On yesterday’s installment of CNN’s “The Situation Room,” Ali Velshi and Bill Schneider fantasized about talk-show megastar Oprah Winfrey supporting a presidential run by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-New York) in 2008. Clinton and Winfrey met at the International Emmy Award ceremony on Monday, and in Schneider’s words, “had a very interesting and possibly politically significant encounter.” Schneider's view:

"What would a Hillary Clinton-John McCain race look like? The CNN-'USA Today'-Gallup poll pitted the two frontrunners against each other among registered voters nationwide. The result: McCain leads Clinton by 10 points.

"Why? Men. Men give McCain a huge lead over Clinton. Women are divided. Maybe an endorsement from Oprah Winfrey could make a difference. If she were to rally women to support Hillary Clinton, the race could become a lot closer."

What follows is a full transcript of this exchange. 

From the 4pm hour of the Nov. 21 The Situation Room:

CNN reporter Dana Bash did some ‘bashing’ of the President’s actions during his trip to Asia.

She begins the segment with the President attempting to open a locked door at the end of a press conference. She said reporters on the scene immediately dubbed this "the no exit strategy press conference". Even the sheepish President couldn't ignore the obvious metaphor.

Bash continued her segment by concluding President Bush's trip to Asia was a failure because of the failures at home in the US.

When Bush was asked “Is that evidence that your party is increasing splitting with you on Iraq?”, Bash dubbed his answer as "talking points".

Bash called Vice President Cheney’s speech as "red hot Iraq rhetoric" and then said his speech was to "discredit Democrats criticizing the war". She referred to the statement released by the White House that compared Murtha to Michael Moore as a "blistering statement".

She concluded the segment by noting a reporter that asked a “question on many minds”, "Mr. President you seem to be a little bit of your game". Bush responded with "have you ever heard of jet lag". Bash gave the reaction of "how dare he say that".


On Friday’s Situation Room, CNN’s Bill Schneider awarded Congressman John Murtha his “Play of the Week,” and after Schneider’s piece host Wolf Blitzer suggested the call by Murtha, “a very moderate conservative” (whatever that is), to withdraw troops is reminiscent of CBS anchor Walter Cronkite’s 1968 assertion the U.S. was losing in Vietnam, and so Republicans “probably realize they’ve got some serious problems." Schneider explained his pick: “In 1968, Walter Cronkite returned from Vietnam and told Americans that, in his opinion, the Vietnam War had become a stalemate. That was a turning point. Now, it's too early to tell whether what happened this week was a turning point in Iraq, but it certainly was the political 'Play of the Week.'” Schneider played up Murtha’s influence: "He rarely speaks to the press. When he does, Washington listens. This week, Murtha spoke.”

When Schneider finished his recap of Murtha’s remarks and the reaction to them, Blitzer reminded him and viewers: "Bill, you’ll remember what President Johnson said when he heard what Walter Cronkite had said at that point, after coming back from Vietnam. He said if he’s lost Walter Cronkite, he’s probably lost the country. And I suppose that some Republicans are saying now if they’ve lost John Murtha, a very moderate conservative Democrat, a strong supporter of the military, they, they probably realize they’ve got some serious problems." Schneider agreed: "I think they do." (Complete transcript follows.)

The stunt by Senate Democrats who forced the chamber into closed session so they could get publicity for demands for an immediate probe into administration use of pre-war intelligence, earned a favorable tirade Tuesday afternoon from CNN’s Jack Cafferty who charged that “there's a perception in this country that we were lied to about the run-up to the war in Iraq.” Most believe they were “lied” to? More like Cafferty channeled the claims of the radical left. Cafferty proceeded to concede that “maybe we were, and maybe we weren't, but there are a lot of people who think we were.” Cafferty rued, as if WMDs were the only reason for the war: “A half a trillion dollars and 2,000 of our kids later, we're still there. We're mired in a thing that has no visible end” and so “if they lied to us, if there was some kind of intent to deceive, then they ought to find out who did it, and tear their fingernails out, and then get rid of them.” He insisted that “it's about what's right and what's wrong and what people who are entrusted to govern this country do with the power we give them. If it's being abused, we damn well have a right to know, and something should be done about it.”

Transcript follows. Video excerpt: Real or Windows Media

In the days and weeks following the disaster in New Orleans, many in the media suggested that the federal government’s “slow” response to Hurricane Katrina was caused by the race and economic condition of those impacted. President Bush had to regularly answer the questions of reporters concerning this, while media members opined at will.

CNN's Jack Cafferty, on Monday afternoon's The Situation Room, took a cheap shot at Karl Rove's weight and expressed delight in the possibility Rove will be indicted. Just past 3pm EDT, Cafferty announced his question of the hour: “What should Karl Rove do if he is indicted?” Cafferty then answered his own question: “He might want to get measured for one of those extra large orange jump suits, Wolf, 'cause looking at old Karl, I'm not sure that he'd, they'd be able to zip him into the regular size one." Wolf Blitzer pointed out: “He's actually lost some weight. I think he's in pretty good shape." Cafferty conceded: "Oh, well then maybe just the regular off the shelf large would handle it for him." Blitzer then cautioned the indictment might not come: "Yeah, but you know, it's still a big if. It's still a big if." A giddy Cafferty replied: "Oh, I understand. I'm, I'm just hoping you know. I love, I love to see those kinds of things happen. It does wonders for me."

Just under a month ago, Cafferty took a shot at Tom Delay: "Has he been indicted yet?" And then a week later insisted that "I had no inside information on DeLay's upcoming indictment,” but boasted of how “it's probably a piece of videotape that I'm going to hang onto." (Full transcript, and links to his earlier comments, follow.)

Video excerpt: Real or Windows Media

Just before 5pm EDT Friday, during The Situation Room's review of blog postings, CNN's Jacki Schechner recited examples of blog sites critical of the media's hyping of the so-called “staged” live tele-conference Thursday between President Bush and soldiers in Iraq. With a shot of the NewsBusters posting, “Shocked, Just Shocked Network Reporters Hype 'Staged' Bush Event with Troops” on screen, Schechner relayed: “From NewsBusters, this is a group site that was put together to combat what they call the liberal media bias, saying there is nothing wrong with figuring out 'who should answer which question' or telling soldiers, who aren't familiar with media interviews, to 'take a breath' before answering.”

Video clip: Real or Windows Media

Thursday's NBC Nightly News led, yes led, with how, as anchor Brian Williams put it, President Bush had that morning conducted “a staged event" via satellite with ten U.S. soldiers and one Iraqi soldier in Iraq. “Today's encounter was billed as spontaneous,” Williams intoned. “Instead, it appeared to follow a script.” Andrea Mitchell warned that “the troops were coached on how to answer the Commander-in-Chief” and, indeed, not until two minutes into her three-minute story -- after showing clips of how a DOD official had told the soldiers the questions Bush would ask -- did Mitchell note how “the White House and at least one of the soldiers says the troops weren't told what to say, just what the President would ask." So, the answers were not staged. The soldiers, naturally nervous about appearing on live TV with the President of the United States, were simply told who should answer which question and to “take a breath” before answering. Scandalous! Over video of Bush on the aircraft carrier, Mitchell went on to remind viewers of how “this isn't the first time this administration used troops to help sell the Iraq war.” But she also admitted a media double-standard: “Many administrations, Democrat and Republican, stage-manage events and often the news media ignore the choreography.”

ABC's World News Tonight also devoted a full story, though not the lead, to the media-generated controversy. Terry Moran contended that “the fact that this was so carefully choreographed...shows just how urgently the White House wants not just a success on the ground in Iraq, but a PR success at home for this embattled President." Over on the CBS Evening News, anchor Bob Schieffer opined that “unfortunately for the President, after satellite cameras caught administration aides rehearsing the soldiers beforehand, Democrats dismissed the whole thing and said the troops deserved a lot better.” Lara Logan managed to cover other material in her story and uniquely showcased a soldier who told CBS: "The truth is that everything that was said was meant to be said, though it may have sounded scripted in some places. Nerves kick in, for one. Two, everyone puts their thoughts together. You put it down, you go over and over it a hundred times."

MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann also led Thursday with the “staged” event and the AP distributed a story breathlessly headlined, “Bush Teleconference With Soldiers Staged.” But on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, Hume noted complaints the event was "not entirely spontaneous" before Carl Cameron pointed out that Bush posed an unplanned question to the Iraqi soldier. In the panel segment, Washington Times reporter Bill Sammon recalled how when “back in December” a soldier asked Rumsfeld about armor, a question that “had been planted by a reporter, I didn't hear any outcry from the press.” (UPDATE with CNN coverage and transcripts follow.)

On yesterday's The Situation Room, Jack Cafferty made an over the top statement comparing the upcoming Miers confirmation hearings to a train derailment.

(transcript via Radio Blogger)

Wolf: James Dobson's claims about Harriet Miers making it into the Cafferty File today. Jack is in New York, and he's smiling, as only Jack can do.

Jack Cafferty: I love this. I mean, I...this is just going to be one of the great shows, unless she backs away, one of the great shows we've seen in a while. If the Miers nomination to be a Supreme Court justice wasn't in trouble before, it is now. And by the way, it was in big trouble before. With evangelical leader Dobson hinting he might have secret information about Miers' views on such issues as abortion, and with his acknowledgment that he talked with Karl Rove at the White House about her nomination, Miers' opponents have been handed a loaded gun. Even if Dobson is called before the Senate Judiciary Committee and actually testifies, there'll always be a suspicion that we're not getting the whole story on her. Nevertheless, all that being said, I can't wait for the hearing. I mean, I wish they'd start this afternoon. Here's the question. Should evangelical leader James Dobson have to testify, be subpoenaed and be forced to testify at Harriet Miers' confirmation hearings...I hope he does. And I hope she does, and I just...I mean, I just can't wait. This is going to be a dream for people like me.

WB: You might have to wait until early December for those hearings, though, Jack.

Jack Cafferty: Yeah, but I mean, you know, this is going to be like watching those super trains that go from the Tokyo airport into downtown Tokyo, go off the tracks at maximum speed. I mean, you just won't see anything better than that.

So let me get this straight .. the pain, suffering, and death of hundreds of people is equal to the Judiciary Committee's questioning of Harriet Miers? Jack never ceases to amaze me.

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Wolf Blitzer, CNN’s “The Situation Room,” had Angelina Jolie on yesterday. After a discussion on the Katrina disaster and her reaction to the newly discovered “poverty” there, the topic shifted to her relief work in Africa and HIV/Aids issues, and eventually, of course -- to funding. Wolf Blitzer, jumping on an opening, had the following line ready to go [emphasis added] - brief disussion followed:

As reported by Brent Baker in today’s CyberAlert, Wolf Blitzer was taken aback by CNN founder Ted Turner’s defense of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il and his treatment of the North Korean people.