2. Leaving CBS News, John Roberts Will Bring His Bias to CNN
3. Alito, Conservatives "Tilt" Court Right, Ginsburg Was Apolitical?
ABC on Wednesday night, and CNN in the morning, devoted stories to how New Orleans residents are upset that President Bush, in his State of the Union address, did not advocate even more money for those hurt by Hurricane Katrina. ABC reporter Steve Osunsami littered his story with several supposed Bush voters who are angry at him. "The speech was practically over before the President mentioned Hurricane Katrina, one of the worst natural disasters in America's history," World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas fretted. Osunsami began with a woman who proclaimed: "Last night, the proof was in the pudding. He doesn't give a damn about us!" On CNN's American Morning, co-host Soledad O'Brien asserted that "a lot of people in New Orleans today are wondering kind of what happened. They listened to President Bush, 47 minutes, before they heard just a brief mention of their city." O'Brien complained about how "the President spoke for less than a minute about New Orleans. Didn't offer any new money or any new aid." Dan Lothian maintained that "people feel that they were simply a footnote in that speech, that it was essentially a slap in the face."
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video of what aired on the February 1 World News Tonight:
Elizabeth Vargas: "We mentioned all the attention today about what was in the President's speech, but there's been quite a debate about some things that President Bush did not talk about. The speech was practically over before the President mentioned Hurricane Katrina, one of the worst natural disasters in America's history. Many people in New Orleans were not happy about it. Here's ABC's Steve Osunsami."
The MRC's Megan McCormack noticed the February 1 CNN American Morning segment from just past 9am EST. Soledad O'Brien announced: "Let's talk about New Orleans now. A lot of people in New Orleans today are wondering kind of what happened. They listened to President Bush, 47 minutes, before they heard just a brief mention of their city."
Once assumed to be the likely successor to Dan Rather, John Roberts, CBS's White House correspondent, anchor of the CBS Evening News on Sunday and a regular weeknight fill-in, is leaving CBS to become CNN's "senior national correspondent" starting February 20. At CBS, Roberts defined himself as part of that network's liberal spin machine -- castigating conservatives, adoring liberals -- highlights of which were documented in a December 2004 Media Reality Check when Roberts was considered the lead candidate to succeed Dan Rather.
[This item is adopted from a Wednesday posting, by the MRC's Rich Noyes, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
A reprint of the December 8, 2004 Media Reality Check by Rich Noyes:
CBS's Bias Won't End When Rather Exits John Roberts, the Front-Runner to Take Rather's Chair, Twists News Stories to Favor a Liberal Agenda
Conservatives are rightfully cheered by the imminent end of liberal activist Dan Rather's 24-year grip on the anchor chair, but it's hard to imagine that any of Rather's proteges would take the bias out of the Evening News. Indeed, the top name floated as taking over for the tainted Rather, Sunday night anchor and White House correspondent John Roberts, has also used his position as a supposedly objective reporter and anchor to help liberal causes and undermine conservatives. A few examples:
# Campaign 2004. When Democrats baselessly charged President Bush had been "AWOL" from his National Guard duties in the early 1970s, Roberts strained to keep the story alive. After dental records showed Bush on base in 1973, Roberts groused how "the dentist who treated him has no specific recollection of seeing the future President." (Evening News, February 12, 2004.)
# Before Bush spoke at the GOP convention, Roberts painted him as mean-spirited: "He hopes to rekindle his year 2000 mantra of 'compassionate conservatism,' a goal his critics say would be a stunning feat given his record." (Evening News, September 2, 2004.) But after John Kerry's speech five weeks earlier, Roberts suggested Democrats weren't mean enough: "There's also been a buzz in the Democratic Party they should have gone after attacks that were more slashing than they did against President Bush, feeling that there were a lot of opportunities to exploit openings that they didn't." (Live convention coverage, July 29, 2004.)
# Civility. During Bush's first week in office, Roberts faulted the new President's conservative approach as divisive: "The Bush White House packaged in its first week the image of the President as a uniter. But Mr. Bush's message has often been at odds with the mission: the Ashcroft nomination, new restrictions on abortion counseling, plans for school vouchers, an in-your-face attitude that has Democrats reluctant to let down their guard." (Evening News, January 26, 2001.) Three months later, Roberts continued to blame the President for a lack of civility, even as Democrats charged Bush with poisoning children.
# Tax Cuts. Roberts has exhibited the standard liberal hostility to cutting taxes. In 2001, when Bush's original tax cuts were before Congress, Roberts cited a Reagan-bashing activist as an expert: "Bob McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice can't forget the last time Congress went on a tax cut spree in 1981. America is still paying the bill." (Evening News, February 5, 2001.)
Interviewing Terry McAuliffe 18 months later, Roberts posed a question that could have been cribbed from DNC talking points: "Is now the time for the President to be proposing new tax cuts, particularly ones that seem to benefit wealthy investors more than they do middle- and lower-income Americans?" (Face the Nation, September 1, 2002.)
# Poisoned Golf Courses. Roberts seems willing to use his newscast to pass on alarmist environmentalist hype: "If you took all the golf courses in all the land and put them together, they would equal the size of Delaware and Rhode Island. But the chemicals needed to tend those 3,000 square miles of grass are raising fears the links may be lethal." (Evening News, May 30, 1994.)
Bias contributed to Dan Rather's self-destruction. So does CBS really want another biased liberal anchoring the Evening News?
END of Reprint
The answer to the question: Apparently not, but their pursuit of Katie Couric shows it's not because they want to avoid liberal bias.
For the posting of the Media Reality Check, with links to more detailed CyberAlert items for the topics and quotes cited, go to: www.mrc.org
"Alito, Conservatives 'Tilt' Court to the Right, But Ginsburg Was Apolitical?" A reprint of a February 1 posting, by Clay Waters, on the MRC's TimesWatch.org site:
On Tuesday afternoon, reporter David Stout of the New York Times' online news desk posted a report on the confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. The teaser sentence: "The vote is a triumph for President Bush and conservatives who have longed to tilt the balance of the court to the right."
Stout's text emphasized Alito's conservatism again and again:
"Samuel A. Alito Jr., who has been widely praised for his intellect and integrity but both admired and assailed for his conservative judicial philosophy, was sworn in today as the 110th justice in the history of the Supreme Court. The ceremony, at the Supreme Court, came shortly after Justice Alito was confirmed by a sharply divided Senate, which voted 58 to 42, largely along party lines."
Stout again emphasized: "The vote is also a triumph for the conservative movement, whose adherents have longed to tilt the balance of the court to the right. Admirers and critics have predicted that Samuel Alito will do just that. Legal scholars have described his jurisprudence as cautious, respectful of precedent -- and solidly conservative. In contrast, the justice he will succeed, Sandra Day O'Connor, who is retiring, came to be widely regarded as a swing justice between the tribunal's liberal and conservative wings."
Later he wrote that Alito "becomes the second relatively young conservative to ascend to the court in recent months."
Though the profile is not hostile, the emphasis on Alito's conservatism comes in sharp contrast to how the Times covered the Senate vote that made liberal former ACLU lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg a Supreme Court Justice.
The August 4, 1993 edition story by Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse (who has the same beat at the Times today) made no mention of Ginsburg's liberalism. The only ideological labeling was of the "three conservative Republicans" who voted against Ginsburg.
Wednesday's hard-copy story by David Kirkpatrick also mentioned Alito is "expected to tilt the balance of the court to the right on matters like abortion, affirmative action and the death penalty" up high in the second paragraph, but to his credit he ended with balanced labeling. The youngest justices, Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Thomas, and Justice Alito were recognized as "conservatives," while the oldest, Justice Ginsburg and Justice Stevens, were actually called "liberals."
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For the online posting, with links, go to: www.timeswatch.org
-- Brent Baker