In acknowledging Mike Wallace's semi-retirement, CBS News President Sean McManus handed out a bouquet of praise: "Mike has completely embodied what good, tough, fair journalism should be over the course of his 60-plus years in the business."
Is that true? Is he Mr. Fairness? No. To the MRC, the record shows that Wallace has been just another well-paid CBS partisan liberal, and more so recently, on the Iraq war. Here's a sampler of Notable Quotables:
What? Wounded Vets Aren't Peaceniks Yet? "I was astonished: Almost all of them support the war, despite the fact that it’s taken such a toll on them. We asked them flat out: Should we be there? And the ones that are the most severely hit believe yes, we should have been there. They are not angry at the President, they’re not angry at the establishment. I promise you, you’ll be astonished if you’re up that late on Sunday night." — CBS’s Mike Wallace on MSNBC’s Imus in the Morning February 10, 2006, where he was promoting his 60 Minutes story on four severely wounded veterans of the Iraq war.
The New York Times (via TVNewser) discovered that CBS "60 Minutes" fixture Mike Wallace will retire: "After serving as a correspondent on 60 Minutes since its inception in September 1968, Mr. Wallace said today that he had decided to retire this spring, at the end of the current television season. He said that the move had come at his initiative, and that 'CBS is not pushing me.'"
Conservatives might not want to cheer too loud. TV Newser suggests in the next posting, a tipster told him executive producer Jeff Fager wants more room for refugees from the cancelled "60 Minutes II"...So now there will be more room for former 60 II correspondent Scott Pelley and the rest of the team. "Don't be surprised to see Aaron Brown join, along with the newly recruited Katie Couric...imagine that!," an e-mailer says, adding "now who will replace [Andy] Rooney?" The departure makes some sense, as Wallace just recently sold a new version of his memoirs. And now CBS is off the hook on those gun-control stories Wallace was supposed to skip.
For Wallace-watchers of a more seasoned vintage, perhaps the most-recounted Wallace anecdote didn't appear on CBS, but on PBS. The year was 1989, as MediaWatch recounted an "Ethics in America" panel discussion on war coverage:
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."
It should come as no surprise to anyone who follows "60 Minutes" on a regular basis that the reporters have a problem with presenting facts, or at least truth in disclosure concerning the “experts” they bring on to give us the facts.
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.
Dan Rather spoke at a Cherry Hill, New Jersey high school last night (Wednesday), South Jersey's Courier-Post reports this morning, and reporter Jim Walsh noted (without irony) that the disgraced and replaced CBS Evening News anchor proposed “Rather’s Rules” for improving journalism.
Isn’t that a bit like “Dr. Kevorkian’s Rules” for better medicine?
In his speech, Rather repeated his recent chiding of the national media for being too soft, and in “need of a spine transplant.” But when it came to his own journalistic transgression, the 2004 60 Minutes hit piece on President Bush's National Guard service -- a report based on forged memos -- Rather crouched behind his Nixonian stone wall:
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."
This past Monday, CBS, otherwise known as See? BS!, Al-Jazeera West,
and the Corrupt Broadcasting System, proved once again that it is
nothing but a shameless propaganda tool of the Democrat party, by
releasing the results of a poll it rigged... uh... conducted recently
showing that President Bush's popularity rating has plummeted to an
all-time low of 34 percent. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/02/27/opinion/polls/main1350874.shtml
Of course, when one looks at the internals of the poll, one sees that,
of the 1018 people who responded to it, only 28 percent were
Republicans. 38 percent, however, were Democrats (big surprise there),
and the remaining 34 percent were described as Independents.
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."
After being bashed for years by an elite press corps full of ideological opponents, the Bush White House is fighting back in an upcoming book by former Washington Times reporter Bill Sammon, condemning the media and especially CBS.
"It's the beginning of the twenty-first century; it also happens to be the beginning of—or near the beginning—of a revolution in newsgathering and dissemination," President Bush said in an interview for Strategery, which is being released by publisher Alfred Regnery.
"I think what's healthy is that there's no monopoly on the news," Bush said. "There's competition. There's competition for the attention of, you know, 290 million people, or whatever it is.
Admin officials have especially strong words for CBS and its disgraced former anchorman, Dan Rather, whom strategist Karl Rove dismisses as "no serious reporter."
In its classic "fair and balanced" tradition, CBS slanted in favor of Democrats its poll that found Bush has a 34 percent approval rating and a 59 percent disapproval rating, an all-time high for a CBS poll.
On the bottom of the PDF version of the poll (page 18) it says how many Democrats versus Republicans were contacted.
"Total Republicans" contacted: 272 unweighted and 289 weighted.
"Total Democrats" contacted: 409 unweighted and 381 weighted.
"Total Independents" contacted: 337 unweighted and 348 weighted.
Brent Baker also noted how CBS failed to highlight a key portion of its poll on the Feb. 27 "CBS Evening News." 66 percent of respondents thought the media devoted "too much time" to Cheney's hunting accident.
USA Today media writer Peter Johnson reports that CBS News is not about to give up investigative journalism despite the increasing sceptism that genre endures.
CBS News' "48 Hours" recently had to apologize to a Missouri newspaper for changing a front page photo onscreen and claiming it came from the Columbia Daily Tribune.
Peter Johnson says that CBS has taken more hits than any other network.
Yet a week from today, Armen Keteyian, an eight-time Emmy-winning journalist, joins the Evening News as chief investigative correspondent. It's one of the boldest moves yet by CBS News chief Sean McManus, who was charged last October with overhauling the newscast.
CBS News president Sean McManus admits that journalists "in all forms of media have been burned," but that "doesn't mean you say, 'Well, I'm going to focus on human-interest stories exclusively instead of investigative journalism.'" He says to "run away" from investigative reporting because of events in the "recent past," would be "foolish."
On Tuesday afternoon, Brian Montopoli of the CBS News blog Public Eye posted an item regarding a global-warming story that aired this past Sunday on 60 Minutes. (Hat tip: Romenesko.) Take it away, Brian:
...The piece, which featured correspondent Scott Pelley, largely took the existence of global warming as a given. But there are those who claim that global warming – and, specifically, the notion that humans are responsible for it – is a myth. I asked Pelley why the voices of the skeptics were not heard in the piece.
"There is virtually no disagreement in the scientific community any longer about global warming," he says. "The science that has been done in the last three to five years has been conclusive...There's just no longer any credible evidence that suggests that, a, the earth is not warming or, b, that greenhouse gasses [sic] are not the cause...
"It would be irresponsible of us to go find some scientist somewhere who is not thought of as being eminent in the field and put him on television with these other guys to cast doubt on what they're saying," he continues. "It would be difficult to find a scientist worth his salt in this subject who would suggest this wasn't happening. It would probably be someone whose grant has been funded by someone who finds reducing fossil fuel emissions detrimental to their own interests." [Emphasis added.]
Some people may have been wondering if the nine-day old Dick Cheney hunting story would be going away. Don’t count on it. On the February 20 edition ofthe Early Show, Evan Thomas, assistant managing editor at Newsweek, told Harry Smith that "People who don’t like [Cheney] think this is the dark, Darth Vader type." His analysis coincided with the new issue of Newsweek that features a cover story, written by Thomas, on "Cheney’s Secret World." The online edition features this sub-headline:
"He peppered a man in the face, but didn’t tell his boss. Inside Dick Cheney’s dark, secretive mind-set-and the forces that made it that way." (Italics added)
Longtime CBS and CNN political reporter Bruce Morton is retiring, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer announced after Morton filed his last piece (on the changing significance of the vice presidency) shortly before 5pm EST on Thursday’s The Situation Room.
“Beyond his years of solid, hard news reporting, Bruce brings something very special to television journalism, a truly unique voice, smart and wry, with a perspective you could only get by covering politics for five decades,” Blitzer enthused. “When we need a certain kind of piece we immediately know is Bruce material, ‘Morton-esque,’ as many of us like to say right here.”
In case you didn't see it on the MRC home page, Vaughn Ververs from the "Public Eye" blog at CBSNews.com offered us space this week in their weekly "Outside Voices" feature. Their blog was set up in the wake of Rathergate to demonstrate more "transparency" or CBS news-making and also serve as "a forum for debate, a conversation about the news between the people who produce it and the people who consume it."
I tried to offer the CBS News staff and the wider media community a small sense of how we answer the questions and critiques we've received over the almost 20 years the MRC has been taping and transcribing and exposing. One accusation, an indirect attack from Bill Moyers, suggested conservative media critics want right-wing unanimity with no disturbing liberal counter-argument:
Is it possible? Could there be a new angle to the controversy surrounding Vice President Cheney’s hunting accident? Desperate to try and keep this story alive, CBS’s "The Early Show" certainly tried to create one today as they attempted to highlight the Vice President’s "unprecedented power" and explore the rift this incident exposed between the Presidential and Vice Presidential staffs.
Take the following quote from CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante referring to how the Vice President chose to put the word out for example:
Bill Plante: "In any other White House, no Vice President would be able to make that call. But Dick Cheney is in a class by himself. It is clear, and this exposed it, that there are tensions between his office and the West Wing.
I'm a little surprised that disgraced CBS producer Mary Mapes hasn't drawn a little more blogger interest for her (okay, tired and bitter) latest appearance on the Pacifica Radio show "Democracy Now." It was a two-part interview. Last Thursday, she was reliving her downfall after her Bush-bashing October Surprise as those obsessive bloggers took over: "in fact, by the time our story was off the air on the west coast, I mean, the moment it went off the air, it was -- it went nuts. From attacks on the authenticity of the documents, typeface and proportional spacing and all kinds of stuff that no sane person would obsess themselves with." Certainly, Mapes didn't obsess enough over her documents' authenticity. The first half of the interview ended with Mapes mauling Little Green Footballs as a hate site:
Since Sunday, Vice President Cheney has been accused of trying to cover up his hunting accident, since the media establishment wasn’t notified right away about the mishap; he has been fodder for late night comedians, and today on the Early Show on CBS, he had his manhood questioned by super liberal Katrina vanden Heuvel: "...I’m not sure real men hunt..."
Vanden Heuvel was on the program with Bay Buchanan. For viewers, this would be a balanced perspective on Mr. Cheney’s hunting incident, right? Wrong. Hostess Hannah Storm asked pointed questions of Ms. Buchanan, even following up on a few, but tossed slow pitch softballs at Ms. vanden Heuvel, allowing her to take political shots at the Bush administration and spout talking points one would expect to find at Moveon.org with impunity, as Storm allowed the comments to go unchallenged. For instance, take the following exchange between Hannah Storm and Bay Buchanan:
Let me begin by stating the obvious, the media has overblown the coverage of Vice President Cheney’s hunting accident, and nowhere was that more clear than on CBS’s "The Early Show" this morning. There were a total of 6 stories dealing with the subject this morning, as well as one story tease. Four of these stories plus the story tease occurred in the first fifteen minutes of the broadcast.
Julie Chen opened the program:
Julie Chen: "Good morning, I'm Julie Chen. Hunting for answers, there's a growing firestorm over the delay in reporting Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident as White House spokesperson Scott McClellan was pounded with questions at a press briefing Monday, we'll have all the latest"
In the wake of Vice President Cheney’s hunting accident, Harry Smith did a segment on hunting safety in the 8:00 half hour of this morning’s "The Early Show" on CBS complete with broomsticks. Dressed in an orange vest and holding a broom, Smith may have been confused for a member of the cleanup crew out on the plaza. However, we were informed that the orange vest was a hunting vest and we were supposed to pretend that the broom was a shotgun. But, if they were using brooms to represent shotguns, were the vests necessary, or were they truly fearful that the brooms may accidentally fire?
I can understand why Harry Smith and CBS wouldn’t want to use real guns for the segment, safety concerns for instance, but couldn’t CBS have spent $20 and bought some toy guns for the segment? In any case, Harry Smith’s explanation suffers from delusions of grandeur:
With regards to the war on terror, what is the focus of the mainstream media? Is it fighting and winning? Or are they more concerned with embarrassing the Bush administration? Fran Townsend, a White House Homeland Security advisor, appeared on ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox News on Friday, February 10th. The contrast could not be more stark. CNN, CBS and ABC focused on warrants, wiretaps, and whether the mayor of Los Angeles was properly informed of the President’s speech regarding a foiled attack. All of these networks, except FNC, failed to ask Townsend about the prison break of 23 terrorists, including 13 members of Al Qaeda, which one would assume is an important story.
Ms. Townsend appeared first on the CBS Early Show at 7:10AM EST. Harry Smith seemed skeptical about the timing and the subject of the President’s speech. He started by asking, "Why did the President choose yesterday to reveal this information about a plot that’s almost four years old now?" Ms. Townsend patiently explained that the members of the cell had been arrested and the leads exhausted, therefore this case was one that the President could freely discuss. Smith then went on to question whether there was an actual threat:
Via Romenesko, we learn New York Daily News gossip columnist Lloyd Grove reported that retired CBS "60 Minutes" boss Don Hewitt finally decided that Dan Rather did in fact deserve the ax for that Memogate fiasco:
CBS legendDon Hewitt hasn't been shy about criticizing Dan Rather, but the grand old man of "60 Minutes" had stopped short of publicly recommending termination for the central figure in CBS News' painful 2004 Memogate flap.
"Should Dan Rather have been fired?" Time magazine managing editor Jim Kelly asked the 83-year-old Hewitt during a Court TV journalism panel at Michael's.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee for most of the day, yesterday, explaining in some detail why the NSA Terrorist Surveillance program is legal, why it's necessary, and why it is not "domestic spying." It was the lead news story on CBS' The Early Show this morning, and they demonstrated that, while they saw it, it didn't all meet their criteria for news. Obviously, you cannot capture the entirety of an 8-hour hearing in a 2-minute report, but, as always, it is instructive to see what makes the cut, and what doesn't. Here are some of the comments from the hearing, a couple from Attorney General Gonzales and a couple from different US Senators.
Here CBS goes again. Today, with the aid of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings on President Bush’s Terrorist Surveillance Program, CBS’s The Early Show was able to once again focus on "domestic spying." Three times in the first 9 minutes of the 7:00 half hour, there was a mention of "domestic spying."
Harry Smith led off the broadcast at 7:00 with the following tease:
Harry Smith: "Good morning, I'm Harry Smith, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will be on the hot seat today defending President Bush's highly controversialdomestic spying program at a Senate hearing, we'll have details."
In the wake of the departure from CBS News of John Roberts to CNN, CBS News President Sean McManus on Thursday promoted Jim Axelrod to assume Roberts' Chief White House Correspondent slot, named Lara Logan Chief Foreign Correspondent and shifted Byron Pitts to “National Correspondent, covering the biggest domestic stories and reporting on a new beat focusing on faith, family and the culture.”
Pitts won the “John Kerry Suck-Up Award” at the MRC's 2005 “DisHonors Awards: Roasting the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters of 2004,” for his sycophantic post-Kerry convention speech wonderment over how Kerry had supposedly reminded his sister that on her deathbed their mother told him, "integrity, that's what matters," and "tonight," Pitts truckled, "John Kerry tried to show that integrity." In a runner-up, on that morning's Early Show, Pitts had narrated a Kerry profile that could easily have passed for a Democratic campaign commercial. The more than three-minute story included quotes only from Kerry, his wife, laudatory soundbites from liberal Boston Globe columnist Tom Oliphant, and Pitts' fawning narration: "Tonight's acceptance of the Democratic nomination is more than merely a day, it's his destiny." Pitts also earned a runner-up spot for the “Blue State Brigade Award,” in the MRC's “Best Notable Quotables of 2004: The Seventeenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting,” for, on the day Kerry announced John Edwards as his running mate, gushing: "It was the all important and perfectly choreographed first glimpse of the Democratic Party's new dream team." (Transcripts -- and video clips -- follow.)
Both NBC's "Today" on Thursday and CBS's "Early Show" on Wednesday jumped on one liberal-sounding line of Bush's State of the Union address: that America is "addicted to oil."
Matt Lauer began "Today" by joking like he was attending an Alcholics Anonymous meeting. "I'm Matt and I'm addicted to oil."
Katie responded, along with rest of the crew: "Hi Matt!"
Lauer elaborated: "You get the point. In fact it's an addiction all Americans have. We consume nearly a quarter of the world's supply and most of that for driving. Well this week President Bush called on America to break its dependence on foreign oil and search for new cleaner, energy sources but presidents, as you know, have been saying that for decades. Why is oil such a hard habit to break and does the oil used in your home actually affect what's happening in the Middle East? We'll get into that."
As was reported yesterday on NewsBusters, Democratic Senator John Kerry wasn't challenged on the Today show after he claimed that 53% of Americans don't graduate from high school. Well on this morning's Early Show, New Orleans Democratic Mayor Ray Nagin made an equally silly claim, "50% of all residents in the United States live along the Gulf Coast." I listened to the soundbite several times to ensure I heard him correctly.
The claim came during an interview with Harry Smith about President Bush's State of the Union Address and the challenges in rebuilding New Orleans, but was Harry Smith even listening to Nagin? One would think a competent journalist would have picked up on such an outragreous claim and challenged Nagin on it, or asked Nagin to clarify his remarks. Would Smith had let that slide if it were a Republican making such assertions?
Garrett Graff, one of the editors of fishbowlDC -- "a gossip blog about Washington, D.C. media" that’s part of the MediaBistro.com mini-empire – has joined those who’ve stated hopefully that something or other will prove to be a “Cronkite moment” regarding the Iraq war.
(Some background for the youngsters: The term derives from Walter Cronkite’s February 1968 on-air declaration that the Vietnam War was “mired in stalemate” – i.e., the U.S. and its ally, South Vietnam, could not win. Supposedly, President Lyndon Johnson’s response to that remark was to tell an aide, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America.”)
Once assumed to be the likely successor to Dan Rather, White House correspondent John Roberts is leaving CBS to become CNN's "senior national correspondent" starting February 20.
At CBS, Roberts defined himself as part of that network's liberal spin machine -- castigating conservatives, adoring liberals -- highlights of which are documented in this 2004 Media Reality Check (obviously written before CBS became infatuated with Katie Couric). One of the best quotes came when Roberts was filling in for Rather on the CBS Evening News back on May 30, 1994, when he offered this ridiculously sensationalized take on "lethal" golf courses: