Sparks flew on the set of NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, after Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole observed about Iraq, “It’s almost as if the Democrats, you know, it’s like they’re content with losing because to pull out, to withdraw from this war is losing. No question about it.”
Both moderator Tim Russert and Democratic Congressman Rahm Emanuel immediately berated Dole for her statement, but this morning a liberal Boston Globe columnist reveals the real Democratic mindset on Iraq, suggesting the U.S. must “accept defeat” in Iraq.
Dole made her comment about 40 minutes into the hour-long debate between the GOP senatorial and congressional campaign committee chairman and their Democratic counterparts. After Russert brought up a Vanity Fair article quoting some Iraq war supporters as criticizing the way the war has been handled, Dole responded by going after the Democrats’ position of withdrawing troops regardless of whether their mission has been accomplished.
Last Monday, Brian Stelter at the TV Newser blog said CBS’s “freeSpeech” commentary segments (an innovation Katie Couric began when she took over the anchor throne on September 5) had “failed” at their stated goal of opening up the airwaves to more than the media elite’s “usual suspects.” Looking at the first 34 “freeSpeech” segments, Stelter calculated that “the vast majority of the guests have national media platforms, like books, columns, magazines, and Senate podiums.”
Three days later, CBS News’s own blog, “Public Eye,” itself wondered if the segment was too insidery. “I think the answer is that it has been a mix,” Evening News Executive Producer Rome Hartman told CBS’s bloggers. “If you look at all 30 or so [segments] that have run — and I haven't counted — maybe a third have been from what you might call ‘pundits.’ The point of the segment is interesting voices from everywhere.”
Would Republicans be popular again if they’d only dump their conservative principles? That’s the advice in this week’s U.S. News & World Report, contained in Thomas K. Grose’s “Letter from Bournemouth, England.” Grose salutes Britain’s Conservative Party leader David Cameron for his thoroughly un-conservative approach of eschewing tax cuts, supporting gay marriage and the minimum wage, and calling Britain’s National Health Service a “great achievement.”
Grose thinks American Republicans should also morph into liberals: “Cameron’s centerward drive contrasts sharply with American conservatism, where the Republican Party is fighting the midterm congressional elections by lurching even further to the right to appease its base voters. While Cameron chirps about sunshine, Vice President Dick Cheney stumps for GOP candidates by depicting the world in gloomy terms and playing to voters' fears of terrorism.”
Now, it seems Pelosi’s media admirers are trying to coronate her as the next Speaker of the House even before the voters go to the polls. CBS News is touting a profile of Pelosi (“Two Heartbeats Away”) set to air on Sunday’s 60 Minutes, and this morning’s (Friday’s) Today show on NBC aired a long, nearly all-positive profile that carried the on-screen headline “Speaker Pelosi? The Race of Her Life.”
Back in 1994, the last time Democrats had majorities in the House and Senate, the broadcast networks tried to suffocate the Republican challenge with negative spin. NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw scoffed at the GOP's Contract with America: "It is long on promises, but short on sound premises."
No Republican got worse press that year than the man who would be Speaker, Newt Gingrich. ABC's Jim Wooten slammed Gingrich as "the national poster boy for the politics of resentment and rage." CBS's Eric Engberg skewered Gingrich as "bombastic and ruthless....the family values candidate who divorced his ailing first wife."
Fast forward 12 years, and now Republicans are defending their House and Senate majorities in a tough election. But the broadcast networks have so far refused to scrutinize the Democrats who wish to lead the next Congress.
As previously reported by NewsBusters editor Matt Sheffield and others, FNC’s Special Report with Brit Hume on Thursday evening noted how YouTube users had ganged up to flag as “inappropriate” a humorous 90-second video by director David Zucker that mocks the Democrats for their approach to international bad guys like Osama bin Laden and Kim Jong-Il.
Zucker’s video begins with a shot of an actress playing Secretary of State Madeleine Albright meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il. The announcer gravely intoned: “In the year 2000, in an effort to stop the North Koreans from building nuclear weapons, President Clinton's Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gave North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il a basketball signed by Michael Jordan.” After “Albright” hands “Kim” a basketball, the two share a champagne toast. An on-screen graphic informs: "We're Not Making This Up."
As they did on Thursday, ABC, CBS and NBC again this morning (Friday) omitted any reference to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid’s evident failure to properly disclose $1.1 million land deal (although all three programs broadcast updates on the two-week old Mark Foley scandal). So far, the only broadcast network coverage has been a benign 30-second mention on Thursday’s NBC Nightly News.
One new development skipped by the networks this morning: an editorial in the liberal Washington Post spanking Reid for showing “a casual disregard” for following the ethics rules, and declaring Reid’s claim that his transactions were “transparent” were “transparently wrong.” The networks usually aren’t shy about telling viewers when a conservative editorial page condemns a conservative leader, but they’re apparently uninterested in the liberal Post’s scolding of Harry Reid.
Today’s Las Vegas Review-Journal pointed out that Reid was actually serving on the Senate Ethics committee at the time of the undisclosed transactions, and that his financial disclosure forms were prepared by Claude Zobell, once Reid’s chief of staff.” Tagged at the end of the news story is the interesting disclaimer that Claude Zobell “is the brother of Charles Zobell, managing editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.”
Oops. Back in 2004, then-ABC White House correspondent Terry Moran argued President Bush’s tax cuts were building debt, not prosperity: “Most experts say that making those tax cuts permanent would cause gigantic deficits virtually as far as the eye can see.” Early last year, CBS’s Bob Schieffer suggested it would be impossible for the federal budget deficit to be cut in half before 2009 without raising taxes: “The government has just got to find some money to finance these programs.”
Well, the tax cuts haven’t been repealed, and there have been no big new tax increases. But yesterday the White House announced that final tallies for the federal government’s fiscal year ending September 30, 2006, the budget deficit had shrunk from $413 billion two years ago to $248 billion. The federal government collected $2.407 trillion in taxes in FY2006, $122 billion more than originally forecast back in February.
Thirteen months before North Korea exploded a nuclear bomb, CNN founder Ted Turner predicted that such an event would never happen. “I think we can put the North Korea and East Asia problems behind us,” Turner confidently proclaimed in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer back on September 19, 2005.
Referring to the North Korean regime’s claim they were “committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs,” Turner, having just returned from a trip to North Korea, found those promises to be 100% credible.
“I am absolutely convinced that the North Koreans are absolutely sincere,” he told an incredulous Blitzer.
Both Time and Newsweek are out with another set of “bad news for Republicans” covers this week, as Tim Graham pointed out earlier this morning. In her magazine’s cover story, Time’s Karen Tumulty suggests that Republican are about to lose control of Congress. “It took 40 years for the House Democrats to exhaust their goodwill. It may take only 12 years for the Republicans to get there.”
For millions who will only notice Time, Newsweek, or U.S. News & World Report as they’re waiting to check out at the grocery store, the picture and headline on the cover will convey the news magazine’s editorial summary of the week’s important news. This week, Time showcases a huge shot of an elephant’s rump, symbolizing the end of the GOP’s control of Congress. Newsweek has a huge close-up of the disgraced Mark Foley’s face, an image that dwarfs a picture of President Bush.
In an article posted Friday on Time.com, the magazine’s critic James Poniewozik suggests the Fox News Channel, which he sees as tilted to the right, is also responsible for the multi-minute rants that MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann has lately been emitting. Time also dismisses the idea that the rest of the mainstream media (presumably including itself) is tilted to the left, with Poniewozik parenthetically noting that “the MSM really slant toward the institutional, establishmentarian center, which is a bias as dangerous as any other.”
Poniewozik’s theory on Olbermann is that Fox’s climb to the top of the ratings has led to changes at other TV news outlets, including at MSNBC, although he paints Olbermann as the party most likely to be embarrassed by the link to Fox News: “Keith Olbermann ranting at George W. Bush and O'Reilly on MSNBC's Countdown: that's Fox through and through, whether Olbermann would like to admit it or not.”
Bill Clinton’s diatribe against FNC’s Chris Wallace, who dared to question the ex-President about his failed efforts to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, reminded some of the last time Clinton exhibited such vitriol. Back on November 18, 2004, in the midst of a quite positive ABC News prime-time special, "Bill Clinton: A Place in History," about the dedication of the Clinton presidential library, Bill Clinton angrily wagged his finger at Peter Jennings, accusing ABC of conspiring with Ken Starr to “repeat every little sleazy thing he leaked” during the investigation into Clinton’s perjury and obstruction of justice.
The late Peter Jennings, who was never accused of being a conservative, had committed the grave offense of asking Clinton about a survey of historian that had ranked him 41 of 42 presidents on “moral authority.” As recounted by the MRC’s Brent Baker in a CyberAlert published the next morning, that set Clinton off on a self-indulgent discussion of how he and his supporters were supposedly victimized by Ken Starr — and the news media.
Video clip (4:10): Real (3.1 MB at 100 kbps) or Windows Media (2.5 MB at 81 kbps), plus MP3 audio (1.1 MB). Read on for transcript of the segment.
By now, nearly everybody who cares has probably seen former President Bill Clinton's -- let's say 'animated' -- response to 'Fox News Sunday' host Chris Wallace's questions about his administration's failed efforts to demolish al-Qaeda before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
But Wallace himself hit on the key media bias question in an interview with FNC's Eric Shawn around 11am this morning (Sunday). Trying to explain Clinton's hot reaction, Wallace said he read the transcripts of the ex-President's other media appearances in the last few days -- on NBC's 'Meet the Press,' CNN's 'Larry King Live,' FNC's 'On the Record with Greta van Susteren,' among other programs. Wallace said he was "astonished" that none of the others even bothered to raise the terrorism question with Clinton, particularly with his team's attacks on ABC's "Path to 9/11" docu-drama.
Now that John McCain and his fellow “moderate” Republican Senators have made a deal with the White House allowing the CIA and U.S. military to go about the job of protecting America from terrorists, NBC’s Matt Lauer is distressed that the group didn’t “stand up” to the White House and insist on even softer treatment.
In an interview on Friday morning’s Today, Lauer confronted McCain: “Why didn’t you guys stand up and take a stand on specifics? Why didn’t you say look, OK, there’ve been reports, for example, with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed at the secret CIA centers that he was waterboarded, we will not let that stand, Mr. President?”
And Lauer held up Colin Powell as the arbiter of whether this was a good deal, asking McCain: “Do you think now that this moves in the direction where he’ll be satisfied?”
For a media that likes to complain about the incivility and personal attacks that Republicans have supposedly injected into our politics over the past generation, the networks' reactions to former Texas Governor Ann Richards underscore journalists' partisan approach to what is fair and what is foul.
In 1988, then-Texas state treasurer Richards laced her keynote address at the Democratic National Convention with a series of nasty, mocking attacks on then-Vice President George H. W. Bush. Instead of deploring her descent into the “politics of personal destruction” — as they might have if the speechmaker were a conservative Republican and the target was a liberal Democrat — the media elite swooned, with then-CBS anchor Dan Rather admiring her “scalpel-style attack” on the Republican presidential candidate.
Remembering Ann Richards this morning, all three broadcast network shows re-visited her ridicule of Bush, admiring it as “biting wit” and “fun-loving spirit,” with ABC’s Diane Sawyer touting Richards as the “sassy, funny homemaker who became Texas governor.” ABC, CBS and NBC all played the same sarcastic soundbite of Richards from 18 years ago. “Poor George. He can’t help it. He was born with a silver-foot in his mouth.”
This morning’s Wall Street Journal carries an editorial summarizing the findings of a new study from the Media Research Center that documents how the broadcast networks have skewed their coverage of the War on Terror in favor of those most concerned about civil liberties, not protecting the American people from another homeland attack. Here’s how it begins:
The title of a CBS special report Wednesday night posed the question that haunts us all after 9/11: "Five Years Later: Are We Safer?" Given the show's brevity--an hour minus commercials--and the complexity of the subject, CBS's treatment was predictably shallow. After host Katie Couric asked President Bush a few questions of the "your critics say . . . how do you respond?" sort, and we toured the federal antiterrorism command center, there was little time left for an in-depth examination of anything.
It’s not just the doctored photos. Apart from the most recent travesty of journalistic ethics, it's worth recalling how Reuters has also tilted its words in favor of those who promote terror and misery around the world.
For example, Iraqis compelled to vote for Saddam Hussein back in 2002 were “defiant” and in a “festive mood,” while Saddam’s capture by U.S. forces a year later was marked by “resentment...of life under U.S. occupation.”
For Reuters’ editors, the first anniversary of 9/11 was a reminder that “human rights around the world” have been a “casualty” of the war on terror, while the second anniversary was a time to point out how “sympathy [for America] soured” as the U.S. actually fought back against the forces of darkness.
Besides the disgraced ex-CBS Evening News anchor, HDNet has announced just one hire for “Dan Rather Reports,” tapping a longtime CBS veteran producer, Wayne Nelson, who will be the Executive Producer for new “investigative news” program. (Wasn’t “investigative news” what got Rather into trouble in the first place?) Nelson’s career highlights include stints at CBS’s Dallas bureau, the CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes.
As news organizations update their obituaries of ailing Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, it’s worth recalling how many liberal journalists have fallen under Castro’s spell over the years, sounding like paid Cuban government propagandists as they touted the “great success stories” of Castro’s decades of communist rule. A new report from the Media Research Center offers some of the most egregious pro-Castro quotes of the last couple of decades.
For example, back in 1988, then-NBC reporter Maria Shriver let Castro himself lead her on a tour of Havana. “The level of public services was remarkable: free education, medicine and heavily-subsidized housing,” Shriver marveled on Today. The following year, ABC’s Peter Jennings trumpeted how “health and education are the revolution’s great success stories.”
As the totalitarian communist dictator of Cuba for 47 years, Fidel Castro repressed those who worked for democracy, human rights and a free press. Yet through the decades, many in the American media have maintained their romanticized mythology of Castro as a progressive revolutionary icon, provider of “free” health care, a Latin American David vs. the Goliath of the United States.
In contrast to their coverage of right-wing dictators, like Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, journalists do not often mention those killed, imprisoned or exiled by Castro’s ruthless “revolution,” but treat him as a celebrity head of state. Just a few years ago, ABC’s Barbara Walters trekked to Havana to produce yet another soft feature on the dictator.
“For Castro, freedom starts with education,” Walters oozed on the October 11, 2002 "20/20." “And if literacy alone is any yardstick, Cuba would rank as one of the freest nations on Earth.”
Now that Fidel’s reign may have ended, it was interesting to see that the New York Times Web site included a sidebar "From the Archives," with links to PDF versions of their own coverage of Castro’s rise to power in the late 1950s. I didn’t read them all, but one that I clicked on showed an incredible pro-Castro bias, with the Times justifying Castro’s executions of political opponents, touting his genius and insisting that his new government wasn’t communist but “conservative.”
For nearly all of his presidency, George W. Bush has been on the receiving end of mainly negative — sometimes highly negative — coverage from the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts, according to a new report from the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA), a nonpartisan research group. The only time the TV networks gave Bush mostly (63%) positive coverage was during the three months following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and even then nearly four-in-ten on-air evaluations (37%) of the President were critical.
The findings are included in the latest issue of CMPA’s Media Monitor newsletter, which reached my (snail) mailbox on Friday. So far, it has yet to be posted on CMPA’s Web site, which appears to make this NewsBusters posting a World Wide Web exclusive.
When Fox News Channel Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes spoke to TV critics on Monday night, about two-thirds of the group of 150 walked out in protest, with several “voicing their scorn for what they say is Fox News’ conservative spin,” the Miami Herald’s Glenn Garvin reported on Wednesday. (Updated 6:02pm EDT)
Can you imagine 100 TV critics, upset by CBS’s liberal bias, walking out on Les Moonves or Sean McManus? Or even a dozen critics turning their backs on the scandal-scarred Dan Rather? Such open disdain for Fox News Channel’s uniquely non-liberal approach speaks volumes about the media elite’s arrogant belief that it’s journalistic malpractice to give a fair shake to conservatives.
But, Garvin noted, Ailes had his own tweaks for the critics, citing their articles from a decade ago predicting “a quick and painful death for Fox News when it first went on the air in 1996.” Thwarting the critics’ desires, FNC has topped cable news ratings charts for more than four years, with CNN, Headline News and MSNBC trailing far behind.
On Monday’s "Anderson Cooper 360," CNN’s Anderson Cooper related his visit to a Hezbollah-controlled section of Beirut where he was supposed to photograph certain damaged buildings, part of the terrorist group’s strategy of generating news stories about Lebanese civilian casualities caused by Israeli bombs.
But instead of merely transmitting Hezbollah’s unverified and unverifiable claims to the outside world, Cooper — to his credit — exposed the efforts by Hezbollah to manipulate CNN and other Western reporters. It’s quite a contrast from the much more accommodating approach taken by his colleague, Nic Robertson, in a report that aired on a variety of CNN programs (including AC360) back on July 18, a report that Robertson himself has now conceded was put together under Hezbollah's control.
Unlike Robertson, Cooper was explicit about how Hezbollah’s operatives had set all of the rules: “Young men on motor scooters followed our every movement. They only allowed us to videotape certain streets, certain buildings,” he explained. He countered Hezbollah claims that Israel targets civilians by pointing out that the group based itself in civilian areas and that Israel's air force drops leaflets warning of attacks.
Better late than never? On CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday, CNN’s senior international correspondent Nic Robertson added all of the caveats and disclaimers that he should have included in his story last week that amounted to his giving an uncritical forum for the terrorist group Hezbollah to spout unverifiable anti-Israeli propaganda.
Back on July 18, Hezbollah took Robertson and his crew on a tour of a heavily damaged south Beirut neighborhood. The Hezbollah “press officer” even instructed the CNN camera: “Just look. Shoot. Look at this building. Is it a military base? Is it a military base, or just civilians living in this building?”
Last night (Tuesday) on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, senior international correspondent Nic Robertson touted his “exclusive” exchange with a Hezbollah propagandist who led Robertson on a tour of a bombed-out block of southern Beirut. Hezbollah claimed to show that Israeli bombs had struck civilian areas of the city, not the terrorist group’s headquarters.
The Hezbollah “press officer,” Hussein Nabulsi, even directed CNN’s camera: “Just look. Shoot. Look at this building. Is it a military base? Is it a military base, or just civilians living in this building?” A few moments later, Nabulsi instructed CNN to videotape him as he ran up to a pile of rubble: “Shoot me. Shoot. This is here where they said Sheikh Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, is living. This is wrong!”
Surely, no one in the U.S. media could have a kind word to say about Hezbollah, the radical Palestinian terrorist group that decades ago seized southern Lebanon as a base for anti-Israeli operations — including the rocket attacks now indiscriminately harassing Israeli towns and cities — and which has killed hundreds of Americans in various hijackings, kidnappings and bombings over the years.
Well, in fact there have been those in the American press who’ve tried to downplay Hezbollah’s perpetration of terrorist acts, including the 1983 bombing of a U.S. Marine barracks that killed 241 Marines. Even since September 11, 2001, a few journalists have tried to argue that Hezbollah could plausibly be seen as freedom fighters resisting Israeli authority.
So now even the Left’s most bizarre fantasies are regarded as "news" by the producers at MSNBC?
No, I don’t mean Keith Olbermann luxuriating in John Dean’s attempt to portray conservatives as leading America to fascism. This morning (Wednesday), MSNBC chose to give a couple of minutes of news time over to a lighthearted recounting of the far Left’s wacky theories about the fate of former Enron Chairman Ken Lay, including the idea that President Bush had Lay murdered.
MSNBC suggested that it was fair to entertain the kooky suggestions, since liberal bloggers “point out right wingers were quick to accuse President Clinton of having White House aide, Vince Foster, murdered back in 1993.”
So much for the loopy Olbermann-esque spin that it’s just conservatives hoping to “stoke the base” who are distressed by journalists’ leaking of government secrets.
Veteran NBC News reporter Richard Valeriani says the New York Times’s decision to publish a front-page story exposing a classified government program designed to track terrorist financing is “irresponsible,” saying it smacks of “giving Anne Frank’s address to the Nazis.” (Hat-tip to Poynter's Jim Romenesko.)
Earlier this week, the Media Research Center released a new study documenting the fairly heavy coverage ABC, CBS and NBC have provided of yet-unproved claims that U.S. Marines engaged in a “massacre” in Haditha, Iraq last year. The study found those same networks have provided relatively paltry coverage of the select group of American heroes who’ve been given the military’s highest honors: the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, the Air Force and the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Today’s Washington Times (Jennifer Harper) has a nice summary of our study’s key findings, plus some reaction from the multi-national force in Iraq. Excerpts from her article, “‘Bad News’ Rife in military coverage”:
As they do every weekday at noon, CNN’s American viewers were switched over to the CNN International network’s “Your World Today,” a show so far to the left that it makes the rest of CNN look like a Norman Rockwell tribute to the greatness of America. Today, during coverage of the U.S. military’s successful elimination of terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the CNNI caption referred to him as a “top Iraqi insurgent.”
Al-Zarqawi, as everyone (including CNN's foreign bureaus?) surely knows by now, was not an Iraqi, but a Jordanian who spent most of the past three years instigating the deaths of thousands of Iraqi soldiers, police and civilians. Was CNNI trying to falsely paint the self-appointed leader of “Al Qaeda in Iraq” as some sort of nationalist freedom fighter, or are they just sloppy with their choice of words? Either way, it seems like an insult to the people of Iraq to have their worst foreign enemy listed as one of their own.