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December 15, 2005


In a December 14 article by reporter Carl Hulse, The New York Times failed to identify the apparent reason the Senate will likely not act to "shield millions of middle- and upper-income taxpayers from a larger income tax bite" by cutting the alternative minimum tax (AMT) before the end of the year: Senate Republicans have reportedly put off the legislation in order to improve the chances of passing cuts on capital gains and dividends taxes early next year as part of a reconciliation bill that would also include the AMT legislation. Hulse also omitted Democrats' primary objection to the tax cuts on investments -- that they would benefit only the wealthy, immediately following the recent passage of legislation featuring significant spending cuts that target the poor -- as well as Democratic concerns over the impact of the cuts on the federal deficit.

Without reporting why Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) said he might delay action on AMT relief, Hulse reported only Frist's December 13 statement that the Senate would likely not consider legislation on the AMT before the end of the year, adding that "Frist's position means it is likely that Congress will also delay until 2006 a larger debate" on extending the tax cuts on capital gains and dividends:

Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, said Tuesday that Congress was not likely to act this year to shield millions of middle- and upper-income taxpayers from a larger income tax bite as lawmakers moved into the final days of the session with many major issues hanging in the balance.

In laying out what he hoped to accomplish before adjourning for the year, Mr. Frist, Republican of Tennessee, said that "in all likelihood" the Senate would not try to reach agreement with the House on competing $30 billion plans to reduce the impact of the alternative minimum tax. The tax, originally created to prevent the rich from escaping tax liability, is expected to reach another 15 million Americans next year because of inflation.

Mr. Frist's position means it is likely that Congress will also delay until 2006 a larger debate over nearly $100 million in tax breaks that Republicans say are essential to economic growth. But the House and Senate have taken different approaches on tax relief, with the House extending lower tax rates on investments while the Senate balked because of opposition from Democrats and Republican moderates.

But unlike a December 14 report by Bloomberg News that also ran in the Washington Post, Hulse failed to note that Frist was apparently putting off action on the AMT legislation because he wanted cuts in capital gains and dividends taxes, like those approved in the House, to be included in the bill amending the alternative minimum tax; the AMT fix would provide middle-class and upper-income tax relief, and both Democrats and moderate Republicans are eager to pass it. Bloomberg News noted that Frist's suggestion that he would postpone action of the AMT legislation "indicat[ed] that extending tax cuts on capital gains and dividends was a higher priority":

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said Congress may postpone until next year a measure to prevent 15 million households from paying $30 billion under the alternative minimum tax, indicating that extending tax cuts on capital gains and dividends was a higher priority.

"I feel strongly that capital gains and dividends should be in the bill when it comes back to the Senate floor," Frist told reporters. Of the minimum tax, he said that "in all likelihood, we'll not be able to finalize that until we get back" in 2006.

The Senate will likely take up the tax-cut extensions either before it adjourns at the end of this week or early next year. Frist's comments signaled that the Senate may remove the AMT measure from budget legislation it passed in November, adopting instead a measure passed by the House last week to extend the 15 percent rate on dividends and most capital gains until 2010.

Further, Hulse ignored a prior report by the Times that had identified the Republican tactic of altering the Senate bill -- which included legislation affecting the AMT but not extending the tax cuts on investments -- in order to increase the likelihood that the capital gains and dividends cuts could pass the Senate. In that December 9 article, the Times noted that Republicans "are betting" that Senate Democrats want the AMT legislation to pass "badly enough" that the Democrats would be forced to vote for the tax cuts on investments if the Senate bill were revised to include those cuts and the AMT legislation in one bill:

The biggest difference [between the House and Senate tax cut bills is] on tactical approaches over the total of cuts. Part of a Senate budget "reconciliation" bill authorizes a maximum of $70 billion in tax cuts over five years. Tax cuts of $70 billion or less can pass the Senate by a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than the 60 votes normally needed to block a filibuster.

The House included $56 billion in cuts as part of the reconciliation process. The other cuts, including those related to the hurricane and the Alternative Minimum Tax, are separate and would need 60 votes to clear the Senate.

House Republicans are betting that that [sic] Democrats want those other cuts badly enough that they would not dare block them through a filibuster. If that proves correct, Senate Republicans would be able to put the cut for stock dividends in the final "reconciliation" bill and pass it with 51 votes.

"We don't need a reconciliation bill in the House," [Rep. Bill] Thomas (R-CA) said Wednesday on the floor. "We are just doing this to help the Senate."

The December 14 Times report also ignored the reason Democrats have given for opposing the tax cuts on investments, despite reporting the Republican claim that the cuts "are essential to economic growth." Democrats argue that the cuts benefit only the wealthiest Americans and come on the heels of spending cuts targeting the poor.

Finally, the Times failed to report that the House's proposed tax cuts on capital gains and dividends -- cuts Frist now plans to include in the Senate bill -- far exceed the recently passed spending cuts. The spending and tax cuts together would therefore add $44 billion to the deficit, even though Republicans pushed the spending cuts through Congress for the expressed purpose of trimming the deficit. Other media outlets have also failed to identify the magnitude of the tax cuts in relation to the spending cuts, as Media Matters for America has documented.

Categories: News

On December 13, Media Matters for America documented right-wing pundit David Horowitz's false claim that the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee "exonerated" President Bush for stating that "[t]he British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" during his 2003 State of the Union Address (the now-infamous "16 words"). In a December 13 column, Horowitz claimed that the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that the "16 words" were "well-founded." As Media Matters demonstrated, Horowitz was actually quoting the Butler report, a British government inquiry; the Senate Intelligence Committee documented doubts about the "16 words" voiced at the time by some U.S. intelligence officials. In a December 14 weblog entry, Horowitz responded by accusing Media Matters of making "a tempest in a teapot," claiming that the Senate Intelligence Committee "cited the Butler report." In fact, the Senate Intelligence Committee did not cite the Butler report, nor could it have: The Butler report was released almost one week after the Intelligence Committee released its report.

In his weblog entry, Horowitz, the editor-in-chief of, accused Media Matters of engaging in "morally degenerate and intellectually bankrupt" attacks:

Today one of [Media Matters president and CEO David] Brock's minions has attacked me (this being one of 100 or so such forays) for my previous blog (see below) in which I wrote about the efforts of Democrats to sabotage the war on terror and stab our troops in the back by using the 16 true words in the President's 2003 State of the Union about uranium in Niger to undermine the credibility of the commander in chief. As Senator Lieberman put it, you undermine the credibility of the commander in chief at "our nation's peril."

I am small potatoes compared to the commander in chief but I am apparently very important to the myrmidons at Media Matters, because they have just run a long piece accusing me of "lying" about this issue. My sin seems to be confusing the Butler Report with a bi-partisan commission of the Senate that cited the Butler report. Boy, is this ever a tempest in a teapot. The sixteen words which the Democrats used to flay our own men and women in the field, as pointed out in my blog below were perfectly true then and the British obviously still stand by them now (e.g., the Butler report).

The Senate Intelligence Committee's 2004 "Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq" does not cite the Butler report. Indeed, it would have been impossible for the Intelligence Committee to do so: The Butler report was released on July 14, 2004, five days after the Intelligence Committee report.

Horowitz also wrote:

BTW, Media Matters accuses me of being as big a liar now as I was when I was a Communist. I was never a Communist, unless you want to count being a minor child in a Communist household being a Communist (interesting guilt by association for lefties). But I will call this a mistake rather than a lie, even though Media Matters has never corrected an error about me in the past when it has been pointed out to them.

Media Matters never claimed Horowitz was a Communist. Horowitz apparently was referring to a reader comment posted to the December 13 Media Matters item, wrongly imputing it to Media Matters. This is not the first time Horowitz has engaged in this sort of duplicity: In December 2004, Horowitz pointed to a reader comment posted on the Media Matters website to falsely claim Media Matters "label[ed] Bill Cosby a racist."

Categories: News

Nationally syndicated columnist and Fox News host Cal Thomas decried the "effort by some cable TV hosts and ministers to force commercial establishments into wishing everyone a 'Merry Christmas.' " While Thomas did not single anyone out by name, among those who have most aggressively promoted the notion of a "War on Christmas" are fellow Fox News personalities Bill O'Reilly and John Gibson and religious figures such as Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights president William A. Donohue and Moral Majority Coalition founder Rev. Jerry Falwell.

In his December 13 syndicated column, Thomas, a conservative Christian, wrote: "The effort by some cable TV hosts and ministers to force commercial establishments into wishing everyone a 'Merry Christmas' might be more objectionable to the One who is the reason for the season than the 'Happy Holidays' mantra required by some store managers." Thomas wrote:

I have never understood why so many Christians feel the need to see and hear "Merry Christmas" proclaimed to them at stores by people who may not believe its central message. While TV personalities, junk mail letters and some of the ordained bemoan the increasing secularization of culture; perhaps some teaching might be helpful from the One in whose behalf they claim to speak.


I do not care if a mall employee wishes me a "Merry Christmas," or not, or if mall managers favor snowpersons over manger scenes, or erect trees they call "holiday" and not "Christmas." It isn't about their observing this event, giving us a "religious rush" and creating a false sense of security that culture is better than it is. It is about people who believe in this historic event observing it in a way that recalls the birth of the Savior of the world (not the savior of the bottom line): silently, wondrously and worshipfully.

On the December 13 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Thomas again voiced his concern:

CAVUTO: You're saying that, you know, the John Gibsons, the Sean Hannitys, the others are going too far in this thing. What do you mean?

THOMAS: I don't mention any names.

CAVUTO: Come on. Come on.

THOMAS: Hey, look, we shouldn't expect store clerks who are about the bottom line to wish whoever or whatever a "Merry Christmas," a "Happy Ramadan," a "Happy Hanukkah." They're there to make money, and the fact that they've cashed in on Christmas, which is about not the bottom line but the savior of the world. Not about lights on the tree, but the light of the world. And not about Xboxes, but about our sin boxes, if you will. Let them do what they do. But the people who actually revere the person who is supposed to be the reason for the season have a special way of worshipping and adoring him that have nothing to do with the crass commercialism --

CAVUTO: Yeah. But, Cal, this is not about the person behind the cash register, the person who's stocking toys. This has to do with the organizations themselves, the Wal-Marts and the big stores that seem to have an inherent policy not to say the words, "Merry Christmas."

THOMAS: I don't care, Neil! I don't care what they say! Their holidays are on April 1, April Fools' Day, OK? I won't mess with them if they don't mess with me. Let them do whatever they want. They're stores! They're selling stuff! They're increasing the bottom line.

CAVUTO: Cal, you're a deeply religious man. I know you personally, and you're one of the most decent guys I know. Now, do you, when you go searching for Christmas cards and have a tough time finding Christmas cards, or go to stores and have a tough time even hearing the word "Christmas," does that bug you as a religious guy?

THOMAS: [laughs] Not at all, Neil. I'm not expecting it there. I hear it in church. That's fine. That's no problem for me.


CAVUTO: If they're not saying it now, does that at all make a difference to you? Or are they just giving in to what was always their secular gut?

THOMAS: Look, I believe there are cultural problems in this country. I believe that, you know, people are celebrating Howard Stern being able to say whatever he wants, and they're trying to censor other language. I think people ought to be free to express themselves -- religiously, politically, matters of faith, matters of non-faith -- in the public square. I believe in all of those things. But we're talking about a very specific thing here, Neil, and that is whether just the mention by a store clerk or in the public square of the phrase "Merry Christmas," or even the word "Christmas," is reflective of something deeper. I don't think you can necessarily make that case.

Categories: News

Washington Times editorial page editor Tony Blankley compared Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean and others advocating the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq to slaveholders in the pre-Civil War American South.

From Blankley's December 14 Washington Times column, titled "Bad Faith":

What are rational people to make of Howard Dean's statement that "the idea that we're going to win the war is an idea that, unfortunately, is just plain wrong." In what sense does he "want" us not to fail in Iraq? Now, this is where the definition of want comes in. It is technically true that since DNC Chairman Dean says "unfortunately," he can make the argument that he wants victory, he wants the war objectives -- establishing democracy in Iraq and protecting our homeland by so doing. Dr. Dean can make that claim, at the verbally technical level, even as he openly admits that he supports substantive policies (immediate withdrawal of our troops) that will assure the non-attainment of those goals.

There were many slaveholders in America before the Civil War who "wanted" what was best for their African American slaves -- it was just that they thought slavery was their natural condition and that slavery was best for them. We fought and won a Civil War to defeat that pernicious idea.

While such slaveholders may have been subjectively honest when they said they wanted what was best for their slaves, the rest of the world was entitled to assert that objectively, the slaveholder did not support policies that were best for the slave (what was objectively best for the slave -- any slave -- is freedom) It may be true that Howard Dean subjectively wants to protect our homeland and see Democracy reign in Iraq. But others are entitled to assert that the policy he advocates -- loosing [sic] the war immediately -- objectively is not in the best interest of Iraqi democracy and the protection of our homeland.

Blankley -- who also co-hosts Left, Right & Center on radio station KCRW, a community service of Santa Monica College in California, and appears regularly on PBS' The McLaughlin Group -- has previously described post-Watergate Democrats as "fish-eyed sacks of loathsome bile and infamy," and called progressive financier George Soros "a Jew who figured out a way to survive the Holocaust."

Categories: News

For the second time in five days, Bill O'Reilly smeared a city in the Midwest. On the December 13 edition of his Fox News show, The O'Reilly Factor, he compared the Richmond Times-Dispatch to media in "Madison, Wisconsin, where you expect those people to be communing with Satan." He made the comments in a discussion with executive editor David Adelman and former NBC correspondent Jackson Bain about editorials critical of his Christmas crusade. O'Reilly was particularly upset at a December 3 Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial, which wrote of "war on Christmas" promoters such as O'Reilly: "What planet do these Scrooges inhabit?"

The Times-Dispatch editorial board wrote that "to hear some voices -- Bill O'Reilly's, for instance -- Christmas lies under siege. Unless defended, it even could disappear!" O'Reilly denounced that statement as a "lie," and he also reacted with incredulity to the editorial's claim that "to refer to Christmas vacation as Winter Break in no way demeans an occasion blest best not by baubles but by souls in quiet communion."

As Media Matters for America noted, O'Reilly targeted another Midwestern town on the December 9 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, The Radio Factor, falsely claiming that Saginaw, Michigan, "opposes red and green clothing on anyone." His assertion was vehemently denied by township officials; the township hall is adorned in red and green lights.

From the December 13 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor.

O'REILLY: All right, well, listen, Jackson, we respect your opinion, but you're dead wrong on this one. Now --

BAIN: Well, maybe.

O'REILLY: -- in the South, Richmond Times[-Dispatch], for example.

BAIN: Right.

O'REILLY: Now, this is a conservative city, Richmond. I mean, this is not Madison, Wisconsin, where you expect those people to be communing with Satan up there in the Madison, Wisconsin, media.

BAIN: Sure.

O'REILLY: All right, but not in Richmond. Richmond. "Bill O'Reilly: Christmas Lies Under Siege. Unless defended, it could even disappear." That's a lie, and they know it's a lie.

BAIN: You know --

O'REILLY: And then they go, "Christmas vacation" -- then they go, "Christmas vacation as winter break is in no way demeaning to Christmas." Come on.

Categories: News

On the December 12 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, during a discussion of Stanley "Tookie" Williams's then-impending execution, co-host Sean Hannity and guest Larry Elder, a conservative radio host, noted that eight out of 12 people who had been executed in California since the state reinstated capital punishment were whites. They offered this figure to rebut suggestions that race is a factor in how the death penalty is applied for murder, but they left out far more significant figures. A study published in the Santa Clara Law Review shows that race is a significant factor in determining who receives a punishment of death: Those who kill whites are far more likely to get the death penalty than those who kill either African-Americans or Hispanics.

The study, published in the December 2005 Santa Clara Law Review by Glenn Pierce of the Institute for Race and Justice at Northeastern University and sociology professor Michael Radelet of the University of Colorado-Boulder, "examines the racial, ethnic, and geographical variations present in the imposition of the death penalty in California." Pierce and Radelet found that convicted murderers in California were far more likely to receive the death penalty if their victim or victims were "non-Hispanic whites" (hereafter referred to as "white") than if their victim or victims were "non-Hispanic African-American" (hereafter referred to as "African-American") or Hispanic.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, California executed 11 convicted murderers prior to Williams. Pierce and Radelet's study found that "[d]espite the California Health Department data indicating that just 27.6% of the murder victims in the state are white, 82% of those executed were put to death for killing whites." This statistic led the researchers to investigate the role that a murder victim's race plays in the application of the death penalty in California. "To examine the possible relationship between racial and ethnic traits and the imposition of the death penalty in California," Pierce and Radelet "examined the characteristics of all those sentenced to death in the state before March 15, 2003, for homicides that occurred between January 1, 1990, and December 31, 1999." The researchers found that regardless of the scenarios tested, defendants were more likely to be sentenced to death if their victims were white and that "blacks who kill whites are more likely to be sentenced to death than whites who kill whites." Pierce and Radelet concluded:

The data clearly indicate that the race and ethnicity of homicide victims is associated with the imposition of the death penalty. Overall, controlling for all other predictor variables, those who kill non-Hispanic African Americans are 59.3% less likely to be sentenced to death than those who kill non-Hispanic whites. This disparity increases to 67% when comparing the death sentencing rates of those who kill whites with those who kill Hispanics. The differences are especially remarkable in cases where there was only one victim and where the homicide did not include additional felonies. In these cases, those who kill non-Hispanic whites are 7.6 times more likely to be sentenced to death than those who kill non-Hispanic African Americans, and 11 times more likely to be sentenced to death than those who kill Hispanics. Where one of the two identified aggravating circumstances (additional felony committed or multiple victims) above is present, those who kill non-Hispanic whites are still 2.28 times more likely to be sentenced to death than other homicide offenders.

According to Pierce and Radelet's study, similar research in at least six other states yielded comparable results.

Independent of the race of victims in capital cases, some evidence indicates the race of the assailant may also play a factor. Pierce and Radelet reported that "racial makeup of California's death row in July 2005 was 36% African-American," while African-Americans make up 6.7 percent of California's population.

From a discussion of the case with Hannity, Elder, co-host Alan Colmes, and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown on the December 12 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

COLMES: Larry Elder, should "Thou shalt not kill" apply to the state?

ELDER: No, it shouldn't apply to the state.

COLMES: Why not?

ELDER: It is "Thou shalt not murder." This is a legal execution of somebody who committed four murders for which he was convicted. You know, I have an appreciation for somebody like Mayor Brown. He's being consistent. He's not being hypocritical. The same can't be said, for example, for organizations like the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People], Alan.

On their website, they oppose the death penalty. Yet, in 2000, they cut a commercial attacking George Bush for not supporting more hate crime legislation, so that those who murdered James Byrd would have been sentenced more severely. Two of them got death penalty, one got life. So the NAACP had no problem with the death penalty for racist white guys, but apparently they have a problem for the death penalty for a black guy who killed four non-blacks. I've got a problem with that.

HANNITY: Hey, Larry, how big of an issue is -- and I had Leo Terrell on my radio show earlier today, and the issue of race came up during the debate --

ELDER: My condolences.


HANNITY: Well, Leo's a good guy, but he's just wrong on a lot of issues. But race came up in the form -- in the discussion, but since they've reinstated the death penalty in California, the overwhelming majority, eight of the 12, have been white, isn't that correct?

ELDER: That's right.

HANNITY: And only one African-American.

ELDER: And Tookie will be the second person, second black person in California to be executed since they reinstated the death penalty. And there are more whites on death row than blacks, both in the state and nationwide.

HANNITY: Yes, but, Larry, one other question, because there are those in Hollywood that said, "Well, maybe he should get the Nobel Prize for the work that he has done by writing these children's books." But I actually looked at his record. Since he has been in prison, he's been associated with gang activity. He's been associated with violence and fighting in prison, throwing chemicals in the faces of guards that are there --

ELDER: Right.

HANNITY: -- planning escapes and all of this sort of thing. Why would one come to the conclusion he deserves a Nobel Prize, based on that action, or that he's changed his heart?

ELDER: Yeah, because they don't know any of the stuff that you just now know, Sean. You can go online and look at the report filed by the L.A. County D.A. [district attorney], Steve Cooley. He details all the things you're talking about, 10 years worth of fighting with prison inmates, fighting with guards, for a man who supposedly has redeemed himself. They don't know. Jesse Jackson publicly stated he got convicted by an all-white jury.

HANNITY: That's not true.

ELDER: It wasn't an all-white jury. There was a black man on the jury. They don't know. They don't care.

Categories: News

December 13, 2005


In his December 13 column at the conservative news website NewsMax, right-wing writer and political activist David Horowitz falsely claimed that a bipartisan Senate committee "exonerated" President Bush for stating, during his January 2003 State of the Union address, that "[t]he British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." In fact, the quote Horowitz cited as evidence for his claim comes not from the Senate Intelligence Committee but from a British government inquiry; additionally, the Senate Intelligence Committee did document doubts about the claim voiced at the time by some U.S. intelligence officials.

From Horowitz's December 13 NewsMax column (originally posted December 9 at his weblog), in which he criticizes "the Democrats' assault on his [Bush's] credibility -- and thus on the security of the nation":

A year later, when major damage to the commander in chief's credibility had already been done, a bi-partisan Senate committee investigating intelligence failures leading up to the war exonerated him: 'We conclude also that the Statement in President Bush's State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" was well-founded." '

But the quote Horowitz cited as evidence for his claim that Bush's statement was "well-founded" comes not from the Senate Intelligence Committee "Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq" but, rather, from a British inquiry ordered by the British House of Commons into prewar assessments of Iraq's nuclear weapons program, also known as the Butler report. According to the report:

We conclude that, on the basis of the intelligence assessments at the time, covering both Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the statements on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa in the Government's dossier, and by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, were well-founded. By extension, we conclude also that the statement in President Bush's State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that:

The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

was well-founded.

A footnote on the version of Horowitz's column stated that the quote that "exonerated" Bush came from a July 15, 2004, Wall Street Journal editorial, adding that "[t]he quote is from the 511 page report of the Senate Intelligence Committee." But the editorial correctly noted that the quote Horowitz cited came from the Butler report, not the Senate Intelligence Committee report.

Moreover, the Butler report did not elaborate on how it reached this conclusion beyond citing "the intelligence assessments at the time." In relying on the Butler report's conclusion that Bush's claim was "well-founded," Horowitz ignored evidence in the Senate Intelligence Committee report that, at the time, some U.S. intelligence officials questioned the claim. Former Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet said in July 2003 that "[t]hese 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the President."

The Senate report noted that an intelligence official testified to the Senate Intelligence committee on October 2, 2002, that "the one thing where I think they [British intelligence] stretched a little bit beyond where we would stretch is on the points about Iraq seeking uranium from various African locations. We've looked at those reports and we don't think they are very credible. It doesn't diminish our conviction that he's going for nuclear weapons, but I think they reached a little bit on that point."

The Senate committee also concluded: "The language in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate [NIE] that 'Iraq also began vigorously trying to procure uranium ore and yellowcake' overstated what the Intelligence Community knew about Iraq's possible procurement attempts." The committee added that while the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence Research (INR)'s conclusion that "claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are highly dubious" also appeared in the NIE, it "was included in a text box, separated by about 60 pages from the discussion of the uranium issue."

Categories: News

As the weblog Crooks and Liars has noted, Saginaw, Michigan, has responded to Fox News host Bill O'Reilly's false claim that "the township [Saginaw] opposes red and green clothing on anyone." O'Reilly offered this falsehood on the December 9 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, The Radio Factor, as part of a list of practices constituting what he characterized as anti-Christmas "hysteria." According to a report on the website of WNEM-TV 5, a Saginaw TV station, "O'Reilly's comments are flat-out not true. [Township supervisor Tim] Braun goes on to say the township hall has red and green Christmas lights adorning the building at night."

While reading his list, O'Reilly also falsely asserted that the Plano, Texas, Independent School District prohibited students from wearing red and green clothing.

From the December 9 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

O'REILLY: In Saginaw, Michigan, the township opposes red and green clothing on anyone. [Laughing] In Saginaw Township, they basically said, anybody, we don't want you to wear red or green. I would dress up head to toe in red to green if I were in Saginaw, Michigan.

Categories: News

On December 9, Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed on both Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor and the nationally syndicated The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly that the Plano Independent School District (Texas) "told students they couldn't wear red and green because they were Christmas colors." He labeled the alleged ban "fascism." On December 12, the school district released an official statement by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Doug Otto refuting O'Reilly's contention:

"The school district does not restrict students or staff from wearing certain color clothes during holiday times or any other school days," noted Dr. Otto, who said that the school district's attorney has requested that Mr. O'Reilly retract the statement.

Last year, four families filed suit against the Plano Independent School District for allegedly prohibiting the distribution of religious materials at holiday parties and on school grounds. Among the allegations was the claim that the district excluded the use of red-and-green colored napkins at the annual school holiday party. The complaint made no mention of restrictions on red and green clothing, though the plaintiffs did allege that the school district banned red pompoms. According to the Associated Press, a day after the suit was filed, a federal judge ordered the school district "to let students distribute 'religious viewpoint gifts' at a party the following day." By then, though, the AP reported, "the district said the order was unnecessary because officials already had decided to allow students to distribute all materials -- religious or otherwise -- at the party."

According to an April 21 Dallas Morning News report, the plaintiffs rejected a settlement offer from the school district in April. The Liberty Legal Institute, which represents the families, said that the lawsuit is ongoing.

From the December 9 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: In Plano, Texas, just north of Dallas, the school told students they couldn't wear red and green because they were Christmas colors. That's flat-out fascism. If I were a student in Plano, I'd be a walking Christmas tree after that order. Have a little thing on my head.

From the December 9 broadcast of Westwood One's nationally syndicated The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

O'REILLY: Plano, Texas, north of Dallas. Students were told they could not wear red and green because they were Christmas colors. Let me repeat that. Plano, Texas. Students can't wear clothing that have red or green colors because they were too close to Christmas colors. Can you believe this? This is fascism. In addition, it'd be grossly disrespectful.

Categories: News

Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) no longer offers Christmas postage stamps with a "spiritual" theme. On the December 9 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, a caller asserted that "I was politely told by all the postal workers that I spoke with at the various post offices that the only stamp they offered was 'Holiday Cookies.' " O'Reilly replied, "I think it's the first time in my lifetime that the United States Postal Service has not had a spiritual stamp for people like you who would like them," adding that the purported lack of a spiritual stamp was "insulting you and your beliefs ... because your spiritual stamp is in context to the celebration of Christmas."

In fact, in addition to the "Holiday Cookies" stamps the caller cited, the USPS continues to offer the commemorative "Madonna and Child" stamp. The self-adhesive 37-cent "Madonna and Child" is available through the USPS website in individual books of 20, or in larger packs containing five books each. A December 2 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about "the Internet and public conversation awash with horror that no new religiously themed stamp was printed for the 2005 season" quoted Diana Svoboda, a spokeswoman for the USPS' Pittsburgh district, stating that reports of the Postal Service planning to discontinue religiously themed Christmas stamps were "absolutely not true." The Post-Gazette article went on to report that although a new design is typically chosen for the "Madonna and Child" every year, this year USPS opted not to print a new design, due to an overstock of 37-cent "Madonna and Child" stamps left over from the previous Christmas season. USPS is increasing the price of first-class stamps to 39 cents on January 8, and "[t]he Postal Service ... didn't want a fresh crop of outdated stamps sitting in the drawers for next year," the Post-Gazette reported.

From the December 9 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

CALLER: I'm calling about -- I like to send Christmas cards. And every year I try and send cards with United States Post Office Christmas stamps on them that say Christmas or something with the infant and child, Mary, something that says something about Christ.

O'REILLY: Right.

CALLER: And this year, I was very surprised when I was politely told by all the postal workers that I spoke with at the various post offices that the only stamp they offered was "Holiday Cookies" saying nothing on it.

O'REILLY: I know this is, I think, the first time ever, right, [caller]?

CALLER: It's the first time I remember, Mr. O'Reilly.

O'REILLY: Yeah. I think it's the first time in my lifetime that the United States Postal Service has not had a spiritual stamp for people like you who would like them. And, again, disrespectful. Flat-out disrespectful, insulting you and your beliefs, [caller], because your spiritual stamp is in context to the celebration of Christmas. And we gotta stop that, and we will.

Categories: News

On the December 9 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, Weekly Standard staff writer Stephen F. Hayes cited the Department of Justice's 1998 indictment of Osama bin Laden on charges of conspiring to attack the United States as evidence that the Clinton administration had "connected Saddam [Hussein] and Al Qaeda." And on the December 9 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh also claimed that the indictment proved it was "Bill Clinton and his administration who first talked about firm evidence linking Saddam Hussein's regime to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network." But Hayes's assertions were misleading at best, and Limbaugh's were false. While the original indictment did refer to an Iraq-Al Qaeda connection, several months after it was handed down, then-assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Patrick J. Fitzgerald specifically removed from a subsequent indictment of bin Laden -- which superseded the original indictment -- the reference to an Iraq-Al Qaeda link after failing to substantiate that such a relationship existed. This indictment charged bin Laden and numerous other Al Qaeda operatives with planning and carrying out the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.

Further, Hayes defended Vice President Dick Cheney's claim of an April 2001 meeting between September 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer by citing a November 2001 New York Times article. Yet, by December of that year, the Times and other news outlets raised serious doubts about whether the meeting took place, a fact that Hayes did not mention.

Hayes and Limbaugh's claim that the Clinton administration had "connected Saddam and Al Qaeda" stems from the fact that, in early 1998, Mary Jo White, then the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, handed down a sealed indictment of bin Laden and several other Al Qaeda operatives on charges of conspiring to attack the United States. This indictment included a sentence stating that the terrorist group and Iraq had agreed not to work against each other and agreed to cooperate on acquiring arms:

Al Qaeda also forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in the Sudan and with the government of Iran and its associated terrorist group Hezballah for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States. In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq.

On August 7, 1998, Al Qaeda bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. A subsequent investigation by Fitzgerald into these attacks led to a new indictment, issued on November 4, that superseded the sealed indictment issued by White. But in the section characterizing Al Qaeda's various "alliances," the new indictment omitted the reference to Iraq:

USAMA BIN LADEN, the defendant, and al Qaeda also forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in the Sudan and with representatives of the government of Iran, and its associated terrorist group Hizballah for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States.

On his December 9 broadcast, Limbaugh falsely stated that the November 4 indictment charging bin Laden with the African embassy bombings "disclosed a close relationship between Al Qaeda and Saddam's regime." But only the original indictment, issued before the bombings took place and unsealed when the subsequent indictment was handed down, alleged an Iraq-Al Qaeda link. As noted above, the November 4 indictment on the embassy bombing charges made no allegations of such a connection.

When Fitzgerald appeared before the 9-11 Commission on June 16, 2004, commission member Fred F. Fielding asked him about the evidence that led to the inclusion of the Iraq-Al Qaeda reference in the original indictment. Fitzgerald responded that this claim was the result of testimony provided by former Al Qaeda operative Jamal al-Fadl and noted that it had been removed from the superseding indictment. He testified that while he was able to corroborate al-Fadl's allegations regarding Al Qaeda's connections to Iran and Sudan, he could not similarly substantiate the claim regarding the group's relationship with Iraq, as a June 16, 2004, Washington Post article reported:

Patrick J. Fitzgerald, now a U.S. attorney in Illinois, who oversaw the African bombing case, told the commission that reference was dropped in a superseding indictment because investigators could not confirm al Qaeda's relationship with Iraq as they had done with its ties to Iran, Sudan and Hezbollah. The original material came from an al Qaeda defector who told prosecutors that what he had heard was secondhand.

Despite Fitzgerald's public statement that he had determined the Iraq-Al Qaeda claim too weak to be included in the November indictment, Hayes, in his writings and media appearances, has repeatedly cited the reference in the original indictment as proof that the Clinton administration believed that such a connection existed (see here, here, and here).

In his Hardball appearance, Hayes similarly defended Cheney's now-discredited claim that Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague, Czech Republic, in April 2001. When host Chris Matthews pressed Hayes on this point, Hayes countered, "If you look at the front page of The New York Times in the days surrounding the vice president's claim, The New York Times was reporting the same thing." But Hayes ignored the fact that Cheney continued to make the claim even after the Times and numerous other major news outlets had determined that no evidence existed to substantiate it.

In citing the "front page," Hayes was apparently referring to a November 10, 2001, Times article that reported:

Mr. Atta, an Egyptian who is suspected of piloting one of the hijacked planes that struck the trade center, met an Iraqi intelligence officer, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, when he visited Prague in April [2001].

On November 14, 2001, Cheney noted the alleged meeting in an interview on CBS' 60 Minutes II. On December 9, 2001, he appeared on NBC's Meet the Press and claimed that the meeting was "pretty well-confirmed."

But by mid-December of that year, the Times had backtracked considerably on the Atta story. A December 16, 2001, article reported:

There are even questions about whether the reports of the meeting took place. An associate said the Iraqi diplomat had a business selling cars and met frequently with a used car dealer from Germany who bore a striking resemblance to Mr. Atta. Just this week, there were even reports from Prague that the Mohamed Atta who visited Prague last April was a different man with the same name.


As if the waters were not muddied enough, some in Prague who knew the diplomat say he met with a used car salesman named Saleh from Nuremberg, Germany, who looked like Mr. Atta. "He is a perfect double for Atta," said a Syrian businessman who has lived in Prague for 35 years and says he knew the diplomat and the car salesman. "I saw him several times with Mister Consul."

On Friday, a major Czech newspaper, quoting Czech intelligence officials, offered still another theory: the Mohamed Atta who came to Prague last April was not the hijacker but a Pakistani of the same name.

"He didn't have the same identity card number," an unidentified Interior Ministry official told the newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes. "There was a great difference in their ages, their nationalities didn't match, basically nothing -- it was someone else." The details of the meeting, as reported by the Czech authorities, remain vague. The Czech intelligence service has not said how it knows the meeting took place, or what was said.

On December 18, 2001, the British newspaper the Telegraph reported that Czech government officials had said "they had no evidence" that the meeting had taken place. The following spring, then-FBI Director Robert S. Mueller admitted, "We ran down literally hundreds of thousands of leads and checked every record we could get our hands on, from flight reservations to car rentals to bank accounts," but found no evidence to substantiate the alleged meeting. An article in the May 6, 2002, issue of Newsweek reported that "U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials now believe that Atta wasn't even in Prague at the time the Czechs claimed." A May 1, 2002, Washington Post article and a May 2, 2002, Times article similarly reported that there existed "no evidence" to substantiate the claim and that "F.B.I. and C.I.A. analysts had firmly concluded that no meeting had occurred."

Nonetheless, on the September 14, 2003, broadcast of NBC's Meet the Press, Cheney again referenced the alleged Prague meeting:

CHENEY: Now, is there a connection between the Iraqi government and the original World Trade Center bombing in '93? We know, as I say, that one of the perpetrators of that act did, in fact, receive support from the Iraqi government after the fact. With respect to 9-11, of course, we've had the story that's been public out there. The Czechs alleged that Mohamed Atta, the lead attacker, met in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official five months before the attack, but we've never been able to develop anymore of that yet either in terms of confirming it or discrediting it. We just don't know.

Hayes has a conspicuous record of misinformation regarding Iraq war intelligence. His book, The Connection: How al Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein has Endangered America (HarperCollins, 2004), purported to demonstrate numerous links between Al Qaeda and Iraq. But as Media Matters for America noted, the leaked Defense Department memo upon which much of Hayes's book is based has been discredited, and the Defense Department distanced itself from the memo in November 2003, describing its contents as "inaccurate."

From a discussion with Matthews, Hayes, and Chuck Todd, editor of the National Journal's political weblog, The Hotline, on the December 9 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: The vice president made a point aggressively, Stephen, to point to this meeting between Mohamed Atta and the Iraqi intelligence. So it was a very aggressive campaign to connect 9-11 with Iraq.

HAYES: And he said that when? He said in December of 2001, which is, I think, the quote you're referring to, where he said it was confirmed. At the time, if you look at the front page of The New York Times in the days surrounding the vice president's claim, The New York Times was actually reporting the same thing.

MATTHEWS: Did he ever correct it?

HAYES: They were raising questions about --

MATTHEWS: Did he ever correct that?

TODD: Who was the byline? I'm trying to remember who was the byline on that New York Times piece.

HAYES: I think what he said was "credible but not confirmed."

MATTHEWS: We now know -- did he ever correct that, Stephen?

HAYES: I don't know. I don't know that he did.

TODD: Look, Chris, even if we look -- let's assume the best possible light here -- they were looking from the time -- you know, I was just doing some old reading of Karen Hughes's book, Ten Minutes from Normal [Viking Adult, 2004]. And it was immediately -- even in the hours and days -- they were looking for evidence that there was a connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq. It was never looking at it the other way, which is sometimes -- when you're prosecuting a case, you're defending a case, you're trying to disprove a theory and make sure all the evidence is overwhelming so that your theory is correct, rather than they other way around, which is you're sort of, you're hoping that your theory is correct, so you find any bit of evidence that makes your theory more correct.

HAYES: No, but there was a reason they were looking for evidence that connected Saddam and Al Qaeda. And one of the reasons was that this was evidence that the Clinton administration had talked about and talked about repeatedly throughout the late 1990s. In the unsealed indictment of Osama bin Laden, in the spring of 1998, the Clinton administration actually made an affirmative case that Osama bin Laden and the government of Iraq had worked cooperatively on quote "weapons development." That stuff matters.

From the December 9 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: There's only one problem. It's the same thing with saying Bush lied. The Democrats said all this first. The Clinton administration -- I have The Washington Times here from June 25th of 2004. Right there. "The Clinton administration talked about firm evidence linking Saddam Hussein's regime to Osama's Al Qaeda network years before President Bush made the same statements. In fact, during President Clinton's eight years in office, there were at least two official pronouncements of an alarming alliance between Baghdad and Al Qaeda."


LIMBAUGH: The other pronouncement is contained in a Justice Department indictment on November 4th of 1998 charging bin Laden with murder in the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa The indictment disclosed a close relationship between Al Qaeda and Saddam's regime, which included specialists on chemical weapons and all types of bombs, including truck bombs, a favorite weapon of terrorists, as you know.

The 1998 indictment said, "Al Qaeda also forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in the Sudan and with the government of Iran and its associated terrorist group, Hezbollah, for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West."

Now, it's history repeating itself. Here's the Clinton administration which did diddly-squat about any of this -- other than to file indictments -- mentioning all of these things that Bush supposedly is torturing out of people, renditioning out of people, lying about. It was false, phony evidence, but except all of this ignored, again, just like all the '98 statements of Clinton and all the Democrats back then talking about Saddam's desperate and dire threat, his weapons of mass destruction is never remembered.

Categories: News

NBC's Chris Matthews, along with two guests on the December 11 edition of his syndicated program, The Chris Matthews Show, made a series of false or misleading statements regarding Democrats and the issue of abortion. First, CBS News contributor and U.S. News & World Report contributing editor Gloria Borger described Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) assertion that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare" -- a view that Clinton has long expressed -- as a "transparent" effort to recover the so-called "values vote" that Borger and Matthews claimed Democrats lost in the 2004 election. Next, Cynthia Tucker, editorial page editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, misrepresented former President Bill Clinton's record on abortion: When pressed by Matthews about former President Clinton's record, Tucker said that Bill Clinton "didn't do anything" to fulfill his pledge to make abortion "safe, legal, and rare," even though the national abortion rate declined throughout Clinton's presidency, aided in significant part by actions taken by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under Clinton.

Contrary to Borger's suggestion that Hillary Clinton's recent statement represented a shift in her abortion rhetoric, Clinton has for years expressed her view that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare." Leading into the discussion, Matthews played a clip of Hillary Clinton addressing the Democratic Leadership Council on July 25, where she said, "We can support a woman's right to choose that makes abortion safe, legal, and rare, and reduces the number of abortions." Far from representing a point of departure from earlier statements, Sen. Clinton's remarks in July are consistent with those she made on January 22, 1999, while still First Lady. During a speech at a National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL, now NARAL Pro-Choice America) function marking the 30th anniversary of the organization and the 26th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, she said: "But all too often, generally because of the loudest voices, the American people don't hear explained the efforts that we're engaged in to continue to work with people from all different walks of life to make abortion safe, legal, and rare."

Moreover, contrary to Matthews and Borger's claim that "values voters" shaped the 2004 presidential election, as Media Matters for America has documented, that conclusion -- widely echoed in the media -- was initially based on exit polling that relied on a vague definition of values and its relation to the ballot; a post-election poll largely ignored by the media showed that "values" tied for fourth place as "the most important problem facing this country today."

Tucker then joined the conversation, noting that despite the perception that Republicans welcome a more diverse constituency of opinion on the issue of abortion than do Democrats, President Clinton called for abortion to be safe, legal, and rare "as early as 1992." Matthews then pressed Tucker, asking, "What did he do during eight years as president to carry out that promise?" Tucker replied, "He didn't do anything, and Democrats haven't done much since then."

In fact, the national abortion rate decreased by 13 percent during President Clinton's first term and decreased an additional 5 percent during his second, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit research organization focused on sexual and reproductive health. The Guttmacher Institute estimates that increased access to emergency contraception accounted for up to 43 percent of the decline in abortions from 1994 to 2000. During Clinton's tenure, the FDA approved two emergency contraception medications -- Preven, a combination of estrogen and progestin, in 1998 and Plan B, a steroid called levonorgestrel, in 1999. In addition, in 1997, the FDA approved a regimen of common birth control pills for use as emergency contraceptives.

From the December 11 broadcast of NBC's syndicated The Chris Matthews Show:

MATTHEWS: Welcome back. Democrats lost by three and a half million votes in 2004, many of them values voters. Can changing their line on abortion help win over those voters in 2008? Here is leading candidate Hillary Clinton and [Democratic National Committee] party chairman Howard Dean, both softening their positions.

[begin video clip]

MATTHEWS [clip]: The Democrats -- your party is a pro-choice party.

HOWARD DEAN: My -- no. My party respects everybody's views, but my party firmly believes that the government should stay out of people's personal lives.

[end video clip]

HILLARY CLINTON [clip]: We can support a woman's right to choose that makes abortion safe, legal, and rare, and reduces the number of abortions.

MATTHEWS: You're shaking your head, Gloria. Is this P.R.? Is this -- what is this?

BORGER: Oh my god. This is transparent.

MATTHEWS: What is this? Are they changing their position or just talking something different?

BORGER: You know, they're fighting the last election. They thought they lost the values vote in the last election and you always fight the last election. And I think the Democratic Party has had a problem since 1992 when they did not allow the Pennsylvania governor, Bob Casey, who happened to be pro-life, to speak at the Democratic convention. At that moment, the Democratic Party narrowed its tent and it has never been able to expand it.

MATTHEWS: Well said.

TUCKER: Somehow, the Democrats allowed the Republicans to seem the big-tent party, mostly because of that issue. But let's remember that --

MATTHEWS: Are there more pro-choice Republicans than pro-life Democrats?

TUCKER: I think there probably are. There are an awful lot of suburban Republican women who are pro-choice.

MATTHEWS: That's the key to what you are saying.

TUCKER: However, let's remember that as early as 1992, Bill Clinton said abortion ought to be safe, legal, and rare. That is an imminently sensible position.

MATTHEWS: But what did he do about it in eight years?

TUCKER: Well, he was denounced by both sides.

MATTHEWS: Yeah, but what did he do during eight years as president to carry out that promise?

TUCKER: He didn't do anything, and Democrats haven't done much since then. But I think it is good for the country if Democrats rein back a little and are not as absolutist on abortion.

Categories: News

In recent days, Fox News hosts have failed to challenge prominent Republicans who have distorted comments made by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) on the December 4 broadcast of CBS' Face the Nation. On that show, Kerry said: "[T]here is no reason ... that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the -- of -- the historical customs, religious customs."

Echoing numerous conservative commentators, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) misrepresented what Kerry said, telling Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace on December 11 that Kerry is "basically saying that our troops are acting as terrorists as they go into Iraq." Similarly, on the December 9 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Ken Mehlman stated: "I think it's wrong to call our troops terrorists, which is what Senator Kerry said last week. He compared them to terrorists on Face the Nation." Mehlman later repeated the distortion, claiming that "the previous nominee from the last election made a comment comparing our troops to terrorists." Neither Wallace nor Cavuto made any attempt to correct their guests' distortions.

Frist and Mehlman made their comments during discussions of an RNC Internet ad suggesting that Democrats advocate "retreat and defeat" in Iraq. The ad includes video and audio comments made by Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Kerry. The ad contains Kerry's actual words, but Wallace and Cavuto both played a clip only from the portion of the ad containing Dean and Boxer's comments, leaving their guests free to distort Kerry's words.

Though Cavuto did not challenge Mehlman's distortion of Kerry's comments, he did ask Mehlman: "Some of the people featured [in the RNC ad] say you're taking their comments out of context. Are you?" Mehlman responded, "I don't think we are at all."

As Media Matters for America documented, Kerry's statement -- which is supported by reports from the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United States Institute for Peace, as well as news accounts -- has been distorted by right-wing bloggers and conservatives in the media, including nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh. On the December 6 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, Mehlman twice claimed Kerry "compared American troops to terrorists."

In his Your World appearance, Mehlman also distorted comments made by Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) on the November 27 broadcast of ABC News' This Week with George Stephanopoulos. According to Mehlman, Feingold "said, 'It's not really a war,' in last week's appearance on ABC News." In fact, Feingold said on ABC's This Week:

FEINGOLD: You know, this is not a war that we should really think in terms of winning or losing. What we tried to do there was go in and make sure that the Iraqi people could get rid of Saddam Hussein. Now it is a political matter, and the military mission in my view needs to come to an end. We should have a public timetable to show the Iraqi people, the American people and the world that we're not trying to have a permanent occupation of Iraq. So we should look at this as a political issue in Iraq, not as something that the American military is going to handle.

Once again, Cavuto made no attempt to challenge Mehlman's distortion.

Following Mehlman's appearance on Your World, Fox News political analyst and News Corp. (Fox News' parent company) lobbyist Angela McGlowan also distorted Kerry's Face the Nation comments. McGlowan said on Your World that Kerry "compared our military to terrorists ... saying that they're terrorizing children and women in the dark of night."

From the December 11 edition of Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: The Republican National Committee put an ad on the Internet this week that accuses Democrats of having a retreat and defeat policy on Iraq and features the white flag of surrender. Let's take a brief look at it:

[start video clip]

DEAN: The idea that we're going to win this war is an idea that, unfortunately, is just plain wrong.

BOXER: So there's no specific time frame, but I would say the withdrawal ought to start now, right after the elections --

[end video clip]

WALLACE: The DNC fired back that Republicans are more interested in attacking Democrats than they are terrorists. Are some of these attacks by Republicans over the line?

FRIST: Chris, I think what is over the line right now is either side -- and I'll have to look at Howard Dean's comments this week, but either side basically using partisan political purposes at a time that our troops are in war, and that really does become shameful, I think, and irresponsible, and I think potentially dangerous to our homeland security here, security around the world. I think the fact that for the first time at least in my memory that we have a leader of a party, the Democratic Party, coming out and saying, at a time we're at war, with our troops -- as that ad said, with our troops watching, with terrorists watching, that we cannot win, that we will be defeated, that we cannot be victorious, is absolutely irresponsible and dangerous to the security of this country.

WALLACE: Now, later in the week he said we can win, we have to win. Does that make any difference?

FRIST: Well, I don't know. And I think the good thing about the ad that you just showed -- it's using the actual words, the words of the Democratic nominee, who are basically saying that our troops are acting as terrorists as they go into Iraq.

WALLACE: This is John Kerry in the ad.

FRIST: This is John Kerry in that ad. And the good thing about the ad -- it uses the Democrats' words. And when you say this defeat and retreat thing, which is real, cut and run, and when you say that we can't win, and yes, you can try to cover up for it, and when you say our troops are terrorists, it is dangerous. It is wrong. We are at war. And we're talking about the safety and security of you, your children, all of your listeners today. We've got to win this war. We will win this war. There is no question in my mind.

From the December 9 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: The Republican National Committee taking the war over the war in Iraq to a new level. Take a look at this:

[start video clip]

DEAN: The idea that we're going to win this war is an idea that, unfortunately, is just plain wrong.

BOXER: So there's no specific time frame, but I would say the withdrawal ought to start now, right after the elections December 15.

[end video clip]

CAVUTO: Well, strong stuff, but some are warning that it simply goes too far and could backfire. With us now, the man behind that ad, the head of the RNC, Ken Mehlman. Ken, does it go too --

MEHLMAN: How are you?

CAVUTO: Good to have you, Ken. Does it go too far?

MEHLMAN: Well, I certainly think the rhetoric in the ad does go too far. I think that dissent and discussion is a very good and important thing, but it's very hard to remember a time when leader of one of America's too great parties predicted that our troops would lose in a war. I think it's wrong to call our troops terrorists, which is what Senator Kerry said last week. He compared them to terrorists on Face the Nation. I think those are mistakes. I think that we clearly need to work together to have a strategy to win the war, but to adopt a retreat and defeat approach and to make these comments about our troops while they're in harm's way I think is wrong.

CAVUTO: Some of the people featured say you're taking their comments out of context. Are you?

MEHLMAN: I don't think we are at all.


CAVUTO: Ken, you're a smart guy. How much of this --

MEHLMAN: Thank you.

CAVUTO: -- was based on the idea that you had a good response when you sort of culled together a lot of the Democrats' early support of the war, including that of Bill Clinton on weapons of mass destruction. You put all that together. Now some of the people featured in that, including Bill Clinton who was pretty ticked off, didn't like it. But I think maybe you must have seen something in internal tracking polls that you seized on to make you do this again.

MEHLMAN: Well, I'm not sure that it was internal tracking polls. I think what happened is this past week was a fairly extraordinary week. I can't think of a week ever in American politics when the leader of one of America's two parties said that we were likely to lose a war; when the previous nominee from the last election made a comment comparing our troops to terrorists; and when a leading United States senator endorsed retreat and defeat as a strategy. Also, we didn't include some other things in there: Look at Sen. Feingold's comments where he said, "It's not really a war," in last week's appearance on ABC News.

CAVUTO: But Ken, do you think that --

MEHLMAN: Look at the comments by [House Democratic Leader] Nancy Pelosi [D-CA] --

CAVUTO: I know, there are plenty others --

MEHLMAN: So all this kind of happened in --

CAVUTO: Do you think, though, that you are doing just what you blasted the Democrats for doing: yammering on too much about this?

MEHLMAN: I don't think we are at all. I think what we thought was it was a fairly extraordinary week with some fairly extraordinary charges made, and we thought it would be useful to remind politicians on both sides that, in fact, our troops are watching, that the enemy is watching, that the Iraqi people are watching and, therefore, it's worth reminding ourselves and reminding everyone of people's words during this important debate.

CAVUTO: Ken Mehlman, thank you.

MEHLMAN: Thanks a lot. Thanks.


CAVUTO: Are you un-American if you criticize Congressman [John P.] Murtha [D-PA], decorated war hero --

JULIE ROGINSKY (Democratic strategist): Not at all.

CAVUTO: -- by criticizing getting out?

ROGINSKY: Go ahead and criticize him all you want, but the problem here is the Republicans are politicizing a war. The American people are well -- excuse me, Angela -- the Republican people -- the American people are well ahead of the Republican Party --

McGLOWAN: Julie, excuse me, may I please remind you what John Kerry did? He compared our military to terrorists --

ROGINSKY: Go ahead and swift -- go ahead and swift-boat -- there we go --

McGLOWAN: -- saying that they're terrorizing children and women in the dark of night. I let you speak, Julie, now let me speak --

ROGINSKY: We're swift-boating John Kerry again.

Categories: News

The December 7 edition of syndicated radio show Janet Parshall's America appears to have replayed December 1 remarks*by Toward Tradition president Rabbi Daniel Lapin at the National Press Club. In the speech, titled Fighting for Christmas, Lapin stated that, in the United States today, the choice to "defend" Christmas "is actually between a sordid, spreading secular sinister society and on the other hand, a society of benign Christianity, the likes of which the world hasn't seen in any other country for the last 2,000 years." According to its website, "Toward Tradition is a non-profit (501(c)( 3)), educational organization working to advance our nation toward the traditional Judeo-Christian values that defined America's creation and became the blueprint for her greatness."

Right-wing evangelical host Janet Parshall introduced the December 7 segment as follows: "A group of conservative Jews ... gathered in the nation's capital under the leadership of Don Feder, who's the president of Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation [JAACD], and they said, 'We want you to hear our heart. We think it's OK to say 'Merry Christmas.' "

During his remarks, Lapin argued: "Today in this blessed land ... [m]y choice is between living among people practicing aggressive secularism or living among benign and Bible-believing Christians." He continued, "How could I possibly ally myself with those who would make God's commandments irrelevant to society? Worse, how could I stand by and say nothing, while those Americans who venerate the Ten Commandments are under attack?"

Lapin's speech was delivered during a press conference sponsored by JAACD, a group that, according to Feder, "was organized because we recognize that Christians are the last remaining obstacle to the moral deconstruction of America, because attacks on Christians are motivated by hatred for the values they espouse." Lapin is a member of JAACD's advisory board, as is comedian Jackie Mason, who was also speaking at the press conference. At the conference, JAACD expressed support for the fight against the so-called "war" on Christmas; as Media Matters for America has noted, Mason appeared on the December 2 edition of Fox News' O'Reilly Factor to discuss the purported "war."

Lapin is also the author of America's Real War: An Orthodox Rabbi Insists that Judeo-Christian Values Are Vital for Our Nation's Survival (Multnomah Publishers, 1998). From former Attorney General John Ashcroft's book cover endorsement of America's Real War: "Rabbi Lapin is a great teacher, and he demonstrates that the foundation of American democracy is nothing less than the foundation of Western civilization itself: the moral principles of our Judeo-Christian heritage. All who cherish freedom and the rule of law are in his debt."

From the December 7 broadcast of Salem Radio Network's Janet Parshall's America:

LAPIN: Great-Grandpa, you see, back in Europe, in your time, the tension was between two choices. The choice was a dreamed-of, benign, secular society, perhaps exemplified by the utopian dreams of socialism and communism. And on the other side, a somewhat sinister, theocratic state. And I understand why you thought the secular alternative was better. But today everything is different, as things do, as when time changes. And the choice today in the land in which I live is no longer a choice between a sinister theocracy and a benign secular environment. It's rather different. The choice is actually between a sordid, spreading, secular sinister society and on the other hand, a society of benign Christianity, the likes of which the world hasn't seen in any other place for the last 2,000 years. And if it's a choice between a Bible-believing culture on the one hand, and a choice of secularism, and secular fundamentalism on the other, there is no doubt in my mind as to which side your descendant should be on.

* The transcript of Lapin's remarks found on the Toward Tradition website do not exactly match the audio clip played by Parshall.

Categories: News

On the December 7 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor, host Bill O'Reilly again falsely claimed that Geneva Convention protections apply only to those in "uniform" and "fighting for a recognized country." O'Reilly's co-host, Lis Wiehl, agreed. However, as Media Matters for America has previously noted, the protections outlined in the Fourth Geneva Convention extend to civilians, not only to uniformed soldiers as O'Reilly and Wiehl maintained.

Responding to a caller's comment that "I'd also like you to maybe help people understand what ... the Geneva Convention say[s] about people who are on the battlefield out of uniform," O'Reilly said, "Well, it's very simple. And nobody disputes it. You gotta have a uniform on, and you've gotta be fighting for a recognized country to get the protections."

In fact, while the Third Geneva Convention addresses "prisoners of war" (POWs), including one category of prisoner that must be in uniform ("a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance") to be granted protections, the Fourth Geneva Convention lays out separate protections for civilians. Although the protections for civilians are more limited than for POWs, under Article IV, "Persons protected by the Convention are those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals." Under the convention, civilians have these rights:

1. They shall be enabled to receive the individual or collective relief that may be sent to them.

2. They shall, if their state of health so requires, receive medical attention and hospital treatment to the same extent as the nationals of the State concerned.

3. They shall be allowed to practice their religion and to receive spiritual assistance from ministers of their faith.

4. If they reside in an area particularly exposed to the dangers of war, they shall be authorized to move from that area to the same extent as the nationals of the State concerned.

5. Children under fifteen years, pregnant women and mothers of children under seven years shall benefit by any preferential treatment to the same extent as the nationals of the State concerned.

O'Reilly has repeated this falsehood before, as Media Matters has documented here, here, and here.

From the December 7 broadcast of the Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

CALLER: -- somebody to answer the question of, "Can they have it both ways?" They want to apply Geneva Convention rules to the insurgents in the battlefield, which is a military jurisdiction. Yet they want to apply civil law when they become prisoners. And I'd also like you to maybe help people understand what does the Geneva Convention say about people who are on the battlefield out of uniform.

O'REILLY: Well, it's very simple. And nobody disputes it. You gotta have a uniform on, and you've gotta be fighting for a recognized country to get the protections, correct?

WIEHL: Absolutely. That's right.

Categories: News

In a discussion about rumors that NBC Today host Katie Couric might be tapped for the job of CBS Evening News anchor for a reported $20 million yearly salary, Washington Post staff writer and Fox News contributor Ceci Connolly was asked to comment on columnist Cal Thomas's claim that it didn't matter who among available candidates is picked because "[t]hey're all liberals." Fox News Watch host Eric Burns said to Connolly: "Ceci, you're here for Neil [Gabler] this week. Neil would be all over him. You have to be all over him for [saying] 'Everyone's a liberal.' Go."

Connolly's response? "I wanted to ask whether or not that $20 million includes shoes. I mean, that's a critical question for her [Couric]."

Connolly was on the show in place of Fox News Watch panelist Neil Gabler. Media Matters for America recently highlighted remarks by Gabler in which he strongly criticized Fox News and Fox News hosts Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and John Gibson for their talk of a purported "war" on Christmas. Referring to what he assumed would be Gabler's reaction to syndicated columnist and panelist Cal Thomas's invocation of the conservative mantra of a "liberal media," Burns urged Connolly to be similarly "all over" Thomas. Instead, she responded with a reference to what she asserted to be Couric's penchant for shoes.

From the December 10 edition of Fox News' Fox News Watch, with host Eric Burns and panelist and Newsday columnist James P. Pinkerton:

BURNS: Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Katie Couric? Will the Today show host be the next face of CBS News? Jim, if the answer's yes, from the reports that I hear, they'll get her at a bargain, $20 million a year for seven years. Can you do better than that?

PINKERTON: Well, look, I think the broadcast Evening News has been in a long slide for two decades now, and I think that it would be a mistake for them to just assume they can just replace Rather with just some regular person. As John Maynard Keynes said, "For most people most of the time, it's better to fail in a familiar land than to succeed in an unfamiliar land." And Katie Couric would be unfamiliar. And I think it's worth a shot. I think it's brilliant for them, in terms of a new face, in terms of her and her audience. She's aging out of her morning-show audience, and the evening-show audience is older. I think it would be better for her too, career-wise.

BURNS: What do you think?

THOMAS: I think it makes absolutely no difference who they put in there. They're all liberals. They all have the same template through which they filter the news. The only known national broadcast conservative of whom I'm aware is John Stossel of ABC. And as I said in a column I wrote, knowing no authority greater than myself to quote, it -- he had as much chance of getting that job as I did.

BURNS: Ceci, you're here for Neil this week. Neil would be all over him. You have to be all over him for "Everyone's a liberal." Go.

CONNOLLY: I wanted to ask whether or not that $20 million includes shoes. I mean, that's a critical question for her.

BURNS: They're not at that stage of negotiations yet.

CONNOLLY: Seriously, though, one person we forgot to mention, and I think is noteworthy, is Bob Schieffer, who has been filling that chair for some time and has actually gained 190,000 viewers in the period. That says to me that there is still a role for serious, experienced journalists in those chairs.

Media Matters for America has identified numerous examples of misinformation from "serious journalist" Bob Schieffer.

Categories: News

An article in the December 19 edition of Newsweek by assistant managing editor Evan Thomas and senior White House correspondent Richard Wolffe featured numerous quotes and statements attributed to anonymous White House aides praising and defending President Bush. The piece is often critical -- the authors wrote, "Bush may be the most isolated president in modern history" -- but they quoted unnamed Bush aides and "White House officials" four times defending the president's policies and praising Bush's sense of humor.

Amid the controversy caused by Newsweek's retraction in May of an anonymously sourced story on alleged instances of Quran abuse at U.S. terrorist detention facilities, Newsweek published "A Letter to Our Readers" by chairman and editor-in-chief Richard M. Smith in its May 30 issue, in which Smith articulated new guidelines for the magazine's use of unnamed sources:

We will raise the standards for the use of anonymous sources throughout the magazine. Historically, unnamed sources have helped to break or advance stories of great national importance, but overuse can lead to distrust among readers and carelessness among journalists. As always, the burden of proof should lie with the reporters and their editors to show why a promise of anonymity serves the reader. From now on, only the editor or the managing editor, or other top editors they specifically appoint, will have the authority to sign off on the use of an anonymous source.

We will step up our commitment to help the reader understand the nature of a confidential source's access to information and his or her reasons for demanding anonymity. As they often are now, the name and position of such a source will be shared upon request with a designated top editor. Our goal is to ensure that we have properly assessed, on a confidential basis, the source's credibility and motives before publishing and to make sure that we characterize the source appropriately. The cryptic phrase "sources said" will never again be the sole attribution for a story in NEWSWEEK.

Notwithstanding these guidelines, Thomas and Wolffe only repeated their sources' purported reasons for requiring anonymity. The writers made no further effort to explain "why a promise of anonymity serves the reader."

Thomas and Wolffe granted anonymity to a "White House aide" who attacked Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) as "a lost cause" in response to Murtha's call for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. The aide also defended the president and "dismissed the notion that Bush is isolated or out of touch." According to the article, the aide "refused to be identified for fear of antagonizing the president":

A White House aide, who like virtually all White House officials (in this story and in general) refused to be identified for fear of antagonizing the president, says that Murtha was a lost cause anyway and dismisses the notion that Bush is isolated or out of touch. Still, the complaints don't just come from Democrats: Sen. Richard Lugar [IN], Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, pointedly told reporters that Bush needs to "have much more of a cadre of people in both houses, from both parties" visiting the White House "very frequently." Lugar cited Bill Clinton as the model.

Thomas and Wolfe went on to quote "White House officials" and "one of [Bush's] closest friends" anonymously praising the president:

White House officials, as well as one of his closest friends (also speaking anonymously so as not to complicate relations with the president), say that Bush remains sure that he is on the proper course in Iraq and that ultimately he will be vindicated by history. The president may be right. The Iraqi elections next week could produce a government that survives the insurgency and establishes the first (albeit shaky and not quite Western style) democracy in an Arab state -- even if that looks like a long haul by today's light. With an improving economy, Bush's popularity could well rebound. Washington pendulums always swing; Bush's polls appear to have bottomed out and are rising, at least slightly.

Thomas and Wolffe later disguised the identity of a presidential aide defending Bush's "historic mission" to reform Social Security:

What Bush actually hears and takes in, however, is not clear. And whether his advisers are quite as frank as they claim to be with the president is also questionable. Take Social Security, for example. One House Republican, who asked not to be identified for fear of offending the White House, recalls a summertime meeting with congressmen in the Roosevelt Room at which Bush enthusiastically talked up his Social Security reform plan. But the plan was already dead -- as everyone except the president had acknowledged. Bush seemed to have no idea. "I got the sense that his staff was not telling him the bad news," says the lawmaker. "This was not a case of him thinking positive. He just didn't have any idea of the political realities there. It was like he wasn't briefed at all." (Bush was not clueless, says an aide, but pushing his historic mission.)

Thomas and Wolffe then anonymously quoted a Bush aide praising the president's use of humor as "a tool and sometimes a weapon":

Bush, too, can be funny; his humor is Preppy Putdown, not gentle and corny, if sometimes off-color, like [Ronald] Reagan's. "It's the difference between Eureka and Yale," says an old Reagan hand. It's also a matter of condence [sic]. Reagan knew he was the best entertainer in the room. To be sure, Bush can be self-deprecating. Joking about his Council on Foreign Relations speech, Bush suggested to his speechwriters that, as a gag, he should hold up a copy of Foreign Affairs, the council's worthy, dry publication, and say, "I tried to read it once but the print was too small and there weren't enough pictures." (Bush decided against using the quip, considering the speech too much of a serious event.) But humor is a tool and sometimes a weapon for Bush. "He uses humor to disarm people and get a read on them," said a senior aide who wouldn't be identified talking about his boss. "You can tell a lot about a person in how they react to a joke."

At no point did Thomas and Wolffe explain why sources who were praising and defending the president feared his knowing who they were. Neither did they explain how readers were served by having praise of Bush from subordinates and friends conveyed anonymously.

The article also featured a number of anonymous quotes from staffers of Republican members of Congress and prior administrations criticizing Bush and his subordinates.

Categories: News

During a discussion of a December 9 Wall Street Journal editorial on immigration on the December 9 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, host Lou Dobbs announced, "I support the Minuteman Project and the fine Americans who make it up in all they've accomplished, fully, relentlessly, and proudly."

The Minuteman Project describes its movement as "a call to bring national awareness to the decades-long careless disregard of effective U.S. immigration law enforcement. It is a reminder to Americans that our nation was founded as a nation governed by the 'rule of law', not by the whims of mobs of ILLEGAL aliens who endlessly stream across U.S. borders." Among its activities is the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, groups of volunteers who monitor U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada to help stop what it calls "[t]he human flood breaching our Homeland Defense." The Minuteman Project has been touted by conservative outlets such as Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, which has featured Minuteman organizers and supporters, often without providing an opposing viewpoint.

The Journal editorial examined a December 6 congressional election in California in which Minuteman Project organizer Jim Gilchrist, who campaigned as an independent on the issue of immigration, received 24 percent of the vote to winner Jim Campbell's (R) 45 percent. Dobbs objected to the Journal's characterization of Campbell's withdrawal of support for the guest-worker provision of President Bush's immigration reform as "panicking" in the face of Gilchrist's challenge, claiming instead that Campbell is "smart enough to listen to the concerns of his new constituents." Gilchrist was a guest on the December 7 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight.

From the December 9 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:

DOBBS: All right. [CNN correspondent] Bill Tucker, thank you very much. The lead editorial in The Wall Street Journal this morning is entitled "Immigration (Spin) Control." And then, without embarrassment or even a remote sense of irony, goes on to spin the issues of border security and illegal immigration. The Journal editorial writer, in fact, managed in limited space to confuse illegal immigration and legal immigration, dismiss the significance of border security altogether, and while the Journal pandered to big business and the open-borders advocates, it managed to suggest the Republican winner of the Orange County, California, congressional election is panicked because he's smart enough to listen to the concerns of his new constituents and to insist on border security before he pledges to take on the issue of immigration reform.

At the same time, the Journal editorial basically suggested that [Fox News host] Bill O'Reilly and I are somehow relentless in our support of the Minuteman Project, the volunteer group that works hard to bring attention to our border security crisis. And I just want to be clear to the Journal and to this audience: I support the Minuteman Project and the fine Americans who make it up in all they've accomplished, fully, relentlessly, and proudly.

Categories: News

Despite polling data suggesting the opposite, Cynthia Tucker, editorial page editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, told Chris Matthews on the December 11 broadcast of NBC's syndicated Chris Matthews Show that "[t]his country is not ready to elect a woman, especially a liberal woman" to the presidency.

Tucker's comments came during a segment in which Matthews and several guests were discussing potential candidates and issues of the 2008 presidential election.

A September CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll (subscription required) asked respondents if they would vote for a "qualified woman for president." Eighty-six percent of respondents indicated they would. The poll surveyed 1,005 adults from September 8-11 and had a margin of error of +/- three percent.

From the December 11 broadcast of NBC's The Chris Matthews Show:

MATTHEWS: I'm still hearing what I heard [former New York Mayor Rudolph] Giuliani say last summer at the Republican convention. One party's not always right; the other party's not always wrong. But at certain times, the values of one party are better than the other's. Security, he's saying. Is he also saying, there are certain times when people, like me -- the tough cop, the tough prosecutor, the guy fighting the squeegee boys and the broken windows -- is who you need?

TUCKER: Oh, absolutely. He was certainly trying to make that point, but I think it is absolutely true that in 2008 as in 2004, security will still be an important issue. It is quite likely, unfortunately, that we'll have another terrorist attack on our soil before then. And that's exactly why [Sen.] Hillary Clinton [D-NY] won't be elected --


TUCKER: -- if, in fact, the Republicans are afraid of her [Clinton], I don't know why. She's not --

MATTHEWS: You're so tough.

TUCKER: -- she's not only -- she's not only a polarizing figure. Let me commit heresy among liberal women: This country is not ready to elect a woman, especially a liberal woman.

Categories: News

On the December 7 edition of Christian Broadcasting Network's The 700 Club, host Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition of America, said Democratic criticism of the Iraq war "amounts to treason" and that "carping criticism ... just doesn't cut it."

From the December 7 edition of Christian Broadcasting Network's The 700 Club:

ROBERTSON: We've won the war already, and for the Democrats to say we can't win it -- what kind of a statement is that? And furthermore, one of the fundamental principles we have in America is that the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces and attempts to undermine the commander in chief during time of war amounts to treason. I know we have an opportunity to express our points of view, but there is a time when we're engaged in a combat situation that carping criticism against the commander in chief just doesn't cut it. And I think that yes, we have freedom of speech -- of course we do -- but this has gone over the top and I think the Republicans are -- well, they've taken advantage.

Categories: News