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Foley Scandal as Doomsday for GOP: 'Too Late for Damage Control' --10/3/2006


1. Foley Scandal as Doomsday for GOP: 'Too Late for Damage Control'
"It could be too late for damage control," CBS anchor Katie Couric intoned Monday night in painting the worst-possible scenario for continued GOP control of the House in the wake of the Mark Foley scandal. Reporter Gloria Borger declared: "There is no getting around it: The unraveling of the page scandal could be the undoing of some House Republican leaders, if not their hold on Congress." With the words on screen, she highlighted how "one senior House Republican tells CBS News that this scandal 'could be the congressional equivalent of Katrina'" and "'our base is moral conservatives, and we look like a bunch of hypocrites who just didn't want another scandal before the election.'" Over on ABC's World News, George Stephanopoulos unequivocally stated: "This issue became the number one issue in every congressional race in the country. And both Republicans and Democrats say it has the potential to cost Republicans the Congress." Anchor Charles Gibson noted how House Speaker Dennis Hastert "says, 'Well, I was deceived.'" Gibson then suggested Hastert be held accountable: "Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that said: 'The Buck stops here.'"

2. Morning Shows: Big Push on Foley, Potential Loss of GOP Majority
In the wake of Rep. Mark Foley's sudden resignation over ABC finding his sexually charged electronic messages to teenage male House pages, Monday's broadcast network morning shows all began with Foley, and the networks presented doom-laden scenarios of a crumbling Republican majority and some demands for Speaker Dennis Hastert and other Republican House leaders to resign. "But this is more than just one man's downfall," insisted Matt Lauer on NBC. "It could be a major blow to the Republican Party, desperately trying to hold on to control of Congress in the coming midterm elections." ABC's Robin Roberts wondered, "this morning, newly revealed e-mails, the denials, dealings of a Congress in chaos. Could the Foley scandal cost the Republicans the House?" CBS's Julie Chen pushed Tony Snow to suggest Hastert and others should resign. ABC's George Stephanopoulos dramatically called the scandal "a Category Three hurricane and it's picking up steam." When CNN's Soledad O'Brien then tried to suggest she was "certainly not rushing for anybody's resignation," Snow protested: "Sure you are."

3. NBC Wins the Prize for Most Enthusiastic Woodward Book-Selling
If there was a competition on Monday morning to see who would give Bob Woodward the most free publicity, NBC's Today was the hands-down winner. Between the introductory promos, an Andrea Mitchell report, a Tony Snow interview, and a Bob Woodward interview, NBC gave Woodward's book, State of Denial, 15 minutes of publicity in the first half hour of Monday's show. In those 15 minutes, NBC viewers saw the book's red cover displayed on the screen six times, the title was mentioned at least five times, and the on-screen graphics carried the title for most of those 15 minutes.

4. Matthews: Bush 'Won't Tell Truth,' So 'Solution Is an Election'
Appearing on Monday's Tonight Show, MSNBC's Chris Matthews predicted Democrats will win the House since "I don't know how you can lose to this crowd," declared that he's "rooting for" a Democratic Senate candidate because of the candidate's race, went on a rant against Dick Cheney over the false premises behind the Iraq war and argued that since President Bush "won't tell the truth about this war," the "only solution...is an election." Jay Leno began the segment by asking about the Mark Foley scandal, but soon moved to whether Democrats will take over the House. Matthews predicted they will win the House, but not the Senate, adding of a Democrat who is black: "I'm rooting for Harold Ford in Tennessee for a reason. I think we need a little diversity up there on Capitol Hill. That would be nice." Apparently Maryland Republican Senate candidate Michael Steele, who is also black, would not add the proper "diversity." AUDIO&VIDEO

5. Pre-FNC, Ex-MSNBC Chief Recalls, Few Saw Any Liberal Bias
Clueless in Secaucus. "Before Fox," the AP's David Bauder relayed in a weekend article about the tenth anniversary of the Fox News Channel, "many in the media scoffed at the notion of a liberal bias and figured only a handful of people really believed that, said Erik Sorenson, former MSNBC President." Sorenson, the President of the Secaucus, New Jersey-based MSNBC from 1999 through early 2004, where he re-hired Keith Olbermann in 2003 to replace Phil Donahue's show which he had created, told Bauder: "Fox proved it's a much larger group than anybody realized." Many realized it earlier, just not very many inside MSNBC -- or CBS News, where he served as Executive Producer of the CBS Evening News from 1991 to 1995. So he should know how Rush Limbaugh was banned from the newscast back then. Indeed, Bauder related how "the very idea that Rush Limbaugh would appear on a CBS Evening News segment called 'Free Speech,' heavily promoted on Katie Couric's first night as anchor, would have been unfathomable a decade ago, Sorenson said."

6. Read It Here First: Weekly Standard, Novak Pick Up on Cyber Items
You read it here first. Highlighting an exchange featured in NewsBusters and CyberAlert, this week's "Scrapbook" in the Weekly Standard magazine mocked Katie Couric's retort to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: "To quote my daughter, 'Who made us the boss of them?'" And Monday's column by Robert Novak recounted how, on CBS's Early Show, former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer contradicted the claims Bill Clinton made, in his interview with Chris Wallace, about efforts to kill Osama bin Laden. A NewsBusters/CyberAlert item a week earlier had highlighted Scheuer's comments and another item documented how James Carville and Paula Begala rallied behind Clinton on the Today show, a joint appearance Novak also noted.

7. Letterman's "Top Ten Surprises in Bob Woodward's New Book"
Letterman's "Top Ten Surprises in Bob Woodward's New Book."


Foley Scandal as Doomsday for GOP: 'Too
Late for Damage Control'

"It could be too late for damage control," CBS anchor Katie Couric intoned Monday night in painting the worst-possible scenario for continued GOP control of the House in the wake of the Mark Foley scandal. Reporter Gloria Borger declared: "There is no getting around it: The unraveling of the page scandal could be the undoing of some House Republican leaders, if not their hold on Congress." With the words on screen, she highlighted how "one senior House Republican tells CBS News that this scandal 'could be the congressional equivalent of Katrina'" and "'our base is moral conservatives, and we look like a bunch of hypocrites who just didn't want another scandal before the election.'"

Over on ABC's World News, George Stephanopoulos unequivocally stated: "This issue became the number one issue in every congressional race in the country. And both Republicans and Democrats say it has the potential to cost Republicans the Congress." Anchor Charles Gibson noted how House Speaker Dennis Hastert "says, 'Well, I was deceived.'" Gibson then suggested Hastert be held accountable: "Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that said: 'The Buck stops here.' What is the jeopardy of the House Republican leadership?" Stephanopoulos replied, "The question is: How much more did they know? And why didn't they act on what they knew? That's what Democrats are going to push." And the Washington press corps, too.

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

The NBC Nightly News delivered a less-hyperbolic tone, but Tim Russert came aboard to raise the topic of "panic" amongst the GOP:
"Republicans are panicked, in a simple word. They know that even if the leadership did not quote, 'see the e-mails,' there was warnings of inappropriate behavior a year ago and nothing was done. They're afraid of the consequences and they're afraid the conservative Christians will simply stay home at these mid-term elections and not support Republican candidates."

The evening shows matched the tone expressed on Monday's morning shows, as detailed in item #2 below.

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for one story each aired on the October 2 CBS and ABC evening newscasts. Both carried two stories on the subject:

# CBS Evening News with Katie Couric:

Katie Couric: "House Speaker Dennis Hastert is feeling the heat from the scandal involving ex-Congressman Mark Foley of Florida. Hastert and other top Republicans knew for a year that Foley had sent questionable e-mails to a former congressional page. The Speaker says he only found out last Friday, though, about other sexually explicit messages sent by Foley. But, as national political correspondent Gloria Borger reports, it could be too late for damage control."

Gloria Borger: "There is no getting around it: The unraveling of the page scandal could be the undoing of some House Republican leaders, if not their hold on Congress. Congressman Mark Foley has left the premises to undergo rehab for what he called 'alcoholism and related behavioral problems,' as the FBI and Florida officials began investigating his contacts with a young male page. But on Capitol Hill, one senior House Republican tells CBS News that this scandal [text on screen] 'could be the congressional equivalent of Katrina.' 'Our base is moral conservatives, and we look like a bunch of hypocrites who just didn't want another scandal before the election.' Today Republicans named their new candidate, but winning is a long shot. And increasingly angry Republicans are asking: Did their leaders keep this secret to save a precious House seat? Republican Shelley Capito is demanding an answer."
Rep. Shelley Capito (R-WV): "Well, certainly I'm outraged at the circumstances."
Borger: "She's one of the three members in charge of Capitol Hill pages, and she says she was kept in the dark."
Capito: "If there was a concerted effort to keep Mr. Foley in Congress for whatever reason, political or otherwise, then I think that will come to light in the FBI investigation."
Borger: "Some religious conservatives may not want to wait for the FBI's report, and they have House Speaker Dennis Hastert in their sights. Today the Speaker defended himself, saying he didn't know of any explicit e-mails until last week."
Dennis Hastert, House Speaker: "Congressman Foley duped a lot of people."
Borger: "But Vin Weber, a former Republican House leader, asks how those in charge could have been so passive about a Foley e-mail to a young male page asking for his picture by simply describing it as overly friendly."
Former Rep. Vin Weber (R-MN): "I mean, it's just an inappropriate relationship. It should have sent off signal bells from the start."
Borger: "That's because Foley chaired the House caucus working against sexual predators. And consider this, Katie: If House Republican leaders had informed Democrats and law enforcement, they would have been able to control this politically. And more importantly, a serious investigation would already be under way."


# ABC's World News with Charles Gibson:

Charles Gibson: "And next, we're going to turn to the shock waves set off by Congressman Mark Foley three days after the Florida Republican resigned in disgrace over sexually explicit messages sent to teenage congressional pages and former pages. With an FBI investigation under way, Foley has checked into a rehab clinic, saying a lifelong addiction to alcohol drove him to the inappropriate behavior that ended his political career. Our chief investigative correspondent, Brian Ross, who broke this story, here with the latest."

After Ross, Gibson turned to Stephanopoulos:
"In essence, the Foley scandal is about children, and whether adults charged with their welfare did enough to protect them. But with the midterm elections five weeks from tomorrow, there is also a political component as well. Florida Republicans, for instance, today named a replacement candidate for Foley's congressional race, State Representative Joe Negron. However, due to Florida law, Foley's name must remain on the ballot. We're going to turn now to our chief Washington correspondent, George Stephanopoulos. So, George, there's already fallout in that race in Florida. And in others?"
George Stephanopoulos, in DC: "Oh, absolutely, Charlie. Over the weekend, this issue became the number one issue in every congressional race in the country. And both Republicans and Democrats say it has the potential to cost Republicans the Congress. You mentioned that race in Florida, the House Majority Leader, John Boehner, all but conceded that race today. And there's a second race where it's having a big impact: Congressman Tom Reynolds, up in Buffalo. He runs the Republican Congressional Campaign [Committee], he was one of the members of Congress who knew about Foley's e-mails earlier this year, he's already in a tight race, and he's called a press conference tonight to deal with the controversy."
Charles Gibson: "George, the jeopardy of the House Republican leadership. Brian [Ross] just reported that there were warnings since last spring about Foley. And yet very little was done. But then Dennis Hastert, the Speaker of the House, says, 'Well, I was deceived.' Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that said: 'The Buck stops here.' What is the jeopardy of the House Republican leadership?"
Stephanopoulos: "Well, the question is: How much more did they know? And why didn't they act on what they knew? That's what Democrats are going to push. They're saying that in any business in the country, given the information they had, there would have been more of an investigation and more discipline for Mark Foley. And actually they're getting some backup here from conservative Republicans as well right now, and they're going to continue to drive this issue. They're also going to say Democrats were cut out of any investigation."

Morning Shows: Big Push on Foley, Potential
Loss of GOP Majority

In the wake of Rep. Mark Foley's sudden resignation over ABC finding his sexually charged electronic messages to teenage male House pages, Monday's broadcast network morning shows all began with Foley, and the networks presented doom-laden scenarios of a crumbling Republican majority and some demands for Speaker Dennis Hastert and other Republican House leaders to resign. "But this is more than just one man's downfall," insisted Matt Lauer on NBC. "It could be a major blow to the Republican Party, desperately trying to hold on to control of Congress in the coming midterm elections." ABC's Robin Roberts wondered, "this morning, newly revealed e-mails, the denials, dealings of a Congress in chaos. Could the Foley scandal cost the Republicans the House? "

ABC's Chris Cuomo and CBS's Julie Chen each pushed Tony Snow to suggest Hastert and others should resign. Chen also asked if Republican leaders should be questioned "under oath." ABC's George Stephanopoulos dramatically called the scandal "a Category Three hurricane and it's picking up steam." When CNN's Soledad O'Brien then tried to suggest she was "certainly not rushing for anybody's resignation," Snow protested: "Sure you are." None made historical comparisons with Democrats caught in sexual relationships with House pages or other teenagers.

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

It was a four-network portrait of aggression:

# ABC's Good Morning America. With Diane Sawyer in Los Angeles to interview actor Robin Williams about his struggles with alcoholism, Chris Cuomo sat in the anchor chair next to Robin Roberts. They began with the Foley hype, with the first nine and a half minutes devoted to the Foley scandal:

Cuomo: "Capitol Hill leaders scrambling all weekend, the story is Congressman Mark Foley. Allegations about e-mails, and now reports that he may be in rehab."
Roberts: "It's a story of course that we broke here on ABC News, and this morning, newly revealed e-mails, the denials, dealings of a Congress in chaos. Could the Foley scandal cost the Republicans the House?"

ABC's Brian Ross aired a story with the text of some Internet messages from Foley (with the handle "Maf54"), and interviewed former page Matthew Loraditch, who charged they were warning pages about Foley five years ago. Then they turned to ABC Chief Washington Correspondent George Stephanopoulos for gloomy political predictions for the GOP:

Robin Roberts: "Let's get right to the political fallout from all this. Joining us is our chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos, who is also, of course, the host of This Week. And let's get right to it, George. How bad is this for Republicans in Congress?"
Stephanopoulos: "Right now, Robin, it's a category three hurricane and it's picking up steam. Republicans all across the country are getting questions about it. But here's the key question: did any Republican leaders know about those X-rated emails that Brian is talking about? If they did, it is game over. The leadership will have to resign. It will cost Republicans control of Congress. As one top GOP aide told me just this morning, the place will burn down."
Roberts: "Let's talk a little bit about what the leadership possibly knew, because you know very well, often times there in D.C. not so much the crime, as it is the cover-up that leads to the fall down, the downfall of so many, so what do we know when they knew it?"
Stephanopoulos: "Here's what they say. They say back a year ago, a Louisiana congressman, Congressman Alexander, came to the Speaker's office because that, because he had learned about these overly friendly emails, not the X-rated ones. He told the Speakers office. The head of the page program was then told, another congressman from Illinois. He called Foley in and warned him to cut this out. Later in the spring, two other key members of the House leadership learned about these emails. John Boehner, the majority leader, Tom Reynolds, the head of the campaign committee. Reynolds says he told the Speaker in the spring, the Speaker says he doesn't remember it. And of course, just last week, Foley resigned."
Roberts: "We invited the speaker, Dennis Hastert, on GMA, and he politely declined. You have talked to members of both parties, so where does this go from here, George?"
Stephanopoulos: "Well, the Speaker's still meeting with members of the page committee, to -- trying to get all the details, they've called for an investigation. Republicans are trying to get out ahead of this, show that they have nothing to hide, showing that they are going to investigate it. Democrats have a single line, a single mantra. They're saying this chain of facts shows the Republicans were more interested in protecting one of their own, a member of Congress, than protecting the kids in their care, the pages. They're going to drive that for the next five weeks."
Roberts: "You know, Republicans have been courting the so-called security mom vote, and saying that they're stronger when it comes to the war on terror. This, of course, hits much closer to home, so are they fearful that this will kind of override that appeal?"
Stephanopoulos: "No question about it. They know this is not going away. They're worried about these questions. And what you have now are Republican candidates distancing themselves from this problem. They're calling for an investigation. They're giving back money they got from Foley. They're going to go the extra mile for the next five weeks to show that they had nothing to do with this and they're going to do everything they can to protect pages, but this is incredibly damaging, Robin."

In his interview with Tony Snow, Chris Cuomo, son of Mario, carried the Democratic attack with vigor:
"[A]ll of this discussion raises what the White House is going to do about this and what they're thinking. Of course, the implications could be very big for the elections. So the question is, how is the Bush team going to handle this, and the scathing new book by legendary reporter Bob Woodward? That is called, In a State of Denial [sic], heavy title. We go to Tony Snow, the White House press secretary, for some answers. Congressman Foley, a lot of letters going around now by Republicans and their leadership, calling for investigations and accountability. But let me ask you this simple question. If it turns out that the leadership knew or had reason to know about what Congressman Foley was doing in those emails, should they be forced to resign?"
Tony Snow: "I, you know, I don't get the calls for resignations, especially when it comes to members of the House. People got to figure out what happened here. Members of leadership, as well as Representative Foley, or former Representative Foley -- look, it's a terrible story and I think people deserve to figure out what went on. On the other hand, you know, I think what you're seeing also, are a lot of people trying to figure out, ok, can I get political advantage out of this? Let's figure out what the facts are. Let's take it one step at a time. There will always be time for people to call for investigations and so on. Frankly, I think, we just need to get to the facts."
Cuomo: "But we do know, Tony, that many of the calls for investigations are coming from Republicans and we do know that as long as five years ago there were warnings to pages about Congressman Foley. Where's the accountability here on the part of the Republicans? Doesn't someone have to step down if they knew about this?"
Snow: "Well, again, Chris, you're assuming that I know what's been going on for the last five years. You and I are just trying to figure it out."
Cuomo: "You are aware that five years ago they were giving warnings to pages about this congressman, though, right, Tony?"
Snow: "Yeah, I am aware of it. But, again, I'm telling you, Chris, you got to figure out what's going on. What would you do? What would you do?"
Cuomo: "Okay. Okay. It's not for me to decide, Tony. It's just for me to ask the questions. Let me move on with you so we can get to something else."


# CBS's Early Show. Co-host Harry Smith opened up the show by noting: "Some top Republicans have been accused of a coverup." Reporter Sharyl Attkisson had a report, setting up a timeline of response from Hastert aides (all presented as silhouettes, without names, merely as a Staff Assistant, the Deputy Chief of Staff, the In-House Counsel, and the Clerk of the House). They talked to Rep. John Shimkus (pictured and named), as Shimkus and the Clerk warned Foley to stop the messages.

Co-host Julie Chen asked Tony Snow about the Bob Woodward book first, and saved the second part for Foley:
"Let's move on to Mark Foley, what's the White House reaction to the resignation of Foley?"
Snow: "Well, again, Mark Foley has resigned; it's an all awfully disturbing story and members of the House of Representatives are going to be taking a look at it."
Chen: "There are reports that Republican leadership knew about these overly friendly e-mails between Foley and a young male former page for almost a year. Should those who knew about these e-mails be forced to resign?"
Snow: "You know, everybody's calling for heads today. I'd like to call for the facts. Let's figure out what's going on. There will be plenty of time to call for heads and call for certain kinds of justice. I think the most important thing to remember is pages come to Washington, their parents ought to be able to be assured that no member of Congress of either party is going to be hitting on them. That's an important piece of business, so I think that's something that the House of Representatives needs to do. It's a House problem. They need to take care of it."
Chen went further: "Should people be questioned under oath about what they knew about these e-mails?"
Snow: "Again, let's, the House has its own procedures for doing investigations. Let them do the investigation. Let people draw their conclusions about whether they think it's up to snuff after it's done."
Chen: "White House press secretary Tony Snow, thank you."


# NBC's Today. At the show's open, with the words "Foley Into Rehab" on screen, Matt Lauer proclaimed: "Good morning, was alcohol to blame? After being accused of sending inappropriate electronic messages to underage male congressional pages, former Congressman Mark Foley says he is checking into rehab for alcoholism as the FBI launches an investigation."

From there, the co-hosts previewed again their pressure on the GOP:

Meredith Vieira: "Florida Republican Congressman Mark Foley resigned from Congress on Friday after word surfaced he sent sexually explicit electronic messages to male pages who were in high school."
Lauer: "But this is more than just one man's downfall. It could be a major blow to the Republican Party, desperately trying to hold on to control of Congress in the upcoming midterm elections. Now the FBI wants to know if Foley has broken any federal laws. Last night his attorney released a letter from Foley saying he's entered rehab for alcohol and emotional difficulties. Gonna have more on all this coming up in just a couple of minutes."

With most of their attention in the first half-hour on Bob Woodward's new book-length attack on Bush -- and Vieira didn't ask Snow any Foley questions -- NBC merely ran a Mike Taibbi story on the self-perpetuating prediction of a growing Foley scandal:

Mike Taibbi: "Mark Foley hasn't been seen publicly since his sudden resignation Friday over his sexually explicit internet contacts with underage male congressional pages and his nameplate removed from his office door. But the fallout from the scandal is gathering steam."
Sen. Mike DeWine: "I think there has to be a full investigation of who knew what and when they knew it."
Rep. Sherrod Brown: "Any legislative leader that knew ahead of time and did nothing should resign."

Brown, a Democrat, is running against DeWine for the Senate.

Like Attkisson, Taibbi suggested a Republican conspiracy: "At least five Republican House members did know ahead of time, some nearly a year ago, about emails described as over-friendly that Foley sent a 16-year-old male page, though not about any overtly sexual messages. The party's congressional committee chairman, Thomas Reynolds, said the situation was resolved after Foley insisted his emails were innocent and that House Speaker Dennis Hastert was told about it. But a Democratic member of the page board, which runs the page program, said he heard nothing about Foley's emails until the scandal exploded Friday and that any suggestion of an investigation by the board was completely false. Hence the accelerating talk among Democrats about an election year Republican cover-up."
Sen. Richard Durbin: "The fact that they didn't stop him, the fact that they didn't bring in law enforcement, I think they have to be held accountable."
Taibbi: "Some Republicans, like New York Congressman Peter King are calling for an open and unlimited investigation to start within days, not weeks, no matter the midterm elections and no matter where the facts lead. Mike Taibbi, NBC News, New York."


# CNN's American Morning. Co-host Soledad O'Brien, like Chen, asked Tony Snow about Woodward first, Foley second:
"I do want to talk a little bit about Congressman Mark Foley which is our other prong. So if we can shift, I'd love to move on. There is a lot to talk about there as well. There is an investigation, as you well know, but my question would be, why is Representative Hastert, when he was aware that there were over friendly e-mails between a congressman and a 16-year-old page, why so slow to move to an investigation?"
Snow: "You're going to have to ask the speaker about that stuff. Look, our plate is full enough. This is a terrible story. And Soledad, I got three kids. I think it's absolutely incumbent on members of Congress, many of whom have the charge of young pages, to make sure that these kids can come and get a good experience in Washington, not have to worry about the sort of things that have been alleged here. My sense is, figure out what the facts are, figure out who knew what when, let the House go ahead and conduct its investigations and others do it. We're going to find out the facts and I think probably sooner or later, because people do want to know."
O'Brien: "I would assume everybody would want to know, including the president. I mean we're not talking about any old person, we're talking about the leadership of the Republicans in Congress. Why would he not hear something that's disturbing or his office? Over-friendly, when I see that word as a parent and I think any parent would say whoa, over-friendly? Any communication between a 16-year-old and a congressman why doesn't that raise red flags, major, massive red flags?"
Snow ever-so-slightly suggested Democrats weren't immune from sex scandals: "Yeah, look, I hate to tell you, but it's not always pretty up there on Capitol Hill and there have been other scandals as you know that have been more than simply naughty e-mails. You know look, again, I'll reiterate my point. I think it's important to protect these kids and make sure that they have a good experience and like you, I want to find out what happened. But before we prosecute let's figure out what all the facts are. That's probably the most important thing to do is to be fair to all parties."
O'Brien: "Well, there are some who would say the perception comes across then, regardless of where we are in the investigation, that in fact, there was more of a concern about political fallout than there was about the welfare of a 16-year-old or any other teenagers who may work in the office."
Snow: "Again Soledad, I'll let you or the unnamed people draw the conclusions. I'm going to stick by my point which is that I think we have to take care of these kids."
O'Brien: "Does the president and does the administration standby Representative Hastert as far as he has led so far on this issue?"
Snow: "Again, we have to find out what's going on. You're trying to create problems. What you are trying to do is pick fights here. We need to figure out what's going on. Find the facts, figure out what the situation is, everybody's rushing for resignations and this and that. Let's just figure out what the deal is and then we can proceed from there."
O'Brien: "Well just a final point and I'm not -- certainly not rushing for anybody's resignation."
Snow: "Sure you are."
O'Brien: "Absolutely not. I am just here to try the figure out the story, sir."
Snow: "So am I."
O'Brien: "And I'm certainly not trying to create problems. I am just concerned as I would imagine lots of voters would be about the leadership on both sides, Democrats and Republicans."
Snow: "Look, I think it's going to be interesting because maybe all these folks will start taking a look at how they treat the young people who are in their charge. Again, I'll reiterate the second point, I think you and I agree on this. It's a horrible story. It's a horrible story. We have to figure out what happened, if there is a bigger problem, fix it."
O'Brien: "Tony Snow is the White House press secretary. Nice to talk to you, thanks for being with us this morning. Appreciate it."

NBC Wins the Prize for Most Enthusiastic
Woodward Book-Selling

If there was a competition on Monday morning to see who would give Bob Woodward the most free publicity, NBC's Today was the hands-down winner. Between the introductory promos, an Andrea Mitchell report, a Tony Snow interview, and a Bob Woodward interview, NBC gave Woodward's book, State of Denial, 15 minutes of publicity in the first half hour of Monday's show. In those 15 minutes, NBC viewers saw the book's red cover displayed on the screen six times, the title was mentioned at least five times, and the on-screen graphics carried the title for most of those 15 minutes.

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

After Matt Lauer promoted the Mark Foley story, he added: "Counterpunch. The Bush administration fights backs, fights back against explosive claims in Bob Woodward's new book that it bungled the war in Iraq." Seconds later, Meredith Vieira added: "And another big story out of Washington, that bombshell book from legendary investigative journalist Bob Woodward paints a scathing picture of the Bush administration's handing of the war in Iraq, that goes as far as to say the White House is deliberately misleading the public."

The Andrea Mitchell set-up piece was about two minutes and 40 seconds. The Tony Snow interview was roughly five minutes, the Woodward interview another six. (Introductory promos took up about 38 seconds.) During the Woodward interview, the graphic on screen was "Bombshell Book: Was Bush In a 'State of Denial'?" NBC also instructed viewers to read more at MSNBC.com.

Mitchell laid the Woodward line out with gusto: "Once again, a Bob Woodward book is causing a political firestorm." (Who's the firestorm manufacturer here, with 15 minutes of heavy-breathing air time?) "In his latest, State of Denial, he describes a feuding foreign policy team and an administration deliberately misleading the public about the war in Iraq."

After publicizing the claims that White House insiders wanted Donald Rumsfeld canned (along with denials), Mitchell added: "State of Denial portrays Rumsfeld as arrogant, running roughshod over his commanders and Condoleezza Rice. And Woodward says Rice, when she was National Security Adviser, ignored a warning from CIA Director George Tenet, two months before 9/11, that he feared a major al-Qaeda attack. Rice has disputed Woodward's description of the briefing and her lack of response."

Mitchell wasn't done with the publicizing and underlining: "Perhaps most damaging, Woodward's claims of a coverup about the insurgency in Iraq. Classified documents in the book indicate the Pentagon knew the number of attacks on U.S. troops was going up while claiming the opposite and under-reporting the numbers. Flying overnight to the Middle East, Condoleezza Rice told reporters it is incomprehensible that she would ignore that CIA warning two months before 9/11 but records and participants in that meet show that it did, indeed, take place."

Matthews: Bush 'Won't Tell Truth,' So
'Solution Is an Election'

Appearing on Monday's Tonight Show, MSNBC's Chris Matthews predicted Democrats will win the House since "I don't know how you can lose to this crowd," declared that he's "rooting for" a Democratic Senate candidate because of the candidate's race, went on a rant against Dick Cheney over the false premises behind the Iraq war and argued that since President Bush "won't tell the truth about this war," the "only solution...is an election." Jay Leno began


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More See & Hear the Bias

the segment by asking about the Mark Foley scandal, but soon moved to whether DemoTop Media Stretch Foley Scandal to All GOPcrats will take over the House. Matthews predicted they will win the House, but not the Senate, adding of a Democrat who is black: "I'm rooting for Harold Ford in Tennessee for a reason. I think we need a little diversity up there on Capitol Hill. That would be nice." Apparently Maryland Republican Senate candidate Michael Steele, who is also black, would not add the proper "diversity."

Matthews charged that Donald Rumsfeld "wants all the power in the world, but he doesn't want any responsibility." As for Bush, Matthews contended: "The President won't talk to anybody who said he's made a mistake. He won't admit any mistakes, and in the end, he won't tell the truth about this war over there. And that's the problem we got with the President. The only solution to this is an election." Matthews earned applause from the audience in Burbank when he urged both parties to declare "we're getting out of there [Iraq] at the end of this President's term."

[This item was posted, with video, late Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. The media files will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, but in the meantime, to watch the Real or Windows Media video -- or to listen to the MP3 audio -- go to: newsbusters.org ]

Matthews also made clear his wish that John McCain not promise to keep troops in Iraq: "Unless somebody stands forth, if McCain does it, I'd hate to see it, but if somebody comes forth and says, 'I want to keep 150,000 troops there after the next election,' we'll vote against that guy, if that's what you think."

In the midst of Matthews' rambling comments about the false claims made by Cheney and Rumsfeld, host Jay Leno interjected a question which presumed the news media haven't been aggressive enough toward the administration: "Why has the media dropped the ball? Why don't they, I mean, this seems like, it seems like the reporters now just take what's given to them."

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for a portion of Matthews' appearance on the October 2 Tonight Show with Jay Leno:

Jay Leno: "Will this effect the elections?"
Chris Matthews: "Oh, yeah, it's part of the whole smell. I mean, you got one guy messing around with the pages. You got somebody else with $90,000 in cold cash in his refrigerator that they find on Capitol Hill. You got another guy who sells out for a yacht, this guy down here, Duke Cunningham. You know? And you got a lot. And then you got George Allen with his problem, with macaca and all that stuff. He's in deep macaca."
Leno: "That's like the trifecta. They've got sex, racism, and-"
Matthews: "Yeah, I'm calling them the magnificent seven. I got a list of these guys. No, I think it's gonna hurt the Republicans. They're in charge."
Leno: "Will Democrats win the House?"
Matthews: "Not because they're doing a great job in opposition, but I don't know how you can lose to this crowd."
Leno: "Yeah." [laughter]
Matthews: "I think that, I heard Mark Russell the other night. He always does the jokes about politicians. He said, 'What do congressmen say to each other on Wednesday? Have a nice weekend.' They're not working very hard up there, you know? Now we know it's not a do-nothing Congress. But, of course, when they do stuff, it's illegal."
Leno: "Illegal, yeah. Now, will they win the Senate, do you think?"
Matthews: "Yeah, I can count four. I can't count the six they need."
Leno: "Okay."
Matthews: "I'm rooting for Harold Ford in Tennessee for a reason. I think we need a little diversity up there on Capitol Hill. That would be nice. So I think that it's going to be close in the Senate. I think they'll take the House."
Leno: "What do you make of the Woodward book? What do you make of this?"
Matthews: "Well, it's, somebody said, Frank Rich said the other day in the New York Times, it's tardy in investigative reporting. I mean, we all knew this pretty much from watching the behavior that the President, you know, there wasn't any WMD, and then Cheney said there was going to be, there was going to be a nuclear explosion. Condi said there's gonna be a mushroom cloud. They said that they were connected to 9/11 somehow. Cheney said it all over and over again. There was no connection. It wasn't payback.
"It was just some other war we started. And finally Cheney kept saying, oh, this is going to be a cakewalk, this is going to be easy, they're going to treat us as liberators. Well, the latest polling, which the President doesn't want to face, is that three out of five Iraqis want us dead. Four out of five want us out of their country. They hate us being in their country. We're not there for them because they don't want us there. And so these are facts, we're getting hit every 15 minutes, an American unit gets hit in Iraq, and the President still says things are getting better, we're winning the war against terrorism. Every 15 minutes, we get hit over there. And the inside intelligence he's getting is that next year is going to be worse, more than every 15 minutes, so we're not getting the truth. I think the one thing good about Woodward's book is he's not partisan, he's not political, he gives us the facts. And the facts say everything I just said."
Leno: "Why has the media dropped the ball? Why don't they, I mean, this seems like, it seems like the reporters now just take what's given to them. And like you say, we have, we have stories on Paris Hilton."
Matthews: "There's too much of that crap."
Leno: "And we have all the stuff, but this doesn't-"
Matthews: "Of course, unfortunately, the Foley story sort of overlaps into this scum kind of story. You know, we have that. But I do think, we looked at the polling. I just did it today. And in every state but Missouri, the number one issue among voters, regular people, is Iraq. They don't like this war. They want us out of there, wish we had never go, had never gone in the first place. Missouri, for some reason, and this makes sense, health is the number one issue. But everywhere else, they say it's Iraq. And I think it's gonna hurt the Republicans."
Leno: "And how does Rumsfeld keep his job? Like, I read that Andy Card-"
Matthews: "Cheney. You want a short answer?"
Leno: "Yeah, Cheney?"
Matthews: "He got him the job, and he's going to keep him there. And Rumsfeld is-"
Wanda Sykes, the previous guest: "Does Rumsfeld have, like, pictures on Cheney or something?"
Matthews: "Well, they go way back. They go back. They worked together under Ford. They've been together forever. You know, Rumsfeld is one of these guys, I think we know guys like this in show business, too. He wants all the power in the world, but he doesn't want any responsibility. So Bob Woodward said to him, 'Do you feel bad when you make a mistake and soldiers die?' Now, most human beings would say, 'Yeah.' He says, 'I've never been responsible for a soldier dying.' And then he said, 'Well, only indirectly.' And then he said, 'Only two or three steps removed.' And yet he's just mentally, this is the denial that Woodward's talking about in this book.
"The President won't talk to anybody who said he's made a mistake. He won't admit any mistakes, and in the end, he won't tell the truth about this war over there. And that's the problem we got with the President. The only solution to this is an election. People say, 'What should we do?' Hold an election for President in a year, next year. And by 2008, I think both parties ought to get together and say, 'Look, when Bush is gone, nobody else is going to keep us there, so you people over in Iraq get your act together because we're getting out of there at the end of this President's term. We're getting out by then.' [applause]
"And I think we'll give it another year and half. But then they've got to understand that we're having an election in this country. And unless somebody stands forth, if McCain does it, I'd hate to see it, but if somebody comes forth and says, 'I want to keep 150,000 troops there after the next election,' we'll vote against that guy, if that's what you think."

Pre-FNC, Ex-MSNBC Chief Recalls, Few
Saw Any Liberal Bias

Clueless in Secaucus. "Before Fox," the AP's David Bauder relayed in a weekend article about the tenth anniversary of the Fox News Channel, "many in the media scoffed at the notion of a liberal bias and figured only a handful of people really believed that, said Erik Sorenson, former MSNBC President." Sorenson, the President of the Secaucus, New Jersey-based MSNBC from 1999 through early 2004, where he re-hired Keith Olbermann in 2003 to replace Phil Donahue's show which he had created, told Bauder: "Fox proved it's a much larger group than anybody realized." Many realized it earlier, just not very many inside MSNBC -- or CBS News, where he served as Executive Producer of the CBS Evening News from 1991 to 1995. So he should know how Rush Limbaugh was banned from the newscast back then. Indeed, Bauder related how "the very idea that Rush Limbaugh would appear on a CBS Evening News segment called 'Free Speech,' heavily promoted on Katie Couric's first night as anchor, would have been unfathomable a decade ago, Sorenson said."

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

An excerpt from Bauder's October 1 dispatch, which on Yahoo carries the headline, "Slumping Fox News celebrating 1st decade":

...."I watched CNN for a week before I went on and I kept trying to wake myself up," [Fox News CEO Roger] Ailes told The Associated Press. "I kept nodding off and I realized they are biased, they are boring, they looked like a network that has never had any competition."

Ailes, a former Republican political operative, said simply presenting different points of view made Fox seem like a contrast to left-leaning news coverage elsewhere.

Before Fox, many in the media scoffed at the notion of a liberal bias and figured only a handful of people really believed that, said Erik Sorenson, former MSNBC president.

"Fox proved it's a much larger group than anybody realized," he said.

Their success clearly made others respond. The very idea that Rush Limbaugh would appear on a "CBS Evening News" segment called "Free Speech," heavily promoted on Katie Couric's first night as anchor, would have been unfathomable a decade ago, Sorenson said.

"I've had many people say to me we have forced people to think differently in their own newsrooms," Ailes said....

END of Excerpt

For the AP article in full: news.yahoo.com

Back in 2001, after 9/11, Sorenson whined about the "patriotism police." As recounted in an MRC CyberAlert at the time, the November 7, 2001 New York Times reported:
"'Any misstep and you can get into trouble with these guys and have the Patriotism Police hunt you down,' said Erik Sorenson, President of MSNBC. 'These are hard jobs. Just getting the facts straight is monumentally difficult. We don't want to have to wonder if we are saluting properly. Was I supposed to use the three-fingered salute today?'"

Read It Here First: Weekly Standard,
Novak Pick Up on Cyber Items

You read it here first. Highlighting an exchange featured in NewsBusters and CyberAlert, this week's "Scrapbook" in the Weekly Standard magazine mocked Katie Couric's retort to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: "To quote my daughter, 'Who made us the boss of them?'" And Monday's column by Robert Novak recounted how, on CBS's Early Show, former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer contradicted the claims Bill Clinton made, in his interview with Chris Wallace, about efforts to kill Osama bin Laden. A NewsBusters/CyberAlert item a week earlier had highlighted Scheuer's comments and another item documented how James Carville and Paula Begala rallied behind Clinton on the Today show, a joint appearance Novak also noted.

The "Scrapbook" item in the October 9 Weekly Standard:

CBS 'News': the Couric Era

CBS News anchor Katie Couric interviews Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, September 24, 2006:

COURIC: When she defends her position, this former Stanford professor can at times sound like she's lecturing a class. . . . Is it really priority number one, in terms of philosophically and pragmatically, for the United States to be spreading democracy around the world?
RICE: Well, first of all, the United States is not spreading democracy. The United States is standing with those who want a democratic future. . . . What's wrong with assistance so that people can have their full and complete right to the very liberties and freedoms that we enjoy?
COURIC: To quote my daughter, 'Who made us the boss of them?'

Well -- seems to us that when the interviewer at times sounds like she's channeling a 10-year-old, the interviewee can be forgiven for sounding like she's lecturing a class.

END of Excerpt

That's online at: www.weeklystandard.com

The September 25 CyberAlert, "Couric Cites Daughter to Rice: 'Who Made Us the Boss of Them?', began:

In a profile of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice which led Sunday's 60 Minutes, Katie Couric explained how Rice "rejects the notion that the U.S. is a bully, imposing its values on the world." CBS then ran a soundbite from Rice as she sat a few feet in front of Couric: "What's wrong with assistance so that people can have their full and complete right to the very liberties and freedoms that we enjoy?" To which, Couric retorted by inserting one of her kids into the story: "To quote my daughter, 'Who made us the boss of them?'" (Couric has two daughters, one a teen and the other a tween, I believe.) Couric followed up: "You have said that your goal was, quote, 'To leave the world not just safer but better.' Right now Iraq doesn't seem safer, Iran and North Korea have not fallen into line. Do you honestly believe that the world is safer now?" See: www.mrc.org

In his October 2 column, Bob Novak reported:
"On Sunday, Clinton assailed Wallace for 'your nice little conservative hit job on me' in questioning his determination as president to get Osama bin Laden. On CBS's Early Show Monday, the head of the CIA's bin Laden unit during the Clinton administration, Michael Scheuer, said the al Qaeda leader 'is alive today' because Clinton and his top lieutenants refused to kill him. 'It's just an incredible kind of situation,' said Scheuer, 'for the American people over the weekend to hear their former president mislead them.'"

The September 26 CyberAlert, "CBS Analyst Blames Clinton for Failure to Kill bin Laden," recounted:

Despite Bill Clinton's angry protestations, the bulk of the blame for America's failure to catch or kill Osama bin Laden lies squarely on the Clinton administration, at least according to former CIA officer turned CBS News analyst Michael Scheuer. Scheuer's words, delivered on Monday's edition of CBS's Early Show, must have come as a shock for co-host Harry Smith since the liberal media's usual refrain on bin Laden is to blame Bush for the failure to kill him back in the early days of the Afghanistan campaign.

That just isn't the case, Scheuer argued, implicitly criticizing the press: "The former President seems to be able to deny facts with impunity. Bin Laden is alive today because Mr. Clinton, Mr. Sandy Berger, and Mr. Richard Clarke refused to kill him," he said. See: www.mrc.org

Novak also related: "Republican insiders, meanwhile, saw a Democratic plot, mapped by Clinton's longtime political advisers, James Carville and Paul Begala, to blunt the GOP comeback. On NBC's Today program, they agreed that their chief had just stiffened the backbone of Democrats. 'Good Dr. Clinton gave us a spinal transplant on Sunday,' Begala exulted."

A September 27 CyberAlert item, "Today's Idea of Balanced Guests: James Carville and Paul Begala?" See: www.mrc.org

For Novak's column, "Clinton's Flawed Legacy," go to: www.townhall.com

Letterman's "Top Ten Surprises in Bob
Woodward's New Book"

From the October 2 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Surprises in Bob Woodward's New Book." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. Bush financed the war by selling White House china on e-Bay

9. Instead of pursuing al-Qaeda, CIA agents originally pursued Al Pacino

8. President's military strategy based on re-runs of F-Troop

7. Bush's plan: To fix this mess by the end of his third term

6. Says both Bush and Clinton could have done more to prevent the new Kevin Costner film

5. Frequent use of the word "Brangelina"

4. The nude fold-out of Donald Rumsfeld

3. Iraq insurgency began when local affiliates started broadcasting 'Yes, Dear'

2. Book chronicles Condoleezza's futile attempts to get laid

1. Bush lost focus on Iraq because Congressman Mark Foley wouldn't stop sending him inappropriate e-mails


# Keith Olbermann is scheduled to be a guest on tonight's (Tuesday) Late Show.

-- Brent Baker