CBS Evening News to Showcase Michael J. Fox Interview on Thursday

Katie Couric touted, on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, how her Thursday broadcast will feature an interview with actor Michael J. Fox. It will air just three days after conservatives denounced as misleading and distorted his TV ads, about stem cell research, against Republican Senate candidates. In a spot for Democratic Missouri Senate candidate Claire McCaskill, for instance, Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, charged in reference to the Republican incumbent: “Senator Talent even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us the chance for hope." (See my Tuesday NewsBusters posting for details.)

Couric's plug for the Fox interview followed a piece from Cynthia Bowers on the battle in Missouri with competing ads about stem cells, a story which failed to address the accuracy of the Fox ads. Couric plugged the Fox appearance as an “exclusive” interview: "By the way, tomorrow we'll have an exclusive interview with Michael J. Fox on the stem cell legislation and Rush Limbaugh." No word on when CBS might give equal time to someone  with a different view. (A transcript of a portion Bowers' story follows)

From Missouri, Bowers, who began her story with how conservatives have countered the Fox ad with one of heir own featuring famous actors and a St. Louis Cardinals baseball player, expressed astonishment in her October 25 story about the impact of criticism of the Fox ad:
“Amazingly, [Democratic Senate candidate Claire] McCaskill credits conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh” for raising money for her “because what originally had been a limited ad campaign targeting a few Senate races in a few key states like his one, where stem cells are an issue, suddenly went national when Limbaugh suggested Fox was exaggerating the symptoms of his Parkinson's disease.”

After a clip of Limbaugh suggesting “he is moving all around and shaking, and it's purely an act,” Bowers concluded: “Limbaugh later apologized. But with the spotlight now glaring on the Missouri Senate race, the Republican party quickly channeled an extra $2 million into the Show Me State, trying to offset an ad that may do more than pull on heartstrings. It just might pull voters into the polls.”
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center