It should never amaze media watchers when a press member finds fault in justice being doled out to the clearly guilty, even when the party in question is a genocidal despot. With that in mind, it didn’t take long for NBC to question the integrity of Saddam Hussein’s hanging, and espouse to viewers a downside for America as well as the country the tyrant once ruled with an iron fist.
Adding insult to injury, correspondent Richard Engel so editorialized on the final “Nightly News” of 2006 (video available here):
It was a major public relations blow for the US administration and the Iraqi government which have been trying to show the world that Saddam Hussein received impartial justice. Now with this brief video, that's being called into question as today Saddam was laid to rest.
At the site of Saddam’s burial, Engel chose to first interview a grieving Hussein loyalist even though Iraq is dominated by Shia Muslims who passionately despise the former dictator:
On NBC's "Daily Nightly" blog, anchor Brian Williams explained that he was a big fan of Jerry Ford, and has a pile of handwritten letters from Ford in his later years. You can read between the lines the respect and nostalgia liberals have for a moderate Republican in a much more liberal era:
The truth is Jerry Ford was a nice man. He was decent, courageous, honest...and a loving and faithful partner to his wife, a wonderful and trail-blazing woman. By today's political standards he just might be a liberal. By today's standards he is an anachronism of a kind of cooperative, deal-making and dare I say much more bipartisan brand of politics.
The liberal encomiums for a more bipartisan time do seem to omit that the Democrats held the House by a majority of about 145 after the post-Watergate sweep in 1974, so bipartisanship was pretty much mandatory, even if it was a natural fit for Ford.
The AP obtained the November 4, 2005 report from the Inspector General of the National Archives and in a dispatch late Wednesday led with how “President Clinton's national security adviser removed classified documents from the National Archives, hid them under a construction trailer and later tried to find the trash collector to retrieve them, the agency's internal watchdog said Wednesday.” But despite the colorful details about how Sandy Berger cut the documents, about the Clinton administration's reaction to terrorist threats in 1999, into small pieces, the broadcast networks weren't interested Thursday morning or evening even though the report discredits Berger's claims he simply accidentally mishandled the documents.
The evening newscasts, which all began with the bad weather in the Rocky Mountain states and how four Marines were charged with murder for the alleged massacre in Haditha, didn't utter a syllable about Berger's apparent efforts to cover up an aspect of how the Clinton White House responded to a terrorist threat. Yet they made room for more frivolous topics even before the usual end of the newscast human interest piece. ABC's Charles Gibson allocated a full story to the recovery of race horse “Barbaro” and 30 seconds to how "a public health advocate" reported how much exercise it takes to work off holiday calories, such as 37 minutes of walking to "burn off" a gingerbread cookie. CBS devoted to a two-part Katie Couric interview, consuming nine minutes of air time, to the widow of the mountain climber found dead on Mt. Hood. NBC's Brian Williams had time to highlight how the Governor of New Jersey signed a civil unions law and NBC ran a full story on how “the first Muslim elected to Congress comes under attack by a colleague over religion.”
As if political tradeoffs and deal-making isn't how politics works every day in the nation's capital, on Wednesday night NBC News Pentagon reporter Jim Miklaszewski delivered a nefarious take on President Bush's willingness to increase the size of the military, at least the Army and Marine Corps. Picking up on Bush's comments during his morning news conference, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams noted how “a lot of Generals have been asking for this for a long time, as recently as last week on Capitol Hill."
Miklaszewski, however, stressed how “some military officials are highly suspicious of the President's sudden turnaround on the issue” since “they believe that he's dangling that offer out there in an effort to buy the military's support for the option to surge additional American troops into Iraq -- as if it's some kind of tradeoff.” Those military leaders “that we're talking to,” Miklaszewski relayed, “still oppose a surge, they still believe it won't work and will put more Americans at risk.” He concluded: “As one senior military official put it today, it'll be like throwing kerosene on a fire." It may be unwise to “surge” troops, but a President giving in one area to get what he wants in another is hardly unusual. Normally the press corps laud such “compromise.”
When Santa came to Wall Street this year, the media cried and pouted.
With the Dow Jones Industrial Average at an all-time high and commodities markets experiencing one of their best years in decades, Wall Street firms were feeling especially merry this year. The media responded as if they had seen Jacob Marley’s ghost.
NBC’s John Seigenthaler gloomily downplayed Wall Streeters’ good fortunes by stating:
On Saturday's NBC Nightly News, while filing a story on the "mind-boggling" bonuses going to those who are "striking it rich" on Wall Street, correspondent Mike Taibbi downplayed the strength of the current economy in comparison to the "Clinton years," and also pointed out the "struggle" of "working Americans." While Taibbi argued that his reference to the "Clinton years" was a "chronological, not political distinction," he praised that period for "lifting more boats" while finding fault in the present. Taibbi: "But to many, today's version of the haves and have-nots feels different. In the boom of the Clinton years -- and I'm talking a chronological, not a political distinction -- the rising tide of that bull market truly did lift all boats, or at least a whole lot more of them." (Transcript follows)
On Thursday’s NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams highlighted how, earlier in the day, First Lady Laura Bush “placed the blame squarely on the news media" for why so few support the President on Iraq. But instead of addressing her contention about how “there are a lot of good things that are happening that aren't covered and I think the drumbeat in the country from the media...is discouraging" as she hoped for “more balanced coverage” in the future, Williams applied a non sequitur to dismiss her assessment of the news media. He noted how “the recent report from the Iraq Study Group, however, specifically found that there has been significant under-reporting of the violence in Iraq." But that’s about the accuracy of U.S. military data collection and categorization, not the accuracy of news media coverage of the situation in Iraq. (Transcript follows)
A very bizarre “conference” convened in Iran yesterday, hosted by despicable despot Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who called together some of the world’s foremost anti-Semites to debate whether the systematic mass murder of millions of Jews took place during World War II. Maybe even more astounding, as the CBS “Evening News” reported on this event, neither anchor Katie Couric, nor correspondent Elizabeth Palmer, chose to take issue with the theme of this conference. Couric began:
Iran's president is no friend of Israel or the Jewish people. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for the destruction of the Jewish state, and he's called the Holocaust a myth. Today he convened a conference to debate that issue, whether there actually was a Holocaust. How does Iran's Jewish community live in such an atmosphere? From Tehran tonight, here's Elizabeth Palmer.
Imagine for a moment that a sex scandal involving pages had forced a Democrat Congressman holding a safe seat to resign in disgrace weeks before crucial midterm elections, while also reflecting badly on other members of his Party in tight races across the country. A month after the votes had been tallied, and the Democrats had surrendered control of both chambers of Congress in a stunning defeat, a House ethics panel released a report on the subject containing the following information:
The leaks to the press concerning this matter had come from the communications director for the House Republican Caucus
A high-ranking staff member for the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee had been informed of the misdeeds of the Democrat Congressman almost twelve months before they were revealed by the press
Now assume that this head of the NRCC had declared four weeks prior to Election Day that nobody in his office was aware of the Democrat Congressman’s sexual indiscretions before they were revealed. Would the contradictory findings of this panel be headline news the day they were reported?
The House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct released its report concerning the Mark Foley page scandal on Friday, and the media banged the predictable drum about this all being a Republican cover-up. However, what was ignored or downplayed by virtually every press outlet was the revelation that the offensive e-mail messages between Foley and male pages were leaked to the media by the communications director for the House Democratic Caucus. Also absent from such reports was the possibility that high-ranking Democrat Rahm Emanuel of Illinois might have been aware of these electronic transmissions even though he told ABC News on October 8 that he hadn’t heard anything about them until the story broke (video available here, hat tip to Gateway Pundit).
How much did Rahm Emanuel know about disgraced Rep. Mark Foley's e-mails to a former House page? In an Oct. 8 interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Emanuel, a Democratic congressman from Illinois, was asked if he or his staff knew anything about the e-mails or instant messages between Foley and former pages "before they came out." "No - Never saw them," Emanuel said. Asked if he was "aware of them," Emanuel repeated, "We never saw them. No involvement." But on page 46 of the new House Ethics Committee report on the scandal is testimony that at least one senior member of Emanuel's staff did know about them.
My latest article at the MRC's Businessandmedia.org touches on a $7-billion omission on last night's evening newscasts.
"Fannie Mae took another step toward resolving its accounting fiasco by announcing a restatement of results that reduced retained earnings as of June 30, 2004, by $6.3 billion," The Wall Street Journal’s James Hagerty reported on page A4 of the December 7 paper.
The same day, The Washington Post and The New York Times devoted business section stories to the mortgage broker’s accounting errors.
The Fannie Mae story is hardly Wall Street’s garden variety profit revision.
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams ended his newscast from Amman Thursday night with "a confession." Williams acknowledged: "We got something wrong. It wasn't just us. It was everyone in the news media and the folks in the federal government who are supposed to be the experts at predicting hurricanes. You may recall the dire predictions." Williams showed a clip from May of himself worrying about whether New Orleans was "ready" for another hurricane. He then reminded viewers of how the forecast was for "between eight and 10 hurricanes and half of those would be major, we were told, meaning at least Category 3."
Williams pointed out: "Well, the season officially ended today back home, and we are happy to report, what did happen, turns out, wasn't even close. There were only nine named storms, not 16 of them. Five hurricanes, none of them making landfall in the U.S. And only two of the storms, Gordon and Helene, were strong enough to be called anything close to major."
The other networks are not quite ready to jump on NBC's "civil war" bandwagon. "Secretary of State Matt Lauer" (according to Howard Kurtz) and other NBC reporters have decided to declare the situation in Iraq a civil war, a move that is praised by some in the MSM and denounced by others. Reports the New York Observer:
“It was their decision to make and their process,” said Jon Banner, the executive producer of ABC’s World News. “We constantly discuss editorial matters here—all the time, every day. How that decision got made there I have no idea, nor do I want to guess.”
“To be honest with you, I think it’s a political statement, not a news judgment,” said Rome Hartman, the executive producer of the CBS Evening News. “We deal with the events of the day, and we decide the best way to describe those events based on the news of the day, not by—never mind, I’m not gonna go there.”
Then he did.
Asked by a reporter about how “President Bush today blamed the surge of violence in Iraq on al Qaeda,” incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded with a disjointed answer about how “the 9/11 Commission dismissed that notion a long time ago and I feel sad that the President is resorting to it again." Though al-Qaeda is clearly in Iraq and responsible for deadly bombings, and the 9/11 Commission conclusion was about links before September 11th, on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News reporter David Gregory treated Pelosi's off-base retort as credible and relevant. Without suggesting any miscue by her, Gregory segued to Pelosi's soundbite with a bewildering set up of his own about how “incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi disagreed, warning that such rhetoric about al Qaeda will make it harder for Democrats to work with the White House."
On FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, after panelist Mara Liasson characterized Pelosi as “confused” and Morton Kondracke suggested she was just “mixed up,” Fred Barnes maintained that “she clearly screwed up here. The question was absolutely clear. 'President Bush today blamed the surge in violence in Iraq.'” Barnes argued the media wouldn't let a Republican get away with such a flub, telling Kondrake: “If some Republican had done this, if Bush had done this at a press conference, if Newt Gingrich had said it, if John Boehner had said it, if Roy Blunt had said it, you'd have been all over it. It would be inexcusable."
Amid all of the media excitement of NBC’s choice to grandly pronounce the ongoing violence in Iraq a “civil war,” some (like MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann) are gleefully touting NBC’s editorializing as a “Walter Cronkite moment,” referring to the then-CBS Evening News anchor’s 1968 editorial declaring that the U.S. had become “mired in stalemate” in Vietnam.
In their desire for a U.S. retreat in Iraq, journalists had previously pronounced Cindy Sheehan’s protesting in Crawford, Texas and Democratic Congressman John Murtha’s calling for a withdrawal of troops to be “Cronkite moments” of the Iraq war, each time apparently hoping that the weight of the media's pessimism finally forces a change in U.S. policy.
A transcript posted at the blog Think Progress quotes NBC as factoring in a story from now-discredited source Jamil Hussein about Sunni worshippers being burned alive as a major factor in NBC's decision to declare a "civil war" in Iraq [emphasis added]:
The news from Iraq is becoming grimmer every day. Over the long holiday weekend bombings killed more than 200 people in a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad. And six Sunni men were doused with kerosene and burned alive. Shiite muslims are the majority, but Sunnis like Saddam Hussein ruled that country until the war. Now, the battle between Shiites and Sunnis has created a civil war in Iraq. Beginning this morning, MSNBC will refer to the fighting in Iraq as a civil war — a phrase the White House continues to resist. But after careful thought, MSNBC and NBC News decided over the weekend, the terminology is appropriate, as armed militarized factions fight for their own political agendas. We’ll have a lots more on the situation in Iraq and the decision to use the phrase, civil war.
Twelve hours after the Today show repeatedly announced how NBC News had decided to call the situation in Iraq a “civil war,” as if that decision was major news itself, Monday's NBC Nightly News led with the term and conceded it could “erode” public support for the war. Meanwhile, CBS and ABC didn't go quite as far as CBS's Katie Couric referred to how Iraq “slips ever-closer to civil war” and ABC's Charles Gibson suggested “you can call it anarchy, you can call it chaos, you can call it civil war...”
NBC's Brian Williams teased: “A critical week for the President and the civil war in Iraq. Is the way out through Iran and Syria?” Then, over a graphic of “IRAQ” with “CIVIL WAR” beneath, Williams led: “Tonight there are moving parts on several fronts, all related to the fighting in Iraq. This begins what may be a crucial week in determining future U.S. involvement in what has become a civil war in that country.” Reporter Andrea Mitchell asserted: “While Washington looks for answers, the violence in Iraq is spiraling out of control. Today NBC News joined other major news organizations in calling it a civil war.” After a clip of presidential historian Michael Beschloss who contended,: “If you define a civil war as a country where a lot of groups are struggling for power, and that's primarily the struggle, Iraq is in a civil war,” Mitchell acknowledged the impact of using the term: “Today the administration objected strongly to news organizations calling it a civil war. Many experts say that the White House has a huge incentive to avoid that term because it could further erode public support for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq.”
PBS talk show host Charlie Rose, who spent the 1980s at CBS doing the overnight interview show "Nightwatch," is never a softer touch than when he has a network star on his show. Monday night’s interview with NBC anchor Brian Williams gave the anchor a platform to present his newscast as a "reasoned, serious" oasis from cable-news shouters, a "half hour of peace and tranquility" with "smart people" like David Gregory and Andrea Mitchell telling you about the world. Their discussion of Katrina coverage had no hint of regret that NBC misled people with Ray Nagin’s wild estimates of 10,000 dead. Williams said, "you remember people saying, well, the media have found their footing again and its name is New Orleans. They were asleep during WMD. But they're awake now."
The interview began with syrupy talk about Williams filling in for Rose during his heart-surgery break. Williams said it was his pleasure, since he was interviewing that genius who is the editor of Newsweek:
In 1992, Bill Clinton campaigned for president by promising tax cuts for the middle class. Fourteen years later, his Party ran on a similar “tell the people exactly what they want to hear” motif, this time the mantra being a speedy withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.
Though separated by almost a decade and a half, these campaign strategies were quite similar to a now illegal marketing scheme called a bait and switch – whereby a company advertises a product for sale at a cheap price to lure in customers. Unfortunately, the organization’s retail outlets don’t actually have the item in stock forcing anxious shoppers to consider more expensive products that are available.
I Dig a Phony
Much like this advertising scam, the 1992 and 2006 political campaigns had three things in common:
The Friday broadcast network evening newscasts, seemingly with no self-awareness of the role of the traveling press corps, all focused on how in Vietnam President Bush was pressed about comparisons of the Iraq war to the Vietnam war -- a topic he commented on only when asked by a U.S. reporter. CBS was the most adamant in raising parallels, Bush's avoidance of service in Vietnam and how he is now “creating another” Vietnam. Katie Couric declared that Bush “couldn't get away from the inevitable comparisons between Iraq and the war America lost in Vietnam.” Over vintage video of the Vietnam war, Jim Axelrod asserted that the Iraq war “is starting to look more and more like this war. The parallels are plain.” Axelrod contended that “Mr. Bush's trip here was bound to fuel his critics who've never bought his explanation about how he managed to avoid military service in Vietnam. But Iraq raises the stakes and changes the focus from what he did during the Vietnam War to whether he's creating another one. On a just-released audiotape, President Johnson in 1966 shared his goals for Vietnam." Following audio of LBJ promising the U.S. would leave Vietnam “just as soon as you can have anybody that will guarantee stability," Axelrod intoned: "Mr. Bush's remarks today had an eerie echo as he spoke about Iraq."
On ABC's World News, fill-in anchor Elizabeth Vargas insisted "the war in Iraq shadowed President Bush today during his visit to Vietnam” as the Vietnam war “has drawn comparisons to America's experience in Iraq.” From Vietnam, Martha Raddatz echoed Couric: “For President Bush, the comparisons to his own war in Iraq were inevitable.” NBC anchor Brian Williams announced that “the topic of the current war followed” Bush “all the way” to Vietnam. David Gregory, in Vietnam, also used the “inevitable” characterization of the comparison made by journalists: “The White House tried to avoid reflecting on the war in Vietnam because of the inevitable comparisons to the Iraq war.” Gregory asserted that “the obvious parallel between Vietnam and Iraq is the American public's desire to find a way out,” and though the Vietnamese are still oppressed in a communist state, Gregory suggested the U.S. won: “But if there is a hopeful sign in the Vietnam of today, prosperous and western-looking, it is this -- that it is possible to lose the war but win the peace." (Transcripts, and a little bit on the morning shows, follows)
It was yet another overblown fear that the media latched onto but have not revisited since Democrats won last week's election.
At the MRC's Business & Media Institute, we don't forget so easily.
Check out the story by my colleague Julia Seymour over at businessandmedia.org.
Now that the votes have been cast and counted, Republicans
lost, and the silence of the national media has been deafening.
The idea was that somehow the company Diebold had programmed the machines to let Republicans win. The theory, perpetuated by left-wingers posting on Daily Kos and The Huffington Post and Bev Harris’ book, “Black Box Voting,” was embraced by all three broadcast networks, as well as CNN and MSNBC.
A day after CBS's Katie Couric delivered a softball interview with Democratic Congressman John Murtha, in which she skipped questions about his ethical improprieties, painted him as a victim of attacks after he called for withdrawal from Iraq and cued him up, “Did you feel vindicated last Tuesday?" (NewsBusters item), NBC Nightly News looked at Murtha's possible abuse of his office. NBC's story by Lisa Myers, however, aired only after Democrats favoring Steny Hoyer over Murtha for House Majority Leader, raised Murtha's past. Myers cited how Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi promised “the most honest and open Congress in history,” but Myers noted how “some Democrats and ethics experts say that promise was undercut when Pelosi endorsed this man, John Murtha, for the number two leadership position in the House." Referring to liberal speech suppression activist Fred Wertheimer, Myers relayed how “critics claim Murtha has amassed power in part by handing out taxpayer money to special interests, including to clients of defense lobbyists who give him big campaign contributions." In addition, Myers raised ABSCAM as she showed 1980 video of Murtha saying he was “not interested -- at this point” in a $50,000 bribe from an undercover FBI agent.
Myers concluded with Murtha's “Swift Boat” defense: "Murtha has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and says these charges amount to Swift-Boating, the same kind of unfair charges that helped defeat John Kerry. Murtha also now supports ethics reform.”
NBC anchor Brian Williams didn't exactly strike a tone of toughness with new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she was elected, asking her softball questions on NBC Nightly News about what "drain the swamp" meant, and what she would say to the president, and how "history was riding along with her," and what her thoughts were on her family at the historic moment.
But twelve years ago tonight, one week after Newt Gingrich's big win, on November 15, 1994, NBC anchor Tom Brokaw hammered Gingrich in a snide and negative ten-minute "Dateline NBC" hit piece. Brokaw pushed every negative button. Gingrich had a "long streak" of "casually reckless" remarks. He admitted "he smoked pot" and "got a marriage deferment" to avoid service in Vietnam. He went to first wife Jackie's hospital room "the day after her cancer surgery" to discuss divorce terms. He made a "very ominous" charge that FDA chief David Kessler threatened to ruin businesses. And his "well-heeled admirers," called "Newt Incorporated," showed he was already ethically compromised, since voters would think donors "were trying to buy his heart if not his vote, at the least."
After ignoring for months how Democratic control of the House and Senate would put left-wingers in charge of key committees, on Thursday night the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts acknowledged that reality as they sprinkled the “liberal” label in their stories. On Wednesday night, the three newscasts featured interviews with likely House Speaker Nancy Pelolsi (NewsBusters post), but only ABC applied an ideological tag, with Charles Gibson describing her as a “liberal Democrat.” Prompted by Senator George Allen's concession, thus meaning a Democratic takeover of the Senate as well as of the House, the networks looked at the new make-up of Capitol Hill. None, however, mentioned the far-left John Conyers, who has advocated impeaching President Bush, assuming the Chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee.
CBS's Sharyl Attkisson noted how "the agenda will be largely set by the powerful congressional committees with some of the longest serving liberals in charge" and she cited how “Republican Tom Davis on Government Reform will be replaced by liberal Democrat Henry Waxman, who's known for tough oversight of corporations and government." On screen, by a picture of Waxman, CBS put a laudatory-sounding quest: “Corporate oversight?”ABC's Jake Tapper stuck only to the Senate as he referred to the "liberal lion, Senator Ted Kennedy" at Health Education and Labor and concluded with how “complicating the Senate math for the President is the fact that seven Democratic Senators are harboring serious presidential ambitions for 2008 -- meaning many of them are going to try to appeal to the party's liberal base." NBC's Chip Reid only managed one liberal label -- “Vermont liberal Pat Leahy” -- as he recited a litany of new House and Senate committee chairmen.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sat for interviews Wednesday with reporters for all the networks. NBC's Brian Williams and CBS's Katie Couric put the most emphasis on her presumed “history-making” ascension to House Speaker and allowed her to offer the most-benign descriptions of the policies she will pursue. “Our conversation with Nancy Pelosi, a woman on the verge of making American history,” Williams trumpeted in teasing the NBC Nightly News. Over video of President Bush, with Vice President Cheney and House Speaker Hastert behind him at a State of the Union address, Williams relayed how Pelosi “says she is most excited to change this picture, to put a female face in this frame of three male faces for the very first time." Williams sycophantically gushed to her: "Let's talk about history because I know history was riding along with you as you watched the results last night. I know you have thought today about your mother. I know you have thought today about your father, your own children and grandchildren."
A smiling and spellbound Couric wondered: "A lot has been made of the fact that you, if elected, and it appears that you will be, that you will be the first woman Speaker of the House and the highest ranking woman in the United States government. What does that mean to you?" Pelosi replied: "It's pretty exciting, I have to say. I'm just so excited that a Democrat will be Speaker of the House." To which Couric oozed: "So you're a Democrat first, a woman second?" (Transcripts follow)
Even before any results were known, former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw already had his template for the mid-term elections: The people are tired of “far right” Republicans and pleased by the emergence of Democrats who are “moving toward the center.” Brokaw, who will be part of the NBC News election team, was asked by Brian Williams, on Monday's NBC Nightly News, what “trends” he sees emerging. Though a Democratic takeover of the House would likely put the far-left Nancy Pelosi into the Speaker's chair along with several other hard-left Congressman into committee chairmanships, Brokaw applied an extremist ideological tag only to Republicans as he saw an end to a “polarized” nation ahead:
“The country is sending a signal to both parties: We want you guys to work together to solve problems. You've got Republicans running from the far right much more toward the center. You've got a new breed of Democrats this year in Jim Webb in Virginia and Bob Casey in Pennsylvania, moving toward the center. So we may be working our way toward the end of a deeply polarized country politically at the national level.”
In Monday's Media Notes column in the Washington Post, Howard Kurtz found the media are attracted to polls like crack cocaine, and they've "grown addicted to the GOP-in-trouble narrative." Kurtz says it isn't about liberal bias, but the desire for a change in story line. Riiight. Journalists confirm that Democrats have been boasting of a takeover:
"If you mention something enough times, you make it seem as if it must be so," says NBC's Williams. But, he says, "if the media are guilty of beating the Democratic House takeover drums, the media share that guilt with prominent Democrats, who in on- and off-the-record settings have indeed been all but measuring the drapes."
In an interview with Vice President Dick Cheney excerpted on ABC's World News on Friday night, George Stephanopoulos cited the “exceptionally low” 4.4 percent October unemployment rate announced earlier in the day -- down two-tenths from September to the lowest since early 2001 -- and wondered: “Why don't you think the President's getting more credit for that?" Cheney blamed the media: “Well, you guys don't help. The fact of course is that what's news is if there's bad news and that gets coverage. But the good news that's out there day after day after day doesn't get as much attention.”
Indeed, Cheney was prescient. On Friday night ABC limited coverage to the Stephanopoulos question and 15 seconds from anchor Charles Gibson nearly 19 minutes into the newscast while CBS, and NBC to a lesser extent, spun the good news into bad. NBC's Brian Williams gave it just 20 seconds as he reported “employers added 92,000 jobs in October,” but added how “that was below expectations.” Williams skipped how the August and September job numbers were revised to show 139,000 more jobs created. And though wages have grown by 3.9 percent over the past 12 months, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric used the lower unemployment news as a segue to ask: “But do the jobs out there pay enough? A big issue in the battle for Congress this year is how much the lowest-paid workers make.” Viewers then saw a full story on the plight of minimum wage workers and how raising it is "resonating" with voters. (Transcript follows)
On Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams gave air time to dismissing a flimsy charge of liberal media bias based not on any content, but simply on the planned location of the newscast. From Memphis, Williams noted that “emotions are running so high,” in the Tennessee Senate contest between Republican Bob Corker and Democrat Harold Ford, “that we must tell you, even our choice of cities for this broadcast tonight has become controversial because Memphis is the hometown base of the Democrat in this race.” Williams then read from an e-mail sent by “Butch,” who complained: “There is one reason and one reason only that Briansama is coming to Memphis...for his obvious attempt to promote Ford...This is the liberal media at its very lowest." Williams easily discounted the theory: “The truth is, nothing so sinister. We chose Memphis because it is the largest city in the state and happens to be home to a great NBC television station.”
It would be nice if Williams some night would give air time to a serious charge of liberal media bias based on content analysis, not silly idle speculation about atmospherics.
Another campaign, another opportunity for the mainstream media to discredit a Republican campaign ad as racist. On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams declared: “Tonight some are saying that one commercial in particular in one very close Senate race has now crossed a racial line.” Andrea Mitchell proceeded to critique the RNC ad attacking Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford and in offering a second example of how the “mid-year elections are getting rough,” Mitchell castigated Rush Limbaugh, ignoring the inaccurate Democratic ad he had criticized. The Tennessee ad made fun of how Ford once attended a Playboy party. In it, a white female recalls how “I met Harold at the Playboy party" and the ad ended with her whispering: "Harold, call me." Mitchell pounced: "The NAACP said the ad, quote, 'plays to pre-existing prejudices about African-American men and white women'” and “advertising experts like Jerry Della Femina, a Republican, says it is a blatant racial appeal."
Mitchell moved to Limbaugh: "Take a look at what Rush Limbaugh is saying about Michael J. Fox, the actor who suffers from Parkinson's disease and is campaigning for Democrats who support stem cell research. Limbaugh said Fox was acting, exploiting his illness, when he taped this ad for the Democratic Senate candidate in Maryland." Viewers saw a clip of Limbaugh: "He is moving all around and shaking, and it's purely an act." But Mitchell ignored how Fox was injecting politics into medical research funding policy, how Fox has admitted going off his meds in order to look worse and that Limbaugh was also criticizing Fox's anti-Talent ad in Missouri in which Fox made the distorted claim that “Senator Talent even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us the chance for hope." Plus, it's worth noting that Fox was a lot more steady in a clip of him responding to Limbaugh. (Transcripts from NBC and Limbaugh follow, as well as from ABC)
Video of Mitchell's hit on Limbaugh with two clips of Fox in different conditions -- see screen shots below (1:00): Real (1.7 MB) or Windows Media (2 MB), plus MP3 audio (350 KB)