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Clift: "Next Logical Step is Impeachment" of President Bush --11/7/2005


1. Clift: "Next Logical Step is Impeachment" of President Bush
On this past weekend's McLaughlin Group, veteran Newsweek Washington bureau reporter Eleanor Clift hailed the secret session of the Senate stunt as "a welcome show of spine that Democrats needed." She proceeded to predict that "the Democrats are going to push" the contention that President Bush "abused his authority" in going to war and so "frankly, if the country, according to the polls, believes by a margin of 55 percent that President Bush misled us into war, the next logical step is impeachment and I think you're going to hear that word come up and if the Democrats ever capture either house of Congress there are going to be serious proceedings against this administration." (Clift had concluded her weekly Friday column on MSNBC.com by suggesting that "impeachment may not be so far-fetched after all.") Asked by John McLaughlin to predict if Karl Rove will resign, Clift said no before she condescendingly asserted that President Bush "can't tie his shoelaces without Karl Rove."

2. Totenberg "Ashamed of My Country"; Thomas, Bush: "Tool of Right"
Picking up on a Wednesday Washington Post story about how "the CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe," on Inside Washington this weekend NPR's Nina Totenberg declared her shame of her country: "We have now violated everything that we stand for. It is the first time in my life I have been ashamed of my country." Totenberg's first thought about Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito: "We know he's very conservative." (On Sunday's Meet the Press, Totenberg argued that when nominated by Clinton, Ruth Bader Ginsburg had "been actually a pretty conservative liberal judge, if you can be such a thing.") Also appearing on Inside Washington, Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas asserted that Bush's decision to dump Harriet Miers "takes him from stand-up guy to tool of the right." Thomas urged Bush to move left and drop Rove who "is the problem because Rove's entire engine is to polarize the country."

3. Nets Hype Bush "Dogged" in Argentina by Scandal -- Their Agenda
Hoisted on their own petard? Washington journalists have formulated outrage over how "Scooter" Libby fed information to New York Times reporter Judy Miller which ended up on the paper's front page one Sunday, and then Vice President Cheney appeared on a Sunday talk TV interview show where he insidiously cited the story as proof of the potential nuclear threat from Saddam Hussein. On Friday night, the broadcast networks pulled the same maneuver as they treated as of great import how President Bush was "dogged," at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina, with questions about Karl Rove and the CIA leak matter -- a self-fulfilling agenda since those questions were posed by reporters from the Washington press corps. In short, the media made its agenda the news and then marveled over it.

4. Mike Wallace: Liberal Bias "Damn Foolishness," No Bias in Memos
Interviewed by his son, Chris, in a pre-taped session for Fox News Sunday, Mike Wallace of CBS's 60 Minutes rejected as "damn foolishness" the notion of any liberal media bias. Mike Wallace contended, as if it were in doubt, that reporters are "patriots just as much as any conservative. Even a liberal reporter is a patriot, wants the best for this country." Mike Wallace then condescendingly charged: "Your fair and balanced friends at Fox don't fully understand that." He also confirmed that he had told Dan Rather that Rather should have resigned when his producers were fired over the Bush National Guard memos story, but when Chris Wallace suggested that story agenda reflected a bias -- "I think that they were quicker to believe it and, therefore, sloppier about checking it out than they would have been about John Kerry" -- Mike Wallace scorned the idea: "I don't believe that for a moment."


Clift: "Next Logical Step is Impeachment"
of President Bush

On this past weekend's McLaughlin Group, veteran Newsweek Washington bureau reporter Eleanor Clift hailed the secret session of the Senate stunt as "a welcome show of spine that Democrats needed." She proceeded to predict that "the Democrats are going to push" the contention that President Bush "abused his authority" in going to war and so "frankly, if the country, according to


Listen to MP3 audio clip

the polls, believes by a margin of 55 percent that President Bush misled us into war, the next logical step is impeachment and I think you're going to hear that word come up and if the Democrats ever capture either house of Congress there are going to be serious proceedings against this administration." (Clift had concluded her weekly Friday column on MSNBC.com by suggesting that "impeachment may not be so far-fetched after all.") Asked by John McLaughlin to predict if Karl Rove will resign, Clift said no before she condescendingly asserted that President Bush "can't tie his shoelaces without Karl Rove."

[This item was posted Saturday night, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To watch Clift raising impeachment, in Real or Windows Media, go to: newsbusters.org ]

# Some of the remarks made by Clift on this weekend's McLaughlin Group:

-- Clift on the closed session of the Senate engineered by Minority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday to bring attention to a supposed cover-up of how the Bush White House used intelligence before the Iraq war:
"First of all, what the Democrats did was a welcome show of spine that Democrats needed and the Libby indictments have opened the door to making the wider case against the Bush administration that they misled the country into war and so Democrats now have an opportunity to re-think their vote in support of going to war, although they claim they gave the President the authority to go to war and he abused that authority. It's a little tricky argument to make. But the point is, they interrupted the White House message that Libby is some single, rogue aide and that this has nothing to do with the case for war. And the Democrats are going to push this and frankly if the country, according to the polls, believes by a margin of 55 percent that President Bush misled us into war, the next logical step is impeachment and I think you're going to hear that word come up and if the Democrats ever capture either house of Congress there are going to be serious proceedings against this administration."

Mort Zuckerman, owner of U.S. News, called it a "great political move without substance" and went on to explain how every intelligence agency believed Iraq had WMD.


-- Clift, picking up on how Pat Buchanan characterized the administration's use of intel:
"'Hyped,' 'cherry-picked,' 'misled,' whatever the words you use to me are criminal offenses when you see the suffering that has gone into this war and the cost of this war. It was a war of choice that was sold to American people on fear."


-- At the very end of the half-hour program, host John McLaughlin made the panelists offer a prediction in response to his question: "Will Karl Rove quit or be dumped before Patrick Fitzgerald gives a judgment on indictment of him?"
Clift patronizingly replied: "No, the weaker this President is the more embattled he is, the more likely he is to cling to Karl Rove. He can't tie his shoelaces without Karl Rove."


# An excerpt from Clift's "Web-exclusive" November 4 "Capitol Letter" commentary:

Democrats feel emboldened, and they're dropping the euphemisms. They're saying straight out that the president and his administration lied and manufactured evidence to take the country to war. The logical extension of such an explosive charge would be impeachment, says Marshall Wittmann, a senior fellow at the Democratic Leadership Council, though Wittman doesn't personally advocate this strategy....

Impeachment seems a bridge too far, but when the question was posed to a former senior member of the law-enforcement community, he didn't dismiss it out of hand. "Not at this stage," he told NEWSWEEK, "but there are three more years left to this administration, and I can see it unraveling."

Someone passed along the name of CIA officer Valerie Plame to administration officials, setting the stage for what her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, calls a "tawdry political hit job" that has metastasized into a crisis of government. Asked if Bush should be impeached, Wilson sounded remarkably measured considering his personal involvement. "One of the reasons I played an active role in the last campaign [working for John Kerry] is because I believe these are issues we settle at the ballot box," he told the National Press Club....

The more we learn about the secretive White House Iraq Group (WHIG) and the role of Vice President Dick Cheney in pressing his dark views on the country, the likelier it is that the administration will be found culpable for exaggerating the threat Saddam Hussein posed in its zeal to go to war. If the Democrats win back the House in the '06 election, Michigan Democrat John Conyers will chair the House Judiciary committee. On the day the Scooter Libby indictments were handed down, Conyers invoked the language of Watergate: "What did the president and the vice president know, and when did they know it?" If the political tables turn, impeachment may not be so far-fetched after all.

END of Excerpt from MSNBC.com

For Clift's November 4 posting in full: www.msnbc.msn.com

Totenberg "Ashamed of My Country"; Thomas,
Bush: "Tool of Right"

Picking up on a Wednesday Washington Post story about how "the CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe," on Inside Washington this weekend NPR's Nina Totenberg declared her shame of her country: "We have now violated everything that we stand for. It is the first time in my life I have been ashamed of my country." Totenberg's first thought about Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito: "We know he's very conservative." (On Sunday's Meet the Press, Totenberg argued that when nominated by Clinton, Ruth Bader Ginsburg had "been actually a pretty conservative liberal judge, if you can be such a thing.") On Inside Washington, she also managed to squeeze in her near-weekly blast at tax cuts as she chided the Senate for how it "cut $35 billion from the poorest people in the country and food stamps and things like that and at the same time they're going to try to cut, boost tax, tax cuts for the wealthiest people in this country by $70 billion." In fact, the Senate proposal is only an effort to slow the rate of spending growth.

(The version of the show with ads ended seconds before Totenberg's "ashamed" remark. Details below.)

Appearing on the same show, Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas asserted that Bush's decision to dump Harriet Miers "takes him from stand-up guy to tool of the right." Thomas urged Bush to move left and drop Rove who "is the problem because Rove's entire engine is to polarize the country." Thomas recommended: "If he's ever going to moderate, and if he's ever going to create any kind of national unity, Rove is going to have to go."

[This item was posted Saturday morning, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters. To watch Totenberg's "ashamed" comment, in Real or Windows Media formats, go to: newsbusters.org ]

I caught Totenberg's latest outburst on the Friday night airing of Inside Washington on WETA-TV channel 26, Washington, DC's PBS affiliate. The program is taped at ABC's Washington, DC affiliate, WJLA-TV, channel 7 (actually in Arlington, Virginia), where it airs Sunday morning at 10am after This Week. It also runs Saturday nights at 7pm on NewsChannel 8, the local all-news cable channel owned by the ABC affiliate.

#Evan Thomas on dumping Miers:
"It takes him from stand-up guy to tool of the right. If he wants to save his presidency, he's got to change that image of somebody's who, and let me just finish this thought, Rove is the problem because Rove's entire engine is to polarize the country, to go to the base, to make sure that base is always with you, to never neglect the base, which keeps him on the right. If he's ever going to moderate, and if he's ever going to create any kind of national unity, Rove is going to have to go."


# Nina Totenberg on tax cuts:
"We are now looking at a situation where this week the Senate, which is the so-called liberal body within the Republican Party, cut $35 billion from the poorest people in the country and food stamps and things like that and at the same time they're going to try to cut, boost tax, tax cuts for the wealthiest people in this country by $70 billion."

She was prompted by this November 4 Washington Post article, "Senate Passes Plan to Cut $35 Billion From Deficit." Go to: www.washingtonpost.com

For a rundown of Totenberg's recent calls to drop tax cuts and/or to raise taxes, check this October 23 NewsBusters item: newsbusters.org


# Totenberg, on secret CIA prisons:
"I just want to say: Who are we? We are people who have always been for inspections of prisons, for some degree of human rights and now we're defending neither."
Thomas: "Think about the time. After 9/11 we were sure that they were coming after us and coming after us big and strong and fast and soon."
Totenberg: "I agree and I don't blame anybody for anything that was done in the first six months to a year, but this is after that and we keep expanding the program. We have now violated everything that we stand for. It is the first time in my life I have been ashamed of my country."

The NewsChannel 8 airing Saturday night of Inside Washington, which includes commercials, and therefore has less program time than the airing on PBS affiliate WETA-TV channel 26, ended seconds before Totenberg asserted: "We have now violated everything that we stand for. It is the first time in my life I have been ashamed of my country." After Totenberg said, "I just want to say: Who are we? We are people who have always been for inspections of prisons, for some degree of human rights and now we're defending neither," the producers edited in this from host Gordon Peterson to end the show: "And now we're out of time. Thanks. We'll see you next week." Presumably, that's what aired when the program was carried Sunday morning at 10am local time on Washington, DC's ABC affiliate, WJLA-TV channel 7. I guess this is one time to be grateful for PBS and its lack of in-program ads.

"CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons: Debate Is Growing Within Agency About Legality and Morality of Overseas System Set Up After 9/11," read the headline over the November 2 Washington Post story by Dana Priest about a classified secret the media didn't mind exposing. It began:
"The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.
"The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents."

For the article in its entirety: www.washingtonpost.com

Nets Hype Bush "Dogged" in Argentina
by Scandal -- Their Agenda

Hoisted on their own petard? Washington journalists have formulated outrage over how "Scooter" Libby fed information to New York Times reporter Judy Miller which ended up on the paper's front page one Sunday, and then Vice President Cheney appeared on a Sunday talk TV interview show where he insidiously cited the story as proof of the potential nuclear threat from Saddam Hussein. On Friday night, the broadcast networks pulled the same maneuver as they treated as of great import how President Bush was "dogged," at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina, with questions about Karl Rove and the CIA leak matter -- a self-fulfilling agenda since those questions were posed by reporters from the Washington press corps. In short, the media made its agenda the news and then marveled over it.

"The President also found himself shadowed by the controversy that has helped drive his popularity to record lows, the investigation into who leaked the identity of a CIA officer," ABC anchor Bob Woodruff announced on World News Tonight, which led, as did CBS and NBC, with stories which covered the violent protests as well Rove. ABC's Jake Tapper noted how "Bush came to this summit to talk about his free trade policy that he says would help ease poverty and create jobs in the region," but pointed out how "questions about the CIA leak scandal, and the role of top aide Karl Rove, continue to dog him." CBS's Bob Schieffer echoed Tapper's terminology: "President Bush is in Argentina tonight, dogged by questions from back home." John Roberts began his story, as if the media were observers and not participants: "President Bush was thankful for the chance to get out of Washington. But it didn't take long for Washington to catch up with him." NBC's Brian Williams stressed how Bush's "political troubles following him to Argentina from faraway Washington." Kelly O'Donnell zeroed in on how Bush's "domestic woes came along, too" with "four of five" press conference "questions related to the political fallout from the CIA leak case."

Fred Barnes, during the panel segment on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, scolded the reporters for posing questions "Senator Durbin or maybe Senator Schumer drafted them for them" since "they were Democratic 'talking points.'" He suggested: "Somebody should explain to members of the mainstream media, that they are not a part of the political opposition. They're supposed to be reporters. They don't have to echo Democrats."

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

The rebuke from Barnes, Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard, in full:
"It seemed to me most of the questions asked by the reporters -- I just read a transcript, I don't know who the reporters were -- but I think probably Senator Durbin or maybe Senator Schumer drafted them for them. I mean they were straight, I mean they were Democratic 'talking points' and they're asking the President about these in Argentina. And that's one thing. The other thing is, they knew what the President was going to say. They knew he was going to say that the investigation goes on, as it does, maybe not full swing, but it's still there. And so somebody should explain to members of the mainstream media, that they are not a part of the political opposition. They're supposed to be reporters. They don't have to echo Democrats."

# ABC's World News Tonight. Bob Woodruff, joined mid-introduction after he cited the protests: "The President also found himself shadowed by the controversy that has helped drive his popularity to record lows, the investigation into who leaked the identity of a CIA officer."

Jake Tapper began from Argentina: "President Bush came to this summit to talk about his free trade policy that he says would help ease poverty and create jobs in the region. But questions about the CIA leak scandal, and the role of top aide Karl Rove, continue to dog him."
Bush at press conference: "The investigation on Karl, as you know, is not complete. And therefore, I will not comment upon -- about him and/or the investigation."
Tapper: "The President also shrugged off new poll numbers indicating a majority of Americans now doubt his honesty."
Bush: "The way you earn credibility with the American people is to set a clear agenda that everybody can understand, an agenda that relates to their lives, and get the job done."

Tapper moved on to the protests and Hugo Chavez.


# CBS Evening News. Bob Schieffer's tease: "President Bush is in Argentina tonight, dogged by questions from back home, and face to face with leftist inspired anti-American demonstrations."

Schieffer opened: "Well, no rest for the weary. Surely that thought must have crossed the President's mind. He left Washington, the CIA leak scandal and the indictment of a top White House aide, only to arrive at a big international summit in Argentina where he found new questions, not about the summit, but about the scandal back home."

John Roberts began, with "Persistent Problem" on screen: "President Bush was thankful for the chance to get out of Washington. But it didn't take long for Washington to catch up with him."
Reporter at press conference: "Did Karl Rove tell you the truth about his role in the CIA leak case?"

Bush: "I've told you before that I will not discuss the investigation until it is completed."
Reporter off camera, likely Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times: "Are there discussions in the White House about whether or not Karl will remain in his job?"
Bush: "The investigation on Karl, as you know, is not complete. And, therefore, I will not comment upon -- about him and/or the investigation."
Roberts: "The President wouldn't talk about Karl Rove or possible staff shakeups, but he's under growing pressure to fix the problem, and fast. 'No one wants Karl rove to go' one House Republican told me, 'he's too important to the party. But it looks like White House doesn't have a strategy and that frustrates everyone.' And it's not just the CIA leak investigation dogging President Bush here. Anti-U.S. protestors arrived by the trainload in Mar del Plata this morning..."


# NBC Nightly News. Brian Williams teased: "Battleground: Massive protests against President Bush on his trip to Argentina, and his political problems follow him there as well."

Williams opened his newscast, as taken down by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:
"Good evening. President Bush is in Argentina tonight, and there is trouble in the streets as a result of his visit there. There is also the matter, on this Friday evening, of the President's political troubles following him to Argentina from faraway Washington. For a time there today, cable news viewers around the globe watched the live pictures of the violence, the fires, the clashes with police in the streets of Mar del Plata, Argentina. And the President's own words today reflected the trouble outside and at home. We begin tonight with NBC News White House correspondent Kelly O'Donnell, who is traveling with the President."

After beginning with the violent protests, Kelly O'Donnell got to the press conference: "For President Bush, domestic woes came along, too. The President took a handful of questions from reporters traveling with him."
George W. Bush: "I understand the anxiety and angst by the Press Corps to talk about this."
O'Donnell: "Four of five of those questions related to the political fallout from the CIA leak case. The President would not talk about his top advisor, Karl Rove."


# Press conference at the Sheraton in Mar Del Plata. At about 11am EST Friday all the cable networks carried a tape of the event, but the camera stayed on Bush and didn't show the journalists, so it's difficult to know the names of those who posed questions.

A reporter whom Bush identified as "Nedra" asked: "Did Karl Rove tell you the truth about his role in the CIA leak case? And do you owe the American people an apology for your administration's assertations [yes, she said assertations] that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby weren't involved? "

A correspondent named "Steve," who I think I could identify but am not positive of and so won't, inquired: "You've taken a beating in recent weeks, sir. What are you going to do for a fresh start? Are there going to be any staff changes? Would it help if the special prosecutor would wrap up his probe quickly?"

"Elisabeth," who sounded very much like Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times, asked: "Are there discussions in the White House about whether or not Karl will remain in his job?"

Another reporter, who sounded like CBS's Thalia Assuras but well may not have been, interjected in the midst of Bush's answer: "The American people, though -- sir, the American people, though, are beginning to question your honesty, according to the polls, 58 percent. And your approval rating is at an all-time low, primarily because, it seems, of this investigation. They are wondering whether you can keep on track and whether to believe you, sir."

For the WhiteHouse.gov transcript of the November 4 press conference with U.S. reporters: www.whitehouse.gov

Mike Wallace: Liberal Bias "Damn Foolishness,"
No Bias in Memos

Interviewed by his son, Chris, in a pre-taped session for Fox News Sunday, Mike Wallace of CBS's 60 Minutes rejected as "damn foolishness" the notion of any liberal media bias. Mike Wallace contended, as if it were in doubt, that reporters are "patriots just as much as any conservative. Even a liberal reporter is a patriot, wants the best for this country." Mike Wallace then condescendingly charged: "Your fair and balanced friends at Fox don't fully understand that." He also confirmed that he had told Dan Rather that Rather should have resigned when his producers were fired over the Bush National Guard memos story, but when Chris Wallace suggested that story agenda reflected a bias -- "I think that they were quicker to believe it and, therefore, sloppier about checking it out than they would have been about John Kerry" -- Mike Wallace scorned the idea: "I don't believe that for a moment."

Chris Wallace moved on to his father's new book, Between You and Me.

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

From the November 6 Fox News Sunday:

Chris Wallace: "I get e-mails from time to time saying to me you're just like your father. And they don't mean it as a compliment."
Mike Wallace: "What does that mean?"
Chris Wallace: "They say, 'Go to CBS. Go to one of the big networks. Go to the mainstream media' -- as if that were a foreign land. Do you understand why some people feel such disaffection for the mainstream media?"
Mike Wallace: "Oh, yeah. They think we're wild-eyed commies, liberals. Yes?"
Chris Wallace: "That's what they think. And how do you plead?"
Mike Wallace: "I think it's damn foolishness. Really. Look, you know as well as I, reporters are in the business because they want to be -- first of all, they're patriots just as much as any conservative. Even a liberal reporter is a patriot, wants the best for this country. And people -- you know, your fair and balanced friends at Fox don't fully understand that. And I can't believe that this is going on. This is not like a dinner table conversation."
Chris Wallace: "I understand. But all right. But you say, and you have been saying it all week, that Dan Rather should have resigned when his producer and his executive producer were fired over the Bush National Guard story with the fake memos."
Mike Wallace: "Right, right."
Chris Wallace: "Why?"
Mike Wallace: "Who does the research for and with you?"
Chris Wallace: "I have a team."
Mike Wallace: "Right. And he has a team. Now, if your team were fired because of something that happened in a broadcast that you anchored, would you not think about -- look. If you get the money, you get the attention, you get the kudos, and what do they get? They're paid a lot less. They're not on the air. They work like the dickens. You're unpleasant to work for. So you know, I simply asked Rather, in a very pleasant, civilized conversation in the bathroom -- there was no shouting, as has been suggested. Come on, we're friends."
Chris Wallace: "Let's talk about the story itself. Some people, the people that have questions about the mainstream media, say Rather and his team were so quick to believe the fake memos because they are so quick, as are a lot of people in the mainstream media, to believe the worst about George W. Bush."
Mike Wallace: "Are you serious? You believe that somebody on purpose failed to authenticate those memos? I mean, come on."
Chris Wallace: "I think-"
Mike Wallace: "Do you buy into the fact that the-"
Chris Wallace: "Now, this is feeling familiar! I think that they were quicker to believe it and, therefore, sloppier about checking it out than they would have been about John Kerry."
Mike Wallace: "I don't believe that for a moment."

-- Brent Baker