In the wake of the Ann Coulter interview on Tuesday's "Today" -- specifically the part where Matt Lauer simply couldn't believe Coulter's attacks on 9-11 widows channeling their grief into anti-Bush attacks on TV news shows -- here are a few reminders of how the Kristen Breitweisers of the world (who endorsed John Kerry in the fall) were given the lion's share of attention by network hosts like Matt Lauer.
An MRC study of relatives on the morning news shows found the disparity of anti-Bush victim relatives to pro-Bush relatives was 20 to 3. (The report concluded, "These relatives are entitled to their views, of course. But network viewers are entitled to a little balance, too.")
A week earlier, it was already obvious Breitweiser was doing election-year publicity against Bush:
Looks like NBC's Matt Lauer isn't missing Katie Couric too much. Emceeing a fundraiser last Wednesday night for the ahem, taxpayer funded Sesame Workshop, Lauer had a good laugh at the expense of Couric. In a bit with Elmo, Lauer uttered what sounded like a set-up line for the muppet: "Katie is moving on to a wonderful challenge, and it's one of those days that reminds me of that very famous saying..." Elmo piped in with this punchline: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, I'm free at last!" The following appeared in Lloyd Grove's column:
Matt Lauer was sure in a lovely mood the night Katie Couric left the "Today" show for good.
Katie Couric's gone, but not to worry: the Today show hasn't missed a beat of liberal bias. This morning's topic was one near and dear to the MSM heart - gay marriage. And sure enough . . .
Ann Curry interviewed MSNBC show host and former GOP congressman Joe Scarborough on the issue. But while Ann theoretically is serving as Matt Lauer's temporary co-host pending the arrival of Meredith Vieira, Curry seems stuck in her erstwhile newsreader mode, dutifully parroting DNC and NY Times talking points.
The basic liberal line on the marriage amendment debate is "why are we wasting time on this when there are so many more pressing issues to be addressed?" And sure enough, the very first words out of Curry's mouth to Scarborough were: "we are in the middle of a rising public debate about the war with Iraq and Haditha and hurricane season is coming. Why in your view is the president attacking gay marriage now?" Hurricanes and Haditha in one sentence - not bad, Ann. But if only you had worked Halliburton in there, it would have been shades of My Fair Lady: 'in hurricanes, Haditha and Halliburton, amendments hardly happen!'
This just in from Reuters, dateline Las Vegas: "Addressing the annual convention of CBS affiliates, [Katie] Couric predicted that the 'pretentious era' of the evening-news anchor is going to be a thing of the past." The headline, at least on the New York Times website, is "Couric Hopes to End 'Pretentious Era' in News."
Um, a peek at an online dictionary says "pretentious" is defined as "Making or marked by an extravagant outward show; ostentatious. See Synonyms at showy." Didn't this woman just sit at the center of a wildly extravagant three-hour tribute to her greatness on Wednesday morning? And to get up the next day, and say this?
As Katie Couric departed the Today show after 15 years Wednesday with hours of "misty, watercolor memories" -- for you in the under-40 crowd, that's Streisand singing "The Way We Were," in, ouch, 1973 -- it’s quite obvious that CBS knew it was not only getting one of America’s most famous journalists, but also one of America’s most liberal ones. In the weeks since Couric announced her CBS move on April 5, she has seemed especially outspoken.
She told Ted Kennedy his goal of government-mandated health coverage was a “noble goal”; swooned over Helen Reddy’s feminist anthem “I Am Woman” and oozed over how it shaped her; insisted that teaching tolerance of homosexuality should be done at an early age; and promoted Al Gore’s direst ice-cap-melting predictions: “Even Manhattan would be in deep water, right?” To mark Couric’s NBC career, here’s a very brief listing of some of Katie’s dramatic liberal bias, going all the way back to 1991. (See more from our main page here.)
On the "Couric Watch" over at TVNewser, Brian Stelter noticed the early reviews for the looong Katie Couric goodbye on Wednesday were negative. Take B&C Beat at Broadcasting and Cable magazine:
But today’s Today orgy of tribute was ridiculously over the top, so long by so far that even Couric seemed to know it. Shortly after 8 a.m., when Matt Lauer promised even more tributes to come, Couric chimed in, “Sorreee!" Almost exactly an hour later, as the tributes kept coming, Couric acknowledged, “It’s a lot of Katie.”
CBS's Early Show wasn't the only morning show yesterday doing unpaid commercials for "social justice" products. MRC's Geoff Dickens noticed that on her penultimate Today performance Katie Couric was talking up Global Goods Partners products. Katie once again insisted we know exactly what she thinks about America:
Couric: "I think it's really wonderful how you, just purchasing these products. I mean not only do you get a beautiful object, but you really do feel good about consuming. You know because so often it's just sort of blind consumption, especially in this country, I think. And so to be able to have the full circle happen is really I think a very gratifying thing."
Well the final goodbye came this morning but Today has been drawing out Katie Couric's farewell for what seems like forever or at least the last few weeks. Starting back on May 15th Today as been running a regular Goodbye Katie segment featuring some fond adieus from Katie's buddies in the media, entertainment and political worlds. Below you can find a list of those who said goodbye and no surprise it's full of liberal politicians and celebrities. Republicans are few in number, only four to be exact. Some of the goodbyes were particularly syrupy, like this long-winded goodbye from Bill Clinton on yesterday's Today: Video: Windows Media or Real Player Plus MP3
A bit of political gender-bending on this morning's Today, as ostensibly conservative radio talk show host Michael Smerconish called for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq while the normally hyper-partisan James Carville did anything but ride to the defense of his fellow Democrat, Congressman William Jefferson, apparently caught with his hand in a $100G cookie jar.
The pair were Katie Couric's guests largely for purposes of discussing the investigation into the possibility that Marines killed numerous Iraqi civilians in cold blood in the city of Haditha. Carville sought to exploit the subject for all its political worth, coming close to excusing the Marines who were directly involved for purposes of condemning those higher up the chain of command.
The Friday morning and evening broadcast networks shows pounced on how when asked, at the joint Thursday night Bush/Blair press conference, whether he had any regrets about the conduct of the war in Iraq, President Bush responded: “Saying, ‘bring it on.' Kind of tough talk you know that sent the wrong signal to people” and “some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner. You know, ‘wanted dead or alive.'”
CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer suggested Bush isn’t always so honest as he described it as “an unusual burst of candor from President Bush.” Schieffer soon called it an “extraordinary statement” and reporter Jim Axelrod agreed it was “startling.” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams found Bush’s answer so important that he played a stand-alone clip of the “most interesting moment” and brought aboard Tim Russert who saw a “remarkable, remarkable admission." On her last night as anchor of World News Tonight, ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas asserted that “some of the bold talk we once heard from them is gone. Now they are voicing regrets and admitting mistakes.” Jake Tapper framed a story around how Bush and Blair “came together to project confidence in the new Iraqi government, but perhaps what came across strongest was regret." (Transcripts, and a brief look at the mornings shows, such as how NBC’s Today opened with “Admitting Mistakes” on screen, follow.)
The Today show doesn’t like to judge. In the past, they have used the HBO series Big Love as a pretext to describe polygamy as the "next civil rights battle." They also had a serious piece on an "artist" who was promoting female public nudity. And now we have the lighter side of child rape. The May 26 edition of NBC’s Today featured an interview with Mary Kay LeTourneau. You may remember her as the women who was convicted in 1997 for having sex with her then 12-year-old student. She has since served a seven year prison sentence and is now married to the former victim, Vili Fualaau, 21. Here’s how Matt Lauer introduced the piece at 7:32AM EDT:
Lauer: "Most skeptics thought it could never last. Theirs was truly a love against all odds. He was a sixth grader in suburban Seattle. She was a star teacher and a married mother of four. What began as a mentorship quickly developed into a sexual affair."
You almost expected The Edwin Hawkins Singers to turn up on set. For, short of Hillary raising her right hand on the steps of the Capitol some time in January of 2009, it just doesn't get much happier for Today than this morning. In one fell news cycle, George Bush and Enron evil-doers laid low.
It couldn't have come quick enough for Katie Couric. Interviewing Tim Russert on the president's mea culpa performance of yesterday, in which he and Tony Blair admitted to mistakes in his handling of Iraq, she asked:
"Do you think both men should have tried this approach sooner?"
Lest anyone think that the president's remorse will appease the MSM, it was obvious that, now with a taste of blood, the liberal media pack will only call for more. Couric wasted no time in going after Donald Rumsfeld:
With the Yankees fresh from taking two-out-of-three from the Red Sox, why not a Today show double-header this morning?
In the opener, with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Washington for talks with President Bush, Today did its best to rain out any good news emerging from Iraq.
NBC White House reporter David Gregory observed that "two leaders who have paid a heavy political price for launching the war in Iraq will stand together tonight before the country to argue there is new reason for hope."
A hope that Gregory was quick to seek dash. Whereas new Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has said he expects Iraqi forces to be able to assume major responsibility for securing the country within 18 months, Gregory described it as a "tall order given Iraqi forces have been infiltrated by gangs fueling sectarian violence in the country."
Hey got a new book? Want it featured on the Today show? Try putting Ann Curry on the cover! The new book Extraordinary Women: Fantasies Revealed was featured in the 9:30 half hour of this morning's Today show. The cover of the book happens to feature Curry actually embracing the Earth. Curry even appeared as a guest on the segment with the book's authors. Natalie Morales conducted the interview and revealed Ann's not-so-secret fantasy: "And Ann the reason you are holding the globe is you talk about wanting to be a humanitarian, which as a journalist, I mean you do, I mean that's really a priority in your life." But one of the book's authors Ilene Leventhal pointed out Curry, as a liberal crusading journalist, is already living her dream: "I said to Ann, I said, 'Ann you already are a humanitarian.'"
On Tuesday, the New York Times published a delicate article attempting to calculate how much time Bill and Hillary Clinton spend together these days and whether their strange marriage will have negative impact on her ambitions to run for president, as some Democrats worry. (The Times headline called the subject a "delicate dance.") Only Democrats, aides, and friends were quoted. On Wednesday’s edition of Today on NBC, reporter Norah O'Donnell regurgitated the story with even more sensitivity.
Katie Couric and O'Donnell couldn't even locate the idea that Democrats get heartburn just thinking about rewinding the country back through the adultery politics of the 1990s. Couric spun it like they were just a political version of Brangelina: "When Bill Clinton burst on to the national political scene he promoted his wife Hillary as an equal political partner saying, 'two heads were better than one.' They enjoyed some of the highest highs and endured some of the lowest lows as well during their years in the White House. But now that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is eyeing her own bid for the presidency a lot of folks are asking where's Bill?"
On the same morning that Katie Couric was twinkling and giggling over Al Gore in some flowery garden, her co-host Matt Lauer took another senator from Tennessee to task: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Near the end of the interview, Lauer pressed Frist on how "critics" say his choice of legislative issues coming up shows he's "pandering to the conservative base" for a potential presidential campaign:
"Alright let me move on briefly for a second. The House has approved a constitutional amendment to make flag burning illegal and passed a bill to crack down on the practice of minors traveling across state borders to seek an abortion to avoid restrictions in their own state. You've said the Senate will look at those things this year as well as a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Now critics have said there's no chance that any of those things are going to pass and they go a step further and say you are pandering to the conservative base preparing for a run for the presidency in 2008. How do you respond?"
Let's imagine that instead of Al Gore, Katie Couric's guest this morning was a Republican presidential hopeful whose message on the environment was that we should not let alarmism push us into measures that would undermine our economy and way of life. Could you ever - ever! - imagine Katie flashing at him the 10,000 megawatt smile she has on display here for Al?
There's one more dead giveaway that Katie & Co. are getting aboard the Al Gore Enviro Train. When Today really wants to play up an issue, they brand it. Last week, flacking for the Da Vinci Code, Today sent Matt Lauer for a week "On The Road with the Code."
In introducing Gore, there to promote his global warming book and movie 'An Inconvenient Truth', Couric announced:
Sometimes you just want to throw up your hands. Interviewing another big oil exec this morning, Katie Couric's proposed solution to high gas prices was to repeal the laws of supply and demand . . . just a little bit.
Whereas Matt Lauer took a while in his interview of another oil exec to get around to his price-cutting point, Katie wasted no time. Interviewing Shell Oil President John Hofmeister, Katie's opening salvo was
"I am just wondering, you and many other oil companies are posting record high profits, of course. And while the average consumer is hurting. I am wondering, Mr. Hofmeister, would it help the long term reputation and value of your company and shareholders if you could feel the pain that consumers were feeling and decrease the wholesale value of gasoline? Is that something you would ever consider?"
Beware of supposedly objective scientists and their not-so-secret political opinions. At the tail end of "Today" on Monday, MRC's Geoff Dickens found that one Louisiana scientist had a two-faced moment on Hurricane Katrina. Al Roker asked: "We had historian Douglas Brinkley here and his book The Great Deluge and he suggested that, that Homeland Security's Michael Chertoff should resign. What's your take on that?"
Ivor Van Heerden, author of a new book simply titled "The Storm," seemed to agree that Chertoff should go, as NBC showed a photo of Chertoff and former FEMA boss Michael Brown: "I think that if you do not have disaster experience, you shouldn't be in these positions of leadership. You need to have folk who have been through the fire, so to speak to understand all the complexities of dealing with a disaster. It, it's wrong to bring in folk who do not have that experience." But experience wasn't everything when it came to Ray Nagin:
"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty." JFK Inaugural Address, 1961
"We can do just as much by withdrawing our troops." John Murtha, Winner, Profile in Courage Award, 'Today' show, 5/22/06
The Kennedys have come a long way since JFK gave his inaugural speech. Pres. Kennedy was a cold warrior, not only in the words of that speech, but in action. He stared down the Kremlin over the Soviets' installation of nuclear missiles in Cuba, and with his Cuban embargo took the world the closest it has ever been to the brink of nuclear war.
In its segment on illegal immigration and the proposed amendment to make English the country's official language, this morning's Today show pitted the following against a sole Republican senator: another senator who just happens to be the Minority Leader, the director of a school that teaches English to immigrants, the head of the association of immigration lawyers, and the NBC reporter himself, Mike Taibbi, who described the current atmosphere as 'nasty' and implied that the English language amendment was unnecessary. Along the way, Today even managed to coin a new euphemism for 'illegals.'
Taibbi began the segment reporting from what appeared to be a private-sector school in Queens, NY called the New York Language Center. Taibbi pointedly observed that at the school: "they learn one language. English. America's official national language, if a Senate amendment to a new immigration law passes." Not-so-subtle sub-text: "See, immigrants are already learning English. No amendment necessary."
On Thursday night, NBC aired the final episode of "Will & Grace" after eight seasons, but on Thursday’s "Today," MRC’s Geoff Dickens noticed Katie Couric interviewed the cast and just lathered on the praise that her 14-year-old daughter learned so much about tolerance for homosexuality from the show, and "I think that’s a great contribution to society," because "I think you have to teach tolerance at a very early age and the more comfortable people feel with people who are different, starting when they're young, the more tolerant and accepting they're gonna be as they go into adulthood." So much for CBS hiring an even-handed new anchor on the hot social issues of the day.
You would expect an NBC show to praise an NBC show, but Couric went way beyond that to a serious political lecture. She began the segment by touting the victory over what critics call homophobia:
Networks fixate on tax cuts ‘for the rich’ while ignoring exploding tax revenues.
While Congress hammered out a $70 billion tax-relief bill last week, the media wasted no time spinning it. After the House approved its version on May 10, the “NBC Nightly News” cited “Democratic critics [who said] the overall bill is heavily tilted in favor of the very wealthy.” At roughly the same time, the “CBS Evening News” presented a graphic to its viewers showing “for incomes of $50,000 or less, you’ll average no more than $46 in savings.”
The following day, ABC’s “Good Morning America” team offered a $20 bill to shoppers at a New Jersey mall as a cynical demonstration of how little this tax cut would help some Americans.
All totaled, the broadcast networks did 16 reports on this issue in their three-day blitzkrieg, largely with the same predictable mantra: tax cuts favor the rich. Conspicuously absent was an honest assessment of just how much lower wage earners in America have benefited from the most recent income tax changes, as well as how much the government has benefited from higher tax revenues.
The Truth Hurts Without question, the best thing government can do for low-income families is not burden them with income taxes. Toward that goal, according to a March 30 report by the Tax Foundation’s Scott Hodge, the percentage of Americans not paying any federal income taxes has exploded in the past few years as a result of recent tax changes:
After a couple days in which the only people offered the opportunity to comment on the controversy surrounding the Da Vinci Code were the movie's director and cast members, this morning's Today show finally gave an outside expert and Catholic officials their shot. The result was an oddly ambivalent reaction in which the movie was simultaneously praised as offering an opportunity to teach about the Church - and condemned as filled with lies.
A quick recap on the state of play at Today. Matt Lauer has been "On the Road with the Code" this week. On Tuesday, as reported here, NBC reporter Melissa Stark timidly raised the matter of the controversy with Code director Ron Howard. Stark didn't bother informing viewers just what all the fuss is about - which is none other than the movie's premise that Christ wasn't really divine, that he was married to Mary Magdalene and had children with her, that the true religion is the "feminine divine" and that the Roman Catholic Church has perpetrated a murderous patriarchal plot to suppress the truth. That's all!
If "The Da Vinci Code" was already feeding the flames of controversy with its challenge to the basic tenets of Christianity, actor Ian McKellen managed to pour a refinery tank's worth of gasoline on the fire on this morning's 'Today' show, asserting that the Bible should carry a disclaimer saying that it is "fiction." Video: Windows Media or Real Player, Plus audio MP3
Matt Lauer, in his second day "On The Road With The Code," was in Cannes for the film festival, where the Code will have its debut. It has already been screened to some critics, who have given it decidedly mixed reviews.
It was a Greenie love fest on this morning's Today. First Today show viewers were treated to Al Gore wishing Katie a fond farewell, video which featured an early 1990s clip of Couric actually giving him dance lessons in the White House. Then at the end of the show Ann Curry promoted Sting’s annual rainforest concert with his wife Trudie Styler, complete with this promotion of global warming: "To also remind people, I mean, most scientists really agree that if we don't protect this band of rainforest in the middle part of, lower middle part of the Earth that we will, could affect the environment in a dramatic way. Some now, there's a lot more debate now today about climate change and more concern about the environment. You've seen this go up and down, the interest and the political wave of it. Where are we now and how hopeful are you that people will be able to talk about this, do something about?"
Did USA Today skew their poll results of the NSA phone collection scandal? It sure looks that way. As Brent Baker has already reported, On May 12, ABC News and The Washington Post conducted a poll to find out whether Americans support the NSA’s collection of phone call records. They asked this question:
"It's been reported that the National Security Agency has been collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. It then analyzes calling patterns in an effort to identify possible terrorism suspects, without listening to or recording the conversations. Would you consider this an acceptable or unacceptable way for the federal government to investigate terrorism? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?"
Oklahoma locals (who swear they don’t love Katie Couric) have pointed out that I need to correct and clarify my earlier post on Katie’s big-bucks commencement speech in Norman. The Norman Transcript reports that the Washington Post figure of $110,000 was too small: she made $115,000 for the speech. And she donated it to charity:
OU President David Boren announced that Couric donated her entire speaking fee, $115,000 from private funds, to cancer research at her alma mater, the University of Virginia. The donation was made in honor of Couric's sister, Emily, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2001 and was a former state senator.
Let's be clear: the Da Vinci Code portrays Christianity as a fraud and the Roman Catholic Church as a murderous conspiracy. As Archbishop Angelo Amato, the number two official in the Vatican doctrinal office which was headed by Pope Benedict until his election last year recently stated, if "such lies and errors had been directed at the Koran or the Holocaust they would have justly provoked a world uprising."
Yet the Today show has decided to offer the movie, scheduled for release this week, untold millions in free advertising by devoting hours of, um, worshipful coverage to it, going so far as to send Matt Lauer to Europe for the week to be "On the Road with the Code."
Much of the debate about high gasoline prices involves allegations that oil companies are 'gouging' and making 'windfall profits.' So if you were an MSM show preparing a graphic display of the various components that add up to the price of gas at the pump, the one thing you would be sure to separately break out would be profit, wouldn't it?
Not if you're the Today show. Not if you want to camouflage the fact that, in fact, the government's take via taxes dwarfs the amount that the various levels of commerce take in profit.
In conjunction with the appearance of Chevron CEO David O'Reilly, this morning's 'Today' ran just such a graphic display of the components of the price of a gallon of gas. The first panel showed that the cost of crude oil contributes $1.67 per gallon. Next was taxes, 44 cents. Now, you might have thought that the final panel would have shown profit. But no. Instead of separating out profit, Today displayed a panel mystifyingly lumping in profit with "refining and transportation" for a total of 78 cents, or roughly double government's tax take.