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December 3, 2005


Throughout his promotion of his book The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought (Sentinel, October 2005), Fox News host John Gibson has remained vague about exactly who he believes is orchestrating the alleged attack on Christmas beyond the "liberals" in the book's title. For instance, as Media Matters for America documented, during an appearance on the October 20 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Gibson limited his criticism of those supposedly undermining Christmas to "liberals." O'Reilly, on the other hand, was compelled to narrow the focus of their offensive: "I think you made a mistake by saying it's [the "war on Christmas"] a liberal plot," O'Reilly told Gibson. "It's the far left. It's the loony left, the Kool-Aid secular progressive ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] America-haters. That's who's doing this."

Gibson was more pointed, however, during a November 17 appearance on Janet Parshall's nationally syndicated radio program. During a discussion about the alleged "war on Christmas," Gibson suggested that people "following the wrong religion" were not reciprocating the tolerance afforded to them by "the majority religion -- Christianity." He also said that as long as adherents of minority religions "are civil and they behave," Christians will tolerate them "without causing any trouble" -- a view endorsed by Parshall.

From the November 17 edition of Salem Radio Network's Janet Parshall's America:

GIBSON: The whole point of this is that the tradition, the religious tradition of this country is tolerance, and that the same sense of tolerance that's been granted by the majority to the minority over the years ought to go the other way too. Minorities ought to have the same sense of tolerance about the majority religion -- Christianity -- that they've been granted about their religions over the years.

PARSHALL: Exactly. John, I have to tell you, let me linger for a minute on that word "tolerance." Because first of all, the people who like to promulgate that concept are the worst violators. They cannot tolerate Christianity, as an example.

GIBSON: Absolutely. I know -- I know that.

PARSHALL: And number two, I have to tell you, I don't know when they held this election and decided that tolerance was a transcendent value. I serve a god who, with a finger of fire, wrote, he will have no other gods before him. And he doesn't tolerate sin, which is why he sent his son to the cross, but all of a sudden now, we jump up and down and celebrate the idea of tolerance. I think tolerance means accommodation, but it doesn't necessarily mean acquiescence or wholehearted acceptance.

GIBSON: No, no, no. If you figure that -- listen, we get a little theological here, and it's probably a bit over my head, but I would think if somebody is going to be -- have to answer for following the wrong religion, they're not going to have to answer to me. We know who they're going to have to answer to.


GIBSON: And that's fine. Let 'em. But in the meantime, as long as they're civil and behave, we tolerate the presence of other religions around us without causing trouble, and I think most Americans are fine with that tradition.

PARSHALL: I agree.

GIBSON: In other words, they'd like it in return.

Categories: News

On the November 30 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Bill O'Reilly continued his campaign to promote use of the holiday greeting "Merry Christmas" in retail stores. His effort to combat retail stores he believes are replacing "Merry Christmas" with the nondenominational "Happy Holidays" is part of his broader mission "to rescue" the Christmas holiday from "secular progressives."

To lead the segment, Cavuto aired O'Reilly's November 28 advice to corporate America that "[e]very company in America should be on its knees thanking Jesus for being born." O'Reilly then estimated that 15 percent of the country was not Christian and, of those, "maybe 1 percent are totally insane ... They're the ones who are offended." When Cavuto countered that some businesses were trying to be more inclusive, O'Reilly rebuked, "This is insulting to Christian America."

O'Reilly recently advanced his theory that an organized "secular progressive" movement is implementing a "very secret plan" against Christianity in America. He reiterated his concern -- which he previously discussed on the November 18 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor -- about the secular progressive agenda:

O'REILLY: [T]hey [secular progressives] don't want any message of spirituality or Judeo-Christian tradition because that stands in the way of gay marriage, legalized drugs, euthanasia, all of the greatest hits on the secular progressive play card.

O'Reilly then pointed to progressive financier George Soros as "the moneyman behind it" and declared, "I say, fight back."

From the November 30 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: Well, you know, on Monday night my colleague Bill O'Reilly said something so simple, controversial, but so dead-on accurate. I want you to listen to this. Take a look.

O'REILLY [video clip]: Every company in America should be on their knees thanking Jesus for being born. Without Christmas, most American businesses would be far less profitable. More than enough reason for business to be screaming "Merry Christmas."


O'REILLY: Well, it's absurd. This is so insane, I don't think of anything -- I've seen anything this stupid in the 30 years I've been in this business. Here you have a national public holiday signed into law by Ulysses S. Grant in 1870. Christmas, all right? Federal holiday, everybody gets off, no mail delivered, everybody shuts down. Federal holiday. Why is it there? To honor a philosopher, Jesus. Whose philosophy was part of the foundation of our country. All of this is indisputable. Can't dispute it. OK? A man was born, his name is Jesus, he had a philosophy, the philosophy was incorporated by the Founding Fathers to make up the United States of America, U.S. Grant signs into law the holiday, Christmas. Now, we have people who are offended by that. Well, tough, right? Tough. Some people are offended by fingernails; I'm not pulling mine out. So I'm feeling -- I'm offended by everything you do, we're not firing you. OK? Offended? Too bad. But then --

CAVUTO: But the point is with companies -- they may have a lot to be grateful for.

O'REILLY: You have to let me warm up.

CAVUTO: 'Cause you seem to be going off track.

O'REILLY: Well, I'm not. Then the business community says we don't want to offend anybody, so we're not going to say "Merry Christmas." We're going to say "Happy Holidays, all right? That offends millions of Christians, see? Eighty-five percent of the country calls itself Christian. Fifteen percent of the country -- you figure these people could do the math if they're CEOs. Eighty-five percent Christian; they are into Christmas, OK? That's their big day. Fifteen percent aren't. Now of those 15 percent, maybe 1 percent are totally insane. They're nuts. They're the ones who are offended. So what it comes down to is that these CEOs and big companies -- big companies, like Wal-Mart, Sears, KMart -- will not say "Merry Christmas" in their stores or advertising to cater to 1 percent of Americans who are insane.

CAVUTO: Is it more for Wal-Mart? Because they're everywhere; they're in China, they're in Hong Kong -- maybe they're wondering, well, you know, the percentages even change when you go global --

O'REILLY: They don't have to say "Merry Christmas" in China, OK? They can say whatever they say in China, "Happy Winter." All right? "We like pandas." Say whatever you want. This is America. This is the big commercial holiday. You're not going to acknowledge the holiday? Then I'm not shopping there. And that's what the bottom line is here. The backlash is building, building, building, and these retailers are going to find out as Federated [Department Stores Inc.] found out last year -- that's Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Burdines. They didn't say it last year. This year Federated is saying it, so they took a hit.

CAVUTO: So, do you think -- right -- do you think there's a connection between Wal-Mart saying, you know, maybe our sales might not be up to snuff and this position they're taking on Christmas?

O'REILLY: Look, I like the Wal-Mart guys. I'm not a Wal-Mart basher. I think that they serve a tremendous service to this country by giving people with not a lot of money an opportunity to buy stuff. If their CEO was standing right here, I'd say, "You're insane." You're losing good will, OK? There's no reason to do this, because all they have to do, Neil, is say "Merry Christmas," "Happy Holidays," "Happy Hanukkah," "Happy Kwanzaa." Their store is big enough to have those banners all over the place. You telling me it's not big enough? You can have it all. Christians aren't going to be mad if you say "Happy Hanukkah" or "Happy Kwanzaa," as long as you acknowledge what it's all about, the federal holiday of Christmas. If you don't, then Christians start to say, "You don't like us. You're anti-Christian, you have an anti-Christian bias."

CAVUTO: You don't buy the take that they're trying to be inclusive or the companies that have that position are?

O'REILLY: This is insulting to Christian America. It's insulting. This is driven by secular progressives --

CAVUTO: The Jews and Muslims say it's insulting to keep the Christmas.

O'REILLY: I say that Muslims are less than 1 percent of the population, and Jews are less than 3 percent of the population. They're entitled to their opinion, they're entitled to their opinion and they are entitled not to shop in places that say "Merry Christmas," just as I'm entitled not to shop in places that don't. That's what I say. But the bottom line on this is this: Secular progressives which are driving this movement, OK, don't want Christmas. They don't want it as a federal holiday, they don't want any message of spirituality or Judeo-Christian tradition because that stands in the way of gay marriage, legalized drugs, euthanasia, all of the greatest hits on the secular progressive play card. If they can succeed in getting religion out of the public arena --

CAVUTO: Who's "they?"

O'REILLY: George Soros. He's the moneyman behind it. It's a philosophy. Go on the websites and look at it. It's there. It's a secular, progressive --

CAVUTO: It has come to this --

O'REILLY: They're afraid. They've been intimidated, but I say, fight back.

Categories: News

On the December 1 edition of CNN's Live From..., CNN correspondent Deborah Feyerick conflated being "pro-military" with being pro-war while discussing the comments Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) made on October 10, 2002, regarding her vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq.

From the December 1 edition of CNN's Live From...:

CLINTON: Any vote that might lead to war should be hard. But I cast it with conviction.

FEYERICK: That was then. Senator Hillary Clinton, voting to authorize the war in Iraq, positioning herself as a pro-military Democrat.

Feyerick's statement falsely suggests that being "pro-war" and "pro-military" are the same thing -- and that being "anti-war" is the same as being "anti-military."

Media Matters has previously noted that news outlets tended to describe Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) as a "pro-military Democrat," which falsely implies that most Democrats are not "pro-military."

Categories: News

On the November 30 broadcast of National Public Radio's All Things Considered, NPR Pentagon correspondent John Hendren reported that the Department of Defense is allegedly drafting positively themed newspaper articles "that emphasize U.S. and Iraqi military victories, progress on reconstruction, and instances of Iraqis resisting insurgents." The Defense Department allegedly hired consultants to translate those articles into Arabic and paid Iraqi newspapers to publish them. The report quoted Daniel Goure -- identified by Hendren as a military analyst -- noting that "Goure is with the Lexington Institute; an Arlington, Virginia, think tank." The report did not mention that the Lexington Institute is an organization that "believes in limiting the role of the federal government to those functions explicitly stated or implicitly defined by the Constitution," or that Goure is in fact its vice president. The report also failed to mention that Goure has connections to the Pentagon and the Bush administration: He worked in the Defense Department from 1991 to 1993 and again in 2001 as part of the Department of Defense Transition Team.

Given the story's failure to identify the Lexington Institute, it follows, of course, that NPR also failed to ask Goure, an ostensible proponent of limited government, why he was defending the use of taxpayer money to create and place articles that tout its purported successes in Iraq.

From the November 30 NPR report by Hendren, who identified his source only as a consultant working with the Pentagon:

HENDREN: The consultant says newspaper editors in Iraq often acknowledge that they're aware that the U.S. government is planting the stories, noting that writers don't usually give money for their pieces, they ask for it. Some military analysts say it's not clear the military is doing anything wrong. Dan Goure is with the Lexington Institute; an Arlington, Virginia think-tank:

GOURE: It was not lying. The stories were generally correct. It happened to be a point of view. They were not all balanced, but not every story by any newspaper is a balanced statement.

NPR said nothing further about the Lexington Institute or its mission statement endorsing limited government:

The Lexington Institute believes in limiting the role of the federal government to those functions explicitly stated or implicitly defined by the Constitution. The Institute therefore actively opposes the unnecessary intrusion of the federal government into the commerce and culture of the nation, and strives to find nongovernmental, market-based solutions to public-policy challenges. We believe a dynamic private sector is the greatest engine for social progress and economic prosperity.

According to -- an organization that "tracks the impact of conservative philanthropy on the media" -- the Lexington Institute has received more than $900,000 in grants from conservatives or limited-government proponents such as the F.M. Kirby Foundation, Inc. The organization "believe[s] that private philanthropy, at its best, if provided compassionately and prudently, encourages self-reliance and diminishes government's role."

Other news outlets have described the Lexington Institute as "conservative." A November 14 Boston Globe article by Bryan Bender quoted "Loren Thompson, chief executive officer of the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va., a conservative think tank." A June 11 Newsday article by Craig Gordon also quoted Thompson, identifying him as "a Pentagon adviser and executive director of the Lexington Institute, a conservative think tank."

NPR also failed to identify Goure as a former Defense Department employee with connections to the Bush administration. His Lexington Institute biography notes that Goure "was a member of the 2001 Department of Defense Transition Team." He "spent two years in the U.S. Government as the director of the Office of Strategic Competitiveness in the Office of the Secretary of Defense." Although his Lexington biography does not indicate it, Goure served as director of the Office of Strategic Competitiveness under Cheney during the George H.W. Bush administration. A September 2, 1993, Cleveland Plain-Dealer article noted that Goure "retired this year as director of the Pentagon's Office of Strategic Competitiveness."

Categories: News

In his November 30 column, Los Angeles Times columnist Max Boot criticized the "excuses" put forth by Democratic lawmakers who have questioned the basis for the Iraq war and the Bush administration's handling of the conflict. He claimed that Democrats now "want to run up the white flag" because they "only wanted to do something if the cost would be miniscule" and because they expected the war to be a "cakewalk." But Boot entirely ignored that it was Bush administration officials who, in the weeks and months prior to the invasion, promised a cheap and easy victory -- indeed, even a "cakewalk."

In the column, Boot accused the Democrats of "defeatism" and criticized them for expecting the cost of the war to be minimal:

Just a few years ago, it seemed as if the Democrats had finally kicked the post-Vietnam, peace-at-any-price syndrome. Before the invasion of Iraq, leading Democrats sounded hawkish in demanding action to deal with what Kerry called the "particularly grievous threat" posed by Saddam Hussein. But it seems that they only wanted to do something if the cost would be minuscule. Now that the war has turned out to be a lot harder than anticipated, the Democrats want to run up the white flag.

Boot characterized such expectations on the part of Democrats as unrealistic and misguided. But it was the Bush administration that repeatedly promoted low cost estimates for the Iraq war. For example, on the October 4, 2002, edition of CNBC's Business Center, then-White House economic adviser Glen Hubbard claimed that "costs of any such intervention would be very small." In January 2003, then-White House budget director Mitch Daniels predicted the total appropriations for the war would "be in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion." In March 2003, he asserted the conflict would "not require sustained aid." Further, The New York Times reported on February 28, 2003, that then-deputy secretary of defense Paul D. Wolfowitz had "dismissed articles in several newspapers this week asserting that Pentagon budget specialists put the cost of war and reconstruction at $60 billion to $95 billion in this fiscal year."

In the weeks after the war began, Bush administration officials continued to offer highly optimistic cost projections. On the April 23, 2003, edition of ABC's Nightline, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) administrator Andrew S. Natsios stated that the cost of reconstruction would not exceed $1.7 billion. "The rest of the rebuilding of Iraq will be done by other countries who have already made pledges ... and Iraqi oil revenues," he said. "The American part of this will be $1.7 billion. We have no plans for any further -- on funding for this."

In fact, an October 2005 report by the Congressional Research Service concluded that the U.S. government had, so far, appropriated $251 billion for the war in Iraq.

In his column, Boot also castigated Democrats for believing the war would be a "cakewalk":

The Democrats' other excuse is that they never imagined that Bush would bollix up post-invasion planning as badly as he did. It's true that the president blundered, but it's not as if things usually go smoothly in the chaos of conflict. In any case, it's doubtful that the war would have been a cakewalk even if we had been better prepared.

In fact, senior Bush administration officials and advisers predicted an easy victory on numerous occasions prior to the invasion of Iraq. On the December 6, 2001, edition of CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, former U.S. arms control director Kenneth Adelman -- a member of the Defense Policy Board, a Pentagon advisory panel to which he was appointed by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld -- actually used the word "cakewalk" in predicting the results of the Iraq intervention:

ADELMAN: I don't agree that you need an enormous number of American troops. I think that reviewing the bidding, that you look at what Saddam Hussein did in 1991. He was not a great fighter. His army is down to one-third than it was before, and I think it would be a cakewalk.

Adelman repeated the claim in a February 13, 2002, Washington Post op-ed headlined "Cakewalk In Iraq." Adelman wrote: "I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk."

At a February 7, 2002, townhall meeting, Rumsfeld said the war "could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months." And on the March 26, 2003, edition of NBC's Meet the Press -- mere days before the war began -- Vice President Dick Cheney predicted, "We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators." He further stated on the March 16, 2003, edition of CBS' Face the Nation, "I think it will go relatively quickly ... [in] weeks rather than months."

Media Matters for America has documented other examples of Boot misinforming his readers on the subject of Iraq (see here and here).

Categories: News

One day after Media Matters for America noted that the Fox News online store labeled its ornaments "Holiday" ornaments -- including one with The O'Reilly Factor logo -- the items have been renamed "Christmas" ornaments, and references to "your holiday tree" now refer to "your Christmas tree."

Fox News hosts Bill O'Reilly and John Gibson have criticized what they consider a secular "war on Christmas," and O'Reilly has specifically railed against use of the term "holiday tree" instead of "Christmas tree."

Fox News' use of "Holiday" in the ornament names was first documented by the weblog Daily Kos.



Categories: News

November 30, 2005


Although Fox News hosts Bill O'Reilly and John Gibson have lambasted what they see as a "secular" "war on Christmas," Fox News' own online store advertises "Holiday" ornaments rather than "Christmas" ornaments, as apparently first noted on the weblog Daily Kos. The items are grouped under the category "Holiday Ideas."

O'Reilly, host of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, has recently waged a campaign against corporations that greet customers with "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." For his part, Gibson, the host of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson, has published a book titled The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought (Sentinel, October 2005).

Despite O'Reilly's specific criticism of those who use the term "holiday tree" instead of "Christmas tree," an O'Reilly Factor ornament for sale at the Fox News store features this tagline: "Put your holiday tree in 'The No Spin Zone' with this silver glass 'O'Reilly Factor' ornament."

Categories: News

On the November 23 broadcast of Fox News' The Radio Factor, guest host Michael A. Smerconish took issue with a recent decision by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority to provide a designated prayer area at Giants Stadium. The decision was in response to a September 19 incident involving the FBI's detention and questioning of five Muslim men who were observed praying near the stadium's main air duct during a New York Giants football game. Smerconish stated: "I just think that's [the men's public praying] wrong. I just think they're playing a game of, you know, mind blank with the audience. And that they should know better four years removed from September 11."

In a November 2 article, the Associated Press reported that FBI spokesman, agent Steven Siegel, said the men had aroused suspicion because they were congregating near the main air intake duct. Also, security was on higher alert because former President George H. W. Bush was in the stadium that night as part of a fundraising campaign he and former President Clinton are leading for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The AP quoted Siegel as follows:

You had 80,000 people there, Bush 41 was there, and you had a group of gentlemen gathering in an area not normally used by the public right near the main air intake duct for the stadium, and a food preparation facility. It was where they were, not what they were doing.

The men were later released without charge and have since claimed that their detention was evidence of racial profiling. The FBI denies these charges.

Smerconish said that the Giants' designation of a new prayer area "just seems like a form of capitulation in this instance to -- well, frankly -- to the Arab community ... I think that it's fundamentally unfair that five Arab guys, Muslim men in their twenties, get together in full view of 80,000 folks and engage in prayer." Smerconish added:

SMERCONISH: Tolerance means I've gotta tolerate that -- the practitioners of the Muslim faith -- but they've gotta be tolerant of my reasonable concerns about terrorism four years post-9-11. And their tolerance of me necessitates that they not gather in prayer when there are 80,000 people in the house for a football game.

From the November 23 broadcast of Fox News' The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

SMERCONISH: September 19, the Giants hosted the New Orleans Saints. The game was also the site of a Hurricane Katrina fund-raiser. Did you hear about this? As a matter of fact, number 41 was in the house. Meaning George Herbert Walker Bush, past president and father, of course, of W [President Bush]. Eighty-thousand folks were in the house for the Giants and the Saints and the Katrina fund-raiser.

In an area near food preparation, in an area near air duct work and venting, folks saw five apparently Muslim men in their 20s praying. Let me just sort of freeze-frame right there and ask The Radio Factor audience: Had you been in Giants Stadium that day, you know that it's the Giants and the Saints, you know that it's a Hurricane Katrina fund-raiser, perhaps you know that number 41 is in the house, you certainly know that you're a stone's throw away from Ground Zero; what, if anything, would you have done if you had seen five apparently Muslim men in their 20s engaged in prayer?

Maybe you would do absolutely nothing. But you can call me on that issue as I tell you the rest of the story. It's 1-877-9-NOSPIN. Me, I'd drop the dime. And somebody in this case did drop the dime. And well, you can see, I'm sure, where this thing is headed.

Before long, it became a focal point in a civil liberties debate. The Council on American-Islamic Relations got involved -- CAIR -- C-A-I-R is their acronym. Turns out the guys were just five Giants fans, not up to anything terrorism-related, but that didn't quell the controversy.

And now, today, comes the news that at Giants Stadium, they will be setting aside an area for groups to pray. I wonder how you see this. See if you had told me -- in Philadelphia, we've got Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Eagles, home of the former, you know, National Football Conference champion Eagles, although I won't be able to say that this season. If you'd said to me in Lincoln Financial Field or in Giants Stadium, they have set aside an area -- you know, non-denominational area -- for prayer. You go in there and pray for [Eagles quarterback Donovan] McNabb and T.O. [Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens] to patch up their wounds or whatever the case might be, I would have no problem with it.

In much the same fashion that, in just about every hospital in which I have been, there is an area set aside for prayer. My beef in this particular case is knowing the history. I mean to me it just seems like a form of capitulation in this instance to -- well, frankly -- to the Arab community. I'm not afraid to say it.

And I have another thought. And the other thought is that I think it was fundamentally unfair, you're not going to believe I'm going to say this, but this is my view. I think that it's fundamentally unfair that five Arab guys, Muslim men in their 20s, get together in full view of 80,000 folks and engage in prayer. I just think that's wrong. I just think they're playing a game of, you know, mind blank with the audience. And that they should know better four years removed from September 11.


WISSAM NASR (Council on American-Islamic Relations): Well, you know, whether it is or isn't, it's up to the individual person's perception. I live around Muslims so it's not uncommon for me -- for me to see that. And you know we just want to basically -- the moral of this story is, is that we want people to take this as an opportunity to understand that, hey, this is the Muslim way of praying. We do it five times a day. It only takes a couple of minutes, but sometimes we have to pray just about -- you know -- wherever we are. Some people are just that devout.

SMERCONISH: See, I can't buy that. I think you can be devout at home, you know, on game day. You know I think that you ask too much in a post-9-11 world to expect non-Muslims to just walk on by with 80,000 folks around if five guys are engaged in prayer. That's my view. And now, you know the end of the story. The end of the story is that at Giants Stadium they will set aside an area for prayer, prayer of any kind. It will be non-denominational in focus and so forth. And as I said, I have no problem whatsoever with a non-denominational location for prayer. Frankly, I think it would be fine in a public school, that's my view of the world.

But I just don't like the way this one came about.


CALLER: From '92 to '93, I was in Denver, Colorado. And there's a heavy Muslim community there. And I transported people back and forth to the new airport out there when it opened up. And many, many, many cab drivers of -- Muslims would stop, put their rugs out, and would stop to pray. And I don't think that there's anything wrong with that. Their religious belief says that it needs to be done at a certain time and they shouldn't be held back from doing that.

And I think that we need to think back when this whole thing started. We were told to live our lives as we normally did. And they're living their lives as they normally do. And, yes, we should be more tolerant, a little more understanding. And I guess unless they've got a bomb wrapped around them, we need to just kind of look the other way and let them perform their duty. After all, isn't that what we do when we go to our services on Sundays?

SMERCONISH: Okay, but wait a minute. Just so I'm clear, because I think tolerance is a two-way street. Tolerance means I've gotta tolerate that -- the practitioners of the Muslim faith -- but they've gotta be tolerant of my reasonable concerns about terrorism four years post-9-11. And their tolerance of me necessitates that they not gather in prayer when there are 80,000 people in the house for a football game. Or you think I'm wrong?


CALLER: They set out to raise some questions. And I can understand the motivation, because there are Arab Americans who are absolutely, you know, pointed out and it's racial profiling. And there are bad things that happen to these people on a daily basis. But situations like this do not help the cause.

SMERCONISH: Agreed. And they had -- look, what you're saying is they had to know what they were doing.

CALLER: Exactly.

SMERCONISH: They had to know -- I can't say it on a family radio program, but they were -- they were fooling with folks, you know what I'm saying?

Categories: News

From the November 29 broadcast of Fox News' The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

O'REILLY: The same people -- Paul Krugman, the New York Times people, all that -- who are saying, "Oh, we need to pull out now for the good of the troops, the good of the country," as soon as we leave, they'll say, "Bush lost the war." That's what they want. They're not -- I don't believe Paul Krugman gives a fig about the troops. And he's -- I'm picking on him because I don't like him. I don't. I mean, you know, obviously if you saw me and him on CNBC last year, I took him apart.

He's a Princeton professor who writes for The New York Times. I don't believe a word he says about anything. I think he's a socialist who hates the country. And, you know, when I see his byline, I just go, "Oh, next."

Categories: News

A November 27 New York Times editorial declared the Medicare prescription drug benefit, set to take effect in 2006, "a promising beginning." The Times' editorial board endorsed the plan when it became law in 2003, writing in a November 19, 2003, editorial: "Despite its shortcomings, the Medicare prescription drug bill heading for a vote in Congress is worthy of passage." The editorial added that "the bill is strongest when it comes to the most important target groups: elderly people with low incomes or very high drug bills." But both editorials ignored a component of the law that gives insurers the power under certain circumstances to make changes to beneficiaries' policies on 60 days' notice -- including restricting coverage and increasing co-payments and out-of-pocket costs -- while beneficiaries can switch plans only once per year during a limited period.

In the November 27 editorial, the Times also dismissed other drawbacks associated with the plan -- which its news pages have detailed -- including its complexity, limited choice due to pharmacy participation, and potentially abusive marketing by private insurers, stating that such problems, "while irksome, can be remedied later." Under Medicare's new drug benefit, beneficiaries select coverage from dozens of plans provided by private insurers with some variation by region.

In the same editorial, the Times touted the flexibility that the plan reportedly offers beneficiaries. Asserting that "no decision is irrevocable," the editorial explains that "beneficiaries can change plans once a year." What the Times didn't mention was that insurers can alter their coverage on 60 days notice, which means that beneficiaries can be stuck for several months with new terms -- including higher costs and restricted coverage -- that they had not previously agreed to.

Under Medicare guidelines, an insurer can change the cost tier placement of a drug, affecting the out-of-pocket cost to the beneficiary, if the insurer receives new information about the drug. If, for example, the Food and Drug Administration rules that one drug is preferred over another for treatment of the same condition, the insurer might opt to provide less coverage for the non-preferred drug, or the insurer might elect to cease covering the drug altogether. In addition, according to a June 15 article by New York Times reporter Robert Pear, insurers typically seek to cover fewer drugs for various conditions in order to reduce costs with large-volume discounts.

Such changes can be sought by insurers once per month beginning in March 2006. If approved, they can produce higher co-insurance costs and out-of-pocket expenses for seniors. As the Times itself reported in a January 22 article by Pear: "Beneficiaries who sign up with a drug plan are generally locked in for a year. Insurers can end coverage for a particular drug, or increase the co-payment, if they give 60 days' notice to patients and the government."

As Pear also reported in a November 13 article, a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health found that just 35 percent of seniors polled reported that they understood the plan. Moreover, the article noted that because pharmacies can refuse to participate, beneficiaries in certain areas might have very limited options for obtaining medication.

A separate Times article by Pear, published the same day as the November 27 editorial, reported that Medicare has already received more than 100 complaints concerning aggressive marketing tactics employed by insurers; enrollment in the plan began November 15, 2005, and continues through May 15, 2006. Alleged violations reported thus far include door-to-door solicitation and misrepresentations of products. According to the complaints, some companies have requested personal information, including credit card, financial institution and social security numbers, from potential beneficiaries.

Nevertheless, the Times raised but dismissed the plan's "drawbacks" at the beginning of the November 27 editorial: "Many of the critics [of the plan] are right," but the problems "can be remedied later."

From the November 27 New York Times editorial:

The enrollment period for Medicare's new prescription drug benefit opened this month amid complaints about its complexity, its drawbacks and its seemingly irrational structure. Many of the critics are right. But the new program is still an important new benefit - the largest expansion of Medicare in decades and a vital step to bringing Medicare into the modern era. The problems, while irksome, can be remedied later.


All elderly Americans can use software on the Medicare Web site to help pick the best plan for them.The Web site may be daunting to those who are inexperienced with the Internet, but it should offer their computer-savvy friends and advisers a valuable tool to sort through the options. No decision is irrevocable - beneficiaries can change plans once a year.

Beneficiaries can type in such data as the drugs and dosages they use, the pharmacies they patronize, and the premiums and deductibles they would prefer. Presto, they get a list of plans that meet their criteria, the estimated annual cost of those plans, and, with another click of the mouse, suggestions on how to cut costs further by picking cheaper drugs.

From the November 19, 2003, New York Times editorial:

Despite its shortcomings, the Medicare prescription drug bill heading for a vote in Congress is worthy of passage. Fears that the legislation contains seeds that will ultimately destroy the traditional Medicare program strike us as overblown. Our own chief qualm is that the country, with deficits looming as far as prognosticators can see, cannot afford a program that will cost, at a minimum, $400 billion over 10 years.

Millions of middle-income Americans will get only modest help from the program, and they will have to cope with a crazy-quilt pattern of benefits. But fortunately, the bill is strongest when it comes to the most important target groups: elderly people with low incomes or very high drug bills.


If the prescription drug bill is passed, Congress will have created not one but two fiscal train wrecks several years down the line. Some legislators will vote for the drug plan and figure that when the bills ratchet up after 2006, future Congresses will have to give up on some of the current tax cuts when they expire. Others will vote for the drug bill with the idea of taking the political gain now and hoping that the monster deficits over the horizon will force cutbacks on entitlements later in the decade.

Our own choice would be to rescind the Bush administration's reckless tax cuts for the wealthy to pay for drug coverage of benefit to all. But any lawmakers who voted for the tax cuts cannot in good conscience support the drug bill unless they are ready to stand up and explain what should happen when the train wrecks occur.

From Pear's November 13 New York Times article:

In a survey issued this week by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, only 35 percent of people 65 and older said they understood the new drug benefit. Those who said they understood it were more likely to have a favorable impression of it.


The new prescription drug plans, though heavily subsidized by Medicare, are marketed and administered by private insurers like Aetna, Humana, PacifiCare and UnitedHealth Group.

The Bush administration and Republicans in Congress chose this approach for two reasons. They firmly believe that competition among private plans will hold down costs, and they do not want the government to specify which drugs will be covered.


But that does not mean that a person's local pharmacy will be in every plan.

''In some rural areas,'' Ms. [Suzi] Lenker [who coordinates insurance counseling for the Kansas Department on Aging] reported, ''beneficiaries say: 'There are 40 Medicare drug plans to choose from, but my pharmacy takes only one or two plans. How does that give me choice?' ''

From Pear's November 27 New York Times article:

Bush administration officials say they have received scores of complaints about the aggressive tactics used by some insurance companies and agents to market Medicare's new prescription drug benefit.

The officials said they would take disciplinary action if they found that the tactics had broken federal rules.

Possible violations reported to Medicare officials in the past few weeks include uninvited door-to-door solicitation of business and misrepresentation of insurance products.

Federal officials have issued rules and a 53,000-word set of guidelines for marketing the drug benefit. The guidelines allow use of insurance agents, including independent agents who represent more than one company, but stipulate that insurers are responsible for the conduct of their agents.


Christopher Eisenberg, director of health plan accountability at the federal Medicare agency, said the federal government had received ''more than 100 complaints concerning misconduct by independent agents'' marketing Medicare products.

''This is developing into a major compliance concern,'' Mr. Eisenberg said, and ''it appears to be growing.''

Part of the problem is that the federal government and the states share responsibility for regulating the sale and marketing of Medicare drug plans, and the division of labor is not always clear.

Insurance agents are generally licensed and regulated by state government agencies. But the federal government regulates prescription drug plans and managed care plans, known as Medicare Advantage plans. When insurers sign contracts with Medicare, they promise to comply with all federal standards.

In some cases, Mr. Eisenberg said, when the federal government tried to investigate complaints, insurers said they had little control over the agents. ''We are not receptive to that argument,'' he said.

From Pear's June 15 New York Times article:

Hundreds of insurers -- more than initially expected -- have filed applications with the government to provide Medicare drug coverage, which they see as a potentially profitable new line of business. With so many companies seeking a piece of this potentially vast market, Medicare officials can be more aggressive in setting terms and conditions to prevent discrimination against sick people with high drug costs.

In requiring coverage for a wide range of drugs, officials said, they are following ''best practices'' used in the private sector and for Medicaid and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. And they noted that under the 2003 Medicare law, formularies cannot discriminate against any beneficiaries.


In reviewing prescription drug plans, federal officials have been lobbied from all sides. Beneficiaries generally want as many drugs as possible on each formulary, and the drug companies stand to benefit if more of their products are covered.

But insurers and pharmacy benefit managers typically want to limit the number and types of drugs, so they can obtain large-volume discounts from manufacturers. The challenge for Medicare officials is to balance these competing goals.

Categories: News

Discussing the Kansas Supreme Court's recent reversal of Matthew Limon's 2000 conviction, which had resulted in Limon's being sentenced to 17 years in prison for engaging in sexual relations with a 14-year-old boy, host Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed, on the November 28 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "filed a brief arguing that the molestation of the 14-year-old handicapped boy was not a crime because the child has a constitutional right to have sex with adults." Wendy Murphy, a frequent O'Reilly Factor guest and the former assistant district attorney for Middlesex County, Massachusetts, agreed, saying of the ACLU: "[T]hey don't want any laws on the books ... that make it a crime for a child to be abused by an adult." O'Reilly's and Murphy's comments misconstrued the charges against Limon and falsely described the ACLU's involvement, which was limited to arguing that Kansas law unconstitutionally imposed a higher penalty for sexual conduct between same-sex partners.

According to O'Reilly, the Kansas case involved "a 14-year-old handicapped boy [who] was molested by an 18-year-old boy [Matthew Limon] in a group home." In fact, at the time of the incident, both teenagers were attending a Kansas residential school for the developmentally-disabled and engaged in consensual sexual relations. Because both Limon and the 14-year-old were male, Limon was charged with criminal sodomy instead of being charged under Kansas's "Romeo and Juliet" law (KSA 21-3522). That law carries a far lighter 15-month maximum prison sentence but addresses only "[u]nlawful voluntary sexual relations" between members of the opposite sex.

One day after the U.S.. Supreme Court invalidated sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas, the Limon case was remanded to the Kansas courts. On October 21, the Kansas State Supreme Court reversed Limon's sodomy conviction, ruling that the "Romeo and Juliet" law's applicability only to heterosexual sex was unconstitutional under Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down a Texas sodomy law:

The Romeo and Juliet statute suffers the same faults as found by the United States Supreme Court in Romer [v. Evans] and Eisenstad [v. Baird]: adding the phrase "and are members of the opposite sex" created a broad, overreaching, and undifferentiated status-based classification which bears no rational relationship to legitimate State interests. Paraphrasing the United States Supreme Court's decision in Romer, the statute inflicts immediate, continuing, and real injuries that outrun and belie any legitimate justification that may be claimed for it. Furthermore, the State's interests fail under the holding in Lawrence that moral disapproval of a group cannot be a legitimate governmental interest.

O'Reilly falsely asserted that the ACLU "filed a brief arguing that the molestation of the 14-year-old handicapped boy was not a crime because the child has a constitutional right to engage in sex with adults." He then asked Murphy: "Is this ACLU policy?" Murphy confirmed that it "appears to be their policy" and explained the ACLU position as follows:

MURPHY: [L]et's celebrate their constitutional right to engage in sex with adults even as young as age 13. In other words, they don't want any laws on the books ... that make it a crime for a child to be abused by an adult.

However, the ACLU brief merely argued that Limon should receive the same legal treatment he would have received if the other party involved had been a 14-year-old female. The ACLU objected only to the "Romeo and Juliet" law's exclusion of same-sex activity and the resulting far higher sentence. In the brief, the ACLU argued:

The Constitution guarantees that all citizens are supposed to be treated equally, but Matthew Limon is set to be in prison until he is 36 years old, while he would have been released before turning 20 if he were heterosexual ... We're not saying the state shouldn't punish those who break the law. We are only asking that the state do the right thing and treat gay teenagers the same as it does straight teenagers.

From the November 28 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Now, a case in Kansas where a 14-year-old handicapped boy was molested by an 18-year-old boy in a group home. And the ACLU -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- filed a brief arguing that the molestation of the 14-year-old handicapped boy was not a crime because the child has a constitutional right to engage in sex with adults. Is that true?

MURPHY: Yeah, you gotta love it when they're waving the flag of constitutional rights around for kids so they can have sex with adults. They actually wrote --

O'REILLY: Yes, but I just want to know is this policy? Is this ACLU policy?

MURPHY: It appears to be their policy.

O'REILLY: -- that children -- that children of any age have a right --

MURPHY: Thirteen. As young as 13.

O'REILLY: -- have a constitutional right to have sex with adults? That's their policy?

MURPHY: That's right, and that we should -- absolutely, let's celebrate their constitutional right to engage in sex with adults even as young as age 13. In other words, they don't want any laws on the books --

O'REILLY: Right.

MURPHY: -- that make it a crime for a child to be abused by an adult.

O'REILLY: But you're sure this is their policy? You're sure this is ACLU policy?

MURPHY: All I can tell you is that they put it in an amicus brief, which is to say that's an expression of their position on this issue, and they did it in the Kansas Supreme Court, so one has to assume that that is their position in general, not unique to Kansas.

O'REILLY: Yeah, if they made it a brief and it's in the court record in Kansas, then it is.

Categories: News

On the November 23 edition of Fox News' The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, guest host Michael Smerconish interviewed Soo Kim Abboud, author of Top of the Class: How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers -- and How You Can Too (Penguin, 2005). Smerconish asserted that "if everyone follows Dr. Abboud's prescription ... you're going to have women who will leave the home and now get a great-paying job, because you will have gotten them well educated." He continued, "But then they're not going to be around to instill these lessons in their kids. In other words, it occurs to me that perhaps you've provided a prescription to bring this great success to an end."

Smerconish hosts a daily radio program on WPHT-AM in Philadelphia and is a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News.

From the November 23 edition of Fox News' The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

SMERCONISH: By the way, this is Dr. Soo Kim Abboud, and the book is called Top of the Class: How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers -- and How You Can Too. One final question: It occurs to me that if everyone follows Dr. Abboud's prescription, right, would we all crank out these high achievers? You're going to have women who will leave the home and now get a great-paying job because you will have gotten them well educated --


SMERCONISH: But then they're not going to be around to instill these lessons in their kids. In other words, it occurs to me that perhaps you've provided a prescription to bring this great success to an end.

Categories: News

The November 28 edition of Scarborough Country presented a skewed panel to discuss the media leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity and the recent revelation of the CIA's alleged secret prisons in Eastern Europe. The group consisted of host and former Republican Rep. Joe Scarborough, MSNBC host Tucker Carlson, and Media Research Center president L. Brent Bozell III, each of whom made false or misleading claims.

Writing in a November 28 post on the weblog TPMCafe, former CIA analyst Larry Johnson reported that he had been "contacted by an MSNBC booker" to appear on that evening's edition of Scarborough Country, but was ultimately not invited to appear on the program. In recent weeks, Johnson has written about and discussed those topics and would presumably have addressed the numerous dubious claims made by Scarborough and his guests.

For example, Scarborough twice claimed that it was "a liberal who hates this war" who "leaked the existence" of the secret prisons. No one offered a contrary view. But in his TPMCafe post, written before Scarborough Country aired, Johnson wrote: "[T]he leak to [Washington Post staff writer] Dana Priest came in part from CIA officers who were concerned that the effort by the Vice President and [CIA] Director [Porter] Goss to allow a torture loophole would discredit and destroy the CIA's future effectiveness." On November 2, Priest first broke the story of the secret prisons.

Similarly, Johnson would have likely challenged Carlson on his claim that "the CIA in fact did an internal assessment of the damage done" by outing Plame and "found not very much at all." Appearing on the October 26 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, Johnson told host Wolf Blitzer that while the CIA has "not delivered any written report to Congress," he had heard that the CIA's "postmortem" determined that "serious damage did occur":

BLITZER: I think what everyone wants to know is, was there serious damage done to U.S. national security? And I have been trying to find out if the CIA actually did a postmortem, a damage assessment. You have been looking into that as well.

JOHNSON: Now, CIA did a postmortem. There's no way that they could not have. They have not delivered any written report to Congress, to the House or Senate Intelligence Committees. But what they had done with this report, they had to do it internally.


BLITZER: Do you know whether or not they concluded that serious damage did occur?

JOHNSON: I have heard that serious damage did occur.

BLITZER: In terms of lives lost, agents, foreign agents, U.S. allies?

JOHNSON: To that extent, I don't know. But what I do know for certain is, we're not just talking about Valerie Plame. We're talking about an intelligence resource, a United States national security resource that was destroyed by these White House officials that went out and started talking to the press about this. Reckless. And they have -- they have harmed the security of this country. They're trying to pretend no harm, no foul, and find lots of excuses.

When Washington Post assistant managing editor Bob Woodward, on the October 27 edition of CNN's Larry King Live, made the same claim as Carlson -- that a CIA internal investigation had concluded that little or no damage resulted from the disclosure of Plame's identity -- Media Matters for America noted that his assertion was contradicted by an October 29 Post report that the CIA had not performed a formal damage assessment, which the Post reported is not typically done until the conclusion of legal proceedings. In addition, according to a report by CNN national security correspondent David Ensor on the October 25 edition of The Situation Room, the CIA has in fact conducted an initial examination of the leak and determined that it had damaged intelligence operations:

BLITZER: I know you've been looking into this question. The CIA -- does the CIA believe that there was damage done to U.S. national security as a result of Valerie Plame Wilson's name being leaked?

ENSOR: I'm told that in the day when it was leaked, there was a quick look done, as there routinely would be, at whether there was damage. Officials simply won't go into the details. But I did speak to one official who said, yes, there was damage. This woman had a long career. And she was posing as someone else. And all those people who saw her now know she wasn't the person they thought they were dealing with. So there was damage, yes.

For his part, Bozell contradicted himself on whether the secret prisons leak was significant. After stating that the leak about the prisons wasn't a real "story" because we already knew "since the beginning of this war" that "these places existed," Bozell argued that the leak was "far more serious" than the Plame leak, and bemoaned the "deafening silence" of the media for not sufficiently covering the prison story.

Next, Bozell chastised former President Jimmy Carter for suggesting that the revelation about the secret prisons was "a story detailing the corruption and the torture of the CIA, when none of that was reported at all in the story." In fact, Priest wrote in her November 2 Post article that CIA interrogators in such overseas prison facilities are legally permitted to use interrogation techniques that would otherwise violate international statutes on torture:

Host countries have signed the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as has the United States. Yet CIA interrogators in the overseas sites are permitted to use the CIA's approved "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques," some of which are prohibited by the U.N. convention and by U.S. military law. They include tactics such as "waterboarding," in which a prisoner is made to believe he or she is drowning.

As the Scarborough Country segment was coming to a close, Bozell issued one more oft-repeated conservative talking point: that a since-retracted Newsweek article in May (which alleged that U.S. interrogators had flushed a Quran down a toilet at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba) had caused widespread violence in the Arab world. But as Media Matters for America has noted, that claim was disputed by Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said that the violence in question was "not at all tied to the article in the magazine," and by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who said that the violent demonstrations were "not related to the Newsweek story."

From the November 28 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country:

SCARBOROUGH: [F]irst, Brent, we have been bombarded, bombarded for months, for years, regarding the CIA leak investigation on a desk jockey in Langley [CIA headquarters]. And, yet, when you have somebody, a liberal, I'm sure, that hates this anti-terror program in Eastern Europe, what kind of response do we get from the media?

BOZELL: It's just remarkable. You know, the Valerie Plame story broke when it was revealed that the CIA had referred the matter over to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation. That was, what, a couple weeks after Bob Novak's story, whenever it was. Then everything exploded. And since September of '03, it has been Valerie Plame all day long, as far as the media were concerned, because they thought it was such a egregious act and such a violation of a CIA operative's covert identity.

Now you have got this case where The Washington Post runs another leak story about prisons around the world. And, by the way, let me stop for just a second. Since when was that a story? Haven't we heard since the beginning of this war that Al Qaeda and even Saddam Hussein himself were being held in undisclosed locations outside of Iraq? We know these places existed. But, anyway, the story comes out, OK, there are prisons around the world, CIA prisons around the world. That's not the point. The point is, it was another leak. Now the CIA turns around and refers this again to the Justice Department for another criminal investigation, because this one is far more serious. The head of the Senate, the speaker of the House, [J. Dennis] Hastert [R-IL], the majority leader of the Senate, also called for their various -- their two houses to conduct investigations into this. And you know what? There is just deafening silence from the press.


CARLSON: Look, I think both leaks are defensible. I like leaks. I want to know what my government is doing. I don't necessarily trust my government. I'm helping to pay for it. I think I have a right to know. So, I'm not against leaks. And the reporter who wrote this piece, Dana Priest, is a terrific journalist. And I'm glad I got to read the story. The point is one of logic and standards. And if you're going to make all this noise about the Valerie Plame leak being damaging to national security -- and, incidentally, there is evidence that it wasn't -- the CIA in fact did an internal assessment of the damage done and found not very much at all.


BOZELL: But even this story didn't talk about anything wrong. The only person who didn't understand that was, by the way, Jimmy Carter, who referred to this when it broke as a story detailing the corruption and the torture of the CIA, when none of that was reported at all in the story.


SCARBOROUGH: Here, you have now the head of the EU [European Union] talking about punishing countries that stuck their neck out on the line to support the United States in our war against terror. They are now going to be punished because some liberal -- and it is a liberal who hates this war, I'm sure -- some liberal leaked the existence of this program. And because they help us, they are now going to be punished. Doesn't that send a chilling, chilling message to other allies: Don't step out and don't stick your neck out for the United States of America, because it's going to get chopped off by a leak?


BOZELL: [T]he second point that needs to be made -- and no one is talking about this one -- where is the responsibility of The Washington Post? You know, when Newsweek ran a story about flushing Qurans down the toilet, and it turned out to be false, look at the mayhem and the death -- the death -- that story caused.

Categories: News

During the November 28 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly decried what he described as the abandonment of the phrase "Merry Christmas" and called for "a coalition of the willing to fight against this secular movement." He accused financiers George Soros and Peter Lewis of being "the money men behind the secular curtain," because they "have financed a number of websites which routinely attack those with whom they disagree in the most vile ways." O'Reilly then threatened to "expose those media which pass along the vicious personal attacks." He predicted that "[t]he defamation pipeline that has been cleverly devised will collapse," and then stated, "This is what the culture war is all about."

O'Reilly made a similar threat in the wake of Media Matters for America's exposure of his remarks regarding the city of San Francisco. In discussing a resolution San Francisco voters passed on November 8 to discourage military recruitment on campuses of public schools and colleges, O'Reilly said: "[I]f Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead." In response to the firestorm of protest against these comments, O'Reilly blamed "far-left smear websites" and "Internet guttersnipes" for reporting his statements. He stated: "[H]ere's what I'm going to do, ladies and gentlemen, every minion that does that, every one is going to be exposed on The Radio Factor, the television Factor, and on our website, Every one who carries their water, I'm going to put their face up there, their name up there, and tell you exactly what they're doing. So you know in your town who's doing it."

Following up on his threat, O'Reilly has posted on his website a list of "media operations [that] have regularly helped distribute defamation and false information supplied by far left websites."

From the November 28 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: It is now time to draw the line, ladies and gentlemen. We must decide whether we value our heritage or not. Make no mistake about this. Merry Christmas is an emotional, but small, issue. The drastic change the secular progressive movement wants in this country is the big issue.

Those people want an America free from spirituality and judgments about personal behavior. And they may get it.

So "Talking Points" is putting together a coalition of the willing to fight against this secular movement. George Soros and Peter Lewis, the money men behind the secular curtain, have financed a number of websites which routinely attack those with whom they disagree in the most vile ways.

Most mainstream media avoid the far-left smear sites, but some help them. In the coming weeks, we will expose those media which pass along the vicious personal attacks.

We've already listed some of them on And we hope you steer clear of those organizations.

If traditional America rises up and punishes the mainstream media, which furthers the cause of Soros and the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union], they will lose. The defamation pipeline that has been cleverly devised will collapse. If Christmas in America can be marginalized, any tradition can be, including marriage and the way you raise your kids. This is what the culture war is all about.

Categories: News

Over the course of a November 28 ABC World News Tonight segment on Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham's (R-CA) November 28 resignation from Congress after he pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from defense contractors, neither ABC News chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross nor anchor Elizabeth Vargas mentioned that Cunningham was a Republican. The only party identification ABC offered during the nearly three-minute report was four seconds of on-screen text that included "(R) California" underneath Cunningham's name. Because the Cunningham scandal is the latest in a series of ethics investigations concerning Republican political figures, his party affiliation is particularly relevant.

Throughout the otherwise hard-hitting World News Tonight report, Ross and Vargas described Cunningham merely as a "congressman from California" and "a powerful figure in Washington" (Cunningham held a position on the House Appropriations Committee subcommittee for defense and was the chairman of the House Intelligence subcommittee on terrorism and human intelligence.) During a video clip of Cunningham's statement to the press, ABC's on-screen text identified him as a Republican:

Cunningham's guilty plea follows an admission in an unrelated case by lobbyist Michael Scanlon, who pleaded guilty on November 21 to conspiring to bribe a member of Congress and other public officials. Scanlon is a former aide to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), who stepped down from his leadership post after being indicted for money-laundering and conspiracy to violate Texas campaign finance law. According to a November 22 New York Times article, the federal investigation into the alleged defrauding of Indian casinos by Scanlon and GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff may expand to members of Congress, such as House Administration Committee chairman Bob Ney (R-OH), who was reportedly identified (though not by name) in court papers regarding the case. I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, was indicted for perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements in the investigation into the alleged outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) is also under investigation by federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission for initiating the sale of stock in HCA Inc., a hospital chain founded by his family, shortly before a weak earnings report caused the company's share price to plummet.

Categories: News

During the November 28 "Talking Points Memo" segment of his Fox News show, The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly decried those who avoid using the holiday greeting "Merry Christmas": "Anyone offended by the words 'Merry Christmas' has problems not even St. Nicholas could solve." He further asserted: "Every company in America should be on its knees thanking Jesus for being born."

From the November 28 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: What's happened is frightening. A legal assault by the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] combined with the media that blatantly promotes secularism has succeeded in convincing some Americans that the words 'Merry Christmas' are inappropriate while celebrating the national holiday of Christmas.

This, of course, is nuts. Anyone offended by the words 'Merry Christmas' has problems not even St. Nicholas could solve.

Every company in America should be on its knees thanking Jesus for being born. Without Christmas, most American businesses would be far less profitable; more than enough reason for businesses to be screaming Merry Christmas.

Categories: News

On the November 27 broadcast of NBC's Meet the Press, host Tim Russert asked Sen. John Warner (R-VA) if he "believe[d], in all honesty, that the administration took the very best spin they could get in order to help buttress or support the case for war." Citing the Bush family's "integrity and public service," Warner responded: "Our president would not intentionally take any facts and try to mislead the American public, in my judgment." But rather than challenge Warner's non-answer by pointing to mounting evidence indicating the Bush administration did intentionally withhold or distort intelligence, Russert instead grilled Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-DE) on his vote to authorize the use of force against Iraq.

From the November 27 Meet the Press:

RUSSERT: Senator Warner, take the aluminum tubes that the administration talked about in terms of --

WARNER: Right.

RUSSERT: -- being used for nuclear weapon development. The State Department was very, very clear about that; the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the Department of Energy. And in the National Intelligence Estimate, there was a caveat which said, "We don't believe these tubes could be used for anything like that." Do you believe, in all honesty, that the administration took the very best spin on intelligence they could get in order to help buttress or support the case for war?

WARNER: You know, I've known the president quite well. I knew his father well. I actually knew his grandfather, met him. You remember, he served on the --

BIDEN: I only know the father and the --

WARNER: Well, anyway, the grandfather served on the Armed Services Committee as a senator. That's a family that's been known for its integrity and public service for generations. Our president would not intentionally take any facts and try and mislead the American public, in my judgment. What was before all leaders of the world at that time were facts that gave rise to the -- Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction and some potential for nuclear weapons. When we went in, in '91, we underestimated how far he had proceeded in his programs. Now, we recognize he didn't have them, but he certainly had the infrastructure to which he was going to direct moneys, if he ever got it, to go back into the business of weapons of mass destruction, had not this invasion taken place.

Russert, however, failed to press Warner on the aluminum tube issue, in spite of evidence indicating President Bush may have intentionally distorted or withheld intelligence. The Senate Intelligence Committee and the Iraq Survey Group both concluded that aluminum tubes sought by Saddam Hussein were likely intended for use in a conventional rocket program and not in uranium centrifuges, as Bush and then-Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed in 2003. Specifically, the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that "the information available to the Intelligence Community indicated that these tubes were intended to be used for an Iraqi conventional rocket program and not a nuclear program." In his 2003 State of the Union address, Bush touted Saddam's pursuit of aluminum tubes, along with since-discredited reports of Iraqi attempts to procure uranium from Niger, as evidence of an emerging Iraqi nuclear weapons program.

Also, in a November 22 National Journal article, journalist Murray Waas revealed that 10 days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Bush "was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda." A recently declassified 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document, released by the office of Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), indicates that the White House and the National Security Council were likely aware that DIA questioned the reliability of claims made by Ibn Al-Shaykh al-Libi -- an Al Qaeda operative captured in November 2001 -- that Al Qaeda had received chemical and biological weapons training from Iraq. In 2003, Bush and Powell touted al-Libi's claims as evidence of a supposed link between Saddam and Al Qaeda. Bush often asserted a link between Saddam and Al Qaeda as justification for the invasion of Iraq, reportedly referencing al-Libi's claims in making that connection.

Russert might also have noted other evidence that Bush administration officials may have deliberately twisted or withheld intelligence and might also have asked Warner to comment on whether he believed Bush had access to the intelligence his subordinates were touting. Vice President Dick Cheney often referred to a supposed meeting between 9-11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague, Czech Republic, as evidence of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda, even though, as The New York Times reported on October 21, 2002, Czech president Vaclav Havel "quietly told the White House he has concluded that there is no evidence to confirm earlier reports that Mohamed Atta, the leader in the Sept. 11 attacks, met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague." The 9-11 Commission concluded in 2004 that the Prague meeting never occurred. According to an October 3, 2004, New York Times article, experts at the Energy Department believed the disputed aluminum tubes "were likely intended for small artillery rockets." They had conveyed their assessment to then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice almost a year before she appeared on CNN's Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer and said the tubes were ''only really suited for nuclear weapons programs." Also, the administration's declassified version of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate omitted a number of crucial dissenting views and caveats that undercut the certainty with which administration officials were presenting disputed pieces of intelligence.

Biden responded to Warner's answer by explaining how the administration may have "misled" regarding the aluminum tubes and referred specifically to Rice's CNN appearance:

BIDEN: Tim, I'm not talking about the president. Let's get that straight. We're talking about Cheney when I said they lied. Let's -- let --

RUSSERT: You said the president misled.

BIDEN: Yeah, misled. Now, here, let me be precise. Aluminum tubes -- remember that whole issue? Casey [sic: Cheney] said the tubes were "irrefutable evidence" of their nuclear policy. Rice said they were "really only suited for nuclear weapons programs." And Bush said there was "no doubt" about this. In fact, the Energy Department expert said, as you pointed out, the tube -- they were not for nuclear. The Intelligence Research Bureau agreed and said, "no compelling case that Iraq's currently pursuing an integrated, comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons." This is in 10/02. Now, this is evidence they had at the time. Yet they used words like "The weapons program is irrefutable."

Instead of pressing Warner using the mounting evidence, or even asking Warner to respond to Biden's explanation of how the administration may have taken "the very best spin" on the aluminum tubes to further the cause for war, Russert shifted his focus to Biden, whom he pressured to explain why he voted to authorize the use of force against Iraq:

RUSSERT: But, Senator, when you read the National Intelligence Estimate, at least the summary of it, it had a caveat in there from the State Department and the Department of Energy saying they did not believe the --

BIDEN: After the fact, Tim. Look, look --

RUSSERT: This was made available to senators before the vote. Only six read it.

BIDEN: No, no, no, no, no, no. That's true, that was before the vote.

RUSSERT: But you saw --

BIDEN: That was before the vote.

RUSSERT: You saw that information and you still voted for the war.

BIDEN: But remember -- no, remember what I voted for was for the president to be able to go to war, if, if -- I've got the resolution here -- if, in fact, it was to enforce the existing breaches that existed in the U.N. [United Nations] resolution, and if he could show there were weapons of mass destruction.

RUSSERT: Do you believe the Democrats and you were diligent enough in reading that National Intelligence Estimate and all the caveats and calling the president to task as to whether or not he was being candid about the intelligence and his interpretation?

BIDEN: Yes. And if I -- I'll leave with you because there's no time here all the statements I made at the time laying out my doubts about their assertions. But remember what the resolution said, Tim, it didn't say "go to war." It said, "Mr. President, if you can show these things, then you can use force."

Categories: News

In a November 27 New York Times article, reporter Timothy Egan claimed: "In the Rocky Mountain West, where Democrats made their only real gains in last year's general election, the governors favor abortion rights, but are not afraid to be seen in church."

In fact, many Democratic politicians who "favor abortion rights" but do not represent Western states are also "not afraid to be seen" in houses of worship. Some examples include former President Bill Clinton (here and here), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Virginia Gov.-elect Timothy M. Kaine, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT), Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), and Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-MD).

Categories: News

On the November 28 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews said: "Everybody sort of likes the president, except for the real whack-jobs, maybe on the left," adding, "I mean, like him personally." In fact, polling data reveals that a majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of President Bush, and his overall approval ratings hover from the high 30-percent range to the low 40s.

From the November 28 edition of MSNBC's Hardball:

MATTHEWS: I like him. Everybody sort of likes the president, except for the real whack-jobs, maybe on the left -- I mean -- like him personally.

As Media Matters for America previously reported, MSNBC chief White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell made a similarly unsupported statement on the November 27 broadcast of MSNBC's The Chris Matthews Show, claiming that Bush has retained his "authenticity" with the public.

Categories: News

One day after Ann Coulter wrote a column examining Rep. John P. Murtha's (D-PA) proposal to end military engagement in Iraq, she appeared on the November 25 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight to comment on it. In her November 24 syndicated column, she claimed, "There is no plausible explanation for the Democrats' behavior other than that they long to see U.S. troops shot, humiliated, and driven from the field of battle." She also falsely claimed that Saddam Hussein sought "enriched uranium from Niger."

Coulter concluded the November 24 column with the following analysis of "Democrats' behavior":

The Democrats are giving aid and comfort to the enemy for no purpose other than giving aid and comfort to the enemy. There is no plausible explanation for the Democrats' behavior other than that they long to see U.S. troops shot, humiliated, and driven from the field of battle.

They fill the airwaves with treason, but when called to vote on withdrawing troops, disavow their own public statements. These people are not only traitors, they are gutless traitors.

In her Lou Dobbs Tonight appearance (which was guest-hosted by correspondent Christine Romans), Coulter said: "I'm not only tired of the Democrats, I'm tired of anyone to the left of [Rep.] Jean Schmidt [R-OH] at this point." In a November 18 speech in the floor of the House on a Republican resolution to immediately withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq -- a resolution that followed a withdrawal plan proposed by Murtha -- Schmidt stated that an Ohio politician wanted "to send Congressman Murtha a message: that cowards cut and run, Marines never do." That politician, Danny Bubp, now denies ever saying that.

Coulter has in the past expressed similar controversial views: In August 2005, she stated her belief that New Yorkers "would immediately surrender" if terrorists invaded their city; in February 2005, she accused the Democratic Party of "support[ing] killing, lying, adultery, thievery, envy"; in January 2005, she labeled Bill Clinton "a very good rapist"; and in November 2004, she reminded Canada that it is "lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent."

Coulter's claim that Hussein solicited uranium from Niger has already been widely discredited. The Senate Intelligence Committee 2004's "Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq" indicated that there was no uranium deal in the works between Iraq and Niger and that Iraqi inquiries about a possible uranium purchase remain speculative. As Media Matters for America has reported, even national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley [The New York Times, 7/23/03] and former CIA chief George Tenet (in a public statement) have conceded that the now-infamous "16 words" ("the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa") should have been removed from President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address.

Media Matters has also debunked, on several different occasions, a series of Coulter's claims on a wide range of topics: in October 2005, when she falsely accused Freakonomics (William Morrow, May 2005) co-author and University of Chicago professor Steven Levitt of "defending" Roe v. Wade; in September 2005, when she peddled numerous falsehoods about Hurricane Katrina, and falsely suggested that an Arizona daily newspaper dropped her column to "keep conservatives out"; in August 2005, when she erroneously stated that a "majority of Hispanics" voted for California's Proposition 187; and in March 2005, when she falsely accused The New York Times of outing certain children of notable conservatives.

Coulter's particular brand of right-wing vitriol has led numerous other media outlets to dissociate themselves from her. MSNBC fired Coulter in 1997 after she insulted a Vietnam veteran while both were on the air. National Review dropped her column in 2001 after she suggested, in response to the September 11, 2001, attacks, that the United States "invade their [terrorists'] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." USA Today did the same in 2004 after hiring her to provide conservative commentary from the Democratic National Convention, which she labeled the "Spawn of Satan Convention."

Nonetheless, CNN continues to invite Coulter to appear on its various programs. Since 2004, she has appeared on the network on 10 occasions, including the November 25 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight.

Categories: News