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Nets Put Burden on Pope, Not Muslim Leaders, for Violence --9/19/2006


1. Nets Put Burden on Pope, Not Muslim Leaders, for Violence
Several network stories have framed the violent reaction of some Muslims to Pope Benedict's quotation last week of how 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel Paleologos II said, "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached," not around demands that Muslim leaders denounce the uncivilized reaction, but around how the Pope had "provoked" the violence, "damaged" relations with Muslims and should have realized what his words would cause. On Sunday night, ABC anchor Dan Harris led with how "some Muslims say the Pope's apology doesn't go far enough." ABC featured Professor Fawaz Gerges, who declared: "I think even though the Pope apologized today, I think it's gonna take years for the damage done to Christian-Muslim relations to be repaired."

2. Newsweek's Meacham on GMA: Remarks 'Heavy-Handed' and 'Clumsy'
On Monday's Good Morning America, anchor Diane Sawyer spoke with Newsweek Managing Editor Jon Meacham about the controversy over a centuries-old quote employed by Pope Benedict XVI in a speech on faith and reason. The Pope has since clarified his remarks, saying that it is not his own view that the prophet Muhammad's contribution to the world has been "things only evil and inhuman." Sawyer found the use the quote "baffling," and wondered if the Pope's decision to insert it into his speech was "an attempt at provocation" with Muslims. Meacham, for his part, found the Pope's speech to be a "heavy-handed" and "clumsy" attempt at starting a dialogue with the Islamic community. Meacham then brought up Pope Benedict's reputation among some as "God's Rottweiler" as head of the Vatican office charged with enforcing of Catholic doctrine during the papacy of John Paul.

3. Olbermann: Bush Like Angry 3-Year-Old and Should Apologize
In the latest of a series of "Special Comments" attacking members of the Bush administration, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann used his Monday Countdown show to make an over-the-top demand for an apology from President Bush for his recent comments that it was "unacceptable to think" the actions of America could be compared to those of terrorists. Olbermann took an awkwardly worded, off-the-cuff remark by Bush at his Friday press conference, which was more likely intended to mean that it was "ridiculous to claim" a comparison between America and terrorists. Olbermann chastised Bush for his "unrestrained fury" which the MSNBC host compared to that of a "thwarted three-year-old" who "demonizes dissent." Olbermann fretted about Bush taking America on a "fearful path," and worried about "what will next be done" with Bush's critics in the future. Harkening back to Senators Barry Goldwater and Hugh Scott meeting with former President Richard Nixon to convince him to resign, Olbermann suggested that Republicans similarly need to convince Bush to apologize. AUDIO&VIDEO

4. GMA's Disillusioned Republican Woman Not Really So Republican
Friday's Good Morning America featured a segment with Robin Roberts in Memphis with three Southern women, identified as Republicans, who are all supposedly "having second thoughts about their party" and now plan to vote for Democrats. But a quick Internet search found that two of the three have backgrounds which raise questions about their fidelity to the GOP. Janna Herbison, identified on screen as "Former Republican turned Democrat," declared: "I used to consider myself to be a Republican." She scolded Republicans: "Don't say they're [Democrats] aligning themselves with the terrorists because they disagree with you. That's un-American." But while Herbison was Press Secretary to Republican Tennessee Governor Donald Sundquist, best known for a failed effort to enact a state income tax, she was also the Press Secretary for the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus. The other, Robin Rasmussen, who insisted that "I voted Republican in every election since I was 18," appears to be on the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood for the Memphis area, which doesn't make it impossible for her to be a Republican, but certainly suggests she's long been politically active for a liberal social cause.

5. Vieira Quotes Hillary to Laura Bush on 'Fear Factor Presidency'
Meredith Vieira used the occasion of Laura Bush's in-studio appearance on Monday's Today to pepper the First Lady with criticisms from Hillary Clinton and even Republicans. The First Lady was on to promote her global literacy initiative but, not surprisingly, she ended up having to defend against Today's attack line of the day. After a set-up piece from NBC's Kelly O'Donnell that noted: "Some of the biggest names within [the President's] own party....continue to resist some of his plans for how terror suspects are treated," Vieira asked if the First Lady's global literacy initiative would help restore the nation's reputation, presumably, destroyed by the President's anti-terror policies: "Do you, do you feel that, that doing this, Mrs. Bush, will have an added benefit in the sense that our reputation around the world, fairly or unfairly, has been tarnished in recent years. Do you hope that by getting out there with this initiative that somehow you can resurrect?"

6. Late Show Contest's "Top Ten Rejected Katie Couric Sign-Offs"
Winning entries in the Late Show's "Top Ten Contest" for the "Top Ten Rejected Katie Couric Sign-Offs."


Nets Put Burden on Pope, Not Muslim Leaders,
for Violence

Several network stories have framed the violent reaction of some Muslims to Pope Benedict's quotation last week of how 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel Paleologos II said, "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached," not around demands that Muslim leaders denounce the uncivilized reaction, but around how the Pope had "provoked" the violence, "damaged" relations with Muslims and should have realized what his words would cause.

Brian Williams teased Monday's NBC Nightly News: "The Pope says he's sorry, but is his apology enough? Tonight, there's fresh outrage and new threats over his words about Islam." Reporter Richard Engel soon held the Pope accountable: "This Pope is seen as something of a hardliner who wants Europe to understand its Christian roots, to embrace them first..." Over on the CBS Evening News, Mark Phillips insisted that "an angry reaction among Muslim extremists might have been anticipated, but even moderates...say the Pope's words make their job much harder." ABC anchor Charles Gibson contended: "Perhaps the surprise was that the Vatican was surprised that Muslims took offense." David Wright's conclusion suggested both religions are equally responsible, when only one is committing violence: "Two of the world's great religions, a crucial test: Can they speak frankly without causing an uproar?" On Sunday night, anchor Dan Harris led with how "some Muslims say the Pope's apology doesn't go far enough." ABC featured Professor Fawaz Gerges, who declared: "I think even though the Pope apologized today, I think it's gonna take years for the damage done to Christian-Muslim relations to be repaired."

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

(On Monday's Good Morning America, Megan McCormack recounted in a Monday afternoon NewsBusters posting reprinted as item #2 below, Diane Sawyer found the Pope's use of the quote "baffling," and wondered if the Pope's decision to insert it into his speech was "an attempt at provocation" with Muslims. Newsweek Managing Editor Jon Meacham, for his part, found the Pope's speech to be a "heavy-handed" and "clumsy" attempt at starting a dialogue with the Islamic community.)

Some transcripts from Monday night, September 18, and Sunday night, September 17, gathered by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, though I handled the partial CBS one myself:

# CBS Evening News, Monday night:

Story from Mark Phillips, joined in progress: "...But what did Pope Benedict say exactly, and what can be said about Islam in the current environment that doesn't cause an excessive reaction? In a speech last week to academics about violence and religion in history, Benedict quoted a medieval Christian emperor saying some of Mohammed teachings have produced evil and inhumane results. An angry reaction among Muslim extremists might have been anticipated, but even moderates, like Asghar Bukhari who've been working for inter-faith dialog, say the Pope's words make their job much harder."
Asghar Bukhari, Muslin Public Affairs Committee, UK: "To be honest, I'm not looking for an apology. I don't want him to beg or grovel or say sorry a hundred times. That doesn't solve it, many of the people now have worse understanding of each other, perhaps hate each other more than they previously did."
Phillips: "The Vatican says Pope Benedict will expand on his apology at his public audience in Rome on Wednesday. But the jihadists calling for war against the West already have all the ammo they need. Some Muslim groups are calling for an international day of anger later this week. Mark Phillips, CBS News, London."


# ABC's World News with Charles Gibson, Monday night:

Charles Gibson: "You have, no doubt, heard about the Muslim protests over the weekend, protesting a speech given by the Pope. Speaking about the prophet Mohammed, Pope Benedict was quoting a 14th century Byzantine emperor who said, 'Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.' Perhaps the surprise was that the Vatican was surprised that Muslims took offense. 'A Closer Look' at the situation tonight from ABC's David Wright in Rome."

David Wright: "The offending remarks came in a scholarly speech at the Pope's alma mater. The speech, the Vatican insists, was an invitation for a dialogue between Christians and Muslims."
Robert Mickens, The Tablet: "And I think, rather naively, they didn't realize that the media doesn't work on ten-page lectures. Those words, in the mouth of a Pope, sounds like an endorsement."
Wright: "The Vatican seemed unprepared for the angry and sometimes violent reaction that has quickly swept across the Islamic world. So, this weekend, a frantic effort at damage control. The Pope himself offered his own deep apologies, a remarkable act of humility for a church that took 500 years to apologize to Galileo."
Marco Politi, La Repubblica: "Never a Pope, so publicly and personally, came out saying I regret what I have said."
Wright: "Here at the Vatican, they were clearly hoping that would settle the issue. But tonight, that appears to have been wishful thinking. The controversy has provoked an interfaith dialogue, but it's not exactly a friendly conversation. Today, al-Qaeda in Iraq vowed jihad against the worshipers of the Cross, and Shiite protesters in Basra burnt the Pope in effigy. As angry as the protests have been, in every Islamic city, many urged restraint so as not to reinforce negative stereotypes associating Islam with violence."
Rami Hazoo, Cairo tour guide: "Our world needs to be a bit more understanding and not jump at every word that somebody says."
Wright: "Muslim leaders are now calling for Friday to be a worldwide nonviolent day of rage. Two of the world's great religions, a crucial test. Can they speak frankly without causing an uproar? David Wright, ABC News, Rome."


# ABC's World News Sunday:

Dan Harris, in opening teaser: "And good evening. I'm Dan Harris. Tonight, Pope Benedict says he is deeply sorry after making a speech that has provoked violence across the Muslim world. But some Muslims say the Pope's apology doesn't go far enough. Will there now be more violence? That's our top story tonight."

After a story from David Wright, Harris went to a guest expert: "A moment ago, I spoke to ABC News analyst Fawaz Gerges, who's an expert on the Muslim world. He is in Cairo tonight, and I asked him if he thinks the violence will now get worse."
Prof. Fawaz Gerges, International Affairs and Middle Eastern Studies, Sarah Lawrence College: "Well, absolutely. I think even though the Pope apologized today, I think it's gonna take years for the damage done to Christian-Muslim relations to be repaired. People here really, Dan, are hurt. They believe that the leader of the Roman Catholic Church insulted their prophet and religion. There's a great deal of anger, a widespread sentiment that what the Pope did was to supply religious justification for what they believe is an onslaught against Islam and Muslims."
Harris: "Earlier this year, there was an uproar over editorial cartoons that were printed in newspapers across Europe that compared the Prophet Mohammed to a terrorist. Is this crisis worse?"
Gerges: "Absolutely, Dan. Remember, we're not talking about writers, about journalists here. As the Imam of the Al-Ashar mosque, I talked to him on Friday, he's one, it's one of the oldest and most prestigious religious institutions in Egypt, he said to me, 'Listen, we expected better from the leader of the Catholic Church.' People here, Dan, don't see what the Pope said in isolation. They see it as part of an onslaught against Islam and Muslims, really across the board, even students at the American University, progressive liberal students, feel deeply hurt and angry by the remarks of the Pope, in particular, against the Prophet, that is Prophet Mohammed. And comparing the Prophet, calling him, you know, referring to him in terms of evil and inhumanity and so on and so forth."

Sarah Lawrence College's page for Gerges: pages.slc.edu


# NBC Nightly News, Monday night:

Brian Williams, in opening teaser: "The Pope says he's sorry, but is his apology enough? Tonight, there's fresh outrage and new threats over his words about Islam."

Williams, following a taped report from Keith Miller, turned to Richard Engel back from Iraq and at the anchor desk: "And for more here tonight on this fallout from the Pope's speech, we're fortunate to have our NBC News Chief Middle East correspondent Richard Engel here with us in New York at our headquarters. And, Richard, this, it's your position, this doesn't help a problem the Pope already had."
Richard Engel: "Absolutely, Brian. He was already very unpopular in the Middle East, unlike Pope John Paul II, who was seen as someone who was preaching peace and understanding, and was embraced by many people across the Middle East. This Pope is seen as something of a hardliner who wants Europe to understand its Christian roots, to embrace them first, and that only after that a Christian identity has been encapsulated, that then there should be a dialogue with the Muslim world."
Williams: "And in talking to you here today, you reminded us this was also a story that was exacerbated and accelerated by being in our Internet age."
Engel: "Absolutely. Most people in the Middle East are not following every speech that's given by the Pope, but time and time again, we've seen a relatively small incident like this one. First, there was the cartoons this summer, and before that, there was the incident of the Newsweek article that accused guards at Guantanamo Bay of flushing a Koran down the toilet. A small group of radicals was able to use these issues, spread them around the world, and put them on the Muslim agenda."

Newsweek's Meacham on GMA: Remarks 'Heavy-Handed'
and 'Clumsy'

On Monday's Good Morning America, anchor Diane Sawyer spoke with Newsweek Managing Editor Jon Meacham about the controversy over a centuries-old quote employed by Pope Benedict XVI in a speech on faith and reason. Protests, violence and threats against the Vatican and representatives of the Catholic Church have erupted since the Pope's speech, where he used a quote from a Byzantine emperor, Manuel II. The Pope has since clarified his remarks, saying that it is not his own view that the prophet Muhammad's contribution to the world has been "things only evil and inhuman."

Sawyer found the use the quote "baffling," and wondered if the Pope's decision to insert it into his speech was "an attempt at provocation" with Muslims. Meacham, for his part, found the Pope's speech to be a "heavy-handed" and "clumsy" attempt at starting a dialogue with the Islamic community. Meacham then brought up Pope Benedict's reputation among some as "God's Rottweiler" as head of the Vatican office charged with enforcing of Catholic doctrine during the papacy of John Paul. (ABCNews.com carried a story with the headline "'God's Rottweiler's' First Crisis." See: abcnews.go.com )

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

Sawyer asked Meacham why, "in this climate," no Vatican aides would have tried to stop the Pope from using the quote. Meacham argued that leaders have "a hard time getting good advice" and that Benedict, being the author of his own speeches, "misjudged" any potential reaction to the speech.

Meacham then stated that Pope Benedict made a "mistake" in failing to mention any of the "tragic episodes" in Christianity's history, including the not-so-recent 12th and 13th century Crusades and the Inquisition. Sawyer also deplored the loss of "moderates" in Pakistan and Turkey, who are now "forced" to come out against the Pope because of his remarks.

The full transcript of the September 18 interview:

Diane Sawyer: "All right. Let's turn now to that outrage, the backlash in the wake of Pope Benedict's controversial comments about Muslims. Take a look at this. This is a live shot of the Vatican this morning, where we're told mingling among the tourists are security guards disguised as tourists. A beefed up security presence every place, including on the tops of the buildings this morning, because of the threats that have been issued. Well, joining us is one of the most respected observers of the Vatican and religion and Newsweek managing editor, Jon Meacham. It's good to have you here, Jon."
Jon Meacham, Newsweek, managing editor: "Thanks, Diane."
Sawyer: "I want to put this quote back up there again, because it's so baffling to a lot of us. To go back to the 14th century, to pull out a quote from a pope who says that Muhammad basically brought things that were only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached. Was this an accident or an attempt at provocation?"
Meacham: "Well, I think it was an attempt to start a dialogue. I think it was a clumsy attempt. I think it was oblique. It was the beginning of a lecture in Germany. You remember, remember, Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict XVI was a German professor. He was later caricatured, in many ways, as God's Rottweiler, when he was John Paul II's enforcer, in many ways-"
Sawyer: "Oh, that's right. Right."
Meacham: "-head of the congregation for the doctrine of faith. What I think he was trying to do is begin a conversation. He did it in about as heavy handed and misguided way as I think possible."
Sawyer: "But this is a very educated man. Someone around him must have said, wait a minute, in this climate, you want to say that?"
Meacham: "Well, he is the Pope. And, you know, as we all know, leaders sometimes have a hard time getting good advice. And so, he writes his own speeches, in many cases. He is often the smartest person in the room. I think that he really misjudged how these words would carry, and I think now for the Vatican to step back and say, well, we didn't really mean this, is, in fact, is, in fact, not very tenable a position, because as Jesus said, to whom much is given, much is expected. And the vicar of Christ has a large microphone."
Sawyer: "Let's look at that apology again, because, again it was carefully worded. He said, 'I am deeply sorry for the reactions-"
Meacham: "Right. Mistakes-"
Sawyer: "-in some countries.' The reactions."
Meacham: "As, as you know well, mistakes were made."
Sawyer: "That's right. The exit strategy."
Meacham: "It's, it's a, it's a, it's sort of a non-apology. He says he did not share the views. And I think what the great tragedy of this, is that this man has written a book on truth and tolerance, in which he says we must make distinctions between religion. He was laying out earlier in the speech, he said, you know, there's an early Koranic verse that says there must be no compulsion in religion. The problem is, if you are going to wade into these waters, which are essential waters in which to wade, absolutely-"
Sawyer: "In these times."
Meacham: "-you have to do it focused. You have to just say, this is a speech about Islam and Christianity and where we can come together."
Sawyer: "And a lot of people have said you have to also mention, that I think, in Christianity there are some really tragic episodes."
Meacham: "Yes. You know, in journalism we call it the 'to be sure' paragraph. You know, to be sure, we had the Crusades, Pogroms, forced conversions, the Inquisition. For him not to mention cases where Christianity has been used to justify violence was a mistake."
Sawyer: "Something else a number of people have said is that the, the sad part about this, in many ways, is that the moderates now, the Pakistan parliament, as we know, passed a resolution, voted a condemnation of him. And you have the Turkish government reacting to him. You have the Moroccans recalling their ambassador. So, the moderates are forced to weigh in against him. What does he have to do to turn this around?"
Meacham: "Well, I would, if I were the Pope, I think he needs to give a important, serious address about his view of Islam, historically. He can use this, why not use, use the moment as an opportunity and say, like John Paul II, who was the first pope to visit a mosque in Damascus in 2000, and in the three months after September 11th, John Paul said that Christianity and Islam will only clash when religion is perverted for political or ideological ends, that the religion itself is not intrinsically impure or, as Manuel said, evil or inhuman. If he could take this moment, he certainly has the world's attention, and lay out a cohesive and charitable vision of how we can co-exist, then perhaps some good can come of this."
Sawyer: "Use this moment, really, to discuss the issue."
Meacham: "Yes, to really -- and not just, not -- you know, what he did is he dropped this grenade at the beginning of the lecture, that was very interesting about faith and reason. But, trust me, if he had not had that in the first paragraph, you and I would not be sitting here discussing his lecture on faith and reason last week in Germany."

Olbermann: Bush Like Angry 3-Year-Old
and Should Apologize

In the latest of a series of "Special Comments" attacking members of the Bush administration, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann used his Monday Countdown show to make an over-the-top demand for an apology from President Bush for his recent comments that it was "unacceptable to think" the actions of America could be compared to those of terrorists. Olbermann took an awkwardly worded, off-the-cuff remark by Bush at his Friday press


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conference, which was more likely intended to mean that it was "ridiculous to claim" a comparison between America and terrorists, and blew it out of proportion as if the comment were an attack on the right to think, and therefore a grave threat to democracy.

On Monday, Olbermann chastised Bush for his "unrestrained fury" which the MSNBC host compared to that of a "thwarted three-year-old" who "demonizes dissent." Olbermann fretted about Bush taking America on a "fearful path," and worried about "what will next be done" with Bush's critics in the future. Harkening back to Senators Barry Goldwater and Hugh Scott meeting with former President Richard Nixon to convince him to resign, Olbermann suggested that Republicans similarly need to convince Bush to apologize.

[This item by Brad Wilmouth was posted Monday night, with video, on the MRC's NewsBusters.org blog. The audio/video clip will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, but in the meantime, to watch Windows Media or Real video, or listen to an mp3 audio clip of the last two-thirds of Olbermann's eight-minute diatribe, go to: newsbusters.org ]

Monday's CyberAlert item, "Olbermann Blasts 'Orwellian' Bush for 'Telling Us What to Think,'" recounted Olbermann's Friday rant: www.mrc.org

For text and video of Olbermann's 9/11 diatribe, see the September 12 CyberAlert item with video, "Olbermann: Bush's 'Impeachable Lies...Crime Against' 9/11 Victims," online at: www.mrc.org

Below is a complete transcript of the "Special Comment" segment from the end of the Monday, September 18 Countdown:

Keith Olbermann: "Finally tonight, a 'Special Comment' about the Rose Garden news conference last Friday. The President of the United States owes this country an apology. It will not be offered, of course. He does not realize its necessity. There are now none around him who would tell him, nor could. The last of them, it appears, was the very man whose letter provoked the President into the conduct for which the apology is essential. An apology is this President's only hope of regaining the slightest measure of confidence of what has been, for nearly two years, a clear majority of his people. Not confidence in his policies nor in his designs nor even in something as narrowly focused as which vision of torture shall prevail, his or that of the man who has sent him into apoplexy, Colin Powell.
"In a larger sense, though, the President needs to regain our confidence that he has some basic understanding of what this country represents, of what it must maintain if we are to defeat not only terrorists, but if we are also to defeat what is ever more increasingly apparent, as an attempt to redefine the way we live here, and what we mean when we say the word 'freedom' because it is evident now that, if not its architect, this President intends to be the contractor, for this narrowing of the definition of freedom.
"The President revealed this last Friday, as he fairly spat, through his teeth, words of unrestrained fury directed at the man who was once the very symbol of his administration, who was once an ambassador from this administration to its critics, as he had once been an ambassador from the military to its critics. The former Secretary of State, Mr. Powell, had written, simply and candidly and without anger, that 'the world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism.'
"This President's response included not merely what is apparently the presidential equivalent of threatening to hold one's breath, but within it contained one particularly chilling phrase."
"Mr. President, former Secretary of State Colin Powell says the world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. If a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State feels this way, don't you think that Americans and the rest of the world are beginning to wonder whether you're following a flawed strategy?"
George W. Bush, at Friday's press conference: "If there's any comparison between the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists, it's flawed logic. It's just, I simply can't accept that. It's unacceptable to think that there's any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective."
Olbermann: "Of course it's acceptable to think that there's any kind of comparison. And in this particular debate, it is not only acceptable, it is obviously necessary, even if Mr. Powell never made the comparison in his letter."
"Some will think that our actions at Abu Ghraib or in Guantanamo or in secret prisons in Eastern Europe are all too comparable to the actions of the extremists. Some will think that there is no similarity or, if there is one, it is to the slightest and most unavoidable of degrees.
"What all of us will agree on, is that we have the right, we have the duty, to think about the comparison. And, most importantly, that the other guy, whose opinion about this we cannot fathom, has exactly the same right as we do: to think and say what his mind and his heart and his conscience tell him is right. All of us agree about that except, it seems, this President. With increasing rage, he and his administration have begun to tell us that we are not permitted to disagree with them, that we cannot be right, that Colin Powell cannot be right.

[Video/audio clip linked above starts here]
"And then there was that one most awful phrase. In four simple words last Friday, the President brought into sharp focus what has been only vaguely clear these past five-and-a-half years, the way the terrain at night is perceptible only during an angry flash of lightning, and then a second later, all again is dark. 'It's unacceptable to think,' he said. It is never unacceptable to think.
"And when a President says thinking is unacceptable, even on one topic, even in the heat of the moment, even in the turning of a phrase extracted from its context, he takes us toward a new and fearful path, one heretofore the realm of science fiction authors and apocalyptic visionaries. That flash of lightning freezes at the distant horizon, and we can just make out a world in which authority can actually suggest it has become unacceptable to think.
"Thus the lightning flash reveals not merely a President we have already seen, the one who believes he has a monopoly on current truth. It now shows us a President who has decided that of all our commanders-in-chief ever, he alone has had the knowledge necessary to alter and reshape our inalienable rights.
"This is a frightening and a dangerous delusion, Mr. President. If Mr. Powell's letter -- cautionary, concerned, predominantly supportive -- can induce from you such wrath and such intolerance, what would you say were this statement to be shouted to you by a reporter or written to you by a colleague? 'Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.' Those incendiary thoughts came, of course, from a prior holder of your job, Mr. Bush. They were the words of Thomas Jefferson. He put them in the Declaration of Independence.
"Mr. Bush, what would you say to something that antithetical to the status quo just now? Would you call it unacceptable for Jefferson to think such things or to write them?
"Between your confidence in your infallibility, sir, and your demonizing of dissent, and now these rages better suited to a thwarted three-year old, you have left the unnerving sense of a White House coming unglued, a chilling suspicion that perhaps we have not seen the peak of the anger, that we can no longer forecast what next will be said to, or about, anyone who disagrees. Or what will next be done to them.
"On this newscast last Friday, constitutional law Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University suggested that at some point in the near future some of the detainees transferred from secret CIA cells to Guantanamo will finally get to tell the Red Cross that they have indeed been tortured. Thus the debate over the Geneva Conventions might not be about further interrogations of detainees, but about those already conducted, and the possible liability of the administration for them. That certainly could explain Mr. Bush's fury, but that, at this point, is speculative. But at least it provides an alternative possibility as to why the President's words were at such variance from the entire history of this country.
"For, there needs to be some other explanation, Mr. Bush, than that you truly believe we should live in a United States of America in which a thought is unacceptable. There needs to be a delegation of responsible leaders, Republicans or otherwise, who can sit you down as Barry Goldwater and Hugh Scott once sat Richard Nixon down, and explain the reality of the situation you have created. There needs to be an apology from the President of the United States. And more than one.
"But, Mr. Bush, the others, for warnings unheeded five years ago, for war unjustified four years ago, for battle unprepared three years ago, they are not weighted with the urgency and the necessity of this one. We must know that, to you, thought with which you disagree, and even voice with which you disagree, and even action with which you disagree, are still sacrosanct to you.
"The philosopher Voltaire once insisted to another author, 'I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.' Since the nation's birth, Mr. Bush, we have misquoted and even embellished that statement, but we have served ourselves well by subscribing to its essence. Oddly, there are other words of Voltaire's that are more pertinent still, just now. 'Think for yourselves,' he wrote, 'and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.'
"Apologize, sir, for even hinting at an America where a few have that privilege to think and the rest of us wind up getting yelled at by the President. Anything else, Mr. Bush, is truly unacceptable. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck."

GMA's Disillusioned Republican Woman
Not Really So Republican

Friday's Good Morning America featured a segment with Robin Roberts in Memphis with three Southern women, identified as Republicans, who are all supposedly "having second thoughts about their party" and now plan to vote for Democrats. But a quick Internet search found that two of the three have backgrounds which raise questions about their fidelity to the GOP. Janna Herbison, identified on screen as "Former Republican turned Democrat," declared: "I used to consider myself to be a Republican." She scolded Republicans: "Don't say they're [Democrats] aligning themselves with the terrorists because they disagree with you. That's un-American." But while Herbison was Press Secretary to Republican Tennessee Governor Donald Sundquist, best known for a failed effort to enact a state income tax, she was also the Press Secretary for the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus. The other, Robin Rasmussen, who insisted that "I voted Republican in every election since I was 18," appears to be on the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood for the Memphis area, which doesn't make it impossible for her to be a Republican, but certainly suggests she's long been politically active for a liberal social cause.

Following Roberts' sit-down with the three woman, GMA co-host Diane Sawyer contended that "another worrying thing for the Republicans has to be how much" the women "just seem to want change of some kind."

Picking up on a Friday posting about the ABC story by Megan McCormack, on the MRC's NewsBusters blog, Free Republic poster "lowbridge" dug up some information about the women ABC showcased. The September 15 Free Republic posting: www.freerepublic.com

"Lowbridge" found a PDF of the newsletter of the Memphis Regional Planned Parenthood that lists Robin Rasmussen's name on the Board of Directors: www.plannedparenthood.org

Of course, it is possible there is more than one Robin Rasmussen in Memphis.

The information on Herbison is more definitive since I found a picture of her online that matches her appearance on GMA. "Lowbridge" located a letter Herbison wrote in 2005 to liberal New York Congressman Carolyn McCarthy. It began: "Hello...My name is Janna Herbison, and I am a wife and mother from Tennessee, who is also a former television news reporter and former Democratic Press Secretary for the TN Legislature. I have recently written a book entitled 'Southern in the City' -- a manuscript about my experiences in Manhattan/New York over 20 years as a Southerner." See: www.congress.org

I located a July 11, 2006 NashvillePost.com posting, "Former state official on book tour," with a picture of Herbison which looks just like the woman on ABC. It began:
"Janna Fite Herbison, a former press secretary for former Governor Don Sundquist and the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus has just published her first book, Southern in The City...A Mason-Dixon View of Manhattan." See: www.nashvillepost.com

The ABCNews.com version of the story, with video of what aired: abcnews.go.com

A transcript of the September 15 GMA segment in which Robin Roberts sat with the three women:

Robin Roberts: "You know how it is when GMA is out on the road like this, traveling around the country. We really like to spend time in town, talking with the locals, what's most important to them. Well, many are thinking about the upcoming election. And here in Tennessee, both parties, Republicans and Democrats, are battling for the Senate seat being vacated by majority leader Bill Frist. Southern women in recent years have been voting Republican, but are they going to stick with the GOP in 2006? Well, I sat down with three women here in Memphis, and all three are Republicans and all three are, well, having second thoughts about their party."
Robin Rasmussen, Republican voting for Democrats: "I voted Republican in every election since I was 18."
Roberts: "But not this year. Robin Rasmussen is thinking of voting for a Democrat and she's not alone."
Janna Herbison, former Republican turned Democrat: "And I used to consider myself to be a Republican."
Roberts: "In a recent ABC News poll, fifty-three percent of Southern women are leaning toward Democrats in upcoming elections. That's a six point gain. Why the shift? Concerns over issues close to home."
Kellyanne Conway, Republican pollster: "If women in the south feel upset that the other issues they care about have not been sufficiently addressed by the Republican leadership in Washington, they may take that estrangement directly to the ballot box."
Roberts: "What are the issues, Tracy, that you're most concerned about?"
Tracy Quick Bradford, Republican voting for Democrats: "I think health care, education and the economy. And I think that the, the candidates that, that represent the Democratic party this year are most in line with my views."
Roberts: "Is that difficult for you to say because you traditionally voted Republican?"
Bradford: "Yes. To a certain extent, it is difficult."
Roberts: "Robin, what's important to you?"
Rasmussen: "My number one thing is education. Because I think if you solve the education, you fix everything else."
Roberts: "Janna, what about you? What's your, what's the burning issue for you?"
Herbison: "The war is a big issue with me. At this point, I hope that we succeed with it, because we've invested so much in it. But I think about the troops every day and I think about why we're there."
Roberts: "When you think of national security, who do you think can protect you best?"
Bradford: "I don't think that anyone knows, I don't think anyone has this crystal ball as to who's really going to protect us best, this way or that way. I think, you know, we're doing what we can."
Rasmussen: "If the Democrats are in power, they're gonna, you know they're going to do the best they -- you hope that they're going to do the best that they can."
Herbison: "And I heard a comment, I think, from a Congressman the other day that said if the Democrats don't agree with the war, they're more concerned with the terrorists safety than with Americans safety. And I couldn't, that just, that blew my mind. I just thought, you know, they really -- how, how could they have a right to say that, because we live in America, and if you don't agree with it, that's fine, you know, but don't attack someone personally. Don't say they're aligning themselves with the terrorists because they disagree with you. That's un-American."
Roberts: "But what is it? Is there something that you see or hear from a candidate that makes you go, I'm going to vote for that person?"
Bradford: "We're looking for a new form of leadership and just some fresh, new ideas and more integrity in our government, and I think that's where we're, I hope that's where we're headed."
Roberts: "It was really enlightening sitting down with all three of those women. We have a lively, lively discussion yesterday. And all of them said that they really look now at the candidate instead of the party, that they're not just going to vote along party lines and they look at the individual candidate. Chris and Diane?"
Diane Sawyer: "Yeah, Robin, candidate and connection obviously to them. But another worrying thing for the Republicans has to be how much they just seem to want change of some kind."
Chris Cuomo: "That's right. I mean, you have to distinguish between not liking the Republicans and feeling that the Democrats are a better bet. They probably will go candidate by candidate."

Vieira Quotes Hillary to Laura Bush on
'Fear Factor Presidency'

Meredith Vieira used the occasion of Laura Bush's in-studio appearance on Monday's Today to pepper the First Lady with criticisms from Hillary Clinton and even Republicans. The First Lady was on to promote her global literacy initiative but, not surprisingly, she ended up having to defend against Today's attack line of the day. After a set-up piece from NBC's Kelly O'Donnell that noted: "Some of the biggest names within [the President's] own party....continue to resist some of his plans for how terror suspects are treated," Vieira asked if the First Lady's global literacy initiative would help restore the nation's reputation, presumably, destroyed by the President's anti-terror policies: "Do you, do you feel that, that doing this, Mrs. Bush, will have an added benefit in the sense that our reputation around the world, fairly or unfairly, has been tarnished in recent years. Do you hope that by getting out there with this initiative that somehow you can resurrect?"

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

Then after noting the how President "...took a pounding in recent days, not from Democrats but from three key Republican Senators who are greatly opposed to his proposal for interrogating and trying those suspected of terrorism," Vieira specifically cited Hillary Clinton's criticism: "And at the same time Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Senator, has said some pretty strong things about your husband. I think she referred to his presidency as the, 'fear factor presidency.'" (For Tim Graham's NewsBusters item on the source of Hillary Clinton's charge: newsbusters.org )

However the strangest moment of the interview came when Vieira actually pondered if the government should do something about the state of how American girls view their body image: "I have to ask you as a mom of two daughters, I have one daughter, your reaction to Madrid banning skinny models at the Fashion Week? In fact that came up in London over the weekend. Do you think the government should get involved in body images?"
Bush: "I don't see our government getting involved."
Vieira: "Should it?"

The following is O'Donnell's entire September 18 set-up piece followed by all of Vieira's questions to Laura Bush:

Matt Lauer: "On Close Up this morning the President takes Manhattan. President Bush is headed here to New York this morning for a high stakes meeting of the United Nations General Assembly this week. The President wants to promote democracy in the Middle East but it's democracy here at home that's causing some problems. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell has more this morning from the White House. Hi, Kelly, good morning."

Kelly O'Donnell: "Good morning, Matt. You know the President knows when he heads up to the UN that he will be having to practice some diplomacy there but he probably didn't expect he'd need to work it with some of the biggest names within his own party, people who continue to resist some of his plans for how terror suspects are treated."
George W. Bush: "Mr. Secretary General-"
O'Donnell: "The President heads to the United Nations today to visit an organization he describes as 'frustrating,' where his views are not necessarily embraced."
Bush: "It's always an interesting experience, Richard, for a West Texas fellow to speak to the United Nations."
O'Donnell: "But talking Texan to his own party has been tough enough. Key Republican senators with extensive military expertise and former Secretary of State Colin Powell fear the consequences of the President's insistence that the 60-year-old Geneva conventions be clarified."
Sen. Lindsey Graham: "I am very concerned that if we do not watch it we're not gonna just redefine the law to meet the needs on the war on terror, we're gonna redefine America."
Colin Powell: "As a soldier I believe that the Geneva Convention, all parts of it, especially Common Article 3 should not be modified, explained, clarified or redefined in any way."
O'Donnell: "On interrogation tactics the President wants more definition of what's legal so CIA questioners won't be tried as war criminals. Opponents say U.S. enemies could decide to change their rules too, leaving Americans at risk. Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte disagrees."
John Negroponte: "We are certainly not seeking permission for torture, torture is against the law, it's illegal-"
O'Donnell: "The President's return trip to the United Nations is designed to promote Mr. Bush's agenda that freedom and opportunity can prevent the spread of terrorism. Perhaps most anticipated, the President and Iran's leader with his nuclear ambitions, together in the same UN complex for the first time, but expect no showdown."
Bush: "No, I'm not gonna meet with him."
O'Donnell: "President says that until Iran can prove it has suspended its uranium enrichment there will be no contact between the U.S. government and the Iranian regime. The President is going to meet with the leader of Malaysia to try and highlight how that country is both a moderate Muslim state and a democracy, a point he's trying to make more broadly for the Middle East. Meredith."

Meredith Vieira: "Kelly O'Donnell, thanks very much. Another member of the First Family will also be stopping at the UN this week. First Lady Laura Bush is in New York to focus on global issues including healthy, literacy and poverty. Mrs. Bush welcome, thank you so much for joining us."
[Laura Bush]
Vieira: "Get off your feet for a few minutes."
[Bush]
Vieira: "Exactly. How do you like the new digs?"
[Bush]
Vieira: "To your suit so you look lovely. It's high-definition so Democrats and Republicans are equal here."
[Bush]
Vieira: "That's right it's dangerous for all of us. I mentioned before that you were here for an international conference on global literacy, we're gonna get to that but you've been traveling all over the world talking about literacy and all over this country really campaigning for Republican candidates. Is there any one issue that most people ask you about? Any one issue that stands out as the one most asked?"
[Bush]
Vieira: "And your number one issue right now, in terms of being here, in New York really is global literacy."
[Bush]
Vieira: "And these are countries that obviously have real issues with literacy, obviously, and you've promoted it in this country quite a bit as a, both as a former librarian and a teacher and said that literacy is power. Why now focus outward? Why take it out?"
[Bush]
Vieira: "And most of them are women, which I find so interesting."
[Bush]
Vieira: "Why do you think that is, Mrs. Bush? And given that, even if you have wonderful proposals, which you do, how do you convince the governments in those countries to enact them?"
[Bush]
Vieira: "So why the governments gonna grant it?"
[Bush]
Vieira: "Do you, do you feel that, that doing this, Mrs. Bush, will have an added benefit in the sense that our reputation around the world, fairly or unfairly, has been tarnished in recent years. Do you hope that by getting out there with this initiative that somehow you can resurrect?"
Bush: "Well I mean that's certainly, that'd be a nice side effect, if that's what happened but no, the real purpose of it is to try to make sure governments invest in education for their citizens and the way, any ways that UNESCO as a UN agency or other pri-, either private foundations or our government can help, we will. And our government already does. We have an African education initiative where we're publishing text books. Six American universities are matched with six African countries and they're publishing textbooks in Africa that are traditional stories that would, that African children would want to know and African teachers would want to teach. And so there are many ways, already, that our government is working on it. But today's conference will really be a charge to every nation to invest in their people by investing in education. If people are educated economies are better, we know that. The countries with the highest education also have-"
Vieira: "So it affects everybody obviously."
Bush: "-the best economies."
Vieira: "I want to focus now for a second on, on what's going on here. The good news is people love you, your approval rating is 61 percent, the bad news is that people don't feel quite the same way about your husband. His approval rating is about 42 percent which may be why you're out on the campaign trail. You tend to be the face, very often. And you've raised-"
Bush: "Well I'm on the campaign trail but he is too. He's on the campaign a lot."
Vieira: "But you really are and you've raised a tremendous amount of money. I believe it's $11 million for Republican candidates. When you are out there and you meet somebody who's on the fence, isn't sure how they're gonna vote, at this point, and they, and they ask you about the war in Iraq what do you say to them?"
Bush: "Well I say exactly what the President says, that we need to stay the course. That it's really in our interest as Americans to make sure Iraq can build a stable democracy. You've seen lately in the last few weeks the prime minister of Iraq talking here. They want us to stay there. They want to be able to build a democracy. And if we left now we would leave a country without the support they need to build a democracy. I'm optimistic about it."
Vieira: "And yet so many people are uneasy."
Bush: "I think they really can build a democracy. Of course people are. No one wants war."
Vieira: "Yeah."
Bush: "The President doesn't want war. No one does."
Vieira: "How did the President respond? He took a pounding in recent days, not from Democrats but from three key Republican senators who are greatly opposed to his proposal for interrogating and trying those suspected of terrorism, and they, in fact, said that it could undermine, the President's proposal could undermine our reputation around the world and beyond that, I just want to quote from Secretary of State, former Secretary of State Colin Powell who said, quote, 'The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. To redefine Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk.' Those are strong words."
Bush: "Well they are strong words and the President has asked the Congress to make sure that all of those articles are specifically, that they are the ones that make the laws. That they write them so that they're very clear and that's really important for them to do and they'll, they will come to some sort of consensus I think."
Vieira: "But the-"
Bush: "Both the President and the three senator and congressmen that you mentioned and I think that they will come out with something that's very clear. Obviously Americans are not for torture and neither is the President."
Vieira: "But the fact they questioned him, Mrs. Bush, and, and him-"
Bush: "Well I wouldn't say they questioned him."
Vieira: "His proposals."
Bush: "I think they're questioning some, some of the ideas. It's a whole way that both the executive branch and the congressional branch work together for the best for the United States. And that's the, what is going on."
Vieira: "Did it upset him or surprise him? Did it upset or surprise him that these people, I mean he's-"
Bush: "Well no not really I mean he's, he knows these men very well, obviously. All of them. He's, knows them very well. He knows what their issues are and he wants the Congress to make a clear definition, clear legal definition so that we can proceed from that definition. Obviously he thinks it's very important to be able to interrogate in a way that is not demeaning because it's important for us to know to-"
Vieira: "So you don't believe he-"
Bush: "-to protect ourselves as a country from, from terrorist attack. This is not like any other war we've ever fought."
Vieira: "You know if somebody said to me six years ago that the Bushes and the Clintons are gonna be cozy, I would've said, 'You're crazy.' But first I see your, your father-in-law, the former president Bush, joining forces with Bill Clinton in terms of tsunami and Katrina relief. And now you're gonna be joining forces with Bill Clinton on his initiative this Wednesday. And at the same time Hillary Rodham Clinton, the senator, has said some pretty strong things about your husband. I think she referred to his presidency as the, 'fear factor presidency.' Given your relationship now, with Bill Clinton, how do you reconcile those kind of comments? 'Cause if it was, somebody said that about my husband I'd wanna knock 'em, you know? I'd just get angry."
[Bush]
Vieira: "So you can put aside that, the politics?"
[Bush]
Vieira: "I have to ask you as a mom of two daughters, I have one daughter, your reaction to Madrid banning skinny models at the Fashion Week? In fact that came up in London over the weekend. Do you think the government should get involved in body images?"
Bush: "I don't see our government getting involved."
Vieira: "Should it?"
Bush: "-in skinny models but our government is involved in obesity and that is talked about a lot. Our Department of Health certainly and all the new studies that show how children are heavier than they were in previous generations for a lot of reasons we know from a lot of fast food, a lot of large portions as well, of course so much more time sitting watching television or, or on the Internet or playing video games."
Vieira: "Exactly, just not moving."
Bush: "That's right. So-"
Vieira: "One last question Mrs. Bush. We're doing a segment later on, on happiness, finding happiness later on in life. Are you happy and if so how do you define it?"
[Bush]
Vieira: "I'm 52 you can-"
[Bush]
Vieira: "It is such a pleasure to meet you finally. Thank you so much."

Late Show Contest's "Top Ten Rejected
Katie Couric Sign-Offs"

As submitted by Late Show with David Letterman newsletter subscribers and Web site visitors, the winning entries in last week's "Top Ten Contest," the "Top Ten Rejected Katie Couric Sign-Offs." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com 10. "That's it. Now get mama her gin" (Valerie N., Tonawanda, NY)

9. "Thank you for watching. Tune in tomorrow for another incredible night of celebrity baby pictures" (Alice B., Neptune, NJ)

8. "Don't forget, America -- I put a camera up my ass for you" (Dave G., Harrisburg, PA)

7. "...And that's everything our Corporate Overlords want you to know" (Mark S., Lansing, KS)

6. "Good night, Suri" (David S., Plano, TX)

5. "Please, someone tell me how to get 'old man smell' out of my chair" (Dale B., Sacramento, CA)

4. "Remember, America, Al Qaeda watches Brian Williams" (Rob R., Short Hills, NJ)

3. "Did these stories make my butt look fat?" (Jerry P., Decatur, AL)

2. "If you don't like the news, blame the Jews!" (Marc W., Merrick)

1. "Cleavage" (Stephen H., Chicago, IL)

The "Top Ten Contest" page: www.cbs.com

-- Brent Baker