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:
NBC Nightly News anchor, Brian Williams graces the cover of Men's Vogue this month and is profiled by Deputy Editor Ned Martel as being an anchor who, because of "today's debunking culture" (Wink Wink Newsbusters.org), is both "in the know and in on the joke."
Martel panders to Williams as an anchor who is "affable", "witty", and even "an unapologetic throwback to the era of Cronkite".
Martel says that viewers can relate to Williams because he, "has a vast interest in so many of their passions." He further says that Williams "embraces his regular-guy status" and "trumpets his middlebrow tastes".
Williams apparently considers his "instinctive understanding of Middle America" to be a payoff for Nightly News. That understanding must be a tall order for someone who wears a "black-faced Rolex and Supreme Court cufflinks" and splits his time between a "pied-a-terre in a new Upper East Side tower" and a "restored farmhouse in Connecticut".
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."
The Associated Press is reporting Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards responded harshly Ann Coulter’s "faggot" remark. At an appearance in Berkeley, California, he said:
"I think it is important that we not reward hateful, selfish, childish behavior with attention. I also believe it is important for all of us to speak out against language of this kind; it is the place where hatred gets its foothold, and we can’t stand silently by and allow this kind of language to be used."
If only the former Senator would follow his own advice. Didn’t he reward "hateful, selfish, childish behavior" by hiring two harsh feminist, anti-Catholic, anti-Christian bloggers and then refusing to fire them? On the February 16 edition of CNN’s The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer asked him about his staffers (unlike the evasive anchors Meredith Vieira at NBC, Terry Moran at ABC, and Bob Schieffer at CBS). Edwards passively said that he "rejected" their statements and he "strongly disagrees with them." He stated that their resignations were "a personal decision" and dismissed the criticism as coming "particularly from people on the far right of the political spectrum." The transcript from The Situation Room is below.
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.
NBC may no longer employ Kennedy family journalist Maria Shriver, but NBC's favorite historians can still be accused of being big Kennedy fans. A new book from RFK's daughter Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who lost a run for governor of Maryland to Bob Ehrlich in 2002, slams the religious right and warns of mixing God and politics. In a book ad in the Book World section of Sunday's Washington Post, her book boasts three promotional blurbs: one from Bill Clinton, one from perennial NBC/MSNBC guest Doris Kearns Goodwin, and one from Michael Beschloss, listed in the ad as "bestselling author and NBC News' presidential historian."
The book's title is "Failing America's Faithful: How Today's Churches Are Mixing God wth Politics and Losing Their Way." I doubt Mrs. Townsend would ever write a book about Martin Luther King Jr., lamenting how he mixed God with politics. But if the cause is conservative, then the religion is spoiled. The book summary on Amazon explained:
It's a bit early for a Passover Seder, but Tim Russert recited his own version of the Four Questions on this morning's Meet the Press. Not once, not twice, but four times Russert put questions to Jack Murtha clearly designed to provoke the anti-war congressman into taking a verbal swing at Vice-President Cheney. Murtha refused to rise to his host's bait. Russert began by displaying Mr. Cheney's recent statement [displayed below]. Palpably fishing for an irate, headline-grabbing response, he put this provoking question to Murtha:
"How does it feel to be linked with Al-Qaeda by the Vice-President?"
"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."
Rich Noyes, Director of Research at the Media Research Center and Senior Editor of NewsBusters, appeared at about 5:37pm EST Thursday afternoon on The Big Story with John Gibson on the Fox News Channel. He addressed the liberal bias at NBC News and how, after a ratings slide that has left NBC Nightly News in second place behind ABC's World News, NBC is replacing the Executive Producer of the newscast, the New York Times reported.
Rich raised how ABC's World News, but not the NBC Nightly News, aired a story important to pro-lifers about the survival of the earliest-born ever premature baby, coverage detailed in this NewsBusters item. Gibson asked about the role of controversy over William Arkin, the NBC News military analyst who called troops in Iraq a “mercenary force” and scolded them for daring to criticize Americans for saying they support the troops but not the mission.
Video clip (3:28): Real (2.6 MB at lower-quality 100 kbps) or Windows Media (6.8 MB at higher-quality 256 kbps), plus MP3 audio (1.2 MB)
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:
Why is it that conservative characters on prime time television, what few of them there are, almost always end up "evolving" into fuzzy liberals? "Entertainment Weekly" columnist Mark Harris asked that very question in the current issue of the media magazine [Emphasis added]:
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:
A truly shocking discussion transpired on Sunday’s “The Chris Matthews Show” that conceivably has grave implications for the presidential aspirations of Hillary Clinton.
Before getting to the guts, the gist of this surprising conversation between host Chris Matthews and former CBS anchorman Dan Rather was how farcical the current move by Senate Democrats to “repeal the 2002 resolution for war” is. Furthermore, though it is a dangerous tactic for the left, the person most negatively impacted could be Sen. Clinton who “has to be careful to not come across as a chickenhawk.”
Adding to the surprising nature of this segment, Matthews actually began the discussion by comically mocking Democrats for this new strategy (Hot Air has video available here):
Is there any canard against President Bush more tired than the notion that he ignores the Establishment Clause, or as his liberal critics tend to put it, the "separation of church and state"? Maureen Dowd offered a classic exemplar of the criticism on this morning's Meet the Press, telling Tim Russert that: "W has sort of merged church and state while trying to keep them apart in Iraq."
Russert didn't ask Dowd to substantiate her assertion. But when Bush antagonists are pressed for proof, they typically point to the president's Faith-Based Initiative and the manner in which the W incorporates religious themes in his public pronouncements. But as has been documented, Pres. Bush has in fact invoked religion much less explicitly than many of his predecessors, including liberal icon FDR. In his D-Day prayer, for example, Roosevelt stated, among other things, that "with Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy." I defy Dowd or others sharing her view to provide an example of Pres. Bush coming anywhere close to FDR in suggesting that God is on our side. As for the Faith-Based Initiative, it incorporates a variety of safeguards specifically designed to prevent violation of the Establishment clause, including the following:
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:
The media adore hybrid automobiles for the gas mileage and the green factor, but changes in fuel-economy beginning in 2008 will hit hybrids hard.
“Toyota’s Prius, best-known and best-selling gas-electric car in the USA, drops to 48 miles per gallon in the city under the ’08 testing procedure, from a 60 mpg rating under the current system – a 20% decline. Its highway mileage rating falls about 12%, to 45 mpg,” USA Today reported on its front page February 23.
You can read the entire Business & Media Institute article here.
On last night's Hardball, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams unintentionally slammed Chris Matthews on his own show. Discussing Walter Cronkite's famous declaration of U.S defeat in Vietnam, Williams claimed it was a watershed moment because the former CBS anchor had earned the "credibility" of his viewers but warned today's anchors can't have the same effect because: "People do Cronkite-esque statements on topics every day now. On, on cable, you can see one an hour." Williams was probably referencing Matthews' competitors but as any regular viewer of Hardball knows the charge is easily applied to his NBC colleague as Matthews is constantly making his own "Cronkite-esqe" declarations of U.S. defeat in Iraq.