Friday, December 03, 2004

What do Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Condoleeza Rice Have in Common? More Than You'd Think ...

In reports yesterday and today, the San Francisco Chronicle has revealed leaked testimony from a year ago in which baseball stars Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi admit to using steroids (although Bonds said he didn't realize the products were steroidal).

The problem, of course, is that Bonds and Giambi, and many other ballplayers, have said repeatedly to the press that they didn't use steroids. Bonds and Giambi, simply put, were lying to the press and the fans.

Now, you have to figure that Bonds and Giambi assumed their sealed testimony would never get leaked -- that what they said in court testimony would never cross paths with what they said publicly. That's not to excuse their lying -- or their cheating.

Fan reaction has been pretty immediate. The New York newspapers are calling Giambi a bum, and the Yankees are reportedly looking for ways to void his $120 million, multi-year contract. Sportswriters and radio/television pundits are wondering whether Bonds' single-season home-run record will now need an asterisk (he is also close to breaking the all-time home run record), and whether he will now struggle to gain Hall of Fame status.

Not surprisingly, no one is criticizing the Chronicle. No one is blaming its reporters for reporting something that had been speculated on -- but not proven.


Wouldn't it be something if the political media and punditry worked the same way as the sports media and punditry?

You may recall that when Condoleeza Rice testified before the 9/11 Commission, she faced tough questioning from Richard Ben-Veniste, specifically regarding the Aug. 6 presidential daily briefing.

At the time, Rice didn't anticipate that the memo would be released to the public. She thought that it would remain confidential. So when Ben-Veniste asked her about the contents of the memo, at one point asking a question using the exact phrsaing of the memo, she thought that she could obfuscate, and no one but Ben-Veniste would be the wiser.

But then the memo was released, and it became clear that Rice had, at best, sidestepped the truth. In the same way that Bonds claimed he didn't know the cream he had used was a steroid, Rice claimed that she didn't recognize the information in the memo as being a current threat. Only the most strident Bonds supporters believe him, just as only the most partisan Rice supporters believe her.

But strangely, the political punditry -- driven by the Rush Limbaugh-Sean Hannity-Joe Scarborogh crowd -- turned the tables. Not only did they support Rice -- the New York Post headline following her testimony was "The Lady is a Champ!" -- but they blamed Ben-Veniste for attacking Rice unmercifully.


Just imagine if ESPN or Fox Sports were to start attacking the reporters from the Chronicle. It would be ludicrous. They would be defending Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi, in spite of the players lying to the public for the past year. They would be blaming reporters for, in effect, revealing that lie.

But that's what the right-wing punditry did after Ben-Veniste questioned Rice, Rice failed to tell the truth, and then the world was able to see the memo and understand how Rice's testimony differed from the facts.


One thing that is equal between ballplayers and Bush administration officials -- the punishment is minimal.

The Major League Baseball players association has forced team owners to accept a lax punishment for steroid use. In shorthand, it's currently fivestrikes and you're out, although Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig wants to renegotiate the policy before the 2005 season begins.

And Rice? She was promoted to Secretary of State.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have to say I dont even recall most of the specific details of the Condi Rice testimony to the Commission. However, I do recall watching it and thinking that the commission itself was politically motivated in virtually all questining from both sides. It was a disgusting display of american politics at its worst. It never would have happened in that fashion had it not been an election year. And, although no fan of Rice, I came away from that hearing thinking Ben-Veniste was a pig, politically hammering the same point over and over for political blame game purposes. And...if I recall, the media, from all sides, echoed this sentiment. As is typically the case, if the hearing had been handled professionally, more good would have come from it. And, Rice's evasiveness would have not been overshadowed by the transparent politiking of both sides. It is utterly amazing that the 911 report came out of those hearings since the report is decent.

So, i dont see any comparison between the sports story and the political one---other than someone denying something to someone, an occurrence that happens each and every day in virtually every situation in life.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Curious looking at the Fox poll.....what news organizations would you pose as the arbiter of truth? Which outlets, cable or otherwise, would you suggest are neither left or right leaning. NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, CBS News, ABC, MSNBC, CNN, Air America, others?

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think your memory of Ben Veniste's questions has been tainted by the pro-Condi/anti-truth spin that David is talking about.

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you give far too much credit to the spin here. i am basing this on watching it. Unless there were voiceovers during the actual testimony, I know what i heard. And, i do recall virtually all news outlets, including those most consider liberal leaning, indicating that even if she was evasive, Ben Veniste and others were playing to the cameras for political reasons. Anyone watching this with any semblance of rational thought would have thought so. Now if you are one of those who only can see out of your left eye, and one of those who think newspapers like the Times are far too conservative, well then we clearly have nothing further to discuss.

9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just agree with the thesis. Ben Veniste asked Rice a specific question, and she didn't answer it. He asked again, and she didn't answer it. He then read specific language (we later learned) from the memo, and she didn't answer it.

Regardless of whether you think the administration did a good job handling terrorism pre-9/11 (I don't), I think Rice did a horrible job as National Security Advisor, and when questioned by the 9/11 Commission, did little more than try to cover her rear.

All the people who praise Condi seem incapable of offering some major accomplishment of her four years on the job.

And again, her testimony before the 9/11 Commission was evasive at best, and lying at worst. Compare what she said -- go read her testimony -- to what we later learned once the memo was released.

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont disagree with you. On anything actually. My points are simple though. As is often the case when either side puts politics and rhetoric over the truth or the substance, the rhetoric overshadows the truth. Ben Veniste and someone else (i cannot recall) were disgusting in the way it was handled. Some republicans were pandering idiots as well. I was ashamed watching it and the politics completely overshadowed the truth. So, when the news reported on it, the story was how Rice stood up against political attakcs rather than what she had said. This is a major problem, especially in an election year. Noone was telling the truth on any subject the entire year. The two sides were basically a macroversion of crossfire or hannity and colmes. pathetic. That is why when i read the 911 report (and i actually read it), i was surprised by how factual based and even handed it was, even if that was partially by plan. Politics were largely kept out of it. I recommend reading it. The testimony would have been 100% different if it werent played on TV for America-guaranteed!

Based on this, I would agree with your assessment that terrorists plans were largely ignored, at least the degree to which they were planning large attacks---but i also would say that this ignorance began in 1992 and continued through 911.

Do I think Bush has handled post hussein iraq incorrectly. Yes. Do I think Rice has been nothing more than his mouthpiece-for the most part yes. Do i think there is something wrong that congress seems capable of blocking laws everyone wants from being passed-yes. Does Bush do everything incorrectly? No.

Is the country at war and learning as we go and making mistakes along the way. Yes. Would this have been true if Gore, Kerry or Clinton had been in office? I believe, yes. Would 9-11 have happened no matter whom had been in office. I believe, yes.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think part of the problem -- not for you, necessarily -- is that many people get their news from opinion outlets, whether its Sean Hannity or Air America, rather than hearing the original broadcast or reading the original transcript, and drawing their own conclusions.

Ben Veniste got hammered by a wide assortment of pundit shows, but most of the hammering -- on Hardball, Wolf Blitzer's show, all over talk radio -- was being driven by conservatives who were, naturally, defending Condi. With a day or two of her testimony, the story had become "Ben Veniste badgers Condi", rather than "Condi avoids questions," which would have suggested a failure by the Bush administration pre-9/11.

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jabbs, you are playihng fast and loose with the truth. In fact, Rice volunteered the title of the memo, whic h Ben-veniste could not do. She needcn't have done it. Her point was merely that the memo offered only an historical summary, and no particulars about an imminent attack.

The summary, "Bin Laden seeks to attack in the US," was certainly nothing new. He attacked in the US in 1993! Most of the memo was about as informative as a note confirming that Popeye seeks spinach.

The whole questioning came to "now that we know that bin laden had an actual attack planned for a month later, why didn't this jump out at you then as indicative of that later attack?" The same questioning will happen when a chemical plant is attacked, or a nuclear plant, or something bad is smuggled in on one of those shipping cerates, people die, and someone digs out a memo (you know they are there) saying that chemical plants, or nuclear plants, or those shipping crates (is) a security risk. Suddenly, it will be asked why, knowing beforehand that it was a security risk, why didn't we do all that we could do to make it secure.

Pure, 20/20 hindsight. Kinda like the old, "why did we support bin laden in Afghanistan against the Russians if we knew he would perpetrate 9/11?"

The question before the committee was what could have been done better, what mistakes were made, how can it be improved.

Now, let me ask you directly: if the CIA sends a memo tomorrow saying that bin Laden seeks to attack within the US, what should be the reaction of the Bush administration? My thinking is that if they have any reaction at all, they are not doing things right NOW.


5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She "volunteered" the name when asked. She suggested that the memo was historical only. It was not. It suggested that there were ongoing plans -- Al Qaeda in the U.S., surveying buildings.

Of the nine or ten points in the memo, at least three regarded information that was currently being collected, but not being acted upon.

Rice didn't think the memo would be released, which is why she dodged and weaved when Ben Veniste questioned her. When the memo was released, it was clear that she had not been forthright.

But the media, driven by Hannity and Scarborough and Buchanan and their ilk, attacked Ben Veniste for doing his job -- for finding facts for a fact-finding commission.

No one blamed Condi, who was so uninspired by the threat of terrorism that a speech she was to give on 9/11, talking about the greatest threats to the U.S., failed to mention Al Qaeda or Bin Laden.

Conservatives are so quick to defend their own that they aren't willing to admit that Rice might not have been that good an NSA. Ann Coulter the other day suggested that liberals find fault with Condi because they're racist. That's the mentality of one faction of the right wing -- and it's sad.

9:05 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Listed on BlogShares