Eight years ago, when a Democrat was President and Republicans won the governorships in New Jersey and Virginia, CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather gave the results a piddling 12 seconds, didn't even utter the names of the winners and made clear that local issues -- “the high cost of automobile insurance and a tax on car ownership” -- were “the key issues.” But on Wednesday night, the same newscast gave a minute and thirty seconds to the election results which included names as anchor Bob Schieffer inserted an ideological label into his description of Virginia: “In New Jersey, Democrat Jon Corzine won one of the nastiest races ever. He'll be the next Governor there. And in conservative country, Virginia, another Democrat, Tim Kaine, won the Governor's race there.” Gloria Borger then declared that “this was not a great night for President Bush, particularly in the state of Virginia.” She cited how “he went in and he campaigned for the Republican candidate for Governor who lost, and, Bob, this was a state the President himself won by eight points in the last election." Borger ignored a basic fact which undermines her analysis: The Democratic candidate for Governor of Virginia won in 2001 when Bush's approval rating, just two months after 9/11, was over 80 percent.
NBC's even more flagrant bias contrast, ABC's crediting of Clinton's good economy for the GOP wins and Morton Kondracke's prediction on FNC that “if I were Howard Dean and I looked at these results, I'd be really disappointed” because, despite Bush's plunging popularity, Democrats did no better this year than four years ago in the same races, follows
On tonight’s “CBS Evening News,” Gloria Borger said yesterday’s election “Was not a great night for President Bush.” Moreover, in the aftermath, Republicans are now “worried about losing the House, and maybe the Senate.”
In addition, she claimed Republicans want the president to establish an agenda. Failing that, “just get out of our way for the 2006 election.”
Similar to other mainstream media reports today, there was no mention of Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s re-election victory in New York City.
What follows is a full transcript of this report and a video link.
The CBS News producer who attempted to start a wine label
called Jesus Juice while he was covering the Michael Jackson trial is beginning
to backtrack after his activities were exposed.
After NewsBusters broke
the story Sunday, other media outlets picked up our scoop including the Associated Press, TheSmokingGun.com and MSNBC's "Countdown." Since that time, the
producer, Bruce Rheins, and his wife, Dawn Westlake, have removed all Jesus
Juice material, including the label's logo, a crucified Jackson, from their respective web sites.
The New York Daily News spoke to Rheins yesterday, he disingenuously told
the paper he never intended to make money from the offensive wine label:
A CBS producer who led the network's coverage of the recent
Michael Jackson trial has been marketing a brand of wine under the label "Jesus
Juice," complete with a logo of a Christ figure sporting a Jacksonesque
red glove, fedora hat, white socks, and penny loafers
NewsBusters.org has learned that Bruce Rheins, a high-level producer for
such shows as the "CBS Evening News", and his wife, Dawn Westlake,
began preparations for their marketing campaign while the Jackson case was
still in court, registering a U.S. trademark for the words "Jesus Juice"
in January of 2004, days after word got out that Jackson referred to
wine by that term in allegedly attempting to seduce young boys.
A year later, the couple registered (under Westlake's name) the web domain JesusJuice.biz,
apparently with the intent of partnering with a wine maker to create a product
line bearing the Jesus Juice name, in a partnership or by purchasing the
Hoisted on their own petard? Washington journalists have formulated outrage over how “Scooter” Libby fed information to New York Times reporter Judy Miller which ended up on the paper's front page one Sunday, and then Vice President Cheney appeared on a Sunday talk TV interview show where he insidiously cited the story as proof of the potential nuclear threat from Saddam Hussein. On Friday night, the broadcast networks pulled the same maneuver as they treated as of great import how President Bush was “dogged,” at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina, with questions about Karl Rove and the CIA leak matter -- a self-fulfilling agenda since those questions were posed by reporters from the Washington press corps. In short, the media made its agenda the news and then marveled over it.
"The President also found himself shadowed by the controversy that has helped drive his popularity to record lows, the investigation into who leaked the identity of a CIA officer," ABC anchor Bob Woodruff announced on World News Tonight, which led, as did CBS and NBC, with stories which covered the violent protests as well Rove. ABC's Jake Tapper noted how “Bush came to this summit to talk about his free trade policy that he says would help ease poverty and create jobs in the region,” but pointed out how “questions about the CIA leak scandal, and the role of top aide Karl Rove, continue to dog him." CBS's Bob Schieffer echoed Tapper's terminology: "President Bush is in Argentina tonight, dogged by questions from back home.” John Roberts began his story, as if the media were observers and not participants: "President Bush was thankful for the chance to get out of Washington. But it didn't take long for Washington to catch up with him." NBC's Brian Williams stressed how Bush's “political troubles following him to Argentina from faraway Washington.” Kelly O'Donnell zeroed in on how Bush's “domestic woes came along, too” with “four of five” press conference “questions related to the political fallout from the CIA leak case.”
Fred Barnes, during the panel segment on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, scolded the reporters for posing questions “Senator Durbin or maybe Senator Schumer drafted them for them” since “they were Democratic 'talking points.'” He suggested: “Somebody should explain to members of the mainstream media, that they are not a part of the political opposition. They're supposed to be reporters. They don't have to echo Democrats." (Barnes in full, a bit more from ABC, CBS and NBC, plus the questions posed to Bush, follow.)
A bit of a stunner from this morning's Washington Times: "Former President Jimmy Carter yesterday condemned all abortions and chastised his party for its intolerance of candidates and nominees who oppose abortion. 'I never have felt that any abortion should be committed -- I think each abortion is the result of a series of errors,' he told reporters over breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, while across town Senate Democrats deliberated whether to filibuster the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. because he may share President Bush and Mr. Carter's abhorrence of abortion. 'These things impact other issues on which [Mr. Bush] and I basically agree,' the Georgia Democrat said. 'I've never been convinced, if you let me inject my Christianity into it, that Jesus Christ would approve abortion.'"
It will be curious to see if the CBS Evening News, which on September 21 relayed a post-Katrina criticism from Carter of Bush for stripping FEMA of its independence, finds the ex-president's provocative comments on the "hot-button" issues of abortion and religion equally newsworthy.
In a Thursday CBS Evening News story on how Karl Rove is a “distraction” in the West Wing, Gloria Borger cited how “a new CBS News poll shows that only 39 percent of Americans say that President Bush has more honesty and integrity than most people in public life, down eleven points since early last year.” But that number comes from the same poll, it turns out, that CBS News skewed by weighing it to undercount Republicans and over-count independents. My Wednesday NewsBusters item recounted how on that night's Evening News, over side-by-side head-shot videos on screen of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush, with Bush's 35 percent approval, in the CBS News poll, below his image and Gallup's 27 percent finding beneath the shot of Nixon, John Roberts pointed out how “the only recent President lower at this point in their second term was Richard Nixon.”
Subsequently, NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard picked up on how “Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics posted an analysis of this poll’s methodology at his blog last evening. What his figures show is that CBS polled 46% more Democrats in its weighted sample than Republicans.” In short, CBS polled 259 Republicans, but weighted the sample to count for only 223, or 24 percent of the total; they surveyed 326 Democrats and held that number so they represented 35 percent of those polled; and independents moved from 351 respondents to a weighted 388 for 41 percent of the sample. Sheppard explained: “To put these numbers in proper perspective, according to the November 2004 exit polls, the nation’s current party affiliation is 37 percent Democrats, 37 percent Republicans, and 26 percent independents. As such, the polling agency involved in this result fell 36 percent short in sampling Republicans while over-sampling independents by 59 percent.” (More on Brit Hume's "Grapevine" item on the poll, weighting and the Borger story in full, follows.)
As NewsBusters reported Wednesday evening, a new CBS News poll pegged President Bush’s job approval rating at 35 percent. Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics posted an analysis of this poll’s methodology at his blog last evening (hat tip from a NewsBusters reader named “Jsemby.”) What his figures show is that CBS polled 46% more Democrats in its weighted sample than Republicans:
Wednesday's CBS Evening News touted a new poll by the network which found, as anchor Bob Schieffer relayed, that “the President's job approval has reached the lowest level yet” at “only 35 percent” with Congress “rated even lower” at a mere “34 percent,” but Bush and Congress are doing a lot better than Vice President Cheney whose “favorable rating is down nine points this year to just 19 percent.” Over side-by-side head-shot videos on screen of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush, with Bush's 35 percent approval below his image and Gallup's 27 percent finding beneath the shot of Nixon, John Roberts pointed out how “the only recent President lower at this point in their second term was Richard Nixon.” Roberts asked and answered: “What's behind the slide: 2,000 war dead in Iraq, an indictment in the CIA leak, the aborted Harriet Miers nomination, the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina."
Roberts warned that “yesterday's shutdown of the Senate shows the political danger of presidential drift. Democrats sat back and watched for an opening, then moved right in." He proceeded to deliver an unobjectionable rundown of advise offered by Reagan chief-of-staff Ken Duberstein: “This week's Alito nomination and the President's bird flu speech were the first steps in a turnaround, says Duberstein, but the White House still needs to lose the bunker mentality, let in new ideas." In conclusion, Roberts cautioned, "So far, there's no indication that President Bush is considering any of the outside advice to shake up the White House, but one thing is clear: If he doesn't find his footing soon, suggestions for change will quickly turn into demands." (Full transcript follows)
As soon as network reporters heard of his nomination, they began to brand Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito a right-wing extremist. During live coverage Monday morning, ABC's Charles Gibson termed Alito "very conservative" and "the most conservative member" of an otherwise "liberal appellate court." Over on CBS's Early Show, Gloria Borger dubbed Alito "quite conservative," the same label applied on CNN's Daybreak by Carol Costello. On Good Morning America, ABC's Jessica Yellin labeled Alito as "conservative" five times in 50 seconds.
Monday's evening newscasts carried the same message. On ABC, anchor Elizabeth Vargas called Alito a "staunch conservative," while Terry Moran found him "deeply conservative." CBS's John Roberts said that "if confirmed, Alito would wipe out the swing seat now occupied by Sandra Day O'Connor, tilting the Supreme Court in a solidly conservative direction." In contrast, NBC's Brian Williams, agreed Alito was "dependably conservative" but he also saw an "independent streak," as did reporter Pete Williams.
In covering on Monday night the nomination of appellate court judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, ABC and CBS distorted his role and position on the husband-notification abortion case and pegged him as a “staunch” or “hardline” conservative, but NBC managed to correctly describe his role in the abortion case and depicted him as “dependably conservative, though with an independent streak." The NBC Nightly News, however, jumped from Alito to a nearly full story about how the Bush White House’s attempt at “diverting attention from the Scooter Libby indictment won't be easy because of the unanswered questions” which David Gregory helpfully went on to list before declaring that what today’s administration is saying is “a far cry from the candor that candidate Bush once promised."
ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas teased World News Tonight by asserting, as if it were his preference and not a ruling on the constitutionality of a law signed by a Democratic Governor, that Alito “once said a woman should tell her husband before she gets an abortion." On the CBS Evening News, Gloria Borger maintained that Alito “has favored limits on abortion; most notably arguing that women seeking abortions should be required to inform their husbands first." NBC’s Brian Williams correctly related how “he voted to uphold a Pennsylvania law requiring women to notify their husbands before seeking an abortion.” (ABC’s Jake Tapper undermined the media assumption that Alito was out of touch as he noted that “recent polling indicates more than seven in ten Americans support Alito's position.)
On ideological labeling, ABC’s Vargas asserted: “Conservatives are thrilled, liberals incensed.” She went on to relay that “he is said to be brilliant and a staunch conservative.” CBS anchor Schieffer saw Democrats not liberals when he touted how Bush has “made the conservatives happy, but the Democrats are upset." John Roberts proceeded to assert: “Alito's judicial philosophy so mirrors that of the Supreme Court's hardliner, Antonin Scalia, that he's been nicknamed 'Scalito.'" Roberts ominously warned: "If confirmed, Alito would wipe out the swing seat now occupied by Sandra Day O'Connor, tilting the Supreme Court in a solidly conservative direction for years to come." (Lengthier transcripts follow.)
From television to newspapers, the media have gone wild over oil companies’ profit reports this week, asking “how much is too much?”
That question alone demonstrated journalists’ omission of free market principles in their reporting. America’s free market allows the small businessman to become a large business if he is able. Once companies are publicly traded, millions of others share in the business’s profits. Yet, the media have pitted businesses against consumers, leaving out the fact that these large companies distribute dividends to millions of individuals.
Covering oil companies’ profits, reporters operated on the assumption that there should be a profit ceiling for a business, and that anything above that would be unacceptable. They also attempted to whip up consumer “outrage,” even though it is consumer demand and oil scarcity that drive up prices – not an arbitrary decision by oil companies. Just a few highlights:
As ABC, CBS, and NBC all dived into live coverage today to report the indictment of Vice President Cheney's top aide Scooter Libby, this is not at all the way the networks covered indictments of cabinet officers in the Clinton years.
In September 1997, we reported in Media Watch that when former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy was indicted on 39 counts, the networks aired a single evening news story. Three of the four networks -- ABC, CNN, and NBC -- underlined that the Smaltz inquiry had so far cost $9 million. None of them noted civil penalties originating from targets of Smaltz's inquiry amounted to more than $3.5 million. The next morning, CBS's morning show, called CBS This Morning, didn't even mention Espy's indictment. Months later, I noted in a Media Reality Check that on December 11, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros was indicted on 18 counts for misleading the FBI about payoffs to a mistress, Linda Medlar. NBC Nightly News filed one story; ABC's World News Tonight gave it 18 seconds. CBS Evening News didn't arrive on the story until the next night, and gave it nine seconds, a fraction of the two minutes Dan Rather gave the nightly El Nino update, about the weather "giving a gentle lift to the monarch butterfly." The morning shows were worse: NBC's Today passed on two anchor briefs, and ABC's Good Morning America and CBS This Morning ignored it.
People who know Harriet Miers in Dallas, Lee Cowan reported on Thursday's CBS Evening News, think she “deserved better than this" and he quickly moved to highlight those mad at conservatives, or as one cab driver charged, the “far right.” Cowan relayed that “at a Dallas diner this morning, her withdrawal served up a lot of disappointment” where patrons were upset “that conservatives, even here in her home state, weren't willing to give her a chance." Cowan went outside and leaned into a taxi to ask the driver: "What happened?” The cabbie replied: "I think the far right, they had been itching for a big battle for years." Cowan did pass along a defense of conservatives: "Dallas talk show host Mark Davis though says local conservatives are actually just trying to watch out for the President's legacy."
Over on ABC's World News Tonight, following a lead story from Terry Moran, Linda Douglass opened a piece: "Democrats were quick to blame Miers' collapse on conservative activists, who demanded loudly that the President dump her." After a clip of Senator Harry Reid scolding the “the radical right wing of the Republican Party,” Douglass picked up on how Senator Arlen Specter "said the groups drowned her and the President out." Following bites from Senator Sam Brownback and Rush Limbaugh, she returned to the anti-conservative prism from which she began, setting up a slam from Senator Ted Kennedy by relating how Democrats say "if he chooses an ideological conservative, he will appear to be the tool of outside groups," and she concluded with how “Senator [Lindsey] Graham is urging the President to appoint someone who, in his words, 'won't blow this place up'” -- meaning a non-conservative. Pivoting from Douglass, anchor Bob Woodruff turned to George Stephanopoulos and inquired: “Does he [Bush] have to nominate a conservative to satisfy the base of his party or a moderate who would be acceptable enough to Democrats to avoid a long and prolonged fight?” Stephanopoulos listed some potential nominees before warning: “Both Priscilla Owen and Michael Luttig fall into that category that Lindsey Graham talked about. They would blow the place up." (Transcripts follow.)
In the days and weeks following the disaster in New Orleans, many in the media suggested that the federal government’s “slow” response to Hurricane Katrina was caused by the race and economic condition of those impacted. President Bush had to regularly answer the questions of reporters concerning this, while media members opined at will.
Most famous of such assertions was reported by NewsBusters when rapper Kanye West said during a televised Katrina relief fundraiser that, "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Earlier that day, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said, “Almost all of them that we see, are so poor and they are so black.” And, as also reported by NewsBusters, CBS News’s Nancy Giles said: “[Bush] has put himself at risk by visiting the troops in Iraq, but didn't venture anywhere near the Superdome or the convention center, where thousands of victims, mostly black and poor, needed to see that he gave a damn."
As the CIA leak investigation comes to a conclusion, America’s media have started to sell the public the man in the middle of the maelstrom, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Tonight, CBS News jumped on the bandwagon in a report filed by Jim Axelrod for “The Evening News” (video link to follow).
Like many such reports in the past week, Axelrod began by trying to dispel the notion that politics are in any way involved in this episode: “44-year-old Pat Fitzgerald, an intense and, by all accounts, apolitical prosecutor who's pursued mob bosses, crooked politicians, and Osama bin Laden like a pit bull with lockjaw.”
An overwhelming 79 percent of Iraqis, who risked their lives just over a week ago to cast their ballot, voted in favor of the nation's new constitution, but you'd have missed it if you sneezed during Tuesday's CBS Evening News or ABC's World News Tonight. CBS anchor Bob Schieffer delivered only this single sentence -- “Iraq's government announced today that voters did approve the country's new constitution in this month's referendum” -- before moving on to a full story about the 2,000th death of U.S. servicemen in Iraq, a piece he could not resist introducing without adding this snide aside: "More than 90 percent of the 2,000 who died in the war have died since the President declared major combat was at an end in May 2003.”
On ABC, which had time for a full piece from Terry Moran about the "potentially huge" story of Vice President Cheney's supposed role in the Plame case, anchor Elizabeth Vargas briefly noted how “in Iraq today, there was a milestone on the road to democracy: The official results show that a new constitution was ratified by an overwhelming margin.” That was it for the Iraqi constitution. ABC led with, as Vargas put it, the “terrible milestone” of 2,000 killed in Iraq. Viewers then saw two stories: Martha Raddatz on the anguish of Army medical personnel and Barbara Pinto on parents in an Ohio town who have lost sons in Iraq. (A summary of NBC Nightly News, which did report on the passage, as well as a transcript of Schieffer's presentation, follows.)
A presumptuous Bob Schieffer? A Freudian slip? Or merely a stumble? With pictures of Karl Rove, Lewis “Scooter” Libby and President Bush over a shot of the White House, the CBS Evening News anchor on Monday plugged an upcoming piece on the 6:30pm EDT feed: “Coming up, playing the waiting game. Indictments are soon to come in the CIA leak investigation.” Schieffer then backtracked, “or there's word they may. White House insiders most at risk in tonight's 'Inside Story.'” The closed-captioning provided what Schieffer was probably supposed to say: “Coming up, playing the waiting game. Indictments are expected soon in the CIA leak investigation. White House insiders most at risk in tonight's 'Inside Story.'”
For weeks now, the media have breathlessly hyped the possibility that presidential advisor Karl Rove might be indicted by the grand jury looking into the leak of CIA employee Valerie Plame’s identity to columnist Robert Novak. Or, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald could choose not to indict anyone, and instead issue a detailed report of who knew what, when they knew it, and from whom they heard it.
Given the ridiculously overwrought coverage of the last month, if Fitzgerald’s report confirms media suspicions that Rove and/or vice presidential aide Lewis Libby talked to reporters about Valerie Plame and weren’t completely forthcoming to investigators, you can expect the networks to go absolutely nuts, whether anyone is indicted or not.
On Friday's CBS Evening News, correspondent Lee Cowan filed a story on Congressman Tom DeLay's appearance in a Texas courtroom, which on some counts was balanced, but which glaringly highlighted a Replublican critic of Tom DeLay who referred to him as a "hog." Although Fort Bend Star publisher Beverly Carter has been a longtime critic of DeLay who even endorsed his opponent in last year's election, Cowan simply referred to her as a "Republican precinct chairwoman," thus giving her credibility as a typical local Republican leader.
The story began with Cowan relaying DeLay's criticisms of Judge Bob Perkins for links to the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org, followed by a soundbite of DeLay accusing prosecutor Ronnie Earle of abusing his power. Cowan then proceeded to highlight "some Republicans who aren't buying it" and showed a couple of soundbites from Carter without conveying her anti-DeLay history to provide context. Notably, according to an article in the New York Times that ran on April 17 of this year, Carter admitted to having "got crosswise" with DeLay eight years earlier over his involvement in a local election for sheriff. Cowan did at least provide some balance by next highlighting a woman who "runs a neighborhood program for foster children that DeLay and his wife started years ago" and noted that he is "still plenty popular" in the district. Still, the failure to properly identify Carter gives an impression of greater Republican division in the district than perhaps really exists. A complete transcript of the Friday October 21 story, anchored by Bob Schieffer, follows:
Lee Cowan did a report on the "CBS Evening News" tonight concerning Rep. Tom DeLay’s (R-Tex) first day in court. To demonstrate that even people on the right don’t like the embattled congressman, Cowan interviewed Beverly Carter, the Republican precinct chairwoman of Fort Bend County, Texas:
“I've not heard of any Republicans that are supporting Tom at this point win, lose or draw. Whether he's guilty or not guilty, they've kind of had it with him. Pigs get fatter but hogs get slaughtered, and Tom has been a hog.”
Cowan interjected with: “And that's coming from a Republican precinct chairwoman in his home district.”
The problem is that Carter has been an outspoken foe of DeLay’s for quite some time. John Judis of the New Republic wrote of this in May:
Allen Pizzey did a piece on the “CBS Evening News” on Saturday about the voting in Iraq. In it, he suggested that Shiites only voted for the new constitution because their leaders told them to. And:
“Despite how well the day went, the grim reality is that the democratic process has done little to improve these people’s lives. Throughout the day, the voting, and now the counting, has been done without the benefit of electricity, because the insurgents blew up the power-lines again.”
I guess democracy in America had no value until Edison invented the light bulb.
CBS reporter Kelly Cobiella’s reaction to flooding in the northeast United States was to call for federal aid. All she needed to do to understand that wasn’t a good idea was to watch her own news show.
Cobiella’s call came during the October 13 “Evening News,” which did a two-part segment on flooding in the northeast. Cobiella was in New Hampshire and Claire Duvall reported from New Jersey. Cobiella began the report and after surveying the New Hampshire flood damage she declared “There is a real need for federal help here.”
Duvall then followed up, interviewing Oakland, N.J., resident Ruth Brock. Brock lamented that flooding “has happened three times since April. Prior to that it was three times since 1955.”
As Brent Baker noted last night, the networks were far more excited about the supposed scandal of the administration having “a staged event” where the President talked by satellite with soldiers serving in Iraq. (Speaking of “staged,” how often do you think Brian Williams or Bob Schieffer sit down in the anchor chair and just wing it?)
Andrea Mitchell pretty much gave it away on Thursday’s Nightly News, allowing that “Many administrations, Democrat and Republican, stage-manage events. And often the news media ignore the choreography.” But the networks didn’t want to “ignore the choreography” yesterday, because it didn’t fit their spin. Mitchell preferred to expose what she called “a rare look behind the curtain of a White House trying to sell an increasingly unpopular war.”
If the Iraq war is “increasingly unpopular” — and polls suggest it is — one reason may be because the broadcast networks have heavily skewed their news agenda toward the bad news coming out of Iraq: car bombings, U.S. casualties, terrorist attacks, squabbling among Iraqi politicians, etc., etc.
I just finished a study of every Iraq story aired on the three broadcast network evening newscasts this year, from January 1 through September 30, nearly 1,400 stories. (More)
Thursday's NBC Nightly News led, yes led, with how, as anchor Brian Williams put it, President Bush had that morning conducted “a staged event" via satellite with ten U.S. soldiers and one Iraqi soldier in Iraq. “Today's encounter was billed as spontaneous,” Williams intoned. “Instead, it appeared to follow a script.” Andrea Mitchell warned that “the troops were coached on how to answer the Commander-in-Chief” and, indeed, not until two minutes into her three-minute story -- after showing clips of how a DOD official had told the soldiers the questions Bush would ask -- did Mitchell note how “the White House and at least one of the soldiers says the troops weren't told what to say, just what the President would ask." So, the answers were not staged. The soldiers, naturally nervous about appearing on live TV with the President of the United States, were simply told who should answer which question and to “take a breath” before answering. Scandalous! Over video of Bush on the aircraft carrier, Mitchell went on to remind viewers of how “this isn't the first time this administration used troops to help sell the Iraq war.” But she also admitted a media double-standard: “Many administrations, Democrat and Republican, stage-manage events and often the news media ignore the choreography.”
ABC's World News Tonight also devoted a full story, though not the lead, to the media-generated controversy. Terry Moran contended that “the fact that this was so carefully choreographed...shows just how urgently the White House wants not just a success on the ground in Iraq, but a PR success at home for this embattled President." Over on the CBS Evening News, anchor Bob Schieffer opined that “unfortunately for the President, after satellite cameras caught administration aides rehearsing the soldiers beforehand, Democrats dismissed the whole thing and said the troops deserved a lot better.” Lara Logan managed to cover other material in her story and uniquely showcased a soldier who told CBS: "The truth is that everything that was said was meant to be said, though it may have sounded scripted in some places. Nerves kick in, for one. Two, everyone puts their thoughts together. You put it down, you go over and over it a hundred times."
MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann also led Thursday with the “staged” event and the AP distributed a story breathlessly headlined, “Bush Teleconference With Soldiers Staged.” But on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, Hume noted complaints the event was "not entirely spontaneous" before Carl Cameron pointed out that Bush posed an unplanned question to the Iraqi soldier. In the panel segment, Washington Times reporter Bill Sammon recalled how when “back in December” a soldier asked Rumsfeld about armor, a question that “had been planted by a reporter, I didn't hear any outcry from the press.” (UPDATE with CNN coverage and transcripts follow.)
Sharyn Alfonsi was at it again on the “CBS Evening News.” In her ongoing tour of the country seeking poignant war stories, tonight she found a great one – twelve people protesting against the Iraq war in Birmingham, Alabama. She spoke with Vietnam war veteran, David Waters:
Alfonsi: Today at 59, Waters wants the U.S. out of Iraq and says he is not the only one.
Waters: Opposition to the war is definitely growing, yes.
Alfonsi: Even in the south?
Waters: Even in the south, yes.
Alfonsi: So we stopped by a weekly anti-war protest in Birmingham today, where we met Susan Mims, another Vietnam vet. But there's only about a dozen people here.
Alfonsi finished her report by saying, “The anti-war movement here is really nothing more than a murmur.”
Actually, with a population of 242,820, I’m not sure that twelve qualifies as a murmur.
What follows is a full transcript of this report, and a video link.
Byron Pitts did a story on last night’s “CBS Evening News” called “Nuevo New Orleans.” In it, Pitts reported a wave of legal and illegal immigrants coming into New Orleans seeking employment.
At a town hall meeting with small business owners, Mayor Ray Nagin said on camera: “How do I make sure that New Orleans is not overrun by Mexican workers?”
Given the recent outcry concerning statements made by Bill Bennett, one has to wonder why there is no similar outrage over Nagin’s remarks. Or, how about the way Pitts finishes the segment: “The worry here: Will it look like the old New Orleans when it's over?”
What follows is a full transcript of this report along with a video link.
Sharyn Alfonsi did a story on “The CBS Evening News” tonight that brought me to tears. Now, I don’t know whether the intention was to stoke anti-war sentiment, or just to show how children at Fort Benning, Georgia are coping with their parents being deployed to Iraq.
Frankly, I don’t care, for this was an absolutely heartrending segment that I think all Americans regardless of political leaning should watch.
After Monday's CBS Evening News showed a clip of a Marine recruit at Parris Island explaining that he volunteered because “I want to be fighting the evils that did what they did to us on September 11th," reporter Sharyn Alfonsi related how “all three of the recruits we sat down with say they enlisted because of September 11th.” Alfonsi, however, couldn't let such an apparent link between 9/11 and the war in Iraq go unchallenged and so she quickly admonished the naive recruits as she stressed how “politicians will argue whether the war and 9/11 are related” -- though she added that “clearly here, to these recruits, the two are inseparable."
Alfonsi's clarification about 9/11 connections came in an otherwise very positive story about three Marine recruits and their disappointment that more Americans are not closely following the war. Her piece was the first of a new series, “CBS News Road Tour: The Home Front,” which will take Alfonsi and her mini-van to Ft. Benning in Georgia on Tuesday. Full transcript follows.
Al [Gore] - just a little matter here. Did CBS perform any earnest "investigative" reporting on John Kerry or his past (we're past the fact that they did their best to protect you)? By that, I don't mean did they (Rather) ever investigate the Swift Boat folks or the Swift Boat claims about Kerry. We all know that they spent much time trying to tear that down. What I want to know, Al, is what happened to journalism here? Seem to be working fine for you folks. The only reason these so called "odd groups", "Swift Boaters of the United States .. mechanism" (thank you Donald Sutherland for that one) have reason, or need, to exist in the first place, is because the media is only investigating one group of people - the Republicans. If the news is not going to do its job, Al, then someone has to step up to the plate, be it the mechanisms of independent groups or bloggers. And yes, freedom of speech does extend to other people as well.