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Schieffer Commiserates w/ Obama: 'Have You Lost Any Friends Yet?' --3/30/2009


1. Schieffer Commiserates w/ Obama: 'Have You Lost Any Friends Yet?'
CBS's Bob Schieffer devoted about half of his Face the Nation interview, with President Barack Obama, to Pakistan and Afghanistan, but on Iraq he failed to point out Obama's opposition to the surge as he hoped: "Are things going well enough there now that you may consider speeding up the withdrawal of troops from Iraq?" On violence in Mexico, Schieffer pushed a blame America first line, suggesting more regulations on guns: "It's my understanding that 90 percent of the guns that they're getting down in Mexico are coming from the United States....Do you need any kind of legislative help on that front? Have you, for example, thought about asking Congress to reinstate the ban on assault weapons?" Schieffer concluded by wondering if, like Thomas Jefferson, Obama is finding the presidency to be a "splendid misery" and quoting Jefferson, who once said "the presidency had brought him nothing but increasing drudgery and a daily loss of friends," commiserated: "Have you lost any friends yet?" Certainly not in the news media.

2. Jump to Publicize Spanish Judge's Quest to Charge Bush Officials
ABC on Sunday night jumped to beat the other networks with the news that a judge in Spain may issue arrest warrants charging several former Bush administration officials with violating the Convention Against Torture. World News Sunday anchor Dan Harris announced: "Six former high level officials of the Bush administration are being targeted tonight by a court in, of all places, Spain. This court is considering whether to open a criminal investigation into allegations that the six officials gave legal cover for the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay." Narrating off-camera from London, reporter Hilary Brown began with how "the six officials named in the case include Alberto Gonzales, the former Attorney General who famously described parts of the Geneva Convention as 'quaint' and 'obsolete.'" Brown conceded it's unlikely any arrest warrant would be enforced by the U.S., but she saw a benefit, nonetheless, as she suggested "this case may end up putting pressure on the Obama administration to open its own investigation, something it has resisted so far."

3. CNN's Sanchez: 'Far Right' Poking Fun at Obama's Teleprompter Use
CNN anchor Rick Sanchez characterized those making light of President Barack Obama's frequent use of a Teleprompter as being on the "far right," during a segment on Friday's Newsroom program. He also used a skit from liberal comedian David Letterman's show on CBS which made fun of former President George W. Bush's consistent verbal stumbles to underline his point. Sanchez made the comment during a segment with comedian Carlos Mencia. He asked Mencia if he had heard of the Obama/Teleprompter humor coming from conservatives: "Hey, have you heard what's going -- you know, the far right this week has been saying that President Obama is too stupid to talk without a script." He then played Letterman's skit, titled "Teleprompter Versus No Teleprompter," which pitted an excerpt from President Obama's first address to Congress against a clip from a town hall meeting given by former President Bush, with predictable results.

4. Actor Ed Norton Compares His 'Earth Hour' to March On Selma
NBC's resident Queen of Green, Ann Curry, welcomed actor Ed Norton and Carter Roberts of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to come on Friday's Today show to champion their cause to combat "global climate change" by getting everyone to turn off their lights for an hour as a symbolic move that actor Norton compared to the march on Selma, Alabama. Co-anchor Curry called Norton's cause, "really cool," and prompted the Incredible Hulk star to offer up the following historical comparison: "I think it's, it's a call to action. It's, it's, it's-, turning off the lights won't solve the problem, obviously. But in the same way that the, the march on Selma, Alabama was a symbolic gesture for the civil rights movement I think those who care about climal [sic] change, climate change and carbon mitigation -- which is a global movement -- are, are trying to find ways to symbolically demonstrate the, the unity of purpose around the planet and, and really get our leadership to take action."


Schieffer Commiserates w/ Obama: 'Have
You Lost Any Friends Yet?'

CBS's Bob Schieffer devoted about half of his Face the Nation interview, with President Barack Obama, to Pakistan and Afghanistan, but on Iraq he failed to point out Obama's opposition to the surge as he hoped: "Are things going well enough there now that you may consider speeding up the withdrawal of troops from Iraq?"

On violence in Mexico, Schieffer pushed a blame America first line, suggesting more regulations on guns: "It's my understanding that 90 percent of the guns that they're getting down in Mexico are coming from the United States....Do you need any kind of legislative help on that front? Have you, for example, thought about asking Congress to reinstate the ban on assault weapons?"

Schieffer concluded by wondering if, like Thomas Jefferson, Obama is finding the presidency to be a "splendid misery" and quoting Jefferson, who once said "the presidency had brought him nothing but increasing drudgery and a daily loss of friends," commiserated: "Have you lost any friends yet?" Certainly not in the news media.

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Sunday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Three of Schieffer's questions in the interview recorded Friday in the Oval Office:
# You said the other day in the 60 Minutes interview that you would not have thought at this point in your presidency that Iraq would be the least of your worries, something to that effect. Are things going well enough there now that you may consider speeding up the withdrawal of troops from Iraq?

# Let me ask you about something closer to home and that is Mexico. You talked about sending more aid to the Mexican government. But things down there are really serious, as you well know. It's my understanding that 90 percent of the guns that they're getting down in Mexico are coming from the United States. We don't seem to be doing a very good job of cutting off the gun flow. Do you need any kind of legislative help on that front? Have you, for example, thought about asking Congress to reinstate the ban on assault weapons?

# One more question, Mr. President. This week I went down to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home, where they have this wonderful new visitor center. And one of the historians down there reminded me that Thomas Jefferson once said the presidency is a "splendid misery." But at the end of his term, he also said, quote, that "the presidency had brought him nothing but increasing drudgery and a daily loss of friends." I just wonder, have you lost any friends yet?

CBSNews.com transcript of the interview as aired on the March 29 Face the Nation: www.cbsnews.com

Jump to Publicize Spanish Judge's Quest
to Charge Bush Officials

ABC on Sunday night jumped to beat the other networks with the news that a judge in Spain may issue arrest warrants charging several former Bush administration officials with violating the Convention Against Torture. World News Sunday anchor Dan Harris announced: "Six former high level officials of the Bush administration are being targeted tonight by a court in, of all places, Spain. This court is considering whether to open a criminal investigation into allegations that the six officials gave legal cover for the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay."

Narrating off-camera from London, reporter Hilary Brown began with how "the six officials named in the case include Alberto Gonzales, the former Attorney General who famously described parts of the Geneva Convention as 'quaint' and 'obsolete.'" She outlined the case: "The Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzon, says he has the right to prosecute American officials because four Spanish citizens formerly held at Guantanamo say they were tortured there. And Garzon says the U.S. officials broke international law, specifically, the 1984 Convention Against Torture, which the U.S. signed."

Brown conceded it's unlikely any arrest warrant would be enforced by the U.S., but she saw a benefit, nonetheless, as she suggested "this case may end up putting pressure on the Obama administration to open its own investigation, something it has resisted so far."

Brown led her online posting: "In what may turn out to be a landmark case..." The ABCNews.com story: "'Torture' Could Haunt Bush Officials: Spanish Judge Who Went After Pinochet Considers Charges for Gonzales, Others." See: abcnews.go.com

A Sunday New York Times article, "Spanish Court Weighs Inquiry on Torture for 6 Bush-Era Officials," with more on the matter: www.nytimes.com

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The story on the March 29 World News Sunday on ABC:

DAN HARRIS: Six former high level officials of the Bush administration are being targeted tonight by a court in, of all places, Spain. This court is considering whether to open a criminal investigation into allegations that the six officials gave legal cover for the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Hilary Brown has that story.

HILARY BROWN: The six officials named in the case include Alberto Gonzales, the former Attorney General who famously described parts of the Geneva Convention as "quaint" and "obsolete."
ALBERTO GONZALES, JANUARY 6, 2005: I think the decision not to apply Geneva in our conflict with al Qaeda was absolutely the right decision for a variety of reasons.
BROWN: Others include John Yoo, a former Justice Department lawyer who wrote the so-called "torture memo" justifying water-boarding and other extreme interrogation methods. The Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzon, says he has the right to prosecute American officials because four Spanish citizens formerly held at Guantanamo say they were tortured there. And Garzon says the U.S. officials broke international law, specifically, the 1984 Convention Against Torture, which the U.S. signed. A lawyer close to the case says arrest warrants could be issued within weeks. But, if so, would these officials be extradited?
KENNETH ROTH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: I think it's unlikely that the U.S. government will turn over a former Bush official who is ultimately indicted for torture. But an Interpol arrest warrant will be issued, meaning that these officials cannot travel any place without risking being arrested.
BROWN: This is not the first time Judge Garzon has gone after officials from other countries. In 1998, General Augusto Pinochet, former dictator of Chile, was detained on a Garzon arrest warrant while visiting London. But after two years, he was eventually allowed to go home to Chile and died peacefully eight years later without being convicted.
But this case may end up putting pressure on the Obama administration to open its own investigation, something it has resisted so far. Hilary Brown, ABC News, London.

CNN's Sanchez: 'Far Right' Poking Fun
at Obama's Teleprompter Use

CNN anchor Rick Sanchez characterized those making light of President Barack Obama's frequent use of a Teleprompter as being on the "far right," during a segment on Friday's Newsroom program. He also used a skit from liberal comedian David Letterman's show on CBS which made fun of former President George W. Bush's consistent verbal stumbles to underline his point.

Sanchez made the comment during a segment with comedian Carlos Mencia. He asked Mencia if he had heard of the Obama/Teleprompter humor coming from conservatives: "Hey, have you heard what's going -- you know, the far right this week has been saying that President Obama is too stupid to talk without a script." He then played Letterman's skit, titled "Teleprompter Versus No Teleprompter," which pitted an excerpt from President Obama's first address to Congress against a clip from a town hall meeting given by former President Bush, with predictable results.

[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Friday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The comedian sympathized with President Obama in his response, and got his own dig in at the former Republican president: "Well, that's exactly what -- like, really? We're actually to a point where we're getting mad at him because he's made a decision to sound great? I would look back and I would do the exactly same thing. The last guy who didn't read the Teleprompter said some genius things."

The two subsequently joked about how even their Spanish-speaking parents would know that something wasn't exactly right with President Bush's speech patterns. Before Sanchez ended the segment, Mencia continued to sing President Obama's praises: "Yeah, but you want a leader in chief who looks in the camera." Ironically, one component of the Obama/Teleprompter humor is how the Democrat never directly looks in the camera, and instead shifts from the left to the right towards his two assisting devices, something talk show Laura Ingraham calls "tennis match."

The transcript of the relevant part of the Sanchez/Mencia segment, which began 50 minutes into 3 pm Eastern hour of Friday's Newsroom program:

RICK SANCHEZ: Hey, have you heard what's going -- you know, the far right this week has been saying that President Obama is too stupid to talk without a script. In fact, David Letterman got in on this just -- Angie, do we have that? We do. Let's play it. I want to you watch this.
DAVID LETTERMAN: ...Overuse of the Teleprompter. So we put together a piece here tonight. It's entitled 'Teleprompter -- Teleprompter Versus No Teleprompter.' Take a look.
(Audience laughs.)
(CBS Caption: "Teleprompter")
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This was the time when we performed, in the words that are carved into this very chamber, something worthy to be remembered.
(CBS Caption: "No Teleprompter")
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I mean -- tell people why I say -- I mean to say --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE ANNOUNCER: This has been 'Teleprompter Versus No Teleprompter.'
SANCHEZ: (laughs) Take it away, man. Well, I don't know. What do you -- what do you say? Put a punctuation on that for us?
CARLOS MENCIA: Well, that's exactly what -- like, really? We're actually to a point where we're getting mad at him because he's made a decision to sound great? I would look back and I would do the exactly same thing. The last guy who didn't read the Teleprompter said some genius things. Listen -- I once listened to a speech given by Ex-President Bush with my father. And during the speech, my father actually went, 'Ooh, that's now how you say that.' That's not good. That's never good.
SANCHEZ: (laughs) You know, it's funny you say that. My Mom and Dad don't speak a lick of English. In fact, they can't even watch me doing the news on TV, which is kind of interesting in and of itself. But sometimes they can tell more about a politician than I can, just by watching the mannerisms and the gestures.
MENCIA: Yeah, but you want a leader in chief who looks in the camera --
SANCHEZ: Yeah.
MENCIA: Who says -- you know what I mean? You don't want a guy who's like (imitates stumbling speech pattern).
SANCHEZ: Conviction -- conviction. Hey man, good to see you. Thanks for being with us today.
MENCIA: Love you, bro.
SANCHEZ: Always a pleasure, thanks.

Actor Ed Norton Compares His 'Earth Hour'
to March On Selma

NBC's resident Queen of Green, Ann Curry, welcomed actor Ed Norton and Carter Roberts of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to come on Friday's Today show to champion their cause to combat "global climate change" by getting everyone to turn off their lights for an hour as a symbolic move that actor Norton compared to the march on Selma, Alabama. Co-anchor Curry called Norton's cause, "really cool," and prompted the Incredible Hulk star to offer up the following historical comparison:
"I think it's, it's a call to action. It's, it's, it's-, turning off the lights won't solve the problem, obviously. But in the same way that the, the march on Selma, Alabama was a symbolic gesture for the civil rights movement I think those who care about climal [sic] change, climate change and carbon mitigation - which is a global movement -- are, are trying to find ways to symbolically demonstrate the, the unity of purpose around the planet and, and really get our leadership to take action."

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

Incidentally this was a bit of an encore performance for Norton on the Today show as back on April 28, 2008 he came on to admonish U.S. citizens for falling behind China in banning plastic bags: "Yeah and when, and when China is ahead of us in banning these things [plastic bags], when other countries around the world are banning these things that we, we need to get in line with that and catch up." See: www.mrc.org

For his part WWF CEO Carter Roberts implored Today viewers to do their part, in the following ominous call for action: "Beyond that though, we're asking people to ask the institutions they work for to reduce their energy use, but write your congressman and senators and demand action on climate change now. It's, it's the biggest crisis of the 21st century."

The following is a complete transcript of the teasers and then full segment as it was aired on the March 27 Today show:

ANN CURRY: By the way we should say something here, because this is really cool. Actor Edward Norton wants you to turn off the lights. Coming next.

...

MATT LAUER: And yes that is actor Edward Norton handing out little flashlights to members of our plaza audience. And you're asking yourself, right now Jenna, why would anyone need a flashlight in broad daylight? We're gonna answer that question, coming up in just a little while.

...

JENNA WOLFE: And now the reason Ed Norton was here passing out flashlights in broad daylight. Tomorrow night to honor the 3rd Annual Earth Hour, lights across the globe will dim in more than 3200 cities from Sydney to Rome, Atlanta to Manilla, to raise awareness of global climate change.
ANN CURRY: And we've got Edward Norton. He's the official U.S. ambassador for Earth Hour 2009, and Carter Roberts who is the CEO of the World Wildlife Fund. Gentlemen, good morning and welcome.
ED NORTON: Good morning.
CARTER ROBERTS, WORLD WILDLIFE FUND: Good morning.
CURRY: This is a pretty cool project and the thing about it that's really cool is that you've made it grow. It's now, the numbers, you done this for three years in a row, is that right? Right, is that right?
ROBERTS: Yeah it went from, it went from one city-
CURRY: Right.
ROBERTS: -two years ago. 400 last year. And it's over 3000 this year.
CURRY: And that, so that the numbers of people that's really quadrupled then in terms of the number of people...
ROBERTS: Hundreds of millions of people around the world. And you're gonna see this Saturday night, the Acropolis go dark, the pyramids of Giza, the Empire State Building, the Sydney Opera House. All in a statement that we need to do something about climate change.
CURRY: But this is symbolic. So what is the goal of getting this message out?
NORTON: Definitely. I think it's, it's a call to action. It's, it's, it's-, turning off the lights won't solve the problem, obviously. But in the same way that the, the march on Selma, Alabama was a symbolic gesture for the civil rights movement I think those who care about climal [sic] change, climate change and carbon mitigation - which is a global movement - are, are trying to find ways to symbolically demonstrate the, the unity of purpose around the planet and, and really get our leadership to take action.
WOLFE: And you're asking people at home to shut their lights off as well.
NORTON: Yeah. Yeah we're asking people to shut off your non-essential lighting from 8:30 to 9:30 on Saturday night.
CURRY: Local time all across, wherever it is 8:30, turn it off!
NORTON: Yeah you're, wherever, when it's 8:30 for you, turn '€˜em off for an hour.
CURRY: For one hour?
NORTON: One hour.
CURRY: And join the effort!
ROBERTS: Beyond that though, we're asking people to ask the institutions they work for to reduce their energy use, but write your congressman and senators and demand action on climate change now. It's, it's the biggest crisis of the 21st century.
CURRY: Well thanks for trying to do something about it. Thank you so much.

To read about Curry's past environmental activism see: www.mediaresearch.org

-- Brent Baker