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Special Report – Some Grapevine Pickings and a GOP Smear

Reported by Chrish - January 2, 2008 -

Note: Guest blogged by Priscilla

Last night’s Special Report “Political Grapevine” 12/31/07 worked in a couple of Republican talking points. Substitute host Bret Baier reported that despite Vladimir Putin having been chosen as Time’ Magazine's Person of the Year, the British Sunday Telegraph newspaper has named General Petraeus as their “person of the year.”

In a glowing article that could have been lifted from the pages of a Bush administration press release or an RNC position paper, the Telegraph heaped glowing praise on the General. Baier read some of the paper’s commentary about the surge which appeared as a side graphic, “So far, it has achieved what many feared was impossible. Sectarian killings are down. Al-Qaeda is on the run” and continued with these plaudits about Petraeus also shown on the graphic, “The mission and determination of David Petraeus have brought greater security and cause for optimism to the people of Iraq.”

Comment: The Republican Party and its media outlet are still very upset about Time’s choice of Putin as “person of the year.” They want to show that Petraeus should have been that person and that even the British recognize Petraeus’ valor. At the same time, Fox needs to keep reinforcing the meme that the “surge is working” and it’s all good. It’s all well and good that the Telegraph did this; but the reality is that the Time selection is much more significant, especially in the US.

The “surge” theme was continued with the next piece which showed a graphic of the word “surge” crossed off in a circle, with the chyron “banned words” underneath. Baier reported that the word “surge” is on Lake Superior College’s “annual list of words and phrases that deserve to be banned.” He showed some other items from the list which included “surge” and “post 9-11” (comment: these words must never be forgotten) and mentioned the “banned” phrases “50 is the new 40” and “chocolate is the new sex.” (Comment: chocolate, in my humble opinion, is very, very good.)

Comment: In not providing the context, that this is a satirical list of overused and tiresome phrases, Baier gave the impression that these seditious students were trying to somehow limit free speech. Thus, the anti liberal/academia theme is reinforced to those who really aren’t treated to the story behind the story.

The smear occurred during the “all star” panel’s discussion of the Iowa primary when Charles Krauthammer was discussing the polling of the DesMoines Register. In damning with faint praise or praising with faint damns, he noted that while the paper’s editor, “Nurse Ratched,” was a poor debate moderator, her paper’s polling has been, in many cases, consistent with the outcome and as such “she knows how to pick pollsters that understand the Iowa electorate.”

Comment: Republicans hated the way that Carolyn Washburn, a competent and professional woman, moderated the debate and thus coined the offensive nickname (actually coined by a Weekly Standard writer). As a “professional” pundit, Krauthammer should be above this petty level of insulting name calling; but he plays to a sympathetic audience. One wonders if a nickname would have been coined for a male moderator. At any rate, just when I thought that the panel discussion was an objective analysis, out slipped a right wing talking point. Disappointing; but not surprising!

Note: Guest blogged by Priscilla