ABC Channels Those Who See GOP as Limbaugh-Cheney 'Freak Show' --5/14/2009
2. Matthews Mocks GOP 'Schoolyard' Tactics But Employs Them Himself
3. Omission Watch: ABC, CBS and NBC Ignore Pelosi's Torture Hypocrisy
4. Downbeat Spin from NY Times: World Ends, Minorities Hardest Hit
5. CBS's Rodriguez Grills Miss CA: Are You Being 'Hypocritical'?
"The problem for Republicans right now is the party doesn't seem big enough for conservatives like [Rush] Limbaugh and moderates like Colin Powell and Senator Arlen Specter," ABC's Jonathan Karl contended in a Wednesday night World News story on the plight of the GOP which, though framed by anchor Charles Gibson as exploring "whether it can attract new voters by becoming more conservative or more moderate," came down, no surprise, on the side of those who think the party is already too conservative. Gibson pointed out: "The number of voters who have left the party is growing. In 2003, 31 percent of Americans identified themselves as Republican, 31 percent as Democrat. Now, only one in five say they are a Republican."
Instead of considering the possibility the party lost support by moving too far to the left by being identified with President Bush's big spending policies or that the congressional leadership is hardly inspiring to conservatives, Karl presumed it's a problem that Dick Cheney, "the most visible Republican in the country these days," has declared "his preference for Rush Limbaugh over Colin Powell." Karl featured "Republican strategist" Mark McKinnon who ridiculed Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh: "If the Republican party does not expand its tent, it's going to turn into a circus, and it's going to become a minority freak show that sort of features Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney." Karl followed up with how "Senator Lindsey Graham says more moderates is exactly what the party needs."
Karl failed to inform viewers that "Republican strategist" McKinnon left John McCain's campaign so he wouldn't be part of an effort to oppose Barack Obama's election. "Senator John McCain's chief advertising strategist, Mark McKinnon, announced Tuesday that he was resigning, following through on a vow he had made months ago not to work against the candidacy of Senator Barack Obama.," the New York Times reported in May of 2008. "In telling the Cox News Service last June that he would not work against an Obama candidacy, Mr. McKinnon had said that Mr. Obama's election to the presidency 'would send a great message to the country and the world.'" May 21 article: www.nytimes.com
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Thursday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The NBC Nightly News also decided to run a piece on Cheney visibility that used him to argue the party must accept non-conservatives. "Cheney's exposure has revealed a new fault line in Republican politics, leaving some to argue that he makes it more difficult for the GOP to re-create itself," David Gregory relayed, leading into this admonition from former Congressman Tom Davis of Virginia: "Right now, we are at the lowest level of approval that we have had in a generation. So we need to attract converts. We don't need to chase out heretics at this point."
ABC's Karl concluded with a warning for Democrats: "Democrats shouldn't get overconfident. The last time Republicans were in this big a hole was the late 1970s. Jimmy Carter was in the White House, and Republicans came roaring back just a couple years later with the Reagan Revolution."
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the story on the Wednesday, May 13 World News:
CHARLES GIBSON: We're going to take "A Closer Look" at an intense debate in the Republican party '€" whether it can attract new voters by becoming more conservative or more moderate. The number of voters who have left the party is growing. In 2003, 31 percent of Americans identified themselves as Republican, 31 percent as Democrat. Now, only one in five say they are a Republican. So how does the party stem that tide? Here's Jonathan Karl.
JONATHAN KARL: Dick Cheney seems to be everywhere.
Chris Matthews, on Wednesday's Hardball, mocked a plan by the RNC to cast Democrats as the Democrat Socialist Party, as "schoolyard," and sarcastically sneered: "Boy they're going places with that one." However it was Matthews who spent the entirety of his show engaging in "schoolyard" insults himself as he compared Dick Cheney to a "troll," claimed Pat Buchanan once represented the "Neanderthal" wing of the GOP and thought the idea of Sarah Palin penning a book was laughable.
[This item by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Wednesday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Plus Sarah Palin -- now don't laugh -- is writing a book. Not just reading a book, writing a book. Actually in the word of the publisher she's "collaborating" on a book. I love the way that sounds. Does that mean she answers questions of the writer and then the writer writes the book? I guess the reason to have someone to write a book for you and claim it's your book is to get to do a nationwide book tour and act the part of a, of an author yourself. Well she's not the first person to pull that number. Sarah Palin -- author! In tonight's Politics Fix...What is Sarah Palin up to?....She's got this book deal, she obviously is not gonna write it. They've already announced somebody is, she's gonna collaborate on it. What an embarrassment! It's one of these "I told you," books that jocks do. You know she's already declared, I mean, why they do it like this? "She can't write, we got a collaborator for her."
During the show Matthews, who apparently subscribes to a "Do as I say, not as I do," philosophy made fun of a reported plan by the RNC to start using the word "socialist" in referring to Democrats in the following teaser:
MATTHEWS: Up next we have heard often the Republicans, on this show, deride their opponents by calling them the "Democrat Party," you know without the adjective? The Democrat Party. Well apparently that's not enough any more. Now the RNC wants to rebrand the Democrats, unilaterally, the "Democrat Socialist Party." Hmm. Is this the best they've got? Sounds like schoolyard to me. Nah, nah, nah, nah, naaah. Boy they're going places with that one. The latest on the GOP agony. Next! You're watching "Hardball."
The Hardball, host then proceeded to pepper Republican targets with his own "schoolyard" insults as seen in the following exchanges from the May 13th edition of Hardball:
DONNY DEUTSCH: You live long enough anything happens. I'm actually gonna be defending Dick Cheney.
MATTHEWS: There's one high profile politician who's speaking out against Dick Cheney. Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura says he wants to, I think this is somewhat tongue-in-cheek but we'll see. He wants to waterboard Cheney. Interesting idea. That's next in the Sideshow. Would he give? Would he break? Would he give away Bush? Or would he give away himself? Who knows? You're watching "Hardball" on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS TO GUEST PAT BUCHANAN: You're getting too soft...Pat Buchanan supports Charlie Crist? I mean, I think he used to stand for Neanderthals. Now he's for the most debonair of all Republicans.
For the past three weeks, controversy has swirled around Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has called for a "truth commission" to expose the supposed war crimes of the Bush administration but who herself was briefed years ago on the use of waterboarding and the other enhanced interrogation techniques that are now drawing howls of outrage.
ABC, CBS and NBC have said virtually nothing about the Speaker's shifting stories, or the potential hypocrisy of her once supporting (or at least not objecting to) policies that she would later condemn as illegal "torture." The only exception: On the May 13 NBC Nightly News, correspondent Pete Williams made a reference to unnamed "Democratic leaders" who might be embarrassed by a full investigation: "Some Democrats are pushing for an investigation of officials who approved the techniques, but Republicans warn that could ensnare Democratic leaders who were briefed on the methods." A soundbite from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham could be interpreted as mocking Pelosi, but viewers would have had no idea since she was not mentioned by name: "These interrogation techniques were shared with members of Congress who somehow can't remember what they're told."
The current round of stories began April 22, after the Obama administration released selected memos from the Bush administration on the legal limits to interrogation. That night, NBC's Andrea Mitchell offered a brief mention of how Pelosi was one of those who had been told: "Members of Congress were briefed at the time and reportedly didn't dissent, including intelligence committee leaders Nancy Pelosi, Porter Goss, Bob Graham and Richard Shelby." ABC and CBS said nothing about Pelosi that night.
[This article is based on an item by the MRC's Rich Noyes, which was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The next day, Pelosi wagged her finger as she denied ever being told that waterboarding was being used against al Qaeda terrorists: "We were not -- I repeat, were not -- told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used. What they did tell us is that they had...[legal] opinions that they could be used, but not that they would."
That contradicted what Mitchell reported the previous night, but neither NBC nor the other networks provided any updates.
Last week, the CIA released documents showing that one of Pelosi's top aides went to a briefing in 2003 where he heard that waterboarding was actually being used. The May 9 Washington Post explained:
A top aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attended a CIA briefing in early 2003 in which it was made clear that waterboarding and other harsh techniques were being used in the interrogation of an alleged al-Qaeda operative, according to documents the CIA released to Congress on Thursday.
Pelosi has insisted that she was not directly briefed by Bush administration officials that the practice was being actively employed. But Michael Sheehy, a top Pelosi aide, was present for a classified briefing that included Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), then the ranking minority member of the House intelligence committee, at which agency officials discussed the use of waterboarding on terrorism suspect Abu Zubaida.
A Democratic source acknowledged yesterday that it is almost certain that Pelosi would have learned about the use of waterboarding from Sheehy....
Senior [CIA] officials have chafed at criticism of their interrogation activities from lawmakers who, when made aware of the programs over past years, mostly did not object. One former senior agency official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the substance of the briefings is classified, said some lawmakers, after being told of the enhanced techniques, "questioned whether we were doing enough."
Again, no coverage from ABC, CBS and NBC.
On Tuesday, CNN reported confirmation that Pelosi had indeed been told by Sheehy about the waterboarding in 2003: "A source close to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now confirms that Pelosi was told in February 2003 by her intelligence aide, Michael Sheehy, that waterboarding was actually used on CIA detainee Abu Zubaydah." See: www.cnn.com
Again, no coverage from ABC, CBS and NBC.
The networks should have been skeptical of the flamboyant outrage of Pelosi and other top Democrats of the Bush administration's interrogation techniques. Back in December 2007, the Washington Post disclosed that congressional leaders offered "mostly quiet acquiescence, if not outright support" as they heard about the use of waterboarding to pry secrets out of captured al-Qaeda leaders:
Individual lawmakers' recollections of the early briefings varied dramatically, but officials present during the meetings described the reaction as mostly quiet acquiescence, if not outright support. "Among those being briefed, there was a pretty full understanding of what the CIA was doing," said Goss, who chaired the House intelligence committee from 1997 to 2004 and then served as CIA director from 2004 to 2006. "And the reaction in the room was not just approval, but encouragement."...
"In fairness, the environment was different then because we were closer to Sept. 11 and people were still in a panic," said one U.S. official present during the early briefings. "But there was no objecting, no hand-wringing. The attitude was, '€˜We don't care what you do to those guys as long as you get the information you need to protect the American people.'"...
As for Pelosi in particular:
Pelosi declined to comment directly on her reaction to the classified briefings. But a congressional source familiar with Pelosi's position on the matter said the California lawmaker did recall discussions about enhanced interrogation. The source said Pelosi recalls that techniques described by the CIA were still in the planning stage -- they had been designed and cleared with agency lawyers but not yet put in practice -- and acknowledged that Pelosi did not raise objections at the time.
Post story: www.washingtonpost.com
As all of this was unfolding on cable news and in the big newspapers, the only reference on the broadcast networks to Pelosi's double-speak came in a brief exchange during the roundtable of ABC's This Week back on April 26. After watching a clip of Pelosi say she favored "a truth commission" to delve into the Bush administration's tactics, regular panelist George Will tartly observed: "When Speaker Pelosi says she wants a truth commission, she'd better be prepared to get acquainted with that commission, because they're going to want to know how a ten-year member of the Intelligence Committee was shocked and surprised."
In the only other comment on the matter, Democratic mover-and-shaker Donna Brazille seemed willing to expose Pelosi if it meant also exposing the Bush administration: "Let the truth come out, George. What's wrong with that? Let the truth set us free, so to speak....Let's hear from those Democrats who, you know, were briefed on, on this issue."
Which Wednesday newspaper headline, over articles about the same report from the Pew Hispanic Center, is not like the others?
# Washington Post: "Immigrant Homeownership Proves Resilient in the Face of Slowdown; Boosted by Boom, Rate Virtually Unchanged During Bust"
Lead: "The rate of homeownership in the United States is holding up better among immigrants than it is for native-born Americans, according to a study released yesterday."
# Wall Street Journal: "Housing Boom Aided Minorities; Homeownership Reached Record Levels, Narrowing the Gap With Whites"
Lead: "Minorities in the U.S. increased their levels of homeownership at a faster clip than whites during the recent housing boom, according to a new report, and narrowed the ownership gap with the majority despite taking a bigger hit during the subsequent bust."
# New York Times: "Homeownership Losses Are Greatest Among Minorities, Report Finds"
Lead: "After a decade of growth, the gains made in homeownership by African-Americans and native-born Latinos have been eroding faster in the economic downturn than those of whites, according to a report issued Tuesday by the Pew Hispanic Center."
As the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto observed in his "Best of the Web Today" compilation: "Policies designed to increase homeownership rates among minorities succeeded -- and...some of that success has proved durable. But the cost of this success was to help undermine the entire financial system. The Times portrays this as another story of 'world ends; minorities hardest hit,' but it's really more 'minorities benefit, world hardest hit.'"
Washington Post story: www.washingtonpost.com
Wall Street Journal article: online.wsj.com
New York Times' take: www.nytimes.com
Pew Hispanic Center: pewhispanic.org
On Wednesday's CBS Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez interrogated Miss California Carrie Prejean, wondering if the beauty queen was a hypocrite for standing up for Christian values: "I know that you are a devout Christian, and some people have said that it's hypocritical, and a little bit of a double standard, for you to be preaching Christianity, yet posing topless...And you don't feel it interferes in any way with your faith or what you preach publicly?" Prejean defended herself, explaining: "Absolutely not. And my message to my, you know, church and to the young girls that attend the church is, 'you know, I am a very strong woman today.' And the decisions I made when I was 16 and 17 years old, I was very naive, trying to get into the modeling, you know, industry. And I definitely would not make those decisions today."
Rodriguez also tried to portray Prejean as being forced to back down: "The pageant has said that you can continue wearing your crown, but that they will have to monitor the statements that you make. You're such an advocate of free speech, how do feel about their control over your statements?" Rodriguez then asked: "Will you officially come out in support of any particular organization or as a spokesperson for any organization?" Prejean replied: "I don't plan on doing that, no." Rodriguez wondered: "Is that because pageant officials say that you can't?"
[This item, by Kyle Drennen, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
In contrast to Rodriguez's grilling of Prejean, on April 21, fellow co-host Julie Chen lobbed softballs at liberal gay blogger and Miss USA pageant judge Perez Hilton, who asked Prejean about her gay marriage views. Chen failed to mention that Hilton called Prejean a "dumb b***h" on his video blog and did not even wonder if his question was appropriate.
Read about Chen's softball interview with Hilton: www.mrc.org
Rodriguez later took the interview in a personal direction and asked about Prejean's alleged plastic surgery: "Since this controversy began, so much has been reported about you, including the fact that you had breast implants a few weeks before the Miss USA pageant, and that pageant officials helped you pay for it. I'm curious what you would say to young girls out there who feel that you had to do this in order to have a better chance of winning this competition and they're thinking they have to enhance themselves to have a better chance of winning in life?"
A few minutes after the interview, co-host Harry Smith remarked: "So interesting, Carrie Prejean, you did such a good job, I thought, with the interview...And I thought -- the thing that I thought was interesting, she thinks because she's held a news conference the questions have been answered...That only creates more questions." Rodriguez patronizingly added: "Yeah, as she does more and more of these, she'll understand that."
Here is the full transcript of the interview:
-- Brent Baker