At a Tuesday meeting with CBS News staff, new CBS News President Sean McManus asserted that the people of CBS News “do a darned good job at” shutting out their political opinions and so “I don't see” any liberal bias in CBS News coverage. Vaughn Ververs recounted in a Tuesday evening posting for the “Public Eye” blog on CBSNews,com: “Asked if he feels the need to address perceptions that CBS has a left-wing bias, McManus said no, adding, 'it’s very difficult for any reporter or producer to completely and totally shut out his political opinions, but what I’ve seen at CBS News, people do a darned good job at doing that. I guess if I saw that creeping into our coverage I would have to address it, but I don’t see that in our coverage, I think we have been falsely accused of that at times.'”
McManus, who is maintaining his job as President of CBS Sports, has succeeded Andrew Heyward who considered liberal bias a fantasy of “extremists of the right.” (Heyward's 2000 remarks follow, as well as a fawning question McManus' father once posed to Fidel Castro.)
Julie Chen in the 8:00 a.m. EST half hour of The Early Show hyped "sky-high" gas prices which led to "record profits" for oil companies in a brief anchor-mention on the Senate Commerce hearings today on oil and gas prices, illustrating that a myth debunked in a Free Market Project (FMP) study released last Thursday is still being promoted by CBS News [parts in bold are my emphasis]:
Gas prices haven’t topped inflation-adjusted highs. NBC’s Anne Thompson and other journalists continued to claim “American consumers have suffered through months of record-high gas prices” even as prices dropped.
One of the common themes for gasoline reporting all summer was to claim "record prices," even though the reality was much different. Inflation raises overall prices over time, causing the raw number to go up.A gallon of gas might have cost 25 cents decades ago. That's why inflation-adjusted prices are the only accurate way to compare costs from one decade to the next.
According to the Energy Department, the inflation-adjusted high for a gallon of regular gas is $3.11, set in 1981. But Katrina and Rita sent the media scurrying for stories, and "record highs" were mentioned at least eight times.
CBS was especially fond of the term. It appeared three times during the CBS stories. Anchor Bob Schieffer of the "CBS Evening News" said incorrectly that gas prices had peaked "at a record $3.07 a gallon after Hurricane Katrina" during the October 24 broadcast.
Mary Mapes, the fired CBS News producer who oversaw the report which led to the Memogate scandal is out promoting her new book on the affair. Her first TV interview since being shown the door airs tomorrow morning on ABC's "Good Morning America." Here's some excerpts from the ABC preview:
In her interview with ABC News chief investigative correspondent
Brian Ross, to be broadcast Wednesday morning on "Good Morning
America," Mapes says she is unrepentant about her role. "I don't think
I committed bad journalism. I really don't," she says.
Mapes is author of a newly-published book about the controversy,
called "Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of
Power" (St. Martin's Press). [...]
Mapes tells Ross she feels in no way responsible for what happened at CBS News in the wake of her "60 Minutes II" report.
"If you're talking about an investigation that basically gutted a
news organization, and turned people one against another and made
people afraid of each other, and really scooted the country's most
experienced anchor out of his anchor chair, and now has the evening
news casting about for some kind of format that will be zippy and new,
I didn't do that. I had absolutely nothing to do with any of that," she
CBS's The Early Show ran a positive story set in Iraq today which cast the work of American troops in a positive light and showed CSI: New York star Gary Sinise airing criticism of negative media coverage. The story by correspondent Hattie Kauffman, however, was a gimmicky plug during "CSI Week" on the Tiffany network's morning show to plug new episodes of the trio of highly-watched CBS crime dramas.
Towards the end of her report on Sinise's charity, Operation Iraqi Children, Kauffman set up Sinise's criticism of the media: "In addition to his performances on the USO tour, Sinise continues to stay in touch with the troops in Iraq. From them, he hears the good news that he complains is overlooked in press coverage."
Sinise: "I get another side of the story that we don't hear through the media, and it's, you know, more positive things happening than you would think."
Kauffman agreed: "The news reports are a bomb, a car bomb, a suicide bomb."
Sinise continued: "It's always about a bomb or a suicide bomber or somebody getting killed. And, of course, that's dramatic and all of that. But on a day-to-day basis, there's a lot of improvement. There's a lot of hope. There's a lot of kids that are going to school that never got to do that before."
The CBS News producer who attempted to start a wine label
called Jesus Juice while he was covering the Michael Jackson trial is beginning
to backtrack after his activities were exposed.
After NewsBusters broke
the story Sunday, other media outlets picked up our scoop including the Associated Press, TheSmokingGun.com and MSNBC's "Countdown." Since that time, the
producer, Bruce Rheins, and his wife, Dawn Westlake, have removed all Jesus
Juice material, including the label's logo, a crucified Jackson, from their respective web sites.
The New York Daily News spoke to Rheins yesterday, he disingenuously told
the paper he never intended to make money from the offensive wine label:
Brian Montopoli at Public Eye, the media blog for CBSNews.com, today notes that the left-leaning reaches of the blogosphere are virtually ignoring the riots in Paris which have continued unabated for nearing two weeks now. After excerpting some conservative blogger commentary on the troubles in France, Montopoli closes:
Stories like this are interesting in part because they show just how much what people consider news, and how we explain it, is influenced by our political views. Conservatives think this is a huge story, one that shows the failure of liberal ideology. They see the riots as the result of bad policymaking on the part of the left-leaning French government. (And it never hurts, from a conservative perspective, that France looks bad.) Liberal bloggers, for their part, have mostly ignored what seems a pretty significant story.
It reminds me why it's a mistake for anyone to pay attention to just one side or the other – and to accept the conventional wisdom of one's ideological brethren without questioning the beliefs through which it is filtered.
A CBS producer who led the network's coverage of the recent
Michael Jackson trial has been marketing a brand of wine under the label "Jesus
Juice," complete with a logo of a Christ figure sporting a Jacksonesque
red glove, fedora hat, white socks, and penny loafers
NewsBusters.org has learned that Bruce Rheins, a high-level producer for
such shows as the "CBS Evening News", and his wife, Dawn Westlake,
began preparations for their marketing campaign while the Jackson case was
still in court, registering a U.S. trademark for the words "Jesus Juice"
in January of 2004, days after word got out that Jackson referred to
wine by that term in allegedly attempting to seduce young boys.
A year later, the couple registered (under Westlake's name) the web domain JesusJuice.biz,
apparently with the intent of partnering with a wine maker to create a product
line bearing the Jesus Juice name, in a partnership or by purchasing the
The MSM has provided a fair amount of coverage today of the "pirate" attempt to hijack a cruise ship off the coast of Somalia. But most, if not all, of the MSM outlets have refused to identify the "pirates" [and their leader Mohamed Abdi Hassan] as Islamic terrorists. "Pirate" has joined "bomber," "militant," "insurgent," and "freedom fighter" as a euphemism for "Islamic terrorist."
With useless media coverage like this, is it any wonder that the Paris riots have taken so many westerners by surprise?
An hour before that anti-war ER scene, the wife noticed this, and so did the Catholic League:
"CSI chose to advance a pro-abortion rights agenda by portraying those who are opposed to abortion as religious nuts not to be taken seriously. The murder victim, who gave life to a baby who would otherwise be left to die, is described as a ‘prude’ for being chaste. A remark is made about her being ‘our Virgin Mary.’" She was implanted with an embryo.
“According to the CSI website, the doctor in charge of Project Sunflower is ‘a very unlikable woman.’ The pro-abortion rights forensic investigators sneer at her work and beliefs, informing us that a pope once decreed that a baby isn’t a human until quickening. (Of course, it is not explained that the Church has always considered abortion to be illicit, regardless of the status of the baby. Never mind the fact that we have learned a few new things about biology in a few hundred years.)"
Filling up at the pump is costing less and less each day – 45 cents per gallon less since its post Rita peak of $2.94 as of October 30. Despite that huge drop, all three broadcast networks have reported on rising or high gas prices four times as often as falling prices. Here are some of the key results:
ABC the Worst: ABC mentioned falling gas prices only once out of 11 reports and that was only after three straight weeks of price declines.
Dropping Prices Have Little Impact: Gas prices dropped every business day from October 6 through October 30, but the three networks still mentioned rising or high prices 79 percent of the time.
Eight days ago, Steve Gilliard, a liberal blogger critical of Lt. Governor Michael Steele (R-MD), a black conservative seeking the Republican senatorial nomination in his state, altered a photograph of the candidate to portray a minstrel in blackface, and accompanied it with the caption, "I's Simple Sambo and I's running for the Big House."
[Gilliard has since removed his original artwork, but blogger Charles Bird saved the image before Gilliard took it down and documents it on redstate.org, a conservative team blog.]
Understandably, this set off a storm in the blogosphere, with many conservative and some liberal bloggers decrying the racist post as beyond the pale. As I blogged last week, even the Washington Post reported it in their Metro section. Well, the story has evolved a bit more. While the Maryland Democratic Party also issued a statement criticizing it, lately, some elected Maryland Democrats including a white Democrat vying for Governor, have excused the attack on Steele as valid owing to Steele's affiliation with the GOP.
So far there has been no coverage of this new development in the mainstream broadcast media.
As NewsBusters reported Wednesday evening, a new CBS News poll pegged President Bush’s job approval rating at 35 percent. Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics posted an analysis of this poll’s methodology at his blog last evening (hat tip from a NewsBusters reader named “Jsemby.”) What his figures show is that CBS polled 46% more Democrats in its weighted sample than Republicans:
The broadcast network morning shows did segments today concerning yesterday’s surprise “closed session” in the Senate demanded by Democratic minority leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada). All three appeared quite pleased with what occurred while suggesting that it was a big win for the Democrats, and indicating that the Republicans were very angered by “the stunt.” However, even though they have now had almost a day to research the history of such events, much like what was reported by NewsBusters yesterday, not one of the programs discussed just how rare these sessions are, or questioned why this subject matter warranted a closed session. (Video links of the CBS and NBC segments to follow.)
Mary Mapes, the former CBS News producer who became famous for her involvement in a “60 Minutes II” segment last year concerning President Bush’s involvement in the Air National Guard, had an excerpt of her upcoming book, “Truth and Duty,” printed in the December issue of Vanity Fair.
An Editor and Publisher article published last evening stated the following:
“Mapes writes that she had felt the Guard segment was a big success after airing on Sept. 8, 2004, until the following morning at 11 a.m. when she learned that a bunch of ‘far-right’ Web sites were claiming that documents were forged.
"That same day about 3 p.m. she recalls staring at the Drudge Report and seeing a big picture of Rather at the top and a headline saying that he was ‘shaken’ and hiding in his office. The phone rang and it was Rather, telling her he'd just heard about the Drudge deadline and he wanted to assure her that he was not 'shaken' and was not hiding out.
"He signed off with a favorite expression of his: ‘FEA’ for ‘---- them all.’"
CBS News's legal analyst Andrew Cohen let loose a label-laced column on CBSNews.com today on President Bush's rendition of trick-or-treat (to liberals and conservatives respectively) in naming Samuel Alito to succeed Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court.
Alito was painted as "a rock-ribbed conservative jurist who is not afraid to get out in front of the curve when it comes to" the "social issues" which get "the president's base foaming at the mouth."
Cohen finds himself gun-shy with a label for partial-birth abortion however, using an uncomfortable syntactical jumble to hint that Alito may have an impact on the Court's rulings on abortion:
At a morning briefing with reporters held by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, CBS correspondent John Roberts, still trying to make a name for himself within the network famous for its liberalism, used a crude sexual term to describe the nomination of President Bush's Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.
As reported by Matt Drudge, Roberts asked the following question: "So, Scott, you said that -- or the President said, repeatedly, that Harriet Miers was the best person for the job. So does that mean that Alito is sloppy seconds, or what?"
Sloppy seconds is a slang term for having sexual intercourse with someone immediately following another person.
After Roberts's comments were brought to light by Drudge, CBS's damage control unit aka its blog Public Eye, printed an apology from the would-be-anchor. Roberts later apologized at the formal afternoon daily briefing. Read on for details and video.
On this morning's Today Katie Couric devoted a large part of the 8:00am half hour to her interview with CBS News' Mike Wallace. During the segment NBC's graphic bragged: "Role Reversal, Answering The Tough Questions." However Couric never asked Mike Wallace about his most recent visit to a Brady Center fundraiser for gun control as blogged by Tim Graham.
Couric did ask Wallace to comment on CBS spiking his story with tobacco whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand and on Dan Rather's National Guard story fiasco (He said Rather should've resigned) but for the most part the "tough questions," were of the following variety:
Couric, introducing the segment: "The guy with nerves of steel who dared to ask the toughest questions no matter how famous or infamous his subject. Turns out Mike Wallace doesn't flinch when answering tough questions either as I found out when I interviewed him at his home on Martha's Vineyard. It's been 37 years since Mike Wallace first took the chair at 60 Minutes and as long as his health obliges the 87-year-old news man sees no reason to stop the clock. Do you feel terrific?"
From television to newspapers, the media have gone wild over oil companies’ profit reports this week, asking “how much is too much?”
That question alone demonstrated journalists’ omission of free market principles in their reporting. America’s free market allows the small businessman to become a large business if he is able. Once companies are publicly traded, millions of others share in the business’s profits. Yet, the media have pitted businesses against consumers, leaving out the fact that these large companies distribute dividends to millions of individuals.
Covering oil companies’ profits, reporters operated on the assumption that there should be a profit ceiling for a business, and that anything above that would be unacceptable. They also attempted to whip up consumer “outrage,” even though it is consumer demand and oil scarcity that drive up prices – not an arbitrary decision by oil companies. Just a few highlights:
Here's another nugget of recent media history on indictment coverage of Democrats. While the networks have found a grave problem in Vice President Cheney's office in Scooter Libby, the same networks weren't hot to report the indictment of Maria Hsia, who helped arrange Al Gore's infamous Buddhist Temple fundraiser. On July 8, 1998, in the middle of Monicagate, Brent Baker reported in the CyberAlert that Hsia was indicted:
A 13-second item on CBS is all the coverage devoted Tuesday night to the indictment of Maria Hsia of temple fundraiser fame. Some notes on Tuesday night, July 7 coverage:
As ABC, CBS, and NBC all dived into live coverage today to report the indictment of Vice President Cheney's top aide Scooter Libby, this is not at all the way the networks covered indictments of cabinet officers in the Clinton years.
In September 1997, we reported in Media Watch that when former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy was indicted on 39 counts, the networks aired a single evening news story. Three of the four networks -- ABC, CNN, and NBC -- underlined that the Smaltz inquiry had so far cost $9 million. None of them noted civil penalties originating from targets of Smaltz's inquiry amounted to more than $3.5 million. The next morning, CBS's morning show, called CBS This Morning, didn't even mention Espy's indictment. Months later, I noted in a Media Reality Check that on December 11, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros was indicted on 18 counts for misleading the FBI about payoffs to a mistress, Linda Medlar. NBC Nightly News filed one story; ABC's World News Tonight gave it 18 seconds. CBS Evening News didn't arrive on the story until the next night, and gave it nine seconds, a fraction of the two minutes Dan Rather gave the nightly El Nino update, about the weather "giving a gentle lift to the monarch butterfly." The morning shows were worse: NBC's Today passed on two anchor briefs, and ABC's Good Morning America and CBS This Morning ignored it.
As we prepare for any Patrick Fitzgerald moves today on Plamegate, and the press gets out its bottle of Clinton's Milk of Amnesia, don't just remember, as Rich Noyes did, that the media yawned when it came out that Robert Ray could have indicted Hillary. From the cobwebs of the April 1999 edition of our old paper newsletter MediaWatch, a reminder that the media also yawned when the grand jury forewoman felt she would have supported indicting President Clinton:
A silent but important figure in Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s Lewinsky investigation briefly broke her silence last month. Grand jury forewoman Freda Alexander revealed that she would have voted to indict President Clinton for perjury, if given the chance, and characterized attacks on Ken Starr as "grossly unfair." But the networks showed little interest in her revelations.
CBS News legal analyst, Andrew Cohen, today relays a conspiracy theory some have cooked up regarding the Miers nomination: Miers was never intended to sit on the Court, but rather to be a "sacrificial lamb" whose botched nomination would make it harder for liberals to sink her more conservative replacement.
Cohen himself finds the notion "only mildly paranoid when you think about it," adding:
Can this be? Why not. Anyone who has read those suck-up notes that Miers wrote to President Bush (they’ve been published and posted everywhere, in case you are wondering) wouldn’t have too hard a time believing that she would be wiling to sacrifice her own professional reputation for all eternity to further the political goals of the man to whom she has long hitched her star.
The Miers withdrawal having not yet broken and indictments in the Plame investigation still uncertain, the Early Show focused primarily on Hurricane Wilma in their first half hour's coverage. They seem to have gone for the "government response is painfully slow while people suffer" angle, casting doubt on FEMA and state disaster relief agencies as millions are still without power and face long lines for gas, food, and water.
First co-anchor Rene Syler led off at 7:05 EDT, tossing to Trish Regan live from Miami:
"President Bush visits southern Florida today, where there is growing frustration over relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Wilma. There are shortages of food and fuel, and some four million people remain without power. CBS News correspondent Trish Regan is live in Miami with more on this. Trish, good morning."
Regan opened: "Good morning, Rene. Well, people are growing increasingly frustrated, they're waiting sometimes five hours in line for basic things like food, water, and ice. I can tell you this morning, already, the gas lines have started. The biggest issue here for people is their lack of power."
In the days and weeks following the disaster in New Orleans, many in the media suggested that the federal government’s “slow” response to Hurricane Katrina was caused by the race and economic condition of those impacted. President Bush had to regularly answer the questions of reporters concerning this, while media members opined at will.
Most famous of such assertions was reported by NewsBusters when rapper Kanye West said during a televised Katrina relief fundraiser that, "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Earlier that day, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said, “Almost all of them that we see, are so poor and they are so black.” And, as also reported by NewsBusters, CBS News’s Nancy Giles said: “[Bush] has put himself at risk by visiting the troops in Iraq, but didn't venture anywhere near the Superdome or the convention center, where thousands of victims, mostly black and poor, needed to see that he gave a damn."
In an attempt to downplay the scope of the communist infilitration into our government in the 1950's and the true role Joseph McCarthy played during the era of so-called "McCarthyism", George Clooney stated on the Early Show that: "Yes, there were communists infiltrating some areas of government. Not many, a couple of guys" in promoting his new movie.
A couple of guys? As I pointed out in my most recent column, there were more than just "a couple" of Soviet spies in various levels of our government and society. (See the end of this posting for a brief list).
But CBS wouldn't challenge this claim of downplaying McCarthy against famed CBS reporter Edward Murrow. After all, as they note: Clooney's "latest project falls firmly into the latter category and is very close to Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith and those working at CBS News." Why would CBS challenge anything positive that is said about one of its own reporters?
As the CIA leak investigation comes to a conclusion, America’s media have started to sell the public the man in the middle of the maelstrom, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Tonight, CBS News jumped on the bandwagon in a report filed by Jim Axelrod for “The Evening News” (video link to follow).
Like many such reports in the past week, Axelrod began by trying to dispel the notion that politics are in any way involved in this episode: “44-year-old Pat Fitzgerald, an intense and, by all accounts, apolitical prosecutor who's pursued mob bosses, crooked politicians, and Osama bin Laden like a pit bull with lockjaw.”
Earlier today Matthew Sheffield posted how “the last casualty of the CBS Memogate scandal happened earlier today” with the announcement that CBS News President Andrew Heyward will be replaced. In 2000, appearing on C-SPAN the day before the start of the Republican convention in Philadelphia, Heyward denied a caller's contention that CBS reflected a liberal bias and denigrated MRC President Brent Bozell and the late Reed Irvine of Accuracy in Media as “activists and extremists of the Right.” Heyward argued that viewers confused “tough questions” to “the establishment” posed by CBS reporters with liberal bias and went so far as to seriously maintain that of "the people I work with, many of them are surprisingly conservative." Plus, he said with a straight face: "Our job is to communicate the truth to people." (A 2000 MRC article about Heyward's comments follows.)
Video excerpt tracked down, by Karen Hanna, from the MRC archive: Real or Windows Media
CBS's David Martin filed a report on today's Early Show on the sacrifice paid in Iraq by small towns across the country as 25 percent of the Iraq war dead are from rural areas compared to 20 percent of the military as a whole hailing from rural America. Martin focused on the July death of Sergeant Victor Anderson in his story. Anderson was a reservist from Ellaville, Georgia, a town with a population of 2,000, which Martin noted in the closing of his report, the same number of US deaths in Iraq.
Martin's piece put a face on the 2,000 benchmark and used the number to illustrate the loss of life in the Iraq war already as equal to that of a small tight-knit, patriotic Southern town. But in August, the Atlanta Journal Constitution gave its readers a fuller look at Anderson as a person, a Reservist who worked hard to lose weight and pass physical muster to be shipped out to Iraq rather than work a desk stateside:
In the months leading up to the imminent announcement from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald concerning “Leakgate,” there has been an endless stream of gloomy predictions from mainstream media representatives that indictments would destroy the Bush administration, and totally dismantle the president’s agenda for the rest of his second term. For example, as was reported here, David Gergen stated on yesterday’s “Early Show,” “If indictments are handed down, it's going to be a real blow to the administration and comes at a terrible time.” And, “If [Bush] were to lose Karl Rove, he'll lose a right arm. And it’s really hard to climb out of a hole without your right arm.”
By contrast, CBS’s Hannah Storm had Democratic strategist James Carville and Republican strategist Ed Rollins on “The Early Show” this morning, and the two high-profile pols didn’t agree with this assessment. In fact, both stated that if indictments are issued for Lewis Libby and Karl Rove which force them to resign, it could end up being a good thing for this White House (video link to follow):
The last casualty of the CBS Memogate scandal happened earlier today. Andrew Heyward, the long-time president of CBS News will no longer be directing the organization:
CBS announced Wednesday it is replacing embattled CBS News President Andrew Heyward with Sean McManus, chief of CBS Sports, who will keep both jobs.
Heyward served more than 10 years as head of the legendary news division, and it was a surprise to many in the industry when he kept his job in the fallout from the network's botched investigation into President Bush's National Guard service.
CBS still hasn't named a replacement for Dan Rather, who stepped down in March as anchor of the third-rated "CBS Evening News," and network chief Leslie Moonves had expressed discontent over ideas presented to him for revamping the broadcast.
Heyward presided over the delicate transition at his best-known broadcast, "60 Minutes," replacing founder Don Hewitt at the helm without any real impact in the show's popularity. He also established the spinoff "60 Minutes II," which was canceled this spring due to poor ratings. [...]
McManus will take over as news chief on Nov. 7, one day after [fired producer Mary] Mapes's book on the episode is due to be published.