Bush Leads in Poll, Jennings Sees "New Enthusiasm" for Kerry --10/5/2004


1. Bush Leads in Poll, Jennings Sees "New Enthusiasm" for Kerry
Though a new ABC News/Washington Post poll put President George W. Bush ahead 51 percent to 46 percent over Senator Kerry, a mere one-point closer margin than a week earlier in the same poll, ABC anchor Peter Jennings on Monday night trumpeted how "the latest ABC News poll indicates a new enthusiasm for the Kerry campaign." But a Tuesday Washington Post article on the poll, headlined "Bush Has 5-Point Lead in New Poll," characterized the "enthusiasm" as a bit narrower than Jennings suggested. The lead of the Post story cited "surging enthusiasm for Kerry amongst Democrats." Jennings was apparently referring to how the survey found an eight-point jump in Kerry's favorability, but that still left him six points lower than Bush in that category.

2. Newsweek Poll with Kerry in Lead Sampled More Dems Than Repubs
Virtually every TV news show on Saturday and Sunday touted a new poll from Newsweek which showed Kerry had pulled ahead of Bush by 47 to 45 percent, but FNC's Brit Hume pointed out Monday night that Newsweek's sample "turned out to be 36 percent Democrats, 34 percent Republicans" compared to "the previous Newsweek poll, which had 39 percent Republicans and only 30 percent Democrats," and which "gave the President an 11-point lead."

3. NBC Nightly News Puts "ILIE" in Graphic Next to Bush's Face
NBC's "RATS"? Four years ago, the NBC Nightly News took seriously the appearance of the letters "RATS," in a single frame of an enlargement of part of the word "BUREAUCRATS," in an anti-Gore ad from the Bush campaign. The September 12, 2000 NBC Nightly News carried two full stories on the controversy. Jump ahead four years, and on Monday night the NBC Nightly News displayed the letters "ILIE" for 16 seconds next to President George W. Bush's face in a "Decision 2004" graphic beside anchor Tom Brokaw as he introduced a story by David Gregory. The letters came from the word "FAMILIES" in a sign on the far side of Bush, which read: "TAX RELIEF FOR AMERICAN WORKING FAMILIES."

4. Reuters: Cheney "Dour" Swearer, Edwards: "Energetic" and Sexy
On the eve of the vice presidential debate, Reuters described Vice President Cheney as a "bald, bespectacled" and "dour" man "who not too long ago swore at a Democratic Senator on the Senate floor." But in his preview of the debate, Reuters reporter John Whiteseides dubbed John Edwards as an "energetic and articulate" Senator "who was once named People magazine's sexiest politician and is known for his optimism and populist rhetoric." Plus, "as a trial lawyer he won millions of dollars in damage awards for his clients from large corporations."

5. At the Debate, Journalists Reserved "Loudest Cackles" for Bush
"The loudest cackles among reporters covering the first presidential debate broke out" in reaction to an answer delivered by President Bush, New York Times reporter Jim Rutenberg disclosed in a Monday story on the back room spinning of the debate by campaign operatives.

6. NBC Fails to ID Expert Critical of Bush Policy as a Kerry Donor
In using Joseph Cirincione, identified on screen as a "nuclear weapons expert," to denounce the Bush administration's pre-Iraq war use of intelligence and how it makes it difficult to address Iran's nuclear efforts, NBC's Rosiland Jordan on Sunday failed to note that Cirincione, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is a large financial donor to the Kerry presidential campaign.

7. CBS's Mapes a "Passionate Practitioner of Advocacy Journalism"
Mary Mapes, the producer of the CBS News stories which used forged documents to impugn and discredit President Bush, "was a passionate practitioner of advocacy journalism," the OpinionJournal.com's John Fund learned after talking to her former colleagues in Seattle where she worked until jumping to CBS News in 1989. "'She went into journalism to change society,' says former KIRO anchorwoman Susan Hutchison." Fund detailed how "Mapes produced a sensational report on a killing of a drug suspect by police that rested on the shoulders of an unreliable source whose story collapsed under cross-examination." Fund asked: "Sound familiar?"


Corrections: The October 1 CyberAlert morning edition referred to Jon Meacham as the "Editor" of Newsweek. He actually holds the number two slot, Managing Editor. Speaking of Managing Editors, the October 4 CyberAlert quoted former Washington Post Managing Editor "Michael" Kaiser. His first name is Robert.

Bush Leads in Poll, Jennings Sees "New
Enthusiasm" for Kerry

Though a new ABC News/Washington Post poll put President George W. Bush ahead 51 percent to 46 percent over Senator Kerry, a mere one-point closer margin than a week earlier in the same poll, ABC anchor Peter Jennings on Monday night trumpeted how "the latest ABC News poll indicates a new enthusiasm for the Kerry campaign." But a Tuesday Washington Post article on the poll, headlined "Bush Has 5-Point Lead in New Poll," characterized the "enthusiasm" as a bit narrower than Jennings suggested. The lead of the Post story cited "surging enthusiasm for Kerry amongst Democrats." Jennings was apparently referring to how the survey found an eight-point jump in Kerry's favorability, but that still left him six points lower than Bush in that category.

In ABCNews.com's online analysis, Gary Langer pointed out findings Jennings didn't have time for, including how Bush still leads Kerry "by substantial margins in trust to handle terrorism and Iraq, as well as in personal attributes including strong leadership, honesty and trustworthiness, making the country safer and qualifications to serve as commander in chief."

Jennings teased at the top of the October 4 World News Tonight, with a shot of Bush followed by a video clip of John Kerry tossing a football as he stood by his campaign plane: "On World News Tonight, President Bush says John Kerry would make the world more dangerous. The latest ABC News poll indicates a new enthusiasm for the Kerry campaign."

Jennings opened the show, as taken down by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "Good evening, everyone. We begin tonight, as we will many times in the final 29 days, with the presidential campaign. After that very intense back and forth about the war in Iraq during last week's debate, both the President and Senator Kerry emphasized their differences on other subjects today: President Bush on taxes and Senator Kerry on stem cell research. And over the weekend, we began our traditional pre-election tracking poll, which will enable us to follow voter attitudes on issues and the candidates' attributes as they evolve in these last four weeks. After the first three days, we find that Senator Kerry did benefit from his performance in the debate last week -- 47 percent of likely voters now say they have a favorable view of him. That's up eight points from a week before."

On screen, with pictures of Bush and Kerry: "Favorable view of the candidate:"
Now:
Bush: 53%, Kerry: 47%

Sept 25:
Bush: 53%, Kerry: 39%

Jennings continued: "But the President is still ahead in what we delicately call 'the horse race' -- 51 percent say they're for Mr. Bush, 46 percent for Mr. Kerry."

On screen:
"Among likely voters:"
Bush: 51 percent
Kerry: 46 percent

World News Tonight then moved on to pieces on the Monday campaign activities of Bush and Kerry.

Online, in a piece headlined, "Kerry Gaining in Personal Ratings, but Bush Maintains Lead," ABC News polling expert Gary Langer noted:
"The number of 'very enthusiastic' Bush supporters lost eight points, to 57 percent, while high-level enthusiasm for Kerry gained eight points, to 50 percent.
"Still, Bush continues to lead, not only in favorability and enthusiasm but in the horse race overall: Fifty-one percent of likely voters in this poll support Bush, 46 percent Kerry and 1 percent Ralph Nader -- essentially the same as before the debate. Among the broader group of all registered voters, it's 50 percent to 45 percent to 2 percent."

In this new poll, Bush is ahead 51 to 46 percent over Kerry amongst "likely voters." The split stood at 51 to 45 percent in ABC's poll concluded on September 25.

Langer contended: "Underlying views matter more than the horse race at this stage; they're the foundation on which ultimate vote choices are built. And not all have turned in Kerry's direction by any means: Bush still leads him by substantial margins in trust to handle terrorism and Iraq, as well as in personal attributes including strong leadership, honesty and trustworthiness, making the country safer and qualifications to serve as commander in chief.
"And Bush has a 53 percent job approval rating among likely voters, unchanged from last week and still over the halfway mark."

For Langer's analysis in full: abcnews.go.com

border="0" src="http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/cyberimages/cyberno2.gif" align="left">Newsweek Poll with Kerry in Lead Sampled
More Dems Than Repubs

Virtually every TV news show on Saturday and Sunday touted a new poll from Newsweek which showed Kerry had pulled ahead of Bush by 47 to 45 percent, but FNC's Brit Hume pointed out Monday night that Newsweek's sample "turned out to be 36 percent Democrats, 34 percent Republicans" compared to "the previous Newsweek poll, which had 39 percent Republicans and only 30 percent Democrats," and which "gave the President an 11-point lead."

"The Race is On" trumpeted a Newsweek Web posting before this excited subhead: "With voters widely viewing Kerry as the debate's winner, Bush's lead in the NEWSWEEK poll has evaporated." See: www.msnbc.msn.com

"Ninety Minutes Later, A New Race," read an article in the October 10 hard copy version. "Game on: The Bush team went from cockiness to concern to resolution to stop Kerry's post-debate surge. How 'The Closer' made it a dead heat," the subhead pushed over an article by Howard Fineman, Richard Wolffe and Tamara Lipper. See: www.msnbc.msn.com

But FNC's Hume brought a reality check to the poll's huge 13-point swing from just a week earlier. In the "Grapevine" segment on the October 4 Special Report with Brit Hume, he reported:
"A Newsweek survey that came out over the weekend has revived a controversy over sampling in political polling. The new poll gave John Kerry a two-point lead over President Bush, but the voter sample, that is, the people questioned, turned out to be 36 percent Democrats, 34 percent Republicans. The previous Newsweek poll, which had 39 percent Republicans and only 30 percent Democrats, gave the President an 11-point lead. The question is whether such seeming discrepancies in the samples reflect actual voter sentiment or whether the voter sentiment is a reflection of the samples. Some pollsters weight, that is, adjust, their results to correct such party imbalances. Others say that amounts to tampering with the results."

NBC Nightly News Puts "ILIE" in Graphic
Next to Bush's Face

NBC Nightly News NBC's "RATS"? Four years ago, the NBC Nightly News took seriously the appearance of the letters "RATS," in a single frame of an enlargement of part of the word "BUREAUCRATS," in an anti-Gore ad from the Bush campaign. The September 12, 2000 NBC Nightly News carried two full stories on the controversy. Jump ahead four years, and on Monday night the NBC Nightly News displayed the letters "ILIE" for 16 seconds next to President George W. Bush's face in a "Decision 2004" graphic beside anchor Tom Brokaw as he introduced a story by David Gregory.

The letters came from the word "FAMILIES" in a sign on the far side of Bush, which read:
"TAX RELIEF FOR AMERICAN WORKING FAMILIES"

At the Iowa event, Bush signed bills to extend some provisions of his tax cuts which otherwise would have expired next year.

NBC Nightly News's Tom Brokaw The right half of NBC's screen was consumed by a waist-up shot of Brokaw. On the right, at the bottom, the NBC News "Decision 2004" graphic. Above that, a side shot of Bush's head turned slightly toward the TV viewing audience. The letters "ILIE," the MRC's Tom Johnson astutely noticed, ran from screen edge to his Bush's chin. The rest of the background was blank. The letter "I" could be seen, but since it was partially cut off on the lower left side of it, viewers may have assumed they were only seeing part of another letter and so saw "LIE." If they identified it as an "I," then they saw: "ILIE." Brokaw's intro took 20 seconds, but for four seconds Bush's movements obscured the last two letters, "IE."

To view a picture of what NBC displayed, go to the posted version of this CyberAlert where the MRC's Mez Djouadi will place it: www.mediaresearch.org

Inadvertent, I'm sure. Just as was "RATS," for much less time, in the 2000 anti-Gore ad from the Bush campaign. But NBC took it quite seriously, covering it for two straight mornings on Today and devoting campaign stories to it at night.

From the September 13, 2000 CyberAlert, about the Tuesday, September 12, 2000 NBC Nightly News:

Claire Shipman showed the ad and allowed Gore to maintain: "I find it a very disappointing development. I've never seen anything quite like it."

Shipman then took the Gore campaign complaint gimmick quite seriously, trying to nail down who knew what, when: "The Bush campaign says it's a meaningless flash, silly even. But explanations for how it got there are confused. Last night, Alex Castellanos the veteran Republican ad man who made the commercial, says the reference is unintentional but today he suggests he put it there on purpose to emphasize the tail end of the word 'bureaucrats,' but he says he wasn't trying to call Al Gore a rat."
Castellanos: "It doesn't matter, all it was was a drumbeat to get you to pay attention to the real thing, bureaucrats." Shipman ominously warned: "A marketing expert on the effects of so-called subliminal advertising says in his experience, this sort of word flash is not accidental and it can be effective." Professor Robert Goodstein, Georgetown University: "I think it was a curious selection of letters to take the last four letters in bureaucrats, in saying Gore's health plan is being developed by rats. I think it's a word that contains a lot of emotions when you're talking about people's health." Shipman concluded by admitting the stunt she was gullible enough to buy: "In public the Gore campaign is trying to stay away from this story, but behind the scenes aides are pushing it relentlessly, expressing shock, passing out background materials on subliminal advertising. As for the ad itself, Republicans say it was due to be pulled off the air today anyway."

Next, David Gregory noted how the Bush campaign was "knocked off message" as Bush was "forced to answer" questions about the "rats" ad. Gregory argued: "Similar missteps last week and the debate over the debates consumed most of Bush's efforts to get his message out."

Gregory surreally concluded: "Today Bush says all of this is just another example of Democrats making quote 'everything out of anything.' Maybe so, but some believe the problem for Bush is that it doesn't take much to throw him off his message or his game."

END of Excerpt from previous CyberAlert

Reuters: Cheney "Dour" Swearer, Edwards:
"Energetic" and Sexy

On the eve of the vice presidential debate, Reuters described Vice President Cheney as a "bald, bespectacled" and "dour" man "who not too long ago swore at a Democratic Senator on the Senate floor." But in his preview of the debate, Reuters reporter John Whiteseides dubbed John Edwards as an "energetic and articulate" Senator "who was once named People magazine's sexiest politician and is known for his optimism and populist rhetoric." Plus, "as a trial lawyer he won millions of dollars in damage awards for his clients from large corporations."

The back-to-back descriptions of the two debaters, in succeeding paragraphs, appeared in a Monday afternoon Reuters story brought to our attention by the MRC's Geoff Dickens. Yahoo News headlined it: "Cheney-Edwards Debate Will Show Clash of Styles."

The 13th and 14th paragraphs of the dispatch datelined Cleveland, the site of the Tuesday night debate, by Reuters political correspondent John Whitesides:
"Cheney and Edwards are polar opposites as politicians. The bald, bespectacled Cheney, 63, is a dour campaigner with a lengthy government and national security resume, who not too long ago swore at a Democratic senator on the Senate floor.
"The energetic and articulate Edwards, 51, is a first-term senator who was once named People magazine's sexiest politician and is known for his optimism and populist rhetoric. As a trial lawyer he won millions of dollars in damage awards for his clients from large corporations."

For the October 4 Reuters story in full: news.yahoo.com

At the Debate, Journalists Reserved "Loudest
Cackles" for Bush

"The loudest cackles among reporters covering the first presidential debate broke out" in reaction to an answer delivered by President Bush, New York Times reporter Jim Rutenberg disclosed in a Monday story on the back room spinning of the debate by campaign operatives.

Clay Waters, Editor of the MRC's TimesWatch.org site, caught Rutenberg's revelation and wrote up a short item on it. See: www.timeswatch.org

An excerpt from the top of Rutenberg's October 4 front-page story:

The loudest cackles among the reporters covering the first presidential debate broke out at about 9:55 on Thursday night in a vast, mirrored filing center at the University of Miami, where important impressions of the candidates' performance were just beginning to gel. And President Bush was on the receiving end.

Many of the hundreds of reporters, who were not in the actual debate hall but watching on televisions atop rolling carts next door in the university's "Wellness Center," hooted when Mr. Bush appeared to stumble, blurting out haltingly, "Of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us -- I know that," in response to Senator John Kerry's implication that he had conflated Iraq and Al Qaeda.

That moment in Coral Gables, Fla., was a crucial step in the days-long formation of conventional wisdom about how the debate played out for Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry, who was also on the receiving end of guffaws but none so loud and sustained....

END of Excerpt

For Rutenberg's article in full: www.nytimes.com

For the MRC's TimesWatch page: www.timeswatch.org

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NBC Fails to ID Expert Critical of Bush
Policy as a Kerry Donor

In using Joseph Cirincione, identified on screen as a "nuclear weapons expert," to denounce the Bush administration's pre-Iraq war use of intelligence and how it makes it difficult to address Iran's nuclear efforts, NBC's Rosiland Jordan on Sunday failed to note that Cirincione, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is a large financial donor to the Kerry presidential campaign.

[MRC analyst Ken Shepherd filed this item for CyberAlert]

On Sunday's edition of the NBC Nightly News, White House correspondent Rosiland Jordan reported what the New York Times deemed a controversy worthy of extensive coverage: a dissenting opinion within the Energy Department in 2003 which dismissed the CIA's assessment that aluminum tubes Iraq purchased from Hong Kong were most likely to be used in its nuclear program.

While Jordan's report was mostly balanced, including reaction from both Bush administration and Kerry campaign sources, Jordan then cited, as an independent nuclear arms expert, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Joseph Cirincione, on how this matter could impact U.S. foreign policy in the future. Jordan failed to mention Cirincione, as recorded by the Center for Responsive Politics has contributed $1,000 to the Kerry campaign this year, as well as a combined total of $2,000 to the 2002 election and 2004 re-election campaigns of anti-war liberal Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.

To see for yourself, go to: link: www.opensecrets.org

And then enter "Cinincione, Joseph" as a search. He'll come up as a Takoma Park, Maryland resident with Carnegie as his employer.

Jordan set up the soundbite: "And a nuclear weapons expert says the more is learned about how the Bush administration made its case for a war in Iraq, the more difficult it will be for any future administration to do the same concerning any other country."
Cirincione, identified on screen as "nuclear weapons expert," asserted: "They don't trust us to make war an option of last resort in the case of Iran, seeing what we did in Iraq."

CBS's Mapes a "Passionate Practitioner
of Advocacy Journalism"

Mary Mapes, the producer of the CBS News stories which used forged documents to impugn and discredit President Bush, "was a passionate practitioner of advocacy journalism," the OpinionJournal.com's John Fund learned after talking to her former colleagues in Seattle where she worked until jumping to CBS News in 1989. "'She went into journalism to change society,' says former KIRO anchorwoman Susan Hutchison." Fund detailed how "Mapes produced a sensational report on a killing of a drug suspect by police that rested on the shoulders of an unreliable source whose story collapsed under cross-examination." Fund asked: "Sound familiar?"

An excerpt from Fund's October 4 "JOHN FUND ON THE TRAIL" posting, "The Producer: Meet Mary Mapes, the crusading journalist behind CBS's current troubles," datelined Seattle:

....Former employees of KIRO, the CBS affiliate in Seattle where Ms. Mapes got her start in the 1980s, agree. Some told me that the seeds of CBS's current troubles may have been planted more than 15 years ago when Ms. Mapes was a hard-charging producer at KIRO. Before she left Seattle to become a producer at Mr. Rather's "CBS Evening News," Ms. Mapes produced a sensational report on a killing of a drug suspect by police that rested on the shoulders of an unreliable source whose story collapsed under cross-examination. Sound familiar?

Former colleagues of Ms. Mapes agree that she was a passionate practitioner of advocacy journalism. "She went into journalism to change society," says former KIRO anchorwoman Susan Hutchison. "She always was very, very cause-oriented." Lou Guzzo, a former KIRO news commentator who served as counselor to the late Gov. Dixy Lee Ray, a Democrat, says advocates in journalism are fine, "but if you're as liberal and activist as Mary and work on the news rather than the opinion side, it creates problems."

John Carlson, another news commentator at KIRO from 1986 to 1993 and now a conservative talk show host, recalls frequently arguing with Ms. Mapes after going off air. "The joke was that I'd have to debate twice at KIRO," he recalls, "once on the set and then shortly afterward with Mary."

Mr. Carlson vividly recalls how Ms. Mapes's social advocacy landed her in trouble in a major story. In the mid- and late 1980s, the Seattle police undertook a series of raids on well-known crack houses. Many dealers were minorities, and there were allegations that the police were being racially selective in the use of force.

In the winter of 1987, officers announced themselves and knocked on the door of a known Seattle drug den. They then heard some noise and forced themselves in when no one answered the door. A low-level drug dealer named Erdman Bascomb stood up with a dark, shiny object in his hand. An officer fired, Bascomb fell, and officers pounced on the "weapon": a black TV remote control. Bascomb died.

The Bascomb shooting angered many people in Seattle, and officials quickly organized an inquest. Then KIRO aired an incendiary story titled "A Shot in the Dark," in which a previously unknown witness named Wardell Fincher accused the cops involved in the raid of lying. He said he saw officers arrive at the house, burst in with no warning and shoot Bascomb, who might not have even known the intruders were cops. The story shifted to possible criminal wrongdoing by the police. Mr. Fincher was summoned to the inquest, and previous witnesses recalled. The reporter for the sensational segment was Mark Wrolstad, now a reporter with the Dallas Morning News. The producer was his wife, Mary Mapes.

Fortunately for the cops, Mr. Fincher wasn't the only one at the scene of the raid that night. A reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Mike Barber, was tagging along with officers. Mr. Barber observed the officers arriving at the house, knocking, announcing themselves and then entering. He was there when the shooting happened and when the ambulances were summoned. At that point, a man "reeking of alcohol" walked out of some nearby bushes and approached him. He wanted to know what had just happened. That was Wardell Fincher. But Mr. Fincher wasn't thoroughly checked out, so all this came out after the story aired. The police were eventually cleared but it took years and an unsuccessful civil-rights lawsuit by the Bascomb family to undo the damage.

By that time, Ms. Mapes had left Seattle, and no one I talked with who worked at KIRO at the time can recall her being disciplined in any way for her mistake. Instead, in 1989 she was fast-tracked to the "CBS Evening News" and later became Mr. Rather's hand-picked producer on "60 Minutes." "Maybe the National Guard mess would never have happened if she had been handled properly back then," says one former KIRO reporter who still admires her work ethic and ability to break stories.

Ms. Mapes isn't talking to any other journalists, but Mr. Carlson said she called him last month after he defended her on his talk show; earlier, her father had phoned the show and said his daughter's liberal views "embarrassed" him. Mr. Carlson says that while most of his discussion with her was off the record, she allowed that "there's more to come" about Mr. Bush's military record because "it's an important story."...

Carlson says that among its other sins, CBS simply didn't realize that most people don't care if Mr. Bush missed a physical while the Vietnam War was winding down more than 30 years ago. As one prominent journalist recently put it: "In the end, what difference does it make what one candidate or the other did or didn't do during the Vietnam War? In some ways, that war is as distant as the Napoleonic campaigns." The man who spoke those words -- at a time when John Kerry was under attack by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth -- was Dan Rather....

END of Excerpt

For Fund's piece in full: www.opinionjournal.com

-- Brent Baker