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Archives: October 2005

‘It’s Not About Us’

From today’s briefing:

Q You speak for the President. Your credibility and his credibility is not on criminal trial. But it may very well be on trial with the American public, don’t you agree?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I’m very confident in the relationship that we have in this room, and the trust that has been established between us. This relationship –

Q See those cameras? It’s not about us. It’s about what the American people –

MR. McCLELLAN: This relationship is built on trust, and you know very well that I have worked hard to earn the trust of the people in this room, and I think I’ve earned it –

….

Q Scott, let me follow up on what David was asking. You say we know you — and we do — but we can’t vouch for you; that’s not our job. And I wonder, do you really think after –

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, wait a second. Let me just interject there. I think there are many people in this room I see expressing their own commentary on TV all the time — not just reporting. You do a job to report the news, as well, but many people in this room also go on the air and express their views and their commentary. And I’ve worked with many of you for quite some time now.

Q I didn’t follow that. I can’t go on TV and say, “America believes Scott McClellan.” That’s not my role.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, you go on TV, though, and engage in commentary about views and things that are expressed here at the White House.

Q Right. But what I can’t do is carry your water for you. And I wonder –

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m not asking you to.

Q Well, there — yes you are.

Um, yea. “Earned.” That’s one way of looking at it..

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Sloppy Seconds

It seems that the hottest non-news media scandal today is CBS’ John Roberts and his question to Scott McClellan this morning during the day’s gaggle: “Scott, you said that — or the President said, repeatedly, that Harriet Miers was the best person for the job. So does that mean Alito is sloppy seconds, or what?”

Drudge picked up the comment, evidently there’s something sexual about “sloppy seconds,” and Drudge isn’t happy about the lack of respect shown to the press secretary. Thus it becomes an official Teapot Tempest, and now CBS’ Public Eye has gotten an apology out of Not-The-Chief-Justice Roberts.

Poor phrasing, blah, blah, blah. A great nonapology to a noncontroversy.

Halloween Costumes for Media Types

Hotline (via Wonkette) has looked into a very important question: How could we media folks look even more scary than we already do? (translated: What are our Halloween costumes for this evening).

    * CNN Justice correspondent Kelly Arena: “My girls are going to be Teen Titans, and my son is going to be Spiderman. If they get to be superheroes, why not me? So, I will be escorting them as Wonder Woman. After all, anyone who works and has kids is worthy!”
    * Time’s Matt Cooper: “I don’t have one yet. …’Cowboy’ is the fallback position.”
    * Ana Marie Cox: “I was thinking I could put a knife in the back of an electric blue dress and go as Harriet Miers.”
    * Newsweek’s Howard Fineman said he thinks he will take his son’s old razor scooter and go as Lewis “Scooter” Libby. Fineman: “I’ll probably just pose with it, not actually risk riding it.”
    * CNN Hill correspondent Ed Henry: “My son 4-year-old son Patrick wants me to be Batman just like him. But I’m worried about the tights. And with all of these endless Supreme Court battles, CIA leak cases and budget endgames to cover, I may need a character with a can-do spirit. So it might be ‘Bob the Builder’ instead: ‘Can we fix it? Yes we can!’”
    * Time’s Karen Tumulty said she’ll be trick-or-treating with her 9-year-old son, who is going as Napoleon Dynamite. Tumulty: “I guess I’ll be the grandma figure (from the movie).”

You mean no one’s going to go as Scalito?

These Plame-gate costume ideas may work…

Or you could always just decorate your pumpkin to look like Tom Friedman

How MoDo Got Her Groove Back

You either love or hate Maureen Dowd. You either love her psychoanalysis (and Shakespearean references) of power types or you scratch your head at how she landed on the illustrious New York Times’ op-ed page (You may also just be a sucker for redheads).

This month, however, seems to be an “on” month for Dowd. Let’s take her boldness: She hasn’t been one to deny her disdain for the (largely unpopular) decision to put NYT columnists behind a firewall via TimesSelect. Then, she gained widespread acclaim for her honest take-down of Judith Miller in her October 22 column. Then, the NYT’s Sunday Magazine publishes a 5000 word excerpt (with sassy picture to boot) of her forthcoming book, “Are Men Necessary?“, full of such Dowd-ian quotes as “[A] top New York producer…confessed that he had wanted to ask me out on a date when he was between marriages but nixed the idea because my job as a Times columnist made me too intimidating.”

Then she lands on the cover of New York magazine, and is called “America’s most dangerous columnist” by the magazine.

But true fame is only achieved when a.) Matt Drudge links to you and b.) Matt Drudge actually gets off his duff enough to start a contest in your honor. Drudge currently is hosting a photo caption competition for Dowd’s picture in yesterday’s Magazine.

Juan Williams: So Hot Right Now

…no seriously. He’s really hot. As in temperature. As in en fuego.

Or at least that’s what Fox’s Brit Hume thinks. Hume was so taken aback by Juan’s hotness on Fox News Sunday that he told the NPR commentator that “Someone needs to hose you down.”

Fortunately for young viewers everywhere, Brit didn’t mean “hose you down” in a Flashdance/Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down sort of way, so–fear not–the video is perfectly safe for work and doesn’t feature your favorite Sunday pundits in firefighter overalls and bad 70s music. (Hume was referring to Williams’ comments on the Valerie Plame affair.)

Crooks and Liars has the (yes, safe for work) video.

Pandering and Libby Lewis Libby Confusion

Two media notes in Lloyd Grove‘s column today:

PANDERING, LAURA BUSH-STYLE? After the First Lady submitted to a softball interview about “at-risk youth” last week with White House radio correspondent April Ryan, President Bush‘s wife invited Ryan up to the family quarters for an hour-long tour. Since then, Ryan – who hugged Mrs. Bush when the tour was over – has been singing the First Lady’s praises on the black-oriented, 450-station American Urban Radio Network. Was Laura trying to shore up African-American support in a time of trouble? “I don’t think so,” Ryan said. “President Bush’s approval rating with African-Americans is at 2 percent.” A White House spokesman said that the private tour happened on the spur of the moment at Ryan’s request: “April asked Mrs. Bush, and Mrs. Bush obliged.”

LIBBY CONFUSION: Who can blame National Public Radio anchor Noah Adams for mistakenly reporting the federal indictment of “Libby Lewis” on Friday’s “Day to Day” program? Libby Lewis – as opposed to Lewis (Scooter) Libby – is an NPR reporter who’s been covering the legal troubles of Vice President Cheney‘s former chief of staff. Lewis, who claims no silly nickname, never worried that she had been indicted. “I have a very good lawyer,” she told me.

Little Russ and the Prosecutor, Part II

Back in the July, when it first appeared that Tim Russert might be more than a simple bit player in the Valerie Plame investigation, we asked whether it was appropriate for Russert to discuss the case on his show without disclosing his role. It seemed a largely hypothetical question then.

Now, though, we know that Russert is anything but a bit player. He was named in the indictment (PDF) numerous times and cited by name by Patrick Fitzgerald during his press conference Friday. In fact, it seems like Russert’s testimony is the key hinge of the entire indictment.

Yet he still managed to make it most of the way through yesterday’s show before mentioning his integral role: “Then Mr. Scooter Libby, the chief of staff for Vice President Cheney, was indicted for obstruction of justice, perjury and false statements, including conflicts with testimony from journalists, including myself, Matt Cooper of Time magazine and Judy Miller of The New York Times.”

Then he went “inside” the indictments to talk more about the case, attempting to explain the complicated nature and background of the charges.

It’s not often that we find ourselves agreeing with the right-wing group Accuracy in Media, but they certainly do raise an interesting point in this instance: Is it appropriate for Russert to be discussing this case on television?

And why yesterday did he not begin the show with a disclaimer? Does he assume that his whole audience is smart enough to know that he’s a key player?

> As Mike Isikoff said: “[Russert] could end up being the guy who puts Libby in jail.”

Leak Haiku

Jake Tapper does the indictments:

Patrick Fitzgerald:
Sheikh Rahman, Ramzi Youssef
and Scooter Libby?

Two counts perjury
One obstrucion of justice…
Wasn’t there a leak??

(Libby’s statement as shortened and haiku’ed:)

“I am confident…
at the end of this process
…exonerated.”

Joseph Wilson, he
wanted Karl Rove frog-marched out
but Rove hopped away?

Plamegate’s Halloween Costumes

It is Halloween Weekend after all, so after a long week of Fitzgerald speculation, let’s wind down the week by dressing up our favorite Plame-gate characters for Halloween.

Let’s pair the various players up with Looney Tunes characters, using the actual descriptions of various characters, as obtained from The Looney Tunes official website:

Karl Rove = Bugs Bunny

    “The gregarious but truly lovable Bugs Bunny always wins, no matter who he’s battling, and no matter what the situation. No bully is too big, no hypocrite safe, no pompous adversary so powerful, that Bugs can’t joyfully whittle him down to kindling wood.”

Scooter Libby = Elmer Fudd

    “He is easily influenced, even by his enemies, and is more than willing to believe anything he is told, which plays right into Bugs’s specialty.”

Judy Miller = Tweety Bird

    “Tweety typically relies on allies to outwit Sylvester.” (Ahem, Keller and Sulzberger?!?”)

President Bush = Porky

    “Porky is oblivious to threats from assailants only seen by his kitty, Sylvester. Porky goes on to misinterpret Sylvester’s attempts to protect him, as threats all their own… Overall, though, it’s Porky’s endearing nature and blushing naivete that add up to a guileless character whose trademark “That’s all Folks!” is as much a cultural icon as the cartoons themselves.”

Joseph Wilson = Marvin the Martian

    “Marvin The Martian is a persistent ambassador from the Planet Mars. He has flown his Interplanetary Flying Saucer on missions to the moon, to the Earth, even to the mysterious Planet X. He is assigned different types of missions. Sometimes he is called upon to study the solar system. This includes Earth and the Earth creatures.

    “On one mission, while collecting the Earth specimen marvin Bunny, Marvin The Martian becomes so focused on following his orders that marvin fools Marvin The Martian by telling him a wild story about his rocket hitting a Titanic-style iceberg. Too much focus can be a bad thing.”

Patrick Fitzgerald = Pepé le Pew

    “Buildings clear out the moment the amorous Pepé enters. Marble statues–which have survived hundreds of years of rain and wind–melt in his presence.

    “But worst of all, that stench makes the ladies run away from Pepé in horror. Love may be blind, but its ability to smell is A-OK. But luckily for our olfactory-challenged lover, he has one other abiding quality, perhaps his best: He won’t take no for an answer.

Bob Novak = Tasmanial Devil

    “The carnivorous native of Tasmania has the power to devour everything and anything in a single gulp. When this furry, salivating beast comes a-runnin’, giraffes scurry for their lives, alligators turn themselves into luggage to hide, and sharks literally leap out of the water. …As with all dangerous creatures confining him can be a tricky proposition. Taz does not like being caged. He has a tendency to break free. When he escapes, watch out!…Never underestimate Taz. After tangling with Taz Bugs has learned that even Taz can surprise you sometimes. So keep a sharp eye out and keep your wits about you.”

Happy Halloween weekend everybody.

On Memogate and CBS

Departing for a minute from the news of the day, CBS Public Eye “Nonbudsman” Vaughn Ververs today tackled the elephant that has been sitting on his blog since its launch earlier this fall: Memogate.

“For some, whether or not Public Eye speaks out on Memogate has become a litmus test of our seriousness, guts and honesty. I think that’s sort of silly,” he writes. “Long before PE debuted, the questions I was most often asked were: Would Memogate have happened if Public Eye had been around then? And, what difference would Public Eye have made?”

He goes on through the case point-by-point (“Are the documents fake? Nothing I’ve seen leads me to believe they are authentic.”) and does a thorough accounting in five parts of whether CBS accounted for itself during the aftermath. His take, yes and no.

Even on a busy day like today, the whole piece is worth reading.

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