Couric's Stem Cell Expert: Dr Who Yearned to Shape Obama's Policy --3/10/2009


1. Couric's Stem Cell Expert: Dr Who Yearned to Shape Obama's Policy
Four days after Sanjay Gupta, in the wake of Tom Daschle's withdrawal as HHS Secretary-designate, decided to turn down the Obama administration's offer to become Surgeon General, CBS went to the CNN medical correspondent for expert analysis on the benefits of Obama's decision to allow federal funding of research on embryonic stem cells. (Monday afternoon following Obama's announcement, CNN refrained from putting Gupta on the air. Wolf Blitzer, however, brought him aboard the 6 PM EDT hour of The Situation Room to expound on what Gupta described as the "enthusiasm" and "lot of promise" offered by the administration's reversal of the Bush policy.) CBS anchor Katie Couric fretted Obama's decision didn't do enough. Referring to a law which "prohibits the creation of embryos simply for the purpose of using their stem cells," Couric worried: "If the ban against using tax dollars for this is not lifted, will it hinder progress?" Gupta, who last Thursday announced his decision to not accept the position, yearned to guide Obama's health policy.

2. CBS Claims Obama Overturned Stem Cell 'Ban;' Makes Correction
At the top of Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen incorrectly declared: "Reversing course. President Obama lifts the ban on embryonic stem cell research today...But is the President going far enough?" During the later segment, co-host Maggie Rodriguez had to offer a correction: "And we should say, this under President Bush was not banned or illegal, except now we're getting federal funding."

3. ABC Champions Obama's Embryo-Destroying Stem Cell Decision
Correspondent Lisa Stark's report on ABC's World News on Sunday almost completely slanted in favor of President Obama's decision to overturn the ban on federal funding of stem cell research which destroys human embryos. Stark minimized the controversial nature of the research, devoting only one soundbite out of four to a critic of the president's move. Anchor Dan Harris introduced Stark's report by selling the apparent promise of embryonic stem cell research: "President Obama is going to fulfill one of his campaign promises by ending restrictions on federally-funded research using embryonic stem cells. This could lead to better treatments and possibly cures for many diseases. But it will not end a visceral debate." Despite this mention of the "visceral debate," the report almost entirely focused on the hype from supporters of the research.

4. Matthews: Limbaugh Like a Bond Villain, a 'Human Vat of Vitriol'
Over the weekend, Chris Matthews compared Rush Limbaugh to a James Bond villain and claimed the radio talk show host was a "human vat of vitriol. He relishes the attention and he sells anger as a weapon." Before playing a clip from "You Only Live Twice," in which a Bond nemesis drops a victim into a piranha tank, Matthews, on his syndicated The Chris Matthews Show, offered up the following description of the talk show host: "Before we break if you didn't know better this past week, you'd think Rush Limbaugh was more important than the guys in Washington and women in Washington actually elected to do things. How many U.S. senators would invite the President of the United States to come to their home turf and debate them? Well two facts are clear about this human vat of vitriol. He relishes the attention and he sells anger as a weapon....Limbaugh's high-handed, melodramatic, off with their heads, oratory reminds me of those over-the-top movie villains. You know, the ones who issue ludicrous commands to snuff out the good guys, like James Bond's arch nemesis who wanted the supremely confident Bond -- gone."

5. MSNBC Attacks Limbaugh Again: 'Is Rush Toxic for GOP?'
MSNBC host David Shuster continued his dogged pursuit of Rush Limbaugh on Monday, hosting a segment with an onscreen graphic that screamed, "Is Rush Toxic for GOP?" After discussing a birthday celebration in honor of Senator Ted Kennedy, Shuster asserted: "About the only thing that might have put a damper on Kennedy's celebration were some jarring comments from conservative heavyweight Rush Limbaugh." The supposed "jarring comments" by the radio host were made last Friday during a discussion of how the White House has been using Kennedy's ill health as a kind of an inspirational reason to pass national health care. On his show, Limbaugh noted that before "it's all over it [the bill] will be called the Ted Kennedy Memorial Health Care Bill." On Monday's 11 AM EDT hour of MSNBC News Live, the host brought on Washington Post reporter Perry Bacon and Roll Call editor Erin Billings who both agreed that Limbaugh's comment went over the line. Billings asserted: "I would say that Rush Limbaugh is certainly playing into the divisive figure that the Democrats are accusing him of being." Bacon claimed that "people" were deriding the remarks as "not the right tone."

6. CNN Correspondent Now the Communist Candidate in El Salvador
The presidential candidate of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), the communist revolutionaries in El Salvador the Reagan administration battled in the 1980s, is, a Monday Washington Post story noted, "a former correspondent for CNN en Espanol." In the March 9 article, "In El Salvador Vote, Big Opportunity for Leftists," reporter William Booth relayed from San Salvador that the journalist-turned-politician "considers himself to be El Salvador's Barack Obama."


Couric's Stem Cell Expert: Dr Who Yearned
to Shape Obama's Policy

Four days after Sanjay Gupta, in the wake of Tom Daschle's withdrawal as HHS Secretary-designate, decided to turn down the Obama administration's offer to become Surgeon General, CBS went to the CNN medical correspondent for expert analysis on the benefits of Obama's decision to allow federal funding of research on embryonic stem cells. (Monday afternoon following Obama's announcement, CNN refrained from putting Gupta on the air. Wolf Blitzer, however, brought him aboard the 6 PM EDT hour of The Situation Room to expound on what Gupta described as the "enthusiasm" and "lot of promise" offered by the administration's reversal of the Bush policy.)

CBS anchor Katie Couric fretted Obama's decision didn't do enough. Referring to a law which "prohibits the creation of embryos simply for the purpose of using their stem cells," Couric worried: "If the ban against using tax dollars for this is not lifted, will it hinder progress?" Gupta assured her there are "plenty of embryos" available. Next, Couric cited how "the only FDA-approved clinical trial for using stem cells involved spinal cord injuries" and wondered: "What other conditions or diseases show the most potential to respond to this kind of therapy?"

Gupta, who last Thursday announced his decision to not accept the position, yearned to guide Obama's health policy. The Washington Post's Michael D. Shear and Howard Kurtz reported on Friday that a source "close" to Gupta "said Gupta was very disheartened by Daschle's fate and fearful he was not going to get a prominent role in the health-care reform process." Gupta "waved aside questions about what happened to Daschle" but, the Post noted, "his answers hinted at his expectation that helping Daschle to revamp the nation's health-care system had been part of his discussions with the White House. 'I had a lot of conversations with the White House folks,' he said. 'I think there was a real melding there.'"

For the March 6 article, "CNN's Gupta Decides Against Surgeon General Position, Cites 'Timing,'" go to: www.washingtonpost.com

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

The Couric-Gupta segment on the Monday, March 9 CBS Evening News:

KATIE COURIC: CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is also a CBS News contributor. Sanjay, as we heard Chip [Reid] say, Congress passed legislation in 1996 that prohibits the creation of embryos simply for the purpose of using their stem cells. If the ban against using tax dollars for this is not lifted, will it hinder progress?
SANJAY GUPTA: It's a good question, Katie. I don't think it will necessarily hinder progress, mainly because there's several different sources of these stem cell lines. The federally funded stem cell lines, as you've talked about. Also the private sector has been funding stem cell lines for some me, so they're going to be added to the mix. But I think most importantly to your point, a lot of fertility clinics have embryos that would otherwise be discarded that might be sources of stem cell lines as well so if you add those up, I think you're going to have plenty of embryos for potential stem cell lines.
COURIC: As we heard, the only FDA-approved clinical trial for using stem cells involved spinal cord injuries. What other conditions or diseases show the most potential to respond to this kind of therapy?
GUPTA: When I think, when you think about these sorts of diseases, you have to think about this idea that these stem cells are going to go in there and fix a discrete problem. So problems like diabetes, for example, where the pancreas is not making enough insulin. Problems like Parkinson's disease where you're simply not making enough dopamine in the brain. Those are the types of diseases, those discrete diseases. that are probably going to be the most responsive. Same thing with spinal court injury. My guess is -- a lot of people talk about Alzehimer's disease -- but because it is so global in the brain, it might be less responsive. We'll know more about that in years to come certainly, Katie.
COURIC: Alright. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Sanjay, thank you.

CBS Claims Obama Overturned Stem Cell
'Ban;' Makes Correction

At the top of Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen incorrectly declared: "Reversing course. President Obama lifts the ban on embryonic stem cell research today...But is the President going far enough?" During the later segment, co-host Maggie Rodriguez had to offer a correction: "And we should say, this under President Bush was not banned or illegal, except now we're getting federal funding."

The segment began with a report by correspondent Bill Plante: "...for those who believe that stem cells bring healing, there's no debate...Henry Strongin-Goldberg was sick with a rare blood disease that took his life when he was just 7...Henry's parents, Laurie Strongin and Allen Goldberg, believe their son's chance of survival ended when President George W. Bush signed an executive order in August, 2001 banning the federal government from funding embryonic stem cell research." Plante's over 300-word report only gave only 21 of those words to critics, allowing David Prentice of the Family Research Council to mention: "In terms of scientific advances, I don't think we're going to see anything from this. This is more an ideological move."

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

Following Plante's report, Rodriguez spoke with CBS News contributor Dr. Holly Phillips about the President's decision: "In what kinds of diseases or ailments, specifically, do you think we may see advancements?" Phillips replied: "People are most excited about the neurologic illnesses, things like Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's...hopefully cure spinal cell injuries...hope in treating diabetes, heart disease, and even stroke. So really millions of people could be -- could be affected by this research." Phillips left out a recent case of embryonic stem cells causing cancer in an Israeli teenage boy.

Read about embryonic stem cells causing cancer here: www.sciam.com

Earlier, Phillips argued: "...what President Obama is saying, is that we need to support our scientists. Many of the scientists for the last eight years have been complaining that they're spending more time trying to find funding for their research than actually doing their research. So for them this will really have a profound effect." Rodriguez later echoed that sentiment: "I wonder if we'll see progress more quickly now that these scientists have less red tape to work through." Phillips replied: "I think so. And certainly the scientific and medical community is thinking so as well. Certainly on an international level, in medicine, we're so excited about this research and the potential for healing that it has. So I think less red tape will have a profound effect."

Here is the full transcript of the March 9 segment:

7:00AM TEASE:
JULIE CHEN: Reversing course. President Obama lifts the ban on embryonic stem cell research today.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: This is something huge. This is going to affect lives.
CHEN: But is the President going far enough?

7:02AM SEGMENT:
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: But first, President Obama's plans to undo another Bush policy, and this one is stirring up a lot of controversy. CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante joins us with that. Good morning, Bill.
BILL PLANTE: Morning, Maggie. The stem cell issue has deep moral and political implications. It's the first issue of that kind that President Obama has undertaken. The order that he will sign today is a kind of compromise. It allows scientists to use tax dollars to study existing stem cell lines beyond those approved by President Bush back in 2001. But it leaves to Congress the fraught question of whether new stem cell lines can be created with tax dollars. But for those who believe that stem cells bring healing, there's no debate.
LAURIE STRONGIN: He didn't ever think of himself as being sick, and we didn't treat him like he was sick.
PLANTE: But Henry Strongin-Goldberg was sick with a rare blood disease that took his life when he was just 7.
ALLEN GOLDBERG: To have your child die before you do is devastating beyond words.
PLANTE: Henry's parents, Laurie Strongin and Allen Goldberg, believe their son's chance of survival ended when President George W. Bush signed an executive order in August, 2001 banning the federal government from funding embryonic stem cell research. The controversy? The embryos are destroyed when harvested, and opponents equate that to the destruction of human life.
DAVID PRENTICE [FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL]: In terms of scientific advances, I don't think we're going to see anything from this. This is more an ideological move.
PLANTE: Today's change of policy is something that Lori and Allen have been advocating for years, so that other parents don't have to go through what they did.
STRONGIN: And it is too late for us to have -- to help Henry, obviously, at this point, but it is not too late for us to stand up by the President's side and applaud this incredibly wonderful thing.
PLANTE: And they'll have a chance to do that today. Lori and Allen will be here at the White House when President Obama signs that executive order later today. As for the research itself, that will take some time. There will be at least four months before protocols can be approved and guidelines written, and research can get under way. Maggie.
RODRIGUEZ: Bill Plante at the White House, thank you, Bill. Joining us now, Early Show contributor and WBS-TV medical reporter Dr. Holly Phillips. Good morning, Holly.
HOLLY PHILLIPS: Good morning, Maggie.
RODRIGUEZ: For people who have any doubt, explain in a nutshell what is embryonic stem cell research?
PHILLIPS: Essentially it's using cells from an embryo to hopefully regrow cells damaged in certain diseases.
RODRIGUEZ: And we should say, this under President Bush was not banned or illegal, except now we're getting federal funding.
PHILLIPS: Right. That's really an essential issue that we have to clear up. This research was never, as you said, banned or illegal. The question that we're addressing today is what role, if any, federal funding should have is using -- in this research.
RODRIGUEZ: What do you think?
PHILLIPS: Well, you know, it's not really so much what I think, it's more that what President Obama is saying, is that we need to support our scientists. Many of the scientists for the last eight years have been complaining that they're spending more time trying to find funding for their research than actually doing their research. So for them this will really have a profound effect.
RODRIGUEZ: In what kinds of diseases or ailments, specifically, do you think we may see advancements?
PHILLIPS: People are most excited about the neurologic illnesses, things like Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's. This summer a private research group out of California is actually going to start using embryonic stem cells in humans to hopefully cure spinal cell injuries for people who've been paralyzed from the waist down. We're also seeing some hope in treating diabetes, heart disease, and even stroke. So really millions of people could be -- could be affected by this research.
RODRIGUEZ: I wonder if we'll see progress more quickly now that these scientists have less red tape to work through.
PHILLIPS: I think so. And certainly the scientific and medical community is thinking so as well. Certainly on an international level, in medicine, we're so excited about this research and the potential for healing that it has. So I think less red tape will have a profound effect.
RODRIGUEZ: Alright. Dr. Holly Phillips, welcome back from maternity leave.
PHILLIPS: Thank you, Maggie.
RODRIGUEZ: Showing off pictures of Olivia, who's beautiful.
PHILLIPS: Very exciting.
RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.

ABC Champions Obama's Embryo-Destroying
Stem Cell Decision

Correspondent Lisa Stark's report on ABC's World News on Sunday almost completely slanted in favor of President Obama's decision to overturn the ban on federal funding of stem cell research which destroys human embryos. Stark minimized the controversial nature of the research, devoting only one soundbite out of four to a critic of the president's move.

Anchor Dan Harris introduced Stark's report by selling the apparent promise of embryonic stem cell research: "President Obama is going to fulfill one of his campaign promises by ending restrictions on federally-funded research using embryonic stem cells. This could lead to better treatments and possibly cures for many diseases. But it will not end a visceral debate." Despite this mention of the "visceral debate," the report almost entirely focused on the hype from supporters of the research.

[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Monday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The ABC correspondent began by introducing Roman Reed, a paralyzed man who gushed over the President's support for embryonic stem cell research: "President Obama cares. He's taking a stance on suffering. He's taking a stand for cures." The graphic on the screen merely labeled Reed as a "research advocate," and Stark added the word "tireless" to describe the disabled man and his parents. Reed gave an additional plug for the research in a second soundbite: "I have held in my hand a rat that can -- completely paralyzed -- embryonic stem cells were put in, and that rat is walking again. Embryonic stem cells are the key. This is huge."

Stark then gave an additional plug for the research, playing up the potential cures that could result: "Researchers believe they may produce the next revolution in medicine, including treatments for conditions such as spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's Disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer's." After describing that the embryonic stem cells "come from discarded human embryos, which are destroyed in the process," she played the sole clip from an opponent of the research, William May of the typically liberal Catholics for the Common Good.

As she introduced Dr. George Daley, another supporter of the embryo-destroying research, Stark underlined how the previous ban on the research led to scientists having to "segregate their labs." Dr. Daley, in his soundbite, used the Obama administration's talking points about ending the ban on federal funding for the research: "The new Obama decision is really putting patients first. It's putting patients over ideology. It's going to allow the science to move forward as quickly as possible." Is this an ABC News report or a paid political advertisement in support of embryonic stem cell research?

The full transcript of Stark's report from ABC's March 8 World News Sunday program:

DAN HARRIS: President Obama is going to fulfill one of his campaign promises by ending restrictions on federally-funded research using embryonic stem cells. This could lead to better treatments and possibly cures for many diseases. But it will not end a visceral debate. Here's Lisa Stark.
ROMAN REED, RESEARCH ADVOCATE: President Obama cares. He's taking a stance on suffering. He's taking a stand for cures --
LISA STARK: Roman Reed was paralyzed playing college football. He and his parents have been tireless advocates for embryonic stem cell research, and will be with the president when he opens the door to federal funding.
REED: I have held in my hand a rat that can -- completely paralyzed -- embryonic stem cells were put in, and that rat is walking again. Embryonic stem cells are the key. This is huge.
STARK: Embryonic stem cells can develop into any cell in the body. Researchers believe they may produce the next revolution in medicine, including treatments for conditions such as spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's Disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer's. The cells come from discarded human embryos, which are destroyed in the process.
WILLIAM MAY, CHAIRMAN, CATHOLICS FOR THE COMMON GOOD: This decision to push the kind of stem cell research that involves killing innocent human beings is -- is embracing the culture of death.
STARK: That's the argument that swayed President Bush to limit federal funding, forcing researchers to find private dollars.
DR. GEORGE DALEY, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL, BOSTON: So all of this has been purchased with private money-
STARK: Scientists, such as Dr. George Daley, have had to segregate their labs. "NP" means "non-presidential." Not a drop of federal money can be used here. Now, that will change.
DALEY: The new Obama decision is really putting patients first. It's putting patients over ideology. It's going to allow the science to move forward as quickly as possible.
STARK: But not overnight -- it will take the government a couple of months to draw the ethical guidelines necessary to cover this sensitive research. Roman Reed is convinced, one day, that stem cell research will allow him to walk again. The first step, he says, will come tomorrow at the White House. Lisa Stark, ABC News, Washington.

Matthews: Limbaugh Like a Bond Villain,
a 'Human Vat of Vitriol'

Over the weekend, Chris Matthews compared Rush Limbaugh to a James Bond villain and claimed the radio talk show host was a "human vat of vitriol. He relishes the attention and he sells anger as a weapon." Before playing a clip from "You Only Live Twice," in which a Bond nemesis drops a victim into a piranha tank, Matthews, on his syndicated The Chris Matthews Show, offered up the following description of the talk show host: "Before we break if you didn't know better this past week, you'd think Rush Limbaugh was more important than the guys in Washington and women in Washington actually elected to do things. How many U.S. senators would invite the President of the United States to come to their home turf and debate them? Well two facts are clear about this human vat of vitriol. He relishes the attention and he sells anger as a weapon....Limbaugh's high-handed, melodramatic, off with their heads, oratory reminds me of those over-the-top movie villains. You know, the ones who issue ludicrous commands to snuff out the good guys, like James Bond's arch nemesis who wanted the supremely confident Bond -- gone."

Matthews wasn't alone in his bashing of Limbaugh as other members of his panel, the Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page and Time's Managing Editor Richard Stengel, also offered jabs as Page dismissed, "18 percent of the public agrees with Limbaugh. You don't win elections that way, you get radio ratings," and Stengel questioned: "And by the way, I'd say to Rush Limbaugh, and he says to his folks, how is capitalism working for you these days? Not very good? Right?"

[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Monday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org

The following exchanges were aired on the March 8 edition of The Chris Matthews Show:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: You know who can talk? Limbaugh. You don't have to like the big guy but you know what he does? He defends capitalism. But what he says is, "You Mr. President are out there raising taxes and getting rid of deductibility and itemization and putting more injury on those of us you've already injured. You're hurting the people driving the truck."
CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Right. And nobody believes that but Dittoheads. Fact is Bush has already done the same darn thing. That argument isn't working right now. People, people know that, that government is in a spend mode. And by the way you know we've been in-
MATTHEWS: Limbaugh's numbers are doubled, Barack Obama's numbers are not doubled.
PAGE: That's his job. Hey that's his job though, though look at the numbers, about 18 percent of the public agrees with Limbaugh. You don't win elections that way, you get radio ratings. But ever since Reagan we've been on a trend of taxing lower income people and giving breaks to the upper income. Obama has slightly reversed that now and I don't see a revolution in the streets.

...

RICHARD STENGEL, TIME MANAGING EDITOR: Look I confess that some of my best friends are investment bankers. I, you know, you shouldn't hold it against me. But, but they are-, to a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail. They are just looking for the things that help them. They are not looking for the wider economy. Relationship between Wall Street and actual value of companies has never been wider. And by the way, I'd say to Rush Limbaugh, and he says to his folks, how is capitalism working for you these days? Not very good? Right? I mean these people are hurting and people want to have the government do something.

...

MATTHEWS: Before we break if you didn't know better this past week, you'd think Rush Limbaugh was more important than the guys in Washington and women in Washington actually elected to do things. How many U.S. senators would invite the President of the United States to come to their home turf and debate them? Well two facts are clear about this human vat of vitriol. He relishes the attention and he sells anger as a weapon.
(Begin clip)
RUSH LIMBAUGH AT CPAC: What is so strange about being honest in saying I want Barack Obama to fail if his mission is to restructure and reform this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation? Why would I want that to succeed? We, we are in for a real battle.
(End clip)
MATTHEWS: Limbaugh's high-handed, melodramatic, off with their heads, oratory reminds me of those over-the-top movie villains. You know, the ones who issue ludicrous commands to snuff out the good guys, like James Bond's arch nemesis who wanted the supremely confident Bond -- gone.
(Clip from "You Only Live Twice" with the kitten-stroking Ernesto Stavro Blofeld sending victim into piranha tank)
MATTHEWS: Piranha tank. That's what we do to "I don't know," people. Any way our guy Rush doesn't have a kitten on his lap when he's issuing those fatwas but he does have a certain satisfaction.

MSNBC Attacks Limbaugh Again: 'Is Rush
Toxic for GOP?'

MSNBC host David Shuster continued his dogged pursuit of Rush Limbaugh on Monday, hosting a segment with an onscreen graphic that screamed, "Is Rush Toxic for GOP?" After discussing a birthday celebration in honor of Senator Ted Kennedy, Shuster asserted: "About the only thing that might have put a damper on Kennedy's celebration were some jarring comments from conservative heavyweight Rush Limbaugh."

The supposed "jarring comments" by the radio host were made last Friday during a discussion of how the White House has been using Kennedy's ill health as a kind of an inspirational reason to pass national health care. On his show, Limbaugh noted that before "it's all over it [the bill] will be called the Ted Kennedy Memorial Health Care Bill." On Monday's 11 AM EDT hour of MSNBC News Live, the host brought on Washington Post reporter Perry Bacon and Roll Call editor Erin Billings who both agreed that Limbaugh's comment went over the line. Billings asserted: "I would say that Rush Limbaugh is certainly playing into the divisive figure that the Democrats are accusing him of being." Bacon claimed that "people" were deriding the remarks as "not the right tone."

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

The March 9 CyberAlert reported the AP has already jumped on this subject, as well as Shuster's colleague, Chris Matthews. See: www.mrc.org

Shuster, who hosts the cable program 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the network, went after Limbaugh repeatedly last week. On March 4, he attacked GOP congressional members, saying Republicans "appear unpatriotic" if they don't disavow Limbaugh. See a March 6 CyberAlert posting for more: www.mrc.org

However, at least on Monday, Shuster did wonder if liberal attacks feed into "the idea that at least some Democrats are paying more attention to Rush Limbaugh than they are some of the economic problems?"

A transcript of the March 9 segment, which aired at 11:16am EDT, follows:

DAVID SHUSTER: About the only thing that might have put a damper on Kennedy's celebration were some jarring comments from conservative heavyweight Rush Limbaugh. He took a shot at the liberal icon on his radio show Friday while discussing the President's priorities.
MSNBC GRAPHIC: Is Rush Toxic for GOP?
RUSH LIMBAUGH: He has moved on to health care. This is highly visible. It's news leading, gets a great focus. Plus, it has the great liberal lion Teddy Kennedy pushing it. Before it's all over, it will be called the Ted Kennedy Memorial Health Care bill.
SHUSTER: Perry Bacon is national political reporter at the Washington Post. Erin Billings is the senior national editor for Roll Call. Perry, did that cross the line what Rush said?
PERRY BACON (Washington Post): Uh, it got a lot of attention this weekend, a lot of controversy in terms of people saying it probably did go over the line. It was not the right tone to use in talking about Senator Kennedy.
SHUSTER: Erin, your view?
ERIN BILLINGS (Roll Call): Yeah. I mean, I tend to agree. I would say that Rush Limbaugh is certainly playing into the divisive figure that the Democrats are accusing him of being. And, you know, as the Republicans are trying to push back and say, you know, they're trying to create this distraction, which is Rush Limbaugh, these kinds of comments certainly aren't helping.
SHUSTER: There's a new ad that the group Americans United for Change is running, focused on Rush Limbaugh. Let's watch and we'll get your reaction.
[Americans United for Change ad plays: Montage of Republicans saying no. ]
SHUSTER: Perry, what do you think of the ad? Is it effective?
BACON: I think it sort of plays two purposes. One purpose is it sort of promotes this idea that Rush Limbaugh is the leader of the Republican Party, which is something Democrats want to push because Limbaugh is very unpopular among swing voters. It also has a second and pretty interesting implication as well, which is it sort casts Republicans as being the party of no, they're opposed to everything Obama proposes. And it's a pretty effective argument for Democrats to make right now as Republicans are struggling to try and find ways to make sure they have their own proposals, in addition to opposing Obama's proposals. And this is an interesting argument their making in this ad.
SHUSTER: Erin, is there a danger though for Democrats, when the party itself runs another ad or cuts another ad or these groups do, it does sort of feed into the idea that at least some Democrats are paying more attention to Rush Limbaugh than they are some of the economic problems?
BILLINGS: Well, I mean, that's the argument that the Republicans are making right now. And, you know, clearly, Democrats are trying to push a broad, very ambitious agenda. There's a lot of problems, both domestically and the foreign level. And, so, you know, yeah, it certainly does play into the argument. And I think it kind of plays into the notion that we're in campaign mode. And, frankly, I think a lot of folks are tired of that. And they're ready for governing. So, it certainly could backfire.

CNN Correspondent Now the Communist Candidate
in El Salvador

The presidential candidate of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), the communist revolutionaries in El Salvador the Reagan administration battled in the 1980s, is, a Monday Washington Post story noted, "a former correspondent for CNN en Espanol." In the March 9 article, "In El Salvador Vote, Big Opportunity for Leftists," reporter William Booth relayed from San Salvador that the journalist-turned-politician "considers himself to be El Salvador's Barack Obama."

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

Booth relayed:

After a 12-year civil war and a peace undermined by soaring crime, leftists in El Salvador are on the verge of completing a remarkable journey from armed struggle to the presidential palace.

Their candidate is a veteran TV broadcaster and morning talk show host, Mauricio Funes, whose Facebook page lists his political views as "other." Funes, 49, a former correspondent for CNN en EspaƱol, was recently recruited by the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), the revolutionary group-turned-mainstream political party that is favored by polls to win the presidency in a vote scheduled for March 15....

Funes considers himself to be El Salvador's Barack Obama -- an agent of change in a country beset by the highest murder rate in Latin America and an economy in free fall.

The comparison is overt: Funes and the FMLN use images of Obama in their ads (despite objections by the U.S. State Department), saying both candidates were smeared by their opponents as allies of extremists. The FMLN television spots complete the link by employing the Obama slogan in English and Spanish, vowing "Yes, we can!"...

END of Excerpt

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

The Funes campaign site: www.mauriciofunespresidente.com

For CNN en Espanol: www.cnn.com

Hat tip: 'The Gentleman from Lickskillet' comic strip's Steve Allen: conservativehq.com

-- Brent Baker