Former Vice President Dick Cheney dodged pointed questions from Meet The Press host Chuck Todd by pushing myths about the CIA's use of torture on terrorist suspects during the Bush administration.
From the July 15 edition of CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper:
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Fox News' upcoming investigative report on the growing crisis in Iraq will feature Iraq War architect Dick Cheney blaming President Obama for the turmoil there.
The special, Iraq and the Rise of a Terrorist State, is set to air on June 27 and will examine the current state of Iraq as "al Qaeda threatens to take over." The report will also feature former Vice President Dick Cheney in order to add his commentary on "who says he knows who is to blame: President Barack Obama":
Iraq is in turmoil as an offshoot of al Qaeda threatens to take over and expand their reign of terror. We look at what happened there and the danger this explosion of violence has created for the entire Middle East and beyond. Chris Wallace interviews former Vice President Dick Cheney who says he knows who's to blame: President Barack Obama. We examine that claim and explore the threat America and the rest of the world faces if the violence spreads beyond the Middle East.
Fox's willingness to give air time to Cheney to cast blame on President Obama for the current situation in Iraq completely ignores the former vice president's own role in creating the problems there. Even the network's own Megyn Kelly called out Cheney, telling him that "[t]ime and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong in Iraq as well, sir." Fox's promotion for the Iraq special does not indicate if Cheney will be held accountable for his Iraq role.
Former President Bill Clinton also weighed in on Cheney's denial during an interview with NBC Meet the Press host David Gregory, calling Cheney out on "the mess that he made" in Iraq:
"Mr. Cheney has been incredibly adroit for the last six years or so attacking the administration for not doing an adequate job of cleaning up the mess that he made," Clinton told NBC News "Meet The Press" host David Gregory. "And I think it's unseemly. And I give President Bush, by the way, a lot of credit for trying to stay out of this debate and letting other people work through it."
Clinton argued that if the U.S. had not gone to war with Iraq during the Bush administration, the chaotic sectarian violence that has plagued Iraq in recent weeks would not be happening.
"Well, it might be happening in Syria, but what happened in Syria wouldn't have happened in Iraq. Iraq would not have been, in effect, drastically altered, as it has been," said the former president.
Mainstream media have been quick to embrace Iraq war architects in their rush to explain the growing turmoil in the region, often without calling them out for their part in creating the crisis. Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, and Cheney have all been regular figures across the Sunday news shows since the current Iraq crisis surfaced.
This won't be the first Fox News special to practice questionable judgment in an effort to make the news fit into the network's narratives. Previous specials have been met with controversy after relying on debunked myths on Benghazi, providing no evidence of voter fraud in a report on voter fraud, and falsely blaming unions for problems created by the recession.
From the October 28 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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From the August 6 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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From the August 30 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Today, on Fox News' America's Newsroom co-host Bill Hemmer aired a video clip of Dick Cheney's assertion that Barack Obama will be a one-term president because he has been "expanding the size of government, expanding the deficit." Hemmer then declared that Cheney has been against big government since the 70s, adding, "In Dick Cheney's view, bigger government is bad government."
Hemmer seems to have forgotten the last decade.
On the one hand, waterboarding is torture.
On the other hand....
I'm sorry -- there is no other hand. Waterboarding is torture, period. It's been that way for decades -- it was torture when we went after Japanese war criminals who used the ancient and inhumane interrogation tactic, it was torture when Pol Pot and some of the worst dictators known to mankind used it against their own people, and it was torture to the U.S. military which once punished soldiers who adopted the grim practice.
And waterboarding was described as "torture," almost without fail, in America's newspapers.
Until 2004, after the arrival of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their criminal notions of "enhanced interrogations." For four years -- in what would have to be the bizarro-world version of "speaking truth to power," waterboarding was almost never torture on U.S. newsprint. Then waterboarding-as-torture nearly made a mild comeback in journo-world, until perpetrators like Cheney and Inquirer op-ed columnist John Yoo began the big pushback, when American newspapers bravely turned their tails and fled.
From the early 1930's until the modern story broke in 2004, the newspapers that covered waterboarding almost uniformly called the practice torture or implied it was torture: The New York Times characterized it thus in 81.5% (44 of 54) of articles on the subject and The Los Angeles Times did so in 96.3% of articles (26 of 27). By contrast, from 2002-2008, the studied newspapers almost never referred to waterboarding as torture. The New York Times called waterboarding torture or implied it was torture in just 2 of 143 articles (1.4%). The Los Angeles Times did so in 4.8% of articles (3 of 63). The Wall Street Journal characterized the practice as torture in just 1 of 63 articles (1.6%). USA Today never called waterboarding torture or implied it was torture.
The report also notes that waterboarding had constantly been referred to as torture by newspapers when other nations did it, but when the United States did it in the 2000s, it was, to paraphrase Richard Nixon, not illegal. The study proves scientifically something we've been talking about here at Attytood since Day One, about the tragic consequences of the elevation of an unnatural notion of objectivity in which newspapers abandoned any core human values -- even when it comes to something as clear cut as torture -- to give equal moral weight to both sides of an not-so-debatable issue (not to mention treating scientific issues like climate changes in the same zombie-like manner).
Never before in my adult life have I been so ashamed of my profession, journalism.
As soon as Republicans started quibbling over the definition of torture, traditional media outlets felt compelled to treat the issue as a "controversial" matter, and in order to appear as though they weren't taking a side, media outlets treated the issue as unsettled, rather than confronting a blatant falsehood. To borrow John Holbo's formulation, the media, confronted with the group think of two sides of an argument, decided to eliminate the "think" part of the equation so they could be "fair" to both groups.
The irony that Serwer notes -- and I completely agree -- is that in claiming they were working so hard not to take "a side," the journalists who wouldn't call waterboarding "torture" were absolutely taking a side and handing a victory to the Bush administration, which convinced newspapers to stop unambiguously describing this crime as they had done for decades prior to 2004. It's a tactic that has continued to this day. It's the reason why Cheney-- who'd been nearly invisible when he was in power -- and Yoo were suddenly all over the place beginning on Jan. 21, 2009, because they were desperately trying to keep framing this debate as the newspapers had, that their torture tactics were a public, political disagreement, and not a war crime.
And tragically, they succeeded. They were America's leaders, they tortured, and they got away with it. And newspapers and other journalists drove the getaway car.
I do think this report frames a much broader problem in America, which is that we've lost our ability to distinguish right from wrong on its most basic level, because of our need to filter everything through some kind of bogus political prism. Look past torture, and look at the Elena Kagan hearings down in Washington, and the shameful way that Republican senators have desecrated the memory of the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. What made Marshall a great American is that he started with an alienable truth -- that segregation and other unequal treatment of blacks or other minorities are a sin against mankind -- and that it was our duty not just as Americans but as human beings to end that injustice by any peaceful means necessary. If Marshall had behaved the way that the 2010 Republican Party would want him to act, forget the notion of an African-American president -- there would be water fountains in some American states where Barack Obama could not get a drink.
Increasingly, we're losing our perspective, maybe our minds. We have candidates for the U.S. Congress comparing the taxes that we pay to finance the U.S. military or to pay for public schools to slavery, or to the Nazi-led Holocaust. As Americans, we should all seek higher ground over what we talk about when we talk about slavery, and what we talk about when we talk about torture.
And yet even some of my own colleagues failed -- journalists who started out with a mission to tell the truth and who got very, very lost in a thicket of politics and perhaps self-importance along the way.
And that is beyond shameful.
From the December 9 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
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Another one bites the dust. This weekend former Vice President Dick Cheney got in line behind the long string of conservatives bowing down before their leader -- Rush Limbaugh. Given a choice between booting Colin Powell or El Rushbo from the GOP, Cheney said he'd stick with Rush.
Check out this latest YouTube video from Media Matters and be sure to send it around to your friends and family.