U.S. War on "Innocent Civilians"; Fawning Over "Clinton at the Waldorf"; Traficant Fired Back; Pearl Abduction: Blame Conservatives
1) NBC’s Today on Tuesday devoted air time to an
interview with an author who charges the U.S. is just as guilty of
terrorism as any nation. Matt Lauer outlined the thesis which he only
gently challenged and more often pressed the author to elaborate:
"The United States has repeatedly waged war against innocent
2) A Los Angeles Times poll distorted the facts about
Enron officials making calls to Bush administration figures last fall,
referring to "bailout meetings." One of the questions began:
"Do you think the Bush administration did the right thing in keeping
the bailout meetings with Enron executives private?"
3) Under a front page headline that sounded like a chapter
for Monica Lewinsky’s book, "It Was Clinton at Waldorf Instead of
Dessert," the New York Times fawned over Bill Clinton’s warm
reception at a World Economic Forum gathering. Amongst those in attendance
who heard from Clinton, "dapper in a double-breasted blue
blazer," was sex adviser Ruth Westheimer.
4) The Washington Post has already managed to find victims
of "cuts" in Bush’s budget. "‘Digital Divide' Plan in
Peril," read the Business section headline on Tuesday. The subhead:
"Two Tech Programs for Poor Would Die." The Post lamented the
possible demise of a program which spent $400,000 to have 20 high
schoolers teach the elderly about computers. $400,000?
5) On the first day of his corruption trial, Congressman
James Traficant fired back at GMA: "I was upset with your
introduction, don't do that again." He complained: "I'm freezing
out here, I've been waiting on you for about 45 minutes. If you have some
salient points to make, make 'em to me because I'm not in the best of
moods this morning."
6) A letter writer to Jim Romenesko’s Media News page
blamed the Pearl kidnaping on conservative complaints about media bias:
"The WSJ editorial board has for years persisted, along with other
conservative commentators, to label journalists as political tools in
service of a larger political agenda. The kidnappers of Mr. Pearl insist
that he is a political tool, a spy....Where could they have possibly
gotten the idea that journalists are not the dedicated professionals they
claim to be but are instead something else in disguise?"
7) Letterman’s "Top Ten Taliban Complaints About
Today on Tuesday decided to allocate a segment to the author of a book who
claims the U.S. is as guilty of carrying out terrorism as any nation, a
book so far to the left that even the New York Times panned it. Co-host
Matt Lauer outlined the thesis: "When we are attacked with terrorism,
innocent civilians in this country lose their lives we tend to respond
with what you call another act of terrorism."
A few times Matt Lauer gently challenged the
author, Caleb Carr, but by the end of the interview he was setting up
talking points for Carr: "You argue that the CIA tends to get in bed
with unsavory characters to fight a common enemy and when that common
enemy is defeated they turn their back on those unsavory characters who
then target the United States." And: "So what reaction do you
want to come out of this book? What would you like to see happen? What
would you like the average citizen to take away from this book?"
Lauer introduced the February 5 interview
caught by the MRC’s Geoffrey Dickens as it aired during the 7:30am half
Caleb Carr is best known for his works of fiction. Novels including the
Alienist and the Angel of Darkness. He's also a noted military historian
who has written a controversial new book on terrorism that claims the
United States has repeatedly waged war against innocent civilians. The
book is called, The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare Against
Civilians, Why It Has Failed and Why It Will Fail Again. Caleb Carr, good
morning, good to have you here. You've raised a lot of eyebrows here and
you've raised the ire of a lot of people in the military community, in the
intelligence community with this book. What did you intend to do with the
Lauer helpfully summarized Carr’s thesis:
"You write about a kind of vicious cycle. You said look, when we are
attacked with terrorism, innocent civilians in this country lose their
lives we tend to respond with what you call another act of terrorism. Is
that a fair simplification?"
Lauer requested: "So give me an example
of a recent point of history where we have done exactly what you
that in World War II the U.S. bombed civilian areas in Japan and Germany.
Lauer pressed Car to elaborate: "So
another, well for example, if you talk Japan the dropping of the atomic
bombs in, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki."
little more complicated because Truman actually thought those were
military installations. But if you look at the firebombing, for instance,
during the Doolittle raids, direct attack, on, on civilians. The Dresden
firebombing, direct attacks on civilians."
offered a mild bit of doubt: "Most of the people, the military
planners in this country would take great issue with you and say, 'look we
never intentionally target civilian populations. This is what we call
collateral damage.' Why do you disagree?"
"Because if you look at the sweep of American history what they are
basing their actions on is an American tradition that really took form
during the Civil War when various Confederate generals, especially General
Sherman specifically worked out a policy that they openly stated of
punishing civilians for the actions of their armies in the field. That is
a stated tradition in American history and any attempt to deny it is
"New York Times was very critical of your book. They said quote,
'Virtually every nation in history in Mr. Carr's opinion is guilty of
terrorism.' They went on to suggest you stick to writing fictional
thrillers. If you do define terrorism the way you do, don't we then need
to redefine the act of war that we saw waged upon this country on
"That was an act of war. One of the arguments in the book is that
terrorism itself is a form of warfare. And that, one of the great things
about our response that Donald Rumsfeld has engineered is that it's so
specifically has stayed away from targeting civilians....
"Let me, let me go back. Because in the title you say, 'Why It Always
Fails, Why It Will Always Fail.' To go back to the Japan example. Some
would argue that the dropping of those atomic bombs ended the world war
and we have not had a difficulty with Japan, they're a great ally of our's
now. So didn't it work in that example?"
"No. It, it, what ended, we could have ended the war in any number of
ways. The reason we haven't had a problem with Japan since the second
world war was because of the, McArthur's version of the Marshall Plan that
we instituted in Japan, which was possibly the greatest example of
military and political generosity in history. That is what bought the
loyalty of the Japanese. They didn't do it because of the atomic
"Let me move on, another controversial item in the book, you think
the CIA should be abolished. Why?"
do. Because when the CIA was created, Harry Truman's Secretary of State,
Dean Acheson warned, 'this is an institution that no one will know what
they are doing, where they are and no one will be able to control them,
including you, Mr. President.' He turned out to be completely correct.
They have ignored their primary responsibility of, of gathering and
analyzing intelligence in favor of cowboy operations like-"
"Don't you think they've done some things right?"
"Nothing to make up for the things that they've done wrong since the
very beginning. They began by missing the calls on the Berlin airlift and
the invasion of Korea by the North Korea, and they've missed most major
calls since then."
"And you argue that the CIA tends to get in bed with unsavory
characters to fight a common enemy and when that common enemy is defeated
they turn their back on those unsavory characters who then target the
"The greatest one of them being Osama Bin Laden."
"So what reaction do you want to come out of this book? What would
you like to see happen? What would you like the average citizen to take
away from this book?"
readers would learn the lesson that targeting civilians doesn’t work.
Lauer wrapped up by informing viewers :
"The book is called the Lessons of Terror. Caleb Carr. Good to have
you here. And if you would like to read an excerpt from the Lessons of
Terror just log on to our website, at today.msnbc.com." Indeed,
it’s online at:
Angeles Times poll released on Tuesday distorted the facts about Enron
officials making calls to Bush administration figures last fall as the
company was going down, referring to "bailout meetings," but the
majority of the public didn’t bite and still said the Bush team acted
properly. One of the questions began: "Do you think the Bush
administration did the right thing in keeping the bailout meetings with
Enron executives private?"
In his "Best of the Web" (http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/)
column on Tuesday, James Taranto highlighted the two fact-twisting
questions and Brit Hume cited them on his FNC show, though Hume may have
first alerted Taranto to them since at the bottom of his column Taranto
listed Hume as a contributor.
Question #53 in the poll taken January
31-February 3: "Enron executives met privately with members of the
Bush administration to ask for the government's help to keep their company
from going into bankruptcy. Do you think the Bush administration acted
appropriately by not bailing out Enron, or do you think their lack of help
for Enron was inappropriate and they should have acted to keep the company
"Appropriate," responded 65 percent,
despite the falsely heightened connection between the Bush administration
and Enron implied by the question’s wording. Only 14 percent answered
"inappropriate" with 21 percent saying "don’t know."
The next question, #54. "Do you think the
Bush administration did the right thing in keeping the bailout meetings
with Enron executives private, or do you think they did the wrong thing by
not making the bailout meetings with Enron executives public?"
"Wrong thing" said 51 percent,
"right thing" replied 31 percent.
As Taranto asked: "Huh? If the
administration kept the meetings private, how does the L.A. Times know
about them? All that's been reported in the news is that Enron executives
made phone calls to cabinet members seeking help and were rebuffed."
The February 5 LA Times front page story by
Ronald Brownstein on the poll, "Don't Tap Into Social Security:
Four-fifths favor tax cut deferment over using the fund's revenue to pay
for other programs," did not mention the Enron numbers.
An online "poll analysis," however,
did. It’s subhead merged answers to the above questions with ones about
Enron officials offering policy advice to Cheney’s energy task force:
"Contacts between the administration and Enron are seen as unethical
Jill Darling Richardson, identified as
"Times Poll Assoc. Director," wrote:
administration officials claim that Enron executives were sent packing
when they sought a government bailout of their failing company, and defend
their decision to keep the meetings private. Two out of three Americans
said they thought that Bush administration officials acted appropriately
by refusing to heed Enron's entreaties for government help, but more than
half (51%) said the administration was wrong not to acknowledge the
meetings publicly at the time. With no warning of the energy trader's
collapse, many investors and employees whose retirement accounts were
heavily invested in Enron stock, were wiped out."
As if administration officials saying anything
publicly would have changed the inevitable.
For the rest of this polling analysis:
For the complete poll, the LA Times has posted
a PDF file:
front page headline that sounded like a proposed chapter for a book by
Monica Lewinsky, "It Was Clinton at Waldorf Instead of Dessert,"
the New York Times gushed about Bill Clinton’s warm reception from a
gathering which followed a World Economic Forum dinner in New York City.
Amongst those hanging on Clinton’s words: sex adviser Ruth Westheimer.
You can’t make this stuff up.
The MRC’s Tim Jones brought the story to my
attention which was penned by Tod Purdum, aka Mr. Dee Dee Myers, and David
Sanger. Noting how Clinton looked
"dapper in a double-breasted blue blazer," they oozed:
"Back in a crowded conference room at the Waldorf, some 300 world
leaders in politics, industry and finance were held spellbound by a
freewheeling, solo seminar conducted by someone whose idea of a great meal
was the Mexican platter at the White House mess: former President Bill
Clinton, the ultimate Davos Man, always ready to expound on globalization
until the last top-dog dies."
An excerpt from the story which recounted how
Clinton suggested disagreement with Bush’s "axis of evil"
It was perhaps the quirkiest intimate session at the World Economic
Forum: Dinner for 80 at Daniel Boulud's top-rated French restaurant,
Daniel, with a dessert discussion of food, culture and national identity.
But at 10:10 p.m. Sunday, just as diners savored the last scraps of
braised veal cheeks, the word came down: "If you are going to the
Clinton nightcap, it's completely full, and the buses are leaving for the
Waldorf right now!"
In a flash, half the room rushed for the exit as if a fire alarm had
rung, skipping not one but two desserts. The planned panel discussion
collapsed like a fallen soufflé....
Dapper in a double-breasted blue blazer and hand-held microphone, the
man the official program described as "Founder, William Jefferson
Clinton Foundation," held forth on North Korea, the Middle East,
Enron and health care. At one point, he welcomed a guest star, Foreign
Minister Shimon Peres of Israel, who declared, "I wish we'd had just
a few more months, then we'd have peace in the Middle East."
Inevitably, a questioner pressed Mr. Clinton for his thoughts about
President Bush's "axis of evil," the nuclear-eager combination
of Iran, Iraq and North Korea. "We have to take these countries each
in turn," he warned. "They may all be trouble, but they are
different." Support for sanctions against Iraq in the United
Nations had eroded, he said....
"On North Korea, I have a totally different take," he said,
recounting how close he believed he was to a deal with Pyongyang to end
its missile program in December 2000. He nearly went to the Stalinist
nation to seal it, he said, but he had to stay in Washington working on a
last-minute Middle East peace initiative that,
he noted ruefully, fell apart.
With North Korea, he said, "I figure I left the next
administration with a big foreign policy win, " one that he hinted
Mr. Bush had squandered with unnecessarily hard language early last
But by the evening's end, after Mr. Clinton declared, "I have
cried for Argentina" and greeted old friends like Dr. Ruth Westheimer,
the diminutive sex therapist, ("She was a sniper in the early days of
Israel!" he declared), the former president summed up by saying,
"I did the best I could and had a good time trying."...
END of Excerpt
For the entire story, those registered with
the New York Times online can go to:
whining begin. The day after the Bush administration officially released
its budget proposal the Washington Post had already managed to find
victims of "cuts." "‘Digital Divide' Plan in Peril,"
read the Business section headline on Tuesday. The subhead: "Two Tech
Programs for Poor Would Die."
Reporter Jonathan Krim began his February 5
Bush's proposed budget for next year would kill two widely heralded grant
programs to help low-income, rural and other disadvantaged groups share in
the benefits of high technology.
the programs funded such efforts as teaching computer skills to elderly
residents of the Shaw neighborhood in Washington. The $400,000 grant helps
pay for 20 high school students at the
Maya Angelou charter school in Shaw to teach the classes and to help
maintain a neighborhood technology center."
$400,000?!? That’s $20,000 per
"volunteer" high school student. I have no doubt the students do
volunteer, but to where does such a large amount of money go? Does the
program pay a reasonable amount for rent or staff? Does it really take
$400,000 to teach people how to use a computer?
The Post’s Krim didn’t pursue that line of
questioning. Instead he passed on complaints from ungrateful recipients of
taxpayer money: "‘The people who are the most isolated from
technology are the urban poor elderly,’ said David Domenici, executive
director of the See Forever Foundation, which runs the program. The
program also is helping to develop a class of high school students who are
learning Web design and other technology skills so they can then train
others in the community."
Only then did Krim note: "Michael
Gallagher, deputy director of the National Telecommunications and
Information Administration (NTIA), said that the federal Technology
Opportunities Program had ‘fulfilled its mission’ and that in a time
of national crisis, resources need to be devoted to national defense and
other pressing priorities."
Krim soon identified more victims: "In
addition to the Shaw program, other local recipients of the federal grants
include...a program to enable Cambodian torture victims who had immigrated
to the United States to receive specialized counseling and medical
services via teleconferencing."
Is "teleconferencing" really
necessary? I’ve never teleconferenced. I feel deprived. Where’s my
grant? I’m just old enough to have gone through high school and college
without touching a computer and yet I actually managed to learn how to use
one when I got a job -- without the benefit any $400,000 federal grant
program. Maybe the people of DC should try that.
For the Post story in full:
Jim Traficant, the Ohio Democrat on trial for corruption, took on ABC’s
Charlie Gibson on Tuesday morning, the MRC’s Jessica Anderson observed.
He complained about the set up to the interview which had outlined the
charges against him and three times used the word "ass" live on
Good Morning America.
I have no insight into Traficant’s guilt or
innocence, but it’s always fun to see a guest fire back at a network.
Setting up the February 5 appearance during
the 8am half hour, new ABC reporter
Tamala Edwards, fresh from Time magazine, reviewed his colorful career and
trademark House floor sign off, "beam me up!" She explained the
charges: "Federal authorities say that Democrat Jim Traficant of
Ohio's 17th district isn't just quirky, he's corrupt. The charges, in
return for Traficant's help, some constituents had to do unpaid
construction and manual labor on the congressman's farm. One Ohio company
paid thousands to repair Traficant's boat. Also, they say Traficant's
staffers had to pay the Congressman part of their salaries, and some Ohio
aides spent hundreds of hours doing farm chores, all unpaid. That adds up,
the feds say, to ten counts of bribery, racketeering and tax
Gibson then introduced Traficant: "And
Congressman James Traficant is joining us now from the federal courthouse
in Cleveland, Ohio, where the trial begins today. Congressman, appreciate
you being with us."
outside in front of the building: "Charlie, don't call me
"Well, I just called you 'Congressman.' I don't think that's a name,
maybe some would consider it so."
"I just listened to your intro. You know, what are you guys trying to
do, try me already? You know, I'm the only American in history to have
defeated the Justice Department in a RICO case. I'm going to try 'em
again, I'm going to try and kick their ass. It's just the way it is. Now,
I'm freezing out here, I've been waiting on you for about 45 minutes. If
you have some salient points to make, make 'em to me because I'm not in
the best of moods this morning...."
Following a few questions, Traficant wrapped
up: "I am facing maybe 80 years, six million dollars, but they're
facing their keister in jail, too, and I'm going to try and put their ass
in jail. Believe me, this is one hell of a fight, and I'm very cold, I was
upset with your introduction, don't do that again."
unchallenged winner so far this year for the stupidest analysis anywhere:
A letter writer to Jim Romenesko’s MediaNews page, who affiliated
himself with the Augusta Chronicle, blamed the kidnapping in Pakistan of
Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl on the paper’s editorial page
commentary because it has portrayed the media as biased and praised
Bernard Goldberg’s book, Bias.
Former MRC staffer Clay Waters alerted me to
this gem, that he just noticed, which was posted on January 31.
Romenesko headlined the letter:
"Journalists as political operatives" and identified the writer:
"From KEN DENNEY, Formerly of the Augusta Chronicle and Daily
Denney’s screed, in full, with spelling as
posted, so I know the word "purport" is misspelled below:
Daniel Pearl's kidnapping is truly a frightening incident; beyond the
tragedy to his family it is an obvious attempt to intimidate journalists
and influence U.S. foreign policy. I would not want to trivialize it for
all the world, but I am constrained to point out that it was only recently
that Mr. Pearl's newspaper, the Wall Street Journal, felt compelled to
praise the book "Bias" which perports to lay bare the
"liberal bias" of mainstream journalism. In fact, the WSJ
editorial board has for years persisted, along with other conservative
commentators, to label journalists as political tools in service of a
larger political agenda. The kidnappers of Mr. Pearl insist that he is a
political tool, a spy, for some foreign government (one day the U.S., the
next day Israel.) Where could they have possibly gotten the idea that
journalists are not the dedicated professionals they claim to be but are
instead something else in disguise? It is ironic in the true sense of the
word -- terribly, terribly ironic -- that Daniel Pearl, a man of
unquestioned professionalism has been accused of being a political
operative and that he must now be defended by a newspaper that claims all
journalists (except perhaps its own) are political operatives. For far too
long, the journalistic community has treated conservative criticism of the
profession too lightly. False descriptions have dire consequences as we
END Reprint of letter
Romenesko’s letters page: http://www.poynter.org/medianews/letters.htm
The direct address for this letter: http://www.poynter.org/medianews/letters.htm#denney
I checked the Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle
archives and could find no citation of a "Ken Denney." Also came
up blank on Nexis.
By Denney’s reasoning every media outlet
should be held accountable for anything bad that happens to anyone they
ever said or wrote anything negative about.
[Web Update: An article from an unknown date
on the NewColonist.com Web site by a Ken Denney, with the same e-mail
address as is attached to the letter above blaming conservative
highlighting of liberal media bias for the kidnaping, described Ken Denney
as "a writer and former journalist who works for an Atlanta public
relations agency. He is also an amateur historian who has extensively
studied the Atlanta campaign." For his NewColonist.com article on the
loss to development of Civil War sites in the South:
A previous letter in 2000 from Ken Denney to Jim
Romenesko’s MediaNews page identified Denney as the "former
Assistant Metro Editor, Augusta Chronicle." See:
February 5 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Taliban
Complaints About Camp X-Ray." Copyright 2002 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. "Three meals a day and none of them are goat"
9. "'Death to America' T-shirts only come in cotton/poly blend"
8. "Can't get used to this whole warm bed, cooked food, running water
7. "Lying American propaganda makes it seem like Taliban is
6. "Television only gets one channel and it's CBS"
5. "Achmed totally stole my skit idea for camp talent show"
4. "Have you seen the bathrooms? I've lived in caves with better
3. "Haven't gotten one X-ray"
2. "Just because you're a bearded nut in Cuba everyone assumes you
1. "Dude in next cell keeps bragging he used to be head of
Tonight on Letterman: MSNBC’s Chris