60 Minutes on Sunday night ran back-to-back interview segments with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and while Steve Kroft's session with Obama provided a friendly forum in which Kroft admired how “through twelve long months of mind-numbing, muscle-aching, adrenaline-fueled monotony and exhaustion, there has been barely a misstep” by Obama, it was devoid of anything approaching the giddy girl talk about mainlining coffee and high school boys Katie Couric put into her segment with Clinton.
Couric set up the story by trumpeting how Clinton “remains focused, energized and anything but defeatist.” She soon wondered: “How do you do it? I mean, the satellite interviews, the speeches, the travel, the debates, the schmoozing, the picture taking, 24/7?” In seeming awe, a giggling Couric followed up: “But I'm talking about pure stamina” and marveled: “Do you pop vitamins, do you mainline coffee?” Later, as the two stood in a high school classroom, Couric cooed: “What were you like in high school? Were you the girl in the front row taking meticulous notes and always raising your hand?” Clinton denied that, prompting this exchange full of laughs and giggles:
COURIC: Someone told me your nickname in school was Miss Frigidaire. Is that true? CLINTON: Only with some boys. [laughs] COURIC: [giggling] I don't know if I want to hear the back story on that! CLINTON: Well, you wouldn't want to know the boys either. [bursts out laughing]
The January 20 CBS special attacked the Bush White House for not being willing to sign the Kyoto Protocol after he was elected - furthering the common misconception that Bush has been alone in his opposition to it, as the Senate actually voted 95 to 0 to reject Kyoto earlier.
By omitting key facts of the original "Rathergate" story from his report Thursday, Associated Press Writer Samuel Maull managed to give the former CBS news anchor's contentions an appearance of credibility.
A judge said Wednesday that he was leaning toward allowing Dan Rather's $70 million lawsuit over his being fired by CBS to proceed.
"I concluded there was enough in the complaint (by Rather) to continue with discovery (pretrial research)," state Judicial Hearing Officer Ira Gammerman said at a hearing on CBS' motion to dismiss the case.
In an interview with New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, Couric questioned his new record-setting contract. The deal includes $275 million over 10 years and another $30 million in incentives, according to ESPN.
"Your new contract is worth $300 million-plus," Couric told Rodriquez, asking, "Are you worth it? Is any player worth that kind of salary?"
A-Rod could have pointed out that Major League Baseball works like any other market - players' services are priced according to what the market will pay for their skills and experience. Someone in the Yankees organization felt $275 million over 10 years was a fair price to pay for Rodriguez.
Rodriguez could have pointed out that he's a two-time Gold Glove winner, a two-time Silver Slugger winner, and a three-time American League Most Valuable Player. He could have mentioned that last season he led the American League in runs, home runs and runs batted in - 143, 54 and 156 respectively.
Or he could have turned the question around on Couric by asking, "Well Katie, you're paid $15 million a year and have seen steady declines in your ratings on the ‘Evening News,' with some weeks reaching record lows. Are you worth it?"
On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," anchor Scott Pelley, who referred to Iranian President Ahmadinejad as "friendly," "modest," and "incorruptible," compared American forces in Iraq to barbarian hordes of the past while examining the plight of Iraqi Christians since the war began in 2003: "The Iraqi Christian community, which had survived invasions by Mongols and Turks, was driven out under American occupation."
During the segment, Pelley interviewed an Anglican Reverend in Baghdad named Andrew White:
PELLEY: He was first sent to Baghdad by the Archbishop of Canterbury nine years ago, well before the Christian persecution. You were here during Saddam's reign, and now after. Which was better? Which was worse?
WHITE: Well, it's difficult to describe. The situation now is clearly worse now, but --
PELLEY: Worse than Saddam?
WHITE: Oh, far. There's no comparison between Iraq now and then. Things are the most difficult they have ever been for Christians. Probably ever in history. They've never known it like now.
PELLEY: Wait a minute. Christians have been here for 2,000 years.
WHITE: Yes. And it's now the worst it has ever been.
Continuing the sky-is-falling mantra about lead laden toys, on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Hannah Storm asked Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) spokeswoman, Julie Vallese:
...you are standing there, Julie, among a whole group of toys, 61 recalls, a third of those because of lead paint. Why don't you tell us as parents, why we just shouldn't buy books and clothes and pets this Christmas? Why even buy toys?
Of course that followed Julie Chen’s assertion on October 31 that Halloween and Christmas had been "ruined" because of the CPSC. It also complimented Lesley Stahl’s rant against the fast food industry on Sunday’s "60 Minutes." Not to be out done in alarmism, Storm began the segment by warning, "Millions of toys tainted with lead have been recalled so far this year, so it's tough to know what toys are actually safe to buy this holiday season."
On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," anchor Lesley Stahl began a segment on calorie labeling for fast food by making this alarmist proclamation: "Obesity rates continue to spiral out of control in this country and nutritionists say one main reason is how dependent we've become on eating out." Enter the big government hero:
Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden is in charge of regulating New York City's $11 billion restaurant market...the chains are up against a formidable foe, because Frieden has a record of making big industry bend to his will. He's the one who forced smoking out of city bars and artery-clogging trans fats out of city restaurants. Both those bans spread nationwide, which is also happening with his new crusade.
Frieden’s latest "crusade" is to force big fast food chains nationwide to label the calories of all of their products, which were exempt from doing so. As Stahl explained, "Now, one of the most powerful health officials in the country wants to change that by forcing chain restaurants like McDonald's and Wendy's to spell out exactly how fattening their food is right when you decide what to order."
It's getting hard to exaggerate the left-wing rantings of MSNBC host Keith Olbermann. This week, he railed against the "criminal conspiracy to cover the ass" of the "fascist" Bush administration. It probably won't be long before he's dropping the F-word on-air. Olbermann also attacked the "nightmare presidency" of the current commander in chief and mocked Bush's "cynical exploitation" of 9/11. It's really a shame this guy won't have Rosie O'Donnell to follow him on MSNBC, huh?
Speaking of liberal MSNBC hosts (sorry for being redundant), Chris Matthews on Tuesday took credit for a line that Hillary Clinton recently used about leadership. Last week Mathews offered her some free advice and seemed pleased that she took it. "Well done," he enthused.
In the past six years, any time someone wrote a tell-all book about George W. Bush or a member of his administration, they were given the royal treatment by the press with lavish interviews offering them the perfect platform to market their work as well as their politically charged opinions.
Consider for example all the attention given to Valerie Plame Wilson just recently when her book "Fair Game" was released, or the focus on George Tenet and his "At the Center of the Storm" exposé back in April.
With this in mind, if a former female White House aide published a new book implicating a former president -- whose wife just so happens to be the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination in 2008 -- in rape and other possible crimes, shouldn't she be welcomed with open arms by evening television magazines like "60 Minutes" and morning shows like "Today?"
After all, given Kathleen Willey's shocking statements about her new book "Target: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton" to WOR radio's Steve Malzberg Thursday, one would think such programs would be all over this like white on rice, assuming of course their goal was journalism and not political activism (audio in two parts available here and here, highlights of the interview follow):
At the end of Sunday’s 60 Minutes, commentator Andy Rooney did his usual rant, this time about politicians. Of course when Rooney speaks of politicians, one always seems to come first to his mind: "I'll bet there hasn't been a day this year that President Bush's name hasn't been in the newspaper." At one point Rooney almost seemed sympathetic to the president, "A lot of people complain about things President Bush does but they wouldn't know what to do themselves if they were in his shoes." However, that sympathy soon turned to contempt as Rooney compared his own public speaking to that of President Bush, "I usually can’t remember what it was I was going to say. The president seems to have the same problem sometimes."
Unfortunately, Rooney seemed to remember exactly what he wanted to say at the end of his little diatribe:
The one thing I have to say for myself that I wouldn't say for President Bush is: I know I'm no where near smart enough to be President of the United States. But I will say I might have been smart enough not to get us into a war in Iraq.
CBS’s 60 Minutes repeatedly promoted in its ads for the October 28 program how Lesley Stahl pressed French president Nicholas Sarkozy into tearing off his microphone and walking out as she quizzed him about how "Paris was buzzing with rumors" about whether his wife Cecelia had left him again. This is hardly the dainty 60 Minutes style that Steve Kroft used asking Bill and Hillary Clinton about marital "mistakes" in 1992. By asking pointed personal questions about a collapsing marriage, CBS wanted viewers to know that Sarkozy was explosive, "tempestuous," and perhaps too pro-American for their tastes. Stahl asked about his election-night acceptance speech: "Why did he go that far as to mention how much he likes America on that occasion?"
Start with how Stahl played up the troubles between Sarkozy and his spouse:
In a segment on Sunday’s "60 Minutes," anchor Scott Pelley described how "The enemy has killed hundreds of civilians this year, but surprisingly, almost the same number of civilians have been killed by American and allied forces." Pelley focused on U.S. air strikes citing a statistic from the liberal group Human Rights Watch: "So far this year, 17 air strikes have killed more than 270 civilians, according to the humanitarian organization Human Rights Watch."
Pelley introduced the segment by exclaiming that:
It's been six years since the liberation of Afghanistan, but the fighting there now is the greatest it's been since the start of the war, and more civilians are dying...With relatively few troops on the ground, the U.S. And NATO rely on air power, and civilian deaths from air strikes have doubled. Now, there's concern that those deaths are undermining Afghan support for the war.
Of course framing the story in this way followed the typical mainstream media template of suggesting that the war in Iraq has diverted resources from where they are needed and that U.S. actions are a cause of anti-Americanism throughout the world.
To commemorate the Media Research Center’s 20th anniversary this month, we’ve just published a special expanded edition of our ‘Notable Quotables’ newsletter with more than 100 of the most outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes we’ve uncovered over the past 20 years. Earlier this week, I presented quotes showing the media’s hostility towards Ronald Reagan and other conservatives, and sycophantic coverage of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Today’s installment: America the Awful. On Monday, I recounted how many journalists offered sympathetic coverage of totalitarian communist regimes. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, too many journalists opted to take a harsher approach with their own country. In a commencement address at the State University of New York at New Paltz back on May 21, 2006, New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., exposed his extreme left-wing agenda as he railed against everything he saw as wrong with America:
As Valerie Plame does the interview rounds – CBS, NBC, CNN, NPR – someone might miss the far-left, Bush-hating blog interviews. On Firedoglake, the most notable pro-Plame blog, Plame did a typewritten chat with her leftist admirers on Monday. She loved the leftist bloggers at FDL – even had them to her home for dinner -- and declared her interviews on CBS and NBC were fair. Her husband, Joe Wilson, popped in to suggest that two people convinced the Wilsons to fight the pernicious far right: Sidney Blumenthal – and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Former Watergate figure John Dean also popped in – to suggest Plame could be Hillary’s CIA Director.
With Southern California in the midst of dealing with disastrous wildfires, on Sunday’s "60 Minutes," anchor Scott Pelley used the issue to promote Global Warming ideology. He did a segment on wildfires in the American west and declared in traditional alarmist fashion: "It appears that we're living in a new age of mega-fires, forest infernos ten times bigger than the fires we're used to seeing." It did not take long for Pelley to find the culprit for this crisis as he talked to University of Arizona professor, Tom Swetnam:
Swetnam says that climate change-- global warming-- has increased temperatures in the west about one degree, and that has caused four times more fires. Swetnam and his colleagues published those findings in the journal "Science," and the world's leading researchers on climate change have endorsed their conclusions.
Earlier in the segment, Pelley talked to head of federal fire operations, Tom Boatner:
Both CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric and "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith portrayed Valerie Plame and her husband, Joe Wilson, as innocent victims, even though Plame admitted to being "partisan" in a "60 Minutes" interview with Couric on Sunday.
On Friday’s "Early Show," Smith opened a segment previewing the upcoming interview by explaining that, "Valerie Plame spent nearly 20 years in the shadows of the CIA. Then suddenly, she became a public figure." He later played a clip of the interview in which Couric exclaimed how "18 years of meticulously crafted cover were gone in an instant." Strangely there was no mention of the "Vanity Fair" photo op that Plame and her husband posed for, which Couric asked about in the "60 Minutes" interview:
It's clear from Friday previews on CBS that Katie Couric's Sunday 60 Minutes interview, to promote Valerie Plame's new book, Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House, will frame the story just as the media have all along -- Painting Plame as a heroic victim of an orchestrated “smear” with little, if any, consideration to who actually gave her name to Bob Novak or the responsibility and motivation of her husband who picked a high-profile political fight with the White House. On The Early Show, Harry Smith asserted Plame's “life story reads like a spy novel,” gushing that “she is beautiful, smart, a covert agent.” Smith recalled how “Robert Novak revealed her identify as an undercover CIA agent in his syndicated column” and that “speculation was rampant that the leaking of her name, which is a crime, came from inside the Bush administration, in retaliation for her husband's column.” Whether it is a “crime” is far from settled, but without ever pointing out how Novak got the name from Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, a political enemy of Dick Cheney and Karl Rove who opposed the Iraq war, Smith noted that “no one was ever charged with knowingly leaking Valerie Plame's name.”
Couric told Smith that Plame is “very charming, incredibly intelligent and eloquent and really mad about what happened to her, angry and resentful of being outed, if you will, having her career end this way.” On Friday's Evening News, Couric avoided Armitage's name as she reported that “when senior administration officials leaked her name to reporters, they may have exposed other spies and damaged operations targeting Iran.” Couric soon relayed Plame's contention that “that the leak of her name had serious repercussions.” In a likely understatement, Couric ended her preview by highlighting how “Valerie Plame Wilson also has some harsh things to say about President Bush.”
Perhaps one of the most distorted stories in recent mainstream media history, the Valerie Plame CIA leak controversy, has become even more so with Plame’s upcoming "60 Minutes" interview with CBS Anchor, Katie Couric. On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked with Couric about the interview and began by describing Plame as "...beautiful, smart, a covert agent."
Smith then went on to summarize the media-manufactured scandal that ensued after Plame’s name was mentioned in Bob Novak's syndicated column:
Speculation was rampant that the leaking of her name, which is a crime, came from inside the Bush Administration, in retaliation for her husband's column. The leak grew into a scandal that embroiled the political elite in Washington....When it was all over, Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was charged and convicted of lying to investigators and obstruction of justice. President Bush later commuted sentence, no one was ever charged with knowingly leaking Valerie Plame's name.
The problem with this little summary is that it completely leaves out the fact that person responsible for giving Plame’s name to Novak was former Undersecretary of State, Richard Armitage, who mentioned her name in an interview with Novak and was never charged with any crime. Also missing was any indication of her husband, Joe Wilson, being a Kerry Campaign advisor in 2004.
Appearing on Wednesday's "Good Morning America," media critic Howard Kurtz and co-host Chris Cuomo marveled at the media's ability to turn Americans against the war in Iraq. Kurtz, who has a new book on the subject, claimed that the top three network anchors kept "framing the story in such a way" that the bad news finally had an impact. While Cuomo and Kurtz discussed the declining ratings of the network newscasts, somehow, media bias never came up as a reason. Over on FNC's "O'Reilly Factor," however, anchor Bill O'Reilly did broach the subject with Kurtz. Asked to name a conservative at either CBS or NBC, the media critic came up with the name of that well known right-winger, Brian Williams.
Who would be the best candidate to help conservative Republican primary voters pick their nominee? That answer is, of course, obvious: Chris Matthews. The liberal anchor presided over a Republican debate this week and asked such insightful questions as whether the U.S. would "have gone to war in Iraq if we weren't so dependent on Middle East oil?" Chris, why not just chant, "No blood for oil"?
On Sunday’s 60 Minutes, Anchor Scott Pelley interviewed left-wing rocker Bruce Springsteen and said of the aging musician that he "sees himself following a long American tradition that reaches back through Vietnam and on to the Great Depression, from Dylan to Guthrie."
Pelley opens the segment exclaiming that "He’s returned to full-throated rock and roll, and a message that is sharper than ever, damning the war in Iraq, and questioning whether America has lost its way at home." Pelley then helps to further frame Springsteen’s political activism and wonders what the message is:
Much of the new music is a protest. Some of it blunt, as in the song that asks "Who will be the last to die for a mistake," but most of it subtle, like the story of a man who returns to his all-American small town but doesn’t recognize it any more, "It's gonna be a long walk home." What's on your mind? What are you writing about?"
It should not be that difficult to read the Boss’s mind on that one Scott.
When the news broke that Dan Rather was suing CBS News for $70 million for somehow destroying his reputation, the most noticeable reaction came from the media establishment itself. From the first story in the New York Times, it carried a different tone between the lines of the breaking news. Rather’s former colleagues think he’s lost his marbles.
The Times story by Jacques Steinberg said Rather’s career came to an “inglorious end” and now he’s taking “vehement issue” with CBS’s soft-scrub internal investigation. Rather claimed “to be reduced to little more than a patsy” in the story, and now works for an “obscure cable channel.” The implication between the lines? Gunga Dan’s picked one battle too many.
In his usual odd commentary segment on Sunday’s "60 Minutes," CBS commentator, Andy Rooney decided to take a look at presidential vacation habits, and observed that while "President Bush has made 66 trips to his Texas ranch since taking office...having spent 436 days away from the White House," Jimmy Carter "took off only 79 days."
While Rooney recited a long list of presidents in his wandering train of thought, including Clinton, Reagan, Johnson, and Kennedy, he made sure to emphasize the contrast between Bush and Carter. Despite Andy’s admiration for Carter’s workaholic presidency, I think there are many who wished Jimmy had taken a few more years off.
Rooney then ended with the typically sarcastic conclusion that: "President Bush is back in the Oval Office now, so everything ought to be all right again in Washington."
Scott Pelley conducted a very tough interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which aired on Sunday's 60 Minutes, but on Monday’s Early Show Pelley was very generous in his personal assessment of the man. Host Harry Smith and Pelley agreed that Ahmadinejad is "crazy like a fox" while Pelley also hailed Ahmadinejad as "incorruptible" and "modest." Pelley contended the dictator, who denies the Holocaust, wants Israel destroyed and is causing the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, is a lot smarter than Westerners believe and is even a "friendly" guy:
The important thing, I think, Harry, to understand, he's described in the West as a madman, crazy, that's not the case. I found him to be as many politicians are, very engaging, very friendly, he's clearly not mad, he's sane. In fact, he's very wily I would tell you.
Maybe Ahmadinejad should announce his candidacy for 2008?
Monday's Washington Post op-ed page has a debate of sorts between Post columnists on the Dan Rather lawsuit against CBS. Eugene Robinson takes up the pro-Rather side, barely acknowledging Rather's phony documents en route to suggesting Rather "makes a valid argument about the larger issue," that CBS was cowardly in defending the story because corporations don't challenge the government like they used to, as in the golden days of the "Pentagon Papers." Recent experience doesn't exactly suggest the media is unwilling to expose national-security programs the ACLU wants exposed.
The anti-Rather side is taken up by Charles Lane, who's not buying any of Rather's bluster. (For the record, Lane was editor of The New Republic when Stephen Glass loaded that magazine with phony quotes and stories, so that either makes him the voice of experience, or a strange scold.) But his fake letter of Rather's is definitely fun to read:
"Dear CBS News:
"My new career at HDNet is keeping me busier than a bordello at Mardis Gras.
In a Friday afternoon Newsweek web exclusive, reporter Johnnie Roberts talked to CBS insiders about Dan Rather’s lawsuit against his long-time employer. Don Hewitt, the founder and long-lasting executive producer of 60 Minutes, told the magazine he asked Rather the big bias question: "If this had been John Kerry, wouldn’t you have been more careful about the story?" It’s certainly true that 60 Minutes went easy on Kerry on 2004, with a soft-soap Ed Bradley interview in January, and a syrupy and supportive Lesley Stahl interview in July.
Another anonymous CBS insider says Rather looks "pathetic...the musing of an older man who can’t let go." Roberts reported that while the network wouldn’t comment beyond saying it was old news, others were more forthcoming:
On CNN’s Larry King Live Thursday night, Dan Rather insisted that his $70 million lawsuit against CBS was an attempt to save “our democracy” from “big government interference and intimidation in news;” claimed once again that his 2004 60 Minutes story on President Bush’s National Guard service was correct “and I think most people know by now that it was correct;” and charged that CBS’s investigation was “a fraud. It was a setup.”
And when Larry King asked him about Peter Arnett — whose career at CNN ended over a fraudulent 1998 report alleging the U.S. murdered defectors and used nerve gas in Vietnam, and who was last seen making propaganda films for Saddam Hussein during the 2003 invasion of Iraq — Rather embraced him: “Peter Arnett is a great reporter. He was then and he is now.”
Earlier today I noted that in her HuffPo column, ex-CBS producer Mary Mapes continues to cling to the delusion that the Memogate documents were authentic. In an inteview on "Morning Joe," Dan Rather has now made a comparable reality-defying claim.
Mika Brzezinski, who, as was repeatedly pointed out, used to work at CBS and has friends on both sides of the issue, conducted the interview. Bubbles didn't have the gumption to challenge Rather regarding the forged documents at the heart of the story. Interestingly, Rather chose to raise the issue himself, and in doing so demonstrated his tenuous grip on reality and some twisted journalistic standards.