Appearance Alert!
MRC's Brent Bozell on FNC's Hannity, 10:40pm ET/PT Wednesday

Washington Post Pounds George Allen Over Supposedly Racist Gaffe --8/16/2006


1. Washington Post Pounds George Allen Over Supposedly Racist Gaffe
In early July, Senator Joe Biden joked before a C-SPAN camera that "you cannot go into a Dunkin Donuts or a 7-Eleven unless you have a slight Indian accent." Conservatives had a little fun with it, but said: a harmless slip, yet if a Republican ever did it, the media would have a much different standard. That day is now. Senator George Allen mocked an Indian-American Democratic volunteer as a "macaca," and the Post played it up on Tuesday's front page, along with a very tendentious staff editorial to boot insisting Allen's racial "bullying" was beyond "the bounds of decency." Washington Post coverage of Biden? None. Not in the paper.

2. Wash Post 'Fiasco' Author Ricks: Iraq 'Worse Than the Media Says'
Appearing Monday night on Comedy Central's Daily Show, Thomas Ricks, the Washington Post's Pentagon correspondent who wrote the caustic new book Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, told host Jon Stewart that journalists report the situation in Iraq far too optimistically: "I actually think the media probably has been too easy on the situation. I think it's probably worse then the media says right now." Stewart had earlier opined of the "Fiasco" title: "I think you went too easy. Fiasco seems like you're letting them off, uh, uh, softly."

3. Olbermann Suggests Bush Timed Terror Plot Arrests for Politics
No matter which way the facts are pointing, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann can find a way to entertain an anti-Bush conspiracy theory on his Countdown show when the administration announces a terror alert. In light of news that the administration, instead of waiting for the terrorists to board planes and make test runs, pressured the British to make the arrests a week earlier than the British had wanted to, Olbermann on Monday contended that President Bush timed the arrests so he could use the news to discredit anti-war Democrats right after they denied renomination to pro-Iraq War Senator Joe Lieberman. Olbermann teased the August 14 Countdown: "The 'Nexus of Politics and Terror' revisited: The British now insist no liquid bomb airliner attack was imminent, that it was the U.S. which pushed to arrest the alleged plotters last week, before and after which the administration beat up its critics over counterterrorism."

4. NBC's Today Can't Get Over Willie Horton: "Playing Into Fear"
It's been 18 years but the media still can't get over Michael Dukakis' defeat to George Bush and the Willie Horton ad they blame for that Bush victory. On Monday's Today, NBC's Ann Curry brought on psychologist Jeff Gardere to discuss a new study that showed how emotions can overtake logic in decision-making. Curry introduced the segment: "Have you ever been accused of thinking with your heart and not your head well if so a new study reports your just like everybody else....This is just the latest biological evidence to suggest that next time you make a bad choice maybe you really can blame it on your emotions." Just seconds later NBC's producers ran the Horton ad as Exhibit A of emotions leading to the "bad choice," of voting for Bush. After he outlined the supposed distorting impact of the Willie Horton ad, Curry underlined his point: "Playing into the fear of people." Gardere also indicted SUV-buyers: "Car commercials where they can sell you a gas guzzler and say, 'hey this is a great deal, this is something you should do' even though we know it's gonna cost us dearly by looking at the emotion."

5. Letterman's "Top Ten Mel Gibson Excuses"
From Monday's Late Show, Letterman's "Top Ten Mel Gibson Excuses."


Washington Post Pounds George Allen Over
Supposedly Racist Gaffe

In early July, Senator Joe Biden joked before a C-SPAN camera that "you cannot go into a Dunkin Donuts or a 7-Eleven unless you have a slight Indian accent." Conservatives had a little fun with it, but said: a harmless slip, yet if a Republican ever did it, the media would have a much different standard. That day is now. Senator George Allen mocked an Indian-American Democratic volunteer as a "macaca," and the Post played it up on Tuesday's front page, along with a very tendentious staff editorial to boot insisting Allen's racial "bullying" was beyond "the bounds of decency." Washington Post coverage of Biden? None. Not in the paper.

(NewsBusters item on Biden's comment: newsbusters.org )

[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

(Wednesday's Good Morning America on ABC featured a 7am half hour piece from Jessica Yellin who presumed Allen intended a racial insult and portrayed it as fresh evidence of Allen's racial insensitivity. More in a future CyberAlert. In the meantime, check www.NewsBusters.org later today for a look at the story.)

The Post displayed aggressive Democratic media bias in action, a glaringly obvious Jim Webb for U.S. Senate ad, heavy on outraged quotes from Webb campaign staffers. The headline for the story by Tim Craig and Michael Shear, "Allen Quip Provokes Outrage, Apology: Name Insults Webb Volunteer." An excerpt:

Virginia Sen. George Allen (R) apologized Monday for what his opponent's campaign said were demeaning and insensitive comments the senator made to a 20-year-old volunteer of Indian descent.

At a campaign rally in southwest Virginia on Friday, Allen repeatedly called a volunteer for Democrat James Webb "macaca." During the speech in Breaks, near the Kentucky border, Allen began by saying that he was "going to run this campaign on positive, constructive ideas" and then pointed at S.R. Sidarth in the crowd.

"This fellow here, over here with the yellow shirt, macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great," Allen said, as his supporters began to laugh. After saying that Webb was raising money in California with a "bunch of Hollywood movie moguls," Allen said, "Let's give a welcome to macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia." Allen then began talking about the "war on terror."

Depending on how it is spelled, the word macaca could mean either a monkey that inhabits the Eastern Hemisphere or a town in South Africa. In some European cultures, macaca is also considered a racial slur against African immigrants, according to several Web sites that track ethnic slurs.'

"The kid has a name," Webb communications director Kristian Denny Todd said of Sidarth, a Virginia native who was born in Fairfax County. "This is trying to demean him, to minimize him as a person."

Todd added that the use of macaca, whatever it means, and the reference welcoming Sidarth to America were clearly intended to make him uncomfortable....

END of Excerpt

For the August 15 front page article in full: www.washingtonpost.com

It's a bit odd for the Webb spokesman to say Allen minimized Sidarth in the same breath that he's calling this 20-year-old "the kid." If Allen had called him "the kid," that probably would have been the Webb campaign's gaffe of the day.

Some might say that Allen is a Senator from Virginia, so it's a local story, unlike Biden's. True, but both also are mentioned as presidential contenders. The Post is just much more willing to consider that Allen is a bigot.

Then consider this contrast, then. Biden in July, there was nothing. But also in Tuesday's paper was a story on Congressman John Kline of Minnesota apologizing for the media taking his Haditha remarks out of context, page A-3. (Oh, and just for fun, liberal Democrat Congressman John Murtha refusing to apologize for pre-judging the Haditha Marines? Post put that further back in the paper, A-10.) Unlike Biden, John Kline is a House newbie, a backbencher, and certainly not a national candidate or a local story.

The Post used Robert Holsworth to try and hype the potential damage this gaffe could do to an Allen presidential bid: "Virginia Commonwealth University politics professor Robert Holsworth called Allen's comments a gaffe that probably wouldn't change the Senate race but could hurt his presidential ambitions." Holsworth never offered an opinion on Biden's national ambitions and Indian gaffes. The Post never noticed.

Over at National Review's The Corner, Kate O'Beirne added that Allen has plenty of room here to suggest that Allen could insist that Webb and his Post pals think those Virginia hicks are racists:

The front page headline "Allen Quip Provokes Outrage..." and the editorial ("George Allen's America" no less) represent a pro-Webb two-punch. Who exactly was outraged by Allen's putdown? The Webb campaign and its volunteer. The silly editorial irrelevantly points out that the offended Webb partisan has "an excellent academic record" and "is thinking of applying to law school." Although the bright young man wasn't smart enough to avoid insulting Virginia voters. He told the Post, "I was the person of color there and it was useful for him in inciting his audience." He apparently believes that drawing attention to him would reliably rile up the racist Virginia crackers. Whose quip should provoke outrage?

END of Excerpt

For O'Beirne's August 15 posting: corner.nationalreview.com

For the August 15 Washington Post editorial: www.washingtonpost.com

Wash Post 'Fiasco' Author Ricks: Iraq
'Worse Than the Media Says'

Appearing Monday night on Comedy Central's Daily Show, Thomas Ricks, the Washington Post's Pentagon correspondent who wrote the caustic new book Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, told host Jon Stewart that journalists report the situation in Iraq far too optimistically: "I actually think the media probably has been too easy on the situation. I think it's probably worse then the media says right now." Stewart had earlier opined of the "Fiasco" title: "I think you went too easy. Fiasco seems like you're letting them off, uh, uh, softly."

[This item is adopted from a Tuesday posting, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Stewart cued up Ricks on the August 14 show: "You maybe believe this to be, maybe the greatest debacle in the history of American foreign policy?"
Ricks: "When I first wrote this book, people would say, you sure you're going to call it that? Nobody says that to me anymore."

Ricks later added: "I think we're also stuck and that's the real Shakespearian tragedy. We are stuck there." Stewart, who often claims he's not a journalist, but loves to lecture them, playfully scolded Ricks for being too mild:
"The book is called Fiasco. Uh, viewers of the program will know that normally I don't, uh, cotton to the hyperbolic title. Uh, in this case, I think you went too easy. Fiasco seems like you're letting them off, uh, uh, softly."

Amazon's page for the book by Ricks: www.amazon.com

Olbermann Suggests Bush Timed Terror
Plot Arrests for Politics

No matter which way the facts are pointing, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann can find a way to entertain an anti-Bush conspiracy theory on his Countdown show when the administration announces a terror alert.

Last week, when it appeared the British had decided when to arrest suspects planning to bomb airplanes, Olbermann pushed the theory that administration members used their foreknowledge to tailor attacks on anti-war Democrats to take political advantage of the impending arrests. But, in light of news that the administration, instead of waiting for the terrorists to board planes and make test runs, pressured the British to make the arrests a week earlier than the British had wanted to, Olbermann has started pushing the theory he probably wanted to push in the first place: that President Bush timed the arrests so he could use the news to discredit anti-war Democrats right after they denied renomination to pro-Iraq War Senator Joe Lieberman.

Harkening back to a segment from his Countdown show last October in which Olbermann listed ten times when the administration either called a terror alert or released a terrorism-related story at a time when the Countdown host contended the attention might benefit the administration politically, Olbermann teased the August 14 Countdown show: "The 'Nexus of Politics and Terror' revisited: The British now insist no liquid bomb airliner attack was imminent, that it was the U.S. which pushed to arrest the alleged plotters last week, before and after which the administration beat up its critics over counterterrorism."

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

As he opened the show, the Countdown host referred to hints that the terror plot, "while real, might not have been quite as real as it was being advertised." Downplaying the urgency, he soon continued: "Now we know from senior members of British intelligence that no attack was imminent, that those suspected had yet to buy airline tickets, and some of them didn't even have passports."

As documented by CyberAlert, Olbermann had shown skepticism about the urgency during the teaser for the Thursday August 10 show, although he made no further elaboration on doubt during the show: "But intelligence sources say the supposed plotters only began looking at flight schedules last week. The source is the British, the same people who missed both subway bombings in London last year, then shot a purported terrorist wearing a suicide bomb vest and running from police, only it turned out he was a 27-year-old electrician wearing an ordinary shirt and walking." See: www.mediaresearch.org

Returning to the August 14 show, Olbermann contended that the Bush administration had "insisted on immediate arrests" and that "both before and after them" made "every imaginable piece of political hay out of them." Olbermann concluded his introduction by wondering: "Another question, at least the fourteenth in the last five years, about whether a government would really exaggerate or manipulate terror developments not to allay the fears of its citizenry, but rather to inflame them?"

After an update on Bush's poll numbers, Olbermann argued that former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge's comments criticizing Dick Cheney's attacks on anti-war Democrats has helped Olbermann's conspiracy theory "to stand up on its hind legs":
"The administration has, at minimum, opened itself for criticism that the push to arrest the alleged plotters last week and the political firestorm last week did not constitute a coincidence. And that criticism has been able to stand up on its hind legs after comments from the former Secretary of Homeland Security Mr. Ridge and comments from British intelligence about how the American government insisted on acting now rather than waiting just days longer and gathering more valuable evidence still."

After a report by NBC's Lisa Myers in which she mentioned the disagreement between the U.S. and British governments about when to make the arrests, Olbermann brought aboard Dana Milbank of the Washington Post for further discussion. Milbank poured some water on Olbermann's ideas by disagreeing with the MSNBC host's obsession with the timing of the arrests, and by pointing out that Karl Rove has long talked about focusing this year's campaign on the war on terrorism, although Milbank oddly worded it, perhaps inadvertently, by saying that the campaign plan involved "stirring up" terrorism and then saying "we can protect you better than the other guy." Milbank: "Karl Rove came out earlier this year and said, look, this is what our fall campaign is going to be about, it's about stirring up terrorism and then saying that we can protect you better than the other guy. I wouldn't get too bogged down in the timing issue because, if anything, the Bush administration politically would have wanted to wait until September or October when everybody was paying attention. But it's not even an open secret, it's completely out in the open that terrorism is politicized routinely over and over again."

In response to a question from Olbermann about whether there was a risk of Cheney becoming a "liability," Milbank repeated the fallacy that Cheney had "implicated Saddam Hussein in the 9/11 attacks," and accused Cheney of being "fast and loose with the truth." Milbank: "He had implicated Iraq and Saddam Hussein in the 9/11 attacks. We know that not to be true. He said Iraq had reconstituted nuclear weapons. We know that not to be true. So he's known as being a bit out there, a bit more fast and loose with the truth than others have been." Perhaps Milbank gets his news from MSNBC, as the MRC documented in October 2004 that MSNBC hosts Olbermann and Chris Matthews distorted comments by Cheney to make it appear he had claimed that Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks. See: www.mrc.org

Later in the show, Olbermann revisited his conspiracy theory of whether the Bush administration has timed past terror alerts and the release of terrorism-related news to benefit the administration politically. Listing out many of what the Countdown host viewed as such examples, Olbermann replayed a segment titled 'Nexus of Politics and Terror,' first aired during the October 12 Countdown show. For a look back at that, check the October 13 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

Below is a complete transcript of relevant portions of the August 14 Countdown show:

Keith Olbermann, in opening teaser: "Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? The 'Nexus of Politics and Terror' revisited: The British now insist no liquid bomb airliner attack was imminent, that it was the U.S. which pushed to arrest the alleged plotters last week, before and after which the administration beat up its critics over counterterrorism."
"And the Vice President gets beaten up for his remark about Ned Lamont's primary victory over Senator Joseph Lieberman. Mr. Cheney beaten up by former Secretary of Homeland Security Ridge."
"More tonight on funding for whatever scheme there really was and the lessons learned for our airport security."
George W. Bush: "And the lessons for those of us in Washington D.C. is to set aside politics and give our people the tools necessary to protect the American people."
"But has politics been set aside? We'll review the five-year history of the top 10 times political interests and security interests have interwoven or blurred."

Olbermann: "Good evening from Los Angeles. The first hint that the plot, while real, might not have been quite as real as it was being advertised, came Thursday night when Time magazine reported that the alleged airline liquid bomb plotters were arrested by the British only after American intelligence reported chatter among them. Then came the revelation that the British had the purported conspirators under surveillance for 13 months. Now we know from senior members of British intelligence that no attack was imminent, that those suspected had yet to buy airline tickets, and some of them didn't even have passports. British intelligence wanted another week, wanted to capture the man who was hoping to make a dry run as he dry ran, our government insisted on immediate arrests and proceeded both before and after them to make every imaginable piece of political hay out of them. Thus our fifth story on the Countdown, the 'Nexus of Politics and Terror.' Another question, at least the fourteenth in the last five years, about whether a government would really exaggerate or manipulate terror developments not to allay the fears of its citizenry, but rather to inflame them? We will look at 10 of those previous questions of timing in juxtaposition. We'll learn how former Secretary of Homeland Security Ridge blasted Vice President Cheney for making the kind of political hay we just discussed, and Lisa Myers with the details of the significant dispute between this country and England over when to interrupt the purported plot. First the irony that whatever the political end of this is, it did not seem to have an exceptional impact on public opinion. ..."
...

George W. Bush: "And the lesson for those of us in Washington D.C. is to set aside politics and give our people the tools necessary to protect the American people."
Olbermann: "But has anybody done that? The administration has, at minimum, opened itself for criticism that the push to arrest the alleged plotters last week and the political firestorm last week did not constitute a coincidence. And that criticism has been able to stand up on its hind legs after comments from the former Secretary of Homeland Security Mr. Ridge and comments from British intelligence about how the American government insisted on acting now rather than waiting just days longer and gathering more valuable evidence still. Ridge, in a moment. First our senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers in London."

...

Lisa Myers: "British and American officials tell NBC there was a significant dispute over when to roll up this plot. The British wanted to wait at least another week until the plotters moved toward executing a dry run. But the U.S. insisted on shutting down the operation now."

Lord Toby Harris, London Metropolitan Police Authority: "I know that the United States government was very keen to move forward and very keen to be able to make public the concerns that were had so that security levels could be raised."

...

Olbermann: "Bush administration officials now trying to claim that the Vice President was unaware the British terror arrests were imminent when on Wednesday of last week he suggested that Senator Joe Lieberman's defeat in the Connecticut primary would encourage terrorists, even though by then the President had already known for about 72 hours of the arrests. The notoriously press-shy Mr. Cheney interrupting his summer vacation to tell reporters in a conference call that voters who supported Ned Lamont's anti-war candidacy might, quote, 'embolden the al-Qaeda types who want to break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task.' This from the same man who also said the insurgency in Iraq was in its last throes. The Bush administration's former Homeland Security Secretary taking issue with the former colleague's most recent remark. Tom Ridge telling Newsweek magazine, 'That may be the way the Vice President sees it, but I don't see it that way, and I don't think most Americans see it that way.'"
Olbermann: "Time now to call in our own Dana Milbank, also of course the national political reporter of the Washington Post. Dana, good evening."
Dana Milbank, Washington Post: "Good evening, Keith."
Olbermann: "None of us can say for certain why the Bush administration would have pressured British authorities to move early on the terror arrests, but giving them the benefit of the doubt, even doing that, did not the pounding by the Vice President, by Ken Mehlman, by others, still leave the administration wide open for doubt and even suspicion about the timing of all this?"
Milbank: "Well, Keith, that's just the kind of question that emboldens the al-Qaeda types."
Olbermann: "Thank you very much."
Milbank: "Well, it's not really even a matter of suspicion. I mean, Karl Rove came out earlier this year and said, look, this is what our fall campaign is going to be about, it's about stirring up terrorism and then saying that we can protect you better than the other guy. I wouldn't get too bogged down in the timing issue because, if anything, the Bush administration politically would have wanted to wait until September or October when everybody was paying attention. But it's not even an open secret, it's completely out in the open that terrorism is politicized routinely over and over again."
Olbermann: "One apparent strategy for Democrats at least and critics to respond to Mr. Cheney's remarks is to just dismiss them and dismiss him as irrelevant. Senator Clinton told a radio station in New York she does not take anything he says seriously anymore. Is there a point, is it conceivable, is there a point at which that becomes the conventional wisdom about the Vice President? Could he ever become a true liability to the administration's base?"
Milbank: "I'm not sure about him becoming a liability to the base, but I think we have probably reached a point where people are discounting his remarks. You mentioned the 'last throes' remarks. I mean, he had implicated Iraq and Saddam Hussein in the 9/11 attacks. We know that not to be true. He said Iraq had reconstituted nuclear weapons. We know that not to be true. So he's known as being a bit out there, a bit more fast and loose with the truth than others have been. That doesn't mean he's a liability, I mean any more than he was before he was rather low in the polls. But I get the feeling that each time they go to the well with this, there's a little bit less impact in the public, a little less fright that is actually drawn out of it."
Olbermann: "Truth aside, appropriateness aside, look at it as a political gamesmanship here. Did the Bush administration succeed in undercutting any damage that would have been done by the defeat of Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut primary last week? It seems as if we all heard and read more last week about Dick Cheney's comments than we did about what Ned Lamont's victory would portend for the Republican Party come November."
Milbank: "I think they did succeed, and I'm not sure that even without all the developments in Britain and what Cheney had said that it would have made that much of a difference. Lieberman, his defeat may actually ultimately help the Republicans anyway because it shows a very divided Democratic Party, but certainly this allowed to blunt any sort of an anti-war question. I think the administration was quite clever in turning the British arrests to their advantage here, but I wouldn't be surprised if this does allow the Republicans to paint the Democrats as very divided."

...

Olbermann, before commercial break at 8:13 PM: "Also here, more on the 'Nexus of Politics and Terror': Has the administration shown a pattern of exploiting fear for political gain? We'll examine the 10 previous possible examples."

...

Olbermann, before commercial break at 8:26 PM: "And a reminder of these previous odd juxtapositions when other problems for the administration immediately preceded the raising of the terror threat level, often for something a little less legitimate than this: Snakes on a Plane..."

...

Olbermann, at 8:30 PM: "The term we employ is the 'Nexus of Politics and Terror.' It does not imply that there is no terror. But it also does not deny that there is politics, and it refuses to assume that counterterror measures in this country are not being influenced by politics. Our third story in the Countdown, the basis of all this, at heart, remarks made on May 10, 2005 by a former Bush administration official discussing the old color-coded terror threat warning system. 'More often than not,' he said. 'we were the least inclined to raise it. Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment, sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily put the country on alert. There were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it. And we said, "For that?"'"
"The speaker was the first Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge. In the light of those remarks and his criticism this week of the Vice President for politicizing terror in the context of the Connecticut senatorial primary, it is imperative that we examine each of the coincidences of timing since 2002, including the one last week, in which excoriating comments by leading Republicans about leading Democrats just happened to precede arrests in a vast purported terror plot, arrests that we now know were carried out on a time line requested not by the British, nor necessitated by the evidence, but requested by this government."
"We introduce these coincidences to you exactly as we did when we first compiled this top 10 list after the revelation that the announced threats to New York's subway system last October had been wildly overblown. And we do so by reminding you and ourselves here that perhaps the simplest piece of wisdom in the world is called the 'logical fallacy.' Just because event A occurs and then event B occurs, that does not automatically mean that event A caused event B. But neither does it say the opposite. The 'Nexus of Politics and Terror,' please judge for yourself."
"Number one. May 18, 2002. The first details of the President's daily briefing of August 6, 2001, are revealed, including its title: 'Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.' The same day another memo is discovered revealing the FBI knew of men with links to al-Qaeda training at an Arizona flight school. The memo was never acted upon. Questions about 9/11 intelligence failures are swirling. May 20, 2002."
Tom Brokaw, NBC Nightly News anchor: "The terror warnings from the highest levels of the federal government tonight are just-"
Olbermann: "Two days later, FBI director Mueller declares that another terrorist attack is 'inevitable.'"
Brokaw: "Tonight, there are even more warnings of possible terrorist attacks in America-"
Olbermann: "The next day, the Department of Homeland Security issues warnings of attacks against railroads nationwide, and against New York City landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. Number two. Thursday, June 6, 2002."
Coleen Rowley, FBI agent: "I never really anticipated this kind of impact."
Olbermann: "Coleen Rowley, the FBI agent who tried to alert her superiors to the specialized flight training taken by Zacarias Moussaoui, whose information suggests the government missed a chance to break up the 9/11 plot, testifies before Congress. Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Graham says Rowley's testimony has inspired similar pre-9/11 whistle-blowers. Monday, June 10, 2002. Four days later:"
John Ashcroft, former Attorney General: "We have disrupted an unfolding terrorist plot-"
Olbermann: "Speaking from Russia, Attorney General John Ashcroft reveals that an American named Jose Padilla is under arrest, accused of plotting a radiation bomb attack in this country. In fact, Padilla had, by this time, already been detained for more than one month. Number three. February 5, 2003. Secretary of State Powell tells the United Nations Security Council of Iraq's concealment of weapons, including 18 mobile biological weapons laboratories, justifying a U.N. or U.S. first strike. Many in the U.N. are doubtful. Months later, much of the information proves untrue. February 7, 2003. Two days later, as anti-war demonstrations continue to take place around the globe:"
Tom Ridge, former Homeland Security Secretary: "Take some time to prepare for emergency."
Olbermann: "Homeland Security Secretary Ridge cites credible threats by al-Qaeda and raises the terror alert level to orange. Three days after that, FEMA administrator David Paulison, who would become the acting head of FEMA after the Hurricane Katrina disaster, advises Americans to stock up on plastic sheeting and duct tape to protect themselves against radiological or biological attack. Number four. July 23, 2003. The White House admits that the CIA, months before the President's State of the Union Address, expressed strong doubts about the claim that Iraq had attempted to buy uranium from Niger. On the 24th, the Congressional report on the 9/11 attacks is issued. It criticizes government at all levels. It reveals an FBI informant had been living with two of the future hijackers. It concludes that Iraq had no link to al-Qaeda. Twenty-eight pages of the report are redacted. On the 26th, American troops are accused of beating Iraqi prisoners. July 29, 2003. Three days later, amid all of the negative headlines:"
Brokaw: "Word of a possible new al-Qaeda attack."
Olbermann: "Homeland Security issues warnings of further terrorist attempts to use airplanes for suicide attacks. Number five. December 17, 2003. 9/11 Commission co-chair Thomas Keane says the attacks were preventable. The next day, a federal appeals court says the government cannot detain suspected radiation bomber Jose Padilla indefinitely without charges. And the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, Dr. David Kay, who has previously announced he has found no weapons of mass destruction there, announces he will resign his post. December 21, 2003. Four days later, the Sunday before Christmas:"
Ridge: "Today the United States government raised the national threat level."
Olbermann: "Homeland Security again raises the threat level to orange, claiming credible intelligence of further plots to crash airliners into U.S. cities. Subsequently, six international flights into this country are canceled after some passenger names purportedly produced matches on government no-fly lists. The French later identified those matched names. One belongs to an insurance salesman from Wales, another to an elderly Chinese woman, a third to a five-year-old boy. Number six. March 30, 2004. The new chief weapons inspector in Iraq, Charles Duelfer, tells Congress, 'We have still not found any WMD in that country.' And after weeks of having refused to appear before the 9/11 Commission, Condoleezza Rice relents and agrees to testify. On the 31st, four Blackwater USA contractors working in Iraq are murdered. Their mutilated bodies dragged through the streets and left on public display in Fallujah. The role of civilian contractors in Iraq is now widely questioned. April 2, 2004:"
Brian Williams, NBC Nightly News anchor: "The FBI has issued a new warning tonight."
Olbermann: "Homeland Security issues a bulletin warning that terrorists may try to blow up buses and trains using fertilizer and fuel bombs like the one detonated in Oklahoma City, bombs stuffed into satchels or duffle bags. Number seven. May 16, 2004. Secretary of State Powell appears on Meet the Press. Moderator Tim Russert closes by asking him about the enormous personal credibility Powell had placed before the U.N. in laying out a case against Saddam Hussein. An aide to Powell interrupts the question, saying the interview is over."
Tim Russert: "I think that was one of your staff, Mr. Secretary. I don't think that's appropriate."
Powell: "Get, Emily, get out of the way."
Olbermann: "Powell finishes his answer, admitting that much of the information he had been given about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was-"
Powell: "-inaccurate and wrong and, in some cases, deliberately misleading."
Olbermann: "On the 21st, new photos showing mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison are released. On the 24th, Associated Press video from Iraq confirms U.S. forces mistakenly bombed a wedding party. killing more than 40. Wednesday, May 26, 2004. Two days later."
Ashcroft: "Good afternoon."
Olbermann: "Attorney General Ashcroft and FBI director Mueller warned that intelligence from multiple sources-"
Ashcroft: "-indicates al-Qaeda's specific intention to hit the United States hard."
Olbermann: "-and that 90 percent of the arrangements for an attack on the United States were complete. The color-coded warning system is not raised. The Homeland Security secretary, Tom Ridge, does not attend the announcement. Number eight. July 6, 2004. Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry selects Senator John Edwards as his vice presidential running mate, producing a small bump in the election opinion polls and producing a huge swing in media attention towards the Democratic campaign. July 8, 2004. Two days later."
Ridge: "Credible reporting now indicates that al-Qaeda is moving forward with its plans to carry out a large-scale attack in the United States."
Olbermann: "Homeland Secretary Ridge warns of information about al-Qaeda attacks during the summer or autumn. Four days after that, the head of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Deforest B. Soaries Jr., confirms he has written to Ridge about the prospect of postponing the upcoming presidential election in the event it is interrupted by terrorist acts. Number nine. July 29, 2004. At their party convention in Boston, the Democrats formally nominate John Kerry as their candidate for President. As in the wake of any convention, the Democrats now dominate the media attention over the subsequent weekend. August 1, 2004, Monday morning. Three days later."
Ridge: "It is as reliable a source, group of sources that we've ever seen before."
Olbermann: "The Department of Homeland Security raises the alert status for financial centers in New York, New Jersey, and Washington to orange. The evidence supporting the warning, reconnaissance data left in a home in Iraq, later proves to be roughly four years old and largely out of date. Number 10. October 6, 2005, 10 a.m. Eastern time, the President addresses the National Endowment for Democracy, once again emphasizing the importance of the war on terror, and insisting his government has broken up at least 10 terrorist plots since 9/11. At 3 p.m. Eastern time, five hours after the President's speech has begun, the Associated Press reports that Karl Rove will testify again to the CIA leak grand jury and that special prosecutor Fitzgerald has told Rove he cannot guarantee that he will not be indicted."
Chris Matthews, MSNBC's Hardball host: "We're awaiting a news conference at the bottom of the hour. New York City Police-"
Olbermann: "At 5:17 p.m. Eastern time, seven hours after the President's speech has begun, New York officials disclose a bomb threat to the city's subway system based on information supplied by the federal government. A Homeland Security spokesman says the intelligence upon which the disclosure is based is of doubtful credibility. And it later proves that New York City had known of the threat for at least three days and had increased police presence in the subways long before making the announcement at that particular time. Local New York television station WNBC reports it had the story of the threats days in advance of the announcement but was asked by high-ranking federal officials in New York and Washington to hold off on its story. Less than four days after having revealed the threat, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York says, 'Since the period of the threat now seems to be passing, I think over the immediate future we'll slowly be winding down the enhanced security.' While news organizations ranging from the New York Post to NBC News quotes sources who say there was reason to believe the informant who triggered the warning simply made it up, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official tells the New York Times, quote, 'there was no there there.'"
Olbermann: "In all fairness, as we observed last October, and we observe again tonight, we could possibly construct a similar time line of terror events and warnings and their relationship to the opening of new chain stores around the country. But if merely a reasonable case could be made that any of these juxtapositions of events are more than just coincidence, especially the one last week in which terror policy was again injected directly into a political race. It underscores the need for questions to be asked in this country, questions about what is prudence and what is fear-mongering."

NBC's Today Can't Get Over Willie Horton:
"Playing Into Fear"

It's been 18 years but the media still can't get over Michael Dukakis' defeat to George Bush and the Willie Horton ad they blame for that Bush victory. On Monday's Today, NBC's Ann Curry brought on psychologist Jeff Gardere to discuss a new study that showed how emotions can overtake logic in decision-making. Curry introduced the segment: "Have you ever been accused of thinking with your heart and not your head well if so a new study reports your just like everybody else....This is just the latest biological evidence to suggest that next time you make a bad choice maybe you really can blame it on your emotions." Just seconds later NBC's producers ran the Horton ad as Exhibit A of emotions leading to the "bad choice," of voting for Bush.

Over the Horton ad, Gardere explained the psychological term of 'framing': "Well an example of framing would be, for example, a political campaign that says, well someone is very soft on crime, and what they would do is perhaps pull out some sort of a picture or some sort of information about that candidate, in fact, saying something, maybe just one thing. And then because of that particular one thing that they've said then painting with a broad brush saying that, that person is totally soft on crime." Curry then underlined Gardere's point: "Playing into the fear of people."

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

However Today didn't leave it there. In addition to citing votes for Bush as an example of emotion overcoming intellect, Gardere and NBC's producers indicted SUV-buyers:

Gardere continued during his August 14 appearance: "Playing into the fears of others. And with that neuro-imaging they saw as you saw with this clip the amygdala firing which is the center of many emotions including fear and anxiety."
Curry: "So this makes us vulnerable to political commercials, to regular commercials, to shopping decisions, what else?"
Gardere, over stock footage of HUMVs: "To, to car commercials where they can sell you a gas guzzler and say, 'hey this is a great deal, this is something you should do even though we know it's gonna cost us dearly by looking at the emotion."

Finally Curry asked Gardere for solutions to emotional thinking: "Okay let's talk about how to control it. You say we've got to keep our brain healthy with, with, what crossword puzzles? What are you talking about?"
Gardere: "Crossword puzzles, writing, reading, anything that keeps that brain firing."

Somewhere Susan Estrich is thinking: "If only we handed out the New York Times crossword page instead of all those lame 'Greeks Do It Better' buttons I could've been White House press secretary."

Letterman's "Top Ten Mel Gibson Excuses"

From the August 14 Late Show with David Letterman, back after two weeks off, the "Top Ten Mel Gibson Excuses." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. "Did I say 'Jews'? I meant Scientologists"

9. "Food poisoning from a bad knish"

8. "Uhh, hello? I'm famous"

7. "Shouldn't have been drinking with Hasselhoff"

6. "Any press is good press"

5. "I refer all questions to my Jew attorney"

4. "Tired of Britney Spears getting all the 'crazy celebrity' attention"

3. "Oh like you've never gotten drunk and accidentally said, 'Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world'?"

2. "Researching upcoming role as insane washed-up movie star"

1. "Hoping to be named People Magazine's 'Sexiest Anti-Semite Alive'"

-- Brent Baker in New Hampshire