The Media Research Center's Gala has only recently concluded. It will be almost a full year until the DisHonors Awards are again distributed. Even so, Scott Pelley's query to John McCain, aired on this evening's 60 Minutes, has to be considered a strong, early contender for Most Inane Question in next year's running.
Let's set the stage. 60 Minutes had devoted extensive time to McCain's recent trip to Iraq. Particular attention was paid to his visit to a Baghdad market, which, as it turned out, was carried out with very considerable security surrounding him. Even so, McCain acknowledged during the course of the interview that he was in large measure staking his candidacy on the success of the surge.
Immediately preceding his question, Pelley had noted that five generations of McCain's family had attended West Point or Annapolis. McCain was shown in his Senate office pointing out a picture of his father in Vietnam when he was commander of US forces in the Pacific.
Observed Pelley: "Now McCain's family is serving again. He has a son in the Naval Academy and another son 18 years old, headed toward Iraq."
CBS News, via its "Public Eye" blog, has responded to the National Center for Public Policy Research's critique (covered here yesterday in Newsbusters) of its 60 Minutes show Sunday.
In a nutshell, The National Center's David Hogberg had complained that a recent "60 Minutes" broadcast relied upon unrepresentative, artifically-high data to determine the price seniors are paying for drugs under Medicare. Second, David said "60 Minutes" falsely claimed the Veterans Administration derives its prices by negotiation with drug companies, not telling viewers the VA uses strict price controls.
Viewers were expected to conclude that VA-like negotiations by Medicare would result in lower drug prices for Medicare recipients. The critical phrase "price controls" never came up.
The National Center for Public Policy Research's health care senior policy analyst, David Hogberg, contacted
the CBS television show "60 Minutes" five times last week -- by telephone, fax and e-mail -- to warn the show's producers that a report by the leftie big-government health care lobby group Families USA, which "60 Minutes" planned to highlight in Sunday's show, rested on faulty data.
The Families USA report made certain claims in support of calls that Medicare be permitted to "negotiate (read: dictate) drug prices to drug companies. An analysis David completed for the National Center in January, and which he made available to "60 Minutes," called the Families USA study "nonsense."
As David explained in a National Center press release today:
"60 Minutes" resident global warming alarmist Scott Pelley, who compared global warming skeptics to Holocaust deniers, reported on another piece on the April 1 edition. Pelley featured a scientist and self proclaimed former skeptic, and a University of Maine scientist without telling his full story.
First, Pelley toured a receding glacier with glaciologist Gino Casassa. Casassa claimed to be a former skeptic, and Pelley came to the conclusion that he changed his ways after witnessing this glacier. Apparently, when watching a glacier recede, one can jump to the conclusion that SUV driving soccer moms are causing it.
On the March 14 edition of "Imus in the Morning" guest and "60 Minutes" commentator Andy Rooney discussed the possibility of a draft with Don Imus. In that exchange Rooney, like Senator Kerry and Congressman Rangel, implied that those who volunteer to serve do so out of desperation rather than patriotism.
DON IMUS: Tell me about your thoughts on re-instituting the draft.
ANDY ROONEY: Well, I think a draft produces a better army than the one we would have with all volunteers. Because I think you get average Americans if you, if you have a draft. And if it’s an all volunteer army, you get people who join up because of some problem in their own lives. They don’t have anything else to do, they don’t have a job, or they can’t find what they want to do, so they join the Army. And it doesn’t produce the best army.
As NewsBusters previewed here and here, CBS’s “60 Minutes” aired a segment Sunday dealing with a small group of American troops that have signed a petition called “Appeal For Redress.” Simply put, these soldiers want U.S. troops to come home from Iraq immediately.
As NewsBuster Brent Baker reported Friday, CBS’s “60 Minutes” will be airing a piece this Sunday about a small number of American troops in Iraq that have signed a petition in favor of immediate withdrawal.
Fox News’s Sean Hannity is planning to present the opposite side of this issue on the March 4 installment of that network’s “Hannity’s America,” and spoke about it on Friday’s “Hannity & Colmes.”
As Hannity devotees would expect, Sean didn't pull any punches concerning his negative opinion of CBS (video available here):
Fill-in anchor Russ Mitchell teased Friday's lead story on the CBS Evening News by citing “a new move to try to stop the war. Senate Democrats want to take back the authorization they gave the President to invade Iraq.” That is new, but a few minutes later Mitchell set up another story by touting how “there is new opposition to the war tonight, and it comes from the very Americans fighting it -- men and women in uniform.” Mitchell explained: “Hundreds of them are very publicly asking Congress to stop it. Lara Logan has this exclusive 60 Minutes report.” The “new opposition,” however, is hardly “new” by daily broadcast journalism standards.
Logan previewed her 60 Minutes story about a relatively minuscule number of servicemen who have signed a petition from an organization called “Appeal for Redress,” a group formed last year and which delivered some petitions to Congress way back on January 16. Logan announced how “over a thousand servicemen and women have done something normally unthinkable for the military: protest the war they're in the middle of fighting....They've all sent a petition called 'Appeal for Redress' to their individual members of Congress letting them know that 'staying in Iraq will not work,' and it's 'time for U.S. troops to come home.'" Logan's piece featured soundbites from three soldiers, but none were identified by her or on screen. The CBSNews.com page previewing the story, however, includes names.
CBS and 60 Minutes just can't help themselves. They keep letting their anti-military bias show. Case in point, Lara Logan (not exactly a fan of the military) is doing a piece on 60 Minutes this Sunday about Appeals for Redress. You remember Appeals for Redress? I did a post on them back in October 2006.
They present themselves as a "grassroots" organization when in fact they are another concoction of Fenton Communications. Jonathan Hutto, one of the main spokesmen, was a photographer for the Navy while in Iraq. He was an activist before he was an media darling, working with the ACLU and Amnesty International. In an interview with Revolution, the media outlet for the Revolutionary Communist Party, Hutto had this to say about his fellow soldiers...
Is America ready for a black president? This was how CBS’s Steve Kroft portrayed the presidential candidacy of Illinois Senator Barack Obama in a piece on the February 11th "60 Minutes." In an interview that touched on Mr. Obama’s personal life story, his lack of experience and his past drug use, Mr. Kroft seemed most interested in discussing race, and by implication the notion that America is racist. Kroft seemed shocked when Senator Obama asserted that his race would not be a factor in the race, and that America is ready for a black president:
Steve Kroft: "Do you think the country is ready for a black president?"
"Do you owe the Iraqi people an apology for not doing a better job?"
This is one of the questions President Bush faced from "60 Minutes" correspondent Scott Pelley on Sunday’s program. Pelley also cited the same "Military Times" CBS’s Chief White House correspondent Jim Axelrod cited on the January 11 edition of the "Evening News," which shows more miltiary troops now disapprove of the President’s handling of the war in Iraq, and was highlighted by Brent Baker here on Newsbusters. However, when John Kerry and John Edwards and their wives were jointly interviewed on the program on July 11, 2004, correspondent Lesley Stahl did not mention a CBS poll that showed war veterans supporting President Bush for reelection by a large margin, and that poll was significant in that veterans were a group that Senator Kerry was actively courting.
CBS "60 Minutes" correspondent Morley Safer interviewed Oscar-favored actress Helen Mirren for Sunday, and CBS sent out press materials highlighting her fondness for nude scenes. She even suggested she and Safer do their interview naked. At his routinely liberal blog for Broadcasting & Cable magazine, reporter John Eggerton applauded the silly idea as "a stroke of genius" in flouting those dictators downtown at the FCC:
For one brief shining moment I was ready to celebrate one of the gutsiest programming moves in recent years, one calculated to suggest the ludicrousness of a fixation on nudity. With CBS fighting the FCC's indecency crackdown, what a stroke of genius to have both Safer and Mirren in the nude for their interview about how Mirren, and her mother, think her past nude scenes (Caligula, Calendar Girls) are no big deal...
Prompted by the death of President Gerald Ford, Andy Rooney, in his commentary at the end of Sunday's 60 Minutes, ruminated about all the Presidents since FDR and made clear he sees more to admire in Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton than in Ronald Reagan. Rooney praised Ford: “We were lucky to have such a good, normal American to step in to do the job.” On Carter, Rooney characterized him as “smart” and contended “it was hard to dislike Jimmy Carter, even if you were a Republican.” Rooney obviously wasn't a Republican in the late 1970s. “Ronald Reagan was the only movie star ever elected President,” Rooney noted before snidely remarking: “A lot of people thought he was better in the movies than in the White House.” Bill Clinton, however, “might have gone down in history as one of the best Presidents we ever had if it hadn't been for that one unfortunate incident that I don't want to talk about in case there are children watching.”
Brian Stelter at TV Newser reproduced some New Year's resolutions from CBS News stars from their weekly newsletter called the "C-Note." The head-turner in an otherwise routine pile (like morning show host Hannah Storm resolving to "take more naps") is long-standing "60 Minutes" correspondent Morley Safer saying he never wants to be a saint, since they are "the most tedious people." He boasted:
"I resolve to never make resolutions. My sins are all pleasurable, my virtues impeccable. I love animals, small children and I am never cruel to grown-ups, unless it is absolutely necessary. I smoke too much and occasionally over-medicate on good red wine. Saints are the most tedious people, humorless and lacking in imagination. I have no intention of ever becoming one."
On Sunday’s "60 Minutes," CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan insisted the US had been defeated in Iraq. During an interview with General John Abizaid, the top US Commander in Iraq, Logan asserted, "We hear very little about victory in Iraq these days. We hear a lot about how to manage the defeat." It appears Ms. Logan suffers from selective hearing. While many Democrats and some Republicans talk about Iraq as a lost cause, sources such as Senator John McCain and White House officials still insist victory is not only possible, it is imperative.
General Abizaid dismissed Logan’s claims, and maintained that "defeat" was her word not his. However, Logan persisted in proclaiming that the United States had been beaten.
In an election year gift to Democrats, Sunday’s "60 Minutes" pointed out GOP failings in Congress on the eve of a crucial midterm election, hitting the Republican Congress over failure to control spending and in particular, earmarks. "60 Minutes" has a history of running stories like these on the show preceding an important election. In 2002, correspondent Morley Safer provided a forum for liberal columnist Molly Ivins to hype the candidacies of two Texas Democrats running for state wide office, while providing no counterpoint from a conservative or Republican in the piece.
On Sunday, Safer profiled Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake about earmarks and government spending, unfortunately Safer portrayed earmarks as the only wasteful spending in Washington. In an attempt to discourage conservatives and demoralize the GOP base, "60 Minutes" attacked the Republican Congress over its failure to limit spending. Safer invoked the name of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and equated earmarks with corruption while lamenting Congress’ wasteful spending.
With less then two weeks to go before the midterm elections, two separate programs, on two different networks, speculated that the Republicans are colluding with big oil to lower gas prices. The "Today" show wondered if this indicated "a vast right-wing conspiracy."
Fox’s Geraldo Rivera speculated that America was seeing a case of "gas pump pimping."
Meanwhile, ABC’s "Nightline" weighed in on political commercials and lamented GOP "mudslinging." They also characterized Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Michael J. Fox as a "vicious attack." (They apparently didn’t find any mudslinging or vicious attacks done by the Democrats)
CNN had their own take on Limbaugh’s comments. They wondered: "Could it be a new low?"
Speaking of the cable network, CNN also previewed a new Bush special by noting that "many say" the President has "stretched" and "trampled" the Constitution.
On the October 22 edition of "60 Minutes" on CBS, the media's pre-election celebration of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi continued. Pelosi was interviewed by Lesley Stahl, and while Stahl attempted to sound tough by noting that Pelosi’s rhetoric is part of the problem in terms of the tone in Washington, Pelosi was not challenged on issues important to voters. Stahl noted that Pelosi represents one of the most liberal districts in the nation, but did not seem to cope with the fact that perhaps Pelosi fits her district as a liberal, failing to mention Pelosi’s 99% Americans for Democratic Action rating over the past five years. Stahl called the Democratic agenda "centrist," while not demanding details of the agenda from Pelosi, and noted that Pelosi acknowledges she is obscure to the American people, insulating her from Republican attacks:
Now, it seems Pelosi’s media admirers are trying to coronate her as the next Speaker of the House even before the voters go to the polls. CBS News is touting a profile of Pelosi (“Two Heartbeats Away”) set to air on Sunday’s 60 Minutes, and this morning’s (Friday’s) Today show on NBC aired a long, nearly all-positive profile that carried the on-screen headline “Speaker Pelosi? The Race of Her Life.”
Did publisher Simon & Schuster adjust its release schedule and rush into print a new book unflattering to the Bush administration to make an impact on the forthcoming mid-term elections? If the words of its author, David Kuo, are any indication, it's certainly a possibility.
In an interview today (Tuesday, October 17, 2006) on the Laura Ingraham radio show, Kuo was a guest in addition to prominent evangelical Chuck Colson. The suspicious timing of the release of Kuo's book was discussed. Here's the relevant exchange:
KUO: Maybe if I'm Laura Ingraham or Chuck Colson, I get to choose when my book comes out. As you guys know, someone else decides when that happens.
INGRAHAM: So you had no control over that. None.
KUO: If you look at my contract, when the book is released (sic), it's not when the book was released. All that being said (long 3-second pause) No, what I'm saying is, look - the contract that I signed was for the book to be released in early 2007.
At the end of Sunday's 60 Minutes, Andy Rooney expressed bafflement over why anyone would worry about a nuclear weapon in the hands of a communist tyrant: “I don't understand why we think it's okay for us to have a nuclear weapon, but it isn't okay for some other countries to have any.” And he went on to assert a very naive and dangerous view: “I don't think any country should have nuclear weapons. And that includes ours.” Noting how many “are in a tizzy” over North Korea's nuclear weapon test, Rooney rued that “we're a little late getting exercised about this. North Korea has always been more of a threat to world peace than Iraq ever was and if we were going to attack someone three years ago to make the world safer, we should have attacked North Korea, not Iraq.”
He then rationalized how “it's not hard to understand why North Korea wants the bomb. If we Americans lived in North Korea instead of here, do you think we'd be in favor of our little country having it? You're darn right we would.” Rooney acknowledged that the UN has “been an ineffectual organization,” but contended that's why “we've got to give it more power and the way to give it more power is to give it more responsibility,” so though a minute earlier he suggested the U.S. should have attacked North Korea instead of Iraq, he argued “the UN should take the bomb away from North Korea; we should not.”
Tonight's 60 Minutes will feature Mike Wallace's interview with Bob Woodward about Woodward's new book, State of Denial, full of charges of Bush administration misdeeds. The last time the duo got together -- in 2004 when 60 Minutes similarly promoted a Woodward book, Plan of Attack -- Wallace ridiculed President Bush and Woodward played along. The MRC's CyberAlert recounted how on the April 18, 2004 edition of 60 Minutes, Wallace mocked President’s Bush’s smarts and belief in freeing people from oppression.
Wallace demanded: “Who gave George Bush the duty to free people around the world?” Wallace also jeeringly proposed: “The President of the United States, without a great deal of background in foreign policy, makes up his mind and believes he was sent by somebody to free the people -- not just in Iraq, but around the world?” Woodward shared Wallace’s concern: “It is far-reaching, and ambitious, and I think will cause many people to tremble.” Having established Bush’s irrationality, Wallace moved on to wondering “how deep a man is President George W. Bush?” Woodward contended: “He is not an intellectual. He is not what I guess would be called a deep thinker.”
Is NBC News the publicity agency for CBS News? While Thursday's CBS Evening News had nothing on Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward's new book, for which he sat for an interview with Mike Wallace set to air on this Sunday's 60 Minutes, the NBC Nightly News led with the “explosive new book” about the Bush administration's “deception” on Iraq. NBC anchor Brian Williams hyped: “It alleges that attacks by insurgents on coalition forces in Iraq are worse than Americans have been led to believe. It also alleges a kind of campaign of deception on the part of the Bush administration.”
Reporter Jim Miklaszewski read aloud how Woodward “tells CBS's 60 Minutes 'it's getting to the point now where there are eight, nine hundred attacks a week. That's more than 100 a day. That is four an hour attacking our forces.'” Not until the very end of his piece did Miklaszewski relay how “military officials are strongly disputing Woodwards's figures on attacks against Americans in Iraq and just as strongly deny there is any attempt to hide the truth about the war.” But that didn't dissuade Williams from presuming Woodward's accuracy, as Williams proposed to retired General Barry McCaffrey: “Is this now the accurate portrait emerging of what's going on over there?" (Transcript follows)
In a profile of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice which led Sunday's 60 Minutes, Katie Couric explained how Rice “rejects the notion that the U.S. is a bully, imposing its values on the world.” CBS then ran a soundbite from Rice as she sat a few feet in front of Couric: “What's wrong with assistance so that people can have their full and complete right to the very liberties and freedoms that we enjoy?” To which, Couric retorted by inserting one of her kids into the story: “To quote my daughter, 'Who made us the boss of them?'” (Couric has two daughters, one a teen and the other a tween, I believe.) Couric followed up: “You have said that your goal was, quote, 'To leave the world not just safer but better.' Right now Iraq doesn't seem safer, Iran and North Korea have not fallen into line. Do you honestly believe that the world is safer now?”
Earlier in the segment, Rice asserted about the Iraq war that “the idea that somehow because the intelligence was wrong, we were misleading the American people, I really resent that.” Rice's lack of guilt seemingly astonished Couric: “Really? Because that's what so many people think.” At least “so many” in Couric's Manhattan news media orbit.
In his commentary at the end on Sunday's 60 Minutes, the day before the five year mark since 9/11, Andy Rooney noted that “we're trying to protect ourselves with more weapons,” a policy with which he only grudgingly agreed as he lamented, “we have to do it I guess.” Then, however, he suggested the fault for terrorism lies with American behavior, not the murderous ideology of terrorists who want to destroy Western democratic culture: “But might be better if we figured out how to behave as a nation in a way that wouldn't make so many people in the world want to kill us." By that reasoning, during the Cold War should the U.S. have adopted policies meant to appease the Soviets? Rooney delivered his remarks on the season premiere of the program (delayed in the EDT/CDT zones by tennis for nearly a half hour) which gave two of the show's three segments to Katie Couric's piece on World Trade Center first responders who are suffering from the air they inhaled. (Transcript follows)Video clip (25 secs): Real (700 KB) or Windows Media (800 KB), plus MP3 audio (135 KB)
Looks like CBS got itself a two-fer. Katie's not just an anchor - she's a comedian, too!
The highlight of her extended interview with Harry Smith on this morning's Early Show, touting her debut on tonight's CBS Evening News, was her claim that what the "old media" has to offer in contrast with the new media is . . . "integrity and standards."
Couric is apparently a jokester of the deadpan school, managing to get off the line without dissolving into guffaws. This from the woman about to take over the illustrious Dan Rather Forged Document Chair, named in honor of the hoax perpetrated by the old media and peremptorily exposed by that lacking-in-integrity new media. Is the irony lost on Katie that the opening for her job occured because Dan Rather was sacked over the exposure of his lack of integrity and standards?
This past Sunday on "60 Minutes," CBS correspondent Byron Pitts interviewed New Orleans Mayor, Ray Nagin, about New Orleans’ recovery since hurricane Katrina. Pitts’ hit Nagin with statements full of hyperbole, claiming there are "few visible signs of recovery" in New Orleans, and that there is "tons of debris still scattered about," yet, Pitts offered little in the way of facts and figures to back up his claims. However, a anyone viewing Tuesday’s "NewsHour" on PBS would have heard hard facts that contradict Pitts’ gloomy assertions. For example, Pitts claimed:
"Today, in one of the few visible signs of recovery, the 220 miles of levees damaged by the storm have been repaired by the Army Corps of Engineers."
Has CBS's Mike Wallace gotten soft in his old age? His usual knock-out style was nowhere to be found during his interview with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, writes in the New York Sun:
Mr. Wallace, a familiar figure to American television viewers, prides himself on being a tenacious interviewer, unafraid to mix it up with the best of them.But for some reason, Mr. Wallace was hesitant in this interview, unwilling to press the wily Iranian president, and was thrown off stride by the tough, even snide, comebacks, including a threat to end the interview prematurely.
Moreover, Mr. Wallace seemed unexpectedly charmed, perhaps even won over, by the president, which also may have dulled his usually sharp instincts.
CBS's Mike Wallace spent a half-hour of network air time with Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and some of his questions were tough, about Hezbollah violence and Holocaust denial and the Iranian leader's desire to wipe Israel off the map. Most surprisingly, he suggested the Iranians were providing explosives to the Iraqi insurgents (something the American news media doesn't usually highlight), and ended by suggesting there were reports of Iran having 52,000 trained suicide bombers to launch against American and British targets in case they are attacked.
While it was measurably tougher than Dan Rather's embarrassing 2003 sit-down with Saddam Hussein, CBS did air moments of Wallace kissing up to Ahmadinejad. "I couldn't be happier with the privilege of sitting down with the President of Iran," he wallowed at one point, as Ahmadinejad claimed Wallace was getting angry.