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The 2,421st CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
11:05am EDT, Tuesday June 5, 2007 (Vol. Twelve; No. 94)
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1. Olbermann Suspects Timing of JFK Story, Bush Provoking Cold War
On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann pushed the theory that the recent announcement of a terror plot involving JFK Airport was politically timed to benefit the Bush administration, as the Countdown host revisited and added to a recurring segment titled "The Nexus of Politics and Terror." Olbermann also suggested a connection to Fox News via the participation in Saturday's news conference by New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly, the father of FNC correspondent Greg Kelly: "The so-called plot happens to be revealed the day before the second Democratic presidential debate" and was announced "by the police chief of New York City, the father of a correspondent for Fox News Channel." Olbermann further theorized that President Bush was "fomenting yet another war...a new Cold War with Russia, possibly to obscure the unending nightmare in Iraq."

2. ABC's Cuomo Derides Anti-Hillary Book as an 'Ambien Substitute'
On Monday's Good Morning America, ABC co-anchor Chris Cuomo acted as lawyer for the defense when he interviewed the co-authors of a new book that contains critical revelations about 2008 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Cuomo grilled Don Van Natta and Jeff Gerth, the New York Times investigative journalists behind "Her Way," asking if their book was a "sleeper" and an "Ambien substitute." The ABC host, who didn't appear comfortable even discussing a book critical of Senator Clinton, began the interview by derisively wondering, "...Do you think you have the silver bullet in this book? Is this is this the book that derails the campaign?" Then, Cuomo, the son of a Democratic Governor and the brother of New York's Democratic Attorney General, questioned the standards of the two authors with this loaded query: "The [Clinton] campaign said it is an Ambien substitute. They say the book is just a rehash. How do you respond to that, that your book is a sleeper? It's all been done before. You only needed a library card to report this out. Your response?"

3. Gibson Out, So It's ABC's World News with George Stephanopoulos
George Stephanopoulos, who has co-hosted Good Morning America on several occasions over the years, on Monday night served as anchor of ABC's World News with Charles Gibson. From what I can recall, this is the first time the long-time adviser and strategist for Bill Clinton, and Dick Gephardt before that, has anchored World News -- or World News Tonight as it was previously named.

4. Time Selects Question for Tancredo: 'Why Do You Hate Mexicans?'
It's been eight weeks since Time magazine redesigned itself, and part of that refurbishment is handing over the "Ten Questions" interview inquiries to the readers instead of Time's reporters. In the June 11 edition, Time's interviewee was Rep. Tom Tancredo, a presidential contender and one of the nation's leading opponents of illegal immigration. Among the questions Time selected for Tancredo was a whopper from Ubaldo Padilla of Oroville, California: "Why do you hate Mexicans?" It wasn't the only snotty question Time picked. There was also James Smith of Phoenix, who asked: "I recently found out my family came from Holland without permission in the 1600s. Should we be sent back?"

5. Time's Contrast: Romney's Disappointing, Obama's Full of Courage
Is Time's presidential coverage biased? Check out these headlines from the latest (June 11) edition: "Barack Obama's Inconvenient Truths" and "Mitt Romney's Disappointing Campaign." When you read the actual articles, the contrast is even starker. Reporter Karen Tumulty touted Obama: "Whereas other candidates like to throw red meat before their audiences, Obama is developing a penchant for hurling cold water at them." Columnist Joe Klein blistered Romney: "the brazen cynicism of his candidacy became almost embarrassing...there isn't the slightest hint of courage or conviction in his stump act."


 

Olbermann Suspects Timing of JFK Story,
Bush Provoking Cold War

     On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann pushed the theory that the recent announcement of a terror plot involving JFK Airport was politically timed to benefit the Bush administration, as the Countdown host revisited and added to a recurring segment titled "The Nexus of Politics and Terror." Olbermann also suggested a connection to Fox News via the participation in Saturday's news conference by New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly, the father of FNC correspondent Greg Kelly: "The so-called plot happens to be revealed the day before the second Democratic presidential debate" and was announced "by the police chief of New York City, the father of a correspondent for Fox News Channel." Olbermann further theorized that President Bush was "fomenting yet another war...a new Cold War with Russia, possibly to obscure the unending nightmare in Iraq."

     Olbermann teased the show by mocking a soundbite of U.S. attorney Roslynn Mauskopf, who referred to the danger of "unthinkable devastation" at JFK Airport if the plot were successful. The Countdown host quipped: "Yeah, well, so would me blowing up the moon with Mentos and a liter of Coca Cola." As he opened the show, Olbermann suggested that Bush was pushing missile defense to provoke "a new Cold War" with Russia: "Mr. Bush, meanwhile, arriving in Europe tonight for this weekend's G-8 Summit, and possibly fomenting yet another war in the process, a new Cold War with Russia, possibly to obscure the unending nightmare in Iraq, where, if the present rate continues, 140 American service personnel will have died by the first of July."

     During one of his plugs for the June 4 segment, Olbermann brought Fox News into his conspiracy: "The 'Nexus of Politics and Terror': Why was the JFK Airport plot revealed by a U.S. attorney in the middle of a U.S. attorneys scandal and by the father of a Fox News reporter? And why, on this Saturday, the coincidences have begun again. We will review that."

     Olbermann soon replayed a list of what he referred to as "dubious coincidences," most of which already aired on his show in October 2005, as the Countdown host added recent events to the list for a total of 13 times Olbermann saw suspicious coincidences between terrorism-related news and political events. The Countdown host added the recent announcements of the plan to attack U.S. troops at Fort Dix and the plot to attack JFK Airport to the list. Olbermann connected the timing of the announcement of the JFK Airport plot to the timing of the recent Democratic presidential debate, and again brought up Commissioner Kelly's connection to Fox News: "The so-called plot happens to be revealed the day before the second Democratic presidential debate and, as the scandal continues to unfold over the firings of U.S. attorneys and their replacements by political hacks. The so-called plot is announced by the Bush-appointed U.S. attorney for Brooklyn, New York, and by the police chief of New York City, the father of a correspondent for Fox News Channel."

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

     Below is a transcript of portions of the Monday, June 4 Countdown show on MSNBC:

     KEITH OLBERMANN, DURING OPENING TEASER: The abstract, hypothetical terror plot at JFK: It sounds ominous until you ask the experts. Blow up part of the jet fuel pipeline and you still stand zero chance of blowing up the airport.
     ROSLYNN MAUSKOPF, US ATTORNEY: The devastation that would be caused had this plot succeeded is just unthinkable.
     OLBERMANN: Yeah, well, so would me blowing up the moon with Mentos and a liter of Coca Cola. We will truth squad the plot and update the "Nexus of Politics and Terror," the now 13 times officials in this country have revealed so-called terror plots at times that were just coincidentally to their political benefit, no matter how preposterous the actual schemes might have been, including the plot against Fort Dix where pizza delivery men were supposed to kill at will at an Army base full of soldiers with guns. All summed up neatly by a Republican state party chairman who has just said, quote, "All we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on 9/11, and the naysayers will come around very quickly for President Bush."

     ...

     OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. That Iraq has eclipsed the current presidency, that it will dominate the race for the next one, we all already knew, and we knew it all too well. How much, though, we might not have guessed. Last month was the deadliest month for Americans there in more than two and a half years. June has already seen the daily average escalate. Our fifth story on the Countdown, the U.S. military announcing that 14 Americans have already been killed there in the first three days of June, four of them in a single roadside bombing. And the Democrats had to debate it. Mr. Bush, meanwhile, arriving in Europe tonight for this weekend's G-8 Summit, and possibly fomenting yet another war in the process, a new Cold War with Russia, possibly to obscure the unending nightmare in Iraq, where, if the present rate continues, 140 American service personnel will have died by the first of July.

     ...

     OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:12 PM: Law enforcement calls it, quote, 'one of the most chilling plots imaginable.' But even if the suspects had the support, the money, and the wherewithall they needed, is it even possible to ignite JFK Airport by igniting the jet fuel pipeline that leads to it?
     OLBERMANN: And the President has renewed his attempts to link our security here with the war in Iraq. Are the arrests in this case and the equally impractical Fort Dix plan politically timed or just politically coincidental? We will revisit the "Nexus of Politics and Terror." You're watching Countdown on MSNBC.

     ...

     OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:20 PM: Details of another plot more pipe dream than pipe line, emerging just as the White House redoubles efforts to equate the war in Iraq with our security at home. We will update our look at the history of these kinds of dubious coincidences in a revised edition of the "Nexus of Politics and Terror."

     ...

     OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:26 PM: The "Nexus of Politics and Terror": Why was the JFK Airport plot revealed by a U.S. attorney in the middle of a U.S. attorneys scandal and by the father of a Fox News reporter? And why, on this Saturday, the coincidences have begun again. We will review that.

     ...

     OLBERMANN, AT 8:29 PM: Since last August, there had been a period of calm, the screaming, hair-on-fire pronouncements about terror plots, that may have had real plotters but no real conceivable chance of actually happening, had ceased. That period spanned between the 2006 midterm elections and the week we reached exactly 18 months until the 2008 presidential election -- just a coincidence. Our third story in the Countdown, from the mindbending idea that four guys dressed as pizza delivery men were going to outgun all the soldiers at Fort Dix, to the not-too-thought-out plan to blow up JFK Airport by lighting a match 40 miles away, here we go again. Time for an update of our segment, the "Nexus of Politics and Terror," instances now 13 in number when those two worlds have overlapped and we are reminded by our government, with or without justification, that we should always fear "fear itself." We offer two prefaces tonight. One, the words of Dennis Milligan, the new state chairman of the Republican Party in Arkansas, who says about Iraq to the newspaper the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, quote, "At the end of the day, I believe fully the President is doing the right thing, and I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [September 11, 2001], and the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this country."

     OLBERMANN: "All we need is some attacks on American soil," said the Republican Party chairman in Arkansas, Arkansas, in the United States, that Arkansas. The other preamble, we remind you again that coincidences can happen, that the logical fallacy insists that just because event A occurs and then event B occurs, that does not automatically mean that event A caused event B. But neither does it say the opposite. The "Nexus of Politics and Terror" updated through today. Please judge for yourself.
     Number one. May 18, 2002. The first details of the President's daily briefing of August 6, 2001, are revealed, including its title: "Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S." The same day another memo is discovered revealing the FBI knew of men with links to al-Qaeda training at an Arizona flight school. The memo was never acted upon. Questions about 9/11 intelligence failures are swirling. May 20, 2002.
     TOM BROKAW, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS ANCHOR: The terror warnings from the highest levels of the federal government tonight are just-
     OLBERMANN: Two days later, FBI director Mueller declares that another terrorist attack is "inevitable."
     BROKAW: Tonight, there are even more warnings of possible terrorist attacks in America-
     OLBERMANN: The next day, the Department of Homeland Security issues warnings of attacks against railroads nationwide, and against New York City landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. Number two. Thursday, June 6, 2002.
     COLEEN ROWLEY, FBI AGENT: I never really anticipated this kind of impact.
     OLBERMANN: Coleen Rowley, the FBI agent who tried to alert her superiors to the specialized flight training taken by Zacarias Moussaoui, whose information suggests the government missed a chance to break up the 9/11 plot, testifies before Congress. Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Graham says Rowley's testimony has inspired similar pre-9/11 whistle-blowers. Monday, June 10, 2002. Four days later:
     JOHN ASHCROFT, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: We have disrupted an unfolding terrorist plot-
     OLBERMANN: Speaking from Russia, Attorney General John Ashcroft reveals that an American named Jose Padilla is under arrest, accused of plotting a radiation bomb attack in this country. In fact, Padilla had, by this time, already been detained for more than one month. Number three. February 5, 2003. Secretary of State Powell tells the United Nations Security Council of Iraq's concealment of weapons, including 18 mobile biological weapons laboratories, justifying a U.N. or U.S. first strike. Many in the U.N. are doubtful. Months later, much of the information proves untrue. February 7, 2003. Two days later, as anti-war demonstrations continue to take place around the globe:
     TOM RIDGE, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Take some time to prepare for an emergency.
     OLBERMANN: Homeland Security Secretary Ridge cites credible threats by al-Qaeda and raises the terror alert level to orange. Three days after that, Fire Administrator David Paulison, who would become the acting head of FEMA after the Hurricane Katrina disaster, advises Americans to stock up on plastic sheeting and duct tape to protect themselves against radiological or biological attack. Number four. July 23, 2003. The White House admits that the CIA, months before the President's State of the Union Address, expressed strong doubts about the claim that Iraq had attempted to buy uranium from Niger. On the 24th, the Congressional report on the 9/11 attacks is issued. It criticizes government at all levels. It reveals an FBI informant had been living with two of the future hijackers. It concludes that Iraq had no link to al-Qaeda. Twenty-eight pages of the report are redacted. On the 26th, American troops are accused of beating Iraqi prisoners. July 29, 2003. Three days later, amid all of the negative headlines:
     BROKAW: Word of a possible new al-Qaeda attack.
     OLBERMANN: Homeland Security issues warnings of further terrorist attempts to use airplanes for suicide attacks. Number five. December 17, 2003. 9/11 Commission co-chair Thomas Keane says the attacks were preventable. The next day, a federal appeals court says the government cannot detain suspected radiation bomber Jose Padilla indefinitely without charges. And the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, Dr. David Kay, who has previously announced he has found no weapons of mass destruction there, announces he will resign his post. December 21, 2003. Four days later, the Sunday before Christmas:
     RIDGE: Today the United States government raised the national threat level.
     OLBERMANN: Homeland Security again raises the threat level to orange, claiming credible intelligence of further plots to crash airliners into U.S. cities. Subsequently, six international flights into this country are canceled after some passenger names purportedly produce matches on government no-fly lists. The French later identify those matched names. One belongs to an insurance salesman from Wales, another to an elderly Chinese woman, a third to a five-year-old boy. Number six. March 30, 2004. The new chief weapons inspector in Iraq, Charles Duelfer, tells Congress, 'We have still not found any WMD in that country.' And after weeks of having refused to appear before the 9/11 Commission, Condoleezza Rice relents and agrees to testify. On the 31st, four Blackwater USA contractors working in Iraq are murdered. Their mutilated bodies dragged through the streets and left on public display in Fallujah. The role of civilian contractors in Iraq is now widely questioned. April 2, 2004:
     BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS ANCHOR: The FBI has issued a new warning tonight.
     OLBERMANN: Homeland Security issues a bulletin warning that terrorists may try to blow up buses and trains using fertilizer and fuel bombs like the one detonated in Oklahoma City, bombs stuffed into satchels or duffle bags. Number seven. May 16, 2004. Secretary of State Powell appears on Meet the Press. Moderator Tim Russert closes by asking him about the enormous personal credibility Powell had placed before the U.N. in laying out a case against Saddam Hussein. An aide to Powell interrupts the question, saying the interview is over.
     TIM RUSSERT, MEET THE PRESS HOST: I think that was one of your staff, Mr. Secretary. I don't think that's appropriate.
     COLIN POWELL: Get, Emily, get out of the way.
     OLBERMANN: Powell finishes his answer, admitting that much of the information he had been given about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was-
     POWELL: -inaccurate and wrong and, in some cases, deliberately misleading.
     OLBERMANN: On the 21st, new photos showing mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison are released. On the 24th, Associated Press video from Iraq confirms U.S. forces mistakenly bombed a wedding party. killing more than 40. Wednesday, May 26, 2004. Two days later.
     ASHCROFT: Good afternoon.
     OLBERMANN: Attorney General Ashcroft and FBI director Mueller warned that intelligence from multiple sources-
     ASHCROFT: -indicates al-Qaeda's specific intention to hit the United States hard.
     OLBERMANN: -and that 90 percent of the arrangements for an attack on the United States were complete. The color-coded warning system is not raised. The Homeland Security secretary, Tom Ridge, does not attend the announcement. Number eight. July 6, 2004. Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry selects Senator John Edwards as his vice presidential running mate, producing a small bump in the election opinion polls and producing a huge swing in media attention towards the Democratic campaign. July 8, 2004. Two days later.
     RIDGE: Credible reporting now indicates that al-Qaeda is moving forward with its plans to carry out a large-scale attack in the United States.
     OLBERMANN: Homeland Secretary Ridge warns of information about al-Qaeda attacks during the summer or autumn. Four days after that, the head of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Deforest B. Soaries Jr., confirms he has written to Ridge about the prospect of postponing the upcoming presidential election in the event it is interrupted by terrorist acts. Number nine. July 29, 2004. At their party convention in Boston, the Democrats formally nominate John Kerry as their candidate for President. As in the wake of any convention, the Democrats now dominate the media attention over the subsequent weekend. August 1, 2004, Monday morning. Three days later.
     RIDGE: It is as reliable a source, group of sources that we've ever seen before.
     OLBERMANN: The Department of Homeland Security raises the alert status for financial centers in New York, New Jersey, and Washington to orange. The evidence supporting the warning, reconnaissance data left in a home in Iraq, later proves to be roughly four years old and largely out of date. Number 10. October 6, 2005, the President addresses the National Endowment for Democracy, once again emphasizing the importance of the war on terror, and insisting his government has broken up at least 10 terrorist plots since 9/11. At 3 p.m. Eastern time, five hours after the President's speech has begun, the Associated Press reports that Karl Rove will testify again to the CIA leak grand jury, and that special prosecutor Fitzgerald has told Rove he cannot guarantee that he will not be indicted.
     CHRIS MATTHEWS: We're awaiting a news conference at the bottom of the hour. New York City Police-
     OLBERMANN: At 5:17 p.m. Eastern time, seven hours after the President's speech has begun, New York officials disclose a bomb threat to the city's subway system based on information supplied by the federal government. A Homeland Security spokesman says the intelligence upon which the disclosure is based is of doubtful credibility. And it later proves that New York City had known of the threat for at least three days and had increased police presence in the subways long before making the announcement at that particular time. Local New York television station WNBC reports it had the story of the threats days in advance of the announcement but was asked by high-ranking federal officials in New York and Washington to hold off on its story. Less than four days after having revealed the threat, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York says, "Since the period of the threat now seems to be passing, I think over the immediate future we'll slowly be winding down the enhanced security." While news organizations ranging from the New York Post to NBC News quotes sources who say there was reason to believe the informant who triggered the warning simply made it up, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official tells the New York Times, quote, "there was no there there."
     OLBERMANN: Number 11, a sequence of events in August 2006 best understood now in chronological order. As the month begins, the controversy over domestic surveillance without legal warrants in this country crashes. Then, on August 9th, the day after the Connecticut Democratic Senatorial primary, Vice President Cheney says the victory of challenger Ned LaMont over incumbent Joe Lieberman is a positive for the, quote, "al-Qaeda types," who he says, quote, "clearly are betting on the proposition that utlimately they break the will of the American pople in terms of our ability to stay in the fight." The next day, British authorities arrest 24 suspects in an alleged imminent plot to blow up U.S.-bound aircraft using liquid explosives smuggled on board in sports drink bottles. Domestic air travel is thrown into chaos as carry-on liquids are suddenly banned. On August 14th, British intelligence reveals it did not think the plot was imminent, only the U.S. did, and our authorities pressed to make the arrests. Eleven of the 24 suspects are later released. And in the months to come, the carry-on liquids ban is repeatedly relaxed. Number 12. May 7, 2007. Greensburg, Kansas, leveled by a tornado, and the state's governor notes more in sorrow than in anger that the redeployment of so much of the Kansas National Guard and its equipment to Iraq might now cripple the soldiers' ability to respond if another disaster hits Kansas.
     GOVERNOR KATHLEEN SEBELIUS (D-KS): What we're really missing is equipment, and that is putting a strain on recoveries like this one.
     OLBERMANN: The next day, the authorities announce arrests in a far-fetched plan to attack soldiers at Fort Dix in New Jersey. The so-called terrorists plan to gain access to the base by posing as pizza delivery men. It is not a suicide mission. They state clearly they intend to kill personnel and then retreat to safety, even though they were going to attack a closed compound full of trained soldiers with weapons. And though the plan is branded sophisticated, its perpetrators are not sophisticated enough to have not handed over the videotape of themselves training with weapons to a Circuit City store in order to be transferred to DVD. The Fort Dix plot not only erases from most news coverage the issue of disaster readiness in Kansas, but it also obscures the next day's story that, in anticipation of his testimony to a House panel, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has submitted opening remarks that match virtually word for word the remarks he had given the previous month to a Senate committee.
     ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Recognizing my limited involvement in the process, a mistake that I freely acknowledge, I have soberly questioned my prior decisions.
     OLBERMANN: And number 13. June 2007. The JFK plot to blow up the jet fuel pipeline feeding John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, thus causing the entire airport to be consumed in a horrific conflagration. One of the men arrested has, as a past employee, access to the sprawling complex, but little knowledge of the reality of the pipeline system. The manager of that system tells the New York Times that the pipeline is not some kind of fuse. Shut off valves throughout would have easily contained any damage, just as a leak in a tunnel in any city would not flood everything in that city below ground. The so-called plot happens to be revealed the day before the second Democratic presidential debate and, as the scandal continues to unfold over the firings of U.S. attorneys and their replacements by political hacks. The so-called plot is announced by the Bush-appointed U.S. attorney for Brooklyn, New York, and by the police chief of New York City, the father of a correspondent for Fox News Channel.
     OLBERMANN: In all fairness, we could probably construct a similar timeline of terror events and their relationship to the haircuts of popular politicians, but if merely a reasonable case can be made that any of these juxtapositions of events are more than just coincidences, if that case can be made on this, the very day that a military judge at Guantanamo day, dismissed all terror charges that have kept Salim Hamdan jailed there for five years, it underscores the need for questions to be asked, and asked continually in this country, questions about what is prudence and what is just fearmongering.

 

ABC's Cuomo Derides Anti-Hillary Book
as an 'Ambien Substitute'

     On Monday's Good Morning America, ABC co-anchor Chris Cuomo acted as lawyer for the defense when he interviewed the co-authors of a new book that contains critical revelations about 2008 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Cuomo grilled Don Van Natta and Jeff Gerth, the New York Times investigative journalists behind "Her Way," asking if their book was a "sleeper" and an "Ambien substitute."

     The ABC host, who didn't appear comfortable even discussing a book critical of Senator Clinton, began the interview by derisively wondering, "...Do you think you have the silver bullet in this book? Is this is this the book that derails the campaign?" Then, Cuomo, the son of a Democratic Governor and the brother of New York's Democratic Attorney General, questioned the standards of the two authors with this loaded query:
     "The [Clinton] campaign said it is an Ambien substitute. They say the book is just a rehash. How do you respond to that, that your book is a sleeper? It's all been done before. You only needed a library card to report this out. Your response?"
     Jeff Gerth: "Well, The New York Times chose to put 8,000 words of our book on the cover of the Sunday magazine and we feel that their news judgement is better than that of Senator Clinton's."

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

     How insulting is it for Cuomo, who was parroting Clinton talking points and taking his information off of cue cards, to claim that these Pulitzer Prize winning journalists simply needed "a library card" for their book on the New York politician? (It should also be noted that GMA did not air the interview in the first half hour of the show. They waited until 7:41am, after a segment on the important topic of Paris Hilton going to prison.)

     The ABC reporter seemed hesitant to discuss Gerth and Van Natta's claim that Hillary Clinton made a secret political pact when she married Bill Clinton. Replying to a comment by Van Natta, who an ABC graphic incorrectly identified as "Van Atta," about the Senator's political career, he sheepishly segued into a conversation on the marriage:
     "And with that setup, Cuomo's next question goes right to the marriage, showing how deep I am. There has been lot of speculation about the marriage. And interestingly, in your book, you offer an explanation for maybe why Hillary stayed with Bill through all these things, Monica-gate and the like. A 20-year pact of ambition? Don, explain to me what does that mean?"
     Don Van Natta: "Before they exchanged their marriage vows in 1978 in Arkansas, they exchanged their political vows. They decided in the mid '70s, they were just in their 20s, in Arkansas, that they were going to remake the Democratic Party and within 20 years, Bill Clinton was going to be President of the United States. Now, this is an audacious kind of goal to set and they went about and did it. And it's been the glue that's held their relationship together since."

     Cuomo responded by calling the allegation a "big charge" and continued to defend the Clintons. He wondered if it was fair to take the claim that the two entered into a political arrangement "as fact as opposed to a colorful characterization. 'Cause it's a heavy charge to judge a marriage that way."

     The only time that the GMA co-anchor seemed interested in the information that the duo had uncovered was in regards to Senator Clinton's vote on Iraq, an attack from the left. Cuomo asked if Mrs. Clinton had been attempting to play all sides. However, he followed that question up with more Hillary talking points:
     "Two points for the sake of fairness here. In 2002, as early as 2002, she also said, Hillary also said it was not clear that there was a link between Hussein and 9/11. And those senators, every senator running for president right now has said one way or another they didn't go through the National Intelligence Estimate. I mean, those are both fair points, aren't they?"

     As stated earlier, Cuomo appeared uncomfortable throughout the interview and that became especially clear with the awkward nature of the segment's close. He asked Gerth what type of President Hillary Clinton would be and then proceeded to cut the journalist off while he expounded on the Senator's negative points:

     Gerth: "...It depends which Hillary would be president. She's battle tested. She's well qualified. She's certainly demonstrated last night how well-versed she is on a variety of issues. But when it comes to pitfalls in the road like Iraq or other areas like energy, she doesn't like to admit mistakes. She""
     Cuomo: "Let me cut you off, not because I don't agree with you or I don't like your book, but because we have to go to break."

     A complete transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:41am on June 4:

     ABC Graphic: "Did Clintons Have a Secret Pact? Political Vows For Ambition?"

     Chris Cuomo: "All right. We turn now to Hillary Clinton. Just as she seems to be cementing her position as front-runner, here comes 'Her Way,' a book that is billed at being the first among literally dozens of other books about the Clintons to look at Hillary's Senate career. It is also billed as the book Hillary Clinton does not want you to read. To explain why, we have the authors here, Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta, former and current innovative reporters for The New York Times. Thanks to both of you for coming. Let's deal with that little selling point there. This is the book Hillary would not want you to read? Why do you say that?"
     Jeff Gerth, co-author, 'Her Way': "Well, she has her own book that's come out. But this is a book that's the first and only book that's really looked at her record over the last seven years in her role as a Senator and as a political leaders and, of course, these are the qualifications people are looking at to judge whether she should be president or not. And, we of course we looked at her entire record, the things that she is proud of and the things she's not so proud of. As investigative reporters, we shine a spotlight on some of the things she's tucked away and doesn't want you to know about."
     Cuomo: "Both of you know, as heavyweight investigative reporters, let me ask you, Don, do you think you have the silver bullet in this book? Is this is this the book that derails the campaign?"
     Don Van Natta Jr.: [Note: ABC identifies him as "Van Atta"]: "Well, that's not the kind of book we intended to write. We really wanted to write a book that filled in the gaps that she left in her own book, 'Living History.' When I read that book, I felt it raised a lot questions in my mind. And that's what we set out to do. There is no silver bullet here. But certainly we say a lot of things you won't find on a list of her talking points."
     Cuomo: "The campaign said it is an Ambien substitute. They say the book is just a rehash. How do you respond to that, that your book is a sleeper? It's all been done before. You only needed a library card to report this out. Your response?"
     Gerth: "Well, the New York Times chose to put 8,000 words of our book on the cover of the Sunday magazine and we feel that their news judgement is better than that of Senator Clinton's."
     Cuomo, to Van Natta: "Add to it?"
     Van Natta: "Yeah, I think that's right. There's a lot in this book about her Senate record, about her Iraq vote, about her stance on the environment, on energy. Those are things you can't find in the library. There is no book that's ever reported on her Senate career and that's the record that she's now running on to become the next President of the United States."
     Cuomo: "And with that setup, Cuomo's next question goes right to the marriage, showing how deep I am. There has been lot of speculation about the marriage. And interestingly, in your book, you offer an explanation for maybe why Hillary stayed with Bill through all these things, Monica-gate and the like. A 20-year pact of ambition? Don, explain to me what does that mean?"
     Van Natta: "Before they exchanged their marriage vows in 1978 in Arkansas, they exchanged their political vows. They decided in the mid '70s, they were just in their 20s, in Arkansas, that they were going to remake the Democratic Party and within 20 years, Bill Clinton was going to be President of the United States. Now, this is an audacious kind of goal to set and they went about and did it. And it's been the glue that's held their relationship together since."
     Cuomo: "Now, big charge, judging the marriage as something, you know, there is no other way to look at that allegation. The proof, in part, you use Taylor Branch, the famed historian, friend of the Clinton's. He now says it is preposterous."
     Gerth: "That is not the source of the 20 year project. The source of the 20 year project is Leon Panetta who was the President Clinton's chief of staff in the mid 1990s. He heard this in a conversation with President Clinton in 1996 on Air Force One. The words 'the 20-year project' and the description of it come from President Clinton himself as recounted by Leon Panetta in an on the record interview which has not refuted and, by the way, we even have an additional source, all of which is spelled out in the book."
     Cuomo: "That you believe is fair to take as fact as opposed to a colorful characterization. 'Cause it's a heavy charge to judge a marriage that way."
     Gerth: "Sure. Look, No, no outsider can get inside somebody's else's marriage and we don't pretend to. But we do say that they did have this political pact that they forged. They were married, I think, in 1975. And before they were even married, they had this audacious plan and Leon Panetta, in fact, the question that prompted the reply from the President was why have you used Dick Morris all these years, the controversial political strategist. And Bill Clinton's answer was, in essence, we had this plan, we had to do what we had to do, we had to, you know, understand our enemies and that's why we relied on Dick Morris."
     Cuomo: "All right, let's move to Iraq now because obviously it's the big hinge in the campaign, a big question for Hillary. She voted for the war. How does she explain it? In the book, you take it apart. And last night in the debate, by the way, you know, it came up several different times. In the book you make the case she's trying to go both ways on this vote. Don, spell it out for me a little bit, what you think you unveil in here."
     Van Natta: "Well, the Iraq vote that she made where she voted for the war authorization has been a problem for her as the war has gone south, she has had to backtrack from that position and we show that she actually in some places carefully misrepresents some of the things that she said in 2002. For instance, she said there was a link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein on the Senate floor. We point out that it's questionable and probably unlikely that she read the National Intelligence Estimate, which raised major doubts about whether there was a link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein."
     Cuomo: "Two points for the sake of fairness here. In 2002, as early as 2002, she also said, Hillary also said it was not clear that there was a link between Hussein and 9/11. And those senators, every senator running for president right now has said one way or another they didn't go through the National Intelligence Estimate. I mean, those are both fair points, aren't they?"
     Gerth: "Those are fair points. But she was the only Democratic senator who voted for the war, who went so far as to make some of the connections that overstated the intelligence. In many ways, she was more like George Bush and Dick Cheney in how she evaluated the intelligence. And therefore, if she didn't read the intelligence estimate, then she didn't do her homework. And she said last night she was thoroughly briefed. But again, how thorough if she misstated the intelligence?"
     Cuomo: "She says that, Hillary says she met with different experts in the field that put their intelligence into the report, so she was well briefed. But, let's let's give a full flavor of the book this way, somebody who reads the book, what conclusions can they draw about the type of president Hillary would be, Jeff?"
     Gerth: "Well, there are two Hillarys. And it depends which Hillary would be president. She's battle tested. She's well qualified. She's certainly demonstrated last night how well-versed she is on a variety of issues. But when it comes to pitfalls in the road like Iraq or other areas like energy, she doesn't like to admit mistakes. She""
     Cuomo: "Let me cut you off, not because I don't agree with you or I don't like your book, but because we have to go to break. Thanks, Jeff, Don. Thank you for coming here. We'll be right back. The book, Her Way. Go to ABC News for more information."

 

Gibson Out, So It's ABC's World News
with George Stephanopoulos

     George Stephanopoulos, who has co-hosted Good Morning America on several occasions over the years, on Monday night served as anchor of ABC's World News with Charles Gibson. From what I can recall, this is the first time the long-time adviser and strategist for Bill Clinton, and Dick Gephardt before that, has anchored World News -- or World News Tonight as it was previously named.

     [This item was posted Monday night on the MRC's NewsBusters blog, with a screen shot of Stephanopoulos anchoring and audio/video of opening of the newscast with the announcer declaring: "From ABC News headquarters, this is World News with Charles Gibson. Reporting tonight: George Stephanopoulos." The audio/video and screen capture will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, but in the meantime, go to: newsbusters.org ]

 

Time Selects Question for Tancredo: 'Why
Do You Hate Mexicans?'

     It's been eight weeks since Time magazine redesigned itself, and part of that refurbishment is handing over the "Ten Questions" interview inquiries to the readers instead of Time's reporters. In the June 11 edition, Time's interviewee was Rep. Tom Tancredo, a presidential contender and one of the nation's leading opponents of illegal immigration. Among the questions Time selected for Tancredo was a whopper from Ubaldo Padilla of Oroville, California: "Why do you hate Mexicans?" It wasn't the only snotty question Time picked. There was also James Smith of Phoenix, who asked: "I recently found out my family came from Holland without permission in the 1600s. Should we be sent back?" For the questions: www.time.com

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

     Since Time Managing Editor Richard Stengel introduced the new format in the March 26 edition, there haven't been any Democrats interviewed. But in the March 12 edition, Time's Massimo Calabresi had ten (mostly softball) questions for Ted Kennedy, one of the nation's leading advocates of an amnesty for illegal immigrants. No one at Time asked him about immigration and why he supposedly hated Americans. Instead, Calabresi's list of questions included these soft touches:

     -- Are you the only Senator to keep dogs in your offices?

     -- Democrats have the country with them against the war in Iraq but aren't acting to end it. Why?

     -- Do you intend to endorse one of the Democrats running for President?

     -- It's easy to pick up a newspaper and see some comparison between your brothers and Barack Obama. Is there any validity to that comparison?

     -- You know Mitt Romney pretty well.

     -- Your long-sought minimum-wage bill is stuck in conference, thanks to a debate on the size of small-business tax breaks. What's going on?

     -- Some on the left wing of the Democratic Party would like to see No Child Left Behind done away with. Are you going to deliver reauthorization this year?

     -- You just celebrated your 75th birthday. Or rather the celebrations are ongoing.

     -- You had a costume party. Who did you go as?

     For that set of questions online: www.time.com

     Since the 2006 midterm elections, Time has also offered Ten Questions to a pile of liberals: Al Gore, Rep. Charlie Rangel, newly elected Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, and Gore Vidal. None of them were painted as bigots by Time's selected staff interviewers.

 

Time's Contrast: Romney's Disappointing,
Obama's Full of Courage

     Is Time's presidential coverage biased? Check out these headlines from the latest (June 11) edition: "Barack Obama's Inconvenient Truths" and "Mitt Romney's Disappointing Campaign." When you read the actual articles, the contrast is even starker. Reporter Karen Tumulty touted Obama: "Whereas other candidates like to throw red meat before their audiences, Obama is developing a penchant for hurling cold water at them." Columnist Joe Klein blistered Romney: "the brazen cynicism of his candidacy became almost embarrassing...there isn't the slightest hint of courage or conviction in his stump act."

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

     Joe Klein, who had his own turn ogling Obama on the campaign trail last fall (see: www.mrc.org ), emphasized how Romney has no courage:

In fact, when Romney slowed down and focused on a single issue -- immigration -- at a press conference in Dover, N.H., the brazen cynicism of his candidacy became almost embarrassing. He has flipped on immigration, to better suit the Mexican-fearing tendencies of a segment of the Republican base. He's against the comprehensive reform bill being considered by the Senate, and, of course, that's because the bill would offer a path to citizenship for the 12 million illegals currently in the country. A reporter asks, What would you do about them? Make them get in the back of the line. Would they have to leave the country to do that? Mumble mumble evasion. Would you be in favor of kicking them out? Oh, no, not that. Then what would you actually favor? "I'm not going to lay down a posture different from the others being considered." Interesting: Romney takes postures, not positions.

     Klein concluded that Romney's had one liberal-pleasing idea on health care, but he needs to show more conservative-displeasing courage. In other words, all would be much better for Romney if had the courage to spread Joe KIein's convictions:

I suspect that Romney would be a better President than the current occupant of the office. He actually got along with Democrats, some of the time, as Governor of Massachusetts. He passed a universal health-care plan that, more generously funded, could be a model for a national system. But there isn't the slightest hint of courage or conviction in his stump act. It's a candidacy for the era before 2001, before things got serious.

     END of Excerpts

     For Klein's piece: www.time.com

     At least Klein is treated as a columnist -- except, in classic blurry "news" magazine tradition, when he's not, like that sprawling Obama cover story I mentioned earlier. Karen Tumulty, on the other hand, is supposed to be a reporter, but in the case of Obama, she's merely writing "conspicuous candor" blurbs for Obama campaign packets:

Presidential-primary politics tends to be played like a game of connect the dots, with all the would-be nominees running from interest group to interest group, knowing and delivering precisely what each constituency is expecting to hear. Unless, that is, the would-be nominee happens to be named Barack Obama. Whereas other candidates like to throw red meat before their audiences, Obama is developing a penchant for hurling cold water at them.

It may not be all that unusual for a Democrat to castigate automakers in an environmental speech. But when Obama did the castigating, it was in front of the Detroit Economic Club. Nor did he help his chances of winning the endorsements of the city's big unions by asserting that any aid Washington gives the automakers for their soaring health-care costs should be tied to improving fuel efficiency.

"We anticipated that there weren't necessarily going to be a lot of applause lines in that speech. It was sort of an eat-your-spinach approach," Obama conceded when I asked him about the stony silence that greeted his address. "But one thing I did say to people was that I wasn't going to make an environmental speech in California and then make a different speech in Detroit."

That kind of conspicuous candor has been part of Obama's campaign since his announcement tour in February.

     END of Excerpt

     For Tumulty's article: www.time.com

     Does Tumulty seriously believe that Barack Obama has never given a speech in the last year that contradicts another speech before another audience? Or that he's never fed red meat to the Left? Reporters are supposed to be a bit more skeptical than that.

-- Brent Baker

 


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