NBC's Hapless Viewers: 'Burgers' Not Ribs, 'Next Year' Only Soup --5/28/2008
2. NYTimes Reporter Ridicules Interest in Obama Not Wearing Flag Pin
3. Scant Media Attention for a Litany of Gaffes by Barack Obama
4. Time Mag Chief Stengel: 'Glee' in Press Over Hillary's Failures
5. CBS's Mitchell to JCC: Do Americans Have Right to Pessimism?
6. 'Laura Dern Mesmerizing' as 'Legendarily Dense' Katherine Harris
7. Jessica Lange Decries Bush Era of Torture, Prison Camps and War
Catching up with ABC, which in the past couple of weeks has featured complaints from viewers about how higher gas prices mean they can't afford breakfast and a woman who whined that she can "no longer take joy rides on my days off," NBC Nightly News caught up Tuesday night with its own set of hapless Americans who claimed they are forced to grow their own food, two who went with burgers (!) over ribs over the holiday weekend and teen girls who make their boyfriends drive them on dates.
Brian Williams noted NBC had "asked people to e-mail us with their stories about how gas prices were affecting their plans for the Memorial Day holiday weekend this year." Amongst the replies he highlighted: A woman in Nebraska: "I guess it's a good time to become green and start growing our own produce, baking our own bread, and limiting the meat," a woman from Sacramento: "We usually do rib eye steaks and racks of ribs with lots of sides -- macaroni salad, corn on the cob, baked beans, etc. This year it will be homemade hamburgers with french fries and soda instead of beer" and a woman from California: "Instead of our usual ribs, we are having burgers. As bleak as it sounds, next year we may have a cup of soup." Finally, "Miguel from Miami: 'Our three girls are asking their boyfriends to come to the house to pick them up instead of using their cars to go on a date.'"
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
ABC's World News on Monday evening provided a bit of perspective, highlighting how in U.S. dollars a gallon of gas costs $8.55 in Germany, $9.25 in the United Kingdom and $12.00 in the Holland.
If these people showcased by NBC Monday evening and ABC earlier can't handle gas at $4.00 a gallon, imagine their panic if it ever reaches $8 or $9 a gallon. Forget hamburgers, they won't be able to figure out how to afford the buns.
The May 20 CyberAlert, "ABC's Latest Gas Price Victim Can 'No Longer Take Joy Rides,'" recounted:
Six days after ABC's World News fretted over a New Jersey woman who said she must skip breakfast to put $4 a day toward gas, Monday's newscast featured an even more hapless woman, a Massachusetts resident who to afford gas sacrifices a "much needed" $45 prescription, says she can "no longer take joy rides on my days off" and, horror of horrors, has been forced into "buying store brands instead of name brands." Now, Rosaria Giamei complained in a soundbite: "I don't get out and enjoy things anymore. I just kind of sit at home and only go to and from work and, like, grocery shopping and that's it." How about taking a walk or riding a bike?
For the complete rundown: www.mrc.org
For the May 14 CyberAlert item, "ABC Showcases Hapless Woman Who Skips Breakfast to Afford Gas," go to: www.mrc.org
The segment on the Tuesday, May 27 NBC Nightly News with the selected responses displayed on screen:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: NBC News "In-Depth" tonight, the depth of discomfort in this country right now because of what's happening to gasoline prices. We asked people to e-mail us with their stories about how gas prices were affecting their plans for the Memorial Day holiday weekend this year and did we get an earful. More like a full inbox. Starting with Jenna from Nebraska, who writes:
Katie from Sacramento writes:
To which Laura from California adds:
Joe from Minnesota writes:
Finally, Miguel from Miami, Florida, writes:
Miguel, call it the upside of an economic downturn, but your fellow parents of dating-age daughters salute you.
New York Times reporter John Schwartz occasionally attempts humorous pieces for the paper, as in Sunday's Week In Review, "Whom to Trust With a Thumb on the Buzzer." Schwartz took an amusing premise and rode it into the ground, while along the way giving his liberal view on the flag-pin controversy involving Barack Obama's explanation for his refusal (until recently, anyway) to wear a flag pin on his lapel: "Maybe the problem is that the debates, for all the interest, aren't telling us much. Here's a modest proposal: change the format to game shows. 'But that would cheapen political discourse!' you might exclaim. Really? More, than say, hammering a candidate over whether he should be wearing a flag pin?"
[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]
An excerpt from the May 15 piece:
Maybe the problem is that the debates, for all the interest, aren't telling us much. Here's a modest proposal: change the format to game shows.
"But that would cheapen political discourse!" you might exclaim. Really? More, than say, hammering a candidate over whether he should be wearing a flag pin? All I'm saying is give Alex Trebek a chance. Why wait until the candidates are actually in office to see if they have a steady thumb on the button?...
Game shows, we know, test general knowledge, the ability to think on one's feet and other qualities we look for in our leaders. What have the current round of debates tested, aside from the candidates' ability to mold a question into an opportunity to deliver the same memorized talking points?
Quiz shows and game shows should not completely replace full-on debates, Professor Thompson said, because the thing that makes the shows so satisfying -- the notion that questions have simple answers -- leaves out a big part of today's world. "Most of the questions challenging the country now," he said, are "not the kind of questions you can answer that quickly." You can't scrawl the most effective exit strategy from Iraq on a screen in the Final Jeopardy round.
END of Excerpt
For the May 15 article in full: www.nytimes.com
In 2005 Schwartz mocked Bush's Social Security reform ideas, calling reform proponents "out of their gourds." Schwartz opined:
As a reader of the Mutual Funds Report, you may well know that the Bush administration is making Social Security reform a cornerstone of domestic policy. After all, you're most likely an investor -- someone who knows a thing or two about long-term goals and risk and the importance of prudent financial management. Which is why you may think that proponents of the new system are out of their gourds.
For more: www.timeswatch.org
For the latest examples of liberal bias in the New York Times, check in daily with TimesWatch: www.timeswatch.org
MRC President Brent Bozell's latest column runs through a bunch of recent gaffes by Barack Obama which have earned scant media attention: "In Oregon, there was a doozy. Obama said of his long campaign, 'I've been in fifty-seven states, I think, one left to go.' No one in the press made much of this. As former ABC political reporter Marc Ambinder, now with the Atlantic Monthly magazine, admitted: 'But if John McCain did this -- if he mistakenly said he'd visited 57 states -- the media would be all up in his grill, accusing him of a senior moment.'...
"In New Mexico, Obama suggested he was like a young Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense, with the ability to see dead people: 'On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes -- and I see many of them in the audience here today -- our sense of patriotism is particularly strong.' Fallen heroes in the audience? Is this Barack Potatoe Obama? This is precisely the kind of misstatement that Dan Quayle-bashers would run ad infinitum.
"But there have also been gaffes on more serious matters. ABC found that campaigning in Rush Limbaugh's hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Obama argued that our military's Arabic translators in Iraq are needed in Afghanistan: 'We only have a certain number of them and if they are all in Iraq, then its harder for us to use them in Afghanistan,' he claimed. But Afghans don't speak Arabic; they speak several other languages."
[This column was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
It will be posted today on the MRC's site: www.mrc.org
A reprint of Bozell's May 28 Creators syndicate column, "Barack Potatoe Obama?"
Imagine that John McCain named a young running mate to campaign with him, and this national rookie suggested America had 58 states, repeatedly used the wrong names for the cities he was visiting, and honored a Memorial Day crowd by acknowledging the "fallen heroes" who were present, somehow alive and standing in the audience. How long would it take for the national media to see another Dan Quayle caricature? Let's raise the stakes. What if it was the GOP presidential candidate making these thoroughly ridiculous comments? This scenario is very real, except it isn't McCain. It's the other fellow.
ABC reporter Jake Tapper follows politicians around for a living. On his blog, he suggested Barack Obama has a problem: "The man has been a one-man gaffe machine."
Just in the last few days, in Sunrise, Florida, Obama said, "How's it going, Sunshine?" He did the same thing in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, calling it "Sioux City." Some of his geographic struggles seem calculated. When asked why Hillary Clinton trounced him in Kentucky, Obama claimed "I'm not very well known in that part of the country...Sen. Clinton, I think, is much better known, coming from a nearby state of Arkansas. So it's not surprising that she would have an advantage in some of those states in the middle." But Obama's home state of Illinois is more than "near" Kentucky -- it borders Kentucky.
In Oregon, there was a doozy. Obama said of his long campaign, "I've been in fifty-seven states, I think, one left to go." No one in the press made much of this. As former ABC political reporter Marc Ambinder, now with the Atlantic Monthly magazine, admitted: "But if John McCain did this -- if he mistakenly said he'd visited 57 states -- the media would be all up in his grill, accusing him of a senior moment." If you doubt him, remember how most media outlets noted, then underlined McCain's error about al-Qaeda being trained and funded by Iran.
In New Mexico, Obama suggested he was like a young Haley Joel Osment in "The Sixth Sense," with the ability to see dead people: "On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes -- and I see many of them in the audience here today -- our sense of patriotism is particularly strong." Fallen heroes in the audience? Is this Barack Potatoe Obama? This is precisely the kind of misstatement that Dan Quayle-bashers would run ad infinitum.
But there have also been gaffes on more serious matters. ABC found that campaigning in Rush Limbaugh's hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Obama argued that our military's Arabic translators in Iraq are needed in Afghanistan: "We only have a certain number of them and if they are all in Iraq, then its harder for us to use them in Afghanistan," he claimed. But Afghans don't speak Arabic; they speak several other languages. That's a lot like McCain's gaffe -- except for the degree of media attention, which in the Democrat's case was virtually nonexistent.
McCain also would have enjoyed more media focus on Obama's completely muddled analysis of South America last week. He told the Orlando Sentinel on Thursday that he would meet with Chavez to discuss "the fermentation of anti-American sentiment in Latin America, his support of FARC in Colombia and other issues he would want to talk about." But on Friday in Miami, he insisted any country supporting the Marxist guerillas of FARC should suffer "regional isolation." This left Obama advisers scrambling to suggest that these two opposing statements can somehow be put together, that he can meet Chavez and isolate him at the same time.
Sometimes, Obama invents Bosnia-sniper-style whoppers about his personal history. In Selma, Alabama, Obama claimed that the spirit of hope derived from the civil rights protests in Selma in 1965 inspired his birth -- when he was born in 1961. He also has inaccurately claimed that the Kennedys funded his Kenyan father's trip to America in 1959.
While he was making boo-boos in New Mexico on Memorial Day, Obama also (according to CBS reporter/blogger Maria Gavrilovic) talked about post-traumatic stress disorder by claiming he had an uncle "who was part of the American brigade that helped to liberate Auschwitz," and then came home and spent six months in an attic. Gavrilovic didn't note that the prisoners at Auschwitz were liberated by the Red Army. Obama earlier made the claim on his campaign site that his grandfather knew American troops who liberated Auschwitz and Treblinka (also liberated by the Red Army).
Everyone should grant these candidates a little room for error in the long slog of presidential campaigning. But what about some balance? The same national media that turned Dan Quayle's name into an instant joke are now working over time to present Obama as Captain Competent.
END of Reprint of Column
Archive of Bozell's columns: www.mrc.org
Time magazine Managing Editor Richard Stengel made an open confession about the mainstream media's pro-Obama leanings on Monday's The Situation Room on CNN: "I would be a liar if I said that there hasn't been a certain amount of glee in the press corps about Hillary Clinton not doing that well. To use a very fancy word, there's some schadenfreude among the press." Despite this candor, he then went on to say that the press doesn't "play favorites," almost contradicting what he had said earlier about the press coverage of Hillary Clinton.
[This item, by Matthew Balan, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Stengel participated in a panel discussion with CNN contributor Roland Martin and CNN correspondent Jessica Yellin at the bottom of the 6 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. Host Wolf Blitzer asked the three about Bill Clinton's recent statement about his wife Hillary, in which he charged that people were trying to "run her out of the race."
Blitzer first asked Stengel, "Does Bill Clinton have a point?" Stengel's full answer: "Well, look, Wolf, I would be a liar if I said that there hasn't been a certain amount of glee in the press corps about Hillary Clinton not doing that well. To use a very fancy word, there's some schadenfreude among the press. But the point is I don't think the press plays favorites. We're in favor of getting on the front page, and I think they've both have been treated ill at certain times and both have been treated well."
The CNN host then asked Martin for his take. The CNN contributor quipped, "I think Bill Clinton is whining, I mean pure and simple." Yellin was equally blunt: "That's silly. I mean, what we're hearing Bill Clinton do right now is play for time."
The transcript of the relevant portion of the panel discussion from Monday's The Situation Room:
WOLF BLITZER: Let's discuss Bill Clinton's plea and more. Joining us, our CNN political analyst Roland Martin. He's in Chicago. He posts hosts his own radio talk show. He's also a syndicated columnist. Also joining us, Richard Stengel -- he's managing editor of our sister publication, Time magazine. He's joining us from New York. And here in Washington, our own Jessica Yellin. They are all part of the best political team on television.
Later, when Blitzer asked Yellin about the possibility of Hillary Clinton being the vice presidential nominee, the CNN correspondent made the following claim about the former First Lady:
YELLIN: Well, I think, look, you have you to go through the process of elimination. She does fit on the national security credentials. She does fit on a lot of categories. There is a scenario in which you could see that Barack Obama would feel it's necessary to put Clinton on the ticket, especially if it's something she wants so badly that she suddenly makes it clear that she's not going to go all-out campaigning for him if she isn't on the ticket.
On Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell interviewed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, and asked about Iraq: "When you look at April, last month, 50 American soldiers were killed in Iraq. And a lot of Americans look at that and they're pessimistic, despite what you say about morale and how things are going in Iraq. Does the American public have a right to be pessimistic, in your mind?" Mitchell forgot to mention the role CBS News has played in promoting some of that pessimism with its own coverage of the war. In addition, using the phrase "right to be pessimistic" leaves little room for disagreement, as Admiral Mullen pointed out: "The American public obviously gets to choose whether they're optimistic or pessimistic."
[This item, by Kyle Drennen, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Mullen went on to explain: "I think clearly, over the last many months, things have improved fairly dramatically. We always need to be reminded of the sacrifice that these young men and women generate in terms supporting the overall mission."
Mitchell later asked about how soon troops may be coming home: "Should Americans be optimistic this Memorial Day that our men and women overseas, especially in Iraq, will be coming home soon? Mullen avoided the question and Mitchell replied: "A very eloquent answer, sir. But I ask you again, can Americans be optimistic that they'll be coming home soon?"
Here is the full transcript of the May 26 segment:
RUSS MITCHELL: And welcome back. On this Memorial Day, we remember the fallen heroes from wars past and present. And joining us now from the Pentagon is Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Admiral, good morning to you.
MULLEN: Well, in my travels, which have been extensive, morale is exceptionally high. The troops are -- know they're on important missions. They're performing exceptionally well and they're serving a noble cause and they feel very strongly about that.
New York Times TV-beat reporter Alessandra Stanley on Friday reviewed Recount, the HBO film about the controversial aftermath of the 2000 presidential campaign vote in Florida. Predictably, Stanley loved it, and let her opinion of one major GOP character very clear: "Laura Dern is mesmerizing as Ms. Harris, the legendarily dense public official who also helped organize George W. Bush's Florida election campaign."
[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]
An excerpt from the May 23 review:
Recount, an astute and deliciously engrossing film on HBO this Sunday night, retells the tale of Florida in all its bizarre and inglorious moments, from haggling over the "hanging chad" and "butterfly ballots" to the ruckus between the Florida secretary of state, Katherine Harris, and the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board. "Recount" is not satire; it's a mordantly serious look at a moment when character, political influence and luck fatefully collided....
The casting of Recount is inspired. Kevin Spacey plays Ron Klain, the senior adviser to Vice President Al Gore who ended up leading the Democrats' Florida recount effort, and Tom Wilkinson is James A. Baker III, the silky-smooth Bush family consigliere who ran the Republican effort. Laura Dern is mesmerizing as Ms. Harris, the legendarily dense public official who also helped organize George W. Bush's Florida election campaign. Ms. Dern's portrait comes the closest to parody -- the role all but demands it -- but she manages to convey some glimmers of humanity behind the thick makeup and thicker skull.
END of Excerpt
For Stanley's review in full: www.nytimes.com
For the latest examples of liberal bias in the New York Times, check in daily with TimesWatch: www.timeswatch.org
For more on Recount, see: www.mrc.org
Actress Jessica Lange launched another assault on the Iraq War and the Bush administration on Friday as a speaker at her daughter Hannah Shepard's commencement from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. "We are living in an America that, in the last seven and a half years, has waged an unnecessary war, established prison camps, condoned torture, employed corporate armies, eliminated the right of habeas corpus, practiced extraordinary rendition, and believe me, this is only a partial list," Lange said, before she launched into more personal observations about the joy of eating sun-warmed strawberries.
Lange has repeatedly launched public attacks on President Bush as a man who "has no heart," who runs a "regime of deceit, hypocrisy, and belligerence," and she complained in 2002 that his tenure has made it "an embarrassing time to be an American."
[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Here is a larger chunk of Lange's remarks at Sarah Lawrence, as posted by the college:
I look out at your faces and guess most of you graduates are about 22 years old. I think of the world I was living in at that age. Very different from yours and yet, ominously similar.
At 22, for me, the Vietnam war was in its seventh year. Nixon was employing round-the-clock bombing. We were destroying the infrastructure, the people, and the countryside of Vietnam to save it from the Communists.
History repeats itself.
Today, for you at 22, the Iraq war is in the sixth year. Thousands of American soldiers killed. Tens of thousands wounded. Hundreds of thousands Iraqis dead. The infrastructure and land destroyed to save it from (and this is a movable feast) first, tyranny, and then, terrorists.
Now, some of you may feel this is not the proper occasion to make mention of this. However, I would be remiss in addressing a group of young adults if I were to deliberately ignore the political realities that they are faced with.
We are all citizens of a troubled world, yet it is your generation that carries the weight of the future on your shoulders. We are living in an America that in the last seven and a half years has waged an unnecessary war, established prison camps, condoned torture, employed corporate armies, eliminated the right of habeas corpus, practiced extraordinary rendition, and believe me, this is only a partial list'€"I had to keep myself in check.
I don't wish to dwell on the misery caused by this administration, but that legacy is being passed down to you. It is a heavy burden to inherit and will require tremendous dedication and hard work to put it right again. You must determine if we are going to measure ourselves on the basis of military might and economic power or if there is perhaps something deeper -- more essential in our national character -- that needs to be awakened.
We must commit ourselves, wholeheartedly, to the pursuit of peace, equality and justice. This should be the realm of your dreams, the altruistic motivation you go forward with as you are moving towards a world unknown.
I believe you've come of age in a complex and confusing time. The commercial forces surrounding you, the absence of meaningful culture, the constant assault by media, fashion, and entertainment. We have become a society that is placated by gadgets, soothed by consumerism and the empty rewards of upward mobility, the celebration of mediocrity and false celebrity, the obscurations of modern life. We need a sea change.
Lange ended her speech with one more political thought:
I hope that you will commit yourselves to the pursuit of peace -- to the practice of tolerance and compassion. And be good stewards to our precious Earth. I wish you all the courage to have an adventurer's heart and a life lived in the moment.
For her entire May 23 address: www.slc.edu
Lange has unloaded a regular series of outraged remarks about the Bush team:
# At a September 24, 2005 anti-war rally in Washington D.C. shown live on C-SPAN: "All their reasons for waging war on Iraq have been proven to be manipulation of facts, untruths, and lies, lies and more lies....Not one military funeral has been attended by George Bush or his Cabinet. [boos from audience] This disregard for human life only reinforces the knowledge that this man has no heart." See: www.mrc.org
# At a July 8, 2004 Kerry-Edwards fundraiser at New York's Radio City Music Hall, as reported by the New York Times: "Are we going to continue to follow a self-serving regime of deceit, hypocrisy and belligerence? Or are we, after four disastrous years, going to take a step toward our true responsibility as leader of the free world?"
# At a September 25, 2002 press conference at a film festival in Spain, shown on the October 4 celebrity show Inside Edition: "I despise him [President Bush]. I despise his administration and everything they stand for....To my mind the election was stolen by George Bush and we have been suffering ever since under this man's leadership....And I think this latest thing with Iraq is absolute madness and I'm stunned that there is not opposition on a much more global scale to what he's talking about....There has to be a movement now to really oppose what he is proposing because it's unconstitutional, it's immoral and basically illegal....It is an embarrassing time to be an American. It really is. It's humiliating."
For streaming Real video of that outburst, check this page in the MRC's Best Notable Quotables of 2002: www.mrc.org
-- Brent Baker