On Thursday's The O'Reilly Factor, during his show's regular "Talking Points Memo," FNC's Bill O'Reilly attacked NBC News/MSNBC for its Iraq war coverage, listing several examples he found worthy of criticism, and defended himself against accusations that some of his recent comments about his show's level of war coverage were insensitive to U.S. troops. O'Reilly: "The latest NBC News indignity is trying to convince their few viewers that Fox News is negligent because we don't cover every terrorist incident in Iraq. Somehow we're insulting military families if we don't run in the explosion du jour."
The FNC host was likely responding to comments MSNBC general manager Dan Abrams made while guest hosting on Tuesday's Scarborough Country in which Abrams took exception with the way O'Reilly worded his rationale for not covering the violence in Iraq more throughly. Abrams: "But today's big loser, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, who insulted our troops and our intelligence today when he said that it does not, quote, 'mean anything,' when a bomb goes off in Iraq. It was part of a horrible effort to undermine a new study that shows Fox covers the Iraq war far less than MSNBC." (Transcripts follow)
On Friday evening, the CBS Evening News and ABC's World News with Charles Gibson offered opposite views on whether the recently released inflation figures for May should be viewed as good or bad. While CBS News anchor Russ Mitchell referred to "inflation alarms" going off, leading to higher interest rates that are "hitting [home] buyers hard," ABC News anchor Gibson characterized inflation as "under control" as he conveyed that the report "eased worries" and set off a stock market rally.
Below are transcripts of relevant portions of the CBS Evening News and ABC's World News with Charles Gibson from Friday June 15:
On Tuesday's The Situation Room, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer covered filmmaker Michael Moore's trip to the California state capitol and rally with nurses who support his push for universal health care and the abolition of private health insurance. At one point, Blitzer plugged the segment referring to Moore getting support from "people at your hospital bedside." Blitzer: "Why's he getting some unexpected support from people at your hospital bedside?"
Correspondent Brooke Anderson reported live from the state capitol -- once during the 5:00 p.m. hour and again during the 7:00 hour -- to cover Moore's activities, as she included a clip of the filmmaker complaining about profits in the health care industry. Moore: "This doesn't look good, folks. I mean, it doesn't look good to the rest of the world, and it won't look good to the anthropologists who dig us up hundreds of years from now. They'll wonder, what were these people thinking?" (Transcript follows)
Among Tuesday's broadcast evening newscasts, the CBS Evening News uniquely relayed the positive news of a shrinking federal budget deficit, as released by the Treasury Department. As anchor Katie Couric read a brief item on the subject, she described the data as "some good news for a change" as she reported that tax revenues are "way up" and that the budget deficit is almost "35 percent lower than it was last year." Couric: "To the economy now, and some good news for a change about the deficit. It's actually shrinking."
Notably, on the Saturday June 9 edition of CNN's In the Money, during a discussion of the effect of the economy on the presidential race, guest Greg Valliere of Stanford Washington Research Group chided the media for not reporting on good economic news in light of lower budget deficit numbers as he described the overall economy as "okay" and the unemployment rate of 4.5 percent as "a great number." The show's anchor, Christine Romans, defended the media's obsession with the cost of the Iraq war. Romans: "I think one of the reasons why, and I can't speak for the rest of the media, but why there may be the perception, at least, that it's been ignored is there is an incredible amount of spending going on for the war in Iraq, and that is something that, you know, we have to pay for." (Transcripts follow)
On Friday's The Situation Room, CNN's Jack Cafferty used his regular "Cafferty File" segment to attack President Bush for not reappointing Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace out of fear of a tough confirmation hearing, tagging it a "gutless" decision. At about 5:08 p.m., as Cafferty set up his regular question of the hour about what it would take to end the war in Iraq, he lashed out at the absence of greater outrage from the American people, and suggested that American troops have "died for nothing" as he seemed to wish for the kind of protests of the Vietnam War era, which included "students tearing up college campuses," to happen again. Cafferty: "When it was going this poorly in Vietnam, Americans were in the streets demanding to be heard. Students were tearing up college campuses in an effort to head off being sent away to die for nothing. But not this time -- 3,503 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq, and nobody does anything. ... It's no wonder the Bush White House gets away with this stuff." (Transcript follows)
On Thursday's The Situation Room, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer seemed to worry that the recently announced G-8 plan for cutting greenhouse gas emissions was "full of hot air" because it is not strict enough in requiring cuts. Blitzer introduced a story filed by correspondent Brian Todd: "President Bush joined other G-8 leaders today and forged an agreement to try to fight global warming, but is that agreement full of hot air?"
The CNN anchor then set up Todd's story: "Is there less to this deal, Brian, than meets the eye?" Todd thought there was some "substance" to the plan, but cited "experts" who accused G-8 leaders of "over the top rhetoric." After a clip of British Prime Minister Tony Blair contending that it was "a huge thing" that they were "considering" cutting emissions in half by 2050, Todd made his own clarification: "'Considering' cutting emissions in half by 2050, not actually agreeing to that hard target for cutting them, as the German chancellor and other European leaders had hoped." (Transcript follows)
On Wednesday's The Situation Room on CNN, during his regular "Cafferty File" segment, Jack Cafferty quoted Mikhail Gorbachev's recent attack on the Bush Administration in which the former Soviet leader accused the U.S. of "arrogance" and of having "lost credibility" in response to President Bush's plans to deploy a missile defense system in Europe. Cafferty asked viewers to email him with a response to the question of whether Bush was "reigniting the Cold War with Russia." Cafferty: "This is just swell, don't you think? We've got trouble with Russia now, which we haven't had for a number of years. The question is this: Is President Bush reigniting the Cold War with Russia?" (Transcript follows)
On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann pushed the theory that the recent announcement of a terror plot involving JFK Airport was politically timed to benefit the Bush administration, as the Countdown host revisited and added to a recurring segment titled "The Nexus of Politics and Terror." Olbermann also suggested a connection to Fox News via the participation in a news conference of NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, the father of FNC correspondent Greg Kelly, and further theorized that President Bush was trying to provoke a "new Cold War" with Russia to distract attention from the current war in Iraq.
Olbermann teased the show by mocking a soundbite of U.S. attorney Roslynn Mauskopf, who referred to the danger of "unthinkable devastation" at JFK Airport if the plot were successful. The Countdown host quipped: "Yeah, well, so would me blowing up the moon with Mentos and a liter of Coca Cola." As he opened the show, Olbermann suggested that Bush was pushing missile defense to provoke "a new Cold War" with Russia. Olbermann: "Mr. Bush, meanwhile, arriving in Europe tonight for this weekend's G-8 Summit, and possibly fomenting yet another war in the process, a new Cold War with Russia, possibly to obscure the unending nightmare in Iraq, where, if the present rate continues, 140 American service personnel will have died by the first of July." (Transcript follows)
On Friday's Countdown on MSNBC, Newsweek senior editor/MSNBC political analyst Jonathan Alter charged that, in signing the compromise bill on Iraq War funding, President Bush is "signing the death warrants of young men and women." After host Keith Olbermann covered the news that Bush had signed the bill, he brought aboard Alter for further discussion. Olbermann started by asking why the President did the signing "out of the public eye." Alter began his response with an inflammatory choice of words: "Well, on some level, I think he knows that he's signing the death warrants of young men and women."
Below is a complete transcript of the exchange from the Friday May 25 Countdown show:
On Wednesday's Countdown, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann attacked Congressional Democrats for their "betrayal" of the voters for making a deal with President Bush on funding this "war of lies," and even found it insightful to compare their deal with Bush to the deal that Neville Chamberlain made with Adolf Hitler before World War II. Olbermann: "That's what this is for the Democrats, isn't it? Their 'Neville Chamberlain moment' before the Second World War. All that's missing is the landing at the airport, with the blinkered leader waving a piece of paper which he naively thought would guarantee 'peace in our time,' but which his opponent would ignore with deceit.
Friday's CBS Evening News plugged its special on Walter Cronkite with a story, as introduced by Katie Couric, about a "journalist who stood up to the Commander-in-Chief" during a time of "another unpopular war," as Couric was transitioning from a story about the debate over Iraq War funding. Couric was referring to Cronkite's decision in February 1968 to declare on the air that America would have to negotiate without victory to end the Vietnam War.
After correspondent Jim Axelrod filed a report on the latest effort by Congressional Democrats to put conditions on Iraq War funding, which ended with Axelrod opining that President Bush has an incentive to reach a deal soon because of the President's low approval rating over the "unpopular war," Couric drew a comparison to the Vietnam War by introducing the Cronkite piece referring to "another unpopular war." Couric: "And now we want to take you back 40 years to another unpopular war and to a journalist who stood up to the Commander-in-Chief. It was Vietnam, the President was Lyndon Johnson, and that journalist? CBS News correspondent Walter Cronkite." (Transcript follows)
On Friday's 20/20, ABC anchor John Stossel discussed the self-defensive benefits of gun ownership, debunking the myth that 'gun control reduces crime,' during 20/20's recurring series 'Myths, Lies & Downright Stupidity,' based on Stossel's book of the same title. Citing the recent Federal Appeals Court for D.C. ruling overturning Washington, D.C.'s ban on gun ownership, Stossel talked to the pro-gun plaintiff in the case, Tom Palmer, and pointed out that the murder rate in D.C. increased after the city's gun ban. Stossel: "Since Washington's gun law passed, the murder rate actually increased, even while America's murder rate dropped. It's because guns can also save lives, says Palmer, as one saved his years ago in California." (Transcript follows)
During Thursday's Republican presidential debate, which was dominated by questions that sounded like they were made up by liberal bloggers, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, known for his many anti-conservative and anti-Bush rants, got to anchor the cable network's debate coverage. While the MSNBC anchor was relatively more subdued than usual, his anti-Bush bias still shined through as he interviewed several of the Republican candidates and asked them questions displaying his interest in whether the candidates were critical of President Bush. Olbermann also suggested that the Republican candidates appeared "very belligerent and very willing to turn to military solutions, at least keep them on the table on the subject of Iran." (Transcript follows)
On Saturday afternoon, CNN Newsroom ran a report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta in which the CNN medical correspondent plugged a proposal for the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program to begin supplying vouchers for fruits and vegetables to its recipients to combat obesity in the poor, and fretted that budget cuts by President Bush could "threaten" a proposed plan to do so. Recounting that the problem for WIC recipients when the program was created 30 ago was "malnutrition, not obesity," Gupta relayed plans by the Agriculture Department to supply vouchers for fruits and vegetables. But Gupta cautioned that because Bush is planning to put WIC on the "chopping block," the plan may be endangered. Gupta: "But some say that might not happen because WIC is on the chopping block, slated for a $145 million cut in President Bush's 2008 budget. ... Nutritionists say that's not good because the WIC produce vouchers could help control obesity." (Transcript follows)
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.