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NBC Puffed Pelosi, But In '94 Tom Brokaw Assailed Newt Gingrich --11/15/2006


1. NBC Puffed Pelosi, But In '94 Tom Brokaw Assailed Newt Gingrich
NBC anchor Brian Williams didn't exactly strike a tone of toughness with new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she was elected, last week asking her softball questions on NBC Nightly News about what "drain the swamp" meant and how "history was riding along with her." In the week since none of the networks have aired any piece critical of Pelosi's personal life, professional conduct or connections. But twelve years ago on November 15, 1994, one week after Newt Gingrich's big win, NBC anchor Tom Brokaw hammered Gingrich in a snide and negative ten-minute Dateline NBC hit piece. Brokaw pushed every negative button. Gingrich had a "long streak" of "casually reckless" remarks. He admitted "he smoked pot" and "got a marriage deferment" to avoid service in Vietnam. He went to first wife Jackie's hospital room "the day after her cancer surgery" to discuss divorce terms. He made a "very ominous" charge that FDA chief David Kessler threatened to ruin businesses. And his "well-heeled admirers," called "Newt Incorporated," showed he was already ethically compromised, since voters would think donors "were trying to buy his heart if not his vote, at the least."

2. Cued By Dems, NBC Shows Murtha ABSCAM Video; 'Swift Boat' Defense
Tuesday's NBC Nightly News looked at Congressman John Murtha's possible abuse of his office. NBC's story by Lisa Myers, however, aired only after Democrats favoring Steny Hoyer over Murtha for House Majority Leader, raised Murtha's past. Myers cited how Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi promised "the most honest and open Congress in history," but Myers noted how "some Democrats and ethics experts say that promise was undercut when Pelosi endorsed this man, John Murtha, for the number two leadership position in the House." Referring to liberal speech suppression activist Fred Wertheimer, Myers relayed how "critics claim Murtha has amassed power in part by handing out taxpayer money to special interests, including to clients of defense lobbyists who give him big campaign contributions." In addition, Myers raised ABSCAM as she showed 1980 video of Murtha saying he was "not interested -- at this point" in a $50,000 bribe from an undercover FBI agent. Myers concluded with Murtha's "Swift Boat" defense: "Murtha has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and says these charges amount to Swift-Boating, the same kind of unfair charges that helped defeat John Kerry. Murtha also now supports ethics reform."

3. Olbermann Links Domestic Terrorism to 'Right Wing Blogs'
On Tuesday's Countdown, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann devoted an entire segment to discussing links between a man arrested for domestic terrorism -- sending fake anthrax to celebrities including Olbermann -- and "far right-wing blogs," describing the man as a "gushing online admirer" of conservative commentators Michelle Malkin, Laura Igraham and Ann Coulter, as the Countdown host suggested conservatives had inspired the man to commit terrorism.

4. ABC's Sawyer Repeats 'More Racist or More Sexist' Formulation
For the second day in a row, ABC's Diane Sawyer questioned a guest as to whether the American voters are either secretly "more racist" or "more sexist" when they cast their ballots. During an interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd on Tuesday's Good Morning America, Sawyer inquired: "Ninety percent of Americans say race and gender make absolutely no difference in their vote in the polls. I asked Senator Obama yesterday if he believes it, and he thinks it's case by case. Let me ask you, do you think that there is secret sexism, secret, secret genderism in this country?"

5. Matthews: 'Just Like Vietnam,' Victory Not Possible in Iraq
Chris Matthews is so blatantly anti-Iraq war, but Tuesday's Today provided no counter-balance to his virulent views. NBC's Matt Lauer sat idly by as the host of Hardball compared Iraq to Vietnam and demanded the President relent to Democrats and withdraw troops as soon as possible. Matthews even was dismayed that the President still dared to use the word "victory," as he ranted to Lauer: "It's a lot like Vietnam was when we had the Tet Offensive in 1968 and the American people saw that we couldn't get victory out of that country. The word victory is still used by the President. Most Americans I think know we can't win over there. We can't create a stable, Democratic government. What we're facing is a war basically between the Sunni and the Shia and if we wait for those people to get along with each other we'll never leave that country. A question, I think, before the people politically right now is how many more casualties will we take in what looks to be a losing war. It's just like Vietnam. We could have cut the same deal in '68 that we cut eventually in '73. I think the American people are gonna see that."


NBC Puffed Pelosi, But In '94 Tom Brokaw
Assailed Newt Gingrich

NBC anchor Brian Williams didn't exactly strike a tone of toughness with new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she was elected, last week asking her softball questions on NBC Nightly News about what "drain the swamp" meant and how "history was riding along with her." In the week since none of the networks have aired any piece critical of Pelosi's personal life, professional conduct or connections. But twelve years ago on November 15, 1994, one week after Newt Gingrich's big win, NBC anchor Tom Brokaw hammered Gingrich in a snide and negative ten-minute Dateline NBC hit piece. Brokaw pushed every negative button. Gingrich had a "long streak" of "casually reckless" remarks. He admitted "he smoked pot" and "got a marriage deferment" to avoid service in Vietnam. He went to first wife Jackie's hospital room "the day after her cancer surgery" to discuss divorce terms. He made a "very ominous" charge that FDA chief David Kessler threatened to ruin businesses. And his "well-heeled admirers," called "Newt Incorporated," showed he was already ethically compromised, since voters would think donors "were trying to buy his heart if not his vote, at the least."

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

The November 9 CyberAlert summarized Williams' fawning session with Pelosi the day after last week's election: Over video of President Bush, with Vice President Cheney and House Speaker Hastert behind him at a State of the Union address, Williams relayed how Pelosi "says she is most excited to change this picture, to put a female face in this frame of three male faces for the very first time." Williams sycophantically gushed to her: "Let's talk about history because I know history was riding along with you as you watched the results last night. I know you have thought today about your mother. I know you have thought today about your father, your own children and grandchildren." See: www.mrc.org

Here's how the Dateline segment was promoted at the beginning of the show. The adjectives stuck out:

Brokaw: "He's been called brilliant, a control freak, pompous, power-hungry. Suddenly he is one of the most powerful people in Washington. But some who have known him for years think he could be dangerous."
Brantley Harwell: "I personally think that Newt is amoral when it comes to politics."
Brokaw: "Tonight, some startling admissions from the man who went from spoiler to Speaker."
Gingrich: "Truth is, occasionally, I'm not very smart."

Out of the MRC transcription archives, it's a remarkable hit piece, the kind in which Brokaw announced that Gingrich wasn't the only man in politics with a "slash-and-burn" style. The segment's title was simply "Power Broker":

Brokaw began: "You can call him an archconservative or an arch-enemy of President Clinton's policies, but in less than two months, you'll have to call Newt Gingrich, Mr. Speaker -- the new Speaker of the House. The man who has spent years in Congress as the leading guerrilla fighter in the Republican war on Democratic turf. Suddenly, he's won a major battle. Now, he's coming out of the jungle to claim the spoils of victory -- the great power of Speaker of the House. While the votes were still being counted, questions did arise about whether this true believer and his take-no-prisoners style can adapt to the role of statesman.
"Election Night, one week ago. It is 9pm in Marietta, Georgia. Things are moving fast. Polls still are open in the West, but early returns are promising, very promising."
Gingrich: "So far, so good."
Brokaw: "By 9:30pm, Democrats are falling everywhere. The architect of their defeat is the combative Newton Leroy Gingrich -- who says he wants to reform Washington's ways. But, when Democrats tried to reform lobbyists recently, he called their efforts 'Stalinist.'
"[To Gingrich]...But, we call them Stalins? Stalin is the man who, after all, created the Gulag, who killed hundreds of millions of people, one of the great tyrants of the twentieth century. Don't you see how people react to you?"
Gingrich: "Of course, I can see that that would be difficult. What would you like? OK, it has a potential for a level of power resembling dictatorship. How's that?"
Brokaw: "Newt Gingrich assessing the White House: [To Gingrich] Do you regret saying that the Clinton administration is the enemy of normal people?"
Gingrich: "Yes. I wish I had said that they threaten the values and the pocketbooks of middle class Americans. I think `enemies of normal people' was wrong. And I wish I hadn't said it."
Brokaw: "But, you have a long string of those things, Congressman."
Gingrich: "Well, truth is occasionally, I'm not very smart. I mean-"
Brokaw: "But, I get the impression, you're so pugnacious that what you say is hard for you to reel it back in right away."
Gingrich: "I probably need to be, oh, thirty percent less pugnacious and fifty percent less negative."
Unidentified voice: "With ten percent reporting, it's gonna be a good night."
Gingrich to aide: "After this should I go over and declare victory or what do they want me to do?"
Gingrich aide Barry Hutchison: "No, too early."
Brokaw: "But, Gingrich's supporters can barely wait. For forty years Democrats have controlled the House, frustrating conservatives and their agenda of smaller government, fewer taxes, less welfare."
Gingrich: "My point is that there were two systemic things that happened in the late sixties. A structure of replacing traditional systems with the government called the Great Society. And a wave of elite attitudes called the counter-culture. Those are systemic changes. Those systemic changes have been devastating."
Brokaw: "By 10:00pm, the crowd could taste its new power. At last, they had a conservative champion who could deliver the long awaited prize -- a Republican U.S. Congress.
"How did 51-year-old Newt Gingrich get to be the man who is about to be the next Speaker of the House? That's third in line for the presidency. Well, we know that he was raised as an Army brat. He went on to college and then on to graduate school at Tulane, where he got a Ph.D. in history. That was during the 1960s, and he does admit that he smoked pot and participated in student demonstrations. He also became a college professor and he got a marriage deferment during the time of Vietnam. Newt Gingrich ran twice for Congress as a moderate Republican. He was defeated both times before he was finally elected.
"Lee Howell was a friend and Gingrich's speechwriter. Remember this was the Watergate era. Republican was a dirty word. And yet, listen to what Gingrich told Howell in 1974."
Lee Howell: "He says: 'I'm gonna be Speaker.' He says: 'I'm going to build a Republican Party. Campaign, ya know, get the position where I can campaign for people around the country build 'em up to a majority. And, then get elected Speaker.' And, I said: 'You don't want to be President?' And he said: `Well, no. I want to be Speaker. That's where the power is."
Brokaw: "Some early supporters say that Gingrich reinvented himself after his first win in 1978 -- moving to the right. He was more combative, perfecting his trademark scorched-earth-tactics. That change caused a split between Gingrich and his Baptist minister, and close friend, Brantley Harwell."
Brantley Harwell: "I personally think that Newt is amoral when it comes to politics. He'll do anything to get elected. He'll do anything to get his person elected. The way he's gone about it lately, it's just like he'll do -- the end justifies whatever means he wants to use."
Brokaw: "Gingrich dismisses Harwell's judgement claiming it is tied to Baptist Church politics and Harwell's friendship with Gingrich's first wife whom he divorced. For many of his friends, that divorce from Jackie Gingrich, was a breaking point."
Howell: "She was just recovering from cancer during his successful race in 1978, and yet she campaigned for him full-time."
Brokaw: "How did he explain it to you?"
Howell: "He told me that it had been a gnawing thing and that he and her had had problems; and that it was like a pain in the neck, that just wouldn't go away; and finally, if you want to get rid of it, you had to cut it out."
Brokaw: "The day after her cancer surgery, Gingrich went to his wife's hospital room to discuss the terms of the divorce. She threw him out."
Gingrich: "I'm not gonna to discuss my ex-wife. Period."
Brokaw: "Gingrich, who makes so much of family values, is touchy on this issue, blaming personal grudges of former friends. He can be quick to blame. It has served him well in politics. In his sixteen years in Washington, Gingrich has distinguished himself, not for his legislative record, but for carrying the conservative torch and burning Democratic initiatives. Among his trophies, the resignation of former House Speaker, Jim Wright, the disastrous outcome of the House Banking scandal: four Democrats, and he can be casually reckless in his attacks on enemies. Here, he goes after the FDA chief David Kessler."
Gingrich: "I had six different meetings in six different places with people who said to me, 'I am afraid to speak out because I believe Kessler and the Food and Drug Administration will destroy me.'"
Brokaw: "But, wait a minute, are you saying that Kessler has told these companies, 'I'll bankrupt you'?"
Gingrich: "I am saying that companies have asserted that to me. Yes."
Brokaw: "That's a very ominous charge, Congressman."
Gingrich: "Yes, it is."
Brokaw: "You're a powerful figure in Congress, why didn't you just pick up the phone and call the director, Dr. Kessler."
Gingrich: "Call him and said what -- why didn't you tell me that you're acting like a bully and a thug?"
Brokaw: "We called Dr. David Kessler, who runs the FDA, but he did not want to be interviewed. However, his spokesman said, the FDA does not operate that way. 'We don't know what Congressman Gingrich is talking about.' Gingrich does have a lot of well-heeled admirers who have helped him build a political empire. Call it Newt Incorporated."
GOPAC receptionist: "Good afternoon, GOPAC."
Brokaw: "GOPAC, with a two million dollar annual budget is the centerpiece. Gingrich says it's like a farm team to coach conservatives on the way up. GOPAC helps pay for and arrange a lot of Gingrich's travel. Over the past year he visited forty-one states to stump for conservative candidates. Gingrich's frequent mode of travel? Well, the man who so stridently complains about the Washington elite, flew thousands of miles on jets provided by corporate friends. This one came from a tobacco company.
"Other Congressional leaders have similar programs, but unlike GOPAC, they list all of their donors. During the campaign, before the election, we asked Gingrich about GOPAC. [To Gingrich] These people are giving money not just because they're interested in sending out lecturers and sending out training tapes, they want to have access to you and they want to be in your good graces."
Gingrich: "First of all, I'm not sure that anybody has any unusual access to me."
Brokaw: "But, if this is all so appropriate and ethical, why not disclose the names of the contributors to GOPAC?"
Gingrich: "Well, I think candidly that was a mistake."
Brokaw: "In fact, on Sunday, GOPAC announced it would name future donors. Gingrich has another enterprise."
Unidentified announcer: "Congressman Newt Gingrich, an adjunct professor at Reinhardt provides-"
Brokaw: "A videotape college course called 'Renewing American Civilization.' In fundraising letters he says, he hopes the course will yield 200,000 committed citizen activists. The tax-exempt Progress & Freedom Foundation, funds the course. [To Gingrich] People who are running the Progress & Freedom Foundation are some of your oldest and closest friends and intellectual advisors. Forty percent of the people who gave to that foundation also gave to GOPAC. Obviously, there is a political, partisan agenda here because you're not a nonpartisan man."
Gingrich: "There is certainly a political agenda, but there's not a partisan agenda."
Brokaw: "But can't you see how voters who are looking at this for the first time, would say 'Hey, these guys must be trying to buy his heart if not his vote, at the least."
Gingrich: "You know, you wonder at some point where the cynicism just becomes nonsense, all right?"
Brokaw: "In a letter obtained by Dateline, two weeks ago [Democrats on?] the House Ethics Committee asked Gingrich to answer charges that his tax-exempt foundation is purely political and not purely educational. 11:30 P.M. Election Night, Gingrich declares victory and seems to strike a conciliatory tone."
Gingrich: "We now have, I think, some real work to do as Americans, working together as Americans."
Brokaw: "But, a few hours later many were wondering whether Gingrich was returning to his old slash-and-burn style. After winning such a big victory, President Clinton called Gingrich and it took the Congressman 90 minutes to return the call of the President of the United States. He then referred to Bill and Hillary Clinton as counterculture elitists, McGovernites."
Gingrich: "It was a mistake because there was no point to my saying it. And, it was, frankly, a foolish thing to do."
Brokaw: "As Speaker, Gingrich vows he will make the House vote on the Republican's Contract With America within the first one hundred days of the new Congress. It's a reform package to fight crime, impose term limits, cut taxes, reform welfare. Republicans have not said how they'll pay for all that, but they have said it will cost $40 billion a year."
Gingrich: "We have not had a new team in charge of the House in forty years. The truth is we haven't got a clue yet about all the details."
Brokaw concluded: "Gingrich denies reports that made the rounds last week that shortly after the election he went out and bought a shiny, new black Cadillac, a car befitting his lofty, new role as Speaker. Gingrich says he still owns a 1967 Ford Mustang."

Now just try to imagine a brutal NBC piece on Pelosi that asked about every personal issue: whether she's had plastic surgery, which recreational drugs she's used, the strange donors who support her, the most outrageous words that have ever tumbled out of her mouth. A piece labeling her as a left-wing guerrilla fighter with a slash-and-burn-Bush agenda, an "archliberal and archenemy" of Bush.

It's awfully hard to imagine when today's NBC anchor asks simple questions a high-school kid at a town-hall meeting could ask, like "Leader, what does 'drain the swamp' mean?"

Cued By Dems, NBC Shows Murtha ABSCAM
Video; 'Swift Boat' Defense

A day after CBS's Katie Couric delivered a softball interview with Democratic Congressman John Murtha, in which she skipped questions about his ethical improprieties, painted him as a victim of attacks after he called for withdrawal from Iraq and cued him up, "Did you feel vindicated last Tuesday?", NBC Nightly News looked at Murtha's possible abuse of his office. NBC's story by Lisa Myers, however, aired only after Democrats favoring Steny Hoyer over Murtha for House Majority Leader, raised Murtha's past. Myers cited how Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi promised "the most honest and open Congress in history," but Myers noted how "some Democrats and ethics experts say that promise was undercut when Pelosi endorsed this man, John Murtha, for the number two leadership position in the House." Referring to liberal speech suppression activist Fred Wertheimer, Myers relayed how "critics claim Murtha has amassed power in part by handing out taxpayer money to special interests, including to clients of defense lobbyists who give him big campaign contributions." In addition, Myers raised ABSCAM as she showed 1980 video of Murtha saying he was "not interested -- at this point" in a $50,000 bribe from an undercover FBI agent.

Myers concluded with Murtha's "Swift Boat" defense: "Murtha has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and says these charges amount to Swift-Boating, the same kind of unfair charges that helped defeat John Kerry. Murtha also now supports ethics reform."

[This item was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

For the November 14 CyberAlert item, "Couric Cues Up Murtha: 'Did You Feel Vindicated Last Tuesday?'", go to: www.mrc.org

Before the Myers story, NBC Nightly News had eagerly promoted Murtha's political cause. As documented by NewsBusters at the time, when Murtha urged withdrawal from Iraq, Brian Williams led his November 17, 2005 newscast:

"Good evening. When one Congressman out of 435 members of Congress speaks out against the war in Iraq, it normally wouldn't be news, but it was today because of who he is. Congressman John Murtha, a Vietnam veteran, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, is a 37-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, who voted for both gulf wars. Vice President Cheney once called him one of his strongest allies in Congress back when Cheney ran the Pentagon. Today, John Murtha said the U.S. must get out of Iraq."

For the CyberAlert rundown in its entirety: www.mrc.org

Then, as recounted in a May 17 NewsBusters item:

On the six month anniversary of Democratic Congressman John Murtha's successful publicity stunt call for the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq, the NBC Nightly News jumped on the chance to highlight Murtha's charge that last November some Marines deliberately killed more than a dozen innocent Iraqi civilians. But in treating Murtha as some kind of authoritative figure making "new allegations," NBC ignored how the charge is old and has already been widely-reported -- including on the March 20 NBC Nightly News.

Brian Williams touted: "There are disturbing new allegations tonight from the Congressman and decorated Marine veteran who stunned the Bush administration about six months ago with his call for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq." Following a rundown from Jim Miklaszewski of the allegations, Williams trumpeted Murtha's credibility and relevance: "Jim, we should go over again, why is it significant that John Murtha is the one saying this?" Miklaszewski responded with Murtha's argument that the event bolsters his political point as to why the U.S. should leave Iraq, preceded by the misnomer that Murtha had "recently" turned against the war: "It's important because as somebody who recently turned against the war, Murtha held this up today as one of the reasons the U.S. military should get out of Iraq as soon as possible."

END of Excerpt

For the May 18 CyberAlert article: www.mrc.org

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth provided a transcript of the November 14 NBC Nightly News story:

Brian Williams: "On the House side of the Capitol building, it hasn't been such smooth sailing for the new Democratic majority. Provided Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California has the Speaker of the House job sewn up, the fight is on for the next job, the Majority Leader position. Pelosi is supporting John Murtha, the decorated 37-year Marine veteran from Pennsylvania who wants the U.S. out of Iraq. The other candidate in the race is Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer, a veteran party whip in the House. Late today, I spoke to Congressman Hoyer, who says he is confident he has the votes to win. Some of that confidence may be a result of questions that others were asking today about a part of John Murtha's record. Our report on that tonight from NBC's Lisa Myers."

Lisa Myers: "In her first interview after Democrats won control of the House, Nancy Pelosi made a sweeping promise."
Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader, in November 8 interview with Brian Williams: "To turn this Congress into the most honest and open Congress in history. That is my pledge. That is what I intend to do."
Myers: "But some Democrats and ethics experts say that promise was undercut when Pelosi endorsed this man, John Murtha, for the number two leadership position in the House."
Fred Wertheimer, ethics reform advocate: "Representative Murtha has basically been on the wrong side of public integrity issues during his career."
Myers: "Critics claim Murtha has amassed power in part by handing out taxpayer money to special interests, including to clients of defense lobbyists who give him big campaign contributions."
Undercover FBI agent in blurry black and white video from 1980: "Each packet contains $10,000 in $100 bills."
Myers: "Then there is this video from an FBI sting in 1980 known as ABSCAM. An undercover FBI agent offers a $50,000 bribe to Congressman Murtha, who is sitting on the right."
Undercover FBI agent: "I got, I went out and I got the $50,000, okay? From what you're telling me, okay, you're telling me that that's not what you, you know, that's not what you-"
Rep. John Murtha (D-PA): "I'm not interested."
FBI agent: "Okay."
Murtha: "At this point."
FBI agent: "Okay."
Murtha: "You know, we do business for a while, maybe I'll be interested and maybe I won't, you know."
FBI agent: "Okay."
Myers: "Murtha refuses the cash and talks about his need to be cautious because of his ambitions. As his supporters point out, that was 26 years ago."
Rep. Martin Meehan (D-MA): "Not only is it ancient history, the fact of the matter is Jack Murtha was never charged with anything."
Myers: "The House ethics committee also did not take action against Murtha. Murtha has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and says these charges amount to Swift-Boating, the same kind of unfair charges that helped defeat John Kerry. Murtha also now supports ethics reform. Lisa Myers, NBC News, Washington."

The online version of the Myers story, as posted on MSNBC.com: www.msnbc.msn.com

Olbermann Links Domestic Terrorism to
'Right Wing Blogs'

On Tuesday's Countdown, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann devoted an entire segment to discussing links between a man arrested for domestic terrorism -- sending fake anthrax to celebrities including Olbermann -- and "far right-wing blogs," describing the man as a "gushing online admirer" of conservative commentators Michelle Malkin, Laura Igraham and Ann Coulter, as the Countdown host suggested conservatives had inspired the man to commit terrorism. Olbermann also compared past actions by Malkin to "the King Henry thing about Thomas Becket." Olbermann: "There were the students at the University of California in Santa Cruz who protested military recruiters on their campus, Malkin posted their addresses and other personal information on her blog, and then when people harassed the students at their homes, Malkin did the King Henry thing about Thomas Becket, 'Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?' 'I never told anybody to do anything to them.' This is the problem, right? I mean, you can come out, you can directly encourage people to act violently, Ann Coulter has done that, or you can do it in this sort of thinly disguised way the way Malkin has."

[This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Olbermann, who recently linked President Bush to domestic terrorism against Bush critics, as the MSNBC host referred to King Henry's plea for someone to "rid me of this meddlesome priest," Bishop Thomas Becket, made a similar attack on Malkin. See: www.mrc.org

The Countdown host repeated his criticism of Malkin dating back to April 2006 when she posted on her blog the personal contact information of UC Santa Cruz student protesters who had blocked military recruiters from campus, a confrontation that had led to some recruiters being assaulted. See: michellemalkin.com

Olbermann, who in April had called Malkin "crazier and dumber than we all thought" (See: newsbusters.org ), not only did not inform viewers that recruiters had been assaulted in the incident, but also did not mention that the student organizers had originally solicited responses by providing their contact information on a press release, which is from where Malkin transferred the information. At some point after the student protesters received threats, Malkin posted on her blog: "I do not condone death threats or foul language."

Olbermann's interest in going after conservatives contrasts with how little interest he showed in recent revelations of Democratic Congressman Murtha's involvement in a bribery scandal. While the NBC Nightly News had earlier run a story by correspondent Lisa Myers describing Murtha's involvement in the ABSCAM scandal, even showing a secretly recorded video of Murtha speaking with an undercover FBI informant about potential bribery (see item #2 above), Olbermann only vaguely referred to a Washington Post article citing "Democratic concerns over Murtha's alleged ethics issues," as the Countdown host provided no details on the scandal. But Olbermann spent almost seven minutes discussing conservative bloggers and domestic terrorism.

Below is a transcript of some relevant portions of the November 14 Countdown show:

Keith Olbermann, in opening teaser: "The fake Anthrax mailings to Letterman, Stewart, Pelosi, others. More details and more reported on the suspect the FBI caught and his connections to far right wing blogs."

...

Olbermann, before commercial break at 8:14 p.m.: "And more on the white powder letter attacks, new details about the man charged and those whose rhetoric may have inspired him."

...

Olbermann, at 8:35 p.m., after describing the crime involving letters with fake Anthrax: "Castagana has also been identified as a gushing online admirer of Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, and Laura Ingraham. And the Web site Raw Story reports that many bloggers believe he is also a contributor under a different name to the conservative Web site Free Republic. In fact, the name used is supposed to be Marc Costanzo. Joining me now, John Cook, a senior writer for Radar Online, who's been covering all this since the news of the arrest broke on Sunday....The details of the letters, I think we pretty much got. Explain, if you can, what the link is to the right wing blogs and what the relevance of that link is."
John Cook, Radar Online: "Well, we should point out the evidence is not conclusive, but it's circumstantial, but it's good evidence. It appears that Mr. Castagana was a poster to the Free Republic, which, as you know, is an online library of some of the most thoughtful right wing thinkers out there. And his, the Marc Costanzo alias that he used, his profile said Ann Coulter is a goddess and 'I idolize Malkin and Ingraham.' And there are a lot of posts that suggest that he's a big fan of Malkin and Coulter."
Olbermann: "For the record, as I understand it, the connection is that the fellow identifying himself as Castanzo posted something about science fiction which he said was a rewrite of something he previously posted on a sci-fi site, which was written by him, identified by Castagana, but the Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Michelle Malkin connection is, how is that best described? Is that hero worship or crushes of some kind? Or do we know what that is?"
Cook: "Well, I mean, if he's idolizing them, that sounds like hero worship to me. I mean, I think, you know, these, Ann Coulter and Malkin, you know, they sort of present a kind of rhetorical world view where they have their troops out there, and I think he thought of himself as one of their troops, and wanted to live up to their standards. And, I mean, I don't think we can always hold these people responsible for the actions of the least hinged of their followers, but I think it is clear that he was an acolyte of the Coulters and the Malkins. And I think that they clearly enjoy having acolytes, and they clearly, sort of, issue calls to action. Not necessarily to send threatening powder-filled envelopes to you in so many words, but they certainly exhort their followers to let themselves be known."
Olbermann: "But to that point, an acolyte is one thing, and emulation is something else. There were the students at the University of California in Santa Cruz who protested military recruiters on their campus, Malkin posted their addresses and other personal information on her blog, and then when people harassed the students at their homes, Malkin did the King Henry thing about Thomas Becket, 'Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?' 'I never told anybody to do anything to them.' This is the problem, right? I mean, you can come out, you can directly encourage people to act violently, Ann Coulter has done that, or you can do it in this sort of thinly disguised way the way Malkin has."
Cook: "Well, right, but I think what Malkin wants to do isn't to tell people to act violently so much as, I do think she wants to sort of introduce a kind of thuggish, sort of intimidating tone into the political debate, this kind of, 'Let's not let them boss us around anymore.' She's got a very combative, kind of truculent rhetorical pose, but, you know, I mean, Ann Coulter has said some, you know, absolutely ludicrous things about, I mean, you know, she once said that, you know, 'We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, making them realize that they can be killed, too.' And when she says that, I don't think she honestly believes that she, I don't think she actually wants people to hear those words to go and physically intimidate liberals. I think she says it because she knows that if she says outrageous things, her speakers bureau's fees go up or her next book contract goes up. She's a professional agitator."
Olbermann: "Yeah, until it, you know, bursts into gunfire. Nobody wants to see that in any direction. It's madness. But ultimately, about this thing and the things like it, is it not self-defeating for people who think they're acting, even in their own warped view of patriotism? I mean, you might scare the victims, though there's not evidence of that in any of these cases. You can annoy, maybe inconvenience their coworkers and the people who handle their mail, but the only thing that's for certain in this is if you do something like this, and I was talking to these great FBI counterterror guys yesterday about all this, you waste hundreds of hours of their time that they could be spending on other counterterrorism cases."
Cook: "Absolutely, the lead FBI agent, special agent on this case, is a member of the joint terrorism task force, and, you know, reading the affidavit in support of the search warrant for Mr. Castagana's house, there's like a keystone cops moment where these people are literally following him around Woodland Hills, California, watching him with letters in hand go from mailbox to mailbox looking for one where the pickup date hasn't passed, and there are a lot better things than that they could be doing with their time."

ABC's Sawyer Repeats 'More Racist or
More Sexist' Formulation

For the second day in a row, ABC's Diane Sawyer questioned a guest as to whether the American voters are either secretly "more racist" or "more sexist" when they cast their ballots. During an interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd on Tuesday's Good Morning America, Sawyer inquired: "Ninety percent of Americans say race and gender make absolutely no difference in their vote in the polls. I asked Senator Obama yesterday if he believes it, and he thinks it's case by case. Let me ask you, do you think that there is secret sexism, secret, secret genderism in this country?"

Of course, the liberal columnist agreed with Sawyer's premise that American society is sexist, but asserted that it is not, in fact, a secret: "Oh, I don't think it's, I don't think it's very secret. I'm not sure we've gotten so much farther along than with Ferraro, where she didn't get any guys in the south...I do think there is obviously racism and sexism, but I think that these are both two extraordinary candidates [Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama] who, you know, might be able to triumph over some of that, but we'll see."

[This item, by Megan McCormack, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The November 14 CyberAlert recounted: For the third time in as many weeks, ABC on Monday showcased Democratic Senator Barack Obama. Diane Sawyer interviewed the first-term senator from Illinois on Monday's Good Morning America, and asked him about a range of topics, from the war in Iraq and a potential Obama run for the White House in 2008, to the groundbreaking of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial on the National Mall. The most eyebrow-raising moment of the interview, however, occurred when Sawyer asked Obama about Sunday's Washington Post opinion piece which questioned whether racism and sexism plays a role in the decision-making of American voters: "We have seen new polls this morning about you and Senator Hillary Clinton. Here's my question. Do you think that residual resistance is greater for race or for gender? Is the nation secretly, I guess, more racist or more sexist?" See: www.mrc.org

Sawyer began her November 14 7:12am interview with Dowd by asking her about former Secretary of State James Baker's meeting with the President and Vice President on Iraq, which Dowd compared to a scene from the new movie Borat: "Looking at the photo yesterday, James Baker in the commission, in that room, sitting with the President, Dick Cheney by his side. What do you think the drama was, the psychological drama?"
Dowd: "Well, from the point of view of the Bush 41 team, it's pretty much like the scene in Borat where he tries to get the Kazak wedding sack over Pamela Anderson's head and run away with her. I mean, they are trying to get W. away from Cheney and Rummy and the neo-cons, and what they consider the dark influences that have basically gone so much against the Bush family legacy of internationalism and diplomacy and nuance."

Dowd then compared the advice President Bush is receiving from officials in his father's administration to a parent who helps their child escape from a cult:
Sawyer: "...The President issued a statement, the President said there, 'I believe it is very important for people making suggestions to recognize that the best military options depend upon the conditions on the ground.' Was that drawing a line that these are just suggestions?"
Dowd: "Right. Well, you've got to think of it, you know, it's very much like a cult, if you're trying to get your kid away from a cult, the de-programming has just begun. Baker is locking into W. with that southern comfort voice, and, you know, he used to be able to tell Bush 41, you've got to know when to fold 'em. And that's what I think he's doing with Rummy and he's trying to do with Iraq. But, you know, it's the beginning of the process. You're right. You could see 43 getting his back up, and you know, it's going to be very hard for him. And as one of the 41 people told me, you know, junior has that stubborn streak. He can get his back up and he can go back to his missionary zeal, but they're just trying to infuse some nuance and diplomacy into the situation, that we can talk to other countries, rather than blowing them all off."

Sawyer then shifted topics to the race for the White House in 2008. She repeated her question from yesterday's interview with Senator Barack Obama, asking Dowd if American voters harbor "secret" sexist attitudes at the ballot box, and if so, is that sexism stronger than the racist feelings they may also have:
"As we know, Senator Barack Obama is considering whether he's going to run, and Senator Hillary Clinton seems really to be considering running here. It seems almost certain. But 90 percent of Americans say race and gender make absolutely no difference in their vote in the polls. I asked Senator Obama yesterday if he believes it, and he thinks it's case by case. Let me ask you, do you think that there is secret sexism, secret, secret genderism in this country?"
Dowd: "Oh, I don't think it's, I don't think it's very secret. I'm not sure we've gotten so much farther along than with Ferraro, where she didn't get any guys in the south, and Hillary got her one southern bubo, but I'm not sure she could get millions more. I do think there is obviously racism and sexism, but I think that these are both two extraordinary candidates who, you know, might be able to triumph over some of that, but we'll see."
Sawyer: "More sexism than racism, racism than sexism?"
Dowd: "Yeah, that is the big argument now. You know, Johnny Apple, our, you know, our famous political correspondent thought it might be easier to elect a black this year than a woman, because there's no model of success for a woman, where as Colin Powell kind of got the country wrapped around the idea of a black as President."

In her report that aired minutes before Sawyer's chat with Dowd, Claire Shipman seemed to enjoy the notion of President Bush being advised by "daddy's guys" and referred the President's relationship with his father as one of the "longest-running Oedipal dramas in modern political history."

The full transcript of Shipman's report:

Robin Roberts: "Back here at home, if the President's new team of advisors seem vaguely familiar, that's because they are. A lot of the people now bending the President's ear about the war in Iraq are from his father's inner-circle, which raises a question. Is the President asking his dad for help? Our senior national correspondent Claire Shipman is in Washington looking for those answers. Good morning, Claire."

Claire Shipman: "Good morning, Robin. It is striking and certainly more of a coincidence that James Baker, Bush Sr.'s former Secretary of State, trusted family friend, is head of the Iraq Study Group. And now, Robert Gates, Bush Sr.'s CIA director, and another great pal, is W.'s man at the Pentagon. It's being called everything from the return of the realists to a family intervention to a high-stakes episode of father knows best. But for public consumption anyhow, the White House says it isn't so. Daddy is not out to save his son."
Tony Snow, White House, Press Secretary: "This is not bringing in people willy nilly from his president's administration, quote, 'to save him.' Wrong."
David Gergen: "It's one of the great mysteries of a relationship between father and son, both loving each other, but the son wanting to prove that he can do it by himself."
Shipman: "It is one of the longest-running Oedipal dramas in modern political history. Both Bushes, from the start of W.'s presidency, adamant that there would be no sharing of wisdom."
President George Bush: "My wonderful state of mind is to support the President, without reservation, stay out of his way."
Shipman: "And George W. Bush memorably telling Bob Woodward, there's a higher father that I appeal to. And, of course, installing Bush Sr.'s foe, Donald Rumsfeld, at the Pentagon, a clear signal that Bush Jr. intended to do things differently, perhaps even finish things his father couldn't, like Iraq. But watching this post-election moment, perhaps his son's lowest, could have brought only bitter satisfaction, if any at all. Bush Sr. said recently that criticism of his own presidency stings nothing like the criticism of his son's."
Bush: "It's not a close call. Far worse is watching your son come under fire. Far worse."
Shipman: "The fact is, now that the neo-conservatives have fallen from grace inside of this administration, the, the Bush senior foreign policy team, the realists, as they're known, are the natural place that any Republican president might turn, even if they are daddy's guys. But, of course, that relationship is important. The real question, will they be able to make a difference? Diane?"

Matthews: 'Just Like Vietnam,' Victory
Not Possible in Iraq

Chris Matthews is so blatantly anti-Iraq war, but Tuesday's Today provided no counter-balance to his virulent views. NBC's Matt Lauer sat idly by as the host of Hardball compared Iraq to Vietnam and demanded the President relent to Democrats and withdraw troops as soon as possible. Matthews even was dismayed that the President still dared to use the word, "victory," as he ranted to Lauer: "It's a lot like Vietnam was when we had the Tet Offensive in 1968 and the American people saw that we couldn't get victory out of that country. The word victory is still used by the President. Most Americans I think know we can't win over there. We can't create a stable, Democratic government. What we're facing is a war basically between the Sunni and the Shia and if we wait for those people to get along with each other we'll never leave that country. A question, I think, before the people politically right now is how many more casualties will we take in what looks to be a losing war. It's just like Vietnam. We could have cut the same deal in '68 that we cut eventually in '73. I think the American people are gonna see that."

[This item is adopted from a Tuesday morning posting, by Geoffrey Dickens, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The following a complete transcript of Matthews' appearance on the November 14 Today:

Matt Lauer: "Alright Kelly, thanks so much. Kelly O'Donnell at the White House for us this morning. Chris Matthews is the host of MSNBC's Hardball and the Chris Matthews Show. Hey Chris, good morning to you."
Chris Matthews: "Good morning, Matt."
Lauer: "So we've got this spirit of cooperation at the moment in Washington between Republicans and Democrats but when we get down to the next couple of weeks or months to talking about withdrawing U.S. troops even in a phased redeployment from Iraq is that when the cooperation ends?"
Matthews: "Well I think there's a real conflict here. I mean the President lost the election. He, he still talks like he won the election. The Democrats who control both houses want to begin withdrawing our troops. It's all about numbers of troops and the timetable for getting them out and the President and Tony Snow right there said they don't, they don't go along with that thinking."
Lauer: "But what's the risk for Democrats, Chris? If they get some kind of concession from the President on this and there is some withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and the situation continues to deteriorate there, fast forward to 2008 and the elections and all of a sudden the Democrats are cut and running again."
Matthews: "Well you know it's a lot like Vietnam. It's a lot like Vietnam was when we had the Tet Offensive in 1968 and the American people saw that we couldn't get victory out of that country. The word victory is still used by the President. Most Americans I think know we can't win over there. We can't create a stable, Democratic government. What we're facing is a war basically between the Sunni and the Shia and if we wait for those people to get along with each other we'll never leave that country. A question, I think, before the people politically right now is how many more casualties will we take in what looks to be a losing war. It's just like Vietnam. We could have cut the same deal in '68 that we cut eventually in '73. I think the American people are gonna see that. But the most important pressure point for the Democrats is not someday, down the road where they may look bad for this it's right now. They have told the people, the Democratic Party, 'Vote for us we'll get us out of Iraq.' The people voted for the Democrats, Carl Levin is now head of the Armed Services Committee. You've got Joe Biden head of the Foreign Affairs, Foreign Relations committee. You've got Bobby Byrd head of Appropriations."
Lauer: "Right."
Matthews: "You got Harry Reid as Maj-, all these people are against the war. The people in power now from Pelosi, Murtha, the whole crowd of them said they would get us out of the war if they got elected. They have their people to deal with. I think the Democratic base is gonna demand withdrawal."
Lauer: "And, and so if you're the President and the Baker-Hamilton commission comes back with its, with its ideas and one of those ideas is a phased withdrawal of troops does the, is the President then forced to go along with it?"
Matthews: "Yes except the conundrum is I'm not sure the Baker people have the guts to come out and offer such a dramatic proposal. I've, what I've been hearing coming out of that commission is they're gonna talk about better negotiation efforts with Iran and Syria, the neighbors over there but not gonna push hard on troop withdrawals and I think a lot of people will be very disappointed when they don't. And by the way the Baker commission wasn't elected. The Democratic-controlled Congress was elected."
Lauer: "Right."
Matthews: "The people back home who voted for them aren't waiting for Jimmy Baker to bail them out, they're waiting for Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to do it. I'm telling ya, all the pressure in the world's gonna come from that Democratic base, especially the Northeast, I'm up in Boston right now, are gonna want results from having voted Democrat. They want out of Iraq as soon as possible. And that means troop withdrawals pretty soon."
Lauer: "Well let me talk about what you just mentioned. Okay let's say the Baker commission comes back and they say, 'Look you've got to sit down, Mr. President, and you have to talk with Iran and President Ahmadinejad.' What kind of position does that put President Bush in? There's been an incredible war of words between these two countries-"
Matthews: "Right."
Lauer: "-over the last several months. You've got Ahmadinejad continuing to say he's looking for the destruction of Israel."
Matthews: "Right."
Lauer: "Iran is part of that 'Axis of Evil.' How does the President handle that?"
Matthews: "That is the trickiest part in a war. I'm reading the Financial Times this morning and all the talk in Europe about is this, if they link the Middle East settlement or some kind of settlement between Israel and the new Palestinian state with getting along better with Iran it's gonna drive a lot of people in this crazy. The, the hard part for President Bush is to try to broker something that gives Iran something of what it wants. Well obviously the only thing we have to give them is something a lot of people in this administration don't want to give them, which is some kind of pressure on Israel, Olmert over there, to try to give them, give some concessions on, on dealing with the Palestinian people and that's something the administration doesn't want to do. I think Bush is in a very tough situation. He's gonna have the Democrats-"
Lauer: "Right."
Matthews: "-who demand troop withdrawals fairly soon. I think pretty damn soon. And then he's gonna have the pressure to negotiate with Iran and the only thing he can give Iran is a better, a better situation for them with regard to the Palestinians and that's one place I think this administration will not give. I don't see how Bush can really give the Iranians anything."
Lauer: "Let me change subjects real quickly and I only have 30 seconds left on this. Rudy Giuliani has announced he's gonna form an exploratory committee to look at the presidency in 2008. Handicap him for me."
Matthews: "If we had a general election in this country to start the campaign instead of to end it he would win. If you look at all the polls he beats everybody in both parties. The problem he has is convincing the Republican Party that he's their guarantee of election next time and that's the hardest fight for him, going into South Carolina being pro-gay rights, being pro-abortion rights, being basically a liberal on social policy and saying, 'Yeah but right now the issue of this country is security and fighting the terrorists, it's not those other social issues.' He's got to win that argument and he's tried to make it already."
Lauer: "Alright Chris Matthews up in Boston for us this morning. Chris, good to see you."

-- Brent Baker