On the PBS series America at a Crossroads, former Defense Policy Board chairman Richard Perle, in an April 17 segment titled "The Case for War: In Defense of Freedom," made a series of assertions about the Iraq war that have already been shown to be false. He claimed that "all of the intelligence available to us suggested that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction [WMD]. ... We all believed that, which is why I object to referring to some of the things that were said before the war as 'lies.' " In fact, the Bush administration made several statements about Saddam's WMD capabilities that "all of the intelligence available to us" did not support. Perle then claimed that prewar Iraq had a working relationship with Al Qaeda, a claim that has been debunked by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Finally, Perle claimed that Osama bin Laden's "network has been destroyed," even though U.S. intelligence officials' have reportedly said that bin Laden is rebuilding his network.
According to a November 1, 2006, New York Times article, Robert MacNeil, the host of the America at a Crossroads series, said, "Anybody who thinks that this is a piece of pro-Perle propaganda will be quite surprised." But although Perle, who narrated the segment, speaks with people who are critical of his positions on the war, the program never corrected Perle's false assertions. An April 17 New York Times review of the Perle segment noted that "Brian Lapping, the British producer who first proposed a film about Mr. Perle, turned out to be his friend. Mr. Lapping later recused himself from the project."
In the "Case for War" segment, Perle spoke with Stacy Bannerman, an author and member of Military Families Speak Out, at a May 2006 Iraq war protest in Washington, D.C. Bannerman said that the "scandal is that Americans' lifeblood and hundreds of billions of dollars are being sent to sustain an occupation that was never needed, for a war based on lies." She asked Perle, "Why did you think we had to go into Iraq?" Perle responded by claiming that "all of the intelligence available to us suggested that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction," adding: "We all believed that, which is why I object to referring to some of the things that were said before the war as 'lies.' "
In fact, as Media Matters for America has noted, not all of the available intelligence supported the Bush administration's claims about Saddam Hussein's purported WMDs. For example, both President Bush and then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell claimed that Iraq had attempted to purchase aluminum tubes that, as Bush put it in an October 7, 2002, speech, are "needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons." U.S. intelligence agencies, however, disagreed over the purpose of the tubes. The Energy Department and the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research found that the tubes were ill-suited for uranium enrichment, and their findings were included in the classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) provided to Congress in October 2002, and, reportedly, in the president's one-page summary of the NIE.
Similarly, Bush claimed during his October 5, 2002, radio address that "Iraq has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons, and is rebuilding the facilities used to make more of those weapons," even though the available intelligence did not justify such an unequivocal statement. A September 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency report found "no reliable information" to substantiate the claim that Iraq was producing or stockpiling chemical weapons. Moreover, while the intelligence community believed Iraq possessed biological agents that could be quickly produced and weaponized, the October 2002 NIE made clear that the agencies lacked hard evidence to back up this assumption: "We had no specific information on the types or quantities of weapons, agents, or stockpiles at Baghdad's disposal."
Perle claimed on the program that he has "heard many times the assertion that there was no link between Iraq and terrorism," which he called "simply false." But rather than claiming a vague "link between Iraq and terrorism," Perle specifically asserted a connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda on the program: "We know that Saddam Hussein's intelligence apparatus trained Al Qaeda terrorists. We saw the training facilities, and we have testimony from people who were there when the training took place." Both before and after the war began, numerous members of the Bush administration -- including Bush, Powell, Vice President Dick Cheney, and then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice -- also asserted a specific link between Saddam and Al Qaeda, as a March 2004 report by the minority staff of the House Committee on Government Reform documents. But as Media Matters has noted, a September 8, 2006, Senate Intelligence Committee report concluded, "Postwar findings support the April 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) assessment that there was no credible reporting on al-Qa'ida training at Salman Pak [training facility in Iraq] or anywhere else in Iraq." Moreover, the Senate report indicated that prewar assessments were uncertain, at best:
(U) The January 2003 Iraqi Support for Terrorism noted that uncorroborated reporting since 1999 indicated that Iraq sponsored terrorism training for al-Qa'ida at the Salman Pak facility. Iraqi Support for Terrorism also said that:
Reporting about al-Qa'ida activity at Salman Pak -- ultimately sourced to three Iraqi defectors -- surged after 11 September. The defectors claimed that al-Qa'ida and other non-Iraqis engaged in special, operations training at Salman Pak. It was subsequently determined, however, that at least one of these defectors, whose story appeared in [REDACTED] magazine, had embellished and exaggerated his access.
Others repeated similar information but apparently did not have first-hand access to it. No al-Qa'ida associates detained since 11 September have said they trained at Salman Pak.
(U) The CIA noted that additional information was needed before validating the information, because of sourcing difficulties and the fact that, at the time, al-Qa'ida could have offered such training at its own camps in Afghanistan.
As Media Matters noted, a March 2, 2004, Knight-Ridder article cited "a secret report by the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence that was updated in January 2003" in reporting that "[s]enior U.S. officials now say there never was any evidence that Saddam's secular police state and Osama bin Laden's Islamic terrorism network were in league. At most, there were occasional meetings. Moreover, the U.S. intelligence community never concluded that those meetings produced an operational relationship, American officials said." Moreover, as Media Matters has noted, the September 8, 2006, Senate Intelligence Committee report broadly concluded that, based on postwar evidence, "Saddam Hussein was distrustful of al-Qa'ida and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime, refusing all requests from al-Qa'ida to provide material or operational support."
Later in the program, Perle discussed the war on terrorism with Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the Arabic newspaper Al Quds, who stated that with the 9-11 attacks, Osama bin Laden wanted "to drag the Americans to the Middle East, where he can fight them in his own turf." Atwan remarked that "it seems [bin Laden has] trapped you." In response, Perle claimed that bin Laden "is cowering somewhere in hiding. Much of his network has been destroyed." But a February 19 New York Times article reported that, according to "American intelligence and counterterrorism officials," Al Qaeda senior leaders "have re-established significant control over their once-battered worldwide terror network and over the past year have set up a band of training camps in the tribal regions near the Afghan border. American officials said there was mounting evidence that Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, had been steadily building an operations hub in the mountainous Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan."
From the segment of PBS' America at a Crossroads titled "The Case for War: In Defense of Freedom":
PERLE (voiceover): These demonstrators have gathered on the [National] Mall and placed a pair of boots to commemorate every American soldier killed in Iraq. I talked to one of the organizers of the rally, Stacy Bannerman, whose husband served in Iraq.
BANNERMAN: Do you realize that within the last 48 hours, I've gotten notification that two more of my friends' children have died because of injuries that they sustained in Iraq? We need to get out of that country. The scandal is that Americans' lifeblood and hundreds of billions of dollars are being sent to sustain an occupation that was never needed, for a war based on lies. Why did you think we had to go into Iraq?
PERLE: Well, all of the intelligence available to us suggested that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Not only available to us, but available to the United Nations, to the French, to the Germans. There were -- even [former head of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission] Hans Blix, the inspector, believed that Saddam was hiding things. We all believed that, which is why I object to referring to some of the things that were said before the war as "lies."
BANNERMAN: The lie I refer to is the lie that was sold to the American people that invading Iraq was somehow directly related to the attacks on America. That was a manipulation of the fear and the sorrow and the pain of the American people.
PERLE: I didn't hear statements to the effect that Iraq was responsible for 9-11. I did hear the argument, which I think is a valid argument, that weapons of mass destruction, in the hands of dictators who have relationships with terrorists, poses a danger to the United States and one that we have to find a response to.
PERLE: But I believe the case for intervening in Iraq was and remains valid. I've heard many times the assertion that there was no link between Iraq and terrorism, and that assertion is simply false. Abu Nidal, a well-known terrorist, lived and worked in Baghdad with the full support of the government of Iraq. We know that Saddam Hussein' s intelligence apparatus trained Al Qaeda terrorists. We saw the training facilities, and we have testimony from people who were there when the training took place. There were dozens of links between terrorist activity, terrorist organizations, Saddam Hussein' s intelligence apparatus, and even Al Qaeda. And the people who say there were no such links are simply wrong. Leading politicians from both political parties believed in Saddam' s sponsorship of terrorism before the invasion of Iraq.
ATWAN: I met Osama bin Laden, and he was actually very keen to drag the Americans to the Middle East, where he can fight them in his own turf. It seems when he went there to blow up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, it seems you played to his hands. It seems he trapped you.
PERLE: First of all, he' s cowering somewhere in hiding. Much of his network has been destroyed.
ATWAN: You are trapped in Iraq. Now Osama bin Laden enjoying himself. He doesn't need to go and blow up the World Trade Center or the Pentagon. He got, you know, a very fat 140,000 Marines and American soldiers, and he open a branch, a franchise in Iraq now. There is no reconstruction process at all. There is no security. There is no law and order.
An article in the April 30 edition of Newsweek by investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff quoted an anonymous "top Justice official" defending Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales' alleged role in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, saying: "We believe the burden is now on the Democrats to prove that something improper occurred here -- and they haven't done that." According to Newsweek, the official "asked not to be ID'd talking about nonpublic matters." The article offered no indication as to what "nonpublic matters" the anonymous official referred to, or why they would prevent this official from speaking on the record.
As Media Matters for America has documented, Newsweek has frequently granted anonymity to Republican officials praising President Bush, despite the magazine's guidelines stating that "the burden of proof should lie with the reporters and their editors to show why a promise of anonymity serves the reader." The article in the April 30 Newsweek failed to explain how allowing a Justice Department official to anonymously defend the attorney general's and the Justice Department's conduct in the U.S. attorneys scandal "serves the reader."
From Isikoff's article in the April 30 edition of Newsweek:
But Gonzales himself was hanging tough. "We believe the burden is now on the Democrats to prove that something improper occurred here -- and they haven't done that," said a top Justice official (who asked not to be ID'd talking about nonpublic matters). Publicly, the White House was standing by its A.G. One White House adviser (who asked not to be ID'ed talking about sensitive issues) said the support reflected Bush's own view that a Gonzales resignation would embolden the Dems to go after other targets -- like Karl Rove. "This is about Bush saying, 'Screw you'," said the adviser, conceding that a Gonzales resignation might still be inevitable. The trick, said the adviser, would be to find a graceful exit strategy for Bush's old friend.
On the April 20 edition of MSNBC's Countdown, host Keith Olbermann named nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh the "winner" of his nightly "Worst Person in the World" segment for claiming that the perpetrator of the April 16 shootings at Virginia Tech was a "liberal," as Media Matters for America documented. Olbermann quoted Limbaugh saying: "This guy had to be a liberal. You start railing against the rich, and all this other -- this guy is a liberal. He was turned into a liberal somewhere along the line. So it's a liberal that committed this act."
Additionally, Olbermann awarded Fox News host Bill O'Reilly the "bronze" for defending Republican presidential candidate Tommy Thompson's statement in an April 16 speech to the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism that "earning money" is "sort of part of the Jewish tradition." Olbermann said: "Bill-O has now explained there was no insult, nor stereotyping there by Mr. Thompson. He was basically giving the crowd a compliment and saying, 'You're good businesspeople.' "
Both Limbaugh and O'Reilly are frequent recipients of Olbermann's "Worst Person" honors. Limbaugh was named "Worst Person" during the March 29 edition of Countdown for attributing criticism of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to "racis[m]." Likewise, Olbermann named O'Reilly "Worst Person" on March 23 because, as Media Matters documented and Olbermann explained, O'Reilly "had his radio engineer turn off the mike of his own co-host, Lis Wiehl, because she said Gonzales-gate mattered and because she reminded him, under the president's offer to Congress, [White House senior adviser] Karl Rove and company would not have to testify under oath."
From the April 20 edition of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
OLBERMANN: The bronze to Bill-O. You'll recall that Republican presidential hopeful Tommy Thompson told the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, quote, "I am in the private sector, and for the first time in my life, I'm earning money. You know, that's sort of part of the Jewish tradition, and I do not find anything wrong with that." He added, "What I was referring to, ladies and gentlemen, is the accomplishments of the Jewish religion. You've been outstanding businesspeople, and I compliment you for that."
Bill-O has now explained there was no insult, nor stereotyping there by Mr. Thompson. "He was basically giving the crowd a compliment, and saying, 'You're good businesspeople.' " So, Bill, if somebody said, "You Irish are the best sexual harassers," you'd take that as a compliment?
OLBERMANN: But the winner, comedian Rush Limbaugh, explaining to his radio audience that Cho Seung-Hui was, well, let me quote it: "This guy had to be a liberal. You start railing against the rich, and all this other -- this guy is a liberal. He was turned into a liberal somewhere along the line. So it's a liberal that committed this act."
He was a delusional paranoid, Rush. He was disconnected from reality, Rush. You can't be a delusional paranoid, disconnected from reality, Rush, and have a political ideology. I mean, Rush, you couldn't have that political ideology of yours and be a delusional paranoid disconnected from reali -- never mind.
Comedian Rush Limbaugh, today's "Worst Person in the World."
In an April 20 column for WorldNetDaily.com, Melanie Morgan, co-host of San Francisco radio station KSFO's Lee Rodgers & Melanie Morgan Program, compared Media Matters for America to the Virginia Tech gunman who killed 32 people before shooting himself to death. Morgan wrote: "Like that mentally unbalanced and angry gunman at Virginia Tech, they'll methodically march through the domiciles of the conservative movement, targeting the movement's leaders for career elimination -- until and unless we stand up and fight back against their campaign of mayhem against conservative leaders and causes." Morgan also attacked Media Matters as "left-wing free speech Nazis."
Morgan wrote: "I have lived on the other side of the gun barrel pointed by Media Matters for America for the better part of three years, and I know what it feels like when a bunch of crackpots with keyboards pull the trigger, backed by millions upon millions of dollars in funding from George Soros." She added: "The transcripts and audio files of my comments have been excerpted, misrepresented and reconfigured to take statements out of context, reprinted with lies and distortions, and then disseminated to other liberal media outlets with fierce resolve." Morgan offered no evidence to support these accusations. Moreover, Media Matters has never received money from progressive philanthropist George Soros.
Morgan has smeared Soros in the past, agreeing with co-host Lee Rodgers' assertion that Soros "apparently very cheerfully and willingly went to work for the Nazis" as a young boy, and adding that Soros did so to "further his own career." KSFO's program director announced in a subsequent show that Rodgers' and Morgan's comments about Soros "are not accurate, and KSFO regrets that they were broadcast." Morgan also has announced that "[w]e've got a bull's-eye painted on [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's] big, wide laughing eyes."
From Morgan's April 20 WorldNetDaily.com column:
Media Matters was founded with the support and funding from key Democrat operatives, including John Podesta, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. The group has documented ties to far-left organizations such as MoveOn.org and the Center for American Progress -- both of which have been funded by far-left billionaire George Soros.
I have lived on the other side of the gun barrel pointed by Media Matters for America for the better part of three years, and I know what it feels like when a bunch of crackpots with keyboards pull the trigger, backed by millions upon millions of dollars in funding from George Soros.
I co-host "The Lee Rodgers & Melanie Morgan Show," a conservative news/talk program on KSFO 560 AM in San Francisco, every weekday morning for four hours. Liberals are disgusted that our conservative program is one of the most-listened to radio programs in the notoriously liberal San Francisco Bay Area. We've endured several vicious campaigns waged against us by liberal activists with the backing of Media Matters for America, as they worked ruthlessly to have us silenced.
Several times these left-wing free speech Nazis have almost succeeded.
The transcripts and audio files of my comments have been excerpted, misrepresented and reconfigured to take statements out of context, reprinted with lies and distortions, and then disseminated to other liberal media outlets with fierce resolve.
The Democratic Party wants to silence us, and they use Media Matters of America to wage a war against us replete with character assassination, personal threats, lawsuits and efforts to have us fired or suspended.
I can live with being targeted by these "vile, despicable ankle-biters," as Bill O'Reilly calls Media Matters. In an odd way, the attacks against me have energized me to fight even harder for the conservative causes I believe in. One of those causes includes the right to bear arms, a right that had been denied to the students and professors at Virginia Tech University [sic] who were unable to defend themselves from a deranged murderer who took no notice of the school's status as a "Gun Free Zone."
But make no mistake -- the campaign by Media Matters of America [sic] against Don Imus is part of their way to send a message to conservatives on the airwaves and in print: "We're comin' to get you. We got Imus. And we'll get you, too." It is a chilling threat to our free speech rights in this country.
Now, with their current crusade in support of the gun control lobby, Media Matters is targeting our Second Amendment rights as well.
Like that mentally unbalanced and angry gunman at Virginia Tech, they'll methodically march through the domiciles of the conservative movement, targeting the movement's leaders for career elimination -- until and unless we stand up and fight back against their campaign of mayhem against conservative leaders and causes.
On the April 20 edition of MSNBC Live, during a discussion of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) recent assertion that the Iraq war "is lost" -- which he followed by stating that it "can only be won diplomatically, politically, and economically" -- Republican strategist Brad Blakeman said that Reid "is absolutely, 100 percent wrong" and that "[h]is statements give aid and comfort to our enemy and demoralize our troops."
Media Matters for America documented a similar assertion Blakeman made regarding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) recent meeting with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus. On the April 6 edition of MSNBC Live, Blakeman said that Pelosi "abandoned her post up on Capitol Hill" and went to Syria "to give aid and comfort to him [Assad] instead of funding our troops."
According to Article III of the U.S. Constitution, "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort."
From the 3 p.m. ET hour of the April 20 edition of MSNBC Live:
MIKA BRZEZINSKI (host): Brad, let me get you to respond to that, but let me add this, that GOP lawmakers are responding to Reid's comment. And let's just take a quick listen to what [Sen] John McCain [R-AZ] had to say.
McCAIN [video clip]: Having just come from Iraq, that's not the view of the men and women who are putting their lives on the line as we speak.
BRZEZINSKI: Brad, your response. First of all, is he right?
BLAKEMAN: No, he's -- John McCain is right. The majority leader of the Senate is absolutely, 100 percent wrong. His statements give aid and comfort to our enemy and demoralize our troops. To say "the war is lost" is outrageous.
On April 19 and 20, numerous print and television media outlets reported that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had said that "the [Iraq] war is lost" during a press conference discussing Congress' standoff with President Bush over emergency funding for the war. However, these outlets did not also report that, later during the press conference, Reid added that "the war, at this stage, can only be won diplomatically, politically, and economically." Other news outlets reporting on Reid's statement -- for example, Agence France-Presse and Reuters -- noted Reid's further comments. Moreover, during a speech on the Senate floor the same day, Reid reiterated his stance, advocating a "political solution" in Iraq and asserting that "there is still a chance to change course."
During his April 19 press conference, Reid said that the Iraq war "is lost" and later stated that the day before, he had told President Bush "what he needed to hear" about the war. He then said that the only way the war could be won is "diplomatically, politically, and economically":
REID: This war is lost, and that the surge is not accomplishing anything, as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday.
I was like the odd guy out yesterday at the White House, but I at least told him what he needed to hear, not what he wanted to hear. And more people have to start telling George Bush what he needs to hear, not what he wants to hear. I did that. My conscience is clear, because I believe the war, at this stage, can only be won diplomatically, politically, and economically.
Mr. REID. Madam President, the White House has been telling America that Democrats are doing the wrong thing by calling for a change of course in Iraq. They say holding the Iraqi Government accountable is wrong. They say finding a political solution Iraq is wrong. They say redeploying troops out of a civil war is wrong. They have said even debating a strategy for changing course is dangerous, and many Senate Republicans have backed that up by blocking several of our attempts to debate this issue here on the Senate Floor.
Conditions in Iraq get worse by the day. Now we find ourselves policing another nation's civil war. We are less secure from the many threats to our national security than we were when the war began. As long as we follow the President's path in Iraq, the war is lost. But there is still a chance to change course and we must change course. No one wants us to succeed in the Middle East more than I do. But there must be a change of course. Our brave men and women overseas have passed every test with flying colors. They have earned our pride and our praise. More important, they deserve a strategy worthy of their sacrifice.
Yet, in reporting on Reid's statement that the Iraq war "is lost," most media outlets failed to provide the full context of his comments. In addition to the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, the Associated Press, the following television news shows did not include the portion of Reid's statements in which he said that "the war, at this stage, can only be won diplomatically, politically, and economically":
- On the April 19 edition of MSNBC's Tucker, host Tucker Carlson said that "you gotta give [Reid] credit for honesty" before airing the "war is lost" clip. After the clip, Carlson summarized: " '[T]he war is lost.' Now, I believe he sincerely believes it."
- On the April 19 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, the "war is lost" clip aired before a rebuttal by Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL). Host Brit Hume said that "Harry Reid would later say that the war -- on the Senate floor -- the war is lost if the president doesn't change course." Hume then added that Reid's "staff is contending that what he said there was -- that we showed -- was really surrounded by all these caveats. But, I had never heard him say that in that way," dismissing the part of the press conference that they did not show.
- The "war is lost" clip also aired on the April 19 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country. Host Joe Scarborough then asked MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan: "[H]ave we lost the war? Is Harry Reid right?" Buchanan replied; "I take the man at his word. He believes the war is not winnable and the war is lost," ignoring Reid's comments about "w[inning] diplomatically, politically, and economically."
- On the April 20 edition of NBC's Today, NBC News White House correspondent Kelly O'Donnell aired "the war is lost" clip, and then described the White House reaction to Reid. Later, co-host Natalie Morales referred to the White House's response to "Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid's declaration that the surge isn't working and the war in Iraq is lost."
Two other television programs paraphrased Reid's remarks without noting his assertion that "the war ... can only be won diplomatically, politically, and economically":
- On the April 19 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews asked Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL): "Have we lost? Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, the Democratic leader of the Senate, said today that we have lost the war in Iraq."
- On the April 19 edition of ABC's World News, anchor Charles Gibson said that Reid "says he told President Bush yesterday that he believes this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything. Republicans call Reid's remark evidence that Democrats have turned their backs on the troops."
By contrast, the April 19 AFP article reported Reid's further statements:
The war in Iraq "is lost" and a US troop surge is failing to bring peace to the country, the leader of the Democratic majority in the US Congress, Harry Reid, said Thursday.
"I believe ... that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything, as is shown by the extreme violence in Iraq this week," Reid told journalists.
Reid said he had delivered the same message to US President George W. Bush on Wednesday, when the US president met with senior lawmakers to discuss how to end a standoff over an emergency war funding bill.
"I know I was the odd guy out at the White House, but I told him at least what he needed to hear ... I believe the war at this stage can only be won diplomatically, politically and economically."
In an April 20 article, Reuters also reported both of Reid's comments:
President George W. Bush and fellow Republicans struggled on Thursday with comparisons between the U.S. wars in Iraq and Vietnam as the Senate's top Democrat declared the Iraq war lost.
Reid said his message for Bush was to recall the Vietnam war in the mid-1960s, when Reid said President Lyndon Johnson decided to send thousands more troops to Vietnam despite knowing the conflict unwinnable.
"The (Iraq) war can only be won diplomatically, politically and economically, and the president needs to come to that realization," Reid said in a news conference.
On the April 19 edition of CNBC's Kudlow & Company, host Larry Kudlow aired video clips of Reid's press conference in which Reid said "the war is lost" and that it "can only be won diplomatically, politically, and economically."
From the April 19 edition of MSNBC's Tucker:
CARLSON: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today, quote: "This war is lost." Is it? Back with us again, the two Democratic strategists we love most, Steve McMahon and Peter Fenn.
Well, I want to actually play what Harry Reid said today. Before I do, you gotta give him credit for honesty. I mean, he just says -- sort of like [Gov.] Bill Richardson [D-NM] -- exactly what he really thinks, in contrast to most people in politics.
This is Harry Reid on the Iraq war. Watch.
REID [video clip]: Now, I believe, myself, that the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, and you have to make your own decision as to what the president knows -- that this war is lost and that the surge is not accomplishing anything, as indicated by the extreme violence.
CARLSON: "This war is lost." Now, I believe he sincerely believes it. I think most Democrats in Congress believe that too, and a lot of Americans, for that matter. But if you really believe that, then how could you support, as Harry Reid did, General [David] Petraeus, right? How could you vote in favor of Petraeus? How could you have anything at all to do with funding a war you believed fundamentally was lost? That would kind of be immoral, wouldn't it?
From the April 19 edition of CNBC's Kudlow & Company:
REID [video clip]: This war is lost, and that the surge is not accomplishing anything, as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday.
I was like the odd guy out yesterday at the White House, but I at least told him what he needed to hear, not what he wanted to hear. And more people have to start telling George Bush what he needs to hear, not what he wants to hear. I did that. My conscience is clear, because I believe the war, at this stage, can only be won diplomatically, politically, and economically.
KUDLOW: All right. Joining me now is P.J. Crowley, director of national defense and homeland security at the Center for American Progress, and NBC News military analyst Dan Goure. He's a former Defense Department official during the Persian Gulf War and vice president now of Lexington Institute.
From the April 19 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
MATTHEWS: Have we lost? Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, the Democratic leader of the Senate, said today that we have lost the war in Iraq. Is that your assertion?
DAVIS: People of Iraq have lost the war in Iraq.
MATTHEWS: But do you believe we have lost it?
DAVIS: Well, it wasn't ours to win. It was the people of Iraq's to win.
From the April 19 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
REID [video clip]: Now, I believe, myself, that the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, and you have to make your own decision as to what the president knows -- that this war is lost and that the surge is not accomplishing anything, as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday.
PUTNAM [video clip]: It is a very disturbing development when the political leadership in this country is literally pulling the rug out from underneath our troops, not only in playing games with the funding for those troops, but in sending a message to the enemy that, in his view, this war is lost.
HUME: Some thoughts on this now from syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer; from Mort Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call; and from Mara Liasson -- there's Mort, there's Mara Liasson -- national political correspondent of National Public Radio. And we'll get, in a moment, to Charles, if you haven't seen him yet. There he is. He is a syndicated columnist. These people are all Fox News contributors.
Well, Harry Reid would later say that the war -- on the Senate floor -- the war is lost if the president doesn't change course. And his staff is contending that what he said there was -- that we showed -- was really surrounded by all these caveats. But, I had never heard him say that in that way. It seemed to me that he broke some new ground there, and you saw the response from the -- from one of the leaders of the House Republicans. What about this, Mort?
From the April 19 edition of ABC's World News with Charles Gibson:
GIBSON: And still on the subject of the war, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, has voiced a blunt message of his own about conditions in Iraq. He says he told President Bush yesterday that he believes this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything. Republicans call Reid's remark evidence that Democrats have turned their backs on the troops.
From the April 19 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country:
REID [video clip]: I believe, myself, that the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, and you have to make your own decision as to what the president knows -- that this war is lost and that the surge is not accomplishing anything, as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday. Now, I said this is how I feel, but in addition to my feelings, a majority of the United States Senate and a majority of the United States House of Representatives has said the surge should not go forward.
SCARBOROUGH: So, here to talk about whether the Senate majority leader is right that America has already lost this war is MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.
Pat, have we lost the war? Is Harry Reid right?
BUCHANAN: Well, Harry Reid, obviously -- I mean, I take the man at his word. He believes the war is not winnable and the war is lost. But, Joe, if you believe that, it follows that you've got to cut off the funds, because we're just getting American soldiers killed for nothing. If it is lost, there is no argument for funding the war, and yet his party, Joe, as we've talked about, and as you know, his party is going to fund this war without a deadline after that veto.
From the April 20 edition of NBC's Today:
O'DONNELL: Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid pushed a new line Thursday when he said this about Iraq.
REID: This war is lost and that the surge is not accomplishing anything, as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq.
O'DONNELL: The White House quickly called it "disturbing" that Reid would believe he "knows more than commanders."
SEN. PATRICK J. LEAHY (D-VT): Raise your right hand.
O'DONNELL: And that's not the only tense exchange.
MORALES: The White House is rebuffing Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid's declaration that the surge isn't working and the war in Iraq is lost. The administration calls Reid's comments "a slap at the troops, who are risking their lives in Iraq."
On Irish TV, O'Reilly called Media Matters "an assassination website" that takes him "out of context"
On April 13, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly appeared on RTÉ One's The Late Late Show, a talk show based in Dublin, Ireland. During the interview, host Pat Kenny asked O'Reilly about his previous references to the poor as "irresponsible and lazy" and the Iraqi people as "prehistoric." When Kenny said that he found both remarks on Media Matters for America's website, O'Reilly responded by attacking Media Matters as "an assassination website" and a "far-left propaganda thing." O'Reilly further claimed that he didn't "remember saying" either of the statements pointed out by Kenny and added that Media Matters takes him "out of context." However, Media Matters provided documentation of O'Reilly referring to the poor as "irresponsible and lazy" and the Iraqi people as "prehistoric."
During the April 13 interview, Kenny asked O'Reilly about what Kenny called O'Reilly's "advice to the poor": "It's hard to do it because you've got to look people in the eye and tell them they're irresponsible and lazy, and who's going to do that?" When O'Reilly asked, "Well, where did you get that? Because I don't remember saying that." Kenny responded, "We got it off the website." O'Reilly quickly lashed out, saying, "OK. The website you got it off is called Media Matters, which is an assassination website. It's a far-left propaganda thing. ... They'll take two, three sentences; they'll put it on out of context." O'Reilly added: "[B]e very careful when buying into the American website factory, because they're set up to assassinate people with whom they disagree. That's where you got it, and we know that game. They play it all the time."
However, in documenting O'Reilly's June 11, 2004, description of poor people as "irresponsible and lazy," Media Matters provided more than simply "two, three sentences":
O'REILLY: Reagan was not a confrontational guy, didn't like confrontation, much rather be your pal ... doesn't want to get involved with the really nasty stuff, the tough stuff, and that's what racial politics is -- nasty and tough. ... It's hard to do it because you gotta look people in the eye and tell 'em they're irresponsible and lazy. And who's gonna wanna do that? Because that's what poverty is, ladies and gentlemen. In this country, you can succeed if you get educated and work hard. Period. Period. I mean I know people from Haiti, from the Ukraine from eh, -- we got callers all day long on The Factor. From Romania. You come here, you get educated, you work hard, you'll make a buck. You get addicted, you don't know anything, you'll be poor. But Reagan did not want to confront the issue. And that's the truth about it.
During the interview, Kenny also noted: "But you do have views, say, on the Iraqi people. Did you say that thing about the Iraqi people, that they're prehistoric?" O'Reilly responded: "No. I don't remember saying that at all. And, again, taken out of context." O'Reilly did not explain the apparent contradiction between his simultaneous claims that he could not remember saying the Iraqi people were "prehistoric" and that Media Matters took him "out of context."
Following is the transcript originally provided by Media Matters of O'Reilly's June 17, 2004, comments regarding the Iraqi people:
O'REILLY: Because look ... when 2 percent of the population feels that you're doing them a favor, just forget it, you're not going to win. You're not going to win. And I don't have any respect by and large for the Iraqi people at all. I have no respect for them. I think that they're a prehistoric group that is -- yeah, there's excuses.
Sure, they're terrorized, they've never known freedom, all of that. There's excuses. I understand. But I don't have to respect them because you know when you have Americans dying trying to you know institute some kind of democracy there, and 2 percent of the people appreciate it, you know, it's time to -- time to wise up.
And this teaches us a big lesson, that we cannot intervene in the Muslim world ever again. What we can do is bomb the living daylights out of them, just like we did in the Balkans. Just as we did in the Balkans. Bomb the living daylights out of them. But no more ground troops, no more hearts and minds, ain't going to work.
Later in the interview, O'Reilly said to Kenny: "I will tell you this. Those cards you have in your hand came from one of the most vicious websites on earth. All right? And there are a hundred of them. And if you run for office in America, or you're me and you go on every night, those people will assassinate your character every single day. They will lie about you, they will defame you, they will slander you." O'Reilly claimed that politics is now "a vicious game," adding, "It used to be in our country where people shook hands and this, that, and the other thing. Now, it's like the Mafia: 'Let's kill them.' And that has driven good people away."
In his April 19 column, O'Reilly complained about his visit to Ireland, and in particular, the Irish news outlets. O'Reilly wrote:
Last Friday, I appeared on Ireland's version of "The Tonight Show" and the host had scores of cue cards from "Media Matters," the far-left internet smear-factory.
When I asked the man why he was quoting from an obviously biased source, he blinked nervously and put down the cards.
From the April 13 broadcast of RTÉ One's The Late Late Show:
KENNY: Yeah. Some of the things that you've said and -- either on your radio show or on your TV show. Advice to the poor. "It's hard to do it because you've got to look people in the eye and tell them they're irresponsible and lazy, and who's going to do that?"
O'REILLY: Well, where did you get that? Because I don't remember saying that.
KENNY: That's Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly. 11-06-2004.
O'REILLY: By whom? Who put that out?
KENNY: We got it off the website.
O'REILLY: OK. The website you got it off is called Media Matters, which is an assassination website. It's a far-left propaganda thing.
Now, I do two hours -- you do radio, two hours as well. They'll take two, three sentences; they'll put it on out of context. I can't possibly answer that question. I don't know what the discussion was.
But be very careful when buying into the American website factory, because they're set up to assassinate people with whom they disagree. That's where you got it, and we know that game. They play it all the time.
KENNY: But you do have views on, say, the Iraqi people. Did you say that thing about the Iraqi people, that they're "prehistoric?"
O'REILLY: No. I don't remember saying that at all. And, again, taken out of context. And if you want to ask me a question about the Iraqi people or about American poverty --
KENNY: Which I will.
O'REILLY: I'll be happy to answer it. But be careful about this.
KENNY: But there's another problem. Maybe it's true of all Western democracies. And maybe democracy is not the only way you can rule a people.
KENNY: There have been other ways.
KENNY: But when I look at the caliber of the people who are running for the United States presidency, without running any of them particularly down, I mean, it's not exactly a glittering field, is it?
O'REILLY: You know, I'm not going to say that. I admire and respect people who put themselves out for public service. But I will tell you this.
KENNY: But do you know what I mean?
O'REILLY: Those cards you have in your hand came from one of the most vicious websites on earth. All right? And there are a hundred of them. And if you run for office in America, or you're me and you go on every night, those people will assassinate your character every single day. They will lie about you, they will defame you, they will slander you. And we can't sue, unlike the British system. If you're famous in America, you can't sue.
So, put yourself in a position of, "Do you want that kind of life? Do you want your family threatened every day, like my family is? Do you want that?" So the good people say, "We don't want this."
KENNY: Yeah. And if they've ever done anything remotely sinful or wrong or --
O'REILLY: Oh, they'll make it up. They'll make it up. You don't have to do anything. They'll make it up. So, good people --
KENNY: But is there any way to reform that kind of system?
O'REILLY: There has to -- there should be.
KENNY: Because if it's a --
O'REILLY: There should be tort reform in the United States.
KENNY: What does Hillary Clinton got? Forty-four million bucks so far?
O'REILLY: Well, that's fine. That's a different measure --
KENNY: No, but do you know what I mean? If that's what it takes to get elected --
O'REILLY: That's what it takes.
KENNY: It means that some campaigner, someone who leads with his or her heart, unless they have the cash, they can't do it.
O'REILLY: Well, that's true. America, you have to buy TV time. You have to campaign coast to coast. You've gotta have to have a private jet. You've gotta be everywhere.
But the money doesn't bother me as much as the defamation. Because now politics is a vicious game. It used to be in our country where people shook hands and this, that, and the other thing. Now, it's like the Mafia: "Let's kill them." And that has driven good people away.
On the April 18 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNN congressional correspondent Dana Bash asserted that "public support for tightening gun laws has been steadily dropping" and, in support, added: "In 1990, 78 percent of Americans backed stricter gun laws. Now, it's only 49 percent." However, Bash appeared to be conflating numbers from two different questions asked by Gallup in its long-running poll on gun-related issues (updated in January) and, in so doing, suggested a much larger drop in support for stricter gun laws than polling indicates.
When Gallup asked, "In general, do you feel that the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict, made less strict, or kept as they are now?" 56 percent of respondents answered "more strict" in October 2006 -- the last time that question was asked by Gallup. In 1990, before the implementation of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act -- which requires that prospective gun owners undergo background checks before purchasing a firearm -- that number was 78 percent.
But Gallup asked a second question starting in January 2001 about "gun laws," as opposed to only "laws covering the sale of firearms." In that year, 54 percent of respondents answered that they " [w]ould ... like to see gun laws in this country made more strict." It was that number that dropped to 49 percent in January 2007 -- a decrease of just 5 percent in a poll with a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.
Gallup explicitly noted the differing language of the two questions in its most recent summary on "Americans and Gun Control," which notes: "A similar question asked by Gallup focuses on a more general question of 'gun laws' without reference to 'the sale of firearms.' "
From the April 18 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:
BASH: Democrats are reluctant to pass new gun restrictions, in part because public support for tightening gun laws has been steadily dropping. In 1990, 78 percent of Americans backed stricter gun laws. Now, it's only 49 percent.
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE [video clip]: Commonsense gun safety measures --
BASH: Democrats dropped gun control as a national issue after Al Gore was tagged as anti-gun in 2000 and lost big in the South and rural areas.
On the April 20 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Neal Boortz attacked Media Matters for America, which he called "Media Morons," for an April 20 New York Times article by reporter Jacques Steinberg headlined "Talk Radio Tries for Humor and a Political Advantage." In the article, Steinberg noted that Boortz, while discussing the recent shootings at Virginia Tech on the April 18 broadcast of his show, speculated that "[w]hen the history of this event is written ... we will have 25 students standing meekly waiting for this guy to execute them" and then aired an instrumental version of the Pat Benatar song "Hit Me With Your Best Shot." Boortz went on to state: "[S]omebody out there feeds this, because I know damn well Jacques Steinberg wasn't listening to The Neal Boortz Show. ... So my guess is Media Morons, I mean Media Matters. My guess is it was them. Because they specialize in disinformation." In fact, Media Matters did not publish an item documenting Boortz's comments -- or choices of music -- on the April 18 broadcast of his show.
Media Matters did, however, note Boortz's comments regarding the Virginia Tech victims on the April 17 broadcast of The Neal Boortz Show, during which he asked: "How the hell do 25 students allow themselves to be lined up against the wall in a classroom and picked off one by one? How does that happen, when they could have rushed the gunman, the shooter, and most of them would have survived?" Media Matters also noted that in the April 18 edition of his program notes, called Nealz Nuze, Boortz wrote that the Virginia Tech incident represented "the wussification of America."
In the April 19 edition of Nealz Nuze, Boortz wrote: "I actually listened to my show ... or parts of it ... and I became very angry. Upset and angry. At who? Well, mostly at me. I was angry at me for the way I was handling the Virginia Tech matter. I wasn't angry at what I was saying ... just with how I was saying it." Boortz went on to reiterate that "Mark Steyn has it right [about the Virginia Tech shootings]. We have produced a culture of passivity." As Media Matters noted, Steyn, a Chicago Sun-Times columnist and National Review contributor, attributed the shootings to, in part, "a general culture of passivity, which Virginia Tech exemplifies."
During the April 20 broadcast, Boortz also claimed that the music for each segment is "completely and totally random" and selected by a "computer."
From the April 20 broadcast of Cox Radio Syndication's The Neal Boortz Show:
BOORTZ: So, during the break, I actually talked to Jacques Steinberg, New York Times. Belinda [Skelton, producer] talked to him and said, "Neal wants to talk to you about this." And he said, "Absolutely not. I stand by the story." Then they put me on the line. I explained to him -- I said, "I, you know, Mr. Steinberg, I never choose the bumper music for this show. I never do." Royal [Marshall, engineer and "sidekick"], in the 14 years we've been working together, have I ever selected the bumper music for any segment of this show? One time? When was that?
MARSHALL: You asked me to play Etta James' "At Last."
BOORTZ: I did one time, didn't you -- didn't I?
MARSHALL: Yes, you did.
BOORTZ: Which is not our normal bumper music.
MARSHALL: Yeah, that is not the normal --
BOORTZ: Because I think that Etta James -- I think that is just one of the most beautiful ballads out there. I really love that. So I asked you to play it one time. But at any rate, so I'm talking to Jacques Steinberg, and I say, "I don't select the bumper music." I [sic] said, "Well, who does?" And I said, "A computer. We have, it's just a big, massive .wav file. I don't even know how it works." Royal, how does it work?
MARSHALL: If you can imagine having a -- lets put it in layman's terms.
BOORTZ: An iPod.
MARSHALL: Having, a c-- OK, an iPod. Well, I was going to go CD player.
BOORTZ: An iPod with 300 30-second songs on it.
MARSHALL: See, you're kind of in the ballpark. It's more like 5 iPods, each of them with 75 songs on them.
MARSHALL: And, so, we just pick a particular iPod, and whatever song's next on that iPod, that's what plays.
BOORTZ: So it's completely and totally random.
BOORTZ: Except for every once in a while, Royal will pick something that matches the thing, but in this case, random. Royal is thinking, "It's time for a break. Neal is in there beating his gums, he has no clue what, you know, what time it is, I'm going to play some bumper music, that'll be his clue to shut up, and we can get into a commercial break or news break." So Royal pushes a button and an instrumental -- no words -- version of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" comes up, and then somebody out there feeds this, because I know damn well Jacques Steinberg wasn't listening to The Neal Boortz Show. I don't have a Jacques anybody that listens to The Neal Boortz Show. I don't have an anybody Steinberg that listens to The Neal Boortz Show. But especially somebody named Jacques.
So my guess is Media Morons, I mean Media Matters. My guess is it was them. Because they specialize in disinformation. So anyway, Jaques Steinberg prints that I selected it, I paused -- in all fairness, I talked to him on the phone, he asked me some questions, and really, really tried to understand the process by which we play bumper music. And I told him, I said, you know, I just want a correction to this, this is the paper of record, this is The New York Times. And now internationally you printed this that I went out there and selected "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" to wrap up a segment where we're talking about Virginia Tech.
In an April 19 article on the congressional investigation into the Bush administration's controversial firing of eight U.S. attorneys, Washington Post reporter Dan Eggen wrote that, during a hearing that day, Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee were possibly going to ask Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales "about other U.S. attorneys who were not fired but have drawn scrutiny in recent weeks for management problems or their handling of public corruption and voter fraud cases." The Post identified one such U.S. attorney -- Steven M. Biskupic from the Eastern District of Wisconsin -- noting that he had secured the conviction of Georgia Thompson, a former purchasing official for the state's Department of Administration under Gov. Jim Doyle (D), and that "an appeals court overturned her conviction." But the article did not mention that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit took the highly unusual action of ordering Thompson released immediately due to lack of evidence. Indeed, according to the Wisconsin State Journal, Judge Diane Wood told prosecutors: "I have to say it strikes me that your evidence is beyond thin. ... I'm not sure what your actual theory in this case is."
Additionally, the article reported that, "[l]ast week, White House officials disclosed that millions of e-mails -- including some about the prosecutor firings -- may be missing, in violation of federal record-keeping laws." But, contrary to the Post's suggestion that the Bush administration first disclosed the missing emails, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) originally publicized the issue in an April 12 report.
From the April 19 Post article:
Senators also may question Gonzales about other U.S. attorneys who were not fired but have drawn scrutiny in recent weeks for management problems or their handling of public corruption and voter fraud cases. Last weekend, U.S. Attorney Steven M. Biskupic of Milwaukee issued a statement defending his handling of a corruption case that was overturned by an appeals court.
And in Milwaukee, Democrats have lashed out at Biskupic for his prosecution of Georgia Thompson, a state worker convicted in June 2006 of steering a government travel contract to a campaign contributor of Wisconsin's Democratic governor. Thompson, whose case was featured in GOP campaign ads, was released this month after an appeals court overturned her conviction.
Biskupic was also the subject of GOP complaints -- passed from Rove and Bush to Gonzales last fall -- that he was not aggressive in prosecuting voter fraud. Biskupic said last week that "it is my understanding that my name appears on a list ... questioning my performance and loyalty to the president," a reference to a March 2005 chart compiled by D. Kyle Sampson, Gonzales's chief of staff then. Biskupic was not included in later firing lists, officials said.
Biskupic said that he was never informed of any dissatisfaction with his performance, and disputed allegations of political motives for the Thompson case.
"I received no pressure, no communication from the attorney general's people," said Biskupic, a Republican and career federal prosecutor. "We worked it locally and charged it locally, and the end result was the result of local prosecution and not anything in Washington."
By contrast, on April 11, The New York Times noted that "a federal appeals court took the unusual step of ordering Ms. Thompson's immediate release from prison":
In a separate development, Senate Democrats asked Mr. Gonzales to turn over documents related to a prosecution of a state contracting official in Wisconsin. In a case involving corruption charges brought by Steven Biskupic, the United States attorney in Milwaukee, the official, Georgia Thompson, was convicted.
But last week, after an appeals court heard oral arguments, a federal appeals court took the unusual step of ordering Ms. Thompson's immediate release from prison. The senators sought all documents at the Justice Department in connection with the case, which was the subject of intense political advertising last fall against Gov. James E. Doyle, a Democrat.
The April 19 Post article was the first report from the paper to cite Biskupic by name. As Media Matters for America documented, in an April 11 article, the Post reported only that a federal appeals court in Chicago ordered a former state employee to be "released after overturning her conviction." Several other national media outlets have ignored the Thompson case altogether.
During the April 19 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) referred to the fact that Biskupic's name had appeared on a "list of U.S. attorneys who were being considered for dismissal" and asked Gonzales to explain why Biskupic "would have been on a list and then taken off a list." Gonzales responded: "I don't recall being aware of discussions about Mr. Biskupic." Later, Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) told Gonzales that he thought a news report about Thompson's release "was wrong, because it's so unusual for an appeals court to simply release somebody at that level." He then asked when he could expect a response "to the letter that Senator Kohl and I sent, along with [Senate Judiciary] Chairman [Patrick] Leahy [D-VT] and other members of the committee, last week on this incident." On April 20, the Post published two articles on the hearing, but neither mentioned Biskupic or the Thompson case.
The April 19 Post article further reported that the administration "disclosed" that millions of White House emails "may be missing":
Last week, White House officials disclosed that millions of e-mails -- including some about the prosecutor firings -- may be missing, in violation of federal record-keeping laws. The RNC also acknowledged that it lost four years' worth of e-mail from Rove, who apparently deleted many of the messages himself. His attorney has said it was an accident.
However, as an April 19 Washingtonpost.com article noted: "The disclosure was first made by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington." Similarly, on April 14, the Post noted that the White House was responding to charges from CREW:
An advocacy group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, issued a report this week saying about 5 million e-mails from March 2003 to October 2005 were missing from storage.
Asked about the assertions on Friday, [White House deputy press secretary Dana] Perino said she could not rule out that up to 5 million e-mails were missing.
On April 12, CREW released its report on the missing emails. Perino responded to reporters' questions about the missing emails during an April 13 press gaggle and later, during the White House press briefing. At the gaggle, Perino herself referred to "an assertion yesterday by one of the ... outside groups" when discussing the emails. At the briefing, a reporter further noted: "We have mentioned before the group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. They issued this report, and they are saying ... there were hundreds of days in which emails were missing."
On April 20, The Washington Post reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said President Bush, at an April 18 White House meeting, "told her he did not criticize her recent trip to Syria." According to the Post, Pelosi said Bush "told her in an unsolicited comment that it was actually the State Department that criticized her" for heading a bipartisan delegation to Syria and meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Post also reported, however, that deputy White House press secretary Dana Perino "took issue with Pelosi's account of the conversation in the Cabinet Room," claiming "that Pelosi started the conversation about the Syria trip and that she never heard Bush back off his criticism."
David Rogers posted an entry on The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire weblog reporting that in response to Pelosi's assertion that Bush denied having criticized her trip, White House spokesman Tony Fratto referred to Bush's comments at an April 3 Rose Garden press conference criticizing congressional delegations to Syria.
Given Perino's and Fratto's suggestions that Pelosi is not telling the truth about the conversation, and given Pelosi's spokesperson's reported claim that the conversation occurred "as an aside," Bush is presumably the only person besides the speaker who knows whether he denied having criticized her trip. As Media Matters for America documented, Pelosi came under harsh criticism by Republicans in the administration and in Congress -- criticism that was in many cases uncritically reported or echoed by the media -- for her trip to Syria and meeting with Assad. The situation gives rise to several questions that the media might pose to Bush:
- Did you tell the speaker that you did not criticize her trip to Syria?
- If not, why do you think she reported afterwards that you did tell her that?
- If so, have you informed your spokespeople that they are mistaken? Also, if you were not critical of her trip, why did you allow other members of your administration to denounce her?
Indeed, as Media Matters for America noted, on several occasions, Perino directly criticized Pelosi for her trip to Syria and her April 4 meeting with Assad, but offered no specific criticism of the Republican member of Pelosi's delegation or the other Republican members of Congress who also met with Assad in the days preceding and following Pelosi's meeting. On March 30, Perino called Pelosi's trip "a really bad idea," and on April 2 she said the trip would "alleviate the pressure that we are trying to put on [Syria] to change their behavior." On the April 5 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Vice President Dick Cheney attacked Pelosi's trip as "bad behavior." During an April 4 interview with ABC News Radio, Cheney said of Pelosi's trip: "It means without [Assad] having done any of those things he should do in order to be acceptable, if you will, from an international standpoint, he gets a visit from a high-ranking American anyway. In other words, his bad behavior is being rewarded, in a sense."
Responding to a question about Pelosi's trip at the April 3 press conference, Bush said the White House has "made it clear to high-ranking officials, whether they be Republicans or Democrats, that going to Syria sends mixed signals -- signals in the region and, of course, mixed signals to President Assad," though he did not mention any specific "high-ranking officials."
During the 10 a.m. ET hour of the April 20 edition of MSNBC Live, New York Sun national and foreign editor Nicholas Wapshott told host Chris Jansing that he "should think" that members of the Rutgers University women's basketball team "feel pretty terrible about what's happened to [New Jersey] Governor [Jon] Corzine [D], who was racing to attend a totally unnecessary meeting of reconciliation where these women are paraded as inadequate." Wapshott was referring to an April 12 meeting between Don Imus and the basketball team held at the New Jersey governor's mansion following Imus' April 4 comments, in which he referred to the team as "nappy-headed hos." According to an April 13 Reuters article, Corzine was on his way to the meeting when the vehicle in which he was riding "swerved to avoid another car and crashed through a guard rail."
Wapshott made his comments during a discussion with Jansing about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) planned attendance at a Rutgers forum on women and political leadership. She is also scheduled to meet with the women's basketball team and its coach, C. Vivian Stringer. During the segment, Wapshott also claimed that Imus' "drive-by insult" was "blown out of all proportion by the coach who had them all paraded as victims on television. That's not good for them."
Wapshott concluded by advocating that Clinton "advise" the team members: "Grow up. Be mature. If somebody says something horrible to them -- to you, just shrug and move on because that's the way in life you're going to have to get on with it, and don't choose your five minutes of fame as they've done." Jansing responded: "Now, I have to say, I think in the appearances that they have made and the interviews I've seen, they've been extremely mature and thoughtful."
Earlier in the segment Jansing had asked Wapshott: "Does [Clinton's] campaign seek political advantage in this whole Imus controversy?" Wapshott replied: "I think so," later adding that Clinton is "jumping on the bandwagon" by meeting with the Rutgers team. Jansing did not host any other guests during the segment.
From the 10 a.m. ET hour of the April 20 edition of MSNBC Live:
JANSING: Nicholas Wapshott is the national and foreign editor with The New York Sun -- good morning.
WAPSHOTT: Good morning.
JANSING: Hillary is scheduled to meet with the women's basketball coach, Vivian Stringer, among other things. It should be interesting, given that Hillary was herself in the past the target of some of Imus' jokes or rants, if you prefer. The Senator also sent an email to thousands of supporters urging them to send messages of encouragement to the team. Does her campaign seek political advantage in this whole Imus controversy?
WAPSHOTT: I think so. One of the interesting things to have emerged from The Washington Post poll that came out yesterday was that, actually, Hillary Clinton is much more popular among African-Americans and women than she -- than Barack Obama. And I think that she's going to shore up that lead that she has in this very important section of the community, particularly in this race with Barack Obama.
JANSING: And not only is she making this appearance but, yesterday, her husband, the former president, met with Al Sharpton, of course who was on the forefront of asking for Imus to resign. She herself is going over there to talk to him later today. How important would her campaign see an endorsement from Al Sharpton as being?
WAPSHOTT: Well, I mean, Al Sharpton is sort of a mixed blessing because he's -- himself has said a number of things, including anti-Semitic remarks, which I'm sure that he regrets. So, Al Sharpton is not the stature of leader that one might hope among the African-American community -- on the other hand, he's significant. And, of course, all of this has to do with the fact that Bill Clinton is such a popular person among all African-Americans and therefore Hillary is trying to, as she will in all fronts, try to take advantage of Bill's popularity and hope that it reflects on her, which, so far, it seems to be working.
JANSING: We should also say that, at Rutgers, today, Senator Clinton is at a forum on women and political leadership and, in fact, she was invited long before the controversy broke out, but does she maybe have to be a little bit careful about what she says today? How open could she be to charges of opportunism?
WAPSHOTT: There's no doubt she's jumping on the bandwagon. Although the invitation was long-standing, that she took up on Monday and as you say it was delayed. But I would -- you know what I hope that she does say to them is that these are good African-American women and some that are not African-American, but what she should be saying to them is: "Don't have yourself painted as victims."
So, you had a drive-by insult from Don Imus. It was blown out of all proportion by the coach who had them all paraded as victims on television. That's not good for them. That's made their situation worse and the relationship, too, when it then went on to the Governor's mansion. I should think that they feel pretty terrible about what's happened to Governor Corzine, who was racing to attend a totally unnecessary meeting of reconciliation where these women are paraded as inadequate.
The best answer I think is to advise them: Grow up. Be mature. If somebody says something horrible to them -- to you, just shrug and move on because that's the way in life you're going to have to get on with it, and don't choose your five minutes of fame as they've done.
JANSING: Now, I have to say, I think in the appearances that they have made and the interviews I've seen, they've been extremely mature and thoughtful. Nicholas Wapshott, thanks so much, appreciate your time.
According to an April 20 Philadelphia Daily News* article on Philly.com, "The Big Talker 1210 AM morning show of Daily News columnist Michael Smerconish is to be simulcast Monday through Wednesday on MSNBC." The article noted that Smerconish will fill the slot previously held by Imus in the Morning. MSNBC announced on April 11 that it would no longer broadcast Imus in the wake of comments made by host Don Imus on the April 4 edition of that show, during which he referred to the Rutgers University women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos."
In addition to hosting his own radio talk show, Smerconish has been a guest host for MSNBC's Scarborough Country and Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, and has opined on a number of issues, including alleged detainee abuse, immigrants, and Muslims.
- On the June 20, 2006, edition of Scarborough Country, Smerconish trivialized reports of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, referring to the alleged abuse as "naked pyramid pictures." He also referred to alleged mistreatment at the Pentagon detention facility at Guantánamo Bay as "play[ing] Christina Aguilera music a bit too loud."
- On the April 10, 2006, edition of Scarborough Country, Smerconish suggested that "maybe law enforcement ought to step in" at pro-immigration demonstrations and consider "gathering ... up" illegal immigrants. Smerconish wondered why there was "zero discussion" of "gathering them up" at the demonstrations, when "[a]ll I keep hearing is how would we ever find them?" He then suggested that law enforcement officials are being hypocritical by refusing to "gather ... up" illegal immigrants because they would "step in and do something about" a rally of "pot smokers," who "wanted decriminalization" of marijuana, or "scofflaws" with unpaid parking tickets.
- Substituting for host Bill O'Reilly on the April 4, 2006, broadcast of The Radio Factor, Smerconish repeatedly discussed "the sissification of America," claiming that political correctness has made the United States "a nation of sissies." Smerconish also claimed, several times, that this "sissification" and "limp-wristedness" is "compromising our ability to win the war on terror."
- On the November 23, 2005, broadcast of The Radio Factor, while guest-hosting, Smerconish took issue with a 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." Smerconish defended the comments in an April 15 column, stating: "When five Muslim men in attendance at the Meadowlands in September 2005 for a Giants-Saints game that was also a Hurricane Katrina fund-raiser, with George H.W. Bush in attendance, saw fit to pray in an area near food preparation and air duct work, I think it was a case of mind blank. That's a form of terrorism in itself."
- On the November 23, 2005, edition of The Radio Factor, 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 has also been a frequent guest on MSNBC's Hardball, where he has appeared on at least four occasions in March and April of 2007, including March 1, March 8, March 21, and April 5. Hardball host Chris Matthews declared on the March 8, 2006, edition of the program that "You talk to a huge audience on the East Coast, Michael. I've listened to you, all my family listens to you." As Media Matters also noted, Smerconish reportedly moderated a January 17, 2006, political event in Pennsylvania, sponsored by the Philadelphia Young Republicans and attended by Matthews' brother, who was then the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in Pennsylvania. GOP gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann and Jim Matthews were defeated by Democrats Ed Rendell and Catherine Baker Knoll.
On the April 19 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Chicago Sun-Times columnist and National Review contributor Mark Steyn commented on the April 16 mass shooting at Virginia Tech, saying that "when one man is able to kill dozens of people in the same location over a period of several hours, that reflects a systemic failure." Steyn continued: "So we need to understand what caused that failure. And I think part of the problem is a general culture of passivity, which Virginia Tech exemplifies."
As Media Matters for America documented, Steyn is just one of several media figures who have faulted Virginia Tech victims for not fighting back.
In an April 19 weblog entry, Salon.com editor-in-chief Joan Walsh noted that Steyn "mock[ed] the male students as somehow not quite being men" when he wrote in an April 18 National Review Online article: "They're not 'children.' The students at Virginia Tech were grown women and -- if you'll forgive the expression -- men." As Think Progress documented, Steyn further wrote that "this awful corrosive passivity is far more pervasive, and, unlike the psycho killer, is an existential threat to a functioning society."
From the April 19 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
NEIL CAVUTO (host): Meanwhile, do massacres like this happen because younger Americans are unwilling to confront evil? Kind of like Bo [Dietl, private investigator and former New York City Police Department detective] was just saying. Our next guest kind of agrees with that. He says it is a big, big red flag that the first person to act was an elderly Holocaust survivor. With us now is Mark Steyn, he is the author of America Alone. So Mark, you think there are a lot of red flags here. Start spelling them out.
STEYN: Well, I think -- and I should say that I am not blaming any individuals here -- but I think, clearly, when one man is able to kill dozens of people in the same location over a period of several hours, that reflects a systemic failure. So we need to understand what caused that failure. And I think part of the problem is a general culture of passivity, which Virginia Tech exemplifies. If you look at its disruptive behavior manual, for example, it tells you you should never confront people. It tells you if someone produces a weapon, that you should ask them to calmly put the weapon in a neutral position, and then advise them that violent behavior will have consequences.
On the April 18 edition of Fox News' Special Report, during a report on the mass shooting at Virginia Tech, Fox News chief Washington correspondent Jim Angle falsely suggested that, in the wake of the shooting, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) specifically criticized "activists" and "politicians," who "rush forward to say there should be some new effort at gun control," citing Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) in particular, as one of those "politicians," who "did that." Angle asserted that "Democratic governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine, said this is not the time to raise the issue of gun control" and aired a clip of Kaine saying: "People who want to take this within 24 hours of the event and make it, you know, their political hobby horse to ride, I've got nothing but loathing for them." Angle presented Kaine's quote as a response to Moran, who, in a clip aired by Fox News, said on the floor of the House, "The proliferation of handguns -- the kinds of guns that were used in this tragic incidence -- that has to be brought under control." In fact, Kaine was not responding to Moran or even addressing gun control advocates in general. Rather, he was answering a reporter, during an April 17 press conference in Blacksburg, Virginia -- before Moran made the statement Fox aired -- who appeared to be asking about the argument by "pro-gun lobbyists" that Virginia Tech students should be allowed to carry guns.
In response to the question, Kaine made a blanket assertion that the shooting in Blacksburg was not "a political hobbyhorse or a crusade or something for a campaign or for a fundraising mailing."
Later, during the same press conference, which was broadcast on the April 17 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, a reporter asked Kaine: "Are you concerned that the gunman may have used a high-capacity magazine that would not have been legally available to him prior to the expiration of the federal assault weapons ban?" In response, Kaine stated that an "after-action review" into the shooting spree "will focus on those issues as well." When pressed on the subject, Kaine added: "Dealing with families is first. The careful and independent assessment of what occurred is second. Once that is done, there will be ample time to discuss whether there need to be any changes made to policy here or elsewhere."
From the April 18 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
ANGLE: Hello, Brit. Well, that's right. Every time there is a shooting, some activists and some politicians rush forward to say there should be some new effort at gun control, and one of those who did that today was Representative Jim Moran of Northern Virginia. Here's what he had to say.
MORAN [video clip]: The proliferation of handguns -- the kinds of guns that were used in this tragic incidence -- that has to be brought under control. And it is we, the people's representatives, who have to stand up and do something about this.
ANGLE: It is time, he said, no matter how politically difficult it is, to reduce the number of weapons in our society. But the Democratic governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine, said this is not the time to raise the issue of gun control.
KAINE [video clip]: People who want to take this within 24 hours of the event and make it, you know, their political hobby horse to ride, I've got nothing but loathing for them. To those who want to, you know, try to make this into some little crusade, you know, I say take that elsewhere. Let this community deal with grieving individuals and be sensitive to those needs.
From the April 17 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
QUESTION: Mr. Kaine, some gun lobbyists -- or pro-gun lobbyists have said that if students were allowed to carry arms, somehow [inaudible] it wouldn't have been as bad as it was.
KAINE: Look, I think that, you know, people who want to take this within 24 hours of the event and make it, you know, their political hobby horse to ride, I've got nothing but loathing for them. This is not a political hobbyhorse or a crusade or something for a campaign or for a fundraising mailing.
At this point, what it's about, is comforting family members, doing what can be done to make sure that they have the ability to see their family members, that bodies can be released to families, and helping this community heal. And, so, to those who want to, you know, try to make this into some little crusade, you know, I say take that elsewhere. Let this community deal with grieving individuals and be sensitive to those needs.
QUESTION: Are you concerned that the gunman may have used a high- capacity magazine that would not have been legally available to him prior to the expiration of the federal assault weapons ban? And is there anything that Virginia or the federal government can do to make that not available?
KAINE: Christina, the after-action review that I mentioned earlier will focus on those issues as well.
I don't know enough about the -- you know, the precise components of the ban that expired and the weaponry used here to be able to comment on that now, but, certainly, the facts will be out, and, at that point, that can be discussed.
But, at this point, that is not something I know enough facts to wade into.
QUESTION: Are you going to [Inaudible] for some changes in state law?
KAINE: Before we talk about any policy changes, we have to get our best assessment of what occurred. That is first.
Dealing with families is first. The careful and independent assessment of what occurred is second. Once that is done, there will be ample time to discuss whether there need to be any changes made to policy here or elsewhere.
On the April 18 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, during a report of the standoff between congressional Democrats and President Bush over supplemental funding for the Iraq war, Fox News White House correspondent Wendell Goler uncritically reported that Bush recently "warned [that] the delay in approving the funding risks keeping troops longer in the field." In fact, as Media Matters for America has noted, not only has the administration already forced extended tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced on April 11 that, effective immediately, the tours of duty for all Army units in Iraq and Afghanistan will be extended by three months.
Goler reported that both sides of the debate "use soldiers and their families to bolster their argument," airing a clip from a soldier's mother urging the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and then noting that Bush, "surrounded by servicemen and women and family members," held "the opposite view." Goler then added uncritically that Bush "warned the delay in approving the funding risks keeping troops longer in the field."
But the administration also has forced extended tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and has curtailed thousands of soldiers' time at home, away from a war zone -- and reports indicate that this will continue. In addition, on April 11, Gates announced: "Effective immediately, active Army units now in the Central Command area of responsibility and those headed there will deploy for not more than 15 months and return home for not less than 12 months." According to Gates, the decision came as a direct result of Bush's so-called troop "surge": "[T]his policy is a matter of prudent management, will provide us with the capacity to sustain the deployed force." As the weblog ArchPundit noted, following Gates' announcement, Democratic Caucus chairman Rep. Rahm Emanuel (IL) recognized the contradiction in Bush's accusation immediately preceding Gates' announcement: "What a difference a day makes. Yesterday, extending tours of duty was 'unacceptable' to the President. Today, it is Pentagon policy. American troops and taxpayers are paying the price for a war with no end in sight."
Further, as Media Matters has noted, the previous two supplemental spending bills for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan passed by a Republican-led Congress have taken longer to reach Bush's desk.
From the April 18 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
GOLER: Each side uses soldiers and their families to bolster their argument. Democrats began the day with some who opposed the war.
SUE DINSDALE (mother of soldier): I asked my son before I came here today, does this demoralize you, does it bother you? And he said to me, "No, Mom." He says this is what we need to do. We need to get the troops home.
GOLER: On Monday, the president was surrounded by servicemen and women and family members with the opposite view. He warned the delay in approving the funding risks keeping troops longer in the field. And Army Specialist Kate Norley, who served as a medic in Iraq, said the uncertainty takes a toll.
NORLEY: To be kind of left in this state with so much room for doubt is not fair. And it actually, you know, it's going to worsen, again, any of our productiveness over there.
GOLER: Democrats expect a House/Senate conference version of the funding bill to be passed by the end of next week. President Bush has said he'll veto it and that Democrats know they don't have the votes to override the veto. The next bill is likely to replace troop withdrawal deadlines with benchmarks for the Iraqis to meet, which the president seemed to indicate Monday he'll consider.
On the April 19 edition of MSNBC Live, Boston radio host Michael Graham told NBC News chief White House correspondent David Gregory that "the entire story" of the mass shooting at Virginia Tech "is a story of people just freezing, of just letting him [the gunman] have their way, except for that one brave professor who put himself in between the gunman and his students." Graham stated:
GRAHAM: And there's going to be a disturbing conversation coming up, David Gregory, about what -- how is it possible for 200 people to encounter a lone gunman, in one classroom 25 to 1, and yet the entire story is a story of people just freezing, of just letting him have their way, except for that one brave professor who put himself in between the gunman and his students. He sticks out in this story. And I think that's a conversation we're going to have in the future.
Gregory did not respond to Graham's assertion.
Media Matters for America has documented several examples of media figures faulting the victims at Virginia Tech:
- In her April 18 syndicated column, Fox News analyst Michelle Malkin wrote: "Instead of encouraging autonomy, our higher institutions of learning stoke passivity and conflict-avoidance. And as the erosion of intellectual self-defense goes, so goes the erosion of physical self-defense."
- In an April 18 National Review column, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Steyn suggested that Virginia Tech students were guilty of an "awful corrosive passivity" that is "an existential threat to a functioning society."
- In an April 17 weblog post on National Review Online's The Corner, contributor John Derbyshire asked: "Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy? It's not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness' sake -- one of them reportedly a .22." Time.com Washington editor Ana Marie Cox criticized Derbyshire in an April 17 post on Time magazine's political weblog, Swampland.
- In the April 18 edition of his daily program notes, nationally syndicated radio host Neal Boortz asked: "How far have we advanced in the wussification of America?" Boortz was responding to criticism of comments he made on the April 17 broadcast of his radio show regarding the mass shooting at Virginia Tech. During that broadcast, Boortz asked: "How the hell do 25 students allow themselves to be lined up against the wall in a classroom and picked off one by one? How does that happen, when they could have rushed the gunman, the shooter, and most of them would have survived?" In his April 18 program notes, Boortz added: "It seems that standing in terror waiting for your turn to be executed was the right thing to do, and any questions as to why 25 students didn't try to rush and overpower Cho Seung-Hui are just examples of right wing maniacal bias. Surrender -- comply -- adjust. The doctrine of the left. ... Even the suggestion that young adults should actually engage in an act of self defense brings howls of protest."
In the April 19 edition of his daily program notes, Boortz endorsed Steyn's column, but added:
Mark Steyn has it right. We have produced a culture of passivity. Some listeners brought up a very good point yesterday in that self defense is absolutely not allowed in today's government schools. Almost all of those Virginia Tech students went through a government school system where a person who uses physical force in self defense on school grounds is punished at the same level as the aggressor. In this we teach our children that there is something wrong with acting to defend yourself. This lesson can be carried into adulthood. It's a valid point, one that I wish I could have made in a more appropriate manner yesterday. I failed, and for that I apologize.
On MSNBC, Graham failed to note reports that students and faculty did, in fact, act against the gunman. The New York Times reported:
Then, with gunshots ringing down the hall, Mr. [Derek] O'Dell, who had been shot in the arm, and other students shut the classroom door and pushed themselves against it to prevent the gunman from getting back in.
A few minutes later, the gunman tried to force his way back inside the classroom, where Mr. [Trey] Perkins was using his jacket and sweatshirt to stanch the wounds of bleeding students. Mr. Cho [Cho Seung-Hui, the gunman] managed to open the door a crack, but the students pushed back hard enough to stop him.
"I sprinted on top of the desk to the door, because the aisle was clogged with people, and I used my foot as a wedge against the door," recalled Mr. O'Dell. "It was almost like you had to fight for your life. If you didn't, you died."
Mr. Perkins said he was struck at how Mr. O'Dell managed to help hold back the gunman, given his injury.
"It was just amazing to me that he was still up and leaning against the door," he said. "Derek was able to hold him off while I was helping other people."
Mr. O'Dell said others helped him block Mr. Cho from re-entering. "Trey and Erin helped keep the door closed," he recalled, referring to another student. "One helped while the other went to the window and yelled for help. There was also another student who was shot in the hand who helped keep the door closed."
The Washington Post reported on a computer class composed of a "small group of 10":
One student, Zach Petkowicz, was near the lectern "cowering behind it," he would later say, when he realized that the door was vulnerable. There was a heavy rectangular table in the class, and he and two other students pushed it against the door. No sooner had they fixed it in place than someone pushed hard from the outside. It was the gunman. He forced it open about six inches, but no farther. Petkowicz and his classmates pushed back, not letting up. The gunman fired two shots through the door. One hit the lectern and sent wood scraps and metal flying. Neither hit any of the students. They could hear a clip dropping, the distinct, awful sound of reloading. And, again, the gunman moved on.
The Post reported:
Granata, a military veteran, was in his office on the third floor. He walked out and across the hall to a classroom, where 20 frightened students were wondering what to do. He directed them into his office, where he ushered them to safety -- in close quarters but behind the locked doors. Then, aware that other students might be in danger on the second floor, he and another professor, Wally Grant, went downstairs to investigate, Slota said.
Cho spotted them and shot them both. Grant was wounded but survived; Granata was killed. If the students in the classroom had tried to run out, they would have confronted the killer, too, Slota said.
"All those in that class, they all made it," Slota said. "They were locked up until the police came. [Granata] couldn't sit around and do nothing. He had to help out, find out what was going on."
The Post also noted:
Room 204, Professor [Liviu] Librescu's class, seems to have been the gunman's last stop on the second floor. The teacher and his dozen students had heard too much, though they had not seen anything yet. They had heard a girl's piercing scream in the hallway. They had heard the pops and more pops. By the time the gunman reached the room, many of the students were on the window ledge. There was grass below, not concrete, and even some shrubs. The old professor was at the door, which would not lock, pushing against it, when the gunman pushed from the other side. Some of the students jumped, others prepared to jump until Librescu could hold the door no longer and the gunman forced his way inside.
Matt Webster, a 23-year-old engineering student from Smithfield, Va., was one of four students inside when the gunman appeared. "He was decked out like he was going to war," Webster recalled. "Black vest, extra ammunition clips, everything." Again, his look was blank, just a stare, no expression, as he started shooting. The first shot hit Librescu in the head, killing him.
From the 8 a.m. ET hour of the April 19 edition of MSNBC Live:
GREGORY: Is there something that we should take away from all of this? If it wasn't on a college campus -- I don't mean just the gun debate, I mean this terrible rampage -- if it weren't on a college campus, you would especially say, "Look, I mean, what are you going to do? There's wackos out there. There's people who are so disturbed that this is going to happen." But there's something about being in a closed society, that is a college campus, this is where we send our kids, where they're supposed to be safe -- what should we be talking about out of all this?
GRAHAM: I think there are three things. In Boston, where I live and work, we have an incident like this every six months. It's just spread out over six months. Seventy-five people murdered last year, and local law enforcement very slow to react to it. Second year in a row of murders that high. And yet that every-six-month-Virginia Tech death toll gets basically ignored. It's just, "Oh, it's just another shooting on a Friday night in Dorchester or Roxbury," and that's one lesson.
The other lesson, I think, though -- and this is the hard one, particularly for those of us in the media because, you know, I get on the air and scream and yell and rant and say, "Oh, we've got to do something today." There are some things in the world that aren't fixable. You can't fix the fact that there are broken people. And to try -- whether it's implementing draconian gun laws or screening every future college student for, you know, any unusual behavior -- there is no free -- there is no filter in a free society that can filter out people like this.
What we need to do is, I think, focus on what we can do when we are confronted by situations like this. And there's going to be a disturbing conversation coming up, David Gregory, about what -- how is it possible for 200 people to encounter a lone gunman, in one classroom 25 to 1, and yet the entire story is a story of people just freezing, of just letting him have their way, except for that one brave professor who put himself in between the gunman and his students. He sticks out in this story. And I think that's a conversation we're going to have in the future.
GREGORY: All right, we're going to take a quick break here. Michael Graham, radio talk-show host out of Boston, joining us. Twelve minutes to the hour. We're coming right back. Don't go away.
On the April 19 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, host Rush Limbaugh declared that the perpetrator of the April 16 Virginia Tech shootings "had to be a liberal," adding: "You start railing against the rich, and all this other -- this guy's a liberal. He was turned into a liberal somewhere along the line. So it's a liberal that committed this act." Limbaugh then complained, in a possible reference to Media Matters for America, that "Now the drive-bys will read on a website that I'm attacking liberalism by comparing this guy to them. That's exactly what they do every day, ladies and gentlemen. I'm just pointing out a fact. I am making no extrapolation." Limbaugh regularly describes mainstream media sources as "the drive-by media."
From the April 19 broadcast of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: If this Virginia Tech shooter had an ideology, what do you think it was? This guy had to be a liberal. You start railing against the rich and all this other -- this guy's a liberal. He was turned into a liberal somewhere along the line. So it's a liberal that committed this act. Now, the drive-bys will read on a website that I'm attacking liberalism by comparing this guy to them. That's exactly what they do every day, ladies and gentlemen. I'm just pointing out a fact. I am making no extrapolation; I'm just pointing it out. They try -- whenever -- I can tell you from the history of this program, starting way back in the early '90s, when there was any kind of an incident, crime or what-have-you that attracted national attention, in the early days of this program, the drive-by media went out and they tried to connect the perpetrator to this program. They did everything they could. In fact, it went so far as Bill Clinton blaming me for influencing Timothy McVeigh to blow up the bureau building [sic: Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City]. These are the people sponsoring lies and distortion for the purposes of dividing this country and creating hatred. These are the people that invented this kind of tactic, if you will.
Five days after the Oklahoma City bombing, in an April 24, 1995, speech in Minneapolis, Clinton criticized "loud and angry voices in America today whose sole goal seems to be to try to keep some people as paranoid as possible and the rest of us all torn up and upset with each other. They spread hate. They leave the impression that, by their very words, that violence is acceptable." Clinton followed up on that comment the next day in a speech in Ames, Iowa, stating: "We must stand up and speak against reckless speech that can push fragile people over the edge beyond the bounds of civilized conduct and take this country into a dark place. I say that no matter where it comes from, people are encouraging violence and lawlessness and hatred. If people are encouraging conduct that will undermine the fabric of this country, it should be spoken against whether it comes from the left or the right, whether it comes on radio, television or in the movies, whether it comes in the schoolyard, or, yes, even on the college campus."
An April 26, 1995, Washington Post article reported that Clinton's comments in Iowa "were aimed at blunting criticism from Republicans and others that he had unfairly blamed conservative talk radio Monday when he denounced 'the loud and angry voices in America today' and lamented 'the things that are regularly said over the airwaves.' Rush Limbaugh and other conservative radio hosts interpreted those comments as aimed at them, although Clinton hadn't singled out individuals in his Minneapolis speech or even mentioned talk radio in his speech."
During an April 18 interview on his nationally syndicated radio show, Bill O'Reilly asked former Wisconsin governor and Republican presidential candidate Tommy Thompson about an April 17 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial condemning remarks Thompson made during an April 16 speech, in which he said "earning money" is "sort of part of the Jewish tradition." O'Reilly asked: "Why would the Milwaukee paper take a shot at you like this?" Thompson claimed in response: "[T]he Milwaukee paper has never supported me in anything ... and I feel bad." On the April 18 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly again brought up the Journal Sentinel editorial. He suggested that they were "try[ing] to hurt the governor" and repeated Thompson's claim regarding the newspaper: "I know they don't like him. The Milwaukee paper is liberal, and the governor is a moderate."
But contrary to the assertions that the Journal Sentinel does not "like" Thompson because he is a "moderate," the newspaper actually endorsed Thompson during his final re-election campaign for governor in 1998. From the Journal Sentinel's October 25, 1998, endorsement, headlined "An effective governor, Thompson merits 4th term":
It's easy to quarrel with the political brawn of Tommy Thompson, but not with his success. He has proved to be a highly effective, dynamic, popular governor who has dared to make Wisconsin a laboratory for social change. For those reasons, Thompson, a Republican, has earned re-election Nov. 3 to a fourth term.
When Thompson took office in January 1987, the state's economy was practically on life support; today, it is thriving. Much of the credit must go to Thompson, who set out to overhaul Wisconsin's high-tax, anti-business reputation. While Thompson rarely hits the pause button when it comes to partisanship, he has shown an admirable tendency to be politically pragmatic, to embrace ideas no matter where they originate.
He has also shown a willingness to experiment. The best example is his welfare replacement program, Wisconsin Works, which has attracted a keen national following. While it's still too early to declare W-2 a success, Thompson deserves credit for attempting to do what few others have even tried fix a public assistance program that was hopelessly broken. Thompson also deserves kudos for his innovative BadgerCare program to provide quality health care to the working poor, and for his support of state plans to reshape the way Wisconsin provides long-term care to the elderly and disabled.
Until recently, the Journal Sentinel continued to show support for Thompson. Even the editorial condemning Thompson's April 16 comments acknowledged that the newspaper had expressed optimism about his presidential campaign two weeks earlier. From the April 2 editorial:
It will take a bizarre set of circumstances for Thompson (Wisconsin's) to win the GOP nomination, but there is actually more than a bit to commend his candidacy.
He could bring some Midwestern pragmatism to a campaign much in need of it. It seems that the burning debate in GOP circles is who is most conservatively pure.
Sigh. The nation likely has had it with politics by ideology. It is more in the market for someone willing to take good ideas wherever he or she can and who's not afraid of a little creativity.
Under Thompson's watch, W-2 welfare reform, school choice and BadgerCare were born. Yes, closer scrutiny might uncover some flaws in these programs and in the Thompson years (a budget hole Gov. Jim Doyle is still trying to dig out of). But at least Thompson, also a former Health and Human Services secretary, had the gumption to try new things.
This might be a novel concept for presidential candidates. We can attest. This Thompson's different.
The April 17 Journal Sentinel editorial described Thompson as "ill-suited to the presidency," citing comments he made during an April 16 speech to the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Thompson said: "I'm in the private sector and for the first time in my life I'm earning money. You know, that's sort of part of the Jewish tradition and I do not find anything wrong with that." As the editorial noted, Thompson then made a "feeble" attempt at an apology:
He later made a feeble attempt to explain the inexplicable. "I just want to clarify something because I didn't (by) any means want to infer or imply anything about Jews and finances and things," he said. "What I was referring to, ladies and gentlemen, is the accomplishments of the Jewish religion. You've been outstanding business people, and I compliment you for that."
So an accomplishment of the Jewish religion is business acumen? Surely, a presidential candidate who would represent all Americans would know how hurtful stereotypes are. Surely, such a candidate would know, given this country's experience with anti-Semitism, that Jews as fixated on money ranks up there among the most hurtful of them.
Gaffes are nothing new to Thompson. But this was said to give him the aura of the average Wisconsin guy. No. The average Wisconsin guy deserves more credit.
On the April 18 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly defended Thompson's statements, asserting that Thompson "was basically giving the crowd a compliment and saying, 'You're good businesspeople' " and agreeing that people deserve "the benefit of the doubt." O'Reilly also asked of the Journal Sentinel: "[I]s it fair to take a guy's remarks, which aren't designed to be hateful, and ram them right down his throat?"
Additionally, O'Reilly likened the newspaper's condemnation of Thompson to the firing of former MSNBC host Don Imus, saying: "We are in the age of Imus. ... We are now under siege by people who are going to take what we say -- all right -- whatever the intent, all right, and try to hurt us with it." O'Reilly also claimed: "The hatred of the Internet is driving this."
From the April 18 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: "Personal Story" segment tonight. Speaking before a Jewish group in Washington, presidential candidate Tommy Thompson said, quote, "I'm in the private sector, and for the first time in my life, I'm earning money. You know, that's sort of part of the Jewish tradition, and I do not find anything wrong with that. "
Well the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel pounced on Thompson's remarks saying they were inexcusable. Thompson replied on The Radio Factor today.
[begin audio clip]
THOMPSON: I feel terrible about it, because I have worked for Israel and been involved in Israel for a long time. And any time, you know, I say something that's hurtful to anybody, it bothers me. I guess it's my Irish --
O'REILLY: But isn't that almost impossible, though. If you are going to run for president, you're gonna have to give hundreds of speeches, probably thousands of speeches.
THOMPSON: And I do.
O'REILLY: And sometimes you're going to make a mistake in the way you phrase things.
THOMPSON: That is true. And I made a mistake and apologized.
[end audio clip]
O'REILLY: All right. With us now, Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership and author of the book Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life. So, Rabbi, are you offended by that?
KULA: You know, I'm not offended by it. But you have to understand that canard, that stereotype of Jews and money has been used for hundreds and hundreds of years to justify persecution, justify oppression. So it's very, very hurtful. It has a legacy of real hurt. And not just in general, but personally.
Many people, in fact people probably in that room, remember someone throwing coins into a corner and whoever bent down they said, "Jew, Jew." So Jews and money is a very serious stereotype.
Now, once we understand it can be used dangerously and has been. You know, by Nazis, American anti-Semites in the 1920s, Islamic fascists today across the Islamic world. Google "money and Jews" and your hair will stand up.
So there's a lot of hate in the world, and stereotypes actually can be used to create more hate. Now, given that --
O'REILLY: Right. I was -- I mean, I was basically going to say that, obviously, Governor Thompson's remarks -- right -- were not intended to be either controversial. He was basically giving the crowd a compliment and saying, "You're good businesspeople."
So why would the Milwaukee Sentinel go and try to hurt the governor? I know they don't like him. The Milwaukee paper is liberal, and the governor is a moderate.
But is that fair? Is it fair to take a guy's remarks, even though we understand -- and I think what you said is right on. But is it fair to take a guy's remarks, which aren't designed to be hateful, and ram them right down his throat?
KULA: No, of course not, Bill. Here is where we are right now. We're in a culture in which, both on the right and the left, however you define extremists, everyone is out to kill each other.
O'REILLY: Right, right.
KULA: And all that does, all that does is it assures that those of us who actually have some wisdom -- and wisdom is making distinctions -- don't get heard. Here is what making distinctions are here. What was his motivation and intent?
O'REILLY: And it was obviously not malevolent.
KULA: My God, he came to a Jewish group, a liberal Jewish group.
O'REILLY: All right, so then the question becomes: We are in the age of Imus --
O'REILLY: All of us who are in the public eye, whether it's politicians or commentators or even a rabbi, even when you're preaching to your congregation.
O'REILLY: We are now under siege by people who are going to take what we say -- all right -- whatever the intent, all right, and try to hurt us with it.
O'REILLY: So that's not a good place to be, Rabbi.
KULA: That is the end of a culture that can actually grow and evolve and learn. Because here's what we needed to do here.
KULA: Great, the guy misspoke. Obviously, he misspoke, was a compliment to people. He was going to a liberal group. That's what we want.
O'REILLY: Just explain the history of it so everybody learns what the history is, but don't vilify the governor.
KULA: Exactly. Learn the history.
KULA: An apology happens -- benefit of doubt.
O'REILLY: Last question: What can we do to fight against this political correct madness? What can the folks do?
KULA: There are two things. First of all, we have to be careful and not say about someone else what we wouldn't want said about us. That's just rule No. 1.
O'REILLY: Thompson wants to a good businessman.
KULA: No, that's rule No. 1. Now second, we have to begin to give people the benefit of the doubt.
O'REILLY: Yes! Yes, Rabbi! The benefit of the doubt.
KULA: I'm telling you, if we don't --- I'm telling you where did that common sense go that we don't give people the benefit of the doubt and just use a little common sense?
O'REILLY: Dissolved in the hatred of the Internet.
O'REILLY: The hatred of the Internet is driving this. Rabbi, your book is great. We appreciate you coming in.
KULA: Thank you.
O'REILLY: Thanks very much. When we come back, Dennis Miller on the Virginia massacre and gun control.
From the April 18 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:
O'REILLY: Yeah. Why would the Milwaukee paper take a shot at you like this?
THOMPSON: Well, the Milwaukee paper has never supported me in anything. And --
O'REILLY: All right. So it's a political thing.
THOMPSON: I don't know why they -- and I feel bad.
An April 18 entry on ABCNews.com's Political Radar weblog, titled "Edwards Flattens Coif Controversy," noted that a "report filed with the Federal Election Commission last weekend revealed that former Sen. John Edwards' D-N.C., presidential campaign twice shelled out $400 for haircuts he received from a Beverly Hills salon," adding, "ABC News has learned the money will be returned." The blog post went on to say that the "hair cut revelation did little to minimize what some call Edwards' 'Breck Girl' image."
Similarly, on the April 18 edition of Fox News' Special Report, host and Fox News Washington managing editor Brit Hume reported:
HUME: And Beverly Hills hairdresser Joseph Torrenueva has confirmed that he did indeed give Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards two haircuts at $400 apiece. A report from the Federal Election Commission says the haircuts were paid for out of Edwards' campaign funds, along with $250 in services to a spa in Dubuque, Iowa, and $225 from the Pink Sapphire in New Hampshire, which is described on its website as a, quote, "unique boutique for the mind, body and face," that caters mostly to women.
The Pink Sapphire's owner says the fees were for doing TV makeup, not facials or cucumber peels. Edwards has been teased a lot for his looks, and is shown on this famous YouTube video primping his hair, and sitting for a hair stylist to help him. The video is set to the music "I Feel Pretty," and goes on for more than two minutes. The campaign has had no comment on the new reports about those $400 haircuts.
As Media Matters for America noted, bloggers Greg Sargent and Glenn Greenwald criticized media outlets such as the Associated Press and The New Republic, which also seized on the haircut story in labeling Edwards "pretty," for "playing the 'pretty boy' game in stories about Edwards, given the degree to which it's become a tried-and-true GOP and winger talking point," as Sargent wrote. Greenwald added that reporting like ABC's and Hume's is devoid of "substantive criticism," and instead "is all just mindless gossipy shorthand intended to fuel right-wing caricatures and platitudes that have nothing to do with substance and everything to do with demonizing the personality of these political figures in order to render them ugly and embarrassing -- hence, Edwards is a girlish fop."
From ABCNews.com's April 18 Political Radar entry:
ABC News' Raelyn Johnson Reports: You can tell it's political season when people are putting a fine tooth comb to, well hair. A report filed with the Federal Election Commission last weekend revealed that former Sen. John Edwards' D-N.C., presidential campaign twice shelled out $400 for haircuts he received from a Beverly Hills salon.
Just as fast as gossip spreads in the fashion salon, ABC News has learned the money will be returned. "As for the haircuts, the bill was sent to the campaign, it was paid in error, and Edwards will be reimbursing the campaign," says campaign spokesperson Eric Schultz.
The hair cut revelation did little to minimize what some call Edwards' 'Breck Girl' image. Earlier this year, YouTube showcased a video of Edwards fixing his hair before a televised interview, demonstrating the unforgiving power of the site[.]