Soledad O'Brien v. Dan Bartlett

Monday, November 14, 2005

Soledad O'Brien v. Dan Bartlett

CNN's Soledad O'Brien is not known for being a hard-hitting, edgy journalist; I've never seen her question anything an interviewee is saying...until this morning.

This morning O'Brien aggressively challenged Bush's latest talking points.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons program.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Well, actually, there's only one committee in the Senate that's charged with determining if there was misleading and that committee hasn't yet done its work yet, right?

[White House spokesperson Dan] BARTLETT: Well, Soledad, they did an investigation to see if any analysts were pressured, to see if there was any changes made to the intelligence. And the Silverman Rob (ph) Commission, an outside bipartisan investigation, found there was no pressure put on it either. Now the public comments the president made at the time and the administration made at the time were very, very similar to the comments made not only by Democrats in the House and Senate, but also by the Clinton administration. So every step of the way, there has been no evidence whatsoever that the president deliberately misled the American people. And the fact that Democrats are willing to advance this type of argument I think shows a deeply irresponsible behavior.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: I'm going to stop you right there because actually the jury's not in yet. The Silverman Rob Commission, which you mentioned, actually they said very explicitly that it wasn't their job to determine the scope of that investigation that you mentioned. No misleading. That was not the job of that commission. It's stated in the report. So they're still waiting for the select committee on intelligence to come back with their report is really where it stands.

BARTLETT: Well, Soledad, what they want to look at, and what the Senate Intelligence Committee is going to look at, is the public comments the president and the administration and members of Congress made during the run-up to the war. Everybody can look at those comments now and understand that while the intelligence was wrong, it was not based on a willful manipulation or misrepresentation of those facts. And if you look at the identical comments of what President Bush has said and compare them to, let's say, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller, who said that Iraq was an eminent threat, that they had nuclear weapons, that's the type of rhetoric and the type of statements that the administration was making as well because we all thought that to be true.
Soledad sharply questioned Bartlett's assertion and accused him of being deliberately misleading while he was claiming that Dems are being misleading when they accuse the Bush Administration of misleading the American public. Bartlett seemed thrown off-guard, I'm sure he didn't expect a CNN newsanchor to throw facts in his face or to contradict him-- especially not Soledad O'Brien! She stopped just short of calling him a liar.

Soledad O'Brien has apparently discovered that she doesn't have to just accept what people are saying when they are interviewed, that she can counter it and have the research to undermine it, to call people on their claims. Hopefully this is evidence of a change in the media where Bartlett and other White House spokespeople have to be prepared to be challenged even by the likes of a typically sunny, nonconfrontational newsanchor like Soledad O'Brien.

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