As noted by Mark Finkelstein, CBS’s "Early Show" on Tuesday dedicated two segments, one in the 7:30 half hour and the other in the 8:00 half hour, to promote tonight’s debut of Katie Couric as the new anchor of "The CBS Evening News." Given that Couric is employed by CBS and had been in competition with the "Early Show" from 1999 when CBS renamed it’s morning news broadcast until her departure from NBC’s "Today Show" earlier this year, shouldn’t Couric at least know the name of the program on which she was appearing? Apparently she does not.
According to TVnewser.com, in behind the scenes video released by AOL, Couric refers to the "Early Show" as "CBS This Morning," the former name of the show (video available here). During the interview, Couric told "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith that she hoped viewers would find her broadcast “instructive” and spun the low ratings of the “CBS Evening News” as something positive:
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?
Asked at the Aspen Institute's “Ideas Festival” in early July -- but just broadcast Saturday night on C-SPAN -- about the charge of liberal bias, incoming CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric was condescendingly dismissive. She blamed her viewers, calling it a “Rorschach test” which demonstrated how “oftentimes people put their, they see you from their own individual prisms. And if you're not reflecting their point of view or you're asking an antagonistic question of someone they might agree with in terms of policy, they see you as the enemy.” Later in the July 5 session, however, she presumed FNC does have a bias: “You have Fox which espouses a particular point of view."
Bob Schieffer appeared alongside Couric at the Colorado forum hosted by Aspen Institute President Walter Isaacson, the former CEO of CNN and Managing Editor of Time magazine. Schieffer contended that “the press is like a draft army. It generally reflects the society that it comes from” and insisted: “I know some reporters who have very hard-right views and some who have hard-left views.” I'd like to learn which journalists he considers “hard-right.” Schieffer also forwarded another common argument in rejection of liberal bias: “The greatest defense against charges of bias is accuracy.” In fact, a story can be accurate and yet still reflect a biased agenda. (Transcript follows)
As Brent Baker noted, Thursday marked the end of Bob Schieffer’s reign as anchor of the CBS "Evening News." And like the "Evening News," the Friday "Early Show"played Katie Couric’s tribute video to Mr. Schieffer. After morning viewers watched the video, "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith sat down with Mr. Schieffer to discuss the future. Smith began this morning’s Schieffer tribute by taking a shot at the "Evening News" former anchor, Dan Rather:
"When Bob Schieffer stepped down as anchor fo the CBS "Evening News" on Thursday, he left the place in a lot better shape than he found it..."
At the end of Thursday's CBS Evening News, with a slap on her arm Bob Schieffer greeted incoming anchor Katie Couric in front of the new set, which Schieffer said he couldn't show “because it's not quite finished yet.” Before viewers saw a pre-taped tribute to Schieffer narrated by Couric, she gushed: “I can't imagine following in the footsteps of a kinder, more gracious person.” Following the tribute, which ended with Schieffer choking up while thanking his parents and his wife, Schieffer got what Dan Rather did not on his last night: Handshakes at the side of the studio from CBS executives. For Schieffer, CBS News President Sean McManus and CBS President Les Moonves -- at least it looked like them in the crowd of applauding staffers and family members..
According to a new biography of Dan Rather, one longtime CBSer -- no, not Rather himself -- believes what most NewsBusters readers believe: that incoming CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric is in the tank for Hillary Clinton.
In his review of Alan Weisman's Lone Star, Dave Shiflett of Bloomberg News writes that
[f]ormer [CBS] congressional correspondent Phil Jones tells Weisman that Couric is "a liberal Democrat who is so in love with Hillary Clinton'' that it could pose a problem if Clinton runs for president.
We're left believing that Rather's critics will soon be pining for the good old days when straight-shooting Dan ruled the CBS roost.
Near the end of the CBS broadcast of the PGA tournament Sunday night, CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz promoted the forthcoming "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric," with a very typical serving of historical boilerplate about the "CBS Evening News" tradition, starting with Douglas Edwards, and including Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Bob Schieffer, and now Couric.
The untrained viewer might think from the list that Egbert Murrow (sorry, that's the name he was born with) was an anchorman of the "CBS Evening News," which he never was. Too bad they didn't illustrate it with Katie standing next to Hillary in the sky-blue Mao suit.
Surely with a story about skin care, Regan at least featured a dermatologist or two to back up the push for more FDA regulation of sunscreen lotions, right?
Regan highlighted calls for further FDA regulation of sunscreen lotions by liberal state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Consumer Union environmental health scientist and eco-labeling project director Urvashi Rangan.
Rangan's gripe was that SPF factor labeling misleads the consumer about protection from ultraviolet radiation. Rangan claimed most sunscreens don't in fact protect against UVA radiation. But by failing to look for more information or a dissenting view, Regan left out information which could cut against a pro-regulatory agenda.:
On Thursday, all three network evening newscasts covered the ruling by a federal judge against the Bush administration's controversial NSA spying program that involves warrantless monitoring of international phone calls when one participant is a terrorist suspect. Stemming from a case filed by the ACLU and other plaintiffs, Judge Ann Diggs Taylor, a Carter appointee, found the program to be unconstitutional. Unlike CNN and FNC, which conveyed that the ruling would likely be overturned, none of the network evening newscasts mentioned the liberal credentials of Judge Taylor or the debate over judicial activism and legal weaknesses in the ruling, such as the issue of whether the plaintiffs had standing to file the lawsuit, since the plaintiffs themselves were not found to be the subjects of surveillance. (Transcripts follow)
After months of encouraging media hype, incoming "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric is now trying to downplay expectations that she'll bring viewers to the last-place network nightly.
Katie Couric won't be altering her look. She won't be going off to war
merely to read the news while "standing somewhere in a flak jacket."
And most of all, she isn't expecting any big "surge" in ratings for CBS
Evening News With Katie Couric this fall.
As the network's promotional blitz for its new $60 million anchorwoman
kicks into high gear, Couric, who will debut in her new role Sept. 5,
yesterday launched a counter-campaign of sorts, ratcheting down
expectations and softening the drumbeat of hype.
The Washington Post might like to be known as rough and tough, skeptical and questioning, but when it comes to TV news stars, sometimes they sound like a publicist's best friend. Tuesday's big Style profile on Katie Couric is headlined "Up Close and Too Personal: Katie Couric, Center of Attention, Says She Just Wants to Do Her Job." For an article on how Katie is overscrutinized, it's funny how nowhere in the article did media reporter Howard Kurtz ever question whether she's fair and balanced in her journalism. It began with syrup:
She is already the most heavily scrutinized, psychoanalyzed and gossiped-about anchor in network history, and she hasn't yet uttered a single "good evening" on a CBS newscast.
Katie Couric is on the cover of today's Parade Magazine supplement in the Sunday Washington Post, among other papers nationwide. The article by novelist Jacquelyn Mitchard (the first author honored by Oprah's Book Club, Parade tells us) seems pitched at the female viewer, with heavy focus on her personal life and personal grief. But there are a few tidbits about the news. For one, Couric had one quote that sounded like her CBS ad: "The biggest job isn't telling people what happened. It's getting them to understand why they should care." Sounds like a recipe for a lot of editorializing.
Just above that, Mitchard complains about anyone who would question the gravitas of Couric taking over the Dan Rather chair in media distortion. The nerve! She may be talking about you, Matt Felling, meow:
How strong is the word "martyr"? After the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi last June, Aljazeera.net reported that a Jordanian got in trouble for using that word to describe Zarqawi, his former countryman.
Jordan's parliament has condemned an Islamist MP for calling Abu Musab al-Zarqawi a "martyr" and demanded that his party question him and three other members for attending the dead al-Qaida leader's wake.
Mohammed Abu Fares tried to ease the blow of his statement.
He said later that the term did not apply to Jordanians who died in last November's triple hotel blasts in Amman. The attacks were claimed by al-Zarqawi's group.
All this controversy over a word that CBS correspondent Jim Stewart used freely yesterday to describe the would-be plane terrorists who were stopped by the British government.
In leading Wednesday's CBS Evening News with how Senator Joe Lieberman lost the Democratic primary in Connecticut, fill-in anchor Harry Smith highlighted the number of U.S. servicemen killed in Iraq. Smith announced: “The war in Iraq, which has cost nearly 2,600 Americans their lives, has just taken its first major political casualty here at home.” And a day after CBS's Trish Regan described as “infamous” the embrace, derided as “The Kiss” by supporters of Connecticut Senate hopeful Ned Lamont, between President George W. Bush and incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman in the well of the House after Bush's 2005 State of the Union address, reporter Jim Axelrod dubbed it the “kiss of death.” Over video of the embrace, with “KISS OF DEATH” on screen, Axelrod asserted: “President Bush's embrace of Joe Lieberman gave Ned Lamont the perfect image to hang around his opponent's neck in a Democratic primary." (Partial transcript follows)
Twice on Tuesday, CBS News correspondent Trish Regan labeled as “infamous” the embrace, derided as “The Kiss” by supporters of Connecticut Senate hopeful Ned Lamont, between President George W. Bush and incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman in the well of the House after Bush's 2005 State of the Union address. Regan didn't attribute the characterization to Lieberman's opponents. She stated it as fact. On the Early Show she explained over brief video of the event: "Ned Lamont has used this now infamous kiss to his advantage on campaign buttons and television ads, suggesting Lieberman is just too cozy with the President." Then on the CBS Evening News, Regan asserted over the same video: “His campaign has used images like this now infamous kiss." (Picture of "The Kiss" follows)
On the August 7 CBS Evening News, while filing a story about stem cell research on mice aimed at some day treating deafness in humans, correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin curiously implied that mouse embryos are not living, perhaps betraying a bias in how she views embryos in general. As she described research by Stanford University scientist Dr. Stefan Heller in which he injects stem cells into the ears of "mouse embryos," Kaledin informed viewers he plans to later try injecting stem cells into fully developed mice, which she referred to as "live mice," as if embryos were not technically alive. Kaledin: "He and his colleagues have figured out how to inject stem cells into the ears of mouse embryos and watch them grow. Their next step is to try it in live mice."
On Monday, the CBS Evening News with Bob Schieffer (but anchored by Harry Smith) aired a new promo for the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric in which Couric promised a newscast that will not just explain “what happened,” but also what the news “means to you.” That sounds just like a plug for the worst of gimmicky local TV “news you can use.” Couric maintained, of providing what the news “means to you,” that “I'd like to see more of that and I think viewers would too." For Couric's portion of the 15-second promo, CBS made her image fuzzy, as well as the knick-knacks and flowers in the background. Could the Martha Stewart-like stage be the new “news” set? Beside her you can see a phone and what looks like the top of a computer screen. Maybe the blurry image is intended to convey warmth and softness.
Using the very same expert the CBS Evening News cited on Monday, Wednesday's NBC Nightly News made -- as its second story of the night -- the case that the current heat wave can be blamed on global warming. Anchor Brian Williams set up the piece by ruminating about how “you hear a lot of people saying it didn't used to be like this, didn't used to be this hot, and because of global warming we've done this to ourselves.” Reporter Tom Costello asked: “So is our current heat wave a symptom of global warming?" Jay Gulledge of the self-interested Pew Center on Climate Change confirmed “this heat wave” is “completely consistent with what we expect to become more common as a result of global warming,” before Costello noted there have been heat waves in the past, but insisted that “experts say our current heat wave is unique."
Costello soon cautioned that “scientists want to see whether this heat wave is part of a pattern of longer more intense heat waves before declaring it all part of a bigger global warming phenomenon.” Costello concluded, however, without any doubt, as he referred to “the concern that in the coming decades 100 degrees may be the new summertime norm.” (Transcript and more follows)
On yesterday's "Evening News," CBS reporter Bob Orr's story on a global warming link to the heat wave was cut short due to an overheated satellite truck.
“Just to underline how hot it is, the remote truck that Bob
Orr was broadcasting from just overheated and we had to shut it down,” anchor
Bob Schieffer explained as the story ended abruptly.
Were I a conspiracy theorist I'd think it was just a gimmick to highlight CBS's slanted coverage of global warming as settled science. While Orr possibly could have included a dissenting view somewhere later in his half-aired report, I somehow doubt it.
Before his report cut off, Orr cited Pew Center climatologist Jay Gulledge, who he said argues there "no longer any serious debate" on global warming.Gulledge also argues that it was pollution that staved off global warming in the 1970s.
In Miami, Cuban-Americans were literally dancing in the street at the prospect that the repressive regime of Fidel Castro might finally be drawing to an end. But back in Cuba, people greeted the news of the great liberator's illness with dismay. At least, they did according to CBS News' woman-on-the-spot.
On this morning's Early Show, CBS ran a brief clip of a phone interview with Portia Siegelbaum, a CBS News producer based in Cuba. Here is the entirety of her report:
"The news of Castro's illness was most unexpected. I spoke to half-a-dozen people last night and they seemed most shook up by his handing over power, even if provisionally, to his younger brother Raul."
For nearly all of his presidency, George W. Bush has been on the receiving end of mainly negative — sometimes highly negative — coverage from the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts, according to a new report from the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA), a nonpartisan research group. The only time the TV networks gave Bush mostly (63%) positive coverage was during the three months following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and even then nearly four-in-ten on-air evaluations (37%) of the President were critical.
The findings are included in the latest issue of CMPA’s Media Monitor newsletter, which reached my (snail) mailbox on Friday. So far, it has yet to be posted on CMPA’s Web site, which appears to make this NewsBusters posting a World Wide Web exclusive.
On the CBS News "Public Eye" site, CBS Evening News producer Ward Sloane was interviewed in the "Ten Plus One" feature. The Public Eye team asked ten questions, and then added one from an outsider, who asked about media watchdog groups: "There is always a lot of criticism, particularly in the realm of political reporting, about journalists being biased against liberals or conservatives. There are organizations that exist primarily to highlight instances of such bias. How do you think that climate affects political coverage, if at all?" Sloane said all the media-bias talk was just fundraising hucksterism:
I do not believe that honest journalists worry about what such organizations say about their stories and pieces. Of course, political stories I’ve worked on have been picked up by both conservative and liberal organizations as being “unfair.” But for these folks, “unfair” is anything that doesn’t promote their agenda. And it is my belief, though I don’t have any evidence of this, that a lot of the howling about media bias is primarily a vehicle to raise money.
Do I think these organizations can be helpful? Not really; I think they just want to use journalists and their media outlets for their own purposes. People who read or subscribe to those organizations are going to think the media is biased anyway. Once in a blue moon, it may be that they do serve the purpose of poking a stick in my eye and asking, hey, did I slant that item?
CBS anchor Bob Schieffer on Friday night forwarded the idea that the Israeli situation in Lebanon matches the U.S. miscalculation in Iraq. “Despite this heavy bombing that Hezbollah's been getting from the Israelis,” Schieffer told reporter David Martin, “they continue to attack and some critics are saying the Israelis may have made the same mistake that the United States made in Iraq, and that is underestimated what they were up against.” Martin didn't address Schieffer's comparison of the Israel-Hezbollah war with the Iraq war, but he did confirm that “Pentagon officials say both U.S. and Israeli intelligence have underestimated the strength, capabilities, and resilience of Hezbollah.” (Transcript follows)
Jeffrey Lord writes in the American Spectator that the extreme partisanship of CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite is what created Fox News. For decades, CBS led all the others in being the most actvist network, and the sheer brazenness of that activism is what spawned the Fox News Channel.
Physicist Fritjof Capra, in his bestseller The Tao of Physics, writes that "by the very act of focusing our attention on any one concept we create its opposite." In other words, to use the language of physics, when Mr. Cronkite's very focused liberal world view blinked into the American consciousness, its conservative polar opposite blinked into existence along with it. The problem with Cronkite and his fellow "cultural artists" is that over time there emerged what seemed to many Americans as a very, very conscious decision to shut out the conservative world view altogether or, if forced to give it air time, to misrepresent it.
Thus Barry Goldwater found himself being portrayed on the CBS News as a Nazi sympathizer. A Republican Senate move to broaden the authority of the Senate Watergate Committee to investigate not just the 1972 presidential campaign but reports of Democratic malfeasance in the presidential campaigns of 1968 and 1964 was not simply defeated in the Democratic Senate but uninvestigated completely by Cronkite's CBS.
On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin could have cited a letter (PDF of it) to President Bush from Congressman Ike Skelton, ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, about how "nearly every non-deployed combat brigade in the active Army is reporting that they are not ready to complete their assigned wartime mission." But instead, when asked by anchor Bob Schieffer about the “strain” on troops longer deployments in Iraq will cause, Martin cited the left-wing's favorite Democrat as his authoritative source: "Congressman Jack Murtha said today Iraq has drained the Army to the point now that the vast majority of combat brigades in the U.S. and Europe are rated at the lowest level of readiness."
Without any mention of the vicious hostility the NAACP displayed toward President Bush since he spoke before the group in 2000, including a TV ad linking Bush's refusal to sign a hate crime bill to the dragging death of a black man in Texas, the Thursday broadcast network evening newscasts portrayed Bush as the one responsible for the estrangement. All stressed how Bush's Thursday appearance before the NAACP convention was his first and all three ran soundbites only from attendees critical of him.
"It took five and a half years, but President Bush finally said yes to the NAACP,” ABC's Charles Gibson asserted, elaborating: “The President has ignored invitations throughout his presidency to speak to the civil rights group.” Martha Raddatz emphasized Bush's absences: "The White House saw this as an opportunity the President couldn't pass up. But it is an opportunity he had passed up every year since he was elected.” CBS anchor Bob Schieffer highlighted how Bush “spoke today to the NAACP for the first time in six years as President.” Jim Axelrod relayed how “prior to Katrina, he never spoke to the convention as President, but since September, he's reached out to the head of the NAACP three separate times." NBC's Brian Williams set up a story by noting how “President Bush spoke to the NAACP for the first time in his presidency.” David Gregory asserted that efforts to reach out to blacks “have failed” and “then came Katrina and charges that racism motivated the federal government's slow response.” (Transcripts follow.)
"CBS Evening News" anchor Bob Schieffer participated in a phone interview with Bob Steele of the Poynter Institute yesterday. The discussion focused on Schieffer’s view of the current situation in the Middle East and caused Schieffer to pull out an old left wing talking point about war as he lamented:
"We have made a judgment that this is extremely important because this could set off a much wider war, a war that could, if it got big enough, could cause this country, for one thing, to have to reinstitute the draft."
I suppose, theoretically, Schieffer is correct, but is his fear logical? Is there serious discussion on Capitol Hill to bring back the draft? No, in fact the last time the idea of a draft came to a vote in 2004 it received 2 votes.
Jim Murphy, who castigated the MRC as “more biased” than the mainstream media and rejected criticism in NewsBusters when he was the Executive Producer of the CBS Evening News, will soon take control of ABC's Good Morning America. Broadcasting & Cable magazine's Web site today reported that ABC's news division “is expected to name Jim Murphy...as Senior Executive Producer of Good Morning America, according to sources inside ABC News.” Murphy ran the CBS Evening News for six years, until being replaced in November.
Last September, when two NewsBusters/MRC CyberAlert items criticized biased CBS Evening News stories about President Bush and Katrina (a CBS reporter gratuitously pointed out how Bush spoke “inside an air-conditioned tent” while most were sweltering and on another night CBS uniquely highlighted a slam at the Bush administration from Jimmy Carter), CBS's Public Eye blog asked Murphy to respond and he charged that the Media Research Center “is a much more biased organization than any institution in the MSM."
The "revolving door" is a
term reporters often cynically use to talk about the close
relationships that political and lobbying people have with each
other. It's certainly true that in American politics, many people do
move readily between working in government posts to lobbying
But what many journos won't tell you is
that there's another revolving door that politicos use, from politics
to media. They also won't tell you that only Democrats seem to have
the key. The number of Republicans moving into positions of influence
inside the media is small enough you can almost count it on one hand.
And in many cases, the sheer audacity of a former Republican politico
daring to set foot in the press has caused left-wingers, journalist
and blogger alike. The recent Ben
Domenech fiasco or the disgraceful hounding that Susan
Molinari experienced after being hired as an anchor at CBS are
potent examples of this.
Before starting her new job as anchor of the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric is going on a "listening tour" of the country. As Kathleen Parker writes in the Orlando Sentinel, this looks very similar to the "listening tour" that Hillary Clinton did in New York state in preparation for her Senate run.
The decision to send Couric around the country on a "listening tour," scheduled to wrap up Monday, was a poor calculation. First off, the free-associative mind goes straight to that other trailblazing female, Hillary Clinton, who launched a listening tour before running for U.S. Senate.
Katie, Hillary, Katie, Hillary -- two liberal peas in a pod? The question burrows in the mind and wants to stay.