An extraordinary election occurred in Iraq on Thursday. However, all three major network Sunday talk shows – ABC’s “This Week,” NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and CBS’ “Face the Nation” – all began their programs this morning with a discussion about revelations released on Friday by The New York Times that the White House has been authorizing surveillance of potential terrorists on American soil without getting court orders.
CBS’ Bob Schieffer, after introducing his guests Senators Joe Biden (D-Delaware) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), began the segment (from closed captioning):
“Gentlemen, we have to start this morning with this story. It is against the law, of course, to eavesdrop or wire tap U.S. citizens in this country without a court order from a federal judge. But the "New York Times" says that is exactly what the president is authorized the government to do since 9/11. The secretary of state said this morning that the president has statutory and constitutional authorization to do what he did. So I'll start with Senator Graham. Does he have that authority, senator?”
NBC’s Tim Russert, after welcoming Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, began: “Before I get to Iraq, let me turn to the issue on the front page of all the papers, and that is the domestic spying, and refer you and our viewers to an article in Friday's "The New York Times" to give it some context.” After reading from the article with text on screen, Russert continued:
“The president yesterday confirmed that this operation was underway for the last several years. What is the legal authority? What is the constitutional authority for the president to eavesdrop on American citizens without getting court approval?”
ABC’s “This Week” focused so much of its time on this new surveillance scandal that host George Stephanopoulos seemed to totally ignore Thursday’s Iraqi elections, including during the round table discussion with George Will, Cokie Roberts, and Sam Donaldson. Instead, after grilling Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) about this new surveillance issue, and torture, Stephanopoulos interviewed a retired American soldier who was severely injured in Iraq, but now is home to run for Congress. Then, after the round table, Stephanopoulos interviewed comedian Albert Brooks about his new movie, “Looking For Comedy in the Muslim World.” I guess both of these issues were much more important than Iraqis turning out in unprecedented numbers to vote on a constitution.