Lt. General Raymond Ordierno on Thursday reported significant progress in reduced violence in Iraq, but of the broadcast network evening newscasts only ABC's World News bothered to cover the positive trend as anchor Charles Gibson introduced a full story on how “military officials gave one of the most upbeat assessments of the security situation in Iraq that we have heard since the opening months of the war.” The CBS Evening News* and NBC Nightly skipped the positive trend, but CBS had time for a story on the investigation of the September shooting of civilians by Blackwater and NBC aired a piece on Hillary Clinton “playing the gender card.” The Washington Post and New York Times on Friday also made very different news judgments on the importance of the positive direction as the Post put the news on its front page while the Times hid it in a story, on an inside page, about Iran's role in Iraq.
This was the third time in less than two weeks that ABC has uniquely highlighted positive developments in Iraq. On Tuesday, ABC ran a piece about “booming” shopping markets and significantly improving life in Baghdad and eight days earlier World News showcased Fallujah's “extraordinary comeback story.” (Details below)
Reading a brief item Thursday night about the death of retired Brigadier General Paul Tibbets, pilot of the Enola Gay, NBC's Brian Williams noted that “he requested there be no funeral, no headstone left behind, so there would be no place for his detractors to protest.” Interestingly, just over two years ago, Williams himself conveyed the very line of attack on the Enola Gay crew which so upset Tibbets: that they should be remorseful for dropping an atom bomb.
To mark the 60th anniversary of the Enola Gay dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, Brian Williams went to the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum annex near Dulles Airport -- where the plane is on display -- to talk to the plane's navigator, Dutch Van Kirk. Williams asked: “Do you have remorse for what happened? How do you deal with that in your mind?” Van Kirk indignantly replied: “No, I do not have remorse...”
Video clip of the Williams/Van Kirk exchange on the August 5, 2005 NBC Nightly News (27 secs): Real or Windows Media, plus MP3 audio (screen capture below)
Housing, oil and inflation were all common themes during the broadcasts of last night’s “CBS Evening News” and “NBC Nightly News.” But, unless you watched last night’s ABC “World News with Charles Gibson” instead of the other two, you would not have known about the positive GDP growth the U.S. Commerce Department reported yesterday.
“On the broadcast tonight, the economy is our big story,” “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams said to begin the October 31 broadcast. “We’ll have the interest rate cut, oil prices are soaring, and still, what about housing?”
It was the same dour mind-set on “Evening News.”
“With the ailing housing market threatening to infect the entire economy, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke administered another shot of preventive medicine today, with a quarter-point rate cut,” CBS correspondent Anthony Mason said.
In a great illustration of how many mainstream media journalists view the war in Iraq through the prism of the war in Vietnam, twice on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News veteran foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell said “Vietnam” when she meant to say “Iraq.” Offering a brief summary of how State Department foreign service employees are fighting a plan to involuntarily assign 40 of them to the embassy in Baghdad, Mitchell told anchor Brian Williams about a meeting held Wednesday:
There were a couple of hundred diplomats -- this is extraordinary -- they rebelled against being ordered to Vietnam. Basically, 40 of them will have to go to Vietnam or lose their, excuse me, go to Iraq. This is the first time this has happened since the Vietnam war. There have not been such orders and they could lose their jobs if they don't go to Iraq and they clearly don't want to...
Both NBC and ABC on Tuesday night noted the smallest number of American servicemen killed in Iraq since March of 2006, but while NBC's Brian Williams stressed the total number killed since the war began, ABC's Charles Gibson segued to a story about “booming” markets and significantly improving life in Baghdad. Eight days ago, ABC uniquely highlighted Fallujah's “extraordinary comeback story.” [See below] Williams cited three soldiers killed, observing “that brings the toll for October to 37 Americans dead, which we should point out is the lowest monthly total in a year and a half. Since the war started almost four and a half years ago, more than 3800 Americans have died in the war in Iraq.”
Gibson listed 36 as killed, not 37, and clarified “some of them in non-combat-related incidents.” After relating how “that is the lowest number of U.S. deaths since March 2006,” Gibson described “violence on a downward trend” in Iraq so now “Iraqis are learning to adapt to what might be called a new normal.” Reporter Miguel Marquez conveyed how Baghdad's largest market is “booming. Big sales, says this vendor. Everything, 2,000 dinars. There hasn't been an attack here since February.” Marquez highlighted “pockets of security where life is starting to get back to normal,” but, he acknowledged, “it's not a normal by most standards” since though “large-scale violence between Sunnis and Shiites has stopped,” there "are still criminal gangs” so “most people...are too afraid to leave their homes.” Still, “with wedding season coming up,” a woman florist “is hopeful that business and life will get back to something like normal.”
A billionaire and a receptionist walk into an IRS bar. They each order a beer. The IRS bartender charges the receptionist $2.50 and the billionaire $2,260. Who got undercharged? If you're Warren Buffett or Tom Brokaw, the answer is . . . the billionaire.
As NB Editor Brent Baker has noted, the NBC Nightly News "decided Monday night to base a story on a four-year-old contention by a professor that the middle class is worse off now than in the 1970s, followed by a piece promoting Warren Buffett's claim the rich don't pay enough in taxes."
NBC was back at it again this morning, with a "Today" segment featuring Brokaw's interview with Buffett and his gripe that the rich are undertaxed. Brokaw seconded Buffett's notion, introducing the segment this way:
When you're the world's third-richest man, you can break some rules. Warren Buffett, the "Oracle of Omaha," is going after a fundamental injustice he says touches all Americans [cut to clip of Buffett]: the taxation system has tilted toward the rich and away from the middle class in the last 10 years. It's dramatic and I don't think it's appreciated."
Without a peg to anything in the news, NBC decided Monday night to base a story on a four-year-old contention by a professor that the middle class is worse off now than in the 1970s, followed by a piece promoting Warren Buffett's claim the rich don't pay enough in taxes. In fact, the federal income tax system remains quite progressive. “Not fair,” Brian Williams teased with matching text on screen, “one of the world's richest men tells Tom Brokaw the taxes he pays aren't fair, meaning: Why is his tax rate so low?” Williams later praised Buffett's “brave campaign,” but first he introduced a story on how “the gap between the super-rich and everybody else in this country seems to be growing. The middle class is caught in a kind of financial squeeze.” Reporter Lee Cowan featured the claims of Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, a Huffington Post blogger who wrote a 2003 book about middle class families going broke. She declared: “Today's two-income family actually has less cash to spend than their one-income parents had a generation ago.” Cowan ominously concluded: “A generation ago, the middle class was comfortable. These days, they're comfortable but scared, living on a wing and a prayer.”
Next, Brokaw touted Buffett: “It is well known that Warren Buffett is a contrary billionaire. Unlike most of his fellow billionaires, he believes that they should be paying a higher tax rate Buffett sees a fundamental injustice that he says touches all Americans.” Buffett insisted: “The taxation system has tilted toward the rich and away from the middle class in the last ten years.” Brokaw cued him up: “In your own office...you pay a much lower tax rate with all of your wealth than, say, a receptionist does.”
On Wednesday's "Early Show," Harry Smith gushed over Bill and Hillary Clinton and how two "idealistic kids" transformed themselves into "political rock stars." Smith also took pains to point out that the Clintons are a "still-young couple." Over on ABC, Clinton-fan Kate Snow fawned over Bill and Hillary for being "masters at turning bad news into good." In general, she seemed to be impressed with the 2008 candidate's ability to spin the American public.
NBC, predictably, kicked off the media blame game and assigned the cause of the California fires to, you guessed it, global warming. "Nightly News" host Brian Williams wondered, "Are these fires somehow a result of climate change?" CBS echoed a similar theme on "60 Minutes." CNN also used the tragedy in California to speculate about global warming. A CNN special, "Planet in Peril," which aired this week, failed to mention that one of the climate change scientists featured also happened to be funded by George Soros.
“The people guiding” Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani “in his foreign policy message...are drawing some attention,” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams announced Thursday evening in advancing the news agenda of a front page New York Times story which ominously warned Giuliani “is consulting with, among others, a particularly hawkish group of advisers and neoconservative thinkers” and that has “raised concerns among some Democrats.” Reporter Ron Allen explained how “New York's former Mayor takes a hard line when it comes to facing America's adversaries like Iran” and treated it as newsworthy that “among the Republican hopefuls, it is Rudy Giuliani who has most closely surrounded himself with so-called neoconservative foreign policy thinkers, many from the Bush-Cheney administration.” Giving credit to the source of NBC's story idea, Allen relayed the paper's rogues' gallery of those who have advised Giuliani: “This morning's New York Times lists advisors who have called for profiling Muslims at airports, another who favors ending the U.S. ban on carrying out assassinations, and the author of 'The Case for Bombing Iran.'”
Allen soon found great wisdom in a commentator not usually considered so wise by journalists: “It was the neoconservative voices in the Bush administration that most forcefully made the case for invading Iraq, a decision even some conservative Republicans say was a disaster.” Viewers then heard from Pat Buchanan, long outside of the GOP mainstream on Iraq, denouncing neoconservatives: “If these people, the neoconservatives, are Rudy Giuliani's foreign policy team, a vote for Rudy is tantamount to a vote for permanent war.”
ABC and CBS stuck Tuesday night with news stories on the impact of the roaring California wild fires, but as houses were still burning NBC Nightly News found it an opportune time to make the case that global warming caused the fires. NBC's sole expert, however, delivered a circular argument in which the lack of scientific proof did not detract at all from his media-shared presumption that anything bad which occurs in the environment can be tied to global warming. After reporter Anne Thompson cautioned scientists say you can't know “after just one season” whether warming is to blame, Princeton professor Michael Oppenheimer, a leading global warming alarmist who, NBC failed to mention, serves as a science adviser to Environmental Defense, reasoned:
The weather we've seen this fall may or may not be due to the global warming trend, but it's certainly a clear picture of what the future is going to look like if we don't act quickly to cut emissions of the greenhouse gases.
As NewsBusters reported Friday, Rep. Pete Stark (D-Cal.) made some rather disgusting comments on the floor of the House last week about kids being sent "to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president`s amusement."
On Tuesday, Stark took to the floor once again, this time remarkably to apologize for his previous statement.
As the broadcast networks almost completely ignored Stark's comments Thursday - not one of the evening news programs bothered to report it all - one wonders whether the Congressman's statement today will get any more attention.
After all, what left-thinking media outlet is going to want to report a Democrat Congressman actually apologizing to a Republican President this way (video available here, h/t Hot Air):
The similarities are eerie. On Oct. 19, 1987, the day of the Black Monday stock market crash there was trouble from the Iranians, a two-term Republican president nearing the end of his term and a network TV news media voicing warnings the American economy might be doomed. Except this day in 1987, the stock market dropped 508 points.
“It’s a day that will be in bold print in history books – Black Monday, October 19th, 1987, when the stock market went into a freefall, losing more in one day than it did on Black Tuesday in 1929,” anchor Tom Brokaw said on the Oct. 19, 1987, NBC “Nightly News.” “And while conditions are much stronger now than they were then, today’s precipitous plunge struck fear in the hearts and pocketbooks of even Wall Street veterans.”
CNN even warned for the worst: “[N]ow some analysts argue that the stock market’s recent activity is heading for recession, if not depression in the 1990s,” said CNN correspondent Mark Left on the Oct. 19, 1987, CNN “PrimeNews.”
Who would have thought corporate “big water” would ever have the bulls-eye painted on it by the rabid environmentalists in the television media?
“Across the country cities are urging thirsty Americans to think outside the bottle,” said NBC’s Chief Environmental Affairs Correspondent Anne Thompson on the October 17 “Nightly News.” “From Austin to Boston, it's bottle versus tap in taste tests. They are talking about the ecological impact of bottled water in Portland.”
The NBC Nightly News on Tuesday night became the first broadcast network evening newscast to highlight the first Medal of Honor award since Vietnam for a member of the Navy, announced last week, to Lieutenant Michael Murphy, a SEAL killed in combat in Afghanistan in June of 2005. “His story is already the stuff of legend,” anchor Brian Williams related before Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski recounted Murphy's heroism: How during a battle with Taliban fighters “Murphy stepped out into the line of fire to make a satellite call for help.” A survivor recalled that Murphy “took two rounds to the back and dropped down on that rock and sat back up, picked the phone back up and started talking again.” Standing by a memorial in Brookhaven, New York, Miklaszewski explained that in addition to the memorial, “they've named a park and post office after him. Monuments not only to what he did as a Navy SEAL, but to who he was as a man.”
Miklaszewski got out of the way and allowed his story to end with two moving tributes from Murphy's parents. Maureen, his mother, revealed: “I miss him. I'm glad that he got the medal because other people will know what a great guy that he was.” Dan, Michael's father, got the last word, a desire for appreciation: “While I'm crying inside and my heart's breaking, my chest is puffed out and I'm saying, my son, this is what he did and I hope the country appreciates it and realizes it.” To that, Williams certainly spoke for many viewers: “Here, here.”
The news media “eagerly reported” comments from General Ricardo Sanchez, the former top commander in Iraq, “calling the war in Iraq a quote 'nightmare with no end in sight,'” FNC's Brit Hume noted Monday night before pointing out how “there has been considerably less reporting of his harsh criticism of the press in the same speech.” Indeed, in his Friday address to a group of journalists, Sanchez regretted how “tactically insignificant events have become strategic defeats for America because of the tremendous power and impact of the media” and scathingly asserted that reporters “are perpetuating the corrosive partisan politics that is destroying our country and killing our service members who are at war.” Sanchez also charged: “For some of you, just like some of our politicians, the truth is of little to no value if it does not fit your own pre-conceived notions, biases and agendas.”
Not surprisingly, that deprecatory view of the media did not interest journalists over the weekend. The NBC Nightly News, for instance, ran a full story Friday night on Sanchez's comments critical of Bush officials, but didn't mention what he said about the news media. CNN's Wolf Blitzer led the 7pm EDT hour of Friday's The Situation Room with how “Ricardo Sanchez says 'America is living a nightmare with no end in sight.' That's a direct quote. And he's sharply critical of U.S. strategy with stinging judgment of government officials.” The critique of the media didn't come up in the segment with Pentagon reporter Jamie McIntyre. Saturday's front page New York Times article, “Ex-Commander Says Iraq Effort Is 'a Nightmare,'” ignored the media angle while front page story in Saturday's Washington Post, "Ex-Commander In Iraq Faults War Strategy," didn't refer to the scolding of the media until the very last paragraph.
All three broadcast network evening newscasts led Friday night by celebrating Al Gore's receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize, portraying it as “sweet vindication” for him while presuming his global warming views are beyond dispute and speculating about the “tantalizing prospect” of a presidential run. ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased: “Tonight, the man who almost won the White House did win the most-coveted award on the planet. So might Al Gore go back to politics?” Reporter David Wright trumpeted Gore's efforts “to call the world's attention to a problem that many would have preferred to ignore,” but Wright fretted that not all are aboard the Gore adulation bandwagon: “Even the Nobel Prize is not going to be enough to silence the naysayers, some of whom still believe that man is not responsible for global warming...”
CBS's Katie Couric wondered: “Will the former Vice President now go after the prize he lost, the biggest prize in American politics?” She touted him as “the first American Vice President to win this most prestigious award since Charles Dawes back in 1926.” Reporter John Blackstone hailed “a remarkable comeback for a man who seven years ago seemed all but finished with public life,” a comeback attributable to how Gore “traveled the world with a slide show talking about the reality of global warming.”
NBC anchor Brian Williams empathized with how “he never was awarded what he tried so hard to get and wanted so badly -- the American presidency -- but today former Vice President Al Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.” Anne Thompson stressed the “prize has done nothing to stop the speculation about Gore's political future.” She enthused that a presidential bid by Gore is “a tantalizing prospect,” though “few expect” it to happen. Thompson concluded by seeing complete vindication: “Gore's co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, left no doubt that man is responsible for global warming. The debate now is over how much the climate will change if nothing is done.”
I'd love to spare you the Gore-y details about his plans for higher taxes, new global regulations billions of dollars in new spending or the devastation of the American economy, but that's what he's got in store for us all.
Three months after NBC promoted Al Gore's agenda by broadcasting more than 75 hours of his “Live Earth” concerts, Thursday's NBC Nightly News got the jump on the inevitable media excitement -- if Gore wins the Nobel Peace Prize to be announced Friday -- by championing how that award could launch a Gore presidential bid. Anchor Brian Williams cited “rumors today surrounding” Gore about the Nobel and pronounced “that an effort to draft him to run for President just might work.”
Reporter David Gregory trumpeted how Gore has supposedly “become both a global force tackling climate change and a celebrated figure now in the running for the Nobel Peace Prize.” Gregory highlighted the “Draft Gore” Web site and how “yesterday backers placed a full page ad in the New York Times.” Bizarrely suggesting Republicans would vote for Gore, Gregory contended “Gore is seen by some as a potential savior in the '08 race with questions about frontrunner Hillary Clinton's electability and a GOP field leaving many Republicans dissatisfied.” So, those who find Rudy Giuliani too liberal would prefer Gore? Gregory next featured Democratic strategist Steve McMahon praising Gore for how he “was right on just about every major issue, whether it was the war, the deficit or now global warming.”
Is NBC "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams really a conservative? "Washington Post" media analyst and CNN "Reliable Sources" host Howard Kurtz implied that he is. Kurtz appeared on the October 10 edition of "The O’Reilly Factor" to promote his new book "Reality Show: Inside the Last Great Televsion News War." When Bill O’Reilly inquired on the lack of conservative representation on the network news, this exchange followed.
BILL O’REILLY: What news man at CBS or NBC is conservative?
HOWARD KURTZ: I wanted to make- first of all, Brian Williams, we can talk about him in a moment, probably President Bush’s favorite anchor.
O’REILLY: He just likes his ties.
KURTZ: Has quoted Rush Li- has quoted Rush Limbaugh, reads conservative blogs as well as liberal blogs.
O’REILLY: I know Brian Williams. He’s about as conservative as Les Moonves.
“Jimmy Carter is back in the news tonight,” NBC anchor Brian Williams declared Wednesday night in making true what he, but not the ABC or CBS evening newscasts found newsworthy, “this time because of harsh words for the current Vice President.” Williams proceeded to highlight how “in an interview with the BBC, former President Carter calls Vice President Cheney quote, 'a disaster for America' and 'a militant,' who has been in Carter's words, 'overly persuasive' on President Bush.” A few hours later, MSNBC's Live with Dan Abrams led with Carter's derision with “'DISASTER'?” on screen under a picture of Cheney.
A Reuters dispatch, “Jimmy Carter calls Cheney a 'disaster' for U.S.,” reported Carter's attack:
But ABC's "World News with Charles Gibson" led its broadcast with the Energy Information Administration's report by saying "Tonight, news of a cold wind a coming that promises to have a chilling effect on the American pocketbook," and continued to sing a different tune than Couric, professing that "the average American homeowner will pay 10% more for heating during what will be, generally, a colder winter."
When the Labor Department reported a net loss of 4,000 jobs for August, the September 7 ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts highlighted the bad news as evidence of an impending recession, but on Friday, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics revised the August number to a gain of 89,000 jobs and reported 110,000 new jobs for September (AP story), only ABC bothered to mention the revision while CBS didn't utter a syllable about either jobs gain. The CBS Evening News anchored by Harry Smith, however, found time to note the Postal Service's decision to honor two CBS journalists -- Eric Sevareid and George Polk -- with stamps.
A month ago, Katie Couric plugged an upcoming look at “new worries about the U.S. economy following a disappointing jobs report.” Harry Smith then cited “new concern about the economy tonight following a report which showed the number of jobs in the U.S. dropped by 4,000 in August, the first monthly decline in four years.” Anthony Mason asserted “it had a lot of economists uttering the 'r' word today, recession,” and fretted: “These job numbers are the most worrisome sign yet, Harry, that the housing slump and the mortgage crisis could take the entire economy down with them.” ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased: “The economy loses jobs for the first time in years as the housing crisis raises the risk of recession.” Betsy Stark declared: “The risks of a serious slowdown, even a recession, are rising. Today's jobs report was shockingly bleak.”
Presuming Bush administration dissembling and illegality, NBC anchor Brian Williams considered it “big” news Thursday night that the administration “secretly authorized abusive interrogation techniques for terrorism suspects, including torture, despite denial from everyone from President Bush on down. And the policy remains even though the Supreme Court ruled against it.” Picking up on the front page New York Times disclosure of the classified documents, which neither the ABC nor CBS evening newscasts considered newsworthy, the NBC Nighty News ran a very slanted story that, other than one short soundbite from White House Press Secretary Dana Perino about how “they were safe, necessary and lawful, these techniques, and have helped save American lives,” aired only condemnatory comments as reporter Andrea Mitchell assumed the methods are torture.
She reminded viewers that “after a political firestorm, devastating pictures from Abu Ghraib and a Supreme Court ruling,” last year the President promised “the United States does not torture” and “I will not authorize it,” yet the New York Times reported that in 2005 the Justice Department under Alberto Gonzales issued memos “authorizing much harsher techniques, including head-slapping, waterboarding, frigid temperatures and 'combined effects' -- using several practices simultaneously, despite dissent on his staff. Today leading Democrats vowed to pass new laws.” Without any consideration for how the memos could have been written to allow the use of the techniques in only the most dire circumstances, and thus the techniques may not have been employed, Mitchell warned: “There's also a big impact on foreign policy. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has promised U.S. allies that the administration does not use torture, even though officials say she knew about the memos.”
“Blackwater has a perfect record when it comes to protecting American diplomats,” CBS correspondent David Martin said. “But private security firms, not just Blackwater – but other contractors seen here firing on Iraqi vehicles for no apparent reason – often undermine the larger mission of the American military – protecting the population and winning hearts and minds.”
Erik Prince, CEO of Blackwater USA, testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform making the lead story on “World News,” “NBC Nightly News” and “CBS Evening News.”
“Glad to come here and correct some facts,” Prince said to the committee.
But, out of the 13 comments on the three broadcasts from members of the 41-person committee, only one was a Republican. Rep. Christopher Shays was also the only member to say something positive about the company.
According to the media's parade of children who need government assistance for insurance, President Bush must really just hate children. After all, he vetoed a bill today that would have expanded the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
Leading up to the October 3 veto, the media couldn’t resist scripting it as a vote against children.
What’s at stake, though, included a proposed $35-billion expansion of taxpayer-funded insurance made possible by a huge tax increase on tobacco users many of whom are poor -- burdening the same families the program is designed to help.
NBC Nightly News and ABC’s World News both brought out their Republicans-might-be-racists handbook and took advantage of PBS’s and Tavis Smiley’s decision to hold a Republican debate on black issues on the last week of the third-quarter fundraising crunch. Instead of trying to negotiate a better time, Smiley and PBS painted Republicans as making a huge and possibly racist mistake. Both networks loaded up on soundbites trashing the GOP frontunners for snubbing minorities and creating an "image problem" for themselves and their party.
On Thursday’s Nightly News, hours before the Smiley debate took place, NBC was already casting the debate’s losers as the no-shows. MRC’s Brad Wilmouth compiled the transcript:
CBS's 60 Minutes got the first interview with Clarence Thomas on the occasion of the release of his memoir and ABC's Good Morning America is in line for the morning show exclusive interview with him to air multiple days this week, thus leaving NBC News out of the mix. So, the losing network decided to resurrect Anita Hill. Anchor Lester Holt teased Sunday's NBC Nightly News: “Her story. Justice Clarence Thomas speaks out, and tonight so does the woman who nearly derailed his confirmation. My exclusive interview with Anita Hill.” Though Hill's charges against Thomas look pretty tame through the later revelations of Bill Clinton's actions with women, Holt depicted them as “charges of crude sexual advances” and “shocking allegations.” Also, without any mention of the left-wing activists with whom Hill colluded, Holt sympathetically described her as “a reluctant witness.”