Couric Cues Up Murtha: 'Did You Feel Vindicated Last Tuesday?' --11/14/2006
2. Reporters Admit Pelosi Getting 'Honeymoon,' Pledge Tough Scrutiny
3. ABC's Sawyer to Obama: Is the U.S. 'More Racist or More Sexist?'
4. Matthews Hails Hillary Clinton's 'Ability to Bring us Together'
5. Risen Cheers Rumsfeld Exit as 'Best Thing to Happen' In Long Time
6. Time Declares Reagan Era Now Over? Mag Said Same Thing in 1993
[This item was posted with video Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. The video/audio of Couric's "vindicated" question will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, but in the meantime, to watch the Real or Windows Media or to listen to the MP3 audio, go to: newsbusters.org ]
Couric also painted Democrats as powerless: "Now that the Democrats have taken over both houses of Congress, what are they really empowered to do in terms of foreign policy, Congressman?" And she did, at least, once challenge Murtha: "What about those who say if U.S. forces leave en masse, then the country will descend into even further chaos?" But Couric had no follow-up when Murtha ludicrously contended that Iraq would not descend into chaos: "Yeah, that's not what the Iraqis say. The Iraqis say they have more confidence in their own forces, they have confidence in their own police, their own military. So I don't agree with that."
However, as noted in a November 7 CyberAlert item, "WPost Recognizes Troops Support Bush Policy, Oppose Iraq Pullout," soldiers in Iraq fear what would occur if they leave:
....From "Forward Operating Base Sykes," Post correspondent Josh White disclosed that he talked to "dozens of soldiers across the country" and they feared "leaving Iraq now would have devastating consequences." White reported in the article published November 6: "With a potentially historic U.S. midterm election on Tuesday and the war in Iraq a major issue at the polls, many soldiers said the United States should not abandon its effort here. Such a move, enlisted soldiers and officers said, would set Iraq on a path to civil war, give new life to the insurgency and create the possibility of a failed state after nearly four years of fighting to implant democracy." In addition, "the soldiers...expressed support for the Bush administration's approach to the war, which they described as sticking with a tumultuous situation to give Iraq a chance to stand on its own."
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For the CyberAlert item in full: www.mrc.org
A year ago, ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN all advanced Murtha's anti-war cause, as documented in CyberAlert items at the time:
# A November 18, 2005 CyberAlert item, "Nets Lead With Murtha, His Hit on Cheney's Lack of Military Time," reported:
Though more than a year ago Democratic Congressman John Murtha denounced the Iraq war, asserting that "we cannot prevail in this war at the policy that's going today,'' on Thursday night ABC, CBS and NBC all led by championing Murtha's call for the immediate withdrawal of troops and showcased his ridicule of Vice President Cheney's lack of military service. "On military matters, no Democrat in Congress is more influential," CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer asserted in bucking up Murtha's credentials at the top of his newscast, insisting therefore "all of Washington listened" to him. The media certainly did. With the text on screen, Schieffer soon highlighted how Murtha "noted the Vice President had never served in the military and said, and I quote, 'I like guys who got five deferments and had never been there, then send people to war and don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done.'" Schieffer asked John Roberts: "So, in this kind of situation, the White House has got to be worried about, because this is clearly a sign that support for the war is beginning to fade on Capitol Hill."
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams teased: "The war of words over Iraq. Tonight a key Democratic supporter in Congress says it's time to get out, while the White House steps up its attacks on critics." Williams led by touting: "When one Congressman out of 435 members of Congress speaks out against the war in Iraq, it normally wouldn't be news, but it was today, because of who he is. Congressman John Murtha, a Vietnam veteran....Today, John Murtha said the U.S. must get out of Iraq. It's a debate that has followed President Bush halfway around the world."
"An influential Democrat who supported the war says American troops should come home now," anchor Bob Woodruff trumpeted at the top of ABC's World News Tonight. Woodruff distorted President Bush's comments in Asia as he insisted Bush "took every chance he could to say that people who question his rationale for going to war in Iraq are not only wrong, but irresponsible and unpatriotic." ABC's new White House reporter, Martha Raddatz, then claimed that "a visibly perturbed President called Democrats 'irresponsible' for continuing to criticize his administration's use of pre-war intelligence." And Raddatz highlighted how "Murtha ripped into the Vice President, taking aim at his lack of military service." In fact, Bush and Cheney are upset about being charged with "lying" to get the nation into a war, not at general criticism. ABC gave Cheney barely 30 seconds, but devoted more than 90 seconds to a "1st Person" excerpt from Murtha.
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For the CyberAlert rundown in its entirety: www.mrc.org
A night after leading with Democratic Congressman John Murtha's call for the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq, Friday's CBS Evening News painted him as a victim of unjust attacks on his "patriotism," though CBS provided no supporting soundbite of any such accusation, ludicrously insisted he was a "leading supporter" of the war and featured clips of Democrats, including "another decorated veteran whose own patriotism has also been questioned" (that would be John Kerry), who "fired back" at the "personal attacks" on Murtha.
Anchor Bob Schieffer framed the story: "When Pennsylvania's hawkish Democratic Congressman John Murtha said yesterday the time had come to withdraw our forces, Republicans accused him of wanting to cut and run, and all but challenged the patriotism of war critics." Reporter Bob Orr began with the ridiculous assumption that Murtha "had been one of the leading supporters of the war in Iraq."
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For the CyberAlert report in full: www.mrc.org
On Friday's Situation Room, CNN's Bill Schneider awarded Congressman John Murtha his "Play of the Week," and after Schneider's piece host Wolf Blitzer suggested the call by Murtha, "a very moderate conservative" (whatever that is), to withdraw troops is reminiscent of CBS anchor Walter Cronkite's 1968 assertion the U.S. was losing in Vietnam, and so Republicans "probably realize they've got some serious problems." Schneider explained his pick: "In 1968, Walter Cronkite returned from Vietnam and told Americans that, in his opinion, the Vietnam War had become a stalemate. That was a turning point. Now, it's too early to tell whether what happened this week was a turning point in Iraq, but it certainly was the political 'Play of the Week.'" Schneider played up Murtha's influence: "He rarely speaks to the press. When he does, Washington listens. This week, Murtha spoke."
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For the complete CyberAlert posting: www.mrc.org
Katie Couric: "Well, just as it is at the White House, what to do about the war in Iraq is the number one item on the agenda for the new 110th Congress. It was just a year ago this week that Democrat John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a highly-decorated Vietnam veteran long considered a hawk on defense issues, stunned House colleagues by calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Murtha is now the top choice of Speaker-in-waiting Nancy Pelosi to be the new majority leader, though Steny Hoyer of Maryland is also in the running. Earlier today in an exclusive interview, Congressman Murtha told me that he intends to press harder than ever for an American troop pullout from Iraq."
On Sunday's Reliable Sources on CNN, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz recognized the media's soft treatment of Speaker-to-be-Nancy Pelosi. CBS's Gloria Borger, ABC's Martha Raddatz and CNN's Candy Crowley also acknowledged the "honeymoon" for Pelosi -- and all three insisted coverage of her will turn tough. After some clips of the softball questions posed to Pelosi last week by network anchors, Kurtz asked: "Is Nancy Pelosi getting pretty soft treatment from the media?" Borger sarcastically replied: "Honeymoon, you think? Yeah, I think -- I think it will remain a honeymoon for a while." Raddatz predicted that "there will be this minor little honeymoon period -- the whole female, first female Speaker of the House. That will go away really quickly."
Kurtz turned to Crowley and raised the media's hostile attitude toward Newt Gingrich, who didn't get any media honeymoon: "Is Nancy Pelosi ever going to get the kind of tough press scrutiny that, for example, Newt Gingrich received when he became Speaker in 1995?" Crowley insisted: "I think so," contending journalists will "if only because everybody is sort of aware of that. I mean, I think there will be tough scrutiny." Crowley proposed the tough coverage will come after Democrats take over, "so I would think long about February you're going to begin to see tough scrutiny, because I think it's incumbent upon us and I think everybody knows that." We'll see.
[This item was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
As the November 9 CyberAlert item, "Nets Champion Pelosi for 'Making History' as First Female Speaker," recounted, NBC anchor Brian Williams gushed to Pelosi about how "I know history was riding along with you as you watched the results last night" and a glowing Katie Couric wondered: "A lot has been made of the fact that you, if elected, and it appears that you will be, that you will be the first woman Speaker of the House and the highest ranking woman in the United States government. What does that mean to you?" For more: www.mrc.org
A November 10 CyberAlert posting, "O'Reilly and Goldberg Scold Nets for 'Softball' Pelosi Interviews," related:
On Thursday's O'Reilly Factor on FNC, Bill O'Reilly raised, with former CBS News reporter Bernard Goldberg and Fox Newswatch panelist Jane Hall, "all the softball interviews of Nancy Pelosi" which aired Wednesday night and that a NewsBusters item summarized. O'Reilly cautioned that "I'm not saying you should go after her throat, but surely when you have the person second in line for the presidency and she's the most liberal Speaker of the House in the history of the country, surely you might want to get into a little bit about how she formed her point of view -- or am I crazy?" Goldberg assured O'Reilly, "no, you're not crazy," and proposed: "Do you think Newt Gingrich would have gotten the same treatment as Nancy Pelosi got? Look, I mean, the bias is never blatant, but they like Nancy Pelosi, they like the fact the Democrats won and she's a woman, the first woman who's going to be Speaker of the House, so they treat her with a certain respect, which they should, that they wouldn't treat a conservative Republican."
Indeed, as the MRC documented back in 1994, the mainstream media greeted Gingrich's victory with hostility. Days before the election, CBS's Eric Engberg treated as newsworthy how the "bombastic and ruthless" Gingrich "was attacked for McCarthyism" and has "a record filled with contradictions: the family values candidate who divorced his ailing first wife, the avowed enemy of dirty politics who bounced 22 checks at the House Bank..." Time magazine snidely declared: "His ideas, which don't often come to grips with the particulars of policymaking, may be less important than his signature mood of righteous belligerence." ABC's Sam Donaldson confronted Gingrich: "A lot of people are afraid of you, they think you're a bomb thrower. Worse, you're an intolerant bigot."
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For the CyberAlert rundown in full: www.mrc.org
The relevant portion of the November 12 Reliable Sources on CNN:
Howard Kurtz: "Well, now the President still has a pretty big megaphone despite having opposition -- Congress in opposition hands. But I think we'll be seeing a lot more television time and television invitations for the likes of Senator Harry Reid and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi, in fact, sat down with all the network anchors the day after the election results. Let's take a look at some of that."
For the third time in as many weeks, ABC on Monday showcased Democratic Senator Barack Obama. Diane Sawyer interviewed the first-term senator from Illinois on Monday's Good Morning America, and asked him about a range of topics, from the war in Iraq and a potential Obama run for the White House in 2008, to the groundbreaking of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial on the National Mall. The most eyebrow-raising moment of the interview, however, occurred when Sawyer asked Obama about Sunday's Washington Post opinion piece which questioned whether racism and sexism plays a role in the decision-making of American voters: "We have seen new polls this morning about you and Senator Hillary Clinton. Here's my question. Do you think that residual resistance is greater for race or for gender? Is the nation secretly, I guess, more racist or more sexist?"
[This item, by Megan McCormack, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Sawyer began her interview with Obama, whom has been described in glowing terms by ABC in recent weeks as the new 'it' candidate for the Democratic Party: www.mrc.org
And as a 'political phenomenon,' see: www.mrc.org
By asking about Iraq, and his previous call for troop reductions: "Let's start with Iraq, because a number of your Democratic colleagues have said now that they think six to eight months is the time to begin troop withdrawal, phased troop withdrawal. You once said it should begin by the end of this year."
To her credit, Sawyer then went on to ask Obama about the administration's concerns about the effect setting a timetable for withdrawal would have on the insurgency: "But let me ask you about something the Bush administration said during the campaign. They said the minute this is announced-"
Sawyer then asked excitedly whether Obama was still considering running for higher office in 2008: "As we know, now that the congressional elections are over, it is on to the presidential elections. And never has anybody said I'm thinking about something and created as much as a stir as you did when you said, I'm thinking about running for president. Want to ask -- well, first of all, I have to ask you, any new thoughts this morning, in case I missed the lead here?"
It was then that Sawyer moved on to question the Senator about the Washington Post article regarding voters racism and sexism: "There was an article in the Washington Post over the weekend, which raised a provocative question, which said that people say, 90 percent of Americans say that race does not matter when they go to the polls. However, a lot of pollsters think that not everybody is telling the truth. What do you think?"
For the November 12 Washington Post "Outlook" section piece, "Is America too Racist for Barack? Too Sexist for Hillary?" by Benjamin Wallace-Wells of Rolling Stone, go to: www.washingtonpost.com
On this past weekend's syndicated Chris Matthews Show, the host of MSNBC's Hardball endorsed Hillary Clinton for...Majority Leader. In his end of show commentary, Matthews said the election afforded Clinton "a great new career option," that she was "a natural," and leading the Senate would prove she has the "necessary ability to bring us together." Matthews puffed up the Senator from New York as an expert on health, education, the economy and even defense issues: "Not only does Hillary Clinton know her stuff, she cares about it, especially the issues that cut so close to daily life in this country: health, education, economic opportunity. And ask the Generals who say that this member of the Armed Services Committee could well be the best prepared Senator there is in that life-and-death world."
[This item, by Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
A complete transcript of Matthews' endorsement from the November 12th Chris Matthews Show:
Speaking as an alumnus to students at Brown University over the weekend, liberal New York Times reporter James Risen -- best known for breaking open the government's terrorist-surveillance program -- hailed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation as "the best thing to happen in a long time" and cheered that it's "sinking in" with President Bush that his foreign policy is "too radical."
Risen also typically complained of how vital the New York Times is to American democracy. The Bushies have "suppressed dissent throughout the administration," and the climate of fear is "palpable" and "frightening to watch." The press is vital because "there's been almost no congressional oversight." And cable news just rips off the newspapers: "CNN, which is probably the best of them, does almost no original reporting" and the cable networks have "24 hours to fill and nothing to say."
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The April 18 CyberAlert item, "Pulitzer Prizes Award Journalists Who Undermined Anti-Terrorism," recounted how the "National Reporting" award was won by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times "for their carefully sourced stories on secret domestic eavesdropping that stirred a national debate on the boundary line between fighting terrorism and protecting civil liberty." The duo infamously penned the damaging December 16 article, "Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts." For more on his Pulitzer: www.mrc.org
For how the networks trumpeted his December 2005 story: www.mrc.org
In the November 13 Brown Daily Herald article highlighted Monday by Romenesko, reporter Abe Lubetkin wrote:
[Risen]...discussed the morphing relationship between the press and the government at a talk titled "Press Freedom and Covering the Bush Administration," which was sponsored by The Herald.
Risen said the administration of President George W. Bush has limited press freedom more than any administration since former President Richard Nixon's, adding that government officials are scared to talk to reporters.
"(The fear) is palpable," he said. "It's been frightening to watch."
Risen said Times editors delayed publishing the story because the Bush administration pressured them to scrap the piece. In an Oval Office meeting, Bush told Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger that if the story's publication curbed anti-terrorism efforts and terrorists struck again, the paper would have "blood on its hands."
"Even though you know it's a political effort, it's still really kind of intimidating when it's happening to you," Risen said.
Risen said he is now more confident than he was when the story appeared that the Times was legally and journalistically justified in publishing it.
"There is no law against what we've done, in spite of what the (Bush) administration wants you to believe," he said, in reference to publishing classified information.
In the wake of revelations that Times reporter Judith Miller wrote flawed stories about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Risen said the wiretapping story was significant because "it changed the real dynamic of the Washington press corps," inspiring other journalists to sharpen their investigative teeth.
He added that reporters' willingness to ask questions has been particularly vital in the post-Sept. 11, 2001, era.
"If you look back since 9/11, virtually everything we know about the way the Bush administration was conducting the war on terrorism has come from the press," he said. "There's been almost no congressional oversight."
For that reason, he said, it is critically important that reporters continue to dig. "If we stop, the public won't find out what's going on," he said.
In that vein, Risen had harsh words for 24-hour cable television news networks, which he accused of regurgitating information published in the Times and the Washington Post.
"CNN, which is probably the best of them, does almost no original reporting," he said, adding that such networks "have 24 hours to fill and nothing to say."
The election of Democratic majorities gave Mr. Risen hope:
"It's sinking in with Bush that his foreign policy is too radical," Risen said.
He called Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation announcement "the best thing to happen in a long time" and praised Robert Gates, the man nominated to replace Rumsfeld, as "a really smart pragmatic guy."
Typically, Risen said he wouldn't be surprised if Daddy Bush engineered the whole thing. In a longer interview, Risen repeated the old canard that General Shinseki was fired for dissent. Lubetkin didn't seem to ask how much freedom of dissent is allowed inside the New York Times (imagine, say, a Times writer favoring war on Saddam).
Reporter: In your lecture, you described the "climate of fear" the Bush administration has created. How have they done that? What does that mean?
Risen: They've suppressed dissent throughout the administration. I'm not sure how it works. All I can do is see the effect. I've wondered why this fear exists, because it's not obvious for me. But it's palpable; it's real. I think what they do is they set examples. The famous one in the military was getting rid of General (Eric) Shinseki in the army for saying we needed more troops in Iraq before the war. And that sent a powerful message throughout the military not to speak out against (Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld or Bush on the war in Iraq. But that's just one example. Throughout the government it became clear that the bosses did not want to hear alternative views of anything.
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For the Brown Daily Herald article: media.www.browndailyherald.com
In the wake of the election results, in this week's Time magazine Joe Klein contended: "This was a big deal. Certainly, it was the end of George W. Bush's radical experiment in partisan governance. It might have been even bigger than that: the end of the conservative pendulum swing that began with Ronald Reagan's revolution." But it wouldn't be the first time the fortune tellers at Time saw the end of the "bankrupt" Reagan era. They did back in 1993, after novice President Bill Clinton pleased Time's writing staff by passing a budget that raised personal income tax rates and increased the tax on gasoline: "Overturning the Reagan Era." Too bad the "return to the economic orthodoxy of balanced budgets" Time promised wasn't achieved until voters put budget-cutting Republicans in charge of the House and Senate the following year 1994.
[This item is adopted from a posting, by Rich Noyes, Monday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org
"Overturning the Reagan Era" screamed Time's August 16, 1993 cover, which showed an upside-down image of President Reagan: www.time.com
The cover story, by Nancy Gibbs, conveyed Time's obvious infatuation with liberals' concept of "fiscal responsibility," namely, punish the private sector with tax rates high enough to pay for all of the fat government programs that Democrats can dream up (although Gibbs wished for even higher taxes, saying the ones Clinton and the last Democratic Congress pushed through "weren't very brave.")
For Klein's piece in the November 20 Time: www.time.com
-- Brent Baker