On this morning’s "Early Show" CBS terrorism analyst and former FBI agent Christopher Whitcomb told co-host Hannah Storm that he believes the seized al Qaeda documents are believable, i.e. the ones where al Qaeda admits it’s losing in Iraq, and that the United States is making significant progress in the overall war on terrorism.
Ms. Storm began her interview of Mr Whitcomb inquiring about the authenticity of these al Qaeda memos:
"The Iraqi government has released a document it said was found at the site of the bombing when al Zarqawi was killed. Actually, the U.S. government says it was found a few weeks before on a hard drive. But the bottom line is this document says that al Qaeda's weakening. It's an al Qaeda document, supposedly. Do you buy it? Can we take it at face value?"
Yesterday Lee Cowan, of CBS News, may have exaggerated the size of the protests in Baghdad by people loyal to cleric Muqtada al Sadr, in response to President Bush’s surprise visit. But today, he made up for it. Cowan, reporting from Baghdad for "The Early Show" on CBS, was the only reporter on the 3 major network morning shows to quote from al Qaeda documents found after the death of terrorist leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi.
While "Good Morning America" on ABC and "Today" on NBC gave only cursory mention of the documents, "The Early Show" led the program with the story. Co-host Julie Chen noted the significance of the documents and what they could mean when she introduced Cowan’s piece:
After being off the last two days, Harry Smith returned to CBS’s "Early Show" this morning and apparently he didn’t forget the bias. Today Smith interviewed Dan Bartlett, a counselor to President Bush. While Smith set up Senator Joe Biden on June 5 to go on the offensive against the war, he tried his best to keep Bartlett on the defensive while downplaying President Bush’s surprise visit to Iraq yesterday.
Smith began the questioning:
"Well, the Iraqis now have a constitution. Now they actually have a government as well. What they don't have in Baghdad is day-to-day security or even electricity. How does the president's visit change that?"
After the indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former Chief of Staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on perjury charges, rumors have circulated that President Bush’s top political adviser Karl Rove would soon be indicted as well. Today, we found out that would not be the case.
On April 27, when Karl Rove was set to testify before the grand jury for the fifth time, CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante, appearing on "The Early Show" noted:
"Sources close to the case say they think that it’s almost at an end. If it is cleared up in Rove’s favor, that will be a big lift to this White House."
A big lift for the White House? You wouldn’t have known that watching "The Early Show" this morning. All that was said on the subject amounted to about 25 seconds and came from 2 anchor reads from co-host Julie Chen. In fact, the story wasn't big enough news to earn a tease or a mention at the top of the show, but at about 7:06 Chen mentioned:
MRC's Mike Rule noticed on Friday that CBS "Early Show" co-host Hannah Storm held fast to deeply pessimistic questions in an interview with Sen. John McCain. She began by wondering if Zarqawi's death would have any effect at all:
"Well, even the president, Senator McCain, had a notably cautious response yesterday to the fact that al Zarqawi was dead. He said we can expect terrorists to carry on without him. What's your assessment? Will his death have any impact on the level of violence? Particularly the civil war that's raging in Iraq now?"
As I noted yesterday, while most Americans were celebrating the military success that killed the most wanted terrorist in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, there were still some in the media trying to spin the development in a negative light. That trend continued on the CBS "Evening News" with Bob Schieffer last evening. In one segment, Schieffer interviewed two critics of the war in Iraq, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman and CBS News Analyst Michael Scheuer. Scheuer had also appeared earlier in the day on "The Early Show."
Schieffer focused on Friedman first, inquiring what Friedman thought about the development:
On a day when many in America are rejoicing at the death of the most wanted man in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a man who is responsible for countless deaths in Iraq and who made it his mission to spark civil war, CBS brought in a long time Bush administration critic to discuss its implications on this morning's "Early Show." Co-host Harry Smith, utilizing spin that would make "Baghdad Bob" jealous, attempted to portray Zarqawi’s death as being bad news for America, and his guest, CBS News Terrorism Analyst Michael Scheuer, was happy to back his assertions even going so far as to claim Zarqawi’s death was good for Al Qaeda.
The New York Times isn’t the only media outlet to try to find signs of GOP defeat in the midst of Brian Bilbray’s Republican victory in a San Diego special election for Congress. CBS reporter Jerry Bowen carried a sense of Democrat Francine Busby’s moral victory throughout his story on The Early Show this morning. Bowen began:
"In the end, California’s closely watched 50th District stayed Republican...When disgraced Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham went off to prison for taking millions of dollars of bribes, no one predicted what just might happen as voters in this 25-year-long Republican stronghold picked his replacement...That a Democrat, local school board member Francine Busby, even had a chance."
CBS’s Early Show co-hosts, in the wake of the June 6 loss in a special congressional election, did the best they could to put a positive spin on the fortunes of Democrats. Co-host Hannah Storm interviewed Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer at 7:11AM EDT about yesterday’s election. The Democratic candidate lost, but that didn’t stop Schieffer from prognosticating what this event signified for the future:
Schieffer: "So, who knows what's going to happen? But this has to be a sign to Republicans that they, they might lose the House, I think. I mean, not just, I'm not just saying this, this particular race....But I think this is just one more sign that you might see something happen this time."
Now, keep in mind, this is a race that the Republicans won. A victory that was achieved despite the media’s constant parroting of the Democratic "culture of corruption" talking points.
Looks like another person on the CBS payroll missed a memo. First it was weatherman Dave Price giving positive reports on Iraq. Now, on this morning’s "Early Show" Colonel Randy Larsen, the director of the Homeland Security Institute and according to co-host Hannah Storm, a CBS News consultant, debunked a few myths that have been promoted by the media.
Larsen used the arrests in Canada to defend the National Security Agency’s (NSA) reported collection of phone records data and to illustrate its usefulness:
"But, it's a superb example, Hannah, of this controversy in the past few weeks about NSA and having the big database of telephone calls. When they arrested these people this weekend, they got cell phones and they got access to other phone numbers they didn't have before. And I'll tell you what, as a U.S. citizen, I'm really happy there's a database we can quickly look into now and see who they've been calling in the United States and start looking into that. So, there's a specific example of about how this data mining can really provide us more security here."
On this morning’s "Early Show" on CBS, co-host Harry Smith continued his crusade against the war in Iraq, and suggested that not only is the war in Iraq a quagmire, but the whole war on terror is one as well. In an interview with Senator Joe Biden, a Delaware Democrat and probable candidate for President in 2008, Smith accentuated the negative in Iraq without challenging Biden on his positions.
Smith set the tone for the segment with his first question, suggesting that nothing has been accomplished in Iraq:
"The insurgency appears to be operating virtually at will. Have we made no progress there or is there, do you see any signs of hope of this ending?"
On this Morning’s Early Show, co-host Harry Smith turned himself into a one man anti-war protest by delivering a two minute commentary on the loss of life in Iraq and the lack of progress being made. His statement may have been intended as an expression of grief over the losses suffered by CBS, the deaths of crew members James Brolan and Paul Douglas, and the injuries sustained by CBS News Correspondent Kimberly Dozier, but it was clear that Smith and CBS are now firmly against the war in Iraq and believe the cost of the war is too high. It was Harry Smith’s "Walter Cronkite moment." For those who do not understand the reference, it refers to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Cronkite">Walter Cronkite’s statement on the "CBS Evening News" on February 27, 1968 that the US was stuck in a stalemate in Vietnam. Today, Smith began his diatribe against the war in Iraq implying that death is so common in Iraq that we are desensitized to it:
Former Vice President Al Gore was on "The Early Show" this morning to discuss his documentary about global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," and his political future with co-host Harry Smith. The former Vice President, or as Harry Smith referred to him, this "road warrior for the environment," claimed there was no reason to debate the existence of global warming, "And, I’ve been trying to tell this story for 30 years, Harry, and the debate among the scientists is over. There’s no more debate, we face a planetary emergency." Harry Smith acknowledged that global warming is not a universally accepted fact, but also charged that it’s the conservative media who don’t accept the premise, "But if I look at more elements, more conservative elements of the media, I would say there is a debate going on..." Mr. Gore responded by comparing conservatives who question the science supporting global warming to those who question the moon landing or the shape of the Earth. Harry Smith did not question this conclusion, instead he just interjected "right." In fact, this sounded less like an interview, and more like a discussion on the Senate floor between 2 liberal Democrats who agree with each other.
It got a little crazy in the 8:30 half hour of "The Early Show" on CBS as co-host Harry Smith, hosted a segment on "organic furniture." Smith interviewed Susanna Salk, a special projects editor for "House and Garden" magazine. The segment focused on "green" fashion and the benefits of hemp. Why is this a big deal? Hemp is monitored by the DEA because it resembles marijuana and as USA Today reported, "The DEA says allowing farmers to grow hemp in the USA would undermine the war on drugs."
Smith acknowledged the relationship between hemp and marijuana:
"And every time you say hemp, people are going to giggle because they think they can smoke their chairs."
The Friday morning and evening broadcast networks shows pounced on how when asked, at the joint Thursday night Bush/Blair press conference, whether he had any regrets about the conduct of the war in Iraq, President Bush responded: “Saying, ‘bring it on.' Kind of tough talk you know that sent the wrong signal to people” and “some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner. You know, ‘wanted dead or alive.'”
CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer suggested Bush isn’t always so honest as he described it as “an unusual burst of candor from President Bush.” Schieffer soon called it an “extraordinary statement” and reporter Jim Axelrod agreed it was “startling.” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams found Bush’s answer so important that he played a stand-alone clip of the “most interesting moment” and brought aboard Tim Russert who saw a “remarkable, remarkable admission." On her last night as anchor of World News Tonight, ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas asserted that “some of the bold talk we once heard from them is gone. Now they are voicing regrets and admitting mistakes.” Jake Tapper framed a story around how Bush and Blair “came together to project confidence in the new Iraqi government, but perhaps what came across strongest was regret." (Transcripts, and a brief look at the mornings shows, such as how NBC’s Today opened with “Admitting Mistakes” on screen, follow.)
Are American troops savages? Harry Smith grasped onto today's leak in the "New York Times" to suggest so. On CBS’s "The Early Show" this morning, the co-host interviewed General George Casey, commander of coalition forces in Iraq. Smith’s questions focused on the negative, such as alleged atrocities by Marines and the loss of life in Baghdad. He asked nothing about whether hope can be found in the new Iraqi government coming together. Smith’s questions may have been designed to rattle the General, but General Casey remained level headed and confident throughout Smith’s grilling of him.
Smith began the segment by implying that U.S. troops randomly kill civilians:
Hannah Storm, co-host of CBS’s "The Early Show," interviewed CNN’s Anderson Cooper, anchor of "Anderson Cooper 360" about his new memoir. Storm was gushing over Cooper, referring to him as "one of the brightest stars in the news business" and as the "popular CNN anchorman," as she introduced him:
"Anderson Cooper is one of the brightest stars in the news business. The popular CNN anchorman became a household name after his reporting on Hurricane Katrina. But, this is certainly not the first time the seasoned journalist has come face to face with death and disaster. For years, Cooper's been covering war and poverty in countries that often get little attention here at home. And, he writes about both his personal and professional experiences in his new memoir, ‘Dispatches from the Edge.’"
Once again Harry Smith reported from Baghdad for this morning’s Early Show. This morning, his focus was talking with ordinary Iraqis about their life during the war, and Harry Smith may have once again been surprised when he heard one Iraqi thank America and all Americans who supported the war for what they did for Iraq. Rene Syler opened this segment:
Rene Syler: "We see opinion polls almost weekly telling us how Americans feel about the war in Iraq. But what do ordinary Iraqis think? Harry's live in Baghdad with that story. Harry, good morning."
Harry Smith: "Rene, an extraordinary opportunity. Seven Iraqi young men, all in their 20s, all college educated, they all speak English. We talked about everything from the danger of their everyday lives to Saddam Hussein and the role of America in this country. Now their answers will enlighten you, and they may surprise you."
Harry Smith, co-host of CBS’s "The Early Show," has spent the last few days reporting from Baghdad. On Friday, he reported the security situation was such that he couldn’t go out and get ice cream. But today, he decided to look for a success story. He found one, but he proved that while he can report a bad news story without mentioning any good news, he can’t report a success story without finding negative items to talk about. Reporting from Baghdad, Harry Smith began his piece, which profiled the work of the U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division’s work in the town of Sababor, talking about the violence in Iraq: "Yeah, good morning. I'll tell you what, just an illustration of how much bad news there is here. A friend of mine here in Iraq told me the other day 'the busiest people in this town are the terrorists.'" Later, he talked of a bombing in Sababor which occurred a month ago: "It hasn't been easy. Just a month ago, a bomb here killed 15 people."
And at one point, "The Early Show" co-host appeared surprised to learn that people in Sababor view Americans positively. And Smith seemed even more shocked when one of the boys told him his name was "Bush" after Smith had an apparent James Bond like moment in introducing himself to the boy.
Video clip of exchange between Iraqi kid who called himself "Bush" and Smith (21 seconds): Real (700 KB) or Windows Media (825 KB), plus MP3 audio (125 KB)
Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) appeared on CBS' The Early Show this morning, along with several others, to discuss winning the JFK "Profiles in Courage" award.
During the interview, Murtha went on an anti-War rant, to which The Early Show's co-anchor Julie Chen said nodded in agreement and said "absolutely":
MURTHA: And I said there's not only no progress, it's worse than it was pre-war. This thing has been mishandled so badly. The american people need to hear. We're spending $450 billion on this war by the end of the year, $9 billion a month, and so we need to change course.
On CBS’s "The Early Show" this morning, co-host Harry Smith reported from Baghdad. However, unlike Dave Price, the "Early Show weatherman who reported on high morale and security progress in Iraq -- his reporting can be seen here and here -- Smith focused on the negative, and even complained that the security situation is so bad that he couldn’t go out and get ice cream.
Harry Smith: "Now the one other example I can give you of what the security situation is like here, just around our hotel, it's very, very secure. But when I asked our folks if I could go down to the corner and out of the secure zone to get an ice cream last night they said it's a risk just simply not worth taking. Hannah."
Networks fixate on tax cuts ‘for the rich’ while ignoring exploding tax revenues.
While Congress hammered out a $70 billion tax-relief bill last week, the media wasted no time spinning it. After the House approved its version on May 10, the “NBC Nightly News” cited “Democratic critics [who said] the overall bill is heavily tilted in favor of the very wealthy.” At roughly the same time, the “CBS Evening News” presented a graphic to its viewers showing “for incomes of $50,000 or less, you’ll average no more than $46 in savings.”
The following day, ABC’s “Good Morning America” team offered a $20 bill to shoppers at a New Jersey mall as a cynical demonstration of how little this tax cut would help some Americans.
All totaled, the broadcast networks did 16 reports on this issue in their three-day blitzkrieg, largely with the same predictable mantra: tax cuts favor the rich. Conspicuously absent was an honest assessment of just how much lower wage earners in America have benefited from the most recent income tax changes, as well as how much the government has benefited from higher tax revenues.
The Truth Hurts Without question, the best thing government can do for low-income families is not burden them with income taxes. Toward that goal, according to a March 30 report by the Tax Foundation’s Scott Hodge, the percentage of Americans not paying any federal income taxes has exploded in the past few years as a result of recent tax changes:
As Rich Noyes pointed out yesterday, the morning shows jumped on the "USA Today" story about the NSA having phone records of ordinary Americans. This morning, CBS’s "The Early Show" continued with the coverage, and used the story to revive one of their favorite terms, "Domestic Spying." In covering this story this morning, co-host Harry Smith interviewed Delaware Senator Joe Biden, a critic of the NSA program, and asked softball questions. With the exception of 2 short clips of President Bush and 1 clip of General Michael Hayden, the President’s nominee to be CIA Director, viewers did not hear from any supporters of the NSA’s actions.
Harry Smith opened the broadcast with the following tease:
"Good morning I’m Harry Smith. The heat turns up again on the domestic spy scandal as members of Congress call for an investigation into a report that the government collected the phone records of millions of Americans. We'll have the latest."
Just to get things started on a Friday, "The Early Show" on CBS had a segment on Milwaukee's missing Alexis Patterson, who was something of a cause celebre a few years back for being the barely known black girl that proved the Only Missing White Girls Matter rule. But CBS used graphics for the story with the words "Without A Trace." Repeatedly.
While that may describe the Patterson case, they also ape the title of a hit CBS Thursday night program. What next? What CBS shows lend themselves most easily to cross-promotional graphic word play?
The easy list: Close to Home, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, Out of Practice, Still Standing, Yes Dear.
The would-never-work list: Numb3rs, The New Adventures of Old Christine.
Okay, now I'm not a regular CBS entertainment watcher, but Hillary Profita on the CBS News "Public Eye" website explains how the "Without A Trace" feature is a follow-up from the Thursday night drama:
Seismic! Shocking! Startling! A bombshell!! That’s how the ABC, CBS and NBC morning shows described a front-page story in today’s (Thursday’s) USA Today that breathlessly touted how “NSA has massive database of Americans’ phone calls.” Like the TV coverage, USA Today’s story insinuated that the existence of the database was a major violation of Americans’ privacy rights and evidence that the President was lying last December when he described the NSA’s eavesdropping on suspected terrorist communications as limited and targeted.
Today’s article does not allege that any calls are listened in on. Indeed, as USA Today describes it, the program seems like a thoroughly innocuous database of the same information that appears on your phone bill, but with your name, address and other personal information removed. Given that another government agency — the IRS — maintains information on American citizens’ employment, banking, investments, mortgages, charitable contributions and even any declared medical expenses, this hardly seems like a major assault on personal liberty.
And for all of the hype, there may not even be much “news” here. Last December 24, a few days after they spilled the beans about the NSA terrorist surveillance program, New York Times reporters Eric Lichtblau and James Risen disclosed how U.S. phone companies were helping the NSA by giving them “access to streams of domestic and international communications.”
It was reported on this morning’s "Early Show" on CBS that the Dow Jones Industrial average is on the verge of reaching record highs. CBS correspondent Susan McGinnis went so far as to mention that was are "In a three-year bull market that has some experts predicting a new record could come any day." That raises the question, where has the media been the last three years? It appears that CBS wants to ignore positive economic news because maybe it will help President Bush and Republicans.
Despite the news that the Dow is on the verge of a record high, reporters were shocked that the blue chips are doing so well due to the facts, that they reminded viewers of of high gas prices and that real estate is down. Co-host Julie Chen offered the following story tease at the top of the program:
Bob Schieffer opened the May 9 edition of the CBS Evening News by trumpeting a new poll that suggested disaster for the Republicans in November. As usual, any information that didn’t support the liberal talking points was ignored or minimized. The network anchor made sure to point out that "President Bush's ratings have hit another all-time low."
A few of the results, however, somehow escaped mention. According to the poll, 39 percent of Americans supported drilling in ANWR in November 2002. A separate survey, conducted in February of 2005 found a similar 38 percent approval for the idea. CBS puts the current level of support at 48 percent. Now what could be the cause of this 9 point increase? Perhaps the media’s relentless pounding of the "gas crisis," 183 stories in three weeks, had unintended consequences? Schieffer omitted any reference to ANWR in his report.
The Washington Post has yet to editorialize on the nomination of Air Force General Michael Hayden to replace Porter Goss as CIA Director, but they’ve already done a fine job of debunking the notion that a uniformed officer has no business running the civilian CIA. Of course, that was when a liberal president picked a liberal admiral to run the agency.
Nearly 30 years ago, the Post sided with President Jimmy Carter when he named Navy Admiral Stansfield Turner, at the time the commander-in chief of Allied Forces in Southern Europe. The Post called objections to Turner’s military pedigree “misguided” and “insulting.” An excerpt of the Post’s February 9, 1977 editorial, headlined "Why Not a Military Man at CIA?" retrieved via Nexis:
Anyone with a working TV set knows that the broadcast networks have hyped the high gas price story (“Pain at the Pump”) to ridiculous levels. A new MRC study of the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows found a whopping 183 stories in just three weeks, an avalanche of TV coverage that (helpfully to Democrats planning their midterm election strategy) has buried far more important good economic news, like robust economic growth, low unemployment and a booming stock market.
One device the networks have used to maintain an outraged tone in all of their coverage has been to plant themselves next to gas pumps and find motorists who aren’t embarrassed about whining on camera. The MRC analysts who went through all of the coverage — Geoff Dickens, Brian Boyd, Mike Rule and Scott Whitlock — counted 151 sound bites from gas buyers during the period we studied, April 12 to May 2.
On this morning’s Early Show, co-host Hannah Storm implied to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist that the Congress ought to pay attention to the immigrant boycott and protests from yesterday and pass "immigration reform," a euphemism for "amnesty." That if one million immigrants rallying across the country isn’t enough, what more is it going to take:
"Wanna change gears here for a second because Monday over one million immigrants skipped work and skipped school and marched in streets across America. What is it going to take, Senator, for Congress to come together and institute some meaningful immigrant reform, and how long is that going to take?"