This past week, the media made a very clear distinction between how they view a Republican scandal and one involving a powerful Democrat. MRC analysts found that, over a period of 12 days, the big three networks aired 150 stories on the Mark Foley scandal.
How did those same networks cover an investigation into Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and a very questionable land deal? They generally ignored the story. In the case of CNN, the October 12 "American Morning" aired almost 20 minutes of Foley coverage and devoted 35 seconds to Reid
Not to be outdone, print media also glossed over the emerging Reid scandal. "The New York Times" prefaced a story about Reid earning $1.1 million on a property that he hasn’t owned in three years with this headline: "Senator Offers to Amend Financial Forms." The "Times" is certainly generous in offering the benefit of the doubt...as long as you’re a Democrat.
Not all vulnerable seats in the midterm elections are currently occupied by Republicans. This was the shocking revelation on Friday’s "Early Show," and as their example, they chose to profile Michael Steele and the Maryland Senate race. For anyone not knowledgeable about this campaign, the piece seemed fairly positive. But, for those familiar with the background of this race, there was a glaring omission. In July 2005, Democratic operative, Lauren Weiner, invaded Mr. Steele's privacy and illegally obtained a copy of his credit report, but this went unreported in Trish Regan’s story. According to the Washington Post, this Democratic scandal led to an FBI investigation and charges being filed against Ms. Weiner; Weiner plead guilty to the charges in federal court. Could this be because it would be a Democratic scandal? This isn’t the first time CBS has omitted facts damaging to Democrats, as again the "Early Show" remained silent about Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s lucrative, yet questionable, land deal.
With North Korea testing nuclear weapons and Democrats demanding that the Bush administration engage in bilateral talks with them, it should come as no surprise that the "Early Show" once again turned to Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution for analysis. O’Hanlon, made his 17th appearance of the year on Thursday’s "Early Show" where he was sure to plug his book. "Early Show" co-host Hannah Storm conducted the interview and pondered why, if the Democrats and Kofi Annan and the North Koreans want the Bush administration to engage the North Koreans directly, why wouldn’t President Bush simply acquiesce:
"But first President Bush said Wednesday that negotiating directly with North Korea would not have stopped that country's nuclear tests, and he added there would be no one-on-one talks now, that's something that Democrats are calling for...Also, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has called for direct talks. The North Koreans has asked for it. Why does the president say no?"
South Park's resident juvenile coffee addict would find little solace in today's "Early Show" where CBS's Rene Syler trumpeted a "shocking" report that found decaf coffee contains <gasp> caffeine.
Well, duh. Decaffeination removes most, not all the caffeine that naturally occurs in a drink such as coffee. And medical experts have known it for years. But that didn't stop Syler and correspondent Randall Pinkston from hyping the University of Florida study or to play up caffeine's health risks.
“Thousands of people do drink decaf because of health issues,” for medical reasons “but if you drink decaffeinated coffee because you think you’re eliminating” the stimulant, “think again,” cautioned Pinkston, pointing to a recently published study from the University of Florida.
A phalanx of Democrats, led by Hillary Clinton, claims the Bush administration is to blame for the N. Korean nuclear test. John McCain responds, pointing out that it was the Clinton administration's failed "agreed framework" that let Kim Jong Il merrily go about his bomb-and-missile-making ways.
So how does Hannah Storm of CBS' Early Show frame the state of play?
"Sen. John Kerry said that you must be trying to burnish your credentials for the nomination process, he's referring of course to your presidential aspirations. I mean, what do you say to those who say that you're [her voice breaking into a horrifed squeak] politicizing this issue?"
Harry Smith continued to pounce on the Foley scandal on this morning’s "Early Show." Smith talked with former Secretary of State James Baker in the 7:00 half hour, and immediately focused on the Foley e-mail scandal and whether Speaker Hastert ought to resign his position over it. Unlike Bay Buchanan on Thursday’s "Early Show," Baker disputed that Hastert should be turned into a sacrificial lamb by Republicans, and refuted Smith's assertions that if Hastert would just resign, that the story would go away.
Smith began by asking Baker what he would do if he were in charge to help Republicans get passed the Foley scandal:
"First off, you know, you were known, one of your nicknames along the line was 'The Velvet Hammer.' You had a lot of responsibility for cleaning up messes from time to time. If you were in charge right now, what would you do?"
What did Speaker Hastert know about former Congressman Foley’s lurid communications with a former page, and when did he know it? This is an open question that will be resolved through investigations by the House Ethics Committee and the FBI. Yet before all the facts are known, "The Early Show" continued to clamor for Hastert’s resignation. The "Early Show" has raised the subject of Speaker Hastert resigning in at least two stories in each of the last four days. On Thursday’s program, Hannah Storm spoke with CBS’s idea of a balanced panel-- a Republican and a Democrat who agree that Hastert should resign his position.
In the 7:00 half hour of today’s program, Hannah Storm spoke with Republican strategist Bay Buchanan and Democratic strategist Kiki McLean. Storm focused her first questions to each of her guests on whether Hastert should resign:
Wednesday’s ‘Early Show" continued to hype the Mark Foley scandal. In a segment with Bob Schieffer, called "Capitol Bob," co-host Julie Chen wondered if Speaker Hastert should resign his position over the scandal, while Schieffer cited conservative sources such as "The Washington Times" to emphasize the trouble Hastert is in and conveyed to viewers his conviction that the Mark Foley scandal will cost the Republicans control of the House of Representatives.
"If I were a betting man, I would now bet that the Republicans are going to lose the House. Not by very much. But I think this may be just the thing to give the Democrats control of the House. This is really serious business for the Republicans right now."
Network morning shows stayed on the Mark Foley scandal on Tuesday. ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN all harped on the "conservative" Washington Times editorial calling for Speaker Dennis Hastert to resign. (The Times is conservative, but no one expects the networks to describe the liberal newspapers -- or themselves -- with an ideological label.) ABC's Brian Ross came on strong, suggesting the Republican problem was "one of hypocrisy, talking tough about going after pedophiles on the Internet but not doing much about it when it comes to one of their own." CBS's Hannah Storm wondered if the scandal would "take down the Republican leadership in the House." NBC's Tim Russert used a rare P-word quoting a panicked Republican: "If there's a perception that we overlooked perversion in order to hold on to power we are finished." And CNN brought on a braying Paul Begala and found Democrats were "particularly enjoying the fact" that House campaign chairman Thomas Reynolds was ensnared in the controversy.
In the wake of Rep. Mark Foley's sudden resignation over ABC finding his sexually charged electronic messages to teenage male House pages, Monday's broadcast network morning shows all began with Foley, and the networks presented doom-laden scenarios of a crumbling Republican majority and some demands for Speaker Dennis Hastert and other Republican House leaders to resign. "But this is more than just one man's downfall," insisted Matt Lauer on NBC. "It could be a major blow to the Republican Party, desperately trying to hold on to control of Congress in the coming midterm elections." ABC's Robin Roberts wondered, "this morning, newly revealed e-mails, the denials, dealings of a Congress in chaos. Could the Foley scandal cost the Republicans the House? "
ABC's Chris Cuomo and CBS's Julie Chen each pushed Tony Snow to suggest Hastert and others should resign. Chen also asked if Republican leaders should be questioned "under oath." ABC's George Stephanopoulos dramatically called the scandal "a Category Three hurricane and it's picking up steam." When CNN's Soledad O'Brien then tried to suggest she was "certainly not rushing for anybody's resignation," Snow protested: "Sure you are." None made historical comparisons with Democrats caught in sexual relationships with House pages or other teenagers.
Making his 16th appearance of the year on the "Early Show" on Monday, Brookings Institution senior fellow Michael O’Hanlon promoted his new book, "Hard Power: The New Politics of National Security," criticized Democrats for not having a National Security plan, and, unlike his 15 previous appearances, was labeled a Democrat. Yet, regardless of O’Hanlon’s criticisms of the Democrats, or observations of what Republicans are doing well, this is yet another example of the "Early Show" allowing a Democrat to offer election year advice to the Democratic party with no balance on the other side.
Storm began by inquiring about accusations made by Bob Woodward in his book, but soon changed the subject to the Democrats lack of a national security plan, while mentioning O’Hanlon’s party affiliation:
Thursday's CBS Evening News pondered the new technology used by political campaigns at YouTube, but national political correspondent Gloria Borger dwelled on the videos embarrassing to Republicans -- Sen. George Allen's "Macaca" remarks, a Florida House candidate's blacks-can't-swim comment, and Sen. Conrad Burns snoozing. (There was fleeting attention on the George W. Bush-Joe Lieberman "kiss" and its clearly Bush-loathing flavor.)
At least when CBS's The Early Show had Bill Plante study the phenomenon on Tuesday morning, he balanced Allen with a Democrat, Sen. Joe Biden joking about needing an Indian accent to walk into a 7-Eleven. Borger underlined Allen as an idiot: "Virginia Senator George Allen has become a poster child for what can go wrong when a candidate gets caught saying something stupid...the controversy paved the way for new charges this week that Allen has a racist past."
"Good morning, this is Harry Smith reporting from London today, June 10th, 1940. With Luftwaffe pilots now brazenly carrying out daylight bombing raids on London, it's clear that the war against Nazism is a failure."
Judging by his take on Iraq, that's presumably how Harry would have reported matters had he been around during the dark days of WWII. Fortunately, Churchill was there:
"Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age."
James Carville and Paul Begala were not the only Democrats on morning televison offering advice for Democrats as the midterm elections approach. On the "Early Show,"former Senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart, another democrat who got into trouble for extramarital affairs, discussed his new book, "The Courage of our Convictions: A Manifesto for Democrats." Like Carville and Begalia, Hart maintains the Democratic Party needs to grow a spine. During the segment with Hart, "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith allowed his populist beliefs to shine through, even has he noted the Democratic party is "adrift" and bemoaned the fact that the Democrats don’t really stand for anything:
Despite Bill Clinton's angry protestations, the bulk of the blame for America's failure to catch or kill Osama bin Laden lies squarely on the Clinton administration, at least according to terrorism analyst Michael Scheuer.
Scheuer's words, delivered on today's edition of CBS's "Early Show," must have come as a shock for co-host Harry Smith since the liberal media's usual refrain on bin Laden is to blame Bush for the failure to kill him back in the early days of the Afghanistan campaign.
That just isn't the case, Scheuer argued, implicitly criticizing the press.
"The former president seems to be able to deny facts with impugnity. Bin Laden is alive today because Mr. Clinton, Mr. Sandy Berger, and Mr. Richard Clarke refused to kill him," he said.
Video clip (1:34): Real (2.5 MB at 225 kbps) or Windows Media (2.9 MB at 256 kbps), plus MP3 audio (443 KB). Read on for transcript of the segment.
A couple of snippets from this morning's "news" segments on ABC and CBS...
On The Early Show, Rene Syler interviewed the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, and former Bush administration official, Richard Haass. After having played the video of Chavez calling Bush "the devil," of crossing himself and saying that he could still smell the sulfur in the air, Syler's first question for Haass, her first question on this head-of-state behaving that way on the world's primary diplomatic stage?
"Let's start with those comments by Hugo Chavez yesterday. He makes this personal attack on the president calls him the devil a number of times. Is that appropriate?"
What, Rene -- you couldn't figure that one out for yourself?
On Monday’s “Early Show,” co-host Hannah Storm interviewed First Lady Laura Bush. Unlike Mrs. Bush’s interview on “Today,” Storm’s questions were much more supportive of the first lady, yet she still managed to sneak in a few questions regarding America’s image abroad and the first lady’s role in approving President Bush’s speeches.
Storm held off until her fourth question before delving into the issue of America’s reputation abroad:
On Friday’s “Early Show,” CBS News correspondent Jerry Bowen offered a one sided global warming report. The story appealed to the emotions of viewers and only cited scientists who are alarmist on the subject. Bowen referred to specific findings and opinions offered by scientists who claim “man made” global warming is a threat, while only offering the reality that critics of man as the cause of global warming exist and not their opinions or research.
Citing NASA climate scientist, James Hansen, Bowen noted some frightening conclusions:
“He told a climate conference this week, ‘I think we have a very brief window of opportunity to deal with climate change, no longer than a decade at the most.’ If nothing is done, Hansen foresees a different world with rising seas that would put coastal regions under 3-20 feet of water, more heat waves, more prolonged droughts worldwide, and imminent extinction of animal species in the arctic, including polar bears...”
Over the last week, President Bush’s poll numbers have improved. While the media was quick to highlight poll results when the President’s numbers were declining, they have been less enthusiastic about noting his resurgence. Referring to the "New York Times," co-host of "Fox and Friends" Steve Doocy noted:
"...So, this is really big news for the White House and I'm sure it's going to be on page one. So anyway, with a –because I know that when the president's approval rating was falling, it was on page one..."
Mr. Doocy searched the entire front section of the "Times" on air and was unable to locate news of improving popularity for President Bush. However, it was not just the ‘New York Times" that has omitted improving poll numbers. NBC’s "Today" made no mention of an NBC poll just released yesterday showing President Bush’s approval climbing to 42%. Additionally, neither ABC’s "Good Morning America" nor CBS’s "Early Show" mentioned President Bush’s improved standing with American voters.
For a media that likes to complain about the incivility and personal attacks that Republicans have supposedly injected into our politics over the past generation, the networks' reactions to former Texas Governor Ann Richards underscore journalists' partisan approach to what is fair and what is foul.
In 1988, then-Texas state treasurer Richards laced her keynote address at the Democratic National Convention with a series of nasty, mocking attacks on then-Vice President George H. W. Bush. Instead of deploring her descent into the “politics of personal destruction” — as they might have if the speechmaker were a conservative Republican and the target was a liberal Democrat — the media elite swooned, with then-CBS anchor Dan Rather admiring her “scalpel-style attack” on the Republican presidential candidate.
Remembering Ann Richards this morning, all three broadcast network shows re-visited her ridicule of Bush, admiring it as “biting wit” and “fun-loving spirit,” with ABC’s Diane Sawyer touting Richards as the “sassy, funny homemaker who became Texas governor.” ABC, CBS and NBC all played the same sarcastic soundbite of Richards from 18 years ago. “Poor George. He can’t help it. He was born with a silver-foot in his mouth.”
On Wednesday’s "Early Show," co-host Rene Syler offered results from Tuesday’s primaries, but the labels were remarkably different. In Rhode Island, Syler classified Senator Chafee’s opponent as a "conservative," but in New York, Senator Clinton’s ultraliberal opponent was simply classified as "anti-war." Bob Schieffer offered commentary on the Rhode Island race, and called the Club for Growth "very conservative." Back in August, Connecticut Senate candidate Ned Lamont was labeled as "anti-war" while the "Early Show" never referred to Lamont backers as "very liberal."
The top story on the "Early Show" was the primary results, and the story was narrated by Rene Syler. She noted Stephen Laffey was a conservative:
Back in July, Time magazine elevated left-liberal blogger Ana Marie Cox, better known as Wonkette, to Washington editor of their online site, Time.com. Cox, whose background includes stints at Mother Jones and The American Prospect, had built her reputation, and audience, with occasionally witty, constantly snarky and generally profane commentary on the sex lives of Washington residents. But she had an audience, and Time apparently felt that that justified her promotion. So she moved from the fringes of the blogosphere towards the mainstream press.
And now she's moved further. It's a good bet, I'd think, that most of the audience of The Early Show don't know her background. Well, they didn't learn any of it from her appearance this morning, when she was introduced as, yes, the Washington editor of time.com. Yes, that's what she is. But she's not a non-partisan political analyst, not in any way, shape or form, even though CBS treated her, presented her to their audience, as if she were. She was the first analyst that CBS had on to talk about the President's speech last night. At least through the first hour, she was the only analyst that CBS had on to talk about the President's speech last night.
I wrote, earlier today, about how The Early Show began the broadcast this morning by politicizing 9/11. I had stopped watching after the Axelrod segment to write about it, and just recently got back to it. I was almost stunned by how right my headline had been. I just didn't know the half of it. The first hour of the show was filled with politics, the vast majority of it negative towards the Bush administration and the rest just inappropriate.
First, we had the Axelrod piece, as referenced earlier.
Axelrod: The President's aides have made it clear this is no time for politics, although his very presence here is a reminder of the lost popularity for Mr. Bush in the past five years....In the days and weeks after the President climbed that rubble pile at Ground Zero and promised revenge, the President had an 89% approval rating. Five years later that number is 36%. Later today the President will head from here in Manhattan to Shanksville, Pennsylvania. At 11:45 A.M., Mr. Bush will participate in a ceremony in Shanksville. He will then fly to Washington to lay a wreath at the Pentagon. At 9:00 tonight the President will address the nation in what we're told will be a non-political speech.
On Monday morning, the fifth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani appeared on the morning shows of each of the three broadcast networks, ABC’s "Good Morning America," NBC’s "Today," and CBS’s "Early Show. While "Good Morning America," and "Today" avoided talk of possible future campaigns, Rene Syler on the "Early Show" looked ahead to the Presidential campaign in 2008 and inquired if Mr. Giuliani would himself be a candidate:
"If I could, sir, ask you about your political aspirations because there's been a lot of talk. You remain a presidential prospect for 2008, will you run for president?"
The 5th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, is clearly an event that needs to be marked and acknowledged. One can only imagine the furor that would arise if the President of the United States were to neglect observing and commenting on the day. On the other hand, if he were to choose this particular time to come out with partisan political attacks, to attempt to take advantage of the anniversary observances in purely political ways, I believe we can say, with some confidence, that the mainstream press would be vociferous in their condemnation. History suggests to us that the media in this country is on the lookout for any signs of partisanship from the President today. (It also suggests that that vigilance is, shall we say, one-sided. Attacks against the President for allowing the towers to be destroyed "on his watch," as it were, would be unlikely to arouse the same sense of outrage.)
Look no further than NewsBusters for complete coverage of Katie Couric’s debut as the anchor of the "CBS Evening News." The MRC’s Brent Baker began the week by noting a previous Couric claim that she’s not biased, but Fox is. Additionally, the new anchor has hired liberal Douglas Brinkley as the show’s historian. On September 5, Couric appeared on "The Early Show," only to apparently forget the program’s name! (Perhaps the perky anchor should do some homework on her new network.)
Ms. Couric wasn’t the week’s only big news. On September 6, "Hardball" host Chris Matthews talked to a Green Party candidate who called for President Bush’s execution. He later told the man, "I like you already." Somewhat ironically, this was only a day after Matthews wondered if Republicans would be using "fear tactics" and other extreme strategies to get elected. (Perhaps calling for the President’s execution could be an example?)
In another Chris Matthews story, NewsBusters Editor Matthew Sheffield talked to the host and was told the Valerie Plame story is now too complicated for coverage. In international news, Mr. Sheffield also noted the BBC’s continuing refusal to disclose the religious background of terror suspects.
Looks like CBS got itself a two-fer. Katie's not just an anchor - she's a comedian, too!
The highlight of her extended interview with Harry Smith on this morning's Early Show, touting her debut on tonight's CBS Evening News, was her claim that what the "old media" has to offer in contrast with the new media is . . . "integrity and standards."
Couric is apparently a jokester of the deadpan school, managing to get off the line without dissolving into guffaws. This from the woman about to take over the illustrious Dan Rather Forged Document Chair, named in honor of the hoax perpetrated by the old media and peremptorily exposed by that lacking-in-integrity new media. Is the irony lost on Katie that the opening for her job occured because Dan Rather was sacked over the exposure of his lack of integrity and standards?
This week, the MRC’s Megan McCormack brought us a second-by-second account of Kyra Phillip’s now infamous "bathroom chat." She also did a follow-up on FNC’s "Fox and Friends" parody of the event. Soon, the story became a full blown media sensation.
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..."
CBS News veteran Harry Smith finally confessed something that the Business
& Media Institute (BMI) have reported for a while and his
colleagues elsewhere in the media have already picked up on: gas prices
are on a downward trend.
"It seems like a month ago we were all screaming with our hair on fire
about the price of gas going over $3, no end in sight. And now it looks
like it's dropping like a stone," CBS’s Harry Smith marveled on the
August 31 edition of "The Early Show."