“What the average person is seeing right now,” declares the American Prospect’s Paul Waldman, “is an entire party mobilizing to defend the use of torture, whether they will call it by that name or not. And that looks to be having an effect on public opinion.”
A day after Rosie O’Donnell proclaimed that the CIA engaged in “horrific” and “illegal” “torture,” on Thursday morning the cast of ABC’s The View decided to revisit the controversial Democratic Senate report on the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists. Predictably, Rosie doubled-down on her claim that America “tortured” people but conservative co-host Nicolle Wallace eagerly slapped her down. The ABC host insisted that she has “never been more proud to defend the people who walk the line for this country and this city and the city in which I worked, the city where my mom and dad lived.”
On Wednesday, Michael Morrell, former Deputy Director of the CIA and current CBS News Senior Security Contributor, appeared on CBS This Morning to discuss the Democrat-led Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists. While the former CIA official vehemently rejected the contents of the report, co-host Norah O’Donnell did her best to discredit Morrell’s defense of the agency. O’Donnell proclaimed “to me the idea that someone could be waterboarded, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, 183 times and that's not torture, I just don't understand that definition.”
Who were those guys on Morning Joe today—two Feinstein staffers? Nope, they were Mark Halperin and Jeremy Peters, making like Dem aides in defending the report on the CIA that Dem Senator Diane Feinstein released yesterday.
Halperin, head of Bloomberg Politics, had the chutzpah to claim that the report was not "political." Peters of the New York Times then chimed in to say that in releasing the report, the Senate conducted itself in a "very sober" way.
During an exclusive interview with former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden on Tuesday’s NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams felt that it was worth creating a moral equivalency by asking Hayden to explain “how” the United States is “better than our enemies morally” following the release of a report about the CIA’s use of “torture” following the attacks on September 11, 2001.
Minutes later, Williams also attempted to bait Hayden into condemning the CIA and its actions by proposing a scenario where, “god forbid, members of your family, had to undergo some of the treatments we are reading about in this report.”
On Tuesday night, CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley did little to hide his liberal bias when it came to supporting the release of the report by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee detailing the use of “torture” by the agency on terrorists following the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
In addition to asking CBS News contributor and former acting CIA Director Mike Morell if he felt “ashamed” after the release of the report Tuesday, the program aired over two minutes of a 2007 interview Pelley conducted for 60 Minutes in which he clashed with former CIA Director George Tenet on the subject of enhanced interrogation methods.
On Monday night, ABC News continued to report on the impending release of a report on the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation methods as though partisanship had no role when, in fact, Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee are the very reason it was compiled and will be released.
Following a morning in which ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today made no mention of the political reasoning, ABC kept the streak going on World News Tonight with David Muir with another report from ABC News chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz.
On Monday, ABC and NBC's morning newscasts both touted the upcoming congressional report on the CIA's post-9/11 interrogation techniques as "explosive" and "damning." However, neither network pointed out that it was Democratic members on the Senate Intelligence Committee that commissioned the document. By contrast, CBS This Morning reported that "Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee are set to release a controversial report on the CIA."
Any intraparty criticism of President Obama’s recent foreign policy moves regarding Iraq was nowhere to be found on NBC’s morning or evening news programs as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leveled some criticism at Obama on the subject in an interview with The Atlantic that was published over the weekend.
Both Sunday and Monday mornings’ installments of Today and Sunday night’s NBC Nightly News ignored this angle of disagreement among arguably the two most well-known and influential figures in Democratic politics as Obama authorized U.S. air strikes against ISIS militants in northern Iraq late last Thursday and throughout over the weekend. [MP3 audio here; Video below]
On Tuesday, only NBC's Today reported on the White House accidentally leaking the name of the CIA station chief in Kabul, Afghanistan, which correspondent Peter Alexander described as "an incredibly embarrassing and actually potentially dangerous mistake." Neither ABC's Good Morning America nor CBS This Morning mentioned the administration screw-up that occurred during President Obama's trip to Afghanistan over the weekend to visit the troops. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
ABC and CBS did find time to promote other favorable White House stories. GMA did a full segment on First Lady Michelle Obama defending school lunch standards against criticism and This Morning devoted a full report to the White House holding a science fair for girls.
Updated at bottom of post | Bit by bit, slowly but surely, the Obama administration's initial story about what transpired in the deadly September 11 terrorist attack unraveled over the past few weeks. At the same time, we learned, no thanks to broadcast network newscasts that largely ignored the story -- that the consulate was poorly secured, that security personnel had been reduced in the weeks preceding 9/11, and that Amb. Chris Stevens feared for his life.
So how did the Washington Post cover yesterday's House Oversight Committee hearing into "The Security Failures of Benghazi"? According to Post staffer Anne Gearan, it was a "highly charged" partisan exercise that "produced few new revelations about the attack" although it "underscored the administration's political vulnerability over the Benghazi episode four weeks before the presidential election."