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Martin Frost -- A Breath of Fresh Air

Reported by Nancy - March 21, 2005 -

FNL today (3/21) apparently has decided that if Judge Whitmore doesn’t decide the Schiavo case today “correctly” it will be (surprise, surprise) Bill Clinton’s fault. Every time they mentioned Whitmore's name, they could hardly resist mentioning that he was appointed by Clinton in 1999. In the midst of all the cheerleading, several interviewees stood out: Martin Frost, Christopher Shays & Jerrrold Nadler all did yeoman’s work in refusing to allow their Fox interviewer to spin & twist. Shays in particular got under David Asman's skin. Even Mark Melman, normally very meek & conciliatory on FNL, found some backbone. It's good to see some uncooperative guests instead of the usual echo-chamber chorus of mealy-mouthed yea-sayers.

It should also be noted that FNL has now chosen to display photos taken of Terri Schiavo *before* she becaome ill -- not the brief video clips they were showing last Friday, where her random eye blinks might be misinterpreted as responsive to external stimuli. Nope, they want viewers to have the image of Terri as she *was*, not as she *is*. Very clever packaging. In the same vein, they almost never refer to her parents as "The Schindlers", because that might remind viewers that her parents, by law, are not her closest relatives; her husband is. Again, very clever packaging.

At 11:41am (all times ET) FNL showed pix of the coutrhouse where, Brigitte Quinn said, the federal judge “appointd by President Clinton in 1999” will hear Schiavo.

At 11:49am Quinn reminded viewers that we’re “only hours away from” the federal district judge hearing Schiavo, adding that Judge Whitmore was “randomly picked by computer” & is a “Clinton appointee from 1999.”

At 11:52am Quinn noted that Bush “RUSHED back to Washington” re Schiavo & interviewed Mark Melman (former Kerry campaign). Quinn opened by asking why Melman thought Bush intervened & Melman said “I can’t speak to why the President intervened” then hauled off & bashed Tom DeLay, calling him an “exterminator from Texas”, citing DeLay's ongoing problems with ethics to assert that DeLay “is the last person we need intervening” & accusing GOPs of “grandstanding.” Quinn was taken aback, & tried to imply that GOPs just want to “let it go back to federal court”. Malman was having none of that, & said the reality is that GOPs tell us feds shouldn’t interfere in state courts, but this case has been through state courts for 15 yrs. Quinn ended the interview at 11:54am, looking a lot less chipper than when she started.

At 11:54am David Asman interviewed 2 members of Congress, Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) & Don Manzullo (R-IL). This "interview" turned out to be more about Asman spouting off than about him asking his guests anything. Each barely got in a couple of sentences. Asman smugly said to Nadler that "47 of your Democratic colleagues" voted with the majority of GOPs on the Schiavo issue. Nadler started explaining about how the case has been through the FL courts, how Schiavo said she didn’t want this, but Asman interrupted to go back to the so-called "issue" that half of Dems voted with most GOPs, so it's not a partisan issue. Manzullo wasn't interested in talking about that either, though, & talked instead about how there's a "lot of precedent" that Congress has the right to intervene.

At 12:00pm Asman said “the clock ticks for Terri Schiavo” & promised “Fox team coverage” of “how this issue got so big so fast”.

At 12:02pm Asman said Schiavo’s case is “now in the hands of a Clinton-appointed federal judge” to intro “team coverage”: Phil Keating in FL & Wendell Goler at the White House.

At 12:05 Asman wondered whether Congress overstepped & noted [comment: again, & not for the last time] that 47 Dems voted with the majority of GOPS on the Schiavo issue, then interviewed Martin Frost (former Representative, D-TX, & new Fox News analyst) & Andrew McBride (former DA). Asman asked if Congress' vote was based on "moral consicence" rather than "political" considerations. Frost immediately began to repeat points he had made last Fri on the program, saying it was "outrageous for Congress to get involved" but Asman interrupted to say "It’s not the question I asked" & repeat the line about how many Dems voted "with" GOPs. Frost said it was "wrong no matter who voted that way," called it "cavalier," & noted that many conservaties (e.g., George Will) also thought it was wrong. Asman repeated the line about how many Dems voted which way & turned to McBride to back him up on the ""voting their conscience" scenario. Instead, McBride attacked Michael Schiavo, calling him a "spouse in name only" who "has moved on" & has "very little interest in what’s good for Terri Schiavo." McBride even threw in a religious slur (mumbling something about the Schindlers being Catholic & Michael Schiavo ... well, not religious) & concluded that we should "give blood relatives more rights." Asman agreed with McBride ("those issues being true”) & McBride used that as an excuse to drag in abortion. Frost refused to let him get away with that, & interrupted to say "be clear" re abortion, SCOTUS "was construing state law" & in FL state law gives rights to the husband. McBride tried to counter by saying "I clerked fror" SCOTUS & Frost was wrong, that "they found a federal right to abortion" but again Frost didn't let that go unanswered, saying he knew what he was talking about because "I clerked for the judge who wrote the opinion in Roe v Wade."
Comment: Not much background was offered about McBride, but he was so good at spouting the radical fundementalist line & trying to smear Michael Schiavo that I wouldn't be surprised if he's related to Randall Terry. Frost was well-prepared & did a great job at stopping the spin attempts.

At 12:13pm Asman showed live pix of Tampa courthouse where “lawyers for Terri Schiavo’s parents will appear” later [comment: so will lawyers for Terri].

12:17 it was back to live pix of the Tampa courthouse. Asman interviewed Rep Christopher Shays (R-CT). Asman asked if Shays had "ever seen anything like this" & Shays said he hadn't, noting that "no one really wanted to vote on this." Asman said "even though you voted for ..." & Shays corrected him, saying "No, I voted against." Asman was taken completely aback, & stumbled around a bit, finally saying Shays voted for TSchiavo “to be allowed to die” or as “some” would say “to be killed.” Shays said he voted "for her wishes to be honored," adding that a lot of people are "very scared by the concept of the federal government interfering." Asman went back to the one "fact" he loved about this, repeating the line about most GOPs & half of Dems voted the same way. Shays said a "lot of members" were "really angry that the leadership put members in this position" because "how many other cases" will Congress intervene in. Shays ended with a reference to "human rights around the world that we don’t seem to care about" & the look on Asman's face was priceless. The best retort he could come up with, in a very stiff & offended tone, was that a "lotta people would disagree with you on that" & "you’re the minority, only 5" [comment: yes, back to the "issue" of how GOPs & Dems voted on this, & would somebody please explain the meaning of the word "partisan" to ALL the staff at FNC, but especially David Asman].

At 12:23pm Asman replayed the clip of DeLay, then interviewed Eriz Denzenhall & Peter Mirijanian (both identified as “crisis management consultants” & both relatively frequent guests on FNL, where I've always seen them paired together). Asman [comment: of course] opened with the observations that 5 GOPs voted "against the majority" & asked whether they did that for "any political advantage." Both guests said they thought the votes weren't based on politics but on personal beliefs. Asman, still smarting from his previous encounter, read an excerpt from an op/ed piece by Peggy Noonan, commenting that he "shoulda read this to Shays," & turning the alleged "interview" into a soapbox for his own personal opinions, e.g.: "maybe it should make us all pause, maybe this is 'special' ” & the great thing about America is the "whole nation will stop based on one life.” When Mirijanian tried to point out that the Schiavo case "raises larger questions" Asman said this case "evaporates all those labels, those labels have no meaning."

At 12:28pm there was another teaser for TSchiavo

At 12:37pm Linda Vester gave a preview of "Dayside" which [comment: surprise, surprise] will also be all about Schiavo.

At 12:38pm it was back to live pix of the Tampa courthouse & Asman blathering on about Schiavo

At 12:48pm Asman read teaser: “lawyers for Terri Schiavo’s parents” will be in court later today.

At 12:56pm the teaser was Schiavo.

At 12:58pm the Asman Observer was all about Terri Schiavo. He started with a disclaimer about not pretending to be an expert on medical issues, but immediately backpedaled, saying he's "gotten to know about brain damage" over the past few months because a "loved one" had a stroke. He then said he's learned "how little we know" about the brain & said of Terri Schiavo that "she’s not brain dead" but she's in PVS, "from which a few people have miraculously recovered." He wrapped up by sanctimoniously proclaiming that, since it's Holy Week, "we could do worse" than pray for a miracle for Terri Schiavo.

General comments: I wonder if FNC thought they were getting another "not-so-liberal liberal" when they hired Frost. The poor sap who actually hired this firebrand has probably already been sacked. Maybe seeing Frost's performance has put some spirit into some of the usual suspects. Now THAT would be a "good thing."

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (FNL's coverage of the Schiavo situation). O/T comments will be deleted. Please use the O/T category from the list at right to post unrelated comments. Thanks.