Appearance Alert!
MRC's Brent Bozell on FNC's Hannity, 10:40pm ET/PT Wednesday

Rumsfeld Must Go, Shields Takes on "Armchair Commando" Limbaugh --5/10/2004


1. Rumsfeld Must Go, Shields Takes on "Armchair Commando" Limbaugh
On the weekend gab shows, star media figures Eleanor Clift, Nina Totenberg and Al Hunt all made clear that they think that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld should go. Both Hunt and Mark Shields yearned for a McCain presidency. "If John McCain were President, no one questions he would have accepted personal responsibility, and high-level heads would roll," Hunt insisted. Shields, apparently unable to recognize humor, derisively tagged Rush Limbaugh an "armchair commando" and quoted how Limbaugh "dismissively compares the sadism to a college fraternity hazing at Yale: 'This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation.' John McCain embodies American values, too bad Rush Limbaugh doesn't begin to understand this nation's values."

2. After No WMD, and Now Torture, U.S. Has lost "Moral" Authority
"The damage is clear," NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams lectured at the top of Friday's newscast: "After no weapons of mass destruction showed up in Iraq, the U.S. justified the war by saying that at least the human rights violations would stop -- the torture, the abuse and the murders. Tonight, although the scale of this is much different, it is increasingly difficult for the U.S. to make that moral case around the world."

3. MSNBC's Olbermann Stresses Calls for U.S. to Get Out of Iraq
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Friday night suggested the prisoner abuse scandal "may be the proverbial tipping point, either way, for what has been up until now a largely ineffective anti-war movement." Olbermann opened his Friday night program by touting how on Nightline the night before retired Lieutenant General William Odom called "for a phased-out U.S. withdrawal from Iraq" as did "the journalist Raghida Dergham" and "today a columnist with the trade publication, Editor and Publisher, asked, 'When will the first major newspaper editorial call for a pullout?'" Referring to mentions during Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's testimony that worse pictures exist, Olbermann claimed: "Given tonight's new charges, perhaps Saddam's rape rooms were not closed after all."

4. Fox News Sunday Airs "What We've Accomplished" in Iraq Segment
As promised, on Fox News Sunday, in reaction to Nightline's April 30 listing of the names of those killed in Iraq, Chris Wallace delivered a seven-minute long "What We've Accomplished" segment on his program.

5. ABC News Finds Downside to Job Growth and Lower Unemployment
After Friday's government announcement that 288,000 more jobs were created in April, reducing the unemployment rate by a point to 5.6 percent as job creation numbers for February and March were revised upward, Richard J. DeKaser, chief economist at the National City Corporation in Cleveland, told the New York Times: "You'd be hard-pressed to find a dark lining in this cloud." But ABC News managed to as anchor Peter Jennings asserted: "When you look at the kind of work people are getting, however, the news is a little less encouraging." ABC's downbeat story focused on service sector jobs and those who are "underemployed."

6. News Media Stars on the Jeopardy Quiz Show This Week
This week on the syndicated Jeopardy quiz show: media figures, including Tim Russert, Tucker Carlson, Bob Woodward, Aaron Brown and Keith Olbermann. Plus, Peggy Noonan and Al Franken.


Rumsfeld Must Go, Shields Takes on "Armchair
Commando" Limbaugh

The prisoner abuse story continued to animate the press corps over the weekend as it, and discussions of whether Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld can survive, led every network newscast with multiple stories on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. On the weekend gab shows, star media figures Eleanor Clift, Nina Totenberg and Al Hunt all made clear that they think that Rumsfeld should go.

Both Hunt and Mark Shields yearned for a McCain presidency. "If John McCain were President, no one questions he would have accepted personal responsibility, and high-level heads would roll," Hunt insisted. Shields, apparently unable to recognize Rush Limbaugh's humor, derisively tagged Limbaugh an "armchair commando" and quoted how Limbaugh "dismissively compares the sadism to a college fraternity hazing at Yale: 'This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation.' John McCain embodies American values, too bad Rush Limbaugh doesn't begin to understand this nation's values."

On the McLaughlin Group, host John McLaughlin asked: "Will Rumsfeld survive through the term?" Newsweek's Clift rued: "He shouldn't, but he will."

Over on the syndicated Inside Washington carried on some PBS stations, NPR's Nina Totenberg contended: "I was talking to a General this week who said 'it really doesn't matter what's fair. In the Army, or in the military, when you get a disaster of these proportions, somebody very high up has to pay. That is the nature of military service.' And Rumsfeld is the head of the military services, as it were. I think it would serve the President much better to fire him and get a consensus candidate in there."

Like John McCain?

On CNN's Capital Gang, Al Hunt, Executive Washington Editor of the Wall Street Journal, asserted: "I think this thing may get so bad that Rumsfeld cannot stay. Bush publicly praised him after privately leaking word that he was furious at Rumsfeld. If John McCain were President, no one questions he would have accepted personal responsibility, and high-level heads would roll. That's anathema to this administration. And Rumsfeld set the tone. The Geneva accords will be adhered to when it's convenient for us. When the looting and crime spree took place after the toppling of Saddam, Rummy said, 'Oh, boys will be boys.' And the Pentagon was in charge of post-Saddam Iraq, which is turning out to be one of the great debacles in American foreign policy.
"He had ample warning of this. Last year, Jerry Bremer and Colin Powell raised questions about prisoners of war over there, about those captives. The International Red Cross and Amnesty International said there was systemic torture going on in those prisons. On January 16, Rummy was told there are -- there's a -- there's terrible things going, and there's pictures. Took him 110 days before he looked at the pictures. And on March 16, the American General, Taguba, issued his report to the Pentagon, and Rummy still hadn't read it two months later.
"Finally, John McCain asked him the key -- what seems to me to be a basic question: Who was in control there? And Rumsfeld ducked it. This is a thoroughly disgraced Secretary of Defense."

For his "Outrage of the Week" at the end of Capital Gang, columnist Mark Shields took on Rush Limbaugh and trumpeted McCain:
"Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican, an authentic American Naval hero who spent five-and-a-half years being tortured in a North Vietnamese prison, is outraged, truly outraged by what Americans did to Iraqi detainees in the famous Abu Ghraib, infamous Abu Ghraib Prison. But Rush Limbaugh, conservative talk master and armchair commando disagrees. Limbaugh dismissively compares the sadism to a college fraternity hazing at Yale: 'This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation.' John McCain embodies American values, too bad Rush Limbaugh doesn't begin to understand this nation's values."

Too bad Shields doesn't understand levity.

After No WMD, and Now Torture, U.S. Has
lost "Moral" Authority

NBC's Brian Williams "The damage is clear," NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams lectured at the top of Friday's newscast: "After no weapons of mass destruction showed up in Iraq, the U.S. justified the war by saying that at least the human rights violations would stop -- the torture, the abuse and the murders. Tonight, although the scale of this is much different, it is increasingly difficult for the U.S. to make that moral case around the world."

Williams opened the May 7 NBC Nightly News: "Under withering questioning today before a Senate hearing televised around the globe, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld apologized to those Iraqis abused by Americans. He said he would consider resigning if staying on the job is doing damage. And Rumsfeld admitted there are more pictures, new pictures, and videotape worse than what we've already seen. So awful that it's, quote, 'hard to believe.' The damage is clear: After no weapons of mass destruction showed up in Iraq, the U.S. justified the war by saying that at least the human rights violations would stop -- the torture, the abuse and the murders. Tonight, although the scale of this is much different, it is increasingly difficult for the U.S. to make that moral case around the world."

MSNBC's Olbermann Stresses Calls for
U.S. to Get Out of Iraq

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Friday night suggested the prisoner abuse scandal "may be the proverbial tipping point, either way, for what has been up until now a largely ineffective anti-war movement." Olbermann opened his Friday night program by touting how on Nightline the night before retired Lieutenant General William Odom called "for a phased-out U.S. withdrawal from Iraq" as did "the journalist Raghida Dergham" and "today a columnist with the trade publication, Editor and Publisher, asked, 'When will the first major newspaper editorial call for a pullout?'" Referring to mentions during Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's testimony that worse pictures exist, Olbermann claimed: "Given tonight's new charges, perhaps Saddam's rape rooms were not closed after all."

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth took down how Olbermann opened the May 7 Countdown, his 8pm EDT program repeated at 12am:
"Good evening. On the ABC newscast Nightline last night, Retired Lieutenant General William Odom, who was Ronald Reagan's head of the National Security Agency, called, in the wake of the abuse of the Abu Ghairab prison, for a phased-out U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. On this newscast Wednesday night, the journalist Raghida Dergham, after months of insisting that the only solution for the two countries was for the US to stay the course in Iraq, said that the reaction to Abu Ghairab had changed her mind, too, that it was time for the U.S. to get out. And today a columnist with the trade publication, Editor and Publisher, asked, 'When will the first major newspaper editorial call for a pullout?' Our fifth story on the Countdown, the context of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee and a similar one in the House may have been much larger even than shocking photos or the need for apologies. This may be the proverbial tipping point, either way, for what has been up until now a largely ineffective anti-war movement. We start with our Pentagon correspondent, Jim Miklaszewski, after Rumsfeld's testimony."

Following Miklaszewski's story, Olbermann asserted: "Given tonight's new charges, perhaps Saddam's rape rooms were not closed after all."

Editor & Publisher is a magazine for the newspaper industry and Olbermann was referring to a column by Greg Mitchell. See: www.editorandpublisher.com

Fox News Sunday Airs "What We've Accomplished" in Iraq Segment

As promised, on Fox News Sunday, in reaction to Nightline's April 30 listing of the names of those killed in Iraq, Chris Wallace delivered a "What We've Accomplished" segment on his program.

Wallace listed "ending the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein," including "ending the systematic torture and murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis," "ending the theft of billions of dollars from the Iraqi people" and "ending the threat that weapons of mass destruction will be developed and used"; Second, "quality of life" as "daily life has improved dramatically for the average Iraqi since the fall of Saddam" as "2,500 schools have been renovated, with another 800 to be finished soon" and "major progress has also been made in health care"; Third, "human rights" with "a fully functioning legal and judicial system" and freedom of speech. Plus, Iraqis now have satellite dishes, are flocking to Internet cafes, are enthralled with having private conversations on cell phones and the U.S. has done a lot to improve electricity service and clean up sewage.

For those who missed it, below is the full transcript, starting with Wallace's explanatory introduction:
"As many of you may know by now, we thought the ABC News program Nightline made a mistake last week, listing all the brave men and women who died in Iraq but without providing the context of what they died for. So we said that we would put together our own tribute, our own list of what these brave men and women have built in Iraq.
"A couple of points before we begin. Some of you have written in saying that we're pushing the White House agenda. As you saw in the last segment, there are plenty of hard questions to ask about the Bush administration's policy in Iraq, and we will keep asking them.
"There were also times this week when you couldn't help but wonder about putting on the good news from Iraq, as we saw those ugly pictures from inside Abu Gharib prison. But the more we thought about it, what better time to talk about what the vast majority of our troops are doing there? What better time to try to make sense of the sacrifice of the 767 men and women who have died in Iraq? We call our tribute, 'What We've Accomplished.'"

Over matching video of the scenes and events described by Wallace, he then launched the segment which lasted just short of seven minutes:
"First, ending the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. Ending the systematic torture and murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Since Saddam was overthrown, investigators have found dozens of mass graves, in which more than 300,000 Iraqis were buried. Ending the theft of billions of dollars from the Iraqi people. Since 1991, Saddam built 48 palaces, at a time when his regime said it did not have the resources to build housing. And an investigation has found Saddam stole more than $11 billion from the UN's oil-for-food program. Ending the threat that weapons of mass destruction will be developed and used. Since the invasion, U.S. inspectors have not found WMD. But during its time in power, Saddam's regime manufactured chemical and biological weapons and, at one point, actively pursued nuclear weapons."
"Second, quality of life. Daily life has improved dramatically for the average Iraqi since the fall of Saddam, but it has come at a cost. These three soldiers [three pictures on screen] were killed last July while they guarded a hospital in Baquba. Under the old regime, little money was spent on education and there was no schedule for maintaining school facilities. So far, 2,500 schools have been renovated, with another 800 to be finished soon."
Young girl, through translator: "They put in electricity for us and a fan for us so we could get some air, and I say thanks to God."
Another young girl, through translator: "Before, the school was dirty and not clean, and even the bathroom was not good. This year they made a new bathroom for us, and they changed the building and painted it well."
Wallace: "What children are learning in school has also changed. Before the war the government fired teachers for not following the party line. Almost nine million new math and science textbooks have been printed and distributed. Old books were filled with pro-Saddam propaganda. And here are U.S. troops handing out knapsacks full of school supplies in Samarra [inside a schoolroom]. This just days after those four American contractors were killed and their bodies mutilated in Fallujah.
"Major progress has also been made in health care. Under Saddam, the Ministry of Health spent $16 million a year. The current budget is almost $1 billion. The health care system is now open to all Iraqis, with 30 percent more people now using the facilities. Doctors, who used to get $20 a month, now earn up to $180. Modern medication such as cancer drugs are now available, something unheard of during the Saddam years.
"Last Sunday, these five Navy Seabees [pictures on screen] were killed in the Sunni triangle while on assignment rebuilding schools and medical facilities for the Iraqis.
"Third, human rights. Since the end of Saddam, a fully functioning legal and judicial system has been developed. More than 600 judges are working in courtrooms across the country. Iraqis charged with crimes now have rights that would have been laughed at under the old regime: the right to remain silent when they're arrested; the right to a fair, speedy and open trial; the right to a defense lawyer at all stages of the process.
"Iraqis now enjoy freedom of speech. Street protests against the U.S. occupation are now routine in Baghdad, something that in the past would have earned these demonstrators imprisonment or death. There is also something approaching freedom of the press. Under Saddam, all newspapers were controlled by the government. This woman was a reporter for 27 years."
Woman: "Before, we write as they tell us to write. Now we write what we believe."
Wallace: "Now, 120 papers are being published, some of them critical of the U.S. The coalition has shut down only two papers, which it said were inciting violence."
"This is another sign of new freedom [video of people using computers]: Internet cafes. Before, few people had access to computers, fewer still to the government-monitored Internet. Now people can communicate, get information or sound off in Web blogs.
"And here's more technology that was banned under Saddam Hussein: satellite dishes. Now more than one-third of Iraqi households receive news from around the world by way of these dishes. [video of dishes lining roofs]
"Finally, the economy and infrastructure. There's a new currency in Iraq. Gone are those ever-present pictures of Saddam in a country that used to have two weak currencies, there is now one stable form of money.
"Iraq's most important resource, oil, is showing a strong revival. Production now exceeds pre-war levels, averaging half a million barrels a day more than when Saddam was forced from power. Still, gasoline shortages have meant that U.S. soldiers often have to guard filling stations to prevent looting. Private First Class Jason Wright from the 101st Airborne Division was killed by a drive-by shooter as he protected Iraqis who were buying gas.
"One crucial area that has seen solid improvement is basic utilities. After years of neglect, Iraqis have electricity for only part of the day. By this summer, the average Iraqi will have electricity for 16 hours a day, 40 percent above pre-war levels. Under Saddam, only half of the country had access to clean drinking water. Now extensive renovations of water plants have brought cleaner water to more people, almost 15 million, on a more reliable basis.
"Before the war, few areas had proper sewage facilities. One example of what soldiers are doing on the ground is in Mosul, where a neighborhood was swamped with raw sewage for 17 years. The U.S. Army spent $40,000 to hire local workers, and the problem is fixed.
"Improvements in the infrastructure are widespread. Here are some key examples: Baghdad airport now has 43 passenger flights a day, including regular commercial service to Jordan. And look at something as simple as phone service. Under Saddam, cell phones were a luxury, reserved only for top party and government officials. Now, more than 340,000 Iraqis have cell phones, and business is booming.
"There's one other big difference: When Iraqis make a call now, they say no one is listening in.
Man: "I call him now on the phone. Now we can discuss anything. We are not, I am not afraid to say anything."

Wallace, back on the Fox News Sunday set, wrapped up: "As we struggled to put all of this together, we were astonished by all that our troops have accomplished. And we'll keep an eye out so we can update you on some of the ways our troops are making life better for so many Iraqis."

The home page for Fox News Sunday: www.foxnews.com

CyberAlert items on on Ted Koppel's "The Fallen" editin of Nightline: www.mediaresearch.org

And: www.mediaresearch.org

ABC News Finds Downside to Job Growth
and Lower Unemployment

After Friday's government announcement that 288,000 more jobs were created in April, reducing the unemployment rate by a point to 5.6 percent as job creation numbers for February and March were revised upward, Richard J. DeKaser, chief economist at the National City Corporation in Cleveland, told the New York Times: "You'd be hard-pressed to find a dark lining in this cloud." But ABC News managed to as anchor Peter Jennings asserted: "When you look at the kind of work people are getting, however, the news is a little less encouraging." ABC's downbeat story focused on service sector jobs and those who are "underemployed."

(The quote from DeKaser appeared in a May 7 online story, by David Leonhardt, on the New York Times Web site: www.nytimes.com )

That was the second time in eight days that a network has turned good news into bad. The April 30 CyberAlert recounted: Good news, but. NBC's Tom Brokaw on Thursday [April 29] night highlighted how "the government reported today that GDP grew at an annual rate of 4.2 percent in the first quarter of this year," but he then added an ominous "but" as he warned, "but there are also growing fears tonight that the good news may have a dark side." That dark side, as outlined in a full story by Anne Thompson: potential interest rate hikes and inflation -- as illustrated by the price of nails. See: www.mediaresearch.org

Jennings summarized the unemployment numbers, on the May 7 World News Tonight, as taken down by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:
"Well, the good news is today that more Americans went back to work last month. Employers added 288,000 new jobs in April, which was beyond economists' expectations. That is two consecutive months of solid growth. When you look at the kind of work people are getting, however, the news is a little less encouraging. Here's ABC's Betsy Stark."

Stark began: "Today's report on April's big job gains, combined with the giant numbers for March, confirm the job market comeback is no fluke. Hiring picked up in almost every quarter of the economy, including a long-awaited gain in manufacturing. Most of the new jobs were in service industries. Like this day spa in West Palm Beach, where the local economy is booming and the owner just made her eighth hire of the year yesterday."
Liza Basil, owner, The Sanctuary: "Everything has been up. Everything's been great. Everything's increased. Company's doing great. And we hope to keep expanding at this rate."
Stark: "But while the trend is healthy, around the country, job growth is spotty."
Steve Cochrane, Economy.com: "The strength in the economy is still limited to certain pockets, certain regions of the economy."
Stark: "Nine states still have unemployment rates of six percent or higher. And nine of the nations' ten largest metropolitan areas have fewer jobs today than they did three years ago when the recession began. Economists also estimate there are millions of underemployed workers like Bob Freeland. After losing the position he had at Goodyear for 33 years, he now has an ad agency job that pays him 75 percent less."
Bob Freeland: "Right now, I'm just thankful that I was one of the lucky ones to be able to find a job."
Stark concluded: "Well, Wall Street interpreted today's strong jobs report as another sign the economy is heating up and in its sometimes perverse fashion used that as a reason to sell stocks. The Dow lost 123 points. Traders are concerned that all this good economic news means the days of low interest rates are over and that the Federal Reserve will start raising interest rates soon."

News Media Stars on the Jeopardy Quiz
Show This Week

This week on the syndicated Jeopardy quiz show: media figures, including Tim Russert, Tucker Carlson, Bob Woodward, Aaron Brown and Keith Olbermann. Plus, Peggy Noonan and Al Franken.

Monday's Washington Post provided a day-by-day listing of the line-up for the shows hosted by Alex Trebek, which were taped, on a Saturday in early April, at the Daughters of the American Revolution's Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. "Winners," the Post noted, "get $50,000 for a charity of their choice; losers get $20,000, regardless of how poorly they play."

The lineup:

- Monday: Tucker Carlson of CNN's Crossfire, Peggy Noonan, the former presidential speechwriter, and Bob Woodward of The Post.

- Tuesday: Anderson Cooper of CNN's 360 Degrees, Maria Bartiromo from CNBC, and Kweisi Mfume, the President of the NAACP.

- Wednesday: Ari Fleischer, former White House Press Secretary, Ashleigh Banfield, who used to work for NBC, and Aaron Brown of CNN's Newsnight.

- Thursday: Al Franken, the liberal talker, Gretchen Carlson of CBS's Early Show and Keith Olbermann of MSNBC's Countdown.

- Friday: Tavis Smiley of NPR and PBS, Christine Todd Whitman, the former Environmental Protection Agency head, and Tim Russert of NBC's Meet the Press.

For the Post article about the week of shows: www.washingtonpost.com

Sony Picture's home page for Jeopardy: www.jeopardy.com

For the air time in your area, as they say, check local listings. In many markets, the half-hour Jeopardy airs during the hour before prime time begins. Those in the Washington, DC are can watch Jeopardy at 7:30pm on WJLA-TV.

I hope they all remembered to answer in the form of a question, such as: "Eight liberal media stars who deny there's any liberal bias?" Answer: "Who are the guests this week on Jeopardy?"

-- Brent Baker