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Nets Obscure Earle's Partisan Affiliation; CBS Didn't With Starr --9/29/2005


1. Nets Obscure Earle's Partisan Affiliation; CBS Didn't With Starr
The CBS Evening News, which described Ken Starr as the "Republican" independent counsel, on Wednesday night went out of its way to avoid alerting viewers to how Ronnie Earle, the Texas county prosecutor behind the indictment of Tom DeLay, is a Democrat. Anchor Bob Schieffer twice described DeLay not by his title as House Majority Leader, but as the "House Republican Leader." While Schieffer relayed how DeLay "says he's the innocent victim of a rogue district attorney," viewers did not learn of Earle's party affiliation until three-fourths the way through Jim Stewart's story when Stewart related how DeLay believes "the personal vendetta of Democratic prosecutor Ronnie Earle" is "the real cause of his problems."

2. Cafferty Brags About His "Has He Been Indicted Yet?" Flip Remark
Hours after the indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was revealed, CNN's Jack Cafferty boasted of his "flip" comment a week earlier: "Has he been indicted yet?" On Wednesday's The Situation Room, Cafferty insisted "I had no inside information on DeLay's upcoming indictment. A lot of you laughed out loud. It was an off-hand comment. Some of you wrote and were highly critical of what I said. But it's probably a piece of videotape that I'm going to hang onto." Cafferty moved on to his new question of the hour to which he elicited e-mail comments: "So here's the question today. Should Tom DeLay resign from Congress? Not from his leadership role, from the House of Representatives?" Later in the hour, Cafferty wisecracked: "Has Tom DeLay resigned yet? Wolf?"

3. MSNBC's Olbermann Implies He Sees Limbaugh as a "Rude, Vile Pig"
On Wednesday night, Keith Olbermann, on his Countdown show on MSNBC, delivered his latest attack on Rush Limbaugh, indirectly implying that Limbaugh is a "rude, vile pig." This latest insult came as Olbermann introduced an update on Limbaugh's legal problems while transitioning from a story about entertainer Elton John in which Olbermann poked fun at a clip of John shouting the words "rude, vile pig" at paparazzi photographers.

4. Kurtz Scolds Media for Not Describing ANSWER's True Agenda
In an online posting Wednesday, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz rebuked his colleagues: "The media have done a poor job of describing who was behind Saturday's big antiwar demo in D.C." Kurtz observed that "many journalists shortchanged their readers and viewers in not saying more about the radical group ANSWER." Kurtz provided a compilation of examinations of ANSWER which nearly all the media ignored and highlighted how, in Slate, Christopher Hitchens chastised a New York Times reporter for gently describing ANSWER as a group which "embodies a wide range of progressive political objectives." Hitchens pounced, noting that ANSWER is really a "group run by the 'Worker's World' party and fronted by Ramsey Clark, which openly supports Kim Jong-il, Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosevic, and the 'resistance' in Afghanistan and Iraq."

5. Gallup: By 3-to-1 Public Sees Liberal Over Conservative Bias
Nearly three times as many of those polled in a new Gallup survey said they believe the media are "too liberal" than "too conservative." Gallup's Tuesday press release for the poll, which is earning publicity for how it found that "trust and confidence in the news media is up" from last year, reported: "When asked about the news media's political slant, Americans are much more likely to say they are too liberal (46%) than they are to say they are about right (37%) or too conservative (16%). Those views are consistent with what Gallup has measured since 2001. The percentage of Americans saying the news media are too liberal has ranged between 45% and 48%, and has always been the plurality response. There has been a slight increase in the public's sentiment that the media are too conservative, from 11% in 2001 to 16% today."

6. Conservative House Speaker the Ogre on ABC's 'Commander in Chief'
ABC's new Commander in Chief drama, which debuted Tuesday night, clearly intends to make the conservative Republican "House Speaker Nathan Templeton," played by Donald Sutherland, the foil on the show revolving around Geena Davis as "President Mackenzie Allen." On the debut, Republican "President Teddy Roosevelt Bridges" dies of an aneurysm, but before he does so he asks VP Allen, an independent with more liberal views, to resign so the Speaker can become President since he "shares my vision." Allen plans to do so, enraging her chief aide who declares of Templeton: "This guy makes Genghis Khan look like Mahatma Gandhi." And he warns that a Templeton presidency would mean "the return of book-burning, creationism in the classroom, invading every third world country."


Nets Obscure Earle's Partisan Affiliation;
CBS Didn't With Starr

The CBS Evening News, which described Ken Starr as the "Republican" independent counsel, on Wednesday night went out of its way to avoid alerting viewers to how Ronnie Earle, the Texas county prosecutor behind the indictment of Tom DeLay, is a Democrat. Anchor Bob Schieffer twice described DeLay not by his title as House Majority Leader, but as the "House Republican Leader." While Schieffer relayed how DeLay "says he's the innocent victim of a rogue district attorney," viewers did not learn of Earle's party affiliation until three-fourths the way through Jim Stewart's story when Stewart related how DeLay believes "the personal vendetta of Democratic prosecutor Ronnie Earle" is "the real cause of his problems."

ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas teased at the top of World News Tonight how "one of the most powerful men in Washington is facing the prospect of jail time" and she proceeded to identify Earle as simply "a prosecutor." Reporter Linda Douglass cited "District Attorney Ronnie Earle" before, late in her piece, attributing Earle's partisan status to an assertion by DeLay, as if it's a matter of dispute: "DeLay says the prosecutor is a Democrat on a witch-hunt." (Douglass did note that "the indictment provided no evidence that DeLay knew anything.")

In contrast, by citing a claim by DeLay, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams strongly hinted up front at Earle's affiliation. He teased: "Tonight, indicted. Tom DeLay, facing criminal conspiracy charges. The House Majority Leader calls the prosecutor 'a partisan fanatic.'" Chip Reid noted how "DeLay today unleashed a bitter attack on Earle, who is a Democrat." But Reid countered with how "in an interview with NBC News earlier this year, Earle vigorously denied his investigation of DeLay was motivated by politics."

[This item was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your comment, go to: newsbusters.org ]

From the MRC archive, a sampling of instances when Dan Rather added a partisan label to independent counsel Ken Starr:

# "There is growing controversy tonight, about whether the newly named independent counsel in the Whitewater case is independent or a Republican partisan allied with a get-Clinton movement. Among the questions about Kenneth Starr are these: the involvement of anti-Clinton activists in pushing for Starr's appointment to replace Robert Fiske. Also, Starr's public stand actively supporting a woman's current lawsuit against the President. This is a potentially important and explosive story, correspondent Rita Braver has the latest." -- Dan Rather on the August 8, 1994 CBS Evening News.

# "The Republican Whitewater offensive is taking an unprecedented turn: First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton has been subpoenaed and now must testify before a Whitewater federal grand jury. That grand jury is led by a Republican prosecutor, Kenneth Starr." -- Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News, January 22, 1996.

# "New indications in a CBS News poll out tonight of how the public perceives Republican special prosecutor Ken Starr's investigation. Our poll suggests only 27 percent believe Starr is conducting an impartial probe. And 55 percent think it's time for Starr to drop his investigation." -- Dan Rather, March 2, 1998 CBS Evening News .

# "Ken Starr drops another load on President Clinton....Good evening. Just as President Clinton was enjoying a day talking up the economy, officially announcing the first U.S. budget surplus in three decades, Ken Starr hit him again. The Republican independent counsel and special prosecutor decided late in the day to announce his decision to press his subpoena for samples of Monica Lewinsky's handwriting, fingerprints and her voice." -- Dan Rather at the top of the May 26, 1998 CBS Evening News.

# "Al Gore must stand and deliver here tonight as the Democratic Party's presidential nominee. And now Gore must do so against the backdrop of a potentially damaging, carefully orchestrated story leak about President Clinton. The story is that Republican-backed special prosecutor Robert Ray, Ken Starr's successor, has a new grand jury looking into possible criminal charges against the President growing out of Mr. Clinton's sex life." -- Dan Rather opening the August 17, 2000 CBS Evening News from the Democratic convention in Los Angeles. A federal judge appointed by President Carter admitted he inadvertently leaked the news.


Full transcript of the September 28 CBS Evening News coverage of DeLay, as provided by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:

Bob Schieffer, in opening teaser: "Good evening. I'm Bob Schieffer. Big trouble for Tom DeLay. The House Republican Leader is indicted on conspiracy charges in a campaign finance scheme. He says he's the innocent victim of a rogue district attorney. We start there tonight, then we'll have these stories."

Schieffer: "The investigation has been under way for over a year now, and today, the indictments were finally handed down. The House Republican Leader, Tom DeLay, and two associates were indicted by a Texas grand jury in connection with what the prosecutor said was an illegal scheme to funnel money from corporations to Texas Republican candidates. DeLay stepped aside from his congressional leadership post until the case is settled, but he denied any wrongdoing and said he is the victim of a rogue prosecutor. Here's Jim Stewart in Washington."
Jim Stewart: "It has not been a good week on Capitol Hill for Republicans, and today it got worse when House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was required to immediately step down from his leadership role following his indictment back home in Texas."
Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX): "Now let me be very, very clear. I have done nothing wrong."
Stewart: "The White House quickly came to DeLay's defense, calling him a 'good ally,' but carefully said little else."
Scott McClellan: "The President's view is that we need to let the legal process work."
Clip of protesters: "Tom DeLay has got to go."
Stewart: "The charge against DeLay is Texas in its details, but national in scope. Its origin is in a nasty fight three years ago over control of the Texas state legislature that at one point had local Democrats literally fleeing the state to deny Republicans a quorum. DeLay wanted control of the state legislature in Texas to help build a bigger national GOP majority in the U.S. Congress. But to get it, he and his allies allegedly used corporate funds they funneled through a national Republican committee. They won, but the problem is, in Texas, corporate political funding can be illegal. Now, DeLay believes those twin victories and the personal vendetta of Democratic prosecutor Ronnie Earle are the real cause of his problems."
DeLay: "Mr. Earle is abusing the power of his office to exact personal revenge for the role I played in the Texas Republican legislative campaign in 2002."
Stewart: "There is no such thing as good timing for an indictment, but this one is especially bad for Republicans. The President is slipping in the polls, his initiatives are dying on Capitol Hill, and the man the White House had counted on to turn that fight around now stands indicted."

Schieffer than ran through GOP troubles before Gloria Borger, from Capitol Hill, stressed impending doom and how the indictment "really very much plays into the Democrats' charges that Republicans are abusing their power."

Schieffer: "As Jim says, this is just the latest news for Republicans. Reports surfaced recently that federal investigators are looking into some of Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist's stock transactions, a White House aide was arrested last week in connection with a scandal involving a major lobbyist, all of this while, as Jim said, the President's approval ratings are sinking. We want to bring in Gloria Borger from Capitol Hill. Now, Gloria, are Republicans worried about the fallout from this? They must be."
Borger: "Oh, you bet they are, Bob. I mean, they understand that this is a real negative for them and that this also really very much plays into the Democrats' charges that Republicans are abusing their power. Republicans control both the House and the Senate. But what they're more worried about, Bob, are those presidential approval ratings which keep heading South. I had one Republican say to me, we're less worried about Tom DeLay right now than we are about the President. And we think that about 70 seats could really be up for grabs in those mid-term elections. That's twice as many as they had originally thought."
Schieffer: "Well, are they really thinking that maybe they could lose control of the House next time around?"
Borger: "They don't want to think that, Bob. And they know that that would be a real uphill fight for the Democrats, but they're beginning to believe that this smells really, really badly for them, and they're very, very worried about it now because they know they cannot depend on this president and his coattails any longer."

Coverage on ABC's World News Tonight:

Elizabeth Vargas' tease: "On World News Tonight, one of the most powerful men in Washington indicted in a campaign finance scheme. He calls it a political witch-hunt. Tonight, the implications for the Republican Party and the President."

Vargas began: "Good evening. They call him 'The Hammer.' Congressman Tom DeLay is known for many things in Washington -- steering President Bush's legislation through the House, keeping his fellow Republicans in line. That's the 'Hammer' part. But most of all, he's been incredibly successful at raising money for other members of Congress. Today, in his home state of Texas, a prosecutor charged Mr. DeLay with violating the state law that regulates how that money is raised. And tonight, one of the most powerful men in Washington is facing the prospect of jail time. We begin with ABC's Linda Douglass on Capitol Hill."
Linda Douglass: "Tom DeLay is the master of political hardball. He forced through the Medicare prescription drug bill. He brought Congress back to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case. He never backs away from a fight."
Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX): "I have done nothing wrong. I have violated no law, I have violated now law, no regulation, no rule of the House."
Douglass: "DeLay was indicted on one charge of conspiracy to violate Texas campaign finance law."
DeLay: "This is one of the weakest, most baseless indictments in American history. It's a sham, and Mr. Earle knows it."
Douglass: "For three years, District Attorney Ronnie Earle has been trying to prove that DeLay and two political associates funneled corporate money into state legislative campaigns, which is illegal in Texas. Prosecutors say the men disguised the donations by sending the money to the Republican National Committee, which in turn sent money back to Texas."
Ronnie Earle, Travis County District Attorney: "Corporate money, which cannot be given to candidates in Texas, was sent to the Republican National Committee where it was exchanged for money raised from individuals, and then sent to those Texas legislative candidates."
Douglass: "The only evidence cited in the indictment, a check for $190,000 used in the alleged contribution swapping scheme. The indictment provided no evidence that DeLay knew anything."
Chris Lewis, prosecutor: "It's a very skeleton indictment, if you will. There's not really a lot of meat on the bone of this indictment."
Douglass: "Sources familiar with the case say there is more evidence. DeLay says the prosecutor is a Democrat on a witch-hunt."
DeLay: "An unabashed partisan zealot with a well-documented history of launching baseless investigations."
Douglass: "Today, House Republicans temporarily replaced DeLay as House Leader with Missouri's Roy Blunt, who insisted DeLay will be back in his job. Now, publicly, the Republicans are defending DeLay. But privately, many of them are fretting, Elizabeth, that his frequent brushes with controversy are hurting their party."

Vargas then turned to George Stephanopoulos, who appeared from Washington, DC:

Vargas: "The indictment today has big implications for the Republican Party and the President. And ABC's George Stephanopoulos joins us. George, Mr. Delay says he's the victim of a, quote, 'political witch-hunt,' by a, quote, 'partisan fanatic.' Is any part of that true?"
Stephanopoulos: "Well, Ronnie Earle is a Democrat, but his office says that he's prosecuted actually more Democrats than Republicans. But he has opened himself up to these questions. He first talked about the DeLay indictment at a Democratic fund-raiser. He brought the indictment on the last day the grand jury was empaneled. And there was a question about his competence. His highest-profile indictment was a Republican Senator, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, and that was dismissed as soon as it got to the judge."
Vargas: "Congressman DeLay is the single most powerful member of Congress. This has got to affect the Republican Party."
Stephanopoulos: "No question. It is a big blow because he is such a big player. He solidified the Republican majority. He's single-handedly done the most of any other member of Congress to pass the Bush agenda. And he's created this network of loyal Republican lobbyists. More than 200 corporations have hired DeLay staffers. As one top Republican told me, him stepping aside, the vacuum created by DeLay stepping aside will create chaos in the House."

Some excerpts from the NBC Nightly News coverage:

Brian Williams teased: "Tonight, indicted. Tom DeLay, facing criminal conspiracy charges. The House Majority Leader calls the prosecutor 'a partisan fanatic.'"

Williams led his broadcast: "Good evening. Tonight a blast out of Texas has taken the place of the ongoing storm aftermath at the very top of our broadcast tonight and it's in the form of an indictment. Tom DeLay, the Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, the second most powerful Republican in the House, was indicted today. He is out of that management job for now. He's an enormously powerful politician and this case is charged with politics. This Texas indictment echoed loudly inside the Bush White House."

In his subsequent story, Chip Reid noted: "DeLay today unleashed a bitter attack on Earle, who is a Democrat."

DeLay: "This act is the product of a coordinated, premeditated campaign of political retribution, the all-too predictable result of a vengeful investigation led by a partisan fanatic."
Reid: "But in an interview with NBC News earlier this year, Earle vigorously denied his investigation of DeLay was motivated by politics."
Earle, in March: "We prosecuted four times as many Democrats as Republicans. This is not about Democrats and Republicans. This is about cops and robbers."

Cafferty Brags About His "Has He Been
Indicted Yet?" Flip Remark

Hours after the indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was revealed, CNN's Jack Cafferty boasted of his "flip" comment a week earlier: "Has he been indicted yet?" On Wednesday's The Situation Room, Cafferty insisted "I had no inside information on DeLay's upcoming indictment. A lot of you laughed out loud. It was an off-hand comment. Some of you wrote and were highly critical of what I said. But it's probably a piece of videotape that I'm going to hang onto." Cafferty moved on to his new question of the hour to which he elicited e-mail comments: "So here's the question today. Should Tom DeLay resign from Congress? Not from his leadership role, from the House of Representatives?" Later in the hour, Cafferty wisecracked: "Has Tom DeLay resigned yet? Wolf?"

The September 22 CyberAlert recounted Cafferty's September 21 remark: Cafferty's cheap shot at House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. After Jack Cafferty read some viewer e-mails, on Wednesday's The Situation Room on CNN, about ideas on how to pay for Katrina, anchor Wolf Blitzer noted DeLay's silly claim that "there's no pork" and "everything is essential" in the federal budget. That prompted Cafferty to ask: "Has he been indicted yet?" That broke up Blitzer who chucked through his wrap-up of the segment: "Well, we'll leave that alone. Jack Cafferty, thank you very much."

For video, in both RealPlayer and Windows Media formats, go to: www.mrc.org

The MRC's Megan McCormack caught Cafferty's bragging at 3:12pm EDT on the September 28 Situation Room:
Cafferty: "Well, kind of strange things happen sometimes, Wolf. It was one week ago today that Wolf and I were talking here in The Situation Room about whether or not the transportation bill should be revisited. And some of the pork cut out in order to start paying for Hurricane Katrina. There was an interesting little exchange that went like this."

[Clip from the September 21 Situation Room:
Wolf Blitzer: "All right, Tom DeLay says there's no pork. Everything is essential. I don't know if you heard him say that."
Cafferty: "Has he been indicted yet?"
Blitzer: "Well, we'll leave that alone. Jack Cafferty, thank you very much."]

Cafferty, back live: "You can't make this stuff up. I can assure you I had no inside information on DeLay's upcoming indictment. A lot of you laughed out loud. It was an off-hand comment. Some of you wrote and were highly critical of what I said. But it's probably a piece of videotape that I'm going to hang onto. So here's the question today. Should Tom DeLay resign from Congress? Not from his leadership role, from the House of Representatives?..."
Blitzer: "So you're saying that the prosecutor, Ronnie Earle, did not consult with you in advance?"
Cafferty: "No. I had absolutely no knowledge of it. It was just, you know, one of those flip remarks that, I'd known that he'd been under investigation for and this isn't the only investigation, by the way, of Tom DeLay. There are others that are ongoing. But I knew he'd been under investigation. I knew there were questions about him. And when you raise this absurd premise that everything in that transportation bill, that Tom DeLay had said everything in that transportation bill was legit and there was no pork, and it just occurred to me, you know, maybe it's time for this guy to be indicted. It was just an off-hand, flip remark. No, I had no knowledge of anything. Those guys wouldn't talk to me anyhow. You barely talk to me."
Blitzer: "You know, Jack, a lot of people on the Hill, Republicans were upset at you, but you seemed to know what you were talking about. Jack Cafferty, thank you very much."

A little more than a half hour later, at 3:52pm EDT, Jack Cafferty asked: "Has Tom DeLay resigned yet? Wolf?"
Blitzer echoed: "Has not resigned yet."
Cafferty repeated: "He's not resigned yet?"
Blitzer: "No."
Cafferty: "Alright. You know, the President's not having a very good run in here. Karl Rove's been implicated in the outing of that CIA guy. You've got Bill Frist being looked at because of his stock thing. You've got that Michael Brown, that loser that fell on his face running FEMA in the wake of Katrina. Now you've got Tom DeLay being indicted. This is not a good run of luck for the President. In light of today's indictment, the question this hour is should Tom DeLay resign from Congress?"

MSNBC's Olbermann Implies He Sees Limbaugh
as a "Rude, Vile Pig"

On Wednesday night, Keith Olbermann, on his Countdown show on MSNBC, delivered his latest attack on Rush Limbaugh, indirectly implying that Limbaugh is a "rude, vile pig." This latest insult came as Olbermann introduced an update on Limbaugh's legal problems while transitioning from a story about entertainer Elton John in which Olbermann poked fun at a clip of John shouting the words "rude, vile pig" at paparazzi photographers.


Text of clip + audio archive
Video: Real | Windows Media

[The MRC's Brad Wilmouth posted this item late Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org, with a video clip. To post your comment or to watch the video excerpt, in either RealPlayer or Windows Media format: newsbusters.org ]

The August 22 CyberAlert recounted: MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, on Friday night's Countdown, smeared the Media Research Center as "a scam" and claimed, in awarding MRC President Brent Bozell the "worser" slot in his nightly "worst person" gimmick, that "the only person distorting as usual is Bozell." Olbermann was defending himself "against the charge of wacky guy" Bozell who "accused me of distortion for having said that Rush Limbaugh had said on air, quote, 'Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real.'" Olbermann proceeded to slam Limbaugh as the "Worst Person in the World" for supposedly denying the quote, alleging: "Like your career, Rush. You're finished, credibility spent."

For RealPlayer and Windows Media Player video of Olbermann's brief August 19 rant, go to the NewsBuster's posting: newsbusters.org

For the August 17 NewsBusters item with video of an earlier Olbermann rant against Limbaugh: newsbusters.org

Olbermann started his September 28 "Keeping Tabs" segment by relaying the story of Elton John's offer to perform a private concert for a substantial fee. He then played a clip of John shouting "rude, vile pig" at paparazzi members, and joked that the clip was a preview of one of John's songs. The Countdown host then flamboyantly pretended to be excited that this song might be played at the concert and, in an over-the-top manner, repeatedly shouted, "Rude, vile pig!" as he pumped his fists while the video screen beside him displayed a picture of Limbaugh. After quickly reassembling his composure, Olbermann immediately transitioned into an update on Limbaugh's legal problems by saying, "Which brings us to the latest on the Rush Limbaugh investigation."

Complete transcript:

Olbermann: "And Christmas is our tenuous segue from that story to our nightly romp through the self-indulgent world of entertainment and celebrity, that which we call 'Keeping Tabs.' Not just Christmas but the newest high-priced item available in the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalogue, Sir Elton John. That's right. Along with the $20,000 personal photo booth, the $200,000 rideable toy train set, and the Lexus Hybrid for $65,000, your own personal 90-minute Elton John concert is available. You and 499 friends can be entertained by the rocker for a mere million and a half, all of which goes to Elton's AIDS foundation. That would be $3,000 a person, by the way. But, for a limited time, we here at Countdown can offer you this free no-obligation preview."
Elton John clip #1, shouting at crowd: "Rude, vile pig! You know what that means? Rude, vile pig! All of you!"
John clip #2: "Pig! Pig!"
Olbermann, shouting and pumping his fists: "Woohoo! He's doing 'Rude Vile Pig'! Light some matches! Maybe he'll sing it again! Rude, vile pig! Rude, vile pig!"
Olbermann, after quickly reassembling his composure: "Which brings us to the latest on the Rush Limbaugh investigation. The assistant state's attorney for Palm Beach County, Florida, is asking the courts there to let him talk to Limbaugh's doctors in an effort to expedite the investigation, he says, and out of an abundance of caution. That actually translates as, 'They want to ask the doctors if the radio host is guilty of doctor shopping,' getting a lot of prescriptions for a lot of pain killers from a lot of different physicians. If so, it would be a blockbuster story."

Kurtz Scolds Media for Not Describing
ANSWER's True Agenda

In an online posting Wednesday, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz rebuked his colleagues: "The media have done a poor job of describing who was behind Saturday's big antiwar demo in D.C." Kurtz observed that "many journalists shortchanged their readers and viewers in not saying more about the radical group ANSWER." Kurtz provided a compilation of examinations of ANSWER which nearly all the media ignored and highlighted how, in Slate, Christopher Hitchens chastised a New York Times reporter for gently describing ANSWER as a group which "embodies a wide range of progressive political objectives." Hitchens pounced, noting that ANSWER is really a "group run by the 'Worker's World' party and fronted by Ramsey Clark, which openly supports Kim Jong-il, Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosevic, and the 'resistance' in Afghanistan and Iraq."

An excerpt from Kurtz's September 28 "Media Notes" session, of which Tim Scheiderer of Creative Response Concepts alerted me:

The media have done a poor job of describing who was behind Saturday's big antiwar demo in D.C. This is in no way to cast aspersions on the tens of thousands of ordinary folks who showed up to demonstrate their opposition to U.S. policy in Iraq. But many journalists shortchanged their readers and viewers in not saying more about the radical group ANSWER.

The Washington Post offered this brief description of ANSWER and United for Peace and Justice: "Both groups have sponsored other major demonstrations against the war in Iraq but also protested U.S. foreign policy in places ranging from Haiti to the Gaza Strip."

I wonder if the media would have resorted to such shorthand in covering a group as far to the right as ANSWER is to the left. In Slate, Christopher Hitchens blames journalistic laziness:

"Saturday's demonstration in Washington, in favor of immediate withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq, was the product of an opportunistic alliance between two other very disparate 'coalitions.' Here is how the New York Times (after a front-page and an inside headline, one of them reading 'Speaking Up Against War' and one of them reading 'Antiwar Rallies Staged in Washington and Other Cities') described the two constituencies of the event:

"The protests were largely sponsored by two groups, the Answer Coalition, which embodies a wide range of progressive political objectives, and United for Peace and Justice, which has a more narrow, antiwar focus .

"The name of the reporter on this story was Michael Janofsky. I suppose that it is possible that he has never before come across 'International ANSWER,' the group run by the 'Worker's World' party and fronted by Ramsey Clark, which openly supports Kim Jong-il, Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosevic, and the 'resistance' in Afghanistan and Iraq, with Clark himself finding extra time to volunteer as attorney for the genocidaires in Rwanda. Quite a 'wide range of progressive political objectives' indeed, if that's the sort of thing you like. However, a dip into any database could have furnished Janofsky with well-researched and well-written articles by David Corn and Marc Cooper--to mention only two radical left journalists--who have exposed 'International ANSWER' as a front for (depending on the day of the week) fascism, Stalinism, and jihadism."

[For the Hitchens piece: slate.msn.com ]

Andrew Sullivan [www.andrewsullivan.com ] is equally appalled:

"I'm sorry, but I can respect criticism of the conduct of this war. In fact, I find it hard to respect those who refuse to subject the conduct of this war to constructive criticism. But I cannot respect the organizations and agenda that pollute such legitimate criticism, or their fellow-travelers. Anyone who attends rallies organized by International ANSWER deserves no quarter and no hearing. And the notion that abruptly abandoning the beleaguered Iraqi people to the tender mercy of Jihadists is somehow 'progressive' boggles the mind. As Hitch observed of the motley crew in Washington last weekend: 'Was there a single placard saying, 'No to Jihad'? Of course not. Or a single placard saying, 'Yes to Kurdish self-determination' or 'We support Afghan women's struggle'? Don't make me laugh.'"...

END of Excerpt

For the posting in full: www.washingtonpost.com

Gallup: By 3-to-1 Public Sees Liberal
Over Conservative Bias

Nearly three times as many of those polled in a new Gallup survey said they believe the media are "too liberal" than "too conservative." Gallup's Tuesday press release for the poll, which is earning publicity for how it found that "trust and confidence in the news media is up" from last year, reported: "When asked about the news media's political slant, Americans are much more likely to say they are too liberal (46%) than they are to say they are about right (37%) or too conservative (16%). Those views are consistent with what Gallup has measured since 2001. The percentage of Americans saying the news media are too liberal has ranged between 45% and 48%, and has always been the plurality response. There has been a slight increase in the public's sentiment that the media are too conservative, from 11% in 2001 to 16% today."

Last year, 48 percent saw the media as "too liberal" compared to 15 percent who thought the media were "too conservative." Given the plus/minus three percent margin of error, the numbers are essentially unchanged from last September.

[This item was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your comment: newsbusters.org ]

(The MRC's Rich Noyes just updated our "Media Bias Basics" section with thorough rundowns -- excerpts, graphs and tables for polls going back decades -- of how the media vote, how the public views the media as well as long lists of quotes from journalists admitting and denying liberal bias. Go to: www.mediaresearch.org )

From the September 27 Gallup press release (which requires a paid subscription to access), some more findings:

# "About 3 in 10 Republicans (31%) say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust and confidence in the media, while the vast majority of Republicans (69%) say they have very little or no trust in the media. The results are essentially opposite among Democrats, with 70% expressing a great deal or fair amount confidence in the media and 30% very little or no confidence."

# "Eight in 10 Republicans (81%) say the news media are too liberal, while 15% say they are about right, and just 3% say they are too conservative. Among Democrats, a majority (57%) says the news media are just about right, while the rest are almost equally divided in their description of the news media as too liberal (18%) and too conservative (23%)."

Conservative House Speaker the Ogre on
ABC's 'Commander in Chief'

ABC's new Commander in Chief drama, which debuted Tuesday night, clearly intends to make the conservative Republican "House Speaker Nathan Templeton," played by Donald Sutherland, the foil on the show revolving around Geena Davis as "President Mackenzie Allen." On the debut, Republican "President Teddy Roosevelt Bridges" dies of an aneurysm, but before he does so he asks VP Allen, an independent with more liberal views, to resign so the Speaker can become President since he "shares my vision." Allen plans to do so, enraging her chief aide who declares of Templeton: "This guy makes Genghis Khan look like Mahatma Gandhi." And he warns that a Templeton presidency would mean "the return of book-burning, creationism in the classroom, invading every third world country."

[This item was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your views on the ABC drama: newsbusters.org ]

During a meeting with Allen, who is on a quest to save a Nigerian woman sentenced to death by stoning for having a baby outside of marriage, Templeton enrages Allen by deriding the woman as "the adulteress" and "a lady who couldn't keep her legs together." (As if that's how conservatives view the plight of women in the world.) Templeton's buffoonery prompts Allen to fold up the draft of her resignation letter -- and thus make the theme of the TV series, a woman President, occur. Sutherland is a leading character on the show and the preview of next week's episode suggests that he will "sabotage" Allen's VP pick.

Early in the September 27 episode, Allen derisively refers to "Nathan 'Bloody Hell' Templeton."

Fuller transcripts of the scenes cited above:

# "Vince Taylor, chief aide" to the VP pleads with Allen to not resign: "Nathan Templeton? Come on. This guy makes Genghis Khan look like Mahatma Gandhi. You can't be serious."

# A conversation between Taylor and "Communications Director Kelly Ludlow," reading from her draft of a resignation speech:
Ludlow: "'The desire to see a woman in presidential office cannot be as important as-'"
Taylor: "The return of book-burning, creationism in the classroom, invading every third world country-"
Ludlow: "Would you shut up Vince. We have to get this done."
Taylor: "No we don't have to get this done. We should be in there talking some sense into her. Templeton cannot be our President. Not on my watch."

# Templeton, meeting with Allen.

Allen, reacting to Templeton's claim that the world, especially leaders in the Middle East, will not respect a woman President: "Not only that Nathan, but we have that whole once a month will she or won't she press the button thing."
Templeton: "Well, a couple of years you're not going to have to worry about that anymore. You know that your vice presidency was never, ever intended to be a presidency. It was done as a stunt. You can see that. You're a female, you're an independent, you're a teacher-"
Allen: "University chancellor."
Templeton: "A philosopher Queen. But the point is it was all done as pure theater. And you got great reviews. But now you should get of the stage while the audience still loves you and before they figure out that your vice presidency was a whole lot of nothing because when they get a look at that go-away mission he sent you on to Nigeria for what's her name, the adulteress."
Allen: "Almon Mudullah [spelling of character a guess]."
Templeton: "Yeah. Well it was supposed to be another piece of theater. But then you up and went to France and asked them for assistance. France? You asked guys who can't get elected without the Muslim vote to intercede in the verdict of Nigeria's Sharia court? Come on Mac. And we're going to look silly and ineffectual because you're never going to be able to save her and we're going to lose face. And for whom? A lady who couldn't keep her legs together."

Allen then folds up and puts aside draft of her resignation letter.

ABC's page for the program: abc.go.com

ABC's page for Donald Sutherland: abc.go.com

ABC's page for Geena Davis: abc.go.com

-- Brent Baker