From time to time, I do media coverage notes, which is basically just some observations about the media coverage of an event.
Everything below, I saw live, and these are my instant reactions. Starting with “Other reactions” is stuff I didn’t see.
1. NBCNews. One of the last notes from NBCNews’ coverage was Brian Williams asking Norah O’Donnell about the applause breaks. There was an agreement between the White House and the soldiers to have no applause when Dubya was introduced. O’Donnell did notice that the applause you heard 23 minutes into the speech was started by the White House advance team. Fake town halls, fake news segments… why not fake applause? As far as tactics go, it was a smart tactic, but it was a very shitty trick. Apparently, AmericaBlog saw Terry Moran of ABCNews report the same thing.
- CBSNews cut from the speech almost straight to programming. I didn’t even bother with FNC.
- ABCNews was the first, as far as I could tell, who had a Democratic officeholder on to rebut the President. Joe Biden made the rounds and started with ABCNews. He was also on CNN and NBCNews. Pelosi was on NBCNews. I only caught a bit of what Pelosi was saying, but I did hear her call the President out on the 9/11 card.
- The 9/11 Trump Card. Using 9/11 meme was out tonight. Begala on CNN questioned whether or not it’d work again, since BushCo had used it for the 2002 elections and 2004 elections. Carney and Wolffe (two reporters from TIME) questioned whether it would work again. “Tried to conflate the two again” was what Carney said about 9/11 and Iraq. Gergen called the conflation “offensive” or something like that.
- Biden gets his own spot in this roundup, because he was everywhere. It seemed as though the Senate Democrats had tapped him to go on all the shows or something. I wouldn’t know though, but he is the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Biden had the same basic message in every appearance that I caught: Dubya was more candid than he had been previously, but he was still dishonest about certain things. There is a clear difference between what the President said and what Cheney and Rumsfeld had been saying. Biden hopes that we succeed, and that support for the war effort picks up. Biden did say on ABCNews that he wanted Dubya to set benchmarks, not deadlines. Biden noted that Bush didn’t at all really lay out a plan and that Bush didn’t talk about securing the borders. I thought Biden was much more fiery when talking about what Dubya didn’t say and tried to get subtlely a few things through about the lack of candidness of the administration.
- MSNBC had Hardball coverage. The show is on its church tour. Some how they had Tony Perkins from the Family Research Council talking about Iraq. WTF? At that point, I changed the channel. I don’t like Tony Perkins, but I don’t want anyone whose claim to fame is these polarizing social issues to be talking about foreign policy and war. Some experts please.
- Bob Costas substituted for Larry King tonight; I think from what I watched Costas gets a more informative interview from his guests than a lot of the other hosts currently on cable news. That said, I only caught bits and pieces here and there. Hosted TIME reporters, McCain, Bayh, John Warner and Kerry. I missed a lot of the McCain appearance. I did catch McCain saying that there shouldn’t be blanket amnesty for insurgents. Costas asked McCain which button he would push. The two choices were 1) we are where we are and we hypothetically get the best possible outcome, or 2) we never went in. McCain chose the first one “by far.” McCain truly believes that there is progress on the ground. McCain talked about democracy spreading elsewhere in the region.
- CSpan. I flipped over to C-Span, and a Democrat from Alabama has several family members who have served in Iraq. One is about to go on his second tour. She was choked up. She talked about the War Powers Act, and said “that man should be impeached,” referring to Bush, obviously. The passion and heartache in her voice was so evident. It was so jarring when the next call was some guy who had the usual lame praise for dear leader.
- Sen. Bayh and Sen. Warner on Larry King Live hosted by Bob Costas. Bayh was pretty firm in saying that everyone would like us to succeed in Iraq and that everyone wants to win the war on terror, “but what the President didn’t do was lay out a clear plan with benchmarks.” (I think I got that mostly right.) Bayh wants to see some accountability. Pretty good first answer, in my opinion. Warner bullshits… something about “more than enough benchmarks.” Warner talks about “slow, but steady progress” in many areas. Warner repeats the whole stop them over there before they attack us here line. Bayh says that he still thinks that we’ll be successful in Iraq and that if we are, history will judge that the invasion was the right thing to do (Kiss those 08 dreams goodbye). When asked what Bush’s biggest mistake in Iraq has been, Bayh responded that someone on the ground in Iraq told him that things would be “100% better if we hadn’t disbanded the Iraq army” after the invasion. Warner talked about more bipartisanship from both sides. Bayh says he doesn’t see the draft returning; says something about the servicemen and women who have to choose between duty to family and duty to country (or something like that).
- Pre-speech coverage on CNN. A lengthy story on what is going right in Iraq. The one thing that jumped out at me was the assertion that income in Iraq was much higher. Can anyone verify that?
- Chris Shays (R-CT) with Costas. Shays shilling for Bush. Do we have anyone to run against him yet? Jane Harman (D-CA) was supposed to be on, but when I flipped back to CNN she wasn’t on.
- Andrea Mitchell got a quick word in about some announcements coming from the White House tomorrow. I didn’t quite catch what she said, but she seemed to hint at some formation of a plan. Who knows.
- 50% (R), 23% (D), 27% (I) partisan breakdown for flash poll on CNN/USAToday. Only about 300 responded. Lousy sample size. Mostly positive results, as you can imagine. Oy. Flash polls suck for a variety of reasons, but one of them is that the people are pre-selected. I guess they couldn’t find enough Democrats and Independents interested in Bush lies. Then, they send Bill Schneider to do polling analysis. Oy. Still, even with such a heavily Republican sample in a very small sample, a majority didn’t think that Iraq was making the war on terror easier. Take that with a grain of salt, but it’s still an interesting nugget.
- The immediate reaction from George Stephanopoulus (sp?) included a bit about “the irony” that Iraq is now the #1 Al Qaeda terrorist training ground, when prior to the war, there was no terrorist training going on in Iraq.
- Dana Bash on CNN was dreadful in the pre-speech coverage and her report on Newsnight was hideous. She is just one of the worst White House correspondents working in TV news. The only honest moment she had was the part about Bush offering not much new and how similar this speech was to one he gave last year.
- WaPo Associate Editor instant analysis Truly interesting. Worth the read. I thought he was pretty straightforward and polite to questioners from both sides of the aisle.
This was a speech to pull on the patriotic heartstrings. It will have a short-term effect. There will be lots of activity around this request to use July 4 to support the troops. His poll numbers are likely to go up a little in the next few days. The problem is in Iraq. Without good news from there, none of this is likely to matter much in a month or two.
Nashville, Tenn.: It seems that when things are going badly in the country that the press is a target for blame. Tonight the president said, “they take innocent lives to create chaos for the cameras” and in the recent hearings both senators such as Sen. Byrd and the generals took shots at the press. Any comments?
Robert G. Kaiser: This is exactly like vietnam, where it was commonplace for the Johnson administration to blame us for their woes on the ground. It wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now, that news reports are the problem. American casualties and a difficult war are the problems.
Las Vegas, Nev.: From the pre-speech press coverage, I had understood the President would outline a plan for the future in Iraq. I did not hear any of that in his speech. Should I have more carefully read the earlier press coverage, or did the President simply fail to deliver the promised plan for success that the White House had suggested was coming?
Robert G. Kaiser: Well, you’ll have to judge the news reports, but I agree that we didn’t learn anything new about a plan. The way ahead is “clear” the president said. Was it clear to you? It wasn’t to me.
Robert G. Kaiser: I’m not certain I understand the last half of your question, but I do see a big difference between accepting defeat in Vietnam, as we did in 1975, and withdrawing unsuccessfully from Iraq today. I don’t think we can do that, because the consequences could be too grave. Iraq has huge oil reserves–so is potentially wealthy. It is strategically located at the heart of the vast oil pond of the Middle East on which the entire global economy depends. We simply cannot afford chaos in Iraq, or a failed state, or another rogue regime there. So yes, we may be in Iraq for many long years to come.
Other reactions and some pre-buts:
- Gen. Wesley Clark on FNC
- Sen. Kerry on Costas
- Reid response to Bush speech
- Bush Speech: By the Numbers
- President’s Silence Tonight is Deafening, by Rep Louise Slaughter
- The President Needs To Answer the Lingering Questions Tonight, by Rep John Conyers
- Rep Charlie Rangel reacts
- Kerry: The Speech the President Should Give
- TVNewser has a few coverage notes