Instead of opening with his usual monologue of jokes, Craig Ferguson, an immigrant from Scotland, began Monday night's Late Late Show on CBS with a tribute to America, a refreshing attitude not often heard these days in the mainstream media. “I consider myself an American,” he declared on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, adding: “I've been here for a long time. I love this country.” Ferguson contended: “Anyone who cares about anything, when these rat bastards flew those planes into those buildings, if you're a human, it would insult everything inside you.” Ferguson suggested “this is a defining moment for our generation. For one generation, it was the assassination of Kennedy, for another it's 9/11. It's 'Where were you on September the 11th?'”
Ferguson proceeded to recount how a few days after 9/11 he was at the Warner Brothers lot, where he was an actor on the Drew Carey Show, for a memorial service. The Teamsters had put up on the side of a building a huge U.S. flag and as the wind blew some of the clips holding it up came loose, but the flag stayed in place. He recalled: “For all the fear and terror that 9/11 brought, I thought then when I saw that flag stay there, I thought that's the way it is here. This is an ill wind and it moved the flag and a couple of clips popped, and the country reeled back from it, and for all the arguments and all the rascals and the scoundrels on either side of political debates, all across who try and claim this awful, awful day as something they own, there is argument and debate in America, and that's what makes us the country that we are. And when that wind blew, and when that ill wind blew in America, the flag was still there. The flag was still there.”
MSNBC brought back former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw for some post-Bush 9/11 commemoration speech analysis with Chris Matthews. Brokaw wasn't impressed: “I was surprised that there was not more poetry in it, a, and b, that he didn't take us to a different place in terms of where he wants to go next. This is the kind of speech that he could have given three years ago, not five years after 9/11. The American public now has been through a lot in five years, Chris, and with all due respect to the President, they'll be measuring his rhetoric versus the reality that they see almost every day in their newspapers and on television.” Forwarding a liberal world view, Brokaw proposed: “The policies versus the reality, I think is what a lot of people are going to be looking at. And whether or not we have to find other ways, than just militarily going in to deal with these issues, is the question on the minds of a lot of people."
He soon elaborated on the point: “The question is, do we advance the goals of trying to suffocate this Islamic rage, which is real, we are still under threat from a lot of jihadists around the world, by fighting the war the way we are in Iraq and doing what we have been doing in Afghanistan, or is there another way worth examining?” (Transcript follows)
In his commentary at the end on Sunday's 60 Minutes, the day before the five year mark since 9/11, Andy Rooney noted that “we're trying to protect ourselves with more weapons,” a policy with which he only grudgingly agreed as he lamented, “we have to do it I guess.” Then, however, he suggested the fault for terrorism lies with American behavior, not the murderous ideology of terrorists who want to destroy Western democratic culture: “But might be better if we figured out how to behave as a nation in a way that wouldn't make so many people in the world want to kill us." By that reasoning, during the Cold War should the U.S. have adopted policies meant to appease the Soviets? Rooney delivered his remarks on the season premiere of the program (delayed in the EDT/CDT zones by tennis for nearly a half hour) which gave two of the show's three segments to Katie Couric's piece on World Trade Center first responders who are suffering from the air they inhaled. (Transcript follows)Video clip (25 secs): Real (700 KB) or Windows Media (800 KB), plus MP3 audio (135 KB)
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who in late 2003 devoted a fraction of the time to CBS's The Reagans movie as he has just this week to liberal complaints about ABC's The Path to 9/11 (he's led Countdown with it for two nights in a row), castigated MRC President Brent Bozell for supposed hypocrisy in criticizing The Reagans while not denouncing the new 9/11 movie. Naming Bozell his “Worst Person in the World” on Friday's show, Olbermann ridiculed him as “Bozo the Clown: Right-wing hysteric Brent Bozell weighing-in in his usual light-weight manner.” Olbermann quoted how on The Path to 9/11, Bozell wrote in his column that “as a docudrama, it has taken certain poetic license with history,” but on the Reagan movie Bozell said “there is no such thing as creative license to invent falsehoods about people. I don't care who you are, you don't have that right.” Olbermann snidely lectured: “Hey, Brent, when you look in the mirror, how many faces do you see? The rest of us count at least two. Brent Bozell, today's Worst Person in the World!”
Olbermann ignored how saying the movie takes “poetic license” is criticism and how on Wednesday's Scarborough Country, Bozell asserted: "I think that if you have a scene or two scenes or three scenes, important scenes, that do not have any bearing on reality and you can edit them, I think they should edit them.”
Friday's broadcast network evening newscasts delivered three different levels of priority to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's report which concluded there were no connections between Iraq and al-Qaeda, hardly fresh news. The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric didn't air a syllable about it [UPDATE: CBS led with it on Saturday evening, see below], ABC's World News with Charles Gibson teased it and made it the newscast's second story (after the suicide bombing in Kabul) and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams led with it. Gibson teased: “A Senate report rejects a central argument for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, saying there is no Iraqi link to al-Qaeda." Reporter Martha Raddatz characterized the report as “a stinging rebuke to those assertions made by the White House leading up to the war...and long afterwards. In four years, the administration has argued that Saddam Hussein was tied to Abu Musab Zarqawi and al-Qaeda."
Williams opened his program by mocking the naivete of many Americans: "Good evening. According to an opinion poll just released this week, 43 percent of Americans believe Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the 9/11 attacks. That is almost half the country. Linking Iraq and al-Qaeda has been a tricky business. Some in the administration have made the tie. Tonight the notion of any link between the two has been shredded by a big new report issued by the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.” (Partial transcripts follow)
Friday's NBC Nightly News previewed an exchange between President Bush and Matt Lauer in the Oval Office, part of a longer session which will air on Monday's Today show, in which Lauer cited Amnesty International as the authority to undermine Bush's assertion that secret prisons to hold al-Qaeda operatives are legal. When Lauer indicted Bush, painting Bush as guilty of some kind of misdeed -- “You admitted that there were these CIA secret facilities” -- Bush scoffed: “So what? Why is that not within the law?” Lauer then retorted: “The head of Amnesty International says secret sites are against international law.” Bush countered: “Most American people, if I said that we had who we think's the mastermind of the 9/11, they would say, 'Why don't you see if you can't get information out of him without torturing,' which is what we did.” (Brief transcript, and more from online, follow.)
The CBS Evening News on Thursday night became the first broadcast network evening newscast to report how former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was the one who revealed how Joe Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, but CBS portrayed the Wilsons and taxpayers as the victims of the probe, not Scooter Libby or Karl Rove (whose name was never uttered), nor questions about the special counsel's pursuit. Couric framed the piece by asserting Wilson accused Bush of using “faulty intelligence to justify the war in Iraq” and the “leak ultimately sent a reporter to jail, got a top White House aide indicted, and set off a criminal investigation that has cost taxpayers $20 million so far.” In the “exclusive” interview with David Martin, Armitage maintained: “Oh, I feel terrible everyday. I think I let down the President, I let down the Secretary of State, I let down my department, my family, and I also let down Mr. and Mrs. Wilson.” Martin then asked: "You feel you owe the Wilson's an apology?" Martin did point out to Armitage, "You would have taken a lot of wind out of this whole feeding frenzy if you had come forward," prompting Armitage to say he had just honored the special counsel's request. And Martin wondered: “Did you ever think of saying, 'Mr. President, I screwed up'?”
Martin never addressed why the special counsel continued the probe when he knew up front that Armitage was Bob Novak's source, or retracted any of CBS's past mis-reporting (see below). CBS also presumed some facts not in evidence as Couric described Valerie Plame as an “undercover agent for the CIA” and Martin relayed: “It's a crime to knowingly reveal the identity of an undercover CIA officer.” (Transcript follows)
A small world of self-proclaimed “conservative” retired Marine Colonels disillusioned with President Bush, Republicans and the war in Iraq. Ten months after CNN's John King featured criticism of the Iraq war from retired Marine Colonel Jim Van Riper, in an Anderson Cooper 360 story from North Carolina on supposed declining support for the war in a conservative area, CBS's Byron Pitts traveled to the same state and located the very same Marine to demonstrate that on the war “even some life-long conservatives are no longer hearing the President's message." On Thursday's CBS Evening News, Pitts touted the ex-Marine's credentials: "Retired Marine Corps Colonel Jim Van Riper is a Christian, card-carrying member of the NRA who voted for President Bush twice. But as more Marines have died in Iraq, his confidence in the Bush administration died as well." Van Riper asserted: “I don't mind arrogance except when there's dead bodies as a result." Pitts explained how “Van Riper will vote for Democrats across the board," and then cued him up: “If you could sit across from President Bush, what would you say to him?" Van Riper: "Sir, I'm disappointed."
King signed off from Greenville, while Pitts reported from Jacksonville, the home of the Camp Lejuene Marine Corps base, presumably an area with thousands of retired Marine corps officers -- yet CNN and CBS, ten months apart, stumbled upon the very same retired Marine Colonel -- an amazing coincidence. (Transcript and more follows)
Rush Limbaugh delivered the "freeSpeech" segment on Thursday's CBS Evening News. Anchor Katie Couric set up him up: “With the fifth anniversary of 9/11 coming up, the topic tonight is the war on terror. And there may be no one more opinionated on the subject than radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.” Limbaugh began: “My friends, it's time to face a hard cold fact: Militant Islam wants to kill us just because we're alive and don't believe as they do....Now, this threat is not just going to go away because we choose to ignore it.”
He soon zeroed in on the problem: “But some Americans, sadly, are not interested in victory. And yet they want us to believe that their behavior is Patriotic. Well, it's not. When the critics are more interested in punishing this country over a few incidents at Abu Grahib and Guantanamo Bay than they are in defeating those who want to kill us; when they seek to destroy a foreign surveillance program which is designed to identify those who want to kill us and how they intend to do it; when they want to grant those who want to kill us, U.S. constitutional rights, I don't call that patriotic.” (Full text follows)
President Bush's announcement Wednesday, that he wants military tribunals for al-Qaeda operatives he's moved from secret sites to Guantanamo Bay, drew some unusual respect from top broadcast network stars, particularly ABC's George Stephanopoulos and CBS's Bob Schieffer, for its political cleverness. Stephanopoulos declared on World News with Charles Gibson: “Here the administration took an admission, and a mandate from the Supreme Court, and turned it into a powerful political statement. That's some clever jujitsu there.” Over on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, ex-anchor Schieffer told his replacement: “Well, he was very deft in how he did this, Katie....The President stressed the benefits from this program, he talked about how much information they'd gotten from these people...”
NBC's Tim Russert also employed the “jujitsu” term, but not in such an admiring way as he recalled how Democrats “remember after September 11th the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, a Democratic idea. The President opposed it. He then took it, jujitsu, and drove it and ran against Democrats in the midterm elections, of 2002, successfully.” Russert also passed along how Nancy Pelosi oddly charged: “The last time we saw a picture of Donald Rumsfeld, he was shaking Saddam Hussein's hand.”
A night after giving its “freeSpeech” platform over to the liberal Morgan Spurlock to gripe about the lack of “civil discourse,” the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric on Wednesday employed the feature to help plug a Thursday protest in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants. CBS put a soft and sympathetic edge on the topic by showcasing a Los Angeles Times reporter, Sonia Nazario, concerned about mothers in the U.S. separated from their kids south of the border. Couric set up Nazario by pointing out how, on Thursday in DC, there would be “a demonstration in favor of amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants.” The “freeSpeech” segment, Couric explained, would focus “on mothers who come here illegally, and the children they leave behind.”
Nazario began: “If we are going to start to solve our immigration problem and stay true to our family values, we need to understand the plight of hundreds of thousands of mothers now in the U.S. and the children they felt forced to leave behind in Central America. It's a humanitarian crisis.” Nazario is the author of Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother. (Transcript follows)
The new CBS Evening News with Katie Couric showcased her over correspondents (in a change from Schieffer's day she handled the opening plugs for upcoming stories), spotlighted her legs (at the top of the show, as she sat with an interviewee and stood in front of the anchor desk at the end of the program) and marked the Early Show-ization of the evening newscast with stories crammed into gimmicky segment titles: “CBS News Briefing” (four stories in 40 seconds), “CBS News Snap Shot” (“exclusive” pictures of Suri Cruise which Couric giddily touted as “proof positive that yessiree, she does exist”) and a “freeSpeech” commentary in which filmmaker Morgan Spurlock railed against how the media paint Americans into extremist positions. Over new theme music, the voice of Walter Cronkite announced: "This is the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric."
On the political agenda front, Couric opened with a topic apart from Tuesday's events: Setbacks in Afghanistan as the new female anchor handed off to female correspondent Lara Logan: “In the War on Terror, you have to wonder: Is it back to the drawing board? It's easy to forget Afghanistan is where that war began, and that 21,000 U.S. servicemen and women are still there. Now, nearly five years after U.S. forces defeated the Taliban and scattered the al-Qaeda terrorists they were protecting, the Taliban and their terror tactics are back.” While ABC and NBC aired stories on President Bush's speech about the dedication of terrorists and the Democratic reaction, CBS ran a story on Bush's arguments and then countered them with Couric interviewing New York Times columnist Tom Friedman who mocked Bush: “He's saying we're in the fight of our life, that the World War III of our generation, but let's have a tax cut.” Friedman also lamented: “We're a country that is seen widely around the world as exporting fear and not hope."
In an “On the Trail” segment from Rhode Island on Sunday's This Week, ABC's George Stephanopoulos lectured Stephen Laffey, the Republican primary challenger to incumbent Senator Lincoln Chafee, about taking a pledge to not raise federal income taxes: “If the deficit continued to grow, it's not responsible to say you're never going to raise taxes." When Laffey pointed out how Ronald Reagan's tax cuts “worked very well,” Stephanopoulos retorted: “Ronald Reagan also increased taxes." After Laffey touted the benefits of the Bush tax cuts, an exasperated Stephanopoulos resignedly concluded: "So it's 'read my lips,' you're never going to vote to raise taxes?"
Asked at the Aspen Institute's “Ideas Festival” in early July -- but just broadcast Saturday night on C-SPAN -- about the charge of liberal bias, incoming CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric was condescendingly dismissive. She blamed her viewers, calling it a “Rorschach test” which demonstrated how “oftentimes people put their, they see you from their own individual prisms. And if you're not reflecting their point of view or you're asking an antagonistic question of someone they might agree with in terms of policy, they see you as the enemy.” Later in the July 5 session, however, she presumed FNC does have a bias: “You have Fox which espouses a particular point of view."
Bob Schieffer appeared alongside Couric at the Colorado forum hosted by Aspen Institute President Walter Isaacson, the former CEO of CNN and Managing Editor of Time magazine. Schieffer contended that “the press is like a draft army. It generally reflects the society that it comes from” and insisted: “I know some reporters who have very hard-right views and some who have hard-left views.” I'd like to learn which journalists he considers “hard-right.” Schieffer also forwarded another common argument in rejection of liberal bias: “The greatest defense against charges of bias is accuracy.” In fact, a story can be accurate and yet still reflect a biased agenda. (Transcript follows)
The editorial in the September 11 edition of The Weekly Standard, written by Fred Barnes and posted on Saturday, contended now that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, not part of the pro-Iraq war White House cabal, has been identified as who told Bob Woodward and Bob Novak about how Joe Wilson was married to a CIA staffer, “the hoax lingered for three years and is only now being fully exposed for what it was.” Barnes asserted “the rogues' gallery of those who acted badly in the CIA 'leak' case turns out to be different from what the media led us to expect. Note that we put the word 'leak' in quotation marks, because it's clear now there was no leak at all, just idle talk, and certainly no smear campaign.” Barnes suggested “a few apologies are called for, notably by [Colin] Powell and Armitage, but also by the press. A correction -- perhaps the longest and most overdue in the history of journalism -- is in order.”
With Katie Couric poised to take over the CBS Evening News anchor chair on Tuesday following his departure from the network this summer, Dan Rather's era at CBS News has come to a definitive end. The coda certainly came Friday night with CBS's send-off re-airing of its Dan Rather: A Reporter Remembers special first run in March of 2005 (NewsBusters item on it.) As a holiday weekend treat from the MRC's video archive, enjoy one of Rather's wackier moments -- from the June 22, 1994 Late Show with David Letterman -- when Rather sang his version of Johnny Cash's The Wreck of the Old 97.
Tonight (Friday) at 9pm EDT/PDT, CBS will re-air its special, Dan Rather: A Reporter Remembers, that first ran on Wednesday March 9, 2005. The program showed the MRC's logo on screen at one point as Rather, dismissing a series of efforts to "intimidate" him, drew a line from being called "an 'N-lover'" during the civil rights movement to the Vietnam war years when critics tagged him with a "bad name: 'anti-military, anti-American, anti-war,'" and "then, when Watergate came into being was the first time I began to hear this word 'liberal' as an epithet thrown my way." Viewers then saw a montage of video clips and shots of Web sites with text accusing Rather and CBS of being "liberal," including the Media Research Center's logo and a headline over an MRC page on Rather. Without addressing evidence of his liberal tilt on policy, Rather charged that "people who have very strong biases of their own, they come at you with a story: 'If you won't report it the way I want it reported, then you're biased.'" On the Memogate affair, the CBS special touted how the review panel found "no political agenda."
Video clip with Rather's claims about "intimidation" with the MRC's Web site featured on screen (1:30): Real (2.6 MB), Windows Media (3 MB) plus MP3 audio (450 KB)
Thursday's Late Show with David Letterman on CBS featured a “Top Ten” list announced by CNN anchor Kyra Phillips, who on Tuesday was caught with her microphone on in a CNN restroom talking over a speech by President Bush. See this NewsBusters item by Megan McCormack for a transcript and fun video. The #5 from Phillips on Letterman: “I was set up by those bastards at Fox News.” To watch video of her presentation from the stage of the Ed Sullivan Theater, go to the Late Show home page. Or, direct to the Late Show's “Big Show Highlights” page and click on the top video. Either way, the video is available only as a streaming (not downloadable) Real clip. (Text of full list follows)
On Thursday night, CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, anchored by Kitty Pilgrim, featured a full story on the MRC's study by Tim Graham released on Monday, “Election In the Streets: How the Broadcast Networks Promote Illegal Immigration.” Pilgrim announced that “this nation's major newscasts are being accused of being blatantly sympathetic to illegal aliens.” Reporter Casey Wian explained how “a study released this week by the conservative Media Research Center...claims ABC, CBS, and NBC News have been promoting illegal immigration." After a soundbite from Graham, Wian relayed how “the study examined network news coverage of the issue from March 24th through May 31st. Among the findings, illegal alien amnesty advocates appeared in about twice as many soundbites as supporters of border security.” In addition, “networks routinely ignored polls showing the vast majority of Americans favor stronger border security. And the study concluded: 'The networks seemed to offer honorary citizenship to anyone crossing the border.'” (Transcript follows)
At the end of Thursday's CBS Evening News, with a slap on her arm Bob Schieffer greeted incoming anchor Katie Couric in front of the new set, which Schieffer said he couldn't show “because it's not quite finished yet.” Before viewers saw a pre-taped tribute to Schieffer narrated by Couric, she gushed: “I can't imagine following in the footsteps of a kinder, more gracious person.” Following the tribute, which ended with Schieffer choking up while thanking his parents and his wife, Schieffer got what Dan Rather did not on his last night: Handshakes at the side of the studio from CBS executives. For Schieffer, CBS News President Sean McManus and CBS President Les Moonves -- at least it looked like them in the crowd of applauding staffers and family members..
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Wednesday night used his Countdown show to deliver a vitriolic personal attack on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, “a reality check of Donald Rumsfeld's incendiary speech, a special comment on his attack on your right to disagree.” Olbermann concluded his program with a six-minute diatribe against Rumsfeld: “The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack. Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.” Olbermann equated the Bush administration with “the English government of Neville Chamberlain” which "knew that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated.” The MSNBC star charged, “The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.” The U.S., Olbermann asserted before concluding with Edward R. Murrow's "we must not confuse dissent with disloyalty," now “faces a new type of fascism.”
Olbermann opened his hour by claiming that during a Tuesday speech before the American Legion convention, Rumsfeld “compared critics of the current war in Iraq to those who tried to appease Adolf Hitler and the Nazis before World War II.” In fact, Rumsfeld simply worried about how not all realize how “we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism” from the Islamic world. Olbermann brought aboard DNC Chairman Howard Dean, proposing to him: “Is it, do you know, technically possible to impeach a Secretary of Defense and have we gotten to that stage after these remarks?” (Transcript follows. I realize Mark Finkelstein beat me on some of Olbermann's rant, but this post has additional quotes and video)
A night after NBC anchor Brian Williams featured, as his sole expert of the impact of race in the Katrina disaster, left-wing professor Michael Eric Dyson who charged that Barbara Bush's suggestion -- that many victims were better off in their new cities -- “reinforced the reputation of the Bushes as clueless patricians,” Williams confronted President George W. Bush Tuesday with the insult, as if Dyson is some sort of authoritative figure. Williams hit Bush with this indictment: "You have apologized for the damage, but what about the damage to your presidency? And, Mr. President, here's what I mean. Most of the analysts call it your low point. A lot of Americans are always going to believe that that weekend, that week, you were watching something on television other than what they were seeing, and Professor Dyson from the University of Pennsylvania said on our broadcast last night it was because of your 'patrician' upbringing, that it's a class issue."
Williams soon demanded to know if Bush has “any moments of doubt that we fought the wrong war, that there's something wrong with the perception of America overseas?" When Bush replied that “the war came to our shores, remember that. We had a foreign policy that basically said let's hope calm works. And we were attacked," Williams gratuitously retorted: "But those weren't Iraqis." Williams also advocated a tax hike in the guise of a question: "The folks who say you should have asked for some sort of sacrifice from all of us after 9/11, do they have a case, looking back on it?" (Transcript follows)
Looking back at Katrina a year later, NBC's Brian Williams decided to raise the issue of race and to showcase as his sole expert, on both Monday's NBC Nightly News and a prime time special, left-wing professor Michael Eric Dyson, author of Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster. Williams, from New Orleans, set up his Nightly News segment by arguing the disaster “destroyed” a lot and “it exposed a lot, too, including, some say, the dicey issues of race and class in our country.” Dyson, a regular on Bill Maher's HBO show and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, declared: "The people in New Orleans were left behind long before the vicious winds and violent waters of Hurricane Katrina came along to wash them away."
Williams asked: "What was your reaction when Barbara Bush said they're really better off?" Dyson retorted: "Yeah, I'm a Christian minister man, so I always try to give love as the first response. But I'll tell you, when Barbara Bush said that, it reinforced the reputation of the Bushes as clueless patricians, number one. Number two, inadvertently, let's be honest, she was right at a certain level...” Williams followed up: "Were they robbed of their dignity by the government?" (Transcript follows)
Writer/author Christopher Hitchens on Friday night gave the finger to the Los Angeles studio audience of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher. As he laid out the case for how it's Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who wants World War Three, not George W. Bush, Hitchens cited how Ahmadinejad “says the Messiah is about to come back.” Maher quipped: "So does George Bush, by the way.” That caused a loud eruption of audience applause and cheering, which led Maher to clarify: “That's not facetious.” The crowd continued to applaud as Hitchens remarked, about those in attendance who had earlier cheered and laughed as Maher called Bush an “idiot” repeatedly: "That's not facetious. Your audience, which will clap at apparently anything, is frivolous.” Loud oohs and groans emanated from the audience, prompting Hitchens to give them the finger as he castigated them, “Fuck you, fuck you,” while the groans continued. (Transcript follows)
On this weekend's Inside Washington, Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas, who maintained that “most...mainstream journalists believed -- close call -- that we had to go to this [Iraq] war,” have “now changed their view. You can feel it shift over the summer." Thomas observed: “You can feel this summer that group, of which I am a card-carrying member, lurch in a different direction in kind of with a hand-wringing sadness, but you can feel it, they're starting to head for the exits, looking for some kind of face-covering diplomatic solution or something, but boy you can feel it happening." Panelist Nina Totenberg of NPR protested that she was against the war in Iraq from the start, charging: “I think most sane people thought really this would make matters worse and it's made matters worse." (Transcript follows)
Bryant Gumbel has generated backlash from outgoing NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue for accusing him of keeping the players union chief on a “leash” as his “personal pet,” with Tagliabue suggesting the league may rescind its plan to have Gumbel do play-by-play for games on the NFL Network. But in the same commentary at the end of the August edition of HBO's Real Sports, first aired on August 15, Gumbel also used Vice President Dick Cheney as a foil in castigating the football league's temperament. In his “open letter” to incoming NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Gumbel opined: “Although your league is wildly successful, making it fit Dick Cheney's demeanor can't serve you well in the long run. Yeah, football's a business, but it's also a game. Legislating individuality out of the NFL may have been Paul's thing, but it needn't be yours. Have some fun, let others do the same.”
In a seeming shot at the Bush administration's priorities and competence, on Thursday's World News with Charles Gibson on ABC, Richard Clarke, the former counter-terrorism chief in the Clinton White House who left and then denounced the Bush White House, asserted the plot against airplanes uncovered in Britain shows al-Qaeda is still going after five years while the U.S. “eliminated” Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in four years.
Anchor Charles Gibson asked Clarke about how President Bush blamed “Islamic fascists,” but the leader of the plot “has links to al-Qaeda. So is this al-Qaeda?" Clarke, now an ABC News consultant, replied by proposing that “what today's plot reminds us is that five years after 9/11, the United States has not eliminated al-Qaeda. We eliminated Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in under four years, but five years into this war against al-Qaeda, they're out there still plotting major attacks against the United States." (Transcript of the exchange follows)
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams ended his Wednesday newscast by reading a few e-mails from viewers, starting with one which matched an August 1 NewsBusters/August 2 MRC CyberAlert item I wrote, "NBC's Williams Ignores Declining U.S. Troop Deaths, Highlights Total Iraq 'Death Toll.'" With the text on screen, Williams read aloud the comment from the unidentified e-mailer (a NewsBusters reader?) who complained about how Williams was guilty of "sensationalizing U.S. deaths in Iraq with a huge body count number flashed on the screen," and asked: "Do you think it might also have been news worth noting that July's casualty count was the third lowest in the past 2 years and that they FELL in July for the third straight month? Of course not -- because that does not fit the template of your news program." (Transcript, and the matching NewsBusters item, follows)
In leading Wednesday's CBS Evening News with how Senator Joe Lieberman lost the Democratic primary in Connecticut, fill-in anchor Harry Smith highlighted the number of U.S. servicemen killed in Iraq. Smith announced: “The war in Iraq, which has cost nearly 2,600 Americans their lives, has just taken its first major political casualty here at home.” And a day after CBS's Trish Regan described as “infamous” the embrace, derided as “The Kiss” by supporters of Connecticut Senate hopeful Ned Lamont, between President George W. Bush and incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman in the well of the House after Bush's 2005 State of the Union address, reporter Jim Axelrod dubbed it the “kiss of death.” Over video of the embrace, with “KISS OF DEATH” on screen, Axelrod asserted: “President Bush's embrace of Joe Lieberman gave Ned Lamont the perfect image to hang around his opponent's neck in a Democratic primary." (Partial transcript follows)
Twice on Tuesday, CBS News correspondent Trish Regan labeled as “infamous” the embrace, derided as “The Kiss” by supporters of Connecticut Senate hopeful Ned Lamont, between President George W. Bush and incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman in the well of the House after Bush's 2005 State of the Union address. Regan didn't attribute the characterization to Lieberman's opponents. She stated it as fact. On the Early Show she explained over brief video of the event: "Ned Lamont has used this now infamous kiss to his advantage on campaign buttons and television ads, suggesting Lieberman is just too cozy with the President." Then on the CBS Evening News, Regan asserted over the same video: “His campaign has used images like this now infamous kiss." (Picture of "The Kiss" follows)