Both NBC's "Today" on Thursday and CBS's "Early Show" on Wednesday jumped on one liberal-sounding line of Bush's State of the Union address: that America is "addicted to oil."
Matt Lauer began "Today" by joking like he was attending an Alcholics Anonymous meeting. "I'm Matt and I'm addicted to oil."
Katie responded, along with rest of the crew: "Hi Matt!"
Lauer elaborated: "You get the point. In fact it's an addiction all Americans have. We consume nearly a quarter of the world's supply and most of that for driving. Well this week President Bush called on America to break its dependence on foreign oil and search for new cleaner, energy sources but presidents, as you know, have been saying that for decades. Why is oil such a hard habit to break and does the oil used in your home actually affect what's happening in the Middle East? We'll get into that."
In the wake of riotous protests in Europe over anti-Muhammad cartoons, rest assured NBC is still devoting to mocking everything sacred to Christians, even though they just cancelled "Book of Daniel." The American Family Association, which led an anti-"Daniel" campaign, is going to campaign against the gay sitcom "Will and Grace," which will feature Britney Spears playing a conservative Christian. Associated Press briefly describes the "humor" within:
Jack's fictional network, Out TV, is bought by a Christian TV network, leading to Spears contributing a cooking segment called "Cruci-fixin's."
Susan Jones has more from CNSNews.com here. Let's see how the media treat this outbreak of religious "humor" in the news. They ought to love this story with the complete congruence of Britney Spears and Christian-right mockery. Brent Bozell has described the entertainment media's odd treatment of organized religion (through Caroline Eichenberg's one-year study of TV religion plots) here.
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry must be thinking how fortunate he was that there were no real journalists in the room -- just perky Katie Couric -- when he appeared on NBC’s Today to complain about President Bush’s State of the Union address. As NewsBusters’ Mark Finkelstein noted earlier, Couric did ask a couple of pointed questions, at one point asking Kerry if there “was there anything you appreciated or liked hearing” in Bush’s speech.
But when Kerry started inventing statistics in his rant against the President’s education policies, preposterously claiming at one point that “53 percent of our children are not graduating from high school,” (in fact, 73.9 percent of incoming freshmen graduate from high school, according to the most recent Department of Education tally) Couric never even blinked -- not even when Kerry haughtily accused Bush of not presenting “the real state of the Union.”
The saying goes that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Along the same vein, NBC’s Tim Russert never misses an opportunity to denounce a tax cut or pass along arguments in favor of raising taxes. And NBC anchor Brian Williams didn’t even have to mention taxes to lead Russert, a few minutes after President Bush finished his State of the Union address Tuesday night, to fret about how Bush hasn’t raised them. Williams noted how President Bush “is known to be very frustrated at what he sees as a large part of the population in the country, and in that chamber tonight, that doesn't seem to agree with his message that this is a nation at war.” Russert retorted: “Critics have responded by saying well, if that's the case, Mr. President, ask people for sacrifice. Democrats have pointed out it's the first war we've been involved in where the President hasn't raised the revenues or the taxes in order to pay for it.” (Transcript of the exchange follows.)
In the past few months, conceivably the greatest attention given by the antique media to any subject has been to quash the confirmation of Samuel L. Alito to the Supreme Court. According to a LexisNexis search, CBS News has done 156 stories on this nominee's background along with objections to his confirmation. ABC News has done 174. NBC News has done 133. CNN has done a staggering 679.
As for the print media, the Washington Post has done 257, while the New York Times has done an extraordinary 339.
Yet, despite all the efforts by the antique media to block it, Mr. Alito was just confirmed in the Senate by the vote of 58 to 42. It appears that the losing streak of the antique media continues unabated.
Over at Slate, Mickey Kaus went to town on the newest proof of the tick-tight relationship of NBC Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert and James Carville, embarrassing "he just groped Gennifer Flowers in a bar" Clinton spinner. Russert has now created his own personal Washington ethical scandal:
Lukegate: Step 1) Tim Russert books the tired Carville-Matalin act more than 35 times on his Meet the Press talk show, boosting their bankability on the lucrative lecture circuit. Step 2) Carville--with Russert's eager prodding--also uses their most recent, conveniently-timed MTP appearance to plug his new XM Satellite radio sports show. ... That's smarmily venal enough, you say? Wrong! Step 3) Carville's co-host on the XM show is Russert's son, Luke, who is "currently a sophomore at Boston College." Russert and Carville joke about this on the air but don't quite have the balls to actually inform viewers of the key conflict:
There’s an old rule in marketing – stick to what sells. Lately, it appears that America’s media are doing exactly that.
Since the significant rebound in the president’s poll numbers from their October lows, along with an apparent lack of outrage by the public concerning the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal and revelations of domestic eavesdropping by the National Security Agency, the media seem to be downplaying reports on current events, and, instead, focusing attention on last year’s big story that was largely responsible for the decline in Bush’s favorability ratings.
In the past three days, the media have given more air time and print space to issues surrounding Hurricane Katrina, an event that occurred at the end of August 2005, than a one and a half-hour question and answer session in Kansas that the president held on Monday, and a one-hour address that the second most powerful intelligence figure in our nation gave concerning terrorist surveillance the same day.
The Associated Press reported late last evening that NBC is dropping the controversial series “The Book of Daniel” from its lineup: “Although the network stopped short of saying the low-rated show was canceled, a spokeswoman said Tuesday it has been dropped from the schedule.”
For those unfamiliar, the story line was potentially a bit over the top, even for network television: “The series, which starred Aidan Quinn as an Episcopalian priest with a pill habit who holds regular conversations with Jesus, has a promiscuous son and a daughter who deals marijuana, proved better at drawing criticism than viewers.”
According to the report, this show was largely a failure right from the start:
David Boaz of the libertarian Cato Institute spotted an undeniable pattern of media unease in the network and newspaper coverage of the nomination of conservative Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, compared to how those same outlets treated Bill Clinton's 1993 nomination of liberal ACLU lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Cato's executive vice president asked rhetorically, in an article last Thursday for Reason Magazine:
"Remember all those news stories in 1993 about how the nomination of former ACLU lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg to replace conservative Justice Byron White on the United States Supreme Court would 'tilt the balance of the court to the left?' Of course you don't. Because there weren't any. In the past three months, the major media have repeatedly hammered away at the theme that Judge Samuel Alito Jr. would 'shift the Supreme Court to the right' if he replaced retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. According to Lexis/Nexis, major newspapers have used the phrase 'shift the court' 36 times in their Alito coverage. They have referred to the 'balance of the court' 32 times and 'the court's balance' another 15. 'Shift to the right' accounted for another 18 mentions. Major radio and television programs indexed by Lexis/Nexis have used those phrases 63 times.
President Bush went to Kansas yesterday to discuss a number of important issues facing the nation including the war in Iraq, and terrorist surveillance. Yet, what seems to have most captured the attention of America’s media is a question asked of the president by a reporter in attendance yesterday concerning whether or not he has seen the controversial film “Brokeback Mountain.” In fact, the media found this such an important issue that all three broadcast networks addressed it during their morning news programs today.
The “Today Show’s” Matt Lauer ended his segment with guest Bill O’Reilly this morning by playing a video clip of the exchange between President Bush and this reporter at Kansas State University, after which he asked O’Reilly: “So, O'Reilly, have you seen it? Should it be given the Oscar for Best Picture of the Year?”
This year’s Martin Luther King Day celebration was a wild and woolly collection of left-wing blather.
In Washington, showing remarkable feats of amnesia that he was ever vice president in a corrupt administration, Al Gore gave a speech claiming President Bush was a law-breaking president and his illegal actions a threat to the survival of our democracy, an extraordinary accusation for even this man to make, given the same policies were executed by the Clinton-Gore administration.
In New Orleans, Mayor Ray Nagin announced that God wanted New Orleans to be a “chocolate” city again. When challenged that this might make him sound like a little racist, he dug a deeper hole by claiming whites were the milk in his milk-chocolate shake.
Even in this stew of silliness, Hillary Rodham Clinton still managed to draw headlines for herself by marching into a Baptist church with Al Sharpton in Harlem and giving a fiery speech. First, Hillary sounded the same Clinton-amnesia notes as Gore, charging that President Bush’s team was historically filled with corrupt cronies, that his presidency "will go down in history as one of the worst.” But with Sharpton proudly looking on, she threw the race card on the table with a big, noisy thwack. “When you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation, and you know what I'm talking about.” Bush is not only incompetent. Dennis Hastert is a slave master. Laura Bush was right. It was “ridiculous.”
All three major broadcast networks this evening covered President Bush’s speech in Kansas today concerning the domestic spying program. They all included the same quote of the president saying, “If I wanted to break the law, why was I briefing Congress?” And, they all referenced statements made today at the National Press Club by Deputy Director of National Intelligence and former National Security Agency director Gen. Michael Hayden. Unfortunately, none of them did justice to the extraordinarily compelling description of the NSA eavesdropping program offered by the general, or his explanation of errors and omissions that have been quite common in media reports on this issue.
Regardless, what was conspicuously absent from the “NBC Nightly News” report on this subject was the most compelling statement made today by Gen. Hayden: “Had this program been in effect prior to 9/11, it is my professional judgment that we would have detected some of the al Qaeda operatives in the United States, and we would have identified them as such.”
To be sure, it couldn’t have been a time issue that prevented NBC from including this key segment of Gen. Hayden’s statement. After all, toward the end of the broadcast, Brian Williams had plenty of time to discuss the person in the Kansas State University audience who asked President Bush if he had seen the movie “Brokeback Mountain,” as well as show footage of the president’s answer (from closed captioning): “I hadn't seen it. I would be glad to talk about ranching but I haven't seen the movie.” In fact, there was even time for Williams to speak glowingly about the film (also from closed captioning):
In attacking White House counselor Dan Bartlett over the NSA's surveillance of al Qaeda suspects, Katie Couric went as far as to cite a convicted terrorist's lawyer's claim of Bush's "crime." In the 7am half hour of this morning's Today, Couric noted "that many people believe that the President broke the law," and then went on to quote from George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley that Bush's order, "was a crime." However Couric failed to mention that Turley is currently part of a convicted terrorist's appeal process, a terrorist who once cheered the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.
Via RedState, I learned Tim Russert put some of the ongoing Harry Belafonte hate gibberish against our "terrorist" president in front of Sen. Barack Obama yesterday on Meet The Press. Obama tried several times to be a gentle distancer: I wouldn't say it that way, but this man has a very valid concern. The second time around, he also tried the lame "it's a free country" line, as in "free to stand next to socialist agitators and run down the free country you live in."
MR. RUSSERT: Let’s talk a little bit about the language people are using in the politics now of 2006, and I refer you to some comments that Harry Belafonte made yesterday. He said that Homeland Security had become the new Gestapo. What do you think of that?
As reported yesterday by NewsBusters’ Mark Finkelstein, Katie Couric of NBC’s “Today Show” wondered aloud on yesterday’s program if Osama bin Laden might be getting information from the New York Times. It turns out that Couric isn’t the only media representative asking this same question. A just released Editor and Publisher article reported on more such media opining. First, MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson said the following on that network’s “Scarborough Country” Thursday evening (full transcript to follow):
“By the merchants of war who financed Bush's presidential campaign, in the words of Osama bin Laden and many on the left. In other words, Halliburton is responsible for this war, every single talking point. I hate to think of Osama bin Laden reclining in his cave in Waziristan, reading the op-ed page of ‘The New York Times.’ But, clearly, he is. He's got every talking point. It's uncanny.”
According to E&P, Carlson wasn’t the only one to suggest that Osama is paying attention to the American press:
When the administration tried to buck up troop morale by warning that some of the war's critics go too far, NBC's David Gregory had a hissy fit and portrayed the administration as the thought police. On this morning's Today Matt Lauer introduced Gregory's piece that aired in the 7am half hour: "On Close Up this morning is all fair in love and war? Not according to President Bush. The President says it's okay for Democrats to criticize the war in Iraq as long as they don't go too far." Gregory, apparently offended that someone other than the MSM or the Democrats was trying to set the agenda opened: "Good morning to you Matt. Well in this election year with the debate over the war bound to intensify you said it the President is now attempting to preempt his Democratic critics by demanding that they disagree responsibly. It's the President's executive order to war critics: don't cross the line."
NBC’s Tim Russert invited the New York Times reporter who broke the NSA eavesdropping story three weeks ago onto “Meet the Press” this morning. Despite the obvious controversial nature of the guest and the subject matter, Russert asked no truly compelling or interrogative questions of James Risen, and, as a result, produced an interview that not only didn’t challenge Risen about the fortuitous timing of the article’s release, but also offered the viewer no new information concerning this matter.
For instance, Russert chose to ask Risen:
MR. RUSSERT: Amid much speculation as to why the The New York Times held this story, you had written it, you had finished it, you knew it was—what reflected what your reporting had shown. It may have played a role in the election of 2004 if it had been published in October. Why was it held?
However, here’s a list of potentially more provocative and important questions that Russert chose not to ask his controversial guest:
At one of those "indy-media" sites the hard Left hosts (and who's leftier than San Francisco?), the socialist "peace" freaks of Code Pink plan to protest Hillary Clinton as she has a comfortable chat with former NBC "Today" and "Dateline" anchor Jane Pauley:
On Saturday January 28th Senator Hillary Clinton of New York will sit down with Jane Pauley at The Bar Association of San Francisco Special Benefit Event at the Masonic Center. While using San Francisco as a backdrop for Clinton's re-election campaign, the event is an opportunity for Bay Area Democrats to dish-out $75.00 - $300.00 to attend at 7:00pm no-host reception followed by an evening of political image makeover chit-chat with Pauley and Clinton.
It's always curious when liberal-media types start hailing the brilliance of conservatives when their arguments line up with liberal wishes. Since the Jack Abramoff plea, both Newt Gingrich and National Review Online have suggested it would be nice for House Republicans to find a Majority Leader with a more reformist image. To MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews, these people are suddenly brilliant and impressive, as he declared in a "Today" pundit segment on Friday. MRC's Scott Whitlock took it down yesterday.
"Well, Newt Gingrich isn't, maybe, the most popular guy in the country. But he is ruthlessly brilliant. And he knows that this is the time to nail this guy. And he's going out and said, let's get rid of Delay, now. And you've got the National Review, the historically conservative, very impressive magazine all these years for the conservative movement, started by Bill Buckley. That's come out now and called for him to get out of the way. I think the big casualty here, to the delight of the liberals and chagrin of the people who helped build the Republican majorities, Tom Delay looks like victim number one here. I'm not sure the party's going to be the victim by next November. Because one of the great ironies of politics is that when you get the body out of the way, the party that suffered the loss doesn't seem to look so bad."
Picking up where we left off, here are the judges' picks for worst Quote of the Year during the Slick Willie era.
Onward, Christian Mouth-Breathers, 1993: "Corporations pay public relations firms millions of dollars to contrive the kind of grass-roots response that Falwell or Pat Robertson can galvanize in a televised sermon. Their followers are largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command." -- Washington Post reporter Michael Weisskopf, February 1 news story.
Hurray, Grown Men Can Weep, 1994: "Around the global village, women cheered and grown men wept. At his press conference, [Gold medal-winning speed skater Dan] Jansen paused to take a call from the President, the man who's made America safe again for tears." -- Newsweek Senior Writer David A. Kaplan, February 28 news story.
To welcome in 2006, I thought it might be fun (as one radio host suggested) to take a look back at all of our Quotes of the Year from the Best of Notable Quotables of the Year, all the worst, dumbest, and most bizarre quotes of each particular year. First, a look at the four years of President Bush Number One.
Iran-Contra Hangover, 1989: "For the most part, the Nicaraguan Contras burned villages and murdered civilians. On behalf of their cause, Reagan sold out his oath of office and subverted the Constitution....Oliver North presented himself as the immortal boy in the heroic green uniform of Peter Pan. Although wishing to be seen as a humble patriot, the colonel's testimony showed him to be a treacherous and lying agent of the national security state, willing to do anything asked of him by a President to whom he granted the powers of an Oriental despot." -- Harper's Editor Lewis Lapham narrating his PBS series America's Century, November 28.
Our analysts discovered quite a contrast on the evening news shows Monday night, displaying two different ways of covering Iraq. ABC's "World News Tonight" honored the Iraqi voter as part of a series on people of the year. "NBC Nightly News" aired another gloomy Richard Engel piece saying democracy in Iraq was like a kidnapped bride. MRC's Megan McCormack filed both transcripts to show the contrast.
NBC, 12/26: Anchor substitute Campbell Brown: “In Iraq, a Kurdish coalition and the main Shiite religious group have taken a third each of the earliest votes cast in the recent election. Those votes by expatriates, soldiers, prisoners and hospital patients are just a small percentage of the overall balloting. Meanwhile, the nation has suffered it’s bloodiest day since the election, with nine attacks that left at least twenty dead. NBC’s Richard Engel in Baghdad has the latest.”
While we've tried to police the pajama party in our comments section (you behave down there or I'm coming down!), some disgruntled lefty bloggers wail in sordid tones without a nanny. James Wolcott putting down someone else for being sour is certainly an accomplishment of some sort:
Take Tim Graham, for example. The righteous stick up his butt extends to the top of his head, leaving a little nub that he's convinced has magical qualities. He believes that if he keeps rubbing it the Hooters girls will bring him extra pie.
Put aside for a moment how difficult it would be to feel magical while impaled from bottom to top. I must confess I've only been to Hooters once, for an MRC employee's farewell lunch (although the ham and cheese was magical, as I recall.) Wolcott thinks it's quite un-Christmaslike to demand Brokaw and Koppel get something more difficult than a manicure from Tim Russert.
Once you've seen the conservative columnists on Brokaw and Koppel's "Meet the Press" spot, get a look at what the lefties said in three outraged letters to Editor and Publisher for the old anchor claims that Clinton, too, would have invaded Iraq after 9/11:
Chris Dodson: For example, I would reply, "If Clinton (or Gore) were president, 9/11 would not have happened, therefore, no invasion of Iraq. How? Clinton/Gore keeps Richard Clarke at the 'principal' level, allowing him constant access to cabinet members. 'Chatter' increases through the spring and summer. Clinton/Gore order a 'shaking of the trees,' which nets the Phoenix memo and brings Colleen Rowley's concerns to the highest levels of the FBI. The CIA informs the FBI about the two terrorists in San Diego. They are brought in and the plot is unraveled."
Happily, NewsBusters wasn't the only conservative outlet to pick up on the Christmas Day "Meet the Press" with Tom Brokaw and Ted Koppel. The spectacle spurred columns by David Limbaugh and Jonah Goldberg. Limbaugh summarized:
"Russert was uncharacteristically tame toward these two, offering them repeated softballs concerning the past year's main stories. But the relaxed atmosphere gave us a clearer picture of the worldview these men share, which is doubtless representative of most of the Old Media players. From race and taxes to health care and Iraq, they spoke in a monolithic liberal voice, accented by its familiar air of moral superiority."
One final blog from the MTP transcript. When Russert asked what's an underreported story in 2005, Brokaw said the failings at General Motors and the general problem of guaranteeing pensions. From there, Koppel brought up the "scandal" of the lack of government health insurance:
But, you know, to follow up on Tom's point. I think the medical care, which is a function of what we're talking about--yes, we have been priding ourselves on having the best medical care in the world--and you know something? You can get the best medical care in the world, he can get the best medical care in the world, I can. Most Americans can't. And there are 43 million Americans who aren't getting any medical care at all. That is a scandal. And...
Next, Russert moved on to Iraq. As liberals, the anchors responded only to liberal criticisms of their coverage. The concept that these networks were too fervently in favor or liberals or Democrats was not entertained. But the idea that they were too soft on the Bushies was assumed to be the dominant, if not the only legitimate, critique. Said Koppel: "Do we have a right to ask critical-- not just a right; do we have an obligation to ask critical questions? And did we fall short of that prior to the Iraq War? That's a perfectly legitimate point, and I think we all have to plead guilty, to one degree or another, to having been, you know, a little bit soft on the administration beforehand."
Brokaw tried to defend the media against the Eric Altermans of the world by saying the liberal Democrats were pathetic in their opposition:
Ick, you almost won't want to look at the Meet the Press transcript from yesterday. With Tim Russert hosting Ted Koppel and Tom Brokaw and no one else, it was predictably an hour of liberal sermonizing. It's a scandal that America won't raise taxes. It's a scandal that America won't acknowledge they go to war for oil. It's a scandal that some people still don't have government-funded health insurance. They started with Hurricane Katrina. Brokaw railed against America still having a "permanent underclass." (MRC nerd point: This is the official transcript, not reviewed against tape.)
I thought it stripped away in this country what we've all known but failed to acknowledge: that--this kind of permanent underclass that we have in this country, with so few resources available to them. To the rest of the world, it was shocking. Here's the United States of America, the richest country in the history of the world, you know, portraying itself around the globe now as the patron of democracy and to show the way, and then we have this happening in our midst. And it's a question of, now, how we move forward and begin to deal with it.
1. On the Finkelstein-strike beat, MRC’s Scott Whitlock says NBC reporter Michelle "Canoe Girl" Kosinski used the I-word ("illegal") for the first time on "Today" in reporting, "The illegal strike is taking a toll on the city’s economy, says the city’s mayor."
2. Scott also notes that CBS’s "Early Show" brought up the other I-word ("impeachment") again this morning, as co-host Hannah Storm asked CBS analyst Gloria Borger about the NSA surveillance hubbub, "What is the fallout of this going to be? Some people are already talking of impeachment proceedings." Borger shot that down: "Well, I think that’s a bridge too far." That's milder than Jonathan Turley's encouraging words about Bush's high crimes yesterday.
Ever since Hurricane Katrina made landfall in late August sending oil prices to $70 per barrel and gasoline above $3 a gallon, the media have been in a panic over a return of ’70s-style inflation. Such concerns reached a fevered-pitch in October when a gauge of consumer prices rose by the largest amount in 25 years. Yet, when the Labor Department released numbers last week showing that inflation had declined by the greatest percentage in 56 years, rather than using this data to ease the public’s concerns about rising prices, the press either downplayed the report or totally ignored it.