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)
Saturday's CBS Evening News featured a story, filed by correspondent Sheila MacVicar, which highlighted the French government's policy of entitling all mothers to three years of paid maternity leave and subsidized child care as a way to increase the birth rate and thus provide more young taxpayers to pay for the pensions of the elderly. MacVicar pointed out that in America, "federal law entitles some working mothers to twelve weeks unpaid leave," before cautioning that "the rest get nothing."
MacVicar relayed that French women enjoy more benefits than their American counterparts: "Take a look at what all French families, regardless of income, are entitled to: Up to three years paid maternity leave with a guarantee that mom's job will be there for her when she returns. There's subsidized child care, a whole host of tax credits, and for baby number three brings twice the government allowance of baby number two." (Transcript follows)
On Friday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann again discussed whether President Bush is the "worst ever" President, inspired by comments from Republican Senator Gordon Smith that leaving American troops in Iraq could be "criminal." Coining the phrase "Mr. Smith goes to his conscience," Olbermann introduced an interview with Newsweek's Richard Wolffe comparing Smith's comments to the "watershed" moment when Republican Senators Hugh Scott and Barry Goldwater convinced President Nixon to resign.
After bringing aboard former Nixon counsel John Dean, Olbermann referred to their past discussion of the Bush White House being a "textbook case of authoritarianism" and wondered if President Bush might soon be "declared once and for all" the worst President ever: "If in face of the overwhelming evidence that the plan in Iraq is not working, the public disapproval at this extraordinary high, if even now President Bush is not willing to change course on a real basis and Mr. Rumsfeld's not expressing any remorse, might that be the deciding historical factor in declaring once and for all this President the worst one ever?" Ever the conspiracy theorist, the MSNBC host even wondered if Bush, "having politicized his way into Iraq," would try to delay an exit from Iraq "until it can be used to his party's benefit in the 2008 campaign," before wondering, "Is that too cynical even for this administration?" (Transcript follows)
On Wednesday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann reported the recent deaths of 10 American troops in Iraq by commenting that they had "paid the ultimate price for President Bush's execution of the war." His comments came as he was introducing an interview with Thomas Ricks of the Washington Post on what the Iraq Study Group report could mean for American troops. Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the December 6 Countdown show:
Keith Olbermann: "On this, the same day the Iraq Study Group released its report, 10 more Americans paid the ultimate price for President Bush's execution of the war. The collective price America's military is paying and how the Iraq Study Group may change it is our number three story in the Countdown tonight."
You know you're liberal if even a liberal media watchdog group calls you liberal -- that is, unless you're MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. While Olbermann denies displaying a liberal bias on his show, once describing himself politically as "correct" and "neutral," media analyst Paul Waldman of the far left Media Matters for America, a frequent source of material for Olbermann, sees it differently. On Tuesday's Scarborough Country on MSNBC, during a discussion of whether there is a "vast left-wing conspiracy" against Bill O'Reilly and Fox News, Waldman proclaimed that Olbermann's show is the "only liberal show" on cable news. Below is a complete transcript of Waldman's comment from the December 5 Scarborough Country:
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who regularly uses his Countdown show to ridicule President Bush, on Tuesday finally included the President in his list of nominees for "Worst Person in the World." For the past 17 months that Olbermann has featured the "Worst Person" segment on his show, the Countdown host has ironically avoided including Bush in spite of the regular, sometimes vitriolic, criticism Olbermann has spewed at the President, including calling him a "21st century Marie Antoinette" over his handling of Hurricane Katrina and delivering several "Special Comment" attacks on the President. But on the December 5 show, Olbermann awarded Bush the third place "bronze" distinction because of word that President Bush had been warned about the sensitivity of asking Democratic Senator-elect Jim Webb about his son's service in Iraq before doing so anyway. Below is a complete transcript of Olbermann's comments about Bush from the December 5 Countdown show:
On Monday's World News with Charles Gibson, host Gibson referred to the 1980s as the "Me Decade" while reading a short story about volunteerism in America. Citing an unspecified "new study" showing that volunteerism is at a 30-year high with 27 percent of Americans donating time to community service, the ABC host noted that the number was "up from a low of 20 percent at the end of the 1980s." Gibson added: "Which, you may recall, was known as the 'Me Decade.'"
Below is a complete transcript of the story from the December 4 World News with Charles Gibson:
Charles Gibson: "And one note about what a lot of Americans are doing with their time. They're donating it. A new study out today says volunteering is at a 30-year high. More than a quarter of all American adults now spend time doing community service, up from a low of 20 percent at the end of the 1980s, which, as you may recall, was known as the 'Me Decade.'"
On Thursday's World News with Charles Gibson, ABC correspondent Erin Hayes showcased military wives who voiced support for America's continued presence in Iraq and are worried that a troop withdrawal will come too soon. Hayes noted, "Some might assume that bringing all the troops home quickly and for good would be a great relief to those families. But that is not how many of them see it." Referring to the "war's eye view that convinced them there has been progress," Hayes played several sound bites of these wives making such assertions as "we do need to stay until it's done" and "I don't think that it would be in our best interest to just pull out right now." (Transcript follows)
On Friday's Countdown, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann attacked FNC's Bill O'Reilly, calling him a "holy you-know-what liar" because O'Reilly recently bragged that he had voiced the need for tough martial law early on to keep order in Iraq. During recent comments on The Radio Factor, O'Reilly misstated the date of his prediction as "the night that Saddam's statue fell" when, in fact, it was a mere two nights later (April 11, 2003, instead of April 9), still in the recent aftermath. Olbermann, likely inspired by an article from one of his regular sources in the form of the far-left Media Matters for America, seized on the date mixup to accuse O'Reilly, whom he referred to gratuitously as "Billow" and "Bill Orally," of being a "liar," and tagged the FNC host "Worst Person in the World." (Transcripts follow)
On Thursday's Countdown, two days after comparing Newt Gingrich's ideas on free speech and anti-terrorism measures to Naziism, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann aimed his latest "Special Comment" rant at the former House Speaker over a speech he gave at the Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment award dinner, discussed in a Manchester Union Leader article, during which Gingrich had talked about restricting some free speech rights for those who incite terrorism. Olbermann used a number of charged words and phrases in hitting Gingrich, including "fascism," "barbarism" and "delusions of grandeur." He also referred to Gingrich as a "dangerous creature" and compared Gingrich to an "arsonist giving the keynote address at a convention of firefighters." Accusing Gingrich of "exploiting" terrorism to pursue the presidency, the Countdown host quoted a line from The Manchurian Candidate referring to Angela Lansbury's character who planned to seize power while "waving the flag every time she subjugates another freedom." (Transcript follows)
On Tuesday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann included Fox News Watch as one of the nominees in his regular "Worst Person in the World" segment. Awarding the FNC show third place with the "bronze" distinction, the Countdown host relayed conservative columnist Cal Thomas' choice of Olbermann as "Turkey of the Year" during last Saturday's show. While Thomas had taken Olbermann to task generally for "inaccuracies" and "hot air," Olbermann only mentioned Thomas' joking comment about Olbermann accusing him of dying his hair as he made fun of the FNC show's misspelling of his name (Olberman) in its on-screen graphic. Olbermann also labeled Fox News Watch as "the only program on Fox News Channel that tries to live up to the network's otherwise ironic slogan 'Fair and Balanced.'" Notably, as documented here by NewsBusters, Olbermann last year posted on his Bloggermann Web site that Fox News Watch was one of "ten television shows worth watching," quipping that it was created by Roger Ailes "to fulfill some legal requirement that his network actually be at least .0005% 'fair and balanced.'" (Transcript follows)
On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann suggested that the recent decision by NBC News to label violence in Iraq as a "civil war" was comparable to the 1968 decision by Walter Cronkite to declare the Vietnam War a "stalemate," as the former CBS News anchor lost confidence in America's ability to win the war. Olbermann led the show quoting from Cronkite's 1968 statement, including the proclamation that "the only rational way out would be to negotiate," as the Countdown host contended that Cronkite had "truly matched his signoff 'And that's the way it is.'" Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the November 27 Countdown show: