Iraq "Spinning Out of Control," An Up Side to Saddam's Rule --4/6/2004
2. Olbermann Embraces John Dean's 'Worse Than Watergate' Book
3. Pulitzers Go to Liberal Columnist and Liberal Agenda Stories
4. NY Times Picks Up on How Prime Time TV Features Bush-Bashing
5. Celebrities Come Out for Kerry Fundraiser in Beverly Hills
Correction: The April 5 CyberAlert listed an Eastern Standard Time distribution time. It was actually sent at 10:50am Eastern Daylight Time.
Dan Rather and Katie Couric on Monday employed nearly the same hyperbolic language to describe the status in Iraq, claiming it's "spinning" or "spiraling" into an "out of control" situation. Couric also found an upside to Saddam Hussein's tyrannical rule, contending that "no matter how deplorable Saddam Hussein was considered he was the ultimate referee who kept the Sunnis and the Shiites apart from killing each other."
Dan Rather teased the April 5 CBS Evening News: "Spinning on the brink of being out of control: Tonight, after a weekend of deadly Iraqi rebellions, U.S. forces try to restore order and it may take more American troops to do it."
Monday morning on NBC's Today, MRC analyst Geoff Dickens noticed, Couric set up an interview segment: "Sunday as Shiite cleric's followers rampaged across the country the violence left those U.S. troops and dozens of Iraqis dead. Is Iraq spiraling out of control? We'll ask two leading Senators that question, Joseph Biden and John McCain."
During that session she found a reason to miss Hussein's rule: "And Senator McCain are you concerned that if, if the transfer of power does take place on June 30th that a huge vacuum will created, be created and it will be an invitation to civil war? Because no matter how deplorable Saddam Hussein was considered he was the ultimate referee who kept the Sunnis and the Shiites apart from killing each other."
John Dean appeared Monday on CBS's Early Show and MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, following a cozy segment Friday night on PBS's Now with Bill Moyers, to tout his new book, Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush. CBS's Harry Smith at least challenged him a bit, but not Olbermann who seemed enthralled with Dean's polemic.
Olbermann trumpeted how Dean "has produced a book with perspective. And that perspective is simply terrifying. The bottom line: George Bush has done more damage to this nation than his old boss, Richard Nixon, ever dreamt of." Olbermann saw ominous signs that Bush is leading America toward an Orwellian world, insisting that "the feeling that I had been left after reading Worse Than Watergate was that this could have been the historical, essentially, prequel to George Orwell's novel 1984, that if you wanted to see what the very first step out of maybe 50 steps towards this totalitarian state that Orwell wrote about in his novel, this would be the kind of thing that you would see."
Dean's book "is 198 pages long," Olbermann reported before boasting about how "in my copy I have the corners of 27 of them turned over and about 60 of the passages underlined."
-- CBS's Early Show, April 5. Harry Smith set up the session with Dean, which didn't air until the 8:30am half hour: "President Richard Nixon will always be remembered for the Watergate scandal that forced him to resign. But one top official in the Nixon White House says he believes the extreme secrecy of the current administration could lead to a scandal just as big. John Dean who was Nixon's White House lawyer tells us how in a new book called Worse than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush. And Mr. Dean is with us this morning."
Smith's questions, as taken down by MRC analyst Brian Boyd:
# "First of, one of the things you say right at the top, is you say this is a polemic, this book is a polemic. Explain what that means real quick."
# "You make this argument basically is what it is. We should also say from the get-go there's no attempt here to be 'bias free' so-to-speak."
# "What do you think is the worst sin, from your perspective, that this administration has committed."
# "Here's the question though: the administration would say 'these were the facts as we knew them at the time.' They would of also said 'there were people from the Clinton administration who said this is what we knew, at least what we thought we knew when we made this case for war."
# "A clear question could have been asked, if knowing what people had known, if they had asked for that vote say two days before the war actually started, would the vote have been the same?"
# "Some of the administration's attitude has been we kind of know what the deal is here, this is how we're going to run our ship. And I think there seems to be a large group within the population who says 'we like it this way, this is the government we asked for.' Do you disagree with that notion?"
-- MSNBC's 8pm EDT Countdown with Keith Olbermann, April 5. Olbermann teased at the top of the hour, as caught by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "'Worse Than Watergate': The explosive new book from John Dean. Richard Nixon's White House counsel during Watergate calls the presidency of George W. Bush worse. John Dean joins us. Exclusive."
Olbermann set up the subsequent lead segment, his number 5 of 5 stories of the night: "One year ago this month, on this newscast, a Republican Party operative insisted that George W. Bush was one of the greatest Presidents in American history. Today, even his own campaign committee admits that all polls indicate that Mr. Bush currently has no better than a 50-50 chance of re-election. And six books decrying his administration now populate the various top 25 bestseller lists. The newest of these is easily the most strongly worded. Our fifth story on the Countdown, Worse Than Watergate.
The questions posed by Olbermann, al of which after the first two were simply prompts for Dean to spout off his agenda:
# "Do you have a political agenda in this? Do you have an axe to grind? Is there something the reader should know before he picks up the book?"
# "If, because of the secrecy that you go into such detail about, this really is worse than Watergate, why has no lid blown off? Where are the tapes? Where are the smoking gun memos? Where is the fingerprint of the secrecy that you allude to?"
# "But you analogize from your own experience in that White House of 1971, '72, '73, the parallel between Richard Nixon's obsession with secrecy that was unleashed, I guess, would be the best word to describe it, after Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times, and a desire for secrecy that was similarly inspired in the Bush administration after 9/11. Explain why that parallel is valid and why people at home are going, 'Well, that's 9/11. That has nothing to do with something like the Pentagon Papers.'"
# "When we talked about this previously, I said that the feeling that I had been left after reading Worse Than Watergate was that this could have been the historical, essentially, prequel to George Orwell's novel 1984, that if you wanted to see what the very first step out of maybe 50 steps towards this totalitarian state that Orwell wrote about in his novel, this would be the kind of thing that you would see. And I know that a lot of people have concerns about, about civil rights and how the edges of democracy seem to have been worn down since 9/11. But you quote many of them. You quote Dick Armey, of all people, in the middle of the book. But do you really feel that the Bush administration has gone past that and is actually putting not just an element or two of democracy at risk, but democracy at risk?"
# "You describe the administration, particularly the President, as misleading the country into war. And, in particular, you're devoting a lot of time in this book to the President's response to the congressional authorization for war in Iraq as opposed to weapons of mass destruction, the Niger stories, all of that. This, just the legal paperwork between Congress and the President, which you compare to LBJ hoodwinking the country in the Gulf of Tonkin, Nixon's rationale for bombing Cambodia, and your account of what Bush did to respond to Congress' authorization. Reads kind of like the old story about two men who want to climb a 20-foot wall and the first one says, 'I'll get up on your shoulders and then we'll be up 12 feet, then you get up on my shoulders, we'll be up 18 feet, and then finally I'll get back up on your shoulders and we'll be on top of the wall.' What was wrong with how the President responded even after he had gotten the authorization from Congress?"
# "Let me move to the topical. This week Dr. Rice is going to testify on Thursday before the 9/11 Commission. This is something the White House fought and ultimately lost. Maybe it's because of the 9/11 speech that she didn't give in which basically it dismissed terrorism as the major issue. Maybe it was about the daily security briefs, whatever it was. Join the Commission for me for a moment, John. You get the first question to Dr. Rice. What do you ask her on Thursday?"
# "Last point, the terrifying part, at some points you see a political dispute, you see a secrecy in a presidency throughout your book. But the terror comes at the end. You describe what the people of this country have not been told regarding emergency preparations for situations that would make 9/11 look like just a bad day. What this President or indeed any President could do, you've seen similar documents and similar instructions as to what would happen. What don't we know?"
# "We've seen that once before in your lifetime. I don't want to see it again, not in mine certainly....I don't know if you at home will like it or if you will try to throw it through a window. All I know is that the basic text is 198 pages long, and in my copy, I have the corners of 27 of them turned over and about 60 of the passages underlined. John, many thanks for coming on."
Amazon's page for Dean's book: www.amazon.com
And the Pulitzers go to...liberal reporting and commentary. The Pulitzer Prizes for journalism, a program overseen by the Journalism Department at Columbia University and judged by a panel of leading media figures, were announced on Monday afternoon. The awards went to a liberal columnist and to journalists who pursued liberal agenda items, including atrocities committed in Vietnam by U.S. soldiers and the deleterious impact of Wal-Mart on communities.
From the Pulitzer Web site:
-- Investigative Reporting ("For a distinguished example of investigative reporting by an individual or team, presented as a single article or series, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).") The winner: "Awarded to Michael D. Sallah, Mitch Weiss and Joe Mahr of The Blade, Toledo, Ohio, for their powerful series on atrocities by Tiger Force, an elite U.S. Army platoon, during the Vietnam War." See: www.pulitzer.org
-- National Reporting ("For a distinguished example of reporting on national affairs, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).") The winner: "Awarded to the Los Angeles Times Staff for its engrossing examination of the tactics that have made Wal-Mart the largest company in the world with cascading effects across American towns and developing countries." See: www.pulitzer.org
-- Commentary ("For distinguished commentary, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).") Winner: "Awarded to Leonard Pitts Jr. of The Miami Herald for his fresh, vibrant columns that spoke, with both passion and compassion, to ordinary people on often divisive issues."
Two finalists were also liberals: "Also nominated as finalists in this category were: Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times for his columns that, through rigorous reporting and powerful writing, often gave voice to forgotten people trapped in misery, and Cynthia Tucker of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for her forceful, persuasive columns that confronted sacred cows and hot topics with unswerving candor." See: www.pulitzer.org
The Miami Herald has posted a page with the columns by Pitts submitted to the Pulitzer board. Amongst the headlines: "Logic tells us: No death penalty," "Gays may be hope for marriage," "Faithful often give religion a bad name" and "To irate readers: Race has always benefited whites."
One column castigated the "myopic" Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas:
The members of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize Board, who selected the winners:
The list is posted at: www.pulitzer.org
You read it here first, plus some additional examples. In a front page New York Times story on Friday, "TV Shows Take On Bush, and Pull Few Punches," Jim Rutenberg offered this as his first example: "On the NBC show Whoopi, the hotelier played by Whoopi Goldberg delivered an anti-Bush screed when the President, played by a lookalike, appeared at her establishment to use the facilities. 'I can't believe he's in there doing to my bathroom what he's done to the economy!' she said."
An excerpt from the October 15, 2003 CyberAlert:
In the sit-com, titled Whoopi, Goldberg plays a former Broadway performer who now runs a small Manhattan hotel. In the episode, she learns that Bush will be driving through the neighborhood that day. She declares: "Tell him to stop by the UN and apologize to Europe, starting with France."
It ends up that while Goldberg's character, "Mavis," is away from the front desk Bush stops by the hotel to use the facilities, leading to this scene which Today showcased:
Mavis, to hotel janitor: "Bush is in my can?"
Later...Mavis charges: "Black Republicans make about as much sense to me as Jews for Jesus."
END of Excerpt of previous CyberAlert
For the October 15 CyberAlert item in full: www.mediaresearch.org
Laurie David, whom Rutenberg described as "active in organizing the creative community against Mr. Bush," told him that "not a day goes by when I'm not getting a dozen calls from people saying to me, 'What can I do?' And it's all with one goal: to change the course of what's going on in this country and get rid of this administration."
Now, an excerpt from Rutenberg's April 2 story which provided more examples of Bush-bashing in prime time and quoted the MRC's Tim Graham:
Galvanized politically in ways they have not been since the early 1990's, Hollywood's more liberal producers and writers are increasingly expressing their displeasure with President Bush with not only their wallets, but also their scripts.
In recent weeks, characters in prime time have progressed beyond the typical Hollywood knocks against Washington politicians to calling out the president directly or questioning his policies, including the decision to go to war in Iraq, the support of the antiterrorism law and the backing of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
On the NBC show Whoopi....
One of the wise-cracking detectives on the NBC show "Law & Order," played by Jesse L. Martin, referred to the president as the "dude that lied to us." The character went on to say, "I don't see any weapons of mass destruction, do you?" His cantankerous partner, played by Jerry Orbach, retorted that Saddam Hussein did have such weapons because the president's "daddy" sold them to a certain someone "who used to live in Baghdad."
But the season finale of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" on HBO arguably best conveyed the growing sentiment. On that episode, the main character, played by the comedian Larry David, backed out of a dalliance sanctioned by his wife after noticing that his prospective paramour had lovingly displayed a picture of Mr. Bush on her dresser.
Network executives and some producers said these were isolated cases, reflecting the political debate dividing the country and coming at a time when television has never had a greater diversity of viewpoints on a wider array of channels. They added that these examples should not be seen as reflective of a supposed liberal agenda in the entertainment industry, an argument they said was undercut by shows with patriotic streaks like "J.A.G." on CBS....
Still, many in the creative community are not shy about their anger and distress with the administration, and some acknowledge channeling those emotions into their productions.
"You want to say to people, 'Wait a minute, is this man leading this country as an American or is he leading the country as a Christian,'" said Ms. Goldberg, who is an executive producer and writer for "Whoopi."
Asked if she would be pleased if her show could contribute to the defeat of Mr. Bush, she said, "I would like that," but added that she was careful to present opposing views.
Tim Graham, an analyst with the Media Research Center, a conservative group that monitors the media for signs of liberal bias, said scripts had not been this political since the 1992 election. That campaign season, displeasure over 12 years of Republican residency in the White House and Dan Quayle's criticism of the fictitious Murphy Brown for having a child out of wedlock contributed to the outspokenness.
Mr. Graham and other observers said the barbs dwindled during the term of President Bill Clinton, who counted many in the Hollywood creative community as his friends....
Producers, actors and longtime executives said that the combination of the failure to find unconventional weapons in Iraq, the troubled economy and the president's environmental and social policies had stirred the town's prominent liberals to action.
"I have never, ever seen this community more united than right now, never," said Laurie David, Mr. David's wife, who has been active in organizing the creative community against Mr. Bush. "Not a day goes by when I'm not getting a dozen calls from people saying to me, 'What can I do?' And it's all with one goal: to change the course of what's going on in this country and get rid of this administration."
Ms. David and her like-minded peers are putting a lot of money behind the push. She, for one, has given $100,000 to the Media Fund and America Coming Together, Democratic groups using unlimited donations to run television commercials and to motivate voters against the president. Marcy Carsey, whose production house Carsey-Werner-Mandabach produces "Whoopi," has given $500,000 to the Media Fund, federal election records show. Ms. Carsey declined to be interviewed for this article.
On Wednesday night alone, Senator John Kerry's campaign was estimated to have raised $2.5 million at a fund-raising event in Beverly Hills attended by powerful studio executives like Sherry Lansing, the chief executive of Paramount Studios, and stars like the actors Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson. Mr. David, who declined to comment for this article, performed at the fund-raiser. Saying he had a lot in common with the president, Mr. David described himself as "a nincompoop, a chicken and a liar."...
"Why does it have to become unpatriotic to do something that is our inherent right, which is to debate issues?" said Tom Fontana, the creator of shows like "Oz" and "Homicide."
Mr. Fontana said he wrote a film for HBO called "Strip Search" to explore the merits of the USA Patriot Act. The film, which has not been shown yet, tracks the parallel experiences of an American woman being held for questioning by the authorities in China and a Muslim man being held for questioning in the United States, both on suspicions of terrorism.
"The real question is, if it's wrong for a white American woman to be mistreated in a repressive country, is it O.K. for us to mistreat a Muslim male in this country?" he said. "I don't know the answer, but when does the humanity stop and the fear take over?"...
END of Excerpt
For the article in full: www.nytimes.com
A week ago the stars in Hollywood came out for a big fundraising event, held at the Beverly Hills home of Ron Burkle, for the John Kerry presidential campaign. Numerous media reports listed attendance at about 1,500 celebrities and entertainment industry figures, with a total take for the day for Kerry at about $3 million.
Scouring stories on the event, in the March 31 editions of the TV shows Extra and Inside Edition, as well as March 31 articles by the AP and USA Today, and an April 1 Los Angeles Times story, I came up with this list of celebrities paying $1,000 to $2,000 each to attend the March 30 event: Barbra Streisand, James Brolin, Meg Ryan, Kevin Costner, David Spade, Ben Affleck, Sharon Stone, Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller, Tom Arnold, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Aniston, Warren Beatty and Jamie Lee Curtis. James Taylor sang and Larry David, star of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, provided some Bush and Cheney-bashing comedy.
Video shown by Inside Edition, of attendees outside of the big mansion, revealed some more stars that I recognized: Peter Boyle (the father on Everybody Loves Raymond), Danny DeVito and Henry Winkler.
USA Today listed six more as contributors to the Kerry campaign, who apparently did not attend: "Gwyneth Paltrow, Jerry Seinfeld, Bette Midler, Uma Thurman and Walt Disney CEO Michael Eisner." He would be the ultimate boss for those inside ABC News.
In an April 1 Los Angeles Times story headlined, "Enthusiasm on parade for Kerry," reporter Robin Abcarian recounted the politically-loaded jokes told by Larry David, the co-creator of Seinfeld. An excerpt:
During an eight-minute routine, David indulged in one of Hollywood's favorite sports, Bush bashing, and explained why he'd make a good running mate for the Massachusetts Senator: "I know it sounds a little crazy on its face. Why would he consider a bald, tactless, dishonest -- and, dare I say, Jew -- to be his running mate? But...think about this: Out of all the other potential candidates, I am the only one who offsets Bush and balances out the ticket...because whatever qualities [Bush] has that people find appealing, I have those same qualities in spades."
David said his own qualities included being a "nincompoop," a "coward," a "liar" and a mediocre student. "Go ahead, ask me who's the president of Japan? I don't know. Ask me what was in the newspaper today. Don't know....Ask me what foreign countries I've been to. None!"
END of Excerpt
For David's page on the Internet Movie Database: www.imdb.com
For the LA Times article in full, available only to "Calendar Live" subscribers: www.calendarlive.com
In the search box on the top left of the page, choose "People" from the drop-down menu and type in the name.
A tantalizing tidbit from the LA Times story, Streisand rides around in a gas-guzzling, environmental-destroying SUV: "Guests began leaving long before the end of the night. Barbra Streisand and James Brolin clambered into their SUV even before the program began. Others drifted out, only to be confronted with long waits for the shuttle back to their cars."
A tough life.
-- Brent Baker