Katie & Keith: "Did the United States Invade the Wrong Country?" --7/20/2004
2. ABC: Two Reviews "Have Lent Credibility" to Bush's Iraq Claims
3. Media Tizzy Over Schwarzenegger's Joke, Use Huffington as Expert
4. NPR Sees "Ultraconservatives" in Georgia But No Liberals
Picking up on how the 9/11 Commission report will reveal how Iran aided some of the 9/11 terrorists, NBC's Katie Couric on Monday's Today, without noting how President Bush had made Iran part of the "axis of evil," proposed to former CIA Director James Woolsey: "Did the United States invade the wrong country here?" Couric, who earlier declared that "the 9/11 staff report found there was quote, 'no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States,'" a characterization to which Woolsey took exception, argued: "If indeed Iran's relationship with al Qaeda turns out to be stronger than Iraq's was this military invasion of Iraq necessary and might the United States or the war on terrorism had been better served if attention had been focused on Iran?"
Monday night on MSNBC, Keith Olbermann echoed Couric, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth noticed. Olbermann teased his show: "The 9/11 Commission report, in book stores Thursday. In large part, in every news outlet in this country already. And it suggests we might have been looking at the wrong nation in the Gulf." Plugging an upcoming segment, Olbermann asked: "Did we go to war against the wrong country?" In that subsequent segment he asked guest Elaine Shannon of Time magazine: "Is the suggestion here that the U.S. went to war with the wrong country in the wake of 9/11?"
MRC analyst Geoff Dickens took down Couric's questions, on the July 19 Today, as she tried to get Woolsey, who appeared via satellite, to agree that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda and that the U.S. attacked the wrong nation:
ABC catching up with how Bush may not have been wrong after all. On Monday's World News Tonight, anchor Peter Jennings noted how "there is evidence supporting one of the claims the President used and had to retract" -- about Iraq seeking uranium in Africa. Terry Moran explained how "two independent reviews of pre-war intelligence have lent credibility to Mr. Bush's original claims." Moran also gave a brief mention to how the Senate Intelligence Committee report "sharply challenges the credibility of the President's chief accuser on this issue, former Ambassador Joe Wilson." All the information ABC cited the network ignored at the time of its release, but ABC's story now leaves CBS as the only network to not inform its viewers of either the support for the Africa claim or how Wilson's claims have been undermined.
(Wilson, by the way, after making an appearance on Sunday's Late Edition to defend himself, now seems to be making the rounds of the entire CNN schedule. On Monday night he appeared on Paula Zahn Now and on Tuesday morning he popped up on American Morning.)
Last Wednesday, July 14, when the British "Butler Report" was released, ABC skipped its reaffirmation of its suspicions about Iraq seeking uranium in Africa. That night, of ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC, only NBC's Keith Miller gave a line to the support for the statement President Bush made in his 2003 State of the Union address: "Butler did back up British claims that Iraq sought uranium from the African nation of Niger, even if the material was never purchased." The next night, NBC's Andrea Mitchell gave a quick reference to how "the British this week, citing their own sources, said they still believe Saddam tried to get uranium."
That sentence came in the only broadcast network story, until Monday's ABC piece, about how the Senate report undermined Wilson's claims. The July 16 CyberAlert recounted: Five days after the Washington Post revealed how the Senate report released last Friday had undermined Joseph Wilson's claims about how his wife, a CIA operative, had nothing to do with the decision to send him to Niger to check claims that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium and that the report determined that what he found actually backed up the statement made by President Bush in his State of the Union address about Iraq's quest, NBC Nightly News on Thursday became the first broadcast network to give air time, in a story by Andrea Mitchell, to the undermining of Wilson's anti-Bush crusade which so animated the media for the past year. Friday's Today, however, didn't air Mitchell's story even though the program in May twice interviewed Wilson. NBC anchor Brian Williams framed the story only around how Wilson is "defending cracks in his story" and Mitchell failed to pick up on how the Post reported that "the panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts." See: www.mediaresearch.org
Peter Jennings set up the July 19 World News Tonight story: "Now, to Iraq itself. The intelligence that preceded the U.S.-led invasion has been an issue for some time. President Bush has faced intense criticism, as you know, for the intelligence failures in Iraq, including the assertion that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But now, there is evidence supporting one of the claims the President used and had to retract. Here's ABC's Terry Moran."
Moran began: "For more than a year, President Bush has been hounded for uttering these 16 words in his 2003 State of the Union address:"
Many network reporters were in a full huff Monday over California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's joking reference on Saturday to California Democrats beholden to big spending special interests as "girlie men," a line used in a Saturday Night Live parody of bodybuilders like Schwarzenegger. ABC's Peter Jennings warned that his "honeymoon in California may be over" after "the humor and bravado that worked so well during his campaign, backfired." July Muller focused her story on how Democrats "aren't laughing. They call the remarks homophobic and sexist." Muller soon relayed how "columnist Arianna Huffington says when Schwarzenegger's back is against the wall, he gets mean."
While Monday's NBC Nightly News did not mention Schwarzengger's remark, MSNBC Keith Olbermann featured a whole Countdown segment on it with separate interviews with two Schwarzenegger opponents: Gray Davis, the Governor he ousted, and a liberal he defeated, Arianna Huffington. Olbermann hyped: "It turns out that when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California used a borderline homophobic comedy catch phrase to describe his Democratic opponents on Saturday, it was not the first time he had made that indelicate comparison, nor the first time he'd gotten into trouble for it."
Dan Rather read this short item on the July 19 CBS Evening News: "In the political blame game, a new case of name calling in politics. This time, Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California is drawing fire for an incendiary remarks. In a weekend speech about his budget battle with Democrats, Schwarzenegger borrowed an old Saturday Night Live line, calling his opponents quote, 'girlie men.' So far he's refused to apologize."
On Monday morning, CBS's Early Show and NBC's Today ran brief items on the remarks with ABC's Good Morning America running a full story. On Tuesday morning, CBS and NBC caught up with both the Early Show and Today featuring interview segments about the subject.
On the Early Show on Monday, the MRC's Brian Boyd observed, news reader Julie Chen assumed Schwarzenegger was the one in the wrong: "California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is refusing to apologize for comments he made about Democratic lawmakers." After a clip of the comment, Chen intoned: "Borrowing the 'girlie men' phrase from Saturday Night Live, Schwarzenegger criticized Democrats for holding up the state budget. Democrats say the comment is sexist and homophobic."
On Monday's GMA, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, Kate Snow intoned: "Some people thought the remark was funny, but a lot of people found it insulting to women and/or to the gay community. One California Democrat called it 'homophobic.' Governor Schwarzenegger hasn't repeated the line since Saturday. His spokesman says it's not that he regrets it, but he's already made the point, he says. He's already sent the message that he wanted to send with 'girlie men.'"
Over on Monday's Today, news reader Natalie Morales announced: "An aide to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says the Governor has no plans to apologize for comments he made over the weekend about state Democrats. Complaining that Democrats are delaying a state budget by catering to special interests Schwarzenegger referred to them as 'girlie men.' Democrats said the remarks were sexist and homophobic."
But, moments later, the MRC's Geoff Dickens noticed, the Today team laughed off Schwarenegger's comment:
On Tuesday morning, however, Today turned serious with a 7am half hour interview segment about the matter during which Today displayed this on screen: "Schwarzenegger Refuses to Apologize."
Now, a complete rundown down of the ABC and MSNBC stories from Monday night:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings set up the story, which followed a look at fires in California: "There's something of a political fire in California today. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has had difficulty passing his budget. He got himself into more trouble over the weekend when some of the humor and bravado that worked so well during his campaign, backfired. Here's ABC's Judy Muller."
Muller began: "Arnold Schwarzenegger may now be a politician, but he is not necessarily 'politically correct.' The California Governor has created an uproar with a mocking remark aimed at state lawmakers who oppose his budget proposal."
-- MSNBC's Countdown. Keith Olbermann opened his program: "Good evening. It turns out that when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California used a borderline homophobic comedy catch phrase to describe his Democratic opponents on Saturday, it was not the first time he had made that indelicate comparison, nor the first time he'd gotten into trouble for it. Our fifth story on the Countdown, quote, 'girlie men, unquote. The governor's spokesman says again he will not apologize. Then again, that was before anybody remembered Schwarzenegger had made the exact same remark about Democrats in 1992, suggesting that its most recent invocation over the weekend was hardly a slip or a misjudgment. Governor Schwarzenegger's predecessor, Gray Davis, will join us in a moment. First, the remark. It dovetailed back to the two erstwhile characters from Saturday Night Live, Hans and Franz, who themselves were largely spoofs of the then-actor Schwarzenegger. The governor was speaking of Democratic state legislators he views as having obstructed the budget process."
Olbermann's questions to Davis:
-- "Given that Saturday was not the first time Mr. Schwarzenegger used this exact phrase, where in your opinion does this fall on the political controversy scale?"
-- "Do you, from your own experience and from your own viewpoint, do you attribute Governor Schwarzenegger's use of the term under these circumstances to his inexperience in the office, to the pressures of being a Governor in the middle of a first real crisis of an administration?"
-- "California politics, national politics have gotten really touchy in the last few years like you need me to tell you that. Is this an example of that in either direction? Either Mr. Schwarzenegger's remarks or the reaction to them? Is there an inappropriate gradient either way?"
-- "Last question, sir, does it still need an apology from him?"
Olbermann then set up Huffington: "As you could expect, not every California politician is as understanding of Governor Schwarzenegger as Governor Davis just was. I'm joined now by the author and activist Arianna Huffington who ran against the Governor in last year's recall race."
His questions to her:
-- "If comedians can use a phrase in connection to spoofing Arnold Schwarzenegger on national TV, why can't Arnold Schwarzenegger use the same phrase back, even if he's now used it twice 12 years apart?"
-- "In fact, he went back and used the Terminator language as well, imploring his supporters to become terminators and remove the Democratic legislators from office. But let me ask you this. In the Governor's refusal to apologize or to acknowledge that some people might have been offended by this remark, as a lot obviously were, do you sense, you suggested that this was intentional. Is it something larger than that? Is it something that could be seen one of two ways? One, as an attempt to desensitize a political world that is probably a little too politically correct or two, basically, the statement, 'I operate on my own terms. Live with me'?"
-- "What would happen if that remark had been made not by the governor but about him? What would happen if I went on KNBC or KTLA in Los Angeles or KNTV in San Francisco and I said Governor Schwarzenegger's policies indicate he is a girly man. What would happen to me?"
On Monday's Morning Edition on NPR, reporter Kathy Lohr suggested one Republican primary for the Senate seat of retiring Democrat Zell Miller is a race between the right and the far right: "The Republican Senate primary...pits longtime moderate conservative Rep. Johnny Isakson against two ultraconservatives... Mac Collins and Herman Cain have split the ultraconservative support of the Republican party." But on Sunday night's Weekend All Things Considered, NPR had no labels except "fiery" and "controversial" for hard-left former Rep. Cynthia McKinney.
[The MRC's Tim Graham filed this article for CyberAlert.]
MRC analyst Tom Johnson found Lohr went a little label-crazy in the report previewing Tuesday's primary election in Georgia. Lohr explained: "The Republican Senate primary...pits longtime moderate conservative Rep. Johnny Isakson against two ultraconservatives, Rep. Mac Collins, a Congressman from rural Georgia for 12 years, and businessman Herman Cain, who had never run for office until now." Collins does have a solid conservative record, with an American Conservative Union lifetime rating of 95. Lohr also added these labels:
-- "Both Mac Collins and Herman Cain have positioned themselves to the right of Johnny Isakson, who is seen as a moderate conservative."
But on Sunday's edition of NPR's Weekend All Things Considered, reporter Joshua Levs put together an entire report on former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who is attempting to take back her old seat, without labels other than "fiery" and "controversial." There were also no ideological labels in mentions of her local Democratic primary opponents.
Levs did recall for listeners how McKinney's wild remarks about September 11 caused her to lose a Democratic primary in 2002. She had said: "What did this administration know and when did it know it about the events of September 11th? Who else knew, and why did they not warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered?" She also said, "Persons close to this administration are poised to make huge profits off America's new war." But McKinney has a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 7, almost the exact opposite of "ultraconservative" Mac Collins. How can NPR justify the utter imbalance of labels?
To listen to Monday morning's Republican story via RealPlayer: www.npr.org
The Sunday night story on McKinney can be found at: www.npr.org
-- Brent Baker