It is quite doubtful that HBO’s Bill Maher knew what he was in for when he scheduled Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute to be on his "Real Time" panel Friday night. After all, with CNN’s Lou Dobbs and liberal actor Ben Affleck surrounding her, it seemed highly unlikely the lone conservative in the discussion would survive the scrum, let alone win the debate. However, not only did Pletka hold her own, but she also ended up schooling Maher and Affleck on a virtual plethora of geopolitical issues making this one of the more enjoyable Friday Night Fights in recent memory (video link to follow).

The first lesson came when Affleck had the gall to suggest that Iran and North Korea “became more evil after” President Bush made his Axis of Evil speech during the 2002 State of the Union address (emphasis mine):

As previously reported by NewsBusters editor Matt Sheffield and others, FNC’s Special Report with Brit Hume on Thursday evening noted how YouTube users had ganged up to flag as “inappropriate” a humorous 90-second video by director David Zucker that mocks the Democrats for their approach to international bad guys like Osama bin Laden and Kim Jong-Il.

Zucker’s video begins with a shot of an actress playing Secretary of State Madeleine Albright meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il. The announcer gravely intoned: “In the year 2000, in an effort to stop the North Koreans from building nuclear weapons, President Clinton's Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gave North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il a basketball signed by Michael Jordan.” After “Albright” hands “Kim” a basketball, the two share a champagne toast. An on-screen graphic informs: "We're Not Making This Up."

Many pundits suspect that any event that makes the world look like a dangerous place might help the hawkish Bush team at election time. NBC was not going to allow that impression to sink in, if you were watching Thursday morning's edition of Today.

David Gregory insisted that despite "partisan finger-pointing," it would be a Republican liability, another growing question mark:

Friday's broadcast network evening newscasts (6:30pm EDT feeds for ABC and CBS, 7pm for NBC) delivered contradictory reports on whether U.S. officials believe North Korea conducted a nuclear test last weekend. On the CBS Evening News, Jim Axelrod reported from the White House lawn: “The first tests on air samples from near North Korea have been completed and U.S. intelligence agencies now appear ready to confirm this was indeed a nuclear test.” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams similarly relayed: “American officials say the very first tests of air samples from the skies above do show some indication of increased radiation, but they say it will be more days now before all the tests are completed.”

On ABC's World News, however, anchor Charles Gibson asserted: “There is still a question tonight as to whether North Korea did or did not conduct a nuclear test. Monitoring of the air over North Korea by the U.S., by the Chinese and by the Japanese has come up negative.” Over a matching graphic, Gibson reported: “No radioactive particles have been found.” Jonathan Karl suggested “that it may have been a failure and they have not ruled out the possibility that it could be a fake. There will be more tests coming, Charlie, it may be several days before we have anything definitive.” (Reid v Foley below)

With North Korea testing nuclear weapons and Democrats demanding that the Bush administration engage in bilateral talks with them, it should come as no surprise that the "Early Show" once again turned to Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution for analysis. O’Hanlon, made his 17th appearance of the year on Thursday’s "Early Show" where he was sure to plug his book.

Thirteen months before North Korea exploded a nuclear bomb, CNN founder Ted Turner predicted that such an event would never happen. “I think we can put the North Korea and East Asia problems behind us,” Turner confidently proclaimed in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer back on September 19, 2005.

Tuesday's Washington Post carries one of those editorials disguised as a "news analysis" headlined "Bush's 'Axis of Evil' Comes Back to Haunt United States." The writers displayed their liberal stripes by quoting only Democrats and Clinton staffers. Reporters Glenn Kessler and Peter Baker began:

ABC's Mark Litke, checking in from Seoul on Monday's World News, seemed to rationalize North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il's pursuit of a nuclear weapon as he treated as credible the contention the regime has had, for decades, a reasonable fear of U.S. invasion, a fear exacerbated by President George W. Bush.

As they padded for time waiting for a live statement on the North Korean nuclear test from President Bush in the 9 am hour of Today on Monday, NBC's Andrea Mitchell scolded that Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright were building reconciliation between North and South Korea, but Bush came in and ruined it, overruling his Secretary of State, Colin Powell, "cutting him off at the knees." Typically, Today co-host Matt Lauer insisted the North Korean nuclear

First, Katie Couric wondered who made America the "boss" of the world, now ABC’s Diane Sawyer wants to know if "the U.S.

At the conclusion of CNN’s "Your World Today," which features an international take on the news of the day, anchors Stephen Frazier and Rosemary Church read a variety of e-mails on North Korea’s testing of nuclear weapons. Only in the morally relativistic world of CNN, where all opinions are equal, could a letter like this repeated aloud:

Church: "And a completely different view. Soh, from Singapore writes: ‘The North Koreans have done the right thing. Since the end of the Korean War, they have been subjected to hostilities from the United States. and other western powers. This bomb is a source of tremendous pride for the Korean people, north and south. The world should congratulate the North Korean people for this achievement."

One can imagine a 1930s CNN reading German e-mails congratulating Hitler on his triumphant liberation of Poland.

On Friday night’s edition of Inside Washington, a program which airs on the Washington DC area PBS station WETA, and re-airs on Sunday mornings on the DC ABC affiliate, WJLA, and consists of a round table of political pundits, one of the topics discussed was North Korea. As was widely discussed last week, North Korea test fired a long range missile that could potentially hit the United States called the Taepodong 2 missile.