Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Washington Post and Perry Bacon Jr Can't Handle The Truth

This really shouldn't come as a surprise at this point. The Washington Post has done it again, ignoring the truth and misleading its readers with blatant falsehoods.

After refusing to run the op-ed authored by three Democratic members of the House Judiciary committee last week on Sunday the Post claimed that:

[N]one of his 2008 rivals or fellow Democrats in Congress has embraced Kucinich's latest liberal cause: the impeachment of Vice President Cheney. Arguing that Cheney gave misleading claims in the run-up to the Iraq war in 2002 and about Iran this year, he said in April that the "vice president's conduct of office has been destructive to the founding purposes of our nation."
Perry Bacon Jr passed off this falsehood in his profile of Dennis Kucinich in the Post's 'The Rest of the Field' addendum to the 'Front Runners' profile series that ran over the past week.

Despite the fact that Representatives Wexler, Gutierrez, and Baldwin have joined Mr. Kucinich in calling for impeachment hearings for Mr. Cheney, the Post and Mr. Bacon state otherwise.

The Post and the mainstream media in general continue to perfect their ostrich imitation, burying their heads ever deeper into the sand.

They not only ignore the truth, but comfort themselves by burying it with lies as well.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Mainstream Media Can't Handle the Truth - A Call for Impeachment

In the latest incident of the mainstream media ignoring the truth and refusing to bring the public real journalism or even news, no newspaper would publish an op-ed authored last week by Representatives Robert Wexler of Florida, Luis Gutierrez of Illinois and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, all Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, calling for impeachment hearings to begin immediately for Vice President Richard Cheney.

After being stonewalled by the Washington Post, New York Times and other papers, the Congressmen have launched a website and distributed the op-ed as a statement which has generated some online coverage. However, the mainstream media remains conspicuously silent.

The op-ed and a video statement from Mr. Wexler can be seen at

The website also contains a petition of support. At 3:00 pm today it contained 36,500 signatures, as of 5:20 there were more than 41,000 signatories.

John Nichols at The Nation has more.

Barack Obama's Lack of Progressive Values

As the holiday season kicks into high gear and the days until the first primaries dwindle rapidly coverage of the candidates has become even more omnipresent and often, despite the seeming impossibility, more superficial as well.

The rhetoric and barbs bandied about among the competitors within their own camps have also become increasingly vitriolic. This is always a disappointing, if inevitable, development. Barack Obama has taken to not only attacking his Democratic rivals from the right but has decided to go after columnist Paul Krugman as well, in doing so has belied his progressive values and exposed himself as a smooth but empty campaigner, interested in nothing more than becoming president.

While much has already been said on this point, it bears repeating. In summation Mr. Obama's health care proposal lacks a mandate requiring everyone to carry insurance while his leading competitors include such mandates in their proposals. Mr. Krugman and others pointed out this weakness in Mr. Obama's plan, but said that it was otherwise 'smart and serious.' Since announcing his proposal and having this critical difference pointed out, Mr. Obama has chosen to attack his detractors from the right by borrowing Republican talking points about the socialistic boogey man.

In the end a health care plan that does not require everyone to participate fails to provide universal coverage and falls far short of meeting the desires of many if not most Americans.

Mr. Krugman has already explained this issue fully on several occaisions:

So there’s a lot to commend the Obama plan. In fact, it would have been considered daring if it had been announced last year.

Now for the bad news. Although Mr. Obama says he has a plan for universal health care, he actually doesn’t — a point Mr. Edwards made in last night’s debate. The Obama plan doesn’t mandate insurance for adults. So some people would take their chances — and then end up receiving treatment at other people’s expense when they ended up in emergency rooms. In that regard it’s actually weaker than the Schwarzenegger plan.

I asked David Cutler, a Harvard economist who helped put together the Obama plan, about this omission. His answer was that Mr. Obama is reluctant to impose a mandate that might not be enforceable, and that he hopes — based, to be fair, on some estimates by Mr. Cutler and others — that a combination of subsidies and outreach can get all but a tiny fraction of the population insured without a mandate. Call it the timidity of hope.

On the whole, the Obama plan is better than I feared but not as comprehensive as I would have liked. It doesn’t quell my worries that Mr. Obama’s dislike of “bitter and partisan” politics makes him too cautious. But at least he’s come out with a plan.

Mr. Krugman has also described the dangers of a Democrat attacking his own party with Republican talking points:

My main concern right now is with Mr. Obama’s rhetoric: by echoing the talking points of those who oppose any form of universal health care, he’s making the task of any future president who tries to deliver universal care considerably more difficult.

I’d add, however, a further concern: the debate over mandates has reinforced the uncomfortable sense among some health reformers that Mr. Obama just isn’t that serious about achieving universal care — that he introduced a plan because he had to, but that every time there’s a hard choice to be made he comes down on the side of doing less.


And I was prepared to leave it at that — Obama’s plan was weaker than his rivals’ because it wasn’t universal, but I hoped that he would fix that in practice.

But then Obama started attacking his rivals from the right, denouncing their proposals using exactly the same false claims that conservatives will use to try to derail reform in the future.

And now, having been caught out on the facts, the Obama people respond with a personal attack, lifting quotes out of context to pretend that I never had problems with the plan. Something is very wrong here.

As Ezra Klein and others have pointed out, why would a serious Democratic and progressive candidate attack Mr. Krugman, the loudest and often only voice of reason to be heard in the morass that is today's mainstream media?

Going all the way back to a New Yorker profile of Mr. Obama in May titled The Conciliator there has been a persistent question of whether he will take a stand for any issue, whether he believes in anything that strongly besides his desire to be president:

Sometimes, of course, there is no possibility of convergence—a question must be answered yes or no. In such a case, Obama may stand up for what he believes in, or he may not.

“He’s always wanted to be President,” Valerie Jarrett, who has been a family friend for years, ever since she hired Michelle Obama to work in Mayor Daley’s office, says. (Michelle Obama is now an executive at the University of Chicago Hospitals.) “He didn’t always admit it, but oh, absolutely. The first time he said it to me, he said, ‘I just think I have some special qualities and wouldn’t it be a shame to waste them.’ I think it was during the early part of his U.S. senatorial campaign. He said, ‘You know, I just think I have something.’ ”

One other old story with fresh legs is Mr. Obama's disturbing habit of voting 'present' as an Illinois State Senator. The details are not really the issue here, rather Mr. Obama's actions speak to his desire for cover and compromise and conciliation, all of which continue to lead the current Democratically controlled Congress to capitulation.

The preponderance of the evidence indicates that Mr. Obama sincerely wants to be president and that he is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve the post. As such he is a candidate without substance, one who cannot offer true solutions or even proposals for his fear of disturbing someone somewhere. A desire to please all of the people all of the time does not qualify one to be President, much less indicate that Mr. Obama would do the job well.

Is this really the type of person you want as your President?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Where else does politics meet pop-culture?

Admittedly this blog separates pop-culture from politics more than the banner would suggest it should.

If you'd like to see where they actually meet and be entertained in the process visit RX2008 at you tube.

(I got there via a threat level post)

This is the kind of thing that will make you think, man who has the time to do all this? Then you'll think I wish I had the time, then you'll be glad that someone, somewhere does.

A final thought -- I love the internet.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Don't Get Hooked

This is a copy of the email that I sent to Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema.

Hi Tom,

This is mostly a gripe although I'll attempt to frame it as a question since I am genuinely curious as to why this happens/what could be done about it.

A few weeks ago (Saturday after thanksgiving) I had dinner with friends at Hook, we were a large party, 10 of us from high school who still get together when we're all in the area. Some of the food was quite good (the entree's) some of it wasn't so good (the appetizers and crudo) and the service was poor at best.

Our sever disappeared for long periods of time, constantly left us searching for attention to get more wine, order dessert, etc. When he did come by he was more interested in telling us the score of the Missouri college football game that was on at the time. Descriptions of the food were lacking even when in response to detailed questions, if specials are served at Hook (which may well not be the case) we certainly didn't hear about them. We ordered two complete rounds of the crudos which were unceremoniously dumped on our table without any explanations or descriptions leaving us to guess what each might be, we repeated the detective work with cheese plates later in the evening.

While it wasn't anything we were interested in making a scene over, the caliber of the service certainly detracted from our enjoyment of the meal and the overall experience and we would have liked to reflect its quality or lack thereof in the gratuity. Unfortunately when our check arrived our server had already included a 20% tip for himself. The general feeling at the table was that our server had decided to plug in a 20% tip from the start of the meal and simply phoned in the rest of the evening.

The question I've formed is twofold.

Where and how did the practice of adding the tip in for checks at large tables originate? I understand the possibility of getting shorted by a large group exists and that many restaurants follow or allow their servers discretion in using this practice and often say so on the menu (I don't know if Hook had a printed warning or not). We can't be the only group that's ever felt taken advantage of on this front though. In an unscientific survey of our party, the six of us who have waited tables in the past all claimed to have never added a tip on to a check, choosing to trust our customers instead.

Besides griping to your local restaurant critic and telling your friends that there are better places to get a good piece of fish, ones where the food is also well prepared, the service is up to par, and your dollar will go quite a bit further (Blacks in Bethesda comes to mind - full disclosure I have worked there), is there something else we could or should have done.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, I apologize if I was a bit long winded. Voicing my complaint to someone with a lot of weight in the local food scene was very cathartic.

Henry Coppola

Monday, October 22, 2007

Do You Yahoo?

Sorry, can't say that I do. I mean yeah, I have a Yahoo mail account and I play fantasy sports on Yahoo, I even occasionally fire up a game or two from Yahoo's extensive collection of ways to waste time. But no, I don't Yahoo.

There are some things that I do, quite a few when I stop and think about it actually. You probably do at least a couple of them as well. I never feel alone when I Google something or somebody. No one has ever misunderstood me when I told them I needed to Xerox a couple of pages. When my girlfriend and I hear about a movie we want to see, we Netflix it. My friends who still watch television Tivo almost everything important, after all ads are so passe these days. If something or someone is getting Hoovered its probably a dirty joke, but I doubt that an explanation would be required. If you need it over night or just across the country I'll Fed-ex it too you, but the odds are good that the postman will be bringing it. Want to change one of your photos, hide the evidence or maybe just plant some, easy I'll Photoshop it for you.

Why is it that some nouns, and not just any old nouns but trademarked ones, get verbed and others don't? Even more interestingly why do concerted efforts to verb trademarks fail? Recently, and by that I mean sometime in maybe the last five years, Yahoo pushed really hard to verb themselves and came up empty. Do you even remember when you got asked if you Yahoo'd? I suppose that this phenomena is organic and viral and inherently resistant to being told what to do, the internet is after all, about freedom.

My friends and family happily pass Kleenex to me, and I bet you would too. Most of us owned a Discman somewhere along the way, my first one was an Aiwa though. Words enter our lexicon from all sorts of places and angles and many people have written more extensively and eloquently on the subject than I will pretend to. If you don't believe me just google it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Coverage Of President Bush's Speech

All of the major television networks aired President Bush's address on the Iraq War on Thursday night. Many of those channels had extended coverage and analysis, others rushed back to regularly scheduled programing and advertising. This morning major newspapers such as the New York Times and Washington Post offer stories and analysis as does Morning Edition on NPR.

The best story on Mr. Bush's speech itself also provides an intriguing and telling look at the coverage of the speech on television last night. This piece of journalism won't be found on the front page, nor even in the news section. If you want to know about the speech and how it was covered turn to the style section of the Washington Post and read TV Critic Tom Shales' excellent article.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Tale Of Two Headlines

The headlines for the Washington Post and the New York Times editions of Tuesday, September 11, 2007 are striking in their contrast and serve to demonstrate the divide in quality reporting that now exists between two of the nation's leading daily papers.

The Washington Post
: Petraeus Backs Initial Pullout - General Praises Progress, Warns Against 'Rushing to Failure'

The New York Times
: Petraeus Warns Against Quick Pullback in Iraq

The article lead for the Post is "Plan Would Reverse Troop 'Surge' in Iraq By Next Summer", in the Times "Partisan Tensions and Protests at the Hearing"

At a glance the Washington Post would have its readers believe that General Petraeus has announced a new reduction in in the number of American soldiers in Iraq. Conversely the New York Times gives its readers a much more accurate preview of the proceedings in which Mr. Petraeus endorsed the status quo.

The Times provides a snippet of reporting in its headline while the Post merely offers cheerleading.

Monday, September 10, 2007

John Bolten Can't Handle The Truth

In an interview with the BBC's World Service World Update this morning former US Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton suggested that Europeans do not appreciate the danger of terrorism.

Mr. Bolton was in the studio to respond to a BBC report based on interviews with Iraqis as well as recent polls conducted in Iraq which show that the so-called surge is a failure. Among other far fetched statements Mr. Bolten said:

I don't think Europe has yet fully appreciated the threat we all face from international terrorism. (6:57)
Perhaps Mr. Bolton, despite his service in the State Department, has not heard of the Irish Republican Army and the troubles in Northern Ireland, or ETA and the Basque separatist movement in Spain and France. Perhaps he missed the news coverage concerning the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in Lockerbie and the killing of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. More recently it is possible that Mr. Bolton was unaware of the bombings in London on July 7, 2005 or those in Madrid on March 11, 2004. The list of other less well known, at least to Americans, terrorist attacks against Europeans is literally to long to recreate here. For more on Europe's long and deadly history of terror please see these links:

France, England, Spain, The Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, Germany

Mr. Bolton's suggestion that Europe fails to appreciate the threat posed by terrorism is ludicrous in its clear lack of understanding of or appreciation for the history of international terrorism in Europe as well as throughout the world.

While the host of World Update, Dan Damon, rather surprisingly let Mr. Bolton's comment on Europe's relationship with terrorism slide he conducted a much more vigorous interview than any you are likely to hear from an American journalist today.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Bush Lawlessness Grows - Administration Ramps Up Efforts To Surpress Anti-War / Impeachment March

Updated Below

On Thursday September 6 US Park Police disrupted a press conference being held in Lafayette Park by organizers of an Anti-War / Impeachment march planned for September 15 to coincide with General Petraeus' testimony on Capitol Hill.

According to AFP, the only news source to report on the incident, mounted Park Police officers charged the gathering of approximately 20 reporters and the five activists who were answering questions.

As of this writing no American media outlets had picked up the story, according to Google and Yahoo news searches the Times of India is the only publication to pick up the story. That the American media would so completely ignore this story of violent suppression reminiscent of the Civil-Rights and Vietnam War protests is a devastating example of the complacency and failure that defines journalism in America today.

Video of the incident, posted to YouTube can be seen here.


Apparently the Washington Post did cover this incident, on page three of the Metro section in Friday's paper.

Raw Story has coverage from Friday.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

President Bush On Iraq "We're Kicking Ass"

Apparently the American people are not the only ones being lied to by Mr. Bush. Upon his arrival in Australia Mr. Bush was greeted by that nation's Deputy Prime Minister, Mark Vaile, who inquired as to the situation in Iraq. "We're kicking ass" was Mr. Bush's response according to the Melbourne newspaper The Age.

Despite all available evidence to the contrary Mr. Bush insists that the war in Iraq is going well, his disconnect from reality is stunning, ever the more so in an elected leader who by all rights should be held accountable for the damage he has done.

The American media must do its job and begin to question Mr. Bush's unsupported and blatantly false assertions.

Keith Olbermann Continues To Tell The Truth

Keith Olbermann, of MSNBC, remains practically the sole member of the main stream media, and certainly the only television commentator, willing to describe President Bush's false rhetoric bluntly and explain to the American people that they are being lied to.

In an impassioned "Special Comment" yesterday evening, Mr. Olbermann confronted Mr. Bush on his misleading and disingenuous trip to an American air base in Iraq, exposed Mr. Bush's latest false statements, and dissected his current stratagem for Iraq as tellingly revealed in a new book by Robert Draper.

If more of the American, and particularly the beltway press corps would even simply ask the fundamental questions that underlie Mr. Olbermann's journalism and editorializing so much of the damage wrought by the current administration could have been forestalled.

Watch Mr. Olbermann here (courtesy of Crooks and Liars)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

No Things Are Not Getting Better All The Time

Updated Below

Yesterday, two years since hurricane Katrina swept ashore and destroyed the city of New Orleans as well as much of the rest of the Gulf Coast, was a day of remembrance and of continuing outrage for the people who's lives were shattered by the storm.

President Bush visited New Orleans and made a speech at one of the city's charter schools. In his speech Mr. Bush told the locals, those who lost their homes and livelihoods and who continue to live amid the wreckage of their once proud city, that progress was being made but that they were too close to the situation to see it:

And so it's -- my attitude is this: New Orleans, better days are ahead. It's sometimes hard for people to see progress when you live in a community all the time. Laura and I get to come -- we don't live here, we come on occasion. And it's easy to think about what it was like when we first came here after the hurricane, and what it's like today.
Mr. Bush has sorely missed the point: if you visit New Orleans occasionally you have seen the destruction and you now can see some improvement, these are largely cosmetic changes that can be observed on short, choreographed jaunts through the city. The residents of New Orleans, on the other hand, live day to day with the consequences of the devastation and the ongoing struggle to rebuild a ransacked and discarded community, one largely forgotten and ignored outside of the tourist districts.

For a change the media has not fallen in to lockstep with the Administrations pronouncements regarding hurricane Katrina and the storm's aftermath: The Washington Post, New York Times, and especially NPR have all offered actual in depth reporting from New Orleans instead of letting Mr. Bush and his associates tell them how it is. Independent groups have also been reporting on the condition and progress of the Gulf Coast region, of particular note is a new report from the Institute for Southern Studies.

Mr. Bush has also spent much of the past month traveling the country making speeches in support of the war in Iraq, he has taken advantage of the congressional recess to make rosy pronouncements about the conditions on the ground in Iraq and the state of the so-called surge that Mr. Bush ordered this past spring. On August 28 he told the American Legion National Convention:
[T]here are unmistakable signs that our strategy is achieving the objectives we set out. Our new strategy is showing results in terms of security...Sectarian violence has sharply decreased in Baghdad. The momentum is now on our side. The surge is seizing the initiative from the enemy -- and handing it to the Iraqi people.
Mr. Bush's claims of success not withstanding most independent reporting from Iraq tells a much different story. As Media Matters notes, McClatchy and the AP have both recently contradicted Mr. Bush's descriptions of progress. On August 25 the AP reported:
This year’s U.S. troop buildup has succeeded in bringing violence in Baghdad down from peak levels, but the death toll from sectarian attacks around the country is running nearly double the pace from a year ago.
And on August 15 the McClatchy Washington Bureau reported:
U.S. officials say the number of civilian casualties in the Iraqi capital is down 50 percent. But U.S. officials declined to provide specific numbers, and statistics gathered by McClatchy Newspapers don't support the claim...

One bright spot has been the reduction in the number of bodies found on the streets, considered a sign of sectarian violence. That number was 44 percent lower in July, compared to December. In July, the average body count per day was 18.6, compared with 33.2 in December, two months before the surge.

But the reason for that decline isn't clear. Some military officers believe that it may be an indication that ethnic cleansing has been completed in many neighborhoods and that there aren’t as many people to kill.

There was also the August 19 op-ed in the New York Times "The War As We Saw It" by service members finishing a current deployment in Iraq. Among other points the soldiers attest that:

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework.

Kevin Drum, of the Washington Monthly, compared and analyzed statistics on the success of the surge provided by the Brookings Institute and found that none of the measurable statistics are encouraging in the least.

Coupled with the gloomy outlooks and forecasts of continuing mayhem and violence ensconced in the latest National Intelligence Estimate, whose warnings were apparently diluted, and the new Terrorism Index released by the journal Foreign Policy, these reports make it clear that the situation in Iraq is not improving.

Mr. Bush has told the American people for years now, that progress was being made in Iraq, that a corner was being turned: He will continue to abuse and mislead the public until he leaves office.

No Mr. Bush, sadly things are not getting better all the time.


The Washington Post reported today on a draft of the upcoming Government Accountability Office report on the situation in Iraq which is said to be "at odds with the White House".

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ana Marie Cox Can't Handle Reality

During coverage of the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on the August 27 edition of MSNBC Live Ana Marie Cox, of Time Magazine, compared the tough questioning of Mr Gonzales by United States Senators to torture.

Well, it's tempting to go with what John Edwards said, which is, "Better late than never." I think a lot of people in Washington, no matter what political affiliation they had, had been sort of watching this and shuddering for the guy. I mean, the last time he went in front of Congress, I felt sorry for him. It was like -- it was legislative waterboarding. You know, they just kept going after him and kept going after him.
(from Media Matters w/ video)
Ms. Cox's analogy is horribly inappropriate and demonstrates a shocking lack of understanding and divorce from reality. To compare the efforts of elected public representatives to undertake their Constitutional responsibility and perform the oversight duties required of them with the immoral and illegal act of simulated drowning known as waterboarding is to disrespect the Constitution, the Senate and Senators as well as the American public that they represent, and the countless individuals who have been subjected to actual torture in America's name. Unfortunately this is just another daily example of the dismal state of journalism in America today.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Actual Reporting - Soldiers Serving In Iraq Provide Accurate And Truthful Information

It is an exceedingly rare occurrence these days when unfettered and legitimate information makes it through the grinder of politics and fear, the zoo of public relations and media ratings that has supplanted most journalism in America.

In an age when most people have been rendered voiceless and only a privileged few have the wealth and power necessary to dictate to the public, a beacon of truth emerged on the op-ed pages of Sunday's New York Times.

Free of spin and rhetoric seven members of the 82nd Airborne Division, currently serving in Iraq, found their voices and were afforded the opportunity to speak to the American public and to describe their experience of the situation in Iraq.

The great experiment in democracy that is the United States was made possible, at least in part, by the belief that all ideas and viewpoints would be afforded a voice in the public sphere. And that upon reflection and consideration of all the notions thus proffered Americans would exercise their right and elect representatives who would in turn lead the nation in the desired direction.

Dissent is not treasonous it is patriotic, ever the more so when it speaks the truth.

Few voices are heard in the public sphere today and they are all but indistinguishable at times. The noise and vitriol with which differing views and even unwanted truths are shouted down is frightening.

Take this opportunity to be patriotic, hear the voices of your fellow Americans, consider their words and act upon them as you see fit, fulfill your duty as a citizen and read The War As We Saw It.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Helen Thomas is a Beacon of Hope

Veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas continues to offer a ray of hope to those who believe in the journalistic search for truth. Ms. Thomas remains the only member of the White House press corps willing to consistently ask the tough questions and to press on when press secretaries attempt to brush her queries aside. She had the following exchange with Press Secretary Tony Snow on Wednesday June 20:

Ms. Thomas: A study shows that Iraq is the second-most unstable country in the world. Do we have anything to do with that?

Mr. SNOW: Do we have anything to do with that? Yes, I saw the study --

Ms. Thomas: -- the killing?

Mr. SNOW: We don't -- I'm not sure I got the --

Ms. Thomas: I'm talking about Petraeus, also, intensifying -- is he trying to build a kill record before September?

Mr. SNOW: No. No. In point of fact, Helen, if you take a look at the record of the last two months, the people who have been trying to put together the kill record are al Qaeda. Go to the mosques --

Ms. Thomas: Is everybody who resists our occupation a terrorist?

Mr. SNOW: Do you think somebody who goes in and blows up 50 people in a mosque is resisting occupation?

Ms. Thomas: What have we done for five years?

Mr. SNOW: What we have been trying to do is to work with folks to deal with a highly volatile situation in Iraq in the wake of a murderous regime --

Ms. Thomas: We've killed thousands of people, tens of thousands --

Mr. SNOW: Many have died, and hundreds of thousands died under the previous regime. This is a place that has too long been wracked by violence. And the fact that in fighting --

Ms. Thomas: We're not supposed to be comparing, are we?

Mr. SNOW: Unfortunately, if we fought evil guys who simply would say, you caught us, we're evil, we give up, we'll be good -- that would be great, that would be wonderful.

Ms. Thomas: Everybody isn't evil who fights for his land.

Mr. SNOW: A lot of the people we're talking about, Helen, aren't fighting for their land, because it's not their land. They don't even come from Iraq.

Ms. Thomas: Are we fighting Iraqis, inherently, in their own country?

Mr. SNOW: Are we fighting Iraqis inherently? I think if you take a look at what General Petraeus is saying, is that increasingly Iraqis are joining with us to defend their country from the onslaught of outside fighters, whether they be from al Qaeda or Iran.

Ms. Thomas: Good, but we have to admit we're killing a lot of Iraqis who are against our presence.

Mr. SNOW: I'm not sure. I mean, that requires the kind of canvas of those who have died that I'm not capable of doing.

If more reporters would ask questions and stand their ground the way Ms. Thomas does the future of journalism in America would not be nearly as bleak as it is today.

Glenn Greenwald discussed this exchange as well.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Newt Gingrich Can't Handle The Truth

Former Congressman Newt Gingrich, who is widely rumored to be at least considering a run for President has released a new web advertisement attacking the Immigration legislation currently being discussed in the House and Senate. Mr. Gingrich begins the ad by stating:

Mohamed Atta, and several other 9/11 hijackers were in the United States illegally.
Photographs of Mr. Atta and other hijackers appear with ILLEGALLY slanted across the screen in large red type.

While dramatic, Mr. Gingrich's assertion is false. According to the 9/11 Commission Report all of the 9/11 hijackers entered the United States by negotiating the legal process for doing so. From the commission's Staff Statement No. 1:
As we know from the sizable illegal traffic across our land borders, a terrorist could
attempt to bypass legal procedures and enter the United States surreptitiously. None of
the 9/11 attackers entered or tried to enter our country this way.
As Where's the Outrage points out this information is easily accessible and it is difficult to believe that Mr. Gingrich would be unaware that his statement is less than truthful.

Initial media coverage of Mr. Gingrich's new video has been spotty to say the least. ABC's Political Radar Blog gets the story correct under the headline - Gingrich Rewrites 9/11 History in Immigration Ad. CBS mentions the video and the fact that it is "not entirely accurate" in its Pure Horse Race Blog, readers must follow a link to the ABC posting in order to have the inaccuracies revealed. The AP fails to mention that Mr. Gingrich begins with a lie, despite describing his opening remarks.

Politicians will continue to make misleading and false statements as the Presidential Race stretches out over the coming year; it will be of the utmost importance that the media report on the veracity of those statements instead of passing them along as the truth.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Tony Snow Can't Handle The Truth

It is not surprising that the White House press secretary occasionally has trouble with the truth, it is certainly no longer a surprise to question the validity of Tony Snow's statements, many of which are factual challenged to say the least. What is surprising is to see Mr. Snow questioned as to the veracity of his statements.

The White House press corps may ask the question but they repeatedly fail to follow up and accept Mr. Snow's brush offs and denials without further question. Jon Stewart of the Daily Show took the extra step on Thursday night's show. Three months ago on March 15 Mr. Snow said that the United States Attorney 'purge' was performance based:

MR. SNOW: No, I think -- again, what the President has -- the Department of Justice has made recommendations, they've been approved. And it's pretty clear that these things are based on performance and not on sort of attempts to do political retaliation, if you will.
During Wednesday's press briefing Mr. Snow denied that statement:
Q: Okay, but at the beginning of this story, the President, you, Dan Bartlett, others said on camera that politics was not involved, this was performance-based.

MR. SNOW: That is something -- we have never said that. I think you'll have to take a look at comments that have been made by the Justice Department. What we've said is that people serve at the pleasure of the President. That's the operative principle here.

Mr. Snow is lying. There is no question, the proof is available from the White House's own press briefing transcripts, and Mr. Stewart has the video as well.

Why is such a blatant lie, such disrespect of the American Public and disregard for the truth only pointed out by a late night comedy show?

While Mr. Stewart continues to insist that he is not a journalist but a comedian and commentator, his show continues to be one of the few media outlets that routinely questions the hypocrisy of the Bush Administration and its supporters. More journalists should take a cue from Mr. Stewart and fight to bring the truth to their readers and viewers.

President Bush Fights on Front Lines in Iraq

In the latest demonstration of the Bush Administration's flagrant disregard for reality in general as well as the more specific human costs of war, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow asserted that President Bush fights the war in Iraq everyday.

Mr. Snow dismissed the realities of war and the deaths of more then 3,500 American soldiers when he brushed aside Veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas' question:

Ms. Thomas: The President said in his speech that -- to expect many more casualties. How many more Americans is he willing to sacrifice to keep this war going?

MR. SNOW: You know, what's interesting, Helen, is if you ask the people who are -- if you take a look at what's going on in recruitment right now, the people who are most likely to sign up are the people who are involved in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. And if you talk to a number of them, they feel that they are part of something very special, which is something that is certainly a difficult mission, but it also reflects the finest traditions of the United States of America, which is what people are fighting for -- to liberate others and to extend the boundaries of liberty, and to create the possibility for allies who are going to be not only allies in the war on terror, but examples of exactly the power of freedom.

The President wishes that nobody had to die. This is something that is deeply personal. He quite often meets with families of those who have been wounded and killed. On the other hand, the real question is, what happens if the United States walks away? And the answer is that many, many more people will be washed away in needless bloodshed as forces of terror draw confidence and encouragement from the fact that we will not have finished the job.

Ms. Thomas: I have one follow-up. Are there any members of the Bush family or this administration in this war?

MR. SNOW: Yes, the President. The President is in the war every day.

Ms. Thomas: Come on. That isn't my question.

MR. SNOW: If you ask any President who is a Commander-in-Chief --

Ms. Thomas: On the front lines -- [where ever]

MR. SNOW: The President.

(ThinkProgress has video)

Mr. Snow begins by responding to a simple, pointed, and legitimate question with with pompous braggadocio about the honor and and sense of duty in service to America that members of the military feel. The fact that some soldiers in Iraq feel as though they are fighting for liberty and a just cause has nothing to do with how many more of those young men and women Mr. Bush is willing to let die. This rhetorical dodge has become the weapon of choice for war supporters and it should be noted that none of its practitioners are active duty soldiers fighting in Iraq. Increasingly servicemen in Iraq have questioned why they are still there and when they might be coming home. One of the very few times that an interviewer has refused to accept this talking point in place of answer came during a Daily Show appearance by Senator John McCain, who frequently speaks of honor and fighting for liberty when asked about the human cost of the war. Jon Stewart, who claims to not be a journalist, tells Mr. McCain that he has failed to answer the question and it is instantly clear that Mr. McCain, and Iraq war supporters in general, have no answer to questions about American deaths in Iraq (Watch Mr. Stewart discuss the interview with Bill Moyers).

Ms. Thomas' follow up question and Mr. Snow's response highlight the disregard that the Administration has for the soldiers fighting and dying in Iraq. The Bush Administration continues to send other people's children, husbands and wives, fathers and daughters to fight and die halfway around the world. The Administration has no tangible connection to the true costs of war and as such they are able to dismiss casualties as mere statistics and dismiss all questions and concerns as a failure to 'support the troops' who Mr. Bush sends to Iraq for increasingly longer deployments, with less and less time to recuperate, and has still failed to arm and equip properly.

Mr. Snow's attempt to equate Mr. Bush's role as Commander in Chief to serving in Iraq is extremely ludicrous. Unfortunately is passes as fairly normal fare from the current administration and far too few journalists are interested in pointing out just how far removed from reality and understanding Mr. Bush and his supporters have become.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Peter Pace Can't Handle The Truth

Updated Below

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Peter Pace claimed that fewer American soldiers have died in Iraq than people who were killed in the 9/11 attacks. In doing so Mr. Pace grossly downplayed the number and significance of casualties in Iraq.

Appearing on CBS' Early Show on Memorial Day Mr Pace said:

When you take a look at the life of a nation and all that's required to keep us free, we had more than 3,000 Americans murdered on 11 September, 2001. The number who have died, sacrificed themselves since that time is approaching that number.
In fact just under 3,000 people perished on September 11th and not all of them were Americans. More importantly 3474 American soldiers have given their lives in Iraq.

As one of the United States highest ranking and most important military commanders Mr. Pace should know how many of his soldiers have died in an ongoing war.

Nearly a year ago, when the number of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan did surpass the 9/11 attack totals, Mr. Pace was more aware of the cost of the war. He made a strikingly similar statement while testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
It's now almost five years since September 11, 2001, and the number of young men and women in our armed forces who have sacrificed their lives that we might live in freedom is approaching the number of Americans who were murdered on 9/11 in New York, in Washington, D.C., and in Pennsylvania.
Perhaps Mr. Pace simply failed to update his talking points, perhaps he is disconnected from the actual men and women who are fighting and dying in Iraq. Mr. Pace's trouble remembering how many soldiers, ostensibly in his care, have died in Iraq is inexcusable and serves to highlight the Bush Administration's disregard for the consequences of their actions.

Harry Smith, the reporter conducting the interview, completely ignored Mr. Pace's false statement. Such a lapse is sadly indicative of the manner in which the American media has abrogated their pursuit of the truth and exchanged that pursuit for a regurgitation of Administration talking points. Apparently Mr. Smith can't handle the truth either.

Raw Story has a follow up interview with a spokesman for Gen. Pace defending his statements.

They Won't Follow Us Home (2)

Jeff Greenfield reported recently for CBS News on President Bush's disingenuous and fear-mongering threat that we are fighting in Iraq so that we won't have to fight them here in America.

James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank told Mr Greenfield:

The President is using a primitive, inarticulate argument that leaves him open to criticism and caricature.
Mr. Greenfield also points out that the reasons given for the Iraq war have come a long long way from the pre-invasion claims of weapons of mass destruction and the good that the invasion would do for the region and the world. As Mr. Greenfield says "the argument now seems to be based on the dreadful things that would happen if America leaves."

Mr. Bush cannot come up with any positive results due to American soldiers remaining in Iraq, yet another of the reasons on the ever growing list of arguments for putting an end to this disasterous war.

Watch Mr. Greenfield's report.

Dan Froomkin highlighted this story last Friday.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Peter Baker and John Soloman Can't Handle The Truth

Washington Post staff writers Peter Baker and John Soloman have a front page report on two new books about Presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton; "A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton," by Carl Bernstein and "Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton," by Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr.

Messrs Baker and Soloman title their piece "Books Paint Critical Portraits of Clinton" and assert that both books are written by reporters and as such are surely credible.

Unlike many harsh books about Clinton written by ideological enemies, the two new volumes come from long-established writers backed by major publishing houses and could be harder to dismiss. Bernstein won national fame with partner Bob Woodward at The Post for breaking open the Watergate scandal, while Gerth and Van Natta have spent years as investigative reporters for the New York Times.
This assertion completely overlooks the large body of criticism leveled against Mr. Gerth by his peers, much of it stemming from his dogged and ultimately untruthful pursuit of the so called Whitewater scandal during Bill Clinton's Presidency.

In addition to ignoring Mr. Gerth's reputation as a flawed reporter and poor journalist, Mr Baker and Mr. Soloman offer up racy and potentially damaging segments of the books while studiously avoiding any positive passages. Despite the fact that the only story the attempted to independently verify was denounced as preposterous.

Coffee Confessional

Hello, my name is Rebecca, and I drink Nescafé. Actually, hold the phone, I like Nescafé. I think it tastes better than normal coffee. Yes, that’s right, I like powdered instant coffee better than the real thing, and it's time I admitted it. I don’t know what it’s like in your family, but in mine, this is a grave confession. In fact I may never live it down. You see, we’re one of those gourmet local roasters shade-grown can’t drink it once it’s got cold types of families. And it smells fantastic in the morning doesn’t it? I just love the smell of fresh coffee, but it makes that first sip of scalding hot acrid water twice as nasty.

I like my coffee the consistency of sludge, which is easy to achieve with Nescafe, all you do is keep adding powder until the stuff makes your hair stand on end from five feet away. And don’t forget to add lots of powdered milk and sugar. The idea, really, is to make something that resembles a melted chocolate milkshake, only hot, coffee flavored, and way more caffeinated. Sometimes, if I'm really feeling mad at my degestive tract; I just make a plain cup and drink it that way, but it’s better with lots of milk and sugar.

I suppose I could turn this into a snobbish dissection of the inferiority of French-press coffee and the inevitable disappointment that results from most drip methods, but really, this is about the fact that I have come to not just abide Nescafe, but prefer its taste to most regular coffees. Also, I like Robusta better than Arabica, which may be a clue to why I like Nescafe, since it’s made with Robusta.

Now let me clarify for those of you who, like me before I got to Guinea, have no idea what the hell Robusta and Arabica mean; Almost all of the coffee imported into the US is of the variety Arabica, a milder and more picky family of coffee than Robusta, the stronger, more acidic variety grown primarily for local consumption. I learned about this as part of my agro-forestry training for the Peace Corps. That and one of my friends is an even bigger coffee snob than anyone in my family, he won’t touch Robusta with a stick. He considers Nescafe a sacrilege, and would rather drink tea in the morning than suffer through a cup. I think tea is for sissies.

Most of the coffee grown in Guinea is Robusta, and they make this dark nasty version of espresso called café noir that they cook for about twenty minutes and often tastes of burnt sugar and something vaguely sour. It’s served in a demitasse cup (that’s redundant isn’t it?) which your average Guinean will add two lumps of sugar to, spilling a third of the contents over the side. And if you’re in a hurry, you can get it to go in a little clear plastic baggy that you bite the corner off of later to suck down the contents.

I’ve never met another foreigner who actually likes café noir, which may be why I enjoy it so much. It’s pretty good as long as you don’t skimp on the sugar. I particularly like sitting in the coffee bars where they serve this stuff. In the states we have the horrible institution of coffee shops, which strike me as a commercial attempt to corner the market on places to meet and hang out. In Europe, you get your morning coffee in the local bar, the same place you go at night to drink and hang out, very convivial. Guinea, what with it being muslim and all, has two kind of bars: the kind you buy beer at and the kind you buy coffee at. They’re both equally shady, since even non-drinkers need somewhere to go sit and crack dirty jokes and escape the wife.

The kind of bar that serves alcohol is typically very dirty, and made of cement, and will have at least one resident drunk, plastered and weaving uncertainly at any hour of the day. Coffee bars are usually outdoors, my favorite style consisting of a three sided counter faced with corrugated tin roofing sheets tucked under an awning fringed with a curtain made of strings of folded bottle caps. The counter is topped with a tray of eggs, several really beat up thermoses, a can of sweetened condensed milk and a dirty jar of sugar. The shelves behind the barman are filled with various delights, such as canned sardines, corned beef, insecticide, tomato paste and fabric soap.

At a bar like this one, you can order your bread with margarine, mayonnaise or fried eggs, and you coffee options are the local café noir, Nescafe with sweetened condensed milk and sugar, or some sort of powdered chocolate drink with milk and sugar. If you’d like that black, good luck, your best chance is to order café noir but I think they add sugar to it before serving most of the time. And no, they don't serve that in a grande.

Now I don’t mean to say that Arabica is all bad, since I think it makes a damn good espresso, but there’s no real basis of comparison between coffee and espresso. Coffee doesn’t have that satisfying oily flavor that espresso does, and however good it may smell, once I start drinking it, it mostly tastes like brown water. Whatever weird additives they put in Nescafe more than make up for the usual gap in flavor. And I can make it so strong my teeth hurt with just an extra spoonful.

Now, I should point out that most of the world’s coffee drinkers disagree with me, including my family. It isn’t a question of the sophistication of my pallet, or a lack of choice, since people keep sending me ‘real’ coffee. The coffee I had from the states has been sitting on my shelf for six months while I drink Nescafe. I know Peace Corps volunteers who would kill me for such a waste, but really, I just like Nescafe better.

It's time I came clean about this to my friends and family. No more guilty excuses about running out of real coffee, no more settling for brown water when I can singe my taste buds with the delicious thick bitterness that is Nescafe. I'm coming out of the coffee closet. What I’m not sure of is how my family will take it when I lug home a huge can of instant coffee on my next vacation. Maybe they’ll let it slide if I promise not to get it out in front of company. I can already see my dad shaking his head in bewildered consternation as he wonders what happened to my good taste.

Dick Morris Can't Handle The Truth

Writing in the New York Post on May 24th Dick Morris attacked Senator Hillary Clinton over her extension for filing her financial disclosure statement as a Presidential candidate. Mr. Morris, who has a recent history of smearing Ms. Clinton, claimed falsely that Ms. Clinton had not offered a reason for the extension and further suggested that her motives were to 'cover-up' a connection between her husband and a telemarketing firm currently under investigation.

Last week, Hillary Clinton sought and obtained an extension of time to file her financial-disclosure statement for the presidential race. This will tell us more than her Senate statements - she's required to list not just the sources of Bill's income but exactly how much they paid him. While Sen. Clinton offered no reason for the postponement, we can't help suspecting that she hopes to conceal InfoUSA's payments to her husband while the company is under fire.
In fact Ms. Clinton has provided a reason for the extension, it would be impossible to receive the extension without a reason. Ms. Clinton was granted the extension for the same reason as Senator John McCain and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romeny. As reported by the AP on May 18th all three candidates requested more time in order to open their blind trusts as ordered by the Office of Government Ethics.
The Office of Government Ethics won't comment publicly about their disclosure requirements. But the candidates' lawyers cited the demand to open the blind trusts as the reason for seeking extensions to file financial disclosures statements. Clinton, Romney and McCain all received a 45-day grace period to submit their paperwork.
Mr. Morris either enjoys lying to his readers or he was to lazy to perform a google search. Regardless of his motives, Mr. Morris' baseless and false attacks on Ms. Clinton coupled with his disregard of the exact same actions taken by Republican candidates are emblematic of the troubling and shoddy reporting that beleaguers Presidential candidates and obfuscates the truly important issues at hand.

The disturbing continuation of the war in Iraq, the failed pursuit of al Qaeda, and the myriad of domestic problems facing our nation are all topics on which the public needs to be informed of the candidates positions, we do not need to know how much they spent on a haircut or if it will take them a bit longer to complete their financial disclosures.

We live in serious times and we deserve serious journalism.

(Media Matters has more)

Iraq Funding Bill - Open Letter to Senator Mikulski

Ms. Mikulski,
I am writing to express my disgust and dismay with your vote in support of Mr. Bush's endless and needless war in Iraq.

I had come to expect much more from you. Unless I am quite mistaken you voted against the initial authorization of Mr. Bush's misbegotten invasion. Why, when the chips are once again on the table, did you chose to kowtow to a petulant and frustrated President?

Fearing smears and barbs from a Whitehouse that enjoys only a 33% approval rating is cowardly, this cowardice is exacerbated by the fact that your vote ignores the wishes of your constituents as well as the majority of the American Public.

While it is true that the Congress would be unable to override a veto of a funding bill that included timetables, it is equally true that Mr. Bush cannot sign into law a bill that is not sent to him by Congress.

This was an important vote and I believe that you have made the wrong decision. I am very disappointed in your choice and I will be forced to seriously reconsider my support of your candidacy in future elections.

Henry Coppola

Thursday, May 24, 2007

An Impossible War

As the war in Iraq drags endlessly on and it becomes even more painstakingly clear that Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks and as such is an unnecessary and false front in the so-called 'war on terror'; that phrase and it's rhetorical and philosophical difficulties and impossibilities have come increasingly under well deserved criticism.

As many critics of the 'war on terror' phraseology have pointed out terror or terrorism is a tactic that can be employed, not an enemy that can be sought out and defeated. Mr. Bush has conflated this term with actual wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and an actual enemies in the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Going against former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, the House Armed Services Committee, the British Government, and even his own statements President Bush today dismissed criticism that "this isn't a war on terror" as naive.

We're fighting them. And this notion about how this isn't a war on terror, in my view, is naive. It doesn't -- it doesn't reflect the true nature of the world in which we live.
Mr. Bush's latest smear of his critics belied his poor grasp of both the English language and international relations. It also echoed the earlier attacks manifested by Vice President Cheney and the Republican National Committee.

Mr. Bush's remarks appear to have been prompted by criticism of the 'war on terror' terminology levied by John Edwards in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday. Mr. Edwards harshly denounced the 'war on terror':
The war on terror is a slogan designed only for politics, not a strategy to make America safe. It's a bumper sticker, not a plan. It has damaged our alliances and weakened our standing in the world.
Mr. Bush and his supporters have used this bumper sticker to great effect as they lawlessly erode American freedoms and ideals while pursuing dangerous and unnecessary stratagems all under the useful guise of important pieces of 'the war on terror'.

Mr. Edwards and others are right to expose Mr. Bush's unfortunate and damming fear-mongering and to demand a change.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Mark Knoller Can't Handle Being Told The Truth

CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller continued to belittle his critics even after explicitly soliciting their opinions. After complaining about Bill Moyers' depiction of the Washington press corps in "Buying The War" Mr. Knoller proceeded to express shock and surprise when he received replies to his complaints that supported Mr. Moyers. Mr. Knoller followed up on his disingenuous and factually flawed complaints by issuing a hollow challenge to his critics. He then dismissed all criticisms against himself and the main stream media at large as angry partisan attacks. A brief perusal of the comments offered to Mr. Knoller would show that he is lying as to the nature of the criticisms as a whole.

Just as the Washington press corps has repeated President Bush's sound bites of fear and intimidation as the truth, Mr. Knoller cherrypicks bits and pieces of his critics' responses to portray them as poorly as possible. At the same time Mr. Knoller completely ignores the many well reasoned comments that did not revert to the "name calling" that he complains of.

Here, for example, is my own comment to Mr. Knoller:

Mr. Knoller,
To begin with your challenge is disingenuous at best. To suggest that anyone was called on during the March 6th press conference who was not already on Mr. Bush's scripted list flies in the face of the truth.

Putting aside the fact that no one would be called upon to ask a question for which the President was not already prepared, the questions that were asked that night were not the actual problem with the press corps coverage of the lead-up to the invasion. They were but a symptom of the disease that has crippled the national media.

As Mr. Moyers pointed out real questions were being asked, primarily by the Knight-Ridder Washington bureau. Unfortunately these questions were not asked by the media at large, and certainly never directly posed to Mr. Bush, nor would they have been allowed as such.

All of that aside I would have asked:

Mr. Bush why do you continue to allege a connection between Iraq and al Qaeda when there is no factual basis to support your allegation? All independent experts in the field agree that such a connection is ludicrous. Why do you choose to lie to the American public?

As a journalist I could then have presented Mr. Bush's refusal to answer my question with the facts that support it. An error that was committed by nearly all Washington reporters.
Mr. Knoller's final response makes it even more clear that he and his colleagues in the Washington media believe not only that they have done nothing wrong, but that they are above reproach. As such, Mr. Knoller dismisses his critics out of hand as mean and personal partisan attackers. While some respondents may have described Mr. Knoller and his colleagues in unflattering terms, the simple truth is that Mr. Knoller does not deserve to be flattered.

Mr. Knoller offered as examples of "positive" dialog the following:
“Hats off to Knoller for his willingness to participate in a dialogue.”

“Hey Knoller. Let me give you a bit of advice. Do not try to reason with this crowd. They have turned on you now. Your only way out is to grovel and say how wrong you and the entire media were. You can’t reason with them.”

“Those who are most angry at you, Mark, are the people who believe that the media’s job is to advance the agenda of the Liberal Democratic Party.”
Mr. Knoller is only receptive to those commenters who blindly support him as he has supported Mr. Bush by questioning the motivation of his detractors and blatantly distorting and falsifying the arguments of his critics.

Mr. Knoller continues to make it clear that he has completely missed the point. He is offended by the complaints as to his lack of journalistic integrity and in response he lashes out blindly at those who see his reporting for what it is; investigation free regurgitation of the Administration's talking points.

Mr. Knoller ends his posting by saying that "if the day comes when reporters substitute what they believe for what they know, we’ll all be poorer for it." Unfortunately the day has already come where reporters, Mr. Knoller among them, have substituted what the Administration tells them for the truth, and we are most assuredly the poorer for it.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Mark Knoller Can't Handle The Truth

Updated Below

CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller's response to Bill Moyers' "Buying The War" documentary was lamentable and hilarious in its imperviousness despite its tragic implications.

As a member of the Washington press corps Mr. Knoller is offended by the suggestion that he and his colleagues have done anything wrong, despite mounds of evidence, and the clear portrayal of the press' abdication of its responsibilities laid out by Mr. Moyers. Mr. Knoller clearly believes that as a reporter, especially a Washington based reporter that his word should always be taken as truth and that he and the press corps at large are above reproach and questioning. (Glenn Greenwald has examined this fantastical notion on several occasions)

Mr. Knoller, who called "Buying The War" "unfounded" and "misrepresentative", provides no evidence to support his claims. The best that Mr. Knoller can do is to complain about Mr. Moyers' coverage of the Presidential press conference held on March 6, 2003. Mr. Knoller states:

The broadcast began by focusing on the performance of reporters at President Bush’s news conference on March 6, 2003. We didn’t know it at the time, but it turned out to be 13 days before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Moyers charges in his opening sentences that the press “largely surrendered its independence and skepticism” and joined with the Bush Administration in marching to war.

Pointing to that news conference, Moyers claims that the White House press corps asked “no hard questions” about the president’s arguments for war.

He shows only a single, brief example of a question – deep in the news conference – in which a reporter asked Mr. Bush to reflect on how he was guided by his faith at that difficult time. Admittedly, it was a softball.

But Moyers did not cite any of the other much more pointed questions put to the President that evening in the East Room.

Richard Keil of Bloomberg News questioned the Administration’s intelligence claims about Saddam Hussein and the doubts of U.S. allies.

Jim Angle of Fox News also challenged the President’s assertions about Saddam.

John King of CNN asked the President to respond to critics who portray his animosity toward Saddam as personal. Further, he asked whether US action would make the world a more dangerous place. King also wanted Mr. Bush to address the risks of going to war and the impact on the American people.

Terry Moran of ABC also pressed the President about the doubts and reservations of U.S. allies to his approach.

My colleague Bill Plante challenged Mr. Bush to present hard evidence to back up his claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

And so on.

Now, I can understand if Moyers didn’t like the President’s answers. Fair enough. But to portray reporters as mindless conduits of White House policies is unfounded.
If Mr. Knoller truly believes that the questions asked were pointed why does he not quote them directly instead of hinting at what was said?

Here is my response to Mr. Knoller in his comments section:
Mr. Knoller,
Your response to Mr. Moyers' well researched,and direct documentary demonstrates precisely the problems currently inhabiting the Washington press corps.

Why do you not quote your colleagues questions from the March 6th press conference? You hint that actual questions were asked and that they were not all 'soft-ball' setups. However the transcript of the press conference does not support your insinuations.

You further omit the fact that President Bush only called on predetermined reporters from a list, a fact that he callously admitted halfway through the press conference. You were called on during that press conference Mr. Knoller, had you submitted the question that you asked of Mr. Bush in advance?

Your summations that you, the Washington press corps, behaved as true journalists is not supported by the facts in evidence as presented by Mr. Moyers, Gary Kayima in, and others.

Mr. Knoller your statements are shallow and false. They are defensive and misleading in the extreme, you sir, should be embarrassed to call yourself a journalist. Even now you fail to pursue the truth and provide it to your audience.

For a more in depth dissection of your complaints as to Mr. Moyers portrayal of the March 6th press conference please visit my blog at:
(post available soon)

I will write again in response to your challenge of this morning.
I thank you for at least engaging your critcs, even if you do so dishonestly.

Posted by hcoppola at 12:46 PM : Apr 27, 2007
As for Mr. Knoller's claims of "much more pointed" questions being asked of Mr. Bush on March 6, 2003, here are Mr. Knoller's words followed by the actual questions. The full transcript of the press conference is available here:

Mr. Knoller - Richard Keil of Bloomberg News questioned the Administration’s intelligence claims about Saddam Hussein and the doubts of U.S. allies.

Mr. Keil's actual question - Mr. President, you have, and your top advisors -- notably, Secretary of State Powell -- have repeatedly said that we have shared with our allies all the current, up-to-date intelligence information that proves the imminence of the threat we face from Saddam Hussein, and that they have been sharing their intelligence with us, as well. If all these nations, all of them our normal allies, have access to the same intelligence information, why is it that they are reluctant to think that the threat is so real, so imminent that we need to move to the brink of war now?

And in relation to that, today, the British Foreign Minister, Jack Straw, suggested at the U.N. that it might be time to look at amending the resolution, perhaps with an eye towards a timetable like that proposed by the Canadians some two weeks ago, that would set a firm deadline to give Saddam Hussein a little bit of time to come clean. And also, obviously, that would give you a little bit of a chance to build more support within the members of the Security Council. Is that something that the governments should be pursuing at the U.N. right now?

Where does Mr. Keil question the Administration's intelligence claims? Mr. Keil hints at a reluctance among American allies nothing more. It should also be noted that Mr. Keil's question was the first one asked on what Mr. Bush admitted was a scripted list for the press conference. Mr. Bush's response of 450 cleanly and clearly prepared words belies the nature of this soft question.

Mr. Knoller - Jim Angle of Fox News also challenged the President’s assertions about Saddam.

Mr. Angle's actual question - Thank you, Mr. President. Sir, if you haven't already made the choice to go to war, can you tell us what you are waiting to hear or see before you do make that decision? And if I may, during the recent demonstrations, many of the protestors suggested that the U.S. was a threat to peace, which prompted you to wonder out loud why they didn't see Saddam Hussein as a threat to peace. I wonder why you think so many people around the world take a different view of the threat that Saddam Hussein poses than you and your allies.

Mr. Angle does not even begin to challenge Mr. Bush's assertions about Saddam, rather he offers the President an opportunity to further belittle his detractors. Which Mr. Bush quickly and happily does.

Mr. Knoller - John King of CNN asked the President to respond to critics who portray his animosity toward Saddam as personal. Further, he asked whether US action would make the world a more dangerous place. King also wanted Mr. Bush to address the risks of going to war and the impact on the American people.

Mr. King's actual question - Thank you, Mr. President. How would -- sir, how would you answer your critics who say that they think this is somehow personal? As Senator Kennedy put it tonight, he said your fixation with Saddam Hussein is making the world a more dangerous place. And as you prepare the American people for the possibility of military conflict, could you share with us any of the scenarios your advisors have shared with you about worse-case scenarios, in terms of the potential cost of American lives, the potential cost to the American economy, and the potential risks of retaliatory terrorist strikes here at home?

Mr. King does actually ask Mr. to respond to critics who say that his invasion of Iraq would be personal. Mr. King does not ask Mr. Bush if his mission to oust Saddam Hussein is personal, which would be the 'pointed' question in this place. Instead of answering the question Mr. Bush said:
Saddam Hussein is a threat to the American people...He has weapons of mass destruction...He has trained and financed al Qaeda-type organizations before, al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.
The question may have arguably been a decent one, it is not enough, however to simply pose the question. The story could then have become that Mr. Bush dodged that question and instead offered false claims to scare the American public in a blatant effort at fear-mongering. Unfortunately Mr. King, Mr. Knoller and the rest of the Washington press corps did not, as Mr. Moyers notes, make this the story.

Mr. Knoller - Terry Moran of ABC also pressed the President about the doubts and reservations of U.S. allies to his approach.

Mr. Moran's actual question - Thank you, sir. May I follow up on Jim Angle's question? In the past several weeks, your policy on Iraq has generated opposition from the governments of France, Russia, China, Germany, Turkey, the Arab League and many other countries, opened a rift at NATO and at the U.N., and drawn millions of ordinary citizens around the world into the streets in anti-war protests. May I ask, what went wrong that so many governments and people around the world now not only disagree with you very strongly, but see the U.S. under your leadership as an arrogant power?

A surprisingly direct question from Mr. Moran, one that was once again ignored by Mr. Bush who went on to say in his answer that:
I think you'll see when it's all said and done, if we have to use force, a lot of nations will be with us...While they may disagree with how we deal with Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction, there's no disagreement when it came time to vote...I believe Saddam Hussein is a threat -- is a threat to the American people... So there's a lot more at stake than just American security, and the security of people close by Saddam Hussein. Freedom is at stake, as well, and I take that very seriously.
Again just asking a question of the President is not enough. Actual reporting must then be done on both what the Administration says and what it does. There would be no mention that Mr. Bush also ducked Mr. Moran's question and there would be no mention of the security experts who disagreed with Mr. Bush either.

Mr. Knoller - My colleague Bill Plante challenged Mr. Bush to present hard evidence to back up his claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

Mr. Plante's actual question -
Mr. President, to a lot of people, it seems that war is probably inevitable, because many people doubt -- most people, I would guess -- that Saddam Hussein will ever do what we are demanding that he do, which is disarm. And if war is inevitable, there are a lot of people in this country -- as much as half, by polling standards -- who agree that he should be disarmed, who listen to you say that you have the evidence, but who feel they haven't seen it, and who still wonder why blood has to be shed if he hasn't attacked us.

Again Mr. Knoller has drastically misrepresented the nature of the question posed by his colleague. Mr. Plante never issued a challenge to Mr. Bush never even mentioned WMD. In fact Mr. Plante did Mr. Bush a favor by prompting one of Mr. Bush's favorite talking points that "we're not going to wait until he does attack."

None of the questions to which Mr. Knoller alludes could in reality be called "pointed" especially given the answers to them and the subsequent failure in the reporting on the press conference.

Mr. Knoller does not mention the scripted nature of the press conference, which is central to Mr. Moyers' report, or his own presence and question at on March 6th.

Mr. Knoller provided the prompting for Mr. Bush to talk about the UN Security Council and its possible authorization of force:

Mark Knoller.

Q Mr. President, are you worried that the United States might be viewed as defiant of the United Nations if you went ahead with military action without specific and explicit authorization from the U.N.?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I'm not worried about that. As a matter of fact, it's hard to say the United States is defiant about the United Nations, when I was the person that took the issue to the United Nations, September the 12th, 2002. We've been working with the United Nations. We've been working through the United Nations.

Secondly, I'm confident the American people understand that when it comes to our security, if we need to act, we will act, and we really don't need United Nations approval to do so. I want to work -- I want the United Nations to be effective. It's important for it to be a robust, capable body. It's important for it's words to mean what they say, and as we head into the 21st century, Mark, when it comes to our security, we really don't need anybody's permission.

A softball? You be the judge. I put it again to Mr. Knoller; did you submit your question ahead of time for prior approval? Did you understand the true nature of your question and the way that it would be manipulated? Were you not aware of how your question was abused, and did you not feel a responsibility to report on the nature of the President's answers?

Mr. Knoller has responded to the comments he has received after his initial response to Mr. Moyers' documentary. Mr. Knoller claims to have been surprised at the "nature, depth and fury" of the comments His surprise is an all too clear indication of the fact that the Washington press corps has no idea how far they have fallen. Mr. Knoller and his colleagues clearly believe that they have done nothing wrong and that they remain above reproach. In reality the Washington press corps is broken and bankrupt, admitting their culpability in the situation in Iraq is the first in a long series of steps that will have to be taken before the public can once again trust the national media.

Mr. Knoller continues in his defensive posturing, by issuing a challenge to his critics:
YOU be the reporter!

It’s March 6, 2003. Pres Bush is moving closer to ordering an attack on Iraq.

You’re in the East Room for his primetime news conference – and he calls on you.

What do you ask?

What finely-crafted question do you pose that both serves the public interest and will get a meaningul response?

I assure you my colleagues and I will read what you write.
Before issuing his challenge Mr. Knoller continues to claim that he and his colleagues were not "duped" and that "concerns and reservations" were published as well. The problem is that Mr. Knoller's claims are not supportable by any facts in the historical record. Just because Mr Knoller says he reported honestly does not mean that he actually did, Mr. Knoller should provide actual evidence or he should cease to claim his innocence in the face of ever mounting evidence incriminating the Washington press corps for their collective failure.

In his challenge Mr. Knoller manages to miss the point completely. It was not solely the nature of the questions posed at the March 6th press conference but the manner in which the entire charade was conducted. Mr. Bush called on an admittedly scripted list of reporters who provided him with a chance to answer previewed questions. All the while the rest of the press corps played along, raising their hands as though Mr. Bush might call on them and thus perpetrating the hoax that it was an actual engagement of the press by Mr. Bush. As Matt Taibbi put it "The White House Press Corps politely grabs its ankles."

Mr. Knoller should know that the questions were not the real problem, they were but a symptom of the disease that has crippled the Washington press corps.

The only way that Mr. Knoller and his colleagues will wise up is if they are repeatedly called out when they provide such flimsy excuses and wrap themselves in such blatant falsehoods.

Visit Mr. Knoller's website, take his challenge and express your disgust.

Bill Moyers has a response to Mr. Knoller and other members of the Washington press corps who have complained about their portrayal here.

Coverage of Buying The War

Bill Moyers' new PBS documentary "Buying The War" has received mixed reviews or none at all depending largely on ones opinion of the subject matter; the collapse and failure of the Washington press corps in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq.

The Washington Post carried a preview by its television columnist, Tom Shales. Mr. Shales titled his piece "A Media Role in Selling the War? No Question" and sums up the program as such:

Even if this Moyers report tells you some things you already knew, it puts the whole story of the media's role in the war into one convenient package -- a story of historical value that is also frighteningly rife with portents for the future and for what will pass as journalism in months and years to come.
Mr. Shales also points out the litany of reporters and supposed experts who refused to comment or appear on the documentary; the list includes Judith Miller, Charles Krauthammer, and Bill Kristol among others,and provides a general overview of the program.

The L.A. Times also assigned coverage to their TV reviewer, Paul Brownfield. The LAT review spends more time mentioning Mr. Moyers return to PBS than covering the actual documentary. Mr. Brownfield also mentions media figures who refused to appear on the program; naming Thomas Friedman, William Safire, and Roger Ailes. Mr. Brownfield sums up his review by mentioning the lack of a conservative perspective, although in a not altogether negative way:
There is no one representing the conservative argument here, nor the deeper ideological reasons for believing in the Iraq invasion. But that's partly Moyers' position: In the run-up to war, point-counterpoint emerged as a devastating sham.
As for The N.Y. Times; it failed to cover "Buying The War" at all, mustering only a paltry one and a half lines in the "Whats on Tonight" section. Is 'the paper of record' so ashamed of its role in the gross negligence and misinformation portrayed as journalism prior to the invasion of Iraq that it will go out of its way to avoid any discussion of the pre-war reporting?

Online Glenn Greenwald at as an in depth post on "Buying The War" as well as the coverage it is receiving positive and negative. Some of that negative coverage has come from CBS reporter Mark Knoller who has blasted Bill Moyers, refering to the documentary as "unfounded" and "misrepresentative." (More to come On Mr. Knoller soon)

Mr. Moyers has put together a clear, well researched, and direct piece of journalism. Regardless of your view point it should be watched.

Bill Moyers - Buying The War

Mr. Moyers return to PBS is not to be missed. The 90 minute documentary recounts in detail just how badly the Washington press corps dropped the ball in the coverage of the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq.

By now many people have realized that they were hoodwinked by the Administration and the national media who consistently reported what President Bush and his supporters had to say as fact regardless of how wildly unlikely or untrue it might be.

Mr. Moyers documentary makes very clear that the information to question the Bush Administration's arguments was readily available. In fact it was put to use by the Knight-Ridder (now McClatchy) news service. The rest of the media failed to follow suit and instead lined up behind the administration and unquestioningly reported their claims as fact.

Perhaps the most devastating line is delivered late in the show by Norm Solomon:

I think these executives were terrified of being called soft on terrorism. They absolutely knew that the winds were blowing at hurricane force politically and socially in the United States. And rather than stand up for journalism, they just blew with the wind.

And-- Dan Rather, and others who say, yeah, you know. I was carried away back then. Well, sure. That's when it matters. When it matters most is when you can make a difference as a journalist.

The information was available, a very few made use of it but all too many let it go. Instead of making a difference and relentlessly pursuing the truth the Washington press corps abdicated its responsibility to its readers, the American public, and abandoned the very foundations of journalism.

Watch, Listen, or Read Buying The War