CNN's Blitzer to McClellan: Is President Bush 'A Serial Liar?' --6/2/2008
2. Kurtz Says on CNN McClellan Bashed Bush to Be 'Embraced by Media'
3. ABC Highlights Media Matters Video; Probes Sexism Against Hillary
4. CNN Removed Obama's 'Fallen Heroes' Gaffe from Soundbite
5. Spiked? Pelosi Says Iranians, Not Troops, Made Surge Success
6. If McCain Wins, Sarandon Threatens (Promises!?) to Leave U.S.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer made little effort to hide his liberal viewpoint during an interview of Scott McClellan on Friday's The Situation Room. After asking the former White House Press Secretary about his "revival" of the question of whether President Bush used cocaine as a young man, the CNN host followed-up: "I guess the question is, is the President -- this is a blunt question -- in your opinion, a serial liar?"
Earlier in the interview, which began 12 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, Blitzer addressed the issue of supposed "war crimes" related to the Iraq war. First, Blitzer played a video question from a viewer who asked McClellan: "Would you now consider testifying about your colleagues at a war crimes trial?" After listening to McClellan's answer, Blitzer replied: "Knowing what you know now, do you believe war crimes, as this I-reporter suggests, were in fact committed?"
Prior to the airing of the video question, the on-screen graphic hinted at what was going to be asked: "'Propaganda' on Iraq: Were Crimes Committed?"
[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Friday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
WOLF BLITZER: You've caused a lot of commotion by suggesting that is was 'propaganda' that was used to justify the war in Iraq. But you were part of that. Listen to what you yourself in July 2003.
Towards the end of the interview, Blitzer brought up how McClellan had apologized to former counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke for reading "talking points" against Clarke's book when it was released in 2004. The CNN host then asked, "Do you owe the American people an apology... [f]or the years that you served in the White House, and you said what you said, and now, you said a lot of that stuff was simply wrong?" Blitzer, apparently not satisfied with McClellan's answer, asked again: "Are you sorry? Do you want to say you're sorry to the American people? Do you want to apologize?"
On Sunday's Reliable Sources, CNN host Howard Kurtz ended the Scott McClellan analysis segment of his show with his own two cents: "For McClellan to turn on Bush is clearly a ticket for him to be embraced by the media. I watched all the interviews and I've read all the interviews. He's not fully been able to answer these questions. Why didn't he speak up before even in private? Why didn't he resign if he was so troubled by the questions? And is he doing this for money?"
[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Sunday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Former White House speechwriter David Frum, whose own Bush memoir was fairly supportive and hence was largely ignored by the media, let loose on McClellan: "One of the things that President Bush, one of the great failures as a manager is he put loyalty ahead of competence. And Scott McClellan is proof positive. He had no business being press secretary. He was awful at the job. It was painful to watch him. He got the job because he was somebody's deputy. And one of the way the Bush administration works is they promote the deputy then the deputy of the deputy of the deputy and then the deputy of the deputy."
Kurtz turned to Joe Lockhart, who was Press Secretary late in the Clinton administration: "Is it understandable that Dana Perino and Karl Rove and Ari Fleischer would rip this guy who they thought was a friend? Clinton loyalists didn't like the book that George Stephanopoulos wrote in the middle of Clinton's administration."
Lockhart claimed: "I mean it's become part of the White House warfare playbook. Which is when you don't like the facts are out there, assassinate the character." He claimed McClellan was unquestionably correct in his Bush-bashing and even suggested no one is disagreeing with the book's claims: "There is nobody saying he's wrong on this point or he is wrong on that point which means he's right."
This isn't true at all. The White House strenuously objected to McClellan claiming the White House was conducting a campaign of propaganda and lies in the leadup to war. Conservatives have aggressively objected to the idea that the press was somehow a Bush-adoring chorus before the war.
ABC's Good Morning America on Friday again investigated the issue of whether sexism has handicapped Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. To do so, reporter Claire Shipman featured a video from the Women's Media Center, a group partnered with the left-wing organization Media Matters. The video featured clips of various journalists harshly attacking Clinton. Shipman didn't mention the connection to Media Matters and simply described the organization as one that "doesn't endorse a specific candidate" and "has put together a greatest hits video called 'Sexism Sells.'"
Women's Media Center: www.womensmediacenter.com
In fact, the WMC's website describes the group as "as a non-partisan, non-profit progressive women's media organization [founded] by the writers/activists Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem." Is it not incumbent on ABC to identify the group's liberal outlook and its connection to Media Matters? At the beginning of the piece, co-host Diane Sawyer solemnly intoned that the possible end of the New York Senator's presidential quest "has the Clinton campaign crying foul and even raising questions of sexism. Did that play a role in this campaign?"
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Good Morning America has repeatedly delved into this sexism issue. On May 20, 2008, Sawyer speculated about Clinton's failures and sympathetically wondered: "...Is it an argument that she can make, that in some sense, sexism has cost her the race?" On November 13, 2006, the GMA co-host asked if America is "secretly, I guess, more racist or more sexist?" For more on GMA's history of worrying about sexism against Mrs. Clinton, see a May 21, 2008 CyberAlert posting: www.mrc.org
Shipman did, at the end of her piece, somewhat discount the cries of sexism: "It can actually be argued that Hillary Clinton has benefited from her gender. Remember, she's had huge support from women, a lot of support from white men." She also admitted that the presidential candidate's failure to secure the nomination has to do with "bad political decisions." However, the ABC journalist's previous reporting on Clinton has certainly not been free of hyperbole. On January 18, 2007, she touted the "hot factor" that the senator brought to the race. See CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
(Special thanks to intern Peter Sasso for transcribing the segment.)
A transcript of the May 30 segment, which aired at 7:31am, follows:
ROBERTS: First this half hour, as we mentioned earlier, it is a big weekend for Senators Clinton and Obama. The Democratic Party will meet to make a decision about delegates in Florida and Michigan. A decision that could bring Senator Clinton's campaign to an end. It's a possibility that has the Clinton campaign crying foul and even raising questions of sexism. Did that play a role in this campaign? Claire Shipman went in search of some answers and joins us this morning. Good morning Claire.
SHIPMAN: Is that stuff sexist, funny or really bad taste? We asked Chris Matthews and Tucker Carlson if they wanted to talk about it, the only personality though who manned up to talk about his word was us, radio and TV host Glenn Beck. I am going to show you some examples of one thing you said. So you don't get nervous.
[This item, by the MRC's Rich Noyes, was posted, with video, Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
On Memorial Day, Obama weirdly talked about honoring the nation's "unbroken line of fallen heroes -- and I see many of them in the audience today." In a report on Tuesday night's CNN's Election Center, correspondent Joe Johns used that Obama soundbite in a piece on the candidate's "polling problem on patriotism" -- but snipped out the part where Obama seemed to be seeing ghosts:
JOHN JOHNS: This is Barack Obama doing what you would expect a guy running for president to do on Memorial Day. He's honoring those who sacrificed everything.
Watching the video, you'll see a brief flash where CNN removed the part where Obama inexplicably says "and I see many of them in the audience today." Either Johns really needed to cut an extra two seconds out of his story, or he wanted to aid the candidate by removing his most bizarre comment of the day.
According to Nexis, Johns' story aired twice more the next day -- during the 11am hour and again at 3pm EDT. But CNN did at least once air the full clip of Obama's quote, in an earlier segment on the 8pm EDT Election Center program hosted by Campbell Brown, but she drew no attention to its silliness:
CAMPBELL BROWN: Over the holiday, both Obama and McCain surrounded themselves with flags and rubbed elbows with veterans. It was all about patriotism.
Oddly, while CNN did cover Obama's speech live during the 3pm EDT hour on Memorial Day, they joined it in progress a few moments after Obama made his "I see dead people" gaffe.
Conservative talk radio is covering Nancy Pelosi remarks that the liberal media would probably rather avoid. Mark Levin on Thursday night and Laura Ingraham on Friday morning both seized on this tidbit from Commentary magazine's Contentions blog. Deep in an interview the House Speaker granted to the editorial board of the hometown San Francisco Chronicle, Abe Greenwald found this eyebrow-raising passage:
Greenwald's blog entry: www.commentarymagazine.com
[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Saturday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
These remarks were not apparently included in the Chronicle itself, but were found on a Chronicle podcast of the interview, apparently 62 minutes in or so, according to Ace of Spades.
The podcast: www.sfgate.com
We certainly didn't find any mainstream-media notice of this on Thursday or Friday. Greenwald added:
Discounting the success of the American military, denying the accomplishments of U.S. allies, and giving the credit to our most dangerous enemies seems like an especially productive week for a Democrat on Capitol Hill.
Catching up with a quote from a British newspaper interview published May 24 that got some play in the U.S. late last week, actress Susan Sarandon told John Hiscock of London's Telegraph she'll consider moving to Italy or Canada if John McCain wins over Barack Obama. In an interview to promote the British release of the Speed Racer movie and the DVD release of her anti-Iraq war film, In the Kingdom of Elah, Sarandon fumed: "If McCain gets in, it's going to be very, very dangerous....It's a critical time, but I have faith in the American people. If they prove me wrong, I'll be checking out a move to Italy. Maybe Canada, I don't know. We're at an abyss."
Friday night, however, FNC's Bret Baier noted in the "Grapevine" segment on Special Report with Brit Hume, that "celebrities in the past do not have a stellar track record of making good on threats to flee if their candidate loses."
Baier recalled how "numerous stars vowed to pack up if George W. Bush won the 2000 election, including Barbara Streisand, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin and even Sarandon's long-time boyfriend Tim Robbins," but "all still currently reside here in the U.S."
We can always hold up hope Sarandon will break the trend.
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
(Even if McCain wins, she might not accept the result. Three days after the 2004 election, Sarandon argued Bush only won thanks to "voter fraud." More below.)
Responding to complaints that as a feminist she should back Hillary Clinton, Sarandon declared: "I wouldn't vote for Condoleezza Rice and I hated Margaret Thatcher." She told the British newspaper: "I've got a lot of flak from feminists who feel that I should be supporting Hillary Clinton, but I thought the whole point of feminism is that you're not supposed to be defined by gender....I don't understand the reasoning behind that, because I wouldn't vote for Condoleezza Rice and I hated Margaret Thatcher."
An excerpt from the May 24 Telegraph article, "On a roller-coaster with Susan Sarandon: The actress and political activist takes John Hiscock on a tour through her film career -- and her forthright opinions," in which she takes on the Pope:
....Talking with Susan Sarandon is like an exhilarating roller-coaster ride through a variety of topics, all of which elicit candid responses so rare in celebrities who are usually so cautious about causing controversy. We meet in New York on the day the Pope is due to arrive in the US, which inevitably draws strong opinions from the five-times Oscar-nominated actress.
Raised a Catholic, she won an Oscar for portraying Sister Helen Prejean in Robbins's Dead Man Walking, but she has very little time for the Church or its spiritual leader.
"This particular Pope is not one of my favourites," she says.
"I am pretty suspicious of him and my only message to him is that he should become more compassionate and more involved in what the world needs now instead of his archaic kind of outdated, misogynist infrastructure the Church has going now."...
Always busy, Sarandon is about to start work on the romantic period drama The Colossus, but with the presidential election campaign being heatedly contested, she also has bigger things to consider.
"If McCain gets in, it's going to be very, very dangerous," she says.
"It's a critical time, but I have faith in the American people. If they prove me wrong, I'll be checking out a move to Italy. Maybe Canada, I don't know. We're at an abyss."
END of Excerpt
For the Telegraph story: www.telegraph.co.uk
The Monday, November 8, 2004 MRC CyberAlert, "Al Franken and Susan Sarandon Having Trouble Accepting Bush Win?", recounted how she managed to make Bill Maher look rational and reasonable:
....Bush won thanks to "voter fraud," actress Susan Sarandon contended to HBO's Bill Maher. When Maher maintained that Kerry "lost, by a lot," Sarandon countered: "Wait a minute. You better tune in to some of the other channels." She cited "this black box thing," a mis-reported vote total in one Ohio town, "and the hanging chads and the provisional votes -- this was not the way the voting's supposed to work." Quite serious, she reported that "Ralph Nader's very close to filing something about what went on in New Hampshire." Plus, "lots and lots of problems in Florida. And in New Mexico. It's all coming in now."...
Susan Sarandon appeared via satellite from New York City on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher which aired live at 11pm EST on Friday night [November 5, 2004].
Sarandon argued: "We should deal with voter fraud. I was so naive -- all this stuff about the provisional voting? You know, I thought that stuff was really going to count and they were challenging all these people and just, you know, they're never going to even look at them. I mean, they've got this system in Ohio with the-"
Maher: "C'mon. He lost, by a lot. He lost by over-"
Sarandon: "Wait a minute. You better tune in to some of the other channels. They're finding all kinds of -- one area of Ohio 628 people registered to vote, Bush got 4,000 votes. There's a lot of irregularities. He did lose and he's not going to win but I'm saying this black box thing and the hanging chads and the provisional votes -- this was not the way the voting's supposed to work."
Maher: "But this is not 2000 when the Democrats weren't prepared for it. They had an army of lawyers in that state. You're telling me that army of lawyers didn't keep it square and fair?"
Sarandon: "I sure am. And in New Hampshire too and your guy Ralph Nader's very close to filing something about what went on in New Hampshire....And in Florida. Lots and lots of problems in Florida. And in New Mexico. It's all coming in now."
It is true that there was a mis-reported vote total in one precinct, but hardly a major event. And memo to Sarandon: Kerry won New Hampshire and no re-count will turn Nader's one percent into 50 percent.
For the November 8, 2004 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
-- Brent Baker