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Couric Spends More Time on 'Alex the Parrot' Than Hsu's Money --9/12/2007


1. Couric Spends More Time on 'Alex the Parrot' Than Hsu's Money
Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, as the New York Times revealed Tuesday, may be concerned about how much evening news program coverage fugitive donor/fundraiser Norman Hsu attracts, but they had nothing to worry about Tuesday night. ABC didn't utter a word about the campaign's decision to refund the largest amount ever, $850,000 solicited by Hsu, yet anchor Charles Gibson found time to note how the New England Patriots broke an NFL rule by videotaping New York Jets coaches giving signals, while CBS's Katie Couric gave Hsu barely 20 seconds -- about half the time she devoted to the death of "Alex the Parrot" -- and NBC allocated 25 seconds, but only after a three-minute piece framed around how Rudy Giuliani's 9/11 image "stirs angry resentment."

2. CBS and NBC Morning Shows Ignore Dem Embarrassment Over MoveOn Ad
The CBS and NBC morning shows on Tuesday ignored the embarrassment and discomfort that a new MoveOn.org ad, which vilified General David Petraeus, caused Democrats running for the White House. While The Early Show and Today failed to cover the print advertisement from the far-left group, ABC's Good Morning America at least briefly addressed the subject. The ad in question asked: "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?" and declared under a picture of him: "Cooking the books for the White House." GMA co-host Robin Roberts took great pains to discuss the ad, which appeared in the New York Times on Monday, in neutral terms. She claimed it simply "caught everybody's" attention and caused "a lot of reaction." Explaining the political ramifications, ABC's George Stephanopoulos, however, acknowledged the MoveOn ad put "Democrats on the defensive" and "in a bit of a bind."

3. NYT's Frank Rich Complains Couric Drank Bush 'Kool-Aid' in Iraq
Not even CBS anchor Katie Couric is sufficiently liberal to satisfy New York Times drama critic turned political commentator Frank Rich, who in his latest epic Sunday column accused the CBS anchor, who recently went to Iraq, of "drinking the...Kool-Aid" regarding Bush's optimistic pronouncements on the war. Following the lefty line, Rich also referred to two scholars from the left-of-center Brookings Institution as "Pentagon junketeers" for daring to suggest things are improving on the ground in Iraq.

4. MSNBC's O'Donnell Overlooks Griffin's 'Suck It, Jesus' Remark
Reporting Tuesday afternoon on how comedian Kathy Griffin's offensive remarks at the creative arts Emmy Awards taped over the weekend will be "censored" when shown this coming Saturday night on the E! cable channel, MSNBC anchor Norah O'Donnell left out the harshest line. The effect was to make it sound as if the liberal former guest host of ABC's The View, who won "Best Reality Show" for her program on Bravo, was being unfairly "censored" by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for making a mild joke about award recipients who thank Jesus for their success, rather than blaspheming Jesus Christ directly. O'Donnell recited only that Griffin announced: "A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus." But Griffin's acceptance remarks also included an exclamation of "Suck it, Jesus. This award is my God now."


Couric Spends More Time on 'Alex the
Parrot' Than Hsu's Money

Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, as the New York Times revealed Tuesday, may be concerned about how much evening news program coverage fugitive donor/fundraiser Norman Hsu attracts, but they had nothing to worry about Tuesday night. ABC didn't utter a word about the campaign's decision to refund the largest amount ever, $850,000 solicited by Hsu, yet anchor Charles Gibson found time to note how the New England Patriots broke an NFL rule by videotaping New York Jets coaches giving signals, while CBS's Katie Couric gave Hsu barely 20 seconds -- about half the time she devoted to the death of "Alex the Parrot" -- and NBC allocated 25 seconds, but only after a three-minute piece framed around how Rudy Giuliani's 9/11 image "stirs angry resentment."

So far, including Tuesday night, the three broadcast network evening newscasts have each run one full story on Hsu while CBS and NBC, but not ABC, have aired two additional 20-second or so anchor-briefs. NBC Nightly News ran a full story on Thursday, August 30 (details in the August 31 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org ) and ABC and CBS caught up the next night, Friday, August 31 (details in the September 4 CyberAlert: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2007/cyb20070904.asp#5 ). A week later, on Friday, September 7, CBS and NBC aired brief items on how Hsu was captured in Colorado after failing to appear for a bail hearing in California (details in the September 10 CyberAlert: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2007/cyb20070910.asp#3 ).

And Tuesday night, not even the Clinton campaign's maneuver of announcing their decision, to send back $850,000 collected by Hsu, at 6:40pm EDT Monday -- after the start of the evening newscasts -- irritated network producers enough to run a full story, nor ABC to even mention the development.

The very last paragraph of a story by Patrick Healy, buried on page A-22 of Tuesday's New York Times, reported:
"The Clinton campaign made its announcement around 6:40 p.m., shortly after the network news programs had begun on the East Coast. The timing was roughly the same Aug. 29, when Clinton advisers disclosed that they were giving Mr. Hsu's $23,000 in personal donations to charity. Clinton aides, who have been trying to contain the damage from the case, have been monitoring the number of stories the evening news programs have run on Mr. Hsu -- only a handful thus far." See: www.nytimes.com

The Washington Post put the news on its front page Tuesday, "Clinton's Campaign to Return $850,000: Her Team Cuts Ties to a Top Fundraiser Jailed in Fraud Case." See: www.washingtonpost.com

(The morning shows haven't been any more interested in the story, though NBC's Today on Tuesday did feature a short story from Andrea Mitchell. ABC's Good Morning America and CNN's American Morning allocated a few seconds and CBS's Early Show ignored the story altogether.)

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

Tuesday's NBC Nightly News tried to undermine Rudy Giuliani's image as reporter John Yang centered a story around how the "campaign's central message" of "strong leadership in times of chaos" now "stirs angry resentment in some who lost loved ones in the attacks." Focusing on the parents of a killed firefighter, Yang relayed how "they say Giuliani should have anticipated another attack after the 1993 World Trade Center truck bombing." Yang proceeded to highlight an attack from a left-wing union that regularly endorses liberal Democrats: "The nation's biggest firefighters union produced a video attacking what they call the Giuliani myth." Yang then outlined how "there are two main complaints. That in 1999, Giuliani built the city's emergency command center in the World Trade Center complex, despite the earlier attack there. And that firefighters' radios didn't work properly, causing them to miss the evacuation orders before the second tower collapsed." Only at the very end of the piece did Yang get around to how a biographer said the attacks on Giuliani are "unfair."

September 11 morning show coverage of Hsu, as tracked by the MRC's Matthew Balan, Scott Whitlock and Geoffrey Dickens:

# CNN's American Morning, John Roberts:

And Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign is giving back $850,000. The money was raised by Norman Hsu who is under investigation now for allegedly violating election laws. Hsu is accused of reimbursing donors for their campaign contributions in order to get around limits on donations.


# ABC's Good Morning America, David Muir:

Senator Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign is going to vet its fundraisers more closely now, that includes conducting criminal background checks. The changes come as the Clinton camp returns $850,000 raised by Democratic backer Norman Hsu. Hsu is being investigated for his fund-raising practices.

# NBC's Today:

DAVID GREGORY: Another developing story today in presidential politics. Senator Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign on the defensive this morning. It's now returning $850,000 linked to one of her big donors who is facing prison time in an old fraud case. NBC's Andrea Mitchell is covering that story for us from Washington, this morning. Andrea, good morning to you.
[On screen headline: "Campaign Controversy, Clinton to Return $850,000"]
ANDREA MITCHELL: Good morning, David. It is a big concession from Hillary Clinton, who initially dismissed the controversy as quote, "a major surprise to everyone." But after first saying that they do their best job vetting the donors that they can, last night the campaign announced among the largest refunds in political history, cutting all ties to controversial fundraiser Norman Hsu, returning more than $800,000, as you say, to 260 contributors, whom he solicited on Clinton's behalf. Hsu is believed to have remain hospitalized today in Colorado, after failing to show up for a hearing in California. But for Clinton the controversy is an unwelcome reminder of past campaign scandals from the White House years with donors like Johnny Chung, even though Hsu has given to leading Democrats, including Barack Obama, before he ran for president and recently to the Democratic National Committee led by Howard Dean, as well as state Democrats in New York and others, David.
GREGORY: We'll wait to see the political fallout from all of that. Andrea Mitchell, thanks very much.


September 11 broadcast network evening show coverage:

# CBS Evening News:

- 20 seconds on Hsu from Katie Couric:
Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign will refund $850,000 collected by the so-called fugitive fundraiser Norman Hsu who was wanted by authorities for 15 years, all the while raising money for candidates. He's now being investigated for allegedly skirting election laws by paying people to donate to the Clinton campaign.

- 37 seconds on a dead bird:

COURIC: The death of a parrot doesn't normally make the evening news, but rarely has there been a parrot like Alex.
WOMAN: What color? Smaller?
BIRD: Green.
WOMAN: Good birdy! You're right. What's this?
BIRD: Rock.
WOMAN: Good birdy!
COURIC: Alex could say the names of 50 objects, five shapes and seven colors. He was purchased at random from a pet store, but for 30 years helped researchers at Harvard and other schools learn how birds think and communicate. Alex died of unknown causes. Scientists say they'll miss him.


# NBC Nightly News on Giuliani followed by Hsu:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: The political career of Rudolph Giuliani can easily be seen in two parts. Before and after 9/11, split right down the middle by tragedy. He took on the title of "America's Mayor" almost starting on that awful day. And that day became the basis, really, for his run for President. And not everyone feels the same way about it. Our report from the Giuliani campaign tonight from NBC's John Yang.
RUDY GIULIANI AT GROUND ZERO CEREMONY: On this day-
JOHN YANG: Rudy Giuliani near Ground Zero today, marking the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
GIULIANI: -it was a day with no answers.
YANG: His dust-covered walk through lower Manhattan that day embodies his campaign's central message: strong leadership in times of chaos. It comes up at virtually every stop.
GIULIANI: That's the way I felt about September 11th.
YANG: But it stirs angry resentment in some who lost loved ones in the attacks.
JOYCE MERCER, MOTHER OF 9/11 VICTIM: He tries to portray himself as a hero of 9/11. No. All the heroes are either dead or sick.
YANG: Joyce and Russell Mercer's son, firefighter Scott Copickto (sp?), died at Ground Zero. They say Giuliani should have anticipated another attack after the 1993 World Trade Center truck bombing.
RUSSELL MERCER: He was the commander in chief of this city. He should have foresight. He should have prepared better.
YANG: The nation's biggest firefighters union produced a video attacking what they call the Giuliani myth.
FROM AD BY INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS: Don't just go by the image you saw on television.
YANG: There are two main complaints. That in 1999, Giuliani built the city's emergency command center in the World Trade Center complex, despite the earlier attack there. And that firefighters' radios didn't work properly, causing them to miss the evacuation orders before the second tower collapsed. A Giuliani biographer says that's unfair. The radio problem still hasn't been solved and the command center location was chosen because federal agencies were already there.
FRED SIEGEL, AUTHOR, THE PRINCE OF THE CITY: Did he fail at these things? Yes. Have people succeeded in that regard since? No.
YANG: But Giuliani can be his own worst enemy. His penchant for drama opens him up to charges of self-aggrandizement.
GIULIANI, AUGUST 9: I was at Ground Zero as often if not more than most of the workers.
JOHN "JACK" MCDONNELL, NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT: For him to claim that he was down here even ten percent of the time that most of the recovery workers were down here is an absolute lie. Absolute lie.
YANG: While critics cite specific mistakes, others say there are many things Giuliani got right. Getting the city back on its feet quickly and setting the stage to clear the site at ground zero months ahead of schedule.
SIEGEL: On balance, Giuliani was an extraordinarily effective leader. He'd been preparing for a terror attack. Not the one that came. And he was quick to respond.
YANG: The Giuliani campaign says it welcomes the scrutiny because it draws attention to what it believes is his greatest asset.
JOSEPH LHOTA, FORMER NEW YORK CITY DEPUTY MAYOR: It's real important to understand that seeing him in action was really a result of what he did day in and day out for seven and three-quarters years before that.
YANG: A debate over leadership that'ss central to his campaign for the White House. John Yang, NBC News, New York.
WILLIAMS: Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton's Democratic campaign is returning $850,000 in campaign donations collected by the fundraiser who turned out to be a fugitive, Norman Hsu. A campaign spokesman said about 260 separate donors will get their money back this week. Hsu is still in a Colorado hospital in FBI custody and will be turned over to California authorities when he is released.

CBS and NBC Morning Shows Ignore Dem
Embarrassment Over MoveOn Ad

The CBS and NBC morning shows on Tuesday ignored the embarrassment and discomfort that a new MoveOn.org ad, which vilified General David Petraeus, caused Democrats running for the White House. While The Early Show and Today failed to cover the print advertisement from the far-left group, ABC's Good Morning America at least briefly addressed the subject. The ad in question asked: "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?" and declared under a picture of him: "Cooking the books for the White House."

To see the MoveOn ad: pol.moveon.org

GMA co-host Robin Roberts took great pains to discuss the advertisement, which appeared in the New York Times on Monday, in neutral terms. She claimed it simply "caught everybody's" attention and caused "a lot of reaction." Explaining the political ramifications, ABC's George Stephanopoulos, however, acknowledged the MoveOn ad put "Democrats on the defensive" and "in a bit of a bind." The This Week host also provided a reason as to why Democratic '08 contenders haven't rejected the advertisement. He explained: "They want the support of MoveOn.org, so you saw the presidential candidates saying, 'Well, we don't like what they said,' but they wouldn't repudiate it."

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

A transcript of the brief discussion of the MoveOn ad, which aired at 7:13am on September 11:

Robin Roberts: "I want to ask you something about an ad that caught everybody's, a lot of people's attention. It was in The New York times. It was placed by the liberal group MoveOn.org. In the ad, it says, 'General Petraeus or General Betray Us, cooking the books.' That got a lot of reaction from both sides of the aisle."
George Stephanopoulos: "Boy, it sure did. And it really put Democrats on the defensive yesterday. You had 30 Republican senators signing a letter calling on the Democrats to reject the ad, to repudiate the ad. There's going to be a resolution introduced in the House today to do that as well. And it put the Democrats in a bit of a bind. They want the support of MoveOn.org, so you saw the presidential candidates saying, 'Well, we don't like what they said,' but they wouldn't repudiate it."

NYT's Frank Rich Complains Couric Drank
Bush 'Kool-Aid' in Iraq

Not even CBS anchor Katie Couric is sufficiently liberal to satisfy New York Times drama critic turned political commentator Frank Rich, who in his latest epic Sunday column accused the CBS anchor, who recently went to Iraq, of "drinking the...Kool-Aid" regarding Bush's optimistic pronouncements on the war. Following the lefty line, Rich also referred to two scholars from the left-of-center Brookings Institution as "Pentagon junketeers" for daring to suggest things are improving on the ground in Iraq.

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

An excerpt from Rich's September 9 column:

What's surprising is not that this White House makes stuff up, but that even after all the journalistic embarrassments in the run-up to the war its fictions can still infiltrate the real news. After Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, two Brookings Institution scholars, wrote a New York Times Op-Ed article in July spreading glad tidings of falling civilian fatality rates, they were widely damned for trying to pass themselves off as tough war critics (both had supported the war and the surge) and for not mentioning that their fact-finding visit to Iraq was largely dictated by a Department of Defense itinerary.

But this has not impeded them from posing as quasi-journalistic independent observers elsewhere ever since, whether on CNN, CBS, Fox or in these pages, identifying themselves as experts rather than Pentagon junketeers. Unlike Armstrong Williams, the talking head and columnist who clandestinely received big government bucks to 'regularly comment' on No Child Left Behind, they received no cash. But why pay for what you can get free?"

SUSPEND Excerpt

To bolster his slander of the scholars, Rich linked to a story at Salon by the immensely self-satisfied left-wing blogger Glenn Greenwald: ace.mu.nu

Then it was on to Couric.

Anchoring the CBS Evening News from Iraq last week, Katie Couric seemed to be drinking the same Kool-Aid (or eating the same lobster tortellini) as Mr. O'Hanlon. As "a snapshot of what's going right," she cited Falluja, a bombed-out city with 80 percent unemployment, and she repeatedly spoke of American victories against "Al Qaeda." Channeling the president's bait-and-switch, she never differentiated between that local group he calls "Al Qaeda in Iraq" and the Qaeda that attacked America on 9/11.

END of Excerpt

Rich's column is behind the TimesSelect wall: select.nytimes.com

The screen shot of Rich which will accompany this item is of Rich on the September 7 Late Show with David Letterman plugging the paperback edition of his book, The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth in Bush's America: www.amazon.com

For a daily look at bias in the New York Times, check the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org

MSNBC's O'Donnell Overlooks Griffin's
'Suck It, Jesus' Remark

Reporting Tuesday afternoon on how comedian Kathy Griffin's offensive remarks at the creative arts Emmy Awards taped over the weekend will be "censored" when shown this coming Saturday night on the E! cable channel, MSNBC anchor Norah O'Donnell left out the harshest line. The effect was to make it sound as if the liberal former guest host of ABC's The View, who won "Best Reality Show" for her program on Bravo, was being unfairly "censored" by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for making a mild joke about award recipients who thank Jesus for their success, rather than blaspheming Jesus Christ directly.

O'Donnell recited only that Griffin announced: "A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus." But Griffin's acceptance remarks also included an exclamation of "Suck it, Jesus. This award is my God now." Reuters story with the quote: news.aol.com

[This item is adapted from an item, by Ken Shepherd, posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Here's how Norah O'Donnell described the controversy on MSNBC Live, at about 3:15pm EDT on September 11:
"These days it seems no awards show can escape controversy, and in this case, it's the creative arts Emmy and comedienne Kathy Griffin. She picked up the award for Best Reality Show last weekend. But when the show airs on Saturday, her acceptance speech is going to be censored. In her speech, Griffin said, quote, 'A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus.' Well, according to the TV Academy and the E! channel, Griffin's remarks will be shown in a quote, 'abbreviated version.'"

Video (0:33): Real (929 kB) and Windows (1.00 MB), plus MP3 audio (257 kB).

-- Brent Baker