk about the economic challenges that he will face in office, among other things. John, good morning to you.
To read about Ann Coulter making fun of other NBC News reporters' softball questions to Obama, see: www.mrc.org
Proving that no Barack Obama imagery is too embarrassing, the hosts of Good Morning America on Thursday highlighted a sculpture of the President-elect made entirely out of crayons. After mentioning artist Herb Williams, news anchor Chris Cuomo enthused: "He does something amazing. He created a statue of Obama out of all crayons."
The GMA crew then proceeded to talk about all the details of how one makes crayon statues of Obama. As pictures and video appeared onscreen, Cuomo explained: "He took the crayons. And glues them in there. Look, there's his process. This is what he does."
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The news anchor began the segment by explaining, "A little bit of an event here. Do you remember this? The original red and blue hope collage?" This allowed for Cuomo to show the famous Obama "Hope" painting.
A transcript of the brief segment, which aired at 7:50am on January 8:
CHRIS CUOMO: Around the water cooler this morning, A little bit of an event here. Do you remember this? The original red and blue hope collage? [Obama "Hope" poster appears onscreen.]
In short USA Today "dossiers" on fresh characters in the new season of Fox's 24 set to debut Sunday night, two of the four profiled actors used the space to espouse their personal disgust with the U.S. government for using "torture," which has been employed by lead character "Jack Bauer." Left-wing activist/actress Janeane Garofalo, who plays "FBI analyst Janis Gold," called the use of torture "reprehensible" and rued: "That our own administration borrowed ideas from 24 is such a tragedy." USA Today explained: "A former Army interrogator has said that soldiers mimic interrogation tactics seen on the show."
Garofalo conceded she "was initially very reticent to do it, because I heard about the right-wing nature of Joel's [24 co-creator Joel Surnow] politics and the torture-heavy scripts." But, she quipped: "And then I thought, 'I'm unemployed!'" So much for standing up for principle.
Cherry Jones, who handles the role of "President Allison Taylor," lamented "it's too bad this season's topic is not Wall Street. The torture thing is very unfortunate; I have trouble with it. Fortunately," however, "my President," meaning the character she plays, "is opposed to it."
Jones saw similarities between the show and reality: "She's...very committed to restoring stability in this country and also the country's reputation around the world, not unlike where we are now."
For USA Today's January 8 "The 411 on those new '24' recruits," go to: www.usatoday.com
As the year begins, the MRC is launching a new e-mail product with the content of our every-other-week Notable Quotables, a "compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media." It delivers 16-18 of the most biased quotes from journalists uttered during the preceding weeks. The new e-mail service is available in two formats: You can receive it as plain text, or in HTML which will feature graphics, images and click-and-play links to video clips.
To subscribe to either format: www.mrc.org
The first edition will be e-mailed on Monday.
Note: As a CyberAlert subscriber you will continue to receive Notable Quotables text every other week as a "CyberAlert Special."
The new HTML version of the Notable Quotables e-mail, however, features an eye-pleasing colorful layout with photos, video images and the ability to click to play video clips.
Suggest to any of your friends, relatives or work colleagues -- who might be overwhelmed by daily CyberAlerts but are interested in evidence of the media's left-wing agenda and wildest claims -- that they sign up for the Notable Quotables e-mail so they get a cache of fresh ammunition every other week.
Again, to subscribe to either format: www.mrc.org
-- Brent Baker