Are you sick and tired of Paris Hilton and all the attention given to this wealthy debutant when there are so many more important issues facing the nation?
Well, if so, you’re in good company, for in a commencement address at Williams College last Sunday, CBS “Evening News” anchor Katie Couric accurately stated that this “fluff…can rot your mind and distort your values.”
Yet, just four days later, Couric actually gave more airtime to Paris Hilton’s brief departure from jail than every other story that evening with the exception of the opening piece about growing tensions between Russian President Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush and the final segment dealing with a retirement home for champion racehorses.
To set this up, here is the relevant text from Couric’s commencement speech:
Discussing the G-8 summit with CBS's Jim Axelrod, Katie Couric on Wednesday night portrayed an “adamant” President George Bush as the antagonist causing Russian President Vladimir Putin to be “annoyed” about NATO plans to install a missile shield in Poland, a controversy, she fretted, that is distracting attention from global warming. “Economic issues and climate change were supposed to be the main topics,” Couric asserted on the CBS Evening News, “but they're being overshadowed by the dispute between President Bush and Russia's President, Vladimir Putin, over NATO plans to install a defensive missile shield in Eastern Europe,” a shield designed to protect Europe from missiles launched by rogue states.
Referring to Putin's threat to aim missiles at Europe, Couric pressed Axelrod, who was on scene in Rostock, Germany: “Putin is annoyed about this missile defense system. Why is President Bush so adamant about this?” Couric's next question displayed concern about the impact on an agreement on global warming: “I know that global warming was at the top of the agenda. Has that fallen off the radar screen, given all this chatter?”
Lewis 'Scooter' Libby's sentencing occurred on Tuesday and Katie Couric led the CBS Evening News the same way she did when Libby was convicted three months ago: With a comparison to the Iran-Contra scandal and how he's the highest-ranking official convicted of a felony in 20 years. But his conviction was news three months ago, not now. Back on March 6, Couric teased: “Guilty: Scooter Libby is convicted in the CIA leak case, the highest ranking White House official found guilty of a felony since the Iran-Contra scandal.” She opened by pointing out how “Libby is the highest ranking White House official convicted of a felony in two decades.”
Fast forward to June 5 and Couric teased: “Tonight, the hammer comes down on Scooter Libby. He was once Vice President Cheney's right-hand man, now he's going to prison. The highest-ranking White House official in nearly twenty years convicted of a felony.” She began the newscast:
“Hello everyone. Not since the Iran-Contra scandal nearly two decades ago has such a high-ranking White House official been convicted of a felony. And today, Lewis 'Scooter' Libby was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison in connection with that very convoluted CIA leak case. Libby was not convicted of leaking the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame, but rather of lying about what he knew.”
Earlier this morning on the Fox News Channel, MRC president and NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell talked to the gang at "Fox & Friends" about the poor ratings at the "CBS Evening News" since Katie Couric took the helm. VideoReal (2.5 MB) or Windows (2 MB) plus MP3 (1 mb)
STEVE DOOCY, co-host: Katie Couric, who makes a lot of money, is just about 15 blocks from here. Her ratings have never been lower. What's going on?
BRENT BOZELL: Well, I mean, I wasn't Nostradamus when I said, as said others when she got the job, that she was going to fail. It's the wrong match. She's the queen, the master of morning talk shows with, because of her perky personality and the pop culture format. You put her on the "Evening News" where there's gravitas that is necessary. It's got to be far more serious. There wasn't a match there. And we knew there wasn't a match. It was going to be one of two things. Either they were going to change the whole format of the news to fit her, or it would fail because she doesn't fit in.
The May 31 CBS "Evening News" spun a recent international health incident into ammunition for an attack on the pharmaceutical companies.
After the program updated viewers on the tuberculosis scare caused by one infected man's European honeymoon, reporter Nancy Cordes launched into the blame game.
“Why haven’t more drugs been developed to fight disease with the potential to kill thousands?” asked Cordes, the CBS Transportation and Consumer Safety correspondent.
She then quoted a doctor who blamed the bottom line.
“Pharmaceutical companies live to make a profit and if antibiotics, for example, because they’re used for usually 7 to 14 days, maybe as long as a month, can’t generate the same kind of profits as a new cholesterol agent or the new Viagra, which a person might take for years,” said Dr. Eric Nuermberger, an assistant professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
It’s déjà vu all over again. Rising gas prices and oil companies’ “record profits” fuel an almost yearly call for investigations into “price gouging.” The media then complain of alleged wrongdoing and fail to ask intelligent questions about the issue.
Rising gas prices are “[k]inda suspicious,” according to CBS “Early Show” co-host Julie Chen on May 23.
Although Katie Couric began Tuesday's CBS Evening News coverage of Iraq on a downbeat note, pointing out how May has become the “deadliest month” of 2007, with “at least 114” U.S. servicemen killed so far, she moved on to how “in an exclusive interview, Iraq's Prime Minister tells CBS News the security crackdown is working.” From Baghdad, Lara Logan offered more of a glass is half full spin as she relayed how, “in his first American television interview since the U.S. troop surge began in February, Iraq's Prime Minister told CBS News today the additional forces here have prevented an even greater catastrophe.” Logan challenged Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's premise: “When we talk to Iraqi people on the streets of Baghdad, they say security is worse. Murders went down, but they're coming up back up again. There are still bombs every day. What is your sense of the quality of life to Iraqi people?”
Logan, however, also passed along how “despite this month's deadly toll on U.S. forces, Maliki said there have been many victories in breaking up al Qaeda and other militant cells. Although he cautioned it was too soon to do a complete evaluation of the surge, he said he has great hopes for more progress in the next two or three months.”
Katie Couric may be many things (don’t call her perky), but she’s not subtle. The "CBS Evening News" anchor touted a new special on Walter Cronkite, a journalist who "stood up to the Commander in Chief" during an "unpopular war."
Former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos, now the anchor of ABC’s "This Week," took time out of his interview with House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi to muse with the Democrat over what it would be like to stand at the House podium behind the first female President. Hmm, who might that be?
In case you somehow missed it elsewhere, NewsBusters has the complete transcript (and video) of the O’Donnell/Hasselbeck dust-up. Thrill as Rosie, who says the media portrays her as a "fat," "loud lesbian," faced off against the feisty token conservative. On Friday, the MRC's Justin McCarthy reported that O'Donnell will not be returning for her contract's final three weeks.
“He was once called 'Mr. Stiff.' Now he's known as 'The Goreacle,' the new Al Gore,” CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric touted in plugging an upcoming Friday night story. With “Gore 2.0” on screen, Couric set up the subsequent tribute by asserting that “no one's getting more attention than the latest edition of Al Gore. Sharyn Alfonsi reports on Gore 2.0.” Attention from the media, certainly. Alfonsi trumpeted how “Al Gore seems to have gone from awkward to almost slick,” proposing that “all it took was eight years, some melting polar ice caps and an Oscar win for his documentary.” Interspersed with clips of Gore on various news and entertainment shows, Alfonsi hailed how “he spread the word about global warming, and now is changing the political climate. In some polls, Gore is third for the Democratic nomination, and he's not even a candidate. And he's come out with another book, The Assault on Reason.” In his media tour for it, he's “knocking the media with one arm and the Bush administration with the other.”
This is not the first time this year that CBS has gushed over Gore. Less than two weeks ago, the Mother's Day edition of the CBS Evening News devoted a story to DraftGore.org (Mark Finkelstein's item). Bill Whitaker touted him as “a star of an Oscar-winning documentary on global warming” who is “so hot he's cheered on one of the coolest shows on TV,” Comedy Central's The Daily Show hosted by left-winger Jon Stewart. When he testified before House and Senate committees back in March, Couric celebrated “a lot of excitement on Capitol Hill. A movie star showed up to testify before Congress -- a movie star named Al Gore.” On The Early Show in February, Harry Smith asked Richard Branson: “Is Al Gore a prophet?”
The timing couldn't have been more perfect. As the media begin hyping Michael's Moore's latest film "Sicko," CBS "Evening News" ran a two-part attack on the insurance industry.
“It’s all about money,” said Tod Smith, a 54-year-old who suffered a heart attack, about insurance companies. “That’s the bottom line,” he told CBS viewers.
The segments, aired on May 23 and 24, relied heavily on anti-industry and liberal sources, and limited industry representation.
On May 23, CBS chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian focused on the plight of Scott Svonkin, portraying him as an average uninsurable American. But Svonkin is not average, in fact he is an advocate - something Keteyian didn't reveal until the end of the segment.
In fact, from what I can tell by looking at LexisNexis, Google News, and closed-captioning dumps, the only media outlet in the nation that covered this story was Fox News’ “Hannity & Colmes.”
This is despite the fact that the Drudge Report broke the story at 10:27AM eastern time Thursday.
What’s potentially even more shocking is that all three network evening news broadcasts began with reports out of Iraq. For instance, here’s how CBS’ Katie Couric began Thursday’s “Evening News” (from closed-captioning):
As if President Bush needed any new actions for which to be criticized by the news media....In a Thursday CBS Evening News story on the federal government's Memorial Day weekend effort to get people to wear seatbelts, reporter Nancy Cordes maintained that President Bush “is taking heat” for not wearing a seatbelt while driving his pick-up truck at his Texas ranch. Cordes began with a new public service announcement (PSA) from New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine who was seriously injured in a high-speed auto accident (“I'm New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and I should be dead....I have to live with my mistake. You don't. Buckle up.”)
After showing how characters in television shows often don't wear a seatbelt, Cordes turned to Bush: “Corzine's not the only politician taking heat for his habits. The White House press corps wants to know why President Bush won't buckle up when he's tooling around his Texas compound.” But she had to concede, as she led into a clip of White House Press Secretary Tony Snow: “It's not illegal. He's on private property, but still.” As for “taking heat,” that heat came in the very last question posed at Snow's May 22 briefing -- so hardly a priority for any journalist but those at CBS News.
On Tuesday's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric allocated a few seconds to alerting viewers to how a new poll discovered that a significant minority of Muslims in America hold “disturbing” views on the acceptability of suicide bombings and who carried out the 9/11 attacks. Neither the ABC or NBC evening newscasts mentioned the new non-network poll released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.
Though Pew headlined its report “Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream,” Couric picked up on the AP's spin (“Some US Muslims say suicide attacks OK” on Yahoo; CBSNews.com: “Poll: 26% Of Young U.S. Muslims OK Bombs”), as she reported: “One in four American Muslims under the age of 30 believe suicide bombings are acceptable in at least some cases if they're defending their religion. And only 40 percent of all American Muslims said they believe Arab men carried out the September 11th attacks.”
Last night the rhetorical attack on Avandia was fierce.
"We're starting with a story that affects hundreds of thousands of Americans because a new study out today says a drug they take increases their chances of having a heart attack and dying," warned CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric.
After a week of inaccurate reports about the “record high” price for gas when, adjusted for inflation, the price was still below the cost in March of 1981, on Monday night ABC, CBS, and NBC again touted a “record high” price, but at least NBC acknowledged it simply matched the real 1981 price, while CBS alluded to a 1981 comparison. With “Record Prices” on screen, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric reported that “gas is up another 12 cents in just the past week to a nationwide average tonight of $3.22 a gallon. Adjusting for inflation, that beats the all-time high set more than a quarter century ago at the start of the Iran-Iraq war.” In fact, it does not beat it but only “matches” it, as NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams relayed: “For the second week in a row gas prices have hit a record high. The feds say the average price for unleaded regular soared eleven-and-a-half cents over the last week to a new record of $3.22 a gallon. That matches the peak price reached during 1981 during the Iran-Iraq war when the figures are adjusted for inflation.”
ABC anchor Charles Gibson, however, continued to deliver distorted reporting in which he refused to adjust for inflation. “Gas prices hit another all-time high,” he announced in teasing the May 21 World News. He set up the subsequent story: “Another Monday, another record high for the price of a gallon. The government says the price of gas went up 12 cents a gallon from last week, when it was already at a record high.”
Friday's CBS Evening News plugged its special on Walter Cronkite with a story, as introduced by Katie Couric, about a "journalist who stood up to the Commander-in-Chief" during a time of "another unpopular war," as Couric was transitioning from a story about the debate over Iraq War funding. Couric was referring to Cronkite's decision in February 1968 to declare on the air that America would have to negotiate without victory to end the Vietnam War.
After correspondent Jim Axelrod filed a report on the latest effort by Congressional Democrats to put conditions on Iraq War funding, which ended with Axelrod opining that President Bush has an incentive to reach a deal soon because of the President's low approval rating over the "unpopular war," Couric drew a comparison to the Vietnam War by introducing the Cronkite piece referring to "another unpopular war." Couric: "And now we want to take you back 40 years to another unpopular war and to a journalist who stood up to the Commander-in-Chief. It was Vietnam, the President was Lyndon Johnson, and that journalist? CBS News correspondent Walter Cronkite." (Transcript follows)
CBS News producer/blogger Greg Kandra opened the e-mailbag today to relay to "Couric & Co." readers some negative reaction to the network's coverage of Rev. Jerry Falwell's death. In particular, Kandra quoted from a female Liberty University graduate and vascular surgeon who took issue with historian/guest pundit Douglas Brinkley's assessment of Falwell's views on women.
In an appearance on the May 15 "Evening News," Brinkley dismissed Falwell as a reactionary who (emphasis mine) was "opposed to some of the
progressive liberal high watermarks of the 1960s, and certainly he
wanted--his returning to family values was returning to women being in
the kitchen, in many ways."
What does it say when porn-peddler and sex-shop owner Larry Flynt treated Jerry Falwell’s death with more class than CNN? As Newsbusters reported yesterday, during “Anderson Cooper 360,” CNN used a still from an old protest video that had a large illustration of Jerry Falwell next to a large illustration of Hitler.
Despite being courtroom and media adversaries that was kicked into overdrive when Flynt ran a fake ad in “Hustler,” which claimed that Falwell’s first sexual experience was with his mother in an outhouse and resulted in a lawsuit producing a landmark First Amendment ruling by the US Supreme Court, allowing the parody of public figures, Flynt issued this surprisingly generous and thoughtful statement to "Access Hollywood" on May 15 (emphasis mine):
Those are not exactly words you'd expect to hear an American journalist use to refer to a Latin American dictator who has been seizing American-owned property this month. Yet Barbara Walters used all three to describe Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, in various ABC broadcasts on March 16.
Even though Chavez has recently assumed "control" of oil fields that were run by Chevron, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips, ABC, NBC and CBS haven't even reported it. Chavez also plans to takeover private Venezuelan media soon. That hasn't been reported either, let alone criticized.
Despite the fact that Chavez seized power and shut down his opposition in Venezuela, the media rarely portray him as a dictator, preferring kinder words like “controversial” and “populist.” Walters even talked about how "beloved" he is.
“President Hugo Chavez is so beloved by some of his supporters that they hang pictures of him in their living rooms in the poor barrios that ring the city,” Barbara Walters gushed on ABC’s “Nightline” March 16.
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts Tuesday night couldn't resist ridiculing the late Jerry Falwell for pointing out how a children's character on a PBS show appeared gay -- though gay rights advocates had earlier made the same observation -- and CBS brought aboard liberal presidential historian Douglas Brinkley who called Falwell “comedy fodder for people,” found it relevant that “feminists never liked him,”and dismissed him as “a backlash figure” whose “returning to family values was returning to women being in the kitchen.”
On ABC's World News, which unlike CBS and NBC did not lead with Falwell's death, Dan Harris asserted: “In the final years of his life Falwell alienated some in his own movement with a series of controversial statements. For example, he said the children's TV character 'Tinky Winky' was a gay role model.” CBS's Richard Schlesinger recalled that in later years “Falwell started making embarrassing missteps, denouncing a popular cartoon character as a gay role model.” Over on the NBC Nightly News, Bob Faw, who concluded his piece by asserting that “the Reverend Jerry Falwell -- crusader and polarizer -- was 73,” raised the PBS show: “In 1999, Falwell was ridiculed when he complained one of the PBS Teletubbies was gay.” But a 1999 Cox News story archived on a gay news Web site, began: “In the flap over whether Tinky Winky the Teletubby is gay, the real news is that the Rev. Jerry Falwell is late to the party.” Phil Kloer pointed out that in 1998, the year before Falwell spoke out, “the gay magazine The Advocate presciently wrote that 'PBS is clearly terrified that the same fundamentalists who boycott Disney are going to flip once they get wind of the latest lavender love puppet.'”
Katie Couric, was not warning parents about sexual predators when she said "They're after your children and grandchildren." No, the “Evening News” anchor was talking about corporations “spending nearly $17 billion a year trying to sell their products to our kids.”
The one-sided May 14 segment blamed “far-reaching tentacles” of business for obesity and youth sexual activity, among other problems.
One critic, Dr. Susan Linn from the Campaign for a Commerical-Free Childhood said:
“Advertising and marketing is a factor in childhood obesity, in eating disorders, precocious irresponsible sexuality, youth violence, underage drinking, underaged tobacco use.”
If television news were covered the same way the media covered Iraq, Katie Couric would surely be out of a job by now. I can imagine the New York Times lede:
The news just keeps getting worse for the administration. After spending millions of dollars and manpower to sell a leadership transition, the situation continues to deteriorate. External critics are stepping up their attacks and cracks within the administration's iron-clad discipline are beginning to show as dissenters leak secrets, express discontent and demand an exit strategy to an eager press.
That, of course is not a lede you'll ever see in any American newspaper but it is dead-on accurate as far as the facts go. The "CBS Evening News" continues to sink in the ratings despite the fact that former "Today" star Katie Couric was brought in to save the show from oblivion. Here's the actual New York Times:
Years ago, my great-aunt Annie Goodman was named Mother of the Year in New Hampshire. She was the mother of 13 children, and despite the family's very limited financial resources, saw to it that 12 of them made it to college and went on to be productive members of society. That's the kind of story that, in the good old days, the CBS Evening News might have featured on Mothers Day.
But times have changed. A lot. So where did the Evening News send its video bouqets during the Mother's Day edition? To the draft-Al-Gore movement, and to growers of eco-friendly roses.
Just like ads for 1-800 Flowers, you can expect stories about moms to crop up on the news just before Mother’s Day. The "CBS Evening News" -- anchored by arguably the highest-profile working mom in TV news -- weighed in with a story about the decline in the number of women in the workforce who have young children. Of course it wasn't reported as good news. (Emphasis mine throughout.)
Taking a page from the National Organization for Women (NOW), reporter Kelly Wallace included "experts" who said women had been "forced" to stay home because of the "conditions" of their jobs and stay-at-home moms “do not use (their) full talents and abilities.”
The broadcast network evening newscasts, reflecting the focus of the media's approach to British Prime Minister Tony Blair's announcement that he will step down on June 27, framed their reviews of his ten-year tenure around the unpopularity of his decision to join the U.S. in the Iraq war. On CBS, however, Elizabeth Palmer uniquely found time to recall how Blair won in 1997 by “dragging Britain's old left-wing Labour Party to the political center” and she cited a couple of other achievements. Nonetheless, like ABC and NBC, CBS included the obligatory citation of how the British press derided Blair as “Bush's poodle,” a derogatory characterization also highlighted on Thursday's morning shows.
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams saw great meaning in Blair's decision as he cited Blair's resignation as one of the “concussions from the war in Iraq” which reflected “the political cost of an unpopular war,” asserting: “There are combat casualties of the war in Iraq, there are civilian casualties. Today we saw a political casualty, Tony Blair stepping down.” NBC's Keith Miller observed that “Tony Blair was perhaps the best Prime Minister America never had. But at home, the press labeled him 'Bush's poodle' and his approval rating plunged.” From London, ABC's David Wright declared: “People here ridiculed him as 'Bush's poodle.' The Iraq war has been albatross for Blair, dragging down his approval ratings and drowning his hopes for a positive legacy.” CBS anchor Katie Couric announced that “Blair's role as the President's ally ended up costing him dearly.”
Imagine for a moment that one of the leading Republican presidential candidates said that 10,000 people had been killed by the recent tornado that destroyed Greensburg, Kansas, Saturday.
Do you think this would have been easy fodder for the broadcast television news divisions that always seem fascinated with gaffes made by folks on the right?
If your answer is an unequivocal “Yes,” then why did ABC, CBS, and NBC completely ignore Sen. Barack Obama’s statement Tuesday wherein he accidentally exaggerated the death toll from the Greensburg tornado by 9,988?
While the liberal media tries to make over a Kansas tornado to resemble their perfect media bias storm over Hurricane Katrina, the floods in Missouri may be a more analogous comparison. But the CBS Evening News wasn't going to allow local residents to blame the federal government without a rebuttal -- if the president was Bill Clinton.
On Wednesday night's newscast, CBS reporter Cynthia Bowers reported that residents were upset the feds didn't shore up the levees, as they failed to do after "the historic flood of 1993, which killed 48 people and did nearly $20 billion worth of damage to nine waterlogged states." But that shouldn't be associated with Clinton, Bowers implied: "Actually, it's not the federal government's responsibility to maintain every levee. Most of the hundreds of levees along the Missouri and Mississippi River are built and kept up by the people who live next to them."
Back in 1993, CBS Evening News reporter Vicki Mabrey didn't use the words "Clinton" or "Democrats" when locals began complaining about the government response, but ended the story on a sad note: "But the government has no way of keeping towns from asking for federal assistance, just like there's no way to guarantee the Mississippi will never flood again."
On Tuesday night, following a week in which the CBS Evening News attracted the fewest viewers in decades, the producers decided the Katie Couric-anchored newscast needed an injection of an Olbermann-esque twist: The arrests of six Islamists, for plotting to use automatic weapons to murder troops at Fort Dix, matches the hype around previous captures which fizzled. Armen Keteyian framed his story around how since 9/11 “more than 400,000 names have come under one form of government surveillance or another -- from watch lists to wiretaps. But only a handful of terrorists have been convicted in cases with concrete ties to al-Qaeda.” Keteyian highlighted how cases that “start out as larger, bolder terrorism cases, turn into lesser offenses. According to a study by the NYU Center on Law and Security, of the 550 terrorism cases since 9/11, only 163 individuals have been prosecuted on terrorism charges.” The group's Karen Greenburg then asserted: “The conclusion would be that we've made a lot of hoopla about a number of cases on the grounds of terrorism at the beginning, and they haven't panned out to be terrorism cases.”
But Keteyian didn't bother to alert viewers to the Center for Law and Security's agenda. Greenberg, the Executive Director featured in a soundbite, is “co-editor of The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib” and “she is a former Vice President of the Soros Foundation/Open Society Institute,” according to her online bio. Amongst the Fellows at the organization: infamous Clinton sycophant and conservative-basher Sidney Blumenthal and on the Board of Advisers: Dana Priest, the Washington Post reporter who exposed the secret overseas CIA sites to interrogate terrorists. The topic of the group's most recent forum, “The Hidden Roots of War: Christian Zionism and the Neocon Fundamentalist Alliance in America.”