ABC and CBS Veteran Linda Douglass Joins Obama's Campaign --5/22/2008
2. 'I Hate to Keep Being in the Position of Defending Obama, But...'
3. CNN's Phillips: 'Iraq War Not About Protecting Us From Terrorism'
4. On O'Reilly, Lt. General Sanchez Slams Media's Iraq Coverage
5. Spacey Confirms HBO's 'Recount' from 'Democratic Point of View'
Marc Ambinder revealed Wednesday, on his blog for The Atlantic magazine, that his colleague at National Journal, Linda Douglass, a long-time CBS News and then ABC News Washington bureau reporter until 2006, "will join Barack Obama's presidential campaign as a senior strategist and as a senior campaign spokesperson on the roadshow, a newly created position." Ambinder, a colleague at National Journal, reported: "Douglass confirmed her new position when I walked up to the ninth floor, knocked on her door, and asked her about it. She informed National Journal President Suzanne Clark this morning of her impending departure. 'I see this as a moment of transformational change in the country and I have spent my lifetime sitting on the sidelines watching people attempt to make change. I just decided that I can't sit on the sidelines anymore.'"
"Over 34 years in journalism," Douglass told Ambinder, "she grew disillusioned with the partisanship she saw first-hand." So, now she's joining a partisan campaign?
Douglass is the second on-air ABC News correspondent to join a Democratic presidential campaign. She follows ex-anchor Carole Simpson, who endorsed Hillary Clinton and makes public appearances for Clinton: hosting an infomercial for her and appearing on CNN on her behalf. See the March 31 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Ambinder summarized Douglass's career:
After serving as Justice Department correspondent for CBS News, DougIass moved to ABC News, where she covered Capitol Hill. A few years ago, she met Barack Obama and the two became friendly. Douglass retired from ABC News in 2006 to work on a project at New York University that was looking into how partisanship had paralyzed Congress. She joined the National Journal group as a contributing editor in 2007, writing for the magazine and hosting a weekly radio show on XM Satellite radio.
Ambinder's May 21 posting: marcambinder.theatlantic.com
In recent months, Douglass has been a frequent guest on CNN's Reliable Sources (see #2 below) and MSNBC's Hardball.
Some highlights of her reporting which reflects how she advanced Democratic/liberal causes when a journalist, as documented in the MRC's Notable Quotables gathered by the MRC's Rich Noyes:
Ruing Lack of Abortion Access
"In Pennsylvania, some patients must drive hundreds of miles to this clinic run by Jennifer Boulanger....Pennsylvania requires a woman seeking an abortion to wait for 24 hours. She must listen to a state-mandated speech and will be offered pictures of a developing fetus. The doctor, who does not want his face shown for fear of protesters, says it is not easy....More states are restricting abortion....The laws have driven some doctors out of the abortion business. Today 87 percent of U.S. counties have no abortion provider." -- ABC's Linda Douglass on World News Tonight January 22, 2003, the 30th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.
Insisting Jeffords Is "Moderate"
"[Jeffords] is a maverick, he is an independent. This was really about having his own moderate views heard within what he thinks is an increasingly conservative Republican Party." -- ABC's Linda Douglass on the May 23, 2001 Nightline.
Indicted Democrat = Republican
"Now [Congressman James] Traficant is a Democrat, but this indictment is actually an embarrassment to Republican leaders. They gave him $20 million last year for a project in his district in return for his support of the Republicans." -- Linda Douglass, ABC's World News Tonight, May 4, 2001.
Hailing Hillary's Hundred Days
"Clinton was the new kid on the block while her colleagues were howling about her husband's last-minute pardons of questionable criminals. Then she learned her own brother Hugh was paid $400,000 to win pardons for a drug dealer and a swindler....Her friends tell ABC News Mrs. Clinton was devastated, angry at Hugh, yet frustrated that she could not protect him. They say she felt cut off from her family. She is rarely seen with Mr. Clinton, though sources say he often sneaks into Washington to stay with her. Back home in New York, the tabloids have raked her over the coals. Her husband dealt with the flap over his expensive office space, now it was her turn. Her critics never give up and she never gives in.... "All agree, Clinton has thrown herself into work, often putting in 16- to 18-hour days, immersing herself in details of legislation, almost never missing a committee hearing. She has been a sponsor on 20 pieces of legislation, twice that of other freshmen Senators '€" on education, job programs, consumer protection, health care and, ironically, tighter scrutiny of presidential pardons." -- ABC's Linda Douglass marking Senator Clinton's first 100 days in office, April 12, 2001 Good Morning America.
Alarmed At Bush's Madness
"The Sierra Club calls President Bush's latest moves on the environment '€˜March Madness.' In the last two weeks, the administration has signaled that it may allow logging in pristine forests that had been declared off limits, has put off a decision to reduce arsenic in drinking water, has suspended a rule to protect the environment from damage caused by mining, has reversed a decision to limit carbon dioxide emissions, and the President also suggested drilling for oil in national parks and is pushing oil exploration in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. Some in the President's own party are becoming alarmed." -- ABC's Linda Douglass opening a story aired on the March 24, 2001 World News Tonight/Saturday and repeated by Jack Ford on the March 27, 2001 Good Morning America.
Where's the Squishy Bush?
"George W. Bush's rhetoric is very inclusive. He means to be inclusive, and he's used very soft rhetoric in trying to reach out to minorities. But the fact is he's proposed no federal programs for minorities. He hasn't talked about using the federal government to broaden the safety net." -- ABC News reporter Linda Douglass during the This Week roundtable, December 23, 2000.
Can't Spend Enough for ABC
Anchor Kevin Newman: "Also ahead, '€˜A Closer Look' at the two big plans in Washington to pay for prescription drugs: Will either one be enough?"..... Reporter Linda Douglass: "It is time for Frieda Hurlong's shot of insulin, one of five drugs she takes every day. Her HMO picks up a little of her drug bill. She has to figure out how to pay for the rest....Mrs. Hurlong needs help, but she and others may find that neither of the prescription drug plans being considered in Washington goes far enough....Under either plan roughly a quarter of seniors could still face high drug bills. So if Washington does anything this year, it probably will not be enough." -- ABC's World News Tonight, June 29, 2000.
Promoting the Hot New Idea from Little "People's Republics"
"They call this the '€˜People's Republic of Santa Monica,' a community that showers social services on the homeless, where renters have more power than landlords. These days city officials are focused on the widening gap between the people who live well here and those who serve them. Political leaders want to impose a living wage of nearly $11 an hour, plus benefits. The Reverend Sandie Richards says Santa Monica's bustling tourist industry has failed to share its bounty with its workers....The debate in Santa Monica is worlds away from the one in Washington, where even a small increase in the federal minimum wage can tie Congress in knots. But local governments will not wait for Washington. At least 40 more communities may adopt a living wage next year." -- ABC's Linda Douglass on World News Tonight, November 9, 1999.
The System Spoiled Boy Scout Gore
"There is no evidence that Gore knew about the reimbursement scheme. Plus, he insists he didn't know the event was a fundraiser in the first place. Still, an investigation into all of this could threaten one of Gore's most important political assets, his squeaky-clean image." -- ABC's Linda Douglass concluding a September 4, 1997 World News Tonight story on the Buddhist temple event.
Linda Douglass Shakes Her Pom-Poms
"The President again has had sort of an amazing week. The Democratic Party, which used to function like a herd of cats, has now very tamely crafted a very centrist Democratic platform that emphasizes crime 20 fighting. It talks about stemming the tide of violence on TV that is influencing our children, talks about school uniforms, talks about the death penalty, talks about tolerance for people who oppose abortion, for example. So, the President who was being abandoned by 20 his party just two years ago now has managed to oversee a party that has crafted this platform very much in his centrist image. Even though the background noise of what is loosely being called Whitewater continues, 20 none of it seems to stick to the President." -- CBS reporter Linda Douglass, July 14, 1996 Sunday Morning.
Rigid Far Right Ultra Conservative Extremists
"[Bob] Dornan's views are considered extreme, but in today's increasingly conservative Republican Party, he's not as far out as he used to be." -- Linda Douglass, April 13, 1995 CBS Evening News.
Health Care Fantasies
"White House officials said today the plan will require almost no new taxes. Most of the funding will come from employers who will be required to pay into a state system." -- CBS reporter Linda Douglass, September 1, 1993 Evening News.
Weeks before Linda Douglass announced she would be jumping aboard the Barack Obama presidential campaign as a senior strategist (see #1 above), the former CBS News and ABC News Washington correspondent was already aiding the Obama campaign. Back on the May 4 Reliable Sources on CNN, for instance, she became defensive: "I hate to keep being in the position of defending Barack Obama..." Yet that's exactly what she did on a panel with Amy Holmes and Joan Walsh. On that Sunday, the weekend after Obama held a press conference to denounce Jeremiah Wright, she pronounced media attention on Wright to have "been too much" and contended: "To make your judgments about how to cast a vote for President based upon the statements of this pastor seems to be a bridge too far."
After host Howard Kurtz played a clip of Bill Moyers complaining that "white preachers are given leeway in politics that others aren't," Douglass agreed: "That is actually a point that we should be discussing," as she contended "Republican candidates have routinely associated themselves with white pastors who have made similarly incendiary statements." As to attention to how Obama does not (at that time) wear a flag pin, a flustered Douglass countered:
No wonder the Obama team saw Douglass as an ally.
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Excerpts from the May 4 Reliable Sources, brought to my attention by the MRC's Clay Waters, Editor of our TimesWatch site on the New York Times: www.timeswatch.org
KURTZ: Short answer from everyone. Linda Douglass, the media have treated this as a huge story that could sink Barack Obama's candidacy. Are journalists going overboard here?
KURTZ: Linda Douglass, the press loves to get into the character game. What does this tell us about Barack Obama's values? Is that fair? This was, after all, somebody with whom he was associated for 20 years.
KURTZ: Well, Bill Moyers took a lot of criticism from me, among others, for not pressing Reverend Wright in a full hour on many of his most controversial statements. Now, he talked about this on his PBS show on Friday, and he did say that there were some offensive comments -- which he hadn't say earlier -- that there was this absurd charge by Reverend Wright about the U.S. government having manufactured the AIDS virus to kill blacks. Here's some of what else Moyers had to stay.
VIDEO CLIP OF BILL MOYERS ON PBS'S BILL MOYERS JOURNAL: This is crazy and wrong. White preachers are given leeway in politics that others aren't. All the rest of us should hang our heads in shame for letting it come to this in America, where the gluttony of the nonstop media grinder consumes us all and prevents an honest conversation on race.
DOUGLASS: Well, I think that that is actually a point that we should be discussing. E.J. Dionne wrote this very interesting column this week about how it is that Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson routinely have blamed all the woes of the United States on homosexuality and other kinds of things, and Presidents, Republican candidates, have routinely associated themselves with white pastors who have made similarly incendiary statements, and it hasn't come back to haunt them. Now, this is a much more personal association with Barack Obama.
KURTZ, AFTER CLIP OF OBAMA DEFENDING NOT WEARING A FLAG PIN: Have the media done a less than stellar job here in that so many people seem to believe these rumors about Obama and patriotism, or is it not the fault of the media?
[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Earlier in the interview, which began 26 minutes into the 7am EDT hour of the CNN program, Phillips asked Giuliani: "[Y]ou've got Republicans, leading Republicans in the party saying McCain has got to disassociate himself from President Bush. President Bush has ruined the image of the Republican Party, taken the Republican Party down into the tank. You don't agree with that?" Giuliani responded: "I think President Bush has been -- has not been treated as fairly as he should be, and I think President Bush is going to be a very different President when we look at him from historical purposes...."
Phillips then brought the Iraq war into the discussion: "How is he going to go down in history? You don't think it's going to be the Iraq war?" Giuliani then gave his "protected us against terrorism" answer, which Phillips followed with her Iraq war assertion.
Giuliani stuck to his point that Phillips was voicing her liberal opinion on the Iraq war. "That's your opinion, your opinion is the Iraq war is some kind of a big mistake. My opinion is we wouldn't be safe against terrorism if we hadn't taken the action we took in Afghanistan and in Iraq...." He continued that the success against al Qaeda and "other elements" in Iraq has made John McCain, whom Giuliani is campaigning for, look "a lot better than he did a year ago," and made the case for McCain's "proven commodity" versus Barack Obama's lack of experience.
In response to Giuliani's answer, Phillips then brought up how "68 percent of the people here in the U.S. oppose the war in Iraq." Giuliani then claimed that "they do, but also a majority of them don't want us to precipitously to pull out the way Barack Obama does." Phillips' last words on the matter: "Well, that will be interesting to see how the candidates take on the issue."
Monday's The O'Reilly Factor, guest hosted by Laura Ingraham, showed a pre-recorded interview between FNC host Bill O'Reilly and Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, former Commander of Coalition Forces in Iraq and author of Wiser in Battle: A Soldier's Story. During the interview, Sanchez conveyed his disapproval at the mainstream media's coverage of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal which occurred during his watch. When O'Reilly contended that the "New York Times and the liberal media...went wild over Abu Ghraib" to "humiliate the Bush administration," Sanchez agreed: "To a large extent, you're absolutely right, because that is reflected in some of the questioning and some, obviously, in the press reports that occurred...I believe that, in fact, we create the strategic defeat for America to a large extent by the way that we cover it in the press."
He further charged that the press "loses its objectivity when it begins to address the issues of Abu Ghraib and the emotion that is drawn out by those photographs. We lose, we lose and abandon the journalistic oath of fair and objective."
[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Amazon's page for Sanchez's book: www.amazon.com
When Sanchez in October 2007 gave a speech in which he criticized Bush administration leadership but also found fault with news coverage of Iraq, the mainstream media ignored his criticism of the media while playing up his criticism of the administration.
The October 16 CyberAlert item, "Sanchez Blasts Media, But Media Only Notice His Criticism of Bush," recounted:
The news media "eagerly reported" comments from General Ricardo Sanchez, the former top commander in Iraq, "calling the war in Iraq a quote 'nightmare with no end in sight,'" FNC's Brit Hume noted Monday night before pointing out how "there has been considerably less reporting of his harsh criticism of the press in the same speech." Indeed, in his Friday address to a group of journalists, Sanchez regretted how "tactically insignificant events have become strategic defeats for America because of the tremendous power and impact of the media" and scathingly asserted that reporters "are perpetuating the corrosive partisan politics that is destroying our country and killing our service members who are at war." Sanchez also charged: "For some of you, just like some of our politicians, the truth is of little to no value if it does not fit your own pre-conceived notions, biases and agendas."
Not surprisingly, that deprecatory view of the media did not interest journalists over the weekend. The NBC Nightly News, for instance, ran a full story Friday night on Sanchez's comments critical of Bush officials, but didn't mention what he said about the news media. CNN's Wolf Blitzer led the 7pm EDT hour of Friday's The Situation Room with how "Ricardo Sanchez says 'America is living a nightmare with no end in sight.' That's a direct quote. And he's sharply critical of U.S. strategy with stinging judgment of government officials." The critique of the media didn't come up in the segment with Pentagon reporter Jamie McIntyre. Saturday's front page New York Times article, "Ex-Commander Says Iraq Effort Is 'a Nightmare,'" ignored the media angle while front page story in Saturday's Washington Post, "Ex-Commander In Iraq Faults War Strategy," didn't refer to the scolding of the media until the very last paragraph.
For the full rundown: www.mrc.org
On FNC Monday night, Sanchez also insisted that under his command, the military "aggressively investigated" allegations of misconduct by U.S. troops. He also tried to put into perspective that such "mistakes" occur in every war. Sanchez: "One of the key things is that we have always made mistakes during wartime. And, in this war, it was no different....Whenever an abuse is identified, we very aggressively investigate it, and we actually court-martial soldiers and convict them and send them to prison." And he contended that the U.S. military in Iraq is "in compliance with the Geneva Convention."
The former commander also expressed his view that a "precipitous" withdrawal of troops would "put the entire region at risk." Sanchez: "Pulling out of there unilaterally and precipitously will, in fact, create a significant national vulnerability and probably will put the entire region at risk. I don't believe that we can afford to do that. I believe we have a responsibility, having gone into that country and changed that regime."
Below is a complete transcript of the interview as it aired on the Monday, May 19 The O'Reilly Factor on FNC:
LAURA INGRAHAM: And in the "Personal Story" segment tonight, war stories. The former commander of the Coalition Forces in Iraq says the liberal media hyped up the Abu Ghraib controversy to destroy American credibility. Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez has a new book out called Wiser in Battle: A Soldier's Story. He recently sat down with Bill.
BILL O'REILLY: General, when you saw the press in America go wild over Abu Ghraib '€" 50 front-page stories in the New York Times alone -- and you're over there in Iraq commanding forces, what was going through your mind?
Actor Kevin Spacey, who stars in HBO's Recount film to premiere Sunday night about the 2000 post-election battle in Florida, conceded on Wednesday's Countdown on MSNBC that "the movie is done from the Democratic point of view." That matches the observation of Entertainment Weekly magazine reviewer Gillian Flynn: "Recount is an underdog story, and thus a Democrat story." On Monday's Late Show with David Letterman, in apparent references to Katherne Harris and President George W. Bush, Spacey quipped Florida in 2000 was "a confluence of events and personalities -- some of whom perhaps weren't qualified for their jobs, [pause] some of whom probably aren't currently qualified for their job."
Wednesday night, Spacey told Keith Olbermann that Bush's team was more ruthless than Gore's: "I think there's no question what the movie illustrates is there were two differing philosophies about how to approach this recount fight. The Republicans pretty much, it was a street battle in their eyes. And I think on the Gore side, I think there was a -- perhaps an overestimated view of the patience of the American people." Bottom line for Spacey in echoing the liberal take at the time: "It does seem that on the one hand the Bush people were trying to stop votes from being counted and the Gore people were just trying to get votes counted."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted late Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The May 19 CyberAlert item, "HBO's 'Recount' Movie: Favors Democrats, Harris as Cruella De Vil," recounted:
An early review is in for HBO's upcoming movie, Recount, about the Bush-Gore battle in Florida after 2000 election. Gillian Flynn in Entertainment Weekly, which like HBO is part of the Time-Warner family, has described the film, to premiere Sunday night, as tilted against the Republican characters. In her review in the May 23 edition of the magazine, Flynn asserted: "Recount may not be downright blue, but it's not as purply as it wants to appear." Saying "Recount is an underdog story, and thus a Democrat story," Flynn reported that the "Republican players here are coolly calculating -- Tom Wilkinson's James Baker III, the Bush team quarterback -- or they teeter on the edge of madness, like Laura Dern's Katherine Harris." In fact, in an interview elsewhere, the writer of the movie slammed Harris as "a fraud."
For the May 21 CyberAlert article, "HBO Campaign 2000 'Recount' Film Endorsed by Liberal Media Stars," go to: www.mrc.org
Spacey on Monday's Late Show:
I consider myself sort of clued-in politically and I've been active in Democratic politics and I was stunned at how little I knew about what actually happened in Florida....When you see the film, you realize it's a confluence of events and personalities -- some of whom perhaps weren't qualified for their jobs [pause] some of whom probably aren't currently qualified for their job.
Spacey on the Wednesday, May 21 Countdown:
I think there's no question what the movie illustrates is there were two differing philosophies about how to approach this recount fight. The Republicans pretty much, it was a street battle in their eyes. And I think on the Gore side, I think there was a -- perhaps an overestimated view of the patience of the American people. I think that the American people probably would have been more patient. And I think they would have waited it out, and I think ultimately, the recount didn't actually happen. I mean, there was actually i think a half a day where the entire state of Florida was actually recounting, but it never really happened, so when you look at the end of the day, George Bush won that election by 513 votes, and yet you think about the million-five million that didn't go through the machines again, you think about the 20,000 who were on the voter purge list, it does seem that on the one hand the Bush people were trying to stop votes from being counted and the Gore people were just trying to get votes counted.
So it's, the movie is done from the Democratic point of view, because I play Ron Klain who's Al Gore's former chief of staff, but then again they were the underdogs and, dramatically, that makes more sense.
HBO's page for the film, which will first run Sunday night: www.hbo.com
-- Brent Baker