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The 2,265th CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
11:45am EDT, Tuesday September 12, 2006 (Vol. Eleven; No. 151)
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1. Olbermann: Bush's 'Impeachable Lies...Crime Against' 9/11 Victims
At the very end of Monday's Countdown show, during his latest "Special Comment" attacking the Bush administration, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann unleashed one of his most vitriolic attacks on the President, accusing him of "lying by implication" to get America into a "fraudulent war" with "needless death" in Iraq, which Olbermann referred to as "an impeachable offense." Olbermann: "The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war on the false premise that it had something to do with 9/11 is lying by implication. The impolite phrase is 'impeachable offense.'" He also bizarrely seemed to blame President Bush for the delays in building a memorial at Ground Zero, as he branded Bush's "reprehensible inaction" as a "crime against every victim here and every patriotic sentiment you [Bush] mouthed but did not enact, you have done nothing about it." After accusing the President of "forgetting the lessons of 9/11," Olbermann obnoxiously concluded: "May this country forgive you."

2. Thumbs Down from Brokaw on Bush Speech: Rhetoric vs Reality
MSNBC brought back former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw for some post-Bush 9/11 commemoration speech analysis with Chris Matthews. Brokaw wasn't impressed: "I was surprised that there was not more poetry in it, a, and b, that he didn't take us to a different place in terms of where he wants to go next. This is the kind of speech that he could have given three years ago, not five years after 9/11. The American public now has been through a lot in five years, Chris, and with all due respect to the President, they'll be measuring his rhetoric versus the reality that they see almost every day in their newspapers and on television." Forwarding a liberal world view, Brokaw proposed: "The policies versus the reality, I think is what a lot of people are going to be looking at. And whether or not we have to find other ways, than just militarily going in to deal with these issues, is the question on the minds of a lot of people."

3. Matt Lauer, Tom Brokaw, and Tim Russert Feel the Gloom on 9/11
In the fourth half-hour of NBC's Today on September 11, co-host Matt Lauer chatted with Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert and former anchorman Tom Brokaw about what's happened to America in the last five years. It wasn't pretty. Lauer cited lost civil liberties, Russert lamented we're "pretty much alone" in Iraq, and Brokaw found both parties weren't enthusiastic enough about demanding more "sacrifice" -- as in tax increases. Brokaw brought up how "a lot of people have talked about a patriot tax on energy, for example, might be a way of reminding people of what we need to do." But in an essay aired earlier on Today (see item #4), Brokaw fretted about how people in Montana "worry a lot about gas prices. This is a big state with big rigs with big appetites for fuel."

4. NBC's Tom Brokaw Rings Defeatist Alarm on Today Show
Watching Tom Brokaw on Monday's Today show, viewers couldn't help feel depressed as Brokaw painted a divided America that is disrespected abroad and losing the war on terrorism. On the 9/11 anniversary edition of Today, Brokaw opined in a taped piece aired in the 7:30am half hour: "Five years later there are more questions, more uncertainty. After all five years later the Taliban are back in Afghanistan, Iraq is on the verge of anarchy, Iran is more dangerous than ever. Five years later there have been no more attacks on the U.S. but the terrorists are still out there." Brokaw worried about government overstepping its bounds and wrung his hands about the origins of Islamic anger: "Just who else is listening in on our conversations? The Islamic rage, where does that come from?" Brokaw then went on to paint the nation divided by war: "We've gone from a nation united by grief, anger and determination to a nation divided by war triggered by 9/11."

5. Lauer Worries With Hillary, Then Pounds Bush on Interrogations
While NBC's Matt Lauer baited Senator Hillary Clinton on Monday's Today to admonish the administration and to say we're not safer, he attacked the President for, in fact, trying to make the nation safer. Lauer prompted Clinton: "Are you comfortable that the United States did not break the law in conducting that kind of interrogations in those secret sites?" Then later in the program, Lauer repeatedly pressed Bush over interrogation methods used on terrorists: "The head of Amnesty International says secret sites are against international law." Lauer worried: "Are you at all concerned that at some point, even if you get results, there is a blurring the lines of, between ourselves and the people we're trying to protect us against?"

6. CBS Host Ferguson Pays 9/11 Tribute: 'The Flag Was Still There'
Instead of opening with his usual monologue of jokes, Craig Ferguson, an immigrant from Scotland, began Monday night's Late Late Show on CBS with a tribute to America, a refreshing attitude not often heard these days in the mainstream media. "I consider myself an American," he declared on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, adding: "I've been here for a long time. I love this country." Ferguson contended: "Anyone who cares about anything, when these rat bastards flew those planes into those buildings, if you're a human, it would insult everything inside you." Ferguson suggested "this is a defining moment for our generation. For one generation, it was the assassination of Kennedy, for another it's 9/11. It's 'Where were you on September the 11th?'" Ferguson proceeded to tell a story which ended: "When that ill wind blew in America, the flag was still there. The flag was still there."


 

Olbermann: Bush's 'Impeachable Lies...Crime
Against' 9/11 Victims

     At the very end of Monday's Countdown show, during his latest "Special Comment" attacking the Bush administration, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann unleashed one of his most vitriolic attacks on the President, accusing him of "lying by implication" to get America into a "fraudulent war" with "needless death" in Iraq, which Olbermann referred to as "an impeachable offense." Olbermann: "The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war on the false premise that it had something to do with 9/11 is lying by implication. The impolite phrase is 'impeachable offense.'" He also bizarrely seemed to blame President Bush for the delays in building a memorial at Ground Zero, as he branded Bush's "reprehensible inaction" as a "crime against every victim here and every patriotic sentiment you [Bush] mouthed but did not enact, you have done nothing about it." After accusing the President of "forgetting the lessons of 9/11," Olbermann obnoxiously concluded: "May this country forgive you."

     [This item by Brad Wilmouth was posted, with video, Monday night on the MRC's NewsBusters blog. The audio/video will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, but in the meantime, to watch the Real or Windows Media video, or MP3 audio, of the last two-thirds of Olbermann's nearly nine-minute long rant, go to: newsbusters.org ]

     Olbermann also bizarrely found it insightful to compare the present situation in America to an old episode of The Twilight Zone in which aliens invaded Earth by scaring people into suspecting each other of being aliens in disguise, which provoked people to start killing each other, during which an alien leader observed that "there is no need to actually attack, that you just turn off a few of the human machines, and then they pick the most dangerous enemy they can find, and it is themselves."

     In one of the plugs for the segment, Olbermann referred to the "unmistakable lies" of the administration: "Ahead, a special comment on the symbolism of this day at Ground Zero. What is, five years later, still an empty pit mirroring the empty promises of this administration to unite us, and also its unmistakable lies."

     Olbermann introduced the "Special Comment" segment by recounting his experiences at Ground Zero and recollections of friends he lost there as he tried to preempt possible arguments of those who might criticize him, suggesting the words "dilettante" or "idiot" might apply to the President Bush or Vice President Cheney. Olbermann: "Anyone who claims that I and others like me are soft or have forgotten the lessons of what happened here, is at best a grasping, opportunistic, dilettante; and, at worst, an idiot, whether he is a commentator or a Vice President or a President.

     The Countdown host soon moved on to complain that there was still no memorial at Ground Zero, which he contended is "still just a background for a photo-op" and "beyond shameful." Referring to the "reprehensible inaction" of "our leaders," Olbermann seemed to implicate Bush in the failure to build a 9/11 memorial as he referred to spending money on "irrelevant wars": "Instead they bicker and buck pass. They thwart private efforts and jostle to claim credit for initiatives that go nowhere. They spend the money on irrelevant wars and elaborate self-congratulations, and buying off columnists to write how good a job they're doing instead of doing any job at all."

     Olbermann then invited Bush to look at Ground Zero, implying that because there is still no monument that "the terrorists are clearly still winning," and accused Bush of a "crime against every victim here." Olbermann: "Five years later, Mr. Bush, we are still fighting the terrorists on these streets. And look carefully, sir. On these 16 empty acres, the terrorists are clearly still winning. And, in a crime against every victim here and every patriotic sentiment you mouthed but did not enact, you have done nothing about it."

     The Countdown host soon brought up impeachment as he went on to complain about being "duped" into supporting the Iraq invasion: "The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war on the false premise that it had something to do with 9/11 is lying by implication. The impolite phrase is 'impeachable offense.'"

     Turning to his displeasure with ABC's controversial 'Path to 9/11' movie series, Olbermann he contended that it was "possibly financed by the most radical and cold of domestic political Machiavellis" as he complained of the "talking points of the current regime" being "parroted." Addressing the President again, he accused the administration of "using 9/11 as a wedge to pit Americans against Americans." Olbermann: "How dare you, Mr. President, after taking cynical advantage of the unanimity and love, and transmuting both into fraudulent war and needless death, after monstrously transforming it into fear and suspicion and turning that fear into the campaign slogan of three elections? How dare you, or those around you, ever spin 9/11? Just as the terrorists have succeeded, are still succeeding, as long as there is no memorial and no construction here at Ground Zero, so too have they succeeded, and are still succeeding, as long as this government uses 9/11 as a wedge to pit Americans against Americans."

     Olbermann concluded by accusing the President of "forgetting the lessons of 9/11" and asking: "Who has left this hole in the ground? We have not forgotten, Mr. President. You have. May this country forgive you."

     Just before a commercial break at 8:16pm EDT, Olbermann plugged the segment, "Ahead, a special comment on the symbolism of this day at Ground Zero. What is, five years later, still an empty pit mirroring the empty promises of this administration to unite us, and also its unmistakable lies."

     Below is a complete transcript from the September 11 Countdown of Olbermann's "Special Comment," which the MSNBC host delivered at 8:51pm EDT, just minutes before the beginning of Bush's Address to the Nation:

     "And lastly tonight, a special comment on why we are here. Half a lifetime ago, I worked in that now-empty space behind me. And for 40 days after the attacks, I worked here again, trying to make sense of what happened, and was yet to happen, as a reporter. And all of the time, I knew that the very air I breathed contained the remains of thousands of people, including four of my own friends, two in the planes and, as I discovered from those missing posters seared still into my soul, two more in the Towers. And I knew as well that this was the pyre for hundreds of New York policemen and firemen, of whom my family can claim half a dozen or more as our ancestors.
     "I belabor this to emphasize that for me this was, and is, and always shall be, personal. And anyone who claims that I and others like me are soft or have forgotten the lessons of what happened here, is at best a grasping, opportunistic, dilettante; and, at worst, an idiot, whether he is a commentator or a Vice President or a President.
     "However, of all the things those of us who were here five years ago could have forecast, of all the nightmares that unfolded before our eyes, and the others that unfolded only in our minds, none of us could have predicted this: Five years later, this space is still empty. Five years later, there is no memorial to the dead. Five years later, there is no building rising to show with proud defiance that we would not have our America wrung from us by cowards and criminals. Five years later, this country's wound is still open. Five years later, this country's mass grave is still unmarked. Five years later, this is still just a background for a photo-op. It is beyond shameful.
     "At the dedication of the Gettysburg Memorial, barely four months after the last soldier staggered from another Pennsylvania field, Mr. Lincoln said, 'We cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.'
     "Lincoln used those words to immortalize their sacrifice. Today our leaders could use those same words to rationalize their own reprehensible inaction. 'We cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we can not hallow this ground.' So we won't. Instead they bicker and buck pass. They thwart private efforts and jostle to claim credit for initiatives that go nowhere. They spend the money on irrelevant wars and elaborate self-congratulations, and buying off columnists to write how good a job they're doing instead of doing any job at all.
     "Five years later, Mr. Bush, we are still fighting the terrorists on these streets. And look carefully, sir. On these 16 empty acres, the terrorists are clearly still winning. And, in a crime against every victim here and every patriotic sentiment you mouthed but did not enact, you have done nothing about it.
     "And there is something worse still than this vast gaping hole in this city and in the fabric of our nation. There is its symbolism of the promise unfulfilled, the urgent oath reduced to lazy execution.
     [Video clip starts here]
     "The only positive on 9/11 and the days and weeks that so slowly and painfully followed it was the unanimous humanity, here and throughout the country. The government " the President, in particular " was given every possible measure of support. Those who did not belong to his party tabled that. Those who doubted the mechanics of his election ignored that. Those who wondered of his qualifications forgot that.
     "History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government by its critics. It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation's wounds, but to take political advantage. Terrorists did not come and steal our newly-regained sense of being American first, and political, fiftieth. Nor did the Democrats. Nor did the media. Nor did the people. The President and those around him did that.
     "They promised bipartisanship, and then showed that, to them, 'bipartisanship' meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused, as appeasers, as those who, in the Vice President's words yesterday, 'validate the strategy of the terrorists.' They promised protection, and then showed that to them 'protection' meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken, a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated al-Qaeda as much as we did. The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war on the false premise that it had something to do with 9/11 is lying by implication. The impolite phrase is 'impeachable offense.'
     "Not once in now five years has this President ever offered to assume responsibility for the failures that led to this empty space, and to this, the current and curdled version of our beloved country. Still, there is a snapping flame from a final candle of respect and fairness: Even his most virulent critics have never suggested that he alone bears the full brunt of the blame for 9/11. Half the time, in fact, this President has been so gently treated that he has seemed not even to be the man most responsible for anything in his own administration.
     "Yet what is happening this very night? A miniseries, created, influenced, possibly financed by the most radical and cold of domestic political Machiavellis, continues to be televised into our homes. The documented truths of the last fifteen years are replaced by bald-faced lies; the talking points of the current regime parroted; the whole sorry story blurred by spin to make the party out of office seem vacillating and impotent, and the party in office seem like the only option.
     "How dare you, Mr. President, after taking cynical advantage of the unanimity and love, and transmuting both into fraudulent war and needless death, after monstrously transforming it into fear and suspicion and turning that fear into the campaign slogan of three elections? How dare you, or those around you, ever spin 9/11? Just as the terrorists have succeeded, are still succeeding, as long as there is no memorial and no construction here at Ground Zero, so too have they succeeded, and are still succeeding, as long as this government uses 9/11 as a wedge to pit Americans against Americans.
     "This is an odd point to cite a television program, especially one from March of 1960. But as Disney's continuing sell-out of the truth, and of this country, suggests, even television programs can be powerful things. And long ago, a series called The Twilight Zone broadcast a riveting episode entitled 'The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street.' [over black and white video of the TV episode] In brief: a meteor sparks rumors of an invasion by extraterrestrials disguised as humans. The electricity goes out. A neighbor pleads for calm. Suddenly his car, and only his car, starts. Someone suggests he must be the alien. Then another man's lights go on. As charges and suspicion and panic overtake the street, guns are inevitably produced. An 'alien' is shot, but then he turns out to be just another neighbor returning from having gone for help. The camera pulls back to a nearby hill, where two extraterrestrials are seen, finally, manipulating a small device that can jam electricity. The veteran tells his novice that there is no need to actually attack, that you just turn off a few of the human machines, and then 'they pick the most dangerous enemy they can find, and it is themselves.'
     "And then, in perhaps his finest piece of writing, Rod Serling sums it up with words of remarkable prescience, given where we find ourselves tonight. 'The tools of conquest,' he said, 'do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men. For the record,' he said, 'prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own for the children and the children yet unborn.'
     "When those who dissent are told time and time again -- as we will be, if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public chorus -- that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of that freedom, we are somehow un-American; when we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have 'forgotten the lessons of 9/11'; look into this empty space behind me and the bipartisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me this: Who has left this hole in the ground? We have not forgotten, Mr. President. You have. May this country forgive you.
     "Our coverage of the President's address is next. From Ground Zero, I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck."

 

Thumbs Down from Brokaw on Bush Speech:
Rhetoric vs Reality

     MSNBC brought back former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw for some post-Bush 9/11 commemoration speech analysis with Chris Matthews. Brokaw wasn't impressed: "I was surprised that there was not more poetry in it, a, and b, that he didn't take us to a different place in terms of where he wants to go next. This is the kind of speech that he could have given three years ago, not five years after 9/11. The American public now has been through a lot in five years, Chris, and with all due respect to the President, they'll be measuring his rhetoric versus the reality that they see almost every day in their newspapers and on television." Forwarding a liberal world view, Brokaw proposed: "The policies versus the reality, I think is what a lot of people are going to be looking at. And whether or not we have to find other ways, than just militarily going in to deal with these issues, is the question on the minds of a lot of people."

     He soon elaborated on the point: "The question is, do we advance the goals of trying to suffocate this Islamic rage, which is real, we are still under threat from a lot of jihadists around the world, by fighting the war the way we are in Iraq and doing what we have been doing in Afghanistan, or is there another way worth examining?"

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

     Brokaw delivered similar sentiments on Monday's Today. See items #3 and #4 below.

     The first half of the Matthews/Brokaw exchange on MSNBC, as the two sat with Ground Zero in the background, just after President Bush finished his 9pm EDT national address on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 anniversary:

     Chris Matthews: "What did you hear in that speech tonight?"
     Tom Brokaw: "I was surprised that there was not more poetry in it, a, and b, that he didn't take us to a different place in terms of where he wants to go next. This is the kind of speech that he could have given three years ago, not five years after 9/11. The American public now has been through a lot in five years, Chris, and with all due respect to the President, they'll be measuring his rhetoric versus the reality that they see almost every day in their newspapers and on television. When he talks about all the people who have voted in Iraq, for example, he's absolutely correct on that, but that's touched off this terribly violent struggle over there for power between the Shiite and the Sunni. In Afghanistan, where they've had elections, as well, and I've spent a lot of time in that country, if you get just outside of Kabul, you'll find that women are living a very traditional Islamic life. They're not able to go to a clinic where there are male doctors, for example. That has not changed. It doesn't mean that this is not a noble effort. But, in fact, the policies versus the reality, I think is what a lot of people are going to be looking at. And whether or not we have to find other ways, than just militarily going in to deal with these issues, is the question on the minds of a lot of people."
     Matthews: "You've spent a lot of your life and career involved in the dialogue between the media and political power. It seems to me if you watched the last couple of weeks there's been a dialogue back and forth, almost a deposition, between the media -- especially the White House press corps -- and this President. Getting him to the point where he admitted there was no connection between what happened here and the war in Iraq, the Vice President, because of Tim Russert this weekend, agreeing to that, even though he had been the hardest man to convince on that point. And now here is the President, in a formal speech saying even though there's no confection directly between 9/11. It seems that is how democracy works, a dialectic, an argument back and forth, where one side finally says I don't have the evidence to keep making my case, therefore I'm going to ask you to accept my leadership, that it is a threat to our country even if they weren't involved with 9/11."
     Brokaw: "People have been saying all day long, is this a political speech, are these political appearances? But of course they are. We live in a political system. This is how we work all that out. When he said tonight, for example, that Saddam Hussein was a clear threat to this country, if you watched Tim Russert yesterday, he had the Vice President on saying that, in fact, there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and Iraq. And we had Saddam in a box, which a lot of people believed at that time. The question is, do we advance the goals of trying to suffocate this Islamic rage, which is real, we are still under threat from a lot of jihadists around the world, by fighting the war the way we are in Iraq and doing what we have been doing in Afghanistan, or is there another way worth examining? It's not just a choice between cutting and running, as the administration likes to put it, and what a lot of Democrats would like to do, which is to just get out of there. There are other positions there, as well. This is a very complex war in which we're involved and it requires, it seems to me, more complex analysis than we're able to get in the current political debate."

 

Matt Lauer, Tom Brokaw, and Tim Russert
Feel the Gloom on 9/11

     In the fourth half-hour of NBC's Today on September 11, co-host Matt Lauer chatted with Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert and former anchorman Tom Brokaw about what's happened to America in the last five years. It wasn't pretty. Lauer cited lost civil liberties, Russert lamented we're "pretty much alone" in Iraq, and Brokaw found both parties weren't enthusiastic enough about demanding more "sacrifice" -- as in tax increases. Brokaw brought up how "a lot of people have talked about a patriot tax on energy, for example, might be a way of reminding people of what we need to do." But in an essay aired earlier on Today (see item #4), Brokaw fretted about how people in Montana "worry a lot about gas prices. This is a big state with big rigs with big appetites for fuel."

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

     MRC's Geoff Dickens found that around 8:35am EDT, Brokaw suggested that while it was politically dangerous to sound the usual partisan notes on this anniversary, "Nonetheless the country is fully engaged in a very robust debate, as they say these days, about the wisdom of the policies." Lauer grew specific: "And some of the changes and some of the controversial subjects we've talked about in the last several years here. The loss of some personal liberties as a result of this war on terrorism and yet when you poll people and you ask them are they willing to give up those personal freedoms and feel safer a majority of people say yes."

     Brokaw responded: "Yeah, and if you go through airports and I go through a lot of them I'm always struck by the orderliness of it all and the lack of rancor. I mean here in New York City people will honk if you don't move out very quickly and give you a bad time but people do understand and they're giving up Chapsticks and shampoo and other things saying that this is something we may have to do. The real question, is of course, are we safer as a result of all that or are we fighting the last war?"

     From there, the NBC panel at the Ground Zero site predictably walked down the usual path of squandered global will, around 8:53:

     Lauer: "As we look at the outpouring of emotion and we look back five years and remember the outpouring of patriotism in this country and, and not only in this country but also the way the people around the world held Americans and this country in their hearts and in their thoughts, where do we stand today?"
     Brokaw: "I think we're more isolated than ever. I think all the international polls show that and the fact of the matter is that the United States stands more alone than it ever has in this campaign because of the manner in which it has been conducted. Now it doesn't mean that, that the other countries are right and we're entirely wrong. I think, in fact, a lot of the central European countries have their own problems with terrorists, probably not being as candid about it as they need to be. You know one of the remarkable events of five years ago was that one of the largest demonstrations in the Middle East in solidarity with the United States took place in Tehran. The Iranians went into the streets because culturally they've always had an enormous affection for this country. We have a huge diaspora in this country of Iranians who came here. There's been a lot of traffic back and forth, the Persian culture is very proud. And now we are at swords points, so to speak."
     Lauer: "And the day after 9/11, September 12th, 2001 the headline in Le Monde, the French newspaper, the French daily was, 'We're all Americans.'"
     Brokaw: "Yeah."
     Lauer: "And you look at what these five years have done and the strain its placed on the relationship between the United States and France. Tim Russert is standing by in Washington. And, and Tim this strain and this isolation that, that Tom just talked about. How has that affected our ability to carry out foreign policy in these last couple of years and how will it affect our ability to deal with, with threats that are still looming on the horizon?"
     Russert: "Well it makes it complicated, Matt. There's no doubt about it. As we see being played out in the war in Iraq where we are pretty much alone as opposed to Afghanistan where NATO now has picked up much of the initiative. I think the big issue confronting us and the world will be Iran. Whether or not they will get a nuclear weapon and there we are going to need alliances, need the support of our European allies and our Asian allies if it comes to imposing sanctions against a country like Iran. There is no doubt this is a day, a reflection on all this and more. As you try to reel back what happened five years ago I don't think the English language has yet found the words to express the shock and grief and anguish that we felt on that day and feel rising up again today."
     Lauer: "For you Tim and you Tom, as well, this war on terrorism that we've talked about, usually wars involve sacrifices. And when it comes to what changes we faced over these last five years and we've talked about some of the more superficial ones. You know you can't bring liquids on an airplane right now but have we really sacrificed as, as a country and as citizens or are these more inconveniences in your opinion?"
     Brokaw: "Well I think that there have been some sacrifices in terms of gasoline prices and certainly there have been enormous sacrifices on the part of the families who sent young ones off to the war in Iraq. But even on that we're divided because we now have an all-volunteer military, uniformed military services and families that don't have someone going there feel removed from the consequences of all that. I've talked to the President about this, I know that you raised it with him as well. He's often summoned up FDR and World War II but at that time this country was joined in so many ways by the day to day, not just inconveniences but sacrifices they made about gasoline rationing, about food that was available and a reminder constantly that we are at war because every family was involved."
     Brokaw continued: "A lot of people have talked about a patriot tax on energy, for example, might be a way of reminding people of what we need to do. There's a great concern in the administration, as Tim knows as well, that, that will unhinge the economy. But I, I do think from a political point of view that there has been a failure on the part of the political leadership in the administration to bring the country together on these issues. For that matter I don't think the Democrats have done a very good job either. I think that in recent months, especially they've been mostly on the attack and not talking about the kinds of sacrifices and solutions that are gonna be required however we get this worked out."

     That's fairly amusing, since Brokaw in one report (see item #4 below) lamented how Montana "worries a lot" about high gas prices, and then in another segment, suggested an energy tax to drive up the gas price even higher.

 

NBC's Tom Brokaw Rings Defeatist Alarm
on Today Show

     Watching Tom Brokaw on Monday's Today show, viewers couldn't help feel depressed as Brokaw painted a divided America that is disrespected abroad and losing the war on terrorism. On the 9/11 anniversary edition of Today, Brokaw opined in a taped piece aired in the 7:30am half hour: "Five years later there are more questions, more uncertainty. After all five years later the Taliban are back in Afghanistan, Iraq is on the verge of anarchy, Iran is more dangerous than ever. Five years later there have been no more attacks on the U.S. but the terrorists are still out there."

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

     Brokaw worried about government overstepping its bounds and wrung his hands about the origins of Islamic anger: "Just who else is listening in on our conversations? The Islamic rage, where does that come from?"

     Brokaw then went on to paint the nation divided by war: "We've gone from a nation united by grief, anger and determination to a nation divided by war triggered by 9/11. A just war to its defenders."
     George W. Bush: "The war we fight today is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive, ideological struggle of the 21st century."
     Brokaw: "A calamity to its critics."
     Rep. John Murtha: "The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It's a flawed policy wrapped in illusion."
     Brokaw: "Where do you live? In Toby Keith country? Or in Dixie Chicks country?"

     Brokaw continued painting the gloomy state of affairs even in middle America states like Montana where they "worry a lot about gas prices. This is a big state with big rigs with big appetites for fuel. They are very aware of the war in Iraq. Montana has the highest per capita military enlistment rate in the country." Brokaw then invited Montana's Democratic governor to fret about the war:

     Brokaw: "Montana's popular governor Brian Schweizter, a Democrat."
     Gov. Brian Schweitzer: "We, we're faced with funerals. What do you say to the families? If somebody could give me a script I would like it because this is the most difficult part of my job is try and make sense of all this. Everyone's asking when does it end? How does it end?"

     Brokaw then concluded: "Five years later the unofficial anthem of 9/11 is not heard as often across this divided nation."
     [Clip of people singing God Bless America]
     Brokaw: "Matt another way that we've changed obviously is that there's a different perception of America in the world as a result of all that's happened. A lot of concern even in Republican ranks about how the world sees us, about the failure of our intelligence agencies and whether that can be restored. And as one of them said to me recently. You know America always got credit for, not only doing the right thing but trying to do the right thing but said Abu Ghraib and all that's gone wrong in Iraq has changed a lot of that. So we are a different place and it's more than just a hole in the ground here in New York that indicates that."

     The following is Lauer's introduction and then all of Brokaw's 9/11 essay:

     Matt Lauer: "Meanwhile welcome back to Ground Zero on this Monday morning. Our lives were all changed by the dramatic events that unfolded here at the Pentagon and in that field in Pennsylvania five years ago. Tom Brokaw is here to reflect on America's loss of innocence and how the country has changed in that time. Tom, welcome back. And you know a lot of people here wonder have the changes occurred in other parts of the country. We know they occurred here in New York but sometimes it's hard to look past our borders."

     Tom Brokaw: "Well we were all one when that happened. Everybody felt United was New York but then over the course of five years things have changed so we thought it would be useful to take a look at the big picture but also the view of the war of terror, on terror from the heartland of America as well. Some of the changes are obvious and still evolving. Will we ever get our lattes back on board? Will an airliner ever be hijacked again without the passengers fighting back. Just who else is listening in on our conversations? The Islamic rage, where does that come from? We've gone from a nation united by grief, anger and determination to a nation divided by war triggered by 9/11. A just war to its defenders."
     George W. Bush: "The war we fight today is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive, ideological struggle of the 21st century."
     Brokaw: "A calamity to its critics."
     Rep. John Murtha: "The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It's a flawed policy wrapped in illusion."
     Brokaw: "Where do you live? In Toby Keith country? Or in Dixie Chicks country? In urban America where there are reminders everyday that terrorists could come again anytime."
     Unidentified official: "Anybody in the intelligence game will tell you this, New York is still their, their number one target. They want to come back here. We've been attacked successfully twice here. A third time would say, 'Hey you can't stop us.'"
     Brokaw: "Or in rural America, a long way from Ground Zero. In Montana ranchers and hunters worry a lot more about wolves coming out of Yellowstone than they worry about terrorists coming out of the Middle East and on windy days everyone in this state worries a lot about wildfires. They also worry a lot about gas prices. This is a big state with big rigs with big appetites for fuel. They are very aware of the war in Iraq. Montana has the highest per capita military enlistment rate in the country. Montana's popular governor Brian Schweizter, a Democrat."
     Gov. Brian Schweitzer: "We, we're faced with funerals. What do you say to the families? If somebody could give me a script I would like it because this is the most difficult part of my job is try and make sense of all this. Everyone's asking when does it end? How does it end?"
     Brokaw: "This patriotic state is living with the consequences of 9/11 but five years later there are more questions, more uncertainty. After all five years later the Taliban are back in Afghanistan, Iraq is on the verge of anarchy, Iran is more dangerous than ever. Five years later there have been no more attacks on the U.S. but the terrorists are still out there. More, now than ever before. Five years later the wounds have not healed for the 9/11 families. Five years later a new generation is coming of age. For many 9/11 is a fading memory, for others it was the beginning of an end. Five years later the unofficial anthem of 9/11 is not heard as often across this divided nation."
     [Clip of people singing God Bless America]
     Brokaw: "Matt another way that we've changed obviously is that there's a different perception of America in the world as a result of all that's happened. A lot of concern even in Republican ranks about how the world sees us, about the failure of our intelligence agencies and whether that can be restored. And as one of them said to me recently. You know America always got credit for, not only doing the right thing but trying to do the right thing but said Abu Ghraib and all that's gone wrong in Iraq has changed a lot of that. So we are a different place and it's more than just a hole in the ground here in New York that indicates that."
     Lauer: "And how that different world view will affect us as we move forward in other foreign policy decisions and other threats we face in the future and I'm happy you're gonna be here throughout the morning and joining us, Tom. We'll check in with you in a few minutes."
     Brokaw: "My pleasure, Matt."

 

Lauer Worries With Hillary, Then Pounds
Bush on Interrogations

     While NBC's Matt Lauer baited Senator Hillary Clinton on Monday's Today to admonish the administration and to say we're not safer, he attacked the President for, in fact, trying to make the nation safer. Lauer prompted Clinton: "Are you comfortable that the United States did not break the law in conducting that kind of interrogations in those secret sites?" Then later in the program, Lauer repeatedly pressed Bush over interrogation methods used on terrorists: "The head of Amnesty International says secret sites are against international law." Lauer worried: "Are you at all concerned that at some point, even if you get results, there is a blurring the lines of, between ourselves and the people we're trying to protect us against?"

     [This item by Geoffrey Dickens was posted, with video, Monday afternoon on the MRC's NewsBusters blog. The audio/video of Lauer's combative exchange in the Oval Office with Bush will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, but in the meantime, to watch the Real or Windows Media video, or MP3 audio, go to: newsbusters.org ]

     Monday's CyberAlert recounted: Friday's NBC Nightly News previewed an exchange between President Bush and Matt Lauer in the Oval Office, part of a longer session that will air on Monday's Today show, in which Lauer cited Amnesty International as the authority to undermine Bush's assertion that secret prisons to hold al-Qaeda operatives are legal. When Lauer indicted Bush, painting Bush as guilty of some kind of misdeed -- "You admitted that there were these CIA secret facilities" -- Bush scoffed: "So what? Why is that not within the law?" Lauer then retorted: "The head of Amnesty International says secret sites are against international law." Bush countered: "Most American people, if I said that we had who we think's the mastermind of the 9/11, they would say, 'Why don't you see if you can't get information out of him without torturing,' which is what we did." See: www.mrc.org

     The following are all of Lauer's questions to Bush, in the interview taped on Friday, aired in the 8am EDT half hour of the September 11 Today:

     Matt Lauer: "Now more of my interview with President Bush. I spoke to him on Friday in the Oval Office at the White House and President Bush has said nothing is more important to him than keeping the American people safe. On Sunday, on Meet the Press, Vice President Cheney added it's no accident there hasn't been an attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. Well in a spirited exchange I asked the President to respond to those who say his administration may have gone too far, for example, in interrogating terror suspects?"
     [George W. Bush]
     Lauer: "Well That's an interesting point and you said, 'within the law.' And yet you admitted that there were these CIA secret facilities."
     Bush: "So what? Why is that not within the law?"
     Lauer: "The head of Amnesty International says secret sites are against international law."
     Bush: "Well, we just agree to disagree with him. And plus, my job is to protect you. And most American people, if I said that we had who we think's the mastermind of the 9/11, they would say, 'Why don't you see if you can't get information out of him without torturing,' which is what we did."
     Lauer: "These, these alternative methods you talked about in terms of extracting information from these suspected terrorists. Were you made personally aware of all of the techniques that were used, for example, against a Khalid Shaikh Mohammed? And did you approve all of those techniques?"
     [Bush]
     Lauer: "It, it's been reported that with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed he was what they called, water-boarded."
     [Bush]
     Lauer: "I, I don't want to let this 'within the law,' issue slip though. I mean if, if in fact there was water-boarding used with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and for the viewers that's basically you strap someone to a board and you make 'em feel as if they're gonna drown, you put 'em underwater. If, if that was legal and within the law why couldn't you do it at Guantanamo? Why did you have to go to a secret location around the world?"
     Bush: "I'm not going to talk about techniques. And, I'm not going explain to the enemy what we're doing. All I'm telling you is that you've asked me whether or not we're doing things to protect the American people, and I want the American people to know we are doing so."
     Lauer: "At some point, Mr. President, if, if techniques, these alternate, alternative techniques are used-"
     [Bush]
     Lauer: "I'm not gonna ask you to specifically say anything about say about them. But if they are used, are you at all concerned that at some point, even if you get results, there is a blurring the lines of, between ourselves and the people we're trying to protect us against?"
     [Bush]
     Lauer: "President George W. Bush speaking to me Friday in the Oval Office at the White House."

     Lauer's treatment of Bush contrasted sharply with these softball questions he threw to Clinton as the two stood by Ground Zero in the interview aired in the 7am half hour:

     Lauer: "New York's junior senator Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton will be here at Ground Zero all morning long to help commemorate those lost on 9/11. Senator Clinton good to have you here. Good morning."
     [Sen. Hillary Clinton]
     Lauer: "Let me ask you the question that so many Americans are gonna ask each other and their leaders this morning and that is are we safer today, five years after these attacks of 9/11?"
     [Clinton]
     Lauer: "We, we conducted a poll and we asked people are they safer, do they at least feel safer? 74 percent said, 'Yes I feel safer today than I did prior to, or you know right after 9/11.' How much credit does the Bush administration deserve for that number?"
     [Clinton]
     Lauer: "Is in some ways, some have called it a numbers game. And, and I'm curious how you feel about this? Do you think that there are more or less people today? More or fewer people today who want to bring harm to the United States than there were in the days prior to 9/11 and the actions we've taken post-9/11?"
     [Clinton]
     Lauer: "But our, our response to 9/11, in particular Senator, has it created more enemies in your opinion?"
     [Clinton]
     Lauer: "The President announced and confirmed last week something most of us have, have thought for quite a while that the CIA had secret sites around the world where they interrogated and detained terror suspects, people like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and used alternative question, questioning methods. Are you comfortable that the United States did not break the law in conducting that kind of interrogations in those secret sites?"
     [Clinton]
     Lauer: "Do the ends justify the means?"
     [Clinton]
     Lauer: "Senator Clinton, good to have you here."

 

CBS Host Ferguson Pays 9/11 Tribute:
'The Flag Was Still There'

     Instead of opening with his usual monologue of jokes, Craig Ferguson, an immigrant from Scotland, began Monday night's Late Late Show on CBS with a tribute to America, a refreshing attitude not often heard these days in the mainstream media. "I consider myself an American," he declared on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, adding: "I've been here for a long time. I love this country." Ferguson contended: "Anyone who cares about anything, when these rat bastards flew those planes into those buildings, if you're a human, it would insult everything inside you." Ferguson suggested "this is a defining moment for our generation. For one generation, it was the assassination of Kennedy, for another it's 9/11. It's 'Where were you on September the 11th?'"

     Ferguson proceeded to recount how a few days after 9/11 he was at the Warner Brothers lot, where he was an actor on the Drew Carey Show, for a memorial service. The Teamsters had put up on the side of a building a huge U.S. flag and as the wind blew some of the clips holding it up came loose, but the flag stayed in place. He recalled: "For all the fear and terror that 9/11 brought, I thought then when I saw that flag stay there, I thought that's the way it is here. This is an ill wind and it moved the flag and a couple of clips popped, and the country reeled back from it, and for all the arguments and all the rascals and the scoundrels on either side of political debates, all across who try and claim this awful, awful day as something they own, there is argument and debate in America, and that's what makes us the country that we are. And when that wind blew, and when that ill wind blew in America, the flag was still there. The flag was still there."

     [This item was posted, with video, late Monday night on the MRC's NewsBusters blog. The audio/video will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, but in the meantime, to watch the Real or Windows Media video, or MP3 audio, go to: newsbusters.org ]

     I could have done without the criticism of "all the rascals and the scoundrels on either side of political debates, all across who try and claim this awful, awful day as something they own," which could be seen as a cryptic shot at President Bush since it matches a liberal talking point about him -- but Ferguson's overall unashamed sentiment and appreciation for our country was pleasing to hear on a broadcast television network.

     The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, which is taped in Los Angeles and airs after the Late Show with David Letterman, is produced for CBS by Letterman's Worldwide Pants, Inc.

     The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the September 11 (technically aired Sept. 12 in the EDT and PDT zones) Late Late Show on CBS. Ferguson opened his show:

     "Normally I come out here, you know, and dance around and do my thing and say it's a great day for America. I'm not going to say that tonight. It's the fifth anniversary of 9/11. And it doesn't really seem appropriate. To be honest, I will be honest with you, I did not want to do a show tonight. I didn't want to do it, but, I wanted to put up a rerun, but we just had two weeks of reruns and we've run out of them. We don't have any more reruns, so I didn't know what to do. And also, I didn't want to do a show, but it seemed kind of chicken to run away from it.....So I thought, no, I'll come out and do it, and I didn't want to come out and do jokes about Paris Hilton and all that kind of stuff like we normally do (laughter). We'll have plenty tomorrow. Stay tuned. She'll go out and do something to tonight. We'll be all over it. (laughter)
     "If you watch this show at all, thank you, and you'll know that I consider myself an American. I've been here for a long time. I love this country. My first job in America was a construction worker in Harlem in New York, and when I was working there, I used to sit up on the roof at lunchtime with the rest of the guys that worked there and have lunch. When I say lunch, you know I smoked marijuana (laughter). It was me and ten Jamaicans. What were we going to do? That's what we did. And we used to sit up there, you know, and we'd enjoy our lunch, and we would, and we'd watch the planes flying into Kennedy, and just, you know, we thought how awful it would be if ever anything happened, you know, and then of course years later, that image that none of us will forget.
     "Now, it's a hell of a thing to change your country. You know, it's like changing your religion. You know, it's like when you become a convert, you know, you're more zealous. Like someone changes to being a Catholic, you know, it's like people who grew up being a Catholic are like, 'Why is he so catholic?' Well, it's just the way I am, you know. It's what I am about America. And I feel that, you know, [POSTED VIDEO starts here] I'm here, my son is an American, I pay my taxes in America, I pay alimony in America. I feel I'm assimilated to you. And so I feel part of this. I think the world is part of this. Anyone who cares about anything, when these rat bastards flew those planes into those buildings, if you're a human, it would insult everything inside you. And if you've watched TV at all in the past few days, you'll have seen plenty of talk on 9/11, and I don't really know what kind of show we do here. If you've watched this for any length of time, you'll know I'm not kidding about that. I don't really know what we do, but I'm not going to run away from this.
     "This is a defining moment for our generation. For one generation, it was the assassination of Kennedy, for another it's 9/11. It's 'Where were you on September the 11th?' So here's where I was. I was here in Los Angeles. I was married at the time, and I got an early phone call from my then-father-in-law. I was awake. I mean, my son was less than six months old at the time, so I was awake. And my father-in-law worked on Wall Street near Ground Zero. And he said turn on the TV, World War III has broken out, it's crazy. And we turned on the television, and watched unfold like the most of the country, I saw the second plane hit as it happened live, and I didn't hear from my father-in-law again for four hours. The phone service was down. And we eventually heard from him. He like a lot of people just walked uptown. They just headed to Central Park covered in dust, did whatever they did, and they got out of there. And I remember the feeling of when the news reports later in the day, they said the planes had, the rest of the planes in America, the air traffic has ceased and all the planes were safely landed, I felt a strange sense of relief. America felt like a very small town that day. You know, that kind of, get everybody home, that sort of thing.
     "And back then I was working on the Drew Carey Show. I was still in show business then. I was working on the Drew Carey Show. And around about noon, the stage manager called, we used to shoot the show on a Tuesday, and he called and he said we're not going to tape today, and I said, 'What, is Drew okay with that because you know lunch is catered on Tuesdays?' (Laughter) So where we taped the show was at the Warner Brothers studios, which is in Burbank here. So a few days later, we went back to work. Air travel was still shut down. The country was still reeling and mourning. And everyone, it seems strange to say it now, but I remember thinking, we thought this was World War III. When's the next one coming? Tomorrow? The day after? And there was all these memorial services everywhere. People in work places all over the country, you know, I'm sure you remember, people would get together and pray and sing and hold hands and do whatever they could.
     "And Warner Brothers was no different. And they had a memorial service on the back lot. You know, the studio police, the studio fire department, all the people that worked there. The Teamsters, the cast from Friends were there, the cast of the Drew Carey were there. Drew Carey cast looked like they were Teamsters. And we were all in the back lot, and the back lot of Warner Brothers, it's where they shoot the Gilmore Girls. It's Main Street, USA. It's made to look like that. You know, it's a quaint little town. It's got a town square. It's got a band stand in the middle. They've got a town drunk. He runs the studio (laughter). You know, it's everything. It's really Main Street, USA. And the street was packed with everyone who worked there, and we're all huddled together. And back then, Warner Brothers had, this is before 9/11, they used to have this giant flag. You remember they used to have? They used to have this giant Stars and Stripes on the side of one of the sound stages. It's a huge thing, this flag, about the size of a city block.
     "And for the service, the Teamsters had jerry-rigged this flag on some scaffolding in the town square. You know, it was this flag on some scaffolding, it was held on with clips, you know, this was jubilee clips or whatever they call them, just holding this flag on. And it was a very, very hot day like you get in Burbank in September. It was horrible, and this flag up there, there was some shade so everyone was huddled under the shade of the flag. And it seemed very poignant at the time that everyone was frighten and everyone was, you know, but we all kind of huddled under this flag for protection. And at this time of year, the Santa Anas start to blow in Los Angeles. The winds start to blow, and they can pick up a bit. And halfway through the ceremony is the, you know, everyone is saying their peace.
     "This flag started to ripple with the winds that are coming up and it started to ping loose from the jerry-rigging, the flag started to kind of move, and I thought, 'God, we can't have this now. This flag can't fall down on us now. There's something very wrong about that.' And a couple of these little clips pinged out, but the flag stayed where it was. And it's something that I'll never forget because for all the fear and terror that 9/11 brought, I thought then when I saw that flag stay there, I thought that's the way it is here. This is an ill wind and it moved the flag and a couple of clips popped, and the country reeled back from it, and for all the arguments and all the rascals and the scoundrels on either side of political debates, all across who try and claim this awful, awful day as something they own, there is argument and debate in America, and that's what makes us the country that we are. And when that wind blew, and when that ill wind blew in America, the flag was still there. The flag was still there (applause). Maybe somebody should write a song about that. We'll be back in a minute."

-- Brent Baker

 


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