UPDATE, May 18: NewsBusters commenter "dreamsincolor" has pointed out that CNN "somehow" forgot Democratic New York Congressman Eric Massa, who resigned in 2009 to avoid "an ethics investigation into alleged misconduct toward a male staff member."
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Chris Ariens filed a report today at MediaBistro's TVNewser that opened with a reader's Tweet, which plaintively asked: "Did CNN really exclude Spitzer from Malveaux package on Sex Scandals & Politics? Hmm.."
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
On Monday’s Tonight Show on NBC, Jay Leno incorrectly called New York’s former Democratic Governor Eliot Spitzer a Republican during the show’s monologue as he joked about Republican sex scandals. Inspired by John McCain’s daughter Meghan’s recent declaration that she is a "pro-sex Republican," Leno used her comment to poke fun at Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, as well as Democrat Spitzer, who were both revealed to have hired prostitutes. But Leno’s joke assumed both disgraced politicians were Republicans: "Don’t confuse that with other Republicans like Senator Vitter and Eliot Spitzer. They like to get their sex from a pro."
If Leno was confused about Spitzer's party affiliation, it is hardly surprising, as the MRC’s Brent Baker previously documented the mainstream media’s reluctance to label Spitzer as a Democrat, and Rich Noyes documented the media’s greater willingness to label Republicans involved in sex scandals.
Below is the complete text of Leno’s joke from the Monday, May 25, Tonight Show on NBC:
What legitimate journalistic purpose did this serve?
In a segment narrated by Pete Williams on the apparent suicide of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called DC Madam, this morning's Today played the tape of the 911 phone call made by Pelfrey's 76-year old mother, who had discovered her daughter's body.
Of all the 911 calls I've heard, this was the most anguished and heart-rending.
A prostitution scandal strikes the Democrats? When Sen. David Vitter admitted he’d used the services of the "DC Madam," thanks to probing by ABC News, the major media saw harm for the entire Republican Party nationwide. Will Governor Spitzer become a national problem for the entire Democratic party? Or will the media suddenly keep the scandal as localized as they can make it?
NBC and MSNBC were especially aggressive in describing conservatives and Republicans "in crisis." The standout quote on the Vitter scandal (along with the Mark Foley internet-messages-to-pages scandal) came from MSNBC reporter David Shuster on August 29, 2007, who blurred the ethical embarrassments into Hurricane Katrina:
Yesterday I wrote a piece about reporter Mika Brzezinski's handling of a story that reflected a political double standard on her part. While hosting MSNBC's "Morning Joe" for the vacationing Joe Scarborough, Brzezinski aired a video of a female reporter chasing after Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Before she could catch up with the mayor however, the reporter was intercepted by a very large security guard and sent barreling into the side of what appeared to be a nearby dumpster. At the time Brzezinski brushed off the incident as "not that pressing," in stark contrast to the seemingly endless attention the David Vitter scandal received on "Morning Joe" throughout July. This morning however, Brzezinski seems to have changed her mind and now believes "That story's important."
For a little context, Villaraigosa, a Democrat, has been under scrutiny since he confessed to an affair with Spanish language reporter, Mirthala Salinas. Not surprisingly, Salinas received special access to the mayor during their affair.
Yesterday, after airing the video, Brzezinski gave her opinion as to the newsworthiness of the story. Here is her quote from the August 7 show:
Liberals can rest easier knowing that despite her outspoken views on newsworthiness and ethics, MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski can still be counted on to go to bat for the Democrats. The reporter and "Morning Joe" regular showed off her famous sense of journalistic integrity while filling in for host Joe Scarborough on Monday morning. In the first half hour, Brzezinski played a video of a journalist trying desperately to get an interview with Antonio Villaraigosa, the Democratic mayor of Los Angeles. Villaraigosa has been surrounded by controversy since revelations that he had engaged in an extramarital affair with Spanish language reporter Mirthala Salinas.
The video clip showed one female reporter and at least two cameramen chasing the embattled mayor hoping for an interview. Before she could reach the mayor however, one of Villaraigosa’s hired thugs intercepted the reporter, sending the much smaller woman barreling into what appears to be a dumpster.
Mika Brzezinski is so outraged that people are discussing Hillary's cleavage . . . that she hopes it helps the Dem prez candidate.
The topic arose at 6:18 A.M. EDT on today's "Morning Joe." The affable Willie Geist, a frequent panelist, is serving this morning as guest host for the absent Joe Scarborough. He broached the subject.
MORNING JOE GUEST HOST WILLIE GEIST: One of the other big stories that everybody is talking about is this Hillary Clinton cleavage thing.
MORNING JOE NEWSREADER MIKA BRZEZINSKI [in an exasperated tone]: Oh my gosh.
GEIST: . . . There's a shot of it right now; that's not so bad, I've seen much worse.
BRZEZINSKI: Are you kidding me? That's a great outfit. But what annoys me is that people wrote about it and talked about it. And if has helped her in any way I guess it doesn't bother me because that was ridiculous.
Filling in on July 17 for Keith Olbermann, MSNBC's Alison Stewart devoted a "Countdown" segment to criticizing the dress Wendy Vitter wore during a July 16 news conference in which her husband, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), admitted to an affair with a prostitute.
With "Fashion Ho-Pas?" emblazoned on-screen (pictured at right), Stewart interviewed Radar Online's Jeff Bercovici, who snarked that Vitter's sartorial choice could mark "a complete reversal of the laws of skankery." [Video (1:37):Real (2.54 MB) and Windows (2.90MB), plus MP3 audio (753 kB)]
Olbermann returned to his program's hosting duties the next day and also hosted the July 19 program before turning over the helm yet again to Stewart for his July 20 show*, despite having had three days to become aware of the "ho-pas" segment, take disciplinary action against Stewart, and make her issue an apology. Olbermann either saw the light or felt the heat over the weekend, apparently, as he issued an apology about one-third of the way through his July 23 program (h/t Ian Schwartz):
On his CBS News blog Public Eye (“Atwitter over Vitter” 7/10), editor Brian Montopoli slapped a self-congratulatory pat on the back to the mainstream media (yes, he used that term) for its “straight news” reporting of the sexual revelations involving Republican Louisiana Senator David Vitter.
Montopoli differentiated the mainstream media’s “straight” reporting to that of the “blogs and liberal sites” which focused on the hypocrisy of Vitter’s actions against his reputation as a “family-values conservative.”
There's surely some deeper lesson to be drawn from the tantrum liberal activist Michael Rectenwald threw on yesterday's "Tucker." But in the meantime, for sheer entertainment value it's hard to beat Rectenwald's display of purple-faced apoplexy.
Rectenwald is the man behind the left-wing "Citizens for Legitimate Government," whose mission, according to its website, is "Exposing the Coup" and "Ending the Occupation." Its current pastime is exposing the names of people, including Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), on the DC Madam's client list.
Tucker brought him onto his MSNBC show to discuss "whether the sex lives of elected officials should be dissected, judged and discussed in the first place."
Here's the video, from the MSNBC site. The fireworks begin about 2:30 in, after the libertarian-leaning Carlson tells Rectenwald he ought to be ashamed of himself. Excerpts from Rectenwald's rant:
You are despicable . . . you're an unapologetic Republican partisan . . . you only turned against Bush when everything went down the toilet . . . you're a preppy punk, parading your bow-tie [NB: Tucker wasn't wearing one] . . . once you got done destroying our candidates, you wanted [politicians' sex lives] to be off limits . . . you are nothing . . . you worked for the National Review!
Jeff Dufour and Patrick Gavin at the Washington Examiner's gossip page report that ABC is dialing back its D.C. prostitution scoop, and reporter Brian Ross is an unhappy camper:
Yeas & Nays hears that, as of this writing, the segment will reveal only two new names and is currently slotted for a mere seven minutes at the end of the hour-long broadcast (you'll recall that Palfrey turned over nearly 15,000 phone numbers to ABC News back in March).
Interviews with both Palfrey and former deputy secretary of state Randall Tobias (who left the State Department last week after being interviewed by ABC News for the "20/20" piece) are currently scheduled, leaving precious little time remaining for much else (and for all of those salacious details you¹ve been waiting for). Sources tell Yeas & Nays that Ross, who had anticipated a far juicier piece, is none too happy with the final results, especially after he and the network promoted this story for weeks.