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Thomas: Mainstream Journalists Have 'Lurched' Against Iraq War --8/28/2006


1. Thomas: Mainstream Journalists Have 'Lurched' Against Iraq War
On this weekend's Inside Washington, Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas, who maintained that "most...mainstream journalists believed -- close call -- that we had to go to this [Iraq] war," have "now changed their view. You can feel it shift over the summer." Thomas observed: "You can feel this summer that group, of which I am a card-carrying member, lurch in a different direction in kind of with a hand-wringing sadness, but you can feel it, they're starting to head for the exits, looking for some kind of face-covering diplomatic solution or something, but boy you can feel it happening." Panelist Nina Totenberg of NPR protested that she was against the war in Iraq from the start, charging: "I think most sane people thought really this would make matters worse and it's made matters worse."

2. MSNBC's Shuster Advancing "Wise" Democratic Campaign Strategy
It's been noted before that David Shuster's reports for MSNBC's Hardball often read like DNC press releases and Thursday night was no exception as he attacked the administration on Katrina and Iraq and even found time to slam Senator George Allen. Shuster opened fire: "Almost a year since Hurricane Katrina swamped the Gulf Coast, left the country shocked at the Bush administration's ineptitude the Bush team is now engaged in damage control for the year after reminder." During his report, Shuster cited Nancy Pelosi to attack Bush on Katrina, Sen. John McCain to hit Bush on Iraq and Howard Dean to slam Allen. Then Shuster called the Democrat's "wise" and doomed the GOP with this sign-off: "Reminding voters of your opponent's mistakes is a wise political campaign strategy and between George Allen, the problems in Iraq and the anniversary of the Bush team's Katrina debacle Democrats are now having a field day. Republicans are simply trying to hang on just 75 days before the congressional elections. I'm David Shuster for Hardball in Washington."

3. Alter: Bush Team 'Incompetent' and Should Be Held Accountable
Jonathan Alter, the Senior Editor of Newsweek, told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Wednesday night that Democrats regaining power is the only way to hold the Bush administration accountable for its "incompetence." Appearing on the August 23 edition of Countdown, Alter exhorted Democrats to inform voters of this fact: "I think it's really important for the Democrats to remind the voters that this election is really about accountability, because there hasn't been any. The only way you can get any is to get at least one chamber of Congress." According to Alter, this is the only scenario under which the Democrats will, at long last, be able to punish the President: "Otherwise, you can't hold hearings to hold their feet to the fire. You have no subpoena power, forget impeachment and all the rest of that, just getting basic answers to questions about why this administration has been incompetent. In order to do that, you've got to get some control and some power back. And that`s what this election is really about."

4. CBS's Hannah Storm Pushes Left Wing Global Warming Talking Points
On Thursday's Early Show on CBS, co-host Hannah Storm promoted the leftist hype about the link between global warming and hurricanes in a segment with global warming enthusiast, and author of the new book The Ravaging Tide, Mike Tidwell. Storm acted as more of a facilitator than interviewer, asking leading questions, questions that assumed Tidwell's comments were accurate, and allowed her guest to make some ridiculous statements that went unchallenged.

5. First Amendment Wilbon? Gumbel Has Rights, Limbaugh Does Not
Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon wrote a column for Thursday's paper, headlined "Gumbel Has the Right To Say What He Feels." After Gumbel insulted union leader Gene Upshaw about needing a "leash" because he was the NFL Commissioner's "pet," Wilbon said he disagreed with the argument that Upshaw made bad deals for football players, but suggested the idea of the NFL Network removing Bryant Gumbel from broadcasting their football games later this fall "not only won't fly but will look like the silliest Nixonian attempt at censorship." But don't give him a First Amendment Award. That's not the way Wilbon felt about Rush Limbaugh broadcasting football games. In May of 2000, when ABC was considering Limbaugh as the third man in the broadcast booth for "Monday Night Football," he declared Rush was a racist, and has no right to broadcast.

6. Hitchens Gives Finger to Maher's Audience for 'Frivolous' Jeering
[Warning: This item includes an accurate quotation of a vulgarity and a coarse image] Writer/author Christopher Hitchens on Friday night gave the finger to the Los Angeles studio audience of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher. As he laid out the case for how it's Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who wants World War Three, not George W. Bush, Hitchens cited how Ahmadinejad "says the Messiah is about to come back." Maher quipped: "So does George Bush, by the way." That caused a loud eruption of audience applause and cheering, which led Maher to clarify: "That's not facetious." The crowd continued to applaud as Hitchens remarked, about those in attendance who had earlier cheered and laughed as Maher called Bush an "idiot" repeatedly: "That's not facetious. Your audience, which will clap at apparently anything, is frivolous." Loud oohs and groans emanated from the audience, prompting Hitchens to give them the finger as he castigated them, "F*** you, f*** you," while the groans continued. AUDIO&VIDEO


Thomas: Mainstream Journalists Have 'Lurched'
Against Iraq War

On this weekend's Inside Washington, Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas, who maintained that "most...mainstream journalists believed -- close call -- that we had to go to this [Iraq] war," have "now changed their view. You can feel it shift over the summer." Thomas observed: "You can feel this summer that group, of which I am a card-carrying member, lurch in a different direction in kind of with a hand-wringing sadness, but you can feel it, they're starting to head for the exits, looking for some kind of face-covering diplomatic solution or something, but boy you can feel it happening." Panelist Nina Totenberg of NPR protested that she was against the war in Iraq from the start, charging: "I think most sane people thought really this would make matters worse and it's made matters worse."

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

A transcript of the relevant portion of the August 25 Inside Washington ( www.insidewashington.tv ), a half-hour weekly panel show produced by Washington, DC's ABC affiliate which carries it on Sunday morning after This Week. Before that, it airs at 7pm Saturday on the affiliate's all-news cable channel, NewsChannel 8, and Friday night at 8:30pm on DC's PBS station, WETA-TV channel 26:

Evan Thomas, Newsweek: "I was a 'Chicken Hawk' like a lot of people, some of the people on this panel when we got into it. And, you know, most of the mainstream types, mainstream journalists believed -- close call -- that we had to got to this war -- they've now changed their view. You can feel it shift over the summer."
Nina Totenberg, NPR: "I wasn't there. I wasn't there. And neither was Colby [King]."
Thomas: "But a lot of mainstream journalists at the New York Times, the New Yorker, you know, traditionally liberal places, endorsed this war."
Gordon Peterson, host: "The Washington Post."
Thomas: "The Washington Post. You can feel this summer that group, of which I am a card-carrying member, lurch in a different direction in kind of with a hand-wringing sadness, but you can feel it, they're starting to head for the exits, looking for some kind of face-covering diplomatic solution or something, but boy you can feel it happening."
Peterson: "You were already at the exits, Nina?"
Totenberg: "I was already at the exits at the beginning because it didn't make any sense to me. With all deference, I would suggest that a lot of people sort of hesitatingly went along because they were intimidated as a result of 9/11. And I, I and I think most sane people thought really this would make matters worse and it's made matters worse."

MSNBC's Shuster Advancing "Wise" Democratic
Campaign Strategy

It's been noted before that David Shuster's reports for MSNBC's Hardball often read like DNC press releases and Thursday night was no exception as he attacked the administration on Katrina and Iraq and even found time to slam Senator George Allen. Shuster opened fire: "Almost a year since Hurricane Katrina swamped the Gulf Coast, left the country shocked at the Bush administration's ineptitude the Bush team is now engaged in damage control for the year after reminder."

During his report, Shuster cited Nancy Pelosi to attack Bush on Katrina, Sen. John McCain to hit Bush on Iraq and Howard Dean to slam Allen. Then Shuster called the Democrat's "wise" and doomed the GOP with this sign-off: "Reminding voters of your opponent's mistakes is a wise political campaign strategy and between George Allen, the problems in Iraq and the anniversary of the Bush team's Katrina debacle Democrats are now having a field day. Republicans are simply trying to hang on just 75 days before the congressional elections. I'm David Shuster for Hardball in Washington."

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

The following is the entire transcript of Shuster's August 24 report:

David Shuster: "Almost a year since Hurricane Katrina swamped the Gulf Coast, left the country shocked at the Bush administration's ineptitude the Bush team is now engaged in damage control for the year after reminder."
George W. Bush: "It's a time to remember that people suffered. And it's a time to recommit ourselves to helping them but I also want people to remember that a one-year anniversary is just that."
Shuster: "The White House would love for Americans to forget about everything that went wrong a year ago."
Bush: "And Brownie you're doing a heckuva job."
Shuster: "And focus instead on the future. So to help, the President met this week with survivor Rocky Vaccarella."
Rocky Vaccarella: "I wanted to remind the President that the job's not done and he knows that and I just don't want the government and President Bush to forget about us. And I just wish the President could have another term in Washington."
Bush: "Wait a minute."
Vaccarella: "You know, I wish you had another four years, man."
Shuster: "The enthusiasm seemed strange for a Katrina related event-"
Vaccarella: "But we're gonna move on, President. It's been my pleasure."
Bush: "You're a good man, Rocky."
Vaccarella: "You are too, thanks a bunch."
Shuster: "A White House spokesperson later acknowledged that Vaccarella is an active Republican who once ran for local office on the Republican ticket. Democrats pointed to continued problems along the Gulf Coast hit the President hard. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, quote, 'Tens of thousands of Hurricane Katrina survivors are still engaged in an unparalleled struggle to rebuild their lives. President Bush is holding a public relations blitz that the survivors of Katrina can ill afford.' The White House is clearly in an atmosphere of damage management. Whether it's Katrina or the Iraq war. On Iraq the surprise is that the administration's most defensive posture was sparked by Arizona Senator John McCain. This week the GOP's 2008 presidential frontrunner pointed to the ongoing problems with the war and referred to the President's 'Mission Accomplished' banner and assorted statements by Vice P President Cheney."
Sen. John McCain: "It has contributed enormously to the frustration that Americans feel today because they were led to believe that this would be some kind of a day at the beach. The White House said McCain's criticism is old news."
Dana Perino, White House Deputy Press Secretary: "Senator McCain has made similar comments. He is a senator who is not shy about sharing his views. That's one of the reasons he is such a unique figure in American politics and also one of the most popular."
Shuster: "Another Republican who supports keeping U.S. troops there indefinitely is Virginia Senator George Allen. The President this week attended a fundraiser for Allen who is on the defensive in a tough Senate race because of Iraq but also because of a remark Allen made about a man working for his Democratic challenger."
Sen. George Allen: "And let's give a welcome to macaca here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."
Shuster: "Macaca is a term that can refer to a monkey. Allen said he was referring to the man's haircut and has apologized repeatedly. But last night on Hardball."
Howard Dean: "Look I served with George Allen when he was governor. I don't think he belongs in public service to be honest with you. There are Republicans who are capable and, and, and smart, thoughtful people and he's not one of them."
Shuster: "Reminding voters of your opponent's mistakes is a wise political campaign strategy and between George Allen, the problems in Iraq and the anniversary of the Bush team's Katrina debacle Democrats are now having a field day. Republicans are simply trying to hang on just 75 days before the congressional elections. I'm David Shuster for Hardball in Washington."

Alter: Bush Team 'Incompetent' and Should
Be Held Accountable

Jonathan Alter, the Senior Editor of Newsweek, told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Wednesday night that Democrats regaining power is the only way to hold the Bush administration accountable for its "incompetence." Appearing on the August 23 edition of Countdown, Alter exhorted Democrats to inform voters of this fact: "I think it's really important for the Democrats to remind the voters that this election is really about accountability, because there hasn't been any. The only way you can get any is to get at least one chamber of Congress."

According to Alter, this is the only scenario under which the Democrats will, at long last, be able to punish the President:
"Otherwise, you can't hold hearings to hold their feet to the fire. You have no subpoena power, forget impeachment and all the rest of that, just getting basic answers to questions about why this administration has been incompetent. In order to do that, you've got to get some control and some power back. And that's what this election is really about."

[This item, by Scott Whitlock, was posted Thursday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Alter is certainly no stranger to attacking George Bush (see: newsbusters.org The MRC's Geoffrey Dickens noted that he recently claimed a Bush veto of stem cell funding "may well doom thousands to die prematurely." See: http://newsbusters.org/node/6624

The Newsweek editor, who appeared on the lead segment, discussed with Olbermann how the Iraq war will play out in the midterm elections. He claimed that Republicans may be able to spin the lack of a Democratic plan to their advantage, adding that the GOP is "better at the basic blocking and tackling of politics....They're just -- they're tougher." It's surprising that Alter thinks of Democrats as poor little lambs, unable to play rough politics. George Allen, who made the mistake of calling a staffer of his political opponent "macaca," now finds himself being branded a racist by Democratic operatives. And who could forget Trent Lott and the Strom Thurmond birthday party? Does Alter believe that the Democrats were too delicate with him?

CBS's Hannah Storm Pushes Left Wing Global
Warming Talking Points

On Thursday's Early Show on CBS, co-host Hannah Storm promoted the leftist hype about the link between global warming and hurricanes in a segment with global warming enthusiast, and author of the new book The Ravaging Tide, Mike Tidwell. Storm acted as more of a facilitator than interviewer, asking leading questions, questions that assumed Tidwell's comments were accurate, and allowed her guest to make some ridiculous statements that went unchallenged.

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

Amazon's page for Tidwell's book: www.amazon.com

Storm's feelings on the matter can best be summed up by her statement: "This dependence on fossil fuels needs to be addressed. So what's your recommendation?"

Mike Tidwell is the founder of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, which describes itself as the "first grassroots, nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to fighting global warming in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C." But Storm did not mention his activism, nor did she mention that nowhere in his official biography on the organization's website, is there any mention of his scientific background; he is described as an "author and filmmaker." With the segment focused on Tidwell's scientific conclusions, isn't the fact that he is not a scientist relevant information for the viewer?

The foundation's bio for him: www.chesapeakeclimate.org

The Chesapeake Foundation's home page: www.chesapeakeclimate.org

Yet, Storm introduced her segment, attempting to give enhanced credibility to Mr. Tidwell by noting he had predicted New Orleans would be devastated by a storm, and that he predicts global warming will cause more storms like Katrina:
"We're approaching the one-year anniversary of hurricane Katrina, and it's been three years since author Mike Tidwell predicted that a storm like Katrina would devastate New Orleans. In his new book, 'The Ravaging Tide,' he says that we'll see more catastrophic hurricanes thanks to global warming."

Did Mr. Tidwell predict when a hurricane was going to hit New Orleans? Given the fact that New Orleans is on the gulf coast, it is likely a hurricane would eventually hit the area, and it was again likely that eventually a powerful hurricane like Katrina would strike. The likelihood of a strong storm at some point in the future, combined with the fact that New Orleans sits several feet below sea level, isn't the conclusion obvious?

Storm began the questioning by asking about the beginning of Tidwell's book:
"You say in the first pages of the book, Katrina's arrival was as certain as tomorrow's sunrise. What made you so sure a disaster like that was on the horizon?"

At least in his response Tidwell did acknowledge that New Orleans is a city below sea level, but he blamed the disaster on man. He claimed that for the last 100 years the wetlands and barrier islands have been disappearing because of humans, and this created the conditions for hurricane Katrina to "slam into New Orleans like a plane into the World Trade Center." That can at best be described as a terrible simile.

Tidwell asserted: "Well, for the last hundred years, the wetlands and barrier islands in south Louisiana have been eroding and disappearing because of human activity, building of canals and other factors, a million acres of wetlands just disappeared in the last 100 years. And, this basically created a watery flight path for a Katrina-like storm to slam into New Orleans like a plane into the World Trade Center..."

Without missing a beat, or questioning Tidwell on this statement, Storm continued, noting that Senator Mary Landrieu had discussed coastal erosion before the storm hit, but afterwards everyone just focused on the levees. She editorialized:
"I remember talking to Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu before Katrina hit, that morning, and she was talking about coastal erosion and that being the big problem, then after Katrina hit, it was all about the levees. Everyone focused on the levees and the fact that the levees didn't hold. But, the levees weren't the only part of that picture."

Tidwell then predicted global warming will replicate Katrina all along the east coast:
"I think the biggest lesson from Katrina a year later is that those same ingredients, you know, sort of a city below sea level, hit by a major hurricane, will be replicated by global warming all along our Atlantic and Gulf coastlines. That means, you know, lower Manhattan, for example, is right at sea level now. If we get 3 feet of sea level rise from global warming, much of lower Manhattan, much of, parts of Washington D.C., a lot of Miami, all our coastal cities will be below sea level like New Orleans. We're going to have to build levees to hold back the sea."

And so the point wasn't lost, Hannah Storm, acting as cheerleader, chimed in: "Outer Banks of North Carolina."
Tidwell continued: "Outer Banks of North Carolina, so you're going to have cities that are below sea level because the seas rose because of global warming. And on top of that, hurricanes are becoming more intense'€'"

As Tidwell predicted a gloomy fate for America, that global warming will cause sea level to rise, thus causing cities on the east coast like New York City and Washington DC to fall below sea level, making them susceptible to New Orleans type destruction, an astonished Hannah Storm wanted to know how much time we have left, neglecting to press Tidwell on his conclusions based on this years mild hurricane season thus far: "What sort of time crunch are we in here?"

Tidwell believed there is a ten year window to turn global warming around, and kick the fossil fuel habit and switch to clean energy.

Storm jumped on the alternative fuels bandwagon and noting the need to get off of fossil fuels if for no other reason than to combat "the rising" cost of gas, which according to the August 22 Early Show, has actually fallen 11 cents a gallon in the past 2 weeks: "Right, we've been talking about a lot of these things, even with just the rising price of gas. For a number of reasons, this dependence on fossil fuels needs to be addressed. So, what's your recommendation?"

Storm wasn't challenging Tidwell, she was merely asking him to gaze into his crystal ball and talk about global warming. In response, Tidwell piously volunteered that he drives a hybrid car, a Toyota Prius, and that if every American followed his lead, America would cut gasoline consumption by 50%:
"Well, I drive a hybrid car, a Toyota Prius, gets about 50 miles to the gallon. If every car in America ten years from now had the same hybrid technology that's in my driveway right now, we would cut our use of gasoline in half as a nation, and that alone would reduce our CO2 emissions by about 25%."

This caused Hannah Storm to lament that Americans just don't take global warming seriously: "As a nation, are we really crying out for any kind of reform? Global warming is something that just doesn't seem to resonate with people."

However, Tidwell believes that people are starting to pay attention to Al Gore's documentary on the subject and what's happening with the weather:
"Well, I think it's starting to. Al Gore's film really, I think, has made a difference. A lot of people who were skeptical of all political stripes saw that film and really saw that this is real. I think that we're all seeing in our daily lives extreme, strange weather, even here in New York. Thunderstorms in January in Washington D.C., where I live. A tree almost hit the White House from an extreme storm just a couple of months ago. It's happening all around us. Sea levels are rising. Hurricanes we're seeing. Three of the six most powerful hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic basin in the last 150 years happened in a 52-day time span last Summer. That would be Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. We're seeing hurricanes become more intense. We're seeing other impacts from global warming..."

Some may agree with Tidwell, and in fact former newspaper columnist Ross Gelbspan is one who does, endorsing Tidwell's new book. But, Gelbspan himself has an interest in promoting the theory of global warming, as he once wrote in 1992 that global warming would cause baseball to stop playing day games, full quote can be read here: www.mrc.org

With differing opinions on global warming, why did CBS feel it necessary to promote the scientific theories of someone who doesn't even claim to be a scientist and ignore real scientists -- such as Dr. Roy Spencer, principal research scientist for the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Patrick Michaels, research professor of environmental studies at the University of Virginia, or William Gray, Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University -- who could refute the claims made by Mr. Tidwell?

Check the NewsBusters posting linked above for links to those scientists.

First Amendment Wilbon? Gumbel Has Rights,
Limbaugh Does Not

Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon wrote a column for Thursday's paper, headlined "Gumbel Has the Right To Say What He Feels." After Gumbel insulted union leader Gene Upshaw about needing a "leash" because he was the NFL Commissioner's "pet," Wilbon said he disagreed with the argument that Upshaw made bad deals for football players, but suggested the idea of the NFL Network removing Bryant Gumbel from broadcasting their football games later this fall "not only won't fly but will look like the silliest Nixonian attempt at censorship." But don't give him a First Amendment Award. That's not the way Wilbon felt about Rush Limbaugh broadcasting football games. In May of 2000, when ABC was considering Limbaugh as the third man in the broadcast booth for "Monday Night Football," he declared Rush was a racist, and has no right to broadcast.

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

Wilbon opined in a May 24, 2000 column: "I have attended or watched all but about 5 or 6 MNF games in 30 years. If Rush Limbaugh is put in that booth, I will NOT listen to the broadcast. His views on people like me [blacks] are well documented, and I would find it insulting and hypocritical to watch him do the broadcast. And I'm sure, absolutely certain, there are tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands who feel the same way I do."

For more, see the May 31, 2000 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

Wilbon provided no examples then of Limbaugh's supposed hatred of blacks. (Rush certainly never metaphorically put Gene Upshaw on a "leash.") So who's the "Nixonian" censor? No one has the "right" to announce NFL football games. That's not a "free speech" issue. But Wilbon's column made it very clear the issue isn't free speech. It's that Gumbel is one of his heroes and role models, and a personal friend. He begins by noting as he grew up in Chicago, he was already enamored of the Gumbel brothers, before they were TV stars:
"As I went through high school, it became clear I wasn't going to be a professional ballplayer. Increasingly, I wanted to be like Greg and Bryant Gumbel. So this column includes a certain bias as well as a certain annoyance that Bryant Gumbel's recent harsh remarks about NFL union chief Gene Upshaw might make him unworthy of calling games on the NFL Network, as outgoing commissioner Paul Tagliabue hinted at this week...
"While I disagree with Bryant Gumbel's characterization of Upshaw, I defend Gumbel's right to make the observation. If Gumbel were arguing the point with me, he'd make it persuasively, probably brilliantly, because that 's what he's done for a living for 30-plus years. He's one of the best things to come along in the modern history of sports journalism."

For Wilbon's August 24 column: www.washingtonpost.com

Put aside the decades of arrogant liberal bias that Gumbel's produced. While Wilbon notes Gumbel was "harsh," he never says this harshness countered his reputation for being persuasive and brilliant; that this particular commentary was not persuasive, but damaging to Gumbel's career, not a stellar moment. Instead, the gooey Gumbel valentine continued:
"When the NFL Network announced that Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth were going to call games this season, it was a boon for the league. The fledgling network needs Gumbel a lot more than he needs it. He's already got the best sports show on television in Real Sports and it's just another component of one of the great careers in the history of television journalism. How many people calling NFL games have interviewed Kremlin officials live in Moscow? How many play-by-play guys have interviewed Fidel Castro in Cuba and come to your living room live from Saigon?
"Toward the end of Gumbel's run at NBC's Today in the mid-1990s it became popular to take shots at him for being arrogant and dismissive. And Willard Scott was on the wrong end of a very critical internal memo at one point. But whether he was editing and contributing to Black Sports magazine in the early 1970s or doing sports at KNBC-TV in Los Angeles or anchoring pregame shows on NBC Sports, the four-time Emmy winner has been credible. He has been almost everything we praised Howard Cosell for being and then some, which is to say literate, tough, insightful, outspoken and critical. When he reports from anywhere, I'm listening.
"Bryant Gumbel is not going to be anybody's Bobo, not even the NFL's."

Wilbon failed to consider the concept that maybe Gumbel was criticized for being arrogant and dismissive....because he came across as arrogant and dismissive, and not just in internal memos, but on the air. (The kind of guy who'd crack when he thinks he's off camera that a conservative guest is an "f---ing idiot," just for starters: www.mrc.org )

For the MRC's collection of Gumbel quotes from his CBS Early Show days: www.mrc.org

But it's quite clear that Wilbon actually enjoys Gumbel being arrogant and dismissive. He cited Gumbel's other HBO meltdown, not as another sign of Gumbel failing to make a point "persuasively, probably brilliantly," but as a sign of gritty independent thinking:
"And Tagliabue, a brilliant man himself, had to know exactly what the league was getting when the network approached Gumbel. There's a 30-year body of work out there to view. Did Tags and the NFL not see him take a shot at the lily-whiteness of the Winter Olympics and the GOP convention? Did Tagliabue think the league was getting some shrinking violet?
"Perhaps the league figures that if it could successfully pressure ESPN to take [the sleazy fictionalized pro football drama] Playmakers off the air, it could also bully Bryant Gumbel into softening his positions and playing nice.
"Surely, Tagliabue knows that any attempt to squeeze Gumbel in some little box as if he were a player wearing the wrong color socks on Sunday not only won't fly but will look like the silliest Nixonian attempt at censorship."

This is where it becomes clear that Wilbon's not making a serious attempt to ponder the issue of Gumbel's remarks, but merely making excuses for them. As Brent Bozell politely noted in 2003, when ESPN pressed Rush Limbaugh to quit his brief football-pundit gig after saying Donovan McNabb was hyped by sportswriters rooting for black quarterbacks, Wilbon could be seen at times as Gumbel's Mini-Me in print:
"Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon is a great read on his sports page, great entertainment on TV, and also regularly liberal politically in his sports reports. In 1995, Wilbon cheered NFL star Kellen Winslow when he entered the Hall of Fame with a political speech attacking Justice Clarence Thomas for opposing racial quotas and 'barring the government from doing the right thing.' Wrote Wilbon: 'Winslow can be my Gipper any day. My hands are still raw from the applause.' Wilbon even cheered the arrival of black sports stars at Louis Farrakhan's 'Million Man March,' and said of this spewing preacher and racist, anti-Semitic and America-hating bilge: 'So much of Farrakhan's message was necessary and correct.' None of this stopped ESPN from hiring Wilbon for its daily show, Pardon the Interruption."

Hitchens Gives Finger to Maher's Audience
for 'Frivolous' Jeering

[Warning: This item includes an accurate quotation of a vulgarity and a coarse image] Writer/author Christopher Hitchens on Friday night gave the finger to the Los Angeles studio audience of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher. As he laid out the case for how it's Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who wants World War Three, not George W. Bush, Hitchens cited how Ahmadinejad "says the Messiah is about to come back." Maher quipped: "So does George Bush, by the way." That caused a loud eruption of


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More See & Hear the Bias
(WARNING: Audio and video clips contain uncensored vulgarities.)

audience applause and cheering, which led Maher to clarify: "That's not facetious." The crowd continued to applaud as Hitchens remarked, about those in attendance who had earlier cheered and laughed as Maher called Bush an "idiot" repeatedly: "That's not facetious. Your audience, which will clap at apparently anything, is frivolous." Loud oohs and groans emanated from the audience, prompting Hitchens to give them the finger as he castigated them, "F*** you, f*** you," while the groans continued.

[This item was posted, with video, late Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. The screen shot and video with be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, but in the meantime, to see the picture or to watch the Real or Windows Media clip, go to: newsbusters.org ]

Joining Hitchens on the panel, Vali Nasr, author of The Shia Revival, and former Democratic Senator Max Cleland.

Wikipedia profile of Hitchens: en.wikipedia.org

A list of links of articles by the traditional leftist who has become a leading writer on the dangers of Islamofascism: www.hitchensweb.com

Transcript of the relevant portion of the discussion about Iran on the August 25 season premiere of the weekly HBO show aired live Friday nights at 11pm EDT/10pm CDT:

Christopher Hitchens: "Who wants a Third Word War? The Iranian President says that one member state of the United Nations should be wiped physically from the map with all its people. He says the United States is a Satanic power. Members of his government, named members of his government have been caught sponsoring deaths squads. He's lied, he's lied to the European Union about his nuclear program-"
Bill Maher: "But you know that a lot-"
Hitchens: "He says the Messiah is about to come back. Who's looking for a war here?"
Maher: "So does George Bush, by the way [audience applause]. That's not facetious [audience applause continues]."
Hitchens: "That's not facetious. Your audience, which will clap at apparently anything, is frivolous. [oohs and groans from audience, Hitchens gives them the finger] Fuck you, fuck you. [groans continue]"
Maher: "I was just saying what the President of Iran and the President of America have in common is that they both are a little too comfortable with the idea of the world coming to an end."
Hitchens: "Cheer yourself up like that. The President has said, quite a great contrast before the podium of the Senate, I think applauded by most present, in his State of the Union address, that we support the democratic movement of the Iranian people to be free of theocracy -- not that we will impose ourselves on them, but that if they fight for it we're on their side. That seems to be the right position to take, jeer all you like."

This edition of Maher's hour-long show will re-air tonight (Monday) at 8pm EDT on HBO East/8pm PDT on HBO West. HBO's schedule page for Real Time with future re-run air dates this week: www.hbo.com

-- Brent Baker