SATURDAY, APRIL 10, 2004
RETURN TO THE SCENE OF THE SCRIPT: Remember the two things that Richard Clarke said:
Case in point? Last evening, on Special Report, Charles Krauthammer returned to the scene of the script. It had been seven days since he voiced it (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/2/04). It was time to recite it again:
KRAUTHAMMER: The point is, if the ultimate issue is why did 9/11 happen and could it have been prevented; this stuff would not have been enough. Everybody admits that. Clarke says if everything hes recommended had happened, 9/11 would still have occurred. I think this is raw partisanship in an election yearthe Democrats jumping on an issue, which is sensitive and which hurts the president, and I think they are succeeding.How does propagandadisinformationwork? As Robert Bennett told Chris Matthews, this bowdlerized, misleading tale must be repeated over and over again. And other journalists must allow it to happen. Yes, Krauthammer misled Fox viewers again. But three other all-stars let him do it. As he recited his bogus script, Fred Barnes, Ceci Connolly and Brit Hume stared silently on. Krauthammer played Fox viewers for fools. But the other three all-stars allowed him.
SHOCK ABSORBERS: In this mornings Post, Walter Pincus suggests that Condoleezza Rice misstated the contents of that 8/6 PDB:
PINCUS (pgh 1): The classified briefing delivered to President Bush five weeks before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks featured information about ongoing al Qaeda activities within the United States, including signs of a terror support network, indications of hijacking preparations and plans for domestic attacks using explosives, according to sources who have seen the document and a review of official accounts and media reports over the past two years.In his report, Pincus does the unthinkablehe goes back and looks at published information about what the PDB says. To state the obvious, journalists should have conducted this basic research before Rices Thursday session. Instead, they wandered aimlessly onto the air, marveling at the PDBs long-public title. For the record, Eric Lichtblau presents a similar report on page one of this mornings New York Times.
Has Rice misstated the PDBs contents? Here at THE HOWLER, we simply dont know. But the press corps aversion to basic research isnt the only problem here. Rice has long been the press corps Darling Condi. Old, engrained habits stand in the way of examining what The Icon has said.
With that in mind, we were struck by a statement on last evenings NewsHour. We quote Stephen Push, co-founder of the Families of September 11, a group representing victims families:
PUSH: One of the things I find interesting about the testimony over the last few weeks is how frequently members of the administration have said, well, we couldnt have known that terrorists would use planes in domestic attacks. Condoleezza Rice had said this back in May of 2002 and then when information came out that actually there was a lot of information within the government saying that thats exactly what the terrorists were planning to do, then she backpedaled a bit recently and said I didnt know about that but maybe other people in the government did.It is really quite shocking, Push accurately said. But as we have repeatedly shown you, it is very hard to shock your press corps when it comes to the sayings of Darling Condi. Rice made her shocking comment in May 2002and no scribe has ever asked her about it! Push could see that her statement was shocking. But your press corps works on the Condi Rules. When Condi Rice made her shocking statement, they all knew they should look somewhere else.
For two years, they have refused to serve. Lets hope they follow Pincus lead and begin to perform like a press corps.