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Mantra on NBC's Today About Bush on Iraq: 'Does He Listen?' --12/6/2006


1. Mantra on NBC's Today About Bush on Iraq: 'Does He Listen?'
Matching Newsweek's cover question, "Will Bush Listen," NBC's Today on Tuesday repeated the mantra, posing the question four times within ten minutes. Just past 7am, news reader Ann Curry insisted: "With just one day to go until the bipartisan Iraq Study Group comes out with a report that everyone's waiting for there is a question that is being asked, will the President listen?" Reporter David Gregory soon fretted about how last week President Bush "appeared to dismiss the forthcoming suggestion from the high profile Baker-Hamilton commission for a substantial draw down of U.S. troops" and asked: "Does that mean the President is unwilling to listen?" Matt Lauer pressed Andy Card, Bush's former Chief-of-Staff: "What about this question that David poses in his piece, it's posed on the cover of the news magazines this week. Will the President listen? You know him? Does he listen?" Lauer followed up: "But it's clear that there's gotta be a change of course and there are a lot of people weighing in with advice on how that course should be changed? Does he listen?"

2. Brokaw Hails Stewart, Attacks Reagan for Slighting 'Mother Earth'
In a "College Tour" edition of MSNBC's Hardball on Monday, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw went on diatribes against the President's war policy, comparing it to Vietnam, praised "rock star" Barack Obama, castigated "blatantly racist" Republican ads, charged Ronald Reagan neglected "Mother Earth," and declared of the notoriously liberal Daily Show with Jon Stewart: "There are more facts and more truths told in the first eight minutes of The Daily Show than most political news conferences in Washington."

3. Olbermann Finally Includes Bush in 'Worst Person' List
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who regularly uses his Countdown show to ridicule President Bush, on Tuesday finally included the President in his list of nominees for "Worst Person in the World." For the past 17 months that Olbermann has featured the "Worst Person" segment on his show, the Countdown host has ironically avoided including Bush in spite of the regular, sometimes vitriolic, criticism Olbermann has spewed at the President, including calling him a "21st century Marie Antoinette" over his handling of Hurricane Katrina and delivering several "Special Comment" attacks on the President. But on the December 5 show, Olbermann awarded Bush the third place "bronze" distinction because of word that President Bush had been warned about the sensitivity of asking Democratic Senator-elect Jim Webb about his son's service in Iraq before doing so anyway.

4. On Tonight Show, Miller Displays Newsweek's 1975 'Cooling World'
Cued up by Jay Leno on Tuesday's Tonight Show to deliver some quips about global warming, Dennis Miller did some show and tell as he reached behind his chair for a hard copy of the April 28, 1975 Newsweek. That's the edition often cited by doubters of dire global warming predictions because its story, "The Cooling World," illustrates the fickle nature of media-fueled hysteria. Miller explained that "I had heard about this on the Internet, Jay, and I went back and got a copy of it. It's a Newsweek magazine" with "The Cooling World" as "the big story in the 'Science' section." Miller pointed to a chart on the page showing "the temperature of the planet is dropping off" and he marveled at how "it says the solution to the global cooling problem is to deliberately melt the polar ice caps" -- the very phenomenon now cited as proof of global warming.


Mantra on NBC's Today About Bush on Iraq:
'Does He Listen?'

Matching Newsweek's cover question, "Will Bush Listen," NBC's Today on Tuesday repeated the mantra, posing the question four times within ten minutes. Just past 7am, news reader Ann Curry insisted: "With just one day to go until the bipartisan Iraq Study Group comes out with a report that everyone's waiting for there is a question that is being asked, will the President listen?" Reporter David Gregory soon fretted about how last week President Bush "appeared to dismiss the forthcoming suggestion from the high profile Baker-Hamilton commission for a substantial draw down of U.S. troops" and asked: "Does that mean the President is unwilling to listen?" Matt Lauer pressed Andy Card, Bush's former Chief-of-Staff: "What about this question that David poses in his piece, it's posed on the cover of the news magazines this week. Will the President listen? You know him? Does he listen?" Lauer followed up: "But it's clear that there's gotta be a change of course and there are a lot of people weighing in with advice on how that course should be changed? Does he listen?"

On screen throughout Today's coverage: "Is Bush Really Ready to Change?"

The MRC's Geoffrey Dickens tracked NBC's obsession on the December 5 Today.

Ann Curry wondered: "Then on to Iraq. Today confirmation hearings begin for President Bush's pick to be the next defense chief and tomorrow the Iraq Study Group releases its highly anticipated report but just how open is President Bush to suggestions? We're gonna ask the man who's worked closer with him than probably anyone else, his former Chief-of-Staff Andy Card."

During her subsequent news update, Curry relayed: "With just one day to go until the bipartisan Iraq Study Group comes out with a report that everyone's waiting for there is a question that is being asked, will the President listen? David Gregory is NBC's chief White House correspondent. He joins us this morning. David, good morning."

[On screen headline: "Iraq Strategy: Is Bush Really Ready for Change?"]

David Gregory: "Good morning, Ann, you're right. Washington is certainly bracing for a massive course correction on Iraq but it is still a question as to whether the President is really ready for change."
George W. Bush: "Part of unifying Iraq-"
Gregory: "In the Oval Office, Monday, the President appeared with one of Iraq's key Shiite power-brokers, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, and was candid about the war."
Bush: "I told him that we're not satisfied with the pace of progress in Iraq."
Gregory: "In fact more dire assessments that the war is being lost, that the goal of democracy in Iraq is no longer obtainable, have fueled three separate internal reviews and calls for a new way forward."
Sen. Ted Kennedy: "There is no alternative now. There is no alternative. The times demand a change and the American people are expecting a change."
Gregory: "Last week, however, the President appeared to dismiss the forthcoming suggestion from the high profile Baker-Hamilton commission for a substantial drawdown of U.S. troops."
Bush: "And that's why this business about graceful exit just simply has no realism to it at all."
Gregory: "Does that mean the President is unwilling to listen? Privately White House officials maintain that the nuts and bolts of their war strategy is sound. They also contend little will be suggested by Baker-Hamilton that they haven't considered. Appearing on Fox News, Monday night Mr. Bush was as certain as ever about his vision."
Bush: "When it's all said and done I will have made decisions based upon principles and I'm not changing my principles."
Gregory: "Nevertheless the President may well bend to political demands."
John Harwood, CNBC chief Washington correspondent: "What the skeptics need to remember is this is the same President who shortly before the election said Don Rumsfeld was gonna be his Defense Secretary through the rest of the term."
Gregory: "Howard Baker helped Ronald Reagan overcome the Iran-Contra affair."
Howard Baker: "But if he does decide to change course the report of the Baker-Hamilton committee, I think, will give him additional, additional political protection and I would expect that he will do that."
Gregory: "The President's spokesman said that this President is not looking for any political cover out of this report but it is clear, Matt, that the White House is looking for an exit strategy."

Lauer: "Alright David, thanks very much. David Gregory at the White House this morning. Few people in Washington can say they know how the President works better than Andy Card. He was chief of staff for the first five years of George W. Bush's presidency. Andy, good morning, welcome back.
[Andrew Card]
Lauer: "What about this question that David poses in his piece, it's posed on the cover of the news magazines this week. Will the President listen? You know him? Does he listen?"
Card: Bush "needs to make sure Iraq not a safe haven for terrorists..."
Lauer: "But it's clear that there's gotta be a change of course and there are a lot of people weighing in with advice on how that course should be changed? Does he listen?"
[Card]
Lauer: "You know after the midterm election, the firing of Donald Rumsfeld it appeared that the President was reaching out to people saying, 'Look I'm willing to consider all options.' But the statements that David mentioned in his piece just now, that he's made over the past couple of weeks. Quote: 'This business about a graceful exit just simply has no realism to it all,' and 'When is all, when all is said and done I'll have made decisions based upon principles and I'm not changing my principles.' Is that the same thing as saying, 'I will not change the tactics?'"
[Card]
Lauer: "One of the recommendations that's expected to be contained in this Baker-Hamilton report is the idea that we reach out to the neighbors of Iraq, mainly Syria and Iran. Let me read you what a couple of people have said about that. Joe Lieberman from Connecticut said, 'Asking Iran and Syria to help us succeed in Iraq is like your local fire department asking a couple of arsonists to help put out the fire.' Neo-con Richard Perle is quoted as saying that if the Iraqi, the Iraq panel called for talks with Iran and Bush took the advice, 'It will be seen throughout the region as an indication of American weakness.' If that's one of the recommendations of this panel what do you think the President will do?"
[Card]
Lauer: "While I have you here Andy, I want to ask you about the memo that, that was released that Donald Rumsfeld wrote just a couple days before he resigned and among things, the things contained in that memo it said clearly what's happening in Iraq with our troops, what they're doing right now, is not working. So, so given the fact that the administration was saying 'Stay the course, stay the course,' right up until before the elections then changed the terminology a bit but the message remained the same, isn't it fair for the American people to think that the administration was saying one thing and thinking something else?"

Brokaw Hails Stewart, Attacks Reagan
for Slighting 'Mother Earth'

In a "College Tour" edition of MSNBC's Hardball on Monday, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw went on diatribes against the President's war policy, comparing it to Vietnam, praised "rock star" Barack Obama, castigated "blatantly racist" Republican ads, charged Ronald Reagan neglected "Mother Earth," and declared of the notoriously liberal Daily Show with Jon Stewart: "There are more facts and more truths told in the first eight minutes of The Daily Show than most political news conferences in Washington."

NBC's Campbell Brown filled in for host Chris Matthews as she teed up questions to Brokaw at Fordham University.

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

The following are some of the more relevant rants from Brokaw:

First up, Brown asked Brokaw to comment on Donald Rumsfeld and the President's Iraq policy, allowing Brokaw to make the Vietnam comparison:
"The war has not been going well and Don Rumsfeld now has said that in a memo. 'We've got to change our strategy. Here are some things we have to start thinking about doing.' It is, that's reminiscent, a lot, for me, of Vietnam. I've listened to all the tapes of Vietnam, of Lyndon Johnson talking to Dick Russell, who is the great senator from Georgia and expressing these huge doubts about that wisdom of their policies in Vietnam, while saying to the public, 'things are gonna go well, we're gonna bring that coonskin home and tack, and you know nail it to the wall. We're gonna win this war.' Families continued to send their children off to the war. They were not gonna win the war. They knew it privately and, and kids were dying. I have friends who were in the Pentagon at that time. I was talking to one them just the other day and he said, 'we believed in the domino theory. We thought it was important to make the stand in Vietnam so that the rest of southeast Asia would not fall.' The neocons and Don Rumsfeld among them believed that they could introduce democracy in the Middle East in Iraq and it would have a radiant effect. And it's been pretty clear now for more than a year and a half that wasn't going well."

Brokaw cheered Barack "The Rock Star" Obama, but Brokaw feared Obama had a lot to overcome, notably those racist Republicans:

Brown to students: "How many Barack Obama fans to we have here? He's the rock star right now."
Brokaw: "He's a rock star. He's the real deal. And I think especially for this generation, a lot of his appeal has to do with his candor, that he is not playing by the old rules of politics. He's kind of redefining politics and what people want. He's talked about his own troubled past, his personal behavior. He has an ability to bring people together. He talks winningly about hope. Look at his background. He lived in Kansas, in Hawaii, he can go to Africa and be treated like royalty because his father comes from there. The test for him, obviously is and I've been at this a long time, put him on this stage with six other candidates coming after him about everything from Iraq to the economy to how to manage health care and what you're gonna do about stem cell research and what you're gonna do about gun control, what you're gonna do about drugs. And you've got to answer all that. You've got to have some positions. Howard Dean learned the last time that it's always not the best position to be in, in the cross hairs. So we've got a lot to learn about him yet."
Brown: "Let me ask you, though. Republicans are now using his middle name."
Brokaw: "Yeah."
Brown: "Hussein, which a lot of people don't know. I mean-"
Brokaw: "Well, they're teeing him up, because they, they see him as a real threat. I mean, a lot of people say we're not going to elect anybody named Obama in this country at this point. And let's be frank about it. This is a big reach for an African-American man to get elected President of the United States."
Brown: "You do think it's a-"
Brokaw: "Oh sure I do. Race is still a huge defining issue in this country. It's something I've spent most of my journalistic career trying to understand and to examine and to try to get us beyond that in the reporting that I've done. But I know at this point there are just a lot of people in their consciousness or their subconsciousness, that are going to have a hard time saying, 'I'm prepared to vote for a black person.' There's just so much latent racism that is still here. We've made huge strides. There's no question about that. But we've got a ways to go. And he knows that. Look what happened to Harold Ford in Tennessee. That commercial that ran against him was so blatantly racist in my judgment, it was such an effort to try to twin him up with a white woman in some fashion and he lost. He couldn't, he couldn't make that work for him, his, his own rage about it. So, these are tough issues. But the big thing about Obama is that we still have got a lot to learn. He's the real deal. People who are for her, for Hillary, in Illinois, say quietly, 'he's impressive.'"

Then Brown plugged Brokaw's Discovery Channel special on the environment which allowed Brokaw to riff on the dire problems that faced "Mother Earth," namely conservatives.

Brown: "We just saw a clip of your Discovery special on the environment, an issue that has long been near and dear to your heart, but not one that gets a lot of attention in the political arena."
Brokaw: "It's starting to again. I, you know, in, in the '60s obviously, it started to get a lot of attention. The planet and especially this country, we were letting the policies go crashing off the cliff and then we had Earth Day and environmental awareness and people were getting involved in it. My own strong impression is that the environmental movement got too spread out, there were too many groups that were not coordinating their activities in a way. And then with Ronald Reagan and the, and the conservative takeover of the, of the political arena at the national level, it's not high on their agenda. Although it is coming back very fast now. And I detect a real change in America. I think that this generation and other young people are paying a lot more attention to the environment, not just to global warming, but land use and disappearing water resources and what we're going to do about clean air. Bio-diversity is a huge issue, about wiping out the species. These are critical issues. You cannot live on a dead planet. This is the only one we have. My line is love your mother, Mother Earth."

Before the interview ended, Brokaw roundly praised the notoriously liberal Daily Show and Colbert Report:

Brown: "And no cynicism, I think at least from you guys, at least from and the audience. We hear so much about the Jon Stewart, you know, Stephen Colbert young generation."
Brokaw: "Well but that's a good thing. The Jon, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert get you back involved. You pay more attention to politics because of what you see with them. It's, you know, Jon always says-"
[applause]
Brokaw: "As you know, I'm a big fan. I've been on the show, both shows a lot, and I think anything that can you do to bring people into the discussion of it, and there's so many essential truths that you see on Jon Stewart and on Stephen, that it's useful to society to have a broader point of view. There are, there are more facts and more truths told in the first eight minutes of The Daily Show than most political news conferences in Washington."

Olbermann Finally Includes Bush in 'Worst
Person' List

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who regularly uses his Countdown show to ridicule President Bush, on Tuesday finally included the President in his list of nominees for "Worst Person in the World." For the past 17 months that Olbermann has featured the "Worst Person" segment on his show, the Countdown host has ironically avoided including Bush in spite of the regular, sometimes vitriolic, criticism Olbermann has spewed at the President, including calling him a "21st century Marie Antoinette" over his handling of Hurricane Katrina and delivering several "Special Comment" attacks on the President. But on the December 5 show, Olbermann awarded Bush the third place "bronze" distinction because of word that President Bush had been warned about the sensitivity of asking Democratic Senator-elect Jim Webb about his son's service in Iraq before doing so anyway.

[This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

A transcript of Olbermann's comments about Bush from the December 5 Countdown show:
"But first, time for Countdown's latest list of nominees for 'Worst Person in the World.' The bronze, and this is a Worst's first, President Bush. That snide exchange with Senator-elect Jim Webb of Virginia, in which Webb and Bush both looked kind of bad, tonight Mr. Bush looks kind of worse. Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia saying the President had been warned by aides to be, quote, 'extra sensitive,' about talking to Webb about his son, since Webb's son had had a recent brush with death in Iraq."

On Tonight Show, Miller Displays Newsweek's
1975 'Cooling World'

Cued up by Jay Leno on Tuesday's Tonight Show to deliver some quips about global warming, Dennis Miller did some show and tell as he reached behind his chair for a hard copy of the April 28, 1975 Newsweek. That's the edition often cited by doubters of dire global warming predictions because its story, "The Cooling World," illustrates the fickle nature of media-fueled hysteria. Miller explained that "I had heard about this on the Internet, Jay, and I went back and got a copy of it. It's a Newsweek magazine" with "The Cooling World" as "the big story in the 'Science' section." Miller pointed to a chart on the page showing "the temperature of the planet is dropping off" and he marveled at how "it says the solution to the global cooling problem is to deliberately melt the polar ice caps" -- the very phenomenon now cited as proof of global warming.

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

Miller's rundown, on the December 5 Tonight Show with Jay Leno, of what the 1975 Newsweek contended:
"Now this whole article is about the cooling world and you can see over here where they've got a chart where the temperature of the planet is dropping off and down here at the bottom is my favorite part. I've starred it. It says the solution to the global cooling problem is to deliberately melt the polar ice caps. Now this is like 30 years ago, this what we believed. Now we've changed -- and I'm not saying that maybe in the year 2036 it doesn't go back in the other way -- I just don't think we control it like we think we do."

-- Brent Baker