Rather: Bush "Selected" President; Thompson's "Hardline Anti-Abortion Stand"; MLK Day Tied to Ashcroft's Pro-Confederate Agenda
1) Dan Rather twice suggested
to David Letterman that Bush was not elected but "selected."
Rather argued Bush's pick of Ashcroft, who takes "a hardline stance
on a woman's right to choose" and Norton, who says "it's
alright for people who own private land to pollute," contradicts
promises of being a uniter. Those picks are "a little bit like moon
walking in the end zone."
2) On the CBS Evening News Rather issued the same two hits
from the left on Ashcroft and Norton. He offered a fresh one for HHS
nominee Tommy Thompson: His "past ties to big tobacco as well as his
hardline anti-abortion stand." John Roberts suggested Bush's
Ashcroft pick "has aroused new suspicions over Bush's commitment to
3) Tom Brokaw marked Martin Luther King Day by promising
"race will be a major issue in the contentious hearings" for
John Ashcroft, "especially since Ashcroft defended the Confederate
agenda of Robert E. Lee."
4) ABC's Peter Jennings suggested blacks
"love" Bill Clinton while "it's not possible to get
through Martin Luther King Day without focusing on George Bush's choice
to be Attorney General." NBC's Lisa Myers concluded black leaders
will only be appeased if Bush adopts their programs and buys them off with
5) Letterman's "Top Ten Bill Clinton Future
not elected, but "selected" as President, Dan Rather declared on
Monday's Late Show with David Letterman. Rather revealed that his
slanted reporting does coincide with his personal feelings about George W.
Bush as he applied a series of liberal cliches about Bush to denounce his
cabinet picks as too conservative.
Asked if Bush's nominees match his claim to be a
"uniter," Rather sounded like Barbara Boxer as he complained
that Bush knew picking Ashcroft would raise "race" questions
while many would be upset by Ashcroft's "a hardline stance on a
woman's right to choose" and he snidely described Interior
Secretary choice Gale Norton as someone "who says 'listen, it's
alright for people who own private land to pollute.'" Rather echoed
how "a lot are going to say 'wait a minute, this is not uniter-divider
Indeed, Rather insisted "there will be an awful
lot of people, even people who voted for him, who believe that these
nominees is a little bit like moon walking in the end zone or hanging on
the rim after you score."
If George W. Bush had said "these nominees
is..." it would have turned into a gaffe at least some in the media
would have used to make fun of Bush.
Now a fuller exposition of the comments uttered by
Rather on the January 15 Late Show on CBS.
Letterman started by asking if Bush's cabinet
picks show him to be a uniter not a divider as he had promised during the
"He would say yes. I think a lot of people would say no and most
people would say, 'well, I'm not so sure.'"
what is your feeling on that?"
my job is to report other people's feelings, so I'm going to
But then Rather elaborated and made pretty clear
that like any liberal one or two conservatives in the cabinet is one or
two too many: "It's a fair question and I think when you nominate
someone to be Attorney General of the United States who you know is going
to raise questions, rightly or wrongly, justifiably or otherwise about
race relations, quote 'a hardline stance on a woman's right to
choose' or abortion; when you appoint somebody, nominate someone, to be
head of the Interior Department who says 'listen, it's alright for
people who own private land to pollute,' I'm not saying that's right
or wrong I am saying that a lot are going to say 'wait a minute, this is
not uniter-divider country.'"
If Rather felt these characterizations of Ashcroft
were unjustified would he delight in repeating them?
Letterman suggested that given the close election
"you would think he would be a little more prudent about this."
rejoinder: "You would think that and you would be wrong. I will say,
David, that people such as Cheney, particularly Cheney, Dick Cheney,
helped him make these choices. But whether he intended it or not, there
will be an awful lot of people, even people who voted for him, who believe
that these nominees is a little bit like moon walking in the end zone or
hanging on the rim after you score. And this is at direct opposite ends of
what we were told right after the election that, Dick Cheney I remember
him saying, 'we will be very much aware of how close this election
was.' On the other hand let's be fair, every President has a right
once you are elected or selected, whichever word you prefer."
Audience laughter interrupted Rather, but he soon
picked up and again forwarded his "elected or selected" formula:
"Every President, two things we know: One, he has a right to appoint
people, nominate people who are ideologically and politically aligned with
him. And number two, everybody's who's elected or selected President
has to pay off in a way those people who helped get him elected. Now with
the so-called quote, 'Christian Right,' they really worked hard to get
this nominee for Justice because they know how important that job is. Now
whether President Bush should have, in effect, paid them in return for
what they gave him during the election with this nominee we'll
Rather's opinions expressed on Letterman's show at about 6pm ET,
though not broadcast until hours later, closely corresponded with the
reporting he offered about 30 minutes later on the first feed at 6:30pm ET
of the CBS Evening News. Previewing the conformation hearings this week,
Rather warned that "Ashcroft's opponents say he is too divisive to
make him a good choice to enforce the nation's laws, especially those
protecting civil rights and abortion providers." Rather also
highlighted how Interior Secretary nominee Gale Norton "has
suggested, among other things, that private land owners may have a right
to pollute," and with HHS nominee Tommy Thompson, whom he didn't
get to on Letterman, Rather raised his "past ties to big tobacco as
well as his hardline anti-abortion stand."
In the subsequent story, reporter John Roberts
suggested "his unwavering support for John Ashcroft, his nominee for
Attorney General, has aroused new suspicions over Bush's commitment to
Funny how all the divisive attacks by liberals on
Bush and his nominees never evoke media concern for their negative tone
and undermining of efforts of politicians to work together in a
bi-partisan manner. Maybe that's because journalists are part of the
cabal doing the attacking. Do you recall any media concern in 1993 for
Donna Shalala's "hardline pro-abortion stand"?
Dan Rather delivered a lengthy opening to the
January 15 CBS Evening News, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
"This is a big
week for the incoming Bush administration with confirmation hearings set
for many of President-elect Bush's Cabinet nominees and his own
inauguration Saturday. Bush had Education Secretary nominee Rod Paige with
him today for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in Texas. Paige is
expected to win easy confirmation, but that may not be true for another
nominee whose hearing kicks off tomorrow.
things, questions about race are expected to be a confirmation hearing
flashpoint for Bush's U.S. Attorney General-designate John Ashcroft. The
context includes whether, as Ashcroft's opponents say, he is too
divisive to make him a good choice to enforce the nation's laws,
especially those protecting civil rights and abortion providers. Three
Cabinet nominees may have an easier time at their hearings this week.
Retired General Colin Powell is a sure thing to win confirmation as the
first African-American Secretary of State, but things could get a little
rough for Spencer Abraham, the defeated Michigan Senator nominated as
Energy Secretary and perhaps for New Jersey Governor Christine Todd
Whitman, picked to head the Environmental Protection Agency.
"Rockier confirmation terrain is expected for
Interior Secretary nominee Gale Norton, who has suggested, among other
things, that private land owners may have a right to pollute. And
opponents of Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson's nomination as Health
Secretary cite his past ties to big tobacco as well as his hardline
confirmation hearing that may well define the longer term tone for the new
administration, including future judicial appointments, is the one that
starts tomorrow for Attorney General. CBS's John Roberts previews that
battle including Bush's effort today to blunt some of the
Roberts began: "Invoking the memory of Martin
Luther King, George Bush today declared his top priority as President will
be to make quality education a civil right....Keenly aware of his troubled
relations with African-American voters, the President-elect came to this
Houston school today to shake hands and mend fences. But his unwavering
support for John Ashcroft, his nominee for Attorney General, has aroused
new suspicions over Bush's commitment to unity."
Roberts to a black
man at the school: "Is this nomination in keeping with that
school teacher: "Initially, I would think not. There are so many
groups that are opposed to John Ashcroft that I think it bears further
"From his opposition to abortion, gun control, and affirmative
action, to his defeat of a black judge for the federal bench, Ashcroft has
drawn heavy fire from across the spectrum of liberal and civil rights
groups. Yesterday a coalition of black clergy in Ashcroft's home state
joined the battle."
After some matching soundbites, and a clip of
Ashcroft, at a practice hearing, calling for an end to racial profiling,
Roberts allowed another man in the Houston audience say Ashcroft should be
confirmed if he can answer the questions about him. Roberts concluded:
"Rather than attempt to defeat Ashcroft, what Democratic Senators
will do tomorrow is lay down markers, the message to Bush that any future
attempts to appoint staunch conservatives, particularly to the Supreme
Court, will come at considerable political cost."
Brokaw opened Monday's NBC Nightly News by promising "race will be
a major issue in the contentious hearings" for John Ashcroft's
confirmation, "especially since Ashcroft defended the Confederate
agenda of Robert E. Lee." A nice formulation for Martin Luther King
Day as Brokaw, for the second night in a row, without quoting one syllable
of what Ashcroft actually said, demanded that George W. Bush defend
Ashcroft's supposed affection for the "Confederate agenda."
As detailed in the January 15 CyberAlert, in an
excerpt on the January 14 Dateline of Brokaw's interview with George
Bush Brokaw demanded Bush react to how Ashcroft is "a man who said
he's got to speak out on behalf of the agenda of Robert E. Lee." In
fact, as only the most obtuse would not recognize, Ashcroft was not
defending the Confederacy's pro-slavery agenda but how other values were
also at stake during that war. After all, most Southerners did not own
slaves so most who died in the war did not have that cause high on their
(Monday's Today also ran an except from Brokaw's
interview and MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed he hit Bush from the
left on abortion: "But already controversies await him. Especially
the nomination of former Senator John Ashcroft as Attorney General, who
unlike the President-elect, is opposed to abortion even in cases of rape
and incest. Have you had these discussions with John Ashcroft about the
differences in opinions that the two of you have about abortion?")
Brokaw opened the January 15 NBC Nightly News:
"Good evening on this Martin Luther King holiday, a prelude to what
begins tomorrow in Washington -- the confirmation hearings for John
Ashcroft, the former Missouri Senator who is George W. Bush's choice to
be Attorney General. Race will be a major issue in the contentious
hearings, especially since Ashcroft defended the Confederate agenda of
Robert E. Lee in an interview with the Southern Partisan, a magazine
promoting the culture of the Old South. Over the weekend in Texas I met
with President-elect Bush and asked about the Ashcroft interview and many
don't think he was talking, I haven't read the article so it's hard
for me to respond to that. I just know that-"
that's what he said."
Bush: "But if
the inference is that somehow he thinks slavery is a noble institution, I
would strongly reject that assumption. John Ashcroft is an open-minded,
inclusive person and I've read all kinds of comments people are making
about him and he is going to end up being a very good Attorney General. I
believe he's going to be confirmed."
Gingrich says that there's a historic divide between the Republican
Party and ethnic groups of color in this country that must be bridged or
the Republicans won't be able to govern."
A bit later in the interview excerpt Brokaw pushed
Bush: "You going to get together with John McCain on campaign finance
reform?" When Bush was not adequately enthusiastic, Brokaw pressed
him to get on board: "But will it be a first order of business for
you to call John down to the White House or to call him up in the Senate
and say how do we get together on this?"
Apparently, liberal political positions really trump
any racial concerns for Brokaw since while he was denouncing what Ashcroft
said in an interview with the Southern Partisan, "a magazine
promoting the culture of the Old South," he was holding up McCain as
a leader whom Bush should follow. McCain's South Carolina campaign
adviser: Richard Quinn, former editor of the Southern Partisan.
For a transcript of Brokaw's entire interview,
which inaccurately quotes Brokaw as referring to the "Southern
Progressive" magazine, go to: http://www.msnbc.com/news/515320.asp
noteworthy items from the broadcast networks on Monday night: ABC's
Peter Jennings suggested blacks "love" Bill Clinton while
"it's not possible to get through Martin Luther King Day without
focusing on George Bush's choice to be Attorney General." But, ABC
provided a more balanced look at Ashcroft's record than did CBS. NBC's
Lisa Myers concluded black leaders will only be appeased if Bush adopts
their liberal programs and buys them off with more spending.
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings
trumpeted: "This has always been a special day for Bill Clinton and
today, for the last time as President, he celebrated with people who love
After a story from John Cochran on Clinton's
Martin Luther King Day activities, Jennings intoned: "It's not
possible to get through Martin Luther King Day without focusing on George
Bush's choice to be Attorney General. There's been a real storm of
protest from political liberals about John Ashcroft and when his
confirmation hearings begin tomorrow Democratic Senators will be primed
with research about various political positions to which liberals
Linda Douglass explained how critics call Ashcroft
an "extremist" who is "racially insensitive."
Following a hateful soundbite from Al Sharpton, she listed Ashcroft's
objectionable views: His efforts as Attorney General to block St. Louis
school desegregation, as Governor how he vetoed a bill that "would
have increased voter registration in heavily black St. Louis," in the
Senate his fight against Ronnie White "and in an interview with a
pro-Confederacy magazine, Southern Partisan, Ashcroft called Confederate
Ironically, ABC showed a Southern Partisan cover
showing a photo of a black man, Professor Walter Williams. But he's
conservative, so he doesn't count.
Unlike CBS, however, Douglass gave the Pro-Ashcroft
side some time, noting his supporters call the racism charge
"outrageous." They point out, she relayed, that he voted to
approve 26 of 28 blacks to the federal bench, as Governor was one of the
first to sign a bill creating a Martin Luther King Day and he appointed
blacks to state judgeships.
-- NBC Nightly News. Following Tom Brokaw's
opening effort to discredit Ashcroft quoted in #3 above, Lisa Myers looked
at how Bush is reaching out to blacks but leaders like Jesse Jackson are
calling for protests of his presidency as Al Sharpton called for an all
out "war" on Bush. "What will it take to heal the
wounds?" She answered, a complete capitulation to the liberal agenda,
though she didn't use the word liberal:
say naming three prominent blacks -- Colin Powell at State, Condoleeza
Rice as National Security Adviser and Rod Paige as Education Secretary --
is not enough. They say what's needed are policies that help all black
families, support for affirmative action and money for federal programs,
such as Head Start. Until then, black leaders demand no appeasement. Jesse
Jackson says Democrats must vote the interests of minority voters who sent
them here. Their first litmus test, he says, a vote against John Ashcroft."
January 15 Late
Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Bill Clinton Future
Plans." Copyright 2001 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. Hire relationship counselor; see if he and Monica can give it
9. Run for Mayor of New York and bring back the hookers!
8. Just enjoy being a regular U.S. citizen...with round-the-clock Secret
Service and a $200,000 severance
7. Every morning check classifieds for job openings under "Presidents"
6. Get bitchin' Camaro, cruise around Chappaqua for lonely housewives
5. Wait till statute of limitations runs out, admit everything
4. Tell Bush, "No, you take over in 2004," stay President
3. Same thing he did back in Arkansas -- eat Crisco while watching reruns
2. Call Al Gore, ask for "Lou Zer," hang up
1. Two words: Temptation Island
And from the Late Show Web site, a couple of the
"also ran" extra entries which didn't make the final cut:
-- Write tell-all book: "99 Other Interns You Didn't Hear
-- Visit female convicts he pardoned -- find out how grateful they really
Numbers 9 and 6 may give him ideas.
-- Brent Baker
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