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CBS Leads with 'Devastating' Poll Showing 'No Confidence' in Bush --12/12/2006


1. CBS Leads with 'Devastating' Poll Showing 'No Confidence' in Bush
"Tonight a vote of no confidence in President Bush," anchor Katie Couric trumpeted at the top of Monday's CBS Evening News over "Sinking Support" on screen under video of Bush. She explained: "A devastating new poll finds a record number of Americans [75%] now disapprove of the way he's handling the war." Couric used the "devastating" description a second time before Bob Schieffer came aboard to assert that opposition to the Iraq war "is taking on historic proportions" since in 1973 a Gallup survey determined 60 percent thought going to war in Vietnam was a mistake, but the new CBS News poll found "that slightly more Americans than that, 62 percent, now believe it was a mistake to go to Iraq. That is simply stunning." Of course, in 1973 there was a slower news cycle and a lot fewer media outlets, and no 24/7 cable services or Web sites, to pound away at every negative development in the war.

2. CNN's Cafferty on Dems Rejecting Push to Impeach Bush: 'Strange'
Jack Cafferty, a vociferously anti-Bush CNN contributor, on Monday spoke approvingly of an impeachment bill introduced by outgoing Congresswoman, and fellow Bush-hater, Cynthia McKinney. He found it "strange" that, unlike McKinney, so many Democrats are unwilling to consider impeachment. Cafferty opined on Monday's Situation Room: "Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney introduced a bill to impeach President Bush. It's strictly symbolic and has no chance of going anywhere. She lost her congressional seat and is on her way back to civilian life. But McKinney isn't the only person who thinks President Bush may have done things that rise to the levels of high crimes and misdemeanors. And yet, the incoming House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has said that impeachment of the President is, quote, 'off the table.' It's all kind of strange."

3. NYTimes: Pinochet 'Dictator,' But Kim Il-Sung 'Enigmatic Leader'
"Augusto Pinochet, 91, Dictator Who Ruled by Terror in Chile, Dies" reads the headline to Jonathan Kandell's front-page obituary for the Chilean ruler in the New York Times on Monday. A related editorial called Pinochet "The Dextrous Dictator" (perhaps a play on words, as the Latin root of dextrous is dexter, meaning "on the right side," hardy har har). But eight years ago when North Korean chieftain Kim Il-Sung died, reporter David Sanger filed two full obituaries from Tokyo over the course of two days, yet neither headline labeled Kim Il Sung a dictator. In fact, the headline to the later story read: "Kim Il Sung, Enigmatic 'Great Leader" of North Korea for 5 Decades, Dies at 82."

4. Dictator's Death Bias: Pinochet Scorned, Deng Xiaoping Mourned
The late Jeane Kirkpatrick was well-known for distinguishing the difference between authoritarian governments and totalitarian governments. The Washington Post also distinguishes: it's harsher on right-wing authoritarians then on left-wing communist dictators. Coverage of the death of right-wing Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was all focused on the "dictator's dark legacy" and how he'd escaped punishment. But upon the death of Chinese dictator Deng Ziaoping in 1997, the Post emphasized how he opened China to outsiders and liberalized the economy (alongside news events like the murderous crackdown on student dissidents in Tiananmen Square in 1989). The first front-page article did not wonder why no one had brought Deng to "justice."

5. CNN Advocates Forcing Business to Provide Sick Leave
Following the lead of Saturday's CBS Evening News, Monday's edition of CNN's American Morning featured a decidedly one-sided segment that advocated for Democratic legislation as it generously highlighted Ted Kennedy and promoted San Francisco as the wave of the future. Correspondent Alina Cho used the piece to boost a bill that would require employers with more than 15 workers to give seven sick days a year. Disparaging America's primitive stance on the issue, she noted that "139 countries provide paid sick leave for workers. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not pay." Cho almost entirely ignored opposition to this plan. Her segment also highlighted a supposed victim of this problem who is actually on the board of directors of a group that lobbies for similar laws.

6. Characters on Showtime Espouse How Bush/CIA Behind 9/11 Attacks
The premiere Sunday night of the second season of Showtime's week-long mini-series, Sleeper Cell: American Terror, gave time to two characters espousing how President Bush and the CIA were behind the 9/11 attacks. The eight-part series picks up after last season which ended with an undercover Muslim FBI agent at the last-minute thwarting a plot to explode a nuclear device at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. In the newest episode, a woman who appears to be the girlfriend of one of the plotters who escaped capture arrives at his safe house and after the two have sex, as they sit on the kitchen floor eating from one plate, she propounds that "every time we have sex, it's like the ultimate f*** you to Bush, Cheney and the whole 9/11 plot. I just keep picturing Giuliani and the rest of those assholes supervising the whole thing from that $15 million bunker on the 23rd floor of Building 7. You know that's where they broadcast the homing signal from, make sure the planes would hit the towers." The terrorist man, a Bosnian, adds: "I know, and the Pentagon was actually hit by a CIA Global Hawk drone so the administration could start an endless war and turn America into a police state."


CBS Leads with 'Devastating' Poll Showing
'No Confidence' in Bush

"Tonight a vote of no confidence in President Bush," anchor Katie Couric trumpeted at the top of Monday's CBS Evening News over "Sinking Support" on screen under video of Bush. She explained: "A devastating new poll finds a record number of Americans [75%] now disapprove of the way he's handling the war." Couric used the "devastating" description a second time before Bob Schieffer came aboard to assert that opposition to the Iraq war "is taking on historic proportions" since in 1973 a Gallup survey determined 60 percent thought going to war in Vietnam was a mistake, but the new CBS News poll found "that slightly more Americans than that, 62 percent, now believe it was a mistake to go to Iraq. That is simply stunning." Of course, in 1973 there was a slower news cycle and a lot fewer media outlets, and no 24/7 cable services or Web sites, to pound away at every negative development in the war.

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

The CBSNews.com summary of the poll results: www.cbsnews.com

A PDF of the full poll results reported that CBS News surveyed more Democrats than Republicans, by 328 to 273 -- with 321 independents: www.cbsnews.com

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for portions of the December 11 CBS Evening News:

Katie Couric, in opening teaser: "I'm Katie Couric. Tonight a vote of no confidence in President Bush. A devastating new poll finds a record number of Americans now disapprove of the way he's handling the war. Jim Axelrod and Bob Schieffer on the President's sinking polls numbers, and the latest advice he's getting."

Couric opened her newscast: "Hi, everyone. President Bush today began another week of consultations looking for what he calls a new way forward in Iraq. And most Americans agree we need one. In a CBS News poll out tonight, a record 71 percent said the war is going badly. More than half say it's unlikely the United States will win [53%]. And a record number say the war is the most pressing problem America is facing right now [35%]. It is certainly the President's top priority, so we'll begin at the White House with Jim Axelrod."

Following a story from Jim Axelrod at the White House, Couric turned to Bob Schieffer: "For more perspective on the President's devastating new poll numbers, we turn now to our Chief Washington correspondent, Bob Schieffer. Bob?"

Schieffer expounded: "Katie, if you were George Bush, I'd have to say it just does not get any worse than this. And the more you get into this poll, the more you understand just how deeply this opposition to the war is now running. Only 21 percent now approve of the President's handling of the war, but look at why: Because he is now losing his own base -- Republicans and conservatives. Just last month, even after the election that cost them control of Congress, 70 percent of Republicans still approved the President's handling of the war. Now that has dropped 23 points in a month. This is opposition that is taking on historic proportions. By 1973, at the height of American opposition to the war in Vietnam, a Gallup poll showed that 60 percent of those polled said it had been a mistake to send our troops to Vietnam. Well, today's poll shows that slightly more Americans than that, 62 percent, now believe it was a mistake to go to Iraq. That is simply stunning."

CNN's Cafferty on Dems Rejecting Push
to Impeach Bush: 'Strange'

Jack Cafferty, a vociferously anti-Bush CNN contributor, on Monday spoke approvingly of an impeachment bill introduced by outgoing Congresswoman, and fellow Bush-hater, Cynthia McKinney. He found it "strange" that, unlike McKinney, so many Democrats are unwilling to consider impeachment. Cafferty opined on Monday's Situation Room: "Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney introduced a bill to impeach President Bush. It's strictly symbolic and has no chance of going anywhere. She lost her congressional seat and is on her way back to civilian life. But McKinney isn't the only person who thinks President Bush may have done things that rise to the levels of high crimes and misdemeanors. And yet, the incoming House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has said that impeachment of the President is, quote, 'off the table.' It's all kind of strange."

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

What's strange is that Cafferty would cite McKinney as a rational source of information. This is, after all, a woman who previously wondered if President Bush knew about 9/11 before it happened, attacked a Capitol Hill police officer and whose supporters blamed Jews for the Congresswoman's 2006 primary defeat.

A transcript of the complete "Cafferty File" segment, which aired at 4:11pm on December 11:

Wolf Blitzer: "Let's go to Jack Cafferty. He's standing by in New York. Another good week, Jack. Hi."
Jack Cafferty: "How you doing, Wolf? On her way out the door last week, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney introduced a bill to impeach President Bush. It's strictly symbolic and has no chance of going anywhere. She lost her congressional seat and is on her way back to civilian life. But McKinney isn't the only person who thinks President Bush may have done things that rise to the levels of high crimes and misdemeanors. And yet, the incoming House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has said that impeachment of the President is, quote, 'off the table.' It's all kind of strange. The incoming House Judiciary Chairman, John Conyers, had earlier sponsored a bill to investigate grounds for possible impeachment. Now, Conyers has backed off and agreed with Pelosi to rule out impeachment. Jesse Jackson wrote last week that even if Conyers won't consider impeachment of President Bush, he, quote, 'has a duty to convene serious hearings,' unquote, on the President's claims and what Jackson calls abuses to our Constitution. A poll that was taken right before the midterm elections showed that 28 percent of Americans say impeachment of President Bush should be a top priority. 23 percent say it should be a lower priority. And 44 percent say it shouldn't happen at all. So here's the question this hour: 'Is it wrong for the incoming Congress to simply rule out the impeachment of President Bush?' E-mail your thoughts on that to CaffertyFile@cnn.com or go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile. Wolf?"

NYTimes: Pinochet 'Dictator,' But Kim
il-Sung 'Enigmatic Leader'

"Augusto Pinochet, 91, Dictator Who Ruled by Terror in Chile, Dies" reads the headline to Jonathan Kandell's front-page obituary for the Chilean ruler in the New York Times on Monday. A related editorial called Pinochet "The Dextrous Dictator" (perhaps a play on words, as the Latin root of dextrous is dexter, meaning "on the right side," hardy har har). But eight years ago when North Korean chieftain Kim Il-Sung died, reporter David Sanger filed two full obituaries from Tokyo over the course of two days, yet neither headline labeled Kim Il Sung a dictator. In fact, the headline to the later story read: "Kim Il Sung, Enigmatic 'Great Leader" of North Korea for 5 Decades, Dies at 82."

[This item, by Clay Waters of the MRC's TimesWatch site, was posted Monday on NewsBusters: newsbusters.org ]

Here's the lead of Kandell's December 11 obituary for Pinochet:
"Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, the brutal dictator who repressed and reshaped Chile for nearly two decades and became a notorious symbol of human rights abuse and corruption, died yesterday at the Military Hospital of Santiago."

After a paragraph describing his death in the hospital, Kandell continued: "General Pinochet seized power on Sept. 11, 1973, in a bloody military coup that toppled the Marxist government of President Salvador Allende. He then led the country into an era of robust economic growth. But during his rule, more than 3,200 people were executed or disappeared, and scores of thousands more were detained and tortured or exiled.
"General Pinochet gave up the presidency in 1990 after promulgating a Constitution that empowered a right-wing minority for years. He held on to his post of commander in chief of the army until 1998. With that power base, he exerted considerable influence over the democratically elected governments that replaced his iron-fisted rule."

For Kandell's obit in full: www.nytimes.com

But how did the newspaper handle the death of a far more damaging and dangerous left-wing dictator, North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung, in July 1994?

Reporter David Sanger filed two full obituaries from Tokyo over the course of two days, making the July 9 and July 10, 1994 editions. Neither headline labeled Kim Il Sung a dictator. In fact, the headline to the later story read: "Kim Il Sung, Enigmatic 'Great Leader" of North Korea for 5 Decades, Dies at 82."

In that second story, Sanger left the word "dictator" out until the fourth paragraph, in a relatively favorable context (see below, in a graph that doesn't make former President Jimmy Carter look too good). His first story didn't use the word "dictator" at all. From Sanger's second report:
"By the time Kim Il Sung died on Friday at the age of 82, there was not one 'Great Leader' running North Korea. There were three.
"There was the man seen around the world as a Stalinist maniac, who 44 years ago sent his troops pouring over the 38th parallel to unify the Korean Peninsula on his own terms, and who four decades later burst again onto the front pages as a man in search of a nuclear bomb to save his regime. This was the Kim who intimidated his neighbors into silence, who used his unpredictability as a weapon.
"There was the Kim Il Sung of North Korean myth, whose likeness dominates Pyongyang and every town square in the form of 30,000 statues, the man who was lionized in song as the 'sun of the country' for single-handedly defeating two enemies in one generation: Japan and the United States.
"And, in recent years, there was the grandfatherly Kim Il Sung, the smiling leader seeking respect for his economically disabled nation, the man who three weeks ago embraced Jimmy Carter and used him as a conduit to President Clinton, who was not yet born when Mr. Kim was installed as North Korea's leader. It was that incarnation of Mr. Kim that led the former President to declare, with little hint of skepticism, that a 'miracle' had occurred. One of the world's most fearsome dictators actually sounded reasonable and eager to end his confrontation with the West.
"They were all images that Mr. Kim, the peasants' son who went on to become the longest-surviving Communist leader of the cold war, knew how to exploit brilliantly. When his death came early Friday morning, he had been staging a remarkable international comeback, a shadow from the old newsreels of the Korean War who thrust himself into the atomic glare of the 1990's."

The editorial marking North Korean dictator's Kim Il-Sung's death was not "The Sinister Dictator" (to bookmark Pinochet's "dextrous" dictatorship) but read only "Mr. Kim's Death."

For more New York Times bias, visit TimesWatch: www.timeswatch.org

Dictator's Death Bias: Pinochet Scorned,
Deng Xiaoping Mourned

The late Jeane Kirkpatrick was well-known for distinguishing the difference between authoritarian governments and totalitarian governments. The Washington Post also distinguishes: it's harsher on right-wing authoritarians then on left-wing communist dictators. Coverage of the death of right-wing Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was all focused on the "dictator's dark legacy" and how he'd escaped punishment. But upon the death of Chinese dictator Deng Ziaoping in 1997, the Post emphasized how he opened China to outsiders and liberalized the economy (alongside news events like the murderous crackdown on student dissidents in Tiananmen Square in 1989). The first front-page article did not wonder why no one had brought Deng to "justice."

[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Monday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

In a story simply headlined "A Chilean Dictator's Dark Legacy," Monte Reel and J.Y. Smith focused heavily on the left-wing brief against Pinochet, Richard Nixon, CIA infiltration, and fear of communism. Note the absence of any talk of democratization and economic liberalization:
"Gen. Augusto Pinochet, 91, the former Chilean dictator whose government murdered and tortured thousands during his repressive 17-year rule, died yesterday at a Santiago military hospital of complications from a heart attack, leaving incomplete numerous court cases that had sought to bring him to justice.
"Pinochet assumed power on Sept. 11, 1973, in a bloody coup supported by the United States that toppled the elected government of Salvador Allende, a Marxist who had pledged to lead his country 'down the democratic road to socialism.'
"First as head of a four-man military junta and then as president, Pinochet served until 1990, leaving a legacy of abuse that took successive governments years to catalogue. According to a government report that included testimony from more than 30,000 people, his government killed at least 3,197 people and tortured about 29,000. Two-thirds of the cases listed in the report happened in 1973."

For the December 11 article in full: www.washingtonpost.com

It is fair and accurate, not to mention just, to lay out the oppressive and murderous record of Pinochet. But it is also interesting to note that reporters seem to have a much warmer regard for communist dictators. Who would attempt to compare the death toll under Pinochet to the death toll in communist China during Deng's reign, not to mention his role in the party hierarchy before he consolidated power? But on February 20, 1997, a Nexis search showed the Post headline was bland: "China's Deng Ziaoping Is Dead at 92; Respiratory Failure Cited; Rites to Exclude Foreigners." Reporter Steven Mufson provided a much more balanced picture of a liberalizing dictator (and Clinton administration compliments). There was no attempt made to count the murdered bodies or tortured prisoners:
"Deng Xiaoping, who oversaw China's economic transformation and ordered the bloody crackdown on democracy demonstrators in 1989, died Wednesday night of respiratory failure at the age of 92, China's official news agency announced.
"His death marks the end of an era for China. One of the last survivors of China's communist revolution, Deng had guided the country out of the chaos of the Cultural Revolution, flung open China's doors to the outside world and loosened the grip of central economic planning while insisting that the Communist Party's monopoly on power go unchallenged.
"Last seen in public three years ago, looking frail, Deng had gradually faded from China's political scene, and a Reuter news service report Wednesday, before his death was announced, said that his once powerful personal office had been disbanded. Deng died at 8:08 a.m. EST of complications from a lung infection, although the official New China News Agency noted that he had also suffered from the advanced stages of Parkinson's disease.
"A 459-member funeral committee headed by Deng's handpicked successor, President Jiang Zemin, issued a statement that spoke of the 'incomparable esteem and profound grief of the whole party, the whole army and the people of various ethnic groups throughout the country.'
"The Chinese flag over Beijing's Tiananmen Square was lowered to half-staff, and a six-day mourning period was declared. The national television anchor announced Deng's death and an overview of his life on the morning news program today. Afterward, Beijing streets were calm as people began going to work. The broadcast statement also said that no foreigners will be invited to the burial ceremonies.
"In Boston Wednesday, President Clinton said he was saddened to learn of the death of China's paramount leader, calling Deng an 'extraordinary figure on the world stage over the past two decades.' His statement described Deng as 'the driving force behind China's decision to formalize relations with the United States.' He said Deng's 1979 visit to the United States had laid the foundation for a rapid expansion of relations and cooperation between the two countries. 'Mr. Deng's long life spanned a century of turmoil, tribulation and remarkable change in China. He spurred China's historic economic reform program, which greatly improved living standards in China and modernized much of the nation,' Clinton said.
"Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright said in London that the United States 'obviously views Deng Xiaoping as a historic figure,' but she noted that Deng's record prompted a 'mixed assessment.' She mentioned the role he played in normalization of ties with Washington, but also noted his handling of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests."

Ironically, part of the difference in coverage is that Pinochet loosed the reins of power, and ultimately, his opponents took power, as they do in Chile today. But China's communist remain in their dictatorship, so it's easier for Western journalists to see a placid, mourning nation. Mufson's 1997 story on Deng acknowledged: "With a lack of open expression in China of criticism of the Communist Party, it is difficult to gauge the depth of discontent people feel even as they enjoy the fruits of economic reform. But initial popular reaction to the news was quiet." Nevertheless, Mufson ended the story with a Chinese worker lauding Deng's achievements.

CNN Advocates Forcing Business to Provide
Sick Leave

Following the lead of Saturday's CBS Evening News, Monday's edition of CNN's American Morning featured a decidedly one-sided segment that advocated for Democratic legislation as it generously highlighted Ted Kennedy and promoted San Francisco as the wave of the future. Correspondent Alina Cho used the piece to boost a bill that would require employers with more than 15 workers to give seven sick days a year. Disparaging America's primitive stance on the issue, she noted that "139 countries provide paid sick leave for workers. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not pay." Cho almost entirely ignored opposition to this plan. Her segment also highlighted a supposed victim of this problem who is actually on the board of directors of a group that lobbies for similar laws.

[This item is adopted from a posting by Scott Whitlock on Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The December 11 CyberAlert recounted: Saturday's CBS Evening News featured a story, filed by correspondent Sheila MacVicar, which highlighted the French government's policy of entitling all mothers to three years of paid maternity leave and subsidized child care as a way to increase the birth rate and thus provide more young taxpayers to pay for the pensions of the elderly. MacVicar pointed out that in America, "federal law entitles some working mothers to twelve weeks unpaid leave," before cautioning that "the rest get nothing." MacVicar relayed that French women enjoy more benefits than their American counterparts: "Take a look at what all French families, regardless of income, are entitled to: Up to three years paid maternity leave with a guarantee that mom's job will be there for her when she returns. There's subsidized child care, a whole host of tax credits, and for baby number three brings twice the government allowance of baby number two." See: www.mediaresearch.org

CNN's Alina Cho fretted: "For many Americans, taking a sick day is not a big deal. You take it for granted. But by most estimates, more than half of all Americans who work in the private sector do not get a single day of paid sick leave. Not a single day. Well, all of that could change now that the Democrats are about to take control of Congress. And for some families, it could make all the difference. Rachel Sobel, mother of two, quit her job last December when she was forced to make a choice: her job or her son. Leo had broken his arm and needed her care."

Well, who is Rachel Sobel? She's on the board of directors for ParentsWork, an Illinois based organization that, according to their website (www.parentswork.org ), has the following goals: "By connecting parents with information and tools to take action, our hope is that ParentsWork can give us the strength in numbers that we need to get business leaders and elected officials to listen to our concerns and do something about them. So, join us and become part of a growing movement of Illinois parents who want to create a better future for our children and grandchildren."

CNN and Cho apparently couldn't find the time to mention this salient point. Later in the piece, which aired at 7:16am, the reporter simply stated that Sobel "now has a part-time job which affords her more time with her kids but less money." The viewer is left with the impression that this is just a regular, ordinary mother with no particular agenda.

American Morning hosts Soledad O'Brien and Miles O'Brien both promoted the legislation earlier in the program. In a 7am tease, Ms. O'Brien helpfully added the following insight: "This morning, how the power shift in Washington could make it easier for you to call in sick and still get paid."

A few minutes later, Miles O'Brien introduced Cho and continued the "helpful Democrats" theme: "Well, I wonder how you feel this morning? You might wish you could just call in sick and roll over, but you can't because you'd lose a day's pay. Well, You may be getting some relief soon. Some members of Congress have the prescription for new legislation that could give you a break."

In her December 11 segment, Cho cited a city and a person in order to promote the legislation: San Francisco and Ted Kennedy. Somehow, the word "liberal" wasn't applied to either:
"Next month, Senator Ted Kennedy will reintroduce a bill that would require companies with 15 or more employees to provide full-time workers seven days of paid sick leave a year."
Ted Kennedy: "It's good enough for the members of Congress, good enough for the Senate, the House of Representatives. It's good enough for hard-working people."
Cho: "It's already good enough for San Francisco. The city recently approved a similar measure, the first in the nation to do so. Kennedy says it should be federal policy."

The CNN correspondent mostly ignored or downplayed the economic impact this bill would have. The report, almost four minutes in length, included only a five second clip of opposition to the legislation, and that included a plea for more taxes:

Cho: "Business leaders say if paid sick leave is that important, Congress should raise taxes to pay for it."
Randel Johnson, U.S. Chamber of Commerce: "People get sick, need time off, why should the employer necessarily have to pay for that burden?"

After that, Cho shifted right back into enthusiastic cheerleader mode, bashing America for not living up to other, more enlightened countries: "Now, business leaders who are against paid sick leave say employers simply can't afford to pay for it. But people like Rachel Sopel say in the long run, and this makes sense, if the person goes into work sick and gets everyone else sick, it will hurt businesses, especially productivity, even more. Interesting to note, 139 countries provide paid sick leave for workers. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not pay. And Miles, Senator Kennedy says next to minimum wage, paid sick leave is the most important issue facing American workers here."

Advocating that America embrace the policies of socialist countries isn't a new angle. The October 5, 2005 CyberAlert noted that both ABC and NBC were promoting an embrace of European legislation: "ABC and NBC turned a study, on how children are better off cared for by mothers at home instead of in daycare, into a chance to promote European socialistic paid leave benefits." Katie Couric, then co-host of Today, made her feelings clear: "This country is pretty far behind in providing really superior childcare for working parents, right?"

For the full CyberAlert rundown: www.mrc.org

Characters on Showtime Espouse How Bush/CIA
Behind 9/11 Attacks

The premiere Sunday night of the second season of Showtime's week-long mini-series, Sleeper Cell: American Terror, gave time to two characters espousing how President Bush and the CIA were behind the 9/11 attacks. The eight-part series, airing for an hour at 9pm EST/PST (with an 11pm EST/PST) repeat every night through this Sunday on the CBS-owned network, picks up after last season which ended with an undercover Muslim FBI agent at the last-minute thwarting a plot to explode a nuclear device at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

In the newest episode, a woman who appears to be the girlfriend of one of the plotters who escaped capture (and she may not even be aware that he's a terrorist), arrives at his safe house and after the two have sex, as they sit on the kitchen floor eating from one plate, she propounds that "every time we have sex, it's like the ultimate f*** you to Bush, Cheney and the whole 9/11 plot. I just keep picturing Giuliani and the rest of those assholes supervising the whole thing from that $15 million bunker on the 23rd floor of Building 7. You know that's where they broadcast the homing signal from, make sure the planes would hit the towers." The terrorist man, a Bosnian, adds: "I know, and the Pentagon was actually hit by a CIA Global Hawk drone so the administration could start an endless war and turn America into a police state."

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

I'm unclear as to what character the woman is playing and how much knowledge she has of the terrorist cell, but she does not appear to be one of the two women on the show's page with a list of characters: www.sho.com

The man is definitely "Ilija Korjenic," played by Henry Lubatti, the "right-hand man" to cell leader "Farik." Much of the opening episode of the second season centered around the captured "Farik," played by Oded Fehr, and torture techniques applied to him. Bio of Lubatti: www.sho.com

From what I saw of the first season, the series will make the terrorists the bad guys and provide an admiring portrait of the undercover FBI agent. And since the anti-U.S. conspiracy theory was advocated by a known terrorist and his girlfriend, it's not as if Showtime had positive characters deliver it, but I thought it worth mentioning the inclusion. Washington Post television reviewer Tom Shales, however, on Saturday condemned as "reckless" the dialog about how the U.S. government orchestrated 9/11:
"It is even suggested by one character -- admittedly someone who's supposed to be an imbecile -- that the atrocity of 9/11 was perpetrated by American forces to make Islamic extremists look bad. 'Uncle Sam was behind the whole thing,' it is recklessly alleged."

Shales' December 9 review: www.washingtonpost.com

The exchange from the December 10 Sleeper Cell as the two characters sit on a kitchen floor and eat from one plate:
Girlfriend: "You know, every time we have sex, it's like the ultimate fuck you to Bush, Cheney and the whole 9/11 plot. I just keep picturing Giuliani and the rest of those assholes supervising the whole thing from that $15 million bunker on the 23rd floor of Building 7. You know that's where they broadcast the homing signal from, make sure the planes would hit the towers."
"Ilija Korjenic," played by Henry Lubatti: "I know, and the Pentagon was actually hit by a CIA Global Hawk drone so the administration could start an endless war and turn America into a police state."
Girlfriend: "And what idiot could believe that Osama bin Laden and his cave-dwelling Muslim militia managed to out-smart the CIA, the NSA and the Pentagon -- unless Uncle Sam was behind the whole thing."
Ilija: "Not me."

Showtime's page for Sleeper Cell: American Terror: www.sho.com

-- Brent Baker