Since we had snow - Tony Snow - in April, why not another unseasonable event - Matt Lauer citing Rush Limbaugh as a respectable source for purposes of making a point?
The issue was high gas prices, and the pandering band-aid some in Congress have proposed by way of a $100 tax rebate. Today displayed this quote from El Rushbo, from his show of this past Friday:
"Instead of buying us off and treating us like we're a bunch of w----s, just solve the problem."
If Lauer did not explicitly endorse Rush's take, he came close, certainly recognizing that Rush's point merited a response. Lauer filled in the blanks when he read the quote out loud, then posed this question to guest Pat Buchanan: "Pat, has anyone put forth any solution that can solve this problem?"
Washington Post reporter Juliet Eilperin filed a Monday story from the New Orleans Jazzfest this weekend. Late in the story, she noted rock star Bruce Springsteen "delivered a scathing assessment of President Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina." Having surveyed the city on Saturday, he said "The criminal ineptitude makes you furious. This is what happens when political cronyism guts the very agencies that are supposed to serve American citizens in times of trial and hardship." The federal government is shoveling billions and billions to New Orleans and liberals are still saying the agencies are "gutted."
Eilperin wrote that Springsteen played a two-hour set Sunday night that included a rewritten version of the folk song "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?" with new Katrina-response lyrics:
Watch me. I am sitting here all by myself turning this out. It may be good. It may be lousy. But it is all mine. Look around. Do you see a room-full of (high-salaried) gag writers that I can lean on if I go empty? I snap my fingers and someone says, “Try this.” No, it’s all up to me to find the right words, to earn the praise, deserve the blame, and that’s how it is for most writers who are for real.
No knock on Stephen Colbert, necessarily, or on Jon Stewart, whom we’ll get to in a moment -- and this is not about their politics. Never mind that. It’s about the business of being funny, and I do mean business. So I checked in on this evening’s “60 Minutes” (Sunday, April 30) on CBS and caught the segment on Stephen Colbert who spoofs the news on Comedy Central, as of course does Stewart, who uses scoffing as his art.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice found herself knocked off message Sunday, forced to defend prewar planning and troop levels against an unlikely critic - Colin Powell, her predecessor at the State Department ... Powell sideswiped her by revisiting the question of whether the U.S. had a large enough force to oust Saddam Hussein and then secure the peace.
The truth is that the only one doing the sideswiping, knocking, and forcing were Sunday hosts Bob Schieffer (on CBS' Face the Nation (link)) and Wolf Blitzer (on CNN's Late Edition (transcript)), along with Quaid herself.
And now for some fake news, The Colbert Report. If you flip through the cable news channels any week night, you're bound to see a collection of talking heads, or rather, shouting heads, who draw large audiences with a diet of often wildly inaccurate but patriotic and combative noise. The shows are not exactly news or entertainment but are exactly outrageous. Bill O'Reilly perfected the formula on FOX and others have successfully followed his recipe. With all of their excesses, it was only a matter of time before someone came along to skewer them. Well, the eagle has landed.
Roger Friedman, who writes the "Fox 411" for FoxNews.com, reported Saturday that Barbara Walters decided to pick Rosie O'Donnell to replace Meredith Vieira after being touched to tears at a screening of Rosie's documentary about her gay-family cruises. (Update: The New York Times confirms today. See below.)
Friedman began with the note that O'Donnell's contract apparently states she cannot chop off her hair to look "butch" as she did at the bitter, back-biting end of her last daytime talk show. It should be noted that Friedman doesn't nail every detail in his report, since he calls Elisabeth Hasselbeck "Debbie." Is he still remembering the long-departed first "View" co-host to get the boot, Debbie Matenopoulos? Here's a sample of his take:
You may wonder when and how this arrangement with "The View" came about. I was not surprised to be told that it all occurred on the night that HBO screened Rosie and her partner Kelli’s documentary about their gay family cruise line about a month ago. I distinctly recall Barbara Walters coming out of the screening room, wiping tears from her eyes. It was quite obvious as the mother of an adopted daughter, she was incredibly moved.
At the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, President Bush first appeared with Steve Bridges, who's made a name for himself impersonating Bush on national television. Bush would say something and the impersonator would say what he "really" thought. RightWinged has a video of the routine.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Members of the White House Correspondents' Association, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen --
BUSH IMPERSONATOR: Here I am.
Here I am at another one of these dang press dinners. Could be home asleep, little Barney curled up at my feet. But no, I've got to pretend I like being here.
The media really ticks me off. The way they try to embarrass me by not editing what I say.
Last week, we noted how MSNBC's First Read blog had reprinted the New York Daily News's misquote of a CNN poll about how oil prices were affecting families. In the poll, 23% said that gas prices were having a "severe effect," 46% said they were having a "moderate effect." The Daily News and First Read both reported 69% under the "severe effect" label.
On Tuesday, we quoted a New York Daily News article, which cited a CNN poll showing that 69% indicate gas prices are causing them severe hardship. However, the actual poll finds that 69% say these prices are causing them "hardship", not "severe hardship."
You can’t miss it on television or radio. There are even some newspaper reports of the cry... “Too Soon...Too Soon!”
All accounts are referring to the release of the new motion picture “United 93”, a graphic portrait of the events which unfolded on September 11, 2001. This motion picture is mainly from the perspective of those who were aboard the fourth aircraft on that fatal day and how they responded to the highjackers. The hijacking of United 93 and the unprovoked attacks upon the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were more than the equivalent of the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. They were the events, which triggered our War Against Islamic Terrorism.
During those first weeks following the attacks we were a united country. There was a seriousness of tone on radio and television. The newspapers lauded those responding to a call to arms. Flags appeared on buildings and were flown from car antennas. Patriotic songs were written.
I'm enjoying Ramesh Ponnuru's new book "The Party of Death," particularly its chapter on the media, "Scribes of the Party of Death." (And that's not just because Ramesh cites my study with Rich Noyes on partial-birth abortion coverage, and how the networks rarely explain what on Earth happens in one.) This is a great line about the New York Times: "The kids at Hogwarts speak the name of Voldemort more freely than the Times editors use the phrase partial-birth abortion." Ramesh brings in his media-elite expert:
Longtime Newsweek correspondent Kenneth Woodward points out that if the editors of the Times really believe the phrase should be avoided because it's not a medical term, they should also remove references to "heart attacks" from their pages as well. If they want to avoid it because one side of the debate objects to it, "female genital mutilation" would have to go as well. The result is not only confusing stories; it is, as Woodward writes, that "every story is framed as a narrative of assault on Roe v. Wade."
Ultraliberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith, perhaps best known to TV/political junkies as an on-air sparring partner of William F. Buckley, has died at the age of 97. I remember seeing the two spar over one of the party conventions on the "Today" show way back when. (I'm guessing it was 1980.) Can you imagine "Today" hosting two intellectuals having a little debate around the conventions today? Today's morning-show world is more likely to be devoted to plastic convention publicity schticks like Republican rappers (remember TRQ, anyone?) and precocious, mop-headed eight-year-old Democrats.
The New York Times greeted Galbraith's death with the headline "Economist Held a Mirror to Society." Apparently, if you believe capitalism is all about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, and you believe avidly in massive government intervention in the economy, you "hold a mirror to society." Or at least a mirror to the face of the New York Times.
ABC's World News Tonight on Saturday contended that Rush Limbaugh got off easy because he could afford a high-priced lawyer and painted him as a hypocrite for previously condemning drug users, but ABC didn't offer any evidence Limbaugh has ever denounced those hooked on prescription pain medication. "Rush Limbaugh cuts a deal,” anchor Jim Avila teased at the top of his newscast, propounding: “Was this drug suspect treated like any other Florida first offender?"
After a soundbite from Limbaugh's lawyer, Roy Black, who contended that “with anybody...addicted to pain medication, it is really unfair to prosecute them or to make some sort of a big case out of it. The idea is to help the person overcome the addiction," ABC reporter Jeffrey Kofman countered: "But Limbaugh himself has not been so tolerant of other people's problems with drug addiction." Viewers then heard an audio clip of Limbaugh from more than ten years ago: "The people who are caught doing this stuff ought to be sent away. They ought to be punished." What, however, was the “stuff” to which Limbaugh referred? Kofman did not specify in delivering his broadside, but if Limbaugh was condemning users of illegal hallucinogenic substances, such as cocaine or heroin, that's quite a bit different than obtaining an excessive level of legal drugs to control pain. Kofman also suggested Limbaugh bought his deal: “Limbaugh received the lightest of punishments. Criminal defense specialists tell ABC News that a man without Limbaugh's access to top lawyers would likely have seen a harsher outcome." Yet earlier in the story Kofman had related how Limbaugh "benefitted from a state program that gives first-time offenders a second chance." (Transcript follows)
The Washington Post lived up to its typical pattern in coverage of economic good news Saturday morning. The fastest economic growth in several years was banished to D-1 again. While the Post put two bad-news-for-Bush stories on Iraq and terrorism on page 1, it put victories against al-Qaeda in Iraq on page A-10.
On D-1, the Post story acknowledged "Economic Growth Surges to 4.8%." Fred Barbash and Bill Brubaker noted "It was the hottest annualized pace for the gross domestic product in 2 and a half years." That news wasn't even mentioned on the front page. The "Inside" box touted two other, less stunning Business items from D-1:
-- "Pentagon Halts Clearances: High demand and a budget shortfall are blamed for putting security checks for 3,000 contractors on hold."
Give Ellen Ratner credit for consistency - if not for logic. For the second week running Ratner used her 'Long & Short of It' platform on Fox & Friends Weekend to tout her solution to the immigration problem - sheer surrender in the form of 'open borders'.
Ellen - honcho of Talk Radio News - was back at it this morning: "I want to say again . . . I know it gets a lot of mail, why I am in favor of really having open borders between Canada and Mexico, because there is not going to be a way -- you will have lots of -- "
The Washington Post showed its liberal colors Saturday morning by running this copy in their "Inside" text box. "Rush Limbaugh Arrested: The talk radio icon surrenders on a charge of committing fraud to obtain prescription drugs." The headline for the story on the front of the Style section was also suggestive: "Rush Limbaugh Turns Himself In On Fraud Charge In Rx Drug Probe." The online link was "Limbaugh Charged With Prescription Drug Fraud," accurate but incomplete.
A casual reader of headlines could easily conclude that Limbaugh was admitting guilt, with words like "surrenders" and "turns himself in." But it was a part of a deal with no admission of guilt. The story by Peter Whoriskey noted: "The agreement is not an admission of guilt to the charge." A less inflammatory set of headlines would have said "Prosecutors, Limbaugh Strike Deal."
At about 9:40pm EDT during ABC's live broadcast of the Daytime Emmy Awards from the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, Rosie O'Donnell strode on stage to join Barbara Walters who had come out a bit earlier to present an award. When the applause died down, Walters asked O'Donnell: “What's doing?” O'Donnell joked about Internet rumors and then Walters announced to loud cheering from the audience: “Starting September you are going to join The View as co-host." O'Donnell oozed, "Let me tell you Barbara Walters: From the bottom of my heart, thank you for asking me. I'd be honored to do it." Then, with one hand on O'Donnell's shoulder and her other hand on O'Donnell's arm, Walters trumpeted: "We were amazed when she said yes and we were thrilled. So let me do it now very formally. Ladies and gentlemen, starting in September, the newest co-host of The View, and we're so lucky to have her: Miss Rosie O'Donnell!" (Transcript follows, as well as links to O'Donnell quotes and video.)
News broke on MSNBC at approximately 6:15pm EDT Friday night about the “arrest” of Rush Limbaugh on a “prescription fraud” charge. While the 7pm EDT Situation Room on CNN led with the “Breaking News” of the “arrest” -- which was really more of a booking session that did not put Limbaugh into handcuffs or any jail -- reporter John Zarella reported how it was really part of “a deal” between Limbaugh and the Palm Beach County prosecutor's office and CNN's legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin soon told anchor Wold Blitzer by phone that “the winner here is very clear: Rush Limbaugh. They cut themselves a very sweet deal.” But while the reports on the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News conveyed how in exchange for 18 more months of drug treatment by Limbaugh, the one single charge would be dismissed, World News Tonight viewers were left assuming Limbaugh was in dire trouble. [UPDATED below with ABC's more informed West coast feed.]
“Rush Limbaugh, one of the most popular and influential radio talk show hosts in America, was arrested in West Palm Beach today. The charges involve allegations of prescription drug fraud,” anchor Elizabeth Vargas announced at the top of the ABC newscast. Brian Ross explained: “He turned himself in today, Elizabeth, about 4:00 this afternoon. He was held for an hour and has since been released on $3,000 bail. What this involves is whether he used phony prescriptions to get oxycontin and other highly addictive prescription painkillers." Without anything about the deal, Vargas repeated the charge against him: "The allegations that he was doctor shopping, going to several doctors at once for big, big numbers of prescriptions." Ross affirmed: "Exactly, and the term 'prescription fraud' would apply to that directly." (Transcripts follow. UPDATED with Olbermann's "we have mug shot!" celebration of how Limbaugh has gone from "one half his brain...tied behind his back" to "both his hands cuffed behind his back.")
Did NBC allow a pro-illegal immigration message to air on the Today show? The singer Shakira appeared at 8:47AM EDT on the April 28 edition of the Today show. Wyclef Jean accompanied the Colombian performer and used NBC's platform to advertise a planned May 1 strike of illegal immigrants. Wearing a shirt that said "Immigration Rights" and below that, "Mayo Uno," Wyclef ended the song by bellowing, "May 1st! Immigration rights, baby!"
It should be noted that Wyclef Jean is also one of the artists recording a Spanish version of the Star-Spangled Banner that President Bush disapproved of in a Rose Garden press conference later in the day.
Nobody would argue that President Bush is overly popular at the moment. The media, however, seem determined to keep it that way. The April 28 edition of Today made this point extremely clear. Katie Couric opened the NBC program with this tease of a Brian Williams presidential interview:
Couric: "President Bush on those skyrocketing gas prices, his plummeting poll numbers and whether New Orleans is ready for hurricane season."
At 7:03AM EDT, Matt Lauer introduced the Williams interview this way:
Lauer: "Before we get to all that, let's talk about President Bush on those rising gas prices, the future of FEMA and his dismal poll numbers."
And the sneaky use of adjectives wasn’t the only tactic that Today employed.