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Flame Out? Or Set Up?
By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2004 5:46pm PT  

When DRUDGE talks, people listen. Despite Rush's claim to the contrary, it is Drudge that is "America's Assignment Desk".

Every newsroom, talk radio, newspaper, television station in America - and yes, even Rush himself - gets their daily assignments via Drudge's handpicked headlines. If you hear an interesting report on the radio, chances are Drudge had it first and that's where those guys found it.

So when Drudge declared the day before yesterday that "Liberal Radio Crashes and Burns!" - or whatever the sexy screaming headline was - without actually presenting both sides of the story,, leave it to every Conservative outlet, talking head, DittoHead in the country to run with it.

When you're starved for good news, you'll take anything you can get. "Conservatives" these days are, to say the least, hungry for anything to avoid the real shitstorm they're in the middle of.

For the record, Air America posted it's initial response yesterday on their website, explaining that the owner of the two stations in question that yanked AA from the air without warning did so "in violation of their contractual obligation". Whether that's true, I don't know. Though apparently the New York Supreme court agrees, at least enough to issue a restraining order forcing the station's owner to restore AA back to the Chicago station (over which, apparently, that court has jurisdiction). The Los Angeles case is still pending.

The AA press release to that effect is here. And also states in part:

The Sludge Report

After just two weeks on the air, Air America Radio, the fledgling liberal talk-radio network featuring Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo, and that really loud woman from Florida, appears to have encountered serious cash-flow problems.

Stop the presses!!! There's nothing more exciting than half a story from a third hand source!!!!

Insiders tell SLUDGE, that the reason the network was pulled off the air this morning in Chicago and Los Angeles, the network's second- and third-largest markets, was because, the owner of both stations, Arthur Liu of Multicultural Broadcasting, said, the network bounced a check and owes him more than $1 million! The run-on sentence, tortured grammar and the exclamation point clearly means it's true!!

Only it isn't.

Normally we'd let this go because “habitual liars” like Drudge are laughable, and ridicule is our business.

But  Arthur Liu --- not funny. He lied to us, he ripped us off and now we're chasing him down with a pipe wrench. It's a metaphor.

Here's what really happened:

This Liu-ser was ripping off our boss Evan Cohen big time (he can't do that, that's our job). Evan found out about it and he stopped payment on a check to keep Liu-cifer from ripping him off even more. You can touch Evan for the occasional meal or drinks but a million bucks is crossing the line. And if we ever get low on cash, we can always call Barbra Streisand. Or any of the
Baldwins. Except Stephen.

So we got screwed, Liu'd, and tattooed. How Liu can you get? In Liu of payment. Liu'd and lascivious behavior. These write themselves. What we're getting at is that we hate him.

So now everyone's saying we're going down the dumper in Chicago and Los Angeles, but what they don't tell you is that we're still on in Portland. And we OWN Portland. And let's not forget Riverside and Plattsburgh. And New
York.  And streaming on the internet. And XM. And Sirius. Actually we're fine.

So cool your jets. Air America Radio isn't dead, we're in court and we're going to slam Liu's head in a car door. Another metaphor. We hope to be back on the air tomorrow or the next day in those markets.

In the meantime, why don't you give Arthur a call at (212)966-1059, or check out his website www.mrbi.net

Arthur Liu, I wouldn't show your face around here.

Or Riverside. Or Plattsburgh.

DEVELOPING……

So, what do you think? Were they right to have removed it? Should it have been posted in the first place? Or was it simply - for those who actually know and listen to Air America precisely what you've come to expect and appreciate from the insightful start-up with a sharp satirical edge?

The BRAD BLOG thinks it was pretty funny, and a taste of - at least Drudge's - own medicine. But by any standards, I'd think it's "gracefulness" and "professionalism" is certainly in question.

By way of full disclosure: I look eagerly towards AA's return to the LA market. It was, even with all it's various problems --- to be expected in it's nascent stages --- a heaven sent first step towards balancing the remarkable imbalance that is currently on our - theoretically public owned - airwaves. In the meantime, you may listen online any time at www.AirAmericaRadio.com and I recommend you do.

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'Bush has everything he needs at his ranch!' claim the DittoHeads.
Tenet's testimony indicates otherwise.
By Brad Friedman on 4/14/2004 3:53pm PT  

The mantra from the Right is that, though Bush has spent 40% of his term away from the Whitehouse on his ranch in Crawford and other family retreats, he doesn't need to be at the Whitehouse in order to fullfill his duties. That he has access to everything he needs wherever he may be.

They have also gone out of their way to point out how --- contrary to reports from Richard Clarke and others --- he was fully engaged on Terrorism because he met every day with his CIA Chief, George Tenet, on precisely this topic.

Today's testimony by Tenet to the 9/11 Commission would suggest otherwise, however.

It seems that after Zacarias "The 20th Hijacker" Moussaoui was detained in August 2001 after suspicous behavior at a Minnesota flight school --- in the midst of the summer of unprecedented "threat spikes", when "lights were blinking red" and Bush had already received his now-infamous PDB warning of Al Qaeda's plans --- it was revealed that Tenet didn't speak to the President at all during the month while Bush was on vacation in Crawford, TX.

From the MSNBC report on Tenet's testimony today:


“He's in Texas and I'm either here or on leave for some of that time,” [Tenet] said. “In this time period, I'm not talking to him, no.”

A spokesman for the CIA later clarified that Tenet had flown to Texas to brief Bush on Aug. 17 and resumed regular briefings on Aug. 31 after the president returned to the White House.

After Moussaoui was arrested, Tenet and other top CIA officials received a briefing headed “Islamic Extremist Learns to Fly.” Tenet said that was Aug. 23 or 24.

Another self-deluding DittoHead myth falls by the wayside.

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Rush keeps Spinning the Unspinnable
By Brad Friedman on 4/14/2004 2:40pm PT  

Last night's prime-time press conference, which I spoke of previously, was just 40 minutes long after the opening statement, including just 15 questions of which few were actually answered, allowed 0 follow-up questions and featured 1 of the longest known pauses in Presidential Press Conference History as Bush was forced to admit "I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it."

Yet Rush panted onto the air this morning to instruct the DittoHeads that last night was "A SLAMDUNK GRANDSLAM HOMERUN!"

Mixed sports metaphors aside --- one might wonder what the basis is for his claim, as the bulk of media reports have been contrary to that notion (though, as he also informed us, the Media is obviously now working for the Kerry Campaign).

Perhaps it was the overnight polls that told him so. But as of this hour, there have been no overnight polls yet released that I know of. There is, however, a "Live Vote" at MSNBC, an unscientific Internet Poll which shows that of 115,209 responses to the question "How would you grade President Bush's performance in the prime-time news conference?" The results were %34 Excellent/Very Good, %11 Average and a whopping %55 Poor/Disaster. Of course, that poll is unscientific, and therefore indicative of nothing. I report it only to be as irresponsible and misleading as Rush.

So could Rush's bluster have been little more than a desperate effort to try and rally Bush's rapidly evaporating base by suggesting something he'd like them to believe without any actual evidence to back it up? Who, Rush?

A few minutes later Rush referred to the Consumer Confidence Index as being at "an all-time high!" He didn't mention precisely which Index he was referring to, but such a claim should be easily verifiable somehow, right?

I checked the PollingReport.com's Consumer Confidence page which lists all of the latest polls on this topic. It was updated with polls released as recently as today (4/14). A check of the numbers on that page, however, would show anything but Consumer Confidence at "an all-time high".

Consumer Confidence, however, is based on little more than Confidence in the economy by the Consumer. A number that may be influenced by many things, including someone with a huge national listenership telling Consumers that Consumer Confidence is at "an all-time high".

Hmmm...I'm starting to suspect that Rush may have some sort of an agenda. That he may not be giving his DittoHeads the full story each day. It's almost as if he says untrue things in order to convince his millions of listeners that they are actually true despite all evidence to the contrary. Who would possibly be dumb enough to fall for that? Certainly not the DittoHeads, who as Rush likes to tell them, are "the smartest, most well-informed listeners in the country bar none."

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By Brad Friedman on 4/14/2004 1:05pm PT  

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Dubya goes primetime, for the third time since taking office.
By Brad Friedman on 4/13/2004 9:05pm PT  

From Bush's third primetime press conference. He took 15 questions. This is one of them:

QUESTION: Mr. President, why are you and the vice president insisting on appearing together before the 9/11 commission?

BUSH: Because the 9/11 commission wants to ask us questions, that's why we're meeting. And I look forward to meeting with them and answering their questions.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) I was asking why you're appearing together, rather than separately, which was their request.

BUSH: Because it's a good chance for both of us to answer questions that the 9/11 commission is looking forward to asking us. And I'm looking forward to answering them.

Well, that clarifies that. Next question!

And this, on how difficult it all is...

One of my hardest parts of my job is to console the family members, who've lost their life. It's a chance to hug and weep and to console, and to remind the loved ones that the sacrifice of their loved one was done in the name of security for America and freedom for the world.

Dubya-ism aside --- how difficult, much less creepy it would be to actually "console family members who've lost their life" --- the question is again begged as to why Bush has not attended a single funeral or memorial service for a US Serviceman killed in Iraq. Seems it would be a fine chance to actually hug and weep and console and remind. Clinton, Bush H.W., and Reagan all did so, but not Dubya. As of today he would have had 681 chances.

He did, however, as I pointed out yesterday remind us twice tonight that he visited injured troops finally on Sunday. Perhaps I'm too tough on the man, but that's "one of my hardest parts of my job".

And finally, as Bush/Cheney prepares to jointly "visit" with the 9/11 Commission, we leave you with one last quote from this evening...

BUSH: A country that hides something is a country that is afraid of getting caught.

There ya have it. The right man, at the right time.

ReddIt this story!



By Brad Friedman on 4/13/2004 4:34pm PT  

The disastrous pre-9/11 work of the Bush Administraton continues to come to light via the work of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission.

A number of understandable blunders came to light today as Attorneys General John Ashcroft and Janet Reno testified as well as several FBI Directors from both Clinton and Bush Administrations.

In addition to what's being covered today, there are a couple of notes from a Reuters report that seem to be flying a bit beneath the media radar:

· [A] commission staff statement focused on a Justice Department document that set out priorities for 2001 issued May 10 of that year. The top priorities were reducing gun violence and combating drug trafficking. It made no mention of counterterrorism.

· Then-acting FBI Director Thomas Pickard said he appealed to Ashcroft for more money for counterterrorism but on Sept 10, 2001, one day before the attacks on New York and Washington that killed nearly 3,000 people, Ashcroft rejected the appeal.

As I've stressed previously, both of the above issues, and others like them - by both Bush and Clinton administrations - are understandable in a pre-9/11 world.

The inexplicable fact remains, however, that the Bush Administration's adament allergy towards taking any accountability or even admit any shortcomings in that world is what's making the entire matter the media focus it's become. As usual, these guys are doing themselves in.

We'll see if Bush's rare Press Conference, in about an hour, will signal a new approach and include any humility or a whiff of accountability. I'd be surprised if it did, but it would go an incredibly long way towards restoring this collapsing Administration in the eyes of the American electorate who seem to be abandoning them in droves.

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...Sorta
AN UPDATE
By Brad Friedman on 4/13/2004 2:22pm PT  

In a unique moment for a Conservative, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia actually apologized on behalf of the U.S. Marshall who erased the tape recordings of two print journalists who were covering a speech of his to students in Mississippi last week.

As covered here a few days ago, Scalia seems to feel that he is above Media scrutiny --- despite being a Public Figure as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice for life --- and that he may ban all recordings of his public speeches.

Apparently he's now changed his policy, and will allow members of the Print media to record his speeches, but is still banning Radio or TV reporters from doing so.

Ironically, part of his speech to students reportedly included the line: "I am here to persuade you that our Constitution is something... to revere."

And just to push the irony meter to ridiculous proportions, I've come to learn that Scalia also banned TV Coverage last year in Cleveland when he was presented with a "Free Speech Award" for supporting the First Amendment.

In related news, Scalia is still refusing to recuse himself from the pending Supreme Court case in which Duck Hunting Buddy, Dick Cheney is a defendant.

As he said in his 21-page memorandum in response to those that have reasonably questioned his impartiality in the matter: "Since I do not believe my impartiality can reasonably be questioned, I do not think it would be proper for me to recuse."

Case closed. All Hail Scalia!

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Here's proof...
By Brad Friedman on 4/12/2004 3:27pm PT  

This photograph, taken and released by the Whitehouse on Easter, shows how much Bush cares about those injured and killed in our "War on Terror". It ran dutifully on Drudge all day yesterday.

Non-Whitehouse photographers were not present.

Bush has yet to attend a funeral or memorial service of any of the 677 servicemen killed in Iraq.

The Whitehouse policy banning media or grieving families from greeting the remains of their loved ones at Dover Air Force base is still in effect.

Last week, 67 American Servicemen were killed in Iraq. Bush spent the week on his ranch in Crawford, TX.

The NY Times reported on Bush's first public appearance since last Tuesday.

The White House communications director, Dan Bartlett, insisted last week that "most Americans will understand" that the president wanted to spend the Easter holiday with his family.

Also on Thursday, American forces in Iraq pushed south to retake control of several Shiite towns held by insurgents, and three Japanese civilians taken as hostages appeared in a video broadcast blindfolded, while their captors threatened them with guns, knives and swords.

Mr. Bush spent that afternoon leading representatives of 22 hunting, fishing and wildlife organizations on a tour of his 1,600-acre ranch. Among his guests were leaders of the National Rifle Association, the Ruffed Grouse Society, Ducks Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey Federation. He also gave an interview to Ladies' Home Journal.

On Friday, as Americans worked to put a cease-fire in place in Iraq, Mr. Bush fished in the bass pond on his ranch with Roland Martin, host of the Outdoor Life Network cable show "Fishing with Roland Martin."

Mr. Bush "took the biggest one of the day" — a four-pound bass, Mr. Martin told The Associated Press.

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By Brad Friedman on 4/12/2004 1:13pm PT  

Tomorrow's GOP run-off for the state House seat in Johnson County, Texas - a staunchly conservative district - should be interesting.

The BRAD BLOG is officially endorsing Republican Sam Walls in the race. He is pictured at left with his smiling wife. He is the one in the wig and dress on the right.

Despite the embarrasing photos of Sam in drag that were recently found when his trailer home was repo'd, this man is "a giant" in the Republican community of Johnson County according to a report from the Dallas/Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

"When you're a giant, people try to cut you down," said Cleburne Mayor Thomas Hazlewood, who has known Walls for more than 20 years. "They're not going to kill the giant Sam has made of himself."

Walls, whose family made a fortune selling mens' work clothing, is the kind of guy who "makes things happen" in Johnson County, Hazlewood said.

The smears of this poor crossdressing self-described "fervent Baptist" are outrageous! Even possibly unfounded!:

Walls campaign consultant Craig Murphy said he could not confirm nor deny that Sam Walls is the "Samantha Walls" who was described as treasurer --- from Texas --- of the Alpha Omega Society in a June 2000 newsletter.

The Alpha Omega Society's Internet site says the group is "committed to the cause of the heterosexual crossdresser, family and friends."

But Sam is not giving in easily, as reported by Reuters:

"Through intermediaries, my opponent told me to drop out of the campaign or the private information would be released," Walls told the paper. "Now my opponent is using the information in an attempt to intimate that I am a homosexual, which I am not."

Walls, 64, who describes himself as a fervent Baptist, told the paper his family had "dealt with" the issue of his cross-dressing and that he asked for forgiveness.

We forgive you, Sam. Good luck tomorrow!

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By Brad Friedman on 4/12/2004 12:37pm PT  

Polls are polls. They change. Particularly when manipulated by the actions of a President from his bully pulpit.

None the less, trends are trends. And Newsweek's just released numbers from Apr. 8 - 9, would show an alarming one for the "President". These numbers and trends are also echoed by virtually every other recently released poll.

If polls are good enough to make Rush cream in his pants, they are good enough for me too.

Bush's handling of Iraq
APPROVE: %44 DISAPPROVE: %51
(One year ago)
APPROVE: %69 DISAPPROVE %26

Bush's handling of terrorism and homeland security
APPROVE %59 (down from %70 earlier this year)

Bush Admin underestimated threat of terror attacks on U.S. soil
AGREE: %60

Has Bush Admin INCREASED or DECREASED risk of large number of people being killed or injured in future terrorist attacks in the United States
INCREASED: %42 DECREASED: %29
(End of last year)
INCREASED: %28 DECREASED: %30

Concerned that Iraq will become another Vietnam
VERY/SOMEWHAT CONCERNED: %64
NOT TOO/NOT AT ALL: %34

Satisfied or Dissatisfied with the way things are going in this country
SATISFIED: %36 DISSATISFIED: %59

Bush's handling of the economy
APPROVE: %41 DISAPPROVE: %55

Bush vs Kerry
KERRY: %50 BUSH: %43

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By Brad Friedman on 4/12/2004 12:01pm PT  

Only the best TV show ever.

UPDATE SINCE LAST NIGHT: From Drudge...'NICK AND JESSICA' CONQUER PRIMETIME! DUO'S ABC VARIETY SPECIAL WINS TIMESLOT, NIGHT WITH 7.8 RATING/12 SHARE, ACCORDING TO NIELSEN... NETWORK TO ORDER ADDITIONAL SPECIALS, PLOTS REGULAR SERIES

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By Brad Friedman on 4/10/2004 4:31pm PT  

The Presidential Daily Briefing from August 6, 2001, entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." was declassified and released by the Whitehouse about 9 minutes ago.

The PDB was described this week by Condi Rice as nothing more than an "historical document" presented to the President during a summer when "chatter" had reached an all time high. ("Unbelievable news coming in weeks," "Big event ... there will be a very, very, very, very big uproar," "There will be attacks in the near future.")

The final two paragraphs of the just released "historical" PDB include the following:

FBI information...indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

CIA and the FBI are investigating a call...in May saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives. [emphasis added]

The next day after receiving this briefing the President left for a 30 day vacation in Crawford, TX.

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Well Blogged
By Brad Friedman on 4/10/2004 3:18pm PT  

Smartly blogged by atrios:

For those who are a little fuzzy on their recent history, the timeline goes something like this:

August 6, 2001: Bush gets briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside US."

August 7, 2001: Bush begins month long vacation in Crawford, TX.

You probably remember the rest.

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Rice vs. Facts
By Brad Friedman on 4/10/2004 2:48pm PT  

Still trying to decide who's giving you the straight story, Clarke or Rice? The LA Times offers a side-by-side comparison on their differing answers to a few items, for example:


Q: Was Clarke prevented from briefing Bush directly on terrorism?

CLARKE: "I asked for a series of briefings on the issues in my portfolio, including counterterrorism...I was told I could brief the president on terrorism after this policy development process was complete."

RICE: "All that he needed to do was to say, I need time to brief the president on something...Dick Clarke never asked me to brief the president on counterterrorism."

So who's telling the truth? See this article from Center for American Progress comparing Condi's opening statement this week with on-the-record facts. You decide.

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By Brad Friedman on 4/10/2004 2:21pm PT  

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