Nets Hype Bush Leaked "Secrets," Compare to Revealing Prisons --4/7/2006
2. Vieira Reiterates Anti-War View, Pledges to Keep It Off Air
3. Veteran Journalist Mashek Goes on Rant Against "DisHonors Awards"
Like the cable networks during the day, the three broadcast networks on Thursday night were hyperbolic over the revelation that Vice President Cheney's former top aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, testified that in July of 2003 President Bush had authorized the leaking of parts of a classified pre-war report on Iraq in order to correct misinformation being spread by Joe Wilson. All the newscasts led with the allegation and stressed Bush's hypocrisy in denouncing leaks while leaking material himself, but NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was the most dramatic in employing the most nefarious language. He intoned: "There is an allegation tonight that President Bush authorized the leak of government information -- sensitive, classified information about Iraq -- in order to get back at a critic of his administration and the build-up to war." Referring to Libby's charge, Williams asserted: "If what he is saying is true, it would mean he was used, in effect, by the President and Vice President to leak secrets. It is a story of much intrigue, big names, and potentially very high stakes."
Bob Schieffer teased the CBS Evening News: "President Bush has long made clear he despises leaks and leakers. But tonight, he is accused of authorizing a leak of classified intelligence." ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas asked: "Did the White House practice the opposite of what it preached?" White House correspondent Martha Raddatz equated Bush's supposed divulging of a pre-war assessment of a regime which no longer existed with those who disclosed ongoing operational information about the efforts to prevent terrorist attacks: "The Bush administration has vigorously pursued investigations of those who leaked documents pertaining to the secret domestic spying program, and to disclosures of secret prisons run overseas."
[This item was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your views, go to: newsbusters.org ]
All three network stories at least noted the White House's contention that the President can un-classify any document he wishes.
(Friday's Washington Post and New York Times put the story at the top of their front pages.)
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth collected the teases and leads of the April 6 ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts.
# ABC's World News Tonight. Elizabeth Vargas, in opening teaser: "I'm Elizabeth Vargas. Tonight, President Bush is accused of authorizing a leak of sensitive intelligence on Iraq. Did the White House practice the opposite of what it preached?"
Vargas led: "Good evening. We begin with accusations for the first time that President Bush authorized the leaking of sensitive intelligence gathered before the war in Iraq. Documents unveiled today say the President authorized the leak to help defend his case for going to war. President Bush has been very critical of anyone who leaks information, and his administration has aggressively investigated leakers in the past. ABC's Martha Raddatz joins us now. And, Martha, these revelations are part of an investigation that started with the leaking of the identity of a CIA agent named Valerie Plame."
In the subsequent story, Martha Raddatz offered this as evidence of Bush's hypocrisy: "In fact, the Bush administration has vigorously pursued investigations of those who leaked documents pertaining to the secret domestic spying program, and to disclosures of secret prisons run overseas."
Schieffer led: "Lewis Libby was Vice President Cheney's most trusted aide, but he had to resign when a federal prosecutor indicted him for allegedly lying to a grand jury during the big investigation into who leaked the identity of secret CIA agent Valerie Plame. Well, Libby isn't going quietly, it turns out. In court papers filed today, he says that President Bush and Vice President Cheney authorized him to leak classified information to build support for the war. Our national correspondent Gloria Borger has the latest."
Gloria Borger began: "For a President who has always prided himself on keeping secrets-"
Williams led his newscast: "Good evening. There is an allegation tonight that President Bush authorized the leak of government information -- sensitive, classified information about Iraq -- in order to get back at a critic of his administration and the build-up to war. This piece of information came to us today inside court papers having to do with the case of Scooter Libby, the former chief aide to Vice President Dick Cheney. This allegation comes from Libby himself. And if what he is saying is true, it would mean he was used, in effect, by the President and Vice President to leak secrets. It is a story of much intrigue, big names, and potentially very high stakes. We begin here tonight with NBC's Lisa Myers."
Friday's Washington Post and New York Times stories, on Meredith Vieira succeeding Katie Couric as co-host of NBC's Today, noted conservative criticism of her bias illustrated by her anti-Iraq war views, with the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz citing the MRC's quotation of Vieira's charge: "Everything's been built on lies. Everything! I mean the entire pretext for war." At a Thursday press conference with Matt Lauer, Vieira was asked about that quote and charges of bias. "There is nothing that I have said that I am ashamed of. I stand by anything that I've said," Kurtz reported she told him in a subsequent interview. She confirmed, as quoted by the Times, that "I have a lot of questions about the war that other people have," but promised "you put that on a shelf when you're a journalist."
The April 6 CyberAlert recounted: Meredith Vieira...marched in an anti-Iraq war protest back in August of 2004. On the Monday, August 30, 2004 edition of the ABC daytime show she quad-hosts, The View, the former CBS 60 Minutes reporter told viewers that she attended the anti-Bush protest held in New York City on the Sunday before the Republican convention opened, insisting: "I didn't go anti-Bush or pro-Kerry. I'm still so upset about this war and I'm so proud I live in a country where you can protest." She showed a photo of herself marching with her pre-teen daughter and her husband, Richard, who was the senior political producer at CBS News for most of the 1980s. Behind her in the photo: A protest sign featuring a "W," for George W. Bush, with a slash through it. Earlier in 2004, she declared of the Iraq war: "Everything's been built on lies. Everything! I mean the entire pretext for war."
VIDEO: For two video/audio clips from 2004 -- of Vieira talking about participating in the 2004 anti-Iraq war march and of Vieira declaring the war was "built on lies," check the April 6 CyberAlert, to which the DrudgeReport linked Thursday night: www.mediaresearch.org
A brief excerpt from Howard Kurtz's April 7 Washington Post "Style" section article:
....Vieira has drawn criticism from the conservative Media Research Center, which called her "a megaphone for the liberal cause" and noted that she had marched in a 2004 demonstration against the Iraq war and has said: "Everything's been built on lies. Everything! I mean the entire pretext for war."
Vieira said in yesterday's interview: "I have a lot of questions about the war that other people have. I'm as comfortable asking Democrats about them as Republicans. It's not my job to say, 'Hey, I marched in a demonstration, so I think you're a jerk.' You put that on a shelf when you're a journalist."...
END of Excerpt
For Kurtz's story in full: www.washingtonpost.com
....Several conservative groups attacked Ms. Vieira on blogs and in e-mail messages yesterday for having expressed views they labeled as signs of liberal bias. Ms Vieira has spoken out strongly on "The View" against the war in Iraq, for example.
She said she was unconcerned about those criticisms. "The point of 'The View' was to give your views on various issues," she said. "There's nobody that doesn't have biases one way or the other. It's my responsibility once I'm on this show to put those aside. They have no place on this show. But there is nothing that I have said that I am ashamed of. I stand by anything that I've said."...
END of Excerpt
For Carter's article in full: www.nytimes.com
John Mashek, a veteran journalist who posed questions at three presidential debates during his career with the Boston Globe, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and U.S. News & World Report, and who now teaches at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, used his "A Capital View" blog on the U.S. News Web site, to write a derogatory diatribe mocking the MRC's "DisHonors Awards" presented last week. "Leave it to the right wing to cross the preposterous line just when you think it reached that point long ago," Mashek began before taking on our judges: "The big joke is the panel of judges. They were William F. Buckley Jr., Ann Coulter, Steve Forbes, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, Robert Novak, and L. Brent Bozell." (In fact, though Maskek cited her three times, Coulter was not a judge.) Mashek then offered an insult: "The only real journalist in that motley crew in my judgment is Bob Novak," with whom Mashek admitted he agrees "on almost nothing in politics." Mashek contended: "The rest of those judges are primarily propagandists or entertainers who have no real standing as journalists with the exception of Buckley. Coulter, Limbaugh, Hannity, and Ingraham are entertainers and not very good at it either."
So, only journalists are qualified to judge journalism? Then how does Mashek justify reporters critiquing people in other professions?
Mashek favorably quoted former LA Times Washington Bureau Chief Jack Nelson's shot: "Those judges are a crew of right-wing extremists who feed off the media every day." Mashek soon charged: "For this gang to come along with its award is laughable. You could fill a Bible with the mistakes they make in their accusations against the press. They can dish it out but can't take it."
As for who can take it, our "DisHonors" gala was a fun and lighthearted evening in contrast to the vindictive name-calling and anger evident in Mashek's tirade.
As for mistakes, the Web-posting of the awards issue lists the judges and Ann Coulter is not amongst them: www.mrc.org
For the main page on this year's awards, with videos of all the quotes and the March 30 presentations: www.mrc.org
The MRC's old MediaWatch newsletter noted in 1993 that in a story on David Gergen's move to the White House, then-Boston Globe Washington bureau reporter "John Mashek revealed that he 'worked briefly in 1964 for Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.' Mashek toiled for U.S. News & World Report and the Atlanta Constitution before joining the Globe in the late '80s."
His bio as listed on his blog page:
The screen shot of Mashek which will accompany the posted version of this item is from the October 11, 1992 presidential debate.
Mashek's April 6 blog entry, "Media critics need to look in the mirror," to which Colleen O'Boyle of Creative Response Concepts alerted me:
Leave it to the right wing to cross the preposterous line just when you think it reached that point long ago.
The Media Research Center, an outfit dedicated to proving that every story in the newspapers or on TV is slanted left, every year hands out its DisHonors Award. The master of ceremonies this year was Cal Thomas, who has far-right credentials.
But the big joke is the panel of judges. They were William F. Buckley Jr., Ann Coulter, Steve Forbes, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, Robert Novak, and L. Brent Bozell, who founded MRC.
The only real journalist in that motley crew in my judgment is Bob Novak, who works hard to report for his columns. (Full disclosure: Novak and I have been friends for many years. We agree on almost nothing in politics, but we share a love of sports and he has a nice wife.)
The rest of those judges are primarily propagandists or entertainers who have no real standing as journalists with the exception of Buckley. Coulter, Limbaugh, Hannity, and Ingraham are entertainers and not very good at it either.
I asked a few real media heavies about the award and the panel of judges.
Jack Nelson, former Washington bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times: "Those judges are a crew of right-wing extremists who feed off the media every day."
Jack W. Germond, now retired but veteran journalist and columnist: "Except for Novak, there's not one person in that group that has covered a two-alarm fire."
James M. Naughton, former reporter and editor at the New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer and later director of the Poynter Institute: "Not getting an award from them would be my second major disappointment; the other was I didn't make Nixon's enemies list."
Wendell Rawls Jr., Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter at the Inquirer and then with the New York Times, now with the Center for Public Integrity: "The winner must be something like a prize pig in a hog contest."
All of those sentiments coincide with mine.
No question the press makes mistakes, some of them real doozies. We as journalists pay the price for errors in the nation's top papers and at the networks.
As for mistakes of that gang of panelists, where to begin? Coulter has called Joe McCarthy a hero. Too bad she wasn't even born when Tail Gunner Joe was calling folks Communists if they disagreed with him.
Limbaugh rips the "liberal" media unless it serves his purpose and then he quotes them as authorities.
Ingraham and Hannity label Democrats as near-evil beings, but little is mentioned about any GOP sinners, and there are a few.
As for Thomas, he sees criticism of the current administration as almost unpatriotic. We'll have to read through his columns during Clinton's two terms in office (what a chore), and I'll wager Cal was waging attacks ad nauseam.
For this gang to come along with its award is laughable. You could fill a Bible with the mistakes they make in their accusations against the press. They can dish it out but can't take it.
I don't know the name of the winner or winners, but as Rhett Butler said to Scarlett O'Hara: "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."
END of Reprint of blog posting which you can read online at: www.usnews.com
-- Brent Baker