On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, reporter Martin Savidge in New Orleans highlighted a complaint from environmentalists about the impact of the contaminated water being pumped out of the city, but reporter Lisa Myers, in a story on “missed opportunities,” also gave broadcast network air time to showing an aerial view of some of the hundreds of flooded school buses the city government abandoned: “Some two hundred New Orleans school buses sit underwater, unused, enough to have evacuated 13,000 people. Why weren't those buses sent street by street to pick up people before the storm?” The rest of Myers' take on the buses follows.
Savidge wrapped up a piece on the flooding and all the E. Coli in the water: “There are some ecological concerns, especially as they begin pumping that filthy water out of New Orleans into either Lake Pontchartrain or the Gulf of Mexico. Environmentalists wonder, well what happens after that? City leaders simply say, one problem at a time.”
Monday’s Access Hollywood teased with a clip of rapper Kanye West’s blast on Friday’s Concert for Hurricane Relief broadcast on several NBC channels, "George Bush doesn't care about black people," followed by a clip of actor Matt Damon: “I let out a cheer.” The syndicated NBC Productions program also featured a clip of this ludicrous claim from West on the fund-raising show: “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.” (For more about West's allegations, check this Friday night NewsBusters posting by Tim Graham.)
A few minutes later on Access Hollywood, co-host Nancy O’Dell touted how “it was Kanye West’s anti-Bush remarks that caught the attention of Matt Damon and Susan Sarandon in Italy” at the Venice Film Festival. Viewers then saw this from actress Susan Sarandon as she stood at some sort of an event: “I don’t think that’s an original thought, but it’s probably true.” (With Access Hollywood’s quick cut editing, it’s hard to know what people are specifically referring to.)
Immediately after Sarandon, Access Hollywood played a longer soundbite from Damon who claimed the White House press corps is too nice to Bush and thus “not one of them’s an honest journalist.” Full quote follows, as well as Colin Farrell’s charge that white people would have been rescued faster.
CBS News Sunday Morning “contributor” Nancy Giles, in the only commentary aired on the show on Sunday, delivered a blistering diatribe in which she charged that racism was behind the slow response to the hurricane victims in New Orleans, rationalized looting, claimed the real war is the one on poverty that’s being lost thanks to tax cuts, and mocked President Bush for visiting Iraq but skipping the Superdome -- thus showing he doesn’t give “a damn” about black people.
Giles asserted that “if the majority of the hardest hit victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans were white people, they would not have gone for days without food and water” and insisted that “the real war is not in Iraq, but right here in America. It's the War on Poverty, and it's a war that's been ignored and lost.” She complained that “we've repeatedly given tax cuts to the wealthiest and left our most vulnerable American citizens to basically fend for themselves." Giles scolded Bush for finding photo-ops with some “black folks to hug” while he skipped “the messy parts of New Orleans.” She castigated Bush for how he “has put himself at risk by visiting the troops in Iraq, but didn't venture anywhere near the Superdome or the convention center, where thousands of victims, mostly black and poor, needed to see that he gave a damn."
Sounding like a parody of a liberal, but in all seriousness, NPR and ABC reporter Nina Totenberg charged on Inside Washington, at the end of a discussion about how National Guard equipment deployed to Iraq is supposedly impairing rescue efforts, that “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.” An astounded Charles Krauthammer pleaded: “You must be kidding here.” But Totenberg reaffirmed: “I’m not kidding.”
In fact, under the Bush administration domestic spending has soared much faster than inflation, a trend illustrated by the huge transportation bill this year packed with spending on infrastructure projects. And if infrastructure spending has suffered in some way, massive new spending on such things as a prescription entitlement program are just as responsible.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Friday afternoon repeatedly prodded reluctant Congressional Black Caucus member Elijah Cummings to blame racism for delays in rescuing hurricane victims in New Orleans. Blitzer asked Cummings on The Situation Room: “Do you believe, if it was, in fact, a slow response, as many now believe it was, was it in part the result of racism?” When Cummings demurred from such a blanket accusation, Blitzer wouldn’t give up: “There are some critics who are saying, and I don't know if you're among those, but people have said to me, had this happened in a predominantly white community, the federal government would have responded much more quickly. Do you believe that?"
Later, on CNN’s NewsNight, Aaron Brown took up the same agenda with Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones: “What I'm wondering is, do you think black America's sitting there thinking, if these were middle class white people, there would be cruise ships in New Orleans?” When she wouldn’t take the bait, Brown lectured: “Now, look, here's the question, okay? And then we'll end this. Do you think the reason that they're not there or the food is not there or the cruise ships aren't there or all this stuff that you believe should be there, isn't there, is a matter of race and/or class?”
Opening the NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams predicted that the "catastrophic hurricane strike, and the U.S. government response to it, will in the years or decades to come, perhaps necessitate a national discussion on race, on oil, politics, class, infrastructure, the environment and more.” ABC’s Ted Koppel charged on Nightline that “the slow response to the victims of Hurricane Katrina has led to questions about race, poverty and a seemingly indifferent government.”
ABC's Terry Moran this afternoon put politics at the forefront in hurricane disaster coverage when, on a storm-ravaged Biloxi street, he confronted President Bush about how “one of the things you hear here is people saying 'there's a lot of resources being devoted to Iraq. Now this country needs them.' And they're frustrated about that. What do you say to the people who say there's too much money being spent on Iraq and it's time to bring it home?” ABC News led its 1:22pm EDT special with anchor Dan Harris insisting that spending on Iraq is “a common complaint -- what we're hearing from many people about the resources being spent in Iraq.”
In the middle of a Thursday CBS Evening News story on the destruction in Slidell, Louisiana, across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, reporter Mark Strassmann showcased a distraught man “with a message for the President” who blasted Bush for how he responded in Iraq while not doing so for Louisiana. Anthony Nata charged: "You can go into Iraq and come in with big helicopters and set stuff up for people, but you can't do this for us? Come on, Bush. You can do better than that."
Over video of flattened houses, Strassmann set up that soundbite from Nata: “This community is a landscape of loss -- subdivision after subdivision flattened or flooded. Police whisper to you they suspect hundreds of bodies in those homes. Anthony and Edith Nata now live in a lean-to by the side of the road with a message for the President.”
Of course, going into Iraq took months of logistical and transport efforts.
Two days after CNN's Jack Cafferty demanded to know, as detailed in a Tuesday NewsBusters item, “Where's President Bush? Is he still on vacation?”and snidely suggested that “based on his approval rating in the latest polls, my guess is getting back to work might not be a terrible idea,” on Thursday's Situation Room Cafferty took off after Bush again. At about 3:30pm EDT during his “Cafferty File” segment, he suddenly found the conservative New Hampshire Union Leader very wise and quoted approvingly from their Wednesday editorial: “'A better leader would have flown straight to the disaster zone and announced the immediate mobilization of every available resource....The cool, confident, intuitive leadership Bush exhibited in his first term, particularly in the months following 9/11, has vanished.'” He piled on with how a New York Times editorial excoriated Bush “for 'appearing casual to the point of carelessness.'”
Cafferty soon launched a rant: “I have never, ever seen anything as badly bungled and poorly handled as this situation in New Orleans. Where the hell is the water for these people? Why can't sandwiches be dropped to those people that are in that Superdome down there? I mean, what is, this is Thursday. This is Thursday. This storm happened five days ago. It's a disgrace.”
During ABC's Wednesday night prime time special, In the Path of Katrina, reporter Chris Cuomo exploited the tragedy to push for a permanent expansion of the federal government, just as occurred under FDR, "the last time the country responded with unprecedented sweeping changes to help the least fortunate. Today may demand an equal effort." Interviewing Randy Cohen, ethics columnist for the New York Times Magazine, Cuomo asserted: "Hurricane Katrina is perhaps the most economically destructive event in American history since the Great Depression, the last time the country responded with unprecedented sweeping changes to help the least fortunate. Today may demand an equal effort. Couldn't this hurricane be something that is a historically relevant event that may change how we deal with each other in this society?"
Live from the White House in the 7am EDT half hour of Thursday’s Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer pressed President George W. Bush to respond to a series of liberal talking points, starting with how “people have worried that the National Guard is stretched too thin” with “so many overseas” in Iraq. Later, she demanded: “Do we have to make a choice, at some point, between what we're doing in Iraq and what is needed, right now, to funnel massive amounts of money” to the hurricane victims? She also wanted Bush to “guard against price gouging” and wondered: “Is this a time to call on Americans to simply pull back, not use the gas? Pull back and stay at home and save the gas for those who are in dire need." Sawyer forwarded how “some people have said that the oil companies, themselves, should simply forfeit some of their profits in this time of national crisis.” She suggested the federal government owes everyone a job as she asked “how far the federal government is going to go to get their lives back? Do you promise jobs? Do you promise that they will be moved back into housing, and how soon?"
At about 4:40pm EDT this afternoon on MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell marveled at how Venezuela, “perhaps with a bit of a sense of irony,” has offered assistance despite the call by Pat Robertson, whom she identified as a “colleague” of the Bush administration, for the assassination of Venezuela's President. Chris Matthews soon piped up about how “we often argue about states' rights and the need to reduce the size of the federal government, yet in a crisis, it's the federal government which has the resources, the money, the manpower, the personpower I should say, to do the job.”
Mitchell contended FEMA was ineffective until Bill Clinton became President and was going well until a second Bush took over the White House. She contended that “since the Clinton days,” FEMA has shown “that it can move very effectively,” but “we've seen also, post-9/11, that federal disaster assistance and coordination was sorely lacking.” She also wanted to know “how much the National Guard deployments from around the region to Iraq and Afghanistan and other parts of the world has depleted the resources that were available?”
Some in the media have blamed the ferocity of Hurricane Katrina on global warming. NBC's Robert Bazell warned on Monday's NBC Nightly News, in a story carried repeatedly on MSNBC, that "many scientists say we can expect such storms more often as global warming increases sea temperatures around the world." In a Monday posting on Time.com Jeffrey Kluger forwarded that "to hear a lot of people tell it, we have only ourselves -- and our global-warming ways -- to blame." Kluger conceded that "hurricanes were around a long, long time before human beings began chopping down rainforests and fouling the atmosphere," but he concluded that in the future global warming "could make even Katrina look mild." Former Washington Post and Boston Globe reporter Ross Gelbspan, in a Tuesday Boston Globe op-ed, charged: "The hurricane that struck Louisiana yesterday was nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service. Its real name is global warming." In contrast, the New York Times remarkably reported Tuesday: "Because hurricanes form over warm ocean water, it is easy to assume that the recent rise in their number and ferocity is because of global warming. But that is not the case, scientists say."
In the 5pm EDT half hour of CNN's The Situation Room today, Jack Cafferty used the hurricane as an excuse to trash President Bush for being on vacation, as if the location of Bush, who already authorized federal action, has any impact on that federal response to the devastation. Cafferty asked host Wolf Blitzer: “Where's President Bush? Is he still on vacation?”Blitzer answered that “he's cut short his vacation. He's coming back to Washington tomorrow.” Cafferty snidely contended: “Well, that would be a good idea. He was out in San Diego, I think, at a Naval air station giving a speech on Japan and the war in Iraq today. Based on his approval rating in the latest polls, my guess is getting back to work might not be a terrible idea.”
Full transcript of the exchange, between Cafferty in Manhattan and Blitzer in Washington, DC, follows.
Another week, another opportunity for NPR's Nina Totenberg to discover that Supreme Court nominee John Roberts is conservative and to caution us about it anew. On Inside Washington over the weekend, she warned that "if he's as conservative as his papers reflect, his nomination will dramatically change the direction of the court." Seconds later she made clear she is sure that he's going to be a "very conservative" justice: "I have no idea what kind of justice he's going to end up being, except for the fact that I'm pretty sure he's going to be very conservative." A week earlier on the same show she declared that after reviewing memos he wrote while working in the Reagan White House counsel's office, "he is much more conservative than I ever would have guessed."
In recent weeks, Totenberg has tagged Roberts as "very conservative," "very, very conservative" and "very, very, very conservative," as well as "a really conservative guy," "a hardline conservative" and "a clear conservative," to say nothing of being "a conservative Catholic." Four weeks ago on Inside Washington she asserted that she "was actually quite surprised at how, how very, very conservative he was."
Matching NBC and MSNBC stories from last Thursday, on the syndicated Chris Matthews Show over the weekend, Matthews touted Cindy Sheehan as representing a “tipping point” on Iraq analogous to Walter Cronkite’s 1968 on-air lecture about Vietnam. Matthews set up his lead topic: “Next stop, Saigon? This month a watershed moment of defeatism over Iraq. Senators are getting quiet and polls are sinking. Then a tipping point [footage of Cindy Sheehan]. An anti-war mother of a fallen soldier becomes an emblem of anger and national frustration. It reminds many of another clear tipping point from another war." Matthews then played a clip from Cronkite. On last Thursday’s NBC Nightly News, Carl Quintanilla trumpeted how Sheehan has “dominated headlines, mobilized protesters” and made “it safe, her supporters say, to voice doubts about the war, just as Walter Cronkite did on the Evening News in 1968.”
“Free universal healthcare has long been the crowning achievement of this socialist state,” Boston Globe reporter Indira A.R. Lakshmanan touted from Havana in a front page story last Thursday. In the August 25 article headlined, “As Cuba loans doctors abroad, some patients object at home,” Lakshmanan relayed all the cliches, promoted by the left, about the wonders of Cuban health care, without any regard to the accuracy of the figures or the quality of the health care workers. But before that, Lakshmanan blamed the U.S., not Cuba’s communism, for the terrible state of its economy as she described it as “crippled by the U.S. embargo in place since 1963.” The Globe reporter championed how, thanks to “one of the best doctor-patient ratios in the world,” the “small country has made significant contributions to reducing infant mortality rates and serving disaster victims worldwide.” Lakshmanan trumpeted how “advocates of the Cuban system point out that all Cubans are entitled to free healthcare and medicine, while more than 44 million American residents -- nearly one of six people -- have no health insurance.”
"As the 1960s protest song said, 'there's something happening here,'” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams reminisced Thursday evening as he introduced an “In Depth” segment trumpeting the influence of Cindy Sheehan -- a story, when replayed on MSNBC's Countdown, fill-in host Amy Robach framed around how “there are those who wonder if attitudes toward the war could be reaching a tipping point and whether the Gold Star mom could be the driving force.” Reporter Carl Quintanilla allowed a couple of critics to denounce Sheehan, but his story was centered around touting her impact: “Sheehan, say some historians, may be evolving as an icon in the war's turning point, if this is one. For three weeks, she's dominated headlines, mobilized protesters” and made “it safe, her supporters say, to voice doubts about the war, just as Walter Cronkite did on the Evening News in 1968.” Viewers were then treated to 1968 video of Cronkite taking on the Vietnam war: “To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion.”
In between soundbites from liberal historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Quintanilla fretted about “a peace movement without a way home.” Goodwin rued: “That's the difficulty. We don't know what to do with the peace movement, what does it actually mean?” Quintanilla concluded by admiring Sheehan's influence, a pedestal the media provided: “Historians say we won't know Cindy Sheehan's place in the war until the war itself is history. And whether you agree with her or not, she sits waiting for one conversation, and has unleashed another.” (Video: Windows Media Player or Real Media)
Full transcript, and Williams' plug on his blog for this story, follows.
ABC made time Wednesday night for Martha Raddatz to read from a letter the Gold Star Moms for Peace sent to President Bush in which they charged that "you put our troops in harm's way based on a lie. We are military families who demand an end to the lies, and call for you to bring our troops home now." But, after weeks of hyping Cindy Sheehan, neither Raddatz nor anyone else on World News Tonight mentioned how Bush spent nearly three hours meeting with family members of those killed in Iraq. Neither did the CBS Evening News which held its coverage of Bush's speech in Idaho to the National Guard to a soundbite of Bush quoting a mother with four sons in Iraq. NBC anchor Brian Williams touted how Sheehan's group "said today its members will follow President Bush around the country protesting the war," but at least Kelly O'Donnell noted that Bush "met privately with 68 family members who grieve for sons and husbands lost in war."
On his MSNBC Countdown show on Wednesday night, Keith Olbermann, who described the Fox News Channel as “just a brand name, not a description,” named FNC's Brit Hume his “runner-up” in his daily “Worst Person in the World” gimmick. What riled Olbermann? Hume daring to criticize as “'excessive' the TV coverage of Pat Robertson's call for the assassination of President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela because, he said, Robertson has 'no influence.'” Olbermann sarcastically added: “Probably why Fox has had Robertson on their network ten times in the last year.” By that reasoning, Olbermann would have to consider influential the parade of lawyers, family friends and other hangers-on brought out many times a day on FNC and MSNBC to talk about the Natalee Holloway case.
In fact, Hume never said Robertson has "no influence." Hume suggested that Robertson's "political influence may have been declining since he came in second in the Iowa Republican caucuses 17 years ago and he may have no clout with the Bush administration" and that CNN's Bill Schneider had decided that Robertson has "little influence." (Nor did Hume say "no influence" during a later panel segment on Robertson.)
Links to Hume's original words and a full transcript of Olbermann's "worser” reasoning for Hume follows.
In a Monday posting, Greg Mitchell, the Editor of the leading newspaper industry magazine, Editor & Publisher, urged newspapers to editorialize about getting the U.S. out of Iraq. The up top summary below the "Tipping Point on Iraq" headline over his August 22 piece: "At this critical moment, it's time for newspapers -- many of which helped get us into this war -- to use their editorial pages as platforms to help get us out of it. So far, few have done much more than wring their hands. Now, it's literally do-or-die time." FNC's Brit Hume, in his "Grapevine" segment on Tuesday, picked up on Mitchell's advocacy which Romenesko had highlighted.
NBC on Tuesday night devoted a story to comparing Iraq to Vietnam. Reporter Jim Miklaszewski concluded that “while there are marked differences between the wars in Iraq and Vietnam, the rhetoric, at least, is beginning to sound much the same.” Miklaszewski used as an excuse for raising the subject how "Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld himself bringing up the Vietnam issue at his Pentagon briefing today” and rejected the equivalence. Miklaszewski went on to highlight how Senator Chuck Hagel, “the prominent Republican and decorated Vietnam veteran, said this week the U.S. is now bogged down in Iraq, similar to Vietnam.” Miklaszewski reported that “there's increasing concern in the Pentagon that a growing anti-war drumbeat here at home” -- a drumbeat being pounded by NBC -- “could eventually take a toll on troop morale in Iraq, not at all unlike Vietnam.” He also chided Rumsfeld for how he “ignored the latest polls which indicate a majority of Americans now think it was a mistake to go to war in Iraq."
Despite Pat Robertson's waning role in national politics, the broadcast and cable networks on Tuesday evening jumped on his Monday suggestion that Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez should be assassinated now in order to avoid a costly war later. All three broadcast network evening newscasts featured full stories, with ABC's World News Tonight making it the lead. Anchor Charles Gibson snidely forwarded: “A popular Christian broadcaster says assassination is the way to deal with one world leader who criticizes the U.S. Some ask, 'is this Pat Robertson's definition of Christian love?'" CBS played a clip of Donald Rumsfeld dismissing Robertson as just another example of how “private citizens say all kinds of things all the time," and Gloria Borger then countered by touting Robertson's prominence: "But Robertson is not just any private citizen. He's a former Republican presidential candidate with a large evangelical following.” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams declared that Robertson “has created something of an international firestorm” before reporter Bob Faw concluded that Robertson is “a man of God who doesn't calm waters, but roils them.”
Robertson “may have no clout with the Bush administration, but you wouldn't know that from watching CNN today,” FNC's Brit Hume noted in reviewing the competing cable network's all-day obsession -- a focus which continued into the evening with Robertson leading the 7pm EDT Anderson Cooper 360 (hosted by Heidi Collins), the 8pm EDT Paula Zahn Now and the 10pm EDT NewsNight with Aaron Brown who tried to hold the whole religious right culpable as he asserted that "political leaders worried it makes the so-called Christian Right seem neither Christian nor right.” Robertson was also the first topic covered by MSNBC's 7pm Hardball with Chris Matthews and 8pm Countdown with Keith Olbermann.
With "CAN ANTI-WAR MOMS STOP BUSH?" on screen throughout the interview session, ABC on Monday morning didn’t let Cindy Sheehan’s departure from Crawford deter them from promoting her cause as they brought aboard Celeste Zappala of Sheehan’s group, Gold Star Families for Peace. Co-host Charles Gibson gave her a lot of credit, asking about President’s Bush upcoming speech in Salt Lake City, from where Zappala appeared: “Do you think, Ms. Zappala, that he would be making these speeches were it not for your group's protest?" In the midst of giving her publicity, Gibson fretted: “You are but a small group there that is perched on the approach to the President's ranch. One hundred, two hundred people. Do you really think you've got people talking about the war?" Gibson also did something unusual, raising how Sheehan called the U.S. “morally repugnant” and he pressed Zappala about whether she worries that her protests “might dishonor” her son who died in Iraq?
Full CyberAlert item follows. For all of today's MRC CyberAlert articles.
NPR’s Nina Totenberg is repeatedly surprised by how conservative Supreme Court nominee John Roberts really is, apparently not cognizant of all of her earlier pronouncements about his conservatism. On Inside Washington over the weekend, she declared that after reviewing memos he wrote while working in the Reagan White House counsel’s office, “he is much more conservative than I ever would have guessed. He is on the most conservative side of almost every issue within the Reagan administration." In recent weeks, Totenberg has tagged Roberts as “very conservative,” "very, very conservative" and "very, very, very conservative," as well as "a really conservative guy," "a hardline conservative" and "a clear conservative," to say nothing of being "a conservative Catholic." Three weeks ago on Inside Washington she asserted that she “was actually quite surprised at how, how very, very conservative he was.”
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, on Friday night's Countdown, smeared the Media Research Center (MRC), the parent of NewsBusters, as “a scam” and claimed, in awarding MRC President Brent Bozell the “worser” slot in his nightly “worst person” gimmick, that “the only person distorting as usual is Bozell.” Olbermann was defending himself “against the charge of wacky guy” Bozell who “accused me of distortion for having said that Rush Limbaugh had said on air, quote, 'Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real.'” Olbermann proceeded to slam Limbaugh as the “Worst Person in the World” for supposedly denying the quote, alleging: "Like your career, Rush. You're finished, credibility spent."
While Olbermann zeroed in on Bozell, the MRC's critiques of him appeared in an August 18 NewsBusters posting (with video) that I wrote which was reprinted in the MRC's CyberAlert. I never suggested that Limbaugh did not utter the sentence sequence quoted by Olbermann, but that he distorted Limbaugh's point that the media see both Sheehan and Burkett as "an opportunity" to exploit and that "it doesn't matter what the specifics of Cindy Sheehan's case are." Olbermann had snidely claimed, "I guess she made up that dead-son-in-Iraq business" -- a ridiculous interpretation of some jumbled words. Video: Windows Media or RealPlayer. Full transcript follows:
Washington Post foreign affairs reporter Robin Wright has no sense of humor -- at least when it comes to a conservative daring to make any kind of joke related to women in the workplace, even a little girl. Saying “I don't know whether they were quips,” on Friday's Washington Week on PBS, Wright proceeded to act offended as she made clear that “as a woman” she was “struck” by how, in the Reagan-era memos written by Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, he “questioned whether it was a good thing for a woman to go back later in life to law school” and he dubbed, as a “little huckster,” a Girl Scout who wanted to sell some cookies” to President Reagan. The humor-challenged Wright arrogantly judged: "I have to say, you know, one case of this is one thing, but to see this repeatedly was really striking, as a woman, to me."
Host Alan Murray pointed out that Roberts' asides were “jokes” and, as noted in an earlier NewsBusters posting by me about the Post's deliberate distortion of his quip in a story headlined “Roberts Resisted Women's Rights,” his remark about homemakers becoming lawyers was a slap not at women but at how there are too many lawyers. NBC's Pete Williams, however, chimed in with how “the President of NOW said his views are, quote, 'neanderthal.'"
Before and after Cindy Sheehan’s announcement Thursday that she was leaving Crawford to attend to her ill mother, the networks celebrated her supposed achievements and hoped they’d re-invigorate the anti-war movement. “Did just one grieving mother spark the beginnings of an anti-war movement? We'll give you the 'Inside Story,'" CBS anchor John Roberts promised before Wyatt Andrews trumpeted: "Her movement seemed to catch fire Wednesday night as tens of thousands of people in more than a thousand places attended vigils in support.” He insisted that it’s “very clear Cindy Sheehan has tapped the public's frustration." ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas saw “a campaign born of sadness and resolution.” Thursday morning, ABC’s Charlie Gibson championed: "All across the country protests against the war in Iraq, inspired by the mother standing her ground at President Bush's ranch.” On screen, GMA put "MOM ON A MISSION: IS ANTIWAR MOVEMENT GROWING?" George Stephanopoulos claimed “a lot of Republicans would say” that “this is the President's swift boat moment.”
The AP’s Ron Fournier got into the act too, opening a Thursday night dispatch: “What began as one mother's vigil on a country road in Texas two weeks ago has grown into a nationwide protest, putting a grieving human face to the miseries of war and the misgivings about President Bush's strategies in Iraq.”
Full CyberAlert article follows. For Friday's MRC CyberAlert.
The front page of Friday’s Washington Post features an article with a lead clearly framed through a liberal prism intended to paint Supreme Court nominee John Roberts as an extremist and/or a male chauvinist. “Roberts Resisted Women's Rights: 1982-86 Memos Detail Skepticism,” declares the headline over the August 19 story it took three reporters to research and write, Amy Goldstein, R. Jeffrey Smith and Jo Becker (along with six more credited at the end of the article.) The loaded lead: “Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. consistently opposed legal and legislative attempts to strengthen women's rights during his years as a legal adviser in the Reagan White House, disparaging what he called 'the purported gender gap’ and, at one point, questioning 'whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good.’”
A look at the full quote, however, shows that the Post distorted the personal aside in the memo. Roberts was not making a disparaging remark about women but -- in response to a judging panel at Clairol considering an award to a female White House staffer who had convinced some homemakers to go to law school -- he simply offered a quip about whether society needs more lawyers: "Some might question whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good, but I suppose that is for the judges to decide."
[Update, 11:30am EDT: The New York Times got the joke.]
On Wednesday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann labeled Rush Limbaugh as the day's "Worst Person in the World!" in a segment that airs regularly on his 8pm EDT Countdown show. He normally introduces three nominees for the dishonor -- tagged as "worse," "worser," and "worst." Olbermann took Limbaugh out of context in highlighting the Limbaugh quote promoted by a far-left group: “Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real." Olbermann snidely quipped: "I guess she made up that dead-son-in-Iraq business." He also gratuitously speculated that "painkillers wipe out your memory along with your ethics." (Video available Windows Media or Real Media)
But on his radio show on Wednesday, Limbaugh had already discussed the fact that his comments had been taken out of context by others, explaining that the media see both Sheehan and Burkett as "an opportunity" to exploit and that "it doesn't matter what the specifics of Cindy Sheehan's case are."
Full CyberAlert item follows. For all the articles in today's MRC CyberAlert.
Michael Barone of U.S. News told FNC's Chris Wallace tonight that “if a World War II era Cindy Sheehan had gone to Hyde Park and Warm Springs and camped out and demanded a meeting with President Roosevelt,” she “would just been thought to have been a person who was the victim of a personal tragedy and who had gone over the bend as a result of it, and they would have mercifully given her no publicity.” Barone, co-editor of the bi-annual Almanac of American Politics, credited the change in media attitude to how in “World War II, the press almost unanimously wanted us to win the war,” but “today we have many in the press -- not most I think, but some at least -- who do not want us to win this war and think that we don't deserve to win this war.”
Transcript of Barone's comments on Special Report with Brit Hume follows.