Drudge notes that AP media reporter David Bauder wrote up former CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite's latest call for American withdrawal, meeting with reporters in Pasadena, California:
Former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite, whose 1968 conclusion that the Vietnam War was unwinnable keenly influenced public opinion then, said Sunday he'd say the same thing today about Iraq. "It's my belief that we should get out now," Cronkite said in a meeting with reporters.
Several on the left have been begging around to find a "Cronkite moment" that would tip the momentum in Iraq into abject withdrawal, and Cronkite probably figured he was the best person to attempt another Cronkite moment. He proclaimed that it was one of his proudest moments to tell the nation in an anchorman's commentary that the Vietnam war "was unwinnable and that the U.S. should exit. "
You can’t swing a dead cat lately without smacking into an article concerning Congressman John Murtha’s (D-Pennsylvania) view of the necessity to withdraw American troops from Iraq. In fact, as reported by the MRC’s Brent Baker, Murtha is going to be on CBS’s “60 Minutes” discussing exactly that on Sunday with none other than Mike Wallace. However, for some reason, that same demised feline has little chance of ever coming in contact with a report of the Congressman’s proclivities to take funds from Washington lobbyists. Today, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette broke ranks from the mainstream media in this regard.
In an article entitled “Santorum Reaps Money From Lobbyists,” the Post-Gazette’s Maeve Reston led with the revelation that Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) has taken more money from Washington lobbyists in the 2006 election cycle than anyone else on Capitol Hill. However:
ABC and NPR are acting like kissing cousins. Ted Koppel, now retired from "Nightline," will provide commentaries for NPR, about once a week, the report suggests. He professes his love for NPR and how he's stolen many ideas from them. (This might explain some of the liberal bias on ABC.) His producer Leroy Sievers has been working at NPR in recent months, too. In recent years, commentaries on NPR have been less political than you might expect, but I don't think Koppel will record chats about making icea tea in the sun. I'd bet on John Chancellor-style pompous-windbag political commentaries. (You can see the genre is you scroll down here.) Koppel will also write (liberal) editorials for the New York Times. Oh goody.
Few shows have shown more of an anti-Bush, anti-conservative slant than CBS's "60 Minutes." (See this report on their complete Bush v. Kerry one-sidedness in 2004.) But that doesn't mean CBS people will admit it. CBS's "Public Eye" site has a question and answer feature called "10 Plus 1," which is ten questions from Public Eye staffers and one from the public. Today, the interviewee was "60 Minutes" producer Andy Court, and the inquiry was "a (slightly edited) question from reader Chester W." (Oh, to see the original):
Q. "60 Minutes" has a long standing tradition in seeking out the facts on stories that greatly effect public opinions in the world. Have you ever considered investigating the "60 Minutes" staff (or other news outlets like yours) to see if there really is a slant towards the democrats left wing policies?
Gloria Borger on the “CBS Evening News” tonight demonstrated some humanity and compassion that is quite rare and sorely lacking from most members of the modern American media. In her report today about the Samuel Alito confirmation hearings, Borger stated that Mrs. Alito crying behind her husband “may be the picture that people really remember from these hearings.” Furthermore, she twice stated that Democrats might have gone too far with their questioning today (video link to follow).
In the middle of a fairly balanced presentation of the day’s events, the screen showed Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) questioning Judge Alito, and facetiously asking him if he was a bigot:
CBS started its "Public Eye" weblog in the wake of the Dan Rather fake-memo fiasco as "an opportunity for our audience to hold CBS News more publicly accountable." But the interview Vaughn Ververs posted today with new "Evening News" executive producer Rome Hartman sends an odd signal. Hartman feels compelled (or perhaps sincerely believes, however odd that sounds) to state than Dan Rather remains one of "the great figures of the [CBS] news division." Is this really a "new era" at CBS?
Brian Montopoli on the CBS Public Eye site asked some CBS insiders about whether Pat Robertson is as newsworthy as he used to be. They said no:
I asked "Evening News" host Bob Schieffer for his thoughts on Robertson and whether he thought there were others who better represent evangelicals. Schieffer, who considers himself a religious person, has covered Robertson and interviewed him several times in the past, and says "at the beginning he represented a particular point of view, and articulated it quite well." But he's reluctant to cover him now.
"I think we have to be very careful about quoting Robertson, because I'm not sure who he represents anymore," he said. "His comments have gone beyond interesting and into bizarre." The "Evening News," he points out, has not covered Robertson's recent comments.
On this morning’s Early Show on CBS, co-host Julie Chen teased a segment on the Abramoff situation by claiming there was "major fallout in Washington" surrounding the "Capitol Hill Corruption Scandal." What was she referring to? To me, major fallout would mean there were indictments or resignations or a slew of Congressmen announcing they would not seek reelection. But no, she was referring to the fact that President Bush and other senior Republicans were going to rid themselves of donations that came from Jack Abramoff. It began:
"I'm Julie Chen. Major fallout in Washington in the wake of the Capitol Hill corruption scandal. President Bush and senior Republican lawmakers plan to dump thousands of dollars in campaign donations from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff; we'll have that story."
There's a reason or two why Tim Russert rules the Sunday morning news show roost. One of them is he asks tough questions based on preparation. By contrast, on Sunday's "Face the Nation," Bob Schieffer displayed the opposite. His interview with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin looked like the questions of someone who did no homework, like CBS pulled a man out of a Denny's and told him to play journalist -- and they were certainly questions that avoided any kind of toughness on Nagin.
There was nothing, first and foremost on the journalist's plate, about Nagin's wild exaggerations about a death toll of 10,000 and the rampant rape and murder he and his top cops gave to the national media. There was no question asking Nagin about his utter failure to order a mandatory evacuation until the last minute. There was no question asking Nagin about his failure to evacuate citizens by city bus or Amtrak train. There was no question asking Nagin about race-baiting and finger-pointing at FEMA and Team Bush. Schieffer has painted Michael Brown as the picture of incompetence, but Democrat Nagin is presented as a firm leader. Nagin faced only these softballs:
To wrap up our list of the Best of NQ's worst quotes of the year, a look now at the more recent winners in the Dubya era. For reasons which shall become obvious (length), we'll go backwards in this post. 2005's Quote of the Year (Mary Mapes on her strange philosophy of journalism) is here.
Dan Rather's Gloom, 2004: "What drives American civilians to risk death in Iraq? In this economy it may be, for some, the only job they can find." — Dan Rather teasing a report on the CBS Evening News on March 31, the day four American civilians were killed and mutilated in Fallujah, Iraq.
To welcome in 2006, I thought it might be fun (as one radio host suggested) to take a look back at all of our Quotes of the Year from the Best of Notable Quotables of the Year, all the worst, dumbest, and most bizarre quotes of each particular year. First, a look at the four years of President Bush Number One.
Iran-Contra Hangover, 1989: "For the most part, the Nicaraguan Contras burned villages and murdered civilians. On behalf of their cause, Reagan sold out his oath of office and subverted the Constitution....Oliver North presented himself as the immortal boy in the heroic green uniform of Peter Pan. Although wishing to be seen as a humble patriot, the colonel's testimony showed him to be a treacherous and lying agent of the national security state, willing to do anything asked of him by a President to whom he granted the powers of an Oriental despot." -- Harper's Editor Lewis Lapham narrating his PBS series America's Century, November 28.
Yes it’s the Friday before New Year's. Yes there is not much in the way of news. But CBS was so desperate to fill time this morning, they brought on an astrologer to predict the future. Needless to say, she predicted a bad year in 2006 for both President Bush and the economy. Would it really have been on CBS had she done otherwise?
In the 8:30 half hour of this morning’s "Early Show," host Harry Smith interviewed the writer of the daily astrology column for the New York Daily News, Susan Miller. Smith began the interview inquiring about the President’s moons and planets.
Harry Smith: "Now, you know, one of the people who really had a tough year last year, his approval ratings down, everything else, President Bush. How are his moons and planets?"
I know this is the week between Christmas and New Years, but did CBS really need to dig up 12 year old news to fill time this morning? The subject was commercial advertising on public school buses in Colorado Springs, an outrage pretty much contained to liberals who hate commercials and lower school taxes.
In the 7:00 half hour of Wednesday’s Early Show, host Harry Smith interviewed two guests about the growing trend of school districts selling advertising space on their school busses, and once again the Early Show is more than a decade late in reporting the controversy (Christmas Card Controversy). Elaine Naleski, Director of Communications for Colorado Springs District 11 school, told Harry Smith "Colorado Springs District 11 started putting ads on busses in 1993 and it was because they couldn't pass a tax increase of any kind..." So why is this news? Could it be that CBS wanted to put on a guest that would argue that higher taxes are the answer? Gary Ruskin of the "consumer group" Commercial Alert opposed the idea of private revenue sources and called for higher taxes when he told Smith, " The answer is for school districts to band together and to demand a partial revocation of the Bush tax cuts and send it back to schools and police and fire departments that are absolutely abjectly poor." Ruskin neglected to mention that the Federal government is spending more money than ever on education, and that spending on education has risen faster under President Bush than it had under President Clinton, nor did Harry Smith feel the need to mention that fact either.
As Michael's blog mentions, this is CBS reporter Kelly Cobiella's depressing story from Iraq this morning, another attempt to record new victories for the efficient terrorists:
"The final election results from the December 15 election still aren't in, but the preliminary numbers have sparked massive protests and a new wave of violence. Thousands of angry protestors marched in the streets of Baghdad demanding new elections under United Nations supervision, they say the religious Shiite coalition has stolen the mid-December vote; they're threatening to boycott the new parliament if they don't see a change. As many here feared, the election results are already sparking a new wave of sectarian violence across the country -- a pipeline up in flames, a well-coordinated attack on an Iraqi checkpoint in Baqouba, and six blasts which rocked Baghdad.
On Tuesday morning’s Early Show on CBS, host Harry Smith continued to spread media pessimism about the situation in Iraq while interviewing Michael O’Hanlon from the left leaning Brookings Institution in the 7:00 half hour. Smith began the interview by asking O’Hanlon about the return of violence in Iraq, "We just watched this piece with Kelly Cobiella, there had been this peace, this lull, this sort of seeming cessation of violence during the election period and for awhile, the violence is back again, there are lines at gas stations because the price of gas has gone up in Iraq, it seems a little bit like business as usual has returned there, what do you make of this?" Smith later expressed his doubts about democracy in Iraq and their future ability to establish a government, "people are encouraged to participate in this democracy, can they form a government was the question we were asking a couple of weeks ago, do you see any signs that this is actually going to take place?"
1. On the Finkelstein-strike beat, MRC’s Scott Whitlock says NBC reporter Michelle "Canoe Girl" Kosinski used the I-word ("illegal") for the first time on "Today" in reporting, "The illegal strike is taking a toll on the city’s economy, says the city’s mayor."
2. Scott also notes that CBS’s "Early Show" brought up the other I-word ("impeachment") again this morning, as co-host Hannah Storm asked CBS analyst Gloria Borger about the NSA surveillance hubbub, "What is the fallout of this going to be? Some people are already talking of impeachment proceedings." Borger shot that down: "Well, I think that’s a bridge too far." That's milder than Jonathan Turley's encouraging words about Bush's high crimes yesterday.
It seems like a common pattern lately. A mainstream media outlet publishes a bombshell story, and within days, the whole thing unravels quicker than a cheap sweater swarmed by kittens. Such is beginning to look like the case for The New York Times’ eavesdropping controversy, which is showing a lot of wear and tear for its age.
Wednesday wasn’t a very good day for the ongoing health of this story, or for members of the media hoping that the recent revelations concerning National Security Agency espionage tactics could lead to impeachment proceedings against President Bush.
The day started with a former member of the Clinton White House voicing strong words of support for the Bush administration’s behavior. In a Chicago Tribune op-ed entitled “President Had Legal Authority to OK Taps,” former associate attorney general John Schmidt refuted media protestations concerning the illegality of the National Security Agency eavesdropping on American citizens who are in contact with known members of al Qaeda without a court order allowing it to do so:
Substitute co-host Russ Mitchell of CBS’s The Early Show interviewed legal scholar Jonathan Turley about the "spy scandal" on Wednesday in the 7:00 half hour. Mitchell used the interview to have Turley explain why those opposed to the President are legally accurate, and why impeachment proceedings against President Bush may be appropriate. Windows Media or Real Player
From the very beginning, this segment took a negative tone against the President and his administration, and like many interviews and stories, was completely one sided. Mitchell framed the story, as many media outlets do, in a way to give the impression that the government is spying on everyone at all times, "As we said, Capitol Hill is buzzing about the President's admission to spying on Americans without obtaining warrants," but he ignored the limited nature of the program in that it was limited to international communications and one of the parties must have known ties to terror.
On Tuesday morning, the network morning shows all began with full stories on the New York City transit strike (no doubt involving dozens of struggling network employees). As I remarked today to Mark Finkelstein on his strike blog post, the New York-based media has an annoying tendency to elevate itself into the center of the news universe on local issues. (Put the same event in San Francisco or Seattle, and the national media would barely whisper.) And now, an example: merely a few weeks ago, at Halloween time, Philadelphia also had a transit strike. As Rich Noyes pointed out to me, it drew an 800-word story in the November 1 New York Times headlined "400,000 Hit by Philadelphia Transit Strike." Major morning show hubbub? Of course not.
There were only two subjects that concerned the media during President Bush’s December 19th news conference: Bad news on Iraq and domestic spying. Problems in Iraq accounted for six questions, while there were seven on domestic spying. (Note: Questions were counted based on their topic. Follow-ups on the same subject were not counted as separate questions.)
The assembled members of the press seemed relatively uninterested in the successful Iraqi elections. In fact, there were no questions specifically about the elections or about the improving economy.
This morning on CBS's "The Early Show," in the 7:00 half hour, Rene Syler interviewed their regular political analyst Craig Crawford about whether the President broke the law in authorizing eavesdropping without a warrant, and the President’s poll numbers. This segment was one sided and negative towards the President.
Syler opened her segment saying "In a news conference Monday, President Bush vehemently defended spying on Americans to protect them against terrorism. The President said he broke no law authorizing the secret program and said the practice would continue despite concerns that it infringes on civil liberties." In introducing a story in this way, it would be fair to assume the bulk of the interview would be on this subject. Wrong. The interview ranged from the foreign surveillance issue, to finding the negatives in improving poll numbers for the President, to an assertion by Craig Crawford, in answering a question about what this is all about and what these issues mean, that what’s at stake here is not only control of Congress, but the Constitution.
CBS’ Thalia Assuras did a piece for “The Early Show” this morning concerning the domestic spying controversy (video link to follow). In it, she exclusively presented the views of Democrat members of Congress as well as a “legal scholar” who believes this program is illegal. Yet, she chose to not question any Republicans concerning this issue, or bring on a constitutional attorney with an opposing view. As a result, she presented a segment wherein Democrats and detractors of this program were seen countering each videotaped position the president made during his press conference yesterday. This gave the appearance that the president is on an island with nobody in Congress or in the legal community willing to defend this newly revealed covert program.
After President Bush concluded his press conference, the networks decided he was passionate, even "testy," said Tim Russert. That's virtually always a good description of White House reporters facing a Republican president. To be specific, MRC's Scott Whitlock noticed that Tim Russert proclaimed, "The Bush media blitz continues. This was a President who was passionate, animated, even testy about the eavesdropping situation, Brian. He realizes that this issue has legs, if in fact Republicans in Congress go forward with their investigation." Russert insisted the contoversy over domestic "spying" is "still a big question and clearly the President does not enjoy being challenged about it."
On ABC, MRC's Megan McCormack watched ex-Clinton spin artist George Stephanopoulos holding court with his "nonpartisan" opinions on how the "humble" Bush of Sunday night was the "defiant" Bush of Monday morning. Anchor Elizabeth Vargas noted his vigor in defending a "secret spying program." (As opposed to a overt, watchable spying program?)
As NewsBusters’ Clay Waters reported, a National Security Agency surveillance program, codenamed “Echelon,” – apparently similar to what the NSA is doing today to counter terrorist activities that has garnered tremendous media outrage in the past four days – existed some years ago. In fact, according to a February 27, 2000 Associated Press article, the ACLU had been expressing its concern regarding this program for quite some time:
“Nevertheless, the American Civil Liberties Union has been requesting congressional hearings on Echelon for nearly a year. In a letter sent to the House Government Reform Committee in April 1999, the ACLU said: ''It is important that Congress investigate to determine if the Echelon program is as sweeping and intrusive as has been reported.''
This AP article also referenced a letter that the NSA had sent to Congress concerning the upcoming “60 Minutes” story:
An extraordinary election occurred in Iraq on Thursday. However, all three major network Sunday talk shows – ABC’s “This Week,” NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and CBS’ “Face the Nation” – all began their programs this morning with a discussion about revelations released on Friday by The New York Times that the White House has been authorizing surveillance of potential terrorists on American soil without getting court orders.
CBS’ Bob Schieffer, after introducing his guests Senators Joe Biden (D-Delaware) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), began the segment (from closed captioning):
“Gentlemen, we have to start this morning with this story. It is against the law, of course, to eavesdrop or wire tap U.S. citizens in this country without a court order from a federal judge. But the "New York Times" says that is exactly what the president is authorized the government to do since 9/11. The secretary of state said this morning that the president has statutory and constitutional authorization to do what he did. So I'll start with Senator Graham. Does he have that authority, senator?”
CBS’s Hannah Storm interviewed long-time Bush ally and current ambassador Karen Hughes on this morning’s “The Early Show,” and appeared rather testy and ready for a fight (video link to follow). Storm began by painting an incredibly negative view of Iraq leading up to tomorrow’s elections, and then hammered Hughes on why the ambassador thinks things will get better after Iraqis go to the polls for the third time this year:
“What makes you think that the elections will be a turning point? What makes you think they will make Iraq a more secure place for its citizens and the U.S. troops there?”
Just in time for the media’s latest knee-jerk reflex of gloom preceding this week’s elections, MRC’s Rich Noyes has updated his year-long study of 2005 Iraq war coverage on ABC, CBS, and NBC. A new review of media coverage in October and November continues the pessimistic trend, with the traditional broadcast networks airing six stories in negative tones for every Iraq story with a positive angle. Read the whole thing for a summary of John Murtha’s instant TV stardom and Jake Tapper’s readiness to believe wild claims of detainee abuse, carefully excluding wacky claims that American soldiers use lions to scare detainees. The official story count falls this way:
[B]etween October 1 and November 30….we could classify only 34 stories (10%) as positive or optimistic, compared to 200 (62%) that emphasized negativity or pessimism about the Iraq mission, a six-to-one disparity. (The remaining 90 stories were neutral.) During the first nine months of the year, we found 211 stories (15%) emphasizing positive developments, compared with 848 (61%) that relayed mainly bad news. For the year, the number of negative stories on Iraq stands at 1,048 (61%), to just 245 positive stories (14%).
As Election Day approaches in Iraq, the “CBS Evening News” tonight chose to lead with an al Qaeda video (video link to follow) that showed masked gunmen executing Iraqi police recruits in the middle of the day, as well as two Iraqi women pleading for their lives before being shot. Correspondent Lara Logan interviewed Michael Ware, a western journalist who is so well connected in this part of the world that he is regularly given such videos. During the interview, Ware suggested that this particular tape was “an inspirational video” that aids “recruitment” and acts as a “fund-raising device.”
Ware then interviewed a Ba’athist “insurgent” who used to be a top-ranking military official under Saddam. At the conclusion of this interview, Logan chided the Bush administration for not using this man’s services: “Ironically, this insurgent commander is exactly the type of military leader that the U.S. once turned away, but is now reaching out to, hoping to lure them back into the Iraqi army that's desperately short of experienced leaders.”
Lara Logan, a correspondent for CBS News who, according to the CBS website, lives in London with her husband, filed a report this morning on the CBS “Early Show” from Baghdad as featured at NewsBusters. The text of her report shows tremendous similarities to an article by Patrick Cockburn published this morning in the British daily The Independent.
To begin with, Cockburn’s article is entitled “Iraq: 1000 Days of War,” with a subheading “From Shock and Awe to a country torn between insurrection and democracy.” Logan’s segment this morning began: “Well, it wasn't long after U.S. Forces unleashed their shock and awe campaign that the Iraq war seemed to be over. But it's now a thousand days since it all began in March 2003 and we're still here.”
On Tuesday morning’s Early Show in the 7:00 half hour, Harry Smith interviewed Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. In a humorous moment, during the interview Harry Smith forgot Senator Frist’s name while in the process of asking a question:
"But the violence doesn't seem to be abating Mr. uh , uh , it's, we have 30,000 Iraqis dead, acknowledged by the President yesterday, more than 1,000 United States men and women have died in this conflict thus far, is there a body count at which point the cost of the war is no longer acceptable?"
Smith took a hostile tone with Frist, questioning him with Democratic talking points. While Frist was answering the question, and talking about the dangers of cutting and running in Iraq, Smith interrupted him and asserted that there were no terrorists in Iraq until the United States got there, and that in fact it is the United States who has now created a "terrorist haven" in Iraq.