Leading Off With False Smear
Elizabeth Vargas: “Tonight, sources tell ABC News the case involving convicted lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, has led FBI investigators to some of the most powerful members of Congress, namely the man, second in line for the presidency, after the Vice President. This is a story with potentially major political implications and our chief investigative correspondent, Brian Ross, joins us with his exclusive report. Brian.”
Reporter Brian Ross: “Elizabeth, federal officials tell us the congressional bribery investigation now includes the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert....Justice Department officials describe the 64-year-old Illinois Republican as very much in the mix of the corruption investigation.”
— Beginning of ABC’s World News Tonight, May 24. (With WMV video clip/MP3 audio)
“Look, ABC News came out with this story, worded the way it was. ‘Included in the investigation,’ ‘in the mix of the investigation’ has an unmistakable implication, and that is: The guy’s under investigation. We have now had an absolutely unequivocal denial of that....This looks like a bad story. They led their newscast with it. The implication was unmistakable. They ought to back off this story, and the sooner the better.”
— FNC’s Brit Hume, previously ABC’s White House correspondent, on Fox News Sunday, May 28.
Just Pack Your Bags and Get Out
“In the most recent survey, your disapproval rating is now one point lower than Richard Nixon’s before he resigned the presidency....Do you think it’s possible that, like Nixon and Watergate, that the American people have rendered a final judgment of disapproval on you and your war in Iraq?”
— NBC’s David Gregory to President Bush in an interview shown May 18 on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews. (With WMV video clip/MP3 audio)
Usually He Lies Through His Teeth
“An unusual burst of candor from President Bush, who said last night that some of his tough talk may have set the wrong tone for fighting the war in Iraq.”
— Bob Schieffer on the May 25 CBS Evening News.
“In recent months the President acknowledged setbacks, but this [press conference] was a high-profile setting for introspection. Much different from during election year 2004 when he would not offer the same candor.”
— NBC’s Norah O’Donnell on Today, May 25.
Cheers for Fearmonger Gore
“Could Al Gore be the comeback kid? The guy that George Bush, Sr., derisively dubbed ‘Ozone Man’ may have hit his stride after five years in hibernation by promoting his longtime passion....His environmental message is blunt: humanity is sitting on a time bomb and has about ten years left to deal with it. It’s the messenger, though, this almost President turned dynamic professor who’s making most of the waves, dominating the blog-chatter. Is he going to go for the Oval again?”
— ABC’s Claire Shipman, Good Morning America, May 23. (With WMV video clip/MP3 audio)
“The film is coming out at the perfect moment. Millions of Americans are angry at President Bush and worried about energy. The film is not overtly partisan, but who can miss the visual cue here of one of Bush’s greatest failures, Hurricane Katrina? Would Americans really elect a President who served eight years as Vice President, then ran for President and failed, then was out of power for eight years? Well, you know, it worked for Richard Nixon....”
— CNN’s Bill Schneider on The Situation Room, May 24. (With WMV video clip/MP3 audio)
Touting Gore’s “Very Real Threat”
“Still to come this morning on Today, former President, Vice President rather — he thought he might be President — Al Gore on the very real threat of global warning, warming and his political future.”
— Katie Couric touting her upcoming interview with Gore on Today, May 24.
Katie Couric: “In this movie at different turns you’re funny, vulnerable, disarming, self-effacing and someone said after watching it, quote, ‘If only he was like this before, maybe things would’ve turned out differently in 2000.’”
Al Gore: “Well, I benefit from low expectations....”
Couric: “What do you see happening in say 15 to 20 years or even 50 years if nothing changes?”
Gore: “...Sea-level increases of 20 feet or more worldwide. Of course Florida and Louisiana and Texas are particularly vulnerable. The San Francisco Bay area, Manila. And we have seen the impact of a couple hundred thousand refugees from an environmental crisis. [Footage of Hurricane Katrina] Imagine 100 million or 200 million.”
Couric: “Even Manhattan would be in deep water, right?”
Gore: “Yes, in fact the World Trade Center Memorial site would be underwater....Unfortunately Mother Nature is weighing in very powerfully and very loudly.”
— NBC’s Today, May 24.
Katie’s “Definition of Courage”
“I sometimes like to look up the definition of sort of often used words, and I was looking up the definition of ‘courage,’ and I think the fourth one is applicable to a segment coming up. It’s ‘mental or moral strength enabling one to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty firmly and resolutely.’ Coming up, Caroline Kennedy is going to introduce us, Matt, to two men who are definitely the definition of courage and you’ll see why.”
— NBC’s Katie Couric teasing an upcoming segment on the May 22 Today show about the Kennedys’ “Profile in Courage” awards going to anti-war Congressman John Murtha and ex-U.S. Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora, who complained about conditions at Guantanamo Bay.
Hillary, Centrist Problem-Solver
“Hillary Rodham Clinton has fashioned a political persona that generates intense passions but defies easy character-ization....Most of those around Clinton say her hard-to-pigeonhole profile is a political asset — the product, they say, of a curious intellect, the absence of rigid ideology, an instinct for problem solving and a willingness to seek consensus even across party lines.”
— Washington Post reporter Dan Balz in a May 30 front-page story on Hillary Clinton’s views headlined, “Clinton Is a Politician Not Easily Defined.”
English Only = Nativist Silliness
“Why would the Senate spend hours debating whether to make English our national language? Let me break it to you gently: Because it gives Senators something to do while they avoid addressing the real problems — the war, health care, the ballooning deficit and immigration....So we’ll hear more about silly issues between now and election day...While they’re at it, maybe Senators could also declare the U.S. Capitol to be the national monument to wasting time and avoiding responsibility. Actually, I doubt any of us needs to be reminded of that.”
— Bob Schieffer’s closing commentary, CBS’s Face the Nation, May 21. (With WMV video clip/MP3 audio)
Cokie Roberts: “It is, to me, a very silly debate because, on the one hand we know that most people speak English ....and learning English is a pathway to success....”
Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria: “It’s nonsense. This is an English-speaking country. The commercial incentives are all to speak English....It’s a political football that has nothing to do with the real problem. It is simply one more way to try to assert a certain kind of nativist populism that is distasteful.”
— Exchange on ABC’s This Week, May 21.
“Far Right” vs. “Middle America”
“The Senate votes to make English America’s official language. Plus, the Senate push to ban gay marriage picks up steam today. Could these two right turns alienate the American middle?...Could it be ’92 all over again? The Bush administration hoping to rally the base with a hard turn to the right on a host of exclusionary issues....The immigration debate taking its own hard turn to the right. The Senate voting to make American, rather, English, the official language of the land....Also on the far right’s greatest hit list, gay marriage.”
— NPR’s Brian Unger filling in as host of MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, May 19. A recent Gallup poll found 58% oppose giving gay couples “the same rights as traditional marriages,” while a Zogby poll found 84% in favor of making English the official language.
GOP Hurt by Democrat’s Misdeeds?
“At a time when 77 percent of the American public believes that all members of Congress take bribes, Congressman Jefferson’s troubles help no one in either party.”
— Gloria Borger discussing the investigation of Democratic Rep. William Jefferson, May 22 CBS Evening News.
America Sucks. Sorry.
“It wasn’t supposed to be this way. You weren’t supposed to be graduating into an America fighting a misbegotten war in a foreign land. You weren’t supposed to be graduating into a world where we are still fighting for fundamental human rights, whether it’s the rights of immigrants to start a new life, or the rights of gays to marry, or the rights of women to choose. You weren’t supposed to be graduating into a world where oil still drove policy and environmentalists have to fight relentlessly for every gain. You weren’t. But you are. And for that I’m sorry.”
— New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.’s May 21 graduation address at the State University of New York at New Paltz, shown on C-SPAN May 27. (With WMV video clip/MP3 audio)
DaVinci Actor: Bible Is Fiction
Co-host Matt Lauer: “Some religious groups....wanted a disclaimer at the beginning of this movie [The DaVinci Code] saying it is fiction because, again, one of the themes in the book really knocks Christianity right on its ear, if Christ survived the Crucifixion he did not die for our sins and therefore was not resurrected....How would you have all felt if there was a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie? Would it have been okay with you?”
Actor Ian McKellen: “Well, I’ve often thought that the Bible should have a disclaimer in the front saying, ‘This is fiction.’”
— NBC’s Today, May 17. (With WMV video clip/MP3 audio)
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