It was surprising to learn from Byron York how little The New York Times and The Washington Post reported on Nancy Pelosi’s struggle over whether to appoint 14-year Representative (and impeached federal judge) Alcee Hastings to lead the House Intelligence Committee. It might be a little less surprising to report that a look at morning and evening shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC found the networks have so far skipped that House fight as well, with the exception of ABC’s "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."
In fact, the Big Three networks have barely mentioned or quoted Nancy Pelosi at all since Jack Murtha was defeated in the majority leader’s race on November 16. It’s odd for the networks to skip the Hastings fight, since Pelosi made "draining the swamp" of Republican corruption such a big campaign issue (and the exit polls suggested this as well.)
Are your a trial attorney with a record of frivolous lawsuits and a legal mind tailor made for con-tort-ing the law to fit your liberal agenda? Are you looking for some free air time on the "CBS Evening News"?
Then give Trish Regan a call. My colleague Julia Seymour noticed that on the November 30 edition of the news program the CBS correspondent gave GW Law prof George Banzhaf an infomercial compared to the paltry 10 seconds of opposition she gave to a critic of the food police.
“This could be the smoking gun. We could say that fat is the next tobacco,” said John Banzhaf of the George Washington University Law School, best known for his crusading lawsuits against the tobacco companies. Regan explained that Banzhaf wants to “go after fast food companies” and has already been involved in lawsuits that “resulted in settlements or industry changes.”
For the second consecutive year, CBS seized upon the opportunity to view the White House Christmas decorations to ambush First Lady Laura Bush with questions about Iraq. However, when CBS interviewed first lady and Senator-elect Hillary Clinton in 2000, Jane Clayson ignored policy questions and instead highlighted Mrs. Clinton’s accomplishments and inquired about Mrs. Clinton’s favorite Christmas traditions.
On Thursday’s "Early Show," co-host Hannah Storm portrayed Iraq as hopeless and was dismayed that U.S. troops are not being withdrawn:
"And can you offer them words of comfort and hope as I think many of them were hoping that perhaps with the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group that maybe we would begin a gradual pullout of troops but yet, once again we hear today that our troops will be there indefinitely."
Former President Jimmy Carter appeared on Tuesday’s "Early Show" to promote his book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." Co-host Harry Smith gushed over Carter, calling him someone who has "built housing across the United States and across the world as well, and has continued to promote world peace." Smith even proceeded to seek Carter’s foreign policy counsel on the war, inquiring "is there a way out of Iraq?" Yet, Smith failed to mention Carter’s foreign policy failures such as the Iran hostage crisis when soliciting Carter’s advice.
As noted yesterday, President Carter’s book places the blame for the Israel/Palestine conflict, and by extension the conflict with Israel and other Middle Eastern or Persian countries, squarely on Israel. However, Smith didn’t challenge the former President on his conclusion. What about nations, whose stated goal is to eliminate the "Zionist" state, don’t they bear any blame? Or how about terror organizations who send children to blow themselves up in order to murder innocent Israelis in the process? Aren’t they equally responsible for this conflict? Yet, again, these are topics not pursued by Harry Smith. Perhaps Smith chose not to challenge President Carter’s premise because Carter’s publisher, Simon & Schuster is a division of CBS, but, nonetheless, Smith shirked his journalistic responsibility by not asking the tough questions.
On Sunday’s "60 Minutes," CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan insisted the US had been defeated in Iraq. During an interview with General John Abizaid, the top US Commander in Iraq, Logan asserted, "We hear very little about victory in Iraq these days. We hear a lot about how to manage the defeat." It appears Ms. Logan suffers from selective hearing. While many Democrats and some Republicans talk about Iraq as a lost cause, sources such as Senator John McCain and White House officials still insist victory is not only possible, it is imperative.
General Abizaid dismissed Logan’s claims, and maintained that "defeat" was her word not his. However, Logan persisted in proclaiming that the United States had been beaten.
Here's an interesting bit of irony: Knowledge of the media's ongoing fauxtography scandals has gotten so widespread that now entertainment shows are starting to make plots based on journalists faking the news. "CSI" recently ran an episode about it.
CBS told a federal court Monday that the government's new "zero tolerance" policy for indecent broadcasts is threatening to choke off free speech.
In its opening brief with the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, CBS contends that the commission's policy "is flatly inconsistent with the bedrock principle that First Amendment freedoms require breathing space to survive."
The article continued (reader is cautioned that some of the profanity in question is present):
The network morning shows noticed Indonesian Muslims protesting President Bush, but sadly, once again, they tended to sanitize out the extremists. In this case, protest leaders called for the execution of Bush, but the networks mostly offered Americans quotes from protesters saying they loved America, just hated the president. They left out what Agence France-Presse reported: a protest leader declared through a loudspeaker: "Kill him, kill him...the blood of George Bush is halal," meaning it was not a sin under Islam to kill him. "Not only is it halal, it is obligatory to kill him."
The networks seem to want the American audience to bite on the Democratic line that conservative policies make us unpopular around the world, when people would be much more agreeable under the sorry-we-didn’t-mean-to-be-a-superpower poses of a Gore, Kerry, or Hillary Clinton. Showing protesters who want to execute our president tend to ruin the line of the day. On NBC’s Today on Monday, Matt Lauer led off the show with a plug for their "Hello, Go Home" segment on Bush's visit. MRC’s Justin McCarthy found reporter Kelly O’Donnell’s selected protesters who stressed their love for America, and their hatred for Bush:
Friday’s "Early Show" analyzed the Democrat Party’s leadership election with CBS News Capitol Hill correspondent Sharyl Attkisson recognizing the failure of Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi in her endeavor to replace her rival, Representative Steny Hoyer, with her friend, Congressman John Murtha, in the House Democrat Party leadership. Pelosi was compared to a head football coach who’s team revolted when the star quarterback was chosen. Attkisson also referenced Murtha’s questionable ethics, the only reporter of the network morning shows, CBS, NBC, or ABC, to do so on Friday.
In introducing the piece, co-host Hannah Storm noted that the leadership elections were mixed results for Speaker-to-be, Nancy Pelosi, and Ms. Attkisson began her report citing Pelosi’s failure to elevate her ally to the majority leader post:
"It's as if the new coach picked her star quarterback, but the team wouldn't have it. And the coach, Nancy Pelosi, was shocked."
Can John McCain land enough "right hand punches" to "satisfy conservatives," and how is the 2008 presidential race unfolding? These are two of the topics raised on Wednesday’s "Early Show" in the "Capitol Bob" segment with Bob Schieffer. During the segment, Schieffer came to the obvious conclusion that the Democrat nominee will either be Hillary Clinton or someone else, and the Republican nominee will either be John McCain or someone else. However, co-host Hannah Storm alluded to one of Senator McCain’s weaknesses and humorously opined:
"Alright, we'll see if he's [McCain] able to throw enough right-hand punches in that race to satisfy the conservatives, right."
On Thursday's O'Reilly Factor on FNC, Bill O'Reilly raised, with former CBS News reporter Bernard Goldberg and Fox Newswatch panelist Jane Hall, “all the softball interviews of Nancy Pelosi” which aired Wednesday night and that a NewsBusters item summarized. O'Reilly cautioned that “I'm not saying you should go after her throat, but surely when you have the person second in line for the presidency and she's the most liberal Speaker of the House in the history of the country, surely you might want to get into a little bit about how she formed her point of view -- or am I crazy?" Goldberg assured O'Reilly, "no, you're not crazy,” and proposed: “Do you think Newt Gingrich would have gotten the same treatment as Nancy Pelosi got? Look, I mean, the bias is never blatant, but they like Nancy Pelosi, they like the fact the Democrats won and she's a woman, the first woman who's going to be Speaker of the House, so they treat her with a certain respect, which they should, that they wouldn't treat a conservative Republican."
Indeed, as the MRC documented back in 1994, the mainstream media greeted Gingrich's victory with hostility. Days before the election, CBS's Eric Engberg treated as newsworthy how the “bombastic and ruthless” Gingrich “was attacked for McCarthyism" and has “a record filled with contradictions: the family values candidate who divorced his ailing first wife, the avowed enemy of dirty politics who bounced 22 checks at the House Bank...” Time magazine snidely declared: "His ideas, which don't often come to grips with the particulars of policymaking, may be less important than his signature mood of righteous belligerence." ABC's Sam Donaldson confronted Gingrich: "A lot of people are afraid of you, they think you're a bomb thrower. Worse, you're an intolerant bigot.”
If we rigidly applied truth-in-advertising laws to the national media in their coverage of the 2006 campaign, we would have first declared that the stuff between the commercials wasn’t "news" as much as a boatload of free infomercial advertising for the Democrats. The news reports should have led with the sentence, "I’m Nancy Pelosi, and I approved this newscast."
Republicans made a lot of mistakes, and caused themselves a pile of problems. Their house is a mess; it's time to tear down and start over. But I will say this unequivocally: In 25 years of looking at the national media, I have never seen a more one-sided, distorted, vicious presentation of news -- and non-news -- by the national media. They ought to be collectively ashamed. They have made a mockery out of the term "objective journalism" and a laughingstock of themselves at the idea that they should be considered objective journalists.
Is this more offensive to Democrats or Republicans? At least five separate reporters described incoming freshman Democrat Congressmen as conservative. On Wednesday’s "Early Show" Bob Schieffer noted "these Democrats that were elected last night are conservative Democrats." Later in the same program, CBS News Captiol Hill correspondent Sharyl Attkisson highlighted, "...a lot of these new Democrats who’ve been elected are social conservatives." Seconds later, CBS Political Correspondent Gloria Borger observed that with the Democrats taking the House, "the committee chairmen are going to be liberal and the people coming in are going to be these moderate conservatives." The trend continued on "Imus in the Morning" as NBC’s David Gregory remarked, "She’s [Nancy Pelosi] going to have a lot of center-right Democrats who won..."
It seems we were misled by Dan Rather about playing it "straight" on The Daily Show on Election Night. He made a brief appearance to draw laughs by spouting a few canned "Ratherisms," in case anyone missed the biennial tradition of the disgraced CBS anchor’s homespun Texas phrases. (By the way, we coined the term "Ratherisms" in Notable Quotables back in 1992, and were recounting the election-night expressions back in NQ’s first year, 1988.) On Tuesday, Rather gave a bland analysis of the state of play, allowing Stewart to set up the gag:
Stewart: "We sort of brought you in here to, you know, give us a little bit more of that Dan Rather. You know what I am saying? A little bit more of that home-spun kind of... ?
Rather, faking confusion: "How so?"
Stewart: How about Hillary Clinton? We knew she would win in a landslide. How would you, Dan Rather, describe the largeness of her victory?
Rather: It was a healthy margin. [Stewart mugs and urges the Ratherism.] How about...She ran away with it like a hobo with a sweet potato pie?" [Wild applause, cheers.]
CNN's Wolf Blitzer made a point of saying his network would refrain from calling any of the races in Pennsylvania, where polls remain open in two areas where there were problems earlier in the day.
But in an 8pm EST CBS News break-in, new anchor Katie Couric couldn't wait to share the good news with her fellow liberals, announcing that Bob Casey, Jr. had beaten Rick Santorum.
UPDATE, 8:40pm EST: Most of the networks have joined CBS in declaring Casey the winner, and Howard Dean just told Chris Matthews that he would personally invite Senator Casey to speak at the Democratic Convention despite being pro-life (Casey's father, the late Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey, Sr., was excluded from the 1992 Democratic convention that nominated Bill Clinton). But CNN's Web site lists Pennsylvania as "still voting," so hasn't yet called Casey the victor.
Nasty and bitter is how the Virginia and New Jersey Senate races were described on Monday’s "Early Show" on CBS. No not necessarily the campaigns in general, but the Republican candidates and Republican ads. Additionally, Harry Smith highlighted that while Northern Virginia is "Webb country," the rest of Virginia "clings to its conservative roots." Notice how Smith omits the phrase "liberal" while commenting on Northern Virginia.
Smith noted how the Virginia race is "mean" and "nasty" before remarking on Allen’s gaffes and how they have kept this race close:
In an election year gift to Democrats, Sunday’s "60 Minutes" pointed out GOP failings in Congress on the eve of a crucial midterm election, hitting the Republican Congress over failure to control spending and in particular, earmarks. "60 Minutes" has a history of running stories like these on the show preceding an important election. In 2002, correspondent Morley Safer provided a forum for liberal columnist Molly Ivins to hype the candidacies of two Texas Democrats running for state wide office, while providing no counterpoint from a conservative or Republican in the piece.
On Sunday, Safer profiled Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake about earmarks and government spending, unfortunately Safer portrayed earmarks as the only wasteful spending in Washington. In an attempt to discourage conservatives and demoralize the GOP base, "60 Minutes" attacked the Republican Congress over its failure to limit spending. Safer invoked the name of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and equated earmarks with corruption while lamenting Congress’ wasteful spending.
In my first piece about this surprising Washington Post/ABC News poll published on Sunday indicating that the Republicans have been picking up ground on the Democrats in the past two weeks, I said that it would be interesting to see how this survey got reported. As compared to what ABC’s “This Week” did Sunday morning (i.e. beginning the program discussing it), CBS’s response was much more predictable. However, what was peculiar is the person CBS used to discredit the data given his pedigree and bona fides.
With that in mind, Bob Schieffer invited CBS political analyst Stuart Rothenberg on Sunday’s “Face the Nation.” Rothenberg made it clear that he sees a big Democrat victory in the House on Tuesday (up to 40 seats), and the Democrats picking up four to seven seats in the Senate (video here). As the discussion moved to who will actually turn out to vote, Rothenberg questioned the methodology of the Washington Post/ABC News poll:
With less then a week before Election Day, members of the mainstream media are doing everything they can to elect Democrats. MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann has stepped up his fevered attacks, referring to President Bush as both "stupid" and a liar. Later on in the week, he included Media Research Center President Brent Bozell in the November 2 "Worst Person in the World" segment.
Speaking of cable networks, an analysis of the CNN "Broken Government" special shows that Lynne Cheney was right in denouncing it as nothing more then left-wing Daily Kos-style propaganda.
Over on CBS, "The Evening News" featured a laudatory segment on "trend setting" California. Not so coincidentally, all the trends were liberal. On the subject of morning bias, "Today’s" David Gregory turned over a segment to Michael J. Fox and his promotion of Democratic candidates.
Completing the network trilogy, ABC’s "Good Morning America" talked to a group of "real-life actual voters"in a Ohio diner. Oddly enough, none of these hungry citizens seemed to like Republicans very much. Perhaps this was a Democratic diner.
Last Monday, Brian Stelter at the TV Newser blog said CBS’s “freeSpeech” commentary segments (an innovation Katie Couric began when she took over the anchor throne on September 5) had “failed” at their stated goal of opening up the airwaves to more than the media elite’s “usual suspects.” Looking at the first 34 “freeSpeech” segments, Stelter calculated that “the vast majority of the guests have national media platforms, like books, columns, magazines, and Senate podiums.”
Three days later, CBS News’s own blog, “Public Eye,” itself wondered if the segment was too insidery. “I think the answer is that it has been a mix,” Evening News Executive Producer Rome Hartman told CBS’s bloggers. “If you look at all 30 or so [segments] that have run — and I haven't counted — maybe a third have been from what you might call ‘pundits.’ The point of the segment is interesting voices from everywhere.”
Wednesday’s "Early Show" on CBS highlighted Senator John Kerry’s disparaging remarks about the American military in three separate segments, but instead of expressing outrage at Kerry’s comments, CBS seemed more concerned that the Republicans may use them for political gain in the midterm elections. While CBS omitted mentions that some Democrats have refused to campaign with Kerry and others have asked that he apologize, the network pondered if the outrage expressed by Republicans was an effort to "fire up the base" or simply a "desperate" attempt to change the subject.
Co-host Hannah Storm inquired of White House Press Secretary Tony Snow if President Bush’s demand that Kerry apologize to the troops was genuine or:
On Monday’s CBS "Evening News," correspondent Sandra Hughes highlighted "trend-setting California" for "tackling ground-breaking issues the federal government won’t touch." She listed liberal policies enacted by California, such as funding embryonic stem cell research, raising the minimum wage, providing discounts for prescription drugs, and for enacting "the nation’s most restrictive law on greenhouse gas emissions." Hughes further noted that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s "saving grace" has been his decision to work with Democrats instead of against them.
"Evening News" anchor Katie Couric introduced the segment calling the Congress do-nothing, and portrayed California as a trail blazing state:
The gossip site Gawker reports CBS is trolling on Craigslist for that reliable species of American weirdo, the traditional family-values Christians who have Islamophobia:
Do you get nervous when you see a Muslim on an airplane? Have your opinions about Muslims changed since September 11? Do you have family or friends that get nervous around Muslims?
A NEW CBS SHOW SEEKS New York families who have traditional family values but are uneasy around Muslims.
The show will profile families in different communities across the country. This one hour documentary-style series from the producers of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and "Deal or No Deal" will take a look at the people and cultures that make up America.
Julie Chen, co-host of CBS’s "Early Show," was more biased than the New York Times in reporting on a new global warming study conducted by the British government. Chen highlighted the inflammatory claims of the study, citing that it concludes "global warming will devastate the world economy on the scale of the World Wars." Yet, the New York Times, in its coverage of the report, did not note this claim, and even quoted an expert who called the study "a bunch of guesswork."
Chen classified this research as a "wake up call" and reported that British Prime Minister Tony Blair thinks emissions need to be cut, an allusion to the media line that humans are responsible for global warming. But, the science is far from conclusive that global warming is a manmade phenomenon as opposed to one that occurs naturally. But, then again, this would not be the first time CBS has sensationalized "man made" global warming while ignoring contradicting studies (click here and here for examples).
Katie Couric is trying to talk past her program being stuck in third place (see Monday's chat with Peter Johnson in USA Today), but she really let the fangs show a bit in her interview for the November issue of Good Housekeeping magazine. When asked about published rumors of feuding with Matt Lauer and "high-handed" diva treatment of her staff, Couric grew angry, and sounded a lot like Hillary Clinton:
"I think there are a lot of angry, frustrated people, and I think that sometimes they happen to be writers," she says. "Our society still has a difficult time accepting strong powerful women and not typecasting them as evil, power-hungrylunatics." So, she has decided, "I’m going to be on a blackout for the first few months." Bad press, she says, "can suck your spirit dry."
Sunday's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" offered more evidence that Katie Couric's CBS interview with Michael J. Fox was too cozy and unchallenging. She didn't push the celebrity into admitting a common celebrity error: he's speaking without reading. On Missouri's Amendment 2, the center of his ad pushing Democrat Claire McCaskill for Senate, he said, "I have to qualify it by saying I'm not qualified to speak on the page-to-page content of the initiative. Although, I am quite sure that I'll agree with it in spirit, I don't know, I— On full disclosure, I haven't read it, and that's why I didn't put myself up for it distinctly." (AP didn't find that part newsworthy.)
David Letterman treated FNC's Bill O'Reilly and conservative views with disdain as the two got into a bit of tempest when O'Reilly last appeared on theLate Show back on Tuesday, January 3, as detailed in my NewsBusters post of the time (with video), “Letterman Denounces Iraq War, Sheehan Critics.” O'Reilly will be a guest again on tonight's (Friday) show which was, oddly, taped on Monday and thus allowed Letterman to talk about it a bit on Thursday's program. Letterman hasn't gained any admiration for O'Reilly in the past ten months, as demonstrated by how he recalled: “The last time he was on the show I caught him lying. And I said to myself, well you better do something, you just can't sit here and let this guy lie, so I jumped all over him and there was a bit of a dust-up.” Letterman also revealed his strategy for the interview: “He's a blowhard, I'll be a blowhard too. So when he comes out what I do is I attack him. And I just make a fool of myself and, of course, I have no idea what I'm talking about and neither does he.” (Summary of Letterman's remarks back in January follow.)
Update, 8:15pm EDT: The Late Show Web site has posted (on its "Big Show Highlights" page) a 3:39 streaming Real video from Friday's show of a very heated argument between O'Reilly and Letterman, with some insults from Letterman, over Iraq.
With less then two weeks to go before the midterm elections, two separate programs, on two different networks, speculated that the Republicans are colluding with big oil to lower gas prices. The "Today" show wondered if this indicated "a vast right-wing conspiracy."
Fox’s Geraldo Rivera speculated that America was seeing a case of "gas pump pimping."
Meanwhile, ABC’s "Nightline" weighed in on political commercials and lamented GOP "mudslinging." They also characterized Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Michael J. Fox as a "vicious attack." (They apparently didn’t find any mudslinging or vicious attacks done by the Democrats)
CNN had their own take on Limbaugh’s comments. They wondered: "Could it be a new low?"
Speaking of the cable network, CNN also previewed a new Bush special by noting that "many say" the President has "stretched" and "trampled" the Constitution.
For these people with short memories who think the Jim Webb novel passages with lusty or just strange sexual episodes have no place in political news, clearly they do not remember the Newt Gingrich Bodice-Ripper as it broke to liberal media jokes in December of 1994. Webb’s strange passages drew no attention on the network morning shows Friday, unlike the liberal Gingrich fun in 1994:
-- CNN ended its afternoon show Inside Politics on December 1, 1994 with this exchange between anchors Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff on the enterprising New York Times:
Shaw: "Well, Gingrich is taking a sense of history into a new surprising realm. He's co-authoring a novel about World War II at its aftermath. Gingrich describes it as 'historical science fiction,' but others might categorize it as a sexy potboiler, at least based on an excerpt obtained by the New York Times. Now one passage reads - and let me emphasize I'm quoting now - 'Suddenly the pouting sex kitten gave way to Diana the Huntress. She rolled onto to him and somehow was sitting athwart his chest, her knees pinning his shoulders. 'Tell me, or I will make you do terrible things,' she hissed.' What are political watchers to make of this offering from the speaker-in-waiting and a proponent of family values? Well, incoming Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole was asked for his comments today."