Feb
06
2013

When It Comes to Drones, Trust the Churchgoing CIA Director

matthews-church-drones

Last night, MSNBC's Chris Matthews hosted a discussion on the Obama administration's recently disclosed "white paper" justifying its policy of using drones to strike at U.S. citizens. Matthews ultimately deciding that the policy was defensible–on the grounds that the CIA director Leon Panetta goes to church.

Nov
20
2012

Roger Ailes' Fantasy World

Roger Ailes

Fox News CEO Roger Ailes recently renewed his contract, and he gave an interview to explain why. As one might expect, given the we-only-look-biased-because-the-other-guys-are-so-biased philosophy at Fox, he's motivated by what he sees as the outrageously partisan media everywhere else (MediaBistro, 11/16/12): Ailes was also sparked by what he experienced at a Washington journalists' dinner. "When I saw the president say, 'I know you all voted for me,' and a thousand people stood up and cheered and applauded and then when the applause died down, he said, 'Oh probably except you guys at the Fox table.' I thought, 'Am I […]

Nov
14
2012

Friedman Asks: Why Did Iraq Do That to George W. Bush?

Thomas Friedman

Some days it's not easy to make it through a Tom Friedman column. Take today (11/14/12), for instance. I got all the way to the second sentence: Virtually every American president since Dwight Eisenhower has had a Middle Eastern country that brought him grief. In case you're wondering, he really means every president: For George W. Bush, it was Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, why did those countries give the man so much trouble? For anyone trying to make it all the way through the column, I recommend letting Matt Taibbi walk you through the loopy Friedmanesque metaphors: Iraq is a […]

Jun
29
2012

The Race to Be First to Be Wrong at the Supreme Court

In corporate media there is always a race to be first to report a breaking story seconds before your competitors. It means nothing to the rest of the world–we're talking a matter of seconds, much of the time–but it's a point of pride in the news business to be first. Being right is more important, by several miles, and on that score a few prominent outlets failed spectacularly yesterday at the Supreme Court, telling viewers that the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act had been struck down. The prime offenders on cable were Fox News (photo by @jasonkeath)  and […]

May
04
2012

Matthews Remembers Mission Accomplished (Some of It)

On Wednesday (5/2/12), MSNBC host Chris Matthews played a long clip from the Daily Show, where Jon Stewart mocked Republicans who are complaining about Barack Obama's celebration of the killing of Osama bin Laden. Stewart naturally recalls George W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" photo op stunt from 2003.  Stewart points out that if Republicans are angry about Obama "spiking the football," Bush was spiking the ball before the game started. So the clip played, and then we cut to Matthews, chuckling away. Of course Stewart's point is right on–anyone who listens to this whining from the right is bound to recall […]

Aug
30
2011

Libya and Terrorist Signatures

Under the headline "Nations Hope Veil Lifts From Libya's History of Terrorism," John Burns writes in today's New York Times (8/30/11): Television footage of the only man convicted in the Lockerbie bombing lying in bed, purportedly comatose with advanced prostate cancer at his Tripoli home, has provided a focal point for a question asked with new urgency in places far from Libya: With Col. Muammar el-Gadhafi's government in ruins, what reckoning is likely for the terrorist bombings that were once a signature of the former Libyan leader's war with the Western world? So terrorism was Gadhafi's "signature," and many "nations" […]

Aug
30
2011

Hurricanes and Climate Change? Close That Door!

In case you were wondering whether Irene sparked any discussions of climate change, here's a moment from the panel discussion on ABC's This Week (8/30/11): RON BROWNSTEIN (National Journal): Do we want to get into a global warming and a hurricanes discussion? DONNA BRAZILE (Democratic Strategist): No. BROWNSTEIN: I mean, I don't know if we want to open that door. Let that serve as a reminder to read Neil deMause's piece from the last issue of Extra! This was a laugh line, so I guess take it for what it's worth. On the other hand, Cokie Roberts seemed to be […]

Aug
09
2011

Bill O'Reilly and the Imaginary Bush Tax Cut Windfall

Fox host Bill O'Reilly laughs off any calls for increasing government spending to help create jobs. Last week he derided Paul Krugman for demanding more stimulus spending. And this guy teaches economics at Princeton University? Unbelievable. People like Bill O'Reilly don't pay any mind to the fancy pants Nobel Prize committee that gave Krugman one of their liberal awards. Why should he? He knows how the economy really works, as he explained last night (8/8/11): Raising income taxes is not the way out of this. In 2001 and again in 2003, President Bush cut individual tax rates. And what happened? […]

Jul
15
2011

Fox's Eric Bolling Fans on Terror Facts–Twice

Glenn Beck's temporary replacement in the 5 p.m. slot on Fox News, Eric Bolling, has started out with a bang. On the July 13 edition of his new show the Five, the host declared: "America was certainly safe between 2000 and 2008. I don't remember any attacks on American soil during that period of time." After Bolling's error, erasing 9/11 and several other deadly terrorism attacks from the Bush record, was pointed out by outlets including Media Matters and Huffington Post, the host returned to the air Thursday to issue a correction that sounded more like a retaliation against those […]

May
24
2011

New NYT Columnist's Bush-Boosting History

Frank Bruni has been named the new Sunday op-ed columnist at the New York Times. Bruni has been writing restaurant reviews for the past few years, but came to a lot of people's attention as the reporter covering the 2000 campaign of George W. Bush. Bruni went on to write a book about that experience, and one of the lessons in the book was that what Bruni actually thought about Bush's campaign rhetoric and debate performances wasn't really what he was reporting at the time. I wrote something about this when the book came out, though I can't recall whether […]

May
10
2011

Newsweek, Like Time, Clutching at Straws to Cheer for Torture

The argument that the finding and killing of Osama bin Laden shows that George W. Bush's torture policies were justified got another rehearsal in Newsweek fromYale professorStephen Carter (5/5/11): In the end, we were able to track bin Laden because he communicated only through two couriers believed to be brothers. And what was the source of this vital clue? The intelligence apparently came from detainees imprisoned in secret facilities overseas and subjected to what has been euphemistically called "enhanced" interrogation…. So the information from the detainees was crucial, and we face an uncomfortable irony, both political and ethical. The finest […]

May
05
2011

Did the WaPo Hire Sean Hannity?

OK, this isn't Sean Hannity's byline in the Post today, but it might as well be. The headline should stop you: In bin Laden Victory, Echoes of the Bush Years The piece–actually written by Scott Wilson and Anne Kornblut–lays out the argument: As President Obama celebrates the signature national-security success of his tenure, he has a long list of people to thank. On the list: George W. Bush. After the September 11, 2001, attacks, Bush waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that have forged a military so skilled that it carried out a complicated covert raid with only a minor […]

May
02
2011

Bush's Palpable Persistence in Pursuit of bin Laden

In today's edition of the Washington Post (5/2/11), Dan Balz puts forth what is probably going to be a popular theme in the coverage of the killing of Osama bin Laden: that catching the Al-Qaeda leader was a top concern of both the Bush and Obama administrations. Bush put down the marker not long after the September 11 attacks, saying he wanted bin Laden "dead or alive." That was taken as a sign of cowboy swagger by a Texan president by some of his critics, but it was a reflection of the absolute importance that he and much of the […]