1. Nets, Especially NBC, Obsess Over Bush Not Admitting Mistakes
The networks remained obsessed Wednesday morning with how President Bush couldn’t, at his news conference the night before, name a mistake he’s made, thus making the news media’s agenda, in pressing Bush repeatedly to name an error or apologize for September 11th, the news over what Bush said about other topics. NBC’s Today raised the subject at least seven times while CBS and ABC also focused on the topic with George Stephanopoulos declaring that Bush’s refusal to concede any mistakes “was the most striking thing, far and away, in the press conference.” On Wednesday night, NBC’s David Gregory highlighted how Bush “refused to admit any mistakes” and earlier in the day, on Imus in the Morning, Gregory defended his question to Bush about making “errors in judgment.”
2. AP: “Once Again, President Bush Misspoke on a Weapons Issue”
“Once again, President Bush misspoke on a weapons issue,” a Wednesday AP dispatch snottily intoned in the lead sentence of a story about how in his news conference he referred to how 50 tons of mustard gas were uncovered in Libya when the amount was really just under 25 tons.
3. Gorelick Memo Gets Some Traction on CNN, But ABC Downplays It
Attorney General John Ashcroft’s revelation, at the 9-11 Commission hearing on Tuesday, that commission member Jamie Gorelick, as Deputy Attorney General under Janet Reno, was the author of a 1995 memo which imposed a systemic impediment to fighting terrorism by going beyond what the law required to bar the CIA from sharing information with the FBI about terror suspects inside the United States, got some limited attention Wednesday after largely being ignored in Tuesday coverage. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Reports and NewsNight did raise Gorelick’s role, as did CBS’s Early Show, but ABC did all it could to ignore it and/or discredit the charge. Diane Sawyer treated charges against Ashcroft as the big news of the day and didn’t utter Gorelick’s name when she raised Ashcroft’s charge against Gorelick. On Nightline, Michel Martin undercut Ashcroft’s point by couching it as “partisan.”
Nets, Especially NBC, Obsess Over Bush
Not Admitting Mistakes
The networks remained obsessed Wednesday morning with how President Bush couldn’t, at his news conference the night before, name a mistake he’s made, thus making the news media’s agenda, in pressing Bush repeatedly to name an error or apologize for September 11th, the news over what Bush said about other topics. NBC’s Today raised the subject at least seven times while CBS and ABC also focused on the topic with George Stephanopoulos declaring that Bush’s refusal to concede any mistakes “was the most striking thing, far and away, in the press conference.”
On Wednesday night, NBC’s David Gregory highlighted how Bush “refused to admit any mistakes” and earlier in the day, on Imus in the Morning, Gregory defended his question to Bush about making “errors in judgment.”
During the panel segment Wednesday evening on FNC’s Special Report with Brit Hume, Morton Kondracke castigated the White House press corps for posing questions “directly out of the Democratic play book.” FNC set up the segment by playing some clips of questions posed, including Elisabeth Bumiler of the New York Times (“Do you feel any sense of personal responsibility for September 11th?”), NBC’s David Gregory (“One of the biggest criticisms of you is that whether it's WMD in Iraq, postwar planning in Iraq, or even the question of whether this administration did enough to ward off 9/11, you never admit a mistake. Is that a fair criticism? And do you believe that there were any errors in judgment that you made related to any of those topics?”), CBS’s John Roberts (“Two weeks ago, a former counter-terrorism official at the NSC, Richard Clarke, offered an unequivocal apology to the American people for failing them prior to 9/11. Do you believe the American people deserve a similar apology from you, and would you be prepared to give them one?”) and Time’s John Dickenson (“After 9/11, what would your biggest mistake be, would you say, and what lessons have you learned from it?”)
Kondracke, a columnist for Roll Call, then observed: “You remember at one point Fox News was accused of getting its material directly from the Republican National Committee? All of these questions come directly out of the Democratic play book....The drift of them is all the things that the New York Times editorial page and John Kerry have been saying and the Committee for American Progress and Americans Coming Together and all the left-wing groups are saying about Bush, and so they’re heaving them at Bush to see how he handles them.”
By Wednesday evening, ABC and CBS moved on, but not NBC’s David Gregory who pointed out how “in the face of repeated questions from reporters, a President who is known to dislike second-guessing refused to admit any mistakes.” But for a supporting soundbite, Gregory played Bush’s reaction to being asked to name his “biggest mistake,” though Gregory did not inform viewers of the question, and Bush just couldn’t name his single “biggest” error: “I’m sure historians will look back and say, ‘gosh, he could have done it better this way or that way.’ you know, I just, I’m sure something will pop in my head here in the midst of this press conference -- all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer -- but it hadn’t yet.”
On the April 14 Imus in the Morning radio show simulcast on MSNBC, Gregory, appearing by phone, defended his question. Imus challenged him: "Anyway, here now, the White House correspondent for NBC News, as the President calls him, Dave Gregory. That's the only question you could think of, you nitwit?"
Gregory: "Don, do you feel like you've made any mistakes?"
Imus: "About, well, you know what one of my mistakes is? It's taking this call."
Gregory, laughing: "Well, here's what I don't understand. You've been going on now for the past hour about how this was an idiotic question, and yet what you say is the better alternative is that I should have asked if he feels any of his advisors have made a mistake, but isn't the whole issue of who makes a mistake, doesn't the buck stop with the President? Isn't that the final line?"
Imus: "Of course it is."
Gregory explained his reasoning, as transcribed by the MRC’s Jessica Anderson: "So why would you pan it off on advisors? He's the one who makes these decisions. He's the one who told the country about WMD in Iraq, and made the plans to go in, you know, for post-war planning and has made the statements about what the government did or didn't do before 9/11. So, you know, ultimately no matter what Dick Cheney tells him or Don Rumsfeld, he makes the call....
“You know, when the President appears at these things to engage the press in more than just a one or two question forum, he's the one who ought to be challenged, and I say that whether you're for him or against him or indifferent. Any President should be challenged especially on matters of life and death, and that is what we're talking about here. This isn't the Monica Lewinsky scandal or Social Security reform. These are matters of life and death, and when the President comes into the room for a press conference like this, he essentially wants to say four or five things. He's got talking points that are provided to him that he wants to keep drilling because his audience is, of course, the American people and he wants to, sort of, talk through us, and that's fine and that's his prerogative. What I thought about doing, you try to advance the ball, you try to get news where and when you can, or you try to create something of a real moment. Now, I think it yields information if you ask the President whether on any of these matters he feels that he's made a mistake or any errors in judgment, and I think he really didn't answer the question, but as it kept being asked in the course of the press conference, it appeared that he got a little bit more reflective. I think that's information for the American people."
Imus: "It might have been better to ask him if he'd have done any of these things differently, might have been a better way elicit some sort of response because you -- I mean, we're sort of picking on you because we like you and we're not totally serious, however I am serious in this respect, and that is that you had to know that he wasn't going to tell you that he'd made any mistakes."
Gregory: "Well, you know what, I didn't know that."
Imus: "Well, of course you did."
Gregory: "I wanted to see how he would handle it, and to the extent that he doesn't admit a mistake--"
Imus: "You wanted to embarrass him, is all you wanted to do."
Gregory: "-I think that's revealing, I think that is revealing."
Imus: "You wanted to embarrass our President, that's what you wanted to do."
Gregory: "No, I did not. I think he should have been challenged, that's what I was trying to do, and I would do it again, and I think that any President should be challenged in these circumstances. And you know, there's a lot of questions that you can ask that will be dismissed out of hand, and I think that given some of the, some of what's occurred, it's certainly on a lot of people's minds whether or not he made mistakes and whether or not he'll own up to these mistakes....There are people who might be listening, and I certainly I've started to get the e-mail on both sides of this issue who think I may have been trying to embarrass the President or I have a political view, and I really don't. I mean, I think that I really do mean it when I say that a function of these press conferences when you have a very scripted President, and they all are, is to challenge them and they should be challenged. And it's not about having a political agenda or having a desire to embarrass the President. Any President ought to be challenged in these circumstances."
April 14 broadcast network morning show focus on the “Bush refused to admit mistake” agenda, starting with numerous instances on NBC’s Today caught by the MRC’s Geoff Dickens.
-- NBC’s Today:
# Co-host Katie Couric announced up top how “he also held firm, Lester [Holt], to a June 30th date of handing power over to the Iraqis. Said he doesn't plan on losing his job and he seemed somewhat caught off guard when a reporter asked him if he had made any mistakes."
# Reporter Norah O'Donnell began her story reviewing the press conference: "Good morning, Katie. And a steadfast President Bush said he will stay the course in Iraq, consider increasing troop strength and finish the work of the fallen. Mr. Bush also said he could not think of any mistakes he's made as President but said he's confident come November voters will continue to back his policies in Iraq."
George W. Bush: "I don't plan on losing my job. I plan on telling the American people that I've got a plan to win the war on terror...Look nobody likes to see dead people on their television screens. I don't. It's a tough time for the American people to see that. It's gut-wrenching."
O'Donnell soon pointed out how “three times the President was asked if he made any mistakes, he could not name one."
Bush: "I don't want to sound like I made no mistakes, I'm confident I have. I just haven't, you just put me under the spot here and maybe I'm not quick, as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one."
# In a later news update, news reader Ann Curry chose to highlight just one soundbite, on guess what? "In a nationally televised news conference last night President Bush said more U.S. troops may be heading toward Iraq. And the President said the mission, quote, 'may become more difficult before it is finished.' He was also asked several times if he thought he made any mistakes while in the White House."
George W. Bush: "I don't want to sound like I've made no mistakes I'm confident I have, I just haven't, you just put me under the spot here and maybe I'm not quick, as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one."
# In a session with Bay Buchanan, President of American Cause, and Clinton White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart, co-host Lester Holt pressed Lockhart: “Hey Joe, that soundbite we played at the top was the President responding to the question of, you know, whether he's made mistakes and, and he had a difficult time saying as to whether he's made mistakes or owned up to mistakes in his dealing with, with the war on terror and the war in Iraq. Why is it important to some that he, he acknowledge missteps, if in fact there were?"
Holt turned to Buchanan: "And Bay, let me ask you about the work of the 9/11 commission. Richard Clarke, obviously, made a lot of news and made a lot of families feel better when he said, 'Look your government failed you and for that I am sorry and we are sorry.' The President did not take that opportunity last night. He put, put the onus on Osama Bin Laden as being the one responsible for the attacks. Was that the right answer?"
# During the 7:30m half hour, interviewing radio talk show and FNC host Sean Hannity, about his new book, Deliver Us From Evil, Holt queried: “Well let's talk about his critics and, and the question of whether he owns up to mistakes. Let me play a part of the news conference and I want to get your thoughts."
Bush: "Now is the time and Iraq is the place."
Holt: "Well we know it's now, it's the time and the place but, but the question was he was asked a couple of times. Did he, had he made any mistakes? And the notion that he doesn't necessarily fess up to them. Has he made mistakes in the war on terror?"
Hannity: "You know I, I find it amazing. He did answer it once, properly I thought. Why should he apologize, number one, for the terrorist attack that was brought to this country? Evil does exist. We gotta face reality here. America is at war, they attacked us. You know imagine a scenario, Lester, if, if, let's say three years from now we didn't go into Iraq, Saddam was still in power, Uday and Qusay were behind him and yet we were attacked with chemical and biological weapons in America somewhere and we found out those weapons came from Iraq. Would we not have a commission a year-and-a-half later that was saying and suggesting, well Bill Clinton knew he had nuclear, had chemical capability. The UN told us he had chemical capability. The French and, and even, and even, why, why didn't you react if..."
Holt wouldn’t let go: "But that's all theoretical. I mean we've heard, we've heard, we've heard in these hearings so far a lot of evidence of what appear to be mistakes. Breakdowns, things that didn't happen, information that wasn't passed along. Why shouldn't the government own up to at least, 'Hey we dropped the ball?'"
# In a later segment with 9/11 family members Jim Boyle, Monica Gabriel's and Mary Fetchet, Holt asked: "Let me, let me turn to, to Mary and ask you the President did not take an opportunity to apologize last night. He said Osama Bin Laden is responsible for what happened on 9/11 and while most will agree with that we have heard a lot of troubling news come out of this commission hearing. What were your thoughts about him not apologizing?"
-- ABC’s Good Morning America. Kate Snow, the MRC’s Jessica Anderson noticed, stressed how “President Bush refused to apologize for 9/11, saying the person responsible for the attacks was Osama bin Laden. Several times last night, the President was pressed to admit mistakes. In this highly charged political season, he struggled to name one mistake he's made since 9/11."
Substitute co-host Bill Ritter set up a segment reviewing Bush’s performance: "Last night President Bush giving his first time prime-time news conference in over a year. This amidst escalating war casualties and falling support in the polls. The political stakes were huge, very high, but did he really rally the nation? George Stephanopoulos is here for some reaction, but first we got some random reaction from people around the country."
Woman #1: "I'm a schoolteacher in Brooklyn and I feel like Bush's speech tonight did, in some ways, change my opinion on the war in Iraq."
Man #1: "My name is Kurt Young, PhD student at UCLA in European History. My views absolutely did not change about the Iraq war when I listened to President Bush. I thought he was disingenuous."
Man #2: "I'm Don Kozak. I'm from Naperville, Illinois. I manage worldwide advance quality engineering for a division of General Motors. I'm 53 years old, I support what President Bush is doing in Iraq. I'm not clear on what the strategy is to exit Iraq and it's of particular concern to me because I have a nephew over in Iraq."
Woman #2: "My name is Madge Rosenburg. I'm 61 years old and I own a neighborhood bakery. The President didn't change my mind because he didn't take responsibility for any mistakes."
Ritter: "George Stephanopoulos, anchor of This Week with George Stephanopoulos, joining us now. Good morning, George. Let's pick up on what the last woman said. You know, he didn't admit to any mistakes, the reporters tried so many ways to ask him that question."
George Stephanopoulos: "Unbelievable. That was the most striking thing, far and away, in the press conference. The President was asked, as you said, several different ways: to apologize, to take personal responsibility, to admit a mistake. He gave absolutely no ground and I think for a number of reasons. One, he doesn't want to give any ammunition to John Kerry and his opponents. Two, he wanted to communicate strength last night, and I think he did that. And finally, I think he believes that. I think he believes he made the right choice, he absolutely nothing to apologize for, no central mistakes and that's what he communicated last night."
Ritter: "...Okay. The President came into this in sort of a perilous position, a lot of pundits saying perilous position in his presidency. How did he do? Did he accomplish what he wanted to accomplish?"
Stephanopoulos: "It'll take some weeks to find out. I think he definitely communicated the strength, determination, resolve that he wanted to send last night. Secondly, he did a good job, I think, particularly in his speech of tying the war in Iraq to the overall War On Terror. Where he was less successful last night is spelling out the details of exactly what we're going to be doing there in going forward and reassuring people that we're not going to get stuck there for a long time....And he said the war in Iraq is only one part of a much larger War On Terror. We have to win there to communicate to the terrorists around the world that we have our resolve, that we're going to win this War On Terror. That's an open question, though. A lot of people say Iraq was a war of choice and actually going into Iraq inflames Muslims and Muslim militants around the world."
Ritter: "Real quickly, a lot of reporters tried to say is the same as Vietnam. How did he answer that question? How did he do?"
Stephanopoulos: "First question he said it's a false analogy, and he had a strong arm for his opponents, saying anyone who suggests this is tied to Vietnam is sending the wrong message to our soldiers, the wrong message to our enemies. Tough message from the President."
-- CBS’s The Early Show aired a story reviewing the press conference, recited Bush’s mistake admission refusal before Hannah Storm posed this as her very first question to 9/11 Commission member Bob Kerrey: "I want to ask you first about the President's speech last night, Senator Kerrey. He was asked on several occasions about the 9/11 hearings and he declined to take any personal responsibility or offer an apology for 9/11. Were you satisfied with the way he answered those questions?"
For Tuesday night coverage of Bush’s news conference and a rundown of the most antagonistic questions posed, see the April 14 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org ####
AP: “Once Again, President Bush Misspoke
on a Weapons Issue”
“Once again, President Bush misspoke on a weapons issue” a Wednesday AP dispatch snottily intoned in the lead sentence of a story about how in his news conference he referred to how 50 tons of mustard gas were uncovered in Libya when the amount was really just under 25 tons.
“White House: Bush Erred on Mustard Gas,” announced the headline, as posted on Yahoo, over the unbylined April 14 story which carried a Washington dateline. An excerpt:
WASHINGTON - Once again, President Bush misspoke on a weapons issue, telling the nation that 50 tons of mustard gas were found in Libya -- twice the amount actually uncovered.
The White House moved quickly Wednesday to correct the record, with press secretary Scott McClellan seeking out reporters to point out the mistake. The president should have said in his Tuesday night address and press conference that 23.6 tons of mustard gas were found in Libya, instead of 50 tons, McClellan said.
Bush used the 50-ton figure twice.
The first time, he was making the case that his decision to go to war in Iraq has produced foreign policy successes elsewhere. The president argued that Libya's agreement last December to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction programs was the result of the U.S.-led war to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
"Colonel Gadhafi made the decision, and rightly so, to disclose and disarm for the good of the world," Bush said, referring to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. "By the way, they found, I think, 50 tons of mustard gas, I believe it was, in a turkey farm, only because he was willing to disclose where the mustard gas was. But that made the world safer."...
The White House's fast acknowledgement of this error was sharply different from its handling of Bush's now-discredited claim in his January 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq had sought uranium from Africa for weapons....
END of Excerpt
For the dispatch in full: story.news.yahoo.com
Gorelick Memo Gets Some Traction on CNN,
But ABC Downplays It
Attorney General John Ashcroft’s revelation, at the 9-11 Commission hearing on Tuesday, that commission member Jamie Gorelick, as Deputy Attorney General under Janet Reno, was the author of a 1995 memo which imposed a systemic impediment to fighting terrorism by going beyond what the law required to bar the CIA from sharing information with the FBI about terror suspects inside the United States, got some limited attention Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the ABC, CBS and CNN evening newscasts all failed to mention the Gorelick memo as the networks chose instead to stress accusations about Ashcroft’s supposed lack of interest in terrorism in the few months before September 11 and when ABC’s Charles Gibson interviewed Gorelick in the morning he didn’t ask her a thing about Reno’s policies or her record. Instead, he cued her up to castigate Ashcroft.
On Wednesday, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Reports and NewsNight (indirectly) did raise Gorelick’s role, as did CBS’s Early Show, but ABC did all it could to ignore it and/or discredit the charge. In a Wednesday session on Good Morning America with Commission members Richard Ben-Viniste and John Lehman, Diane Sawyer treated charges against Ashcroft as the big news of the day: "The first big question that seems to emerge is whether the critics are right about the Bush administration when they say that the administration didn't just not know about evidence heralding 9/11, but willfully ignored it.”
Only later did she get to Gorelick, but without mentioning her name: "Well, let's talk about the sweeping reforms because yesterday indeed the Attorney General fired back by saying you can spread the blame back over a lot of administrations here, particularly about the dysfunctional wall between the FBI and the CIA, even citing one of the Commission members as having reinforced that wall.”
Wednesday night on Nightline, Michel Martin also refused to name Gorelick as she undercut Ashcroft’s point by couching it as “partisan,” and then countered it with a criticism of the Bush team, a criticism she did not tag as partisan: “The partisan overtones of previous hearings was never far from the surface. For example, Attorney General John Ashcroft explicitly blamed the Clinton administration for failing to do enough.”
Ashcroft: “We did not know an attack was coming because for nearly a decade our government had blinded itself to its enemies.”
Martin: “But former Acting Director of the FBI Tom Pickard echoed the criticism of previous witnesses who said members of the Bush team seemed indifferent to the threat.”
The CBS Evening News on Wednesday night did not catch up with the Gorelick story, and neither did ABC’s World News Tonight, but CBS’s Early Show did raise it, though without uttering Gorelick’s name. Hannah Storm, the MRC’s Brian Boyd noticed, asked Bob Kerrey:
“Senator Kerrey, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said yesterday that the Clinton administration bore the brunt of the responsibility, that they put as he said a wall between intelligence gathering and criminal prosecution. Do your findings support that?"
Kerrey agreed: "Yes, I think our findings will support that the wall was a problem but the fact is the attorney general didn't try to correct it until after 9/11..."
Storm moved on to Ashcroft’s role, asking John Lehman: "Well, Mr. Lehman, former FBI Director Thomas Pickard said that he briefed Ashcroft a couple of times during the summer of 2001 and that Ashcroft told him after two briefings that he didn't want to hear anymore. What sort of responsibility does Ashcroft bear here?"
When Gorelick came aboard CNN’s 5pm EDT Wolf Blitzer Reports on Wednesday afternoon, Blitzer did quiz her about the memo, though he seemed more concerned with how Ashcroft “blindsided” her with it than with the substance of it:
“The panel probing the 9/11 attacks has sharply criticized U.S. intelligence agencies for failing to share their intelligence. One of the commissioners, Democrat Jamie Gorelick was a Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton administration. She is now taking heat herself from GOP critics who say that a memo she wrote back in 1995 helped block that intelligence sharing. The House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner wants Gorelick to resign saying she has, quote, 'an inherent conflict of interest.’ Sensenbrenner adds this, 'I believe the commission's work and independence will be fatally damaged by the continued participation of Ms. Gorelick as a commissioner.’ Jamie Gorelick is joining us now live. What say you to Chairman Sensenbrenner?”
Gorelick: “Well, my chairman, Tom Kean and the vice chairman, Lee Hamilton, I think, have addressed this issue completely. It's a bogus factual issue. When you ask hard questions of people who are in office and who have been in office, they take offense.”
Blitzer: “Are you suggesting this is politically motivated?”
Gorelick: “I actually have no explanation for it. We're just going to put our heads down and do our work-”
Blitzer: “You did write this memorandum in '95 that helped establish the so-called walls between the FBI and CIA.”
Gorelick: “No, and again, I would refer you back to what others on the commission have said. The wall was a creature of statute. It's existed since the mid 1980s. And while it's too lengthy to go into, basically the policy that was put out in the mid nineties, which I didn't sign, wasn't my policy by the way, it was the attorney general's policy, was ratified by Attorney General Ashcroft's deputy as well in August of 2001. So we are just going to move on from this. This is not a basis for resignation.”
Blitzer: “Listen specifically to Ashcroft said yesterday during his testimony when he announced that they had declassified that memorandum. Listen to this.”
Ashcroft at hearing on Tuesday: “Although you understand the debilitating impact with the wall, I cannot imagine that the commission knew about this memorandum so I have had it declassified for you and the public to review. Full disclosure compels me to inform you that the author of this memorandum is a member of the commission.”
Blitzer: “That would be you, of course. Were you blindsided, not necessarily you personally, but the whole commission when Attorney General Ashcroft released that memorandum yesterday?”
Gorelick: “All of us were. He declassified it on the 10th. And brought it to the hearing yesterday morning. And talked about it and we had to ask for it and then he distributed it to us. It, you know, I -- honestly, I'm just not going to even give any credit to this. It's just-”
Blitzer: “And I take it you're not going to resign from the commission?”
Gorelick: “I'm not going to resign from the commission. And you know, the commission staff is going to treat this fully and completely. I announced the beginning of the hearing before he showed up that I was recused from the review of any actions while I was there. All of the commission members have some government experience and everyone is subject to the same recusal policies. You could have had a commission with nobody who knew anything about government and I don't think it would have been a very helpful commission. I'm comfortable with where we are.”
Blitzer: “How unusual is it for a government witness in this particular case, the attorney general, to come before the commission and inform you at the same time he's informing the whole world that he's got this declassified memorandum?”
Gorelick: “Wolf, let's talk about -- we had really interesting hearings over the last two days. I'm just not going to talk about this. It's not worth it.”
Blitzer: “Well, let's move on and talk about some of the other substantive issues that did come before the committee. What about, forget about the Ashcroft criticism and Sensenbrenner, what he's saying, but what about the whole issue of allowing the CIA to talk to the FBI to talk to the INS, there are substantive issues that have prevented that from happening dating back to abuses by the FBI going back in the '70s and earlier.”
Gorelick: “That's right. And the Patriot Act which I supported knocks down a lot of those constraints. Basically it says that it doesn't matter if the FBI is developing grand jury material, it still nevertheless has to share information with the intelligence community, and without going into the details, a lot of those barriers are gone and it's a good thing.”
Later, on NewsNight, which on Tuesday night aired a story on the hearings which skipped over the Gorelick memo, anchor Aaron Brown raised in his very last question to commission member James Thompson, who appeared from Chicago, the call on Gorelick to resign, a question which led Thompson to let NewsNight viewers in on the Gorelick memo:
“Up the road in Wisconsin, Congressman Sensenbrenner today strongly suggested that one of the commission members resign over a conflict of interest. Do you have a feeling on the appropriateness of that?”
Thompson: “Yes, you know, I like Congressman Sensenbrenner but I think he's wrong on this one. Jamie Gorelick recused herself from having anything to do with this issue of the wall that's created between prosecutors and intelligence services. In point of fact, that wall grew up 20 years ago in the Reagan administration. It continued under the first Bush administration. It continued under the Clinton administration and it continued into this Bush administration where it was finally torn down by the Patriot Act, which President Bush and John Ashcroft pushed....”
The April 14 CyberAlert items on media avoidance of the subject:
-- Media Avoidance of Holding Clinton’s Justice Department Accountable, part 1 of 2. During his appearance Tuesday before the 9-11 Commission, Attorney General John Ashcroft pointed out how the Clinton Justice Department, in a 1995 memorandum written by then-Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, now a member of the commission, imposed a systemic impediment to fighting terrorism by going beyond what the law required to bar the CIA from sharing information with the FBI about terror suspects inside the United States. The ABC, CBS and CNN evening newscasts on Tuesday all failed to mention the Gorelick memo as the networks chose instead to stress accusations about Ashcroft’s supposed lack of interest in terrorism in the few months before September 11, 2001. See: www.mediaresearch.org
-- Media Avoidance of Holding Clinton’s Justice Department Accountable, part 2 of 2. In the morning, as in the evening, the networks focused on making John Ashcroft culpable over any attention to the roles of Jamie Gorelick or Janet Reno, who was set to also appear at the Tuesday hearing. Gorelick, the author of the 1995 memo which established barriers to the CIA informing the FBI of terrorists inside the U.S., appeared on Tuesday’s Good Morning America. But Charles Gibson didn’t ask her a thing about Reno’s policies or her record. No, he cued her up to castigate Ashcroft: “There are reports that John Ashcroft, who will testify today, the Attorney General, is harshly criticized in the draft reports from the commission for inattention to terrorism and terrorist threats in the summer of 2001. True?” She agreed. See: www.mediaresearch.org
-- Brent Baker
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