CLIPS: Boortz, who's said congresswoman "looks like a ghetto slut," blasted "denigration of black women through rap music"
On the April 16 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Neal Boortz responded to a statement released by Media Matters for America President and CEO David Brock identifying Boortz as one of many sources of bigotry in the media by asking, "[T]hat George Soros-funded group Media Matters, who are they going to focus on next?" In fact, Media Matters has not received funding from progressive philanthropist George Soros.
Later in the broadcast, Boortz proclaimed that he would not allow Rev. Al Sharpton to be a guest on his show. Boortz declared, "[T]his is a man who refers to Greeks as 'homos.' This is a man that talks about white interlopers. This is a man that refers to Jews as 'diamond merchants.' I'm going to put him on my show?" He added, "[M]y show doesn't engage in that kind of name-calling." However, on the March 31, 2006, broadcast of his radio show, Boortz said that former Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) "looks like a ghetto slut," for which he later apologized.
While discussing steps he was taking because his "back was really hurting," Boortz stated, "Belinda [Skelton, producer] walked on my back. We looked around the station for a little Asian girl; couldn't find one. So I had to settle for Belinda. That really felt good by the way." Skelton responded, "OK. Love you long time." Boortz replied, "Happy ending. That really felt good." Skelton was repeating a line spoken by a Vietnamese prostitute portrayed in the 1987 film Full Metal Jacket.
Referring to syndicated television host Oprah Winfrey's April 16 broadcast of her program from Spelman College to discuss the aftermath of syndicated radio host Don Imus' firing for calling the Rutgers University women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos," Boortz speculated, "Will we finally end the denigration of black women through rap music? Personally, I think its jealousy. ... I mean, on the part of the rappers, because, you know, I mean, look at black women, black men. Who are the higher educated, who has -- you know, is there a higher percentage of black women in college or black men? Black women. Moving up the corporate ladder -- black women, black men? Black women."
Discussing Winfrey's show, Boortz referred to Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson as "race warlords," stating, "Neither Jesse Jackson nor Al Sharpton will be a guest on her program today. They are not going to be a part of the show. ... And you know, ladies and gentlemen, you know they asked to be on the show. And Oprah told them, 'no'. So, glad Oprah had the sense to keep those race warlords away from her town hall meeting this afternoon." In fact, Sharpton was a guest on Winfrey's April 16 show, as the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
From the April 16 broadcast of Cox Radio Syndication's The Neal Boortz Show, with producer Belinda Skelton and Royal Marshall, engineer and "sidekick":
BOORTZ: I am watching anxiously to see who the media is going to concentrate on next. You know Al "the liar" Sharpton, Jesse "the sloganmaster" Jackson, and then that George Soros-funded group Media Matters, who are they going to focus on next?
BOORTZ: My back was really hurting after that golf on Saturday, Royal. I just -- I wasn't in shape to swing that club. I didn't do any stretching exercises or anything. So this morning I took three Advil, OK, and then as soon as I got to the station, Belinda the drug pusher, what did I take Belinda?
SKELTON: Two Fioricets.
SKELTON: You're a happy camper, aren't you?
BOORTZ: I got three Advil and two Fioricets in me.
SKELTON: And I walked on your back.
BOORTZ: And Belinda walked on my back. We looked around the station for a little Asian girl; couldn't find one. So I had to settle for Belinda. That really felt good by the way.
SKELTON: OK. Love you long time.
BOORTZ: Happy ending. That really felt good.
BOORTZ: I have congratulations for Oprah Winfrey today. Her show this afternoon is - it's going to take place from here, at Spelman College. Did you know that? Oprah Winfrey is bringing her show to Spelman College. And it's going to be a town hall meeting, and it's going to be on the Imus thing. The purpose is to discuss whether mainstream culture is going to change as a result of the Imus episode, including hip-hop, rap, this, that, and the other thing. Will we finally end the denigration of black women through rap music? Personally, I think it's jealousy. But anyway -- I mean on the part of the rappers, because, you know, I mean, look at black women, black men. Who are the higher educated, who has -- you know, is there a higher percentage of black women in college or black men? Black women. Moving up the corporate ladder -- black women, black men? Black women.
MARSHALL: So the rappers are jealous of --
BOORTZ: That's exactly right, so they call them hos and bitches.
MARSHALL: Uh yeah.
BOORTZ: That's it.
MARSHALL: Oh yeah that's it.
BOORTZ: I put a lot of thought into this, Royal.
MARSHALL: I can tell. You must have volumes of research.
BOORTZ: I do. In fact, I've been asked to testify before Congress on this. But Oprah, this is why I'm really proud of her. Neither Jesse Jackson nor Al Sharpton will be a guest on her program today. They are not going to be a part of the show. Jason Whitlock, the Kansas City sports columnist that wrote that column I read to you last week, he will be a part of the show. Al Sharpton, no. Jesse Jackson, no. And you know, ladies and gentlemen, you know that they asked to be on the show. And Oprah told them, "no." So, glad Oprah had the sense to keep those race warlords away from her town hall meeting this afternoon. So, kudos to Oprah, I hope kudos is, is it OK, kudos? I've never really looked up the meaning of that word. I could get nailed on that. Kudos to Oprah for her program this afternoon.
BOORTZ: But this is a man who refers to Greeks as "homos." This is a man that talks about white interlopers. This is a man that refers to Jews as "diamond merchants." I'm going to put him on my show?
CALLER: Well, that's a valid point.
BOORTZ: Yeah. I mean, my show doesn't engage in that kind of name-calling.
On the April 11 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Bill O'Reilly again attacked Virginia Beach Mayor Meyera Oberndorf, claiming that "she has no clue at all" and stating: "[T]he honest reporting is that Mayor Oberndorf has no clue, none, shouldn't be there and neither should the police chief. And that's the truth. And if you don't get them out of there, you're gonna have more dead girls in the street." O'Reilly made the comment while discussing a March 30 automobile crash that resulted in the deaths of two teenage girls, reportedly at the hands of an illegal immigrant who said he had been drinking the night of the accident.
As Media Matters for America documented, O'Reilly previously attacked Oberndorf and Virginia Beach Police Chief Alfred M. Jacocks Jr. on the April 6 edition of his radio program, describing Oberndorf as "limited in her intellectual capacity" and calling Jacocks "an arrogant incompetent."
Additionally, during a discussion about Don Imus' reference to the Rutgers University women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos," a caller to the program claimed "the word 'racist' " is "the single most effective weapon ever devised by the far left and anti-Americans," adding: "[I]t's more effective than nuclear arsenals." The caller then claimed that "[t]he Muslim jihadists use it against us" and "the Mexican invasion is enabled by it." O'Reilly responded affirmatively: "I understand what you're saying ... and it's absolutely true." He concluded: "You know, I'm throwing down the gauntlet on these people. And anybody that uses this weapon, you're gonna get a visit from me."
From the April 11 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:
O'REILLY: No, she has no clue at all. And I understand that small town -- and, you know -- actually, Virginia Beach is the biggest town in Virginia, I've been told, about 400,000. But it's still relatively a small place. But I understand that, you know, the local guys have to do this, that, and the other thing for the sponsors and the money. It's all about that, which is why I have to step in, [caller], and I have to do the honest reporting. And the honest reporting is that Mayor Oberndorf has no clue, none, shouldn't be there and neither should the police chief. And that's the truth. And if you don't get them out of there, you're gonna have more dead girls in the street.
CALLER: You know, about this word "racist." It's the single most effective weapon ever devised by the far left and anti-Americans. It immediately -- it's more effective than nuclear arsenals. It immediately puts us on the defensive, no matter what the subject. The Muslim jihadists use it against us, the Mexican invasion is enabled by it. Even our gangs. We can shut down the gangs with the National Guard and a big police presence.
O'REILLY: Oh, you could easily shut the gangs down. You're absolutely right. But, you know, but the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] would be right on your butt saying, "Oh, you're racist. You're profiling. You're doing this, that, and the other thing." I understand what you're saying, [caller], and it's absolutely true. But enough's enough. You know, I'm throwing down the gauntlet on these people. And anybody that uses this weapon, you're gonna get a visit from me.
On the April 13 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage said of Media Matters for America: "They're people who attack me. It's run by a homosexual activist who hates anybody in the media who does not kowtow to the homosexual agenda." Referring to Media Matters' CEO and President David Brock, Savage added, "The man who runs it is, in my opinion, a straight-out maniac. He would belong much more happily in the ex-Soviet Union." Savage has previously referred to Media Matters as "a gay website that attacks me every day" and called Brock "a psychopath."
Savage further claimed on his April 13 show that Media Matters is "funded by" progressive philanthropist George Soros. He stated: "They've held themselves up as somehow above the fray, only looking for fair-mindedness in the media. It turns out that they are, in fact, funded by one of the most vile anti-American creatures in the world, George Soros." Savage went on to call Soros "a totally dangerous individual" who "doesn't miss an opportunity to attack this country" and "should be stripped of his citizenship." Similarly, Internet gossip Matt Drudge and right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh both recently claimed that Media Matters is a "Soros operation" and "Soros-funded." In fact, Media Matters has not received funding from Soros.
Earlier in the broadcast, in reference to the firing of syndicated radio host Don Imus, Savage said: "I'll tell you who's behind this: it was [Sen.] Hillary Clinton [D-NY]." Savage continued: "I believe [Rev. Al] Sharpton was told by Hillary to go after him, and to go after him with tooth and claw. We understand that Imus made a comment that was racist and idiotic. But I believe he was terminated because of Hillary Clinton." As Media Matters noted, on the April 16 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Limbaugh similarly asserted that Imus was fired because he was "critical of Hillary."
Additionally, Savage claimed that Imus is "a liberal Democrat." However, as Media Matters noted, Imus has expressed his support for two 2008 Republican presidential candidates, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
The Savage Nation reaches more than 8 million listeners each week, according to Talkers Magazine, making it the third-most-listened-to talk radio show in the nation, behind only The Rush Limbaugh Show and The Sean Hannity Show.
From the April 13 broadcast of Talk Radio Network's The Savage Nation:
SAVAGE: But you see, if you look at this very carefully, there's a much bigger picture here. Al Sharpton is not the issue. I will tell you who's behind this: it's Hillary Clinton. It was Hillary Clinton who hated Imus. Imus is a liberal Democrat, but he has been bashing Hillary Clinton every day as Satan. I believe Sharpton was told by Hillary to go after him, and to go after him with tooth and claw. We understand that Imus made a comment that was racist and idiotic. But I believe he was terminated because of Hillary Clinton.
SAVAGE: Seattle, Washington, [caller], you're up on The Savage Nation. Topic, please.
CALLER: Hello, sir, how are you doing? Yes, I was looking on NewsMax.com today, and there was a story about George Soros' group taking responsibility for the Imus hit, and that they assigned monitors to his show, and --
SAVAGE: Right. They're people who attack me. It's run by a homosexual activist who hates anybody in the media who does not kowtow to homosexual -- the homosexual agenda. It's called Media Matters. The man who runs it is, in my opinion, a straight-out maniac. He would belong much more happily in the ex-Soviet Union.
But we found out today on NewsMax that Media Matters is not an independent watchdog agency. In fact, it's funded by George Soros. I thought that something that did come out in the laundry in this whole affair that's very interesting. They've held themselves up as somehow above the fray, only looking for fair-mindedness in the media. It turns out that they are, in fact, funded by one of the most vile anti-American creatures in the world, George Soros. I saw that as well, [caller].
CALLER: Yeah, it just disturbed me because, you know, only -- how can in America -- can these people be allowed to operate like that, you know?
SAVAGE: Well, George Soros should be stripped of his citizenship. George Soros is a totally dangerous individual. He tried to buy the last election. Remember he spent $30 million of his own money to defeat George Bush? I mean, this is crazy. This guy doesn't miss an opportunity to attack this country. And here he was, a Hungarian Jewish refugee to this country.
Ignoring McCain and White House, LA Times claimed gun rights advocates "generally kept their heads down" following VA Tech shooting
In an April 17 article headlined "Gun control debate resumes, on one side," the Los Angeles Times asserted that "Monday's deadly rampage at Virginia Tech sparked a largely one-sided response in the long-running debate over guns." The article continued: "Gun control advocates said the shootings pointed to the need for tougher laws, while supporters of gun rights generally kept their heads down." As evidence, the Times simply reported that Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) "added a political note to her statement of sympathy. 'The unfortunate situation in Virginia could have been avoided if congressional leaders stood up to the gun lobby.' " But, in fact, gun rights supporters hardly "kept their heads down." In the aftermath of the mass shooting, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino, and various conservatives reiterated their belief in a "right to bear arms."
For instance, as Salon.com's Tim Grieve noted on the website's War Room weblog, according to an April 16 Associated Press report, McCain said that "the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech does not change his view that the Constitution guarantees everyone the right to carry a weapon." The AP quoted McCain as saying: "We have to look at what happened here, but it doesn't change my views on the Second Amendment, except to make sure that these kinds of weapons don't fall into the hands of bad people. ... I do believe in the constitutional right that everyone has, in the Second Amendment to the Constitution, to carry a weapon. ... Obviously we have to keep guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens."
Similarly, while the Los Angeles Times reported that President Bush "said nothing about the gun control debate," during the April 16 White House press briefing, Perino stated: "As far as policy, the President believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed. And certainly bringing a gun into a school dormitory and shooting" is illegal. She added: "[I]f there are changes to the President's policy we will let you know. But we've had a consistent policy of ensuring that the Justice Department is enforcing all of the gun laws that we have on the books and making sure that they're prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Also, as Media Matters for America noted, on the April 16 edition of Fox News' The Big Story, host John Gibson asked: "So, theoretically, in this lecture hall where all 31 were killed, there could have been someone with a carry permit carrying their gun to shoot the shooter?" Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano replied: "No," adding, "Virginia lets you carry a gun at a gas station or a bank or a stadium, but not on a college campus, where you may protect kids."
Napolitano's and Gibson's comments echo those of right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin, who, citing a September 5, 2006, op-ed written by a Virginia Tech spokesperson, noted on her weblog that the university prohibits handguns. She then quoted a weblog post from "Andrew's Dad," who wrote: "Just imagine if students were armed. We no longer need to imag[in]e what will happen when they are not armed." Malkin also quoted an email from a reader who claimed: "Imagine if sensible CCW [Concealed Carry Weapon] laws allowed people to defend themselves, this tragedy could have been avoided."
In addition, as freelance writer Sonia Smith documented in an April 16 Slate article, several other conservative bloggers used the Virginia Tech shooting to discuss gun laws:
The conservative at Snapped Shot tells those liberals calling for gun control to simmer down, as Virginia Tech had already banned guns on campus. "In short, don't start blaming this on our 'gun culture.' I can assure you that our very liberal colleges have no such thing. This is the action of someone who's clearly got criminal intent, nothing more." Conservative Steve at Hog on Ice blames that gun ban for the high death toll: "This lunatic knew he could shoot until the police arrived. In a sane world, he would only have been able to shoot until a student or university employee produced a firearm. ... The beauty of privately owned guns is that they work while the cops are still across town," he opines.
From the April 17 Los Angeles Times article:
Monday's deadly rampage at Virginia Tech sparked a largely one-sided response in the long-running debate over guns.
Gun control advocates said the shootings pointed to the need for tougher laws, while supporters of gun rights generally kept their heads down.
And leaders of both major political parties expressed sympathy for victims and their families, while avoiding comment on gun control.
Bush, a longtime champion of the right to bear arms, said nothing about the gun control debate.
However, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y), whose husband was among six people killed by a gunman who opened fire on a Long Island Rail Road train in 1993, added a political note to her statement of sympathy. "The unfortunate situation in Virginia could have been avoided if congressional leaders stood up to the gun lobby."
Beyond politics, one reason for the restrained reactions may be the lack of firm information about what happened, including the identity of the gunman or gunmen and how the guns were obtained.
Virginia's gun laws make it easy to buy and own firearms, including handguns, and the state often has been criticized as the source of guns used in crimes in the Washington area and other East Coast cities. But it is not known what role, if any, state laws may have played in the Blacksburg killings.
The National Rifle Assn., the nation's leading gun lobby, expressed its condolences but said, "We will not have further comment until all the facts are known."
Joshua Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, sounded an equally cautious note. "I can't say how this will play into the debate until we know how old the shooter was and how he got his guns."
The House of Representatives passed an emergency supplemental spending bill on March 23 that provides nearly $100 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to appropriating funding, the bill includes a series of provisions that mandate standards for training, equipping, and resting combat troops; establish security benchmarks for the Iraqi government; and, most notably, require that U.S. combat forces begin to withdraw from Iraq in March 2008 and leave Iraq completely by September 1, 2008. On March 29, the Senate passed a similar spending bill that provides funds for both wars and also mandates that U.S. troops begin redeploying from Iraq within 120 days of the bill's passage, with a nonbinding goal of ending combat operations in Iraq by March 31, 2008. In reporting on the subsequent standoff between Congress and the White House stemming from the inclusion of these withdrawal plans, media figures and news outlets have uncritically reported numerous baseless and misleading criticisms that Bush and members of his administration have directed toward the Democratic leadership:
Pledging to veto any war funding bill that contains provisions for the withdrawal of troops, Bush claimed during a March 28 speech that "Congress continues to pursue these bills, and as they do, the clock is ticking for our troops in the field. Funding for our forces in Iraq will begin to run out in mid-April." ABC News subsequently reported that Bush said Congress "is denying the troops the equipment they need to succeed." Yet, in a March 28 memo to the Senate Budget Committee, the Congressional Research Service found that the Army would be able to fund its operations in Iraq through most of July with the money it has now.
In addition, during his April 3 press conference, Bush complained that "it has now been 57 days since I requested that Congress pass emergency funds for our troops. Instead of passing clean bills that fund our troops on the front lines, the House and Senate have spent this time debating bills that undercut the troops." In their coverage of the press conference, various media outlets reported Bush's claim without noting that, as the weblog Think Progress has documented, in 2006, with Republicans in control of Congress, it took 119 days for Congress to pass a supplemental funding bill after Bush requested it and in 2005 (with Republicans also in control), it took 86 days to pass such a bill.
The Bush administration has continued to use the so-called "delay" as a talking point. During an April 16 press briefing, White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino asserted: "On Iraq, this is the 70th day since the president requested emergency funding for our troops."
During the April 3 press conference, Bush also said that "Congress should not use a[n] emergency war spending measure as a vehicle to put pet spending projects on that have nothing to do with the war." Reporting on Bush's remarks, Fox News chief White House correspondent Brett Baier aired this claim without noting that every previous supplemental war funding bill contained money for unrelated projects. Indeed, in previous years, the Republican-led Congress, in some cases acting at the behest of the White House, added funding for "pet spending projects," as an April 4 Washington Post article reported:
To President Bush, they are "pork-barrel projects completely unrelated to the war," items in the House and Senate war-spending bills such as peanut storage facilities and aid to spinach farmers that insult the seriousness of the conflict and exist only to buy votes.
But such spending has been part of Iraq funding bills since the war began, sometimes inserted by the president himself, sometimes added by lawmakers with bipartisan aplomb. A few of the items may have weighed on the votes for spending bills that have now topped half a trillion dollars, but, in almost all cases over the past four years, special-interest funding provisions have been the fruits of congressional opportunism by well-placed senators or House members grabbing what they could for their constituents on the one bill that had to be passed quickly.
The president's own request last year for emergency war spending included $20 billion for Gulf Coast hurricane recovery, $2.3 billion for bird flu preparations, and $2 billion to fortify the border with Mexico and pay for his effort to send National Guardsmen to the southern frontier.
The 2005 emergency war-spending bill included $70 million for aid to Ukraine and other former Soviet states; $12.3 million for the Architect of the Capitol, in part to build an off-site delivery facility for the Capitol police; $24 million for the Forest Service to repair flood and landslide damage; and $104 million for watershed protection -- the lion's share meant for repairing the damage to waterways in Washington County, Utah, at the request of the state's Republican senators.
Congress, not Bush, is denying funding for U.S. troops
Various media outlets have characterized the House and Senate bills as efforts to "stymie" Bush's request for war funding. An ABC News.com headline repeated Bush's assertion that Democrats are "undercutting [the] troops"; NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams suggested the Iraq spending bills would leave them "high and dry in the middle of the fight." But both houses of Congress have passed legislation providing funding for the troops in the field. The Senate and House are expected to reconcile the bills in conference and send a final version to the president for his signature. Bush, however, has promised to veto the bill if it includes a timeline for the redeployment of troops from Iraq. So while Congress has demonstrated a clear intention to fund the troops, Bush has said he will veto the bill -- thereby denying funding to the troops -- if it doesn't meet his conditions.
Congress will extend troops' tours of duty by delaying passage of a funding bill Bush will sign
Media outlets have uncritically reported Bush's claim that the military will be forced to extend some soldiers' tours of duty in Iraq and shorten their time at home if Congress does not pass a funding bill he is willing to sign. From his April 3 press conference:
BUSH: In a time of war, it's irresponsible for the Democrat leadership -- Democratic leadership in Congress to delay for months on end while our troops in combat are waiting for the funds. The bottom line is this: Congress's failure to fund our troops on the front lines will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines. And others could see their loved ones headed back to the war sooner than they need to. That is unacceptable to me, and I believe it is unacceptable to the American people.
Those simply reporting Bush's claim regarding the strain on the troops have ignored a key point: The administration has already 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.
Moreover, reporting on Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates' April 11 announcement that effective immediately all Army units in Iraq and Afghanistan "will serve 15-month tours in the region" instead of 12 months, nearly all media outlets failed to note that Bush had attacked Democrats just one day earlier on the ground that their efforts to withdraw U.S. combat forces from Iraq will result in longer troop deployments and troops returning to duty sooner than anticipated, prospects that he deemed "unacceptable."
Bush made a nearly identical claim during an April 10 speech at a Virginia American Legion post:
BUSH: The bottom line is this: Congress's failure to fund our troops will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines. Others could see their loved ones headed back to war sooner than anticipated. This is unacceptable. It's unacceptable to me, it's unacceptable to our veterans, it's unacceptable to our military families, and it's unacceptable to many in this country.
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 claim versus 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."
Yet according to a Media Matters for America review of the Nexis database from April 11 and April 12, only the Associated Press and the New York Daily News, Cox News Service, and The Grand Rapids Press (Michigan) appeared to have acknowledged the difference in the administration's statements from one day to the next. When asked to reconcile Gates' announcement and Bush's attack on Congress' war spending bills at an April 12 press briefing, Perino claimed, "I'm not aware that the president knew ... that Secretary Gates had come to any decision.'' While many media outlets have continued to ignore the issue, The New York Times and the Lexington Herald-Leader (Kentucky) published articles on April 13 highlighting the contradiction.
Other media misinformation on war spending bills
- A March 28 New York Times article uncritically reported Bush's false claim that the $6.4 million for "the House of Representatives' 'salaries and expense accounts' " -- included in the spending bill for Iraq -- was "not related to the war and protecting the United States of America." In fact, the provision to which Bush was referring is for funding for "contingency operations directly related to the global war on terrorism, and other unanticipated defense-related operations," which, according to The Washington Post, is "a highly classified upgrade of Capitol security that has been underway since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001."
- In their coverage of the Senate's passage of the Iraq spending bill, several media outlets -- CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Associated Press -- characterized the Senate as "defiant" or as having "defied" Bush by passing a measure he has threatened to veto. This characterization suggests that authority to make that determination lies with the president, and the Senate's action undermines that authority. In fact, the Constitution gives Congress the authority -- and responsibility -- to legislate.
- In reporting on the House and Senate funding bills, various news outlets have cited the budget standoff that led to the government shutdowns of 1995-96 as a warning to congressional Democrats. But in suggesting that the 1995 shutdown shows that Congress stands to lose in such a conflict, these outlets ignore key differences in the two situations, including that former President Bill Clinton was a far more popular president at the time of the standoff than current polling indicates Bush is. In addition, polls at the time also showed stronger support for Clinton's position on the budget standoff than for the position held by the Republican-led Congress. By comparison, a majority of the public now supports a timeline for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
- On the April 2 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, while discussing a bill co-sponsored by Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Russell Feingold (D-WI) to begin phased redeployment from Iraq, guest host Suzanne Malveaux asked CNN White House correspondent Ed Henry, "[I]s the thinking here that even if the White House loses, they win, ultimately?" Henry responded: "[T]he White House does believe they have Harry Reid on the defensive because, if you remember, right after the last election, Reid said that while the Democrats would be tough on Iraq policy, they would stop short of cutting off funding for the war. Now it appears Reid is backpedaling from that." Neither Henry nor Malveaux explained Malveaux's suggestion that the White House would "win" regardless of actions taken by congressional Democrats.
In an April 17 Washington Post article about recent fundraising reports from several presidential candidates, including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), staff writer Dan Balz claimed: "Among Democrats, a sense of 'Clinton fatigue' has led some major fundraisers to reassess with whom they want to align." The phrase "Clinton fatigue," despite appearing in quotes, was not attributed to anyone cited in the article, and Balz did not provide any additional information to support the notion of "Clinton fatigue." Additionally, though Balz reported that Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) first-quarter fundraising was "anemic," he did not raise the possibility of "McCain fatigue."
In another Post article published the same day, staff writers John Solomon and Matthew Mosk reported that "some" Clinton donors "cite fatigue after more than a decade" of various fundraising efforts for the Clintons -- but they did not quote any donors claiming to be tired of the Clintons. Solomon and Mosk added: "Most [Clinton donors], though, blame the defections on the enthusiasm generated by the upstart campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)." From Solomon and Mosk's April 17 article:
Hillary Clinton still has the loyalty of many major players from her husband's network, including chief fundraiser Terence R. McAuliffe, aerospace executive Bernard Schwartz, businessman Alan Patricof, investment banker Stanley S. Shuman and venture capitalist Steve Rattner.
But dozens of donors have migrated. Some cite fatigue after more than a decade of raising money for Bill Clinton's White House bids, Hillary Clinton's Senate campaigns, his presidential library and their global charitable efforts involving AIDS, poverty and hunger.
Most, though, blame the defections on the enthusiasm generated by the upstart campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).
Kirk Dornbush, a veteran Atlanta fundraiser whose father served as an ambassador during the Clinton years, said Obama has created an excitement unseen since that surrounding Clinton in 1992.
"Bill Clinton and Al Gore energized people to do things they had never done before, and that is why you were willing to knock the roof off fundraising for them. And that is what is unique to Senator Obama and none of the other [Democratic] candidates," Dornbush said.
As Media Matters for America previously noted, in a March 29 article, USA Today failed to challenge political psychologist Stanley Renshon's false suggestion that the public's views of the Clinton and George W. Bush presidencies are comparable and his claim that the public suffers from "extraordinar[y]" Clinton "fatigu[e]." USA Today reported: "Stanley Renshon, a political psychologist at the City University of New York Graduate Center, says the Clinton and Bush presidencies have been 'extraordinarily fatiguing' for Americans, who may be seeking 'a somewhat calmer presidency.' " In fact, according to USA Today's own polling, Clinton's approval ratings remained in the 50s and 60s through most of his presidency; in the wake of the 1998 impeachment proceedings, Clinton's approval rating jumped to 73 percent. The article also reported that Clinton's current approval rating is 60 percent and that "[i]n the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, 71% said he was a good president -- more than double Bush's 34% approval in the poll."
In an April 13 McClatchy Newspapers article, reporter Michael Doyle highlighted allegations in two reports by freelance writer Peter Byrne published in the Bay Area's various Metro Newspapers (including the North Bay Bohemian and Metro Silicon Valley) that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) had a conflict of interest "by serving through last year as chair and ranking member of the Senate's military construction appropriations subcommittee [MILCON] at the same time that her husband had financial interests in two firms that rely on defense contracts." Doyle wrote, "The Metro stories also contended that Feinstein had 'resigned' from the military construction subcommittee, suggesting she departed under pressure."
Byrne had written in his second article: "Perhaps she resigned from MILCON because she could not take the heat generated by the Bohemian's exposé of her ethics."* But the Senate Appropriations Committee announced its new subcommittee assignments in a January 10 press release -- approximately two weeks before Byrne's original "exposé" appeared in the January 24-30 editions of Metro Silicon Valley and the Bohemian.* That press release did not list Feinstein as a member of MILCON. It reported that she is a member of the following subcommittees: agriculture, rural development, and FDA; commerce, justice, and science; defense; energy and water development; transportation and Housing and Urban Development; and interior and environment.
According to Doyle's article, Byrne "received a grant from the liberal Nation magazine's investigative fund" to write the story on Feinstein. Doyle wrote that after The Nation rejected the article, "Byrne said he 'flogged it around to a lot of liberal publications' before getting it published in Metro." His first article, "Senator Feinstein's Iraq Conflict," which reported critics' allegations that Feinstein's membership on MILCON posed a conflict of interest, appeared in the January 24-30 editions of the Bohemian and Metro Silicon Valley. A subsequent article, "Feinstein Resigns," appeared in the March 14-20 edition of the Bohemian. A version of this report published in March 21-27 edition of Metro Silicon Valley bore the inaccurate sub-headline "Senator exits MILCON following Metro exposé, vet-care scandal." Both versions of Byrne's report stated, "Perhaps she resigned from MILCON because she could not take the heat generated by the Bohemian's [or Metro's] exposé of her ethics."*
The Metro stories also contended that Feinstein had "resigned" from the military construction subcommittee, suggesting she departed under pressure.
Senate Appropriations Committee spokesman Tom Gavin replied Thursday that seven other lawmakers besides Feinstein had flipped appropriation subcommittees this year.
"This is a process that happens at the start of every Congress," Gavin said. Feinstein left the military panel to chair the subcommittee that handles the Forest Service, the National Park Service and other agencies crucial to California.
"Frankly, for California, it's a better opportunity for the senator, and she took it," Gerber said, adding that the claim that Feinstein had resigned from the military subcommittee was "just not true."
Doyle portrayed the competing explanations for Feinstein's subcommittee departure in a "he said-she said" fashion, failing to note the fact that Feinstein left the panel before the publication of Byrne's first article.*
Describing the alleged "conflict of interest," Doyle reported:
Critics have accused Feinstein of having a conflict of interest by serving through last year as chair and ranking member of the Senate's military construction appropriations subcommittee at the same time that her husband had financial interests in two firms that rely on defense contracts.
The Senate panel approves some $16 billion annually for military construction projects.
Until 2005, Blum had major holdings in two firms, URS Corp. and Perini Corp., that rely on defense contracts.
Perini received $200 million in federal contracts from 2000 to 2006, primarily with the Army, according to records compiled by the private watchdog group OMB Watch. URS received $1.8 billion worth of contracts - primarily Air Force, Army and Navy - during the same period
Feinstein's spokesman, Scott Gerber, declared that the senator has always "acted appropriately" and within the Senate's ethics guidelines. He sternly denounced suggestions of conflict, first raised in articles published in the Bay Area's free Metro weekly newspaper, and noted that the Pentagon, not Congress, decides who is awarded contracts.
Yet after noting that "[Byrne's] original story goes into considerable detail," Doyle added that "Feinstein's office has in turn prepared a detailed rebuttal" -- without informing readers whether or not Feinstein's rebuttal undermines Byrne's reporting.
Doyle also quoted Feinstein's spokesperson Scott Gerber as saying: "The story is filled with inaccuracies, errors and distortions ... and it has been pushed by the right-wing bloggers." He then wrote:
Actually, the story has migrated from left to right and back again.
On Sunday, it was the left's turn, as female anti-war protesters gathered outside Feinstein's San Francisco home. Code Pink leader Medea Benjamin declared that Feinstein and Blum "have profited from this war" in Iraq.
On the April 15 edition of CBS' Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer left unchallenged Vice President Dick Cheney's false claim that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) "now has said he's adamantly opposed to any funding for the troops." Cheney was apparently referring to Reid's proposal to cut off funding for the Iraq war in 2008 if President Bush vetoes the emergency supplemental funding bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which Bush has vowed to do as long as it contains a timetable for withdrawal. But Schieffer did not note that Reid voted for the supplemental funding bill that the Senate passed March 29, or that Reid's proposal would continue funding for the troops until March 31, 2008.
Contrary to Cheney's claim that Reid is "adamantly opposed" to funding the troops, as Media Matters for America has noted, both Democratic-led houses of Congress have passed legislation providing funding for the troops in the field. The Senate and House are expected to reconcile the bills in conference and send a final version to the president. Regarding the separate bill offered by Reid, the Associated Press reported that "Reid's latest proposal would give the president one year to get troops out, ending funding for combat operations after March 31, 2008." Since announcing his proposal, Reid has specifically stated that "Democrats are determined to make sure the troops have the funds they need."
Later in the program, Schieffer asked about Cheney's claim in May 2005 to CNN's Larry King that the Iraqi insurgency was in its "last throes," but failed to challenge Cheney's response that this remark "was geared specifically to the fact that we'd just had an election in Iraq where some 12 million people defied the car bombers and the assassins and for the first time participated in a free election." In fact, as the weblog Think Progress noted in June 2006 -- when Cheney also claimed that his "last throes" remark was meant to refer to political progress -- Cheney told King that "the level of activity that we see today, from a military standpoint, I think will clearly decline." Cheney went on to mention that "lead terrorist" Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been injured and suggested that this was a sign that "we're making major progress."
From the May 30, 2005, edition of CNN's Larry King Live:
KING: When do we leave?
CHENEY: We'll leave as soon as the task is over with. We haven't set a deadline or a date. It depends upon conditions. We have to achieve our objectives, complete the mission. And the two main requirements are, the Iraqis in a position to be able to govern themselves, and they're well on their way to doing that, and the other is able to defend themselves, and they're well on their way to doing that. They just announced that in the last day or two here, there've been stories about a major movement of some 40,000 Iraqi troops into Baghdad to focus specifically on the problem there.
KING: You expect it in your administration?
CHENEY: I do.
KING: To be removed. It's not going to be -- it's not going to be a 10-year event?
CHENEY: No. I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time. But I think the level of activity that we see today, from a military standpoint, I think will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency. We've had reporting in recent days, Larry, about Zarqawi, who's sort of the lead terrorist, outside terrorist, Al Qaeda, head of Al Qaeda for Iraq, may well have been seriously injured. We don't know. We can't confirm that. We've had reporting to that effect.
So I think we're making major progress. And, unfortunately, as I say, it does involve sending young Americans in harm's way. But America will be safer in the long run when Iraq and Afghanistan as well are no longer safe havens for terrorists or places where people can gather and plan and organize attacks against the United States.
From the April 15 edition of CBS' Face the Nation:
CHENEY: Some of the leadership on the other side has suggested they won't pass any bill at all, or Harry Reid now has said he's adamantly opposed to any funding for the troops. On the other hand, [Sen.] Carl Levin [D-MI], who's chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has indicated that they definitely do want to pass funding for the troops even if they don't have the votes to override the president's veto on the limitation provisions and on the pork that's in the bill.
SCHIEFFER: I guess what struck me, though, about your speech was -- I mean, you started out by calling these congressional leaders irresponsible, and I wonder how does that stay -- set the stage for productive talks?
CHENEY: Well, I think it's important they know where we stand. And the fact of the matter is, I do believe that the positions that the Democratic leaders have taken, and to a large extent, now, are irresponsible. I mean, Harry Reid last fall said -- this is after the November elections -- that he would not support an effort to cut off funding for the troops. Then he changed that position to one in which he would support an effort to cut off funding for the troops, place limitations on the funding. And now he's to the point where he's saying he's going to support legislation that cuts the whole funding for the troops. He's done a complete 180 from where he was in five months.
I think that is irresponsible. I think you cannot make the basic, fundamental decisions that have to be made with respect to the nation's security, given everything that's at stake in the war on terror, and what we're doing in Iraq, and with the 140,000 American troops in the field in Iraq in combat every day, and call that kind of rapid changes in position anything other than irresponsible.
SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you, because it leads me to this question, Mr. Vice President, you have throughout this war been optimistic about how things were going. Two years ago, you told Larry King, "I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."
What did you base that on at that time? Because there were many people had a totally different view of what was happening and it, you know, it brings us down to where we are now. And, I mean, why should people believe you now when so many times, in the past, the statements from this administration have proved to be incorrect?
CHENEY: Well, partly we have to respond to questions from the press, and we do the best we can with what we know at the time. My statement at the time that you referenced was geared specifically to the fact that we'd just had an election in Iraq where some 12 million people defied the car bombers and the assassins and for the first time participated in a free election. And we had three elections in 2005 in Iraq. We set up a provisional government, then we had a ratification of a brand new constitution, and then elections under that constitution of the new government, a new government that's in place now. I still think, in the broad sweep of history, those will have been major turning points in the war in Iraq.
Responding to the April 16 mass shooting at Virginia Tech, right-wing pundit Debbie Schlussel "speculat[ed]" in an April 16 weblog post that the shooter, who had been identified at that point only as a man of Asian descent, might be a "Paki" Muslim and part of "a coordinated terrorist attack." "Paki" is a disparaging term for a person of Pakistani descent.
Schlussel wrote, "The murderer has been identified by law enforcement and media reports as a young Asian male," adding, "The Virginia Tech campus has a very large Muslim community, many of which are from Pakistan." Schlussel continued: "Pakis are considered 'Asian,' " and asked, "Were there two [shooters] and was this a coordinated terrorist attack?" Schlussel asserted that the reason she was "speculating that the 'Asian' gunman is a Pakistani Muslim" was "[b]ecause law enforcement and the media strangely won't tell us more specifically who the gunman is." Schlussel claimed that "[e]ven if it does not turn out that the shooter is Muslim, this is a demonstration to Muslim jihadists all over that it is extremely easy to shoot and kill multiple American college students."
In updates to her posting, after more information became known about the shooter, Schlussel first claimed that "[t]he shooter has now been identified as a Chinese national here on a student visa," which she called "[y]et another reason to stop letting in so many foreign students." Schlussel later wrote that the killer was a "South Korean national." The killer was later identified as Cho Seung-Hui, "a South Korean who was a resident alien in the United States."
As Media Matters for America noted, in a December 18, 2006, online post headlined "Barack Hussein Obama: Once a Muslim, Always A Muslim," Schlussel argued that because Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) middle name is Hussein, his late, estranged father was of Muslim descent, and he has shown interest in his father's Kenyan heritage, Obama's "loyalties" must be called into question. As Media Matters also noted, on the June 14 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, Schlussel falsely claimed that "there wasn't a peep" from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) when Suha Arafat, wife of former Palestinian National Authority president Yasir Arafat, stated that Israelis "poison Palestinian water and air and cause cancer for them." In fact, according to an October 6, 2000, New York Times article, Clinton disavowed Arafat's remarks after receiving an official translation "hours later."
In reports repeating false and baseless attacks on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) recent trip to Syria, major media outlets continue to omit an important fact that undermines those attacks. According to a report Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz published before Pelosi's visit to Syria, the real message Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asked Pelosi to deliver to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad was that Israel has no plans to launch a pre-emptive military strike on Syria this summer. Three members of Pelosi's congressional delegation, including Pelosi herself, have since confirmed this was the message they received from Olmert. Yet outside of a single Associated Press report, major American news organizations have altogether ignored what appears to have been the essential element of Olmert's message, even as they reported a "clarification" by Olmert's office stating that Israel's policy toward Syria remained the same as it was before Pelosi's visit.
Before Pelosi had even returned to the United States, major media figures were issuing stinging criticism of her trip. The Washington Post editorial board opened the flood gates with an April 5 editorial titled "Pratfall in Damascus," which declared that Pelosi had "misrepresent[ed]" a message from Olmert to Assad. As evidence, the Post pointed to Pelosi's remark at an April 4 press conference that she had "communicate[d] a message from Prime Minister Olmert that Israel was ready to engage in peace talks," and an April 4 statement of "clarification" by Olmert's office that stated, "What was communicated to the U.S. House Speaker does not contain any change in the policies of Israel." Media figures representing other major news organizations such as CNN and Newsweek quickly echoed the Post, suggesting that Pelosi had "fumbled" Olmert's message and made "rookie mistakes" during her Syria trip.
The allegations that Pelosi distorted Olmert's message rest entirely on the premise that Pelosi failed to deliver the preconditions Israel has long set for negotiations with Syria -- that the Syrians end their support for Hamas and Hezbollah, two groups deemed terrorist entities by the Israeli government. Both Pelosi and the rest of her bipartisan seven-member delegation have disputed that charge, as Media Matters has noted. But more to the point, media outlets that have accused Pelosi of misrepresenting Israel's message ignore an essential fact: As blogger Joshua Micah Marshall detailed in an April 8 entry for the weblog TalkingPointsMemo.com, before Pelosi had arrived in Syria, Ha'aretz reported on April 3 that Israel had instructed Pelosi to deliver "a message of calm" to the Syrians, in order to avert "the possibility of a Syrian attack on the Golan Heights that will start as a result of a 'miscalculation' on the part of the Syrians, who may assume that Israel intends to attack them." From Ha'aretz:
Israel's political and military leadership has been preparing in recent weeks for the possibility of a Syrian attack on the Golan Heights that will start as a result of a "miscalculation" on the part of the Syrians, who may assume that Israel intends to attack them.
Israel, however, has delivered a calming message, and has no plans to attack its northern neighbor.
According to information Israel received, the Syrians are concerned that the United States will carry out an attack against Iran's nuclear installations in the summer, and in parallel Israel would strike Syria and Lebanon.
The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, is scheduled to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus today, and will deliver a message of calm from Israel.
"We hope the message will be understood," political sources in Israel said yesterday. "The question is whether Assad is looking for an excuse ... so that he can carry out an attack against Israel in the summer, or whether this is a mistaken assessment."
Nonetheless, apart from an April 8 report by the Associated Press and an April 11 article in California's San Mateo County Times, U.S. print and television outlets have completely ignored the Ha'aretz report (again, published before the Pelosi meeting and press conference) that Israel sought to have the delegation deliver a "message of calm," even though at least three members of the delegation -- Pelosi, Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) -- upon returning from Syria, repeated that this was the message that Israel had wanted delivered:
- During an interview with National Public Radio host Robert Siegel on the April 6 broadcast of NPR's All Things Considered, Pelosi stated that the "thrust" of the message she received from Olmert was that "we are not preparing for war -- that was the important part of it -- we are not preparing for war":
SIEGEL: [A]ccording to the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz the other day, the statement from the prime minister's office, from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office, said that Olmert had told Pelosi that Israel continued to regard Syria, quote, "as part of the axis of evil and a party encouraging terrorism in the entire Middle East." If I heard you, you didn't -- you don't recall him saying that in you conversation.
PELOSI: No. What he told us was that the thrust of his statement is that Israel is prepared to go to the negotiating table; we are not preparing for war -- that was the important part of it -- we are not preparing for war; we're prepared to go to negotiation when Syria takes steps to stop its support of Hamas and Hezbollah.
SIEGEL: And you say that's what you told Syrian President Assad?
PELOSI: Well, not only just I; Tom Lantos, Henry Waxman, two strong supporters of Israel who -- we had made a very direct message to the president on that score.
- In an April 8 article (also flagged by Marshall on Talking Points Memo) for the Jewish Telgraphic Agency, a Jewish news service, reporter Ron Kampeas wrote that Lantos said Israel instructed the delegation to convey the "routine message" that it would negotiate with Syria, if Syria ceased supporting terrorism, in order to signal that "Israel was not in an aggressive posture":
Delegation members suggested that after the meeting with Olmert, they were left wondering why Olmert was eager to convey such a routine message -- that Israel would talk peace if Syria ended its backing for terrorism.
The answer, Lantos said, suggested itself the morning after, when Israeli papers said Olmert was concerned that Assad was gearing up for a summer war based on the misconception that Israel was ready to attack in concert with a U.S. strike on Iran. Olmert had no such intentions.
The leaks to the papers suggested that Olmert's message was less one of new content than of timing. By conveying a peaceful message, Olmert wanted to make sure Assad understood that Israel was not in an aggressive posture.
- An April 8 Associated Press article reported Ellison's assertion that Olmert "very clearly said he was worried that Syria might misinterpret some things that were happening in Israel, and he didn't want to end up in an accidental war with them. ... So he told us to tell them that he was not planning to attack them."
A sidebar on the conservative website Townhall.com features a cartoon of a bearded man with a rifle -- presumably Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden -- wearing a button that reads "Obama 2008." In the image, the man is smiling and giving a thumbs-up. As of April 17, the sidebar appears aside every column on the website and invites visitors to "Click Here" for "More Funnies." The image is linked to Townhall.com's "The Funnies," a collection of political cartoons by "Townhall.com Cartoonists."
Media Matters for America has documented numerous examples of media figures' making reference to Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) name and its similarity to "Osama."
On the April 16 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh called Media Matters for America "Stalinist" and part of the "Clinton machine agenda." He further falsely asserted that Media Matters receives funding from philanthropist George Soros and that he is "not demeaning people on this program in any way."
Limbaugh asserted that syndicated radio host Don Imus was fired because he was "critical of [Sen.] Hillary [Clinton (D-NY)]," and added, "This is an election year. Clinton Inc., you get on their case, they're going to take you out." Limbaugh continued, "[W]hen I say the Clinton team, I include Media Matters for America, this supposed tax-exempt media watchdog group," adding, falsely, "[T]hey are George Soros-funded. This is clearly part of the Democrat [sic] Party machine." As Media Matters noted when Internet gossip Matt Drudge described Media Matters as a "Soros operation," Media Matters has never received funding from progressive philanthropist George Soros.
Limbaugh said that the purpose of Media Matters is to "kill conservative information, which it labels 'misinformation,' " based on "the template [that] conservatives are racist, and as such they have to be banned."
Limbaugh also asserted, "I'm not going to let the Democrat Party or the left or some lackey watchdog group or a couple of race hustlers dictate my speech," and added, "They don't get to use the power of government to silence conservatives, which is their real purpose." Limbaugh also claimed, "We don't play rap music on this show. We're not demeaning people on this program in any way. We don't air South Park, we don't air MTV or Comedy Central on this show, and the rest of talk radio doesn't either." However, Media Matters has documented numerous examples of Limbaugh demeaning people on his program.
From the April 16 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: The ironical thing about this is, or the ironic thing is, that Imus is no conservative -- most of his guests were liberal -- but he was critical of Hillary. And so he had to go. This is an election year. Clinton Inc., you get on their case, they're going to take you out. They're going to do what they can to marginalize you or do whatever. I've seen a couple stories I was reading over the weekend, that the Clinton team saw their opportunity. And when I say the Clinton team, I include Media Matters for America, this supposed tax-exempt media watchdog group. It's just an arm of the Democrat Party. They have an agenda. They are tax-exempt, and they're doing nothing but advancing a political agenda. And they are George Soros-funded. This is clearly part of the Democrat Party machine. And I had some people say, "Rush, are you going to talk about this today, or are you going to ignore it and let it go?" And I said no, because the main point I want to make about this is that it is a Democrat operation. This Democrat operation ignores large swaths of entertainment and media.
We didn't hear about Bill Clinton's abuse of women from people outraged by that. That was a personal matter, it was sex, it was none of our business. In fact, when the Clintons took out against those women as "trailer trash," we all chuckled and laughed, and we got treated to James Carville talking about what you get when you drag a dollar bill through a trailer park. Where was the outrage over that? Where were the media watchdogs? This was coming from the office of the president of the United States. There's somebody who has genuine power. Hillary badmouthing the Bill Clinton women, unleashing the war room against them -- that was OK too because that showed her strength, that showed her devoted loyalty as a wife, that showed she's not going to stand by and let her man be impugned and so forth. So whatever they do, that's fine, they've got a built-in excuse. They can't hate, they don't hate, they're liberals. They have no evil intentions in their hearts; only right-wingers are guilty of that. And of course, you know, in the case of the Clinton women and the women he'd abused, it was right-wingers who were calling attention to it -- "The right wingers have hate in their hearts, right-wingers are just trying to take out our president, so we're going to circle the wagon around our president, we don't care what he did, it's a bunch of some right-wingers trying to take him out." It's a -- this is nothing but politics, it's a pure political agenda driven by the Democrat Party machine, you can bash Christians, you can compare the president and the military to Nazis. If you're [Sen.] Robert Byrd [D-WV], you can use the N-word on Fox News Sunday, and all of that is OK.
LIMBAUGH: I'm going to tell you something, folks, because there are literally tens of millions of us who are going to fight these people on the left every step of the way while they try to destroy the new media. And that includes talk radio, it includes the Internet, it includes Fox News, it includes conservative blogs. This is an election season, it's only going to intensify. The Left knows they can't win in the arena of ideas, in debates, on this show or anywhere else, so it's time to take them out. They got a trial run with this Imus thing, and they're feeling their oats. I'm certain and make no mistake, other people are in the crosshairs, and they're targets, and it's a Democrat Party machine operation that is getting this done. I look at this, and I say this is my country too. And I say I'm not going to let the Democrat Party or the left or some lackey watchdog group or a couple of race hustlers dictate my speech. Its just not -- I'm not going to let it happen. They don't get to use the power of government to silence conservatives, which is their real purpose. These are totalitarian tactics that they are employing here. It's the liberal constituency that repeatedly and daily demeans people -- black, white, in between, I don't care. We don't play rap music on this show. We're not demeaning people on this program in any way. We don't air South Park, we don't air MTV or Comedy Central on this show, and the rest of talk radio doesn't either. Now look at [Rev. Al] Sharpton and [Rev. Jesse] Jackson. You've got two liberal Democrats who ran for president who are bowed to by the likes of Hillary and other Democrats despite their long history of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is a problem festering in the Democrat ranks, not in the Republican Party.
LIMBAUGH: And I'll tell you who's out there doing all this monitoring, and then reporting things out of context, and that's our old buddies at Media Matters for America. If you want to know what the liberal media are going to report as news, ask them. Ninety percent, it seems, of what is said about me in the drive-by media does not come from them hearing me say it. It comes from where they read it on these watchdog websites. They don't listen to this program. The latest example of this was good old John Harris at The Politico, who was told by people that I compared him and a buddy of his that left The Washington Post to the Indianapolis Colts. Never even talked about the Indianapolis Colts on the subject when it came up about the Edwards press conference and all of that. They don't listen to our shows. They go to these websites, which are part of the Democrat Party machine, and that's where they hear what was said, and they believe everything they see on these websites and everything they read. That's where they get their talking points. And they are taking direction, in essence -- they are taking their talking points and their direction from Democrat fundraisers -- George Soros, Hillary, the DNC -- because that's who it is that telling the rest of the country who don't hear what's said on this show what wasn't said.
LIMBAUGH: I've been in the crosshairs long before Imus knew what it was like to be in the crosshairs, by a Democrat-funded arm of their machine, as Media Matters for America, tax-exempt foundation -- and what they do is they listen to these programs, all of them, and they put them up there, and that's where drive-by media types and the liberals hear -- or rather, a better point, they read what is said on this program within the context that the watchdog groups choose to present it. And the -- they never listen, they do not listen to this program or any others. They wouldn't deign to lower themselves. So they rely on these watchdogs. Mainstream media reporters do it. They all do.
I'm going to say something. I asked Mr. Snerdley here at the break if he thought this would sound too self-serving, and he said, "No, you've got to say it." These people that are doing the watchdogging, these people who are running these websites as arms of the Democrat machine and are agenda-driven. All of the critics of this program, they wouldn't last a week behind this microphone, with the scrutiny that I've had. They wouldn't last a week with the scrutiny they give anyone else in conservative broadcast media. They couldn't handle it. Most of these people read cue cards on the morning shows or TelePrompTers or on the newscasts. You put them behind a microphone with no net, you put them there with no guests, you put them there and you say, "15 hours and you make it so that people want to listen," and they couldn't do it. And the first moment they were criticized, they would go bonkers and batty. They couldn't handle it, folks. They could not deal with the character assassination, they couldn't with the out-of-context and lies -- out-of-context reports and lies, which are nothing more than attempts to destroy my credibility and others. These are people who couldn't do what we do if their lives depended on it, and succeed at it.
Another thing about talk radio -- this is a spoken-word medium. It is not the printed word. When you print what is sometimes said on talk radio, and you don't get the context, and you haven't listened, and all you're doing is reading it, you can draw an entirely incorrect inference and conclusion from what has been said. And this is understood by the watchdog groups, who purposely structure what they print about what is said on this program in a way to influence the drive-bys and others, who only -- I'm going to give you the equivalent. Let's just say I decided to rely on somebody who literally hates The New York Times for my knowledge of what's in The New York Times. Let's say I decided to stop reading it, and I assigned somebody who I know who hates it to tell me every day what's in it, and then came in every day on this program as an expert about what's in The New York Times. That's what these watchdog groups are doing. They're listening to it, they're characterizing it out of context, they're putting it in print, a spoken-word format, and then the people who claim to be the experts in journalism in telling us what happened when we weren't there to see it. They don't listen to the source, they don't take the time to find out what was really said or hear the context, they just believe everything that was written and said about it by people who have an agenda that is paid for by the Democrat Party.
LIMBAUGH: You know what's said here and how it's said and what isn't said. So you are easily able to recognize when a bunch of BS is going down. You are able to recognize the attacks that are taken out of context and so forth, and you don't get squeamish and the -- "Oh my gosh, I can't support this anymore, I can't listen to this" -- because you know, because you listen every day, that the attacks on this program aren't rooted in any kind of fact or truth but, rather, out-of-context innuendo on any number of things. And for that, I can never fully repay everybody. The thank you that I have will have to be sufficient.
LIMBAUGH: See, here's the thing. This is the way this is all shaping up out there. You can't criticize people on the radio. You can't do it. You can't attack them. You can't defend yourself. You can't defend others who are attacked by the Democrats. You can't do this on radio, but you can do it on the floor of Congress. You can go to the floor of Congress, the floor the House, floor of the Senate. You can say some of the most despicable things about people -- as [Sen.] Tom Harkin [D-IA] has about me or his fellow senators. You can do that all day long and nobody will -- can't -- we're not going to stop that.
Congressional hearings? How about how they try to destroy the character and the careers of judicial nominees at the Senate Judiciary Committee? You can do that all day long and Media Matters won't care, and the drive-by -- in fact, they'll love it. They love it. This is cool. And these senators are written up as great heroes for daring to tell the truth about these despicable conservatives who want to take over the court and deny you women the right to choose, or whatever other fear tactic they lie about. TV news hit jobs? Television news can do a hit job and destroy anybody they want. The New York Times can do a hit job and destroy anybody they want.
But you can't do this on radio, because they're going to come after you. You do this on radio -- conservatives do this in the alternative media. Now, I'm going to tell you what the objective is out there, folks, in case some of you are all entertained by this. Understand that this is a Democrat Party, drive-by media, Clinton image machine -- or Clinton machine agenda. And it is to suppress and kill conservative information, which it labels "misinformation." The conservative information by definition, according to the template of the drive-by media and the Media Matters of the world, is "misinformation." But they will say that their purpose is to eliminate conservative information because it's misinformation. Because there's a template, and the template is conservatives are racist, and as such they have to be banned. Of course. In the culture, we can't put up with this. They've gotta be banned from cable. They've gotta be banned from Fox News. They've gotta be banned from radio.
Conservatives are also liars. That's another template: Conservatives are liars. They've gotta be snuffed out -- and this is the purpose of the drive-by media, the Democrat Party, and the Clintons, who are funding with their supporters all these watchdog efforts.
This is Stalinist, folks. This is an attack on certain kinds of information that is protected by a template which says, "All conservative information is misinformation. It is reported by liars and racists," and that's the foundation under which they all proceed, and they're all in on it. It's -- and that is what is happening. It's -- you know, it's a general rule, they would love to do this. But we're gearing up for this election, and if you don't think that in the drive-by media and the Democrat Party, if you don't think 2008 is all about the Clintons getting back in the White House, you've got another thing coming. I'm going to tell you today, I'm gonna sit here and I'm gonna tell you -- as we sit here today, there is an 80 percent chance that Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States, if you look at the way things are falling out right now.
They're trying to take out [former New York City Mayor] Rudy Giuliani [R]. Guess what? Rudy's a draft-dodger now. Did you see the story over the weekend? Rudy Giuliani -- well, you know, Clinton was a draft-dodger, so they got Rudy. Rudy's a draft-dodger. Whatever was said about Clinton, they're going after it. Rudy is a draft-dodger. Rudy is a philanderer. Whatever it is, they're doing everything they can to take Rudy out.
Everybody says, "Well, what about [Sen. Barack] Obama [D-IL]? What about Obama and the money?" Folks. If you are the -- and I know there are stories out there how the Clintons are worried about Obama, and not just on this fundraising stuff but his godlike status to the godless and so forth. If you're the Clinton machine, and your single competitor is somebody with less than two years' experience in these foxholes, do you really think they are worried about Barack Obama? If you have fallen for the notion that the Clinton machine is sort of upside down and discombobulated and doesn't quite know what's going on here, you are falling for more myths from the media, which is designed to make it look like she has real competition so that she can overcome obstacles rather than being this candidate of inevitability, which she is. So they're trying to make it look like she's got a serious challenge and she's up to it, and she can handle it. But I'm telling you, I know the Clinton machine. If you think they are seriously worried about somebody with as little experience as Obama has in these kinds of things, then you're falling -- you're being sucked in for all this. There is an 80 percent chance this woman's going to be the next president, as things sit here today. In politics, everything can change, and it can change on a moment's notice.
But all of these attacks and all of this budding attempt -- and it's not new, it's just intensifying now -- to discredit conservative information as misinformation reported by liars and racists, is about destroying the credibility of anybody who has anything in opposition, to save the Clintons and their quest to be re-ensconced in the White House. It's what all this is about. It's also about making sure that if Mrs. Clinton wins and so forth, that there won't be an alternative media. Hello, Fairness Doctrine. Hello, all of these things to just squelch it. They don't want to hear it. They want to go back to their monopoly days. And that's what this is all about. So when you keep talking about this in the context of Imus, it's so much more about things having nothing to do with Imus than you would possibly believe. In fact, don't get distracted when you think about this by putting it in the context of Imus. If it was about Imus, it would be over, wouldn't it? And it's not, is it?
LIMBAUGH: I read that. I forget where, but I read that I think this morning, it might have been yesterday, that Imus had refused to have Clinton on the show, Hillary, Mrs. Bill Clinton, and had called her Satan and so forth. And somebody speculated that's what motivated the Clintons to aim at Imus and finally take him out.
I don't know whether I -- look it, all I know is this; With the Clintons there are no coincidences. But I -- this is speculation on something I don't know. I think this would have happened whether the Clinton machine had sent marching orders out to anybody or not. So I -- I want to stress this again, and I don't mean to insult anybody here. This is not about Imus. If you keep focusing on the Imus aspect of this, you're going to be distracted from seeing what the real objective here is.
Nothing against Imus saying this, and he probably would disagree. "It's all about me, Limbaugh. What are you talking about?" But he's irrelevant in this now. Look, if it was about Imus, it would be over with. But you've got Sharpton, "I've got my list," he's saying. "I've got my list of who's next, and I've got this," and the Media Matters people -- they're all lining up to -- this is a big notch in the belt here. And this is just the beginning.
Well, it's not even that. This is the biggest get so far. And, of course, for people who did the get, who got the got, this is fuel, motivation, inspiration. You think these people aren't out there celebrating, flexing their muscles? "Look at the power we've got."
And, of course, what is it that made them -- gave them that power? It was a bunch of executives at CBS and NBC cowering in fear in the corners to a number of things, and the elevation of Al Sharpton and the Reverend Jackson as the arbiters of public morality and public taste. Now, you go figure that. If somebody can figure it -- now, I know they've got their positions of power because the Democrat Party has elevated them there, but there's nothing more absurd that that, I mean that's just patently ridiculous. And it is what it is because the objective is the point, not whether they have any credibility doing it. They don't care about being credible while they're doing it they just want is their results.
In the wake of a deadly shooting rampage that killed over 30 people on the campus of Virginia Tech, host John Gibson asked on the April 16 edition of Fox News' The Big Story: "So, theoretically, in this lecture hall where all 31 were killed, there could have been someone with a carry permit carrying their gun to shoot the shooter?" Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano replied: "No," adding, "Virginia lets you carry a gun at a gas station or a bank or a stadium, but not on a college campus, where you may protect kids."
Napolitano and Gibson's comments echo those of right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin, who, citing an op-ed written by a Virginia Tech spokesperson, noted on her weblog that the university prohibits handguns. She then quoted a weblog post from "Andrew's Dad," who wrote: "Just imagine if students were armed. We no longer need to imag[in]e what will happen when they are not armed." Malkin also quoted an email from "[r]eader Kevin" who claimed: "Imagine if sensible CCW [Concealed Carry Weapon] laws allowed people to defend themselves, this tragedy could have been avoided."
From the April 16 edition of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson:
GIBSON: Judge Napolitano is also here with us. Judge has been looking into the law. They're -- people in Virginia have carry permits.
NAPOLITANO: Virginia is one the easiest states in the Union for anyone without a felony conviction, who's over the age of 21, and was a permanent resident of the state, to get a license to own and carry a concealed weapon. Meaning, you have it under your jacket, under your garment -- no one knows you have it.
GIBSON: So, theoretically, in this lecture hall where all 31 were killed, there could have been someone with a carry permit carrying their gun to shoot the shooter?
NAPOLITANO: No, because the same people that just dropped the ball, as Bo just described, that allowed 32 additional people to die, also said: "Virginia lets you carry a gun at a gas station or a bank or a stadium, but not on a college campus, where you may protect kids." So nobody has guns there except the college campus police. The professors --
GIBSON: And the criminal.
NAPOLITANO: And the criminal. Professors don't have guns, and the students don't have guns, even though they could lawfully carry them as soon as they get off campus.
On the April 15 broadcast of NBC-syndicated The Chris Matthews Show, Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial page editor Cynthia Tucker claimed that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is "a real libertarian." Tucker also said that McCain is "an Arizona conservative, not an Alabama conservative," presumably a reference to the late Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ). In the same broadcast, host Chris Matthews continued to praise McCain and repeated his claim that McCain "deserves to be president." He also supported Tucker's assertion that McCain is "a real libertarian." However, both Tucker and Matthews ignored McCain's positions on gay rights and abortion, both of which have conflicted with the principles of libertarianism in the past, as Media Matters for America has documented.
After playing a video clip from the October 19, 2002, edition of NBC's Saturday Night Live, hosted by McCain, in which he portrayed then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, Matthews asked: "Has anybody any question as to why the conservatives don't like this guy? ... [T]here he is lampooning one of their guys, talking about a police state and mocking the Patriot Act and the whole works." Tucker replied: "Well, John McCain ... is a real libertarian. He's an Arizona conservative, not an Alabama conservative. But many conservatives believe you don't criticize within the group. That's why they don't like him." Tucker's characterization of McCain as a "real libertarian" echoes that of Republican strategist Michelle Laxalt, who, as Media Matters documented, said that McCain "matches a lot of the maverick, [former President Ronald] Reagan, [former Sen. Paul] Laxalt [R-NV], individualistic, and civil libertarian in many respects." Like Laxalt, Tucker offered no examples of McCain's purported "libertarian[ism]." McCain has a lifetime score of only 23 percent from the American Civil Liberties Union.
Furthermore, this is not the first time Matthews has claimed that McCain "deserves" to be president. On the January 22 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, Matthews said that McCain "has deserved the presidency. Whether he should be president or not, it's up to the voters. But he's certainly done a lot." Media Matters has documented other examples of Matthews praising McCain. For instance, on the February 13 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, Matthews lauded McCain's "maverick reputation" and "the cut of [his] jib." Matthews has also described McCain as "a firm man" and called him "kind of like a Martin Luther."
From the April 15 broadcast of NBC-syndicated The Chris Matthew's Show:
MITCHELL: I think that the maverick image is yesterday, but there is still -- as Dan and the others have been saying -- there's still a place for him in this campaign. It's not as the maverick. I don't think he can campaign as the maverick when he's embraced the Bush agenda and this unpopular war. But he still can try to reclaim that conservative base.
MATTHEWS: OK, let's be unusually brutal on this show, although I think the guy deserves to be president in terms of all his service to the country, and here we are saying he's yesterday's news. Cynthia, can he make it through to February 5th, when we have this tsunami Tuesday and all these big primaries?
TUCKER: I think he will make it until then, Chris, but he may not come out on the other side.
MATTHEWS: Before we go to break, by the way, John McCain's political stardom has also made him a comedy star, whether he's making appearances with Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jon Stewart, or in a cameo in The Wedding Crashers. But McCain really hit the big time when he hosted Saturday Night Live in 2002. In one particular sketch with a familiar-looking host, he pretended to be hard-nosed Attorney General John Ashcroft:
[begin video clip]
DARRELL HAMMOND (actor impersonating Matthews): Attorney General, we're going to start with you. How do we make this country feel safe again?
McCAIN (impersonating Ashcroft): Chris, security starts with vigilance. As Americans, we will never truly be free until each and every one of us is afraid of being thrown into jail. And thanks to the TIPS program, we've been able to detain tens of thousands of potential American terrorists for months at a time for little or no reason, just like the founding fathers dreamed.
[end of video clip]
MATTHEWS: Has anybody any question as to why the conservatives don't like this guy? Cynthia, there he is lampooning one of their guys, talking about a police state and mocking the Patriot Act and the whole works.
TUCKER: Well, John McCain has -- is a real libertarian. He's an Arizona conservative, not an Alabama conservative. But many conservatives believe you don't criticize within the group. That's why they don't like him.
MATTHEWS: I know, and there he is taking Manhattan by storm.
Following a New York Times report that conservative financier Richard Mellon Scaife will not fund attacks on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), an April 15 column in the Scaife-owned Pittsburgh Tribune-Review compared Clinton to Lady Macbeth and three of her supporters, Geraldine Ferraro, Madeleine Albright, and Billie Jean King, to the "three hags -- witches" in Shakespeare's Macbeth who, according to the column, "aided" Lady Macbeth. The column added that Ferraro, Albright, and King "bring together 200 years of mostly bitter experience to Hillary's presumed need for champions." The author of the column is not identified beyond "a Washington-based British journalist and political observer."
The column added:
Putting Shakespeare and his snakes, newts and caldrons aside, Hillary's ladies, unlike Macbeth's witches, have "fear" as a vital ingredient to add to their 2007 mix. By telling her detractors that Hillary, and she alone, can save America from the disasters prophesied hourly on television, they hope to make Bill "the first gentleman."
Scaife, who gained notoriety in the 1990s for bankrolling attacks against the Clintons, is the longtime owner of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. In a February 16 article, The New York Times, noting that Scaife "spent more than $2 million investigating and publicizing accusations about the supposed involvement of Mrs. Clinton and former President Bill Clinton in corrupt land deals, sexual affairs, drug running and murder," reported: "But now, as Mrs. Clinton is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, Mr. Scaife's checkbook is staying in his pocket." Although Scaife did not comment for the article, the Times reported that Scaife business partner Christopher Ruddy said of himself and Scaife, " 'Both of us have had a rethinking.' Ruddy added, 'Clinton wasn't such a bad president. ... In fact, he was a pretty good president in a lot of ways, and Dick [Richard Mellon Scaife] feels that way today.' "
Clinton was famously dubbed "the Lady Macbeth of Little Rock" in an August 1992 American Spectator feature article by Daniel Wattenberg titled, "The Lady Macbeth of Little Rock; Hillary Clinton's hard-left past and present."
From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's April 15 Dateline D.C. column:
Four hundred years ago, William Shakespeare wrote a play telling the story of King Macbeth of Scotland. A good story loves to repeat itself:
Macbeth reveals the tragedy of a woman's lust for power and betrayal of friends; Lady Macbeth is aided in her purpose by three aged creatures, the Weird Sisters. These three hags -- witches -- call up "snakes, newts and the toes of frogs" to conjure a "hell's broth" of "furies" to plague man as they hobble and prance around a steaming cauldron on a wind-swept heath.
But that was then, and this is now. Hillary Clinton is seeking the power of the presidency and three very respected elderly ladies have vowed to form a "rapid rebuttal force" of well-known women to defend and promote Sen. Clinton's candidacy.
This force, bringing together 200 years of mostly bitter experience to Hillary's presumed need for champions, is led by a candidate for vice president 23 years ago, Geraldine Ferraro.
Madeleine Albright, another septuagenarian on the response team, is known for her wonderful ability to juggle friends and business interests with politics. Bill Clinton made her secretary of State because she had won power and friends in the Democratic Party by advising losers.
The third acknowledged member of the Hillary "truth squad" is the world tennis professional Billie Jean King. She is remembered by many for her wonderful net play and her saying, "Victory is fleeting. Losing is forever!" She also is known for winning the Battle of the Sexes in 1973 against male tennis pro Bobby Riggs, the high point of her (if not his) career.
Putting Shakespeare and his snakes, newts and caldrons aside, Hillary's ladies, unlike Macbeth's witches, have "fear" as a vital ingredient to add to their 2007 mix. By telling her detractors that Hillary, and she alone, can save America from the disasters prophesied hourly on television, they hope to make Bill "the first gentleman."
An April 16 New York Times article headlined " 'Nothing to Hide,' Gonzales Insists Before Hearing," which previewed Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales' upcoming testimony before Congress on the scandal involving the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, reported that Gonzales would claim "he had 'nothing to hide' and that none of the prosecutors were removed to influence the outcome of a case," but did not report that a former Justice Department official involved with the firings has reportedly made statements undermining a key assertion Gonzales has made. The article noted that Gonzales "is certain to be asked on Tuesday about his own recollection of events" and that "Michael A. Battle, the former director of the department's United States attorney liaison office," has apparently contradicted Gonzales' claim that he "was not involved in seeing any memos," and "was not involved in any discussions about" the dismissals. However, according to Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Battle -- the official who informed the U.S. attorneys that they were to be fired -- told the committee that shortly before the firings, he was unaware of "performance problems" with all but one of the fired U.S. attorneys, even though Gonzales has claimed that the prosecutors were dismissed for performance reasons. By contrast, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Associated Press all reported Schumer's statements about Battle.
On January 18, Gonzales suggested in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the firings were performance related. Responding to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Gonzales stated of the dismissals: "What we do is we make an evaluation about the performance of individuals, and I have a responsibility to the people in your district that we have the best possible people in these positions." In a March 7 USA Today column, Gonzales further asserted: "To be clear, it was for reasons related to policy, priorities and management -- what have been referred to broadly as 'performance-related' reasons -- that seven U.S. attorneys were asked to resign last December." And, as Media Matters for America has previously noted, then-deputy attorney general Paul McNulty testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 6 that the dismissals were "performance-related," with the exception of H.E. "Bud" Cummins III, who was fired before December. Indeed, McNulty testified that Cummins' resignation was forced "to provide a fresh start with a new person in that position." This "new person" was J. Timothy Griffin, a former aide to White House senior adviser Karl Rove who replaced Cummins as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas in December 2006. As Media Matters has also noted, a majority of the dismissed U.S. attorneys had received positive performance evaluations before being fired.
But in reporting on Gonzales' upcoming testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which Gonzales is to be questioned on numerous apparently conflicting statements regarding the dismissals of the U.S. attorneys, the Times did not report that Schumer said Battle -- who oversaw the 93 U.S. attorneys -- stated he had no knowledge of performance problems with all but one of the fired U.S. attorneys, around the time in which he dismissed them. Reports vary as to whether Battle told the committee he "was not aware of performance problems with respect to several of the U.S. attorneys" the day of or just prior to firing the prosecutors in question. Instead, the Times article reported only that Battle "has told Congressional staff members that Mr. Gonzales was at the meeting when a memorandum was circulated that provided a detailed outline of the plan to dismiss the prosecutors." By contrast, The Washington Post noted that, according to Schumer, Battle told congressional investigators that he "was aware of performance-related issues only with Kevin Ryan, the U.S. attorney for San Francisco":
The former Justice Department official who carried out the firings of eight U.S. attorneys last year told Congress that all but one of the prosecutors had no performance problems and that a memo on the firings was distributed at a Nov. 27 meeting attended by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, a Democratic senator said yesterday.
The statements to House and Senate investigators by Michael A. Battle, former director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, represent another potential challenge to the credibility of Gonzales, who has said he never saw any documents about the firings and had "lost confidence" in the prosecutors because of performance problems.
Gonzales and his deputy, Paul J. McNulty, initially told Congress that the firings were due to "performance-related" problems. Subsequent e-mails and other documents released by Justice showed that most had positive job reviews, that they and other U.S. attorneys were ranked on whether they were "loyal Bushies," and that Gonzales was more deeply involved in the process than he has acknowledged.
The statements by Battle, who left his job last month, are the first details to emerge from more than 20 hours of interviews with four top Gonzales aides over the past two weeks by staff members on the House and Senate Judiciary committees. The last of those interviews was conducted yesterday with Sampson, who testified publicly last month that he was only an "aggregator" of information on the firings and that ultimate responsibility rested with Gonzales.
Battle told investigators that he was "not aware of performance problems with respect to several" of the prosecutors, until just days before he called to fire them, Schumer said in a conference call with reporters yesterday. Aides later said that Battle, whose job was to supervise the department's 93 U.S. attorneys, was aware of performance-related issues only with Kevin Ryan, the U.S. attorney for San Francisco.
Schumer said Battle also contradicted Gonzales's assertion at a March 13 news conference that he had not seen any documents or participated in any discussions about the firings. A memo related to the dismissals was passed out at a Nov. 27 meeting attended by Gonzales and others, Battle told investigators.
"Mike Battle remembers a memo was distributed," Schumer said.
Similarly, an April 16 Los Angeles Times article noted, "Schumer told reporters that Michael Battle, former head of the Justice Department office that oversees U.S. attorneys, knew nothing about any performance problems of several of those who were fired until shortly before he was directed to call them Dec. 7 and tell them they were being removed." An April 16 Associated Press report also stated that "Battle also said he 'was not aware of performance problems with respect to several of the U.S. attorneys' when he called to fire them, according to Schumer."
Discussing the firing of syndicated radio host Don Imus on the April 15 edition of the syndicated program The McLaughlin Group, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan asserted: "Imus said a stupid thing, he and [former executive producer Bernard McGuirk] did, two words for about three, four seconds in the morning. They apologized and apologized and apologized and asked for forgiveness, and two Christian ministers, [Revs. Al] Sharpton and [Jesse] Jackson, acted like lynch-mob leaders." In reference to Imus' calling the Rutgers University women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos," Buchanan later claimed: "Imus was lynched because he was a white male who said it."
As Media Matters for America documented, Buchanan wrote in his April 13 syndicated column: "Imus threw himself on the mercy of the court of elite opinion -- and that court, pandering to the mob, lynched him. Yet, for all his sins, he was a better man than the lot of them rejoicing at the foot of the cottonwood tree."
Buchanan was not the only media figure to describe Imus' firing as a "lynching." Discussing Imus' handling of the controversy in his April 15 New York Times column, Frank Rich wrote: "And perhaps even Don Imus himself, who, while talking way too much about black people he has known and ill children he has helped, took full responsibility for his own catastrophic remarks and didn't try to blame the ensuing media lynching on the press, bloggers or YouTube."
Also, talk-radio host Michael Smerconish wrote in his weekly column: "Ah, but the floodgates are now open. The cyber-lynching by faceless, nameless bloggers of talk-show hosts like me has begun."
In his column, Smerconish also defended comments he made while guest-hosting the November 23, 2005, broadcast on Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly. On that program, Smerconish complained about the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority's decision to provide a designated prayer area at Giants Stadium, a decision made after five Muslim men were observed praying near the stadium's main air duct during a New York Giants football game. Smerconish claimed: "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."
Defending his claim, Smerconish wrote in his April 15 column: "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."
From the April 15 edition of the syndicated program The McLaughlin Group:
JOHN McLAUGHLIN (host): Question: Who bears the responsibility for the ordeal these college students went through? Pat Buchanan.
BUCHANAN: First and foremost, Mr. [Mike] Nifong, the district attorney who went after them [the Duke University lacrosse players] and prosecuted them when mounting evidence showed that the charge was not only false but absurd.
But secondarily, these young men were really tried and convicted and lynched in a narrow court of public opinion down there in Raleigh, on their campus, by some professors, by some racial hustlers and others. And on cable TV, John, by a rush to judgment that they were guilty of a horrible crime when it turned out to be another Tawana Brawley situation.
BUCHANAN: Let me say this. Imus said a stupid thing, he and Bernie did, two words for about three, four seconds in the morning. They apologized and apologized and apologized and asked for forgiveness, and two Christian ministers, Sharpton and Jackson, acted like lynch-mob leaders. This was an example of real hate, John, real hate in America, but the hate was not from Imus, it was directed at him. There was no forgiveness. It was un-Christian -- it was un-Christian and un-American.
CLARENCE PAGE (Chicago Tribune columnist): Pat, if this was the first time forgiveness would be appropriate -- forgiveness would be appropriate if this was the first time, but it wasn't the first time.
BUCHANAN: Did he deserve to be lynched, then?
PAGE: He was fired back in the '70s and went back to Cleveland and worked his way back up the food chain.
BUCHANAN: OK, he made mistakes --
ELEANOR CLIFT (Newsweek contributing editor): Excuse me, he was not lynched. He was a victim of the modern America, where if the advertisers don't think you're selling and you're not marketable, they pull the advertising. It happens every day to lots of people.
BUCHANAN: Let me tell you something. This term "nappy-headed hos" comes out of the ghetto, it's slang, it's ugly stuff, it's terrible to women. It is constant on African-American radio. Imus was lynched because he was a white male who said it. That's why.
PAGE: He applied those words to the Rutgers women's basketball team --
BUCHANAN: They accepted --
PAGE: -- they were -- that was a cheap shot ---
BUCHANAN: They didn't ask for his head.
PAGE: That's why the country was outraged.
McLAUGHLIN: If a national plebiscite were held today, would it say that Imus should go or Imus should stay?
BUCHANAN: I think a couple days ago they would have said maybe he should go, but I think there's a tremendous backlash. There's the feeling that the guy asked for forgiveness and they hung him.
McLAUGHLIN: And he's good at what he does?
BUCHANAN: He's great at what he does. He's one of the best in the business.
McLAUGHLIN: And he can get anybody to talk -- has he contributed to the public policy?
BUCHANAN: He's not only contributed to the public policy, his show is the best morning show on the air.
From Frank Rich's April 15 New York Times column:
It's possible that the only people in this whole sorry story who are not hypocrites are the Rutgers teammates and their coach, C. Vivian Stringer. And perhaps even Don Imus himself, who, while talking way too much about black people he has known and ill children he has helped, took full responsibility for his own catastrophic remarks and didn't try to blame the ensuing media lynching on the press, bloggers or YouTube. Unlike Mel Gibson, Michael Richards and Isaiah Washington, to take just three entertainers who have recently delivered loud religious, racial or sexual slurs, Imus didn't hire a P.R. crisis manager and ostentatiously enter rehab or undergo psychiatric counseling. "I dished it out for a long time," he said on his show last week, "and now it's my time to take it."
From Michael Smerconish's April 15 syndicated column:
Only Imus knows for sure what was on his self-admittedly drug-damaged mind when he said those things. His apology sounded sincere. I myself do not believe he said something racist per se. It was a reach for a cheap laugh, not something said to be injurious to the Rutgers women.
Ah, but the floodgates are now open. The cyber-lynching by faceless, nameless bloggers of talk-show hosts like me has begun.
Individuals who hide behind the anonymity afforded by the Internet are seeking to squelch the First Amendment right of people whose identities are readily known and who, unlike their cowardly critics, put their names and credibility on the line each and every day on matters of public concern. Left unconfronted, it is a dangerous practice in the making.
The very day Imus was fired at CBS, I was alerted to a posting on Media Matters for America, a sophisticated Web site instrumental in stoking the flames for Imus' departure. The posting, titled "It's not just Imus," identified me as one of seven talk-show hosts in America who bear observation:
". . . [A]s Media Matters for America has extensively documented, bigotry and hate speech targeting, among other characteristics, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and ethnicity continue to permeate the airwaves through personalities such as Glenn Beck, Neal Boortz, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, Michael Smerconish, and John Gibson."
CLIPS: Kondracke on whether "political hero" McCain's war stance will "help" his campaign: "Boy, I hope so"
On the April 14 edition of Fox News' The Beltway Boys, co-host and Roll Call executive editor Morton M. Kondracke proclaimed that "John McCain was a war hero, and he's my idea of a political hero," explaining that McCain said in his April 11 speech to the Virginia Military Institute "that he'd rather lose a campaign than lose a war." Kondracke added: "And he said, 'If you think that the enemy wouldn't kill American kids, you're crazy.' And, you know -- and that is the lesson that Americans ought to take. They are going to come after us wherever we are, and they'll kill our kids as well." When asked by co-host and Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes, "Is this going to help the McCain campaign?" Kondracke responded: "Boy, I hope so."
As Media Matters for America has noted, according to a March 18 Washington Post article, "U.S. intelligence officials and outside experts" have said that unlike Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda in Iraq "poses little danger to the security of the U.S. homeland."
From the April 14 edition of Fox News' The Beltway Boys:
KONDRACKE: I mean, John McCain was a war hero, and he's my idea of a political hero. I mean, he said in this speech that he'd rather lose a campaign than lose a war. I don't know whether that's going to happen.
And just as another example of political courage, here he is trying to woo conservatives, and he voted against the Bush line on stem cells. That's another example of political courage.
Now he had another item in that speech where he talked about this chilling event where a car gets driven up to a checkpoint in Iraq, and the car was let through because there were two little kids sitting in the backseat. Car drives into a market. The driver gets out, leaves the kids in the backseat, and then blows it up in the middle of the market.
And he said, "If you think that the enemy wouldn't kill American kids, you're crazy." And, you know -- and that is the lesson that Americans ought to take. They are going to come after us wherever we are, and they'll kill our kids as well.
BARNES: I'll ask you the question: Is this going to help the McCain campaign?
KONDRACKE: Boy, I hope so.
BARNES: That was a -- that was a -- all right. Let me move on.
More spinonymous sourcing: Politico quoted GOP strategist "who declined to be named" attacking Obama
An April 13 Politico article by reporter Kenneth P. Vogel on German Ambassador Klaus Scharioth's attendance at an April 11 fundraiser for Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) quoted a "Republican strategist working on the 2008 presidential race" saying it was "a glaring sign of inexperience that [Obama] would showcase support from a foreign diplomat." According to Vogel, the strategist "declined to be named out of concern for the campaign." At no point did Vogel explain which campaign the Republican strategist was "concerned" about, or even what the anonymous strategist's "concern" was. Rather, Vogel simply allowed a Republican operative to attack a political opponent from behind the shield of anonymity.
From Vogel's April 13 Politico article:
Obama's campaign confirmed Scharioth's attendance but didn't answer several specific questions about it. Scharioth's spokesman stressed that the ambassador is not supporting Obama but rather trying to meet all the presidential candidates.
If Obama wins the Democratic presidential nomination, Republicans might try to use the incident to bolster criticism he's weak on national security and deferential to dovish countries in Europe, said University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato. But they'd try to apply the same storyline no matter the Democratic nominee, he said, adding: "The German ambassador committing a faux pas on one occasion isn't enough to ratchet up that equation."
A Republican strategist working on the 2008 presidential race differed. The strategist, who declined to be named out of concern for the campaign, called it "a glaring sign of inexperience that he would showcase support from a foreign diplomat."
After a long and distinguished career in the German foreign service, Scharioth, who has graduate degrees from the Fletcher School for international affairs at Tufts University, presented his credentials as the German ambassador to President Bush last March.
As Media Matters for America documented, Politico chief political correspondent Mike Allen wrote a 1,200-word March 27 article about Obama's purported inconsistencies, which even Allen characterized as "trivial." The article was headlined, "Rookie Mistakes Plague Obama."
LA Times claimed Dems "came to count on Imus," but obscured his attacks on Clinton and support for McCain
In an April 13 article about the cancellation of Don Imus' radio show by CBS Radio and its simulcast by MSNBC, the Los Angeles Times reported that "over the years, Democrats such as [former Rep. Harold] Ford [TN] came to count on Imus for the kind of sympathetic treatment that Republicans got from [radio host] Rush Limbaugh or [Fox News host] Sean Hannity." It was not until near the end of the article that the Times noted that not all Democrats could "count on" such "sympathetic treatment" from Imus: The paper informed readers that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), whom Imus vowed never to allow on his show, was "a frequent target of Imus' jokes." Moreover, while the Times noted that Republicans, such as Sen. John McCain (AZ), have also appeared on Imus in the Morning, it did not note that Imus said in January, "I'm going to vote for McCain at this point," or that he subsequently expressed support for former New York City Mayor and Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani.
In addition, the Times offered only thin evidence for its assertion that "some Democratic strategists are worried about how to fill the void" left by Imus. Of the two strategists the Times quoted suggesting that Imus' firing posed a problem for Democrats, one -- Dan Gerstein -- worked for Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (CT) in 2006 when Lieberman ran as an independent after losing the Democratic primary to challenger Ned Lamont:
With Imus' show canceled indefinitely because of his remarks about the Rutgers University women's basketball team, some Democratic strategists are worried about how to fill the void. For a national radio audience of white men, Democrats see few if any alternatives.
"This is a real bind for Democrats," said Dan Gerstein, an advisor to one of Imus' favorite regulars, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). "Talk radio has become primarily the province of the right, and the blogosphere is largely the province of the left. If Imus loses his microphone, there aren't many other venues like it around."
Jim Farrell, a former aide to 2000 presidential candidate and Imus regular [former Sen.] Bill Bradley [D-NJ], said the firing "creates a vacuum."
Addressing the Times article in an April 13 online chat, Washington Post congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman wrote: "I find Dan Gerstein's judgment on this to be suspect. I like Dan, but he's not exactly the spokesman for mainstream Democrats anymore." In an April 8 New York Post column, Gerstein described Giuliani as "a socially tolerant 9/11 hero" who has "an impressive record as a governmental CEO." In a March 30 post on his personal weblog, Dangerous Thoughts, Gerstein referred to Giuliani and McCain as "the two straight talkers currently leading the field."
The Times also reported that "Ford strategists believe his relationship with Imus was central to earning credibility in the eyes of white voters in conservative regions of Tennessee." However, the Times did not quote any Ford strategists and did not report that any Ford strategists believed Imus' firing would hurt Democrats in the future.
The article, headlined "Democratic politicians lose a soapbox with firing of Don Imus," cited Imus appearances by Ford, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), Bradley, and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), whom Imus endorsed for president in 2004. From the first three paragraphs of the Times article:
They came by the hundreds that hot August day in tiny Johnson City, Tenn., gathering on an asphalt parking lot to meet Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. It was not just that he might become the state's first black senator. More than that, even in Republican eastern Tennessee, the Democratic congressman was a celebrity -- a regular guest on Don Imus' radio show.
And today, with Imus' career in tatters, the fate of the controversial shock jock is stirring quiet but heartfelt concern in an unlikely quarter: among Democratic politicians.
That's because, over the years, Democrats such as Ford came to count on Imus for the kind of sympathetic treatment that Republicans got from Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity.
Not until the 11th paragraph of the 15-paragraph article did the Times acknowledge:
Not all high-level Democrats were drawn to the self-styled "I-Man." Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), a party presidential front-runner and a frequent target of Imus' jokes, said she never had the desire to appear.
The Times did not address the content of these "jokes." As Media Matters for America has noted, Imus has referred to Clinton as "that buck-tooth witch, Satan." On April 4, Imus pledged not to allow Clinton on his show "[b]ecause she and her fat, stupid husband screwed me about 10 years ago, and I'm not going to get over it."
Moreover, while the Times noted that "such GOP figures as Sen. John McCain of Arizona" also appeared on Imus' show, it did not note that during Dodd's January 11 appearance on the show, Imus announced: "I'm going to vote for McCain at this point."
From the January 11 edition of Imus in the Morning:
IMUS: I tell you who I saw last night who was very impressive is Barack Obama. I'm not one of those Hollywood phonies jumping on the Barack Obama bandwagon. I'm going to vote for McCain at this point, but --
DODD: But now, wait a minute. Now, wait a minute, now. I mean, this, you know -- I come on the program, I blow everybody else off. I announce here, I mean, at least leave the door open for me a little bit here. I mean Charles and, you know, everybody,
IMUS: You -- no, no.
DODD: A little quid pro quo here. This is politics, you know, Imus. I mean --
IMUS: You're gonna have to open --
DODD: And I'm your pal. Fourteen years together.
IMUS: Yes, I know you are.
DODD: You don't just walk about from me like that.
IMUS: I'm not walking away I'm just saying that --
DODD: Just leave that door open a little bit.
IMUS: No, no. You've got to open it.