Media Blog

NRO’s MSM watchdog.

Rebekah Brooks Found Not Guilty in Phone-Hacking Trial


Details here.

BBC’s New Diversity Mandate


The Telegraph reports:

One in seven BBC presenters and actors is to be black, Asian or minority ethnic within the next three years, it has been announced, as Lord Hall pledges to improve diversity.

Lord Hall, the director-general, has promised 15 per cent of on-air BBC staff will be black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) by 2017, along with one in ten managers.

Critics have already condemned the policy as “absolutely ridiculous”, claiming recruitment should be conducted irrespective of race and without the “PC tokenism that makes people’s blood boil”.

Speaking at the BBC’s Elstree Studios, Lord Hall promised the corporation aimed to be “beyond reproach” on diversity issues, as he announces a new group of advisors including comedian Lenny Henry, athlete Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, and broadcaster Baroness Floella Benjamin.

He has now confirmed a set of targets for the BBC, to be fulfilled over the next three years.

Lord Hall said: “The BBC gets much right on diversity, but the simple fact is that we need to do more. I am not content for the BBC to be merely good or above average.

“I want a new talent-led approach that will help set the pace in the media industry. I believe in this and want our record to be beyond reproach.

Maybe the BBC can request data from the cable companies next to make sure viewers are watching a mandated number of minorities on television?

And as for diversity and the BBC, my favorite BBC show was the now-canceled Luther starring the wonderful Idris Elba. The interesting aspect about Luther is that the character wasn’t written specifically for a black man. Here’s the show’s creator Neil Cross on the role and Elba:

Cross also talked about how he created the character – specifically, whether he always intended for Luther to be a black man:

“It was cast as a character, purely and simply, which is one of the aspects that attracted Idris to the role. I have no knowledge or expertise or right to try to tackle in some way the experience of being a black man in modern Britain. It would have been an act of tremendous arrogance for me to try to write – and you have to try to imagine the quote marks around the words – a black character because I don’t know what a black character is and we would have ended up with a slightly embarrassed, ignorant, middle-class, white writer’s idea of a black character, which would have been an embarrassment for everybody concerned. I suspect that there’s a dearth of decent roles for black actors because most writers are white and they try to write their idea of black and it’s an embarrassment.” 

I like this approach. Find the right actor for the roll regardless of his or her race, and if it’s a good show, the audience will watch.

The rest here.


Washington Free Beacon vs. The University of Arkansas


There is a growing controversy between the Beacon and the University of Arkansas “Special Collections” library over the Beacon’s recent use of archived recordings from the library’s Roy Reed collection. Reed, a former journalist and professor in Arkansas, donated the recordings and other personal papers to the university between 1989 and 2000. 

At issue is this Beacon article from June 15 titled “The Hillary Tapes: Clinton tells of defense of child rapist in newly unearthed recordings.” 

In summary, the university is arguing the Beacon failed to obtain permission to publish the recordings and is demanding that the Beacon remove them from its website. The Beacon is arguing the university never told them of any restrictions and shouldn’t have to comply with them retroactively. Here’s an excerpt from the letter the Beacon’s lawyers sent to the library:

Your letter fails to provide a single reason why the Free Beacon cannot continue to publish this information. Your staff provided the recordings to the Free Beacon without any condition, apprised the Free Beacon of no “policies” limiting their dissemination, and required no agreement to be signed prior to receiving them.

You now assert that the Free Beacon violated the “policies of Special Collections,” yet you fail to quote or cite these “policies,” or explain how they bind my client. You mention a “permission to publish form,” but the Free Beacon never signed this form, nor has it ever agreed to sign it. Your staff unconditionally provided the audio recordings to the Free Beacon and the Free Beacon did not agree to any restrictions on their use. Therefore, the Free Beacon was free to publish this information, and continues to be free to do so.

A couple points to make. One, the “policies of Special Collections” are available on the library’s website and are quite clear regarding the publishing of material from the library:

Note: Publication of any material found in the manuscript collections of the University of Arkansas Libraries Special Collections is permitted only after a completed “Permission to Publish Request” is approved and signed by the Head of the Department. See “Forms for Requesting from Special Collections” for more information.

But, two, other than this “permission to publish” form, I don’t see any other restrictions on the material used in the Beacon piece. You can see a list of everything that’s in the Roy Reed collection here, and only one box of materials — No. 26 — is labeled as “restricted.” This lone box, according to the description of its contents, doesn’t contain anything related to Hillary anyway. 

At this point, it’s the university that needs to respond and answer why the Beacon would have been denied permission to publish these recordings in the first place. Because from what I’m seeing, there’s no issue with their use by the media or researchers other than that they’re embarrassing to Hillary Clinton.



NYT Ends ‘The Gun Report’ — But Why?


Op-Ed columnist for the Times, Joe Nocera, recently announced the end of “The Gun Report” (a daily summary of gun violence in America) writing that it had “run its course” and “was time to bid it adieu.” He added:

Day after day, week after week, there was a numbing sameness to the shootings. And to be blunt, most of those who posted comments were not getting closer to finding common ground than when we began.

Sounds like Nocera was frustrated that he wasn’t changing anyone’s mind, but that’s not the entire story.

Here’s Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor of the Times, with some additional information and the suggestion that a pay dispute between the Times and Nocera’s editorial assistant Jennifer Mascia had a role its end:

The Gun Report, begun shortly after the massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., consisted of a daily list of all the gun-related deaths in the United States. Written in recent months by Mr. Nocera’s editorial assistant, Jennifer Mascia, it was published five days a week.With its grim recitation of incidents, topped by an engaging introduction, it generated a great deal of reader commentary – typically over 150 comments per post. And normally, the discussion, while passionate and well-informed, was remarkably temperate.

[. . .]

So why did it end, just as fatal shootings in Seattle, Las Vegas and Oregon were dominating the news?

Mr. Nocera told me that the blog had served its purpose. “It felt like the time had come,” he said. “We had made our point.”

Ms. Mascia sees a different motivation – one tied closely to her recent efforts to receive back pay for work done on the blog on her own time, and to get a promotion, giving her higher wages for her work. She and her union representatives believe the work on the blog is more like that of a reporter, editor or producer than that of a news assistant. The disagreement on back pay has not been settled. (She will continue with The Times as a news assistant to Mr. Nocera and columnist Mark Bittman.)

She told me that she had put her heart and soul into the project for well over a year: “I felt a real sense of purpose, and believed this was public service journalism.”

I asked Andrew Rosenthal, the editorial page editor, about the decision to end the report.

“It had run its course,” he told me. “It was repetitive, basically a list. I had been thinking about asking Joe to end it for some time.”

Well, duh. Nocera described the report in a final post as “a daily statement about gun violence in America.” Did Andrew Rosenthal expect something other than “basically a list?” If there was value in starting the list after Sandy Hook, why would that value end after a few years? The short answer is, it doesn’t.

I think if you combine the the two narratives, you get what probably happened. Nocera was tired of the entire project and had passed it off to Ms. Mascia, and Ms. Mascia wanted more money to keep writing it for him. The Times then decided it wasn’t worth it the cost. But that’s just speculation on my part. 

I do look forward to seeing how this ends. Is equal pay for equal work just a slogan that the Times uses to bash Republicans or do they practice what they preach? 


Liberal MSNBC Contributor Brian Schweitzer Has Gaydar


Here’s Democrat Brian Schweitzer — former Montana governor, speech-giver at the 2012 Dem convention, potential 2016 presidential candidate, and MSNBC contributor — on Eric Cantor and men from the South:

In an in-depth profile by National Journal’s Marin Cogan, Schweitzer, a Democrat, says that Southern men strike him as “effeminate,” says that ousted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor set off his “gaydar,” and suggests that Sen. Dianne Feinstein was a streetwalker for the U.S. intelligence community.

“She was the woman who was standing under the streetlight with her dress pulled all the way up over her knees,” Schweitzer says of Feinstein, “and now she says, ‘I’m a nun,’ when it comes to this spying I mean, maybe that’s the wrong metaphor—but she was all in!”

Cogan called Schweitzer on the night Cantor lost his Republican primary. The former governor had plenty to say about it:

“Don’t hold this against me, but I’m going to blurt it out. How do I say this … men in the South, they are a little effeminate,” he offered when I mentioned the stunning news. When I asked him what he meant, he added, “They just have effeminate mannerisms. If you were just a regular person, you turned on the TV, and you saw Eric Cantor talking, I would say—and I’m fine with gay people, that’s all right—but my gaydar is 60-70 percent. But he’s not, I think, so I don’t know. Again, I couldn’t care less. I’m accepting.”

Schweitzer is a frequent guest on MSNBC, appearing on Monday, for example, with Ed Schultz to talk about Iraq and oil prices. Here’s a screenshot from the video to confirm his MSNBC contributor status:

This is a lot worse that Alec Baldwin’s rage at the press, and he lost his show over it. If MSNBC has any integrity, Schweitzer should be gone, too.


Video: Megyn Kelly’s Tough Interview of Dick and Liz Cheney


Megyn Kelly to Dick Cheney on Cheney’s blistering op-ed on President Obama’s Iraq policy: “But time and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong, as well sir.” Would MSNBC ever be as tough on a Democrat? (We know the answer)

Video here.

Dear White House Press Corps: Ask Where Maliki Should Go


The WSJ reports the White House is signaling it’s time to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to go.

And it’s the position of the United States that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad must go, too.

But where should these two go? Is there a retirement village for incompetent and genocidal Middle East leaders? Maybe the press corps can ask at the next briefing. 


“Mommy Blogger” Arrested For Murdering Son with Salt


Horrific. New York Post:

The 26-year-old mother who documented her sickly son’s health struggles on social media was arrested on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, The Journal News reports.

Lacey Spears of Scottsville, Ky., pleaded not guilty to the charges, which follow an investigation into the death of her 5-year-old on son, Garnett, who died in a Westchester County children’s hospital on Jan. 23 from sodium poisoning. Spears is due back in court on July 2.

Authorities suspect the mother poisoned her son with sodium at least twice. On one occasion, Spears secretly pumped sodium into her son’s stomach through a tube inside a private hospital bathroom, Assistant District Attorney Doreen Lloyd said in court on Tuesday.

“This mother was intentionally feeding her son salt in toxic levels,” he said.

Computer records also show that Spears had turned to the Internet to research what effect salt might have on her son, Lloyd said.

The former Chestnut Ridge, Rockland County, resident surrendered earlier in the day, walking into Westchester County Police Headquarters with her head bowed.

The rest here.

Underreported News: Congress Delayed the Sale of Apache Helicopters to Iraq in 2013


Via Josh Rogin and Eli Lake in August 2013:

Obama Administration Pushes for Apache Helicopter Sale to Iraq

In a visit to Washington this week, Iraq’s top diplomat will press for U.S. Apache helicopters, which his government says it wants to fight terrorism. But Congress is against the sale. 

When the Iraqi foreign minister arrives in Washington this week, among his top requests will be for the White House to overcome objections in Congress to selling his country advanced Apache helicopters the Iraqis say they need to fight terrorists within their borders.

Iraq’s top diplomat, Hoshyar Zebari, will meet with Secretary of State John Kerryon Aug. 15. Zebari’s trip comes just weeks after a daring and successful military assault on the Abu Ghraib prison resulted in the release of more than 500 suspected extremist militants. The jailbreak reversed years of work to roll up al Qaeda’s leadership in Iraqduring the U.S.-led counterinsurgency campaign known as the surge.

The U.S. government has notified Congress in recent weeks of its intention to sell Iraq $4.7 billion worth of military equipment, but none of those sales include the top item on Iraq’s shopping list, the Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters. The House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have refused to allow the sale of the helicopters to date.

“The committee continues to carefully review all proposed arms sales to Iraq in order to ensure that such transfers support U.S. national security interests in the region,” a House Foreign Affairs Committee spokesman told The Daily Beast. Two administration officials confirmed that until the committees sign off, the U.S. government won’t be able to complete the arms deal.

The rest here.

The sale finally went through at the end of January 2014, via Time magazine:

Congress approved on Monday the delivery of six Apache helicopters to Iraq, the first shipment in what will be a $4.8 billion deal to help Baghdad battle an ever-growing insurgency in the country.

A plan by the Defense Department to sell as many as 24 AH-64E Apache helicopters hit a hurdle in recent weeks, as New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, blocked the deal, pending assurances that the Iraqi government would not use the helicopters against civilians. On Monday, Menendez removed his objections, clearing the way for the Pentagon to proceed with the first phase of the transfer, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been battling al-Qaeda-linked fighters in western Anbar province for weeks and has lobbied for more American weapons and intelligence; however, the Apache deal is not likely to impact the fighting in the near future. The Pentagon first plans to lease six Apaches to Iraq, which they will deliver this summer, to allow for Iraqi pilots to be trained on the aircraft. Then the sale of 24 Apaches and as many as 500 Hellfire missiles will take place over the next three years, according to the New York Times.

So Congress held them up and President Obama and Prime Minister Maliki thought 24 helicopters over three years would be enough. 

As for current news, the New York Times reports that Iraqi “army helicopter gunships” were used yesterday against ISIS terrorists while fighting for control of Iraq’s largest oil refinery in Baiji. The gunships and the Iraqi army lost

Dana Milbank vs. The Heritage Foundation


Here’s a good piece from Dylan Byers at Politico on Dana Milbank and his Washington Post piece accusing a panel hosted by the Heritage Foundation of mocking one of the attendees to the event:

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank set off a flurry of outraged tweets on Monday night after posting a highly critical recap of a panel event at the Heritage Foundation that, he says, “deteriorated into the ugly taunting of a woman in the room who wore an Islamic head covering.”

Video of that panel has since surfaced and — in my view — Milbank grossly misrepresented the nature of that exchange.

The woman in question, Saba Ahmed, an American University law student, does not seem to have been “taunted.” Both panelists who responded to her accepted the premise of her question entirely. One of them — Brigitte Gabriel, the founder and CEO of ACT! for America — strongly rebutted Ahmed’s concerns, but never dismissed her right to ask the question.

In an email, Milbank explained that he “was there in the room yesterday, and the reaction in the crowd – the long, standing ovation, the cheers for Gabriel, the fingers pointed at Ahmed, the war whoops  –  was intense, and a bit scary. The video captures some but not all of that.”

Milbank is right on that point — the video may not capture everything that took place. However, I do believe that the video disproves or casts doubt on several of Milbank’s assertions.

The rest here.

Heritage is planning on releasing video of the entire four-hour event to let everyone judge the panel’s conduct for themselves. Your move, Mr. Milbank. 

U.S. Finally Captures the Benghazi ‘Ringleader’ who CNN Interviewed Last Year


It is good news that we’ve finally apprehended somebody in the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. NPR reports:

The United States says it has captured a militant suspected of leading the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby.

Ahmed Abu Khattala was captured by American troops after coordinating with law enforcement. Kirby said Khattala was captured on Sunday and all U.S. personnel involved in the operation are safe.

Khattala, said Kirby, is now “in a secure location outside of Libya.”

But let’s not pretend this is some sort of intelligence coup. 

NRP writes that he was living out “in the open” and CNN interviewed him last summer, angering many Republicans in Congress who asked how CNN could find him but the U.S. military could not:

A Republican lawmaker demanded Wednesday to know why investigators have not captured or killed any of the suspects in the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, pointing out that CNN was able to find a man who some say was the ringleader in the assault that left the ambassador and three other Americans dead.

Eight GOP lawmakers are asking that incoming FBI Director James Comey brief Congress within 30 days about the investigation. They say the administration’s inquiry into the September 11, 2012, attacks in Libya has been “simply unacceptable,” according to a draft letter obtained by CNN.

“One of the pertinent questions today is why we have not captured or killed the terrorist who committed these attacks?” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told reporters. “News out today that CNN was able to go in and talk to one of the suspected terrorists, how come the military hasn’t been able to get after them and capture or kill the people? How come the FBI isn’t doing this and yet CNN is?”

Chaffetz was referring to CNN’s recent interview with Ahmed Abu Khattala, who Libyan and U.S. officials have described as the Benghazi leader of the al Qaeda-affiliated militia group Ansar al-Sharia — one of many groups that filled the vacuum of authority following the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi.

The early report states that Khattala was captured by SOF troops as well as an agent from the FBI and that he’s currently en route to the U.S. on a Navy ship. 

Exit questions: Has the FBI read Khattala his Miranda rights yet?

Not Dead Broke: NBC Paid Chelsea $600K/Year



Chelsea Clinton earned an annual salary of $600,000 at NBC News before switching to a month-to-month contract earlier this year, sources with knowledge of the agreement told POLITICO.

Clinton, who joined NBC News as a “special correspondent” in November 2011, was up for renewal or non-renewal this year. Instead, the sources said, the network decided to keep her on the payroll on a month-to-month basis so that the two parties could sever ties if Clinton’s mother, Hillary, runs for president.

Another example of why nepotism is the best-paying of the isms. 

Out: Innocent Until Proven Guilty; In: Bergdahl’s Crazy


Via Sally Kohn:

Weird. We can’t rely on the eyewitness testimony of soldiers in Bergdahl’s platoon, but anonymous sources in the Washington Post can diagnosis Bergdahl’s psychological state at the time of his disappearance?

The Dignity of Office


President Obama, leader of the free world, answered questions yesterday on the social-media platform Tumblr. He started off the Q&A by fist-bumping Tumblr’s founder, David Karp:

Note: this isn’t a photshopped joke, but an actual item posted on



Miss USA 2014: Learn Self-Defense to Help Prevent Rape at College


Miss Nevada Nia Sanchez won the 2014 Miss USA pageant last night, but it was her answer to a question from celebrity judge Rumer Willis that generated a little controversy:

“Recently, Time magazine revealed that 19% of U.S. undergraduate  women are victims of sexual assault in college. Why has such a horrific epidemic been swept under the rug so long, and what can colleges do to combat this?”

Sanchez, who is a fourth-degree black belt in Taekwondo, answered thus:

“I believe that some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation and that would be a reason it could be swept under the rug, because they don’t want that to come out into the public. But I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. Myself, as a fourth-degree black belt, I learned from a young age that you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself. And I think that’s something that we should start to really implement for a lot of women.”

Makes sense, no?

Well, not to feminists who expressed their displeasure of Miss Nevada’s answer on Twitter, but to most sane people it makes sense.




Next Big Issue: Obama Should Release the ‘Cleared’ Guantanamo Detainees


There’s some underreported anger from the Left at President Obama over the release of the five detainees in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl. To sum it up, they question why these high-value detainees were released before those already “cleared” for transfer, with the implication being that “cleared” is the same as innocent.

Some headlines:

Clive Stafford Smith, Al Jazeera: At Guantánamo Bay, the guilty go free, the innocent remain

Cori Crider, The GuardianForget the ‘Taliban Five’ – Obama’s real chance is to free Gitmo’s Cleared 78

Natasha Lennard, Vice News: The Gitmo prisoner exchange puts deals above grim justice

And I had this exchange on Twitter last night with Glenn Greewald over the detainees left at Guantanamo:

Greenwald followed up later:

“Cleared for release,” however, is not the same as innocent — not even close. Here’s the language from the 2010 Final Report of the Guantanamo Review Task Force that makes clear what “cleared” actually means (Page 17):

That link above from Greenwald directs to this McClatchy article on how Yemen is trying to get back its citizens from Guantanamo. The article tells the story of Abdulrahman al Shabati and how his incarceration is just a “case of terrible luck.”

This is actually a perfect example of how the Left is spinning “cleared for release.” Abdulrahman al Shabati, listed as Abd al Rahman Abdullah Ali Muhammad by the Department of Defense, isn’t cleared of wrongdoing as Greenwald would have you believe. The U.S. considers him a member of al-Qaida who participated in hostilities against U.S. forces and assessed him as a “medium” future risk to U.S. interests. Yes, he was cleared, but he was cleared “for continued detention” in Yemen, not freedom. (Page 10.) 

And with Abdulrahman al Shabati, Yemen admits in the article Greenwald linked to that they’re not ready to take detainees and need to create a detention/rehabilitation program before any transfer can take place:

[Hooria Mashhour, Yemen’s minister of human rights] said her government is aware that the repatriation of detainees would ultimately prove a massive undertaking, requiring a large-scale rehabilitation program, aimed at reintegrating the returnees into Yemeni society. She said such a program also would have to reckon with any psychological effects of a decade-long imprisonment.

“Of course we will need money, we will need logistical support; of course we are committed to doing what’s necessary,” she said. “But also, the American government has a duty to support us.”

Is Yemen stable enough to supervise his continued detention? What will the rehabilitation program look like? Will it work? How much will it cost? There are no answers to those questions, and without answers, no transfer is possible. Those who want the detainees freed en masse need to admit that it’s a lot more complicated than some in the media would have you believe.

We’ll be hearing more about this in the coming days and weeks and it’s important to set the record straight. If anything, hopefully the trade for Bergdahl will force Congress and the president to figure out a solution to Guantanamo (which might mean authorizing funds to keep it open) once and for all before more dangerous detainees get released under less than ideal circumstances. 


CNN’s Don Lemon Tells Soldiers in Bergdahl’s Platoon to ‘Wait for the Facts’



These soldiers are eyewitnesses to what happened, meaning, they are the facts.

And after enduring months of moronic coverage from Don “Is a black hole responsible for the disappearance of flight MH370?“ Lemon, we don’t need lectures from him about waiting for facts. 

Note: Don Lemon doesn’t link to CNN for his video commentary, but to Mediaite, a competitor’s website. Genius at work. 

Question for Media Matters, NYT: Are You Calling These Soldiers Liars?


The latest from the perpetually outraged Media Matters is that soldiers coming forward to speak about Bowe Bergdahl talked to Richard Grenell. Research Fellow Oliver Willis writes:

Fox News Contributor Behind PR Campaign For Soldiers Critical Of Bowe Bergdahl​

Fox News contributor Richard Grenell and his public relations firm have been coordinating interviews for soldiers criticizing the actions of recently-released Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.

Those critics have said that Bergdahl, who had been imprisoned by the Taliban since 2009, risked the lives of soldiers who tried to find him after he reportedly walked off his Afghanistan base.

Several media outlets have reported on these soldiers and their concerns, including Fox News, The New York TimesTimeThe Los Angeles TimesThe Daily Mail, and The Daily Beast. According to a report in Buzzfeed, Fox News contributor Richard Grenell and his firm Capitol Media have “played a key role in publicizing” these critics.

Grenell served as a spokesman for former U.N. ambassador (and current Fox News contributor) John Bolton in the George W. Bush administration, and also worked for a short time on the Romney 2012 campaign.

The New York Times reported on June 2 that “Republican strategists” arranged for the paper to interview soldiers who served with Bergdahl and have animosity towards him because they believe he is a deserter. 

One of the soldiers quoted in the article, Cody Full, sent out a tweet thanking Grenell “for helping get our platoon’s story out.”

Buzzfeed reported that Grenell’s partner at his firm, Brad Chase, confirmed that they were behind the public relations campaign (Grenell also sent out a tweet explaining his firm offered “pro bono services” to the soldiers). Chase disputed the Times’ characterization of his firm as “Republican strategists” because he is not a Republican. 

This is some cracker-jack reporting from all involved as Grenell made his overtures in public via Twitter. Pick up your Pulitzers at the nearest courtesy desk.

But even if Media Matters is right and political motives were 100 percent behind the bookings, so what? What counts is whether the soldiers are telling the truth. Willis is careful not to say the troops are lying, but the implication is that their stores shouldn’t be trusted.

For what it’s worth, CNN’s Jake Tapper has had probably the best coverage of the Bergdahl story, and he denied any contact with Grenell or his firm. Media Matters conveniently left out that there are soldiers critical of Bergdahl telling their stories who aren’t connected to Grenell or Fox News or the Koch Brothers or whatever moronic thing they’ll think up next.

The New York Times went after the soldiers today, too:

Can Bowe Bergdahl Be Tied to 6 Lost Lives? Facts Are Murky

Did the search for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl cost the lives of American soldiers?

Since last weekend’s prisoner exchange in which Afghan insurgents turned over Sergeant Bergdahl after five years of captivity, a number of the men who served with him have called him a deserter. Some have gone further, blaming him for the deaths of six to eight soldiers.

That second claim is hardening into a news media narrative. CNN has reported in scrolling headlines that six soldiers died looking for Sergeant Bergdahl after senior American military officials say he wandered off his base. The Daily Beast published an essay by a former member of Sergeant Bergdahl’s battalion, Nathan Bradley Bethea, who linked the search to the deaths of eight soldiers whom he named. “He has finally returned,” Mr. Bethea wrote. “Those men will never have the opportunity.”

But a review of casualty reports and contemporaneous military logs from the Afghanistan war shows that the facts surrounding the eight deaths are far murkier than definitive — even as critics of Sergeant Bergdahl contend that every American combat death in Paktika Province in the months after he disappeared, from July to September 2009, was his fault.

Let’s examine why this is murky in the first place. For starters, the soldiers involved in rescue operations were told to sign NDAs. Secondly, the Pentagon is just now getting around to investigating if the soldiers died while searching for Bergdahl. And finally, the Times is relying on logs of daily activities that they call “terse and contain few contextual details.”

Just thinking out loud here, but maybe a report from the Pentagon on what the soldiers were doing when they died or interviews with who were in those battles would clear up some of these “contextual details.” 

If Media Matters wants to arrange interviews with soldiers more sympathetic to Bergdahl to help the Times demurkify the story, please do so. I eagerly await that report. But until then, stop insinuating that the soldiers we have heard from are being anything other than truthful and forthright. 

Underreported News: FLOTUS Bemoans Money in Politics at High-Dollar Fundraiser


Just how expensive was this DCCC fundraiser in Boston? Very. Via the Boston Globe:

The invitation offers tickets ranging from $500 per person to $32,400 per couple. The top tier ticket includes “2 spots in VIP clutch, photo opportunity, and 1 table of 10 to the afternoon tea.”​

And here’s what she said to all those people who spent a lot of money to see her, and a whole lot of money to get VIP access:

And, yes, there’s too much money in politics.  Yes, special interests have too much influence.  But they had all that money and influence back in 2008 and 2012, and we still won those elections.  And you want to know why?  Because we showed up and we voted.

And at the end of the day, the folks running those special interest groups, they each have just one vote.  The folks who poured millions of dollars into the 2012 election –- they each have just one vote, too.  And so do each of us.  And ultimately, the only thing that counts are those votes.  That’s what decides elections in the United States of America. 

Here’s the best part I thought — the DCCC needs all this money because Democratic voters are lazy:

But the fact is that during the midterms, this is what happens — a lot of our folks, we don’t show up.  Women, minorities, young people — we don’t show up in the midterms.  And these are folks who agree with us.  They support our policies and ideas, so we don’t have to change any hearts and minds, we don’t have to spend hours persuading folks that we have the best plan.  We just need to get these folks out to vote.  And we need to call them and remind them that the midterms are coming, and then we need to give them a ride to the polls on Election Day to make sure they get there. 

She then told the audience to “dig deep” and “max out” their contributions with the “fattest” checks possible in order to get the lazy Democrats to vote:

And there’s something that all of you can do right now, today, to make a difference — and I say this everywhere I go, because it matters — you can write a big, fat check.  (Laughter.)  That’s what we need you to do right now.  We need you to write the biggest, fattest check you can possibly write.  I am so serious. 

[. . .]

And I know that some of you might occasionally feel a little bit annoyed that we’re always hitting you up for money — especially the folks in this room, because I know a bunch of people are about to do a fundraiser for Barack two days from now or something like that.  But that’s okay.  You can be annoyed.  You can admit it — we annoy you. 

But we do this because writing those checks is the single most impactful thing that you can do right now.  Because it is simply not enough for us to have the best candidates if they don’t have the resources they need to win elections.  It’s not enough to have the best values and ideas if we never get to make them into laws and policies.  We can’t just stake out the moral high ground and feel good about ourselves.  We need to act.

Because when you dig deep and we all dig deep, when you max out, that translates into staff hired and offices opened.  It translates into calls made, and doors knocked on, and ads running where they need to run.  And we can’t wait until September or October to get going, because these candidates need these resources today.

Well, the good news for the GOP is she’s getting this audience to waste their money trying to retake the House rather than on more winnable races in the Senate. Keep up the good work!

Michelle Obama’s entire speech here.


Susan Rice from Sunday: Bergdahl Served with ‘Honor and Distinction’


Jay Carney just wrapped up the press briefing and dodged all questions related to Susan Rice’s comments from ABC’s This Week where she said:

President Obama stuck to a “sacred obligation” when he agreed to a deal with the Taliban to release five prisoners held by at the U.S. military facility in Guantanamo Bay in exchange for the freedom of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice said today.

“This is a very special situation. Sergeant Bergdahl wasn’t simply a hostage, he was an American prisoner of war, captured on the battlefield. We have a sacred obligation that we have upheld since the founding of our Republic to do our utmost to bring back our men and women who were taken in battle. And we did that in this instance,” Rice told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos today on “This Week” in a rare Sunday interview.

I get the idea behind the prisoner swap, however odious, but I don’t get why the White House staged a photo-op with the family of a soldier who the Pentagon determined had voluntarily left his post and whose departure led to the deaths of other American soldiers tasked with looking for him.

It seems that the White House really didn’t think they’d get any criticism for it, and now they won’t answer any questions about it. 


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