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Covering for Condi

Reported by Nancy - January 19, 2005 -

On Special Report last night (1/18), it was all about George W Bush -- even when they were ostensibly talking about today's confirmation hearing for Condoleezza Rice -- with some minor detours for bashing some of Fox's favorite targets: Dems, "editorialists", Senators, the UN & anyone else who doesn't toe the line. Very clever: this way, they don't have to actually report or discuss some of the tough questions & issues surrounding Rice's nomination.

At 6:01pm Brit Hume said the hearing today about Condoleezza Rice's nomination as Secy of State was a "best times/worst times" event with both praise & criticism. Then Carl Cameron filed a report about the hearing, saying that Rice "sought to reassure lawmakers" about her approach to diplomacy, that "Boxer clashed with" Rice but "ironically" CA's other senator "crossed party lines" to intro Rice. Cameron said that "failed Dem candidate" John Kerry "hinted" he might oppose Rice's nomination. He added that Rice identified "outposts of tyranny" that "need attention" (North Korea & Iran), the she "promised increased cooperation with" Congress. Cameron ended by saying that if the nomination proceeds on schedule, she'd be confirmed on the same day Bush is inaugurated.

At 6:04pm Jim Angle reported on his interview Bush earlier today, complete with 6 clips of Bush. Just in case viewers didn't understand what Bush was saying in those clips, Angle repeated a few of the items: that Bush told him the election in Iraq "could start democractic domino effect in the Middle East" [comment: that theory is so 1950's] & that "Iranians will see what it means ot live in a free society". Bush also said the US has "imposed penalties" on Chinese firms for helping Iran with its nuclear program. There was some discussion of SocSec "reform" but the important point for Angle was that a Washington Post poll allegedly showed that 55% support private accounts [comment: there was, of course, no discussion of the substance of that poll].

At 6:07pm Major Garrett reported that Bush "appears to be backing off" some of his statements about SocSec, complete with 4 more clips of Bush plus a few clips of Rep Thomas. Garrett said that "Dems & editorialists accuse the President of hyping" a non-existent crisis & that "Dems continue to argue" about the need for reform. He added that "advocates of personal investment accounts" [comment: note how the phraseology keeps changing? remember how WMDs devolved into WMD-related program activities?] say "you can't call it insurance if everyone knows the benefits will keep shrinking."

At 6:19pm, in the time slot where Hume typically interviews a non-Fox person about a single topic, Fox replayed 7 minutes' worth of segments of Bush's interview earlier today with Angle. Topics covered during the excerpts shown included: treatment of "detainees" at Gitmo & elsewhere; the "Iraq theater" is "part of the War on Terror". When that ended, Hume read a teaser for his upcoming "Grapevine" segment: "wait'll you hear what the new chairman of the NAACP said about President Bush."

At 6:31pm, in the "Grapevine" segment, Hume noted that NAACP Chair JUlian Bonad said CPwell & CRice are "being used as shields" to protect this admin from criticism about its racist policies; that the EU banbed Nazi paraphernalia; that KY insists on giving a state senate seat to a GOP candidate, Stevenson even though she was ineligible because the state GOP chair says his authroity exceeds that of the courts; that there "may be" lots of invalid ballots in WI & the GOP wants to investigate fraud there.

Hume opened the "All-Stars" segment at 6:41pm by showing a clip of Boxer questioning Rice, calling it a "slice of unpleasantness." The panel (Fred Barnes, Mort Kondracke, Mara Liasson) divided predictably, with Barnes & Kondracke attacking Boxer & Liasson weakly countering Kondracke said that "Boxer has identified herself as the lead attack dog" for the Dems, that "she may have appointed herself to this role" & characterized her questions to Rice as "pummelling," claiming that Boxer was "questioning her [Rice's] integrity" but "Rice handled it coolly & appropriately." Liasson said that the big question about Rice's "upcoming tenure" is whether there will be "more diplomacy, less military initiatives" & said she thought Rice would take the admin in a "new direction" & be "nonideological." Barnes sneered that "to say the Secy of State is going to pursue diplomacy is a truism." He wondered why anyone would ask if the US should "go back into the world", asking "when did we leave?" He claimed that it's an "illusion that we pulled away from Europe" & "operated unilaterally." Barnes also said "that's why Boxer doesn't like her [Rice], she {Boxer] says the only reason [for the war in Iraq] was WMD" but "it's not true. there were many other reasons." Even Kondracke couldn't let some of Barnes' wilder assertions pass, noting that the question is "do you approach traditional allies" with a "talk-nice" approach or "stick an elbow in their eye", adding that "we went out of our way in some cases in first Bush admin" to offend such allies, giving the US pullout from the Kyoto treaty as an example. Kondracke may have realized that he crossed the invisible line, because he ended by backing off slightly, saying that "this admin has realized that dipomacy, respect, dialogue" & other "weak-kneed stuff" is "useful."

At 6:50pm Hume showed yet another clip of Bush's interview with Angle & the panel discussed the politics Bush's SocSec plan -- not the substance, the politics. Kondracke said that "Bush is attracted to big issues" & Hume incredulously wondered if Bush is a "politician who's doing something because he believes it's right?" There was some bloviating about a Bush "legacy" although Barnes did try to interject a few GOP talking points (private accounts will let people "take it home, pass it on to heirs"). Liasson pointed out that Medicare is "a much bigger fiscal problem & he's not tackling that" but the rest of the panel ignored her.

General comment: There were at least 20 mins of this 1-hr program devoted either to replaying Bush's interview with Jim Angle, or to Fox "personalities" bloviating about it. Pretty pathetic for a news program.