Monday’s CBS Evening News inaugurated a new series, “Eye on the Road,” the network’s latest gimmick to keep people outraged at the high cost of gasoline. Reporter Sharyn Alfonsi is driving from Florida to Boston to find people to complain about the high prices, and last night she highlighted senior citizens who are ostensibly sacrificing food and medicine because of Big Oil’s greediness.
Alfonsi highlighted a poll taken by the liberal lobbying group AARP to supposedly prove the hardship gas prices are having on the elderly. “They’re used to living on fixed incomes,” Alfonsi reported, “but now skyrocketing gas prices are forcing seniors to make difficult choices. Some are cutting back on medicine, others say they’re eating less.”
As she spoke, the screen showed the words “AARP Survey” plus the words “Cutting Back,” followed by “Medicine 6%,” then “Food 13%.”
But the poll wasn’t taken “now,” during the wave of network stories wailing about high gas prices. It was actually conducted for the AARP newsletter AARP Bulletin nearly eight months ago, in early September 2005, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and fairly extensive supply disruptions in the eastern U.S.
On this morning’s Early Show, in the 7:00 half hour, co-host Harry Smith interviewed Democrat Governor Bill Richardson and Republican Senator Lamar Alexander regarding the immigration debate. While Smith asked Richardson weak "how do you feel" questions, he grilled Senator Alexander over the issue. He began by asking about the protests: "Senator, let me ask you first, is this protest today a good idea?"
Senator Alexander, in his response tried to remind viewers what the protests were really about:
"Well, free speech is a part of living in this country. Unexcused absences from work or from school have consequences. And protests about legal immigration, I think most people in the Congress would welcome. Protests in favor of illegal immigration have very little sympathy here."
All three network morning shows played the envy card Thursday morning, as they hyped the “record high profits” and “corporate greed” of American oil companies. High on their agenda: ExxonMobil’s announcement of $8.4 billion in profits, which the networks implied was scandalous given the high price of oil.
But unstated in the network coverage was the fact that the U.S. government took in more than $7 billion from ExxonMobil during the first quarter of 2006, a jump of more than $2 billion from the same time period in 2005. And that doesn’t count the more than $7.6 billion in excise taxes — the gas tax — that ExxonMobil collected for the government during the same quarter. Plus another $11 billion in "other taxes" and ExxonMobil sent the government more than $25 billion in the first quarter of 2006 -- three times more than the amount network reporters seem to feel is obscene.
Big Government is making more off of high gas prices than Big Oil.
The subject of Iraq was once again discussed on this morning’s "Early Show" as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice both made unannounced visits to Baghdad to show support for the new government.
CBS News Correspondent Kimberly Dozier, reporting from Baghdad, mentioned that the formation of a unity government in Iraq will eventually allow US troops to draw down, though she made clear that it was unclear when this could happen. She also noted that Rumsfeld was visibly tired when he got off the plane, but it couldn’t just have been because he flew all night, no, Dozier implied it also had something to do with the criticism of some retired generals.
As reported last week, Dave Price, the weatherman on CBS’s "The Early Show" went to Iraq along with country music artist Charlie Daniels to entertain American troops. This morning, Price gave the first part of a two part series detailing his travels and interaction with the troops.
Once again, Price reassured viewers that troop morale is high, and showed some comments from men and women in uniform, for instance Price made the following statements:
"I went to cheer up the soldiers, but in most cases, they didn't need it."
"Of course morale was sky high during the shows, but what surprised me was what I heard after the music and the laughter faded."
MRC's Mike Rule noticed CBS's "Early Show" on Friday was going to extremes to play up the drama of recent gas price increases. People are now suddenly pawning items for gas money?
Julie Chen: “Oil prices reached a new record this morning, at one point they topped $73 a barrel. That's not helping high gas prices; some are going to extremes to pay for gas, pawning their belongings.”
Not even Harry Smith’s day off from the "Early Show" on CBS could spare viewers from his liberal agenda. In a previously taped segment, Smith interviewed actress Eva Longoria about her new movie "The Sentinel." While most of the interview revolved around the movie, Smith couldn’t resist asking the Latin actress about her views on immigration:
"Let me ask you a serious question. All the stuff that's happened over the last couple of weeks with immigration, and what's happening in Washington, what has your own heart been feeling about it?"
Longoria’s response was full of cliche and support for immigrants. However, like Harry Smith, she doesn’t distinguish between legal and illegal immigration. She even went on to infer that Mexicans have a right to be in America:
Harry Smith was at it again on CBS’s "The Early Show" this morning. He had two segments of note today. In the first notable segment, during the 7:00 half hour, he interviewed former Bush Administration aide Mary Matalin about the staff shakeups at the White House. And in the 8:30 half hour, he interviewed Jane Fonda about her memoirs, My Life So Far, which are being released in paperback.
In his interview with Mary Matalin, Smith wasted no time in getting to the bias. His first question to her was:
"What does it mean to the Republican faithful, these changes? What does it mean to these people who want to see the President succeed?"
The CBS Early Show this morning continued its tradition of "fair and balanced" reporting, as they addressed the interminable firestorm that has surrounded Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, seemingly since he was first appointed 5 1/2 years ago. They addressed the Rumsfeld issue twice in the first hour, and both times the focus was on the critics and criticism. There were no defenders of Rumsfeld in evidence, save for short clips from the President and the SecDef himself, and their comments were immediately followed by critics explaining how they're lying.
The first segment was the "straight news" report from CBS White House correspondent Bill Plante. This segment did include short clips from Bush and Rumsfeld, but immediately followed by "balancing" their comments with those of critics.
On April 10, left-wing organizations held a massive rally in Washington and other cities, demanding rights (and taxpayer benefits) for illegal aliens, and the liberal media couldn’t have been more excited. The networks had multiple stories, going from city to city, and breathless phrase to breathless phrase. CBS anchor Bob Schieffer played the worn cliche card: “Not since the protests of the Vietnam era has there been anything quite like it.” Bet ten bucks that CBS has said that about just about every large liberal protest they’ve covered. If that wasn’t enough to convince you, CBS also used on-screen graphics with earth-shaking metaphors like “Awakening Giant” to describe the protesters.
The April 18 Fox and Friends First provided a welcome alternative to the mainstream media’s fawning over the dissident generals attacking Donald Rumsfeld. FNC co-hosts Steve Doocy and Page Hopkins interviewed retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Robert Maginnis about his support for Rumsfeld. Doocy teased the segment this way:
Doocy: "Lieutenant Colonel Robert Maginnis. We’re going to talk to him live from down in D.C. about Mr. Rumsfeld. There is that drumbeat, okay, would you call it a drumbeat if there are seven generals, all retired, out of 8,000 active duty and retired generals, is that really a drumbeat?"
If you want a comprehensive picture of the situation in Iraq, you probably won’t get it from traditional news anchors. In fact today, on CBS’s "The Early Show" it took a report from Dave Price, the weatherman, for viewers to get a full picture of the conditions. Price has spent the last week in Iraq touring with entertainers, such as musician Charlie Daniels, who are performing for our troops. This morning, he filed a report from Baghdad where he hinted that things in Iraq really aren’t as bad as the media are making them out to be:
"And throughout this whole journey, despite what the headlines that we read and see in the United States are, the morale of the troops may surprise you."
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has been under attack lately from those in the press, and with Congress out of session, and not much happening in the world of politics over the Easter weekend, the attacks continued this morning on CBS’s "The Early Show." And, once again, Harry Smith got confused by the facts (remember this and this).
Smith interviewed Evan Thomas, Assistant Managing Editor of "Newsweek" magazine regarding an article that appeared in today’s edition of the publication, particularly the portions of the article that dealt with a chat Thomas had with former Army Chief of Staff, General Eric Shinseki. Smith’s first question contained erroneous information:
Hard-left anti-war reporter Seymour Hersh, who tried so hard in 2004 to get President Bush defeated with the Abu Ghraib scandal, and was given many media opportunities to make his case, had another great week in the media this week with his New Yorker article suggesting Bush wanted to drop bunker-busting nukes on Iranian nuclear sites. As usual, the article was larded with anonymous sources that no one can check or evaluate for political motives.
In interviews on network morning TV this week, no challenge to Hersh’s reporting genius emerged. Both hyped his Pulitzer (is that required before he accepts the invite?) On CBS Monday, MRC's Mike Rule found co-host Hannah Storm didn't challenge Hersh's methods or conclusions, just asking instead for wisdom from the oracle. Notice how many times she promotes him by saying "You say" and repeating his publicity points:
Tim Graham and Mark Finkelstein have already reported on the mainstream media's Rumsfeld bashing interviews with retired General John Batiste. So it’s no surprise that TheEarly Show has also piled on. In a segment that aired at 7:05AM EDT, on the April 14 edition, correspondent Bill Plante listed the generals who are calling for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation. It was a fairly straightforward piece, but Plante couldn’t resist getting in at least one liberal zinger:
Plante: "The White House says that the defense secretary hasn't discussed resigning with the president and the president isn't about to fire him. Of course if the president did, he'd be admitting that he had failed."
Yesterday, many people from around the country gathered in cities and demanded rights for illegal immigrants, and these protests were the primary focus of this morning’s "The Early Show" on CBS. In one segment, co-host Harry Smith interviewed Lou Dobbs, host of CNN’s "Lou Dobbs Tonight" and Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico. Through his questions, Smith made it pretty clear where he stood on the immigration issue.
In his first question to Lou Dobbs, Harry Smith was awe struck at the outpouring of patriotism demonstrated by the protestors:
"When you saw these pictures yesterday from these demonstrations in all these cities across the country, hundreds of thousands of people, American flags unfurled, people draping themselves in the American dream, what did you think?"
Yesterday it was made official, Katie Couric is leaving the "Today" show on NBC to anchor the "CBS Evening News." While some CBS employees have been less than welcoming -- Andy Rooney for example -- for the most part CBS reporters have been good soldiers in promoting the company line. But, on this morning’s "The Early Show," co-host Harry Smith went above and beyond the call of duty in narrating a piece that was so laden with praise, it could have been mistaken for a eulogy. Take the following quotes for example:
Harry Smith: "Does Katie have the gravitas to anchor the evening news, to be the go-to guy, so to speak, on breaking news? Absolutely. Did you see Katie on 9/11? Have you seen her interview a president? She makes the powerful, uncomfortable, and makes real folks feel at home."
Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney appeared on CBS, CNN, and FNC on Wednesday morning to address charges she hit a Capitol Police officer in the chest with her cell phone when he tried to stop her as she tried to walk right past security screeners. Well, actually, she refused in all three interviews to address the basic facts of the fracas. In all three interviews, she forced in her talking points, that the kerfuffle was "much ado about a hairdo" and that 250 black officers sued the Capitol Police for racial discrimination. CNN's Soledad O'Brien was especially dogged in trying to get out the basic facts, not that it worked.
On CBS's "Early Show," MRC analyst Mike Rule found that co-host Harry Smith was the fastest to cave in to the refusal to answer the basics:
Smith: "Congresswoman, let me, please help me construct what happened. You're entering a Capitol building, you're bypassing a metal detector, which is routine for members of Congress, what happened then?"
A leading hurricane forecaster, name not given, was to release his predictions today for the 2006 hurricane season, and Harry Smith of CBS’ "The Early Show" used this as an excuse to relive the problems with FEMA during hurricane Katrina. As his guest, Smith interviewed Jane Bullock. Smith introduced Ms. Bullock:
Harry Smith: "Jane Bullock is a former Chief of Staff at FEMA."
Yet he never mentions that while she worked for several decades at FEMA, she held this lofty position exclusively during the Clinton Administration for Clinton buddy James Lee Witt. Her high place in the Clinton administration could have helped put her anti-Bush comments into some context. (The same omission occurred on the CBS News website.) Bullock claimed:
CBS's The Early Show dealt with the resignation of White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card this morning, and, in the process, demonstrated again their lack of interest in presenting anything that might be beneficial to the President in a positive, or even a neutral, fashion. This attitude showed itself more, however, in the way that things were said, rather than in what exactly was said. There were the typical offhand accusations of insincerity, but most of the reporting was fairly straightforward. And the questions that Harry Smith asked of Mary Matalin were, for the most part, appropriate. But the tone and attitude that Smith displayed were not. (Windows Media video available here.)
The first piece was the news report on the resignation, from CBS' White House Correspondent Bill Plante. Of course Plante's report started, as most CBS reports on the President do, with emphasis on negatives.
The Senate began a debate on immigration reform today, and that seemed to be the focus on "The Early Show" on CBS this morning. Co-host Harry Smith interviewed New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Republican strategist Bay Buchanan. Smith chose to frame the debate as a "crackdown on undocumented workers" and ignored the fact that these "undocumented workers" are in fact in America illegally.
This morning’s program opened with a tease from Harry Smith:
Harry Smith: "A huge battle is brewing in Washington after a weekend of massive rallies over immigration. Hundreds of thousands protested a proposed crackdown on undocumented workers."
Smith then proceeded to open his interview segment in a similar fashion:
There was some good news in Iraq this morning as 3 Christian hostages were rescued by a joint force consisting of American British and Iraqi troops. Surprisingly, CBS’s "The Early Show" led with this news.
In her report from Baghdad, CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan explained the "irony" of the rescue in that "the group, who are members of Christian peacemaker teams in Iraq, had signed a statement before their capture saying they reject the use of force to save lives." Yet, a statement released from the organization Christian Peacemaker Teams, which is not mentioned in Logan’s report, and to be fair, we are not sure it was available at the time of her report, blames the rescuers for the fact that the 3 members of their group were taken hostage to begin with:
Yesterday marked the third anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq, and while progress has been made, CBS’s the "Early Show" attempted to paint as bleak a picture as possible when discussing the war. In total, there were four stories regarding the Iraq war on this morning’s broadcast.
The first such story was a piece by CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante. Substitute co-host Russ Mitchell introduced the piece:
Russ Mitchell: "Despite escalating violence, President Bush insists the administration’s Iraq policy is working."
Bill Plante followed with a bleak assessment:
Bill Plante: "Well three years into the Iraq war with casualties mounting and no end in sight, the President and Vice President both see reason for optimism and they say there’s progress."
It’s been one day since the retirement of Mike Wallace from CBS’s "60 Minutes" was announced, and this morning the "Early Show" aired a taped interview with Wallace conducted by Harry Smith. The segment was a look back on Wallace’s career, and it seems Wallace has only one regret; he never got to interview George W. Bush, as evidenced by the following exchange:
Harry Smith: "So many bad guys you've interviewed, politicians, celebrities by the score. Is there a favorite to do one kind of interview vs. the other?"
Mike Wallace: "For substance, and by that I, you know what I mean, to be able to talk to the Ayatollah Khomeini or various Presidents, every President since Abe Lincoln..."
It’s been almost 3 years since the Iraq war began. How do I know? Because I was constantly reminded of this fact by CBS’s "The Early Show" this morning. Four different people, 2 co-hosts and 2 reporters either mentioned that we are approaching the three year anniversary, or that it’s been almost 3 years since the war began. If you listened to CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent, Lara Logan, you’d believe not much has been achieved in that time:
Lara Logan: "Three years after this war began Iraqis are still facing an uncertain and violent future. Much of the blame for that is placed on the shoulders of the Americans by many people here who still resent the occupation."
CBS’s "The Early Show" continued with its practice of bringing in left leaning analysts to explain why things are going so horrendously for President Bush and his Administration. This morning’s guest was Craig Crawford from "Congressional Quarterly."
"Early Show" co-host Harry Smith interviewed Crawford, and once again made a bit of a snafu. He misquoted remarks from Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Memphis on Saturday.
Harry Smith: "So interesting. We heard a couple of sound bytes from this big Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Memphis. Even heard Sam Brownback say I'm a Ronald Reagan Democrat, I'm not a George Bush Democrat."
Who is Michael O’Hanlon? Viewers of "The Early Show" on CBS may think he is the preeminent expert on the Middle East and Islam. For everyone else, he is a senior fellow at the left leaning Brookings Institution who has praised President Clinton’s "strong defense record." This morning marked his fifth appearance on the program since January 26 of this year, that’s 5 appearance in 31 possible weekdays, and all times he was interviewed by Harry Smith. O’Hanlon has been Smith’s go to guy on matters such as the Palestinian elections which brought Hamas to power, the controversy over the Danish cartoons, the ports deal with the United Arab Emirates, and most recently on the Iranian nuclear situation.
After President Bush made a surprise visit to Afghanistan yesterday, putting it back in the news, the question became how long would it be before the media would try to frame the war in Afghanistan in a negative light? For CBS, the answer was this morning as reporters on "The Early Show" sounded almost like Taliban cheerleaders in their attempt to undermine President Bush’s credibility and tout bad news coming out of Afghanistan. For instance, Julie Chen introduced a report from Sheila MacVicar:
Julie Chen: "Julie Chen: "Before India, the President's first stop was Afghanistan where despite his reassurances that things are going well, the Taliban are, in fact, staging fierce new attacks."
CBS is at it again. As Brent Baker noted, last night’s "Evening News" with Bob Schieffer harped on CBS’s latest poll showing "record low" approval ratings for President Bush, and this morning’s "The Early Show" followed his lead. Bill Plante took note of the bad news the White House has faced over the last few months and how that has contributed to these low numbers:
Bill Plante: "Well the bad news has been pretty much nonstop for the Bush White House over the past few months. Hurricane Katrina, the Medicare drug program, eavesdropping, the situation in Iraq, the ports deal; it's all combined to bring the President's rating to a new low."
When it comes to the controversy surrounding the UAE port operations deal, left is right, right is left and the MSM seems caught somewhere in the middle, trying to balance its cultural versus its political instincts.
Then, on this morning's Early Show, Dan Bartlett sounded more like a multi-cultural sensitivity trainer than the presidential counselor he is when he declared:
"We shouldn't be setting different types of rules for different types of companies just because they may come from the Middle East . . . What kind of mixed signals are we sending to the world when we say that some companies that play by the rules can have business with America but other companies who play by the rules can't? That's not the way America does business."