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Olbermann Hypes Bernstein's "Bush Worse Than Watergate" Article --4/19/2006


1. Olbermann Hypes Bernstein's "Bush Worse Than Watergate" Article
On his Countdown show Tuesday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann hyped an article posted on the Vanity Fair Web site, by Washington Post and Time magazine veteran Carl Bernstein, which called for congressional hearings into, as described by Olbermann, "the entirety of the Bush administration." Olbermann referred to the crusading journalist of Watergate fame as an "eminent voice" calling for Congress to find out if the Bush White House is "worse than Watergate." He then brought aboard Bernstein for what the Countdown host touted as an "exclusive interview," to discuss the article, during which Bernstein referred to the "distressing, terrible situation" of having a Bush administration that "has not been very truthful" when it comes to "almost everything important that we have been told by this President." Bernstein also described the controversial NSA surveillance program as a "totally illegal...usurpation of power...under the guise of national security," equating it to the illegal wiretapping by the Nixon administration. Bernstein recalled how "there was an article of impeachment against Nixon for wiretapping."

2. Time's "Best Senators" Tilts Left & to "Maverick" Media Favorites
Time magazine decided to rank "America's Ten Best Senators" for their April 24 edition. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Massimo Calabresi and Perry Bacon proclaim that they consulted all sorts of pundits and academics, but they mostly picked ultraliberal Democrats and moderate Republicans. Even the Republicans with more conservative voting scores (think John McCain) are seen by the media as more centrist, willing to frustrate the Bush White House.

3. CBS's Weather Man from Baghdad: Iraq Better Than the Headlines
If you want a comprehensive picture of the situation in Iraq, you probably won't get it from traditional news anchors. In fact, on Tuesday's Early Show on CBS it took a report from Dave Price, the weatherman, for viewers to get a fuller picture of the conditions. Price has spent the last week in Iraq touring with entertainers, such as musician Charlie Daniels, who are performing for the troops. Toward the end of the 7am half hour on Tuesday, he checked in with a report from Baghdad where he hinted that things in Iraq really aren't as bad as the media are making out: "And throughout this whole journey, despite what the headlines that we read and see in the United States are, the morale of the troops may surprise you."

4. Brit Hume Picks Up on Givhan's Hair Style Criticism from the Left
You read it here first. In his "Grapevine" segment Tuesday's Special Report with Brit Hume, FNC's Hume picked up on the MRC's CyberAlert/NewsBusters recitation of how Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan, who on Monday won a Pulitzer Prize, in 2004 offered glowing comments about John Kerry's and John Edwards' hair while taking negative shots at the hair styles of Gorge W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

5. "Top Ten Signs You're Not Going to Win a Pulitzer Prize"
Letterman's "Top Ten Signs You're Not Going to Win a Pulitzer Prize."


Olbermann Hypes Bernstein's "Bush Worse
Than Watergate" Article

On his Countdown show Tuesday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann hyped an article posted on the Vanity Fair Web site, by Washington Post and Time magazine veteran Carl Bernstein, which called for congressional hearings into, as described by Olbermann, "the entirety of the Bush administration." Olbermann referred to the crusading journalist of Watergate fame as an "eminent voice" calling for Congress to find out if the Bush White House is "worse than Watergate." He then brought aboard Bernstein for what the Countdown host touted as an "exclusive interview," to discuss the article, during which Bernstein referred to the "distressing, terrible situation" of having a Bush administration that "has not been very truthful" when it comes to "almost everything important that we have been told by this President." Bernstein also described the controversial NSA surveillance program as a "totally illegal...usurpation of power...under the guise of national security," equating it to the illegal wiretapping by the Nixon administration. Bernstein recalled how "there was an article of impeachment against Nixon for wiretapping."

For Bernstein's Vanity Fair posting, "Senate Hearings on Bush, Now," go to: www.vanityfair.com

[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]

Olbermann teased Tuesday's show touting his "exclusive interview" with Bernstein: "And could this ever happen? A congressional inquiry into not Plamegate, not Iraq, not Abramoff, but the entirety of the Bush administration? Carl Bernstein has just proposed exactly that. He will join us in an exclusive interview."

After covering the news of Donald Rumsfeld refusing to resign in response to criticism by retired generals, Olbermann introduced his interview with Bernstein: "Not just who is running the conflict in Iraq but also the road to war, especially the information or misinformation the administration used in selling the invasion. All parts of an equation that has another eminent voice raising the question of whether the Bush presidency is, in fact, worse than Watergate."

As Bernstein summarized his article calling for congressional hearings, he implied there was a need to "deal with" President Bush, as he said the hearings would "determine the next step that is taken to deal with Iraq, to deal with Iran, to deal with George W. Bush."

Reciting the "What did he know and when did he know it?" cliche, Bernstein proclaimed that "we need to have a real investigation about what did this President know, what did this Vice President know, what did this National Security Advisor, what did this Secretary of State know, and when did they know it?"

As he concluded his appearance with Olbermann, Bernstein again referred to a "terrible situation," which he claimed was "created by some people who maybe were in over their heads, who simply were unable to be truthful." He called the controversial NSA surveillance program a "totally illegal, it would seem, usurpation of power by the President under the guise of national security, the kind of thing Nixon, there was an article of impeachment against Nixon for wiretapping." After acknowledging that, unlike with the Nixon administration, the current wiretapping involves the war on terrorism, Bernstein still charged that "an awful lot of this would appear to be for political advantage."

Below is a complete transcript of relevant portions of the April 18 Countdown show, including the entire interview with Bernstein:

Keith Olbermann, in opening teaser: "And could this ever happen? A congressional inquiry into not Plamegate, not Iraq, not Abramoff, but the entirety of the Bush administration? Carl Bernstein has just proposed exactly that. He will join us in an exclusive interview."

Olbermann later introduced the segment with Bernstein: "Not just who is running the conflict in Iraq but also the road to war, especially the information or misinformation the administration used in selling the invasion. All parts of an equation that has another eminent voice raising the question of whether the Bush presidency is, in fact, worse than Watergate. That voice belonging to none other than Carl Bernstein, without whose reporting Watergate would have remained just a hotel, apartment and office complex. Now a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, he's taken a closer look at the Bush presidency in an article on the magazine's Web site. The Pulitzer prize-winning reporter joins us now. Carl, good evening. Thanks for your time tonight."
Carl Bernstein: "Good to be here."
Olbermann: "I appreciate I'm asking you to summarize what you wrote 5,900 words on in Vanity Fair, but what are you proposing here exactly?"
Bernstein: "That the disinformation and misinformation and unknown quantities of information are so great in this presidency, that we need to have the kind of investigation by a distinguished committee of the Senate, such as we did in Watergate, of President Nixon, so that we can learn what has happened in the presidency of George W. Bush. We don't know. What we do know primarily from people who have left the administration and from journalists and from the special prosecutor and others is that almost everything important that we have been told by this president and by the men and women around him has not been very truthful and more often than not, if it's of importance, it has not been the truth period. That is a very distressing, terrible situation to be in, especially when you're at war and you're going to war."
Olbermann: "Obviously Watergate was a machete fight for most of its life. But when we got into the role of the Senate investigation, and then the House impeachment investigation, it was less so. Is the kind of extensive partisan rancor-free investigation you're talking about even possible with same-party control of Congress or are we realistically talking in the land of the hypothetical here?"
Bernstein: "I think it's a long shot, but I think it's possible because I think that many Republicans have lost confidence in George Bush. They doubt his truthfulness. They doubt his competence. They're the ones who are talking to each other about what can be done about this presidency, about saving themselves in an election that increasingly looks like it might go to the Democrats. So what I've proposed in this article is that this might be, in this aberrant presidency, a great opportunity to rise above the culture wars, vote before the elections for an election, for an investigation that would be chaired by a Republican, like the Watergate committee, which was chaired by a Democrat, and let's finally find out the facts in such a way that that light shown on what has happened in this presidency will determine the next step that is taken to deal with Iraq, to deal with Iran, to deal with George W. Bush. The question is not Donald Rumsfeld and his terminal disingenuousness talking about two or three people who might have criticized him as opposed to the biggest revolt of generals in the nation's history. Six people, three of whom served directly under him, all of whom were concerned with the war in Iraq. We've never seen anything like this. We're in a war in the wrong country.
"You know, it was Donald Rumsfeld that, the 24 hours after 9/11, said should we also hit Saddam Hussein now that we're going after bin Laden? He wanted to go after him right away. We're in a war in the wrong country. We've made a fundamental, you know, mistake. And now somehow Republicans know this, too, we've got to come out of this as best as possible. And until we know the facts, from these people who have never been willing to be honest with Congress, who have claimed executive privilege and national security stuff, authorized torture, denied they authorized torture when it's right there on a piece of paper drawn up by the President's counsel, we need to have a real investigation about what did this President know, what did this Vice President know, what did this National Security Advisor, what did this Secretary of State know, and when did they know it?"
Olbermann: "I would assume that almost everyone, no matter their political point of view, hearing you speak this way, or reading the piece in Vanity Fair on the Web site, would say, 'Be realistic about this, there is a Republican, you're proposing a Republican Senate investigate a Republican president.' Are you suggesting that there is enough going on under the surface of the glacier that if one or two Republicans were to come out in support of something like this, that there would be a quick enough changing in public positions of all the others that something like this could occur before the mid-term elections in November?"
Bernstein: "Two things to keep in mind. One, it was Republicans that really cast the decisive votes for articles of impeachment that dispatched Richard Nixon. It was Barry Goldwater, the great conservative, who went to the White House and told Nixon he had to go, he was going to be convicted in the Senate. It was the Republicans who rose above partisanship, that made the system work in Watergate. And we have that opportunity now. It would take 12 or 13 Republican votes, maybe 14, to vote for an investigation, and this thing would pass. If they don't, and the Democrats win a majority of the Senate, then I would think there will certainly be an investigation. And if the Democrats win the House, I think there will be an impeachment investigation that can be, you know, back into the kind of ugly partisanship that we saw in the Clinton impeachment. We need a dispassionate look at a terrible situation created by some people who maybe were in over their heads, who simply were unable to be truthful. Maybe they got caught in situations that they didn't foresee. There might be some very human reasons. There might be some Freudian reasons. But we have to find out who did what and what the policies are.
"For instance, we didn't even know about this NSA illegal wiretapping until the guest that was just on Chris Matthews' show. James Risen of the New York Times came up with the stories, who's now won a Pulitzer, about a totally illegal, it would seem, usurpation of power by the President under the guise of national security, the kind of thing Nixon, there was an article of impeachment against Nixon for wiretapping. You know, we're talking serious business here. Now, there might be reasons because that we're fighting a war on terror that some things have to be done differently. But an awful lot of this would appear to be for political advantage, etc."
Olbermann: "The author and journalist, Carl Bernstein, whose article calling for Senate hearings on the Bush presidency can be found now on the Vanity Fair Web site, and it's an extraordinary read. Carl, we appreciate your time and obviously your perspective, sir."
Bernstein: "Good to be here, thank you so much."
Olbermann: "Thank you."

Time's "Best Senators" Tilts Left & to
"Maverick" Media Favorites

Time magazine decided to rank "America's Ten Best Senators" for their April 24 edition. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Massimo Calabresi and Perry Bacon proclaim that they consulted all sorts of pundits and academics, but they mostly picked ultraliberal Democrats and moderate Republicans. Even the Republicans with more conservative voting scores (think John McCain) are seen by the media as more centrist, willing to frustrate the Bush White House.

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

For Time magazines list of the best and worst Senators, as published in the April 24 issue: www.time.com

Over at the "Right Angle" blog at Human Events Online, Rob Bluey did the work of checking these Senators' ideological scores, their lifetime American Conservative Union ratings: www.humaneventsonline.com

Time's "Best Senators" list:

Thad Cochran: 81%
Kent Conrad: 20%
Dick Durbin: 7%
Ted Kennedy: 3%
Jon Kyl: 97%
Carl Levin: 7%
Richard Lugar: 79%
John McCain: 83%
Olympia J. Snowe: 50%
Arlen Specter: 45%

Kyl is the only surprise here, and it makes you wonder if they weren't sweet-talked into it by McCain, his Arizona colleague (especially when you read the brief profile, which awards him for "mastering...subterfuge.") Kyl is labeled "ultraconservative," while lefties Levin and Durbin draw no label whatsoever. Ted Kennedy is -- their we're-not-worthy awe comes through -- a "liberal icon."

The Worst Senators:

Daniel Akaka: 8%
Wayne Allard: 96%
Jim Bunning: 95%
Conrad Burns: 91%
Mark Dayton: 11%

These picks are more predictable, and ideological. Time has picked three conservative Republicans who've had close electoral calls. But the two Democrats are either retiring (Dayton) or likely to be re-elected until the onset of senility or death (Akaka in oh-so-blue Hawaii). The labeling choices are different here. They find it safe to say Dayton's legislative proposals are "too liberal" for the Republican Senate, and Akaka is an "ultraliberal," a word Time rarely uses. He has a higher ACU score than "liberal icon" Teddy. (They also note he's liked by "conservative firebrand" Jim Inhofe.) Bunning draws no label as they scorn his lack of effort. Allard is a "fiscal conservative." Burns drew no label, but Time was harsh: "Burns' real problem, however is not with making law but staying on the right side of it," noting he has ties to confessed lobbyist/crook Jack Abramoff.

The Up-and-Comers:

Barack Obama: 8%
Lindsey Graham: 91%
Hillary Clinton: 9%
John Sununu: 94%
Mark Pryor: 25%

Despite his high ACU score, Time hails Sen. Graham as "boyish, fast-talking and a maverick" who has "bucked the Bush White House." (In Kyl's profile, he is identified as a "centrist.") Sununu is a "fiscal conservative," and a surprising pick for Time. Pryor worked with the "centrist 'Gang of 14'" against judicial filibusters. Obama and Clinton are the least surprising picks, and it's also not surprising that neither drew a liberal label. With an ACU of 8, Akaka's "ultraliberal," but Hillary, with an ACU of 9, has no label?

Now let's look at some of the Time passages for the fervor and the flavor.

-- Hillary gets this: "The record of candidate Clinton may be controversial, but in her six short years New York Democrat Senator Clinton, 58, has earned respect from both parties." She's hailed for having "mastered issues" of defense and health care and "leveraged her national clout to spotlight important terrorism issues with narrow followings -- like the vulnerability of nuclear plants."

-- Obama "rode into town with a halo and has worked hard ever since to prove he's a mere mortal." (That's a compliment, in case you're in doubt.) "He has reached so often across the aisle on say, controlling Katrina spending, that some Democrats complain he won't be their firebrand."

-- Specter has a "principled contrarianism" that "fits into the tradition of lawmakers Senate historian Richard Baker describes as the conscience of the institution." He's hailed for "doubling spending on the National Institutes of Health and for increasing education spending 146 percent over 11 years."

-- McCain puts "unorthodox issues at center stage" and has great "moral authority."

-- Snowe is a "centrist" who works hard for her Maine constituents. She's also hailed for statism: "she almost single-handedly forced Bush to lower a tax-cut proposal from $700 billion to $350 billion." And she says a cab driver told her "You go, Olympia, you stand strong."

-- Conrad is hailed for his honorary Sioux name, "Never Turns Back," for refusing to consider Bush's plan for private accounts as part of Social Security. He's also honored for his habits: "he spends modestly on travel, he balances his checkbook daily, and when he drinks, it's never more than two cocktails." There were no details on Ted Kennedy's cocktail habits.

-- Cochran "angered G.O.P. conservatives" who were pushing for "cuts in the budget and ignoring Louisiana and Mississippi" in the Katrina aftermath. And "In the end, he got $29 billion out of his colleagues, almost double the money that Bush and congressional colleagues had initially pledged."

-- "Durbin's tough questioning of his colleagues and his willingness to defend his proposals clarify and distill complicated issues for the C-SPAN viewing public." Yes, he was "forced to apologize" for comparing U.S. troop actions in Guantanamo to Nazis, Soviets, and the Khmer Rouge, but he "has a bipartisan side."

-- Lugar is hailed as a visionary, ahead of the curve, as he opposed Reagan: "In the 1980s he led the push for democracy in the Philippines and South Africa when the Reagan administration was still backing undemocratic regimes there."

-- Levin is "admired by many Republicans for his diligence" and "his carefully researched, thoughtful remarks carry great weight with his colleagues."

-- Kennedy "has fought serial battles on behalf of the working class" and "has amassed a titanic record of legislation, affecting the lives of virtually every man, woman, and child in the country." While he failed to stop the confirmations of John Roberts and Sam Alito to the Supreme Court, he "still finds a way to deliver the goods for the less advantaged."

-- On the "subterfuge" front, Kyl and his aides denied it, but "GOP aides say that when Harriet Miers was nominated to the Supreme Court last October, "Kyl and his staff led a behind-the-scenes effort to undermine the nomination." This is a little odd when Specter is hailed for forcing Myers out by sending a "blistering list of questions he would have asked" to the White House.

CBS's Weather Man from Baghdad: Iraq
Better Than the Headlines

If you want a comprehensive picture of the situation in Iraq, you probably won't get it from traditional news anchors. In fact, on Tuesday's Early Show on CBS it took a report from Dave Price, the weatherman, for viewers to get a fuller picture of the conditions. Price has spent the last week in Iraq touring with entertainers, such as musician Charlie Daniels, who are performing for the troops. Toward the end of the 7am half hour on Tuesday, he checked in with a report from Baghdad where he hinted that things in Iraq really aren't as bad as the media are making out: "And throughout this whole journey, despite what the headlines that we read and see in the United States are, the morale of the troops may surprise you."

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

Price later pointed out: "Folks from all over the base have come here. And they said, one of the hardest things to actually communicate to people at home is the ability that these groups have had to build trust amongst the Iraqis and the Iraqi police, and that's hard to put in a headline, and it's hard to put on video. But they've done a fine job."

While most in the media are hyping bad news, making it seem like all of Iraq is spiraling into an abyss of violence, Price asserted that the violence is limited to certain areas:
"Yes, there's still pockets of violence. Our base was shelled while we were in, in the Sunni triangle and off performing. But I think most soldiers would say, now the hard work has begun. Now it is time to settle in."

In fact, as Price sat in the center of a group of soldiers, he had the following exchange with Early Show co-host Harry Smith in which he insisted conditions in Iraq are improving:

Harry Smith: "Dave, tell me this now because you did this with the troops over in Afghanistan a year ago. What has this experience been like for you? And, what is it like to be with these, with these soldiers and marines?"
Dave Price: "Well, I'll tell you the conditions here in Iraq are significantly better than they were in Afghanistan. And as anyone who's been on their second or third tour will say, things have really begun to improve. Things are really operating much more smoothly here, and it's a much more comfortable place to be."

Brit Hume Picks Up on Givhan's Hair Style
Criticism from the Left

You read it here first. In his "Grapevine" segment Tuesday's Special Report with Brit Hume, FNC's Hume picked up on the MRC's CyberAlert/NewsBusters recitation of how Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan, who on Monday won a Pulitzer Prize, in 2004 offered glowing comments about John Kerry's and John Edwards' hair while taking negative shots at the hair styles of Gorge W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Hume recited: "The Pulitzer Prize for criticism this year went to Washington Post fashion commentator Robin Givhan for what the judges called her 'witty, closely observed essays that transform fashion criticism into cultural criticism,' end quote. Givhan is probably best remembered for ridiculing then-Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris' appearance during the 2000 election recount. She also commented at some length on the candidate's hair in the 2004 presidential race. President Bush, she said, has a quote, 'unremarkable dull gray thatch' that 'never seems to glisten even in direct sunlight' and Dick Cheney's few strands quote, 'are so lacking in body and bounce that they don't even register as wisps.' As for John Edwards, well, Givhan wrote of his quote, 'beautiful shade of chocolate brown with honey-colored highlights,' which she said 'looks so healthy and buoyant and practically cries out to be tousled,' end quote. And of John Kerry's full head of hair, Givhan wrote: 'What man wouldn't gloat, just a little?'"

For the April 18 CyberAlert item with a rundown of Givhan's fashion criticism from the left: www.mediaresearch.org ####

"Top Ten Signs You're Not Going to Win
a Pulitzer Prize"

From the April 18 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Signs You're Not Going to Win a Pulitzer Prize." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. Your op-ed pieces are all the same: Cookies Are Tasty

9. Only thing you wrote all year was a letter to CBS asking not to cancel "Yes, Dear"

8. Your scathing report on plagiarism was copied from someone else

7. Last book signing was held at Jiffy Lube

6. Your novel is sold exclusively at windowless bookstores along the interstate

5. You're the critic quoted in the ads for "Basic Instinct 2"

4. You think fact-checking is for sissies

3. Instead of covering the United States-Iraq War, opted to cover the war between 7-11 and Cumberland Farms

2. You're up against a New York Post reporter with a wallet full of bribin' money

1. Sports section has Knicks in first place

-- Brent Baker