As news organizations update their obituaries of ailing Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, it’s worth recalling how many liberal journalists have fallen under Castro’s spell over the years, sounding like paid Cuban government propagandists as they touted the “great success stories” of Castro’s decades of communist rule. A new report from the Media Research Center offers some of the most egregious pro-Castro quotes of the last couple of decades.
For example, back in 1988, then-NBC reporter Maria Shriver let Castro himself lead her on a tour of Havana. “The level of public services was remarkable: free education, medicine and heavily-subsidized housing,” Shriver marveled on Today. The following year, ABC’s Peter Jennings trumpeted how “health and education are the revolution’s great success stories.”
The uniformed Cuban military officer pictured here barks commands at a smallish crowd in Havana that responds with pro-Fidel chants. Imagine you're an objective journalist. How would you report it? "The Castro regime orchestrates a public show of support," perhaps? Not Andrea Mitchell. Appearing on this morning's Today show, here's how NBC News' Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent characterized what you have to imagine was a less-than-spontaneous event:
"In Havana,Cubans turn out to show support for their long-time leader."
Andrea managed to get through her segment without mentioning Communism, repression or anything else that would cast aspersions on Los Hermanos Castro. She even obligingly passed along this bit of Castro propaganda: "He [Fidel] is calling on Cubans to remain calm, and they seem to be." Despite all the conjecture as to the state of his health Fidel hasn't made any public appearances. How can Mitchell know that it was indeed the great leader who was 'calling on' the Cuban people? And was it Fidel's reassuring words, or living in a police state, that had that calming effect on the Cuban people?
Traditionally, the networks have loved a slow, strict, statist bent at the Food and Drug Administration. In the 1990s, they warned that the FDA might be too lax on the threat of milk and hailed FDA head David Kessler for seizing crates of dangerous orange juice. But when it comes to sex and abortion, all the rules change. Suddenly, the networks go libertarian.
NBC's Tom Brokaw once called Newt Gingrich's criticism of the FDA "very ominous." (Scroll up from the orange juice Newsbite, and you'll see.) But when Hillary Clinton's the corporation-loving deregulator, then NBC has a different view. The topic was "Plan B," the abortifacient pill. Social conservatives hope to at least keep the drug from being easily available to minors without parental permission. On Tuesday's Today, substitute news anchor David Gregory implied delay was anti-woman: "After years of delay, women may soon be able to get the morning-after pill without a prescription. The FDA indicates it may be open to the idea, but with restrictions."
Tim Russert used his Today show appearance this morning to paint a bleak tour d'horizon of Bush foreign policy, expressing the fond wish - in guise of a question - that the American people might come to their senses and throw the bums out at the mid-term elections.
Interviewed by co-host Campbell Brown, Russert first asked: "What's the end game? The concern among Republicans I've talked to is how are the American people viewing this? Is this blind allegiance to Israel or is this standing by the only ally we have in the region? They don't know how much longer there will be patience with the American people."
Russert later made the electoral connection, after casting matters in their darkest light. Rather than speaking of nascent democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the current opportunity to defang Hezbollah, Russert portrayed things this way:
Fresh from his most recent trip to the Middle East, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman returned to offer his latest rationale for Bush hatred. Appearing on yesterday's Meet the Press Friedman theorized: "What this administration has done, is actually stolen something from people. Whether it's an African or a European or an Arab or Israeli, it's that idea of an optimistic America out there. People really need that idea, and the, the sort of dark nature of the Cheneys and the Bushes and the Rices, this, this sort of relentless pessimism about the world, this exporting of fear, not hope, has really left people feeling that the idea of America has been stolen from them."
Just a week ago Friedman, right before his departure to the Mideast, sat down with NBC's Russert to espouse the miraculous benefits of a gas tax. Friedman returned just in time, to the still warm seat across from Russert, to the following welcome from the Meet the Press host:
NBC reporter Richard Engel sure has some severely selective sources. On the one hand, he's overflowing with information reinforcing the image of Hezbollah as a kindly humanitarian organization that was providing "supplies and relief" to the residents of Qana. On the other hand, he has "no evidence" that Hezbollah was using Qana residents as human shields for purposes of launching rockets.
Engel reported live from Tyre in southern Lebanon during this afternoon's 'The Most' on MSNBC, with host Alison Stewart. Speaking of events in Qana, Engel claimed:
"I got no indication [the people of Qana] were being held against their will. Just the opposite, it seemed Hezbollah was helping these people, providing them with food and water. These were some of the [poorest] people in the town, those with money had already left. They were staying in this section of town because there was food and water. Hezbollah were giving them supplies and relief."
MRC's Brent Baker has noted ABC News' hyper-ventilation over Exxon's 'breathtaking' profits. This morning it was NBC's turn.
As everyone knows, the way to decrease the price of a product is . . . to raise taxes on it? As contradictory as the notion might sound, it appears to be the Today show's preferred solution to $3/gallon gas.
It was the news of Exxon's $10.3 billion second-quarter profit that gave Today an opening to air its n-th iteration of the 'soaring gas prices' story. In an innovative bit of demagoguery, Today even displayed a clock informing us that Exxon racked up profits at the rate of $1,317.66 per second.
Tim Russert and Tom Friedman don't think you're paying enough at the gas pump, in fact they seemed downright giddy about the prospect of increasing the gas tax as a way to end America's "oil addiction." Appearing on this weekend's CNBC's Tim Russert program the New York Times columnist was asked for his solutions to America's energy crisis.
Friedman warned: "Tim if we don't find an alternative to fossil fuels to fulfill their dreams, we're going to burn up, choke up, heat up and smoke up this planet so much faster than even Al Gore predicts," and then he issued this clarion call for green technology: "Green, my fellow Americans, is the new red, white, and blue. That's my motto." Then Friedman, egged on by Russert, went even further by calling for a "miracle tax," on gas.
Apparently the sight of George W. Bush surrounded by cute babies is enough to make Time's Joe Klein "want to throw up." On this weekend's syndicated Chris Matthews Show, the panel discussion turned to Bush's veto of expanded stem cell research and his appearance with "snowflake babies." For Time magazine's Joe Klein it was too much to take: "That photo-op, this week with all of those babies made me want to throw up.It is so transparently political and cynical."
Substituting for Chris Matthews, NBC's David Gregory teased the segment at the top of the show: "Most voters favor full-speed ahead on stem cells but the President hit the brakes. Could this be political disaster in November?" Gregory opened the panel discussion with a soundbite from Nancy Pelosi declaring: "In vetoing the legislation, the President will be saying no to 75 percent of the American people." NBC's Andrea Mitchell then noted that while the veto will energize some in Bush's base it also: "Doesn't track at all politically with people in his own party, with, you know, the soccer moms, with other constituencies that Republicans have been trying to court. It flies in the face of that." Gregory then threw it to Klein:
'Today' never showed us just who was holding that placard. But judging from his comments this morning, just how surprised would we be to find it was NBC's David Gregory himself?
Did David perhaps rev up for his appearance by reading this all-out assault on Bush foreign policy from in the LA Times? In any case, he came loaded for Bush bear with a totally bleak tour d'horizon that included these gems:
"The president's foreign policy was designed to make the the Middle East safer. It's not."
"Crisis after crisis has undermined the Bush doctrine."
"A foreign policy that has yet to produce the promised results."
“Hardball” host Chris Matthews was Jay Leno’s guest on “The Tonight Show” Tuesday, and did more Republican bashing than even he usually does (grateful hat tip to Greg Tinti at Outside the Beltway with video link here). One of the first zingers was directed at former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Leno asked Matthews what he thought of Gingrich’s claim on Sunday that what is going on now in the Middle East is World War III. Matthews responded, “I think Newt is World War III.”
A bit later, Leno asked about the recent expletive that President Bush was caught saying to British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the G8 summit, and what Matthews thought about the press feeling that they needed to cut the word out of their broadcasts. Matthews saw this as a great opportunity to swipe at the Bush administration about a totally irrelevant issue: “I wish they'd cut out the 16 words that got us into Iraq, however, but they didn't cut those 16 out.”
The next interesting vignette was when Leno asked Matthews his opinion of Rudy Giuliani. Matthews began with something that will strike many conservatives as the height of hypocrisy:
Heart-rending images of small children being lifted across a fence. Outraged American/Lebanese evacuees alleging indiscriminate Israeli bombing ["they are bombing streets, gas stations, food stores, ranches."] A crying Lebanese man with blood on his shirt after his brother was killed by an Israeli bomb. And the only two reporters on the scene reporting from . . . Beirut. That was the way the 'Today' largely saw fit to cover the Middle East conflict this morning.
While none of the words or images are necessarily inaccurate [and we were treated to one evacuee heartily thanking Pres. Bush], they utterly fail to tell the whole story. Yes, Israel is militarily superior to its immediate neighbors. So it is easy to portray it as the bully in this fight. But let's look at the larger picture - Israel, a small strip of land, with relatively few people or natural resources, surrounded by hundreds of millions of largely Muslim Arabs in more than a dozen states. Have a look at the map. Israel is a barely discernible dot in the Muslim sea. And just as it is geographically dwarfed so too is it overwhelmed when it comes to natural resources - oil
It's been a tough week for the MSM. You just know they'd like to find a way to spin events in Lebanon and Israel for purposes of criticizing the Bush administration. But one senses they've had a tough time getting traction. Even for our liberal media heroes, making common cause with Hezbollah might be a bridge too far.
When the MSM is reduced to fixating on a mild four-letter word the president let fly, and to second-guessing tactics - as opposed to goals - you know the media's Bush-bashing cupboard is alarmingly bare.
The last best hope for the MSM seemed to be the alleged slowness of the evacuation of Americans in Lebanon. There was Tucker Carlson accusing Israel of 'doing nothing' to help stranded Americans. And the MSM widely reported the number of Americans in Lebanon at 25,000, downplaying the fact that the great majority have dual Lebanese citizenship and are not looking to leave. The actual number of those wishing to get out is apparently in the 5-8,000 range.
If you are a celebrity, businessman or ex-president with a liberal persuasion and you have a cause to promote chances are someone from NBC's Today will traverse many miles to place a microphone in front of your face. On this morning's Today show Brad Pitt, Bill Clinton and Bill Gates all got face-time to promote their causes. However it was Pitt who stole the show with this piece of Greenie hyperbole: "We just can't keep consuming ourselves into extinction."
In the first half-hour of Today NBC's Campbell Brown highlighted Bill and Melinda Gates and Clinton's efforts to combat disease in Africa and in the 8:30 half-hour Ann Curry trudged through flood-ravaged New Orleans to promote Brad Pitt's effort to rebuild the city. On the surface one has to applaud any charitable effort to fight disease in Africa or reconstruct New Orleans but it would be nice if viewers were spared the liberal hero worship such as Brown calling Gates and Clinton, "two of the most fascinating people in the world."
Columnist Robert Novak, after submitting to a pair of interviews on his friendly home turf -- Fox News -- traveled to an away field on Sunday, appearing with Tim Russert on NBC's "Meet the Press," where he found himself on the hot seat at times.
There, among other things, he reversed course in his dispute with "Newsday," now saying that the paper did not not misquote him on a key point but rather that he misspoke. He continued to claim that he did not really "out" covert CIA agent Valerie Plame. And he defended not only talking about sources with the prosecutor, but also refusing until now to confirm he had testified.
Israel might be defending itself on two fronts this morning, but that might not be enough. The Today show was attacking on at least three. And in a brief-but-telling moment, Andrea Mitchell gave away the blame-Israel game with a spontaneous shake of the head.
Here's the gist of Today's reporting:
Israel's offensive against Hezbollah is based on a 'pretext.'
The Bush administration has dropped the diplomatic ball. It should have sent higher-level people in to mediate sooner. In the meantime, despite the concerns of America's European allies, the Bush White House has given Israel a dangerous 'green light' to attack.
The Bush administration is not responding effectively to the crisis because it is 'overwhelmed' and spread too thin by involvement elsewhere.
With ghoulish glee, Today wasted no time speculating on the possibility of $100/barrel oil resulting from the heightened tensions.
Quiz time: When is a political ad that features pictures of deceased, flag-draped American heroes controversial? Apparently, the answer is only when Republicans produce such a commercial. The Democratic Campaign Committee has posted a 60 second spot on their Web site, and it shows images of the coffins of American military personnel, as well as a soldier standing in front of a makeshift grave marker. (Update, 5:40pm EDT July 14: The ad has now disappeared from the DCCC Web site, replaced by one calling for a hike in the minimum wage.)
Unsurprisingly, ABC, NBC and CBS expressed no outrage over the Democrats attempt to politically exploit America's fallen. NBC'sToday show,ABC's Good Morning America, and CBS's The Early Show this morning all completely ignored the issue.
President Bush announced some great news about the economy Tuesday, but the media weren't in any mood to celebrate. Though the budget deficit for 2006 looks to be significantly lower than forecast just five months ago, TV news outlets were quick to rain on the president's parade.
CNN's Ed Henry cynically compared this announcement to the president declaring an end to major combat operations in Iraq in 2003. Meanwhile, NBC's Brian Williams downplayed the good news by stating “administration critics say the White House has deliberately inflated its own deficit projections in the past few years to score political points when the actual numbers came in lower.”
To say that Russian President Vladimir Putin was gruff in his interview with Matt Lauer would be an understatement. While Lauer asked some probing questions, he also offered up an unsolicited critique of Bush administration's rhetoric toward Russia, calling it 'very harsh.' When Putin responded with a nasty jab at VP Cheney over his shooting incident, Matt didn't blink, continuing instead to focus on the tough talk of the Bush White House.
Lauer was in St. Petersburg for the g-8 summit Russia is hosting, and scored an exclusive sit-down with Putin. In the set-up piece, Andrea Mitchell rolled the tape of VP Cheney saying of Russia's energy manipulations: "no legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail."
There was the expected wailing and gnashing of teeth from the left when New York’s state Court of Appeals ruled against installing so-called "gay marriage" by judicial fiat, as they had in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts. The New York Times, as expected, was stunned that the judges could find a "rational basis" for traditional marriage, and that judges would defer to elected legislators.
This outrage was plastered at the top of the Times with two "news" stories. One was a front-page editorial (they call it a "news analysis") by Patrick Healy, who focused on the "gay rights advocates"and their disappointment. "Nowhere did gay marriage seem more like a natural fit than New York,"he complained, where "a history of spirited progressivism" should have made the victory of the marriage-manglers inevitable.
Here at NewsBusters, we keep close tabs on the MSM. That's why I can say with considerable confidence that this morning, the Today show ran its . . . nth segment on 'soaring gas prices.' The template is time-honored: reporter standing in front of gas pumps with scary-high price placards in background. Cut to clips of regular folks filling up, expressing varying degrees of outrage. Bring in an 'oil industry expert' for some words of wisdom. Back to reporter at pump, warily wondering just how much higher prices can go. Conclude with hosts back in the studio, tongues a-cluckin'. Rinse and repeat.
In a segment narrated by NBC reporter Lisa Daniels, the formula was followed to a 't' again this morning by the Today show, with one notable innovation: co-host Ann Curry used the occasion to work in an endorsement of hybrid cars and ethanol.
Sometimes, NBC’s Today show bombards a viewer with bias. Other days, the spin is sprinkled throughout the show; July 7 fell into the latter catagory. In a segment on the North Korean nuclear standoff that aired at 7:05AM EDT, NBC reporter Jim Miklaszewski discussed that country’s recent missile launches. The piece featured a quote from Joseph Cirincione, who, as an NBC graphic identified, is a "nuclear weapons expert."
Cirincione: "[Kim Jong Il] is demanding that the U.S. negotiate with him, not that we surrender, that we come to the table and cut a deal."
Cirincione isn’t simply a "nuclear weapons expert." For eight years, he was the Director for Non-Proliferation at the liberal Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. As the MRC’s Brent Baker reported in a CyberAlert dated October 5th, 2004, he was also a generous donor to the John Kerry campaign. So, in this light, his comments calling for negotiations and reasonable dialogue with the North Korean dictator can be seen in a more honest context. Does anyone believe that Pat Toomey, President of the right-leaning Club for Growth, would ever be labeled as simply an "economics expert" and not have the phrase "conservative" tacked on? It should also be noted that during this segment, NBC, like CBS, didn’t find the time to mention the recent report that the missile North Korea recently launched was aimed at Hawaii.
To those of us who see the Castro regime as an ugly dictatorship whose people are mired in poverty due to the communism it has imposed, little is more annoying than to hear the MSM tout the glories, as reported here by MRC, of Cuba's 'free health care,' and low illiteracy and infant mortality rates. Beyond the dubiousness of the statistics cited, are the media suggesting that trading freedom for a bowl of government porridge is a good deal?
In any case, judging by this morning's Today show, it looks as if the MSM have finally found a communist dictatorship they will not extol. The media have drawn the line at, well, the DMZ line separating South from North Korea.
We might assume that on a holiday like the Fourth of July, there's not going to be a lot of liberal media bias. But a search through the MRC's "Notable Quotables" archive shows there have been a few sharp examples that could ruin an Independence Day. I'd begin with with this one from 1994: "We hear the stories of discrimination in education and housing and jobs all the time. We hear the violence between races. Do you think it's possible that America is simply an inherently racist place?" That was Today (then-substitute) co-host Matt Lauer, not exactly waving the flag. If it was an audition, it must have worked. Here are some others:
2003: "Tonight, we’re going to show you a new true face of homelessness in America. Today’s homeless are families, and the families you will meet have done everything right and yet there’s no place for them. Still, they struggle to find a home....There are more families homeless in New York City now than at any in the last 20 years....in numbers, it’s estimated, not seen since the Great Depression." – NBC’s John Hockenberry on the July 4 Dateline.
Over on Air America Radio on Monday, Sam Seder (Mr. FUBAR) was sitting in for Al Franken. Late in the show, he hosted the blogging artist known as Atrios, Duncan Black. Seder promised they would soon get into celebrating how Washington Post reporter Dana Priest "handed his ass" to Bill Bennett on "Meet the Press" Sunday, as we blogged yesterday.
Seder called Bennett a "bloviating gambling addict," but that charge wasn't wild enough. He then said Bennett's Book of Virtues left out the gambling, as well as "visiting a dominatrix when you're in Vegas as well," where Bennett allegedly had the dominatrix "do very, very strange odd things" to him. Is there any proof? Seder joked it would be "irresponsible as a commentator not to comment on that."
As we head into the Fourth of July holiday, remember it was just last year, headed into a long Independence Day weekend, when NBC anchor Brian Williams compared our founding fathers to terrorists. How open-minded it was of Brian to perceive that perhaps our forefathers could have been considered "terrorists," when experts suggest the word wasn't really coined until years after our revolution. Here's how we summed up that June 30 evening newscast (watch it here):
Remote controls flew at TV sets across America last night as NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams came out of an Andrea Mitchell story on whether Iran's new President was one of the captors of U.S. hostages in 1979 during Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic revolution. Williams suggested a sickening moral equivalence between the Iranian radicals and America's Founding Fathers.
Hardened NBC watchers know to expect a shift toward the left when Andrea Mitchell is sitting in for Tim Russert on "Meet the Press." On Sunday's big media roundtable, the topic was the administration's "war" on the press. Bennett said Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, whose story on the CIA's secret prisons for terror suspects in Europe outraged Bennett, went all personal on Bennett by saying her story did not break the law: "I mean, some people would like to make casino gambling a crime, but it is not a crime." (The liberal Washington Monthly broke the story in 2003 that Bennett had a bad habit of gambling away thousands of dollars on casino slot machines. The media glee was palpable.)
Fair warning for those that are sensitive to vulgarity, for this post will need to use some to properly quote the individual involved. Comedian Robin Williams was on the “Tonight Show” Thursday, and used the occasion to make fun of Rush Limbaugh’s recent Viagra incident. To be sensitive to those that might be offended, all obscene quotes will appear in the "Read More" section.
Now, to be fair, I am a huge Robin Williams fan, and believe him to be an equal opportunity offender. Even Rush, who has a fabulous sense of humor, likely would think this was funny (video link to follow).
With that in mind, host Jay Leno nicely set up Williams by asking for his opinion about the recent Viagra story concerning Limbaugh. Williams answered:
So much for the loopy Olbermann-esque spin that it’s just conservatives hoping to “stoke the base” who are distressed by journalists’ leaking of government secrets.
Veteran NBC News reporter Richard Valeriani says the New York Times’s decision to publish a front-page story exposing a classified government program designed to track terrorist financing is “irresponsible,” saying it smacks of “giving Anne Frank’s address to the Nazis.” (Hat-tip to Poynter's Jim Romenesko.)
Sure, Tim Russert is a pillar of the great center-left media establishment. You can take the man out of Mario Cuomo's office, but you can't entirely take Mario's office out of the man. Even so, as MSM types go, Russert is among the more fair-and-balanced.
But in his Today show appearance this morning, Tim simply didn't make sense. Asked by Campbell Brown about the White House's anger at the New York Times for its latest divulging on an anti-terror program, Russert responded:
"There is no doubt this was an orchestrated campaign to try to frame this issue of national security versus the media, particularly the New York Times. It resonates with the organized Republican conservative base: taking on the media,liberal media. Remember Spiro Agnew, back in the Nixon administration: the 'nattering nabobs of negativism.'