For Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and the Washington Post, teaming up to claim President Bush said something he didn’t say is as easy as one, two, three.

If you doubt that, read the first three paragraphs of this Washington Post story, Democrats Criticize Bush For Saying DeLay's Innocent. Then look at what the President actually said.



Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift, in a new column previewing on MSNBC.com, has finally moved the “Bush lied” debate in a direction that has been highly anticipated: in her view, the alleged misinformation concerning Iraq WMD is equivalent to what President Lyndon Johnson and his Defense Secretary Robert McN



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.)



For two days now Fox News' Major Garrett has reported on first the Red Cross, and then the Salvation Army, being denied entrance to New Orleans by Louisiana State authorities. According to Garrett and the Red Cross website, officials didn't want the food, water and sanitary supplies to get to the Superdome and Convention Center because it might encourage others to come to those sites rather than evacuate the city. The result of the decision to withhold aid was thousands of New Orleans citizens trying to survive in horrific conditions without much needed supplies. The Louisiana National Guard, which was not tasked with providing survival supplies to evacuees, had to divert their attention from law enforcement and rescue operations to providing aid to the desperate families looking for the basics of life.


Despite Pat Robertson's waning role in national politics, the broadcast and cable networks on Tuesday evening jumped on his Monday suggestion that Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez should be assassinated now in order to avoid a costly war later. All three broadcast network evening newscasts featured full stories, with ABC's World News Tonight making it the lead. Anchor Charles Gibson snidely forwarded: “A popular Christian broadcaster says assassination is the way to deal with one world leader who criticizes the U.S. Some ask, 'is this Pat Robertson's definition of Christian love?'" CBS played a clip of Donald Rumsfeld dismissing Robertson as just another example of how “private citizens say all kinds of things all the time," and Gloria Borger then countered by touting Robertson's prominence: "But Robertson is not just any private citizen. He's a former Republican presidential candidate with a large evangelical following.” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams declared that Robertson “has created something of an international firestorm” before reporter Bob Faw concluded that Robertson is “a man of God who doesn't calm waters, but roils them.”

Robertson “may have no clout with the Bush administration, but you wouldn't know that from watching CNN today,” FNC's Brit Hume noted in reviewing the competing cable network's all-day obsession -- a focus which continued into the evening with Robertson leading the 7pm EDT Anderson Cooper 360 (hosted by Heidi Collins), the 8pm EDT Paula Zahn Now and the 10pm EDT NewsNight with Aaron Brown who tried to hold the whole religious right culpable as he asserted that "political leaders worried it makes the so-called Christian Right seem neither Christian nor right.” Robertson was also the first topic covered by MSNBC's 7pm Hardball with Chris Matthews and 8pm Countdown with Keith Olbermann.



Michael Barone of U.S. News told FNC's Chris Wallace tonight that “if a World War II era Cindy Sheehan had gone to Hyde Park and Warm Springs and camped out and demanded a meeting with President Roosevelt,” she “would just been thought to have been a person who was the victim of a personal tragedy and who had gone over the bend as a result of it, and they would have mercifully given her no publicity.” Barone, co-editor of the bi-annual Almanac of American Politics, credited the change in media attitude to how in “World War II, the press almost unanimously wanted us to win the war,” but “today we have many in the press -- not most I think, but some at least -- who do not want us to win this war and think that we don't deserve to win this war.”

Transcript of Barone's comments on Special Report with Brit Hume follows.



During the panel segment on tonight's (Thursday) Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC, Fred Barnes recalled Joe Wilson and Bill Burkett as he wondered, "is there any left-wing publicity hound who the media won't build up?” Zeroing in on Cindy Sheehan, Barnes criticized both her and the media's treatment of her:

“This woman wants to go in and tell the President that the war is about oil because the President wants to pay off his buddies. She's a crackpot, and yet the press treats her as some important protestor.”