Explaining President's 'No Strategy' Blunder; Obama 'Clear and Unambiguous'

Vol. 27, No. 17

NBC Tries to Explain Obama’s “No Strategy” Blunder

Co-host Matt Lauer: “Good morning. No strategy? The President taking heat for saying his administration has yet to develop a plan to deal with ISIS militants in Syria....Critics pounced, Chuck. Did they take his words too literally, or did the President admit there’s no plan...?”
NBC News political director Chuck Todd: “Well, the answer to both questions is ‘yes.’ The White House certainly is trying to spin back the President’s words saying, ‘Hey, you know, yes, they were a little blunt.’ They wish he would have worded it differently, but they remind all of us, including me, they were responding to a question specifically having to do with the role of Congress, ‘Did he need to go to Congress to get legal authority for this,’ and he’s saying, ‘We don’t have a strategy.’ They’re saying, ‘We don’t have a plan yet exactly of the targets that we want to do in Syria to then determine which legal course of action was necessary with Congress.’”
— NBC’s Today, August 29.

Only Brian Sees Obama as “Clear and Unambiguous”

“After the beheading of a second American now by ISIS, for all those who may be wondering if the U.S. is going to rise up, take the bait and get into the fight to root them out, the answer today from both the President and Vice President appeared to be clear and unambiguous.”
— Anchor Brian Williams starting off the September 3 NBC Nightly News.


Anchor Scott Pelley: “Tonight, President Obama on the ISIS threat.”
President Barack Obama: “Our objective is clear.”
Pelley: “But is it? ...Mr. Obama, who was criticized for not having a strategy for attacking ISIS bases in Syria, sent conflicting signals today....”
— Opening the CBS Evening News, same night, talking about the news conference where Obama said he wanted to “destroy” the terrorist group, then said his goal was to make them a “manageable problem.”

MSNBC Blames Bush for ISIS Torture Techniques

Fill-in host Krystal Ball: “These are brutal, murdering terrorists, right? Whether we waterboarded or not, they would be engaging in horrific acts. But when we do things like waterboarding, that the President has called torture, when we do things that are against our own principles, we hand them an easy piece of propaganda.”
MSNBC terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann: “Yeah, because look, how can they justify this otherwise? They can easily justify it now because, if anyone questions them, they point to Abu Ghraib photos. They point to Gitmo. If they didn’t have these issues to point to, it would be very, very difficult for them to justify treating hostages like this.”
— MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow Daily, August 29, talking about a report that American journalist James Foley was waterboarded by his ISIS captors before he was beheaded.

Faulting “Insane” GOP for Deaths Caused by ISIS, Putin and Ebola

“There may have been worse times for the United States to have a completely dysfunctional political system, but I can’t think of one offhand. One of our two major political parties has rendered itself insane....The world doesn’t need the United States scrambled and paralyzed by the kind of petty vandalism that has been practiced since 2009. Look at the Middle East. Look at Russia. Look at the dying countries of west Africa. Has all of that been worth it, just to make a centrist Democratic president unable to govern according to his twice-bestowed mandate? How much death is enough?”
Esquire’s Charles Pierce in a September 2 blog post.

“Is There a Danger” of Obama “Overreacting” on ISIS?

“It struck me how quickly this has all moved. From ISIS being a minor threat, the President talking about it several months ago as the ‘junior varsity,’ to now ‘an imminent threat,’ the words of Chuck Hagel, to the United States. And I guess I wonder, is there a danger here of overreacting?”
— Host George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week, August 24.

Can’t Support a War on ISIS Unless Your Own Kid Is Going

“The war drums have been beating along the Potomac for some little while, accentuated in recent weeks and now in recent days....My first question to anyone who is on television saying, ‘We have to get tough, we need to put boots on the ground and we need to go to war in one of these places’ is, I will hear you out if you tell me you are prepared to send your son, your daughter, your grandson, your granddaughter to that war for which you are beating the drums. If you aren’t, I have no patience with you, and don’t even talk to me.”
— Ex-CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather on CNN’s Reliable Sources, August 24.

Slapping Greedy Burger King’s Unpatriotic “Defection”

“Tonight, an American original is under fire. Burger King, home of the Whopper, accused of doing something a lot of Americans question: defecting, heading north of the border to Canada, and saving a lot of tax money.”
— Anchor Diane Sawyer on ABC’s World News, August 26.

Co-host Gayle King: “Billionaire investor Warren Buffett is facing criticism this morning for his role in the Burger King takeover of Tim Hortons. The fast food giant confirmed yesterday it’s buying the Canadian coffee and doughnut chain for $11 billion. Now this deal is being financed with $3 billion from Buffett’s company, that’s Berkshire Hathaway....”
Fill-in co-host Anthony Mason: “As somebody once said, Warren Buffett is a capitalist before he’s a patriot.”
CBS This Morning, August 27.

“He [Warren Buffett] is underwriting this whole shift of Burger King up to Canada to avoid paying taxes. Which is he? Is he for more progressive taxes of the wealthy, or is he for finding ways to get out of paying taxes?...You know, we used to call these guys ‘pigs’ back in the ’60s. They only liked America because it was a good place to make money.”
— Host Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball, August 27.

Falsely Claiming GOP Wants to “Take Away” Birth Control

“They [Republicans] are still being hurt by remarks that were made by some of their candidates in the last cycle regarding rape. It also has to do with policy. They have moved the abortion debate into birth control. This is a huge step where women — that’s a threshold issue for women. That’s about birth control, controlling your life. This is being in control of your life. And they want to talk about taking that away?”
— Bloomberg News deputy managing editor Jeanne Cummings on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, August 28.

Spinning ObamaCare: “More Accepted” than 6 Months Ago

“Six months ago, Republicans thought this would be a big wave built entirely around opposition to ObamaCare. And what has happened over the course of the last six months, as the law has become more accepted, as the problems with the Web site were ironed out, as the enrollment numbers met their targets and exceeded them, and as Democrats found a way to talk about the popular parts of the law, that issue has not totally dissipated...but in the middle of the electorate, the heat has come out of the issue.”
— Bloomberg Politics managing editor John Heilemann on PBS’s Charlie Rose, September 2.


“According to Real Clear Politics, in Obama’s second term alone, 140 polls have found ObamaCare to be unpopular. The number finding it to be popular? Zero....On average, these 140 polls have shown that just 40 percent of Americans favor ObamaCare, while 52 percent oppose it....The half-dozen polls taken since July 4 of this year have shown Obamacare faring even a bit worse, as they have shown an average tally of 41 percent in favor of it and 55 percent opposed.”
The Weekly Standard’s Jeffrey Anderson in an August 26 posting to the Standard’s Web site.

The “Travesty” of Al Sharpton Acting Like a Journalist

“This is a travesty. You have Sharpton delivering a pretty political speech at the funeral today....And now, you have the acknowledgment by Sharpton that he is the conduit, he is the go-to guy for the Obama White House on Ferguson. It is amazing to me — this just reeks that MSNBC thinks this is acceptable....I covered Al Sharpton in New York when he was peddling the false gang rape claims of Tawana Brawley, and he told me afterwards that he still believed her. I covered him when there was a racial murder in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn and he said that if there was an acquittal, blacks would burn this town down.”
— FNC MediaBuzz host Howard Kurtz on The O’Reilly Factor, August 25.

Only the “Most Conservative” Outraged by Benghazi Attack?

“A House Republican-led investigation of the 2012 terrorist attack on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, will extend well into next year, and possibly beyond, raising concerns among Democrats that Republicans are trying to damage Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential prospects....The attack on the compound in Benghazi, which took the life of a United States ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, has outraged the Republican Party’s most conservative voters.”
New York Times correspondents Jonathan Weisman and Jennifer Steinhauer, August 29.

Media Use Terrible Accident to Slam Gun Rights

“Like I always say, the 2nd Amendment, the provision that gives every American the right to keep and bear arms, is blind and stupid. In its relentless pimping for the gun industry, the NRA has unleashed an avalanche of deadly weapons on this gun-crazed country. Just as [it] protects access to weapons for cops and hunters, it also protects access to weapons for domestic abusers, mental patients, jerk-offs on the no-fly list, all-around dim bulbs, and now little children....Just another of countless examples of how far into insanity we have let the gun nuts push us.”
— WABC radio and Fox News Channel host Geraldo Rivera in an August 28 Facebook post, reacting to an accidental shooting involving a 9-year-old girl at an Arizona gun range.

“This is the slippery slope, what we’re watching. This is where you get when you go all the way with gun rights. All the way is what it looks like — take a look at that girl. That’s a slippery slope to hell.”
— MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Hardball, August 27.

“I Ain’t Saying Obama Is Jesus, But...”

MSNBC contributor Michael Eric Dyson: “You know, I’m a Christian preacher, and God finally said, ‘Look, I can’t send nobody else. I got to go myself.’ And I ain’t saying that Obama is Jesus, but for many of his followers he is. But I’m saying, ‘Show up, dog, and show us you are seriously committed to the interests of your people, because your presence says something even louder than your words.’”
Host Melissa Harris-Perry: “I think we’ve got to go, Reverend Dyson, because you just made the sentence, ‘I’m not saying Obama is Jesus,’ and I don’t want to get written up for that.”
— Exchange on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry, August 23, as Dyson argued that Obama needed to personally go to Ferguson, Missouri.

Compassionate Obama vs. Bush the Beheader

“W killed James Foley.George W Bush.He is the forgotten president as we forget & block severe trauma. @BarackObama stands for compassion.”
— Actor Eric Roberts in a September 1 message posted to Twitter. (punctuation as in original)


PUBLISHER: L. Brent Bozell III
EDITORS: Brent H. Baker, Rich Noyes, Tim Graham
NEWS ANALYSTS: Scott Whitlock, Kyle Drennen, Matthew Balan, Jeffrey Meyer and Curtis Houck
Jeremy Little