MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Tuesday night targeted "comedian" Rush Limbaugh as his “Worst Person in the World” for “suggesting that civilian deaths in Lebanon are necessary to stop terror.” Employing a mockingly braggadocios voice to try to impersonate Limbaugh, Olbermann read a sentence from Limbaugh and then asserted that Limbaugh had echoed “something another commentator said nine years ago,” namely Osama bin Laden. Olbermann read the bin Laden quote, without any mocking impersonation, and then concluded the August 1 Countdown segment: “Rush Limbaugh, following the logic and ethics of Osama bin Laden, today's Worst Person in the World!" (Transcript follows)
A night after ABC anchor Charles Gibson highlighted some good news on the Iraq front -- how “the U.S. military death toll in Iraq fell in July, for the third-straight month” to “the third-lowest monthly death toll in two years" -- NBC anchor Brian Williams on Tuesday chose to put a downbeat spin on the situation in Iraq as he provided only the total number of U.S. deaths without any mention of whether they are increasing or decreasing. On the August 1 NBC Nightly News, Williams, who on Monday did not report the declining monthly deaths, set up a story from Iraq: “This has also been an especially deadly day in Iraq where dozens of soldiers and civilians were killed and tonight we have an update on the number of American troops killed since the invasion: 2,579. Meantime, attacks and kidnapings are getting worse in the capital city. Our report from there tonight from NBC's Ned Colt...” On screen as Williams spoke, “DEATH TOLL” with this beneath: “2579 TROOPS SINCE THE INVASION.”
Liberal media critics dismiss FNC as biased to the right, pointing to how Republicans prefer to watch it, but a new poll completed by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that by the same margin that Republicans choose to get their news from FNC, Democrats prefer to learn their news from the broadcast networks and, to a somewhat lesser extent, CNN and NPR. In the survey released Sunday, 34 percent of Republicans reported they watch FNC regularly, compared to 20 percent of Democrats -- a 14 point spread. As for the broadcast networks, Pew reported: “The gap between Republicans and Democrats in regular viewership of the nightly network news on ABC, CBS, or NBC is now 14 points, nearly three times as large as it was in 2004; currently, 38 percent of Democrats regularly watch compared with 24 percent of Republicans. There is a slightly smaller gap in the regular audience for NPR -- 22 percent of Democrats listen regularly, compared with 13 percent of Republicans.” A higher percentage of Democrats than Republicans watch CNN, MSNBC, network morning shows, Sunday morning interview programs and TV news magazine shows. Other than FNC, Rush Limbaugh is the only measured news source to which more Republicans than Democrats turn.
One week after ABC anchor Charles Gibson made a special point about how bad the situation in Iraq remained while media attention focused on the Israel-Hezbollah war, specifically noting how “more U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq these past two weeks than Israeli soldiers have died in their conflict,” Gibson on Monday night -- uniquely on the broadcast network evening newscasts -- highlighted some good news: How U.S. military deaths are falling in Iraq. Gibson read this short item on the July 31 World News: “One item to mention from Iraq tonight. The U.S. military death toll in Iraq fell in July, for the third-straight month, despite the rising sectarian violence. As of yesterday, 44 U.S. forces had been killed in July. And that's the third-lowest monthly death toll in two years.” An accompanying on-screen chart showed the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq declining from 76 in April to 69 in May to 61 in June and 44 in July.
CBS anchor Bob Schieffer on Friday night forwarded the idea that the Israeli situation in Lebanon matches the U.S. miscalculation in Iraq. “Despite this heavy bombing that Hezbollah's been getting from the Israelis,” Schieffer told reporter David Martin, “they continue to attack and some critics are saying the Israelis may have made the same mistake that the United States made in Iraq, and that is underestimated what they were up against.” Martin didn't address Schieffer's comparison of the Israel-Hezbollah war with the Iraq war, but he did confirm that “Pentagon officials say both U.S. and Israeli intelligence have underestimated the strength, capabilities, and resilience of Hezbollah.” (Transcript follows)
If Democrats win big this fall, David Gregory's Thursday story on NBC Nightly News may look prescient, but his effort to show how Republicans are newly in trouble in suburban Philadelphia suffered from several analytical flaws. Of those in four featured soundbites, three complained about Iraq, including one comment from a Democratic congressional candidate who hardly represented any trend among Republicans, and one lamented Bush's lack of “fiscal responsibility.” Unmentioned: Illegal immigration, an issue on which many Republicans disagree with Bush. Gregory served up as emblematical of Republican troubles a “lifelong Republican” and two “Republican voters,” but while they may be frustrated with national Republicans, if they are truly Republicans why would they vote for a candidate from the opposition party? Gregory described the Haverford area as “reliably Republican in the past,” asserting that “this year the mood has changed.” But seconds later, he undermined his premise when he acknowledged that the area “has been trending Democratic in recent years, even narrowly supporting John Kerry for President."
At the top of his piece, viewers saw a zoom-in on a car's bumper sticker with an image of a woman pulling out her hair: “Haven't You Had It with Republicans? “Vote for Change!”
ABC's World News with Charles Gibson on Thursday night hyperventilated over “breathtaking profits” for ExxonMobil, how the company made “more in 30 seconds than many families earn in a year" and how “just” $4 billion went to exploration while $6 billion went to “enriching” shareholders. But ABC never cited the company's quarterly profit number -- which at $10 billion matches $4 billion plus $6 billion and means 40 percent went for exploration.
Reporter Betsy Stark asserted: "The earnings reported today are astounding. In three months, Exxon earned $114 million a day, $80,000 a minute. Or, look at it this way: In 30 seconds, the ExxonMobil corporation makes about what an average American family earns in an entire year." (ABC charges more for a prime time ad than many families make in a year, but it's an equally silly comparison. A better one: Charles Gibson earns more in a day than most make in a year.) Stark fretted that “Exxon said just $4 billion went to exploring for new sources of oil. But $6 billion went to buying back its stock, enriching its shareholders.” How awful. But those two expenditures match the total of Exxon's profit, a number Stark conveniently failed to report verbally or on screen. Stark concluded by noting how “Democrats denounced" the profits announced by oil companies. Well, Stark and ABC certainly advanced the Democratic agenda. (Transcript follows)
On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin could have cited a letter (PDF of it) to President Bush from Congressman Ike Skelton, ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, about how "nearly every non-deployed combat brigade in the active Army is reporting that they are not ready to complete their assigned wartime mission." But instead, when asked by anchor Bob Schieffer about the “strain” on troops longer deployments in Iraq will cause, Martin cited the left-wing's favorite Democrat as his authoritative source: "Congressman Jack Murtha said today Iraq has drained the Army to the point now that the vast majority of combat brigades in the U.S. and Europe are rated at the lowest level of readiness."
Declaring that "I think the next President's got to be stronger and smarter than this one," on Tuesday's Imus in the Morning, MSNBC's Chris Matthews went on a tirade for over two minutes against President Bush and those around him who filled his intellectual vacuum. Don Imus pleaded: "Did you plan on taking a breath at any point?"
"It's all ideology with this crowd. All they care about is ideology,” Matthews fretted as he charged: “The President bought it hook, line and sinker.” Matthews delivered insults as he asserted that Bush “trusts the intellectuals, the guys he knew at school. You know, they're a bunch of pencil-necks and now he buys completely their ideology because he didn't have one of his own coming in. That was his problem. I don't know what Bush stood for except 'I'm a cool guy and Gore isn't.'” The Hardball host yearned: “I hope the next election isn't a problem of who goes to bed with their wife at 9:30 at night or who knows how to tell a joke on a stage, but it's who has the sense of strength that comes from having read books most of their life, tried to understand history.” Though Matthews didn't warn of “every single” bad development in Iraq, he contended that “every single thing that's happened in Iraq was predicted by history” and lamented that “Bush didn't have the academic background to challenge” the ignorant ideologues who ignored history. (Transcript follows)
In a Tuesday USA Today article on the 90th birthday of NPR's left-wing commentator, Daniel Schorr, Peter Johnson revealed the ignorance of NPR producers about modern history. Johnson began his July 25 puff piece on the CBS News veteran, “60 years later, NPR's Schorr is still a 'precious resource,'” with some anecdotes about how NPR producers turn to him for basic facts:
Daniel Schorr is used to producers popping into his Washington, D.C., office at National Public Radio to ask, on deadline: Which war came first, Korea or Vietnam? (Answer: Korea.)
But when one asked, "You covered the Spanish-American War, didn't you?” Schorr couldn't help but respond, matter-of-factly: “That was 1898.”
“Oh, sorry, of course,” the younger man said, excusing himself.
On Monday's World News, ABC anchor Charles Gibson segued from coverage of the Israel-Hezbollah battle to remind viewers of how badly things are going in Iraq. Over an on-screen graphic of the numbers of civilians and military members killed in Iraq compared to the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, Gibson announced: “Well the focus of the world, in recent days, has been on Israel and Lebanon. And attention has been diverted from Iraq. But it should be noted that in the thirteen days since the Israeli/Lebanese crisis began, more Iraqi civilians have died  than Lebanese . And more U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq these past two weeks  than Israeli soldiers have died in their conflict . Also somewhat overlooked is the fact that Saddam Hussein has been on a two-week hunger strike. ABC's Terry McCarthy is in Baghdad tonight....”
Without any mention of the vicious hostility the NAACP displayed toward President Bush since he spoke before the group in 2000, including a TV ad linking Bush's refusal to sign a hate crime bill to the dragging death of a black man in Texas, the Thursday broadcast network evening newscasts portrayed Bush as the one responsible for the estrangement. All stressed how Bush's Thursday appearance before the NAACP convention was his first and all three ran soundbites only from attendees critical of him.
"It took five and a half years, but President Bush finally said yes to the NAACP,” ABC's Charles Gibson asserted, elaborating: “The President has ignored invitations throughout his presidency to speak to the civil rights group.” Martha Raddatz emphasized Bush's absences: "The White House saw this as an opportunity the President couldn't pass up. But it is an opportunity he had passed up every year since he was elected.” CBS anchor Bob Schieffer highlighted how Bush “spoke today to the NAACP for the first time in six years as President.” Jim Axelrod relayed how “prior to Katrina, he never spoke to the convention as President, but since September, he's reached out to the head of the NAACP three separate times." NBC's Brian Williams set up a story by noting how “President Bush spoke to the NAACP for the first time in his presidency.” David Gregory asserted that efforts to reach out to blacks “have failed” and “then came Katrina and charges that racism motivated the federal government's slow response.” (Transcripts follow.)
ABC News on Wednesday framed its coverage, of President Bush's veto of a bill to provide federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, from the point of view of those upset by his decision. Charles Gibson, anchor of the newly-named World News with Charles Gibson, delivered a tease and a plug which conveyed only the view of those in favor of the bill and earlier in the day, before the veto occurred, Good Morning America featured an uncontested pleading by actor Michael Fox in favor of the taxpayer funding.
Gibson teased, over video of Fox: "President Bush denies new funding for stem cell research, bringing outrage from some high-profile proponents." Before the first ad break, Gibson highlighted how Bush “vetoed expanded stem cell research and proponents are livid." GMA co-host Bill Ritter touted how “supporters believe this research could bring new hope to millions of people suffering from diseases like Parkinson's, people like actor Michael J. Fox, who spoke to us in a GMA exclusive.” Viewers then saw an uninterrupted minute and 45 seconds from Fox, who lamented how “I find it frustrating that the President will use his first veto of his time in office to thwart this research. It just seems a shame to me.” After the lecture, Ritter admired: "Michael J. Fox boldly in his own words."
On the same day that a Hezbollah rocket killed two children in Nazareth, Israel, NBC's Brian Williams visited an Israeli Defense Force artillery outpost in northern Israel and noted how the soldiers “don't think a whole lot about where these shells go” in Lebanon and laid a guilt trip on an Israeli officer by predicting how one of his shells will inevitably “kill a six-year old boy.” Williams proposed to the officer: “One of these shells today or tomorrow, if we go with the law of averages, is going to kill a six-year-old boy somewhere. And it's not the intended target of one of these shells."
Earlier on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, Richard Engel highlighted how “in Qasmiya in south Lebanon, an Israeli bomb left a crater where children were playing. Ismail lost his son today. 'They were small children. Do you see Hezbollah here?' he asked." Martin Fletcher soon related how a Hezbollah rocket “smashed into the roof of a car dealership in the Arab town of Nazareth. Two boys playing in the garden were killed instantly. They were ages three and nine.” (Partial transcript of Williams follows)
Jim Murphy, who castigated the MRC as “more biased” than the mainstream media and rejected criticism in NewsBusters when he was the Executive Producer of the CBS Evening News, will soon take control of ABC's Good Morning America. Broadcasting & Cable magazine's Web site today reported that ABC's news division “is expected to name Jim Murphy...as Senior Executive Producer of Good Morning America, according to sources inside ABC News.” Murphy ran the CBS Evening News for six years, until being replaced in November.
Last September, when two NewsBusters/MRC CyberAlert items criticized biased CBS Evening News stories about President Bush and Katrina (a CBS reporter gratuitously pointed out how Bush spoke “inside an air-conditioned tent” while most were sweltering and on another night CBS uniquely highlighted a slam at the Bush administration from Jimmy Carter), CBS's Public Eye blog asked Murphy to respond and he charged that the Media Research Center “is a much more biased organization than any institution in the MSM."
NBC's Andrea Mitchell asked on Monday's NBC Nightly News: “What is Hezbollah and what is its end game?” Mitchell first answered that “experts say to prove it can damage Israel in ways Arab countries couldn't.” But then she proceeded to refer to “Hezbollah's charismatic leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah,” also describing him as “a Shiite populist” who she relayed, over video of kids, “provides social services where Lebanon's weak new government cannot.” Mitchell refrained from labeling Hezbollah as “terrorist” -- or mentioning how its real "end game" is the destruction of Israel -- going no further than to say it “operates militias." (Transcripts follows)
When, on the McLaughlin Group over the weekend, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift charged that President Bush is “a dictator who's ineffective,” an incensed Chrystia Freeland, a Canadian native who is the Managing Editor in the U.S. of London's Financial Times, scolded Clift for using the dictator label “so loosely” and inaccurately.
Clift opined that of those attending the G-8 summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin is “the only one of those leaders who goes in there with a commanding popularity among his own people, because he is perceived to be an effective dictator. What we have in this country is a dictator who's ineffective." Freeland, shouting over panelists who were trying to move on to other points, retorted: "But he's not a dictator! I mean we can't use, no we can't use these terms so loosely." Clift backtracked a bit: “Well we have an authoritarian President who is ineffective." But Freeland stood her ground, pointing out: "You guys can elect your Presidents and there can be a free choice. That's not the case in Russia."
Tom Brokaw's two-hour Sunday night special, Global Warming: What You Need to Know, may be airing on the Discovery Channel, but NBC News, a co-producer of the program, is adopting it as its own even as another reviewer has asserted it provides a one-sided presentation. At the end of Friday's NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams touted, “One quick program note here about a friend of ours: Tom Brokaw's special report on global warming airs this Sunday night on the Discovery Channel. That's at 9 Eastern time.” A bit later Friday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann previewed a clip of the cable special: "Tom Brokaw has faced right-wing attacks for his report on global warming. We'll give you your first look at his special report and about how the latest news is that the Earth's warming is leading to the deaths of polar bears." Countdown viewers were then treated to an excerpt from the show in which Brokaw presented one scientists' take on how global warming is harming polar bears in the Arctic which, Brokaw definitely declared, are “likely to become another statistic in one's database of a species on its way to extinction." The excerpt -- identical to the preview clip aired on Friday's Today -- was certainly one-sided, but Olbermann insisted Brokaw's special “is plenty balanced. It is the Earth's atmosphere that is not balanced."
Meanwhile, in a review posted Friday by Bloomberg News, Dave Shiflett concluded: “You'll find more dissent at a North Korean political rally than in this program.” (A transcript, excerpts and a picture of cute baby polar bears follow)
[UPDATE: Saturday's NBC Nightly News aired an excerpt which showed the special matches Al Gore's fear-mongering ]
On Thursday night, and then again on Friday night, anchor Brian Williams gave time on the NBC Nightly News to highlighting Valerie Plame Wilson's lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney, his former Chief of Staff Scooter Libby and top Bush advisor Karl Rove. On Thursday, Williams framed the story from Plame Wilson's agenda, reporting her “cover was blown after her husband criticized the Bush administration's claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction,” and relayed how her lawsuit says Cheney, Libby and Rove “all conspired to discredit, punish and seek revenge against the couple and claims their constitutional and legal rights were violated.” Rove's denial then got five words.
On Friday night, Williams heralded how “today we heard Plame speak in public for the very first time. She told reporters in Washington she and her husband filed this lawsuit with quote, 'heavy hearts.'" Viewers then saw a clip of Plame slamming her targets: "I and my former CIA colleagues trusted our government to protect us as we did our jobs. That a few reckless individuals within the current administration betrayed that trust has been a grave disappointment to every patriotic American." (Transcripts follow.)
As if the incursions into Israel by Hamas and Hezbollah, and subsequent counter-attacks by Israel and now escalating efforts by Israel to fight back with bombings inside Lebanon, are somehow the fault of the Bush administration, on Thursday's NBC Nightly News reporter Andrea Mitchell asserted: “Critics in both parties say the administration has been so focused on Iraq and Afghanistan, it has failed to pay enough attention to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.” Mitchell had asked: “What role has the U.S. played? Today, U.S. diplomat David Welch arrived in Israel, but critics say, too late, 17 days after the first Israeli soldier was captured. And Condoleezza Rice has not been to Israel or the Palestinian territories since last November." James Steinberg of the University of Texas then maintained “that American credibility has been damaged by our unwillingness to get involved." (Transcript follows)
Declaring he “absolutely” believes “the truth” of his discredited story based on forged memos, about President Bush's National Guard record, on Wednesday's Larry King Live on CNN Dan Rather contended that “we had a lot, a lot of corroboration, of what we broadcast about President Bush's military record. It wasn't just the documents.” Rather then attacked those who dared to expose his misdeeds: “It's a very old technique used, that when those who don't like what you're reporting believe it can be hurtful, then they look for the weakest spot and attack it, which is fair enough. It's a diversionary technique."
A bit later, Rather played the martyr. Reminded by King of how Rather's CBS News was called “the liberal network,” Rather charged: "They call you names when you insist on being independent.” Rather proceeded to insist, clearly talking about himself, that journalists who are “willing to be truly independent, and fiercely independent when called upon, and dedicated to pulling no punches and playing no favorites have become in recent years a bit of an endangered species.” Rather even resurrected how CBS “took on” Senator McCarthy and “led in coverage of the only President in history who resigned as an unindicted co-conspirator in a widespread criminal conspiracy. Now, when you're a reporter involved in those kinds of stories on a regular basis, there are...powerful people who say we've got to get rid of this guy or...we're going to damage him up. And that's when they start hanging the signs around you."
Video clip #1, Rather "absolutely" believes Bush story "true" (43 seconds): Real (1.3 MB) or Windows Media (1.5 MB), plus MP3 audio (260 KB)
Video clip #2, Rather denounces his critics and insists he's "fiercely independent" (2:32): Real (4.4 MB) or Windows Media (5 MB at 256 kbps or 1.7 MB at 100 kbps), plus MP3 audio (900 KB)
Wednesday's CBS Evening News ran a story on same-sex marriage which presumed that once enacted -- “resolved” in the term used by reporter Byron Pitts -- it should not be reversed, as Pitts portrayed the issue through the prism of same-sex marriage advocates upset by a move to pass a constitutional amendment in Massachusetts to make it illegal. “The battle has now moved to the only state where it is legal but where,” anchor Bob Schieffer cautioned, “if opponents have their way, it won't be for long.” Pitts demanded of Kristian Mineau of the Massachusetts Family Institute: "How did it get to this point? This is liberal Massachusetts. This state resolved this issue two years ago." After Mineau pointed out that unelected judges imposed same-sex marriage, Pitts trumpeted how “advocates had hoped it was the start of another Massachusetts revolution."
Pitts twice challenged the views expressed by Mineau, but didn't challenge an advocate of same-sex marriage. For instance, when Mineau complained about how “the children of this commonwealth are already radically affected because kindergarten and first-graders that are being indoctrinated into the homosexual lifestyle and into homosexual marriage," an appalled Pitts retorted: "You say that as if homosexuality is something evil." Over a map of the U.S., Pitts fretted: "For supporters of gay marriage nationwide, this proposed amendment in Massachusetts couldn't come at a worse time. Much of that momentum first generated here a few years ago now seems headed the other way. Nineteen states have already adopted a constitutional ban on gay marriage. Six more could have it on their ballot this November." (Transcript follows)
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts on Tuesday delivered short items on how this year's budget deficit will be $296 billion, down substantially from the administration's predication of $423 billion, but while ABC anchor Kate Snow and CBS anchor Bob Schieffer stuck to how economic growth fueled increased tax revenue, NBC anchor Brian Williams decided to relay, without naming any names, a conspiracy theory: “Many economists and administration critics say the White House has deliberately inflated its own deficit projections in the past few years to score political points when the actual numbers came in lower." Of the three anchors, only CBS's Schieffer noted the role of tax cuts, citing how President Bush “gave the credit to his tax cuts, saying they stimulated the economy and boosted the amount of money coming into the Treasury." (Transcripts follow)
On Sunday's This Week, during the roundtable discussion, host George Stephanopoulos embarrassed himself and had to backtrack after he raised Clinton Defense Secretary William Perry's recommendation -- that President Bush bomb the nuclear missiles on the launchpad in North Korea -- but then went a step further and combined Perry's proposal with blaming the Iraq war for preventing that type of action in 2003, only to be thoroughly refuted by George Will. “I don't even believe what I said,” Stephanopoulos sheepishly conceded, “So I take it back, you're right.”
Stephanopoulos had proposed: “What if in 2003, instead of invading Iraq, President Bush takes out the reprocessing facilities in North Korea, which according to Secretary Perry, President Clinton was willing to do back in 1993 before they started the negotiations? We would be in a far different place." How ground troops in Iraq precluded one of many Navy ships not committed to Iraq from firing off a few missiles at a target, Stephanopoulos did not explain. But Will pointed out how “the capital of South Korea is 30 miles away from the 38th parallel, North Korea, and we don't know what kind of spasm might result from this irrational regime. North Korea could destroy that capital without a soldier leaving the North Korea and using entirely conventional weapons." To which, Stephanopoulos offered his retraction and quickly segued to the Lieberman Senate race.
On Friday's Washington Week on PBS, taped at the Aspen Ideas Festival (“Inspired Thinking in an Idyllic Setting”), when asked by host Gwen Ifill about hateful speech in politics and directed at journalists -- “Is that polarization real or is it just people blogging?" -- NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell charged that “the kind of hateful speech that we have seen...in a lot of the blogosphere...goes back, in my own experience, to 1989 when the talk radio shows went crazy about the congressional pay raise.” She then reasoned: “The anti-Washington, anti-bureaucrat bias that was built into that debate was then taken up by cable talk hosts as well and that became the kind of really combative conversation that displaced reasoned discussions about controversial issues."
PBS picked six members of the Colorado conference audience to pose questions to the panel. None came from the right and four were clearly from the left, starting with a woman who wondered: “How can we keep religion out of government and politics?" A man complained: “What's the responsibility of government and the press regarding poor people and why do we hear so little about housing crisis, minimum wage, homeless people and low-wage workers?" That pleased James Bennet, a former New York Times White House reporter who is now Editor of The Atlantic magazine: "It's a great question. I've been wondering what happened to the issue of homelessness in America.” (Partial transcripts follow)
The White House criticism, of the New York Times over its story disclosing an ongoing anti-terrorism effort to track financial transactions, sent MSNBC's Keith Olbermann into a tizzy Tuesday night as he showed no interest in the substance of the criticism or behavior of the newspaper and instead focused on the appropriateness of daring to take on the media behemoth. His on-screen text during his tease at the top of Countdown, “DISTRACT THE PEOPLE: Attack the Messenger.” Olbermann soon cited “what some are calling the Swift-Boating of the American media, particularly the New York Times,” as if anyone but his own show is using that term meant to discredit criticism of liberals. "Swift-Boating the Media" was the on-screen display during part of the lead segment.
He also denounced a “hysterical editorial,” on National Review Online, “demanding the Times lose its White House press credentials," before guest Craig Crawford ridiculed the attacks as electoral politics: "I think it goes back to the midterm campaign strategy. This is another way for Republicans to stoke the base, to burn in effigy the elite news media....I think this is just classic attack the messenger, you know, to get those conservatives who hate the news media worked up again.” Olbermann also snuck in this shot, shall we say: “The Vice President hadn't drawn as much blood since he shot poor Mr. Whittington.”
The disgust of conservatives directed at the New York Times after the newspaper on Friday again undermined national security, this time by taking the lead in exposing a program to monitor international financial transactions by terrorist operatives, hasn't much disturbed the broadcast networks. While the cable news channels have been filled with coverage, especially after President Bush on Monday called the disclosure “disgraceful,” the CBS Evening News with Bob Schieffer hasn't touched the controversy -- though it has made time for stories on how at Wimbledon women are paid less prize money than men and on a left-wing (un-labeled) group's efforts to raise the minimum wage -- and other broadcast network coverage has questioned the administration's motives.
On Monday night, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell asserted that “today's coordinated White House assault is more than simply shared frustration. Analysts say there is political upside as well." Tuesday, on NBC's Today, co-host David Gregory doubted the White House, wondering “whether we should be taking their word for it. That these are legal programs, inappropriate programs. Do you think the administration has earned the right, has any administration earned the right in this kind of war to protect that kind of secret?" Chris Matthews replied: "Well not this one.” On CBS's Early Show, Harry Smith called the paper an “easy target” and suggested: "Is this just a way to attack the evil media or does he have a legitimate beef here?" Meanwhile, on Tuesday's GMA, ABC's Jessica Yellin featured New York Times reporter Eric Litchblau's insistence that “we're not trying to tilt the debate, we're not trying to influence the debate one way or the other. We're just trying to inform the public debate," as well as a great zinger from radio talk show host Scott Hennen about how the Times has become “a terrorist tip sheet."
Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas, who in March condescendingly charged on Inside Washington that opposition to the UAE ports deals was a “classic for talk radio" since "it's something simple idiots can understand,” on this weekend's edition of the panel show again ridiculed talk radio -- this time as a caldron of “anger” on illegal immigration. But Thomas was dubious about whether the anger is really about immigration, or just where talk radio listeners have parked their incessant anger. He asserted that “in conservative talk radio there's this constant anger and it attaches itself to different issues. It sort of moves around. And right now, or for some months, it's been attached to immigration. What's not clear is whether that moveable anger will just find some other issue if Congress does nothing...”
The panel, on Friday’s Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC, denounced the New York Times for their Friday article, quickly picked up by other newspapers and published over the objection of the Bush administration and 9/11 commissioners, about how the CIA and Treasury Department are tracking international banking transactions by terrorist operatives.
Columnist Charles Krauthammer contended “there's a reason why we haven't had an attack since 9/11, and unfortunately we've learned about it by these journalistic leaks about all of the secret programs.” He lit into the judgment of the Times: “The idea of having it published out there, in a sense disarming us by letting the bad guys know how we're tracing their wire transfers, I think, is a disgrace.” Krauthammer added: “I think this is the 21st century equivalent of publishing the Enigma program in the Second World War in which we listened in on secret German communications in submarines.” Morton Kondracke suggested the New York Times assumes “we've got more to fear from our own government than we do from terrorist attacks” and regretted how “there are evidently people in the bureaucracy who share that view who are willing to blabber to the New York Times.” As for what motivates the newspaper, the panelists pointed to the wish to win another Pulitzer Prize. (Transcript follows)
The CBS Evening News has begun to run promos for Katie Couric's impending takeover of the anchor chair. The spots feature quick cuts, from different angles, of Bob Schieffer on the Evening News set as he assures viewers of Couric's qualifications. In the spot aired at the end of Wednesday's newscast, Schieffer promised that “she's tough, she's fair, she's a straight-shooter” and “she'll be terrific.” In Thursday's promo, Schieffer insisted: “The anchor chair will be in good hands because my friend Katie Couric will be here. Just watch." Each spot, which may also be airing across the CBS schedule, ends with a screen showing a smiling Couric on the left with “COMING IN SEPTEMBER” on the right over a stylized “CBS Evening Newswith Katie Couric” graphic. So, now we know she won't be reverting to “Katherine.” (Full text of the 10 and 15-seconds spots follow)