On CNN’s Larry King Live Thursday night, Dan Rather insisted that his $70 million lawsuit against CBS was an attempt to save “our democracy” from “big government interference and intimidation in news;” claimed once again that his 2004 60 Minutes story on President Bush’s National Guard service was correct “and I think most people know by now that it was correct;” and charged that CBS’s investigation was “a fraud. It was a setup.”
And when Larry King asked him about Peter Arnett — whose career at CNN ended over a fraudulent 1998 report alleging the U.S. murdered defectors and used nerve gas in Vietnam, and who was last seen making propaganda films for Saddam Hussein during the 2003 invasion of Iraq — Rather embraced him: “Peter Arnett is a great reporter. He was then and he is now.”
Three weeks ago, when Republican Senator John Warner suggested a withdrawal of about 5,000 U.S. forces from Iraq by Christmas, the networks trumpeted the idea as evidence of a major “turning point” in the war. Thursday night, President Bush announced he would, in fact, lower U.S. troop levels by 5,700 by Christmas, but those same networks were dissatisfied, with NBC’s Tim Russert grumbling that the President’s idea was really “U.S. military involvement in Iraq this year, next year, and well after I leave the presidency.”
As MRC’s Brent Baker noted back on August 23, Warner’s suggestion of a small withdrawal was met with giddy excitement: “CBS’s Katie Couric touted a ‘major blow tonight to President Bush’s Iraq policy’ and ABC’s Martha Raddatz saw a ‘stunning announcement that could have a powerful effect on the war’ as the NBC Nightly News, for the fifth time in two years, heralded a ‘turning point’ against the war.”
Touting it as a “Geraldo at Large investigation you won’t soon forget,” FNC’s Laurie Dhue filed a report from inside a men’s bathroom on what supposedly happened last June between Senator Larry Craig and an undercover police officer, with actors in separate stalls rubbing their feet together.
After pointing out that the chances that Craig’s conduct was simply misunderstood by the police officer were “extremely low,” Dhue suggested that any stigma on homosexual behavior was the fault of the Republican Party.
Dhue declared: “I think the sad part about all this is that Larry Craig had to go to a public place — if it’s true, if he is gay — he had to go to a public place, and that’s the shame of homosexuality in this country right, today — at least the shame that the Republican Party puts on it.”
After more than two decades in which Dan Rather used his anchor desk to push a liberal agenda — culminating in the forged document scandal in 2004 — the CBS Evening News needed its new anchor to be the epitome of fair and balanced journalism.
Instead, the CBS brass hired Katie Couric, who put her liberal fingerprints all over Today during her 15 years at NBC. Making the switch to CBS, Couric could have reinvented herself as a fair and down-the-middle reporter. After one year on the job, however, the ratings for her version of the CBS Evening News are as low as they've ever been, down to an average of just 6 million viewers per night.
And Couric has maintained the same liberal approach that got Rather into such trouble in 2004. A short review:
What a difference a headline makes. An alert tipster in Minnesota sent the Media Research Center a clip from the August 10 St. Paul Pioneer Press, which included this scary-sounding headline over a story about a Food and Drug Administration report: “Heartburn Drugs Subject of Federal Safety Inquiry.”
The story, distributed by the Los Angeles Times News Service, was about whether two commonly prescribed drugs, Nexium and Prilosec, might cause heart problems. Maybe, suggested writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar: “Federal regulators Thursday said they have opened a safety investigation of two popular heartburn drugs — Nexium, marketed as the ‘purple pill,’ and Prilosec, its older chemical cousin — after receiving clinical data that appeared to link them to serious heart problems.”
Many Americans do not believe the news media are fair, accurate or even moral, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center. The poll of 1500 Americans conducted late last month found that most of the public thinks news organizations are politically biased (55%) and often publish inaccurate stories (53%), and that roughly a third of the audience say the media are too critical of America (43%), hurt democracy (36%) and are immoral (32%).
Half of Americans (52%) label the media as liberal, led by self-described Republicans (75%) but also large percentages of independents (49%) and even Democrats (37%). And while journalists tout themselves as the public's objective eyes and ears, many more Americans are confident that the military provides an accurate view of the war in Iraq (52%), compared with 42 percent who trust that the press offers accurate reports.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Pew found that those who have chosen to bypass traditional news outlets in favor of the Internet give the “harshest indictments of the press.”
An editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal tweaks the New York Times and other liberal critics of Rupert Murdoch’s takeover of the Journal. Noting how some of the fussier media outlets are competing with the Journal at a time when all newspapers are fighting the Internet tide, “readers can judge if the tears these papers and their writers claim to shed for the Journal's future are real, or of the crocodile variety.”
As for the ideology Murdoch’s News Corp. might bring to the Journal, the editors of the famously conservative editorial page mocked: “The nastiest attacks have come from our friends on the political left. They can't decide whose views they hate most — ours, or Mr. Murdoch's. We're especially amused by those who say Mr. Murdoch might tug us to the political left. Don't count on it.”
A federal appeals court today overturned a Carter-appointed judge's opinion last August that the National Security Agency's terrorist surveillance program, dubbed by opponents as "domestic spying," was unconstitutional. Eleven months ago, the media latched on to the decision as a "major legal defeat" for the Bush administration, with CNN's Jack Cafferty crowing about how the decision proved "President Bush violated his oath of office, among other things, when he swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States."
Both ABC and MSNBC hosted constitutional lawyer Jonathan Turley, who suggested the President should be impeached as a result of the ruling.
While ABC and NBC both led off their Thursday night newscasts with the Supreme Court decision barring an exclusively race-based approach to assigning students to various schools, the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric began with the demise of the Senate immigration bill. CBS’s reporters emphasized how the vote was a defeat for President Bush, even though top Senate Democrats like Ted Kennedy and Harry Reid, plus a few Republicans like John McCain had also fought for the measure and failed.
CBS White House correspondent Jim Axelrod asserted that Thursday’s vote marked “a defining day in the Bush presidency.” CBS’s resident historian (and John Kerry biographer) Douglas Brinkley went even further: “George Bush is beyond being a lame duck President. He’s a dead duck President.”
During a World News report on American options in the aftermath of Hamas’ violent takeover of Gaza last week, ABC’s Dean Reynolds on Monday got out the ten-foot pole to describe the group whose suicide bombers have killed numerous Americans in Israel as well as hundreds of Israeli civilians: “Now that Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by Washington, has taken command in Gaza, some things are becoming painfully clear about the Bush administration’s course of action up to this point.”
“Considered a terrorist organization by Washington”?! That’s an echo of the formula favored by the late Peter Jennings, who in 2002 referred to the group that blew up the Marine barracks in Beirut this way: “The Bush administration says Hezbollah is a terrorist organization.” As if it’s only our government’s biased opinion.
The Politico reports that former ABC News reporter Geoff Morrell is going to be named the new spokesman for the Pentagon. The Politico’s Mike Allen reports that the idea of picking a working journalist like Morrell was that of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, “in an effort to improve press relations at a time when the administration is under pressure to show progress in Iraq.”
Back in 1993, the Clinton administration also selected an ABC journalist, Kathleen deLaski, as its on-air Pentagon spokesman. At the time, an MRC review found deLaski’s reporting for ABC was “in step with Clintonite thinking that ‘tax and spend’ equals caring.” For more, see “deLaski’s Defensive Detail” in the August 1993 MediaWatch.
When President Bush wanted a media professional to boost his White House publicity machine, he hired Tony Snow, a polished performer with solid conservative credentials. Geoff Morrell is no Tony Snow.
The immigration bill crafted by U.S. senators and White House negotiators behind closed doors may have been Topic A on talk radio over the past few weeks, but after heavy positive coverage of the “landmark” deal on May 17 and 18, ABC, CBS and NBC provided surprisingly little airtime to the hot debate.
MRC’s Matt Balan and I examined the broadcast networks' morning and evening news coverage from May 17 through June 8. We found just 73 stories (36 full reports and 37 brief items) totaling 104 minutes, or one percent of available airtime.
Nearly half the coverage (45%) aired May 17-18 as the deal was introduced, after which the issue virtually disappeared. The CBS Evening News, for example, ran no stories from May 22 until June 7, when Katie Couric read a brief item on the bill's imminent failure.
With no shortage of items documenting how the American media are liberally biased, it’s often easy to forget how the European media are so much more dominated by the hard left. In his cover story on the war in Afghanistan in the June 11 Weekly Standard, Michael Fumento recounted his experience embedded with the U.S. military at Forward Operating Base Lagman in the Zabul province of Afghanistan.
Fumento was assigned quarters with two Spaniards working for the Associated Press. One of them seems to be in a mind-meld with Rosie O’Donnell (“he believes 9/11 was a Bush administration conspiracy hung on al Qaeda”) while the other reporter “never takes off his Che Guevera T-shirt.”
No wonder the European press thinks our media are just a bunch of Bush administration cheerleaders!
“Critics say it is harmful to schoolchildren,” co-host Robin Roberts teased at the top of Friday's Good Morning America. “Mainstream scientists worry that because this museum is so sophisticated it will be more effective at giving children a distorted view of science,” ABC reporter Dan Harris argued.
Back in 1999, a New York City art museum showcased an exhibit featuring a portrait of the Virgin Mary surrounded by elephant dung and cutouts from pornographic magazines. But then the media only saw a threat to free speech if the artist or museum were deprived of public funds. The New York Times then argued: “One man’s blasphemy is another man’s faith."
Former Clinton spinner George Stephanopoulos, now ABC’s “chief Washington correspondent,” argued on Friday’s Good Morning America that Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s votes last night against funding U.S. troops was a smart move to “keep them in the game,” and speculated that by next year the vote could look “prescient” because “either American troops will be on their way home, or the war will be so unpopular, that everyone else will be coming along to their position.”
As Stephanopoulos repeated the logic of the Democratic campaign operatives, nowhere in his equation did he suggest the possibility that either the situation in Iraq may be significantly improved — making the Democrats urge to surrender now seem foolish — or that if the Democrats succeed in forcing American troops off the battlefield, they would be blamed if the bloodshed becomes far worse.
In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards rejected the “metaphor” of the “war on terror” that America has been fighting since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
But appearing on ABC News on September 11, 2001, just a few hours after the attacks occurred, Edwards left no doubt how he felt the country should respond to al Qaeda’s terrorism, declaring “We should treat it as an act of war.” Video: Real (398 KB) or Windows (442 KB) plus MP3 (65 KB)
Back on April 23, as NewsBuster Scott Whitlock noted at the time, ABC’s Diane Sawyer fretted about the supposedly sky-high stock market. “Is this the thrill before the meltdown?” she panicked. “What should you do this morning to protect your money?” ABC's on-screen graphic ridiculously wondered: "Is Unstoppable Market Good or Bad?"
Today, an Investor’s Business Daily editorial mocks Sawyer’s Chicken Little approach. “We’re still waiting for the ‘meltdown’ that ‘Good Morning America’ stock guru Diane Sawyer was warning us about a month (and 600 Dow points) ago, when she devoted a segment to what we should do ‘to protect our money.’”
Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson, who is chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute, today made something of a pitch in The Hill newspaper for using the Fox News Channel for presidential debates, citing "the unbiased forum" of a pair of debates shown on Fox four years ago.
This time around, the CBC Institute had planned a Democratic presidential debate to be aired on Fox that leading candidates John Edwards, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have vowed to boycott. A second CBC Institute debate to be aired on CNN will not be boycotted.
In a letter to The Hill printed this morning, Rep. Thompson explained that the debates are the work of his institute, and that “the institute has not been approached by any member of the CBC requesting it to withdraw from the debates on Fox.”
Liberals are engaged in an amazing display of myth-building and revisionism concerning the establishment media’s performance before the war, and it’s not just Bill Moyers. As NewsBuster Tim Graham noted yesterday, the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz revealed on CNN’s Reliable Sources Sunday that “everybody at every news organization I’ve talked to said that the media were not aggressive enough during the run-up to war.”
Appearing on the same program, ex-CNNer Bill Press went even further, alleging that the press “gave us this war.” He told Kurtz, “the media, in large part, gave us this war, because they went along and repeated everything that George Bush said without asking tough questions....If they had asked the questions and more — and American people knew what the truth was, as opposed to the propaganda we were getting from the White House, I think there would not have been the support for the war.”
First Time magazine drops the President from the '100 Most Influential' list, and now this: The big front-page photo in Tuesday's New York Times was of Queen Elizabeth (who did make Time's list of important movers and shakers) with President Bush walking past a row of photographers at the White House after her official welcome. But the photo cropped off the top third of Bush's head, and the caption whimsically referred to him only as the Queen's "American escort," as if he was a security guard or State Department flunkie.
Under the headline "Focus Group" (a play on all the cameras present), the Times summarized: "Before an A-list, white-tie dinner, the masses had a chance to see Queen Elizabeth II, with an American escort, at the White House. Page A19."
On Friday's Today show, MSNBC's Chris Matthews defended his ludicrous decision to ask the GOP candidates if it would "be good for America to have Bill Clinton back living in the White House?" Matthews explained the sociological insight: "They all sort of guffawed. Well, that's a particularly Republican response. If I offered that same question up to Democrats...they would be cheering like mad."
So Matthews proved that the ten Republican debaters are not Democrats — was there any doubt? The weird Clinton question was symptomatic of how MSNBC and debate co-sponsor ThePolitico.com spent valuable time asking the GOP candidates questions that reflected the agenda of far-left bloggers, not the concerns of GOP primary voters. A week earlier, while moderator Brian Williams did pose a few right-leaning questions to the Democratic field, most of that debate reflected issues that rate high with Democratic voters. In other words, both debates were dominated by liberal agenda questions.
Left-wing blogs loved it when CNN’s Michael Ware rebuked Senator John McCain a few weeks ago, after McCain suggested he could safely walk through areas of Baghdad. But this morning on CNN, Ware took dead aim at Democratic schemes for pulling out of Iraq, saying that debating a U.S. troop withdrawal was “delusional” and such a step would amount to “giving Iraq to Iran...and al Qaeda. That’s who would own it.”
Ware also provided an interesting insight into how the battle in Iraq has shifted from Anbar province and Baghdad, areas where the U.S. has built up troop levels, to Diyala province, which he described as “the new frontline against al Qaeda.”
Video (1:15): Real (2 MB) or Windows (2.5 MB), plus MP3 audio (392 KB)
Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer story on the troubles at the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric — a story bulging with anti-Couric quotes from anonymous CBSers — included a revealing window into the news network’s intolerant liberal mindset, with the newsroom in “an uproar” after the father of a slain high school student was given roughly 60 seconds to condemn the lack of morality in public schools and said the culture of abortion devalues human life.
“‘There's a difference between free speech and responsible speech,’ an embarrassed correspondent says,” according to Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Gail Shister.
Undoubtedly, Boris Yeltsin’s finest moment was the courageous defiance he showed in the face of an old guard communist coup in August 1991. Yeltsin was the focal point of those who rallied to defeat the coup, triggering the chain of events that led to dissolution of the Soviet Union just a few months later.
Yet the establishment media in this country tended to sniff at Yeltsin as an unpolished buffoon. U.S. journalists could not conceal their lack of regard for the man who helped bury Soviet communism, favoring Mikhail Gorbachev, the failed leader who futilely attempted to reform communism.
Here are just a few quotes from the Media Research Center’s Notable Quotable archive, illustrating the media’s preference of the communist Gorbachev over the rebel Yeltsin
Al Gore has complained that the media are biased against the inconvenient truth of global warming. "I believe that is one of the principal reasons why political leaders around the world have not yet taken action," Gore told a "Media Ethics Summit" at Middle Tennessee State University back in February. Gore lectured journalists that any coverage of views opposed to his own was irresponsible, calling it "balance as bias."
It's impossible to imagine the big TV networks actually accepting an edict from a conservative politician to report only their side of a major public policy issue, but a new Media Research Center study of ABC, CBS and NBC's global warming coverage finds the networks are giving Gore practically everything he demanded. Not only does nearly every global warming story exclude any contrary voices, but the coverage of Al Gore personally has been exceptionally positive as well.
So it seems the position of left-wing Democrats is to deal with the terrorist states of Syria and Iran -- but don't deal with Fox News because it just gives them "a platform." As noted in an earlier posting, Democratic candidate John Edwards had a fine time and voiced no complaints after participating in a pair of Fox News-sponsored debates in 2003, but now he's boycotting the highest-rated cable news network: (Updates added at the end.)
Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on Friday pulled out of a second debate co-hosted by Fox News Channel, saying the cable network has a conservative slant.
A new report from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press finds the public has relatively little confidence in what the military and the media are telling them about the war in Iraq, although the press has less credibility than the Pentagon.
Interestingly, a majority of self-described Democrats say they are putting their confidence in the media, while Republicans have generally opted to trust the military. In 2005, a major study by the Media Research Center found the vast majority of network news reports highlighted the bad news coming out of Iraq, with few reports detailing the accomplishments or personal bravery of U.S. troops.
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, reporting on Saudi King Abdullah’s condemnation of America’s “illegitimate foreign occupation of Iraq,” decided to gratuitously bring up the fact that President Bush had held Abdullah’s hand when the then-Crown Prince was visiting Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas nearly two years ago, a gesture that resulted in much snickering from media types at the time.
Mentioning Abdullah’s critique, Williams suggested his hand-holding with the President in April 2005 was somehow relevant to his views on Iraq. “You may recall this visit by Abdullah to the Bush ranch in Texas and the closeness the two men displayed then,” the NBC anchor announced over two-year old file footage of the two men at Bush’s ranch.
There’s been no shortage of flattering network stories about Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. “You are the equivalent of a rock star in politics,” NBC Today co-host Meredith Vieira told Obama in October. “You can see it in the crowds. The thrill, the hope. How they surge toward him. You’re looking at an American political phenomenon,” ABC’s Terry Moran gushed on Nightline a few weeks later.
“Barack Obama, with his fairy tale family, has personal charisma to spare,” ABC’s Claire Shipman enthused in January. “He does draw on something deeply good about this country. And we will have to see whether he can really deliver,” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews announced on Hardball in February.
This weekend, the Chicago Tribune published a long investigative story about Obama’s youth, discovering that the story of his own life that Obama presented in his memoir is sometimes at odds with the facts. “Several of his oft-recited stories may not have happened in the way he has recounted them,” the Tribune’s Kirsten Scharnberg and Kim Barker reported in Sunday’s article, “The not-so-simple story of Barack Obama’s youth.”
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos grilled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys on Wednesday, telling him that “something does seem fishy here,” suggesting that the Bush White House was punishing U.S. Attorneys who were not pursuing a GOP-friendly agenda.
But as a White House spokesman back in 1993, Stephanopoulos faced exactly the same question over President Clinton’s decision to fire U.S. Attorney Jay Stephens along with the other 92 U.S. Attorneys. “There is also a tradition of permitting prosecutors to remain on cases until current cases are completed,” a reporter told Stephanopoulos in a March 25, 1993 briefing. Referring to the investigation into House Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski for embezzling money from the House Post Office, a reporter asked, “Is there any intention to keep Jay Stephens until the Rostenkowski case is finished?”