Brent Bozell is at his bug-eyed best when he’s recursively complaining about liberals’ complaints about conservatives. It’s enough to make you dizzy, no?
In his latest Town Hall screed, Bozell takes the Washington Post to task for taking Fox News to task. (See where this is going?)
In his White House Briefing last week, WaPo columnist Dan Froomkin describes a laughably softballed Fox News interview with our esteemed Commander-in-Chief. “Fair and Balanced” journalist Neil Cavuto threw out such hard-hitting “questions” as
- [Kerry] was billed as the intellectual, and you had better grades in college.
- On a more serious note, Mr. President, this morning we got word of an Al Qaeda-linked cell potentially broken up in California. One of the participants in that cell supposedly was taking target practice off a picture of you. What did you think when you heard it?
- Let me ask you about the economy, sir. Almost any objective read tells you that we’re still doing very, very well. Productivity is very high. Had a strong GDP report. Retail sales are very, very strong. The unemployment rate, at 5.1 percent, used to be considered full employment when Hubert Humphrey was alive. Do you think you get a bum rap in the media on the economy?
- Do you ever get mad at of your fellow Republicans?
- Do you think that the focus on Michael Jackson has hurt you?
Yep, that’s some hard-hitting journalism!
Froomkin rightly criticized the interview.
Thanks to Fox News’s exclusive interview with President Bush yesterday, the leader of the free world is now on the record when it comes to John Kerry’s Yale grades, Laura Bush’s presidential aspirations and — yes — the Michael Jackson trial’s effect on public policy discourse.
Who wants to talk about that messy war in Iraq, or the Downing Street Memo? Not Neil Cavuto, Fox News executive, anchor, commentator and Bush campaign contributor.
This is where Bozell got angry. Rather than sticking out his own neck to defend the network’s practices, Bozell invokes “Fox-defending blogger ‘Johnny Dollar,’” whose stated purpose is to “debunk hundreds of anti-Fox slanders and lies.” (Whoa. That must be a full-time job.)
“Johnny Dollar” noted two problems with Froomkin. First, Bush was asked about Iraq and that memo at a press conference the day before, so would that be the best news-breaking topic? Second, Cavuto is not a “Bush campaign contributor.” According to the campaign-finance search engine at OpenSecrets.com, Cavuto gave $500 each to the GOP House and Senate campaign committees to attend a presidential dinner in 2002. If making a federal contribution was disqualifying, then Maria Shriver should have been removed from every cream-puff Hillary Clinton interview she ever conducted for NBC.*
But a review of the transcript shows that Cavuto’s half-hour interview on his late-afternoon show was no puff job. It was a serious news interview with some challenging questions. Cavuto asked Bush about the latest bust of al-Qaeda suspects in California. Cavuto pointedly noted that Jimmy Carter thinks we should shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay because abuse charges are “dragging our name through the mud globally.” That doesn’t sound like a softball question.**
And speaking of debunking, here’s ours.
* Maria Shriver has never made a campaign contribution to Hillary Clinton. In fact, during the 2000 election cycle during which Clinton was elected to the Senate, Maria Shriver didn’t make a single campaign contribution.
Okay, okay — but what about her contributions to other Democrats, which may point to a bias that news magazine anchors are supposed to avoid?
A search at OpenSecrets.org — the same website Bozell uses to exonerate Cavuto for his RNC contributions — shows that since 1990, Maria Shriver has made $8,000 in contributions to Democratic candidates (a relatively small amount for someone with her dough).
But wait — let’s be more specific.
Since 1990, Maria Shriver has made $8,000 in contributions to Democratic candidates named Kennedy.
That’s right, folks. Maria Shriver made the unforgivable error of contributing to family members.
** Debunk #2: The Carter/Gitmo bit wasn’t a softball question?
Here it is, verbatim:
Cavuto: Speaking of civil liberties, one of your predecessors, Jimmy Carter, was very critical of our operations at Guantanamo Bay, saying they should be shut down, that abuses there, if proven true, are dragging our name through the mud globally. What do you make of that?
Translation: “Here’s your chance, Mr. President, to bash that hippy-dippy Carter and to defend your administration’s disregard for the Geneva Convention.”
Not a softball?
Bozell concludes that liberals’ collective problem is their insistence that no one should be respectful of the president.
What upsets liberals about Cavuto’s interview is not the questions he asked. It was the tone he displayed — deferential, respectful. Liberals believe [Bush] doesn’t deserve that courtesy, as evidenced by their daily coverage, so often filled with snide commentary.
[He must be referring to the Daily Show, right? “Snide commentary” in daily news coverage? Try “lack of commentary” and you’ll be getting warmer.]
Now, if liberals like Froomkin throw fits when the president isn’t pummeled enough, how do they feel about ex-presidents? Because on the two nights preceding Cavuto’s interview, FOX’s Greta Van Susteren interviewed Bill Clinton with a series of softballs that made no news whatsoever.
Translation: George W. Bush is maligned in the press and deserves a break from having to dodge all those tough questions he never answers anyway. Bill Clinton is a three-horned monster who, although he’s been a private citizen for five years, still deserves to be grilled for the supposed failures of his administration. Come on, libs! Where’s the outrage??
Van Susteren began by asking Clinton about his chummy relations with Bush “41,” and then asked about political meanness: “What is the catalyst for the mean [sic]?” Clinton, of course, blamed conservatives for their bitter reaction to Vietnam and Watergate, and the rise of conservative PACs. She allowed that vindictiveness to go by unchallenged, and then devoted another five minutes to more questions about meanness and how it’s “strange” to see Clinton and Bush Senior get along, as well as Newt Gingrich and Hillary.
Nobody at the Washington Post or anywhere else offered any criticism of Van Susteren’s soft-shoe through the Clinton Library in Little Rock. That’s because she matched the Standard Ogling Procedure to Clinton interviews. On his paperback-plugging TV tour, Clinton also drew mellow how’s-your-health-and-Hillary interviews with NBC’s Brian Williams, CNN’s Larry King, and NPR’s smitten hosts and listeners.
And when he was on his deathbed, no one held Reagan’s feet to the fire about that Iran-Contra thing. Outrage?
In the end, the truth always lies in Bozell’s pithy sum-ups — that short stinger at the end of his column that confirms that he’s right and we’re not. To wit:
Answer this: When was the last time Clinton was truly grilled by a TV interviewer? I can’t remember. By that standard, doesn’t President Bush deserve a fair and balanced interview once in a while?
And don’t we, once in a while, deserve to have our questions answered?
Guess it depends on who you ask.