1. Jeff Zucker is serious about cleaning up CNN.
2. Kurtz has made a lot of mistakes.
3. Kurtz deserves credit for being willing to sit and be judged.
4. Kurtz didn’t get fired from the Daily Beast, the Daily Beast is having internal (financial ) issues.
5. NPR has a journalist willing to criticize the liberal media.
6. Politico’s Dylan Byers shouldn’t do television.
7. CNN’s public interviewing process for Kurtz’s job went well for NPR’s David Folkenflik.
8. Lisa Bloom makes a lot of sense and should do more television.
9. Byers and Folkenflik better not ever make a mistake.
10. Tina Brown knows how to drive a bus.
To Provide Tips in the Investigation
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When President Obama arrives in Jerusalem for the first time as the United States President, he will undoubtedly brief Israeli officials on his three-week old proposal to solve the Iranian nuclear crisis. Ironically, the president’s new policy shift is still mostly unknown in the U.S. because it has been deliberately ignored by U.S. political reporters. The main stream media has been consumed by Senate filibusters, big-gulps, gay marriage, Oscar Pistorius and CPAC invitations. Meanwhile, the Administration reversed its position on Iranian nuclear enrichment by offering the hostile regime the opportunity to enrich some Uranium during talks involving the Permanent 5 members of the Security Council plus Germany, commonly referred to diplomatically as the P5+1. In the words of Madhi Mohammadi, an advisor to Iran’s nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, “they expected Iran to change, but in practice, it was the United States which changed.” Not only is President Obama’s new offer in direct violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions dating back as far as 2006, but it also serves as another unreported and dangerous sign of his foreign policy of appeasement.
The many UN Security Council resolutions ordering Iran to cease its nuclear production were the results of previous hard-fought battles to force the world to address the issue of a nuclear-armed Iran. Yet at a moment when international opinion had finally seemed to be against the oppressive and dangerous Iranian regime’s nuclear pursuit, the U.S. President made an about-face that has confounded world leaders. In addition to the complete change in enrichment policy, the Obama Administration has also offered to unilaterally ease sanctions against Tehran if it would cease enrichment at its Fordow facility and agree to immediate inspections of its nuclear facilities by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Commission. What the president did not point out, however, is that these demands were made in the past by the UN Security Council, the UN Human Rights Council, the United States Congress, and dozens of other international bodies without any offers to ease sanctions for compliance. The move is akin to an unruly child demanding more candy after the parent has been insisting he’s had enough – only to acquiesce with giving him a few more pieces to stop the crying.
The policy shift could not come at a worse time from the Administration, too. Recently, Iran announced that, contrary to its obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions, it had installed more advanced enrichment centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear facility in central Iran. In the wake of this news, Iran’s continued and increasingly harsh rhetoric against Israel and the United States, as well as their continued financial support of world terrorism, the Administration’s shift in policy appears weak and naive. Instead of acquiescing to Iran’s demands, the President should instead be doubling down on his efforts to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, and as importantly, emphasizing his support for Israel should it feel the need to take preventative military action against Iranian nuclear facilities. The “credible threat” of which the President speaks appears as neither credible, nor a threat.
As President Obama makes his way across the Middle East, much of the region will likely be as perplexed as Israel to learn of his new policy of contradicting the very institutions and allies he claims to support. Sadly, President Obama has also given this big political gift to Iranian President Ahmadinejad just ahead of Iran’s presidential election scheduled for June 14. Ahmadinejad will look like a masterful negotiator who outmaneuvered the U.S. president. While Israel’s leaders fear for their nation’s very existence, they are now left to wonder why their closest and most important ally is pressuring them to accept a new U.S. deal on Iran that is weaker than the UN’s previous demands.
I’m sure the media won’t report on the conciliatory move by Senate Republicans to give President Obama an up or down vote on his Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel. But it’s worth highlighting the olive branch extended to the President by the GOP. After all, then-Senators Obama, Biden, Kerry and Reid failed to make the same gesture when President Bush’s nominee for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, had the majority of votes needed to be confirmed in 2005. Instead, Democrats forced a filibuster on a nominee that had roughly the same support as Hagel did.
It seemed awfully brazen and incredibly hypocritical for President Obama to decry a Senate move on Hagel that he used against Bolton. Nevertheless, in the same way he once derided Gitmo and enhanced interrogations, Obama is the ‘Do-As-I-Say-Not-As-I-Do’ president. President Obama’s policies and positions consistently conflict with candidate Obama’s. But the media hasn’t noticed. While the duplicitous Democrats seemed to forget their schemes, the Republicans took the higher ground and allowed the president to have an up or down vote on his nominee.
I hope the next time the media complains about the Republicans being the party of “No” they remember that the GOP said, “No” to the Democrats’ maneuverings, too.
When New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg (D) announced on Thursday, February 14, 2013, that he would not seek a sixth term in the Senate, reporters were undoubtedly and immediately interested in the news. With only 100 people serving in the U.S. Senate, it is understandably an important and breaking development. While the news of a retiring senator typically prompts an examination of their political record while serving in office, it also starts the speculation as to who might be running for the seat next. When a senator retires or decides not to seek re-election, the open seat offers others an opportunity to run for public office without challenging a powerful incumbent. For political types, it is the time to act. It’s a big deal; open seats don’t come along very often.
For the Washington Post and the New York Times, however, it’s a panic signal that the Democrats may lose a seat in the Senate. So it’s also the time to act quickly.
How else can you explain the fact that both the Post and Times failed to mention which Republicans might be interested in the new open seat created by Frank Lautenberg’s (D) announcement in their initial story of Friday, February 15? Both papers’ reporters, Ed O’Keefe for the Post and Kate Zernike for the Times, speculated as to which Democrats might be interested in the open seat but never mentioned any Republicans.
The Wall Street Journal, however, mentioned a few possible candidates from both political parties.
Now, come on, there is no legitimate excuse for this blatant political move by the Times and Post. The only explanation for the failure to promote the possibility or even the mention of a Republican for the Lautenberg seat is that both O’Keefe and Zernike (and their editors) got caught assuming the open seat will be picked up by another Democrat. I mean, if you already assume Republicans are clowns – why would any of them deserve even a mention in the immediate news story promoting the next senator from New Jersey?
How much you want to bet “journalists” Kate Zernike and Ed O’Keefe are Democrats?
The White House has called the filibuster of Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary “unconscionable”. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid mocked Republicans with a “this isn’t high school” rant then threatened that a filibuster would leave the country without a Defense Secretary.
Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin echoed Reid by saying, “[Panetta] wants to go home. He says he’s going home… You need somebody who is locked into the issues, not someone whose mind is on a walnut farm [in California].”
What is unconscionable is the threat by Democrats to leave the country without a Secretary of Defense because the current one wants to go home. What kind of public servant is Panetta? He reportedly told his wife he would be home for dinner on Valentine’s Day too. So the Democrats’ deadline to confirm a new Secretary of Defense is a Hallmark holiday?
Meanwhile we learned nominee Chuck Hagel has scheduled his first official overseas trip as Defense Secretary for February 20. Seriously? Who allowed the uncertain secretary to schedule a work trip without being confirmed? Talk about high school amateur hour.
The righteous indignation coming from Reid and company is hard to take knowing that they did the same thing during the George W. Bush Administration. The media, however, have one brain and no memory. Huffington Post’s Sam Stein writes, “It is customary for a president to be granted the leeway to choose his own advisers.”
Customary since when? And tell that to John Bolton who watched then-Senators Obama, Biden, Levin and Reid support a filibuster and deny him an up or down vote while the position he was nominated for sat empty for months.
The Washington Post plays a bait and switch game by claiming a Hagel filibuster is an unprecedented move for a national security Cabinet level nominee. The Bolton nomination by Bush was certainly a national security post but Republicans historically don’t put the U.S. Ambassador in the Cabinet (it’s a philosophical belief that there should be one foreign policy voice in the Cabinet, the Secretary of State). But since the Obama Administration elevated the job to Cabinet level, Bolton’s position is technically a Cabinet level.
Regardless, the current Senate should ignore the precedent they started and allow the President’s nominees a roll-call vote. It’s not what those currently crying foul did when their party controlled the White House but it’s the right thing to do. It’s noteworthy, too, that then-Senator Hagel did not support a filibuster for Bolton. In fact, Hagel supported Bolton’s nomination both privately and publicly.
Ambassador Susan Rice had nothing to do with Benghazi, as President Obama told us, but she appeared on five Sunday political talk shows anyway. On those shows, Rice mouthed talking points that weren’t true. We now know that the talking points did not match the intel reports, which she had complete access to. While the national media debates whether or not she knowingly mislead the public on the Sunday shows, her failings and shortcomings before the Benghazi terrorist attacks have not received the attention they deserve.
Here are 30 reasons (that have nothing to do with Benghazi) why Susan Rice should not get a promotion.
1. failed to call an emergency meeting of the Security Council after the 2010 Haiti earthquake
2. skipped the Security Council debate and vote to add new UN Peacekeepers in Haiti after the earthquake
3. led the US during the most inactive Security Council since 1991 during her first year as Ambassador
4. held her first press conference with the UN Secretary General on the pressing international issue of texting while driving
5. failed to speak out when Col. Gaddafi’s Libya was elected to the UN Human Rights Commission
6. waited 17 months before voting on the one and only UN resolution on Iran passed during her tenure
7. dismissed by Hillary Clinton from negotiating most of the Iran resolution with the French
8. lost the support of more nations on her one Iran resolution than the previous five Iran resolutions combined
9. took 103 days to move the Security Council to issue a statement after a North Korean submarine sank the South Korean ship that killed 46 sailors
10. took 18 days to lead the Security Council to action after a North Korean nuclear test (it took John Bolton 5 days in 2006)
11. failed to support the Iranian opposition during their Green Revolution
12. failed to speak out when Iran was elected to the UN Women’s Commission
13. skipped the UN Security Council’s emergency meeting on the Gaza flotilla crisis
14. snubbed Israel to the point they skipped President Obama’s 2010 UN speech
15. took more than 2 years to find someone to head America’s UN reform team
16. failed to address the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to ascertain how erroneous scientific claims were added to official UN reports
17. painfully slow in getting a UN resolution on the Sudan-South Sudan referendum
18. ignored Canada’s pleas for help in getting elected to the Security Council
19. negotiated with the UN’s Arab Group to condemn Israel’s settlements
20. failed to lead the Security Council during Tunisia’s Arab Spring protests
21. didn’t speak out on the Libya crisis until the French, British and Arab League had done so
22. failed to attend the first Security Council meeting on the Arab Spring protests
23. failed to get the support of allies India, Germany and Brazil on the UN’s Libya resolution
24. failed to lead the Security Council during Egypt’s Arab Spring protests
25. failed to lead the Security Council during Yemen’s Arab Spring protests
26. failed to lead the Security Council to confront Bashar al-Assad’s brutal violence where US resolutions received an unprecedented three vetoes on three different votes
27. agreed to send former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to Syria where he failed miserably
28. skipped the last open meeting before the planned UN vote to recognize Palestinian statehood
29. failed to speak out when Iran was elected vice president of the Global Arms Treaty negotiations
30. delayed Security Council action and the UN report on Rwanda
Today, President Obama will be the first U.S. President to visit Burma. The unprecedented trip is a celebration for the second largest country in Southeast Asia. It’s also a remarkable achievement since Burma only recently held national elections in 2010 after holding the leader of the democratic opposition party, Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest for 21 years.
Obama’s visit to ‘cut the ribbon’ on a seemingly foreign policy success story is the culmination of years of hard work and risk-taking leadership from previous presidential administrations. Like most difficult foreign policy issues that take time to achieve progress, the administrations that do the heavy lifting usually watch the next administration celebrate the success. President George H. W. Bush was president in November 1989 when he celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall even though President Ronald Reagan had been the one to risk his reputation on the then controversial policy. While Obama and his team take a victory lap around Burma, they have thus far failed to do the difficult and arduous work today on other foreign policy issues that could someday be celebrated by future administrations.
Sadly, the Obama team hasn’t even taken risks on the difficult issues of Cuba, Palestine, Sudan or Iran. And they have only recently started to tinker with the issue of Syria after watching 30,000 people killed over the last 18 months. Obama’s Burma press tour is emblematic of just how politically astute the White House has been at avoiding the unpopular and messy diplomatic work necessary to have popular ribbon cutting events.
Recognizing Burma may seem like a no-brainer now but the long and unpopular road to today’s Obama visit started on November 29, 2005. Then, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton wrote a controversial letter to Secretary General Kofi Annan asking for more action from the U.N. on Burma’s repressive government. The next day, Bolton officially raised the issue with the Security Council asking for a formal U.N. Security Council briefing in public. The Chinese were furious with Bolton’s actions and insisted it was a unilateral, aggressive move by a bullying U.S. representative.
In the face of growing opposition from China and Russia, Bolton insisted on an agenda item vote inside the private chambers anyway. Russia and China were joined in the opposition by Japan, Brazil and Algeria while other countries abstained and refused to take a stand on the issue. Bolton’s formal briefing request had failed. But while reporters criticized Bolton for being undiplomatic and too aggressive, he didn’t stop. The government of Burma had extended the house arrest of Suu Kyi and Bolton was demanding there be consequences for it. He switched his request and asked for an informal briefing of the Security Council in private consultations and without an official agenda item. Bolton succeeded and the Security Council was briefed on Burma’s actions on December 16, 2005 for the first time.
Throughout 2006, Bolton pressured the U.N. consistently for more briefings, a historic first ever visit by a UN appointed representative and regular Security Council progress reports. First Lady Laura Bush even hosted a UN roundtable discussion highlighting Burma’s problems in the fall of 2006, even though some countries were nervous about the perceived aggressiveness of the event. On January 12, 2007, the U.S.’ consistent pushing produced a U.N. resolution that was unfortunately vetoed by China and Russia. With continued and repeated pushing, the Bush Administration successfully passed Security Council actions on Burma on October 11, 2007, November 15, 2007, January 17, 2008 and May 2, 2008. The pressure was mounting and the world was insisting that the government of Burma change its ways.
There may be no better example of President Obama’s willingness to pick the flowers but not plant the seeds than his refusal to stand with the people of Iran during their moment of need in June of 2009. While hundreds of thousands of people risked their lives to march in protest against the rigged Iranian elections, President Obama failed to act in support of them. His timidity or refusal to take advantage of the rare moment will forever leave a mark on his presidency. While it may be a long time before a U.S. president visits Iran, it looks like we will have to wait for the next U.S. president to be elected to even begin that process. Very little has been done by the Obama Administration to support the Iranian opposition movement fighting to bring down a dangerous regime and replace it with a democratically elected one.
On Syria, the Obama team has been wildly late and consistently unclear. Sending the U.S. Ambassador back and forth to Syria while the violence unfolded confused even our allies. After 18 months of brutal killings, the Obama Administration is only now reluctantly helping to organize the Syrian opposition struggling to bring down Bashar al-Assad. Instead of doing the sometimes-unpopular work of changing the status quo, the Obama team simply panders by asking “what else are we supposed to do when it’s a dangerous situation?” or by cynically responding with “I suppose we could start another war”.
This useless angst is what gives America an even worse reputation than acting on our own. The idea that the U.S. shouldn’t be the first to act or alone in taking the first step is rooted in a failed and dangerous groupthink philosophy that gives the world genocides, mass killings and endless U.N. talking. The Obama representative at the U.N., Susan Rice, has produced an unprecedented three vetoes on a Syria resolution and hasn’t moved on Iran in 30 months. Hillary Clinton, too, hasn’t risked anything on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or dirtied herself on the Sudan-South Sudan negotiations. It’s easy to take the tour when the project is complete, but who’s digging the footings?
While President Obama revels in his historic Burma visit, his administration has refused to do the heavy lifting necessary for future presidents to celebrate others’ achievements. It’s a selfish strategy that will undoubtedly produce great headlines today but leaves more work and less ribbon cutting for the next president. Ironically, President Obama’s victory lap in Burma today is also the direct result of the unilateral actions of the previous administration – actions he routinely ridicules.
Most reporters haven’t been following Ambassador Susan Rice’s performance at the United Nations since her appointment in January 2009. To many journalists, Rice’s misleading interviews on the five Sunday Shows the weekend after the 9/11/12 terrorist attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were one of the first times they had heard from her. To veteran foreign policy observers, Rice’s shameful performance that Sunday was one of many blunders over the last four years.
Rice’s refusal to answer questions about why she blamed the Benghazi violence on a YouTube video was met yesterday with a feisty defense from President Obama saying don’t blame Rice because the White House sent her out to do the Sunday Shows. The “stop picking on Susan” retort from the president looked like a big brother defending his little sister on the playground. It was an odd moment for a woman wanting to be America’s top diplomat. Obama’s spirited warnings to Republicans to leave Rice alone appeared to be a sign that the White House is shielding Rice from answering further questions about her performance.
The case against Susan Rice has been building for years with little fanfare. Not surprising, the main stream media reporters based at the UN have either ignored her mistakes or strategically covered them up. The Washington Post’s UN reporter Colum Lynch even wrote a glowing profile of Rice on September 23 – a week after her Sunday Show debacle – where he didn’t mention the Libya controversy until the 13th paragraph (a Washington Post staffer told me that editors had to add the Libya controversy language to the piece).
Rice’s diplomatic failures and silence in the face of outrageous UN antics have given the United States pathetic representation among the 193 members of the world body. UN members, not surprisingly, prefer a weak opponent. Rice is therefore popular with her colleagues. It may explain why she ignored Syria’s growing problems for months. Speaking out and challenging the status quo is seldom cheered at the UN. Her slow and timid response left the United States at the mercy of Russia and China, who ultimately vetoed a watered down resolution an unprecedented three times.
Ironically, Rice was very critical of the U.S.’ performance at the U.N. under President George W. Bush and vowed to build better relationships with every country. In her current stump speech Rice claims with a straight face that her goal has been accomplished, “We’ve repaired frayed relations with countries around the world. We’ve ended needless American isolation on a wide range of issues. And as a consequence, we’ve gotten strong cooperation on things that matter most to our national security interest.”
Rice has been consistently silent on other important issues and ineffective when she does engage. She skipped Security Council meetings when Israel needed defending and even failed to show up for the emergency session on the Gaza Flotilla incident. Rice didn’t even show up for the first two emergency Security Council meetings on the unfolding Arab Spring revolution last year. Rice stayed silent when Iran was elected to the U.N. women’s committee, she didn’t call out Libya when it was elected to the Human Rights Council, she was absent from the Haiti crisis meeting and was a no-show for the last open meeting scheduled before the planned U.N. vote to recognize Palestinian statehood. When she actually shows up, she is a miserable failure.
Take the crucial issue of Iran. Rice spent the last several years undermining and grumbling about the Bush Administration’s increasingly tough measures but has only been able to pass one resolution of her own – compared with the Bush team’s five. Rice’s one and only Iran resolution was almost 30 months ago. And it passed with just 12 votes of support – the least support we have ever seen for a Security Council sanctions resolution on Iran. In fact, Susan Rice lost more support with her one resolution than the previous five Iran resolutions combined. She may claim she has repaired relationships with other countries but the evidence shows she’s gotten less support than the team she ridicules.
Whether the issue is Sudan, Egypt, North Korea, Israel or Rwanda, Rice has been either missing in action or unable to deliver a quick and effective resolution.
The Rice record at the UN speaks for itself. Anyone looking objectively at what she has or hasn’t accomplished during her tenure will deduce she has failed to convince UN members to support U.S. priority issues. Nominating Susan Rice to Secretary of State is a mistake not just because of her Sunday Show deceptions but because her tenure as America’s representative to the UN has been unworthy of a promotion.
The simple fact is that team Obama has passed ONE UN resolution on Iran. They got only 12 votes of support in that ONE resolution (12/15 votes for a failure rate of 20% on Iran votes at the Security Council). The Bush team got FIVE resolutions on Iran (THREE with Sanctions). In those FIVE resolutions, team Bush lost just 2 total votes (73/75 votes for a failure rate of 2.6% on Iran votes at the Security Council). Additionally, team Obama hasn’t produced a UN resolution on Iran since June 9, 2010 (almost 2 years ago).
One only needs to look at the growing list of countries that have said they will ignore our request to stop buying Iranian oil to understand that Obama’s diplomatic requests are being ignored. I see India, Russia, China, South Africa and many European countries publicly saying they will buy Iranian oil and ignore the U.S. requests. While team Obama thinks the world is united, the world is enjoying the comfort of a weaker U.S. government that no longer pressures them to take action.
It is disheartening but the world is less united since Obama has been in office.
Team Obama says: “Iran is weaker and more isolated today precisely because of actions that President Obama has taken. Through sustained diplomacy, the president forged unprecedented international consensus to pressure Iran — far greater consensus and pressure than the previous Republican administration achieved through its go-it-alone, my-way-or-the highway approach. President Obama secured the toughest unilateral and multilateral sanctions on Iran to date, and they’re having a devastating impact on its economy. The Iranian nuclear program has been slowed, and Iran’s leaders have signaled their willingness to resume talks, in which the United States will seek to ensure Iran lives up to its international obligations. At the same time, the president has firmly and consistently said that all options are on the table, including military action, to prevent the Iranian regime from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”