CBS Leads with 'Devastating' Poll Showing 'No Confidence' in Bush --12/12/2006
2. CNN's Cafferty on Dems Rejecting Push to Impeach Bush: 'Strange'
Pinochet 'Dictator,' But Kim Il-Sung 'Enigmatic Leader'
4. Dictator's Death Bias: Pinochet Scorned, Deng Xiaoping Mourned
5. CNN Advocates Forcing Business to Provide Sick Leave
6. Characters on Showtime Espouse How Bush/CIA Behind 9/11 Attacks
"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
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."
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."
"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:
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.
For Kandell's obit in full: www.nytimes.com
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:
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
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:
For the December 11 article in full: www.washingtonpost.com
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.
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
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:
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."
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
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:
Shales' December 9 review: www.washingtonpost.com
Showtime's page for Sleeper Cell: American Terror: www.sho.com
-- Brent Baker