Lauer Laughs at Franken's Re-Run Rove and Libby "Execution" Quip --10/25/2005
2. Olbermann Compares Bush to Clinton-Era "White House in Crisis"
3. In 2000, Networks Didn't Care About Hillary's False Testimony
On this morning's (Tuesday) Today, at 8:52am, Al Franken was on to promote his new book The Truth (with Jokes) and repeated his twisted quip from Friday's Late Show with David Letterman in which he predicted that Karl Rove and Lewis "Scooter" Libby will be "executed" for treason. Franken's "joke," that "George H.W. Bush, the President's father, said...that outing a CIA agent is treason. I agree. So I think that Rove and Libby will be executed," drew laughter from Matt Lauer and those in the Today show studio.
[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted late this morning on the MRC's NewsBuster.org blog. To watch video of it, as rendered by the MRC's Michelle Humphrey, in either RealPlayer or Windows Media formats, go to: newsbusters.org ]
The October 24 CyberAlert recounted: "And so basically, what it looks like is going to happen is that Libby and Karl Rove are going to be executed" because "outing a CIA agent is treason," left-wing author and radio talk show host Al Franken asserted Friday night, to audience laughter, on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman. Franken qualified his hard-edged satire: "Yeah. And I don't know how I feel about it because I'm basically against the death penalty, but they are going to be executed it looks like." Franken later suggested that President Bush is at risk of receiving the same punishment, since Karl Rove likely told him what he did, but he added a caveat: "I think, by the way, that we should never ever, ever, ever execute a sitting President."
In a follow-up blog posting, the MRC's Rich Noyes recalled how while Lauer just smiled and laughed when left-wing radio host Al Franken predicted the execution of Karl Rove and Lewis Libby, a few weeks ago when Pat Robertson called for the assassination of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, an anti-American dictator who has cozied up with Iran's ayatollahs and Cuba's communists, Today was outraged enough to lead the show with Robertson's supposed transgression.
"We fine broadcasters for using four-letter words, we say that's offensive. So is it offensive to call for the assassination of a world leader?" NBC's Matt Lauer castigated back on August 23. But a left-wing host suggests the execution of top ranking officials of the executive branch -- that's just a joke, right? Or perhaps Today's indignant reaction to Pat Robertson was, shall we say, a little "staged," such has Today's "canoegate." See: newsbusters.org
For Rich's NewsBusters.org posting where you can add your comment: newsbusters.org
Now, Franken on Tuesday's Today, picking up with the exchange which included Franken's "execution" line:
Matt Lauer: "All right, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby what's their future? What's your prediction in terms of indictments? Yes or no?"
Lauer gladly reciting the title of Franken's first book: "The liberal voice of Al Franken first came calling when he declared Rush Limbaugh is A Big Fat Idiot, now the political satirist turned radio talk show host has a new book on the shelf simply titled, The Truth With Jokes. Al Franken, good morning. Just a little light reading? That, that by the way in the New York Times, that costs a fortune, that ad."
[Graphic read: "Laughs From the Left"]
Franken: "Oh yeah."
At the end of the interview Franken couldn't resist joining the rest of the left and many in the media in their ghoulish countdown to 2,000 deaths.
Lauer: "You don't have a solution for the problem we're in Iraq right now. That fair to say?"
Four days after Keith Olbermann first suggested a parallel between the Clinton White House "in crisis" during the Lewinsky affair and the Bush one now, on Monday night's Countdown he resurrected Clinton-era MSNBC video of the introduction of a "White House in Crisis" special. He set it up, with his voice getting lower and more dramatic after his "or" option, as well as a smirk: "Is this just another in the endless historical parade of political controversies through which every President since Washington has had to steer, or is it in fact, the White House in crisis?"
[This item was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your comment, or to watch a video clip in both RealPlayer and Windows Media formats, as well as for a 1998 picture of Olbermann, go to: newsbusters.org ]
A Friday CyberAlert item recounted how Olbermann "forwarded the notion that the Bush White House is in a 'crisis' similar to that which enveloped the Clinton White House after the Monica Lewinsky revelation. Interviewing former Clinton Chief-of-Staff Leon Panetta, Olbermann pointed out how "the rundown for tonight's show was given a title by our producer that shook me. The title simply was, 'White House in Crisis.' I already hosted a news show on this network that had that title some years ago. Is it applicable now? Is in fact in your opinion this White House in crisis?"
For the October 21 CyberAlert item: www.mediaresearch.org
Actually, no one needed such a flashback.
For weeks now, the media have breathlessly hyped the possibility that presidential advisor Karl Rove might be indicted by the grand jury looking into the leak of CIA employee Valerie Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak. Or, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald could choose not to indict anyone, and instead issue a detailed report of who knew what, when they knew it, and from whom they heard it. But the networks just yawned five years ago when Hillary Clinton was found by an independent counsel to have lied to investigators looking into one of the Clintons' very first abuses of power, the firing of White House Travel office employees.
[This item, by the MRC's Rich Noyes, was posted Monday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]
Given the ridiculously overwrought coverage of the last month, if Fitzgerald's report confirms media suspicions that Rove and/or vice presidential aide Lewis Libby talked to reporters about Valerie Plame and weren't completely forthcoming to investigators, you can expect the networks to go absolutely nuts, whether anyone is indicted or not.
That's why it's worth recalling how the networks just yawned five years ago when Hillary Clinton -- who, one might recall, was a pretty high level individual in the last administration -- was found to have lied to investigators looking into one of the Clintons' very first abuses of power, the firing of White House Travel office employees:
In a report released October 18, 2000, independent counsel Robert Ray determined Hillary had given false testimony when questioned about the travel office firings, a crime that Ray declined to prosecute. FNC reporter David Shuster (now with MSNBC) explained on that night's Special Report with Brit Hume:
So what did the three networks do that night? The CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News didn't utter a word about it, while ABC's World News Tonight gave it just 20 seconds, less than one-sixth the time allocated to a story on the "subway series" between the New York Yankees and Mets. The October 18 Inside Politics on CNN gave the development 21 seconds.
The short item read by ABC anchor Peter Jennings: "The independent counsel investigating various activities of Mr. and Mrs. Clinton said today that Mrs. Clinton gave false testimony about her role in the firing of White House travel workers seven years ago. But Robert Ray concluded she should not be prosecuted because there was insufficient evidence that she intended to influence the decision."
If the current special prosecutor offers a similar bottom line verdict on Rove or Libby, it's not a stretch to suggest the networks would be at the front of the liberal lynch mob insisting that they lose their jobs. But five years ago they snoozed when they learned about Hillary Clinton's false testimony.
-- Brent Baker