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Chris Matthews Calls Cheney a "Chowderhead" for Believing Chalabi --4/5/2006


1. Chris Matthews Calls Cheney a "Chowderhead" for Believing Chalabi
Well it happened, Chris Matthews has finally descended into name-calling. On Monday's Hardball, during a segment with retired General Anthony Zinni, Matthews resorted to calling supporters of the Iraqi invasion, such as Vice President Dick Cheney, "fools" and "chowderheads."

2. Olbermann Denies Pushing Ideological Agenda, Kurtz Doesn't Buy It
Howard Kurtz profiled Keith Olbermann for his Monday "Media Notes" column in the Washington Post, with the headline: "A Gadfly With Buzz: MSNBC's Olbermann Exercising The Right." For his part, Olbermann showed his membership in the liberal media elite by beginning with the utterly fatuous claim of nonpartisanship: "The former sportscaster denies that he's pushing an ideological agenda, noting that he relentlessly covered the uproar over Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky in his first incarnation as an MSNBC anchor in 1998." Kurtz didn't buy it: "Of course, he was so sickened by the spectacle that he quit, complaining about the media's role in the tawdry process, though he now gives every indication of enjoying his anti-Bush program." There's also the on-air content that displays an agenda, such as...comparing Ken Starr to Himmler.

3. Hispanic Journalists Protests "Illegal" In Immigration Stories
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists is using the recent spate of immigration protests to remind their media bosses that it's very insensitive -- and inaccurate? -- to describe undocumented immigrants, who have broken the law, as "illegal aliens."

4. Katie Couric's Years of Liberal Tilt: The Most Egregious Examples
Katie Couric's Years of Liberal Tilt: Since becoming co-host of NBC's Today in April 1991, Katie Couric has often used her perch to salute her liberal heroes (including Hillary Clinton and Jimmy Carter) or complain about "right-wing conservatives." In her years on Today, She's lectured Charlton Heston about the need for gun control, championed the need for campaign finance "reform," and even touted the wonders of France's nanny state. With Couric's announcement this morning that she will leave Today at the end of May so she can become anchor this fall of the CBS Evening News, a freshly updated section of the MRC Web site lists some of the most outrageous quotes from Katie's career, many accompanied by audio and video clips.


Chris Matthews Calls Cheney a "Chowderhead"
for Believing Chalabi

Well it happened, Chris Matthews has finally descended into name-calling. On Monday's Hardball, during a segment with retired General Anthony Zinni, Matthews resorted to calling supporters of the Iraqi invasion, such as Vice President Dick Cheney, "fools" and "chowderheads."

[This item, by Geoff Dickens, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your take, go to: newsbusters.org ]

On the April 3 Hardball, Matthews asked General Zinni:
"What fool thought that a third world country would let us march into their country and start calling the shots without resistance? I mean, I am just saying. Who believes that?"

After Zinni blamed Pentagon planners Matthews took aim at Vice President Cheney:
"Well, Chalabi, the head of the National Congress, who had such good relations with Cheney and Scooter Libby, was running around town here telling everybody, 'don't worry, the minute we get this guy knocked off, Saddam Hussein, we're going to have a government of people there who are pro-Israeli, pro-Western, aren't going to cause any trouble in the region. They're gonna be swell guys to deal with and there is not gonna be any resistance.' What kind of a chowderhead would believe that in the middle of the Arab world? That we were gonna face this magical situation where everybody is gonna be giving us flowers, the girls will be kissing us, they'll be jumping on the tanks, in love with our G.I.'s. Who sold that picture?"

At the end of the segment Matthews was so pleased with Zinni's attacks on the administration he urged him to run for public office, something Matthews did last year with another anti-war hero Cindy Sheehan.

Chris urging Zinni to run in Matthews' home state: "You ever gonna run for anything?"
Zinni: "No. No way, never ever."
Matthews: "You'd do well in Pennsylvania. Anyway, thank you."

The following is more of the exchange between Matthews and Zinni:

Chris Matthews: "So let's move on to the second point you make, which is the failure to provide for what would happen next. The idea that we wouldn't have any problem defeating the Iraqi army was not there. We were gonna defeat the Iraqi army. Ken Adelman said it would be a cakewalk. It wasn't a cakewalk."
General Anthony Zinni: "Right."
Matthews: "But then the question came, what do you expect of a third world country once a bunch of Americans show up? Who believed there would not be resistance? What fool thought that a third world country would let us march into their country and start calling the shots without resistance? I mean, I am just saying. Who believes that?"
Zinni: "Well, I can tell you, the planners at the Pentagon seemed to adopt these very naive expectations and assumptions. Certainly in my time CENTCOM the planning was based on much different assumptions. We assumed the reconstruction of Iraq would be a very difficult and long-term process, political reconstruction, economic reconstruction, security reconstruction, social reconstruction."
Matthews: "Well, Chalabi, the head of the National Congress, who had such good relations with Cheney and Scooter Libby, was running around town here telling everybody, 'don't worry, the minute we get this guy knocked off, Saddam Hussein, we're going to have a government of people there who are pro-Israeli, pro-Western, aren't going to cause any trouble in the region. They're gonna be swell guys to deal with and there is not gonna be any resistance.' What kind of a chowderhead would believe that in the middle of the Arab world? That we were gonna face this magical situation where everybody is gonna be giving us flowers, the girls will be kissing us, they'll be jumping on the tanks, in love with our G.I.'s. Who sold that picture?"
Zinni: "Well first let me tell you nobody in the Arab world believed it. Believe me I talked to all the leaders there. They tried to counsel against us placing too much faith..."
Matthews: "Was Chalabi the initial liar there or is he just the?"
Zinni: "Well he managed to convinced a number of people here that, that was the course. Chalabi sent someone down to my headquarters to convince me that if we supported just 1,000 of his people that they could march like The Pied Piper into Baghdad and I dismissed him."
Matthews: "Cheney believed him, didn't he? Cheney said we would be greeted as liberators. No, we were while the cameras were on. For about a day or two, I was saluting it. It looked to me like the whole country, it was like a P.R. stunt, the whole country was tearing down statues and loving our guys and somehow that faded into reality. That part wasn't real two days later, three days later and the reality was there's gonna be a resistance. Apparently there's been guns going of in that country since we got there."
Zinni: "Well I think we had a moment there where we were in charge, we owned the country. The problem is we had insufficient forces and a plan to tank charge. We had allowed the snakes to come out."
Matthews: "Third question. Bad intel or dishonest intel, bad intel or dishonest planning for the insurgency? In fact, as you say, recognized it was coming, and now this de-Baathfication. This decision to take every guy in the Iraqi military and say go home with your gun, with your military training, with your attitude, go home and see your wife and tell her that you're finished in life and that's what we did to these guys, right?"
Zinni: "Yeah. And one my predecessors that started a program, a psychological operations program to communicate back into the '€˜90s with the regular Iraqi army. We dropped leaflets on them when we bombed, we communicated through other channels we had out there, on the news media."
Matthews: "To join, to join our side."
Zinni: "We were saying, when the time comes, if you don't fight, we'll take care of you. That was the message."
Matthews: "Well why did we drop 'em? We drop kicked 'em back to their houses with all their weaponry, their ammo, their attitude, knowing they would have to come instead of giving them a paycheck, we could have sent every one of these guys to Harvard, it would have been cheaper than this war."

Olbermann Denies Pushing Ideological
Agenda, Kurtz Doesn't Buy It

Howard Kurtz profiled Keith Olbermann for his Monday "Media Notes" column in the Washington Post, with the headline: "A Gadfly With Buzz: MSNBC's Olbermann Exercising The Right." For his part, Olbermann showed his membership in the liberal media elite by beginning with the utterly fatuous claim of nonpartisanship: "The former sportscaster denies that he's pushing an ideological agenda, noting that he relentlessly covered the uproar over Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky in his first incarnation as an MSNBC anchor in 1998." Kurtz didn't buy it: "Of course, he was so sickened by the spectacle that he quit, complaining about the media's role in the tawdry process, though he now gives every indication of enjoying his anti-Bush program."

There's also the on-air content that displays an agenda, such as...comparing Ken Starr to Himmler. See: www.mediaresearch.org

For Kurtz's April 3 profile: www.washingtonpost.com

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

Kurtz also knows that the show's guest list is incredibly one-sided:
"While his main guests are journalists, he sometimes interviews Democratic lawmakers but almost never brings on Republicans or conservatives, except for MSNBC contributor Pat Buchanan. 'There are not a lot of conservative guests who are happy to be on the show,' Olbermann admits."

The article opened: "Night after night, President Bush is being kicked, punched, slapped, poked, stomped and otherwise disrespected in one small corner of the cable television world. And Keith Olbermann doesn't deny it has been good for ratings." That's being a bit kind, as Kurtz reported in a few paragraphs. (He also included on a list of "the most prominent opinion-mongers in cable" Joe Scarborough and Tucker Carlson.) Here's what Scarborough would call the Real Deal:
"Countdown is still in third place among the cable news networks -- Fox's O'Reilly Factor dominated the first quarter, with 2.26 million viewers, followed by CNN's Paula Zahn with 632,000 and Olbermann with 404,000. But the MSNBC show boasts of a 41 percent jump over last year among viewers age 25 to 54, edging CNN in that category."

To borrow from Olbermann's old sportscasting gig, this is a bit like arguing that the Houston Texans may be 2-14, but the quarterback's passing accuracy is up. Or to use a broadcasting analogy, it's like arguing that Bravo's ratings are up 40 percent over its own 2005 total, when almost nobody watched them last year. O'Reilly is trumping Olbermann in this "good news" by a factor of five.

Then there's the happy talk from Rick Kaplan, the Clinton golfing buddy:
"'Keith's show is the best show on television, period -- interesting, edgy and really well written,' says MSNBC President Rick Kaplan. He says Olbermann is 'incredibly aggressive' toward anyone in power: 'In the same way that people who think the president needs to be supported more have turned to Fox, a lot of people who think the president needs to be taken on more have found a friendly voice in Countdown.'"

Of course, this is especially hilarious coming from Kaplan, who was famous for not liking anyone being "incredibly aggressive" toward his boy Bill. While Olbermann was doing the "dry heaves" over Monica coverage in 1998 at MSNBC, Kaplan was running hour-long specials attacking the media's ferocity and the depravity of Ken Starr over at CNN.

Conservative critics of Olbermann finally appear in the second-to-last paragraph: Kurtz quoted a commentator on Robert Cox's Olbermann Watch blog: "Hello! Earth to Krazy Keith! When was the last time anybody who disagreed with your spin was permitted to sit for an interview with your almightyness?" It's too bad Kurtz didn't seem to talk to Robert, or the rest of us who have endured the Keith content.

We might have said this: if you looked up "pomposity" in the dictionary, there ought to be a picture of Olbermann there. Or maybe just under "smug." The program is overwritten, snide, conspiratorial, and loose with the facts.

Hispanic Journalists Protests "Illegal"
In Immigration Stories

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists is using the recent spate of immigration protests to remind their media bosses that it's very insensitive -- and inaccurate? -- to describe undocumented immigrants, who have broken the law, as "illegal aliens."

[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Friday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To add your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]

An excerpt from the NAHJ's press release:

As protestors march in the streets and debate intensifies in Congress over how to fix the nation's immigration laws, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists calls on our nation's news media to use accurate terminology in its coverage of immigration and to stop dehumanizing undocumented immigrants.

NAHJ is concerned with the increasing use of pejorative terms to describe the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in the United States. NAHJ is particularly troubled with the growing trend of the news media to use the word "illegals" as a noun, shorthand for "illegal aliens". Using the word in this way is grammatically incorrect and crosses the line by criminalizing the person, not the action they are purported to have committed. NAHJ calls on the media to never use "illegals" in headlines.

Shortening the term in this way also stereotypes undocumented people who are in the United States as having committed a crime. Under current U.S. immigration law, being an undocumented immigrant is not a crime, it is a civil violation. Furthermore, an estimated 40 percent of all undocumented people living in the U.S. are visa overstayers, meaning they did not illegally cross the U.S. border.

In addition, the association has always denounced the use of the degrading terms "alien" and "illegal alien" to describe undocumented immigrants because it casts them as adverse, strange beings, inhuman outsiders who come to the U.S. with questionable motivations. "Aliens" is a bureaucratic term that should be avoided unless used in a quote.

END of Excerpt

For the press release as posted: nahj.org

There is one obvious response to a news release like this: it underlines that these groups are political, not journalistic. These complaints about terms are not really about grammar or accuracy, they're about identity politics. It's about draining accuracy out of the story with politically correct weasel words. All the emotional outpouring about "dehumanizing" immigrants and casting them as strange and inhuman is taking personal (and ideological) offense, not instructing journalists about accuracy. It's lecturing about media manners -- don't be rude to illegal aliens, because they're not being rude to you -- and casting objectivity to the wind.

Katie Couric's Years of Liberal Tilt:
The Most Egregious Examples

Katie Couric's Years of Liberal Tilt: Since becoming co-host of NBC's Today in April 1991, Katie Couric has often used her perch to salute her liberal heroes (including Hillary Clinton and Jimmy Carter) or complain about "right-wing conservatives." In her years on Today, She's lectured Charlton Heston about the need for gun control, championed the need for campaign finance "reform," and even touted the wonders of France's nanny state. With Couric's announcement this morning that she will leave Today at the end of May so she can become anchor this fall of the CBS Evening News, a freshly updated section of the MRC Web site lists some of the most outrageous quotes from Katie's career, many accompanied by audio and video clips.

For the compilation of quotes from 1991 through 2006, collated by the MRC's Rich Noyes and posted by Michael Gibbons, with about a dozen videos rendered by the MRC's Michelle Humphrey and Karen Hanna: www.mrc.org

-- Brent Baker