March 5, 2010

h/t Media Matters for the video.

Let's pretend you're CNN--the "Worldwide Leader In News"--and you want to do a news feature on Liz Cheney's new ad smearing the Department of Justice via her new group, Keep America Safe, founded by Cheney and "Bloody Bill" Kristol. Do you:

  1. Point out that Keep America Safe was founded to promote the Bush/Cheney Doctrine, which…
      1. Was based on lies;
      2. Was overwhelmingly rejected by the voters in 2008;
      3. Dragged this country’s reputation into ground worldwide;
      4. Champions fear and smears, over intelligence and diplomacy;
      5. Is a violation of everything this country is supposed to have stood for.
  2. Suggest that Liz Cheney is trying to paint the Department of Justice (which is still staffed with many, many Bush appointees) into a political corner that makes any future attempt at holding the previous administration responsible for their malfeasance and illegal activities look like a partisan witch hunt.
  3. Tally the number of times that Liz Cheney and her partner Bill Kristol have been correct in their assessments in their hundreds of hours of airtime: which is, not to put too fine a point on it, NEVER.
  4. Or like Rachel Maddow, demonstrate how their insidious and poor logic could be applied to anyone, including Liz Cheney herself, as an Al Qaeda sympathizer.

No, no, silly liberal expecting journalism from Wolf Blitzer. Wolfie simply regurgitates Cheney's talking points, right down to the ridiculous name-calling (Department of Jihad? Really? You would have lost what little is left of your mind if someone said that during the Bush Administration, Lizzy. How disgusting.) for a full eight minute segment, blissfully unhampered by this little thing called reality.

As Glenzilla puts it, Murrow is spinning in his grave:

CNN's Wolf Blitzer spoke volumes today about himself and his "news network." First, on Twitter earlier today, he excitedly promoted his upcoming story about what he called the "intense debate about Obama Justice Dept bringing in lawyers who previously represented Gitmo detainees." On March, 9, 1954, Edward R. Murrow famously devoted his entire broadcast to vehemently condemning Joseph McCarthy's witch hunts, declaring: "This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy's methods to keep silent." By contrast, Wolf Blitzer -- receipient of an Edward R. Murrow award -- sees such smear campaigns as nothing more than an "intense debate" to neutrally explore and excitingly promote.[..]

The story itself began when Blitzer posed this question: "Should there be a loyalty test over at the Justice Department?" He then introduced CNN Homeland Security Correspondent Jeanne Meserve, who -- echoing Liz Cheney -- introduced her segment by asking about the Obama DOJ: "Should it really be called the Department of Jihad"?

Meserve's segment then included, without any judgment, various opinions on these questions, with "some" saying that lawyers shouldn't be judged by the clients they represent while "others" explained that these lawyers' presence in the Justice Department presents a serious national security issue. None of the facts compiled earlier today by ABC News' Jake Tapper -- such as the fact that the Bush DOJ also hired lawyers who had represented Guantanamo detainees, just as Rudy Giuliani's firm had, without any objections from the Right -- made it into CNN's story, as I knew would happen.

Following Meserve's breezily neutral, "each-side-says" report, Blitzer hosted a "debate," featuring right-wing lawyer Victoria Toensig defending the Cheney/Kristol crusade, and some criminal defense lawyer meekly and lamely objecting to some (though not all) of Toensig's arguments. Blitzer passively let Toensig ramble uninterrupted and dominate the exchange, asking not a single challenging question. The entire time as Meserve's story itself was being broadcast and the "debate" took place, this was the logo CNN had on screen: "DEVELOPING STORY - ARE JUSTICE DEPT. LAWYERS DISLOYAL?"

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