Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Bumper Stickers

Chris Wallace no longer invited to these Hollywood premiers I am sure. The comeback was, “Do you read the NYT?” Wow... after the eloquence of Wallaces remarks all you get is a bumper sticker response back.

Chris Wallace Whacks Liberal at Frost/Nixon Chat for Comparing Bush to Nixon

By Tim Graham

Noel Sheppard said there’s more to the Frost/Nixon fallout with Ron Howard. Over at, Jim Pinkerton blogged that Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace "threw a fair-and-balanced apple of discord" into the liberal Dubya-as-Nixon theorizing at a Monday night panel discussion after the movie was screened at the National Geographic Society. The Q&A was moderated by liberal historian Robert Dallek, and included director Ron Howard, screenwriter Peter Morgan, and James Reston Jr., son of the liberal New York Times columnist of the same name and a Frost researcher featured in the film. Reston said the film was a metaphor for Bush, and Wallace pounced:

"To compare George W. Bush to Richard Nixon is to trivialize Nixon’s crimes and is a disservice to Bush," Wallace said. Recalling that 3,000 people were killed on 9/11, and noting that there hadn’t been any attacks on U.S. soil since, Wallace suggested that something had been done right. That’s why, he said, "we are all sitting here tonight so comfortably"—and not afraid of another terrorist attack.

Moreover, Wallace said, "Richard Nixon’s crimes were committed solely for his own political gain, whereas George W. Bush was trying to protect the American people." To suggest otherwise, Wallace insisted, "was a grave misrepresentation of history, then and now." And, amazingly, Wallace received a smattering of applause.

Seemingly not wanting to get into a fight with the TV newsman, Dallek answered that we knew full well of Nixon’s criminality because of the Watergate tapes, but that no similar documentary record existed yet for Bush. Only when such information comes out, Dallek suggested, would the full horror of Bush’s presidency become visible. Which, of course, proved Wallace’s point: It was not fair to equate proven facts about Nixon with mere allegations about Bush.

"You make suppositions on no facts whatsoever," Wallace concluded.

"Do you read The New York Times?" Dallek countered. That might not have been the strongest comeback ever, but it worked just fine with this audience. And with that, the Q & A session resumed its liberal course for the rest of the evening.

Pinkerton also noted the liberal audience eating up the Bush comparisons included "former CBS News reporter Daniel Schorr, now in his ninth decade, who proudly recollected for the audience that he was 'number fourteen on Nixon’s enemies list,' and former Watergate Committee counsel Richard Ben-Veniste, who resurfaced in 2004 as one of the 9/11 Commissioners."

Ron Howard: 'Nixon Crimes Pale by Comparison' With Bush-Cheney

By Tim Graham

Director Ron Howard appeared for a C-SPAN Washington Journal interview Monday morning on Capitol Hill with British screenwriter Peter Morgan to discuss their new film Frost/Nixon, based on Morgan’s play on the 1977 interviews between British TV star David Frost and the Republican president who resigned. The jarring moment came near the end, when C-SPAN host Steve Scully asked "For a generation who doesn’t remember Nixon or these interviews, what do you want them to come away with?"

Howard replied that Nixon’s crimes were "quaint" compared to the current administration: "Well, it’s a great drama. It doesn’t have a political axe to grind, and yet you know, it speaks to democracy, the media, the way it all works in the modern era. The only thing that’s kind of quaint about the story at all is the fact that, you know, uh, that the Nixon crimes pale by comparison, with uh, with uh, um, um, [picks up pen] you know, what we’ve been reading about and hearing about in the last few years. Uh, and yet, it also reminds us that abuse of power at any level cannot be accepted, and, so if there’s a political point to be made, you know, I’d say it’s nonpartisan, but that’s the point."

Did Howard really mean to endorse the John Dean thesis that Bush and Cheney’s crimes are worse than Watergate? Scully clearly read it that way, asking: "Is there a film in the back of your mind about the Bush-Cheney years?"

Howard laughed, and said "Not yet, but I’d like to start with some interviews." He didn’t deny that mental connection.

It may have sprung from a South Carolina caller earlier on in the session: "I always thought was a two-bit burglary, and you remember Kennedy and Johnson started Vietnam. But the movie you should make is the Bush and his puppy dog Blair for the millions who’ve been killed and displaced in Iraq." To which Morgan replied with a smile: "I’m busy working on it."

Howard deflected a caller who complained that Howard made an Internet ad with Andy Griffith touting Barack Obama for president when Obama was so inexperienced. (It aired on the video site Funny Or Die, and Howard decried the country going on a "divisive and wrong-headed path" under Bush, but said he felt Obama could be an "extraordinary president.")

The caller said he hoped the film was unbiased, which clearly isn't the case from the trailer, which laments Nixon as "the man who committed the greatest felony in American history would never stand trial."

By the way, in the middle of the interview, Scully displayed a clip from a two-hour C-SPAN Booknotes interview with Nixon (dated February 4, 1992) on the role of the media:

BRIAN LAMB: Did you ever ask yourself why so many in the media are against you?

RICHARD NIXON: Oh, they didn’t agree with what I stood for. This is long before Watergate. The [Alger] Hiss case in particular was very difficult for the media. They all thought he was innocent. And if they didn’t think he was innocent, they didn’t want him exposed, because as one individual said, he said it would be a reflection of the foreign policy of the Roosevelt administration, which of course was not my goal at all. And so with that, it was difficult. It’s not that I didn’t have many friends in the media. But media people, while they try to be objective, many of them do, they also have strong convictions, and, frankly, they generally are not particularly enamored with conservatives, as I am, even though I’m probably more reasonable than some of the conservatives they go after.

Morgan said it reminded him of how much the Clintons protested "a strong and vigorous media."