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Networks Stress Anti-Bush Protests in Britain Over Pro-Bush Poll --11/19/2003


1. Networks Stress Anti-Bush Protests in Britain Over Pro-Bush Poll
Silencing the silent majority in Britain. A poll published in the left-wing Guardian newspaper in London discovered that 62 percent see the U.S. as "a force for good, not evil" and, by 43 percent to 36 percent, more welcome than don't Bush's visit. CNN's Aaron Brown noted a Guardian headline, "Majority Backs Bush Visit," then sarcastically mused: "A cynic might say yes, all the better to protest." The other networks on Tuesday night stressed protest and anger at Bush over the more cordial poll numbers. ABC's Peter Jennings asserted that "a very large segment of the British public is opposed to Mr. Bush." CBS highlighted an MP who fretted about "the dumb and dumber show across London." NBC's Dawna Friesen insisted that "anti-Bush and anti-war feelings run deep among many here."

2. NBC's Jim Avila Describes Dick Gephardt as a "Moderate"
The "moderate" Dick Gephardt? In the midst of a story Tuesday night on the decision on gay marriage by the Massachusetts Supreme Court, NBC's Jim Avila tagged Gephardt as a "moderate." Avila maintained that while Bush backers "are virtually united in their opposition" to gay marriage, Democrats "are split," with "liberals like Dennis Kucinich, who support gay marriage" and "moderates, like Richard Gephardt, who stopped short of backing gay marriage." But in 2002, Gephardt earned higher liberal approval (90 percent) than did Kucinich (80 percent) from Americans for Democratic Action.

3. CNN's Brown Worries Gay Marriage Could Become a "Wedge Issue"
CNN's Aaron Brown fretted Tuesday night about how the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision, on how there is a right to gay marriage, may cause an anti-gay marriage backlash. He opened NewsNight by asking if the decision could create "a political rallying cry for those who oppose such things" and, thus, could become "the wedge issue of the campaign ahead?"

4. Gibson Wishes Limbaugh Gentler on Clinton's "Human Weaknesses"
The morning after Rush Limbaugh returned to the airwaves, ABC's Charles Gibson described Bill Clinton's sexual escapades, which were followed by lying and obfuscation, as a "human weakness" as he recalled on Good Morning America how "I certainly have heard him [Limbaugh] being very hard on the weaknesses of human beings, particularly obviously Bill Clinton," and told guest Bill Bennett: "It seems to me something like that has to change." CBS's Harry Smith similarly insulted Limbaugh and then wished for a gentler and more liberal Limbaugh, pressing a guest on Tuesday's Early Show: "Empathy has never been one of Rush's strongest suits. Do you detect anything in his broadcast yesterday that would suggest that Rush is now going to become a kinder-gentler Rush Limbaugh?"

5. ABC Claims Probe of Rush Money Laundering, Could Get 30 Years
Rush Limbaugh a money launderer? ABC's Brian Ross, on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, put into play the charge that in supposedly getting envelopes from his bank with $9,900 in cash to pay for his drug habit, just below the $10,000 in cash which requires a report to the IRS, "Limbaugh may have violated state money-laundering laws." Ross ominously added: "A conviction on such charges in Florida could mean up to 30 years in prison."

6. News Mags Sneer at GOP Highlighting of Dem Judicial Filibusters
Senate Republicans may have held a 40-hour filibuster to drum up media coverage of the unprecedented Democratic tactic of obstructing Bush nominees by employing a filibuster threat with the use of the 60-vote cloture motion, but the news magazines could only muster a dismissive paragraph or two. In U.S. News & World Report, Terence Samuel sneered: "They would just not shut up...And what on earth were they droning on about?...Senate Republicans threw a hissy fit because they're frustrated at Dems for holding up four of President Bush's nominees to the federal bench."

7. Jennings Rejects MRC's Take on Him, Boasts of Anti-War Slant
A St. Petersburg Times story on Tuesday noted criticism of Peter Jennings by "the Washington, D.C., conservative watchdog group Media Research Center, which calls Jennings 'Palestine Pete' in one Web page it maintains." Jennings insisted to TV critic Eric Deggans that "I'm not any more skeptical about Republican administrations than I am about Democratic administrations." But he proudly recalled his pre-war hostility toward Bush's Iraq policy: "'I think it's one of the things of which I am rather proud about ABC News: that many of the questions being asked now about the venture in Iraq are questions we asked before the war,' Jennings said. 'And (they were asked) in a sometimes overheated environment in which patriotism and nationalism have been big issues.'"


Networks Stress Anti-Bush Protests in
Britain Over Pro-Bush Poll

Poll Results displayed on ABC's World News Tonight Silencing the silent majority in Britain. A poll published in the left-wing Guardian newspaper in London on Tuesday, the eve of President Bush's arrival in Britain for a three-day visit, discovered that 62 percent believe "that the U.S. is 'generally speaking a force for good, not evil, in the world'" as "only 15 percent of British voters agree with the idea that America is the 'evil empire' in the world." In addition, "more people -- 43 percent -- say they welcome George Bush's arrival in Britain than the 36 percent who say they would prefer he did not come."

A sarcastic Aaron Brown on CNN's Newsnight Tuesday evening, after noting how a Guardian headline read "Majority Backs Bush Visit," mused: "A cynic might say yes, all the better to protest." John King ignored the Guardian numbers but made time for how "a Daily Mirror poll found only 27 percent of Britons believe the partnership is good for their country."

Like Brown, the other networks on Tuesday night stressed protest and anger at Bush in Britain over the more cordial poll numbers.

ABC's Peter Jennings asserted that "a very large segment of the British public is opposed to Mr. Bush for one reason or another." On the CBS Evening News, John Roberts highlighted a Member of Parliament who rued how the British had to be "subject to the dumb and dumber show across London when the situation in Iraq is seemingly getting worse by the day." Roberts only vaguely alluded to the poll numbers: "But not all Britons are against his visit. In fact, there is strong support for it and an overwhelming sense here that America is a force for good."

"President Bush is the target of massive protests," announced NBC's Tom Brokaw before Dawna Friesen in London echoed how "anti-Bush and anti-war feelings run deep among many here. Only after focusing on protesters did Friesen acknowledge the poll, though again without citing any numbers or source: "But tonight, as the President sleeps in the place, he and his officials are taking heart from a new poll that shows more people welcome his visit than prefer he'd stayed home."

A rundown of how the networks on Tuesday night, November 18, buried the Guardian poll and emphasized the protests against Bush expected in London:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings intoned: "President Bush has arrived for his state visit to Britain. It's going to be a very difficult few days, or potentially very difficult. The President has not made any other overseas visit quite so controversial. This one was planned some time ago. The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has been his most loyal ally on the war in Iraq. And a very large segment of the British public is opposed to Mr. Bush for one reason or another."

From London, David Wright reported how Bush flew by helicopter in the dark to Buckingham Palace because of the massive security effort prompted by anti-war protesters who "will dog the President." Wright recounted what security concerns have made Bush avoid before he got to the Guardian poll number which undermined the implication of Jennings' premise:
"Concerns for Mr. Bush's image and his security threaten to undermine this visit. He will not address a joint session of Parliament, he will not take the traditional carriage ride with the Queen. Anti-war protesters have made it clear they would try to disrupt such events. But a new poll found today that Britain is still overwhelmingly pro-American: 43 percent welcomed the President's arrival, 36 percent said they would have preferred he hadn't come. Now that he is here, British officials insist he will be safe, but protecting Mr. Bush's image may be considerably more difficult."

Especially given the media.

-- CBS Evening News. From London, John Roberts began with hostility toward Bush. Over video from the airport, Roberts observed: "President Bush received a royal welcome tonight, Prince Charles leading the British delegation. But some British lawmakers would rather send Mr. Bush back home, saying with Iraq still a mess this is no time for a king-sized photo-op."
Glenda Jackson, Member of Parliament: "The sense of outrage in this country stems from the fact that our Prime Minister has encouraged this visit to go ahead. Why on Earth, someone said to me the other day, are we being subject to the dumb and dumber show across London when the situation in Iraq is seemingly getting worse by the day."

Roberts moved on to the protesters and showcased one man: "I think he is a disgrace. He's a disgrace to the American people. And these demonstrations are in solidarity with the American people. It's not anti-American, we're anti-Bush."

Roberts cited "unprecedented precautions" taken, such as no carriage ride with the Queen, before he acknowledged: "But not all Britons are against his visit. In fact, there is string support for it and an overwhelming sense here that America is a force for good. President Bush hopes to build on that sentiment this week and give a boost to the battered Prime Minister who stood by his side. But says political commentator Peter Riddell, that my do more harm than good for Tony Blair." Riddell noted how many in Britain see Blair as "Bush's poodle."

Roberts concluded on the downbeat: "President Bush will insist this week that in Iraq he and Blair were defending the ideals of democracy that the British people hold so dearly. But while support for the war has increased slightly from a recent low, there are plenty of Brits who will never be convinced it was the right thing to do."

Put the majority of U.S. journalists in that category.

-- NBC Nightly News. Dawna Friesen recited how pomp has been kept to minimum for security reasons, with no carriage ride. Friesen asserted: "Anti-Bush and anti-war feelings run deep among many here. The biggest protest is planned for Thursday. Organizers expect 100,000 people."
Sir Tim Garden, Royal Institute of International Affairs: "There is enormous concern about what appears to be an unconstrained America going and putting big boots around the world which would cause us long term problems."
Friesen concluded with a very general reference to the poll: "But tonight, as the President sleeps in the palace, he and his officials are taking heart from a new poll that shows more people welcome his visit than prefer he'd stayed home."

Next, also from London, David Gregory outlined Bush's goals for the trip: "Aides say the President is interested in taking on the caricature of him, that he's a cowboy and a unilateralist. One advisers said Europeans only know that caricature and not the real person. The White House was heartened, as was mentioned earlier, by this Guardian newspaper survey which found that 62 percent of Britons actually believe that the United States is a force for good in the world. The silent majority, Tom, that the President believes exists in Britain and he wants to tap into that during this visit."

-- CNN's NewsNight. Anchor Aaron Brown hinted at the poll, but never really cited it: "The Guardian, one of Britain's center-left papers, ran this as a headline on its Web site tonight: 'Bush Flies into Fortress London.' The sidebar had a different take: 'Majority Backs Bush Visit.' A cynic might say yes, all the better to protest. But a lot of what people think of the President, the United States, Great Britain's role in the war in Iraq, depends much on who and how you ask the question. And people, protesters aside, seem willing to hear what the President has to say."

Reporter John King didn't cite any of the Guardian numbers and found another poll to stress as he led into a clip of a British cartoon show with a scene making fun of how Bush can't read a clock: "Protesters promise to turn out by the tens of thousands during the three-day visit. A Daily Mirror poll found only 27 percent of Britons believe the partnership is good for their country and Mr. Bush is often the subject of ridicule in British and other media."

-- The Guardian poll. "Protests begin but majority backs Bush visit as support for war surges," read the headline over the November 18 story by Alan Travis and David Gow. An excerpt:

A majority of Labour voters welcome President George Bush's state visit to Britain which starts today, according to November's Guardian/ICM opinion poll.

The survey shows that public opinion in Britain is overwhelmingly pro-American with 62% of voters believing that the US is "generally speaking a force for good, not evil, in the world". It explodes the conventional political wisdom at Westminster that Mr Bush's visit will prove damaging to Tony Blair. Only 15% of British voters agree with the idea that America is the "evil empire" in the world....

The ICM poll also uncovers a surge in pro-war sentiment in the past two months as suicide bombers have stepped up their attacks on western targets and troops in Iraq. Opposition to the war has slumped by 12 points since September to only 41% of all voters. At the same time those who believe the war was justified has jumped 9 points to 47% of voters....

The detailed results of the poll show that more people -- 43% -- say they welcome George Bush's arrival in Britain than the 36% who say they would prefer he did not come.

Labour voters are more enthusiastic about the visit than Tory voters. But it is only Liberal Democrats who are marginally more unhappy about his arrival, with 43% against and 39% willing to welcome him. A majority of "twentysomethings" welcome Mr Bush. Hostility is strongest amongst the over-65s. There is a clear gender gap in attitudes with a majority of men - 51% - welcoming the president's arrival, compared with only 35% of women.

Pro-Americanism, as might be expected, is strongest among Tory voters with 71% saying the US is a force for good. But it is nearly matched by the 66% of Labour voters who say the US is a force for good. Anti-Americanism is strongest among Liberal Democrat voters but is still only shared by 24% of them and the majority see the US as the "good guys"...

END of Excerpt

For the entirety of the article and a link to a PDF of the full poll results: politics.guardian.co.uk

NBC's Jim Avila Describes Dick Gephardt
as a "Moderate"

The "moderate" Dick Gephardt? In the midst of a story Tuesday night on the decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court that equality under the law compels a right to gay marriage, NBC's Jim Avila tagged Gephardt, a Democratic presidential candidate and former House Minority Leader, as a "moderate." Avila maintained that while Bush backers "are virtually united in their opposition" to gay marriage, Democrats "are split," with "liberals like Dennis Kucinich, who support gay marriage" and "moderates, like Richard Gephardt, who stopped short of backing gay marriage," but still back civil unions.

But in 2002, Gephardt earned higher liberal approval (90 percent) than did Kucinich (80 percent) from Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), who provide the benchmark liberal ratings for votes cast by Congressmen and Senators. And, in ADA's lifetime ratings, Kucinich barely exceeds Gephardt -- 90 percent to 83 percent.

So, being 83 or 90 percent liberal makes you a "moderate" to NBC News.

Avila reported on the November 18 NBC Nightly News: "Republicans consider gay marriage an opportunistic issue in the presidential campaign because George Bush supporters are virtually united in their opposition, while Democrats are split. From liberals like Dennis Kucinich, who support gay marriage."
Kucinich, in House press gallery: "As a matter of simple justice it's the right thing to do."
Avila: "To moderates like Richard Gephardt, who stopped short of backing gay marriage."
Gephardt, outside before a gaggle of reporters: "I think civil unions is a realizable goal."
Avila: "In fact, among the Democratic presidential candidates, only Kucinich, Carol Mosely-Braun and Al Sharpton outright favor gay marriage..."

For ADA's 2002 ratings of Members of Congress, with Kucinich at 80 percent and Gephardt at 90 percent: www.adaction.org

For ADA's "lifetime" rating of 90 percent for Ohio Democratic Congressman Kucinich: www.adaction.org

For Gephardt's "lifetime" rating of 83 percent: www.adaction.org

(Note that ADA last calculated "lifetime" ratings in 2000 for votes through 1999, which only covers two years in Congress for Kucinich.)

CNN's Brown Worries Gay Marriage Could
Become a "Wedge Issue"

CNN's Aaron Brown fretted Tuesday night about how the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision, on how there is a right to gay marriage, could cause an anti-gay marriage backlash. He opened NewsNight by asking if the decision could create "a political rallying cry for those who oppose such things" and, thus, could become "the wedge issue of the campaign ahead?"

NewsNight anchor Brown led the November 18 program with this "Page Two" commentary: "There is a be careful what you wish for quality to our lead story tonight. The Massachusetts Supreme Court decision that all but legalized gay marriage in that state. Could it turn out that that decision creates a political rallying cry for those who oppose such things? And there many. That it becomes the wedge issue of the campaign ahead? That this day becomes the perfect example of the law of unintended consequences?"

Gibson Wishes Limbaugh Gentler on Clinton's
"Human Weaknesses"

The morning after Rush Limbaugh returned to the airwaves ABC's Charles Gibson described Bill Clinton's sexual escapades, which were followed by lying and obfuscation of a criminal probe, as a "human weakness" as he recalled on Good Morning America how "I certainly have heard him [Limbaugh] being very hard on the weaknesses of human beings, particularly obviously Bill Clinton," and told guest Bill Bennett: "It seems to me something like that has to change."

CBS's Harry Smith similarly insulted Limbaugh and then wished for a gentler and more liberal Limbaugh, pressing a guest on Tuesday's Early Show: "Empathy has never been one of Rush's strongest suits. Do you detect anything in his broadcast yesterday that would suggest that Rush is now going to become a kinder-gentler Rush Limbaugh?"

The night before, CNN's Lou Dobbs provided an update for Limbaugh on what he missed during his weeks in drug rehab. Dobbs mocked one assessment made by Limbaugh: "And on this, your first day back from treatment, you said you have learned a lesson. 'I am no longer trying live my life by making other people happy,' you said. Well, Rush, we know one fellow who's pretty happy. Guess what? The fellow you have described as overrated because he's black. Well, over the past five weeks with you in rehab, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb how has a perfect 5-0 record."

-- ABC's Good Morning America, November 18. MRC analyst Jessica Anderson took down how Charles Gibson approached Bill Bennet in a segment on Limbaugh. Gibson set it up: "As we mentioned at the top of the broadcast, Rush Limbaugh went back on the air yesterday after five weeks of drug rehab. Here's a little bit of what he said to his listeners. [Clip of Rush talking about his time in rehab] Bill Bennett is a close friend of Rush Limbaugh, a conservative writer, former Drug Czar for the first President Bush, and he's joining us this morning from Washington. Bill, good to have you back with us."

Gibson's questions:

# "It was interesting to hear him talk yesterday about his powerlessness to face this without help. Is it, do we expect, can we anticipate a changed Rush Limbaugh in any way?"
Bennett answered that he'll have more sensitivity on the topic of drug use, but he's an entertainer so he'll do his thing with the usual bravado.

# "He said yesterday that his tough on-air comments about drug abusers, that a lot of people had been quoting during these five weeks, had been taken out of context -- I don't know because I didn't hear him make those comments. But I certainly have heard him being very hard on the weaknesses of human beings, particularly obviously Bill Clinton, and it seems to me something like that has to change."
Bennett was taken aback by the premise, hesitatingly replying: "Maybe, maybe not -- it's two different things. On the drug user situation, he has to be consistent, and if he said we need to be tough on drug users, then obviously he can't excuse himself. Now, I think in the situation we're talking about here, painkiller abuse, which is what's alleged, there are hardly ever any prosecutions about this, I am told. If you talk about his ability to criticize a politician, a public figure, it's different."
Gibson pressed again: "But I'm talking about for their human weaknesses, Bill."
Bennett: "Well, for their human weaknesses, no, I think we all acknowledge human weaknesses, except I think we acknowledge, also, that some human weaknesses are excusable in the context of public life and some are not. And look, he's lucky in that he's an entertainer and not a member of the Senate, not a governor and not a President, because it will apply differently."
# Gibson: "But Bill, he says, 'There are people who say I'm a hypocrite for taking drugs while telling people to lead a moral life, but there's no hypocrisy,' he said, and that's a quote. Now, you've dealt with some issues like this. Isn't there, to some extent?"
Bennett: It's only hypocrisy if he excuses in his own behavior what he condemns in others, which he hasn't done.

# Gibson: "Bill, he took a shot at the National Enquirer yesterday -- they're the outfit that published a story about his buying vast amounts of prescription drugs -- and he said you can't believe what you read there, but without that story, do you think he'd have gone public with this and gone into rehab?"
Bennett: Would have done rehab, but would have made it public.

-- CBS's Early Show on Tuesday. MRC analyst Brian Boyd caught this exchange between quad-host Harry Smith and liberal media watcher Robert Thompson of Syracuse University:

Smith: "Mr. Thompson, empathy has never been one of Rush's strongest suits. Do you detect anything in his broadcast yesterday that would suggest that Rush is now going to become a kinder-gentler Rush Limbaugh?"
Thompson: "Oh, absolutely not. And I think he very clearly tried to let us all know that he wasn't going to. There were moments when all of a sudden he was talking about how we should stay in Iraq and it sounded like he was channeling Dr. Phil for a little while. And there were a couple of other times when he clearly had learned some new vocabulary. But I think he is going to make a very concerted effort to -- when it comes to the usual issues -- be the old Rush Limbaugh. However, when he talks about personal stuff, he does get a lot warmer and fuzzier than we're used to seeing or hearing him."
Smith: "A new description for Rush Limbaugh."
Thompson: "That's for sure."

-- Lou Dobbs Tonight, Monday night, November 17. The MRC's Boyd also noticed this welcome back, sort of, from Dobbs:
"Radio giant Rush Limbaugh today returned to the airwaves after five weeks of drug rehab. And he confided to his listeners that he hasn't read newspapers since his last broadcast in mid-October. Well, Rush, we thought we would help bring you up to date.
"Well, Rush in the past five weeks, 92 more of our brave servicemen and women have died in Iraq. The Bush Administration has begun to change its tactics and strategy."
Paul Bremer, U.S. administrator in Iraq: We would like to move forward to carry out the President's vision of a democratic, independent Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors. And that's one of the reasons we want to give them authority now.
"You will be glad to hear that the Dow went up while you were gone, but not by very much. And, Rush, you'll be delighted to hear that the government reported productivity of business soared in the third quarter. It is at a 10-year high now. And the economy grew at 7.2 percent, a pace not seen in almost two decades. And remember those corporate scandals, Rush? Well, they've scorched the mutual fund industry now. And California burned, you'll be saddened to hear, with more than 20 dead and thousands of homes lost. And U.S. senators, Rush, they snoozed over the President's blocked judicial appointments. And a state high court justice was yanked from his office in Alabama for refusing to remove the Ten Commandments.
"And remember those nine dwarves you like to talked about so much, Rush? Well, they're still pretty much running in place. Makes you wonder, where is Hillary, another one of your favorites? And on this, your first day back from treatment, you said you have learned a lesson. 'I am no longer trying live my life by making other people happy,' you said. Well, Rush, we know one fellow who's pretty happy. Guess what? The fellow you have described as overrated because he's black. Well, over the past five weeks with you in rehab, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb how has a perfect 5-0 record.
"Welcome back, Rush. We wish you all the very best."

At least he ended on a kind note.

ABC Claims Probe of Rush Money Laundering,
Could Get 30 Years

Rush Limbaugh a money launderer? ABC's Brian Ross, on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, put into play the charge that in supposedly getting envelopes from his bank with $9,900 in cash to pay for his drug habit, just below the $10,000 in cash which requires a report to the IRS, "Limbaugh may have violated state money-laundering laws." Ross ominously added: "A conviction on such charges in Florida could mean up to 30 years in prison."

World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings, in Tampa, introduced the November 18 story by reporting how "officials are now looking into whether Limbaugh laundered money to support his drug habit."

Brian Ross began his World News Tonight piece (a condensed version of which aired during the 8am news update on Wednesday's Good Morning America): "Limbaugh makes an estimated $35 million a year and had no shortage of legally-earned money to buy the pain-killers to which he became addicted. But law enforcement officials in Florida and New York tell ABC News, that Limbaugh may have violated state money-laundering laws in the way he handled huge amounts of cash to buy his drugs. A conviction on such charges in Florida could mean up to 30 years in prison."
Roy Black, Rush Limbaugh's attorney: "There's no basis for these charges. He has not committed any acts of money laundering and he absolutely denies it and I can assure you -- and Rush assures the listeners to his radio station -- when we can, we will tell the story, and he will tell it himself and everybody will see what has really gone on here."
Ross: "But authorities say they became aware two years ago, in an investigation of a New York bank, US Trust, that Limbaugh had taken between 30 and 40 cash withdrawals from his account in amounts just under $10,000. [shot of "Suspicious Activity Report" form] $10,000 is the amount which requires the bank to file a report to the government. Limbaugh's lawyers confirm that as part of US Trust's service, a bank employee personally delivered the cash to Limbaugh at his New York studio, in amounts of about $9,900."
Jack Blum, U.S. government money-laundering consultant: "That in itself is a suspicious activity: They're structuring their transaction to avoid reporting to the government, and the bank is required to file with the federal government something called a suspicious activity report."
Ross: "Limbaugh's lawyers say it was US Trust which suggested the arrangement. And in July 2001 the bank paid a $10 million fine because of the Limbaugh transactions and many others like it. Limbaugh's name was not made public at the time, but officials told ABC News details were sent to investigators in Florida who have been tracking the money.".
Blum: "Now the problem will be: Did he then assist his drug supplier in hiding the proceeds from the government?"
Ross: "Limbaugh's lawyers say he did not do that and that he is being falsely accused by those who want to force him off the air. Officials say a decision on whether to prosecute Limbaugh on money-laundering charges or anything else, Peter, will be made in the next few weeks."

For the online version of the Ross story: abcnews.go.com

News Mags Sneer at GOP Highlighting of
Dem Judicial Filibusters

Senate Republicans may have held a 40-hour filibuster to drum up media coverage of the unprecedented Democratic tactic of obstructing Bush nominees by employing a filibuster threat with the use of the 60-vote cloture motion, but the news magazines could only muster a dismissive paragraph or two. In U.S. News & World Report, Terence Samuel sneered: "They would just not shut up...And what on earth were they droning on about?...Senate Republicans threw a hissy fit because they're frustrated at Dems for holding up four of President Bush's nominees to the federal bench." None of the magazines noted the number of filibustered judicial nominees is actually now six.

[Tim Graham, the MRC's Director of Media Analysis, submitted this item for CyberAlert]

The November 24 issues of the news magazines all skimmed over the judicial-nominations fight in their up-front news-in-brief sections, without a quote from the Republican Senators who created the public-relations gambit. In U.S. News & World Report, "The Week" section began with a large photo of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on a cot, over the snippy headline "YADA YADA YADA YADA YADA." In 128 words, all reporter Terence Samuel conveyed was mockery:
"They just would not shut up. For nearly 40 hours, members of the 'world's most deliberative body' talked and talked and talked....And what on Earth were they droning on about? Federal judges. Why? Briefly: Senate Republicans threw a hissy fit because they're frustrated at Dems for holding up four of President Bush's nominees to the federal bench. GOP-ers say Democrats are playing politics; Democrats counter they've confirmed 98 percent of Bush's judges, but these four are right-wing ideologues. 'If these people are in the mainstream, honey, then I don't know what mainstream we're talking about,' fumed Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu as the debate went into its 24th hour. When they finally hung it up, nary a vote was changed. Democracy at work. Hope you're taking notes, kids."

Republicans plot a 40-hour filibuster, but Samuel only quoted a Senate Democrat. You can see the item online at: www.usnews.com

Time was the briefest with 72 words for its "Performance of the Week," plus a small picture of Senator Bill Frist sitting on a cot: "In an effort to break the Democratic filibuster on President Bush's judicial nominees, REPUBLICAN SENATORS like Bill Frist, above, took in cots and blankets to launch a marathon session on the Senate floor. Mark Pryor read from Robert Caro's 'Master of the Senate'; Rick Santorum quoted from 'Hamlet.' The literary pajama party lasted nearly 40 hours, finally ending last Friday morning -- after which the Democrats still managed to block three Bush nominees."

Time's snippet is online at: www.time.com

Under a picture of empty cots, in Newsweek Eleanor Clift offered the longest take of the three magazines, at 274 words. She largely focused on recalling old filibusters by Republicans Strom Thurmond (in 1957) and Al D'Amato (in 1992). Clift completely accepted the Democratic line: "Republicans, frustrated by Democrats' filibustering four of President Bush's judicial nominees, mounted the showy filibuster to draw attention to the issue. But Democrats have confirmed 168 of Bush's nominees, and the stream of rhetoric didn't change any votes. If anything, positions were hardened." She at least quoted one Republican as she ended with a comment from an unnamed GOP Senate aide, saying the maneuver was approved by Bush strategist Karl Rove: "This is about getting the troops excited for 2004."

It's a bad week when Eleanor Clift makes the least biased presentation.

Her piece is available at: www.msnbc.com

The number of judicial nominees the Democrats have filibustered is actually six, beginning with Miguel Estrada (who gave up in September) and now includes William Pryor, Charles Pickering, Priscilla Owen, Carolyn Kuhl, and Janice Rogers Brown. President Bush held a press availability last week standing with the three filibustered females, but the news magazines skipped over that photo showing who one party refuses to let on the bench.

For more on the conservative side of the argument, see: www.committeeforjustice.org

Jennings Rejects MRC's Take on Him, Boasts
of Anti-War Slant

A St. Petersburg Times story on Tuesday, pegged to Peter Jennings anchoring World News Tonight from Tampa on Tuesday and Wednesday, noted criticism of him by "the Washington, D.C., conservative watchdog group Media Research Center, which calls Jennings 'Palestine Pete' in one Web page it maintains."

Jennings insisted to TV critic Eric Deggans that "I'm not any more skeptical about Republican administrations than I am about Democratic administrations." But he proudly recalled his pre-war hostility toward the Bush Iraq policy: "'I think it's one of the things of which I am rather proud about ABC News: that many of the questions being asked now about the venture in Iraq are questions we asked before the war,' Jennings said. 'And (they were asked) in a sometimes overheated environment in which patriotism and nationalism have been big issues.'"

The MRC's Rich Noyes alerted me to the article in the November 18 St. Petersburg Times, "Jennings, Tampa share spotlight," about his efforts to help shore up affiliate relations with WFTS-TV, channel 28. An excerpt of the relevant portion about Jennings' biases:

....But the same international perspective and worldly skepticism that built his reputation have irked some of Jennings' critics, who accuse him of pro-Arab bias, going soft on terrorism post-Sept. 11 and unfairly criticizing the war in Iraq.

Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales in particular has singled out Jennings for steady criticism, along with the Washington, D.C., conservative watchdog group Media Research Center, which calls Jennings "Palestine Pete" in one Web page it maintains.

Jennings, who has heard such complaints for years, brushes off the barbs. "I think it's admirable for reporters to be skeptical, provided they're not cynical," he said. "But I'm not any more skeptical about Republican administrations than I am about Democratic administrations."

It helps that many mainstream media outlets have grown more skeptical of the Iraq war in recent months as insurgency in the country increases and the death toll for U.S. soldiers rises.

"I think it's one of the things of which I am rather proud about ABC News: that many of the questions being asked now about the venture in Iraq are questions we asked before the war," Jennings said. "And (they were asked) in a sometimes overheated environment in which patriotism and nationalism have been big issues."

The anchor, who was born in Canada, recently removed one criticism leveled by those who dispute his fairness. He became an American citizen (he is keeping his Canadian citizenship).

When asked why it took 40 years to take the leap, Jennings had another succinct answer ready.

"It was time."

END of Excerpt

For the piece in full: www.sptimes.com

# Reminder: The Law & Order with a reporter modeled after Geraldo, who gets shot after he divulges a troop position in Iraq, airs tonight at 10pm EST/PST, 9pm CST/MST on NBC. See: www.mediaresearch.org

And Bernard Goldberg was a guest on last night's Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central. That will air again tonight, Wednesday, at 7pm EST/PST, 6pm CST.

-- Brent Baker