The reports are rich in on-the-ground detail — including the names and locations of the Haqqani commanders who ran the 200-man rotation used to guard the Idaho native — and present the most detailed view yet of what Bergdahl’s life over the past five years has been like. These real-time dispatches were generated by the Eclipse Group, a shadowy private firm of former intelligence officers and operatives that has subcontracted with the Defense Department and prominent corporations to deliver granular intelligence on terrorist activities and other security-related topics, often from challenging environments in far-flung corners of the globe. – James Rosen [Fox News Channel]
THIS STORY continues to ensnare our cable media elite. It also is leaving an unseemly smell on some Republicans, particularly talking heads with sloppy impulse control, with Joe Scarborough now the leading example. As poorly as the White House has handled the Bergdahl prisoner swap, what the majority of Republicans are doing right now is a train wreck to watch.
Beyond what’s been established, that President Obama should never have had a Rose Garden ceremony with the Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s parents, nor should he have tapped Susan Rice for the Sunday talk shows, something is being ignored.
The only person who has to answer to anyone for the actions coming to light is Sgt. Bowe Berdahl, who’s in big trouble if new reporting is true & mitigating circumstances aren’t revealed and confirmed. His father, a private citizen who is increasingly becoming a target, not only lacks the skills to defend himself inside a U.S. media flame war, but he shouldn’t be the main topic of discussion in the first place.
On Fox News Channel, Charles Krauthammer once again revealed why he is respected among the right, coming out to support President Obama’s prisoner swap for Sgt. Bergdahl.
“Had the choice been mine I would have made the same choice,” Krauthammer told Fox News’ “Special Report” on Wednesday. “It’s a difficult decision, and I would not attack those who have done otherwise.” […] “These are dangerous militants, but we have long engaged in and all other countries in the West have engaged in hostage swaps where the West always comes out on the short end,” Krauthammer said. [Politico]
On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” you had something altogether different.
David Brooks, who is less listened to by the right, but read by establishment Republicans, also weighed in, adding a bookend to Krauthammer’s analysis that places Joe Scarborough out on the far edge of incoherency. I’ve heard from more than one mainstream conservative reader on his column, so it’s worth mentioning.
At one point in the discussion, Joe Scarborough did what everyone saw coming, as he got more exercised about the subject. He attacked Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s father by doing the one thing a man of his position should never, ever, ever do. Scarborough punched down, then kept beating his subject rhetorically until there was no oxygen left in the room for anyone else.
Joe Scarborough coming from a position of elite privilege, not only as a former congressman, but as part of the elite cable media with extensive access to the powerful, including military channels, crafting an outlandish scenario that a father from Idaho, knowing of his son’s disillusionment that had turned to desperation while serving in a war he did not support, suggesting the soldier’s father “call his commander,” “get my son” and “get him to a military base in Germany.”
Chuck Todd did his best to save the situation, and distance NBC News from Joe Scarborough’s unprofessionalism.
It must be so satisfying for former Congressman Scarborough, from his position of power and access to any of the elite in the country, to look down on Bowe Bergdahl’s father with disdain. The man has revealed himself to have questionable judgment, but that shouldn’t elevate him to the status of public figure deserving of derision by one of the biggest names in cable news.
Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly did something similarly reprehensible, when he said Bergdahl’s father looked “like a Muslim,” earlier this week.
Dave Weigel cited Duck Dynasty.
Wayne Slater tweeted he also looked like ZZ Top!
But pontificating about a private citizen wasn’t enough. Scarborough took it one step further, describing Bergdahl’s father as a “man who’s reaching out to pro-Taliban forces [and] talking about killing Americans.”
TPM has a partial transcript.
“Wait,” Todd pleaded.
“Who wants to wait me here?” a visibly angry Scarborough shot back.
Todd held firm, but so did Scarborough. Crosstalk ensued.
“No, but Joe, Joe, let’s not “” don’t criticize the parents. Don’t criticize the parents in here,” Todd said.
Scarborough doesn’t see it that way and he went on to give a noisy lecture about what he would have done had his own son grown as disillusioned with the military as Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl apparently did prior to his 2009 disappearance.
He “would call his commander,” Scarborough said. He would order the commander “get my son” and “get him to a military base in Germany.”
Todd considered this “backseat driving how someone parents,” but Scarborough said he’s qualified to weigh-in.
“No, that is not backseat driving,” he scolded Todd. “I am a father!”
Todd was rendered speechless, shaking his head and mustering an exasperated “wow.”
The White House and President Obama elevated Bergdahl’s parents, but it is in no way their fault and though the reporting on Bergdahl’s father’s actions and outreach is appalling, the spotlight and criticism that is coming his way would not have ensued if the Administration hadn’t made a public spectacle out of the prisoner swap that was fraught with complicated elements that clearly should have raised red flags for Obama’s team.
It seems obvious to any student of the U.S. media that the cable crowd cannot digest and analyze a story of this complexity without losing their minds doing it.
What has been reported about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s dad is hard to digest for most people, doubly so for military families and those still serving. However, this is about Sgt. Bergdahl’s actions and his behavior while serving.
Whatever your feelings are about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, his father, the release of prisoners from Gitmo, which is what this entire debacle is about, is soon to get much, much noisier and more difficult and unpredictable than any of us can imagine.
This piece has been updated.