On MSNBC's Morning Joe, discussing a Washington Post article reporting Bush administration official Susan Crawford's conclusion that Guantánamo detainee Mohammed al-Qahtani was tortured, Pat Buchanan suggested that specific techniques used on Qahtani were not torture, ignoring the reason Crawford gave for reaching her conclusion. As Mika Brzezinski noted, Crawford said her conclusion that Qahtani was tortured was based not on "any one particular act," but on "a combination of things" Crawford called "abusive," "uncalled for," and "coercive."
ABC's World News and the CBS Evening News and uncritically aired President Bush's statement that "Abu Ghraib obviously was a huge disappointment," without noting that a 2008 Senate Armed Services Committee report found that the abuse there "was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own" and that Donald Rumsfeld's "authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques and subsequent interrogation policies and plans approved by senior military and civilian officials conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees in U.S. military custody."
Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade falsely suggested that only "people at the U.N." want to close Guantánamo, while co-hosts Steve Doocy and Gretchen Carlson, as well as Glenn Beck, used TV drama 24 as a justification for the use of torture. In fact, Sen. John McCain, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and five former secretaries of state are among those who have said that Guantánamo should be closed.
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On the January 8 edition of MSNBC's Countdown, Keith Olbermann , echoing recent items by Media Matters for America, highlighted remarks by Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, Michelle Malkin, and Brit Hume:
Bill O'Reilly again falsely claimed that the Army Field Manual "says, quote, 'You are not to make any captured person uncomfortable in any way.' " In fact, the Army Field Manual includes an entire section on "Interrogation Operations," which includes several techniques and strategies that make detainees "uncomfortable."
On his radio show, Mark Belling said: "Whether it's blacks, Mexican-Americans, whatever, people who live in a neighborhood should not have to put up with newcomers deciding that that neighborhood is going to be 'Crimeville.' " Belling continued: "You wonder why racism occurs. Why people fear 'look what's happening to the neighborhood' when some -- when a minority person moves in. The answer is because sometimes it does mean an increase in crime."
On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly claimed that "[t]he Army Field Manual bans any questioning that would make a suspect uncomfortable in any way," echoing his previous assertion that "[t]here is no interrogation under the manual. No unpleasantness." In fact, the Army Field Manual includes an entire section on "Interrogation Operations," as well as a chapter listing and describing "Approach Techniques and Termination Strategies" for use in interrogations of detainees, including several techniques intended to make detainees "uncomfortable."
This week we noted some of the holes in a Los Angeles Times article about the supposedly spike in gun sales following Barack Obama's win on the Election Day. The Times reported that some gun owners said they were preparing in the event of a "race war." But the newspaper's report was built mostly on interviews with a couple of Texas gun owners, not with lots of conclusive factual information about gun sales.
Now Slate's Jack Shafer takes a look at the even larger press explosion in gun sales stories, many of which carry an election theme, and finds all kinds of problems with the reporting.
On his radio show, G. Gordon Liddy advised listeners not to register their firearms, saying: "The first thing you do is, no matter what law they pass, do not -- repeat, not -- ever register any of your firearms."
That's what the Los Angeles Times claims in an article today. It reports that some gun owners are terrified that president Obama ("the nation's first black president," the newspaper reminds us in the lead) will outlaw firearms. Either that or they're "preparing to protect themselves in the event of a race war," say the gun buyers.
A provocative news angle, for sure. But the Times' proof of a gun rush seems pretty thin. The paper acknowledges there are no statistics on the number of guns purchased nationwide, or even within individual states, since Nov. 4. Instead, the paper relies on "anecdotal reports," which turns out to be quoting two gun shop owner in Texas, and citing the fact that background checks for new gun owners in Colorado was up dramatically the Saturday before Election Day.
Seems to us the Times needed to corral more proof if it was going to splash such a controversial story (i.e. a possible "race war") in its news pages.
Dick Morris falsely claimed that Sen. Barack Obama said that "it was a tragedy that the United States Supreme Court never addressed the issue of redistributing the nation's wealth to achieve social and economic justice." In fact, the "tragedy" Obama identified during the 2001 radio appearance to which Morris referred was that the civil rights movement "became so court-focused" in trying to bring about political and economic justice.
Discussing the history of taxation and property rights in the United States, War Room with Quinn & Rose co-host Jim Quinn declared: "Originally, if you didn't own land, you didn't vote, and there was a good reason for it: because those without property will always vote away the property of other people unto themselves, and that's the beginning of the end." Quinn added: "But, oh no, that was -- that was just too mean-spirited."
That, according to the WaPo's Dana Milbanks:
I have to say the Secret Service is in dangerous territory here. In cooperation with the Palin campaign, they've started preventing reporters from leaving the press section to interview people in the crowd. This is a serious violation of their duty -- protecting the protectee -- and gets into assisting with the political aspirations of the candidate. It also often makes it impossible for reporters to get into the crowd to question the people who say vulgar things. So they prevent reporters from getting near the people doing the shouting, then claim it's unfounded because the reporters can't get close enough to identify the person.
The media finally seem to be showing interest in the refusal on the part of the town of Wasilla, Alaska, while Sarah Palin was mayor, to pay for rape kits for the victims of sexual assault. The Associated Press has a fairly informative article on the subject, but we can only assume that its last paragraph was inadvertently lopped off. Here's how one version of the AP story currently ends:
Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for the campaign of Palin and John McCain, said that Palin "does not believe, nor has she ever believed, that rape victims should have to pay for an evidence-gathering test."
The AP gave no indication that it asked Comella the obvious follow-up: Why, if Palin does not believe that rape victims should have to pay for their own evidence-gathering test, did this practice continue for four years while Palin was mayor, with the practice ending only after the state legislature stepped in and outlawed it?