Meredith Vieira, one of the hosts on ABC's daytime show The View, who announced on Thursday's program that she has agreed to replace Katie Couric as co-host of NBC's Today, marched in an anti-Iraq war protest back in August of 2004. On the Monday, August 30, 2004 edition of The View, the former CBS 60 Minutes reporter told viewers that she attended the anti-Bush protest held in New York City on the Sunday before the Republican convention opened, insisting: "I didn't go anti-Bush or pro-Kerry. I'm still so upset about this war and I'm so proud I live in a country where you can protest." She showed a photo of herself marching with her pre-teen daughter and her husband, Richard, who was the senior political producer at CBS News for most of the 1980s. Behind her in the photo: A protest sign featuring a “W,” for George W. Bush, with a slash through it.
Earlier in 2004, she declared of the Iraq war: "Everything's been built on lies. Everything! I mean the entire pretext for war." And, with war impending in March of 2003, Vieira argued that anti-war protests "should be consistent and repeated every day, I believe." On other episodes of The View Vieira has also made clear her opposition to the death penalty and when guest Ann Coulter charged that “liberals hate America,” Vieira called that “stupid" and became defensive: “But some people wrap themselves in the flag -- I mean, that's what some liberals are against.” Then she charged: "Just like McCarthy: 'I'm just being patriotic.'"
Video clip #1: Vieira talking about participating in the 2004 anti-Iraq war march (1:25). Real (2.5 MB) or Windows Media (2.9 MB), plus MP3 audio (425 KB).
A day after the Democratic legislature of Massachusetts passed a mandated health insurance plan, and tellingly the day of a front page New York Times story (“Massachusetts Sets Health Plan for Nearly All”) touting the bill which Republican Governor Mitt Romney plans to sign, all three broadcast network evening newscasts led Wednesday by championing the proposal and characterizing it as a national model. ABC and NBC provided critics with just a sentence while CBS ran a totally one-sided promotional story. ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas teased: "Tonight, one state's revolutionary attempt to create universal health care. If a state can do it, why can't the country?" Vargas claimed: “Most people think medical costs are too high and would like a universal insurance system to cover everyone.” Reporter Nancy Weiner soon trumpeted: “Many experts say after years of failed attempts in several states, and by the federal government the Massachusetts version of universal health care, which stresses individual responsibility, could serve as a national model."
CBS Evening News anchor Russ Mitchell celebrated the government mandate, “Imagine this: Virtually everyone guaranteed health insurance coverage. It's happening in one state, and it could be a model for the rest.” Over on the NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams dreamed: “Health insurance for everybody. Is it possible? Tonight, one state about to make it the law. If it works, will the same thing happen where you live?” He soon wondered: “If this works, why not the rest of the nation? It's been called 'mandatory health care,' 'universal health care,' and, while it has its critics, it's also being called a potential and revolutionary solution to a huge problem: the millions of uninsured Americans.” (Transcripts follow.)
Kudos to CBS News and Lara Logan for undermining a widely reported incident in which U.S. soldiers supposedly killed innocent Iraqis inside a mosque. On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, Logan, who just three days earlier on CNN contemptuously dismissed as “outrageous” Laura Ingraham's criticism of Iraq war coverage for ignoring the courageous work of U.S. servicemen, relayed how “the U.S. says” those killed “were members of a militia responsible for executions and kidnappings who opened fire on elite Iraqi forces carrying out a raid early Sunday evening.” But, “many Iraqis believe they were innocent worshipers praying in a mosque who were slaughtered by American forces. Today the Iraqi commander in charge of that raid, whose identity we can't show for security reasons, told CBS News that was a lie." After soundbites from the Iraqi commander and a kidnap victim they rescued, Logan concluded with how the trouble facing Americans in Iraq is that Iraqis believe “another crime” was committed by Americans: “The American special operations troops who supported the Iraqis on this raid praised both their skill and their restraint. But the continuing problem for the U.S. is the public perception here that what happened Sunday was another crime committed by American forces.” (Transcript follows, plus Logan's attack on Ingraham)
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams on Wednesday night employed a nice euphemism for left-wing environmental groups (those “who care chiefly about our planet”) , thus without conveying any sense of their ideological agenda, he passed along their ridiculing of the Bush administration for not going far enough in hiking the miles per gallon (mpg) standards for SUVs. In leading with the announcement from the Transportation Department, Williams noted that SUVs “have been considered trucks” and thus “been able to duck the mileage rules for American cars.” Williams, who anchored from Washington, DC, presumably so he could attend the Radio-Television News Directors Association dinner, then relayed how “the folks here in Washington and elsewhere who care chiefly about our planet and the insatiable American need for energy, said these new standards will not, in fact, reduce our consumption of oil.”
Reporter Tom Costello soon highlighted how “environmental groups complain the biggest gas-guzzling pickups on the road are still exempt and mileage standards for both cars and light trucks should be much tougher: 40 miles per gallon, not 24." He concluded with the spin of the environmental groups: "The new standards will add about $200 to the average sticker price, but environmentalists wonder what the country is getting for the money.” (Partial transcript follows.)
Bill Maher ended his HBO show Friday night, Real Time with Bill Maher, with a tirade about supposed efforts by the Bush administration to suppress information about global warming. Picking up on the allegations of NASA's James Hansen who was featured on last Sunday's 60 Minutes, Maher charged that “cowboy” Bush “and his corporate goons at the White House tried to censor Mr. Hansen from delivering” the message that carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced within ten years or a disastrous “tipping point” will be reached. Maher then quipped: “This from the crowd that rushed into a war based on an article in The Weekly Standard.” Yes, Hansen was “censored” -- right onto the platform of an entire 60 Minutes segment devoted to his apocalyptic theories.
Maher proceeded to level a serious accusation: “Failing to warn the citizens of a looming weapon of mass destruction -- and that's what global warming is -- in order to protect oil company profits, well that fits for me the definition of treason.” Maher nefariously concluded: “We are letting dying men kill our planet for cash and they're counting on us being too greedy or distracted, or just plain lazy, to stop them. So on this day, the 17th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, let us pause to consider how close we are to making ourselves fossils from the fossil fuels we extract.” (Transcript follows.)
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann charged on Thursday night's Countdown that the e-mail, in which ABC News producer John Green complained that “Bush makes me sick,” was “leaked to the infamous, deplorable Matt Drudge” by a desperate White House. His evidence? “I'm not even going to put the 'if that came from the White House somehow' thing in there because the timing's too good.”
Olbermann proposed to Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank: “Does this not smack of desperation on the part of the White House, to let something like that leak out right now?" Olbermann had gone too far even for Milbank, who came to Drudge's defense: "I, first of all, am never going to call Matt Drudge deplorable. Every time he links to one of my stories, I get an extra 50,000 hits." On Green, Milbank indicted his colleagues as he called for condemnation of the ABCer: “We have to say it is unacceptable for a journalist to be doing this, in part because, look, you and I and other journalists go out all the time and say things critical of Bush, but this fellow, I don't know him, is obviously very personally invested.”
In leading his Countdown show on Wednesday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann pegged “the day in 1988 when the first George Bush sandbagged Dan Rather during a live interview on CBS as the moment” when “the process of blaming the messenger became an essential ingredient in American politics,” raised Joe McCarthy's name in noting the location of President Bush's criticism of press coverage of Iraq and railed against the “unforgivable” criticism of the media by radio talk show host Laura Ingraham, whom he described as someone “that I've known socially.” And that was all before he brought aboard Helen Thomas.
Olbermann asserted that the war of “the government versus the news has just escalated anew, and it is approaching a carpet bombing stage. Exhibit A, Wheeling, West Virginia, where Joe McCarthy started his string of the most memorable speeches, today's stop on the George W. Bush 'I am nothing if not deeply misunderstood ' Express.” After playing clips of Ingraham on Tuesday's Today show urging reporters in Iraq “to actually have a conversation with the people instead of reporting from hotel balconies about the latest IEDs going off," Olbermann presumed that meant she had no concept of journalists who have given their lives: “That hotel balcony crack was unforgivable. It was unforgivable to the memory of David Bloom, it was unforgivable in consideration of Bob Woodruff and Doug Vogt...”
Video clip of Olbermann castigating Ingraham, and a little more of his insults (55 secs): Real (1.7 MB) or Windows Media (1.9 MB). Plus MP3 audio (330 KB). Bonus video of the 1988 Bush 41-Rather confrontation, cited by Olbermann, at the bottom of this posting.
At a forum with President George W. Bush Wednesday at the Capitol Music Hall in Wheeling, West Virginia, Gayle Taylor, the wife of a member of the military recently returned from Iraq, was drowned out by a standing ovation when she told Bush: "It seems that our major media networks don't want to portray the good. They just want to focus-" Neither the CBS Evening News or NBC Nightly News found the criticism of the news media to be newsworthy. NBC's David Gregory instead decided to assert that “in a state he won twice...many here now wonder whether the sacrifice of American lives has been worth it.” NBC viewers then heard from one Mountain State resident, Donna Neptune, whom Gregory described as “a Republican." She maintained: “Those people don't want our help. Our people's being killed over there for nothing."
ABC's World News Tonight, however, was unique amongst the broadcast evening newscasts and highlighted the contention from the woman anchor Elizabeth Vargas described as “the wife of a military journalist who was just back from Iraq." Vargas set up the brief soundbite: “There has been criticism from the Bush administration and others that the media has been ignoring the good news in Iraq, distorting what's really going on there.”After the clip of Taylor, Vargas acknowledged that “it is certainly true that many of the stories from Iraq involve violence, and fear,” but she argued “it is also true that we cover all kinds of stories in Iraq. The last story Bob [Woodruff] filed before” the attack which severely wounded him, “was about a Baghdad ice cream parlor” and “when I was in Iraq in December, we spent time at this ballet school for children.” (Transcripts follow)
Dan Gainor of the MRC's Free Market Project alerted me to the potentially left-wing plot of the episode of Law & Order set to air tonight (Wednesday) on NBC at the show's new time of 9pm EST/PST, 8pm CST/MST. The NBC Web site page for the program provides this preview:
WAS VENGEANCE THE REASON BEHIND THE SLAYING OF A PRIVATE MILITARY CONTRACTOR? -- A private military contractor is found shot to death in his hotel room and Detectives Fontana (Dennis Farina) and Green (Jesse L. Martin) believe vengeance is the motive in a politically charged case that questions the reason America is at war. The detectives soon narrow their focus on a fellow commando Kevin Boatman (guest star Pablo Schrieber) and the younger brother of a man who was murdered by Iraqi insurgents while under the victim's questionable command. But as A.D.A. Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) fights to keep a frightening video of the Iraqi execution out of court, he confronts unexpected political intrigue when more details are revealed about a recently captured terrorist.
Be cautioned, however, that L&O's often take plot twists in which the initially-assumed motivations for crimes turn out to be inaccurate.
Unlike ABC's George Stephanopoulos on World News Tonight and Kelly O'Donnell on the NBC Nightly News, on the CBS Evening News, Jim Axelrod featured the far-left question from Hearst Newspapers columnist Helen Thomas at Tuesday morning's presidential press conference. Thomas blamed Bush for deaths and charged that he employed subterfuge to launch a war: "Your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is: Why did you really want to go to war?" Axelrod set up Thomas by pointing out how Bush “did something he hadn't done in three years: Call on the often combative dean of the White House press corps, Helen Thomas." While O'Donnell and Stephanopoulos didn't air the question from Thomas, they did run a soundbite of part of Bush's answer to her. Axelrod also showcased his question to Bush, one based on the questionable premise that someone who shows up outside a hotel where the President is to speak is anything but a motivated antagonist: "I spent a fair amount of time in front of that hotel in Cleveland yesterday talking to people about the war, and one woman who said she voted for you said, 'You know what? He's losing me, he's been there too long, he's losing me.' What do you say to her?" (Transcript follows.)
Another episode of ABC's prime time drama Boston Legal will air tonight (Tuesday). Last week's episode featured a plot line with over-the-top lawyer "Alan Shore," played by James Spader, delivering a five-minute-long closing argument, in defense of a woman who wouldn't pay income taxes, railing against the war on terrorism. Earlier, explaining to Shore her reasoning, the woman, "Melissa Hughes," cited how her grandfather, who fought in World War I, would be "embarrassed" by "what's happening today." She listed "us torturing people, spying on our own people, squashing everybody's civil liberties. My grandfather would weep." To which Shore got in an obvious slap at FNC: "You need to change the channel. The awful things you speak of never happen on the 'fair and balanced' newscasts."
In his closing, Shore cited a litany of misdeeds, including: "When the weapons of mass destruction thing turned out not to be true, I expected the American people to rise up....And, now it's been discovered the executive branch has been conducting massive, illegal, domestic surveillance on its own citizens -- you and me. And I at least consoled myself that finally, FINALLY, the American people will have had enough. Evidently, we haven't." Shore soon compared the current climate to that of the McCarthy era, recalling what he read in a book by Adlai Stevenson: "Too often, sinister threats to the bill of rights, to freedom of the mind, 'are concealed under the patriotic cloak of anti-communism.' Today, it's the cloak of anti-terrorism."
Video excerpt #1, “Shore” listing misdeeds (1:25): Real (2.5 MB) or Windows Media (2.9 MB)
Video excerpt #2, “Shore” making McCarthy era comparison (1:15): Real (2.2 MB) or Windows Media (2.5 MB)
Asked to provide an assessment of life is for ordinary Iraqis on the third anniversary of the start of the war, on Monday's ABC's World News Tonight and NBC Nightly News, Dan Harris and Richard Engel provided different pictures. ABC's Harris conveyed more bad than good, but acknowledged some hope expressed by an Iraqi family. NBC's Engel, however, stuck exclusively to the negative. “Iraqis today show a range of complex, competing emotions,” Harris relayed as he profiled a family in which “the question of whether Iraq is better off three years later provokes debate” with the 15-year-old daughter pleased that “toppling the regime made Iraq free.” After relating how a man in a long gas line maintained such a line “never would have happened under Saddam,” Harris pressed him: “Would you really rather have Saddam back, or long gas lines? 'We don't want Saddam. But we need a better economy and more security.'” Harris concluded with how the family expresses “the same, seemingly contradictory emotions, so common in Iraq today. They sometimes miss the days of Saddam, but don't want him back. They want the Americans to get out, but just not yet.”
A more dire Engel began with how “since the U.S. invasion, there has not been a single day without mortar fire, car bombings, or IED attacks. This is not the world Afrah wanted to bring her daughter into.” Engel highlighted how callers to a radio show “complain about kidnapings, police death squads and murders between Sunnis and Shiites." He concluded with how one man told him that “when he leaves his house in the morning...he tells his family he might not see them again." Engel proceeded to tell anchor Campbell Brown about how “my closest Iraqi friend” thinks “his country is now lost." (Transcripts follow.)
[Be advised that this item includes accurate quotations of vulgarities.] When Congresswoman Ileanna Ros-Lehtinen contended Friday night, on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, that servicemen she's met in Iraq are “saying 'we're proud of our mission, we know what we're doing over here. We don't want you guys in Washington to lose it over there,'” actor/comedian Richard Belzer condescendingly fired back, claiming that to “ask them” is “bullshit” since, apparently unlike him, “they don't read twenty newspapers a day.” Ros-Lehtinen cited the knowledge of her Marine officer stepson, but Belzer, who plays “Detective John Munch” on NBC'sLaw & Order: SVU, retorted: “Doesn't mean he's a brilliant scholar about the war because he's there.” A quite agitated Ros-Lehtinen sputtered: "Oh, you are though! You are though? Okay." To which Belzer affirmed: "Well I have more time...” Host Bill Maher interjected that Belzer's point was that a 19-year-old is in the army “because he probably couldn't find other employment." The Republican Congresswoman from Florida countered that her stepson is a college graduate, leading Belzer to snidely denigrate the military: "You think everyone over there is a college graduate? They're 19 and 20-year-old kids who couldn't get a job.”
Ros-Lehtinen mocked him: "Yeah, you know because you've been there." Belzer rudely lashed back: "What, I don't fucking read!? Don't do that!" He went on to argue: "It's this patronizing thing that people have about if you're against the war everyone's lumped together. You know, the soldiers are not scholars, they're not war experts." That was too much for host Bill Maher: "You're going to lose even me...”
On Thursday's ER, a leading character on the NBC drama set in a Chicago hospital, declared in reference to her husband being deployed to Iraq: “My duty is to be a good doctor and to be a good wife, not to be brainwashed into falling in line with some pseudo-patriotic delusion." The blast from “Dr. Neela Rasgotra,” played by Parminder Nagra, came at the end of a scene of a gathering of spouses of deployed soldiers. When one woman, whose husband would not be home for the impending birth of their child, proclaimed that “our loved ones are serving our country, and it's a small price to pay,” Dr. Rasgotra replied: "I think it's a huge price to pay, especially under the circumstances." The woman wondered: “What circumstances?" Dr. Rasgotra explained: "Well, the way the whole thing's been handled, how we got into it, how it's been managed....I still haven't seen any weapons of mass destruction, have you?" As they all sat in a home's living room, Dr. Rasgotra pleaded with the group: "You can't tell me that you believe 100 percent in your heart that we should be in Iraq, can any of you?" (Transcript follows, as well as other instances of left-wing activism on ER.)
A day after leading with how a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll put President Bush's approval at a low 37 percent (see this NewsBusters item), Thursday's NBC Nightly News again emphasized the negative for Bush and ignored how its own survey found public support for Bush policies which the media have derided, such as majority support for the NSA wiretapping program, the Patriot Act and making Bush's tax cuts permanent. From the White House, David Gregory asserted that "they're clearly shaken, as you might understand, politically, by the President's eroding support in the country." Gregory suggested that "at his lowest level yet in the polls, the President is left to wonder: Which way is up? Iraq, says Republican pollster Bill McInturff, has enveloped the Bush presidency." Ironically, Gregory relayed how "Republican leaders have said they're worried that the President's strengths, like tax cuts or tough anti-terror measures, have been overlooked." Indeed they have been by Gregory and NBC News. While Tim Russert on Wednesday night gave a sentence to how "voters still say they prefer Republicans to manage the war in Iraq and to deal with homeland security," like with the terrorist surveillance issue, neither NBC Nightly News nor Today have yet to mention how 56 percent "strongly" or "somewhat" support "making the tax cuts of the past few years permanent." (Transcript follows.)
Citing a Thursday column from Baghdad by David Ignatius of the Washington Post, Fred Barnes, during the panel segment on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, scolded the news media for delivering a “daily diet” of news about explosions while missing progress on the political front. Ignatius began his column: “There has been so much bad news out of Iraq lately that you have to pinch yourself when good things seem to be happening. But there are unmistakable signs here this week that Iraq's political leaders are taking the first tentative steps toward forming a broad government of national unity that could reverse the country's downward slide.” He concluded: “Pessimism isn't necessarily the right bet for Iraq.”
Barnes, Executive Editor of the Weekly Standard, observed, “Here's what struck me about it: David Ignatius reported about a lot of top level private meetings of Sunnis, Shia and Kurds of the number of meetings over, what, the last couple of weeks, I think. Where were the reporters? Why did David Ignatius, a columnist for the Washington Post, have to go over there and reveal that to us? I mean, the reporters ought to know about that. These are major figures politically in Iraq and we get nothing from them except word of explosions. From the other reporters -- that's the daily diet." (More from Barnes, and an excerpt from the Ignatius column, follow.)
As noted by Tim Graham Tuesday in a NewsBusters item about 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace announcing that he will retire at the end of this season, “perhaps the most-recounted Wallace anecdote didn't appear on CBS, but on PBS.” Indeed, on an edition of the PBS panel series Ethics in America, devoted to war coverage, which was taped at Harvard in late 1987, Mike Wallace proclaimed that if he were traveling with enemy soldiers he would not warn U.S. soldiers of an impending ambush. “Don't you have a higher duty as an American citizen to do all you can to save the lives of soldiers rather than this journalistic ethic of reporting fact?", moderator Charles Ogletree Jr. suggested. Without hesitating, Wallace responded: "No, you don't have higher duty...you're a reporter." When Brent Scrowcroft, the then-future National Security Adviser, argued that "you're Americans first, and you're journalists second," Wallace was mystified by the concept, wondering "what in the world is wrong with photographing this attack by [the imaginary] North Kosanese on American soldiers?"
George Connell, a Marine Corps Colonel, reacted with disdain: "I feel utter contempt. Two days later they're both walking off my hilltop, they're two hundred yards away and they get ambushed. And they're lying there wounded. And they're going to expect I'm going to send Marines up there to get them. They're just journalists, they're not Americans." The discussion concluded as Connell fretted: "But I'll do it. And that's what makes me so contemptuous of them. And Marines will die, going to get a couple of journalists." (More quotes follow.)
Video excerpt #1, comments from Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace (3:10) Real (2.4 MB) or Windows Media (2 MB). Plus MP3 audio (560 KB)
Video excerpt #2, angry reaction from Marine Colonel George Connell (38 secs) Real (500 KB) or Windows Media (450 KB). Plus MP3 audio (115 KB) See note below about video quality.
Does CBS anchor Bob Schieffer think that if he issues ominous warnings about "civil war" in Iraq often enough it will eventually come true and vindicate his, as of yet, unfulfilled predictions? Neither ABC or NBC raised "civil war" in their Wednesday evening newscasts, but Bob Schieffer, who has been the most prolific anchor in pushing the dire warning, did so again as he pegged off how Saddam Hussein has turned his trial into a "farce" to insist that "Iraq teeters on the edge of civil war." Schieffer opened his broadcast with a downbeat litany: "Iraq's new parliament is scheduled to meet for the first time tomorrow, but again today political leaders could not agree on a cabinet to take charge of the government, top cleric's appeals for calm went unheeded and the country may be closer than ever to civil war..."
Without their own poll with which to batter President Bush, last Friday the NBC Nightly News led with how “the latest Associated Press poll has the President's job approval at 37 percent” as anchor Brian Williams pointed how “that matches President Clinton at the lowest point in his presidency.” (NewsBusters item with details.) But NBC caught up Wednesday night with the other networks, and though its new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey found the exact same 37 percent presidential approval rating -- so no fresh news -- Williams nonetheless led with the poll number. Bringing aboard Tim Russert, Williams prompted him: “Tim, let's start with that all-important benchmark for Presidents, the approval rating." Russert outlined: "It is not good news for President Bush, Brian. Approve: 37 percent. Disapprove of his job: 58 percent. And look at this Brian, 'direction of the country.' Only one in four [26 percent] Americans say the country is in the right direction; wrong track, 62 percent.”
Russert proceeded to highlight how “Democrats will take great joy in” the finding that 50 percent want Democrats to control Congress, “a 13 point bulge” over the 37 percent who prefer Republicans. “Analysts, of both political parties,” Russert stressed, “say with that kind of number if the election was held today they [Democrats] could re-capture the House and Senate.” But, Russert noted, “inside the poll, voters still say they prefer Republicans to manage the war in Iraq and to deal with homeland security.” (Transcript follows.)
In his first appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman since “joking” on the October 21 show (NewsBusters item with video) about how Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Karl Rove “are going to be executed” because “outing a CIA agent is treason,” and President Bush is at risk too, Al Franken on Tuesday's program scolded Vice President Dick Cheney for not visiting the hospital room of his accidental shooting victim, Harry Whittington. In his usual mocking tone meant to come across as humorous, but which reflects a serious commentary, Franken, who briefly impersonated Cheney as a drunk, contended that Cheney was “drunk and couldn't show up at the hospital” or “he's an amazing jerk.” Third option: “Or, of course, both." Franken soon reiterated that “the idea that it's very common to shoot someone in the face, it's not unless you're, you know, you're drunk....Or he's just a big jerk." (Trancript follows.)
Al Franken will return Tuesday night (March 14) to the Late Show with David Letterman on CBS for the first time since his October 21 appearance where, in the wake of the Valerie Plame case, he “joked” about how “what it looks like is going to happen is that [Lewis "Scooter"] Libby and Karl Rove are going to be executed” because “outing a CIA agent is treason.” Franken qualified his hard-edged satire: "Yeah. And I don't know how I feel about it because I'm basically against the death penalty, but they are going to be executed it looks like." Franken later suggested that President Bush is at risk of receiving the same punishment, since Karl Rove likely told him what he did, but he added a caveat: “I think, by the way, that we should never ever, ever, ever execute a sitting President." For full quotations and video of those outbursts, check this NewsBusters item.
In his Monday “Grapevine” segment, FNC's Brit Hume relayed how “in an interview with TV host Bill Maher over the weekend,” New York Times Baghdad Bureau Chief John Burns “remained pessimistic, but also said that now, quote, 'U.S. military and diplomatic leadership in Iraq is about as good as you could possibly get,' end quote, and he said the U.S. team there has, quote, 'got the formula more or less right.'” But, Hume lamented, “by the time the trade publication Editor & Publisher had edited and published the Burns interview, you wouldn't have known any of that. The magazine ignored it all, instead leading with the fact that Burns, it claimed, was for the first time predicting U.S. 'failure.'" Indeed, the headline over the story by E&P Editor Greg Mitchell proclaimed, “John Burns, Back from Baghdad: U.S. Effort In Iraq Will Likely Fail.” (Transcripts of Hume and Burns, as well as an excerpt from the E&P article, follow.)
CBS News chose the day President Bush launched a series of speeches, intended to boost support for the Iraq war, to highlight a poll which found most Americans are much more pessimistic than is the President. In laying out on Monday's CBS Evening News a series of poll findings, including how 66 percent feel Bush has been describing the “things in Iraq” as “better than they are,” both Bob Schieffer and Jim Axelrod skipped the finding that, while the media fare better than Bush, nearly a third (31 percent) say the media “make things sound worse in Iraq than they really are,” compared to 24 percent who perceive the media are describing things “better than they are” and 35 percent who think journalism on Iraq “accurately” reflects the situation.
Schieffer rattled off how the percent who believe the "war is going badly” is up while the percent who see future success is down since January, before Jim Axelrod followed Bush's warning, that the terrorists want to start a civil war, with a survey finding which matched the media's mantra: "Seven of ten Americans say Iraq is already in a civil war. Another 13 percent say it will be." Pouring on the dour numbers, Axelrod asserted: "The President wants to rally Americans, but public opinion is fading fast. Only 43 percent now believe Iraq will become a stable democracy. A 15 point drop in just two months." Axelrod concluded: “With suicide bombs now going off nearly every day in Iraq, it will take some real progress on the ground and not just speeches to revive American's optimism.” You certainly can't count on the media for any optimism. Lara Logan soon checked in from Baghdad with how “there is grave concern amongst leaders here that civil war is exactly where this country is heading.”(Transcript follows.)
Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas condescendingly charged, on this weekend's edition of Inside Washington, that opposition to the UAE ports deals resonated with the public “because it's something that simple idiots can understand.” After a bit of snickering from the other panelists, especially NPR's Nina Totenberg, Thomas zeroed in on talk radio, even though the most popular talk radio host, Rush Limbaugh, supported the deal. Thomas called the subject matter “a classic for talk radio” because “you can get it on a bumper sticker.” Expressing his support for the UAE's purchase of the company operating several U.S. ports -- “We need Dubai as an ally. On balance, it would be better that the deal went through” -- Thomas proceeded to lament how “it was an easy one to demagogue on talk radio." As if much of the mainstream media didn't pile on too. (Uninterrupted transcript follows.)
Though they pointed out how there is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, the ABC and NBC anchors on Friday night, in noting her decision to resign from the cabinet, nonetheless raised links between her and disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. ABC's Elizabeth Vargas cited only one accomplishment of her tenure, but hardly in praise if it: “She made it easier for companies to drill for oil and gas on federal land in the West, drawing criticism from environmentalists.” Vargas then added how “her agency has been entangled in the scandal involving disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, but she has not been implicated."
Over on the NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams announced how President Bush “accepted today the resignation of the Secretary of the Interior, who insists tonight she is not leaving because of her department's associations with lobbyist Jack Abramoff.” Williams soon asked reporter David Gregory: “How is it that her resignation late today raised the specter or the name of Jack Abramoff?" With the photo on screen, Gregory reported how “there was a picture that surfaced recently” which showed “Jack Abramoff and Secretary Norton after a meeting with some Indian tribes.” Gregory, however, related that “a Senate committee did establish ties between the lobbyist Abramoff and top deputies to Gale Norton,” but “that same panel has found no connection, or no proof, that she knew of those connections.” So why bring up the subject? (Transcripts follow.)
In the last couple of weeks, a CBS News poll found approval for President Bush at “an all-time low of 34 percent” and an ABC News/Washington Post survey pegged Bush's approval at “a new career low” of 41 percent. Without a presidential approval poll of its own with which to batter Bush, anchor Brian Williams led Friday's NBC Nightly News with how “the latest Associated Press poll has the President's job approval at 37 percent. For some context here, that matches President Clinton at the lowest point in his presidency.”
A week and a half ago, on the February 27 CBS Evening News, anchor Bob Schieffer trumpeted how “a CBS News poll out tonight shows the President's job approval rating has fallen seven points since the hurricane to an all-time low of 34 percent.” A week and a day later, on Tuesday of this week (March 7), on ABC's Good Morning America, Robin Roberts asserted: "President Bush's job approval rating has sunk to a new career low. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows the President's overall performance rating now stands at 41 percent.” (Transcript follows of how Williams opened Friday's NBC Nightly News.)
The CBS Evening News on Thursday night used President Bush's signing of the Patriot Act renewal as a chance to run a full story on, as anchor Bob Schieffer worded it, “a Texas couple that blames the Patriot Act for ruining their marriage.” Really. Schieffer had first noted how “the new law does include some additional protections for civil liberties,” but “some critics still don't like it.” Reporter Kelly Cobiella looked at the plight of the wife of Mahmoud Alafyouny, who “has been in prison for two years but never charged with a crime. He's a Palestinian fighting deportation back to Jordan because the Department of Homeland Security says he's a terrorist and a danger to national security." Rae Alafyouny, a TSA agent, must drive four hours to visit the prison holding her husband who “raised money for the Palestine Liberation Organization.” Cobiella relayed how his ACLU attorneys “argue it's a double standard” since “the U.S. government has given the PLO's successor, the Palestine Authority, $1.3 billion since 1993.” But there's a big difference between government policy toward a foreign entity -- in this case money to try to maintain a stable society and reduce terrorist attacks on Israelis -- and what individuals are allowed to do. (Transcript follows.)
Just three weeks until the MRC's annual "DisHonors Awards." This year they will be held Thursday, March 30 at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC. Seats are $250.00 each. Since the MRC is paying for this blog, I've decided that I'm allowed to post this plug -- but I'm also alerting everyone to the opportunity to attend a very popular event made possible by the MRC.
It's always a fun evening where we turn the tables on the press corps and play video clips on big screens to mock and laugh at their biased reporting. Last year we ended up oversold, and though we've moved to a bigger venue this year to accommodate a larger crowd, it would be wise to buy very soon. (Purchasing details, and look at past galas, follow.)
An ABC News/Washington Post poll, released late Monday afternoon, found majority support for a media bete noire, FBI and NSA wiretapping of people inside the United States in the war on terror, but those findings were ignored in the story posted on the Washington Post Web site and aired on ABC's World News Tonight. Instead, both stressed how 80 percent believe “civil war” is likely in Iraq. “Majority of Americans Believe Iraq Civil War is Likely,” read the WashingtonPost.com headline over the 5:30pm EST story by Richard Morin, which is likely to appear in near-identical form in Tuesday's hard copy. The subhead: “Washington Post-ABC News Poll Finds Sharp Decline in Optimism About Iraq War.” [10pm EST: Indeed, link now goes to March 7 print story on page A3, with a new headline: "Majority in U.S. Fear Iraq Civil War; Poll Also Finds Growing Doubt About Bush"]. ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas relayed how “65 percent say the Bush administration has no clear plan for ending the war,” before George Stephanopoulos outlined how the public is “all over the map” on what to do in Iraq. The Post story, and ABC, however, did note that the public is also sour on Democrats. Sounding exasperated, Vargas cued up Stephanopoulos: "In the meantime, Democrats are incapable of capitalizing on this?" The ABC duo also ignored Bush's approval level pegged at 41 percent, seven points higher than the “all-time low” for Bush last week in a CBS News poll (NewsBusters item) which was much-touted by the networks (MRC Media Reality Check).
It's not often that a guest on a TV news program has the boldness to put the interviewer's political activism record in play, but Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter of California, who appeared on Sunday's This Week from San Diego to criticize the ports deal, made sure viewers were reminded of host George Stephanopoulos' past work on behalf of President Bill Clinton's agenda. On three occasions, Hunter answered questions from Stephanopoulos by including a reference to “your former boss,” as in how “your former boss, President Clinton,” gave the Emir of the United Arab Emirates “advice on who he should hire to get this deal through.” Hunter, who appeared with a Republican Senator from the other side of the nation, Susan Collins of Maine, also proposed: “I don't think President Clinton, your old boss, knows the facts of the transshipments that take place through Dubai, sending nuclear components to all parts of the world and especially to people who don't like America.” That slam prompted a defensive Stephanopoulos to jump in: “He actually supports the legislation proposed by you and Senator Clinton which would ban foreign entities from managing our ports." A bit later, when Stephanopoulos wondered if the ports deal would hurt Republicans in the fall election, Hunter came back with how “a few years ago when the Chinese military tried to buy the old naval base in Long Beach, California, we stopped that and that was stopped by Republicans in Congress, even though your boss, President Clinton, supported that.” (Transcripts follow.)