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.
Cindy Sheehan earned a live interview segments at the start of Monday's 7pm EDT Hardball on MSNBC, where she appeared from Texas with her sister, Deedee Miller, and then just past 7:30pm EDT Sheehan showed up live on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 with anti-war activist Pat Vogel.
After Sheehan went on at length about how the U.S. is “building bases the size of Sacramento, California in Iraq. They plan on never leaving” and “I see Iraq as the base for spreading imperialism. And if we don't stop them now, our babies and our unborn grandchildren will be fighting this," Matthews suggested: “You sound more informed than most U.S. Congresspeople, so maybe you should run."
In contrast, Cooper hit her with her own words, pressing her to re-affirm: “Do you really believe the President of the United States is the biggest terrorist in the world?” Cooper pushed her several times, but she wouldn't back off her claim.
NBC Nightly News on Sunday devoted its “In Depth” segment to Bush-hater Cindy Sheehan’s impact, as anchor David Gregory touted how she “has become both a magnet and a source of controversy in the President's hometown, single-handedly bringing the Iraq debate to Mr. Bush's doorstep.” Reporter Kelly O'Donnell began with how “she's tiny Crawford's biggest draw. This woman said she drove 900 miles from Denver, compelled by Cindy's story." Earlier, filling in for Tim Russert on Meet the Press, Andrea Mitchell blamed Bush’s communications team for what the news media has really done: “How did they let this one woman become the symbol for the entire anti-war movement?” Mitchell added: “It certainly doesn't help when you see the videotape of the motorcade rushing past the protesters on their way to a Republican fund-raiser at a neighboring ranch.” On Saturday’s World News Tonight on ABC, anchor Bob Woodruff introduced a story by trumpeting how Sheehan’s “vigil for her son, killed in Iraq, has given new life to the anti-war movement and a place in Crawford called the 'Peace House.’”
Sunday night at 8pm EDT, 7pm CDT (to air at 8pm PDT), NBC re-ran the May 25 season finale of NBC's Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which portrayed House Majority Leader Tom DeLay as a hero to white supremacist gun nuts suspected of murdering two judges, one of them black, and who had expressed the view that the white woman judge who was murdered was a "race traitor" who raised her family in the "Zionist enclave of Riverdale."
When the ballistics on the bullet which killed the black judge showed it was fired by the same rifle which was used to kill the white judge, New York City Police Department "Detective Alexandra Eames" suggested to her fellow detectives and an Assistant District Attorney: "Maybe we should put out an APB for somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt." Another detective then presented evidence the shooter came from the West, prompting Eames to point out: "Home of a lot of white supremacist groups."
For a full transcript of the scene, MP3 audio as well as Real and Windows Media video, check the May 26 MRC CyberAlert.
Several media outlets on Friday couldn't resist trumping up President Bush's motorcade passing by Cindy Sheehan's protest camp. CNN's Situation Room put “BUSH WALKS ON BY” and “PRES. BUSH PASSES UP CHANCE TO MEET WITH 'PEACE MOM'”on screen during a story in which CNN viewers were treated to blurry video taken from inside a car in the caravan to show what Bush might have seen out his window. Reporter Elaine Quijano highlighted how “Sheehan held up a sign saying, 'Why do you make time for donors and not for me?'” On ABC's World News Tonight, Geoff Morrell relayed how “the President's motorcade passed by Cindy Sheehan en route to a $2 million Republican fund-raiser” and asked Shehean: “Are you disappointed he didn't stop?" Morrell also pointed out how “in the eleven days Mr. Bush has been on vacation, at least 37 troops have been killed in Iraq.”
Hosting MSNBC's Hardball, NBC's David Gregory floated the idea that Sheehan's protest may “represent a kind of tipping point in the country where people are really getting frustrated with the progress of the war.” Guest Dana Milbank of the Washington Post admired Sheehan's “extremely effective” PR strategy before he zinged President Bush: “The man has not been to a military funeral.”
On Friday night, reporting on the rise in the price of a barrel of oil to $66.87, CBS anchor Bob Schieffer inaccurately described that as a “record high,” ABC anchor Bob Woodruff erroneously referred to it as “another new high” and NBC's Brian Williams fallaciously declared: “Oil prices at an all-time record again today.” But NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell, in a piece on what is causing the rising prices of oil and gas, soon conceded the reality which her colleagues studiously avoid: “As bad as prices are now, the surprising fact is that gasoline is still cheaper than in 1981, at least adjusted for inflation.” A barrel of oil will need to top $90 to set an actual record high price.
Below is an August 12 MRC CyberAlert article, “Nets Falsely Cite 'Record High' Gas Prices, Target Oil Profits,” about Thursday night and earlier mis-reporting of energy prices:
Cindy Sheehan got a full segment Thursday evening on the NBC Nightly News as anchor Brian Williams framed her protest in the context of how “so far, 1,846 Americans have died in Iraq, nearly 14,000 have been wounded. And it doesn't help that a woman who lost a son in Iraq vows to wait outside the President's ranch until the Commander-in-Chief agrees to speak with her.” Reporter Kelly O’Donnell described Sheehan as “a media magnet," as if journalists have no ability to control that, but O’Donnell did at least note that “Sheehan also has some detractors." ABC’s World News Tonight ran a clip of President Bush rejecting her demands, but then anchor Bob Woodruff relayed how Sheehan retorted that “all we're asking is that he sacrifice an hour out of his...vacation to talk to us." MSNBC’s Countdownfeatured an interview with her and Keith Olbermann insisted that “now her story is about more than just her protest, it's about the role of dissent in a country founded on the right to dissent.”
Full CyberAlert article follows. For all of today's MRC CyberAlert items, click here.
During the panel segment on tonight's (Thursday) Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC, Fred Barnes recalled Joe Wilson and Bill Burkett as he wondered, "is there any left-wing publicity hound who the media won't build up?” Zeroing in on Cindy Sheehan, Barnes criticized both her and the media's treatment of her:
“This woman wants to go in and tell the President that the war is about oil because the President wants to pay off his buddies. She's a crackpot, and yet the press treats her as some important protestor.”
While it should be a new low in television entertainment, it probably isn't. On tonight's (Thursday) episode of the FX cable network's sit-com, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, we'll see this, as described by the show's Web site: “Mac becomes more serious about pro-life causes when he realizes his passion for this viewpoint might get him laid. Dennis sinks to an equally low level as he uses an abortion rally as a forum for meeting chicks.”
The CBS Evening News on Wednesday devoted a second segment to promoting the vigil of Bush-hater Cindy Sheehan. Bill Plante noted the obvious as he provided more publicity: “She's gotten a lot of media attention by camping out on the road that leads to the President's ranch.” He pointed out that she “understands that it's very difficult for the White House to dismiss anyone in her position” and touted how “she also knows she's not alone. One recent poll shows that one out of three people now say it's time to bring all the troops home." Anchor Bob Schieffer ridiculously asked: "I wonder why the President doesn't meet with her." Plante replied that “you'd think it would be an easy thing to do,” but noted that would lead to him having to “meet with a lot of people.” Plante did point out that Sheehan did meet Bush last year, but “she says that wasn't a satisfying meeting." Plante didn’t note her praise then for Bush.
Full August 11 CyberAlert item follows. For today's MRC CyberAlert, click here.
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams on Tuesday night wondered, “with many of the numbers and many economists saying the economy is in good shape in this country, the question is: Why isn't President Bush benefitting from that?” Reporter Kelly O'Donnell inadvertently provided part of the answer when she suggested the lack of public confidence in the economy is “fueled most notably by record gas prices, an issue the White House concedes overshadows other economic successes." But while gas prices are rising, they are far short a “record” high price. NBC isn’t alone in spreading this canard. On Monday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Bob Schieffer asserted that “the government reported today that gas prices jumped eight cents in the past week to a record high of $2.37 a gallon. And oil soared to another record high, today just short now of $64 a barrel." The same night, ABC anchor Charles Gibson falsely cited how the cost of gas and oil “hit new highs.”
Full August 10 CyberAlert item follows. For today's MRC CyberAlert, click here.
The broadcast networks and CNN on Monday morning trumpeted the vigil outside of President Bush's Texas ranch by a virulent Bush-hater, but didn't really fully convey her hatred. NBC's Katie Couric showcased her at the top of Today: “And a mother's vigil. Her son died in Iraq. Now this woman is camping outside the Bushes' Texas ranch and demanding a meeting with the President today, Monday, August 8th, 2005." On CBS's Early Show, news reader Julie Chen snidely played off of Bush's vacation: "President Bush may be on vacation in Crawford, Texas, but one mom wants to make sure he doesn't forget there's a war going on in Iraq.” On Saturday, CBS anchor Thalia Assuras had noted how “while President Bush has heralded the sacrifice of the fallen, his words were met with anger today.” That story featured Cindy Sheehan's accusation: “I'm never going to be able to enjoy another vacation because he killed my oldest son."
Full August 9 CyberAlert item follows. For today's MRC CyberAlert, click here.
Monday's Today on NBC devoted over seven minutes of its last half hour to a friendly story and interview with “raging grannies,” some elderly women in Tucson who hold small rallies outside military recruiting offices where they don big, colorful hats and sing song parodies, such as “we're here to stop the war machine, don't get in our way!", "Halliburton profits from war," “taxes unending, military spending, what a waste, what a waste!" Reporter Peter Alexander trumpeted their efforts: "With their will and their words as their only weapons these grannies from 53 to 93 years of age protest on this downtown street corner every Wednesday." As they sang, “Down with the one who would drive the country under," the camera showed a George W. Bush doll decked out in a black and white striped prison shirt with an American flag draped on his shoulder. Four of the grannies then sat for an interview with a delighted Natalie Morales who tossed softballs at them, such as “What do you hope...that people will get out of this, out of seeing you be an activist and protesting the war in Iraq?" Morales didn't follow up when one one proclaimed that “we'll try and remove our President from his office because he is lying to the public and making war all over the world. It's, it's just unacceptable.” Morales soon hailed their “witty lyrics” and sounded in awe as she wondered: “Tell me what it's like to be able to, to speak and to be a voice for a demographic that, generally we don't hear that much from, especially as activists?"
An article from today's MRC CyberAlert: The former number two editor of the Washington Post, Robert Kaiser, yearns for the U.S. to follow the cradle-to-grave welfare state system enacted in Finland. In a Sunday Outlook section piece, “In Finland's Footsteps: If We're So Rich and Smart, Why Aren't We More Like Them?,” Kaiser contended that “for a patriotic American like me, the Finns present a difficult challenge: If we Americans are so rich and so smart, why can't we treat our citizens as well as the Finns do?” The former Post Managing Editor, who is now an Associate Editor, listed the free services Finns get: “They pay nothing for education at any level, including medical school or law school. Their medical care, which contributes to an infant mortality rate that is half of ours and a life expectancy greater than ours, costs relatively little.... Unemployment benefits are good and last, in one form or another, indefinitely.” Kaiser conceded that Finland has some downsides, such as high taxes, but still maintained the nation “can be an inspiration.”
The rest of the CyberAlert item follows, but first links to a couple of other Monday CyberAlert articles:
Brian Williams was off this week, but he left a taped piece with his bias for Friday's NBC Nightly News. To mark the 60th anniversary of the Enola Gay dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, Williams went to the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum annex near Dulles Airport -- where the plane is on display -- to talk to the plane's navigator, Dutch Van Kirk. Williams asked: “Do you have remorse for what happened? How do you deal with that in your mind?” Van Kirk indignantly replied: “No, I do not have remorse...”
A transcript of the second half of the August 5 NBC Nightly News story, picking up after Van Kirk offered some recollections of what he saw:
At about 4:49pm EDT today on CNN's Inside Politics, when Bob Novak maintained that Katherine Harris could win a Florida Senate race because she's anti-establishment and candidates the establishment hates have won before, James Carville charged that Novak made that argument because he has “got to show these right wingers that he's got backbone. The Wall Street Journal editorial page is watching, show them you're tough.” Novak fired back: “I think that's bullshit and I hate that." Novak then pushed his chair back, got up and removed his microphone as he walked off the set. Transcript follows. Real and Windows Media video also available.
Romenesko today posted a link to a SmarterMoney/Esquire "What I've Learned" first-hand recounting of thoughts from Dan Rather, such as this insight: "You trust your mother. But you cut the cards anyway."
In the July 29-dated posting, Rather complained that "many of the people" who call his scandal "memogate" are doing "so for their own partisan and/or ideological purposes." Unlike with Watergate, "no crime was committed here" and he maintained: "The central facts in the story were correct, and they have not been denied. A pillar of support for the story has been called into question and remains in question. We don't know everything yet." Rather also claimed that "whatever mistakes" were made, "real or imagined, " they "were not born of political bias nor of prejudice."