On Wednesday night’s "Larry King Live," NBC’s Matt Lauer tried to play the politician in the middle of the Rather vs. Couric publicity feud, stressing his "great respect" for the disgraced Rather and how this is "inside baseball" that most Americans don’t care about. (Yeah, right.) But his attempt to please everyone grew ridiculous when he called Katie’s increasingly historic ratings lows part of a "normal feeling-out period" and that some times, it takes time for a program to be a big hit: "I mean look at the history of some of the shows in primetime that went on to become huge successes, like 'M*A*S*H' and 'Cheers,' and things like that, where in the beginning they were -- you know what, they fell flat."
Let’s hope Katie gives him credit to Matt for his willingness to look silly on her behalf, as the entertainment equivalents of her "Evening News" stint might be more like "Cop Rock." A flop.
"CBS Evening News" executive producer Rick Kaplan has also come out to slam Dan Rather for his sexist comment that CBS' Katie Couric has "dumbed down" and "tarted up" the news biz with her tenure on CBS' nightly news broadcast. But, a little investigation shows that only two years ago Kaplan praised Rather as the "gold standard" of news anchors at an awards ceremony for Rather's "retirement".
So, which is it, Mr. Kaplan? Is Rather a jerk, or is he the best there is?
Sam Zaramba, in a subscription-only op-ed column in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, gives the next Woodward or Bernstein a hot story to follow up on:
..... malaria ..... is the biggest killer of Ugandan and all African children. Yet it remains preventable and curable. Last week in Germany, G-8 leaders committed new resources to the fight against the mosquito-borne disease and promised to use every available tool.
Now they must honor this promise by supporting African independence in the realm of disease control. We must be able to use Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane -- DDT.
..... Today, every single Ugandan still remains at risk. Over 10 million Ugandans are infected each year, and up to 100,000 of our mothers and children die from the disease.
No one could possibly be conspiring to prevent the eradication of malaria, could they?
Well, yes they could. And they are, as Zaramba notes:
Katie Couric led Wednesday's CBS Evening News by trumpeting a victory for gun control and featuring a one-on-one interview with a gun control advocate. “An historic alliance between Democrats and the NRA produces the first major new gun control bill in years,” Couric teased. “Tonight, they're closing the loophole that allowed the Virginia Tech killer to buy his guns.” After that plug for House passage of a bill that still must go through the Senate and be signed by the President, she teased another story, one seemingly more crucial but didn't get to until 14 minutes into her newscast, “A CBS News exclusive: For the first time, the Director of the FBI details the nuclear threat that America faces today” from al Qaeda. Couric led by touting how the closing of “the loophole that allowed Seung-Hui Cho to buy the guns he used in the April massacre despite his history of mental illness” is “the first major new gun control legislation in more than a decade and it has the backing of the NRA.”
After NRA Executive Director Wayne LaPierre got one sentence in the story from Sharyl Attkisson (“We'll work with anyone if you protect the rights of law-abiding people under the Second Amendment and you target people that shouldn't have guns”), Couric turned to Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. She started by asking him to assess the effectiveness of the proposed new law before fretting that it doesn't go far enough: “What about gun shows though? Won't they still be permitted to buy them there?” She also let Helmke ruminate on what “motivated”the NRA to back the bill. Helmke used that as a chance to forward a talking point: “It's too easy in this country for dangerous people to get guns. We have very weak gun laws. We need to strengthen these things.”
On his program last night Fox News host Bill O'Reilly blasted his cable competitors for their "delight in showing Iraqi violence," a product of an editorial mindset at CNN and MSNBC that "want[s] Americans to think badly of President Bush."
"And that strategy has succeeded," he added.
O'Reilly's words came in response to remarks made by CNN president Jon Klein who accused FNC of dialing back Iraq coverage as violence in Iraq has increased.
"It illustrates the danger of cheerleading for one particular point or
another because they were obviously cheerleaders for the war," He told the AP. "When the war went badly they had to dial
back coverage because it didn't fit their preconceived story lines."
MSNBC was certainly the place to be Tuesday evening if you like watching a conservative take on a liberal about the value of the ACLU, and how tied into the Democrat Party that organization is. Also on the debate docket was the value of torture in terrorist interrogations.
What more could you ask for on a Tuesday evening?
Without further ado, in the left corner was Rosa Brooks of the Los Angeles Times; in the right corner was Tucker Carlson of MSNBC.
As this was scrappy and entertaining from the opening bell, I’m just going to let the tape role without any interruptions, and allow the reader to peruse the transcript that follows while watching this truly delicious segment (video available here, better fasten your seatbelts):
The student loan industry has been too cozy with colleges and universities and has harmed students, at least that’s what the media say.
“For weeks, an investigation of the student loan business has been scrutinizing whether close ties between lenders and colleges have enriched them at the expense of debt-laden students,” explained the May 29 USA Today.
But that investigation has been an anti-industry “crusade” waged by liberal New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, and the media have been fighting alongside him.
What do you get when you add a liberal think tank study, another liberal “expert, and CBS “Evening News?” You get a doom-and-gloom story about baby boomers remaining in the work force as “an economic necessity” that ignores relevant information.
“The 78 million baby boomers are starting to think about retirement, but for many of them, that’s all they’ll be able to do. Think about it. Two new reports out today show many will have to retire much later than they thought,” said anchor Katie Couric.
Couric also said, “While boomers may be better educated and better paid than their parent, they’re not necessarily better off.”
Now don’t despair boomers. There is something Couric and correspondent Nancy Cordes didn’t tell you.
Most of the media have spun the decision not to re-nominate Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace as being solely about the Iraq War. Only CNN and The Washington Post reported that Pace’s comment about homosexuality being immoral and his support for convicted White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby could be factors. David Niedrauer of the Culture and Media Institutelooks at the media spin.
MRC intern Joe Steigerwald wrote the following post.
You've got to give credit to Al Gore, he certainly knows how to play the mass media like a fiddle, particularly NBC.
Eight days ago, NB editor Brent Baker picked up on an NBC Universal press release about how the peacock network and its sister networks will cover the upcoming Live Earth concerts a grand total of 75 hours.
That doesn't count the gratuitious promotional pitches for Live Earth that may be embedded within NBC programming. Take last night's (June 13) "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."
In a blatant and out-of-the-blue pitch, O’Brien conjured a Live Earth question for "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert.
For some context here, O'Brien and Russert had just finished talking about one time the Sunday talk show host interviewed Russian nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky:
An interesting discussion ensued on Tuesday’s “Scarborough Country” surrounding ABC’s “The View” and some of the anti-Catholic positions taken by the various co-hosts.
MSNBC general manager Dan Abrams, sitting in for Joe Scarborough, had Catholic League president Bill Donohue on to discuss his ad placed in Tuesday’s New York Times complaining about the behavior of folks like Rosie O’Donnell and Joy Behar while pointing a finger at Barbara Walters for allowing such antics on her program.
As the MRC’s Tim Graham noted earlier today, Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales provided conservatives with quite a laugh when he asserted in Wednesday’s edition of the paper that "even critics of Rather" would have to admit the man has firm "integrity." Appearing on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe," he went even further. According to Shales, Rather’s comments about Katie Couric "tart[ing]" up the news couldn’t have been sexist, because "liberals, so called, don't go around calling women names like that."
Does the name Don Imus ring any bells? "Morning Joe," with host Joe Scarborough, even airs in the exact same time slot, on the same network. How quickly people forget.
The cover of this week’s Newsweek touts a story inside on "Hillary’s Likability Gap." That’s not exactly how it’s pitched inside, where the magazine tries another attack on right-wing Clinton haters titled "The New War on Hillary." Reporters Jonathan Darman and Mark Hosenball ponder the "haters’ fury," and remember the bad old days of First Lady Hillary: "Installed in Washington, Hillary morphed into a comic-book villain for her detractors – a man-eating feminist, they claimed, who allegedly threw lamps at her husband, communed psychically with Eleanor Roosevelt and lit a White House Christmas tree adorned with sex toys. The narrative of depravity – a tissue of inventions by conservatives – was often hard to follow."
But wait, wait: who "invented" Hillary’s seances with Jean Houston conjuring up Eleanor Roosevelt in the White House? That story emerged from the keyboard of Bob Woodward – no conservative – in 1996. Newsweek wrote an article lamenting the story, hailing Hillary as a persecuted "Joan of Arc figure." And what about the lamp-throwing? Newsweek really launched those rumors nationwide (albeit with sympathy toward poor Hillary) in the April 5, 1993 edition:
Does "Good Morning America" have a masochistic streak? On Wednesday, GMA host Chris Cuomo allowed liberal filmmaker Michael Moore to claim that due to the failure of journalists in challenging President Bush’s claims about pre-war Iraq intelligence, ABC and other networks are "complicit" in the deaths of American soldiers:
Al Roker was one of the villagers with torches who stormed the castle demanding that Don Imus be fired, but now the foot is in the other mouth. On the June 7 edition of the “Today” show, during a segment discussing London's truly horrible 2012 Olympic logo, which was said to have driven people into epileptic seizures upon viewing, Roker cracked a joke about the disorder. Without turning inflecting a politically correct tone or blowing the situation out of proportion, the New York Post reported his comments and next-day apology (hat tip: Insignificant Thoughts):
"Remember that controversial Olympic logo for the 2012 Olympics in London? Some folks have complained that the campaign actually sent them into epileptic seizures," Roker said on Thursday's show.
"Well, we asked you to weigh in on our Web site in an informal poll; those of you who could get up off the floor after shaking around were able to actually log in…"
I guess things have changed since Roker wrote in his blog that he was sick of the “ 'humor' at others expense” and “the cruelty that passes for funny” (bold mine throughout):
The liberal media love to talk about "victims," particularly victims of alleged economic or social oppression, such as illegal immigrants, children without enough Head Start funding, the homeless, the transgendered, detainees at Gitmo, and so on. But when it comes to victims of left-wing ideology--i.e., Communism--the liberal media don't say too much. And this is evident in the minimal (in my view) coverage given to the dedication of the Memorial to the Victims of Communism in Washington, D.C. on June 12, an event where President Bush spoke and where some of the world's leading experts on communism's atrocities--more than 100 million victims--spoke as well.
From yesterday's dedication of the memorial, there has been some print coverage, yet most of the stories have been buried inside the papers. For instance, Los Angeles Times, p. 15; Chicago Tribune, p. 3; Miami Herald, p. 17; and the Washington Post (registration required) placed the story in its Style section but did run a page 1 story in its free "express" newspaper, distributed around D.C. Good for The Post. But, so far, I have not seen any network news coverage and only one mention on MSNBC in a Financial Times article on the MSNBC Web site. You'd think a memorial dedication to the 100 million victims of the greatest evil in modern times would get a little more attention from the dominant liberal media---but perhaps the "victim" Paris Hilton is more important to them.
As the MRC's Matthew Balan reported, Florida’s Broward County is actually considering canceling the broadcast of emergency information -- including that related to hurricanes -- on a prominent radio station in the area because it airs the Rush Limbaugh Show.
I kid you not.
Potentially even less surprising is that this County Commission, made up exclusively of Democrats, was right in the middle of the Florida recount debacle back in November 2000.
Editor's Note: See also Noel Sheppard's post. Sheppard notes the controversial recount rules Broward County followed in the 2000 presidential election.
Democrats and the Left often make platitudes about how they’re for free speech. Over the course of the years however, with speech codes on college campuses, the push to criminalize "hate speech," and talk of reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, they have consistently demonstrated that their actions speak louder than their words.
In the latest case that the Left has no problem with abusing power to influence the media, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that the Broward County, Florida County Commission, which consists entirely of Democrats, is pondering cancelling a deal with WIOD, a local radio station which has been the county’s official channel for providing emergency information, due to the fact that the station is also a local affiliate for the Rush Limbaugh Show.
Does Lindsey Graham truly believe that his highest calling as a senator is to work with the likes of Ted Kennedy? Apparently so, judging by the South Carolinian's statement on this morning's "Today." Meredith Vieira interviewed Graham, a staunch supporter of the president's immigration plan, during the show's first half-hour.
TODAY CO-HOST MEREDITH VIEIRA: When you went home recently you were at a GOP meeting and you got booed over immigration. There are a lot of people in a lot of states -- conservatives -- who think this bill is bad and they see this as a litmus test.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM [R-S.C.]: Well here's what I believe. This is a bill that's a million per cent better than the current system. I mentioned working with Ted Kennedy and I got booed. The lady in your piece earlier said no compromise. I'm a Republican conservative who believes my country is at risk by not solving immigration. I'm a member of the United States Senate who believes it's my job to work with Democrats to do hard things. This is no longer about immigration. Can your Congress, can your Senate, come together to do things that one party can't do itself? I think the answer is yes.
Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales has always been a bit of a Dan Rather apple-polisher, but today's article on Dan Rather's feud with CBS grew preposterous, when right after he wistfully noted Rather might still be the CBS anchor "if not for a botched CBS News report about President George W. Bush's lack of active service in the National Guard," he claimed everyone must acknowledge Dan's virtue:
Even critics of Rather would have to admit he has always stood, firmly and stubbornly, for hard news over fluff and for integrity in the newsroom.
No, actually critics of Rather would have to do no such thing. This is like arguing that Bill Jefferson has always stood, firmly and stubbornly, against congressional bribery.
Time TV critic James Poniewozik took great delight in two federal judges in Manhattan suggesting that the FCC can’t fine Fox for airing the F-word because some clever media person captured President Bush muttering the S-word to Tony Blair. As Brent Bozell argued, there’s a difference between profanities uttered by airhead celebrities on national TV and profanities overheard and put on the air by media people who want to embarrass Bush with his base. But Time magazine's F-bomb advocate thinks it’s time the man they call "President Pottymouth" surrendered on the decency issue:
Of course, the President and his party may try to exploit the inevitable outrage from this defeat. But actually there's another way for them to make chicken salad out of something you are now allowed to say in prime time. They could call off the decency crusade. They could say it's a good thing to protest idiotic crudity -- on the radio, on TV or on the Senate floor -- but to legislate against it is another matter. They could embrace the civil libertarians to whom they inadvertently handed a big win. What do you have to lose, Mr. President? In recent years, you have disappointed your anti-illegal-immigration base, your fiscal-conservative base and now your family-values base. But to free-speechers, after this court ruling, you are the f___ing man.
For some years, Jeff Jacoby has been a brave and lonely conservative voice on the op-ed pages of the Boston Globe, one whose voice I have admired. All the more disappointing, then, to read his column this morning, The demonizing of illegal immigrants, which could just as easily have been written by his erstwhile Globe colleague Thomas Oliphant, the quintessential effete East Coast liberal. Consider these excerpts:
Illegal immigrants don't steal across the Mexican border because they lack the patience to wait their turn in line. They do it because there is no line for them to wait in. The great majority of immigrants who enter the United States lawfully qualify for visas because of family ties: They are lucky enough to be related to a US citizen . . . For most illegal immigrants, a legal option simply doesn't exist.
Folks, the speech that British Prime Minister Tony Blair made on the 12th about the changing role of the media and how it is mostly failing to meet that change is a prescient one filled with spot on analysis and important insight.
It is a Press bashfest on one hand, but it is far more intelligent than just sourgrapes, or indiscriminate bashing of the media. It is a very intelligent analysis of the changing world of communications and how the Press has intimidated people on one hand, but failed to uphold standards and taste on the other.
I urge each and every one of you to read this great presentation because much of what Blair says with his criticisms of the failure of the Press and the changing world in which we live is echoed here every single day. Blair proves he is no politician of yesterday and shows us how deeply he has thought about the state of things now and the things to come.
On Tuesday's The Situation Room, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer covered filmmaker Michael Moore's trip to the California state capitol and rally with nurses who support his push for universal health care and the abolition of private health insurance. At one point, Blitzer plugged the segment referring to Moore getting support from "people at your hospital bedside." Blitzer: "Why's he getting some unexpected support from people at your hospital bedside?"
Correspondent Brooke Anderson reported live from the state capitol -- once during the 5:00 p.m. hour and again during the 7:00 hour -- to cover Moore's activities, as she included a clip of the filmmaker complaining about profits in the health care industry. Moore: "This doesn't look good, folks. I mean, it doesn't look good to the rest of the world, and it won't look good to the anthropologists who dig us up hundreds of years from now. They'll wonder, what were these people thinking?" (Transcript follows)
Was it the most important speech of President Reagan’s life?
Who knows? But, on the 20th anniversary of the moment many historians believe signaled the beginning of the end of the Cold War, none of the broadcast evening news programs bothered to even mention it.
Instead of covering the anniversary of President Reagan’s demands in front of the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin, Germany, for Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” (video and transcript of the speech available here), ABC’s “World News with Charles Gibson” reported:
Among Tuesday's broadcast evening newscasts, the CBS Evening News uniquely relayed the positive news of a shrinking federal budget deficit, as released by the Treasury Department. As anchor Katie Couric read a brief item on the subject, she described the data as "some good news for a change" as she reported that tax revenues are "way up" and that the budget deficit is almost "35 percent lower than it was last year." Couric: "To the economy now, and some good news for a change about the deficit. It's actually shrinking."
Notably, on the Saturday June 9 edition of CNN's In the Money, during a discussion of the effect of the economy on the presidential race, guest Greg Valliere of Stanford Washington Research Group chided the media for not reporting on good economic news in light of lower budget deficit numbers as he described the overall economy as "okay" and the unemployment rate of 4.5 percent as "a great number." The show's anchor, Christine Romans, defended the media's obsession with the cost of the Iraq war. Romans: "I think one of the reasons why, and I can't speak for the rest of the media, but why there may be the perception, at least, that it's been ignored is there is an incredible amount of spending going on for the war in Iraq, and that is something that, you know, we have to pay for." (Transcripts follow)