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ABC & CNN Showcase Complaints Bush Slighted Katrina Victims --2/2/2006


1. ABC & CNN Showcase Complaints Bush Slighted Katrina Victims
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."

2. Leaving CBS News, John Roberts Will Bring His Bias to CNN
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.

3. Alito, Conservatives "Tilt" Court Right, Ginsburg Was Apolitical?
"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.


ABC & CNN Showcase Complaints Bush Slighted
Katrina Victims

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."
Steve Osunsami: "Across New Orleans-"
Cindy Galliano, New Orleans resident: "We're flabbergasted. We're insulted. We're outraged."
Osunsami: "-residents couldn't believe the President's speech offered no new ideas for rebuilding their city."
Galliano: "Last night, the proof was in the pudding. He doesn't give a damn about us!"
Osunsami: "The President spent less than a minute mentioning the Gulf Coast disaster. The administration points out Congress has already dedicated $85 billion to recovery efforts."
Bill Sailers, New Orleans resident: "I don't know if I was really surprised last night because of what he said the last time he was in town, that, 'Go ahead and bring your families down here. Everything looks pretty good to me.'"
Osunsami: "The reality is that a third of New Orleans is still without power. In Mississippi, 51 hotels and resorts, the lifeblood of the tourism industry there, will never be rebuilt. In Louisiana, the repairs on the levees may not be completed until after this year's hurricane season begins. Here's what many residents wanted to hear: A greater share of the tax revenue generated from oil and gas drilled off Louisiana's shore, even more money for stronger levees, and a rebuilding plan that would cover each and every affected homeowner. William Farrell is a doctor who voted for the President and is now living in a trailer."
Dr. William Farrell, New Orleans resident: "This is a situation that requires big government help. And as much as I philosophically don't espouse that approach, when you're in it and you live it, you see there's really no other way."
Osunsami: "Elorial Monette also voted for the President."
Elorial Monette, New Orleans resident: "The government's job is to protect me, and that's what I expect them to do."
Osunsami: "Perhaps the State of the Union Address wasn't the place for announcing policy aimed at helping these homeowners, but there's a feeling here that they were slighted."
Gloria Powers, New Orleans resident: "I want everybody in the country to realize that if they have a disaster in their area, this is what they can expect."
Osunsami: "They're going to be angry for some time. Steve Osunsami, ABC News, New Orleans."

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."
President George W. Bush, in his State of the Union speech: "In New Orleans and in other places many of our fellow citizens have felt excluded from the promise of our country. The answer is not only temporary relief, but schools that teach every child and job skills that bring upward mobility and more opportunities to own a home and start a business."
O'Brien: "The President spoke for less than a minute about New Orleans. Didn't offer any new money or any new aid. American Morning's Dan Lothian is live for us this morning in Jackson Square in the French Quarter. Hey, Dan, good morning to you. What's the reaction in New Orleans after this speech?"
Dan Lothian: "Well, good morning, Soledad. In one word, disappointment. People feel that they were simply a footnote in that speech, that it was essentially a slap in the face, especially because the President came here shortly after the storm to Jackson Square in September, and he, he told the folks that he would do whatever it took to get this city back on its feet. The newspaper this morning pointing out, I guess, the feelings of those here, 'No New Promises for New Orleans from Bush.' And it goes on to talk about how he only had about seven sentences towards the end of his speech focusing on this region. What's interested, interesting is that there's also a lot of disappointment from lawmakers from this state, both Republicans and Democrats, who felt that, given the scope of this devastation, that the President would have spent, and should have spent a lot more time talking about it during his speech. Even Ray Nagin, Mayor Ray Nagin, who himself has been criticized for his actions, talked about that on Anderson Cooper 360."
Mayor Ray Nagin, Tuesday night: "I'm not sure if it's Katrina fatigue or what. I will tell you this, that the job is not getting done quick enough. We have so many residents that are still spread out all over the country. We have so many housing needs, and the dollars and the resources are just not there to get the job done. And we need to double and triple and quadruple our efforts."
Lothian: "Some residents told me that they don't believe that they can get the full attention of Washington until all of those lawmakers come here and see the devastation first hand. Soledad."
O'Brien: "They certainly have been pushing for that. Residents obviously, clearly frustrated with the lack of progress. How, how, how bad is it right now, Dan?"
Lothian: "Well, it is still pretty bad. In fact, many of the people simply haven't returned. There was some 465,000 people in New Orleans, and so far, only about 115,000 people have returned. There's also the issue of housing. More than 200,000 homes were destroyed. People have requested some 65,000 FEMA trailers. But fewer than 2,000 people have, are living in those trailers. And you know, something else that we noticed, Soledad, as we were driving around yesterday is that you still find a lot of traffic lights that still aren't working at the intersections. You also will find that many of the schools and the hospitals are still closed. So while there has been a lot of progress, we've seen a lot of trash picked up, we've seen businesses reopening, there's still a long way to go."

Leaving CBS News, John Roberts Will Bring
His Bias to CNN

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 Right,
Ginsburg Was Apolitical?

"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."

END of Reprint

For the online posting, with links, go to: www.timeswatch.org

-- Brent Baker