Look no further than NewsBusters for complete coverage of Katie Couric’s debut as the anchor of the "CBS Evening News." The MRC’s Brent Baker began the week by noting a previous Couric claim that she’s not biased, but Fox is. Additionally, the new anchor has hired liberal Douglas Brinkley as the show’s historian. On September 5, Couric appeared on "The Early Show," only to apparently forget the program’s name! (Perhaps the perky anchor should do some homework on her new network.)
Ms. Couric wasn’t the week’s only big news. On September 6, "Hardball" host Chris Matthews talked to a Green Party candidate who called for President Bush’s execution. He later told the man, "I like you already." Somewhat ironically, this was only a day after Matthews wondered if Republicans would be using "fear tactics" and other extreme strategies to get elected. (Perhaps calling for the President’s execution could be an example?)
In another Chris Matthews story, NewsBusters Editor Matthew Sheffield talked to the host and was told the Valerie Plame story is now too complicated for coverage. In international news, Mr. Sheffield also noted the BBC’s continuing refusal to disclose the religious background of terror suspects.
Rosie O’Donnell used the Sept 7 edition of "The View" as a platform to show off her "get rid of the President" bumper stickers and to mock her partner’s "rabid Republican" parents. The new co-host also mentioned that she enjoyed annoying her mother in-law:
Barbara Walters: "How are your in-laws?
O’Donnell: "Yes, my in-laws, Melanie and Joel Safer. (ph?) I love them, from Baton Rouge Louisiana. (Laughs)...And when they come, you know, I like to annoy them in my own way. And we have two cars and my car, the Volvo, has all of these, you know, ‘no war, peace, get rid of the President’ bumper stickers."
Well, that certainly didn’t take long. On her first day, new co-host Rosie O’Donnell
muted (slightly) some of her well known liberalism. On September 6,
only her second appearance, she made a crack about Rush Limbaugh’s
prescription drug problem
and promoted a gay ‘Survivor.’ O’Donnell was discussing, shockingly,
Tom Cruise when co-host Joy Behar swerved a conversation on
prescription drugs into an unrelated, liberal direction:
"Well, I like Tom, too...but he is not an expert in this particular
area. There are scientists and doctors who are experts. It’s like when
Rush Limbaugh, know who he is? He says that there's no global warming.
Two million scientists say there is global warming, but Rush Limbaugh,
no, there is no global warming."
O’Donnell: "He also said he didn’t have 100 bottles of OxyContin in his room."
"The View," with new co-host Rosie O’Donnell, debuted its tenth season today. O’Donnell, known for her extreme left-wing politics, steered clear of any overt displays of liberalism. There were, however, hints of conflicts to come. After co-host Joy Behar playfully mocked Rosie’s use of baby talk, Ms. O’Donnell looked right into the camera and observed, in reference to conservative co-host Elisabeth Hasselback, "...You all thought I was going to have problems with Elizabeth!" Barbara Walters wryly responded, "And trust me, you will!"
Rosie’s "View" debut, which aired on September 5, saw many of O’Donnell’s old standbys: Odd stories about her children and free giveaways to the audience. The comedian appeared to be making an attempt to remind viewers of the "Queen of Nice" Rosie, and not of a loud, political liberal. At 11:09, Behar, possibly in an attempt to set off a rant, asked O’Donnell how many times she had been married:
O’Donnell: "Once. I’m only doing it once."
Behar: " But didn’t they nullify it?"
Rather then take the bait, the new co-host decided to stay polite:
O’Donnell: "We were married and then un-married. But, you know, it’s, you know, we'll get to that, not on the first day."
This week, the MRC’s Megan McCormack brought us a second-by-second account of Kyra Phillip’s now infamous "bathroom chat." She also did a follow-up on FNC’s "Fox and Friends" parody of the event. Soon, the story became a full blown media sensation.
In a September 1 piece for the "Today" show, NBC reporter Keith Miller sought out Jerry Coyne, a University of Chicago professor, to discuss the struggle between science and religion, since it's now being debated in front of Pope Benedict XIV. NBC labeled him simply as a "evolutionary biologist." This is what he had to say about the mixing of faith and science:
Jerry Coyne: "The scientific way of looking at the world, which defends on evidence, and the religious way of looking at the world, which depends on faith, are fundamentally incompatible."
Coyne: "And if there is anything the history of the church should show, it's that if they fight scientific advances, they lose."
Who is Jerry Coyne really? He’s a leftist professor who attacked Ann Coulter for her new treatise on liberals and religion, "Godless." Writing in the "New Republic," he called her a "beached flamingo" and went on to compare Coulter to a zoo animal, saying:
"This beast draws crowds by its frequent, raucous calls, eerily resembling a human voice, and its unearthly appearance, scrawny and pallid."
Florida senatorial candidate Katherine Harris drew a voluminous amount of media attention for her recent comment that the separation of church and state is "a lie." Another Republican Senator, the liberal Lincoln Chafee from Rhode Island, made this liberal error during an August 26 debate with his conservative primary opponent:
Lincoln Chafee: "Rhode Island was founded on separation of religion, separation of church and state....‘Full liberties of religious discernment,’ I think is in our charter and, uh, when we wouldn’t sign the U.S. Constitution, 1789, until we got the same liberties, the same separation of church and state, that we had here in Rhode Island, in the federal Constitution. It took us 13 months as Rhode Islanders, until we got in the First Amendment, first words of the First Amendment in the Constitution, separation of church and state."
Not only is the phrase "separation of church and state" not the first words, it’s not in the First Amendment at all. (Presumably Mr. Chafee was attempting to refer to the Establishment Clause, which is not the same thing in word or meaning.) Keith Olbermann, host of MSNBC’s "Countdown," had this to say about Katherine Harris and her comments on August 24:
Harry Smith, "Early Show" co-host, reported live from New Orleans today on the state of the city one year after Hurricane Katrina. Smith essentially had one type of question: Exactly how horrible is the situation today? The CBS journalist talked with Oliver Thomas, President of the New Orleans City Council. He lectured Mr. Thomas, telling him, "Folks feel abandoned. They feel forgotten. They feel desperate." This, despite the fact that more then $44 billion has been spent on rebuilding the Gulf Coast, with a total of $110 billion designated for the project.
Smith began the interview, which aired at 7:10AM EDT on August 28, by asking, "...Could the levees withstand Ernesto if Ernesto turned and came up this way?" Mr. Thomas told him that, while the situation isn’t perfect, the levees are much stronger and more reinforced then a year ago. Apparently this wasn’t the proper answer, because Smith then rephrased remarkably similar questions:
Smith: "If Ernesto came here two days from now, would the city be evacuated? Would we have the same horror story from a year ago?"
Again, the city councilman replied in the affirmative. Of course the city would be evacuated. The "Early Show" co-host interrupted quickly interrupted him with a gloomy scenario:
NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell continued the skewed media reporting of the Middle East by noting the important social work that Hezbollah does and how the rest of the world has a very supportive take on the terrorist organization.
Liberal TV critic Bob Laurence hypothesized that the scant coverage of the kidnaping of two Fox News journalists was due to the frequency of abductions and the network’s "insulting" attitude towards other media outlets. (According to Laurence, nobody, not even terrorists, like FNC.)
Jonathan Alter, the Senior Editor of "Newsweek," last night told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann that Democrats regaining power is the only way to hold the Bush administration accountable for its "incompetence." Appearing on the August 23 edition of "Countdown," he exhorted Democrats to inform voters of this fact:
Alter: "I think it`s really important for the Democrats to remind the voters that this election is really about accountability, because there hasn’t been any. The only way you can get any is to get at least one chamber of Congress."
According to Alter, this is the only scenario under which the Democrats will, at long last, be able to punish the President:
Alter: "Otherwise, you can`t hold hearings to hold their feet to the fire. You have no subpoena power, forget impeachment and all the rest of that, just getting basic answers to questions about why this administration has been incompetent. In order to do that, you`ve got to get some control and some power back. And that`s what this election is really about."
NBC reporter David Gregory last night described Senator George Allen’s now well known "macaca" comment as a "off-the-cuff racial slur," giving the darkest possible interpretation of his words. The Senator has since apologized several times and stated that he wasn't attempting to use a discriminatory term. Gregory’s segment, which aired on the August 23 "Nightly News" at 7:13PM EDT, discussed the impact the web site YouTube is having on politics. This occasion allowed for Allen’s quote to be played, yet again. Gregory did mention that the remark was directed at an "Indian-American staffer from his rival’s campaign." He didn’t, however, recount the pertinent fact that this young man also shot the video and created what amounted to a free commercial for Democratic opponent Jim Webb. The NBC reporter also played a June 17 quip of another Senator with presidential aspirations, Democrat Joe Biden. Back in June, he made some ill-conceived comments about Indian Americans and their propensity to be in the vicinity of a 7/11 or Duncan Donuts. For some reason, however, the media didn’t seem very interested. And Biden's quotes were picked up by C-SPAN, not a political operative.
"Countdown" host Keith Olbermann has questioned the timing of terror arrests and alert levels before, but on the August 22 edition of the MSNBC show, he indicated that democratic governments are using the fear of terrorism, the same terrorists they are "supposedly" hunting:
"It is a fair question to be skeptical of the skeptics to ask why would the British police, why would anyone exaggerate the threat of violence fueling unwarranted fears? But theoretically, at least, it is clear that both terrorists and governments, supposedly hunting terrorists, have motives, both of them have motives, to keep people afraid."
Olbermann utilized the arraignment of British suspects in the plot to blow up U.K. airplanes as an opportunity to replay a ten minute long segment, entitled "The Nexus of Politics and Terror" from last October. In the piece, negative events for the Bush administration are linked to their proximity of terror warnings. The "Countdown" host prefaced the story, which aired at 8:35PM EDT, by questioning if the arrests in England have been hyped:
On the August 22 edition of "NBC Nightly News," host Brian Williams described a gas station in Illinois that accidentally sold unleaded fuel for 30 cents. He sarcastically recounted the story this way:
"The pumps were quickly shut down amid fears that oil company profits might plummet. But for one brief, shining moment, we the consumers won. It was like the old days before you needed to refinance your home to refill your tank."
It should be noted, according to New York magazine, that Brian Williams makes $4 million a year. Sounding a bit like a radio DJ dedicating a song, the "Nightly News" anchor also announced that the story was "for all those who quietly suffer at the gas pump every day across this country, watching those numbers fly by."
The "Today" show’s Kelly O’Donnell described President Bush’s discussion of the Iraq War at yesterday’s news conference as "a mix of campaign style rhetoric and crystal ball." O’Donnell, who seemed perturbed by the President’s determined attitude, also mentioned that Bush counseled against an early withdrawal "with a hammering repetition." (If President Bush repeated himself, it might be because the assembled media kept asking the same questions.)
The August 22 segment, which aired at 7:15AM EDT, featured downbeat assessments by Michael O’Hanlon, a Senior Fellow at the liberal Brookings Institute and political analyst Charlie Cook.
Michael O’Hanlon: "I think if the President insists on framing the choice as stay the course versus accept defeat, he will be, frankly, misleading the public and running the risk of undercutting his own support even more."
Charlie Cook: "I think the danger for Republicans is that we are nearing, or at the point, when people just give up and start tuning out on President Bush."
Editors' note: This post is the beginning of a new NB feature, the weekly recap, a way of summarizing some of the hottest and most-read postings for the week.
It has been quite a diverse week in bias. Newsbusters Executive Editor Matthew Sheffield noted that a popular cartoonist took a racist swipe at Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, portraying him as the slave of colleague Antonin Scalia.
The MRC's Tim Graham covered every aspect of "The Washington Post" and their effort to sink Senator George Allen with "Macaca-gate." You can read more here and here. And for a theory about their excessive coverage, click here.
Regarding the war on terror, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann wondered if the recent arrests in London were timed for political reasons.
Jim Cramer, the host of CNBC’s "Mad Money," appeared on the August 16th edition of "Today." Guest-host Lester Holt quizzed the always verbose financial adviser on which stocks are best in an age of terror. Holt prefaced the piece, which aired at 7:14AM EDT, by noting that Americans live in a volatile age and that he wasn’t advocating exploiting unrest in the Middle East, but that investors must react to such developments. Cramer agreed, saying that profiting from such pain "sounds ugly." A few minutes later, prompted by a question about buying stock in oil companies, he responded this way:
Cramer: "That's the profit area. You got to where I can talk about making money off of terror."
Ricks, The Washington Post’s Pentagon
correspondent, appeared on the August 14 edition of "The Daily
Show." Ricks, the author of the caustic new book "Fiasco:
The American Military Adventure in Iraq," told host
Jon Stewart that journalists report the situation in Iraq far too
"I actually think the media probably has been too easy on the
situation. I think it’s probably worse then the media says
Stewart helpfully demonstrated the media’s hopeful
tone when he replied, "You maybe believe this to be, maybe
the greatest debacle in the history of American foreign policy?" As
the MRC’s Tim Graham previously wondered,
shouldn’t Washington Post readers
question if Ricks’s daily coverage of Iraq will be colored by
extremely negative outlook? In the segment, which aired at 11:20PM, he
stated the following about Fiasco’s
Quiz time: When is a political ad that features pictures of deceased, flag-draped American heroes controversial? Apparently, the answer is only when Republicans produce such a commercial. The Democratic Campaign Committee has posted a 60 second spot on their Web site, and it shows images of the coffins of American military personnel, as well as a soldier standing in front of a makeshift grave marker. (Update, 5:40pm EDT July 14: The ad has now disappeared from the DCCC Web site, replaced by one calling for a hike in the minimum wage.)
Unsurprisingly, ABC, NBC and CBS expressed no outrage over the Democrats attempt to politically exploit America's fallen. NBC'sToday show,ABC's Good Morning America, and CBS's The Early Show this morning all completely ignored the issue.
Sometimes, NBC’s Today show bombards a viewer with bias. Other days, the spin is sprinkled throughout the show; July 7 fell into the latter catagory. In a segment on the North Korean nuclear standoff that aired at 7:05AM EDT, NBC reporter Jim Miklaszewski discussed that country’s recent missile launches. The piece featured a quote from Joseph Cirincione, who, as an NBC graphic identified, is a "nuclear weapons expert."
Cirincione: "[Kim Jong Il] is demanding that the U.S. negotiate with him, not that we surrender, that we come to the table and cut a deal."
Cirincione isn’t simply a "nuclear weapons expert." For eight years, he was the Director for Non-Proliferation at the liberal Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. As the MRC’s Brent Baker reported in a CyberAlert dated October 5th, 2004, he was also a generous donor to the John Kerry campaign. So, in this light, his comments calling for negotiations and reasonable dialogue with the North Korean dictator can be seen in a more honest context. Does anyone believe that Pat Toomey, President of the right-leaning Club for Growth, would ever be labeled as simply an "economics expert" and not have the phrase "conservative" tacked on? It should also be noted that during this segment, NBC, like CBS, didn’t find the time to mention the recent report that the missile North Korea recently launched was aimed at Hawaii.
The Today show had many important subjects to discuss today, issues such as examining the details of Star Jones’ firing from The View in excruciating detail. However, co-host Campbell Brown did manage to squeeze in a quick interview with Senator John McCain on the Supreme Court’s military tribunal ruling. The segment, which aired at 7:07AM EDT, featured the typical media employment of leading questions and suggestions that "many" people believe Guantanamo Bay should be shut down. In this "balanced" question, Brown wondered what effect the ruling would have on President Bush’s other anti-terrorism policies:
Barbara Walters, fresh from firing Star Jones off The View, took the ABC talk show back to what it does best, promoting liberal issues. Former Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper appeared on the June 29 edition of the show. At the start of the program, The View's announcer previewed the paranoid, frightened tone that the segment would take:
"Former Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper are telling you about an inconvenient truth that could destroy the entire planet."
Barbara Walters, at 11:17AM EDT, described Mr. and Mrs. Gore this way:
"Former Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper have been forces of nature in the fight to save the planet. And there is a wonderful movie you all have to see called An Inconvenient Truth. And in it, the Vice President, the former Vice President, lays out a compelling, horrifying, but ultimately hopeful case for finding a way to save an Earth that's on the brink of disaster. And that means saving our lives and our children's lives."
As you may have heard, Star Jones has been fired from The View. Numerous media outlets reported on the behind-the-scenes drama that has engulfed the ABC show. Several reasons have been given for the departure. Many speculate it was due to her feud with incoming View host Rosie O’Donnell or that it’s related to her sudden weight loss. Whatever the truth is, one thing is certain: Throughout the years, Ms. Jones, a former legal correspondent for Today and NBC’s Nightly News, has been a constant source of liberal bias.
Just prior to the 2004 presidental elections, Ms. Jones recounted, on-air, her campaign appearances with Democratic candidate John Kerry. Her comments appeared in the November 2, 2004 edition of the CyberAlert:
"But I was with Senator Kerry on Friday night in Florida because you know that's a battleground state [video of her at a podium with a Kerry campaign sign and a still shot of Kerry with his arm draped around her]. And everybody is down there, I got a chance to give a speech to talk about why I believe what I believe. And then, we went from Miami to Fort Lauderdale and into Pensacola. And, Barbara, to me, your talking about South Africa reminded me of the people in Pensacola. People don't realize just how much poverty is in our own country. And there are people with no jobs, there are people with no health care, people who can't afford to buy their drugs, and I'm talking basic prescription drugs you might need, like insulin, every single day."
In the past week, President Bush has visited Iraq, had his top political operative cleared of wrongdoing, and presided over the elimination of the terrorist mastermind Abu Musab Al Zarqawi. NBC’s Today show took note of this fact and the June 16 edition featured a segment on Bush’s upturn in fortunes. But if conservatives expected the media to be happy about Bush’s "good week," they were sadly mistaken. Today reporter Norah O’Donnell began her piece, which aired at 7:13AM EDT, by stating that the Bush administration hoped the current string of positive events would become more then "just a fleeting bit of good news." She also implied that the President’s trip was a political stunt:
"And the President may get the most mileage...literally and figuratively, out of his drop-in to Baghdad...with secrecy both necessary and adding dramatic effect."
Meredith Vieira departed ABC's The View (registration required) today and she certainly went out with, uh, a bang. At 11:36AM EDT, co-host Joy Behar toasted Vieira, who will join the Today show in September. She remarked, "I’m so upset....And I just don’t know how to express it, you know? I thought to myself, what would Rosie O’Donnell do?"
Then Behar took Vieira in her arms and the two engaged in a long kiss. In case you missed it, ABC replayed it in slow-motion a few seconds later as they went to commercial.
A silly moment on an unserious show? Perhaps. But opponents of gay rights probably shouldn’t expect the new host of the Today show to give their arguments much credence.
The MRC has been following the media’s reaction to the death of terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al Zarqawi all day. Much of the coverage has been focused on downplaying the significance of the event. Now we have a new angle. MSNBC anchor Milissa Rehberger hosted First Look, the early morning coverage of Zarqawi’s death. At 5:45AM EDT, in an attempt to give her audience a full picture, this is how she described the life of a brutal murderer:
Milissa Rehberger: " I just want to take a pause for just a second to bring everyone up to date on who Abu Musab al Zarqawi really was, other then the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq who was killed in an air strike this morning. We are told that he had a troubled childhood where he grew up in Jordan, that he dropped out of high school, that when he was 20-years-old, he went to Afghanistan and joined Al Qaeda."
In May of 2004, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi participated in the beheading of Nicholas Berg, a businessman working in Iraq. His father, Michael, emerged in the aftermath of that crime as an outspoken liberal activist and is now running for Congress in Delaware on the Green Party ticket. So who better to bring on for a discussion about Zarqawi’s death? Michael Berg appeared on all three cable channels this morning to spew hatred towards the United States Government and George W. Bush. Interestingly, only one network, MSNBC, found the time to mention that Mr. Berg is now a political candidate. Rather then cover the successful elimination of a significant terrorist threat, CNN, FNC, and MSNBC all gave time to someone who would make statements such as this one on CNN’s American Morning at 7:50AM EDT:
Michael Berg: "Well, you know, I'm not saying Saddam Hussein was a good man, but he's no worse than George Bush. Saddam Hussein didn't commit the rapes, neither did George Bush, but both men are responsible under their reigns of, of terror....I don't get it. Why is it better to have George Bush be the king of Iraq rather than Saddam Hussein?"
CBS’s Early Show co-hosts, in the wake of the June 6 loss in a special congressional election, did the best they could to put a positive spin on the fortunes of Democrats. Co-host Hannah Storm interviewed Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer at 7:11AM EDT about yesterday’s election. The Democratic candidate lost, but that didn’t stop Schieffer from prognosticating what this event signified for the future:
Schieffer: "So, who knows what's going to happen? But this has to be a sign to Republicans that they, they might lose the House, I think. I mean, not just, I'm not just saying this, this particular race....But I think this is just one more sign that you might see something happen this time."
Now, keep in mind, this is a race that the Republicans won. A victory that was achieved despite the media’s constant parroting of the Democratic "culture of corruption" talking points.
As noted by Tim Graham and Mark Finkelstein, the Today show has already portrayed the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment as nothing more then pandering to conservatives. Liberals will be comforted to know that incoming Today host Meredith Vieira concurs. The View, which Ms. Vieira leaves at the end of the week, featured a same-sex marriage discussion during the June 5 edition of the ABC program. Vieira introduced the segment by snidely stating, "President Bush is getting involved in someone’s marriage other then his own." She then referenced a Newsweek piece that quoted an anonymous Bush ‘friend’ as saying, "...He really doesn't care about this. He's just pushing it because he want to pander to conservatives." At one point she derided President Bush’s motives, saying, "So then it is just pandering." Later on she added, "It’s a response to a base falling out, I think." As Mr. Graham pointed out, liberals like Nancy Pelosi support repealing the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" ban on gays serving in the military. This is also an attempt at mollifying a political base, but don’t expect Katie Couric’s replacement to mention it.
The Today show doesn’t like to judge. In the past, they have used the HBO series Big Love as a pretext to describe polygamy as the "next civil rights battle." They also had a serious piece on an "artist" who was promoting female public nudity. And now we have the lighter side of child rape. The May 26 edition of NBC’s Today featured an interview with Mary Kay LeTourneau. You may remember her as the women who was convicted in 1997 for having sex with her then 12-year-old student. She has since served a seven year prison sentence and is now married to the former victim, Vili Fualaau, 21. Here’s how Matt Lauer introduced the piece at 7:32AM EDT:
Lauer: "Most skeptics thought it could never last. Theirs was truly a love against all odds. He was a sixth grader in suburban Seattle. She was a star teacher and a married mother of four. What began as a mentorship quickly developed into a sexual affair."