For his level-headed professionalism, Lester Holt is on my [admittedly short] list of MSM faves. But while Holt did hit former Ambassador [to Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe] Joseph Wilson with one tough question on this morning's "Today," he let Valerie Plame's husband hijack the beginning of the interview, lobbed him numerous softballs, and failed to challenge Wilson on his blatant misrepresentation of Plame's role in sending him to Niger.
In the set-up piece preceding the interview, "Today" aired a clip of Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) asking Plame, during yesterday's congressional hearing, whether she was a Republican or a Democrat. For the record, Plame sardonically acknowledged that she was indeed a Dem.
NBC Today co-host Meredith Vieira tossed softballs to Barack Obama, in an exclusive interview this morning, as she asked him if Alberto Gonzales should resign over firing of U.S. Attorneys and also allowed him to spout off on the President's Iraq policy. In the 7am half-hour Vieira lobbed this pitch to the Democratic presidential candidate:
Vieira: "Senator let's switch gears now and talk about the firing of those eight U.S. Attorneys. The Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales has admitted that mistakes were made. He wants to right them. He says he wants to stay on the job as well. You opposed his nomination two years ago and this is what you said about the Attorney General on Tuesday, you said, 'He had shown in his role as White House counsel a penchant for subverting justice to serve the President's goals, and I feared that in an Attorney General.' Do you believe, sir, that Mr. Gonzales knowingly subverted justice in this case and do you want him to resign?"
NBC's Today rolled out a rainbow-colored carpet for the gay-left Human Rights Campaign late on Monday morning's show. Eighties pop star Cyndi Lauper appeared to sing her hit "True Colors" and announce the HRC’s fundraising "True Colors Tour." She also bashed social conservatives for being against freedom for gays in America: "you're taught home of the free, you know, except for you guys there, not, not you."
Co-host Meredith Vieira played the publicist alongside her, asking her to explain how a dollar from every ticket goes to "something very important," that being the Human Rights Campaign. Not "something very liberal" or "something very pro-Hillary." When Lauper added other gay-activist groups as sponsors, Vieira could only manage an "Oh, terrific!"
On Monday’s "Nightline," the ABC program continued the media’s fascination with the Mayan "spiritual leaders" who protested a recent visit to Guatemala by President Bush. According to anchor Cynthia McFadden, "some say he's angered the gods."
While footage onscreen showed Uruguayan demonstrators (from a previous portion of the trip) burning an American flag, Reporter Jessica Yellin noted that "many in the region don’t care for Mr. Bush" and seriously reported on the President’s "bad vibes":
JESSICA YELLIN: "The spiritual leaders of the Guatemala's indigenous Mayan population are also worried about the President's bad vibes. They will perform a special cleansing ceremony to clear away the bad energy they say he left during his visit."
NewsBusters previously reported that the AP, NBC's "Today," and ABC's "Good Morning America" reported as a curiosity some Mayan priests who complain that President Bush brought evil spirits with him to Guatemala.
Well, CBS's Peter Maer didn't want to be left out apparently. He wrote up a little something at "Couric & Co.," Katie Couric's e-sandbox on CBS's Web site.
Maer's account, like the others mentioned, seems to leave out two key facts for their readers.
NBC's Matt Lauer and MSNBC's Joe Scarborough had a really hard time buying their colleague Andrea Mitchell's line of thinking that Senator Chuck Hagel might go places by appealing to anti-war Republicans. On this morning's Today, Mitchell proclaimed of a potential presidential run by the Nebraska senator: "Hagel would give Republicans an anti-war alternative..." But just minutes later Lauer and Scarborough scoffed at that idea as even they couldn't choke down that odd bit of Andrea's analysis:
Matt Lauer: "Alright Chuck Hagel, he's a guy who's come out strongly against the war, that upset a lot of loyal Republicans and yet conservative on just about every major social issue. So what's his biggest challenge right now? Is it name recognition?"
On this morning's Today show, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell opened her report of the President's tour of Latin America with protest coverage, showing footage of a sign of Bush with a Hitler mustache, a man chanting "Gringo go home," and even noted local priests' desire to "purify" a Mayan site, Bush planned to visit, of "bad spirits." Over video of protestors O'Donnell emphasized: "The President is followed by Iraq and how bitterly unpopular the war is here. Protests in each country he visits."
The following is the full report as it aired on the March 12th Today show:
Ann Curry: "In the news this morning President Bush is in Guatemala today on his five nation Latin American tour. His visit has been greeted with protest against his war policy and now the President is making a case for sending another 8200 troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. NBC's White House correspondent Kelly O'Donnell is traveling with the President. Kelly, good morning."
Fred Thompson, who is exploring the possibilty of a presidential candidacy, went on Fox News Sunday yesterday, strongly criticized Roe v. Wade and said the answer to it was "good judges." But on this morning's "Today," Andrea Mitchell flatly stated that Thompson doesn't want to overturn Roe. So where does Thompson stand on Roe, and how can we explain Today's depiction of his views?
For answers, let's go to the videotape. The first portion of the clip is from this morning's "Today," the second portion from Thompson's Fox News Sunday appearance yesterday.
On "Today," laying out Thompson's positions on key issues, Andrea Mitchell stated Thompson is "anti-abortion but opposes overturning Roe v. Wade." Where did she get that from? A good clue comes from the fact that just previously she had just played a clip of Thompson's appearance on yesterday's Fox News Sunday. While the clip had nothing to do with abortion [Thompson merely described his rationale for a possible run], it does demonstrate that Mitchell had watched Thompson's appearance and was likely relying on it as the latest, best evidence of his views.
So what did the former Tennessee senator tell Chris Wallace about his views on Roe? Again, have a look at the video.
Chris Wallace: "Do you want to overturn Roe v. Wade?"
Thompson: "I think Roe v. Wade was bad law and bad medical science. And the way to address that is through good judges. I don't think the court ought to wake up one day and make new social policy for the country that's contrary to what it's been for the last 200 years. We have a process in this country to do that. Judges shouldn't be doing that. That's what happened in the that case. I think it was wrong."
While members of "mainstream media" have eagerly covered Ann Coulter’s use of an vulgar term at a conservative conference, HBO host Bill Maher’s obnoxious comment about the Vice President, that "more people would live" if Dick Cheney had been assassinated, drew only sparse attention from the press.
Commenting on the diversity of the 2008 Democratic contenders, MSNBC host Contessa Brewer remarked of Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, "It’s sort of like we’re rooting for everybody all at once."
Something is happening on the ground in Iraq. Something that even certain representatives of the MSM can't deny. Earlier this week, as NewsBusters noted here and here, NBC's Brian Williams, reporting from Iraq, offered some unusually positive observations. Now comes this eye-opening exchange from earlier this afternoon on CNN International between host Jim Clancy and correspondent Michael Ware, also reporting from Iraq:
JIM CLANCY: "The Democrats are pressing for a deadline, be it at the end of 2007, 2008 to bring all U.S. troops home. How is that going to affect General Petraeus, the Iraqi government and the Iraqis themselves?"
Fresh off of testifying in the case against Dick Cheney's aide Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, NBC's Tim Russert, along with Andrea Mitchell, attacked the Vice President himself as they and Today host Meredith Vieira blamed Cheney for getting everything "wrong," pushed for his resignation and even compared him to "Darth Vader." On this morning's Today, Mitchell first pulled out the knife-
Mitchell: "Good morning, Ann. The White House says that the Vice President remains the President's most trusted counsel but many are now asking how badly has the conviction of his closest aide hurt Dick Cheney? He is the most powerful Vice President in history but is he beginning to lose his clout? Critics caractiture Dick Cheney as the Darth Vader of the Bush White House. They say wrong on everything from the treatment of prisoners to Saddam Hussein's weapons."
NBC's Today has a special attraction to stories "updating" Jesus, going "On The Road" with The DaVinci Code, and just last week, promoting the idea that the bones of Jesus had been located in an ossuary in Jerusalem. On Wednesday, liberal priest, sociologist and author Andrew Greeley, a longtime NBC favorite, came on the air to promote his new book about Jesus and his relationships with women. Father Greeley "updated" Jesus so dramatically that he practically put him in league with NARAL and Planned Parenthood:
Curry: "He, he also, according to you, had very good relationships with women. Very strong friendships with women."
Greeley: "If he were alive today and behaved the same way he would be considered to be a radical feminist."
Tim Russert appeared on Wednesday’s Today to discuss the Libby verdict. Unsurprisingly, anchor Meredith Vieira asked her co-worker no tough questions about his controversial role in the case. The NBC duo underscored how historic and how damaging the verdict was, with Russert asserting it will "connect with people in a large way." Then, in the strangest line in the interview, after blowing Libby’s conviction into the Trial of the Century, when asked about the verdict Russert said he "took no joy in it."
On Wednesday, attorney Victoria Toensing wrote an article for National Review Online suggesting Russert’s pretense that he didn’t know what lawyers did was a good reason for appeal: "The court prevented the defense from impeaching Tim Russert: The NBC anchorman, who has a law degree, testified he did not know a lawyer could not accompany a witness before the grand jury. The defense then exhumed three clips where Russert had said on the air that a lawyer cannot go into the grand jury with his client. The judge would not allow the jury to hear that other honorable people sometimes forget or misspeak when being grilled on the witness stand."
It had to be a little jarring for viewers of NBC's Today in the first half-hour on Wednesday morning to go from a drumbeat of stories about how the Bush administration was allegedly smearing Joe and Valerie Wilson out of raw war-mongering vengeance to a thinly disguised video news release for Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign. The only consistency was liberal advocacy. Reporter Norah O'Donnell obsequiously repeated how Clinton's advisers say she has "an unprecedented strategy" to mobilize support from Democratic women on the Internet with her "overtly feminist message." The only sour notes in the story are old abrasive clips of Hillary from 1992, but O'Donnell suggested she's revising her image from "hard-driving professional" to show the "softer, chattier Hillary."
With the Democrats now in charge of Congress the media is joining them in bringing back some favorite of their favorite boogeymen and on this morning's Today show that boogeyman took the form of the credit card companies and their "abusive" practices. Teasing a Lisa Myers report NBC's Ann Curry charged that credit card companies are "...accused of making it difficult for the average person to pay off that bill. We're gonna show you some of the tactics they allegedly use to keep the dollars flowing in." To which Today host Meredith Vieira piped in: "It's pretty awful."
Throughout the segment the credit card companies were portrayed in almost loan shark terms that had them taking "advantage" of unwitting customers. In her report NBC's Lisa Myers told the story of mild-mannered Charlie Bassham's struggle against the credit card companies and then brought on Democratic Senator Carl Levin as the proverbial hero to the all the Charlie Bassham's across America.
Like the Tuesday evening shows, Wednesday’s network morning shows leaned heavily on the Democratic narrative toward the Scooter Libby convictions, highlighting the high dudgeon against the Bush administration by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, Joe Wilson, and former reporter/juror Denis Collins, while ignoring any angle that would balance the story with any critique of Fitzgerald, the Wilsons, or State Department official Richard Armitage, who withheld the fact that he leaked to Robert Novak, which started the whole scandal train.
Reporters made no reference to how Fitzgerald, knowing Armitage was the leaker, could have cut his investigation short; or how the Wilsons, far from victims, have made two book deals and a movie deal, and how Joe Wilson shamelessly campaigned for a job with President-to-be John Kerry; or how the trial made the media look bad, since the memories of reporters were as bad or worse than Libby’s memory. Here’s how the three networks summed it all up:
Meredith Vieira was in a light-hearted mood at the top of this morning's "Today," joshing with substitute co-host Ann Curry about the estrogen on the set and kiddingly offering to leave her husband for the winner of the Mega Millions lottery. But we shouldn't have let the idle chatter fool us. When it came to discussing the repercussions of the Libby conviction, Meredith's leopard-skin blouse should have been a clue -- because she pounced.
Discussing the trial with NBC host-turned-star-prosecution-witness Tim Russert [file photo], Meredith displayed and read this quotation from Republican strategist [and former Dole campaign manager] Scott Reed that appeared in a New York Timesarticle this morning:
“The trial has been death by 1,000 cuts for Cheney. It’s hurt him inside the administration. It’s hurt him with the Congress, and it’s hurt his stature around the world because it has shown a lot of the inner workings of the White House. It peeled the bark right off the way they operate.”
Vieira then asked Russert: "Is this the beginning of the end, do you believe, for the Vice President?"
On this morning's Today show, NBC correspondent Dawn Fratangelo visited country music singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter at her home in Virginia to promote her latest album that Today host Meredith Vieira declared was her "most personal and political so far." Fratangelo even let Carpenter serenade her with one of its tracks that Fratangelo described as: "A song of solidarity with the Dixie Chicks." As Chapin strummed along on the guitar Today viewers were treated to the following anti-Bush lyrics: "This isn't for the ones who blindly follow...this isn't for the man who can't count the bodies and comfort the families and can't say what he's wrong."
Has Ann Coulter gone too far? “Good Morning America” reporter Jake Tapper posed that question on Tuesday’s program. Commenting on Coulter’s use of a slur at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, he used the words “vicious” and “mean spirited” to describe the author. An ABC graphic described the speech as “nasty.”
And yet, the ABC program has not aired a single story on prominent liberal HBO personality Bill Maher (he calls himself libertarian) and his March 2 comment regarding the attempted assassination of Vice President Cheney. On his “Real Time” program, Maher remarked, “I’m just saying, if he did die, other people, more people would live. That’s a fact.” In comparison, NBC’s “Today” did manage at least a small mention of the HBO host’s statement. Mr. Tapper began the piece by insinuating that conservatives are drawn to Coulter because of her “vicious” disposition, and not because of an attraction to the conservative views the author expresses:
from Baghdad this morning, and continuing a theme that MRC's Brent Baker spotted last evening, NBC Nightly News host Brian Williams let a
cat out of the bag that could leave some serious scratch marks on
MSM/DNC calls for stopping the surge and withdrawing US troops from
Iraq. Williams said that US troops:
"are also aware, especially in the outposts, that it's
the Iraqi people who are very reluctant to see the Americans go,
because in many cases that's what's keeping the peace in town."
We'll see how the electorate decides, but there's no doubt who won the "Today" show primaries this morning. For the Dems, it was Barack, and among Republicans, Rudy.
Narrating the segment on the political duel between Obama and Hillary in Selma, Alabama this weekend, Andrea Mitchell portrayed Obama as having authentic appeal, while picturing Hillary resorting to heavy-handed political tactics.
Consider Mitchell's opening line: "On the 42nd anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the historic clash over voting rights in Selma, Alabama, Barack Obama was supposed to be the main attraction, until Hillary Clinton, slipping in the polls to Obama among African-Americans, decided to come." Translation: a sinking Hillary tries to steal Barack's limelight. Not very flattering.
As Mitchell mentioned that Hillary had brought Bill because of his "enormous popularity with black voters," a clip rolled of a woman literally squealing in excitement and delight as Bill walked by in the parade. But doesn't that highlight Hillary's relative weakness as much as Bill's strength?
After stating that "Obama answered critics who say his mixed ancestry makes him not black enough," Mitchell rolled a clip of Obama speaking in a preacher's cadence as he told a church gathering: "don't tell me I'm not coming home when I come to Selma, Alabama. I'm here because somebody walked."
Compare and contrast Obama's strong -- versus Hillary's screeching -- pulpitperformances here.
"The View’s" Joy Behar demonstrated again this week that the ladies of the ABC program are committed leftists, determined to spread propaganda. Co-host Behar made this point clear when she slandered the Bush administration as "murderers."
On the Al Gore front, "Today" co-anchor Meredith Vieira proclaimed the former Vice President to be the "coolest guy" at last Sunday’s Oscars. "The Washington Post," meanwhile, one-upped the NBC host and wondered if the potential 2008 candidate is "America’s coolest ex-Vice President ever." [Emphasis added]
"CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric blogged on the subject of Gore, referring to him as a "secular saint."
A Democratic senator has just announced his presidential candidacy. On the next morning's "Fox & Friends," a Fox News reporter who recently denied that Fox has any conservative leanings or that Sean Hannity is a conservative narrates a segment on the announcement. To analyze the Democrat's candidacy, she plays clips of two reporters, one from the National Review and the other from the Weekly Standard. Host Brian Kilmeade follows, schmoozing about the senator's prospects with a former senior aide to a conservative Republican governor.
Total lack of balance! Couldn't Fox News have found at least one Democrat to discuss a Democrat's candidacy? Outrageous, isn't it? Well, yes, it would be. Except it didn't happen. But the mirror-image did. Here's how this morning's "Today" covered John McCain's announcement of his candidacy on last night's Letterman:
Most people who tune in to morning TV "news" programs know the unbearable lightness of the product, full of celebrity cotton candy and tragic tales of tabloid woe, of climbers lost on mountains and teenagers lost in the tropics. So it was a little shocking to be diverted from that maudlin box of info-bon bons known as the Anna Nicole Smith deathmatch to questions on the grand and glorious subject of Biblical anthropology, and a "discovery" of the alleged bones of Jesus.
Why this whiplash-inducing change of subject? It's sad but true that the "Today" crew went into promotional hyperdrive for the Discovery Channel special on the alleged bones of Jesus because someone spread Hollywood glitter on it -- James Cameron, the director of "Titanic." (Christians are joking among themselves that Cameron doesn't seem to know who the real King of the World is.) The Cameron connection has been a constant attraction for The Discovery Channel.
The press releases of the Discovery Channel boast that its parent company, Discovery Communications, is the “number one nonfiction media company.” That identifier is now in shambles, and the paper it’s printed on fit only to be crumpled and thrown away. The folks at Discovery have rendered themselves carnival barkers peddling sensationalistic garbage, trashy money-making gimmicks dressed up as real journalism.
The Discovery Channel is hyping to the heavens its new documentary on “The Lost Tomb of Jesus.” James Cameron, the Oscar-winning director of “Titanic,” has joined filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici in publicizing claims that a 2,000-year-old tomb containing 10 boxes of bones belonged to the family of Jesus of Nazareth. It also echoes the dopey “DaVinci Code” novel by asserting that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, that the couple had a son. They claim the son was named Judah and that all three were buried together.
As noted in NewsBusters on Monday, NBC’s "Today" show breathlessly reported the claims, articulated by filmmaker James Cameron in a new Discovery Channel documentary, that the tomb of Jesus, with Christ buried inside, has been located. Co-anchor Matt Lauer hyped the network’s exclusive interview with Cameron by credulously repeating the documentary’s assertions and stating the film could "rock Christianity to its core."
In contrast, the other networks provided a more skeptical interpretation. On the February 26 edition of ABC’s "Nightline," anchor Terry Moran repeatedly noted that many archaeologists are skeptical of the claims that the tomb of Jesus and a reported family have been found. On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," reporter Dan Harris prefaced a segment on the subject by observing, "If the claims in this new documentary are true, and many people doubt that they are, they would challenge some of Christianity's central articles of faith..." Over on CBS, "Early Show" anchor Hannah Storm peppered the film’s director, Simcha Jacobovici, with a number of tough questions:
Hannah Storm: "Simcha, are you attacking the basic tenets of Christianity that Jesus indeed rose from the dead?"
Hannah Storm: "What about people who say this is nothing more than a publicity stunt, Simcha?"
In a press statement released today, MRC President Brent Bozell urged the Discovery Channel to table the misleading James Cameron documentary "The Lost Tomb of Jesus."
“If the Discovery Channel fails to
cancel this slanderous ‘documentary,’ it will have to explain why it is
intentionally misleading the public,” said L. Brent Bozell III,
president of the Media Research Center, referring to Sunday’s upcoming
airing of The Tomb of Jesus. “They should be embarrassed by this plunge
into sensational speculation masquerading as ‘science.’ To slander
Christianity at the start of the Lenten season is unconscionable.”
On this morning's Today show, NBC correspondent Jill Rappaport filed a post-Oscars report that included still more fawning over Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. Rappaport cornered the former Vice President after the ceremony to ask him about his "eye-opening" documentary. The following encounter was aired on the February 26th Today show.
Jill Rappaport to Gore: "And as expected Best Documentary honors went to An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore's eye-opening campaign to warn the world about global warming. The fact that for over three decades you have been trying to get the message out there and now the world is listening."
Brought to you by the same people who couldn't get enough of Ron Howard's Christian-bashing The Da Vinci Code, comes another promotional effort of yet another Hollywood director's take on Jesus Christ conspiracy theories. At the top of the show NBC Today host Matt Lauer greeted viewers with the following tease about James Cameron's new documentary: "A shocking new claim that an ancient burial place may have housed the bones of Christ and a son. This morning a Today exclusive that could rock Christianity to its core."
Today co-host Meredith Vieira conducted the interview and promoted the discovery this way: "There are so few 'wow' stories out there, this is one of them." While Today did air some contradictory statements for the most part the entire segment ran as a full blown infomercial for Cameron's documentary. The following are all the teases and then the full segment as it aired on the 7:30am half-hour of the February 26th Today show:
If NBC wants to support the effort of Joe Biden and Carl Levin to adopt a new resolution undercutting the 2002 version that authorized President Bush to go to war against Iraq, let it put Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann out there to make the case. But please don't misrepresent to the public what that 2002 resolution [full text here] said.
On this morning's "Today," NBC reporter John Yang asserted the following:
"That 2002 measure allowed the president to go after weapons of mass destruction and topple Saddam Hussein. There were no weapons and Saddam's been executed."
Whether intentionally or not, Yang misrepresented the scope of what the 2002 resolution authorized the president to do. Here is the verbatim text of the section of the 2002 resolution setting for the the authorization: