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.
60 Minutes contributor Mike Wallace engaged in a heart-to-heart with the man who says Israeli should be "wiped off the map" and the holocaust was a "myth."
The Associated Press reports that the elderly correspondent said of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "He's an impressive fellow, this guy. He really is. He's obviously smart as hell." Wallace also remarked, "I expected more of a firebrand. I don't think he has the slightest doubt about how he feels ... about the American administration and the Zionist state. He comes across as more rational than I had expected."
Canadian-born Morley Safer worries that American "McMansions" are an "alien weed" choking suburban America.
But the liberal "60 Minutes" veteran should have talked to an expert or two. The National Association of Realtors says the market for so-called McMansions is tiny, and that the more significant market is for starter-houses which enable homeowners to build equity and trade up after a few years.
No, this is not the aftermath of Katrina, it is the prelude
to a monster,” griped Safer. “Across the country, perfectly sound and cozy
houses are being torn down. The empty lots then get filled up” with larger
Tom Shales, on Dan Rather's final departure from CBS:
As most of those who follow such events know, Rather was removed as anchor of the "CBS Evening News" a year short of his 25th anniversary after the airing of an apparently flawed "60 Minutes II" report on George W. Bush's alleged special treatment while in the Texas National Guard. Rather was the correspondent on that report. One producer lost her job, others are suing.
Look, we don't need to rehash that day when we all watched update after update attach to the bottom of the Sixty-First Minute. This report wasn't "apparently flawed," it wa a piece of hack journalism that failed because the story was too good to check out.
With Katie Couric lounging in the wings, Dan Rather is now expendable, and the suits at CBS News are squeezing him out of his last remaining gig on "60 Minutes." This has caused great distress for those who like their news to look like a long commercial for MoveOn.org, which is to say, the Dan Rather fan club.
CBS smiled politely as they pushed him away, but the Philadelphia Inquirer quoted an anonymous former CBS executive, who denounced the shove-off as "disgraceful. He's a legend. He gave his life to that company. Even though he made a big mistake, he did 43 years and 11 months' great work."
If Rather’s that great, why didn’t the executive have the courage to go on the record?
Rather had a Nixonian ending, resigning from the anchor chair in disgrace after being in complete denial about his own political corruption. It’s not surprising that some will now try to rehabilitate his reputation, but they won’t have much more luck than Nixon did. Dan Rather does not have a sterling record of journalism. He is a grand example of the anchorman as a powerful and partisan national politician who never had to be elected, yet had a lot more visibility and wielded a lot more influence than most elected officials.
Yes this is a few days old, from this past Sunday’s "60 Minutes" on CBS, but Andy Rooney’s commentary on the show was so far out, it had to be shared with the Newsbusters community. Although he began by making valid points about Americans needing to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day, and not just viewing it as a day off, and solemnly remembered friends he lost in World War II, some of his statements called into question whether the sacrifices made by those killed in battle were worth it.
"There's only so much time any of us can spend remembering those we loved who have died, but the men, boys really, who died in our wars deserve at least a few moments of reflection during which we consider what they did for us. They died."
The Dixie Chicks and their marketing gurus clearly know publicity. They asked themselves: How can we get ourselves featured on the cover of Time and hailed on CBS’s “60 Minutes” just before the new CD comes out? Easy. Trash George W. Bush again.
Time’s cover had the three women framed in black with the celebratory title “Radical Chicks.” They were famous not because of their music, but because “They criticized the war and were labeled unpatriotic.” That’s a bit off. They criticized George W. Bush, with lead singer Natalie Maines telling a London audience the band so despised him they were ashamed to be from the same home state. That isn’t exactly a brilliant anti-war policy statement that Madeleine Albright would crib. It was an insult.
And now for some fake news, The Colbert Report. If you flip through the cable news channels any week night, you're bound to see a collection of talking heads, or rather, shouting heads, who draw large audiences with a diet of often wildly inaccurate but patriotic and combative noise. The shows are not exactly news or entertainment but are exactly outrageous. Bill O'Reilly perfected the formula on FOX and others have successfully followed his recipe. With all of their excesses, it was only a matter of time before someone came along to skewer them. Well, the eagle has landed.
On Sunday’s “60 Minutes,” Andy Rooney didn’t come right out and say that Americans should vote for Hillary Clinton in 2008…but you didn’t have to be telepathic to figure it out (hat tip to Expose the Left with video link to follow).
In his regular closing arguments – in which he has had free reign for decades to say whatever he feels with total impunity – Rooney suggested that women are smarter, nicer, more disciplined voters, and more honest than men. This makes one wonder how many men were still watching the broadcast when Rooney got around to actually making his point. After all, it's not often that one runs across such an unashamedly proud and outspoken male misandrist during prime time, is it?
On his new blog over at U.S. News & World Report, cranky old liberal John Mashek (who earned the C.O.L. title for dismissing MRC's DisHonors dinner as "preposterous" a few posts back) reports from a media panel at Middle Tennessee State University. He heard one Mary Mapes, still outraged by people who would insist she should prove a story before she puts it on the air:
Mary Mapes, the CBS producer who was fired over her role in a 60 Minutes II story about George W. Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard, said profiteering had taken over at television networks at the expense of news. Mapes defended her professionalism in the controversy, indicating that a rush to run the story played a role in the errors admitted by CBS. Mapes implied that she took the fall, along with other female operatives, while the male executives at the network escaped with their jobs intact. Of course, Dan Rather, who had to humble himself for the mistake, left the network anchor chair a few months later.
Columnist and author George Weigel has a nice article on CBS's 60 Minutes and embryo-destroying stem cell research, which is mostly a list of the tough questions Lesley Stahl could have (but did not) ask the liberal advocate in the segment. He began:
The CBS news magazine 60 Minutes prides itself on asking the hard questions that other television news vehicles are too polite, or perhaps too afraid, to ask. That tough-minded approach to an important issue wasn't much in evidence, however, when 60 Minutes recently took on the question of whether "spare" embryos "left over" from in vitro fertilization procedures should be used for stem-cell research that would result in the embryos' death.
During the segment, Princeton's Robert P. George, a member of the President's Council on Bioethics, tried to explain certain basic moral facts to Leslie Stahl...[But] The editing of the segment strongly suggested that 60 Minutes preferred the approach of the University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Arthur Caplan, an enthusiast for research that, as he put it, would destroy "embryos...that no one will ever use for any purpose whatsoever." That, of course, is the conventional wisdom in the bioethics guild, which frequently serves as a permission-slip factory for scientists and the biotech industry.
Playing the straight man to perfection, Matt Lauer kicked off the second half-hour of this morning's Today show by asking Katie Couric: "Anything new?"
In responding, Couric made official what she acknowledged was "the worst kept secret in America": that after 15 years she was leaving Today to go to the CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes. Here, for posterity, was the opening line of Couric's announcement:
"I wanted to tell all of you out there who have watched the show for the past 15 years that after listening to my heart and my gut, two things that have served me pretty well in the past, I've decided I'll be leaving Today at the end of May."
Robert Novak's column today focuses on NASA scientist James Hansen, and how the New York Times and CBS's "60 Minutes" have played up his charges of being "muzzled" -- as many political figures would love to be limited to speaking only in The New York Times and on "60 Minutes." For our purposes, the most interesting paragraph may be Novak's last one:
In concluding the Hansen segment on "60 Minutes," CBS correspondent Scott Pelley said: "For months, we've been trying to talk to the president's science adviser, but we were finally told he would never be available." White House communications director Nicolle Wallace told me: " '60 Minutes' never contacted the press office." Assuming that the network attempted to contact the science adviser and not the press office and that both statements are accurate, they resulted in a one-sided political presentation that ignored the real scientific debate.
Longtime "60 Minutes" correspondent Mike Wallace has finally announced his retirement. His son, Chris Wallace, is host of "Fox News Sunday." On Wednesday both men appeared on "Larry King Live" to discuss the father's retirement and the son's ongoing career.
Chris Wallace chided his father for "complaining and whining" about never getting to meet the president. He said that he has "actually met the president--and several times--and been to a State of the Union briefing where he had lunch with us and discussed things."
The son jokingly added, "I'm happy to pass my father's best wishes onto the president the next time I see him."
Mike Wallace said his son only gets close to the president because he "works for Fox."
It’s been one day since the retirement of Mike Wallace from CBS’s "60 Minutes" was announced, and this morning the "Early Show" aired a taped interview with Wallace conducted by Harry Smith. The segment was a look back on Wallace’s career, and it seems Wallace has only one regret; he never got to interview George W. Bush, as evidenced by the following exchange:
Harry Smith: "So many bad guys you've interviewed, politicians, celebrities by the score. Is there a favorite to do one kind of interview vs. the other?"
Mike Wallace: "For substance, and by that I, you know what I mean, to be able to talk to the Ayatollah Khomeini or various Presidents, every President since Abe Lincoln..."
In acknowledging Mike Wallace's semi-retirement, CBS News President Sean McManus handed out a bouquet of praise: "Mike has completely embodied what good, tough, fair journalism should be over the course of his 60-plus years in the business."
Is that true? Is he Mr. Fairness? No. To the MRC, the record shows that Wallace has been just another well-paid CBS partisan liberal, and more so recently, on the Iraq war. Here's a sampler of Notable Quotables:
What? Wounded Vets Aren't Peaceniks Yet? "I was astonished: Almost all of them support the war, despite the fact that it’s taken such a toll on them. We asked them flat out: Should we be there? And the ones that are the most severely hit believe yes, we should have been there. They are not angry at the President, they’re not angry at the establishment. I promise you, you’ll be astonished if you’re up that late on Sunday night." — CBS’s Mike Wallace on MSNBC’s Imus in the Morning February 10, 2006, where he was promoting his 60 Minutes story on four severely wounded veterans of the Iraq war.
The New York Times (via TVNewser) discovered that CBS "60 Minutes" fixture Mike Wallace will retire: "After serving as a correspondent on 60 Minutes since its inception in September 1968, Mr. Wallace said today that he had decided to retire this spring, at the end of the current television season. He said that the move had come at his initiative, and that 'CBS is not pushing me.'"
Conservatives might not want to cheer too loud. TV Newser suggests in the next posting, a tipster told him executive producer Jeff Fager wants more room for refugees from the cancelled "60 Minutes II"...So now there will be more room for former 60 II correspondent Scott Pelley and the rest of the team. "Don't be surprised to see Aaron Brown join, along with the newly recruited Katie Couric...imagine that!," an e-mailer says, adding "now who will replace [Andy] Rooney?" The departure makes some sense, as Wallace just recently sold a new version of his memoirs. And now CBS is off the hook on those gun-control stories Wallace was supposed to skip.
For Wallace-watchers of a more seasoned vintage, perhaps the most-recounted Wallace anecdote didn't appear on CBS, but on PBS. The year was 1989, as MediaWatch recounted an "Ethics in America" panel discussion on war coverage:
It should come as no surprise to anyone who follows "60 Minutes" on a regular basis that the reporters have a problem with presenting facts, or at least truth in disclosure concerning the “experts” they bring on to give us the facts.
Dan Rather spoke at a Cherry Hill, New Jersey high school last night (Wednesday), South Jersey's Courier-Post reports this morning, and reporter Jim Walsh noted (without irony) that the disgraced and replaced CBS Evening News anchor proposed “Rather’s Rules” for improving journalism.
Isn’t that a bit like “Dr. Kevorkian’s Rules” for better medicine?
In his speech, Rather repeated his recent chiding of the national media for being too soft, and in “need of a spine transplant.” But when it came to his own journalistic transgression, the 2004 60 Minutes hit piece on President Bush's National Guard service -- a report based on forged memos -- Rather crouched behind his Nixonian stone wall:
I'm a little surprised that disgraced CBS producer Mary Mapes hasn't drawn a little more blogger interest for her (okay, tired and bitter) latest appearance on the Pacifica Radio show "Democracy Now." It was a two-part interview. Last Thursday, she was reliving her downfall after her Bush-bashing October Surprise as those obsessive bloggers took over: "in fact, by the time our story was off the air on the west coast, I mean, the moment it went off the air, it was -- it went nuts. From attacks on the authenticity of the documents, typeface and proportional spacing and all kinds of stuff that no sane person would obsess themselves with." Certainly, Mapes didn't obsess enough over her documents' authenticity. The first half of the interview ended with Mapes mauling Little Green Footballs as a hate site:
Appearing by phone on Friday’s Imus in the Morning radio simulcast on MSNBC, to plug his upcoming Sunday night 60 Minutes report on the struggles and achievements of some military members severely wounded in Iraq, Mike Wallace admitted he was “astonished” at how “almost all of them support the war despite the fact that it's taken such a toll on them.” He elaborated, “We asked them flat out: What about should we be there? And the ones that are the most severely hit believe yes, we should have been there. They are not angry at the President...” Wallace has previously made clear his disgust with the war. In late November on FNC, he contended that "Iraq is becoming a kind of Vietnam" and asserted that "we should never have gone into Iraq. We were sold a bill of goods." Back in 2004 at a Smithsonian forum, Wallace argued that “this is not, in my estimation, a good war” and declared that “it sure is not a noble enterprise." (Transcripts follow.)
Via Romenesko, we learn New York Daily News gossip columnist Lloyd Grove reported that retired CBS "60 Minutes" boss Don Hewitt finally decided that Dan Rather did in fact deserve the ax for that Memogate fiasco:
CBS legendDon Hewitt hasn't been shy about criticizing Dan Rather, but the grand old man of "60 Minutes" had stopped short of publicly recommending termination for the central figure in CBS News' painful 2004 Memogate flap.
"Should Dan Rather have been fired?" Time magazine managing editor Jim Kelly asked the 83-year-old Hewitt during a Court TV journalism panel at Michael's.
Dan Rather spoke in Los Angeles -- and said all the same things about how journalism needs a "spine transplant" -- it sounds better than journalism needs "document authentication before broadcast." But the next time someone in the media elite mocks the president for cheerleaders-only town hall meetings, see how the Los Angeles Times notes the Rather talk went, late in their article:
He appeared pleased when, in a question-and-answer period, members of the audience, who like CBS viewers in general tended to skew older, told him how much they had admired him during his 44-year career at CBS. A speaker series producer and a member of Rather's entourage chose the questions from written submissions before the event began, said Dan Savage, managing director of SR Productions, which booked the event.
Obliquely referring to Rather's troubles, one member asked what role bloggers had played in his career. "Their influence was less than perceived," he said, equally obliquely. Some bloggers, he said, have found blogging to be "a good way to further a particular political agenda. It's not a crime," he said. But the public should recognize "there's a new opportunity here to manipulate public opinion."
Via Orbusmax, some odd words from Dan Rather in the Portland Oregonian, produced from softball questions by the paper's Jonathan Nicholas.
NICHOLAS: The rise of cable and the explosion of the Internet have resulted in the Balkanization of the national conversation. Just so many voices. Many people these days actually seem to believe there's no such thing as actual news. It's all just attitude. How is this affecting our civic life?
RATHER: Call me what you want, but I firmly believe there is such a thing as news. From where I sit, too many people want to advance their own partisan agendas and cast it as "news." A surprising number of people are willing to accept it as such. Three people sitting in a room shouting at each other may be interesting, it may be entertaining, but it's not news.
You can’t swing a dead cat lately without smacking into an article concerning Congressman John Murtha’s (D-Pennsylvania) view of the necessity to withdraw American troops from Iraq. In fact, as reported by the MRC’s Brent Baker, Murtha is going to be on CBS’s “60 Minutes” discussing exactly that on Sunday with none other than Mike Wallace. However, for some reason, that same demised feline has little chance of ever coming in contact with a report of the Congressman’s proclivities to take funds from Washington lobbyists. Today, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette broke ranks from the mainstream media in this regard.
In an article entitled “Santorum Reaps Money From Lobbyists,” the Post-Gazette’s Maeve Reston led with the revelation that Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) has taken more money from Washington lobbyists in the 2006 election cycle than anyone else on Capitol Hill. However:
The media’s idolizing of Democratic Congressman John Murtha, who in November advocated withdrawing from Iraq, will continue on Sunday’s 60 Minutes, which will feature a segment on him and his supposedly prescient forecast that most troops will soon leave Iraq, by Mike Wallace, a journalist who has already made clear that he shares Murtha’s view of the war. In late November on FNC, Wallace contended that "Iraq is becoming a kind of Vietnam" and asserted that "we should never have gone into Iraq. We were sold a bill of goods." Back in 2004 at a Smithsonian forum, Wallace argued that “this is not, in my estimation, a good war” and declared that “it sure is not a noble enterprise.'"
Previewing, on Friday's CBS Evening News the Sunday 60 Minutes segment, Wallace bucked up Murtha’s credibility by touting how he “is a decorated veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He was a Marine for 37 years, knows a lot about the military, been a Congressman for 32 years, so he knows a bit about politics, too.” And “based on all of that, he told us that most American troops will be out of Iraq a lot sooner than we think." The brief excerpt from the Sunday 60 Minutes piece focused on Murtha’s prediction that by the end of the year the “vast majority” of troops will be out of Iraq. Wallace relayed: “Murtha told us that mounting pressure from constituents in this election year will force the Congress to pass his withdrawal plan or something like it to bring the troops home." I’d bet the full 13-14 minute version on Sunday night, which is previewed on CBSNews.com, will include a lot more admiration for Murtha and his cause. (Transcripts of the CBS Evening News story, as well as Wallace’s comments about Iraq, follow.)