Appearance Alert!
MRC President Brent Bozell on FBN's Varney & Co. at 11:25 a.m. ET

CBS Highlights How Only Nixon Had Lower Approval in Second Term --11/3/2005


1. CBS Highlights How Only Nixon Had Lower Approval in Second Term
Wednesday's CBS Evening News touted a new poll by the network which found, as anchor Bob Schieffer relayed, that "the President's job approval has reached the lowest level yet" at "only 35 percent" with Congress "rated even lower" at a mere "34 percent," but Bush and Congress are doing a lot better than Vice President Cheney whose "favorable rating is down nine points this year to just 19 percent." Over side-by-side head-shot videos on screen of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush, with Bush's 35 percent approval below his image and Gallup's 27 percent finding beneath the shot of Nixon, John Roberts pointed out how "the only recent President lower at this point in their second term was Richard Nixon." Roberts asked and answered: "What's behind the slide: 2,000 war dead in Iraq, an indictment in the CIA leak, the aborted Harriet Miers nomination, the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina."

2. Brown Goes Out Channeling Wilson & Lowlights of Brown's CNN Years
The last moments on CNN for the network's most liberal anchor, Aaron Brown, were spent channeling Joe Wilson's talking points. (CNN on Wednesday announced the departure of Brown and the end of NewsNight. The two-hour block starting at 10pm EST will now carry the Anderson Cooper 360 title while The Situation Room gets the 7pm EST hour.) Brown was last on CNN on Friday night wrapping up headlines at 11:01pm EDT. Just before that, at 10:54pm EDT, Brown conducted his last interview on CNN, a brief live session with David Ensor, in which he pushed the spin of the radical anti-war left. He told Ensor that "people who are opposed to the war say that it wasn't just that the intelligence was wrong. It's that the intelligence was cooked." Ensor inconveniently admitted that "I also thought that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction," before Brown followed up: "At some level, this is about Joe Wilson saying -- I'm not, I'm not saying he's right about this, I'm just saying what he said -- is that they took the country to war, when they knew the evidence was at least ambiguous and they never framed it in an ambiguous way." Below are a few examples of Brown's bias from his CNN years.

3. Olbermann Slugs Limbaugh and Hannity as "Reactionary Parrots"
On his Countdown show Wednesday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann managed to cram four lines of liberal bias all into the first 14 minutes of his show: Questioning whether Bush's announcements of Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court and of an avian flu plan were politically timed to distract from administration problems, passing on Jimmy Carter's anti-Bush accusations without question, belittling Scott McClellan's defense of the administration's pre-war beliefs about WMD in Iraq, and asking softball questions to Ambassador Joseph Wilson without challenging his answers, except when referring to charges from "reactionary parrots" Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.


CBS Highlights How Only Nixon Had Lower
Approval in Second Term

Wednesday's CBS Evening News touted a new poll by the network which found, as anchor Bob Schieffer relayed, that "the President's job approval has reached the lowest level yet" at "only 35 percent" with Congress "rated even lower" at a mere "34 percent," but Bush and Congress are doing a lot better than Vice President Cheney whose "favorable rating is down nine points this year to just 19 percent." Over side-by-side head-shot videos on screen of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush, with Bush's 35 percent approval below his image and Gallup's 27 percent finding beneath the shot of Nixon, John Roberts pointed out how "the only recent President lower at this point in their second term was Richard Nixon." Roberts asked and answered: "What's behind the slide: 2,000 war dead in Iraq, an indictment in the CIA leak, the aborted Harriet Miers nomination, the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina."

Roberts warned that "yesterday's shutdown of the Senate shows the political danger of presidential drift. Democrats sat back and watched for an opening, then moved right in." He proceeded to deliver an unobjectionable rundown of advise offered by Reagan chief-of-staff Ken Duberstein: "This week's Alito nomination and the President's bird flu speech were the first steps in a turnaround, says Duberstein, but the White House still needs to lose the bunker mentality, let in new ideas." In conclusion, Roberts cautioned, "So far, there's no indication that President Bush is considering any of the outside advice to shake up the White House, but one thing is clear: If he doesn't find his footing soon, suggestions for change will quickly turn into demands."

[This item was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]

As corrected against the closed-captioning by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, the November 2 CBS Evening News story and intro on the network's latest poll:
Bob Schieffer: "Not much got done in Washington today, but tempers did cool a little after the partisan meltdown that brought Senate business to a halt yesterday. Even so, neither Congress nor the White House will find much in a new CBS News poll to put them in a better humor. The President's job approval has reached the lowest level yet: Only 35 percent approve [57% disapprove] of the job he's doing. Congress is rated even lower: Only 34 percent approve its work [53% disapprove]. Vice President Cheney has never been as popular as the President, but his favorable rating is down nine points this year to just 19 percent [44% unfavorable]. So where does the White House go from here? The President is finding no shortage of advice, and we go now to John Roberts for more on that."

John Roberts began: "The plunge in poll numbers is another dose of bad news for a White House mired in it. The only recent President lower at this point in their second term was Richard Nixon. What's behind the slide: 2,000 war dead in Iraq, an indictment in the CIA leak, the aborted Harriet Miers nomination, the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina."
Ken Duberstein, former White House Chief of Staff: "The President, I think, has bottomed out. I think last week was the bottom."
Roberts: "Ken Duberstein doesn't like what he sees. Part of a team Ronald Reagan brought in to help recover from the Iran-Contra scandal, Duberstein wrote a prescription for change in today's New York Times."
Duberstein: "I think that they need to bring in some new blood, but new blood that would give the President differing opinions, not somebody who has been burned out for four or five years, but somebody who has a fresh perspective."
Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, on Senate floor Tuesday: "I now move that Senate go into closed session."
Roberts: "Yesterday's shutdown of the Senate shows the political danger of presidential drift. Democrats sat back and watched for an opening, then moved right in."
Richard Durbin, Senate Minority Whip: "Over 60 percent of the American people say we want this country moving in a significantly new direction. They are looking for vision and leadership. They are looking for a voice, and that's why the Democrats have to step up."
Roberts: "The battle is over momentum heading into an election year. The White House lost it. The Democrats want it. And Republicans in Congress are desperate to hang on to whatever threads are left."
Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader in front of "Get SMART!" on wall behind him: "Well, the progress is there, and the momentum is there, and we're going to deliver for the American people. I see signs of obstruction around here all the time. Too much for me, but we're just going to kind of move it, try to stay above it."
Roberts: "This week's Alito nomination and the President's bird flu speech were the first steps in a turnaround, says Duberstein, but the White House still needs to lose the bunker mentality, let in new ideas."
Duberstein: "This country can't afford three years of drift, and neither can the world. The President of the United States has to be at the top of his game."
Roberts concluded: "So far, there's no indication that President Bush is considering any of the outside advice to shake up the White House, but one thing is clear: If he doesn't find his footing soon, suggestions for change will quickly turn into
demands."

Brown Goes Out Channeling Wilson & Lowlights
of Brown's CNN Years

The last moments on CNN for the network's most liberal anchor, Aaron Brown, were spent channeling Joe Wilson's talking points. (CNN on Wednesday announced the departure of Brown and the end of NewsNight. The two-hour block starting at 10pm EST will now carry the Anderson Cooper 360 title while The Situation Room gets the 7pm EST hour.) Brown was last on CNN on Friday night wrapping up headlines at 11:01pm EDT before an airing of CNN Presents narrated by David Ensor, "Dead Wrong: Inside an Intelligence Meltdown." Just before that, at 10:54pm EDT, Brown conducted his last interview on CNN, a brief live session with Ensor, in which he pushed the spin of the radical anti-war left. He told Ensor that "people who are opposed to the war say that it wasn't just that the intelligence was wrong. It's that the intelligence was cooked." Ensor inconveniently admitted that "I also thought that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction," before Brown followed up: "At some level, this is about Joe Wilson saying -- I'm not, I'm not saying he's right about this, I'm just saying what he said -- is that they took the country to war, when they knew the evidence was at least ambiguous and they never framed it in an ambiguous way."

Below are a few examples of Brown's bias from his CNN years -- he left ABC News in 2001 -- which the MRC's Rich Noyes and I quickly collected from NewsBusters and the MRC's archive. These quotes, some with video, include how Brown, after Katrina, pressed a black Congresswoman to agree that race was behind the delayed response in New Orleans; how Brown one night trumpeted a Republican who turned against the war and wondered if the administration has been "honest"; how he ridiculed the contention that John Kerry didn't earn his Purple Heart; how he insisted that while some "will see willful deception on the part of CBS" in the Memogate scandal, "smarter and more reasoned heads know better"; how he declared the "record unambiguous" that "John Kerry was a war hero"; how, without uttering a syllable about questions about Kerry's Vietnam record, on Memorial Day 2004 Brown delivered a panegyrical, event-by-event tribute to Kerry's heroic Vietnam service; how he boasted of "a permanent smirk" spurred by Rush Limbaugh's drug troubles; how he proposed that the White House "twisted or ignored" global warming science; and how Brown swooned over Jimmy Carter: "In many places, dusty and difficult places, James Earl Carter has brought hope and dispelled, as well as anyone alive these days, the vision of the ugly American."

[This item was posted, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To watch the video or to share your thoughts, go to: newsbusters.org ]

# Brown, who since Katrina had been put into a co-anchor situation with Anderson Cooper, solo-anchored his last NewsNight on Friday, October 28, which he opened at 10pm EDT: "Good evening again, everyone. It began with 16 words uttered by the President about Iraq and nuclear weapons, only 16 words in a very long speech. It became a battle and a scandal, and now, perhaps, a crime."

About 54 minutes later, Brown introduced his last interview on CNN: "We learned today that a Marine from Ohio was killed in Iraq on Thursday. Lance Corporal Robert Eckfield Jr. was 23 years old. As the war continues, so, of course, do the questions. Today, the special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald was asked if the indictment was a vindication that the Bush administration took the country to war on a false premise. This is how he answered."
Peter Fitzgerald at press conference: "This indictment is not about the war. This indictment's not about the propriety of the war. And people who believe fervently in the war effort, people who oppose it, people who have mixed feelings about it should not look to this indictment for any resolution of how they feel or any vindication of how they feel."
Brown: "I don't think there was a more interesting person today, by the way, than Mr. Fitzgerald. Democrats disagree with him. They believe the indictment has everything to do with the war, how we got to war, partisan, yes, but it is part of the national debate. Our national security correspondent, David Ensor, has been doing an incredible amount of work, and good work, on the intelligence that led up to the war and how it came to be. And David joins us now. David, I think the, people's perspective on this is, you know, of people who are opposed to the war, say that it wasn't just that the intelligence was wrong. It's that the intelligence was cooked. Do we know? Can we answer that for them?"
David Ensor, from Washington, DC: "Um, cooked is probably a little too strong a word. You know, people in the intelligence community -- and let's be honest, I also thought that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. They had used them on their own -- Saddam had used them on the people, he'd used them against Iran. There were chemical weapons that were unaccounted for after the war. So, there was lots of good, logical reason to think there were weapons of mass destruction there. The amazing thing is, there were not. And, you know, I have tried to find out why, how this could go so badly wrong, which is part of what, I guess, we're going to be showing people in the next hour, this, this look at how this could go so badly wrong. But I was also today at the press conference that you just mentioned, Mr. Fitzgerald's press conference. And there were -- what was so striking there was, there were lots of questions about, well, isn't this really about Iraq? Isn't this really about the WMD? And he, of course, it is in his interests to be as narrow as possible, to say, no, it is just about lying. That's about all it is about. I don't want to go there. But, for most of the people in the country, whether they're for or against the war, that's what this is really about, in political terms."
Brown: "At some level, this is about Joe Wilson saying -- I'm not, I'm not saying he's right about this, I'm just saying what he said -- is that they took the country to war, when they knew the evidence was at least ambiguous and they never framed it in an ambiguous way."
Ensor: "Right. But they did believe there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And, as I say, a lot of people did, myself included. Now, that turned out to be wrong. And that may not have been the real main motivation for going to Iraq in the first place, which is yet another question."
Brown: "David, as you mentioned, we'll take a deeper look at this in the hour ahead. We appreciate your spending a few minutes with us in anticipation of that to sort of set the stage."

Indeed, after a commercial break, Brown spent his last minute at CNN reading some headlines before, at 11:01pm EDT, CNN replaced the second hour of NewsNight with a CNN Presents narrated by Ensor, "Dead Wrong: Inside an Intelligence Meltdown."


# Days into Katrina, on the September 2 NewsNight, Brown prodded black Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones to blame racism for delays in rescuing hurricane victims in New Orleans: "What I'm wondering is, do you think black America's sitting there thinking, if these were middle class white people, there would be cruise ships in New Orleans?" When she wouldn't take the bait, Brown lectured: "Now, look, here's the question, okay? And then we'll end this. Do you think the reason that they're not there or the food is not there or the cruise ships aren't there or all this stuff that you believe should be there, isn't there, is a matter of race and/or class?"

For more, see the September 6 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

Just under two weeks later, Brown invited MRC President Brent Bozell aboard NewsNight to discuss that interview. See this September 14 CyberAlert item, "CNN's Brown Confronts MRC's Bozell on Criticism of Injecting Race into Coverage," which features a of video clip: www.mrc.org

For more video, see this NewsBusters posting: newsbusters.org


# A June 21, 2005 CyberAlert item, "CNN's NewsNight: Downing Memo, Tribute to Jones & Bush Dishonest," recounted: CNN's NewsNight on Friday (June 17), under Aaron Brown's guidance, delivered a trio of liberal agenda stories on Iraq. First, Brown suggested that "support for the war seems to be ebbing more so in the wake of a once-secret British government memo that was recently leaked and seems to have had a delayed reaction." John King then provided an overview on liberal claims about the so-called "Downing Street memo." Second, Brown set up an empathetic profile of Congressman Walter Jones as he stressed a potential wider trend: "What might make the White House and the war supporters the most nervous are the stirrings of a few voices, a few, on the Republican side. They're not big names, not House or Senate leaders, they're back benchers, but sometimes that's where rebellion starts." Third, Brown brought aboard liberal Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee, whom he described as part of what "used to be called the moderate wing of the Republican Party." Brown ludicrously claimed that "he may now be the entire moderate wing of the Republican Party." Brown asked him "sort of the elephant in the room question," whether "since it became clear that there were no WMD in Iraq, do you think the administration's been honest with the American people?"

For the June 21 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org


# Brown won the "GI John Award (for Saluting John Kerry's Vietnam Record)" in the MRC's Best Notable Quotables of 2004: The Seventeenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting, for this from Brown on the November 10, 2004 NewsNight as he displayed a front-page photo of a line of U.S. troops in Iraq receiving their medals:
"Okay, time to do morning papers....Stars and Stripes starts it off: 'U.S. Troops Control Most of Fallujah,' the headline. 'U.S. Officials Believe Most Insurgents Have Fled the City.' Look at this picture here, if you can. 'Troops' Bravery Honored in Iraq.' These are all Purple Heart winners. Someday, one of them will run for President and someone will say they didn't earn the Purple Heart. Welcome to America."

For the page of the awards with a RealPlayer video of that: www.mediaresearch.org


# Brown, in a commentary about the CBS forged documents scandal, at the start of NewsNight, September 20, 2004:
"There is not an honest reporter in the country today, not an honest news organization that hasn't in the last few days, when looking at the story of how the now CBS discredited documents on the President's National Guard service, said '€˜there but for the grace of God go I,' excepting that some partisans will see it otherwise, will see willful deception on the part of CBS. Smarter and more reasoned heads know better."


# Brown on the August 23, 2004 NewsNight, just after the controversy broke over the ads by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth:
"What are the facts here? Not necessarily the whole gospel truth -- given that memories fade and records don't tell an entire story -- but the facts as best we know them, and nothing more. Here are a few facts that seem to matter most. The available official record is unambiguous: John Kerry was a war hero. The citation that accompanies his Bronze Star speaks of his, quote, '€˜professionalism, great personal courage under fire, complete dedication to duty.' If you go by some of the witnesses to those events, like the young Special Forces soldier Kerry pulled from the river, there is no argument."


# A June 2, 2004 MRC CyberAlert item, "CNN Features Glowing Tribute to Kerry's Heroic Vietnam Exploits," recounted: CNN on Monday night aired a four-minute info-mercial for John Kerry, but the Kerry campaign didn't have to pay a cent for it since it was aired in the guise of a news story by Aaron Brown, tied to Memorial Day, on NewsNight. Without uttering a syllable about questions raised about whether Kerry had really earned the first of three Purple Hearts, which allowed him to leave Vietnam early, or how his Swift boat commanders and colleagues have questioned his fitness to lead and motivations in Vietnam, Brown delivered a panegyrical, event-by-event tribute to Kerry's heroic Vietnam service.

For the CyberAlert article: www.mediaresearch.org


# Brown was a runner-up for the "Al Franken Cheap Shot Award (for Lambasting Rush Limbaugh)" in the MRC's Best Notable Quotables of 2003: The Sixteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting, for this shot at Limbaugh as he introduced his guests on the October 10, 2003 NewsNight, after Limbaugh announced he was seeking treatment for an addiction to prescription pain medicine:
"Rush Limbaugh has been more than a bit unkind to me more than once. He's also been unkind to Al Franken, who in turn has been unkind to him. He's taken shots at Michael Wolff, New York magazine's media critic and Michael is hardly the retiring sort. So, here we all are, Al, Michael, and me, and the subject is Rush -- made worse, no doubt, by the permanent smirk that seems to be attached to my face."


# Brown was also a runner-up for the "Politics of Meaninglessness Award for the Silliest Analysis" in the MRC's Best Notable Quotables of 2003: The Sixteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting, for global warming panic and confusion, on the June 19, 2003 NewsNight, about Galileo, who was actually punished by the Catholic Church for saying the Earth revolves around the sun:
"Once upon a time, a scientist named Galileo said the Earth was round, and the political leaders of the time said, 'No, no, Galileo it's flat,' and Galileo got life under house arrest for his little theory. Today, the vast majority of scientists will tell you the Earth is getting warmer and most would agree that industry is at least in part to blame. So far nobody's gone to jail for saying that, which doesn't mean the idea isn't squarely at the center of a political dust up -- and not an insignificant one at that because, if the charges leveled against the White House are true, an important environmental question is being twisted or ignored for the sake of politics."

For the page of the awards with a RealPlayer video of that: www.mediaresearch.org


# Brown on the October 11, 2002 NewsNight after Jimmy Carter won the Nobel peace prize:
"There is hardly a troubled place in the world he hasn't visited, worked in, in a quest to bring peace and spread democratic values....Jimmy Carter told Larry King today he is slowing down some, cutting back. Age makes globe-trotting especially hard. But in many places, dusty and difficult places, James Earl Carter has brought hope and dispelled, as well as anyone alive these days, the vision of the ugly American."


That's but a drive-by of Brown's political advocacy in the guise of reporting, but a representative sample.

Olbermann Slugs Limbaugh and Hannity
as "Reactionary Parrots"

On his Countdown show Wednesday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann managed to cram four lines of liberal bias all into the first 14 minutes of his show: Questioning whether Bush's announcements of Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court and of an avian flu plan were politically timed to distract from administration problems, passing on Jimmy Carter's anti-Bush accusations without question, belittling Scott McClellan's defense of the administration's pre-war beliefs about WMD in Iraq, and asking softball questions to Ambassador Joseph Wilson without challenging his answers, except when referring to charges from "reactionary parrots" Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

After opening the show theorizing that Bush's recent announcements may have been "designed to redirect today's headlines away from the CIA leak investigation and the sudden firestorm over pre-war intelligence," Olbermann then proceeded to dismiss McClellan, to promote Carter and Wilson, and to mock Limbaugh and Hannity.

Regarding McClellan's citing of the Clinton administration's beliefs about WMD in Iraq to argue that it was not unreasonable for the Bush administration to have had similar pre-war beliefs, Olbermann distorted McClellan's meaning by characterizing his argument as "blaming" Clinton and dismissed the argument's logic by quipping, "never mind that the previous administration chose not to invade Iraq."

The Countdown host then proceeded to relay Jimmy Carter's charges from Wednesday's Today show that the Bush administration "manipulated" intelligence, even repeating the canard that the administration had made "claims that Saddam was involved in 9/11."

Olbermann then moved on to his softball interview with Wilson, in which the only question that challenged Wilson at all was framed as a charge from "reactionary parrots" Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

A previous CyberAlert item explained how British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw argued that Wilson's trip to Niger may have added credibility to British claims that Iraq attempted to acquire uranium from Niger, an angle Olbermann did not pursue. See: www.mediaresearch.org

Olbermann also, while noting that the President and Vice President would be immune to lawsuits, wondered why Wilson had not sued other members of the administration. A complete transcript of the first 14 minutes of the November 2 show, including the interview with Wilson, follows:

Keith Olbermann: "Good evening. If the announcement of the latest Supreme Court nominee and of the belated bird flu plan were designed to redirect today's headlines away from the CIA leak investigation and the sudden firestorm over pre-war intelligence, the hand in this case was not quicker than the eye. Our fifth story on the Countdown, whether or not the Democrats punked the Senate yesterday, the current administration was still on the defensive again today, the leader of a past administration said the intelligence was, quote, 'manipulated at least,' and another prominent conservative leader has questioned the continuing viability of Karl Rove in the White House."

Olbermann: "Republicans, still perturbed by yesterday's Democratic takeover in the Senate that successfully put the administration's case for war back in the headlines, back at the center of the CIA leak investigation. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan attempting to recover by blaming it on the Clinton administration in an off-camera briefing, saying, 'The Clinton White House came to the very same conclusion that Saddam Hussein was a threat,' never mind that the previous administration chose not to invade Iraq. That doing little to stop the drumbeat of criticism. The head of the libertarian CATO Institute, William Niskanen, becoming the latest to question whether Karl Rove should keep his job, joining former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. Niskanen saying that Bush is going to have to sacrifice people who have worked with him. And former President Jimmy Carter unequivocal today in his criticism, saying that, at the very least, the Bush White House manipulated the intelligence."
Jimmy Carter: "I think that the claims that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and the claims that they had massive weapons of mass destruction that would threaten our country were manipulated, at least, to mislead the American people into going to war."
Olbermann: "And he didn't plan it this way, but certainly without him, Scooter Libby would not be going to court tomorrow morning. Democrats probably would not have thrown the Senate into secret session yesterday over pre-war intelligence, and it could even be argued that the media attention to what this government told us before the war would never have grown, all because of an op-ed piece he wrote for the New York Times on July 6, 2003, 'What I Didn't Find in Africa,' and, of course, the administration's response to that piece. He has since written The Politics of Truth, updated now in paperback form, and which today leaped from number 1706 at Amazon.com to number 769. Joining me now, the former acting-ambassador to Iraq under the first President Bush, Joseph Wilson. Ambassador, thanks again for your time."
Joseph Wilson, former Ambassador: "Well, thank you, Keith. And thanks for following this story as assiduously as you have been."
Olbermann: "That's, I believe, my job. Worlds turn on seemingly small things, sir. The Senate went into lockdown essentially last night. Mr. Libby pleads tomorrow morning. Do you see yourself as the root of all of these things or one of the dominoes? Or how?"
Wilson: "Well, I think it's sort of an accident of history. I wrote this piece because I believe it was my civic duty to hold my government to account for what it had said and done in the name of the American people. This government, this administration, even before I wrote my piece, it's very clear from the indictment, embarked on a campaign to discredit, defame, and otherwise abuse my civil rights and my right to petition my government for a grievance. Everything that's come about as a consequence of that really is more of the responsibility of the government than the responsibility of me. I would have been happy the day after my article appeared when the White House told the Washington Post that the 16 words did not rise to the level of inclusion in the State of the Union Address. I would have been happy to disappear and allow others to take on that particular battle."
Olbermann: "Of course, that did not happen that way, and we had, as a result, much further down the line, the Fitzgerald investigation which has resulted in Mr. Libby' indictment. But so far, nothing else. That would seem to have elements of both vindication for you and perhaps disappointment. Is it both? Is it one and not the other?"
Wilson: "Well, I certainly don't think of this in terms of vindication because, after all, the crime that was committed was a crime against the country. So the extent to which indictments have been brought, all Americans should feel somewhat vindicated. And as far as disappointment goes, it's very clear from the indictment that one of the reasons why Mr. Fitzgerald has not been able to get to the bottom of this is because he believes that Mr. Libby has obstructed justice. I find it a sad day for American democracy when indictments are handed up to the offices of senior officials in the White House. At the same time, it's also a day when we can reaffirm, I believe, our belief that in a rule of, in a nation that's based upon the rule of law, no man is above the law."
Olbermann: "Are you disappointed that Mr. Fitzgerald did not go, or at least has not yet gone deeper into this, into the entire sales campaign, if you will, for the Iraq War, particularly into the origins of the so-called Italian report that triggered that whole idea that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger?"
Wilson: "Well, I'm very comfortable with what Mr. Fitzgerald and the team of justice lawyers and the FBI have done. And I particularly applaud my fellow citizens who sat on the grand jury for two years for taking the time out of their lives to review all the evidence. The investigation is still open. If Mr. Libby has, in fact, obstructed justice, that is one of the reasons why Mr. Fitzgerald has not been able to get to the bottom of this. With respect to the debate on whether or not the intelligence was twisted, or whether there are ties to the Italian, or the documents that the Italian newspaper is talking about, I think that's probably best left to the Congress. And I would hope that the Congress would look at this. I must say, it struck me, it has struck me over the past couple of years, the extent to which Republicans, the Republican majority, has put its loyalty, or their loyalty to the party above their oversight responsibilities."
Olbermann: "The Italian newspaper and the Italian report, somebody analogized this poetically, I thought, to the idea of the bloody glove planted in the O.J. Simpson case. Do you know from even dating back to your trip to Niger where those documents came from? Was that, could that have been a forgery by somebody in this country, in this government? Was it necessarily international? Do you have any conclusions or theories?"
Wilson: "At the time that I was briefed, before I was asked to take this trip, the documents were not in the hands of the U.S. government to the best of my knowledge. I was briefed that an officer, a U.S. officer, had either seen the documents or had been briefed on their existence. And my briefing was based upon the transcript or his report about the existence of those documents. And that's what precipitated the Vice President's query that the CIA follow up on this that led to my trip, but also led to two other reports being done at roughly the same time -- one by a four-star Marine Corps general for the Defense Department, and a third report being done by our ambassador on the ground in Niger. All three of us concluded that there was nothing to that particular allegation. But as to the providence of those documents, where they came from, I didn't know until I read about it in various articles by Mr. Hersh and Dana Priest of the Washington Post."
Olbermann: "Returning to the subject one last time, I guess, about the Fitzgerald investigation, did Mr. Fitzgerald ever contact you about this investigation?"
Wilson: "I spoke with Mr. Fitzgerald early on in his tenure. I went to meet with him at his request. I just laid out the details of my trip and how it had come about. I spoke to him one other time coincidentally on the day that Judy Miller was released from jail. Our conversation had nothing to do with her or her release. And those are the only two times that we have spoken."
Olbermann: "Turning to the campaign against you and your wife that certainly began in 2003, there seems to be, I guess, a broad sense that that campaign ended at some point. And yet you can turn on Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or any other reactionary parrot, and you hear these same talking points about you. Would you just briefly address these? They say your wife was not a covert officer because she posed in Vanity Fair magazine, they say that your report on Niger was debunked at some point, and they say that you claimed that the Vice President had sent you on the Niger trip, and when you said that, you were lying when you said that. Would you just address those three points?"
Wilson: "Sure. Well, first of all, my wife was determined by the Fitzgerald investigation to have been covered by American law covering the protection of classified officers. So I don't believe that there's any other, anything more to say on that. Mr. Fitzgerald looked into it. He has indicted people. He has said that she was a classified officer. With respect to the second question, which was?"
Olbermann: "The debunking of your report from Niger."
Wilson: "Oh, again, my report was one of three reports that were done at roughly the same time. They all said that there was nothing to this story. In fact, four months before the State of the Union address, the deputy director of Central Intelligence testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and told, in response to a question from Senator Kyl of Arizona, said that one area where we believe the British have stretched the case beyond where we would stretch it is on this case of uranium sales from Africa to Iraq. Within four days, Mr. Tenet, the director of Central Intelligence, reflecting the views of the intelligence community, communicated three times with the White House saying, in effect, we do not want the President to be a witness of fact in this matter because the evidence is weak, and because we believe that the British have exaggerated the case. Now, there is a report in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report that one analyst thought that it had added nothing, had detracted nothing. It certainly did not make the case. When I briefed the ambassador on my way out of Niger, I told her in really no uncertain terms, that there was nothing to this report. She agreed that was essentially the conclusion she had reached as well. Again, there were three reports. Now, with respect to my having said that the Vice President had sent me, in Mr. Kristoff's original article, which apparently is what provoked the interest of the Vice President's office, and in my own article in July, I made it very clear, and so did Mr. Kristoff in his article, that it was the office of the Vice President that had asked the CIA to look into this matter, and that was what led to my trip, the office of the Vice President. Now, subsequently, in a Meet the Press interview, the Vice President acknowledged that he was the one who asked the question of the CIA, that they look into this matter. The CIA took it upon itself to answer the question to the best of their ability by sending somebody who actually knew a lot about Niger, had worked very closely with the Nigerians for over a decade, had served in Niger, and had served as ambassador to another country in Africa, French-speaking country, that produced uranium. And, by the way, there are those who ask, 'Why did they send somebody who wasn't a WMD specialist?' The issue on the table was not weapons of mass destruction. Uranium yellow cake is just the ore that comes from crushing the rock. This was a mining question, and it was a question of how the ore gets transported and sold and how a government that's participating in the mining operation, in this case, the Niger government, might make a decision as to whether or not to sell that ore to a foreign government."
Olbermann: "I see you have heard these talking points previously. Apart from the commentators and the sort of continuing drumbeat about you and about your wife, there have also been reports of threats against both of you. What can you tell us about threats?"
Wilson: "Well, I was asked about that the other night because somebody had said that he had heard that there were al-Qaeda death threats against us, made against us, and what I can say about that is indeed there have been some threats against us, and we've been working very closely with the appropriate law enforcement agencies here in Washington, and, beyond that, I'm really reluctant to go."
Olbermann: "I understand. The damage that has occurred to you and to your wife, one question that keeps being asked of me in this, and obviously you would be the source on this: Why have you not sued? Obviously, it's probable that you couldn't sue the President directly. He'd be immune in most areas of court. The Vice President may be the same. But could you not sue almost anybody else in the administration for essentially interfering with your wife's contract with the CIA? Or in one of these so-called Bebbins actions because her Fourth Amendment rights have been violated? And is there a statute of limitation ticking on those options for you?"
Wilson: "Well, we're looking at all the options right now. We're working with my attorney, Christopher Wolf, and we're basically waiting for the outcome of the investigation. We did not want to do anything that might impede the investigation. We have time, that we have looked at the statue of limitations, and we're taking a look, as I say, at all options. It's a fairly easy case in the sense that it's now clear that Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby were giving classified information related to my wife and her employment status at the CIA to members of the press who had no right to have that information. At a minimum, that's a violation of national security. They should lose their security clearances. Mr. Libby has already been indicted. I don't know what will happen to Mr. Rove. But we're waiting really until the investigation's over until we decide what we're going to do on that."
Olbermann: "Lastly, and it's more along the lines of curious twists, almost comic relief. Is this true? You and Karl Rove have attended the same church?"
Wilson: "Yeah, we're members of the same congregation. We go to different services. I think Karl was in Aspen, Colorado, not too long ago, and he said that I attend the wacky service. I actually attend the service that is a family service for people with kids. We have five-year-old twins, and so we go to an earlier service than he does. I've only seen him in church once, probably because I don't go as often as my wife does. But we do normally attend different services."
Olbermann: "It's a small town, Washington, but you'd never think it would be that small. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, thanks again for being so gracious with your time."
Wilson: "Thank you, Keith. Good to be with you."
Olbermann: "All the best."

-- Brent Baker