WASHINGTON (CNN) – Far from backing away from its recent slam at 24-hours cable news outlet Fox News, the White House is stepping up its criticism of the cable news network.
“The reality of it is that Fox often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party,” White House Communications Director Anita Dunn said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”
Dunn said that Obama had recently chosen not to appear on Fox because of the administration’s belief that Fox is ideologically predisposed against Obama and his agenda.
But Dunn pointed out that during his presidential campaign and since being elected, Obama has been interviewed by Fox News, and will be again in the future.
“He’ll go on Fox because he engages with ideological opponents,” Dunn told CNN’s Howard Kurtz. “He has done that before and he’ll do it again.”
But Dunn was quick to add that the White House does not consider an interview with Fox comparable to interviews with other media outlets.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Judy Shepard stood before a massive crowd at the Capitol on Sunday for a single, painful reason.
"I'm here today because I lost my son to hate."
Her gay son, Matthew Shepard, was kidnapped and severely beaten in October 1998. He died five days later in a hospital.
More than 10 years later, Judy Shepard addressed the thousands of gay rights activists in Washington who wrapped up Sunday's National Equality March with a rousing rally at the Capitol.
"No one has the right to tell my son whether or not he can work anywhere. Whether or not he can live wherever he wants to live and whether or not he can be with the one person he loves - no one has that right," Judy Shepard told the crowd. "We are all Americans. We are all equal Americans, gay, straight or whatever."
The activists marched through Washington, calling for an end to the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and equality in marriage.
The National Equality March coincided with National Coming Out Day, and came a day after President Obama delivered a supportive speech to the nation's largest gay and lesbian rights group.
Obama was praised for his remarks to the Human Rights Campaign, where he said he has urged congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and to pass the Domestic Partners Benefit and Obligations Act. But Obama has also been criticized by gay rights activists who say he has put those issues - and the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which bans homosexuals from openly serving in the military - on the back burner.
"Obama, I know you are listening," pop star Lady Gaga told the crowd, before shouting, "Are you listening? We will continue to push you and your administration to bring your words of promise to a reality."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The war in Afghanistan dominated the Sunday conversation, and the spirited debate reflected the stakes of the choice President Obama will make in the coming weeks.
“An error of historic proportions,” was Arizona Senator John McCain’s take on the consequences should the commander in chief refuse to send at least 40,000 more troops. “What the hell are we doing there,” was the retort from anti-war Democratic Rep. James McGovern.
Significant, at least to us, was California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein’s characterization of Gen. Stanley McChrystal as “crackerjack.” It wasn’t too long ago, on “State of the Union,” she mentioned the need for an Afghanistan timetable; but Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” she said “I don’t know how” Mr. Obama could reject his commanding general’s recommendations.
Also significant was how a Saturday night speech by the president added gay rights – and specifically same-sex marriage and “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” – to the Sunday agenda. One instant lesson: Getting a “yes or no” answer on whether a senator would vote to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act isn’t necessarily easy!
Because at CNN "we watch the other Sunday shows so you don’t have to," let’s get this week's “Sound of Sunday, beginning with the divide over Afghanistan:
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A moderate Pennsylvania Democrat came out strongly Sunday against the possibility of imposing a cap on medical malpractice damages as part of comprehensive health care reform legislation currently under consideration in Congress.
“I don’t think the way to go is to limit the rights of Americans who are injured by negligent or intentional conduct,” Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey who is a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
“A $250,000 cap on damages, in my humble opinion, is insulting to our system of justice,” Casey also told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, “That is not justice as we have come to understand it.”
In an interview that aired earlier on State of the Union, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain suggested that medical malpractice reform was one area where the GOP should begin to crystallize its own positive health care reform agenda now that Congress is about to begin to process of melding together several health care bills in both chambers.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain is openly admitting that there were tensions between his former campaign manager Steve Schmidt and those close to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain’s one-time White House running mate. Still, McCain calls Palin “a formidable force” in the GOP and remains open to the possibility of Palin being his party’s presidential nominee in 2012.
“With a high-pressure situation, there's always tensions that develop within campaigns,” McCain says in a wide-ranging interview that airs Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. ”And there were clearly tensions between Steve Schmidt and people in the Palin camp.”
Still, McCain said, Palin was an asset to his presidential campaign.
“There are fundamental facts … that cannot be denied,” McCain adds. “When we selected or asked Sarah Palin to be my running mate, it energized our party. We were ahead in the polls, until the stock market crashed. And she still is a formidable force in the Republican Party.”
“I have great affection for her,” McCain continues. But “did we always agree on everything in the past? Will we in the future? No.”
While McCain said he could not predict what would happen in the next presidential election, the Arizona Republican says he is open to many potential nominees for his party - including Palin.
“Look let's let a thousand flowers bloom. Let's come up with a winning combination the next time. … let's all go through the process, rather than condemning anybody's chances,” he says, reacting to recent comments about Palin by Schmidt. “And I'm happy to say we have some great people out there, and Sarah is one of them.”
In a speech before a gathering of the Human Rights Campaign, President Obama reaffirmed his campaign pledge to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding gays in the military. But, to the disappointment of some gay rights activists, President Obama failed to specify a timeframe for doing so.
Sunday, on CNN’s State of the Union, Democratic Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan both said they supported the president’s plans regarding gays in the military and hate crimes legislation pending in Congress that would protect gays and lesbians.
“The president is putting the priorities in the right place,” Stabenow told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King about Mr. Obama’s support for domestic partnership benefits for all couples, the hate crimes bill, and repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
But both Democrats said they could not support same-sex marriage, an important part of the civil rights agenda for many gays and lesbians.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A leading Democrat on Capitol Hill urged President Barack Obama to heed the advice of his top commander in Afghanistan, who is calling for more troops.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Sunday that U.S. troops would be put in "jeopardy" if Obama does not listen to Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
"I don't know how you put somebody in who's as crackerjack as General McChrystal, who gives the president very solid recommendations, and not take those recommendations if you're not going to pull out," the California senator said on ABC's "This Week."
McChrystal is reportedly asking for up to 40,000 extra troops. Some reports say there is an option on the table to send 60,000 additional troops, almost doubling the U.S. force now in the country.
"If you don't want to take the recommendations, then you ... put your people in such jeopardy, just like the base in Nuristan," Feinstein said.