Ex-CBS & MSNBC Exec: Vieira Faces "Challenge" to Her Credibility --4/10/2006
2. Clift: Clinton's 'Manipulations' Didn't 'Cost People's Lives'
3. Affleck: Bush "Probably" Leaked Plame's Name, "Can Be Hung!"
4. Unemployment Down & Jobs Up: CBS Skips and NBC Looks at Downside
5. Williams Touts What "Throws a Lot of the Bible Into Confusion"
6. Human Events and National Review Run Pieces on Couric by MRCers
7. You Read It Here First: Imus in the Morning Cites CyberAlert
Erik Sorenson, a former CBS and MSNBC news executive, foresees a "challenge" ahead for Meredith Vieira establishing her credibility on NBC's Today in the face of her anti-war activism and so she'll have to "modulate" her on-air pontificating. On Sunday's Reliable Sources on CNN, Howard Kurtz, picking up on Vieira's anti-war comments noted in CyberAlert, asked Sorenson: "Meredith Vieira marched in an anti-war demonstration a couple years ago, and she said on The View that the war was 'built on lies.' Does that create a credibility problem for her when she's interviewing guests on the Today show about Iraq?" Sorenson, the President of MSNBC from 1999 through early 2004 and Executive Producer of the CBS Evening News from 1991 to 1995, responded in the affirmative: "I think it's going to be a challenge" since "she has been out there with her opinions. And that's not going to be considered appropriate on the Today show. And she will have to modify that and modulate that voice."
Political comments may not be "appropriate" for the Today show, but that certainly hasn't inhibited Katie Couric, as illustrated by the MRC's compilation of Couric's on-air statements: www.mediaresearch.org
[This item was posted Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]
As recounted in a NewsBusters.org item initially posted on Wednesday (with video), Vieira, who is to replace Katie Couric in September as co-host of NBC's Today, "marched in an anti-Iraq war protest back in August of 2004" and earlier in 2004 on ABC's The View "she declared of the Iraq war: 'Everything's been built on lies. Everything! I mean the entire pretext for war.'" See: newsbusters.org
(A Thursday version of the item for CyberAlert, "New Today Co-Host an Anti-War Protester: 'War Built on Lies,'" was picked up by the DrudgeReport and widely quoted: www.mrc.org )
Friday Washington Post and New York Times stories, as recited in a Friday MRC CyberAlert article, reported Vieira's confirmation of her anti-war views and promise to keep that out of her journalism: "'There is nothing that I have said that I am ashamed of. I stand by anything that I've said,' Howard Kurtz reported she told him. She confirmed, as quoted by the New York Times, that 'I have a lot of questions about the war that other people have,' but promised 'you put that on a shelf when you're a journalist.'" See the April 7 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
Returning from a break on the April 9 Reliable Sources, Kurtz played a clip from Vieira at NBC's Thursday press conference: "I'm going to have to be reigned in a little. It's funny. I had 20 years of news, where I never said anything. Now every other word out of my moth is orgasm, you know? I've got to, there's got to be something in between, or I'm in big trouble."
In the segment in which former ABC News reporter Linda Douglass and former CBS Evening News Executive Producer Jim Murphy joined Sorenson, Kurtz inquired:
On this weekend's McLaughlin Group, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift -- referring the President Bush's September 2003 insistence, in the wake of the Valerie Plame controversy, that "I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information," a technical accuracy since he had apparently declassified information released in order to counter claims made by Plame's husband, Joe Wilson -- charged: "President Clinton's manipulation of words did not set off a chain of events that took us into an unnecessary war and cost people's lives. It was a personal indiscretion of so much lesser magnitude than what we're dealing here." Assessing Bush's credibility, she saw him as less credible than Wilson and accused Bush of having "lied" with the "consequence" of thousands being killed, "Wilson's credibility versus the President's credibility: I'd put my money on Wilson. This is a crystalizing piece of information that people can understand the storyline. The President lied, they see the video clips and they know the consequences of a war with over two thousand people dead."
[This item was posted Sunday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]
Clift's theme matched what she expounded upon Friday in her weekly "Capitol Letter" column for Newsweek's Web pages buried on MSNBC.com, "Farewell, Fig Leaf: Bush called for a criminal investigation to 'get to the bottom' of the CIA leak scandal. It turns out he may be the bottom." The first sentence of her April 7 offering: "President Bush promised to restore honor and dignity to the White House. It was a not-so-veiled reference to the indiscretions of his predecessor." Clift made this quite partisan recommendation a few paragraphs later: "The only way the American people can stop Bush's imperial expansion of power short is to turn out in massive numbers to take back one or the other body of Congress from Republican control." For her April 7 piece: www.msnbc.msn.com
Three of Clift's rants from this weekend's McLaughlin Group which airs on Friday, Saturday or Sunday on various stations -- NBC-owned ones and mostly PBS affiliates elsewhere -- around the country (I caught it Saturday at 7:30pm on Washington, DC's NBC-owned WRC-TV, where it is taped on Friday afternoon):
-- "Well, first of all, President Clinton's manipulation of words did not set off a chain of events that took us into an unnecessary war and cost people's lives. It was a personal indiscretion of so much lesser magnitude than what we're dealing here. A President may not be legally culpable for leaking classified information for political gain. But the legality here is irrelevant. It's the political fallout."
-- "They could have just held a press conference and said we don't think Ambassador Wilson has presented the correct facts and we're going to refute it. Instead they ran a covert political operation out of the White House and the President's authorization to leak this led to a chain of events that revealed the identity of an undercover CIA operative -- which is a serious crime."
-- "Wilson's credibility versus the President's credibility: I'd put my money on Wilson. This is a crystalizing piece of information that people can understand the storyline. The President lied, they see the video clips and they know the consequences of a war with over two thousand people dead."
Affleck appeared on Maher's panel with Senator Joe Biden and Bill Sammon of the Washington Examiner. A couple of minutes later, after Sammon suggested Tom DeLay's resignation means the loss of a "poster boy for the left" so they can't use him anymore to raise funds, Affleck besmirched DeLay as a "criminal" while simultaneously demonstrating his political naivete. Though the Texas redistricting orchestrated by DeLay made his district less Republican, Affleck contended: "Tom DeLay personally gerrymandered that district so severely that it looks like a map of Italy....There won't be a Democrat elected in that seat for a thousand years. You can't say he's the poster boy for the left. He happens to be an incredibly powerful Republican who is a criminal and now you blame Democrats for pointing it out!"
[This item was posted late Friday night, with video and audio, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. The video will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert item, but in the meantime, to watch a video clip of Affleck talking about hanging and shooting Bush for treason, in Real or Windows Media, as well MP3 audio, go to: newsbusters.org ]
A September 30, 2005 Washington Post story noted: "As part of a Texas redistricting that DeLay engineered and that led to Republicans gaining five seats in that state, DeLay's district lost some GOP voters."
On Franken, an October 24 CyberAlert item, with video, recounted: "And so basically, what it looks like is going to happen is that Libby and Karl Rove are going to be executed" because "outing a CIA agent is treason," left-wing author and radio talk show host Al Franken asserted, to audience laughter, on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman. Franken qualified his hard-edged satire: "Yeah. And I don't know how I feel about it because I'm basically against the death penalty, but they are going to be executed it looks like." Franken later suggested that President Bush is at risk of receiving the same punishment, since Karl Rove likely told him what he did, but he added a caveat: "I think, by the way, that we should never ever, ever, ever execute a sitting President." See: www.mediaresearch.org )
Brief transcripts of the two portions of the April 7 Real Time with Bill Maher quoted above:
# Bill Sammon, Washington Examiner: "A lot of critics are conflating the two and are saying that because Bush disclosed this piece of information, they're implying that Bush leaked the name."
And moments later:
# Maher proposed that Tom DeLay is "the poster boy for the kind of getting paid off, sludge fund, influence-peddling [said "petting"], crony capitalism that has turned America into something less than a first-rate power."
HBO's page for Real Time with Bill Maher: www.hbo.com
The Internet Movie Database's page for Affleck: www.imdb.com
The Bush administration and all Americans got great news on the economic front Friday when the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 211,000 jobs were added in March while the unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent, the lowest level in four-and-a-half years. Yet NBC didn't see a booming economy. "President Bush used the jobs numbers as a starting point for a new push to try to convince Americans that the economy is, in fact, on a roll," NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams noted before adding a "but," as in: "But as NBC News chief financial correspondent Anne Thompson tells us tonight, the economic picture is a bit more complicated." Thompson highlighted how "a new poll out today shows 59 percent of Americans disapprove of the President's handling of the economy." After relaying how Bush blames Iraq for that, Thompson ran a soundbite from an economist who blamed slow wage growth before she recited her own litany: "Also dragging down attitudes, rising health care costs and gas prices. The nation has a negative savings rate, and household debt...is at record levels and could squeeze already strapped family budgets as interest rates continue to rise." Thompson ended her piece with a quick look at a Massachusetts computer company which is hiring.
At least NBC gave its viewers the basic numbers of the day before trying to discount them. Friday's CBS Evening News didn't utter a syllable about the jobs/unemployment numbers, yet Bob Schieffer's show found time for a second night of coverage of how Bush "authorized leaking classified information" and for a piece on an orphanage in Kenya for elephants -- and that was even before two fluff "Assignment America" segments. ABC's World News Tonight allocated 25 seconds to the unemployment/jobs numbers as anchor Elizabeth Vargas pointed out the 31 consecutive months of job growth.
In the AP's Friday dispatch, "Jobless Rate Down to 4.7 Percent in March," reporter Jeannine Aversa related more good economic news that NBC chose to avoid: "The employment figures for March come against the backdrop of a rebounding economy. Analysts believe the economy emerged from an end-of-year funk and grew at an annual rate of 4.5 percent or higher in the just ended January-to-March quarter." See: news.yahoo.com
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the April 7 NBC Nightly News story:
Brian Williams: "Back in this country now, news on the economy. Good news, in fact, on the jobs front. The government reported today 211,000 jobs were added to the nation's payrolls last month. The unemployment rate ticked down a tenth of a point to 4.7 percent. That matches its lowest reading in 4 and a half years time. President Bush used the jobs numbers as a starting point for a new push to try to convince Americans that the economy is, in fact, on a roll. But as NBC News chief financial correspondent Anne Thompson tells us tonight, the economic picture is a bit more complicated."
Anne Thompson: "A full court press today by Bush's economic team [TV screens with administration officials scrolling across] -- 22 scheduled appearances to tout the solid jobs report. An offensive led by the President, proud of the 5.1 million jobs created in the past 31 months."
NBC anchor Brian Williams gives extra weight to news items especially, it seems, if they appear to undermine religious faith. Before the last ad break on Friday's NBC Nightly News, Williams plugged an end of newscast commentary: "When we come back after a break, some thoughts on a week that has upended some things we sure thought we knew for sure." Williams began his remarks: "By one way of looking at this past week, would anyone blame you if your faith in some long held beliefs is tonight permanently shaken?" Williams then summarized three news stories which would only shake the faith of those without much commitment: How Jesus really walked on ice not water "which would throw a lot of the Bible into confusion," how some scientists claim to have "found the missing link between sea to land animals" and how Judas was really not a betrayer. Williams vacuously concluded: "Now, those who believe may choose what not to believe in all these cases. It is a lot to take in. In all, where the news is concerned, it's been a week of biblical proportions."
Of course, true believers base their belief of faith and so would not be swayed by one TV news story, and for those who see the Bible as a mixture of fact and allegories, the items Williams cited would have no impact.
The closing comments from Williams on the April 7 NBC Nightly News:
Human Events and National Review have posted pieces by MRCers reciting soon-to-be CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric's liberal record on NBC's Today. "New Faces, Same Old Liberal Skew," by Rich Noyes, was posted Friday by Human Events and today (Monday) National Review Online put up an article by Tim Graham, "Central Perk: Putting Katie Couric on the CBS throne is like replacing one Dan Rather with another." Reprints of both follow.
For the online posting of the Noyes piece: www.humaneventsonline.com
For the online posting's of Graham's offering: www.nationalreview.com
Are you one of the countless millions who wish the old broadcast networks were a bit more balanced in their political reporting? Well, both NBC and CBS seem to have an answer for you: tough luck!
CBS's decision to name Katie Couric as Dan Rather's permanent replacement on the "CBS Evening News," and NBC's choice of daytime talk show host Meredith Vieira to replace Couric on "Today," both indicate a defiant attitude toward viewers fed up with the media elite's insular liberal approach to covering political and social issues.
There's no doubt both women approach the news from a liberal perspective. Vieira, who's probably less familiar to viewers, is a onetime correspondent on CBS's magazine shows "60 Minutes" and "West 57th," who now co-hosts ABC's daytime "The View," where they often pontificate about the issues of the day. Vieira has never hid her disdain of conservatives in general and the war in Iraq in particular, even bragging back in 2004 about how she marched in an anti-war rally with her daughter: "I'm still so upset about this war!"
Of course, there's no rule that a talk show host needs to be neutral -- most aren't. But Vieira is now stepping into a role that requires a fairer approach, and her frequent outbursts have left her hopelessly compromised. When she interviews Condoleezza Rice, for example, the secretary of State will know that Vieira once said about President Bush's Iraq policies: "Everything's been built on lies. Everything! I mean the entire pre text for war." When the subject is the death penalty, "Today" viewers will (hopefully) recall that Vieira is loudly against it: "I don't believe in it, I don't believe in it."
For her part, Couric's specialty for the past 15 years has been to cuddle up to controversial liberals with softball interviews. Hillary Clinton is one of Katie's favorites, and Couric's elevation to the anchor chair is undoubtedly good news for the New York senator's presidential ambitions. It's nearly impossible to imagine Katie getting tough with Hillary, whom she sees as a fellow feminist pioneer. "Do you think the American people are not ready for someone who is as accomplished and career oriented as Hillary Clinton?" she admiringly asked the future First Lady back in 1992.
Couric also seems to adore Jimmy Carter, telling Carter he was "considered one of the world's foremost statesmen....Your reputation has been bolstered tremendously since you left office. How does that make you feel?" In the midst of the Iraq Oil-for-Food scandal, she empathetically told UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, "You literally have the weight of the world on your shoulders." Her hardball question for Annan: "Are you angry that the United States has not been more supportive of the UN?"
When House Democrats chose Nancy Pelosi as their new leader in 2002, Couric cheered on air: "You go, girl!" After Vermont liberal Jim Jeffords handed the Senate to Democrats back in 2001, Couric produced a gushing profile: "Jim Jeffords is the personification of one man, one vote, and his story a classic of American politics....Jeffords knew and agonized [over his decision to leave the Republican Party]....But flying to Vermont in May, Jeffords knew he'd made the right decision."
Couric isn't as fond of conservatives. She famously opened one show back in 1999 by falsely quoting Reagan biographer Edmund Morris: "Good morning. The Gipper was an airhead!" Morris actually wrote the President Reagan was "an apparent airhead," and told Couric she got it wrong: "He was a very bright man." As for Reagan's presidency, Couric suggested in an interview with William F. Buckley that "greed and materialism was the norm then, and that social ills were largely ignored, and therefore only worsened as a result of that neglect."
After the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard in October 1998, Couric blamed Christian conservatives: "The tragic beating of the college student in Wyoming has some activists in this country saying there is a climate of anti-gay hate that's been fostered by a provocative advertising campaign by the political right in this country."
Couric touts Europe's nanny states as a model for America. After NBC aired a report on France's mandatory 35-hour work week, Couric was giddy: "So great, that young mother being able to come home at 3:00 every day....The French, they've got it right, don't they?" In 2002, she worried that American athletes might display too much patriotism during the Winter Olympic games, fretting that "sometimes, the international community can interpret that as arrogant nationalism."
For more nearly two decades, the big broadcast networks have been losing viewers fed up with "news" coverage that reflects a narrow Manhattan liberalism while disdaining mainstream American conservatism. The elevation of Katie Couric and Meredith Vieira will do nothing to assuage those concerned about the skewed perspective of an out-of-touch liberal media. Instead, the networks seem committed to churning out more of the same slanted coverage that has cost them so dearly.
END of Reprint
The torch of Dan Rather has been passed at CBS, and another liberal flame-thrower is on the job. Katie Couric may seem to some as too stuffed with Perky Morning Cuteness to be attacked as an icon of the Liberal Elitist Media. But as different as her sparkly "That Girl" personality is from Dan Rather's wizened weirdness, they have one thing in common: Truth is a malleable commodity, something to be stretched and smudged like Silly Putty on the Sunday funnies if the political cause is right.
One moment sticks out in remembering Couric's approach to journalism. Reporters rarely admit their political leanings, but on the network morning shows, the female anchors are bold enough to identify themselves as part of the feminist movement. The words "feminist" and "we" can be interchanged, as they were in a June 2, 1994, Today interview when Katie Couric asked author of Who Stole Feminism, Christina Hoff Sommers, "what should we be using other than this angry rhetoric" in the feminist movement?
But a much more pernicious form of bias was revealed when the talk turned to statistics. Sommers scowled at the thoroughly discredited statistic that domestic violence increases after football games. Discredited statistics discredit the cause. But not for Couric, who suggested the feminist cause is more important than the truth: "Let's say, if one accepts your thesis, that these statistics are inflated or are used incorrectly. Aren't you worried about throwing the baby out with the bath water? So Super Bowl Sunday isn't the biggest day for men battering women. Aren't you afraid that you're going to be dismissing the problem all together if you refute that, or if you constantly criticize that?" Couric's Law: Don't refute errors if they set back liberal progress. Katie Couric needs to be taken seriously: as CBS replacing one Rather with another.
It's not that critics can't mock her for bouts of unbearable lightness. It's easy to remember her reading a Washington Post satire of Bob Graham's bizarre daily chronicle of his own small doings in 2003, then reading it to Graham as if it was real, even though it had laughable stage instructions like "Ascend stage, stumble, regain balance." Or asking Time editors later that year why there was no woman on their Person of the Year cover on the American soldier, when there was a woman standing in the center of the cover.
In 1997, after Lisa Myers profiled Sen. Fred Thompson as hearings began into Democratic fundraising abuses, Couric asked: "Lisa, back to the really important things. I remember he brought that country singer Lorrie Morgan to a Washington dinner once a few years back. Is he still dating her?" But even in the light-hearted moments, she can be mean-spirited to conservatives. Katie Couric thought Rush Limbaugh's prescription-drug addiction was killer comedy fodder when she guest-hosted the Jay Leno show: "I feel actually good because I flew out here, and Rush Limbaugh sat next to me on the plane. He gave me some vitamins. Whaa! It feels good!"
CBS will be under extra pressure from outside as well as inside the news division to give Couric a gravitas transplant, to be hard-hitting, and guess who will be getting slapped. Couric has a long record of liberal bias, especially on social issues. It was Couric who heavily suggested to David Brock he could not be trusted on the Anita Hill story since he came from the "ultraconservative" American Spectator, even as she interviewed Hill with syrupy questions about her historic legacy. But three years earlier, when she was just a reporter, she hailed The Nation magazine without even a liberal label: "It's always been a platform for speakers who have been ahead of their time. This morning, we'll look at a new book that reminds us how important that platform has been."
It was Couric who presided over two days of stories implying that Christian conservatives created a "climate" that led to the brutal beating death of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming. More recently, it was Couric who dragged the Nazi connections out, no matter how strained, for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pope Benedict, and then lectured others about peddling "dirty" allegations. Just weeks ago, it was Couric who pounded Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan about how his vision for a Catholic college town in Florida was "like, wow...really infringing on civil liberties," and "eschewing diversity and promoting intolerance" and "de facto segregation."
But the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric will probably still be a very comfortable neighborhood for liberal heroes, especially liberal women. She's hailed Madeleine Albright as a "rock star" and welcomed Nancy Pelosi to the House leadership with a "you go, girl." She is well known as a bowing and scraping ring-kisser of Hillary Clinton, going all the way back to 1992. In April of that year, Couric talked with Hillary about charges she'd be the "power behind the throne" and asked: "Do you think that those kinds of reactions, Ms. Clinton, are the product of just good old-fashioned sexism?"
She was still doing it when hailing "candid" Hillary's memoirs in 2003, and remembering the health care debacle: "But were you surprised at the backlash? The really vitriolic, violent backlash against you in many ways? Do you think it was good old-fashioned sexism?" With all this sympathy and you-go-girl feminist cheerleading, do Couric and her new employers really think it outrageous for conservatives to wonder if she won't have an enormous rooting interest in Hillary for president in the next year or two?
Disapproval of the idea of Couric succeeding Rather at CBS is not old-fashioned sexism. It's not the same as disapproval of a woman anchoring the news. Many women have done that with credibility over the years. It's disapproval of the ascent of yet another anchorman or anchorwoman whose professional output over the years screams the view that conservatism is a frightening caveman creed and liberalism isn't merely desirable, but inevitable.
END of Reprint
The MRC's Brian Boyd caught this news item read by Burgess at 6:23am EDT on April 7:
A short video clip of Burgess reading that item will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert item.
WFAN Radio, the originator of the show, has a page for Burgess: wfan.com
The April 6 CyberAlert had recounted: Meredith Vieira...marched in an anti-Iraq war protest back in August of 2004. On the Monday, August 30, 2004 edition of the ABC daytime show she quad-hosts, The View, the former CBS 60 Minutes reporter told viewers that she attended the anti-Bush protest held in New York City on the Sunday before the Republican convention opened, insisting: "I didn't go anti-Bush or pro-Kerry. I'm still so upset about this war and I'm so proud I live in a country where you can protest." She showed a photo of herself marching with her pre-teen daughter and her husband, Richard, who was the senior political producer at CBS News for most of the 1980s. Behind her in the photo: A protest sign featuring a "W," for George W. Bush, with a slash through it. Earlier in 2004, she declared of the Iraq war: "Everything's been built on lies. Everything! I mean the entire pre-text for war." When guest Ann Coulter charged that "liberals hate America," Vieira called that "stupid."
For more, including two video/audio clips of Vieira: www.mediaresearch.org
-- Brent Baker