Thursday, February 03, 2005
On this day:

Consider the Source: Responses to Bush's State of the Union

Media Research Center: A Faked Hug? U.S. Coerced Iraqi Voters? MSNBC’s Chris Matthews Pushes Crackpot Conspiracies
Unlike Dan Rather, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews at least doesn’t deny that he brings his liberal opinions with him when he anchors the third-place cable news networks live coverage of political events. But in recent days he’s been using his perch to suggest wacky conspiracy theories that might make even Howard Dean blush. During last night’s State of the Union coverage, Matthews suggested that the emotional highlight of the evening — the embrace of a mother whose Marine son was killed in Fallujah and an Iraqi human rights activist who braved insurgent threats to vote on Sunday — was cynically engineered by President Bush “to push his numbers on Social Security reform, just to get his general appeal up a bit, a couple of points.” Only left-wing MSNBC host Ron Reagan agreed with Matthews premise. Newsweek’s Jon Meacham called it “absurd.” Matthews persisted. “The only question is whether that Iraqi woman was prompted to go up and hug Janet Norwood [the mother of the Marine] by some staffer,” he told his mostly skeptical panel. If a rebuttal is even necessary, Mrs. Norwood appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America on Thursday, and explained that she and her husband “had no idea who was going to be there. We met just as we went in the door.” Matthews was also out in far left field a few hours after eight million Iraqis voted in Sunday’s free elections, wondering if our troops had bullied them into making the trip to the polls: “Was there no pushing by American soldiers or coalition forces to make people vote or discourage them from not voting? Was it a clean turnout, in other words?” he asked NBC’s Brian Williams. Williams rejected Matthews’ theory. A couple of hours after Matthews signed off last night, the left-wing Air America radio host Janeane Garofalo showed up as a guest on MSNBC. She sneered that it was “disgusting” for House members to salute the bravery of Iraqi voters by holding up similarly ink-stained fingers, and mockingly held up her hand in a Nazi salute. Next to her, Chris Matthews looks downright mainstream.
Geo-political expert, military strategist, and "The Grandmother Look" model, Janeane Garofalo. When you're done saluting Hitler, open a history book, get a new haircut and perhaps a sweater made in the last two decades. Calling Inked Fingers "Disgusting," Garofalo Uses Nazi Salute
"The inked fingers was [sic] disgusting," Air America radio talk show host Janeane Garofalo declared on MSNBC in denouncing Republican lawmakers who, before and after the State of the Union, showed off an inked finger meant to demonstrate solidarity with Iraqi voters who dipped a finger in ink when they voted. To mock the display, Garofalo soon held up her hand in a Nazi salute as she predicted: "The inked fingers and the position of them, which is gonna be a Daily Show photo already, of them signaling in this manner [Nazi salute], as if they have solidarity with the Iraqis who braved physical threats against their lives to vote as if somehow these inked-fingered Republicans have something to do with that." The relevant portion of her appearance, picking up when Pat Buchanan asked her about the jeers Democrats uttered during Bush's speech: "Janeane, do you think what Mike Barnicle described as Animal House behavior in the Congress helps the Democratic Party when you got a State of the Union, solemn occasion, Supreme Court there, both Houses, First Lady, and they're hooting and jeering the way they would at, you know, at some rock concert when they were in college? Do you think that's helpful?" Garofalo: "No, what I don't think is helpful is a Republican Party that has been nothing but partisan and dishonest in service of this President who lied about weapons of mass destruction, has lied about Social Security-" Buchanan: "I'm not sure if that's addressed to my question." Garofalo: "Yeah, I am answering your question. It wasn't Animal House behavior, and it was a very short, vocal response. And the inked fingers was disgusting. And the standing ovations were such mediocrity. You guys are so easily impressed, it's shocking. But the inked fingers showing solidarity-" Joe Scarborough: "I'm glad we could shock you." Buchanan: "You got the whole gang, you got the whole gang you're going after now." Garofalo: "Yeah, except for Ron Reagan, who actually is the only one who is being reasonable there-" Scarborough: "God bless you, Ron. That's why we have you on."
With so many experts out there on Presidential history, Presidential speeches, etc. why would anyone consider putting Garofalo on any television show for any opinions of any kind? Let alone on the President. The Rush Limbaughs and Hannitys get ignored, but Janeane Garofalo must have an audience? Not everyone in the media was as ignorant as Matthews and Garofalo. Hug Leaves Roberts "With Goose Bumps," Rather: "Poignant Moment"
ABC's Terry Moran saw it as "the kind of moment that can crystallize for a President what he's trying to do on the world stage." Cokie Roberts, also on ABC, described the "spontaneous hug" as "something that leaves you with goose bumps. And I think will have more resonance than any words he [Bush] said." CBS's Dan Rather wrapped up his prime time coverage by suggesting nothing "said more about America in this 229th year of our freedom than this picture" of the two woman hugging. "In the most poignant moment of any State of the Union night we can remember," Rather related, "a grateful Iraqi said, 'we thank you.'" Just a couple of minutes after President Bush concluded his Wednesday night address, Terry Moran opined on ABC: "Well, Peter, that was a shattering, emotional moment. It was the kind of moment that can crystallize for a President what he's trying to do on the world stage. There, in the chamber of the House of Representatives, the grieving mother of a dead Marine and a woman from Iraq who just voted three days ago, in tears, embracing. It just crystallizes everything the President was talking about." Cokie Roberts soon chimed in: "I don't think anybody watching this will get past the moment of the Iraqi woman, turning around and completely spontaneously hugging the mother of the Marine. It was such a moment. And it really, in a lot of ways, bespoke what the President is trying to say. That the Iraqi people want us there and that we have liberated them. And to have that, just completely spontaneous hug, was something that leaves you with goose bumps. And I think will have more resonance than any words he said." Over on CBS, just before 11pm EST, Dan Rather ended prime time coverage with this upbeat testimonial: "Well, amid the hundreds of words spoken tonight by President Bush, and by the Democrats in their response, about the state of our union, perhaps none said more about America in this 229th year of our freedom than this picture [video replay of hug]. The parents of a U.S. Marine killed in Iraq, Sargent Byron Norwood of Texas. America, a nation willing to sacrifice so much so that the people of Iraq might have the same chance at freedom Americans have. And in the most poignant moment of any State of the Union night we can remember, a grateful Iraqi said, 'we thank you.'"