Though more than a year ago Democratic Congressman John Murtha denounced the Iraq war, asserting that “we cannot prevail in this war at the policy that's going today,'' on Thursday night ABC, CBS and NBC all led by championing Murtha's call for the immediate withdrawal of troops and showcased his ridicule of Vice President Cheney's lack of military service. “On military matters, no Democrat in Congress is more influential,” CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer asserted in bucking up Murtha's credentials at the top of his newscast, insisting therefore “all of Washington listened” to him. The media certainly did. With the text on screen, Schieffer soon highlighted how Murtha “noted the Vice President had never served in the military and said, and I quote, 'I like guys who got five deferments and had never been there, then send people to war and don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done.'” Schieffer asked John Roberts: “So, in this kind of situation, the White House has got to be worried about, because this is clearly a sign that support for the war is beginning to fade on Capitol Hill."
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams teased: “The war of words over Iraq. Tonight a key Democratic supporter in Congress says it's time to get out, while the White House steps up its attacks on critics.” Williams led by touting: “When one Congressman out of 435 members of Congress speaks out against the war in Iraq, it normally wouldn't be news, but it was today, because of who he is. Congressman John Murtha, a Vietnam veteran....Today, John Murtha said the U.S. must get out of Iraq. It's a debate that has followed President Bush halfway around the world.”
“An influential Democrat who supported the war says American troops should come home now," anchor Bob Woodruff trumpeted at the top of ABC's World News Tonight. Woodruff distorted President Bush's comments in Asia as he insisted Bush “took every chance he could to say that people who question his rationale for going to war in Iraq are not only wrong, but irresponsible and unpatriotic.” ABC's new White House reporter, Martha Raddatz, then claimed that “a visibly perturbed President called Democrats 'irresponsible' for continuing to criticize his administration's use of pre-war intelligence." And Raddatz highlighted how “Murtha ripped into the Vice President, taking aim at his lack of military service." In fact, Bush and Cheney are upset about being charged with “lying” to get the nation into a war, not at general criticism. ABC gave Cheney barely 30 seconds, but devoted more than 90 seconds to a “1st Person” excerpt from Murtha. (Full transcripts follow.)
[UPDATE, 8:50pm EST Friday: On Friday night Woodruff offered “a clarification about” his claim Bush called his critics “unpatriotic.” Woodruff reported: “He did say they are 'irresponsible.' He did not call them 'unpatriotic.'” See this Friday NewsBusters item for the entirety of Woodruff's correction.]
Bob Woodward's revelations, in a Wednesday Washington Post front page story, “Woodward Was Told of Plame More Than Two Years Ago,” seemingly undermined two premises of special prosecutor Peter Fitzgerald's case against Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Cheney's former Chief-of-Staff -- that he was the first to tell a reporter about Valerie Plame and that everyone involved remembers when they were told about Plame. But while the developments animated cable television all day, all the broadcast networks ignored it in the morning and in the evening both CBS and NBC, which led October 28 with multiple stories of Fitzgerald's indictments, spiked the story while ABC's World News Tonight devoted a piddling 31 seconds to Woodward's disclosures. The CBS Evening News found time for supposed dangers to kids of cold medicines and a look at "why the obesity crisis is far worse for African-Americans." The NBC Nightly News provided stories on claims the U.S. used “chemical weapons” in Iraq and on the effectiveness of diet pills. (Story rundown follows.)
At his October 28 press conference, Fitzgerald asserted, as shown tonight on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume: "He [Libby] was at the beginning of the chain of the phone calls, the first official to disclose this information outside the government to a reporter." In fact, the Post reported that “a senior administration official,” not Libby, told Woodward “about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her position at the agency nearly a month before her identity was disclosed” and thus before Libby talked about it with a reporter, a disclosure which provides some support for Libby's contention that he heard about Plame from a journalist. The Post also noted how “the only Post reporter whom Woodward said he remembers telling” in 2003 about Plame's job, Walter Pincus, “does not recall the conversation taking place,” thus boosting Libby's contention that different people can have different recollections of old conversations.
What ABC squeezed in and how MSNBC's Chris Matthews saw nefarious motives (“a confidential source could be using rolling disclosure here for a political purpose” to help Libby) behind Woodward's source allowing him to talk, follows.
[UPDATE, 2:45pm EST Thursday: On Thursday morning, CBS held the development to a very brief news update item, NBC squeezed it into the very end of a session with Tim Russert while ABC actually touted it at the top of Good Morning America and provided a full story. See full rundown below.]
[UPDATE #2, Thursday 10:30pm EST: CBS and NBC caught up Thursday night with full stories -- by Gloria Borger on the CBS Evening News, by Andrea Mitchell on the NBC Nightly News.]
A September 28 NewsBusters posting presciently forecast how “ABC's new Commander in Chief drama...clearly intends to make the conservative Republican 'House Speaker Nathan Templeton,' played by Donald Sutherland, the foil on the show revolving around Geena Davis as 'President Mackenzie Allen.'” On Tuesday's episode, the villainous Templeton has been told that “Special Assistant to the President Vince Taylor” is HIV-positive and he plans to reveal his health situation and to out him as gay, a move that so outrages Templeton's chief aide that she alerts the White House. Friends of the parents of “Kelly Ludlow,” Press Secretary to the independent President, then come to DC with a tape of a 16 millimeter film of a 1965 fund-raiser, featuring the future House Speaker, made by their father who recently died.
On the grainy black and white videotape of a smoke-filled room, Templeton contended that “segregation is the word of God” and railed about how “if the Lord Almighty wanted colored people to mix with whites...he wouldn't have placed them on separate continents.” Referring to the Supreme Court, the early Templeton argued that “nine men in Washington can't change natural law” and, bringing up the KKK, that “black robes are worse than white robes." Templeton then laughed. President Mackenzie calls Templeton to the Oval Office where he explains: “I was a young, Southern Democrat saying whatever I had to say to get elected." Showing him the video works, though, and he backs off his nefarious scheme to out Taylor.
Video of what ABC portrayed as the background of the conservative Republican politician, in Real or Windows Media. (Transcript follows as well as link to actor Donald Sutherland's recent rant against President Bush and the U.S.)
Before the first ad break on Monday's World News Tonight, ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas plugged an upcoming story: "When we return, the home school student charged with murdering his girlfriend's parents. A small town, and a community of home-schoolers, are shattered." ABC reporter Nancy Weiner, in the subsequent story about how 18-year-old David Ludwig allegedly murdered the parents of his 14-year-old girlfriend, Kara Borden, and then fled with her from Pennsylvania to Indiana where he was arrested, outlined the home-schooling connection: “The Bordens, devout Christians, home-schooled all five of their children. Kara and David met through a group of home-schoolers.” Weiner portrayed the murders as ironic: “Many parents choose to home school their children to have more control over their upbringing and avoid exactly what happened here." (Vargas reminds me of journalists who report how an “SUV” hit someone, instead of referring to a “car” or “vehicle.”) Can you imagine Vargas ever citing “the English as a Second Language student charged with murder”?
Weiner, however, allowed a Lititz, Pennsylvania resident to point out how “this could happen to any family whether you're home-schooled or not.” Weiner also noted that “many home-schoolers resent the criticism that they are removed from society."
All the networks jumped on the revelation Monday, that in applying for a job with Ed Meese in 1985, Samuel Alito boasted of his belief “the constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.” Of the broadcast network stories, CBS's Gloria Borger and Bob Schieffer, however, displayed the most interest in the concerns of “moderate” Republicans and whether the disclosure could block his confirmation. After a soundbite from an former clerk to Alito that Alito's “personal beliefs are irrelevant when he's working on a case," Borger ran a clip from marginally Republican Senator Susan Collins and then fretted: “The document raises new questions for Collins and other Republicans about whether Alito still holds the view that the right to an abortion is not guaranteed in the constitution." Schieffer soon asked Borger if this means Alito is toast: "Gloria, give us a bottom line here quickly. Does this mean that Judge Alito may not get confirmed after all? A lot of people thought he was headed toward confirmation." Borger tried to rewind Schieffer's proposition, but again emphasized the worries of “lots” of moderate Republicans: "I think this makes the path a little bit more rocky, Bob. There're going to be lots of moderate Republicans asking lots of tough questions. We just don't know where it's going to end up yet." (Full transcript follows.)
As Ted Koppel approaches his last Nightline, scheduled for next Tuesday, he's making a series of interview appearances in which he's been generally reticent about revealing too much about his political feelings. But he let a glimpse slip through Friday night on the Late Show with David Letterman, when asked about Lewis “Scooter” Libby. Koppel suggested that “if Karl Rove is involved in this, you know, do you naturally conclude at some point or another that the Vice President and possibly even the President may have known that this happened?" Letterman displayed the common public view of those uninformed about Joe Wilson's shenanigans as he offered this description of Libby's actions: "It suggests a level of pettiness heretofore unconsidered, doesn't it though?" Koppel then delivered a quip with serious undertones: "It suggests that a lot of people in the administration suffer from Irish Alzheimers -- you forget everything but the grudges."
Asked by Bill O'Reilly Thursday night on FNC whether she's a liberal, Mary Mapes, the CBS News producer fired in January for her role in the forged National Guard memos and representations she made to her colleagues, first put up the usual avoidance device of a liberal -- “I'm not sure what a liberal is” -- before insisting that “like a lot of Americans, I'm all over the map.” In the taped interview, O'Reilly then pressed her: "Are you registered Democrat?" Mapes seriously responded: “I don't know." O'Reilly scoffed: "You don't know?" Mapes claimed: "I don't know if I'm independent or Democrat. I know I'm not -- in Texas, I'm not sure how I'm registered." (But apparently she's quite sure she's no Republican.) O'Reilly returned to his original interest: "So you would describe yourself politically as?" She maintained: "Oh, my goodness. I'm liberal on some things, I'm conservative on some things."
Asked by Larry King Wednesday night live on CNN whether she had a personal agenda against President George W. Bush, Mary Mapes, the CBS News producer fired in January for her role in the forged National Guard memos and representations she made to her colleagues, shot back: "Oh my God no, no of course not.” She insisted that “Dan Rather and I did stories on Hillary Clinton, we did stories on the Clinton administration and terrorism...you question whoever is in your cross-hairs." Hillary Clinton, however, was hardly in her “cross-hairs” when she produced for Rather a 24-minute tribute to her that aired on the May 24, 1999 60 Minutes II and included such tough statements from Rather as, "once a political lightning rod, today she is political lightning" and: “The agenda she lays out seems downright old-fashioned. She sees her work as focusing on children and families..." (See more below.)
Back to CNN Wednesday night, King fretted: “Who got you? The bloggers?” Mapes said she knew of the Drudge Report, but “I really wasn't aware of these really political blogs” and so when “the next day at about 11 o'clock this stuff, this drumbeat started saying the documents were false and I was just incredulous because the White House hadn't raised it, they hadn't indicated this in any way, we didn't have any evidence of that and they went nuts." As she did on Wednesday's Good Morning America, as recounted in this NewsBusters item by Brian Boyd, Mapes maintained her stance that no one has disproved the authenticity of the memos: “Their criticisms last year really didn't reach the bar of proof at all."
Video excerpt: Real or Windows Media. (Complete transcript, of above-quoted exchange, follows.)
Eight years ago, when a Democrat was President and Republicans won the governorships in New Jersey and Virginia, CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather gave the results a piddling 12 seconds, didn't even utter the names of the winners and made clear that local issues -- “the high cost of automobile insurance and a tax on car ownership” -- were “the key issues.” But on Wednesday night, the same newscast gave a minute and thirty seconds to the election results which included names as anchor Bob Schieffer inserted an ideological label into his description of Virginia: “In New Jersey, Democrat Jon Corzine won one of the nastiest races ever. He'll be the next Governor there. And in conservative country, Virginia, another Democrat, Tim Kaine, won the Governor's race there.” Gloria Borger then declared that “this was not a great night for President Bush, particularly in the state of Virginia.” She cited how “he went in and he campaigned for the Republican candidate for Governor who lost, and, Bob, this was a state the President himself won by eight points in the last election." Borger ignored a basic fact which undermines her analysis: The Democratic candidate for Governor of Virginia won in 2001 when Bush's approval rating, just two months after 9/11, was over 80 percent.
NBC's even more flagrant bias contrast, ABC's crediting of Clinton's good economy for the GOP wins and Morton Kondracke's prediction on FNC that “if I were Howard Dean and I looked at these results, I'd be really disappointed” because, despite Bush's plunging popularity, Democrats did no better this year than four years ago in the same races, follows
At a Tuesday meeting with CBS News staff, new CBS News President Sean McManus asserted that the people of CBS News “do a darned good job at” shutting out their political opinions and so “I don't see” any liberal bias in CBS News coverage. Vaughn Ververs recounted in a Tuesday evening posting for the “Public Eye” blog on CBSNews,com: “Asked if he feels the need to address perceptions that CBS has a left-wing bias, McManus said no, adding, 'it’s very difficult for any reporter or producer to completely and totally shut out his political opinions, but what I’ve seen at CBS News, people do a darned good job at doing that. I guess if I saw that creeping into our coverage I would have to address it, but I don’t see that in our coverage, I think we have been falsely accused of that at times.'”
McManus, who is maintaining his job as President of CBS Sports, has succeeded Andrew Heyward who considered liberal bias a fantasy of “extremists of the right.” (Heyward's 2000 remarks follow, as well as a fawning question McManus' father once posed to Fidel Castro.)
ABC, CBS and NBC all ran stories Tuesday night explaining the “anger” behind the rioting in France by Muslim “youths,” but on the NBC Nightly News reporter Jim Maceda went so far as to specifically complain about how “immigrants are left to fend for themselves, with no government affirmative action programs.” Maceda did add how “even worse, the French economy is stagnant, with few new jobs being created," but he moved on to other comments about the rioting without anything more about the role of high taxes and regulation in causing that “stagnant” economy. (A lengthier transcript follows.)
Interviewed by his son, Chris, in a pre-taped session for Fox News Sunday, Mike Wallace of CBS’s 60 Minutes rejected as “damn foolishness” the notion of any liberal media bias. Mike Wallace contended, as if it were in doubt, that reporters are “patriots just as much as any conservative. Even a liberal reporter is a patriot, wants the best for this country.” Mike Wallace then condescendingly charged: “Your fair and balanced friends at Fox don't fully understand that.” He also confirmed that he had told Dan Rather that Rather should have resigned when his producers were fired over the Bush National Guard memos story, but when Chris Wallace suggested that story agenda reflected a bias -- “I think that they were quicker to believe it and, therefore, sloppier about checking it out than they would have been about John Kerry" -- Mike Wallace scorned the idea: "I don't believe that for a moment."
Chris Wallace moved on to his father’s new book, Between You and Me. Full transcript, of discussion about liberal bias and Memogate, follows.
Hollywood's fantasy that Republicans could sweep the nation if they only put up a "pro-choice" candidate animated last Sunday's episode -- and Janeane Garofalo got in a blast at conservatives. NBC is promising an "unprecedented West Wing event" in tonight’s sweeps stunt of a live debate between liberal presidential candidate "Matt Santos," played by Jimmy Smits, and the anti-religious right Republican "Arnie Vinick," played by Alan Alda. Last Sunday, Vinick was angered by an independent ad which attacked Santos for opposing parental notification and a ban on partial-birth abortions, policies the otherwise pro-choice Vinick backs: "Who told them to drag abortion into my campaign?" Demanding the ad be pulled, Vinick asserted: "Do you realize how many states my pro-choice position puts on the table?" Later, Santos remarked: "Vinick's appeal is that he's a different kind of Republican, moderate, reasonable, pro-choice."
In one scene on the October 30 episode, Santos' media chief, "Louise Thornton," played by Janeane Garofalo, sounded just like the real-life Garofalo when she argued that the campaign must go negative against Vinick, and she cited the good being done by a Senator she got elected by going negative against his opponent: "I'm proud that he votes against every reckless Republican tax cut. We're the blue team and there's a real war going on. Josh, do you want the right wing to get their judges?"
Friday night on MSNBC’s Scarborough Country, West Wing star Bradley Whitford trashed Bush as “a radical right-wing President who now seems to be incompetent.” A Zogby International poll of West Wing viewers found they tilt to the left, with 59 percent saying they’d vote for Democrat Smits/Santos compared to just 29 percent for Alda/Vinick, Lisa de Moraes reported in Saturday’s Washington Post. But the viewers recognize the show’s bias: “A full 77 percent of respondents said The West Wing has a liberal bias.”
On this weekend’s McLaughlin Group, veteran Newsweek Washington bureau reporter Eleanor Clift hailed the secret session of the Senate stunt as “a welcome show of spine that Democrats needed.” She proceeded to predict that “the Democrats are going to push” the contention that President Bush “abused his authority” in going to war and so “frankly, if the country, according to the polls, believes by a margin of 55 percent that President Bush misled us into war, the next logical step is impeachment and I think you're going to hear that word come up and if the Democrats ever capture either house of Congress there are going to be serious proceedings against this administration." Sounds like a motivation for journalists covering next year’s campaigns. (Clift had concluded her weekly Friday column on MSNBC.com: “On the day the Scooter Libby indictments were handed down, Conyers invoked the language of Watergate: 'What did the President and the Vice President know, and when did they know it?’ If the political tables turn, impeachment may not be so far-fetched after all.”)
Picking up on how fellow McLaughlin Group panelist Pat Buchanan described the administration’s use of pre-war intelligence, Clift charged: “'Hyped,’ 'cherry-picked,’ 'misled,’ whatever the words you use to me are criminal offenses when you see the suffering that has gone into this war and the cost of this war. It was a war of choice that was sold to American people on fear." Asked to predict if Karl Rove will resign, Clift said no before she condescendingly asserted that President Bush “can't tie his shoelaces without Karl Rove."
Video of Clift raising impeachment, in Real or Windows Media. (Fuller quotations of Clift follow as well as an excerpt from her posted column.)
Picking up on a Wednesday Washington Post story about how “the CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe,” on Inside Washington this weekend NPR’s Nina Totenberg declared her shame of her country: “We have now violated everything that we stand for. It is the first time in my life I have been ashamed of my country." Totenberg’s first thought about Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito: "We know he's very conservative." She also managed to squeeze in her near-weekly blast at tax cuts as she chided the Senate for how it “cut $35 billion from the poorest people in the country and food stamps and things like that and at the same time they're going to try to cut, boost tax, tax cuts for the wealthiest people in this country by $70 billion." In fact, the Senate proposal is only an effort to slow the rate of spending growth.
Appearing on the same show, Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas asserted that Bush’s decision to dump Harriet Miers “takes him from stand-up guy to tool of the right.” Thomas urged Bush to move left and drop Rove who “is the problem because Rove's entire engine is to polarize the country.” Thomas recommended: “If he's ever going to moderate, and if he's ever going to create any kind of national unity, Rove is going to have to go."
Video of Totenberg’s “ashamed” comment, in Real or Windows Media. [UPDATE, 9:25pm EST Saturday: Version of show with ads ends seconds before Totenberg's "ashamed" remark. Details below.]
Hoisted on their own petard? Washington journalists have formulated outrage over how “Scooter” Libby fed information to New York Times reporter Judy Miller which ended up on the paper's front page one Sunday, and then Vice President Cheney appeared on a Sunday talk TV interview show where he insidiously cited the story as proof of the potential nuclear threat from Saddam Hussein. On Friday night, the broadcast networks pulled the same maneuver as they treated as of great import how President Bush was “dogged,” at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina, with questions about Karl Rove and the CIA leak matter -- a self-fulfilling agenda since those questions were posed by reporters from the Washington press corps. In short, the media made its agenda the news and then marveled over it.
"The President also found himself shadowed by the controversy that has helped drive his popularity to record lows, the investigation into who leaked the identity of a CIA officer," ABC anchor Bob Woodruff announced on World News Tonight, which led, as did CBS and NBC, with stories which covered the violent protests as well Rove. ABC's Jake Tapper noted how “Bush came to this summit to talk about his free trade policy that he says would help ease poverty and create jobs in the region,” but pointed out how “questions about the CIA leak scandal, and the role of top aide Karl Rove, continue to dog him." CBS's Bob Schieffer echoed Tapper's terminology: "President Bush is in Argentina tonight, dogged by questions from back home.” John Roberts began his story, as if the media were observers and not participants: "President Bush was thankful for the chance to get out of Washington. But it didn't take long for Washington to catch up with him." NBC's Brian Williams stressed how Bush's “political troubles following him to Argentina from faraway Washington.” Kelly O'Donnell zeroed in on how Bush's “domestic woes came along, too” with “four of five” press conference “questions related to the political fallout from the CIA leak case.”
Fred Barnes, during the panel segment on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, scolded the reporters for posing questions “Senator Durbin or maybe Senator Schumer drafted them for them” since “they were Democratic 'talking points.'” He suggested: “Somebody should explain to members of the mainstream media, that they are not a part of the political opposition. They're supposed to be reporters. They don't have to echo Democrats." (Barnes in full, a bit more from ABC, CBS and NBC, plus the questions posed to Bush, follow.)
In a Thursday CBS Evening News story on how Karl Rove is a “distraction” in the West Wing, Gloria Borger cited how “a new CBS News poll shows that only 39 percent of Americans say that President Bush has more honesty and integrity than most people in public life, down eleven points since early last year.” But that number comes from the same poll, it turns out, that CBS News skewed by weighing it to undercount Republicans and over-count independents. My Wednesday NewsBusters item recounted how on that night's Evening News, over side-by-side head-shot videos on screen of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush, with Bush's 35 percent approval, in the CBS News poll, below his image and Gallup's 27 percent finding beneath the shot of Nixon, John Roberts pointed out how “the only recent President lower at this point in their second term was Richard Nixon.”
Subsequently, NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard picked up on how “Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics posted an analysis of this poll’s methodology at his blog last evening. What his figures show is that CBS polled 46% more Democrats in its weighted sample than Republicans.” In short, CBS polled 259 Republicans, but weighted the sample to count for only 223, or 24 percent of the total; they surveyed 326 Democrats and held that number so they represented 35 percent of those polled; and independents moved from 351 respondents to a weighted 388 for 41 percent of the sample. Sheppard explained: “To put these numbers in proper perspective, according to the November 2004 exit polls, the nation’s current party affiliation is 37 percent Democrats, 37 percent Republicans, and 26 percent independents. As such, the polling agency involved in this result fell 36 percent short in sampling Republicans while over-sampling independents by 59 percent.” (More on Brit Hume's "Grapevine" item on the poll, weighting and the Borger story in full, follows.)
The last moments on CNN for the network's most liberal anchor, Aaron Brown, were spent channeling Joe Wilson's talking points. (As noted by Noel Sheppard, CNN on Wednesday announced the departure of Brown and the end of NewsNight. The two-hour block starting at 10pm EST will now carry the Anderson Cooper 360 title while The Situation Room gets the 7pm EST hour.) Brown was last on CNN on Friday night wrapping up headlines at 11:01pm EDT before an airing of CNN Presents narrated by David Ensor, "Dead Wrong: Inside an Intelligence Meltdown." Just before that, at 10:54pm EDT, Brown conducted his last interview on CNN, a brief live session with Ensor, in which he pushed the spin of the radical anti-war left. He told Ensor that “people who are opposed to the war say that it wasn't just that the intelligence was wrong. It's that the intelligence was cooked." Ensor inconveniently admitted that “I also thought that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction,” before Brown followed up: “At some level, this is about Joe Wilson saying -- I'm not, I'm not saying he's right about this, I'm just saying what he said -- is that they took the country to war, when they knew the evidence was at least ambiguous and they never framed it in an ambiguous way."
Below are a few examples of Brown's bias from his CNN years -- he left ABC News in 2001 -- which the MRC's Rich Noyes and I quickly collected from NewsBusters and the MRC's archive. These quotes, some with video, include how Brown, after Katrina, pressed a black Congresswoman to agree that race was behind the delayed response in New Orleans; how Brown one night trumpeted a Republican who turned against the war and wondered if the administration has been “honest”; how he ridiculed the contention that John Kerry didn't earn his Purple Heart; how he insisted that while some “will see willful deception on the part of CBS” in the Memogate scandal, “smarter and more reasoned heads know better”; how he declared the “record unambiguous” that “John Kerry was a war hero”; how, without uttering a syllable about questions about Kerry's Vietnam record, on Memorial Day 2004 Brown delivered a panegyrical, event-by-event tribute to Kerry's heroic Vietnam service; how he boasted of “a permanent smirk” spurred by Rush Limbaugh's drug troubles; how he proposed that the White House “twisted or ignored” global warming science; and how Brown swooned over Jimmy Carter: “In many places, dusty and difficult places, James Earl Carter has brought hope and dispelled, as well as anyone alive these days, the vision of the ugly American."
Wednesday's CBS Evening News touted a new poll by the network which found, as anchor Bob Schieffer relayed, that “the President's job approval has reached the lowest level yet” at “only 35 percent” with Congress “rated even lower” at a mere “34 percent,” but Bush and Congress are doing a lot better than Vice President Cheney whose “favorable rating is down nine points this year to just 19 percent.” Over side-by-side head-shot videos on screen of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush, with Bush's 35 percent approval below his image and Gallup's 27 percent finding beneath the shot of Nixon, John Roberts pointed out how “the only recent President lower at this point in their second term was Richard Nixon.” Roberts asked and answered: “What's behind the slide: 2,000 war dead in Iraq, an indictment in the CIA leak, the aborted Harriet Miers nomination, the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina."
Roberts warned that “yesterday's shutdown of the Senate shows the political danger of presidential drift. Democrats sat back and watched for an opening, then moved right in." He proceeded to deliver an unobjectionable rundown of advise offered by Reagan chief-of-staff Ken Duberstein: “This week's Alito nomination and the President's bird flu speech were the first steps in a turnaround, says Duberstein, but the White House still needs to lose the bunker mentality, let in new ideas." In conclusion, Roberts cautioned, "So far, there's no indication that President Bush is considering any of the outside advice to shake up the White House, but one thing is clear: If he doesn't find his footing soon, suggestions for change will quickly turn into demands." (Full transcript follows)
The stunt by Senate Democrats who forced the chamber into closed session so they could get publicity for demands for an immediate probe into administration use of pre-war intelligence, earned a favorable tirade Tuesday afternoon from CNN’s Jack Cafferty who charged that “there's a perception in this country that we were lied to about the run-up to the war in Iraq.” Most believe they were “lied” to? More like Cafferty channeled the claims of the radical left. Cafferty proceeded to concede that “maybe we were, and maybe we weren't, but there are a lot of people who think we were.” Cafferty rued, as if WMDs were the only reason for the war: “A half a trillion dollars and 2,000 of our kids later, we're still there. We're mired in a thing that has no visible end” and so “if they lied to us, if there was some kind of intent to deceive, then they ought to find out who did it, and tear their fingernails out, and then get rid of them.” He insisted that “it's about what's right and what's wrong and what people who are entrusted to govern this country do with the power we give them. If it's being abused, we damn well have a right to know, and something should be done about it.”
In denouncing President Bush's nomination of Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court, an editorial in the Tuesday Milwaukee Journal, “A nomination that will divide,” charged that Justice Clarence Thomas really isn't black. After fretting about how a “minus” of the Alito pick “is that the nomination lessens the court's diversity,” the editorial writers argued: “In losing a woman, the court with Alito would feature seven white men, one white woman and a black man, who deserves an asterisk because he arguably does not represent the views of mainstream black America.”
A hat tip to Mark Belling, a talk show host from 3 to 6pm daily in Milwaukee on WISN Radio.
In covering on Monday night the nomination of appellate court judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, ABC and CBS distorted his role and position on the husband-notification abortion case and pegged him as a “staunch” or “hardline” conservative, but NBC managed to correctly describe his role in the abortion case and depicted him as “dependably conservative, though with an independent streak." The NBC Nightly News, however, jumped from Alito to a nearly full story about how the Bush White House’s attempt at “diverting attention from the Scooter Libby indictment won't be easy because of the unanswered questions” which David Gregory helpfully went on to list before declaring that what today’s administration is saying is “a far cry from the candor that candidate Bush once promised."
ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas teased World News Tonight by asserting, as if it were his preference and not a ruling on the constitutionality of a law signed by a Democratic Governor, that Alito “once said a woman should tell her husband before she gets an abortion." On the CBS Evening News, Gloria Borger maintained that Alito “has favored limits on abortion; most notably arguing that women seeking abortions should be required to inform their husbands first." NBC’s Brian Williams correctly related how “he voted to uphold a Pennsylvania law requiring women to notify their husbands before seeking an abortion.” (ABC’s Jake Tapper undermined the media assumption that Alito was out of touch as he noted that “recent polling indicates more than seven in ten Americans support Alito's position.)
On ideological labeling, ABC’s Vargas asserted: “Conservatives are thrilled, liberals incensed.” She went on to relay that “he is said to be brilliant and a staunch conservative.” CBS anchor Schieffer saw Democrats not liberals when he touted how Bush has “made the conservatives happy, but the Democrats are upset." John Roberts proceeded to assert: “Alito's judicial philosophy so mirrors that of the Supreme Court's hardliner, Antonin Scalia, that he's been nicknamed 'Scalito.'" Roberts ominously warned: "If confirmed, Alito would wipe out the swing seat now occupied by Sandra Day O'Connor, tilting the Supreme Court in a solidly conservative direction for years to come." (Lengthier transcripts follow.)
Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito is conservative and all the television coverage Monday morning made that clear, but several reporters went further by either repeatedly applying the tag or by adding adjectives to suggest he's out of the mainstream. On ABC's Good Morning America, Jessica Yellin issued five labels in under 50 seconds, describing Alito as someone who will please Bush's "conservative base," has "established conservative credentials," is "a law and order conservative," who is "in the mold of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia" and whose "writing is so similar to the conservative justice's, he's sometimes nicknamed 'Scalito.'" Just before Bush's announcement, Charles Gibson called Alito "very conservative" and "the most conservative member" of the otherwise "liberal appellate court." Gibson soon repeated himself: "The President has picked somebody very conservative." Over on CBS's Early Show, Gloria Borger dubbed Alito "quite conservative," the same label applied a few minutes earlier on CNN's Daybreak by Carol Costello before Jeffrey Toobin applied the "very conservative" tag. NBC's Katie Couric asserted that Alito "could be a controversial choice" because he's "a favorite on the right and he would replace moderate justice Sandra Day O'Connor."
Still shot is of Yellin. Transcripts of above and more quotes follow.
In a ten-second promo at the end of Friday's NBC Nightly News, an announcer excitedly promised, “Sunday: Joe Wilson, the man at the center of the CIA leak scandal and NBC's got him!” Viewers then saw a short clip of Wilson as he sat across from Campbell Brown: “The White House trained their guns on me.” Back to the announcer with matching text on screen: “The Dateline interview: Sunday 7, 6 Central.” CBS ran its plug for 60 Minutes inside a CBS Evening News story in which John Roberts asserted: "The case started with the outing of a CIA operative, but [prosecutor Peter] Fitzgerald found no crime in that. It didn't sit well with Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson. In an exclusive interview for Sunday's 60 Minutes, he told Ed Bradley:" CBS played a soundbite of Wilson accusing Karl Rove despite Rove's vindication so far: "After Mr. Rove said about my wife, 'She's fair game,' I would like to see him frog-marched out of the White House. Whether it's in handcuffs or not is immaterial. If it was not illegal, it was certainly, it seems to me, a dubious ethical comportment. And I think we deserve better from our senior public servants."
“The real lingering question for me is,” former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw asserted on the 5pm EDT Friday edition of MSNBC's Hardball, “was this a one-man band, or were there others in the administration who were linked to his efforts?” Brokaw added, as if it were the natural thing to wonder about: “And, of course, the question that will be raised by a lot of people not in any way fans of this administration, 'what did Dick Cheney know and when did he know it?'”
Brokaw, however, also criticized the news media for “all the speculation leading up to this” when “we ended up with one indictment today.” Looking forward, Brokaw predicted that “I don't think that he [Fitzgerald] has an indictment in mind for Karl Rove,” which, Brokaw noted, “is going to be an acute disappointment to a lot of people who are not fans of this administration.” (Brief transcripts of these comments follow.)
Much to Senator Chris Dodd's consternation on Thursday's Larry King Live on CNN, Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward, of Watergate fame, pointed out a fact rarely mentioned by the mainstream media -- that “most of the analysts at the CIA said that [Joseph] Wilson's findings, when he went to Niger, supported the conclusion that there was some deal with Iraq” for uranium. When Dodd started to counter Woodward, Woodward asserted that “Democrats and the Republicans all signed that report. That is a fact.” Woodward revealed that he had the report “in his pocket”and when King asked why, Woodward answered: "Yes I do because I knew I might be challenged." When King went to an ad break two minutes later, the camera pulled back to show everyone at the table. Woodward then slid forward across the table to Dodd what looked like a few 8-and-half-by-11 sheets of paper with a post-it on top. Dodd ignored it, but in the second before CNN went to black, Senator Lindsey Graham, sitting beside Dodd, picked them up.
The still shot is from a fraction of a second after the papers are released from Woodward's hand. Video excerpt of this event: Real or Windows Media. Dodd says something as he looks toward Woodward. If you can read lips... (Transcript of the earlier exchange follows.)
People who know Harriet Miers in Dallas, Lee Cowan reported on Thursday's CBS Evening News, think she “deserved better than this" and he quickly moved to highlight those mad at conservatives, or as one cab driver charged, the “far right.” Cowan relayed that “at a Dallas diner this morning, her withdrawal served up a lot of disappointment” where patrons were upset “that conservatives, even here in her home state, weren't willing to give her a chance." Cowan went outside and leaned into a taxi to ask the driver: "What happened?” The cabbie replied: "I think the far right, they had been itching for a big battle for years." Cowan did pass along a defense of conservatives: "Dallas talk show host Mark Davis though says local conservatives are actually just trying to watch out for the President's legacy."
Over on ABC's World News Tonight, following a lead story from Terry Moran, Linda Douglass opened a piece: "Democrats were quick to blame Miers' collapse on conservative activists, who demanded loudly that the President dump her." After a clip of Senator Harry Reid scolding the “the radical right wing of the Republican Party,” Douglass picked up on how Senator Arlen Specter "said the groups drowned her and the President out." Following bites from Senator Sam Brownback and Rush Limbaugh, she returned to the anti-conservative prism from which she began, setting up a slam from Senator Ted Kennedy by relating how Democrats say "if he chooses an ideological conservative, he will appear to be the tool of outside groups," and she concluded with how “Senator [Lindsey] Graham is urging the President to appoint someone who, in his words, 'won't blow this place up'” -- meaning a non-conservative. Pivoting from Douglass, anchor Bob Woodruff turned to George Stephanopoulos and inquired: “Does he [Bush] have to nominate a conservative to satisfy the base of his party or a moderate who would be acceptable enough to Democrats to avoid a long and prolonged fight?” Stephanopoulos listed some potential nominees before warning: “Both Priscilla Owen and Michael Luttig fall into that category that Lindsey Graham talked about. They would blow the place up." (Transcripts follow.)
MSNBC's Chris Matthews assumed pernicious wrong-doing on the part of Bush officials and cited facts not in evidence as he opened Wednesday's Hardball by presuming Valerie Plame was a victim, though her publicity-seeking husband was incompatible with keeping her employer secret. Matthews declared that the “FBI closes in on the bad guys,” described Plame as “undercover CIA agent” and touted how she “was a courageous spy for her country,” even though she was working at CIA headquarters and her specific status is in dispute. Bob Novak, for instance, reported that her overseas career was over. Matthews proceeded to assert that her neighbors had “no idea” of what job she held “until quote, 'high administration officials,' closed quote, exposed her to America's enemies.” Full transcript of the show opening delivered by Matthews follows.
Earlier today Matthew Sheffield posted how “the last casualty of the CBS Memogate scandal happened earlier today” with the announcement that CBS News President Andrew Heyward will be replaced. In 2000, appearing on C-SPAN the day before the start of the Republican convention in Philadelphia, Heyward denied a caller's contention that CBS reflected a liberal bias and denigrated MRC President Brent Bozell and the late Reed Irvine of Accuracy in Media as “activists and extremists of the Right.” Heyward argued that viewers confused “tough questions” to “the establishment” posed by CBS reporters with liberal bias and went so far as to seriously maintain that of "the people I work with, many of them are surprisingly conservative." Plus, he said with a straight face: "Our job is to communicate the truth to people." (A 2000 MRC article about Heyward's comments follows.)
Video excerpt tracked down, by Karen Hanna, from the MRC archive: Real or Windows Media
An overwhelming 79 percent of Iraqis, who risked their lives just over a week ago to cast their ballot, voted in favor of the nation's new constitution, but you'd have missed it if you sneezed during Tuesday's CBS Evening News or ABC's World News Tonight. CBS anchor Bob Schieffer delivered only this single sentence -- “Iraq's government announced today that voters did approve the country's new constitution in this month's referendum” -- before moving on to a full story about the 2,000th death of U.S. servicemen in Iraq, a piece he could not resist introducing without adding this snide aside: "More than 90 percent of the 2,000 who died in the war have died since the President declared major combat was at an end in May 2003.”
On ABC, which had time for a full piece from Terry Moran about the "potentially huge" story of Vice President Cheney's supposed role in the Plame case, anchor Elizabeth Vargas briefly noted how “in Iraq today, there was a milestone on the road to democracy: The official results show that a new constitution was ratified by an overwhelming margin.” That was it for the Iraqi constitution. ABC led with, as Vargas put it, the “terrible milestone” of 2,000 killed in Iraq. Viewers then saw two stories: Martha Raddatz on the anguish of Army medical personnel and Barbara Pinto on parents in an Ohio town who have lost sons in Iraq. (A summary of NBC Nightly News, which did report on the passage, as well as a transcript of Schieffer's presentation, follows.)