On Wednesday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann labeled Rush Limbaugh as the day's "Worst Person in the World!" in a segment that airs regularly on his 8pm EDT Countdown show. He normally introduces three nominees for the dishonor -- tagged as "worse," "worser," and "worst." Olbermann took Limbaugh out of context in highlighting the Limbaugh quote promoted by a far-left group: “Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real." Olbermann snidely quipped: "I guess she made up that dead-son-in-Iraq business." He also gratuitously speculated that "painkillers wipe out your memory along with your ethics." (Video available Windows Media or Real Media)
But on his radio show on Wednesday, Limbaugh had already discussed the fact that his comments had been taken out of context by others, explaining that the media see both Sheehan and Burkett as "an opportunity" to exploit and that "it doesn't matter what the specifics of Cindy Sheehan's case are."
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Filmmaker Michael Tucker spent two months with the 2/3 Field Artillery unit, otherwise known as “The Gunners.” The film he made, Gunner Palace: Some Stories Will Never Make the Nightly News, detailed a troop unit stationed in a former palace of Uday Hussein (nicknamed Gunner Palace).
In May Tucker was invited by the Directors Guild of America to screen parts of the flick along with other films dealing with the war. Also included, according to the documentary’s website, were “clips from Iraq themed episodes of ‘JAG’ and ‘ER’ and the first episode of Steven Bochco's ‘Over There,’” an FX Network series dealing with the fictional lives of troops in Iraq.
NewsBusters interviewed Tucker about the general perception of what’s happening in Iraq and the behavior of NBC’s Matt Lauer, who was skeptical when troops in Iraq told the anchor their morale was high.
Michael Barone of U.S. News told FNC's Chris Wallace tonight that “if a World War II era Cindy Sheehan had gone to Hyde Park and Warm Springs and camped out and demanded a meeting with President Roosevelt,” she “would just been thought to have been a person who was the victim of a personal tragedy and who had gone over the bend as a result of it, and they would have mercifully given her no publicity.” Barone, co-editor of the bi-annual Almanac of American Politics, credited the change in media attitude to how in “World War II, the press almost unanimously wanted us to win the war,” but “today we have many in the press -- not most I think, but some at least -- who do not want us to win this war and think that we don't deserve to win this war.”
Transcript of Barone's comments on Special Report with Brit Hume follows.
When the Today show sprung a surprise this morning -- an unannounced trip to Iraq by Matt Lauer -- one US soldier had a little surprise of his own for Today and the media at large.
Lauer interviewed a group of soldiers at Camp Liberty in Baghdad, and at one point asked about the state of morale. After getting two responses to the effect that morale was good, Lauer had this to say:
"Don't get me wrong, I think you're probably telling the truth, but there might be a lot of people at home wondering how that could be possible with the conditions you're facing and with the insurgent attacks you're facing. "
If Lauer was the advocate for the anti-war case, he then made the cardinal mistake that no advocate should make: asking a question to which you don't know the answer.
Asked Lauer: "What would you say to those people who are doubtful that morale could be that high?"
Captain Sherman Powell nailed Lauer, the MSM and the anti-war crowd with this beauty:
"Well sir, I'd tell you, if I got my news from the newspapers also I'd be pretty depressed as well!"
Powell went on to add that, while acknowledging the difficulties the media face in getting out into the field in Iraq,
"For those of us who have actually had a chance to get out and meet the Iraqi Army and Iraqi police and go on patrols with them, we are very satisfied with the way things are going here and we are confident that if we are allowed to finish the job we started we'll be very proud of it and our country will be proud of us for doing it!"
Finkelstein has degrees from Cornell University and Harvard Law School.He lives in Ithaca, NY where he hosts "Right Angle," a local political talk show. Finkelstein specializes in exposing liberal bias at NBC's Today Show.
Frank Rich of the New York Times wrote a scathing criticism of President Bush regarding the war in his op-ed on Sunday, "Someone Tell the President the War is Over."I know it's an opinion piece, but his comments are so blatantly biased they shouldn't get a pass. Here's just a sample of what Rice wrote, but the whole article is telling:"Like the Japanese soldier marooned on an island for years after V-J Day, President Bush may be the last person in the country to learn that for Americans, if not Iraqis, the war in Iraq is over.
Cindy Sheehan earned a live interview segments at the start of Monday's 7pm EDT Hardball on MSNBC, where she appeared from Texas with her sister, Deedee Miller, and then just past 7:30pm EDT Sheehan showed up live on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 with anti-war activist Pat Vogel.
After Sheehan went on at length about how the U.S. is “building bases the size of Sacramento, California in Iraq. They plan on never leaving” and “I see Iraq as the base for spreading imperialism. And if we don't stop them now, our babies and our unborn grandchildren will be fighting this," Matthews suggested: “You sound more informed than most U.S. Congresspeople, so maybe you should run."
In contrast, Cooper hit her with her own words, pressing her to re-affirm: “Do you really believe the President of the United States is the biggest terrorist in the world?” Cooper pushed her several times, but she wouldn't back off her claim.
Safely tucked away on Page 2 of Monday's Business section is Katharine Seelye's "Editors Ponder How to Present a Broad Picture of Iraq," in which some newspaper editors admit they are hamstrung from covering good news in Iraq:
"Some editors expressed concern that a kind of bunker mentality was preventing reporters in Iraq from getting out and explaining the bigger picture beyond the daily death tolls." Associated Press Managing Editor Mike Silverman confesses something the Times and other media organizations have been reluctant to make: Their readership isn't getting the whole story about Iraq.
According to the AP's Silverman, "The main obstacle we face is the severe limitation on our movement and our ability to get out and report. It's very confining for our staff to go into Baghdad and have to spend most of their time on the fifth floor of the Palestine Hotel."
It would be an understatement to say that Cindy Sheehan, mother of a serviceman killed in Iraq, has gotten a lot of coverage in the past couple of weeks. The media, gathered in Crawford, Texas, at the site of President Bush's ranch, has devoted much of its time and energy to coverage of her "vigil," as she demands to meet with the President. The Associated Press has averaged almost 4 stories per day over the past 12 days on Sheehan and her mission.
But, in addition to being a bereaved mother, Cindy Sheehan appears to also be a committed left-wing peace activist. One who has already met once with the President a year ago at Fort Lewis in Washington State. One who thinks that George Bush is a terrorist, that Israel should get out of Palestine, that we need to act now to prevent climate change and that the truth as to why we went to war, "the real answer...it was to make his buddies rich...it was about oil."
NBC Nightly News on Sunday devoted its “In Depth” segment to Bush-hater Cindy Sheehan’s impact, as anchor David Gregory touted how she “has become both a magnet and a source of controversy in the President's hometown, single-handedly bringing the Iraq debate to Mr. Bush's doorstep.” Reporter Kelly O'Donnell began with how “she's tiny Crawford's biggest draw. This woman said she drove 900 miles from Denver, compelled by Cindy's story." Earlier, filling in for Tim Russert on Meet the Press, Andrea Mitchell blamed Bush’s communications team for what the news media has really done: “How did they let this one woman become the symbol for the entire anti-war movement?” Mitchell added: “It certainly doesn't help when you see the videotape of the motorcade rushing past the protesters on their way to a Republican fund-raiser at a neighboring ranch.” On Saturday’s World News Tonight on ABC, anchor Bob Woodruff introduced a story by trumpeting how Sheehan’s “vigil for her son, killed in Iraq, has given new life to the anti-war movement and a place in Crawford called the 'Peace House.’”
The Washington Post mentions that today in Crawford, Texas, there will be a counterdemonstration to the one conducted by anti-war mom Cindy Sheehan and her political allies.
"[T]he Heart of Texas chapter of FreeRepublic.com, an online conservative forum, has scheduled a demonstration here for Saturday to counteract Sheehan's protest and show support for Bush and the war."
With journalists breathlessly monitoring her every word and making breaking news out of the monumental event that "Bush motorcade passes anti-war mom's protest," we'll see how the media cover a counterprotest in the same city.
Several media outlets on Friday couldn't resist trumping up President Bush's motorcade passing by Cindy Sheehan's protest camp. CNN's Situation Room put “BUSH WALKS ON BY” and “PRES. BUSH PASSES UP CHANCE TO MEET WITH 'PEACE MOM'”on screen during a story in which CNN viewers were treated to blurry video taken from inside a car in the caravan to show what Bush might have seen out his window. Reporter Elaine Quijano highlighted how “Sheehan held up a sign saying, 'Why do you make time for donors and not for me?'” On ABC's World News Tonight, Geoff Morrell relayed how “the President's motorcade passed by Cindy Sheehan en route to a $2 million Republican fund-raiser” and asked Shehean: “Are you disappointed he didn't stop?" Morrell also pointed out how “in the eleven days Mr. Bush has been on vacation, at least 37 troops have been killed in Iraq.”
Hosting MSNBC's Hardball, NBC's David Gregory floated the idea that Sheehan's protest may “represent a kind of tipping point in the country where people are really getting frustrated with the progress of the war.” Guest Dana Milbank of the Washington Post admired Sheehan's “extremely effective” PR strategy before he zinged President Bush: “The man has not been to a military funeral.”
With all the attention on Cindy Sheehan's camp-out at Crawford it looks like President Bush's comments about her and what she's doing got lost in the dust. Even though reported by the AP and Reuters, they're no where to be found online by the MSM (CNN, ABC, et al) yet. Here's what the President said to reporters:
"I sympathize with her. She feels strongly about her, about her position, and I am -- she has every right in the world to say what she believes. This is America. She has a right to her position. And I've thought long and hard about her position. I've heard her position from others, which is, 'Get out of Iraq now.' And it would be -- it would be a mistake for the security of this country and the ability to lay the foundations for peace in the long run, if we were to do so. I grieve for every death," Bush said. "It breaks my heart to think about a family weeping over the loss of a loved one. I understand the anguish that some feel about the death that takes place."
MSNBC's David Gregory took umbrage with criticism of the media’s coverage of Cindy Sheehan on last night's Hardball at around 7:53pm. The following is a brief exchange from a segment that featured talk show host Melanie Morgan and Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen:
Gregory: "Melanie, let me, let me begin with you. Does Cindy Sheehan have something important to say?"
Melanie Morgan: "I think that Cindy Sheehan believes that she has something very important to say and she has the right to say whatever it is she wants to say. But that doesn`t mean because the mainstream media has portrayed her as a very sympathetic, lone grieving mother, that actually represents the case. In fact..."
Gregory: "Well, hang on one second. Hang on. Let me just, I can`t let all these mainstream media attacks go by. How has the media done that? I will grant that you there`s a news vacuum in August and she`s become a national figure, when perhaps, another part of the year, she may not have. But, I mean, let`s not get so far away from this process that we don`t say that this is a grieving parent who lost a son in, in the war. So, I mean, you just assume that the media is trying to prop her up?"
Cindy Sheehan got a full segment Thursday evening on the NBC Nightly News as anchor Brian Williams framed her protest in the context of how “so far, 1,846 Americans have died in Iraq, nearly 14,000 have been wounded. And it doesn't help that a woman who lost a son in Iraq vows to wait outside the President's ranch until the Commander-in-Chief agrees to speak with her.” Reporter Kelly O’Donnell described Sheehan as “a media magnet," as if journalists have no ability to control that, but O’Donnell did at least note that “Sheehan also has some detractors." ABC’s World News Tonight ran a clip of President Bush rejecting her demands, but then anchor Bob Woodruff relayed how Sheehan retorted that “all we're asking is that he sacrifice an hour out of his...vacation to talk to us." MSNBC’s Countdownfeatured an interview with her and Keith Olbermann insisted that “now her story is about more than just her protest, it's about the role of dissent in a country founded on the right to dissent.”
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CBS White House correspondent Bill Plante mistakenly characterized seasoned anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan's pilgrimage to Crawford, Texas, where Mrs. Sheehan daily protests the war and demands to speak with President Bush. Plante filed a report in the 7:00 a.m. half hour of The Early Show from Crawford which, while noting that opposition to Sheehan from other Iraq military families is starting to grow, mainly focused on support she is receiving from left-wing activist groups like MoveOn.org. Where Plante, and co-host Julie Chen mislead the viewer, however, is how they leave the impression that Sheehan is a political novice who has inspired professional activist groups on the Left to rally to her side. Plante fails to relay how Sheehan has been a vocal anti-war leader and Bush critic for quite a while now, including joining far-left Rep. John Conyers in June in calling for investigations into the Downing Street Memo.
On Thursday night, Keith Olbermann interviewed anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan on his Countdown show. While he did at least ask her about reports that her attitude toward Bush had changed since her meeting with him last year, he also did not challenge inflammatory accusations she made against the President, such as accusing him of the premeditated murder of her son. In reference to the Duelfer report, 9/11 Commission report, and Downing Street memos, she charged, "They show categorically that my son was, his murder was premeditated, that there was no reason to invade Iraq."
Also, when Olbermann asked about reports that members of her family were critical of her protest, she responded that it was her in-laws who were upset with her, and, while repeating the charge that Bush killed her son, she revealed, "When they supported George Bush in November and when they voted for the man who I consider killed their grandson, that's when, that was it. That to me was a betrayal of Casey, and it hurt me so deeply. I haven't spoken to them since." A complete transcript of the interview follows:
During the panel segment on tonight's (Thursday) Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC, Fred Barnes recalled Joe Wilson and Bill Burkett as he wondered, "is there any left-wing publicity hound who the media won't build up?” Zeroing in on Cindy Sheehan, Barnes criticized both her and the media's treatment of her:
“This woman wants to go in and tell the President that the war is about oil because the President wants to pay off his buddies. She's a crackpot, and yet the press treats her as some important protestor.”
One of the more maddening aspects of the Cindy Sheehan story is the implicit argument that her virulent anti-Bush, anti-war attitudes represent a lot of military families, and perhaps even the secret views of soldiers themselves.
But during last year’s election campaign, the Annenberg Public Policy Center (definitely not part of the VRWC), polled members of the military and their families. While the October 16, 2004 press release (written by NYT alumnus Adam Clymer) stressed issues where service members and their families disagreed with the President, there was this gem back in the data tables:
The CBS Evening News on Wednesday devoted a second segment to promoting the vigil of Bush-hater Cindy Sheehan. Bill Plante noted the obvious as he provided more publicity: “She's gotten a lot of media attention by camping out on the road that leads to the President's ranch.” He pointed out that she “understands that it's very difficult for the White House to dismiss anyone in her position” and touted how “she also knows she's not alone. One recent poll shows that one out of three people now say it's time to bring all the troops home." Anchor Bob Schieffer ridiculously asked: "I wonder why the President doesn't meet with her." Plante replied that “you'd think it would be an easy thing to do,” but noted that would lead to him having to “meet with a lot of people.” Plante did point out that Sheehan did meet Bush last year, but “she says that wasn't a satisfying meeting." Plante didn’t note her praise then for Bush.
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Cindy Sheehan, the Vacaville, CA woman whose son was killed in Iraq in 2004, has been a major media phenomenon for the past several days since she showed up outside the President's ranch in Texas. But looking at the latest release from the AP, Grieving Mother's War Protest Draws Notice, you'd think they were breaking news.
The mother of a fallen U.S. soldier who started a quiet roadside peace vigil near President Bush's ranch last weekend is drawing supporters from across the nation. Dozens of people have joined her and others have sent flowers and food. One activist called her "the Rosa Parks of the anti-war movement."
Want to find out how many Americans have died in the Iraq and
Afghanistan conflicts over the past couple of years? The number of sources available for learning such information is astonishing, and many include a list of the names of our troops killed since the invasion of Afghanistan.
A lot of websites, newspapers, and tv/radio networks are also keeping track of civilian war casualties, particularly in Iraq, however, the numbers vary widely between them, and few seem to be able to distinguish between civilian innocents and civilian terror suspects when compiling their data.
While it may come as no surprise to most people that such sources rarely include any references to enemy war casualties, what I find to be truly disturbing is that I have yet to discover one truly authoritative source for the total number of enemy combatants killed and captured over the past three years and ten months.
Chutzpah defined, as the most influential newspaper in America criticizes the Bush administration for -- get this -- insufficiently publicizing Iraqi war heroes.
Damien Cave's Sunday piece "Missing in Action: The War Heroes" opens (italics added): "One soldier fought off scores of elite Iraqi troops in a fierce defense of his outnumbered Army unit, saving dozens of American lives before he himself was killed. Another soldier helped lead a team that killed 27 insurgents who had ambushed her convoy. And then there was the marine who, after being shot, managed to tuck an enemy grenade under his stomach to save the men in his unit, dying in the process. Their names are Sgt. First Class Paul R. Smith, Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester and Sgt. Rafael Peralta. If you have never heard of them, even in a week when more than 20 marines were killed in Iraq by insurgents, that might be because the military, the White House and the culture at large have not publicized their actions with the zeal that was lavished on the heroes of World War I and World War II."
And just what might that "culture at large" consist of? Professor Cori Dauber has a lot to say about the hypocrisy of the Times: "It is beyond nerve for the New York Times to come along at this point in the war and publish a piece tsk-tsking the White House and the military for not publicizing these men and women sufficiently. I love that out, that it's 'the culture at large,' you know, 'the zeitgeist,' no names please. Well which media outlet is more important to defining the zeitgeist than any other? Which media outlet has 650 or so subscribers to its wire service? Which media outlet is read by every television producer in the country before they decide which stories are 'newsworthy?' How many articles did the Times run on Sgt. Smith? On Leigh Ann Hester? On Rafael Peralta I found none."
Hard to knock Today this morning for its take on the President's latest poll numbers. Today's theme? That while W's poll numbers on his handling of the economy are down, in fact the economy is up.
As Katie Couric put it: "The President's poll numbers on Iraq and economy are falling even though by all measures the economy is doing well."
Katie returned to the theme in her interview of Tim Russert: "The President's staff should be scratching their heads. In theory they have reason to crow" about the economy, yet the polls show that by a margin of 47%/41%, Americans disapprove W's handling of it.
Today went so far as to trot out a variety of statistics making the case that the economy is doing well, pointing to strong numbers on GDP growth, home ownership and home prices, and low unemployment.
The August 9 CBS Evening News drummed up pessimism over the Iraqi government's ability to move forward with drafting a constitution, warning that "Iraqis fear brighter days may not be ahead,' and that "Many Iraqis fear it could be the next thing to blow up here." There was even a shot at President Bush in the form of a clip of an Iraqi leader who complained about being pushed to meet a deadline "because Mr. Bush wants to claim a success of his adventure in Iraq." The complete transcript is after the break.
Today, the New York Times printed an editorial titled "One Mother in Crawford," which depicts the the protest staged by Cindy Sheehan, who's son who was killed in Iraq in April, 2004. Among a litany of charges and observations regarding Bush and his handling of the war in Iraq, the Times built its editorial around the rantings of an obviously distraught woman.
For more on the Raging Grannies that Brent "The Scourge of Media Bias" Baker posted, see additional lame leftist song lyrics here. The Grannies' official page at the Tucson chapter of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (even more lame lyrics) is here. Are they radical lefties? A look at their Spring newsletter shows they chant "Free Lori Berenson," who is an American leftist convicted of aiding a Marxist terrorist group in Peru. That's not so peaceful...
While today's Cyber Alert details the media coverage the networks have given Cindy Sheehan---a California woman who lost her son in the war in Iraq last year---Sheehan's previously positive comments about her visit with President Bush last year has caught the attention of the Drudge Report and prompted a reprint by The Reporter newspaper of Vacaville, California, in order to clear up concerns by left-wing bloggers that Drudge simply lifted comments out of context to "smear" Sheehan.
The newspaper's editor was concerned that comments were lifted out of context which presented Sheehan as having a very positive regard for President Bush last year:
Everyone has seen the ubiquitous ads run by the ‘Video Professor’ on all cable networks 24/7. The smiling bald guy introduces his ‘product’ with which anyone can learn anything about operating a computer. Then the ad cuts to the bewildered woman who says, “My three-year-old knows more about using a computer than I do.”
The New York Times has just demonstrated that it is collectively dumber than a three-year-old, in an article on 9 April, 2005, entitled “One Mother in Crawford.” It is about Cindy Sheehan from Vacaville, California, whose son was killed in Iraq after he reenlisted and returned there. The article says:
“Mr. Bush obviously failed to comfort Ms. Sheehan when he met with her and her family. More important, he has not helped the nation give fallen soldiers like Casey Sheehan the honor they deserve....