Newsweek's Jonathan Alter launched a vicious attack, on Congressman Tom DeLay's ideology, in this week's magazine. Promoting it, on Monday's Imus in the Morning on MSNBC, he charged that "it's the first time in 200 years that the House of Representatives has been run for a whole decade, or almost a decade, by a corrupt zealot." That matched the language in his one-page piece, "Tom DeLay's House of Shame," in which he contended: "I have no idea if DeLay has technically broken the law. What interests me is how this moderate, evenly divided nation came to be ruled on at least one side of Capitol Hill by a zealot." The pull-out quote in the hard copy edition, and the subhead online, read: "Congress has always had its share of extremists. But the DeLay era is the first time the fringe has ever been in charge." Alter maintained that "the only reason the House hasn't done even more damage is that the Senate often sands down the most noxious ideas, making the bills merely bad, not disastrous."
All three broadcast network evening newscasts on Monday focused attention on the disappointment expressed by conservatives at President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court, but the CBS Evening News went the furthest in reporting the selection through a liberal prism. Anchor Bob Schieffer employed “rights” language which put the liberal position in a positive light: “Social conservatives wanted someone who is on the record against gay rights and abortion rights. Many liberals wanted someone who is for abortion rights.”
John Roberts put the most negative hue on Miers' connection to Bush as he asserted that “Miers' ties to President Bush are too close for some people on the left and right. What looks like, they say, to be the very embodiment of cronyism." To back that up, Roberts ran a clip from CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen. Unlike ABC's Terry Moran and NBC's Pete Williams, Roberts failed to point out (as did Gloria Borger in a subsequent piece) how Miers gave a $1,000 to the Al Gore campaign in 1988, but Roberts, using phraseology favorable to abortion backers, stressed her position on abortion: “We do know as head of the Texas bar, she fought against support for abortion rights and she was a patron of a Texas anti-abortion group. Friends say she is very religious.” Roberts concluded with an extreme label: “White House officials, including the Vice President, insist she has the sort of bedrock conservative judicial philosophy that even the far right will like." (I doubt Cheney used the term “far right.”)
Dan Rather's national media colleagues rallied around him, and denigrated his critics, at the News and Documentary Emmy Awards presented by the National Television Academy at a September 19 ceremony, where Rather was honored with a lifetime achievement award, which C-SPAN aired Saturday night. ABC's Ted Koppel praised Rather as “a man of honesty and integrity and decency.” Referring to Rather's “memogate,” Koppel sarcastically suggested: “I would simply urge your most vociferous critics to take a page from the White House's own playbook. When one of their own a makes a mistake, they stress the importance of looking to the future and of not playing the blame game.” MSNBC President Rick Kaplan, a former executive at ABC and CNN, asserted that “Dan was meticulously careful to be fair and balanced and accurate” during his career. Kaplan then lashed out: “When did we allow those with questionable agendas to take the lead and convince people of something quite the opposite? It's shameful.” Kaplan went so far to declare that Rather's “legacy” is “the gold standard journalists today have struggled to live up to.”
Rather earned a standing ovation for a full minute when Koppel brought him on stage to accept his award. Koppel then read the glowing citation: “For a distinguished career of outstanding television reporting. Known as the hardest working man in journalism, Dan Rather is a fearless reporter who has kept Americans informed about the world's most-defining moments for over half a century." Full quotes from Koppel and Kaplan, as well as fawning words from another speaker, follow.
“Bill Bennett is the poster child for racism” and “you cannot say that statement that was made by Bill Bennett is not a racist statement,” Colby King, the Washington Post’s Deputy Editorial Page Editor and columnist, declared on this weekend’s Inside Washington. King contended that “there's no way you can parse his words and get away from what he said. What he said was morally reprehensible. He has said, in effect, that blacks have a predisposition for being criminals.” No, Bennett simply based his proposition on how a higher percentage of blacks than other races commit crimes and, like King, Bennett rejected the idea of systematic abortion as “morally reprehensible.” Nonetheless, King proposed, “Now the question is: How will his party handle him? Will they come to his defense? Or will they take the right position?"
The CBS Evening News, which in June never uttered a syllable about Democratic Senator Dick Durbin's incendiary comments, on the floor of the U.S. Senate, equating U.S. servicemens' treatment of detainees at Guantanamo with the Nazi regime and the Soviet gulags, on Friday led with remarks made by Bill Bennett, just two days earlier, on his morning radio show. With “Bennett Blunder” on screen, Wyatt Andrews teased his lead story: "He really did say it, that fewer black babies would reduce crime.” Anchor Bob Schieffer appeared stupefied: "We start tonight with a story that everyone seems to be talking about, and you have to ask, 'Just what was the man thinking?'” Andrews played an audio clip of Bennett saying that “you could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down” as well as how “that would be an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do.” Andrews then seemed befuddled: "Abort black babies and the crime rate goes down?”
It may have been an impolitic formulation (aborting all male babies for a while would lead to much less crime 15-25 years later), but as the saying goes, a gaffe in Washington is when someone says a truth people don't want to hear -- though Bennett immediately denounced the notion as "morally reprehensible." Andrews quoted from Bennett's defense, but concluded by complaining that Bennett did not cave in to political correctness: “Bennett's written statement renounces all bigotry and asserts that over his career he's worked hard for minorities. But there's nothing in the statement even close to regret or to an apology.”
Friday's NBC Nightly News also pounced on Bennett with a full story before the first ad break. Back in June, the program ran just an anchor-read brief on Durbin. Friday night, unlike Andrews, Mike Taibbi pointed out how "Bennett said he based his comments on the book Freakonomics, which, among other things, theorizes a link between abortion generally and the crime rate, but that his comments in their entirety made his position unmistakable." ABC's World News Tonight aired nothing Friday, but had a short item Thursday night. Good Morning America, which waited more than week until Durbin's apology to touch his comments, aired a full story Friday morning on Bennett. NBC's Today, which also didn't get to Durbin until he apologized -- and then not until the 8am news update, put Bennett at the top of Friday's Today. “Under fire,” Katie Couric announced, “former Education Secretary William Bennett feeling the heat for saying this on the radio." Viewers then heard a clip which excluded Bennett's “morally reprehensible” clarification.
Full transcripts of the CBS, NBC and ABC stories follow, along with links to MRC CyberAlert coverage of the reticent approach to Durbin.
The CBS Evening News, which described Ken Starr as the “Republican” independent counsel, on Wednesday night went out of its way to avoid alerting viewers to how Ronnie Earle, the Texas county prosecutor behind the indictment of Tom DeLay, is a Democrat. Anchor Bob Schieffer twice described DeLay not by his title as House Majority Leader, but as the “House Republican Leader.” While Schieffer relayed how DeLay “says he's the innocent victim of a rogue district attorney,” viewers did not learn of Earle's party affiliation until three-fourths the way through Jim Stewart's story when Stewart related how DeLay believes “the personal vendetta of Democratic prosecutor Ronnie Earle” is “the real cause of his problems."
ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas teased at the top of World News Tonight how “one of the most powerful men in Washington is facing the prospect of jail time” and she proceeded to identify Earle as simply “a prosecutor.” Reporter Linda Douglass cited “District Attorney Ronnie Earle” before, late in her piece, attributing Earle's partisan status to an assertion by DeLay, as if it's a matter of dispute: “DeLay says the prosecutor is a Democrat on a witch-hunt." (Douglass did note that “the indictment provided no evidence that DeLay knew anything.")
In contrast, by citing a claim by DeLay, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams strongly hinted at Earle's affiliation. He teased: "Tonight, indicted. Tom DeLay, facing criminal conspiracy charges. The House Majority Leader calls the prosecutor 'a partisan fanatic.'" Chip Reid noted how "DeLay today unleashed a bitter attack on Earle, who is a Democrat." But Reid countered with how “in an interview with NBC News earlier this year, Earle vigorously denied his investigation of DeLay was motivated by politics."
Complete transcripts follow, along with quotes of Dan Rather tagging Starr as a “Republican.”
ABC's new Commander in Chief drama, which debuted Tuesday night, 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 the debut, Republican “President Teddy Roosevelt Bridges” dies of an aneurysm, but before he does so he asks VP Allen, an independent with more liberal views, to resign so the Speaker can become President since he "shares my vision." Allen plans to do so, enraging her chief aide who declares of Templeton: “This guy makes Genghis Khan look like Mahatma Gandhi.” And he warns that a Templeton presidency would mean “the return of book-burning, creationism in the classroom, invading every third world country."
During a meeting with Allen, who is on a quest to save a Nigerian woman sentenced to death by stoning for having a baby outside of marriage, Templeton enrages Allen by deriding the woman as “the adulteress” and “a lady who couldn't keep her legs together." (As if that's how conservatives view the plight of women in the world.) Templeton's buffoonery prompts Allen to fold up the draft of her resignation letter -- and thus make the theme of the TV series, a woman President, occur. Sutherland is a leading character on the show and the preview of next week's episode suggests that he will “sabotage” Allen's VP pick.
Nearly three times as many of those polled in a new Gallup survey said they believe the media are “too liberal” than “too conservative.” Gallup's Tuesday press release for the poll, which is earning publicity for how it found that “trust and confidence in the news media is up” from last year, reported: “When asked about the news media's political slant, Americans are much more likely to say they are too liberal (46%) than they are to say they are about right (37%) or too conservative (16%). Those views are consistent with what Gallup has measured since 2001. The percentage of Americans saying the news media are too liberal has ranged between 45% and 48%, and has always been the plurality response. There has been a slight increase in the public's sentiment that the media are too conservative, from 11% in 2001 to 16% today.”
Last year, 48 percent saw the media as “too liberal” compared to 15 percent who thought the media were “too conservative.” Given the plus/minus three percent margin of error, the numbers are essentially unchanged from last September. More results follow.
Saturday's “anti-war” protest in Washington, DC featured a long list of little-known characters from a litany of far-left and even further out groups with an America-hating agenda. But amongst the speakers on the stage, as shown live by C-SPAN, was actress Jessica Lange. She denounced President Bush's “propensity to lie” and how he's “a man who traffics in deadly lies.” Lange argued that those behind the war want “a continuing military presence in the Middle East, control over the region, control over the oil. They have their eyes on the prize, the master plan.” Citing how “not one military funeral has been attended by George Bush or his Cabinet,” she charged that “this disregard for human life only reinforces the knowledge that this man has no heart.” Lange also maintained that “when I hear his empty words with phrases like 'armies of compassion' or 'culture of responsibility,' I understand how deep their mendacity runs: They are a lie.”
Back in 2002 in Spain, Lange claimed “the election was stolen by George Bush and we have been suffering ever since under this man’s leadership” and that “it is an embarrassing time to be an American. It really is. It’s humiliating.” That won her the “The I’m Not a Geopolitical Genius But I Play One on TV Award” at the MRC's DisHonors Awards. For a RealPlayer video clip.
Full transcript of her Saturday rant at the rally follows.
Actor Alec Baldwin, on Thursday night's Too Late with Adam Corolla on Comedy Central, denigrated President Bush as "the little guy that snuck into the theater and he popped the window open so that all these other hooligans could come in and just rape and rip off and plunder the government." Baldwin's attack on Bush followed his explanation that the only reason he can't be President himself is that "to do that would mean to give up what I'm doing now. And I've said this a few times over the last couple of years is that I don't know whether I'm ready to give up what I'm doing now." (Baldwin appeared on the midnight EDT/PDT show to promote his role on the season debut this week of NBC's Will & Grace sit-com.)
A week after NPR’s Nina Totenberg, on Inside Washington, urged imposition of a “Katrina tax,” on the same show this weekend she dismissed the idea of cancelling $24 billion of transportation bill earmarks as small change and suggested that “if you canceled the tax cuts, you'd get $225 billion." She rejected the contention that would hurt the economy and forwarded the standard liberal class warfare argument that “if people who are richer in this country don't pay more, we can't take it out of the hides of poor people, which is what the conservative group that is actually in Congress that's put out earmarks of what they think we ought to cut -- Medicaid, Medicare.”
Evan Thomas, Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek, soon chimed in to point out how “there's no law in the Bible that says a Republican can never raise taxes." He recalled how “Ronald Reagan raised taxes, you know, he cut taxes, but then he raised taxes. George Bush, the father, raised taxes.”
Complete transcript of the remarks by Totenberg and Thomas follow. UPDATE: On another weekend TV talk show, the McLaughlin Group, Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift also looked to undoing tax reductions to pay for Katrina.
At the premiere party Wednesday night in Beverly Hills for ABC's new drama debuting on Tuesday, Commander in Chief, in which Geena Davis plays the President of the United States, actress Sara Rue told USA Today reporter William Keck for a Friday article: "In my mind I'm pretending that Geena Davis is actually running the country because it makes me feel a lot more secure." Keck asserted that Rue, who stars on ABC'sLess Than Perfect, summed “up the opinions of the mostly Democratic Hollywood crowd” when she declared: “We all thought of Hillary Clinton when we heard they were making this show. I hope it takes off!"
Davis herself, however, who Keck reported will be “a Democrat playing an independent,” had “clarified: 'We're making this as entertainment. But God willing, if this show stays on and people see a woman in that office for a while, I think it will help people become more used to it. It's certainly about time that we had a few female presidents.'"
A day after NBC's Matt Lauer asked on Today, "why are there so many hurricanes this year and is global warming to blame?" and Robert Bazell ominously concluded an NBC Nightly News story by asserting that "many experts say" hurricane-fueling global warming "results partly from humans releasing greenhouse gases possibly creating even more violent storms in the future," ABC and CBS aired stories which largely dismissed global warming as a culprit. On Thursday's World News Tonight, ABC's Ned Potter featured a soundbite from National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield, who in little-reported congressional testimony Tuesday, discounted global warming as a factor. CBS's Russ Mitchell, on The Early Show, featured a scientist who "says hurricane activity comes in cycles that can last several decades. It seems Mother Nature has mood swings." Mitchell explained that "hurricane cycles are primarily driven by rainfall patterns in Africa and the Amazon basin." As for hype about hurricanes on the rise, Mitchell admonished: "The experts will tell us back in the '50s and '60s we saw some monster hurricanes, but we just have very short memories."
(Viewers of ABC's PrimeTime Thursday, however, heard more hyperbolic lunacy on global warming as Barbra Streisand exclaimed to Diane Sawyer: "We are in a global warming emergency state and these storms are going to become more frequent, more intense, there could be more droughts, dust bowls, you know it's amazing to hear these facts, I mean, the Andes have no ice caps on the mountains in winter. The glaciers are melting. I mean, for the United States not to be part of the Kyoto treaty is unforgivable.")
Full transcripts and CBS's 1950-'60s hurricane graphic follow.
Declaring that the Media Research Center “is a much more biased organization than any institution in the MSM," CBS Evening News Executive Producer Jim Murphy, on the CBS News “Public Eye” blog on Thursday, criticized two MRC CyberAlertarticles I wrote which were first posted this week on NewsBusters. Public Eye Editor Vaughn Ververs asked Murphy to comment on a September 20 NewsBusters item, “CBS: Bush Should 'Wake Up and Smell the Coffee.'” Murphy seemed befuddled by the article: “Please explain to me what's WRONG with pointing out the President spoke from an air-conditioned tent, which to most people on the gulf would be a more than welcome relief from their existence. It was not gratuitous, it was an interesting note” and the CBS reporter's “use of the well-known phrase, 'wake up and smell the coffee,' was attributed to the restaurant owners as THEIR feeling, NOT hers. It's just good, colorful, pointed writing.” (The MRC's Michelle Humphrey tracked down a still shot of Murphy from a May of 2004 appearance on CNN.)
But Murphy's reasoning is a tautology. I was criticizing the judgment of CBS News on what is news. Other outlets did not choose to highlight Bush's air-conditioned surroundings, how one woman at a French Quarter restaurant assailed him for not experiencing their suffering or what Jimmy Carter said. Carter makes comments nearly every day. CBS chose to report this particular comment on this day. CBS decided that the restaurant owner's comment was more newsworthy than any number of other soundbites they could have run. The story reflected an agenda. By Murphy's reasoning, my articles should be beyond criticism since they accurately quoted what CBS reported.
Public Eye Editor Ververs conceded the NewsBusters/MRC piece on Bush had a point about CBS's "attitude." That and a bit more from Murphy follows.
In a Wednesday CBS Evening News story on shortcomings in FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina, reporter Randall Pinkston cited “frustrations that reached as far away as the state of Maine, where officials received ice that was supposed to go to the Gulf Coast." Pinkston touted how “former President Jimmy Carter, who created FEMA, criticized the Bush administration's decision to strip the agency's independence." Viewers then saw a clip of Jimmy Carter from a Tuesday night forum at the Carter Center in Atlanta: "This obviously lowered FEMA's status so that they would have to go through four or five levels of bureaucracy even to reach the President, whereas FEMA used to deal directly with the President." Of course, that decision -- good or bad -- had bi-partisan support in Congress. (Neither ABC or NBC found Carter's remarks newsworthy.)
Was Bette Midler serious or joking, when she said at a Tuesday night “From the Big Apple to the Big Easy” fundraising concert in New York City, as recounted in a Rolling Stone posting: "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.' She then added, 'George Bush is a fan of mine -- he came to see me in the Seventies. His coke dealer brought him.'" Rolling Stone characterized that as an example of how some celebrities “angrily denounced government officials” and how Midler employed “even stronger words” than used by another singer. In contrast, however, the AP's Nekesa Mumbi Moody treated Midler's comments as comedy: “Except for a joke about President Bush by Bette Midler -- which promptly got her booed -- the evening's focus was not on the divisive politics of the tragedy, but on the music that has brought communities together in its wake.”
CBS on Tuesday night delivered a sarcastic look at President Bush's visit to the Gulf coast. After reciting a list of problems people are having in New Orleans, reporter Sharyn Alfonsi jumped to a soundbite of Bush in Mississippi, declaring: “Every time I come back here, I see progress." Alfonsi gratuitously pointed out that Bush was “speaking inside an air-conditioned tent” and noted how “he toured a Folgers plant in Louisiana” but, she stressed, “small business owners say this kind of progress is the exception.” Then, over video of a row of damaged and abandoned store fronts in New Orleans, she countered: “This is the reality.” Alfonsi made it personal, holding Bush responsible for the frustrations of a French Quarter restaurant owner: “After five visits in three weeks, they want the President to wake up and smell the coffee.” (That cute line ran over video of Bush, in a sweat-soaked shirt, shaking hands at the coffee plant.) Restaurant owner Arly Questa demanded: "Hang out, no air-conditioning, eat some MRE's every day, and then you might really understand what it's been like down here in New Orleans."
As Noel Sheppard posted on NewsBusters on Sunday, George Stephanopoulos' “entire twenty minutes” with Bill Clinton on This Week “appeared to be an opportunity for President Clinton to defame the current administration while pumping up his own legacy. Assisting this goal was Stephanopoulos who, regardless of what his former employer said, didn’t once challenge the accuracy of any of Clinton’s numerous misstatements of fact.” NBC's Tim Russert also got a sit-down with Clinton, at the Clinton Global Initiative conference, and did little more than toss up talking point cues to him in the taped interview aired on Sunday's Meet the Press.
Russert was even easier on Clinton than Stephanopoulos, pitching up such softballs as, "Do you think the war in Iraq has hurt the U.S. image in the world?," "Do you think global warming influences, effects, creates hurricanes or the severity of them?" and on paying for the Iraq war and Katrina, "How can we afford that? What is it going to do to the deficit? And what should we do about tax cuts and spending cuts?" Russert plugged the interview: "In his first Meet the Press interview since 1997, former President Bill Clinton reflects on poverty, religion, and politics 2008, right here on Meet the Press."
Just 40 minutes into the Emmy Awards presentations Sunday night on CBS, Blythe Danner, in accepting the award (picture of acceptance) for the Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role in Showtime’s Huff, relayed views she attributed to her late husband Bruce Paltrow, best known as the producer of St. Elsewhere, though it was unclear if her political statement about Iraq, coming after a tribute to New Orleans, was her own or just what she believed her husband would have thought: "I know Bruce would want me to pay tribute to New Orleans, his favorite city, and all the Gulf Coast and our kids in Iraq. Let's get the heck out of there!” Just under two hours later, however, in accepting (picture of acceptance) the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her starring role on NBC’s Medium, Patricia Arquette delivered a classier appreciation of the troops in Iraq. She announced: “My prayer for you is that when you get home you can come home safe and sound."
Afterwards, on the E cable channel’s post-Emmy coverage, Arquette elaborated: “I think even though the troops aren’t on television all the time, they’re part of our country and it’s important to remember they’re there and to reach out and remind them that we haven’t forgotten them.”
On the Inside Washington TV talk show aired on three Washington, DC stations over the weekend, NPR reporter Nina Totenberg, decked out in NewsBusters orange, suggested that President Bush’s Thursday night speech “would have been a great opportunity to say, 'look, I'm for tax cuts, but we need a Katrina tax, we need to really pay, to do this and to pay for it.’" Host Gordon Peterson repeated her point: "You want more taxes." Totenberg chuckled as she reiterated: "I want more taxes, yes." Two weeks ago, as recounted in this NewsBusters item with a video clip, Totenberg blamed tax cuts for the levee breakage: “For years, we have cut our taxes, cut our taxes and let the infrastructure throughout the country go and this is just the first of a number of other crumbling things that are going to happen to us.”
CNN founder Ted Turner rued on Friday’s Late Show with David Letterman that “we paid $400 billion to find a nut in a fox hole” and declared that the Iraqi people “were better off without us.” He also charged that “we violated international law by going to war without a clear mandate from the security council.” Though the 9/11 terrorists were hardly poor, Turner contended: “You don't stop terrorism with tanks, you stop it with giving people hope so they won't want to blow themselves up.” To that end, he proposed giving the UN $62 billion a year to alleviate poverty. As for the UN’s oil-for-food scandal, “there was money siphoned off at Enron and a lot of American corporations during the last few years, but we didn’t close down American business as result of it.” But Enron is no longer around.
ABC News producers probably didn't hear what they expected when they sent Dean Reynolds to the Houston Astrodome's parking lot to get reaction to President Bush's speech from black evacuees from New Orleans. Instead of denouncing Bush and blaming him for their plight, they praised Bush and blamed local officials. Reynolds asked Connie London: "Did you harbor any anger toward the President because of the slow federal response?" She rejected the premise: "No, none whatsoever, because I feel like our city and our state government should have been there before the federal government was called in.” She pointed out: “They had RTA buses, Greyhound buses, school buses, that was just sitting there going under water when they could have been evacuating people."
Not one of the six people interviewed on camera had a bad word for Bush -- despite Reynolds' best efforts. Reynolds goaded: "Was there anything that you found hard to believe that he said, that you thought, well, that's nice rhetoric, but, you know, the proof is in the pudding?" Brenda Marshall answered, "No, I didn't," prompting Reynolds to marvel to anchor Ted Koppel: "Very little skepticism here.”
Reynolds pressed another woman: “Did you feel that the President was sincere tonight?" She affirmed: "Yes, he was." Reynolds soon wondered who they held culpable for the levee breaks. Unlike the national media, London did not blame supposed Bush-mandated budget cuts: "They've been allocated federal funds to fix the levee system, and it never got done. I fault the mayor of our city personally. I really do."
During PBS's coverage Wednesday of the Senate hearing with Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, analysts ridiculed the concern of some conservative Senators over the Supreme Court's recent eminent domain ruling and mocked the role of naive talk radio hosts. During a break at about 4:45pm EDT, Boston Globe columnist Tom Oliphant was befuddled by "the vigorous nature of this opposition to a rather mundane eminent domain case from New London, Connecticut, this Kelo thing. I mean, as you know, this issue has been around for decades, especially connected with urban renewal." New York Times columnist David Brooks pointed out that "talk radio exploded on this issue, and it was a big popular issue." That prompted NewsHour reporter Ray Suarez, host of the roundtable, to take a slap at talk radio: "Well, when eminent domain was remaking the face of cities across America, there really was no talk radio, and that may be a big change in the United States." Also, in his Tuesday column, Oliphant proposed that while Roberts may know the law, "there is almost no evidence of his understanding of justice."
Some noteworthy quotes from Tuesday's broadcast network evening newscast coverage of the Senate's confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. ABC's Linda Douglass saw civil rights through a liberal prism as, over a picture of Roberts with Ronald Reagan, she relayed how “Democrats hammered him about things he wrote as a young government lawyer 25 years ago, when the Reagan administration was fighting against expanding civil rights laws.” Conservatives would contend Reagan was just trying to ensure equal treatment of all races. Douglass also highlighted questions about the improper influence of Roberts' religious beliefs, as if anyone with them is disqualified: “Democrats made clear they suspect Roberts, a devout Catholic, will lower the wall between church and state. One Senator quoted John Kennedy.” Viewers then heard Senator Dianne Feinstein recite: “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.”
Over on CBS, Gloria Borger negatively framed Roberts' views on another topic: "The only woman on the panel grilled Roberts on his old legal memos, which appear to disparage women and their complaints about unequal pay." Borger repeatedly used the term “abortion rights” and Bob Schieffer hoped: “When he says today that Roe v. Wade is a 'settled legal precedent,' as he calls it, does that mean he supports abortion rights?"
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams trumpeted the liberal ideology of Arlen Specter, the Republican Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and how Specter is "unafraid to act independently." Williams touted: “He says his brushes with death have made him hyper-aware of the life-saving possibilities of stem cell research. He brought an hour glass to a Senate hearing, he says, to point out time's a-wastin'." Williams soon championed how “from his earliest days in politics, on the staff of the Warren Commission, running for mayor of Philadelphia in 1967, to his 25 years in Congress, Specter has been unafraid to act independently. It's a virtue he believes will serve him well throughout these hearings."
Transcripts, compiled by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, follow.
ABC News can't seem to figure out what percent of whites in their latest poll believe that the response to Katrina would have been faster “if the victims were wealthy and white,” with World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas (20 percent), an on-screen graphic (21 percent) and ABCNews.com (24 percent) all offering a different percentage. And while Vargas highlighted Monday night how “dissatisfaction...with the government's response to the hurricane is growing and hurting President Bush's overall approval rating. It now stands at just 42 percent, the lowest it's ever been,” in a WashingtonPost.com article posted at 5:30pm EDT, Richard Morin pointed out that “Bush isn't the biggest loser in the post-Katrina blame game.” Indeed, though 45 percent said Bush deserved a “great deal” or “good amount” of blame for “problems” in the response, 57 percent said the same about state and local officials.
Like Vargas, ABC News polling analyst Gary Langer skipped those numbers as he focused his online posting on how “on Katrina, opinion has moved further away from Bush and his administration.”
Transcript from ABC and excerpts from ABCNews.com and WashingtonPost.com follow.
Some calm and dispassionate political analysis Saturday night on Comedy Central's Weekends at the DL. Actress/comedian Kathy Griffin delivered not comedy but her vitriolic personal opinion as she shouted, to loud audience applause while she gesticulated with her arms: “The President is a moron! I'm saying it. I don't care. He's an idiot. Cheney is evil. I'm sick of, impeach them, get them out! I hate them! I hate them. Get them out. They got to go!" She later pleaded: “What is it going to take for you people? Get Bush out! Impeach! Out! Out! Out!” Griffin also denounced FNC's Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity: “He and Hannity can suck it. I hate those two idiots! Those liars.”
Griffin is the star of the reality show, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the d-List on NBC-Universal's Bravo cable channel, a regular on the E! channel's “red carpet” coverage before awards ceremonies, has had roles in several movies, as well as appearing on such TV shows as NBC's Suddenly Susan sit-com and currently on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm.
During the Friday night (SOS) Saving OurSelves: The BET Relief Telethon, actor/comedian Steve Harvey and singer/actress Queen Latifah came to rapper Kanye West's defense. Harvey imparted: “We love you, brother. And do keep your head up, and we understand what you were trying to say, and you have a lot of people's support in spite of all the ridicule that you're receiving, man. Do stay strong.” Latifah saw West as a martyr, chiming in with how “you always going to pay to speak what's on your mind and what's on your heart. But that don't mean you shouldn't say it.”
Last Friday (Sept. 2), on NBC's Concert for Hurricane Relief, West ludicrously contended that “we already realize a lot of the people that could help are at war right now fighting another way and they’ve given them permission to go down and shoot us.” He later added this slam: “George Bush doesn't care about black people." (Previous NewsBusters item on West.)
After nearly two weeks of media carping about a slow federal response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, tonight ABC will air a story critical of the federal government for listing a charity which is providing hurricane relief -- one founded by Pat Robertson. Viewers of Thursday's World News Tonight were treated to this promo: “Tomorrow: He wanted the U.S. to assassinate a world leader. Now the U.S. is recommending his charity as second only to the Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina donations. The politics of Katrina relief and Pat Robertson, tomorrow, only on World News Tonight.” (As the announcer said that, ABC displayed video clips of Robertson, Hugo Chavez, hurricane destruction, the name “Operation Blessing” and Robertson with a frowning face as he prayed.)
I don't know how the feds made Operation Blessing “second only to the Red Cross,” but below are links to Operation Blessing and a FEMA press release which lists Operation Blessing fourth, after the Humane Society. And why should victims suffer just because the founder of one relief group, who has nothing to do with day-to-day operations, said something dumb?
UPDATED 9:10pm EDT with what aired.
After insisting that “I don’t do opinions,” on Thursday’s Daily Show on Comedy Central, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams seemed to come dangerously close to endorsing the view that racism was behind the slow rescue of residents in New Orleans as he approvingly relayed how, a “refrain” he heard from “everyone watching the coverage all week,” was “had this been Nantucket, had this been Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, how many choppers would have-” At that point, audience applause caused him to cut off his sentence as he gestured toward the audience to cite affirmation of his point.
Hard to imagine that if Williams heard the refrain, which is out there, that the hurricane’s destruction of abortion clinics in New Orleans shows it was meant as God’s punishment of sinful behavior in the city, Williams would have so willingly passed along that line of reasoning.
Under video shown on ABC's Good Morning America, during Charlie Gibson's Wednesday interview with Senator Hillary Clinton on Capitol Hill, viewers saw a graphic which asked: “WHAT WENT WORONG?” ABC's spelling, for one thing. The misspelled graphic ran under video of Senator Clinton talking to people inside the Washington, DC armory, one of the shelters for those evacuated from New Orleans.
The MRC's Rich Noyes caught ABC's miscue, which they quickly corrected when they switched to a two-shot of Gibson and Clinton.