On Friday's The Situation Room, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer gave former Democratic Senator Max Cleland a forum to rail against the Bush administration's Iraq policy, during which the former Georgia Senator charged that President Bush would be "signing in blood" his expected veto of the Democratic plan to withdraw troops from Iraq. While Blitzer did ask a few mildly challenging questions, the CNN anchor did not question some of Cleland's more dubious assertions, including his claim that half a million Iraqis had been killed, and that Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss had called Cleland "un-American" and "unpatriotic" in the past.
While the interview originally ran live during the 5 p.m. hour of The Situation Room, it was repeated during the 7 p.m. hour, which gave Blitzer the opportunity to plug the interview, quoting the former Democratic Senator's charge that Bush would be signing his veto "in blood." Blitzer: "Tonight, the former U.S. Senator, Max Cleland, charges Mr. Bush will be signing that veto in blood." Blitzer later plugged: "Vietnam War veteran and former Senator Max Cleland says President Bush could wind up with blood on his hands." (Transcript follows)
On Friday's NBC Nightly News, former anchor Tom Brokaw ridiculously implied that conservatives who have cited former CIA director George Tenet's "slam dunk" comment about WMD in Iraq had in fact claimed that the comment was a prediction that the war itself against Iraq would be a "slam dunk." The former NBC anchor filed a report detailing Tenet's criticisms of the Bush administration from Tenet's newly released book At the Center of the Storm.
After the pre-recorded report had covered some of Tenet's criticisms of Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and Richard Perle, Brokaw turned to Tenet's claim that his "slam dunk" comment was taken out of context by Bush defenders. After a a clip of Cheney claiming that Tenet said "the case against Saddam on weapons of mass destruction" was a "slam dunk," Brokaw appeared live to conclude his report, and delivered his own distortion of how conservatives have used the quote. Brokaw: "Former director Tenet ... insists that he was talking about assembling a stronger case to take to the public so it would have a better understanding of what the CIA believed to be true. He was not, he says, saying that a war against Iraq was a slam dunk." (Transcript follows)
In his latest "Special Comment" rant, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann used his Countdown show to target Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani for a speech the former mayor gave at a Lincoln Day Dinner in which Giuliani contended that America would be "playing defense" in the war on terrorism under a Democratic president, with Olbermann labeling Giuliani's comments as "terrorism," and accusing the former mayor of "threatening the American people with 'casualties' if they ... elect a Democrat president. The Countdown host further accused Giuliani of "doing Osama bin Laden's work for him." Olbermann: "Claim a difference between the parties on the voters' chances of survival, and you do Osama bin Laden's work for him. And we, Democrats and Republicans alike, and every variation in between, we Americans are sick to death of you and the other terror-mongers trying to frighten us into submission, into the surrender of our rights and our reason, into this betrayal of that for which this country has always stood!" (Transcript follows)
On Tuesday's Hardball on MSNBC, substitute host David Gregory pressed civil rights activist and Reverend Al Sharpton over his double standard in condemning Don Imus's racist comments while refusing to apologize for his own role in the Tawana Brawley false rape accusations against white police officers. Gregory: "You didn't go as far as apologizing to the people who you hurt through that incident. This was, the courts have concluded, a hoax, accusations against whites by a young black woman about a race-based assault. A court ordered you to pay restitution for a defamation suit against people whose reputation you hurt. You didn't apologize for that."
Wednesday's CBS Evening News, anchored by Russ Mitchell, provided a sympathetic look at efforts to win an early release for John Walker Lindh, the American citizen who was convicted of giving aid to the Taliban during the war in Afghanistan. Mitchell and correspondent John Blackstone, who only displayed soundbites sympathetic to Lindh, relayed the argument of Lindh's parents that his 20-year sentence was "not fair considering Australian David Hicks was sentenced to just nine months for his terror conviction," without considering whether Hicks' sentence was too light. CBS legal analyst Andrew Cohen further contended that because Lindh was tried relatively soon after the 9/11 attacks, that he was a "victim of timing" in a "harsh atmosphere." Andrew Cohen: "He was the first person to go through the legal system after 9/11 in federal court, and the atmosphere at that time was so intense and harsh that he is essentially a victim of timing." (Transcript follows)
Tuesday's World News with Charles Gibson highlighted signs of improvement in parts of Baghdad in the aftermath of the U.S. troop surge. ABC's Gibson introduced the story relaying that correspondent Terry McCarthy, after traveling to several Baghdad neighborhoods, "has found definite improvement." Among other developments, McCarthy reported on families feeling safe enough to take their children to the city's largest amusement park: "People feel safe to bring their kids here and have fun on a Friday afternoon. For us, it's really great to see people in Baghdad having fun."
McCarthy introduced his story recounting that although there are still daily bombings in Baghdad, "a small area of relative calm is starting to grow," relaying his visit to several neighborhoods where residents reported that "life is slowly coming back to normal." (Transcript follows)
On Sunday evening, ABC's World News featured a story on the upcoming report from the United Nations enumerating its predictions of dire consequences of global warming. Anchor Dan Harris referred to a February report that said it is "virtually certain that humans are to blame" for global warming as he set up the latest report's "frightening" predictions. Harris: "The first report back in February said global warming is real and that it is virtually certain that humans are to blame. What Friday's report will do is break down the impacts of global warming region by region across the world, and degree by degree. This forecast is, in a word, frightening." (Transcript follows)
On Saturday's World News, ABC's David Kerley characterized President Bush's statement regarding the standoff between Britain and Iran as "lashing out," presumably because the President referred to the captured British soldiers as "hostages," as the ABC anchor suggested that Bush risked "inflaming" the situation. After relaying that the "outspoken" Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, today called Britain "arrogant" while still demanding an apology, Kerley also suggested that Bush's statement was not "cool-headed" as he introduced a story by correspondent Mike Lee playing up the possibility of a diplomatic solution. Kerley: "In spite of that rhetoric [from Ahmadinejad] and those remarks from President Bush today, there were some new signs that cooler heads may be prevailing." (Transcripts follow)
Inspired by an Esquire magazine interview in which Republican Senator Chuck Hagel mentioned the possibility that some of President Bush's critics may push impeachment at some point, CNN's Wolf Blitzer devoted considerable time on Monday's The Situation Room to discussing the significance of Hagel's impeachment talk, remarking that "it's not good for President Bush, to put it bluntly." Blitzer characterized impeachment talk as "a little bit louder" and, after Democratic Senator Chris Dodd, appearing as a guest, showed disinterest in a Bush impeachment, Blitzer still clung to the possibility, characterizing Dodd's words as "leaving the door slightly open," and remarking, "What I'm hearing is you're not completely ruling it out." (Transcript follows)
On Monday's The Situation Room, CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Jack Cafferty expressed frustration that the Democratic Congress has not yet passed a minimum wage increase, even lamenting that the increase could not be made retroactive.
After Blitzer seemed to seriously ask if the minimum wage increase could be made retroactive to November, Cafferty rhetorically exclaimed that it should be "retroactive to ten years ago."
Blitzer: "I guess they can't make the increase in the minimum wage retroactive to back November, huh, Jack?"
Cafferty: "They ought to make it retroactive to ten years ago. That's the last time anybody addressed these folks."
Blitzer: "Don't hold your breath on that one." (Transcript follows)
Catching up on an item from Monday's The Situation Room on CNN, which has already been covered by conservative talk radio host Mark Levin, CNN's Jack Cafferty condescendingly labeled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as a "glorified waterboy for the White House" as he called for Gonzales to resign over the controversial firing of U.S. attorneys. After asking viewers to email him with their thoughts, Cafferty further called Gonzales a "weasel." Cafferty: "If you look up the word weasel in the dictionary, Wolf, you'll see Alberto Gonzales' picture there."
Below is a complete transcript of Cafferty's comments on Alberto Gonzales from the March 12 The Situation Room on CNN:
ABC's World News on Sunday served as the latest example of media reluctance to label liberal public figures as "liberal" while more freely labeling conservative or moderate public figures as "conservative." During a story on the Democratic party's division on whether to push for a deadline for troop withdrawal from Iraq, correspondent John Hendren labeled those Democrats who oppose such a timetable as "conservative Democrats," but when discussing Democrats who support a faster withdrawal, he simply referred to them as "those who want to end the war and bring the troops home" or "those favoring immediate withdrawal."
Notably, the congressional Democrat who was featured as a supporter of a timetable, California Representative Lynn Woolsey, has a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 4.3 percent. And for the year 2006, the liberal Americans for Democratic Action awarded Woolsey a rating of 95 percent. Tennessee Representative Jim Cooper, who was labeled by Hendren as a "conservative Democrat," received a lifetime rating of 27.3 percent from the American Conservative Union and, for the year 2006, Americans for Democratic Action awarded him an 85 percent rating. (Transcript follows)
Of the broadcast network evening news shows, on Friday the NBC Nightly News uniquely covered the "history-making" federal court ruling striking down Washington, D.C.'s restrictive gun control laws. While anchor Brian Williams made the story his show's lead item, with correspondent Pete Williams calling it "the most important gun control ruling in 70 years," the CBS Evening News and ABC's World News ignored the story entirely.
Pete Williams set up his report relaying the story of D.C. resident Tom Palmer, "who was once assaulted and wants a gun in the house for self-defense." A party to the lawsuit against D.C., Palmer argued that since "criminals don't obey the law," that "it's the law-abiding citizens who are disarmed by this law." The report then featured opposing viewpoints in the form of soundbites from Democratic Mayor Adrian Fenty and gun control advocate Paul Helmke complaining that the ruling could "weaken gun laws nationwide." (Transcript follows)
On Wednesday afternoon's The Situation Room, CNN correspondent Carol Costello filed a story about Vermont residents who have successfully voted on resolutions calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Costello described the impeachment supporters as "mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore" as she remarked that "even if this effort doesn't pay off, sure feels good."
After anchor Wolf Blitzer introduced the story as "pretty interesting," Costello made her introduction: "Interesting story, and you might say, Wolf, they are mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore. And even if this effort doesn't pay off, sure feels good. They turned out in droves in tiny Jericho, Vermont. Despite the cold and the long wait, for the townsfolk, it was worth it." (Transcript follows)
On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams, reporting from Baghdad, delivered a refreshing end to the show as he showcased several U.S. troops who voiced support for their work in Iraq, and for America continuing its presence there. While Williams did present one soldier who was less than enthusiastic about the mission, other troops, featured in pre-recorded soundbites, spoke of "staying until the job is done," and of feeling "proud" about helping the Iraqis.
As the NBC anchor introduced the story about how the military tries to deliver foods and items to comfort the troops stationed in Iraq, he featured an Army lieutenant colonel who does not feel "trepidation" about going out on patrol, even after the recent loss of American lives. Lieutenant Colonel Quammie Semper commented: "I think we should stay here until the job is done." (Transcript follows)
[This was first posted on June 28, 2006] Since its inception almost a year ago, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has devoted a regular segment on his Countdown show to attacking various people who have gained the Countdown host's derision. The segment, titled "Worst Person in the World," is a strong measure of the MSNBC host's overwhelming bias against conservatives as the segment has served as a launchpad for attacks against conservative figures and positions at a dramatically greater rate than against the left. As reported by the latest Media Reality Check, by a staggeringly lopsided 8 to 1 margin, Olbermann has targeted conservatives, sometimes with substantial venom, while hitting a comparatively miniscule number of liberals.
On Wednesday evening, CBS became the first of the broadcast networks to cover the controversy over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's efforts to acquire access to a larger jet than what her predecessor used. CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric relayed that Pelosi's request for a "big travel upgrade" was coming at a time when "they're cracking down on congressional perks." After pointing out that Pelosi "finds herself on the defensive" as military officials are "grumbling," correspondent Sharyl Attkisson gave attention to House Republican Whip Roy Blunt's concern that the extra seats on such a large aircraft might be used for fund-raising purposes. According to a Nexis search, the only mentions of the controversy on the cable news networks have come several times this week on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight and once on MSNBC's Tucker. (Transcript follows)
On Saturday evening, the networks highlighted the anti-Iraq War protests in Washington, D.C., and other cities. While ABC's World News Saturday drummed up the anti-war movement as "getting warmed up," displaying the words "Peace Surge" on-screen, the CBS Evening News focused on military families who are part of the movement, suggesting that such participants could provide "political cover" to Democrats who fear looking "unpatriotic" if they "stand up to the President." The NBC Nightly News led with the story, with correspondent John Yang relaying a Newsweek poll showing that 67 percent of Americans believe the President's Iraq policy is "based on his personal beliefs regardless of facts." (Transcripts follow)
On the bright side, during MSNBC's State of the Union Coverage, correspondent David Shuster pointed out a couple of "misleading" claims made by Senator Jim Webb in the Democratic Response. After critiquing some of President Bush's statements, Shuster moved on to focus on Webb's speech. In response to Webb's complaint that wages "are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth," Shuster countered that "when you compare wages and salaries to cost of living," as economists normally do, "the sky is not falling in the way that Jim Webb suggested." And in response to Webb's complaint about manufacturing jobs being transferred overseas, Shuster pointed out that "high-tech jobs are coming to America." (Transcript follows)
While interviewing Senator Hillary Clinton Tuesday during MSNBC's State of the Union coverage, Chris Matthews referred to "ideologues on the right" who opposed her health care plan from 1994, saying they had planned to "kill this baby in its bassinette." Matthews wondered if Senator Clinton still felt the "sting of that strategy on the other side." (Transcript follows)
Below is a transcript of Matthews's question to Senator Clinton:
Matthews, to Hillary Clinton at 10:47pm EST.: "Back when you were working so hard on health care, back in the 90s, in the early 90s, and you really thought you could get some kind of compromise at the end, I believe, and the word came from the ideologues on the right, 'Kill this baby in its bassinette. Do not let them get a compromise health care bill that they can get credit for.' Do you still feel the sting of that strategy on the other side?"
Appearing on MSNBC's State of the Union coverage, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw praised President Bush for talking about global warming in his speech, lamenting that it was a subject the "Republican-dominated Congress has given very little attention to." Brokaw obverved that Bush had used the term "global warming" for the "first time since he's been President." Brokaw: "I think that you can give him an A for identifying the priorities that had been before this country for some time, and that the Republican-dominated Congress has given very little attention to. Global warming, he used that phrase for the first time since he's been President." (Transcript follows)
On Monday's Countdown, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann made known his latest conspiracy theory that the Bush administration times the release of news on terror threats for political benefit. As he interviewed Newsweek's Richard Wolffe, Olbermann asked about the recent report from ABC News that al-Qaeda in Iraq had planned on sending terrorists to attack the United States, wondering if it was politically timed before the State of the Union since the administration has a history of "releasing information on what has usually been lame terror threats during or near times of political crisis." Olbermann: "Given the administration habit, it's almost a record of releasing information on what has usually been lame terror threats during or near times of political crisis, is it too cynical to think that the timing of these stories today might be suspicious on the eve of the State of the Union Address with the President going out there virtually naked tomorrow night?" (Transcript follows)
On ABC's World News Saturday, correspondent Laura Marquez filed a story on the upcoming trial of Lewis Libby regarding his role in leaking CIA analyst Valerie Plame's identity. Marquez relayed the theory that Bush administration members deliberately leaked her identity "to get back at" her husband, Iraq War critic Joe Wilson, without mentioning the revelation that Richard Armitage, formerly an assistant to Colin Powell and a dove in the run-up to the Iraq War, admitted to having inadvertently been the original leaker. Instead of mentioning this aspect of the story which undermines the theory of a deliberate conspiracy, Marquez suggested "dirty politics" was behind the leak as she pointed out the trial's bad timing with the President's upcoming State of the Union speech. Marquez: "It will remind the American public just how dirty politics can get." (Transcript follows)
On MSNBC Wednesday night, during coverage of President Bush's speech to the nation, Chris Matthews compared Iraq to the "losing battle" of the "Alamo," calling it a "catastrophe," and contended that, if America were under a parliamentary system, that the President's handling of the war would be grounds for retirement. Matthews was further alarmed at Bush's apparent willingness to confront Iran over its nuclear program, as the MSNBC host contended that "a lot of people are going to go to bed tonight terrified," and even described himself as "worried" because of Bush's continued "neoconservative aggressiveness."
Matthews: "A lot of people are going to go to bed tonight terrified that the President of the United States admitted to mistakes in terms of implementing his policy over there ... I am worried, well, I shouldn't say I'm worried, I am definitely interested in the fact that the President of the United States maintains that neoconservative aggressiveness, the same attitude that we have the business in this world of going into countries when we don't like their weapons systems and deciding we're in the Middle East, we're going to attack." (Longer transcript follows)
On Tuesday's Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann branded White House press secretary Tony Snow "Worst Person in the World," accusing him of "bald-faced lying" about President Bush's so-called "Mission Accomplished" speech about which so much of the media has obsessed. During the January 9 White House Press Briefing, Snow responded to a question in which he took exception to this media obsession over the President's May 1, 2003 speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln declaring an "end to major combat operations" in Iraq. While Snow slightly mis-stated the back story of how the "Mission Accomplished" sign was placed on the ship, Olbermann ignored Snow's overall point that even during that speech, the President had acknowledged that more work lay ahead to stabilize Iraq, and himself deceptively tried to prove that Snow was a "liar." (Transcript follows)
On Wednesday's Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and frequent guest John Dean discussed the possibility of a Democratic Congress moving to impeach members of President Bush's Cabinet as an alternative to actually impeaching the President or Vice President. After Dean contended that Democrats would need to "find their spine and go toe to toe" with the administration because Republicans "play hardball in a much tougher and more ruthless manner than Democrats," Olbermann brought up Dean's idea of impeaching Bush administration members. Olbermann: "The far end of what you suggest, obviously, would be impeachment, but the merits of that are at best arguable. I think we can probably both recall an occasion in which impeachment actually bolstered a President's popularity. But you wrote recently about impeaching not a President or a Vice President, but members of the Cabinet. How would that work? And is it a practical thing?" (Transcript follows)
On Tuesday's Countdown, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann used his latest "Special Comment" attack on President Bush to accuse the President of extending the "senseless, endless" war in Iraq as part of an ulterior motive to transfer money to "war profiteers" because "you can't sell [the Army] any more [Humvees] until the first thousand have been destroyed." Olbermann: "Your second accomplishment, sir, is to have taken money out of the pockets of every American, even out of the pockets of the dead soldiers on the battlefield and their families, and to have given that money to the war profiteers. Because if you sell the Army a thousand Humvees, you can't sell them any more until the first thousand have been destroyed, can you? The service men and women are ancillary to the equation. This is about the planned obsolescence of ordnance, isn't it, Mr. Bush? And the building of detention centers? And the design of a $125 million courtroom complex at Gitmo, complete with restaurants. At least the war profiteers have made their money, sir."
Video clip of last four minutes of eleven-minute diatribe: Real (3 MB at lower 100 kbps) or Windows Media (7.6 MB at higher 256 kbps), plus MP3 audio (1.4 MB)
On Monday's Countdown, viewers were treated to a special retrospective of MSNBC host Keith Olbermann's series of "Special Comment" attacks on the Bush administration, featuring four of Olbermann's favorites. An announcer teased the show glorifying Olbermann while intermixing complimentary quotes from various media with clips of Olbermann reading his "Special Comments." The announcer read quotes calling Olbermann "hot," "charismatic," "witty," and "a cross between Edward R. Murrow and Jon Stewart." The announcer further labeled the featured rants as "Keith's most passionate, most honest, most compelling 'Special Comments.'" (Transcript follows)
On Saturday's NBC Nightly News, while filing a story on the "mind-boggling" bonuses going to those who are "striking it rich" on Wall Street, correspondent Mike Taibbi downplayed the strength of the current economy in comparison to the "Clinton years," and also pointed out the "struggle" of "working Americans." While Taibbi argued that his reference to the "Clinton years" was a "chronological, not political distinction," he praised that period for "lifting more boats" while finding fault in the present. Taibbi: "But to many, today's version of the haves and have-nots feels different. In the boom of the Clinton years -- and I'm talking a chronological, not a political distinction -- the rising tide of that bull market truly did lift all boats, or at least a whole lot more of them." (Transcript follows)
On Monday's Countdown during the show's regular "Oddball" segment, while reporting on the controversial decision of the Seattle-Tacoma Airport to remove its Christmas trees from public view rather than display a Menorah, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann mocked FNC host Bill O'Reilly by jokingly suggesting that O'Reilly supports a "war against Hanukkah." Olbermann, who since last year has mocked O'Reilly and other FNC hosts, once calling them "fat heads," for their concerns about a "War on Christmas" by secularists, jokingly commented, referring to Bill O'Reilly disparagingly as "Billow": "Generalissimo O'Reilly remains upbeat. Look not on this as a defeat in the war on Christmas. This was a dramatic victory in Billow's new war against Hanukkah." Ironically, less than 20 minutes earlier on The O'Reilly Factor, host O'Reilly had spoken approvingly of displaying a Menorah at the airport as he interviewed the rabbi who had requested it. The FNC host was quite sympathetic to the rabbi's viewpoint as he lambasted the airport's decision not to allow a Menorah display. O'Reilly: "There is no reason not to put up a Menorah in the Sea-Tac Airport because Hanukkah is a celebrated holiday, and, you know, Americans of Jewish faith would like to see it, and it's in context, so put it up." (Transcripts follow)