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CBS on Schiavo: "Dangerous Precedent," "Far Right" May Exploit It --4/1/2005


1. CBS on Schiavo: "Dangerous Precedent," "Far Right" May Exploit It
The night after Terri Schiavo died, CBS News reporter Mika Brzezinski highlighted how CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen warned of the "the dangerous precedent" the action by Congress "could set" and, though the Constitution allows Congress to proscribe judicial authority, Cohen denounced Congress and the President: "I absolutely think that the Congress and the President tried to intrude upon the judicial function, tried to break apart that separation of powers." On Thursday's CBS Evening News, Brzezinski framed the issue from the point of view of those upset by the efforts to keep Schiavo alive as she relayed how "the concern is that a lot of politicians on the far right might really focus on this as a right-to-life issue, and then another divisive case like this one could end up in the courts again." As if that wouldn't be the result of those pushing for "right-to-die" laws?

2. Nets Downplay or Skip How Panel Finds Intel Not "Politicized"
The report released Thursday, by the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, determined that "no analytical judgments were changed in response to political pressure," thus undermining a tenet of the left often repeated by the media. But CBS's John Roberts ignored that finding and instead lamented how President Bush did not comment on "how he felt taking the nation to war on such flawed assumptions." On NBC, David Gregory stressed how Bush "sidestepped any personal responsibility" for the bad intelligence. Gregory asked the co-chairmen of the commission: "Does the President of the United States bear ultimate responsibility for bad intelligence on his watch?" While Gregory acknowledged that "the panel found no evidence the administration pressured intelligence analysts to reach any conclusions about Iraq," he noted that "the commission also avoided any judgment about going to war based on flawed information." After Gregory, Andrea Mitchell focused a story on how "critics say the White House and Pentagon wanted to attack Iraq and were eager to accept intelligence that made their case."

3. Berger Pleads Guilty, But Last Year Media Painted Him as Victim
Last July, when Sandy Berger, Clinton's National Security Adviser, resigned from the Kerry campaign in the wake of the revelation the Justice Department was investigating him for removing classified papers from the National Archives, Dan Rather treated Berger as the victim of GOP dirty tricks as he referred to "a carefully orchestrated leak about Berger" and insisted "the timing of it appears to be no coincidence." On CNN, Time's Joe Klein declared he'd be "shocked if there was something really terrible that he did here" and U.S. News & World Report's David Gergen called Berger "one of the heroes in the war on terrorism" and argued that "this has been blown way out of proportion and it is much more innocent than it looks." But on Friday, Berger is expected to plead guilty.

4. Tom Brazaitis, RIP; Would've Voted for Al Franken for President
Eleanor Clift's husband, Tom Brazaitis, the Washington Bureau Chief of the Cleveland Plain Dealer for 20 years ending in 1998, passed away on Wednesday. The paper's obituary for him recalled his "proudly liberal columns in The Plain Dealer's Forum section on Sundays," which he wrote since stepping down as bureau chief. The obit touted how "he challenged politicians who gave tax breaks to the rich while cutting benefits for the poor" and how "a year before the last presidential election, he declared in a column, 'If Al Franken ran for President, I'd vote for him.'" In 2002, he penned a column ridiculing the MRC's DisHonors Awards.

5. Ex-NBC News Reporter Shriver's Office the "Go-To Place" for Dems
When Arnold Schwarzenegger won his race for Governor of California, some journalism ethicists demanded that Maria Shriver leave NBC News for fear her husband's Republican politics would taint her reporting. She resigned, but a New York Times story on Thursday documented how the office of the Kennedy family member has become, according to a leading Democrat, "the go-to place for a lot of Democrats." Reporter Patricia Leigh Brown reminded readers how "Ms. Shriver was widely credited with helping to persuade her husband to restore a cut in state programs for the developmentally disabled" and related how "Ms. Shriver is said to weigh in on key appointments, including that of Terry Tamminen, the Governor's cabinet secretary, who worked with Waterkeeper Alliance, Robert Kennedy Jr.'s environmental group."


CBS on Schiavo: "Dangerous Precedent,"
"Far Right" May Exploit It

CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen The night after Terri Schiavo died, CBS News reporter Mika Brzezinski highlighted how CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen warned of the "the dangerous precedent" the action by Congress "could set" and, though the Constitution allows Congress to proscribe judicial authority, Cohen denounced Congress and the President: "I absolutely think that the Congress and the President tried to intrude upon the judicial function, tried to break apart that separation of powers." On Thursday's CBS Evening News, Brzezinski framed the issue from the point of view of those upset by the efforts to keep Schiavo alive as she relayed how "the concern is that a lot of politicians on the far right might really focus on this as a right-to-life issue, and then another divisive case like this one could end up in the courts again." As if that wouldn't be the result of those pushing for "right-to-die" laws?

And who qualifies as the "far right" as defined by Brzezinksi, the daughter of Carter administration National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski?

CBS's Mika Brzezinski Following a story on Schiavo's death, anchor Bob Schieffer turned to Brzezinski sitting across from him on the Evening News set: "President Bush, as you just heard, called on the country to honor the memory of Terri Schiavo by creating what he called 'a culture of life.' The White House would not offer criticism of the courts for refusing to keep her alive, but the House Republican Leader Tom DeLay said 'the time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior.' For sure, this is not over. Mika Brzezinski is here tonight with more on that. Mika?"
Brzezinski confirmed: "Well, Bob, you're absolutely right. This is not over. This case has opened up issues that go far beyond one woman's tragic story. There are over a hundred pieces of legislation pending in 32 states that address questions concerning end-of-life issues. Seven states took action in the past month alone. Louisiana and Alabama, for example, have introduced bills that assume unless there was a written directive, like a living will, that the patient wanted food and water. And in a direct response to Michael Schiavo's relationship with another woman, one lawmaker in Michigan is proposing to deny individuals having extramarital affairs the right to make a decision about an incapacitated spouse. And then there was the unprecedented legislation enacted by Congress and signed by the President, allowing Terri Schiavo's parents to argue their case in the federal courts. Here is CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen on the dangerous precedent that could set."
Andrew Cohen, CBS News legal analyst, on tape: "I absolutely think that the Congress and the President tried to intrude upon the judicial function, tried to break apart that separation of powers, tried to muscle in into what judges do."
Schieffer, back live to Brzezinski: "So where do we go from here, Mika?"
Brzezinski brought up "the far right": "Well, Bob, the next battle front definitely is the state legislatures, and the concern is that a lot of politicians on the far right might really focus on this as a right-to-life issue, and then another divisive case like this one could end up in the courts again."

For CBS's bio of Brzezinski, a reporter and sometime anchor of the Evening News on weekends, with a picture of her: www.cbsnews.com

For a picture of her father: www.nndb.com

Nets Downplay or Skip How Panel Finds
Intel Not "Politicized"

CBS's John Roberts The report released Thursday, by the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, determined that "no analytical judgments were changed in response to political pressure," thus undermining a tenet of the left often repeated by the media. But CBS's John Roberts ignored that finding and instead lamented how President Bush did not comment on "how he felt taking the nation to war on such flawed assumptions." On NBC, David Gregory stressed how Bush "sidestepped any personal responsibility" for the bad intelligence. Gregory asked the co-chairmen of the commission: "Does the President of the United States bear ultimate responsibility for bad intelligence on his watch?" While Gregory acknowledged that "the panel found no evidence the administration pressured intelligence analysts to reach any conclusions about Iraq," he noted that "the commission also avoided any judgment about going to war based on flawed information." After Gregory, Andrea Mitchell focused a story on how "critics say the White House and Pentagon wanted to attack Iraq and were eager to accept intelligence that made their case."

CBS's Roberts highlighted a portion of the report which he portrayed as suggesting some presidential culpability: "The President's daily briefings leading up to the war? 'Disastrously one-sided,' 'selling intelligence to keep the "first customer" interested.'"

In contrast, ABC's Terry Moran quoted the panel's conclusion: "The report also clears the Bush administration of a damning charge. The commission 'found no evidence' that the intelligence on Iraq had been 'politicized.'"

On a night when the cable news networks covered nearly only Terri's Schiavo's death and the Pope's deteriorating health, the three broadcast network evening newscasts all ran full stories on the latest report on intelligence flaws. The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the March 31 stories:

-- CBS Evening News. John Roberts in an opening teaser: "I'm John Roberts. One of the most damaging intelligence failures in American history. That's what a presidential commission says about the case for war against Iraq."

Anchor Bob Schieffer set up the subsequent story: "A year ago, President Bush appointed a commission to find out how U.S. intelligence got it so wrong about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. Today, the report came in and it is scathing. It calls this one of the most damaging intelligence failures in recent U.S. history, and says the harm to U.S. credibility will take years to undo. John Roberts at the White House has the details. John?"

Roberts began: "Well, Bob, as government reports go, this one was uncharacteristically harsh, and it has just about everyone down here in Washington saying something needs to be done and quickly. The report left little room for debate, concluding the intelligence agencies were 'dead wrong' in almost all of their prewar judgments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Without comment about how he felt taking the nation to war on such flawed assumptions, President Bush agreed it's time to go to work."
George W. Bush at press briefing: "America's intelligence community needs fundamental change to enable us to successfully confront the threats of the 21st century."
Roberts: "Singled out for particular criticism was the National Intelligence Estimate of October 2002, which made the case for war. 'Riddled with errors,' the commission said, adding much of the Iraq intelligence was 'either worthless or misleading.' And the President's daily briefings leading up to the war? 'Disastrously one-sided,' 'selling intelligence to keep the "first customer" interested.' Looking ahead, the report's assessment is bleak, suggesting we know disturbingly little about Iran and North Korea's nuclear programs, and that current intelligence tools are almost useless in rooting out biological weapons. The President promised to quickly review the report's 74 recommendations to reform intelligence. Congress says it'll up the pressure on agencies to change."
Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS): "There is still some self denial. This is going to be a catalyst to help us improve the intelligence reform bill and our overall oversight responsibility. It's ongoing."
From the White House lawn, Roberts concluded: "But reform won't come easily. The commission report paints a picture of lumbering bureaucracies resistant to change, and they worry that Congress didn't give the person who'll have to pull all of these agencies together, the new National Intelligence Director, the clout to end the relentless turf wars."

Schieffer then played a tape of a bit of q and a he had earlier with commission co-chairs Laurence Silberman and Chuck Robb. Schieffer raised how the report found that the FBI is not integrated with intelligence efforts and asked how the U.S. got to where our intelligence agencies were "dead wrong?"


-- NBC Nightly News. Anchor Brian Williams intoned: "Now to Washington and a scathing report by a presidential commission on American intelligence gathering which is highly critical of pre-war U.S. intelligence judgments on Iraq, and it said problems with this nation's spy agencies are all still too common. Here is NBC's David Gregory."

Gregory began: "The U.S. went to war in Iraq claiming Saddam Hussein threatened America with weapons of mass destruction. The President's hand-picked commission concluded today the intelligence behind that decision was, quote, 'worthless,' 'misleading,' 'dead wrong.' This morning, however, the President sidestepped any personal responsibility."
George W. Bush: "America's intelligence community needs fundamental change to enable us to successfully confront the threats of the 21st century."
Gregory: "Mr. Bush ordered an intelligence review when it was clear Iraq did not have the weapons programs detailed in the now-infamous 2002 national intelligence estimate. A chemical weapons capability, mobile biological production facilities, and a reconstituted nuclear weapons program."
Bush, January 21, 2003: "Saddam Hussein possesses some of the world's deadliest weapons."
Gregory: "The Chairman of the President's intelligence commission said today America's spy agencies failed to level with policymakers about their assumptions."
Judge Laurence Silberman, Commission Co-chairman: "But it was profoundly wrong not to tell policymakers how little evidence they had to support that."
Gregory, to Silberman and Robb: "Does the President of the United States bear ultimate responsibility for bad intelligence on his watch?"
Charles Robb, Commission Co-chairman: "The Commander-in-Chief is responsible for everything that happens on his or her watch."
Gregory: "Other findings, the report criticizes the 2002 intelligence estimate for relying in part on information from a Vanity Fair magazine article, and for relying on an Iraqi WMD source whose information was fabricated. The President said he's now considering the panel's key recommendations -- more authority for the director of national intelligence and the reorganization of the FBI to include more of a counter-terrorism function. The panel found no evidence the administration pressured intelligence analysts to reach any conclusions about Iraq, but the commission also avoided any judgment about going to war based on flawed information. David Gregory, NBC News, the White House."

Williams introduced a second story on the topic: "We have more tonight on the fallout from the report and what role misleading intelligence may have played in the push to take this nation to war two years ago. Here with that, our chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell."

Mitchell asked, over post-9/11 pictures of Bush and top cabinet officials: "If the evidence of Saddam's weapons was dead wrong, does that mean bad intelligence took us to war? Or would the U.S. have attacked Iraq anyway? The President and his war council wondered immediately after 9/11 whether Saddam Hussein had been involved, according to the 9/11 Commission. The administration denies it, but critics say the White House and Pentagon wanted to attack Iraq and were eager to accept intelligence that made their case. Flynt Leverett opposed the policy inside the Bush White House."
Flynt Leverett, former National Security Council official: "WMD was useful as a way of getting agreement from other parts of the administration, and it was very useful in selling the war to the public."
Mitchell: "The result, Colin Powell unwittingly presented false evidence at the UN."
Colin Powell, February 2003 at UN: "Let me now turn to those deadly weapons programs."
Mitchell: "Does the intelligence failure on Iraq mean the U.S. could be vulnerable to other threats? The report says yes, that the CIA completely missed al-Qaeda's development of a virulent form of Anthrax, and that the U.S. knows far less than it claims about North Korea's nuclear weapons and Iran's."
David Albright, former UN Weapons Inspector: "Countries are much less willing to believe U.S. statements. They're much more willing to challenge statements."
Mitchell: "Commission member John McCain says that hurts America in diplomatic talks."
John McCain: "We're going to have to, one, be more concrete in our evidence, but also change the culture and the way that our intelligence agencies do business."
Mitchell: "Can the culture change? The President is counting on his new director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, but the commission said that headstrong agencies, like the CIA and the Pentagon, will try to run over him. If so, American presidents will still make decisions on war and terror based on intelligence that could once again be dead wrong. Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Washington."


ABC World News Tonight -- ABC's World News Tonight. Fill-in anchor Bob Woodruff asserted: "The commission appointed by President Bush to investigate the intelligence he used to justify the invasion of Iraq issued its final report today. The verdict was harsh and unsparing. The report said U.S. intelligence agencies were, quote, 'dead wrong,' in nearly all of its pre-war judgments about Saddam Hussein. Here's ABC's White House correspondent, Terry Moran."

Moran began, with text on screen: "The new report is a blistering indictment of virtually the entire intelligence community, calling U.S. analysis of pre-war Iraq and other matters 'nearly worthless,' 'dead wrong,' 'inexcusable,' and an 'egregious failure.'"
Judge Laurence Silberman, Commission Co-chairman: "I think we just want it to be accurate."
Moran, with points on screen: "On Iraq, the commission found that the U.S. had 'no fresh intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs after 1998' when UN weapons inspectors left the country. U.S. intelligence officials failed to question their bedrock assumption that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and they even dismissed evidence that contradicted it, and that the U.S. had only a handful of spies in Iraq and they were not credible. This deeply flawed intelligence was the basis for the administration's alarming and false case for war."
George W. Bush, September 26, 2002: "The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons."
Dick Cheney, August 26, 2002: "There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."
Moran: "The source for some of the most explosive charges, the report says, was a single informant, code named 'Curveball,' described by German intelligence officials as 'crazy' and a likely 'fabricator.' Curveball was the only source for the allegation Colin Powell made at the UN that Iraq had mobile biological weapons labs. Powell was never told of the German concerns."
Colin Powell at UN, February 5, 2003: "We have first-hand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails."
Moran pointed out, with quotes on screen: "The report also clears the Bush administration of a damning charge. The commission 'found no evidence' that the intelligence on Iraq had been 'politicized.'"
Charles Robb, Commission Co-chairman at press conference: "If somebody has a member of the intelligence community that can say to us we changed our analysis based on a request or demand, or we believe we were improperly influenced to change it, we haven't heard from them."
Moran: "Instead, the problem was a rigid mindset."
Silberman, in sit-down with Moran: "The intelligence community finds it has found it very difficult to say, gee, we don't know. Instead of saying, 'We're 90 percent sure that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction,' they should have said, 'We really don't have very much evidence. We guessed this, but we really don't know.'"
Moran: "As for current threats on al-Qaeda, the report says there 'are critical intelligence gaps' about the terrorist group's weapons of mass destruction capabilities. And on Iran and North Korea's weapons programs, the commission's findings were classified except to say the U.S. has 'only limited access to critical information about these countries.'"
Moran concluded from the White House lawn: "Now, in this 700-page report the commission makes more than 70 recommendations from giving the new director of national intelligence strong powers to reforming the FBI. If those recommendations sound familiar, it's because they are. One thing, Bob, the panel says that U.S. intelligence has been very good at for years is resisting change."


The report's "overview" concluded: "Finally, we closely examined the possibility that intelligence analysts were pressured by policymakers to change their judgments about Iraq's nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs. The analysts who worked Iraqi weapons issues universally agreed that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments. That said, it is hard to deny the conclusion that intelligence analysts worked in an environment that did not encourage skepticism about the conventional wisdom."

The report also stated, in the portion quoted by Moran:
"The Commission has found no evidence of 'politicization' of the Intelligence Community's assessments concerning Iraq's reported WMD programs. No analytical judgments were changed in response to political pressure to reach a particular conclusion. The Commission has investigated this issue closely, querying in detail those analysts involved in formulating pre-war judgments about Iraq's WMD programs. These analysts universally assert that in no instance did political pressure cause them to change any of their analytical judgments."

For the report released by the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, go to: www.wmd.gov

Berger Pleads Guilty, But Last Year Media
Painted Him as Victim

Last July, when Sandy Berger, Clinton's National Security Adviser, resigned from the Kerry campaign in the wake of the revelation the Justice Department was investigating him for removing classified papers from the National Archives, Dan Rather treated Berger as the victim of GOP dirty tricks as he referred to "a carefully orchestrated leak about Berger" and insisted "the timing of it appears to be no coincidence." On CNN, Time's Joe Klein declared he'd be "shocked if there was something really terrible that he did here" and U.S. News & World Report's David Gergen called Berger "one of the heroes in the war on terrorism" and argued that "this has been blown way out of proportion and it is much more innocent than it looks." But on Friday, Berger is expected to plead guilty.

CBS's Bob Schieffer Bob Schieffer noted on Thursday's CBS Evening News: "President Clinton's National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, will plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of taking classified information from the National Archives without authorization. Berger said he took some of his own notes and documents from the Archives by mistake while preparing to testify to the 9/11 commission."

An excerpt from a Friday front page Washington Post article by John F. Harris and Allan Lengel:

Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger, a former White House national security adviser, plans to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, and will acknowledge intentionally removing and destroying copies of a classified document about the Clinton administration's record on terrorism.

Berger's plea agreement, which was described yesterday by his advisers and was confirmed by Justice Department officials, will have one of former president Bill Clinton's most influential advisers and one of the Democratic Party's leading foreign policy advisers in a federal court this afternoon.

The deal's terms make clear that Berger spoke falsely last summer in public claims that in 2003 he twice inadvertently walked off with copies of a classified document during visits to the National Archives, then later lost them.

He described the episode last summer as "an honest mistake." Yesterday, a Berger associate who declined to be identified by name but was speaking with Berger's permission said: "He recognizes what he did was wrong....It was not inadvertent."

Under terms negotiated by Berger's attorneys and the Justice Department, he has agreed to pay a $10,000 fine and accept a three-year suspension of his national security clearance. These terms must be accepted by a judge before they are final, but Berger's associates said yesterday he believes that closure is near on what has been an embarrassing episode during which he repeatedly misled people about what happened during two visits to the National Archives in September and October 2003.

END of Excerpt

For the Post story in full: www.washingtonpost.com

Last year, as the MRC's Rich Noyes reminded me, much of the pres corps came to Berger's defense and accused the Bush administration of just trying to distract from the then-upcoming 9/11 Commission report.

The July 21 CyberAlert recounted: Every network but CBS led Tuesday night with the Sandy Berger tale of taking and then losing secret documents from the National Archives and resigning Tuesday from his advisory role with the Kerry campaign. Instead, Rather began: "Almost two a day. That is the rate American troops are dying in Iraq with the total now approaching 900 since the war began." When he arrived at Berger he tried to discredit the story by insisting "this was triggered by a carefully orchestrated leak about Berger, and the timing of it appears to be no coincidence." CBS's John Roberts affirmed Bill Clinton's praise for Berger by noting how "the 9/11 Commission agrees it got everything it wanted from Berger." Roberts maintained: "Republicans and Democrats alike say the timing of the investigation's disclosure smells like politics, leaked to the press just two days before the 9/11 Commission report comes out."
Roberts attributed the pilfering to Berger's "inadvertent" actions, but on the NBC Nightly News, while Pete Williams noted how Berger claimed he "accidentally discarded" some of the papers, Williams countered: "But government officials tell NBC News that archives employees claim it wasn't so innocent, that they noticed documents were missing after day one. They say that when Berger came back they saw him stuffing papers into his clothing and by secretly marking the materials they concluded he took several separate drafts of the same 15-page document, a review ordered by Berger himself of the response to the millennium terror threats. Officials say it concluded the Clinton administration was not paying enough attention to foreign terrorists."

See: www.mediaresearch.org

The July 27 edition of the MRC's Weekly Worst report summarized the comments from two other Berger defenders:
"Appearing on CNN's Paula Zahn Now on July 20, Time's Joe Klein wanted critics to get off Berger's back: 'This is a very solid, decent guy. I'd be shocked if there was something really terrible that he did here.' U.S. News & World Report's David Gergen was even more complimentary when he showed up on CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown later that evening: 'He's one of the heroes in the war on terrorism in my book. Let me just say I think this has been blown way out of proportion and it is much more innocent than it looks.'"

The July 22 CyberAlert asked: Sandy Berger a one-day story? A night after running stories on the revelation the FBI is investigating Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger for improperly taking copies of secret memos assessing the Clinton administration's reaction to the millennium terrorist threat, the broadcast networks on Wednesday night largely moved on. And those stories which did air in the morning and evening gave equal weight to complaints about the timing of the leak as to the substance of Berger's actions. The CBS Evening News, which on Tuesday night tried to discredit the story as Dan Rather insisted "this was triggered by a carefully orchestrated leak about Berger, and the timing of it appears to be no coincidence," didn't utter a world about Berger on Wednesday night while ABC's Peter Jennings just read a brief item about how President Bush refrained from comment about "the allegations which the White House has been aware of for several months." NBC's Andrea Mitchell highlighted how "Democrats claim the story was leaked just in time to distract from the 9/11 report." On GMA, Charles Gibson sought confirmation: "Is the timing of this leak suspicious?"

For more: www.mediaresearch.org

Tom Brazaitis, RIP; Would've Voted for
Al Franken for President

Eleanor Clift's husband, Tom Brazaitis, the Washington Bureau Chief of the Cleveland Plain Dealer for 20 years ending in 1998, passed away on Wednesday. The paper's obituary for him recalled his "proudly liberal columns in The Plain Dealer's Forum section on Sundays," which he wrote since stepping down as bureau chief. The obit touted how "he challenged politicians who gave tax breaks to the rich while cutting benefits for the poor" and how "a year before the last presidential election, he declared in a column, 'If Al Franken ran for President, I'd vote for him.'" In 2002, he penned a column ridiculing the MRC's DisHonors Awards.

An excerpt from the top of the March 31 Cleveland Plain Dealer remembrance, "Plain Dealer columnist Tom Brazaitis dies: Washington veteran known for his wit," by Washington bureau reporters Tom Diemer and Stephen Koff:

Tom Brazaitis, a provocative, elegant writer who was the heart and soul of The Plain Dealer's Washington bureau for nearly 30 years, died Wednesday after a long struggle with kidney cancer. He was 64.

A former bureau chief and senior Washington editor, Brazaitis brought insight and decades-long experience in the nation's capital to bear in his mince-no-words, proudly liberal columns in The Plain Dealer's Forum section on Sundays.

Not one to bend to public opinion, he challenged politicians who gave tax breaks to the rich while cutting benefits for the poor. He took issue with a president who ordered his nation to attack Iraq, opining before it was popular to do so that "the country went to war on false pretenses."

He advocated for women's rights and gay rights and progressive causes.

A year before the last presidential election, he declared in a column, "If Al Franken ran for President, I'd vote for him."

His writing provoked strong reaction from loyal readers, who loved or loathed his politics -- and didn't hesitate to let him know it through letters, phone calls and e-mails....

END of Excerpt

For the obituary in full: www.cleveland.com

The online posting of the Washington Post's obituary for Brazaitis includes a photo of him: www.washingtonpost.com

His January 20, 2002 column, "A liberal dose of conservative 'humor,'" took on the MRC. An excerpt:

So this is what conservatives do for fun.

That's what I was thinking as I took a seat in the balcony overlooking a ballroom in the Ronald Reagan Building on Pennsylvania Ave. On the floor below, 800 men and women dined on grilled Angus beef and Atlantic salmon over mushroom risotto and took pride in belonging to what Hillary Clinton once called "the vast right-wing conspiracy."

They had gathered for the Media Research Center's annual Dishonors Awards, "roasting the most outrageously biased liberal reporters of 2001."...

[N]o one mentioned another noteworthy curiosity: that the list of 39 sponsoring organizations and individuals included not only the Enron Corp., but the Enron Good Government Fund, the Enron Retirement Fund, the Enron IRA Account and the Enron Profit Sharing Account. I wondered whether their checks had cleared....

There were some boos and hisses as the nominees for such awards as "flakiest comment of the year" and "hopelessly foolish wartime reporting" were presented in video clips on a giant screen. But the laughter, for the most part, seemed forced, except when it came to mocking CBS news anchor Dan Rather.

Rather won two of the six "Dishonors Awards" and captured the grand prize, "Most Outrageous Quote of the Year 2001," by audience acclamation. The winning entry was Rather's comment in an interview on the Fox Cable Channel that "Bill Clinton is, at core, an honest person....I know that you consider it sort of astonishing anybody would say so, but I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things."

None of the so-called award-winners was present, of course. Accepting for Rather was Katherine Harris, the Florida secretary of state who was a key player in the presidential vote-counting fiasco in that state.

On an evening of humor that was about as subtle as a wrecking ball, Harris' self-deprecating joking was refreshing. She said of Rather, "In his opinion, he is an honest broker of information. Right, and I forgot to put on my makeup during the recount."

By contrast, the Wall Street Journal's John Fund, whose editorials, signed columns and frequent television appearances denounced President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, didn't so much as blush while presenting the "Bring Back Bubba Award (for the Best Journalistic Lewinsky)."...

In closing, L. Brent Bozell III, founder and president of the Media Research Council, lamented that "the liberal media find no humor, none whatsoever, in what we do." He cited published reviews of last year's awards ceremony describing the event as "tasteless," "trading on silly stereotypes," and "an event in which spitefulness and ad hominem personal attacks" pass for humor.

Undaunted, Bozell said President George W. Bush had asked people to go on with their lives as usual after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, so "it's pretty damn patriotic what we're doing tonight." The liberal media, Bozell said, "deserve every slap upside the head that they get."

The evening ended, as if apologetically, with a documentary praising the media's coverage of Sept. 11, featuring in positive roles Rather, Jennings, Rivera, Diane Sawyer and others who had just been ridiculed.

Conservatives sure know how to have fun.

END of Excerpt

Eight days later, in his January 28, 2002 column, Brazaitis acknowledged how he missed a joke:
"In last week's column, I quoted from the official program for the Media Research Center's annual roast of the liberal news media, which listed five Enron Corp. entities among the 39 sponsoring organizations and individuals.
"Subsequently, Kevin Kauffman of the Media Research Center informed me that the Enron entries were bogus, adding, 'You seem to have missed the joke.'
"And it was a real thigh-slapper."

For a look at the MRC's DisHonors Awards for 2001 held on January 17, 2002, go to: www.mediaresearch.org

Ex-NBC News Reporter Shriver's Office
the "Go-To Place" for Dems

When Arnold Schwarzenegger won his race for Governor of California, some journalism ethicists demanded that Maria Shriver leave NBC News for fear her husband's Republican politics would taint her reporting. She resigned, but a New York Times story on Thursday documented how the office of the Kennedy family member has become, according to a leading Democrat, "the go-to place for a lot of Democrats." Reporter Patricia Leigh Brown reminded readers how "Ms. Shriver was widely credited with helping to persuade her husband to restore a cut in state programs for the developmentally disabled" and related how "Ms. Shriver is said to weigh in on key appointments, including that of Terry Tamminen, the Governor's cabinet secretary, who worked with Waterkeeper Alliance, Robert Kennedy Jr.'s environmental group."

An excerpt from the March 31 New York Times article, "California's First Lady Builds a Different Role," by Patricia Leigh Brown in Sacramento:

....The niece of President John F. Kennedy and the only daughter of R. Sargent Shriver, the founding director of the Peace Corps and a onetime vice-presidential candidate, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics, Ms. Shriver was weaned on politics and public service. Now she is deploying her considerable charisma and political instincts both inside and outside "the Horseshoe," as the governor's inner sanctum is known.

As for her husband, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, Ms. Shriver helps to bridge the gap with the opposition so much that Democrats who want to get his ear often head directly to her.

"It's common knowledge that her office is the go-to place for a lot of Democrats," said Chris Lehane, a Democratic consultant in San Francisco. And in telling her husband when his message is getting lost and bringing together polarized politicians, Ms. Shriver is writing her own script, neither Hillary Rodham Clinton nor Nancy Reagan in approach.

Ms. Shriver speaks in the language of her best-selling books, touching on topics like Alzheimer's disease and death. "There's no job description for life, period," she said, when describing the need to resign from NBC News, where she was a correspondent. "It was the work I love and have always done, where my friends are, where my expertise is. It was, 'wait a minute, now what do I do?' It was a wobbly moment.

"But I was brought up hearing that people aren't interested in 'woe is me.' As my mother would say, 'moving right along now.' "

Among other things, she has moved on to women's issues. Despite much controversy and behind-the-scenes jockeying, the legislature signed off this month on Ms. Shriver's pet project -- the California Museum for History, Women and the Arts. She plans to transform a nearly bankrupt history museum in downtown Sacramento into a sophisticated portrait of diversity and refutation of the vacuous Beach Boys blonde.

Like Minerva, the Roman goddess who graces the state seal (as well as a diamond necklace that was a gift from her husband), Ms. Shriver can be a warrior. She lanced last-minute accusations of her husband's sexual improprieties during the campaign, helping defuse the aftershocks particularly among liberal white women who make up 37 percent of the state's electorate. Ms. Shriver also reinforced the view that Mr. Schwarzenegger "is not a partisan figure, even in marriage," said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll.

"She is as savvy as they come," said Gloria Romero, the state Senate's majority leader and Democrat from Los Angeles. "She has made him Terminator-tolerant, providing a cover for Democrats, especially women, who feel that if she can be married to him he must be O.K."

Early on, Ms. Shriver was widely credited with helping to persuade her husband to restore a cut in state programs for the developmentally disabled. Conferring often with "Team Maria" -- staff members and friends like Nadine Schiff, a writer and producer: Jillian Manus, a literary agent; and Wanda McDaniel, a liaison to the stars at Giorgio Armani in Beverly Hills -- Ms. Shriver is said to weigh in on key appointments, including that of Terry Tamminen, the governor's cabinet secretary, who worked with Waterkeeper Alliance, Robert Kennedy Jr.'s environmental group.

Ms. Shriver also hired Charlotte Schultz, the wife of former Secretary of State George P. Schultz, as the state's protocol chief....

END of Excerpt

For the New York Times article in full: www.nytimes.com


# Look later today for the MRC's annual April 1 edition of Notable Quotables. If you don't want to wait for the e-mailed version, check it out online: www.mediaresearch.org

For the PDF version: www.mediaresearch.org

-- Brent Baker