Thursday, July 21, 2011

The NewsHour makes its priorities clear

Oh my goodness, will David Cameron be able to stay on as Prime Minister?

Surely, for Americans across the United States, there is no more pressing question!

At least if you're the dumb asses of PBS' The NewsHour.

How dumb is The NewHour?

It's working overtime to make clear how damn little it cares about the American public.

It was on full display yesterday. It wasn't just that they treated David Cameron facing questions as American news, it was that it telegraphed so much the hatred and the snobbery and the War Hawkery that remains part of The NewsHour and, yes, part of Gwen Ifill.

Let me note upfront, PBS friends will be in a tizzy. They were so happy I wasn't being "mean" to Gwen. Ava and I've covered Gwen three times, I believe. It's not our fault that we catch her on her "bad days" (according to PBS friends). They seemed pretty typical days to me. Gwen and her gang giggling over the collapse of the housing bubble -- before it became the crisis it did -- and just concerned if it effected their area -- and Gwen laughing about how that was the only concern. Or the infamous massacre of Iraqi civilians by Blackwater mercenaries in September 2007. With Gwen finding the deaths funny and lots of kidding and riffing on tossing water bottles at Iraqis.

I'm sorry she's such a damn idiot. That's not my problem.

If she's stupid enough to act that way on the air, that's on her.

Last night she wanted to waste time on gossip. As did The NewsHour.

The "phone-hacking scandal" doesn't mean a damn thing in America. At best, Americans can feel sympathetic towards anyone involved. But we had a Congressional hearing on DOMA yesterday -- a hearing that The NewsHour couldn't cover. We had a whole lot going on that The NewsHour couldn't cover. As Trina noted, Borders Books is closing. The economy is not improving. But The NewsHour wanted to go to England because, they just know, all Americans are fretting over the fate of David Cameron (who isn't in any real danger of losing his post currently, as anyone informed could have told you over the weekend).

We saw PMQ in a report . . . done by British television. Because The NewsHour is too damn cheap to do any reporting of its own. After that Gwen wanted to show how 'informed' she was in a gossip session. She quickly began explaining to her British guest and an American one, "You just saw David Miliband leading the question in . . ." No, you saw his brother Ed. How little do you prepare for your segment that you get the name wrong and the guest has to catch it? (As noted before, I know David and Ed. And I know no one who confuses them.) Quickly, it was back to Cameron.

"You agree he's out of immediate danger for this -- on this issue?" asked Gwen nervously. What the hell did that segment have to do with a damn thing America's facing?

If you're inclined to cut The NewsHour slack, don't.

Gwen: You know, it's interesting. When we watch this, we Americans watch what happens on the question time and then challenges like we just saw play out on the floor of parliament, we can't imagine that happening here in Congress.

This? PMQ. Prime Minister Questioning in the House of Commons. It was so 'new' to Gwen. And to The NewsHour.

Of all the PMQs that got attention in the last ten years, a lot of us would point to the July 8, 2003 questioning. If you missed it, maybe you were watching The NewsHour. Click here to see it as C-SPAN. Then-Prime Minister Tony Blair faced a very difficult grilling on the issue of the Iraq War.

That wasn't important to The NewsHour. Unlike the nonsense of yesterday's PMQ, The NewsHour didn't give a damn.

July 8, 2003, several US soldiers were injured in bombings in Iraq, 29 had died since Bush stood under the "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" banner.

The NewsHour didn't care about Tony Blair's questioning. (They did, that evening, bring on a bunch of pro-war hawks to chat with Ray Suarez about how the Iraq War was moving along smoothly and nothing to worry about and blah, blah, blah.)

The phone-hacking scandal in England does not effect America. The PMQ on July 8, 2003, the one The NewsHour ignored, that went directly to American interests.

Apparently, you need a multi-millionaire and a lot of gossip to engage The NewsHour. Apparently US men and women sent off to fight in a war on lies isn't really a concern.

"Let's talk about this question about other things which get knocked to the back burner when scandals like this consume," declared Gwen near the end of the gossip chat. And, for a brief moment, you might have thought actual news that matters to Americans was going to be discussed. If you thought that, you don't know Gwen. She quickly followed that statement with this question, "Are there other issues that a weakened prime minister will be unable to address specifically because he's trying to dig himself out of this particular ditch?"

The bulk of America doesn't give a damn.

And apparently The NewsHour doesn't give a damn about the news. It's so much better to toss Gwen in with another gossip session which, please note, she's not even done the basic work for.

(Three times? The third time Ava and I took on Gwen was when we were at the DNC convention in Denver and wrote about Gwen 'performance' on air and off.)

Judy Woodrfuff conducted an interview with US House Rep Ron Paul (who is running for the GOP presidential nomination) and it was the only thing that worth airing. Excerpt:

JUDY WOODRUFF: Let's go to some of the international issues you touched on very quickly. You want to bring troops home. What should the U.S. footprint be internationally? What is the U.S. role in the world?

REP. RON PAUL: Well, it should be a footprint of trade and friendship, as we were advised and as the Constitution permits. The footprint shouldn't be a military footprint. It shouldn't be -


REP. RON PAUL: The footprint we're leaving now - our drone missiles dropping bombs and killing innocent civilians, launched from the United States with computers. That's not the kind of footprint I want.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Afghanistan. How quickly would you bring the troops home?

REP. RON PAUL: As quick as the ships could get there. It's insane on what we're doing. And I'll tell you one thing about this business about the military: We just had a quarterly report, and they listed all the money that all the candidates got from the military. I got twice as much as all the other candidates put together on the Republican side, and even more than Obama got, which tells me that these troops want to come home as well because they know exactly what I'm talking about.

Yesterday an amendment by Tom Coburn to the Military Construction and Veteran Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 was debated. The amendment would have stripped many Vietnam veterans who were victims of Agent Orange of needed health care. Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and her office notes:
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, helped defeat an amendment that would have created a nearly impossible standard that must be met before VA can establish a presumption of service connection based on exposure to Agent Orange. In a speech before the vote, Senator Murray described the amendment as another hurdle Vietnam veterans would have to overcome in their 40 year struggle for compensation. The amendment, which Murray led the fight against on the floor of the U.S. Senate, ultimately failed to be included in the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill when Murray successfully asked that the amendment be tabled and prevailed by a vote of 69-30.
"These veterans have been waiting, and getting sicker, and dying for 40 years or more. How much longer do we think they should wait? The time for waiting is over," said Senator Murray on the Senate Floor before the vote. "Vietnam veterans have paid enough for that war. They should not end up paying for our debt. It is us who owe them a debt."
Read the full text of the speech below:
"Mr. President, I rise to oppose the amendment that has been offered by the Senator from Oklahoma that would undo decades of policy on how we treat veterans suffering from diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure.

"And that violates the promise we have made to a generation of veterans.

"Mr. President, the legacy of Agent Orange exposure among Vietnam veterans is one of tragedy, roadblocks, neglect, pain, and then more roadblocks.

"It's the legacy of our military spraying millions of gallons of poisonous herbicide indiscriminately, without thought of consequences, and without any repercussions.

"At the time of the Vietnam War -- and for far too long after it -- the U.S. government neglected to track Agent Orange exposures.

"Then in the decades following the war -- our government stonewalled veterans who developed horrible ailments of all kinds from those exposures.

"And to further compound the problem, for decades our government also failed to fund any research on Agent Orange and other toxins that Vietnam veterans were exposed to.

"These mistakes, these decades of neglect, have a cost.

"It's a cost to veterans and their loved ones, a cost to the government that sent them to war, and a cost to all of us as Americans.

"And it's a cost that, even in difficult budget times, even with our back against the wall, we can't walk away from.

"Now Mr. President, I'm not here to question any Senator's commitment to our veterans.

"But what I am here to question is the standard by which this amendment says they should be treated.

"This amendment says we should change the standard by which we have judged Agent Orange cases for two decades.

"Currently -- Vietnam veterans are presumed to be service-connected when the VA Secretary determines that a positive association exists between exposure to Agent Orange and a certain disease.

"One of the reasons that Congress chose this mechanism is because it was impossible for these veterans to prove that their exposure to Agent Orange caused their cancers or other diseases.

"These veterans were exposed decades ago.

"They do not know where they were exposed, or how much they inhaled.

"However, under the Senator from Oklahoma's amendment, Vietnam veterans would be asked to prove the impossible.

"They'd be asked to prove that they would never have gotten cancer, or heart disease, or any other disease or condition, if not for Agent Orange.

"Vietnam veterans who have diabetes, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and blood borne diseases would be denied care and benefits under this amendment.

"And not only would this be a new hurdle Vietnam veterans could never overcome -- It would change the rules midstream.

"It would treat Vietnam veterans whose diseases have already been presumptively service-connected different than those whose diseases have not yet been positively associated with Agent Orange exposure.

"Now Mr. President, I won't deny that compensation for exposures is a difficult issue and one that we continually have to look at.

"We've grappled with this issue in relation to Vietnam veterans and exposure to Agent Orange.

"And today we continue to deal with this issue as Iraq and Afghanistan veterans come home with illnesses potentially associated with their exposure to toxins released from burn pits and other environmental exposures.

"But ultimately, you have to look at the facts with reason and compassion, and weigh the years of our military's failure to track exposures, the inevitable existence of uncertainty, and the word of our veterans.

"And that is exactly what we have to do here.

"On the one hand, we have thousands of veterans who have come forward and believe their cancers and ailments were caused by an exposure to a known killer.

"You have studies that show veterans exposed to Agent Orange are more likely to have heart disease, cancer, and other conditions

"You have the Institute of Medicine that has recommended giving veterans the benefit of the doubt.

"And you have the Secretary of Veterans Affairs who has decided that we must move forward to provide compensation to presumptively service-connected veterans exposed to Agent Orange for cancer and heart disease.

"On the other hand -- you may have a compelling fiscal case. . . .

"But the Senator from Oklahoma hasn't presented one shred of evidence that Agent Orange does not cause heart disease, cancer, or any condition.

"What has been presented is an amendment that asks veterans to wait until there is more scientific evidence.

"Well, Mr. President, these veterans have been waiting for 40 years or more.

"How much longer should they wait?

"The Secretary of Veterans Affairs decided that the time for waiting was over.

"I ask that we respect and support this decision.

"And that we also remember that -- even in the midst of this whirlwind debt and deficit debate -- we have made a promise to our veterans.

"One that doesn't go away.

"Mr. President, Vietnam veterans have paid enough for that war.

"They should not end up paying for our debt.

"It is us who owe them a debt.

"Thank you."

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