Several media outlets used the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina as an excuse to promote the 2008 Democratic candidates. On CNN, right after running a glowing piece on Democrats such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, anchor Soledad O’Brien sermonized that "no event has damaged the Bush White House more than Katrina." Over on ABC, "Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts claimed that candidates from "both parties" would travel to New Orleans to "point out the Bush administration's shortcomings in fixing many problems that still exist, like those being forced to still live in trailers."
"Hardball" regular David Shuster managed to combine both the Katrina coverage with the scandal over Senator Larry Craig. He bizarrely claimed that the Craig incident "adds moral insult to the injuries being suffered today by the victims of Hurricane Katrina."
The world's media are busy mourning the death of the Princess Diana ten years ago. But while they are mourning the fact that they lost a ready-made newsmaker who shared many of their goals, they have forgotten to remember the anniversary of a far more important event than the death of the former wife of Great Britain's heir to the throne. As I was reminded by Lead and Gold, today is the twenty-seventh anniversary of the Polish communist government agreeing to the demands of striking shipyard workers. This surrender by the Communist leadership of Poland presaged the breaking loose of the satellite nations of the Soviet Union's Iron Curtain and led directly to the fall of the U.S.S.R. As Lead and Gold writes,
The strike marked the beginning of the end of communist rule in Eastern Europe. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher are, rightly, given the greatest share of credit for winning the Cold War. But Lech Walesa and John Paul II played indispensable roles. ...
As NewsBusters has recorded, Snow has tangled with biased journalists in his role as the White House's chief spokesman. Perhaps one of the most memorable was an episode in June 2007 reported by NewsBusters contributor Justin McCarthy:
Perhaps the first famous name that comes to mind when it comes to policeman arrests in a restroom is George Michael, the former Wham! singer, who was busted in April of 1998 for lewd conduct in a restroom at Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills. (The act was reportedly masturbation and some public nudity.) This story, with Michael's fame on the wane, drew almost no attention from the same national media outlets who are now pounding on the office door of Sen. Larry Craig and insisting he resign.
A quick Nexis search shows no George Michael arrest stories on ABC, or NBC. CBS offered this anchor brief from Russ Mitchell on the morning of April 11: "In other entertainment news, pop singer George Michael apologized to his fans in a CNN interview in LA last night. Michael was arrested Tuesday and charged with what police called a lewd act in a restroom in a public park in Beverly Hills. He is due in court next month."
As the networks dwell on the tenth anniversary of the death of a troubled British princess this week, it might be worth remembering that at the time, we noticed the tabloid tendencies toward celebrity deaths at the time were a much bigger media trend than investigations into the scandalous fundraising tactics the Clinton-Gore team used in 1996. Our MediaWatch study at the time noted:
MediaWatch analysts examined fundraising scandal stories in August and September on the Big Three morning shows and evening shows, plus CNN's The World Today. The networks broadcast 686 stories on Diana between August 31 and the end of September compared to just 113 stories about the fundraising scandal. That's a ratio of more than 6 to 1. Isolating the morning shows, collectively they aired 407 stories on Princess Diana's death, while devoting just 36 to the scandal. That's an astonishing ratio of 10 to 1.
Associated Press reporter David Bauder wrote a story on the new MRC study on the wide and deep disparity of morning TV news coverage of the presidential candidates in 2007. It's fair and balanced. But for us, obviously, the most entertaining part was hearing the network producers respond to the charges. They said it's all the Republicans' fault for being so shy with interview requests, and declared the Democratic race was so stuffed with historic firsts, it just demands blockbuster coverage:
You've got a former first lady and a black senator fighting for the nomination," said Jim Bell, executive producer of NBC's "Today" show. "That's historic. We're not going to make apologies for covering that."
Stories about the cancer relapse of Democrat John Edwards' wife Elizabeth were also counted in the total. It's unfair to count a personal story like that in a tally that suggests bias, said Jim Murphy, executive producer of ABC's "Good Morning America."
On Tuesday, Jesse Jackson, the Brady bunch -- not the TV folk but the anti-gun lobby -- and other liberal activists rallied against “the national scourge of illegal guns” in cities around the nation.
The networks ignored the event, probably because turnout was so embarrassingly low. The Chicago Tribune reported that “about 200” piled out of three buses in Lake Barrington, Illinois, the Chicago-area protest keynoted by Jackson himself. The Philadelphia Inquirer said “about 200” showed up in Philly. The Dallas Morning News reported about 60 demonstrators in South Dallas, and AP said “about 100”attended the Washington, D.C. event held in nearby District Heights, Maryland.
Anti-gun activists were counting on good coverage if they had big turnouts, and no negative coverage if they didn’t. It’s the flip side of how the media cover pro-life rallies, downplaying enormous crowds and playing up the handful of counter demonstrators. In this case, the networks chose to look benignly in the other direction. The gun grabbers know that liberal journalists don’t like guns. Or, rather, they don’t like private citizens owning guns and taking personal responsibility for their own safety and that of their families and property.
How do we know? From the loaded coverage night after night on the networks and each day in major newspapers. A new CMI study, The Media Assault on the Second Amendment, documents seven months of media coverage of gun issues, and explains how the media are taking potshots at the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
Watching network morning show anchors interview the Democratic presidential candidates often makes you wonder if you’ve seen tougher interviews on overnight acne-care infomercials. Their questions are often so simple and promotional that you wish they’d just go ahead and wear their "Hillary!" or "Obama ‘08" buttons on the set.
There is no pretense of political balance. They are actively rooting for a Democratic victory next year, and they have the power to make a real difference. Notwithstanding their overall loss of audience in the last decade, ABC, CBS, and NBC morning shows draw nine times the audience of their cable-news competitors and are geared toward the mostly apolitical mainstream, which makes them an important free-media showcase for presidential hopefuls. A new study shows that if this year’s campaign coverage on the TV morning shows were a primary election, the Democrats would win in a landslide of attention and hyperbole.
Rich Noyes of the Media Research Center assessed all morning-show coverage on the Big Three from January 1 through July 31.
That's what I thought when I received an e-mail from NewsBusters reader Lori Puente informing me that Yahoo News is listing an article about Katie Couric's upcoming trip to report from Iraq and Syria in the "entertainment news" section.
The Washington Post on Tuesday published a book review of Ed Klein’s critical Katie Couric biography by reviewer Louis Bayard, who found the entire exercise of writing a Katie book distasteful, unnecessary, and sexist: “You may also wonder if the same book would have been written about a male broadcaster,” Bayard argued early on. He suggested Klein was a female-bashing brute:
On Friday, National Review writer Myrna Blyth unwrapped some of the nuggets in the forthcoming Ed Klein biography of Katie Couric, the one the Katie camp is trying to squash, in very Hillaryesque fashion, as "old news." [Klein appeared Monday night on FNC's Hannity & Colmes.] Before she kindly noted that the MRC has piles and piles of examples of Katie's liberal bias, Blyth dished Klein's claims:
In fact, there is not much unexpected here including the portrait of the young Katie as wildly ambitious and manipulative when she was desperately trying to make her dream “of becoming the next Barbara Walters” come true. Though a bit surprising, Couric, who in her prime was always seen as a feminist icon, often relied on relationships with important men to help her in her climb. According to Klein, she had affairs with both a married CNN executive who saved her from being fired a couple of times, and a media spokesman for Metro Dade Police Department who tipped her off on big stories when she was a TV reporter in Miami.
A family in Clovis, California, which is near Fresno, has sadly become the modern day version of the Ryans, real-life brothers depicted in Steven Spielberg's acclaimed film "Saving Private Ryan" wherein all but one died serving his country in World War II.
For the Hubbards, Nathan, the second of three brothers serving in Iraq, died Wednesday in a helicopter accident in the northern part of that embattled nation. This came two years, nine months, and eighteen days after the death of brother Jared there.
The sole surviving brother, Jason, the eldest, returned home Friday, and according to the Associated Press, may not be going back to Iraq:
In the wake of President George W. Bush's reminder Wednesday about how the “killing fields” of Cambodia followed the 1975 U.S. pullout from Vietnam and the region, a look back at a study, by William C. Adams and Michael Joblove, which documented how from 1975 to 1978 the three broadcast network evening newscasts, as well as the New York Times and Washington Post, virtually ignored the ongoing massacre of millions by the Khmer Rouge. Below is an excerpt, fairly lengthy since I can't imagine this is online anywhere else, from the MRC's 1990 book, “And That's the Way It Isn't: A Reference Guide to Media Bias.” The excerpt starts with a summary and then key findings from the study published in 1982:
The xenophobic reign of terror by the Marxist Khmer Rouge from April 1975 to January 1979 in Cambodia was as brutal as that of any in history. Up to three million Cambodians died of starvation, torture or execution. But despite what George Washington University professor William Adams and research associate Michael Joblove called "the barbarism and the magnitude of the tragedy," major media outlets in the U.S. paid little attention to the tragic events.
If George W. Bush's approval rating hit a low point for any president in 33 years, do you think the network evening news programs would have reported it?
Maybe as the lead story, right?
Well, a new Gallup poll was released on Tuesday stating that the approval rating for Congress tied the lowest point since Gallup began tracking such a thing, and none of the broadcasts networks thought it was newsworthy last night.
The likely reason for the boycott, beyond the obvious fact that the Democrats are now in control, is that much of the recent decline in this favorability has come from Democrats and Independents (emphasis added):
On November 17, 2005, Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Pa.), who had previously supported the Iraq war, announced his call for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The story led all three broadcast network evening news reports.
A mirror-image shift of position was reported today: a previously anti-war Dem has announced, after a visit to Iraq, that he now opposes withdrawal at this time. Will the MSM give anything like equal time to the story?
Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wa.) is a five-term member of Congress, representing Washington's 3rd District. Baird voted against the initial resolution authorizing the war. But now, having recently returned from Iraq, he has another perspective on events there, telling his hometown newspaper, the Olympian, as reported in this article, the following, :
We're on the ground now. We have a responsibility to the Iraqi people and a strategic interest in making this work.
I think we're making real progress.
I think the consequences of pulling back precipitously would be potentially catastrophic for the Iraqi people themselves, to whom we have a tremendous responsibility … and in the long run chaotic for the region as a whole and for our own security.
TVNewser is reporting that CBS News executives are in Cuba. While the Tiffany network won't say what for, speculation is there may be negotiations with the Castro government for a full-time Havana bureau for the network.:
A TVNewser tipster tells us, and a CBS News spokesperson confirms, that CBS News & Sports President Sean McManus and Evening News EP Rick Kaplan are in Cuba. The spokesperson could not tell TVNewser the mission of the trip. However, Kaplan has met with Cuban president Fidel Castro on past occasions, dating back to 1978.
>More: An emailer adds, "...being a past insider at CBS News I can tell you that this trip to Cuba is most likely an effort to open the first fully functional U.S. News bureau in Cuba."
Admitting it was "smart-assed," CBS White House correspondent nonetheless defended his now-infamous "If he's so smart, how come you lost Congress?" quip from Monday's White House South Lawn farewell for Rove. Interviewed by CBSNews.com blogger Matthew Felling, Plante did concede that he welcomes scrutiny of how the press functions, especially in live press conference settings.
I’m absolutely and totally in favor of openness, even if it makes us look bad. The public is entitled to see what we see – and, increasingly, they do because of live coverage. If that means they see me or hear me asking what they think is an impertinent question, that’s fine. I’ve got no problem with it.
Julie Chen followed Barbara Walters’ lead in endorsing a global warming alarmist film, this time on Leonardo DiCaprio’s upcoming documentary, "The 11th Hour." The August 13 edition of "The Early Show" ran an unchallenged piece on DiCaprio’s film, then this exchange between co-hosts Harry Smith and Julie Chen.
CHEN: He has also turned his official website into an eco-site. News about his latest movies is posted side by side, with updates from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. And to see how you can help protect the environment, log on to our website at CBSNews.com.
HARRY SMITH: And what was your impression?
CHEN: Oh he was very sweet, and--oh of him or the movie? Gotta go green.
Word came Sunday that entertainment industry titan Merv Griffin passed away at age 82. Back in October of 2003, when CBS planned to air a derogatory mini-series about Ronald and Nancy Reagan, The Reagans, Griffin went onto MSNBC to denounce CBS as “cowardly” for belittling Ronald Reagan and distorting his record when the former President (who would die eight months later) was on his deathbed. Thanks to controversy over the movie, fueled in part by a letter from the MRC to all advertisers urging them to review the movie before placing ads and to consider what their customers would think of their support for such a disparaging portrait, CBS moved the movie to its Showtime pay cable movie channel.
Awaiting the presidential press conference shortly before 10:30 this morning, CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric tossed a question to Pentagon correspondent David Martin. But Couric apparently wasn't informed that Martin has lost his voice and was ill-equipped to go live on national television as he could barely whisper the answer to Couric's question.
When Nancy Pelosi rose to be the House Democrats’ leader in 2002, Katie Couric said to NBC colleague Ann Curry: "Is it okay to say, ‘You go girl!’?" That cheerleading spirit continued in her Monday "Katie Couric’s Notebook" commentary (featured at her blog Couric & Co.) lauding the new Democratic Congress: "this new crop worked much harder than the last. A big accomplishment was in challenging executive power with oversight hearings on Iraq, Medicare, the Department of Justice, and global warming." She concluded: "Promises, promises. Sometimes they are kept – even in Washington."
That was certainly not the tone of CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather took toward Speaker Gingrich and the new Republican Congress in 1995: "The new Republican majority in Congress took a big step today on its legislative agenda to demolish or damage government aid programs, many of them designed to help children and the poor." Their attempts at oversight were part of a "political carpet-bombing attack."
CBS, the Rathergate network, offered up another misleading report. The August 8 edition of "The Early Show,"at 7:09 AM, edited a Hillary Clinton quote from the August 7 AFL-CIO debate to portray her as a populist.
JOIE CHEN: Front-runner Clinton also came up against sharp elbows with rivals accusing her of cozying up to big-money lobbyists. Before thousands of union members, the New York Senator sought to portray herself as champion of the little guy.
CLINTON: So if you want a winner who knows how to take them on, I'm your girl.
What she actually said was in the context of her preference in attacking the Republicans. The full quote is much more divisive than portraying herself "as champion of the little guy."
CBS’s Harry Smith led the charge against "global climate change," first with billionaire airline founder and activist Richard Branson and then in the health segment. On the August 7 edition of "The Early Show" at 7:49 AM, Harry Smith hosted the health segment on how to handle the heat with the current heat wave that is affecting much of the eastern half of the United States. With many Americans baking in the hot conditions, Smith appealed to their emotions with this editorial comment.
"Before we do anything else, there is in fact, global climate change. It really affects some climates much more than others, and it's really caused some real serious problems."
Republicans held a debate on Sunday, but CBS’s Hannah Storm seemed more interested in Rudy Giuliani’s personal life and then Mitt Romney’s crankiness. On the August 6 edition of "The Early Show," at 7:19 AM, Storm kicked off the segment noting there was a Republican debate the previous day but, "they did not talk about an issue hanging over front-runner Rudy Giuliani and that is his wife, Judith, who has become a controversial topic in his campaign."
If anyone in the media blames the Minnesota bridge collapse on "cheap Republicans" who like tax cuts, it would not be the first time. In 1989, after a memorable San Francisco earthquake, an interstate highway bridge collapsed and killed hundreds. Media figures demanded new taxes, and some even suggested the Proposition 13 ballot initiative may have caused unnecessary deaths. We reported in the November 1989 MediaWatch:
As aftershocks rumbled through the San Francisco Bay area, media figures began calling for more taxes. On the October 18 Nightline, Ted Koppel asked an agreeable Democratic politician from California: "We all remember a few years ago Proposition 13 which rolled back taxes. And at the same time the point was made you roll back the taxes, that's fine, but that means there are going to be fewer funds available for necessary projects. Any instances where the money that was not spent because of the rollback of Proposition 13 where money would have made a difference?"
In one of her one-minute "Katie Couric’s Notebook" speeches on her Katie & Co. blog, CBS anchor Katie Couric came lecturing to Hillary Clinton’s defense on August 1 over Robin Givhan’s Washington Post fashion review of her cleavage on C-SPAN2, but she never mentioned the Post, just how the story "dominated cable news for days, and it’s disgraceful." She sounded the feminist alarm: "By focusing on this display of decolletage, it seems we’ve plunged to a new low. What’s next? Studying a candidate’s too-tight jeans?" She said this election was too important for trivia: "If we focus on the issues, we could judge the candidates not on the color of their clothes, but on the content of their character." She acknowledged some fashion issues were "fair game," when the targets were men: the John Edwards $400 haircuts and how "Dick Cheney was slammed for wearing a parka when he visited a concentration camp."