Appearance Alert!
MRC's Brent Bozell on FNC's Hannity, 10:40pm ET/PT Wednesday

ABC News Discovers Obama Is a...Liberal Who Loves Raising Taxes --2/26/2008


1. ABC News Discovers Obama Is a...Liberal Who Loves Raising Taxes
ABC News sent Terry Moran to Springfield, the capital of Illinois, to explore Barack Obama's record as a state Senator and, deep in his Monday story on World News, Moran acknowledged a reality rarely mentioned in network campaign coverage: "Obama was...considered a reliable liberal Democratic vote in Illinois, voting for most gun control measures, opposing efforts to ban so-called 'partial birth abortions,' and supporting hundreds of tax increases." Moran then showed a soundbite of Republican State Senator Kirk Dillard, who declared: "Senator Obama certainly is a liberal."

2. Brit Hume Undermines 60 Minutes Hit Job on Karl Rove
FNC's Brit Hume, in his Monday "Grapevine" segment, undermined CBS's Sunday night 60 Minutes scoop about Karl Rove's smear efforts to destroy former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, a Democrat now in federal prison for bribery, "some say, only because of his politics," CBS's Scott Pelley framed his story. Hume relayed how "Rove says he does not recall ever meeting the woman who is accusing him of asking her to help dig up dirt on" Siegelman "and he say he was never given a chance to respond to the charges she made Sunday on 60 Minutes." Specifically, Jill Simpson "said Rove asked her to get pictures of Siegelman in a compromising sexual position with an aide" but, Hume pointed out, "the Associated Press reports Simpson has never made that allegation before -- despite several hours of interviews with congressional lawyers, reporters and a sworn affidavit." As for CBS's claim they had "contacted Rove" for a response, Hume noted: "But Rove and his lawyer, attorney Robert Luskin, say CBS brought up the allegations only in an off-the-record telephone interview last October. Luskin says, quote: 'After 60 Minutes made the decision to publicize these charges, no one from 60 Minutes approached Mr. Rove or gave him an opportunity to respond on the record,' end quote."

3. Dan Rather Backs 'Outstanding' NYT Journalists on McCain Hit
If you're the New York Times' Jim Rutenberg or Bill Keller the last person you probably want in your corner is Dan "National Guard Forgery Story" Rather. Yet on the syndicated Chris Matthews Show, Rather jumped to their defense, on last week's McCain hit piece, by declaring them "outstanding journalists." Rather did hedge a bit saying if the story wasn't true they could be "in a heap of trouble," but he concluded, that in the end, their reporting should be trusted because reporter Rutenberg and Executive Editor Keller "are very responsible journalists."

4. Letterman's 'Top Ten Things Overheard at the Academy Awards'
Letterman's "Top Ten Things Overheard at the Academy Awards." Number 2: "No, Ms. Fonda, It's 'No Country for Old Men.'"


Early readers: MRC President Brent Bozell is scheduled to appear at about 7:20 AM EST today (Tuesday morning) on FNC's Fox & Friends.

ABC News Discovers Obama Is a...Liberal
Who Loves Raising Taxes

ABC News sent Terry Moran to Springfield, the capital of Illinois, to explore Barack Obama's record as a state Senator and, deep in his Monday story on World News, Moran acknowledged a reality rarely mentioned in network campaign coverage: "Obama was...considered a reliable liberal Democratic vote in Illinois, voting for most gun control measures, opposing efforts to ban so-called 'partial birth abortions,' and supporting hundreds of tax increases." Moran then showed a soundbite of Republican State Senator Kirk Dillard, who declared: "Senator Obama certainly is a liberal."

Earlier in the story, without applying any liberal label, Moran trumpeted how "before he left for Washington, Obama did rack up some accomplishments -- a major overhaul of the state's death penalty system, an ethics reform bill, expanded health care for the state's children."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Tuesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Moran's recognition of Obama's liberal ideology aired just a day after Cokie Roberts, in the roundtable on Sunday's This Week on ABC, pegged Obama as "squarely on the left of the Democratic Party" and contended that the Illinois Senator, "oddly enough given the rhetoric, has not reached across the aisle and worked with people in the other party to get things done, which she [Hillary Clinton] has done." See Brad Wilmouth's NewsBusters item: newsbusters.org

A longer version of Moran's World News story led Monday's Nightline with an added portion about Obama's "sweetheart" real estate deal with Tony Rezko.

A transcript of the February 25 World News story:

CHARLES GIBSON: Well Barack Obama during his campaign has made much of his ability to bring people together, to accomplish compromise, to change the tone of Washington. The bulk of his political career was as a state senator in the Illinois legislature. Was he able to bring people together there? Terry Moran went to Springfield, Illinois to look at the Obama record.

TERRY MORAN: Before there was this [crowds cheering Obama] -- there was this, the workaday legislative world of young Illinois state Senator Barack Obama. Obama was 35 years old when he began serving in Springfield in 1997. And even Republican colleagues say he stood out from the start.
SENATOR KIRK DILLARD (R): From the minute I met Senator Obama, I knew he was on to bigger and better things.
MORAN: He was clearly ambitious. Just after Illinois Democrats took over the state senate in 2002, Obama approached party leader Emil Jones, who's now running the chamber.
EMIL JONES, JR.: And he said to me, he said, "you're the Senate President, now with that you have a lot of power. I said, "Barack, what kind of power do you think I have?" He said, "you have the power to make a United States Senator."
MORAN: But before he left for Washington, Obama did rack up some accomplishments -- a major overhaul of the state's death penalty system, an ethics reform bill, expanded health care for the state's children.
OBAMA: I did all these things by getting Democrats and Republicans to work together.
MORAN: But his former colleagues say the picture is more mixed. For instance, Obama voted not for or against but "present" on 129 bills, including a bill to ban sex shops and strip clubs near schools, churches, and day-care centers, and a bill to allow juveniles who committed a crime with a gun near a school to be tried as adults. Voting present is a common tactic in the Illinois legislature. The Obama campaign says he was trying to avoid burdening local authorities on the sex shop measure and did not think the other bill would reduce crime.. But others say his votes should be an issue.
SENATOR DAN CRONIN (R): Whatever it is, he didn't want to stick his neck out. He didn't want to risk alienating some group.
MORAN: And Obama was also considered a reliable liberal Democratic vote in Illinois, voting for most gun control measures, opposing efforts to ban so-called "partial birth abortions," and supporting hundreds of tax increases. Republican State Senator Kirk Dillard worked closely with Obama on some issues.
DILLARD: Senator Obama certainly is a liberal. I guess what I show is that you can respect somebody like Senator Obama, work with him, like him, but you don't necessarily have to vote for him for President.
MORAN: Now the Obama campaign responded to our story in a statement tonight, saying "distorting a few votes out of a thousands is the kind of old politics that the American people are tired of and we believe voters care about Senator Obama's record of bipartisan leadership," unquote. One thing everyone agrees on: Obama's record in Illinois is bound to increasing scrutiny from here on in.

Brit Hume Undermines 60 Minutes Hit Job
on Karl Rove

FNC's Brit Hume, in his Monday "Grapevine" segment, undermined CBS's Sunday night 60 Minutes scoop about Karl Rove's smear efforts to destroy former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, a Democrat now in federal prison for bribery, "some say, only because of his politics," CBS's Scott Pelley framed his story. Hume relayed how "Rove says he does not recall ever meeting the woman who is accusing him of asking her to help dig up dirt on" Siegelman "and he say he was never given a chance to respond to the charges she made Sunday on 60 Minutes."

Specifically, Jill Simpson "said Rove asked her to get pictures of Siegelman in a compromising sexual position with an aide" but, Hume pointed out, "the Associated Press reports Simpson has never made that allegation before -- despite several hours of interviews with congressional lawyers, reporters and a sworn affidavit." As for CBS's claim they had "contacted Rove" for a response, Hume noted: "But Rove and his lawyer, attorney Robert Luskin, say CBS brought up the allegations only in an off-the-record telephone interview last October. Luskin says, quote: 'After 60 Minutes made the decision to publicize these charges, no one from 60 Minutes approached Mr. Rove or gave him an opportunity to respond on the record,' end quote."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

MRC news analyst Kyle Drennen's NewsBusters posting, "CBS's 60 Minutes: Karl Rove Part of 'Covert Campaign to Ruin' Democratic Governor," has much more on the lead story from Pelley on the February 24 60 Minutes. Pelley set up his piece:
"Is Don Siegelman in prison because he's a criminal, or because he belonged to the wrong political party in Alabama? Siegelman is the former governor of Alabama, and he was the most successful Democrat in that Republican state. But while he was governor, the U.S. Department of Justice launched multiple investigations that went on year after year until, finally, a jury convicted Siegelman of bribery. Now, many Democrats and Republicans have become suspicious of the Justice Department's motivations. 52 former state attorneys-general have asked Congress to investigate whether the prosecution of Don Siegelman was pursued not because of a crime, but because of politics."

For the NewsBusters post with a complete transcript: newsbusters.org

For much more on the absurdity of CBS's story, check posts by Quin Hillyer. On the American Spectator site, The False and the Absurd: www.spectator.org

And on the magazine's blog site, 60 Minutes Sinks Even Lower. A reprint of the latter post:

The 60 Minutes report tonight was even worse than I expected '€" and I expected it to be awful. In fact, it was execrable: easily the worst journalistic ethics I have ever seen in my life.

First, the "expert" given the most air time to allege that Democratic former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, now serving time for bribery, should never have been prosecuted in the first place was "Republican" former Arizona AG Grant Woods. Two points. First, how the heck would Woods know? He was in Arizona, not Alabama. Second, despite 60 Minutes going to great lengths to stress that Woods is credible specifically because he is a Republican criticizing other Republicans, the truth is that Woods is hardly a GOP stalwart. As long ago as October of 2002, he was publicly threatening to bolt the GOP and become a Democrat. A quick Google search seems to show that he takes the "liberal" side in most of his law cases (I will gladly correct myself if proved wrong on this); for instance, he most recently was in the news for agreeing to prosecute a border patrol agent who shot an illegal immigrant. And in 2006 he publicly supported Democrat Harry Mitchell in his bid to unseat conservative Republican U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth. Some Republican Woods is! And again, he is in Arizona, not Alabama. What a joke.

But as a journalistic sin, the prominent attention given to Woods is child's play compared to the airing of the utterly bizarre allegation by ditzy-sounding Alabama attorney (and supposed one-time Republican "operative") Dana Jill Simpson that Karl Rove "approached" her at a 2001 "meeting" and asked her to try to photograph Siegelman in sexual acts with an aide. On air at least, though, 60 Minutes did not even bother to ask her the most obvious of follow-up questions to test her story. Such as: Exactly where did this supposed meeting take place? Exactly when in 2001? Was anybody else present? What was the meeting about? Why did Rove have any reason to think she, of all people, could find Siegelman in flagrante, much less photograph him? Did Rove ever follow-up with her to find out if she had been successful? Did she tell anybody else at the time about Rove's supposed request? And so on'€'.

As I noted in my earlier column, there is absolutely no reason to believe the woman, and not even any logic that would explain Rove's interest in such a project in Alabama while he was busy getting settled into his first year at the White House, a full year before the Alabama governor's race.

I mean, the entire story is ludicrous on its face. And 60 Minutes now has good reason to look up to the National Enquirer as a exemplar of journalistic ethics and accuracy to which 60 Minutes can only hope to aspire IF 60 Minutes would spend years improving its product.

END of Reprint

That's online at: www.spectator.org

Hume's February 25 Grapevine item in full from Special Report with Brit Hume:

Karl Rove says he does not recall ever meeting the woman who is accusing him of asking her to help dig up dirt on the former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and he say he was never given a chance to respond to the charges she made Sunday on 60 Minutes. Rove, of course, is the former top political adviser to President Bush and is now a Fox News contributor.

Sunday night, an Alabama lawyer named Jill Simpson said on CBS's 60 Minutes that Rove was behind an effort to derail Democrat Siegelman's effort to win back his office in 2006 -- after losing it four year earlier. Simpson said Rove asked her to get pictures of Siegelman in a compromising sexual position with an aide. But the Associated Press reports Simpson has never made that allegation before -- despite several hours of interviews with congressional lawyers, reporters and a sworn affidavit.

60 Minutes said in its piece, quote: "We contacted Rove. Through his lawyer, he denied Simpson's allegations." But Rove and his lawyer, attorney Robert Luskin, say CBS brought up the allegations only in an off-the-record telephone interview last October. Luskin says, quote: "After 60 Minutes made the decision to publicize these charges, no one from 60 Minutes approached Mr. Rove or gave him an opportunity to respond on the record," end quote.

Dan Rather Backs 'Outstanding' NYT Journalists
on McCain Hit

If you're the New York Times' Jim Rutenberg or Bill Keller the last person you probably want in your corner is Dan "National Guard Forgery Story" Rather. Yet on the syndicated Chris Matthews Show, Rather jumped to their defense, on last week's McCain hit piece, by declaring them "outstanding journalists."

Rather did hedge a bit saying if the story wasn't true they could be "in a heap of trouble," but he concluded, that in the end, their reporting should be trusted because reporter Rutenberg and Executive Editor Keller "are very responsible journalists."

[This item, by Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

When Chris Matthews asked the former CBS Evening News anchor for his opinion on the Times story, Rather offered the following take on the February 24, edition of The Chris Matthews Show:

DAN RATHER: We've said McCain has a good record. We've all said, listen he's a good man with a good record. Jim Rutenberg, who was the lead reporter on this, Bill Keller who's the editor who made the decision, these are not ordinary journalists. These are outstanding journalists and that probably needs to be said. Now if they can't back it up any further than they have it, they're in a heap of trouble. But, on the record, it deserves to be said these are very responsible journalists.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: And oftentimes journalists know things they don't report and that knowledge guides their reporting.

Letterman's 'Top Ten Things Overheard
at the Academy Awards'

From the February 25 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Things Overheard at the Academy Awards." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. "I'm pretty sure Jack Nicholson is asleep under those sunglasses"

9. "Another refill, Mr. Busey?"

8. "The award for sound mixing...finally"

7. "Somebody tell Michael Moore the buffet is for after the show"

6. "Only four more hours? Man, this thing is flying"

5. "Damn, I have 'The Hottie And The Nottie' in my Academy Awards pool"

4. "Eddie Brill says there were too many foreigners in the audience"

3. "No Number 3 -- writer still watching Academy Awards"

2. "No, Ms. Fonda, It's 'No Country for Old Men'"

1. "Why can't more Academy Award winners be strippers?"


A Tuesday night guest on the Late Show: New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.

-- Brent Baker