Wednesday's CBS Evening News, anchored by Russ Mitchell, provided a sympathetic look at efforts to win an early release for John Walker Lindh, the American citizen who was convicted of giving aid to the Taliban during the war in Afghanistan. Mitchell and correspondent John Blackstone, who only displayed soundbites sympathetic to Lindh, relayed the argument of Lindh's parents that his 20-year sentence was "not fair considering Australian David Hicks was sentenced to just nine months for his terror conviction," without considering whether Hicks' sentence was too light. CBS legal analyst Andrew Cohen further contended that because Lindh was tried relatively soon after the 9/11 attacks, that he was a "victim of timing" in a "harsh atmosphere." Andrew Cohen: "He was the first person to go through the legal system after 9/11 in federal court, and the atmosphere at that time was so intense and harsh that he is essentially a victim of timing." (Transcript follows)
He's "America's best-known forecaster" according to CBS's Mark Strassman and a "veteran forecaster" to ABC's Ned Potter.
Bill Gray the well-known and well-respected hurricane forecaster is revered by journalists when he's predicting hurricanes, but as soon as Gray starts talking about global warming, the media for the most part stop listening.
"At today's national hurricane conference in New Orleans, 700 weather watchers talked about one man ... Bill Gray, America's best-known forecaster. And his prediction for this hurricane season, watch out," said Strassman on CBS "Evening News" April 3.
According to Charles Gibson of ABC, Gray is "something of a renegade." Yes, when it comes to the media's collective opinion on global warming, he is.
Reporting on the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision (PDF) that the EPA has a “statutory obligation” to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions from motor vehicles, CBS's Wyatt Andrews on Monday night avoided labeling those in the majority while describing those in dissent as “the Court's most conservative justices.” CBS and NBC led by championing the narrow ruling, but NBC's Pete Williams, as well as ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg in a story a few minutes into World News, managed to avoided ideological tagging.
Andrews began his CBS Evening News story by stressing how, “in a hard slap to the administration, the Supreme Court ruled the EPA does have authority to regulate greenhouse gases as air pollution. Justice John Paul Stevens writes [text on screen]: 'The harms associated with climate change are serious' and that EPA's political reasons for inaction are illegal, 'arbitrary,' he wrote, 'capricious...or otherwise not in accordance with law.'” After not labeling Stevens or any of the four justices who joined his opinion, Andrews concluded by pointing out how “this was a 5-to-4 decision with the Court's most conservative justices dissenting. But you can still add the Supreme Court to the list of voices advocating action on global warming.”
Conservative college journalism students might want to consider a summer internship with Katie Couric and the CBS "Evening News." Aspiring journalists are invited to submit print or video entries bringing a local perspective to a global issue. CBS lists three categories: climate change, "social entrepreneurs," and Iraq War veterans. Will the most compelling presentation of liberal bias win the internship, or could a conservative effort start someone's career? You'll be able to see the results online. The online ad (with a big pic of Katie) says:
Launch your journalism career -- while earning course credit -- with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work directly with Katie Couric and the staff of CBS News. It's all part of SPRINGBOARD, an exciting new journalism program sponsored by CBS News and U-Wire.
SPRINGBOARD invites aspiring print and broadcast journalists to provide a unique local perspective to a global topic, and submit the print or video result for consideration by the journalists of CBSNews.com and CBS News. We'll post the best submissions online, and award one entrant with a summer internship at CBS News in New York City.
This week, the Media Research Center celebrated 20 years of busting news bias. At the annual MRC 20th Anniversary Gala, Conservative legend Rush Limbaugh brought down the house with his closing speech on the success of the alternative media.
On Monday, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received a gift from "Good Morning America": A 30 minute "town hall" infomercial where a GMA host lauded the New York Senator for being ahead of her time.
Wednesday's CBS Evening News with Katie Couric featured another "The federal government is our only hope" segment, this time focusing on the "war on cancer." Couric introduced the segment by arguing that cancer therapies were being thwarted because of "funding cuts that could delay or completely derail promising advances in the war of cancer."
The story, by CBS correspondent Wyatt Andrews, featured only one member of Congress, Iowa's Senator Tom Harkin, who echoed Couric and claimed that the "war on cancer" is in jeopardy due to war in Iraq. The "money" quote:
HARKIN: When you're spending $8 billion a month in Iraq, it's very tough to get the money for cancer research.
Eating up calls for more regulation, CBS "Evening News" attacked kid's cereal makers for television advertising in last night's broadcast.
The nanny-staters were at it again, warning on March 28 that children who like sugary cereals are "setting off alarms." Really? Is it any sort of surprise that children prefer sweet cereals to bran flakes? It doesn't surprise me, I still hate bran flakes.
Bill Whitaker's brought on Susan Linn "one of a chorus of critics calling for the government to ban the ads," but Whitaker didn't mention that Linn is the co-founder of the liberal Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. Linn declared that "self-regulation has failed."
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, reporting on Saudi King Abdullah’s condemnation of America’s “illegitimate foreign occupation of Iraq,” decided to gratuitously bring up the fact that President Bush had held Abdullah’s hand when the then-Crown Prince was visiting Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas nearly two years ago, a gesture that resulted in much snickering from media types at the time.
Mentioning Abdullah’s critique, Williams suggested his hand-holding with the President in April 2005 was somehow relevant to his views on Iraq. “You may recall this visit by Abdullah to the Bush ranch in Texas and the closeness the two men displayed then,” the NBC anchor announced over two-year old file footage of the two men at Bush’s ranch.
ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased his lead Wednesday night story by touting how “Al Gore goes back to Capitol Hill for the first time since the year 2000 and finds a heated debate on global warming.” But the broadcast network evening newscasts didn't get to the debate. They were too busy trumpeting Gore's cause and barely touching his critics. ABC's Kate Snow gave a doubter ten words before running a much longer laudatory clip from former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill) which ended with Hastert calling Gore “a movie star.” When Gore demurred that “I just have a slide show,” Snow, far from exploring the “debate,” endorsed the premises of Gore's most dire ideas: “Of course, that slide show won an Oscar. And the man dubbed the 'Goracle' now jets around the planet trying to save it. Gore today called on Congress to freeze carbon emissions and figure out how to drastically reduce all greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. The message endorsed by much of the scientific community.”
With “Planetary Emergency” on screen, NBC anchor Brian Williams excitedly announced, “Look who was back on Capitol Hill today: Al Gore.” Over on CBS, Katie Couric celebrated “a lot of excitement on Capitol Hill. A movie star showed up to testify before Congress -- a movie star named Al Gore.” Gloria Borger recalled that “the last time Gore appeared on Capitol Hill was in his official role as Vice President, certifying his own loss in the disputed 2000 election,” but she championed how “he came back today as a winner, his popular movie, An Inconvenient Truth, grabbing an Oscar.” Borger concluded: “Gore could still get in late and run for President. Maybe that's why Hillary Clinton didn't gush all over him today like her fellow Democrats.” What excuse do journalists have for their gushing?
Perhaps channeling her youthful experience as a cheerleader, CBS's Katie Couric pumped her rhetorical pom poms for Al Gore in a "Couric & Co." blog today.
Below you can see how she lauded his "triumphant" return to Congress on her "Couric & Co." blog at CBSNews.com, all the while insisting "scientific consensus" is on Gore's side and that Congress should "act boldly" on the issue.
“Sixty bucks! That’s ridiculous,” said one woman filling up her gas tank, on ABC’s “World News with Charles Gibson” March 12.
Consumer complaints and frequent mentions of "the most expensive gasoline" in the country are used by the media to hype rising gas prices. And what state has the most expensive gasoline? California.
“Let me show you what is the most expensive gasoline location in the country. A gallon of unleaded in California right now going for $3.08 a gallon,” said NBC reporter Tom Costello during the March 12 “Nightly News.”
Costello's report, like many others on NBC, CBS and ABC left out the explanation for exorbitant prices at California pumps: higher taxes and excessive environmental regulation.
READ UPDATE AT FOOT: Bill O'Reilly and guests discuss how "conservative bloggers" impacted the story.
To mark yesterday's fourth-anniversary of the war in Iraq, CBS News requested an interview with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad. The ambassador took time from a hectic war-time schedule to speak from Baghdad with Katie Couric, and in the course of the interview provided a first-hand view of how the new surge strategy is working.
But when last night's Evening News aired, lo and behold, the interview never ran. It was instead relegated to an obscure corner of Katie's online blog. CBS apparently determined that Ambassador Khalilzad's comments weren't "newsworthy."
Katie & Co. did find time for Bob Woodward [who to my knowledge has never been to Iraq], to opine that the violence in Iraq wouldn't persuade President Bush to change course.
ABC anchor Charles Gibson led on Monday night, the fourth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, with the results of a door-to-door survey of more than 2,000 Iraqis conducted for ABC News (and USA Today). Gibson started the “sobering report” with how “fewer than half the Iraqis, just 42 percent, said life was better now than it was under Saddam Hussein.” Gibson, however, failed to explain that when asked, “compared to the time before the war in spring 2003, are things overall in your life much better now, somewhat better, about the same, somewhat worse or much worse?”, fewer than 42 percent -- 36 percent -- said worse and 22 thought things are the same. A poll of 5,000 Iraqis reported in the Times of London discovered, as highlighted by FNC's Brit Hume, that “49 percent said life is better under the current Iraqi government” and “just 26 percent preferred life under Saddam Hussein.”
NBC anchor Brian Williams opened by emphasizing the length and cost of the war: “U.S. involvement in this war is now longer in duration than the Korean War, longer than World War I or World War II. And here are the numbers of great importance to all Americans. So far, at least 3,218 Americans have died. At least 24,000 have been wounded. Estimates of Iraqi dead are close to 60,000...” CBS's Katie Couric began with how “the war goes on, there is no end or victory in sight, thousands of Americans are dead, but the President says victory is still possible.” Reporter Allen Pizzey, who on The Early Showhad insisted that “Iraqis have very little to be thankful for,” also delivered a dire assessment on the Evening News: “And so four weary and blood-soaked years on, the so-called coalition of the willing has become the coalition of those who are stuck with it.”
After his comments this morning, if Don Imus ever gets invited to a party on the terrace of Katie Couric's midtown apartment overlooking Central Park, he would be well advised not to get too close to the ledge.
Chatting with Imus on MSNBC at 8:45 ET this morning about the travails of the CBS Evening News and the advent of Rick Kaplan as its executive producer, media maven Howard Kurtz observed: "I don't know if this is attributable to Rick, but it seems to me that in the last week the show has a little bit of a harder edge, a little bit of a faster pace."
That set Imus off on an anti-Couric tirade: "It's unwatchable. And it's unwatchable because she's unwatchable. I'm sure she's a nice lady, but I mean . . ."
The three broadcast network evening newscasts were similar Friday night in featuring full stories on Valerie Plame's testimony before the House Government Reform Committee, including video of Plame with a woman behind her wearing a pink “Impeach Bush” T-shirt -- ABC even caught a moment when the woman was making the “shame” sign with her fingers (see screen shot to right) -- and not mentioning Richard Armitage, the former Deputy Secretary of State who was the source for columnist Robert Novak's reporting of her name. CBS's Gloria Borger, remarkably, concluded her report by listing every big name involved but Armitage's: “When asked whether she'd gotten an apology from the President, the Vice President, Karl Rove or Scooter Libby, she said no.”
But there were differences. Only NBC Nightly News led with Plame as fill-in anchor Campbell Brown announced: “The CIA operative at the heart of a scandal tells Congress the Bush administration blew her cover and wrecked her career.” NBC's Chip Reid uniquely highlighted how Plame contributed to Al Gore's 2000 campaign and that she conceded “I am a Democrat.” While CBS's Borger concluded with a missing apology to her, ABC's David Kerley ended his piece by noting how Plame is taking advantage of her situation: “While Plame may have lost the undercover job she loved, the blown cover is allowing her to find a new career. She signed a book deal for more than $1 million. And oh, about all those ingredients for a Hollywood movie, there will be one of those, as well.”
ABC's World News separated itself from the media pack Thursday night. Though ABC's coverage was keyed to how e-mails supposedly show that Karl Rove was at “the center” of early 2005 discussions about replacing all 93 U.S. attorneys, anchor Charles Gibson pointed out how “these U.S. attorneys do serve at the pleasure of the President. He can fire them at any time. So did anything really get done that was wrong?” Jan Crawford Greenburg answered, in a broadcast network evening newscast first, by informing viewers of how “President Clinton, in fact, fired all the U.S. attorneys when he came into office from the previous Republican administration.”
Meanwhile, NBC and CBS continued the obsession on the story for the third night in a row. NBC Nightly News anchor Campbell Brown breathlessly teased her lead, “The prosecutor purge: Did the idea of firing all U.S. Attorneys start with inner circle adviser Karl Rove? If so, what now?” The CBS Evening News led with two stories on the subject, starting with Jim Axelrod on Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher's call for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign. Next, Bob Orr looked at how Gonzales “was tangled in controversy" before becoming AG. “As the President's chief lawyer, Gonzales sanctioned the widespread use of warrant-less wiretaps,”Orr thundered, thus “allowing the government to snoop on Americans without court orders.” Plus, “he also approved the so-called 'torture memo'” and “under Bush-Gonzales policies, prisoners were allowed to be held indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay with no access to U.S. courts,” policies reflecting an “attitude,” Georgetown law professor David Cole charged, in Orr's words, which “led directly to the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.”
Before I started as NewsBusters managing editor, I finished up a study of the media's bias when it comes to reporting on prescription drugs. The study was released on March 14.
After the page break are some findings from the executive summary. Here's a link to the PDF version of the study.
Even when one new drug was hailed as a “major advance in combating
breast cancer” and a “major medical breakthrough,” its manufacturer was
given only a passing mention on one network. BMI looked at 132 stories
on prescription or over-the-counter drugs from the ABC, CBS, and NBC
evening newscasts between January 1 and Sept. 30, 2006.
How many networks does it take to change a lightbulb? Two.
CBS "Evening News" and ABC "World News with Charles Gibson" both ran segments on a coalition supporting a ban on incandescent light bulbs in order to save money and save the planet through decreased energy consumption.
“Brian Castelli is part of a growing coalition that wants to ban your standard bulb and replace it with compact fluorescents (CFLs). Advocates say it’ll cut greenhouse gases, save electricity and money,” said CBS technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg.
Both networks left out the anti-regulation perspective that if compact fluorescent bulbs are really more efficient and will save consumers money in the long run there is no need for a mandate from the government.
CBS legal analyst Andrew Cohen seems to indirectly respond to my March 14 blog post with a March 15 salvo over at CBS's "Couric & Co." blog. [Scroll below for a NYT story from March 1993 that noted that it was unusual for the AG to be involved in the holdover resignation process]
Some cyber folks, trying to attack the credibility of eminent
professors Stanley Katz and Stanley Kutler, took the time to research
their campaign contributions. I do not know, and don’t necessarily
care, where the two professors I interviewed choose to spend their
Cohen may not care what their political leanings are, but the point is that he was citing these "eminent professors" to give an air of scholarly detachment to a decidedly antagonistic view of the attorney general. As such, it's legitimate to see if those sources are relatively non-partisan scholars dedicated solely to integrity and excellence in the legal profession, or if their political leanings might color their analysis. [continued...]
When the Clinton administration in 1993, in a then-unprecedented decision, gave all 93 U.S. Attorneys ten days to leave their offices, including Jay Stephens who was in the midst of investigating House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, ABC's World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News didn't utter a syllable about it. But on Wednesday night, the evening newscasts on both networks led with Republican Senator John Sununu's call for the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as both highlighted different U.S. Attorneys who were amongst the eight replaced late last year by the Bush administration, painting both as victims of nefarious political maneuvering.
“The pressure on the Attorney General of the United States to resign is growing,” ABC anchor Charles Gibson trumpeted, “for the first time, a Republican Senator has said Alberto Gonzales must go.” Focusing on the fired U.S. Attorney for San Diego, Carol Lam, reporter Pierre Thomas suggested she was removed for pursuing a case against a GOP Congressman and relayed how “Democrats pointed out that most of the eight fired U.S. attorneys had excellent performance reviews.” On CBS, Sandra Hughes delivered a “CBS News Exclusive” about how “John McKay was fired in December for reasons he now believes had nothing to do with the way he did his job, but very much to do with Washington politics.” Hughes passed along how “it was what he didn't do that McKay believes got him fired. In the 2004 gubernatorial race in Washington state, the Democratic candidate won by just a couple of hundred votes. McKay didn't call a grand jury to investigate questions of voter fraud.” But as Wall Street Journal editorial on Wednesday noted, McKay ignored very real evidence of voter fraud.
"A new drug that proved to be so effective so quickly, the approval process was sped up," lauded CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric on March 13.
Couric and other reporters had reason to praise the newly FDA-approved drug Tykerb. The drug is approved for treatment of a specific kind of breast cancer, called HER-2 positive, and is showing tremendous promise.
Cancer patient Marsha Brekke told ABC "World News with Charles Gibson" that the drug was her last chance. Brekke has been cancer free for more than a year.
But what all three networks, ABC, CBS and NBC, left out of the evening newscasts on March 13 was any mention of the company that developed this breakthrough drug.
Last night, ABC "World News with Charles Gibson," and CBS "Evening News" both blamed increased foreclosures on lending companies and mentioned tightened regulation instead of discussing the issue of personal choice. NBC "Nightly News" was the only network to bring individual choice into the story on March 13.
"Mortgage companies were lending to people with questionable credit," said ABC's David Muir.
But it is not as if lending companies run around just handing out money to bad credit risks, people actually have to apply for home loans because they want to buy a home. Both ABC and CBS missed that.
Instead Muir's "World News" report pitied one couple "fighting to hold on."
The broadcast network evening newscasts, which didn't care in 1993 about the Clinton administration's decision to ask for the resignations of all 93 U.S. attorneys, went apoplectic Tuesday night in leading with the “controversy,” fed by the media, over the Bush administration for replacing eight U.S. attorneys in late 2006 -- nearly two years after rejecting the idea of following the Clinton policy of replacing all the attorneys. Anchor Charles Gibson promised that ABC would “look at all the angles tonight,” but he skipped the Clinton comparison. Gibson teased: “New controversy at the White House after a string of U.S. attorneys is fired under questionable circumstances. There are calls for the Attorney General to resign.”
CBS's Katie Couric declared that “the uproar is growing tonight over the firing of eight federal prosecutors by the Justice Department” and fill-in NBC anchor Campbell Brown teased: “The Attorney General and the firestorm tonight over the controversial dismissal of several federal prosecutors. Was it political punishment?” Brown soon asserted that “it's a story that has been brewing for weeks and it exploded today” -- an explosion fueled by the news media.
...among other format changes under the new Rick Kaplan era.
PublicEye editor Brian Montopoli passed along the usual talking points senior management in broadcast news outlets always give when they are trying to save a sinking ship. You know the drill. "This time, more hard news. We swear!"
Unfortunately Montopoli left out some hard news in his own March 12 blog post:
CBS anchor Katie Couric contended Monday night that the “self-evident” truths in the Declaration of Independence -- “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” -- are denied by the lack of health insurance for many Americans. Introducing a piece on a doctor at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City who treats the poor of Harlem, Couric adopted a very liberal definition of basic rights as she added “good health” and asserted on the CBS Evening News:
“More than 46 million Americans have no health insurance. So when it comes to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and good health, all men are not created equal. A doctor here in New York City learned that lesson early in his career. He's spent the last 40 years trying to level the playing field for the poorest of patients.”
The MSM seems to be focusing on the replacement of Katie Couric's producer as a story about her poor ratings.
Six months after Katie Couric's much-ballyhooed debut as "CBS Evening News" anchor, the network signaled on Thursday an overhaul of her flagging newscast by hiring one of the industry's most experienced hands to oversee her program.
But despite Couric's ratings being at the predicted "bottom of the toilet bowl" range, it appears there's something else behind this move. The new producer is Rick Kaplan. He's being billed as:
"...among the most experienced, and most traveled, producers in TV news, having worked for ABC News, CNN and MSNBC as well as CBS over a 35-year career.
Over at TVNewser, Brian Stelter has posted an MP3 of a song that is apparently being played today on WPLJ in New York City, ridiculing the poor ratings performance of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, with lyrics offering several suggestions for Ms. Couric and her producers. Safe to say it's a bit on the cruel side, especially the line about "if you want big success....find Dan Rather's home address."
Here’s a link to the audio file, and what follows is my transcription of the song’s lyrics (although you need to hear the tune to get the full effect):
As noted Thursday morning on NewsBusters, CBS News has hired Rick Kaplan, a former Executive Producer of ABC's World News Tonight and Nightline who later ran both CNN and MSNBC, to serve as Executive Producer of the ratings-challenged CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.
As documented in a Thursday MRC CyberAlert posting reprinted here, Kaplan has had a long record of friendly relations with former President Bill Clinton, advising Clinton on how to respond to the Gennifer Flowers scandal in 1992 and blocking anti-Clinton stories from appearing on Nightline. Kaplan has also been hostile to conservatives and once even declared that disgraced CBS anchor Dan Rather's "legacy" was "the gold standard journalists today have struggled to live up to."
My headings over excerpts, see below, from a 1998 Vanity Fair magazine profile of Kaplan: "Clinton Cries on Kaplan's Shoulder/Kaplan Hired Hillary," "Helped Clinton Play Media to Overcome Flowers," "Donaldson Says Kaplan's Pro-Clinton Bias Showed" and "Kaplan Called Hillary the Night Foster Died."
NBC had some "horror stories" to share with its audience on March 7, according to "Nightly News" anchor Campbell Brown. Brown introduced the report by Lisa Myers that told the story of Wesley Wannemacher, a man who's $3,200 credit card debt ballooned to $10,700 after interest and penalties.
Wannemacher's plight also featured prominently in similar segments on ABC "World News with Charles Gibson" and CBS "Evening News" for the same day. [continued after jump]