WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31, 2004
IPHIGENIA AND ALAN: Three spin-points you wont hear recited by all your liberal pundits:
By the way, Hannity was busy on last nights program playing Bill Frists slimy if card. He chatted with Alexander Haig, on whom his hosts point slowly dawned:
HANNITY: I want to ask you this If [Clarke] contradicted himself clearly under oath, and its clear that he lied under oath, should he be gone after for perjury?Hannity kept saying if-if-if-if. Finally, Haig knew which script to recite.
In the spirit of the season, wed like to repeat a basic point we often make about Hannity. If Sean Hannity has been exposing himself to young children, he should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Theres just no excuse for Sean Hannitys conduct if hes been exposing himself to such kids.
YOU CANT GET DUMBER THAN LISA MYERS: You cant get dumber than Lisa Myers. On Mondays NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams introduced a report about Richard Clarke. A lot of people who have heard the allegations from Clarke have had trouble figuring out the truth, he said. Tonight our NBC News Truth Squad takes on the debate over national security and just whos right. The handsome anchor threw to Myers. Thats when the dumbness began.
Did NBC really care about this topic? Myers got 400 words to work with. But, despite the abdurdly short segment, she selected three different topics to check. Incredibly, this turkey came second:
MYERS: What did Condoleezza Rice know about al-Qaeda? Clarke claims when he briefed Rice on al-Qaeda in January 2001, She gave me the impression she had never heard the term before. Rice calls that arrogant and insulting. In fact, Rice spoke at length about al-Qaeda in a radio interview in 2000.Which is dumberthe topic itself, or Myers analysis, which we have given in full?
First, the topic: Clarke explores a range of important issues in his booka book which deals with life-and-death matters. Was Rice familiar with the term al Qaeda? Clarkes fleeting remark is utterly trivialperfect for Myers mind-set. But Myers picked the topic for an obvious reason. By last weekend, the notion that Clarke made a foolish claim about Rice had become an established conservative spin-point. Myers analysis was totally scripted. This topic, and Myers treatment of it, were a sop to conservative hacks.
But if the topic was utterly trivial, Myers analysis showcased her glacial stupidity. Kids, weve covered this barren ground before (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/25/04). No, Rice didnt use the term al Qaeda in that 2000 radio session (as you might guess from the clip Myers aired). Had Rice heard the term before her briefing? Theres simply no way to tell from this evidence. But Myers was too dumb to knowor she was simply seeking a way to please her conservative minders.
What does Clarke say about this general topic? In his opening chapter, he notes the obscurity of bin Ladens group at the time of the 9/11 attacks. Most Americans had never heard of al Qaeda, he writes. Indeed, most senior officials in the administration did not know the term when we briefed them in January 2001. Indeed, such general ignorance should not be shocking. In calendar year 2000, for example, the terms al Qaida or al Qaeda appeared in the Washington Post only 18 times, according to Nexis. They appeared in the Washington Times even less (13 times). Was Rice familiar with the term? Simply put, theres no way to know. Its fairly clear that she never put the term in the public record before her January briefing with Clarke. For that reason, hacks have been forced to cite the interview in which she referred to bin Laden. This worthless evidence was good enough for Hannity. It was good enough for our Truth Squadder, too.
How fake, how phony is your press corps? Clarke makes serious claims in his bookand Myers wastes her time on this. No, Lisa Myers has no idea if Condi Rice knew the term al Qaeda. But conservative hacks were pushing a scriptso Myers obligingly cut-and-pasted. Can you see the contemptthe pure contemptthe Truth Squad Queen has for your discourse?
LETS PLAY DUMBBELL: Last night, Myers continued her clowning on Hardball. Introduced as NBC News chief investigative correspondent, Myers plowed through the same three topics. But on the matter of Rice and al Qaeda, she embroidered a bit. Lets begin:
MATTHEWS: Richard Clarke in his book said, Lisa, the quote is, I briefed Ricethats Condoleezza Riceon al Qaeda. Her facial expression gave me the impression that she had never heard of the term before. Is that a credible charge?Wow! One of Clarkes least credible passages! The Truth Squad leader continued:
MYERS: Chris, you know Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Shes a very bright, well-educated woman. Shes an international specialist. We even found speeches, and one particular radio interview in the year 2000 where she talks about al Qaeda. I think you have a brief excerpt.Weird, isnt it? Despite all those speeches which Myers found, she still played the tape where Rice doesnt say al Qaeda! By the waywhere did Myers find this tape? She found it the same place Hannity didin the hands of a White House spinner.
Luckily, Matthews knew that his overfed guest was full of stale old cable cant. The talker served up this next comment:
MATTHEWS: Well, its clear she knew what the basic substance was. I guess the only question, Lisa, is, Was she familiar with the term, al Qaedathe base in Arabic?Yep! The only question that wasnt clear was the question that Myers was checking!
Readers, you cant get dumber than Lisa Myers. Herelet Myers show you.
EVAN THOMAS, PRETTY WELL SPUN: For an instructive cable performance, you had to catch Evan Thomas on Mondays Imus. Was Clarke correct in his substantive claims? Who gives a sh*t about something like that? For the pampered poodles of your press corps, news is now pure personality:
IMUS: What do you make of this Clarke business, first of all?Thomas doesnt care for Clarke. Rice, of course, isnt a loudmouth:
THOMAS: Shes very graceful and shes really good at spinning you, and I usually float out of there pretty well spun.Truer words were never spoken! In the current Newsweek, Thomas pens a lengthy piece about Clarke. But how does he kick things off? With the same script which Myers selected: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4616750/
THOMAS (pgh 1): What does Richard Clarke have against Condoleezza Rice? In his book, Against All Enemies, Clarke, the former counterterror chief for the Bush White House, writes that when he first briefed the presidents national-security adviser about the Qaeda threat at a January 2001 meeting, her facial expression gave me the impression she had never heard the term before. That is a stretch; Rice had spoken publicly about Al Qaeda before she came to the White House.Snore! Thomas typed the approved script too, right at the start of his article! But then, this stupid script is being recited all across the Washington press. Its a trivial point from Clarkes bookand the evidence doesnt show that Clarkes wrong. But conservative spinners have picked this out as a way to show that Clarke is all wet. So they handed the script to Myers and Thomas, and the obedient scribes started typing.
But then, its just as Thomas said. Confronted by the graceful Condi, the scribe walked out of there pretty well spun. Cant you see what a screaming joke these courtiers make of your discourse?
BLITZER (3/30/04): Last Wednesday, while I was debriefing our senior White House correspondent, John King, I asked him if White House officials were suggesting there were some weird aspects to Richard Clarkes life. Clarke, of course, is the former counter-terrorism adviser who has sharply criticized the presidents handling of the war on terror. I was not referring to anything charged by so-called unnamed White House officials as alleged today by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. I was simply seeking to flesh out what Bush National Security Council spokesman Jim Wilkinson had said on this program two days earlier.Presumably, Blitzer meant to say John King, not John Kerry. But when it comes to Wolf Blitzer, who knows?
Was Blitzer referring to Wilkinson in last weeks comment? Here at THE HOWLER, we dont really know (more below). For the record, Wilkinsons comments were a stupid, fake account of what Clarke actually says in his bookthe kind of fakery men like Wilkinson know they can offer to Blitzer. Simply put, Wilkinson lied, right in Blitzers face. But was that what Blitzer had in mind when he spoke to King last week? Here, again, is what he said when he posed his question:
BLITZER (question to King, Wednesday, 3/24/04): What administration officials have been saying since the weekend, basically that Richard Clarke from their vantage point was a disgruntled former government official, angry because he didnt get a certain promotion. Hes got a hot new book out now that he wants to promote. He wants to make a few bucks, and that his own personal life, theyre also suggesting that there are some weird aspects in his life as well, that they dont know what made this guy come forward and make these accusations against the president. Is that the sense that youre getting, speaking to a wide range of officials?Lets state the obvious. Blitzer did refer to unnamed administration officials, the claim he mocked on yesterdays program. If you watched him yesterday, you would have thought that Krugman invented the part about unnamed officials. CNNs viewers were baldly misled. Sadly, they were misled by Blitzer.
So Blitzer dissembled about Paul Krugman. Beyond that, its conceivable that Blitzer was referring to Wilkinson in his question to King. In truth, it seems like a bit of a stretch. But yes, its always conceivable.
But lets get to the larger question, the one Blitzers comment raised. Are Bush types sliming Clarkes personal life? Last night, Ann Coulter slithered into Scarborough Country. As usual, she crawled through the mire:
COULTER: I think Condoleezza Rice was probably chomping at the bit, wondering why this angry, embittered, strange man with no personal life was in this misogynistic snit with her, for the only woman he worked for, I might add.Sadly, Scarborough hosts people like Coulter every night. One night, its Jack Burkman, ranting about felonies, crimes, perjury and treason (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/30/04). The next night, its Coulter, out spreading the slime. In the past, low-life types like Burkman and Coulter had to do their muttering in dark corner bars. Now, Scarborough puts them on the air. And Blitzer rolls for slugs like Wilkinson, letting them peddle fake stories.