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

ABC Contrasts Inaugural with Funeral for Marine Killed in Iraq --1/21/2005


1. ABC Contrasts Inaugural with Funeral for Marine Killed in Iraq
The day after the ABC News Web site posted a request for information about military funerals on Inauguration Day for any soldier killed in Iraq, during live Inauguration coverage on Thursday Peter Jennings used the protester prop of flag-draped coffins as a cue to highlight how "some people" see the decision to bar the media from showing coffins arriving at Dover as meant to "isolate the American public from the tragedy of war." Later, on World News Tonight, Jennings contrasted the Inaugural festivities with how "in Rockport, Texas today, just about the time the President was speaking, there was a funeral for a young Marine reservist: 21-year-old Matthew Holloway was killed in Iraq last week by a roadside bomb."

2. Jennings: Iraq Ignored, Stephanopoulos: "Idealism, Not Realism"
ABC's Peter Jennings lamented on Thursday's World News Tonight that "there was not a single mention of the word 'Iraq' in the President's address." George Stephanopoulos shared his concern and also complained about how "the President didn't talk too much at all about constraints today. He set out that expansive vision for the government here at home, but did not mention the budget deficit or how we're going to achieve it. Today was the day for idealism, not realism."

3. ABC Brings Aboard Critics to Douse Enthusiasm for Bush Speech
ABC quickly doused any inspiration viewers might have gotten from President Bush's Inaugural address, bringing on Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and Bush-basher Dick Clarke, about whom Peter Jennings oozed that "we value him immensely," to critique Bush. Zakaria warned that "the danger, however, around the world is that people tend to pick up and highlight American hypocrisy" and say, "'you speak of liberty, but you support the Saudi regime.'" Clarke suggested that the "President's logic that we have to change other governments to defend ourselves here at home may not work."

4. Empathize with Marchers, Contrast Quelling to Bush Freedom Call
After reciting the causes of the protesters, from the environment to prisoner treatment at Guantanamo Bay, ABC's Peter Jennings declared that "these are big issues in the country" and added: "We remind you, again, this is a President who is elected on a fairly narrow basis, whatever he may say about his mandate today." Jennings soon attributed unruly protester behavior to their "frustration" at the long security lines and Tavis Smiley, fresh from NPR, complained that the video of protesters shaking a fence and getting sprayed with pepper spray is "disturbing to me" and contrasted it with how President Bush talked "about spreading democracy and freedom around the world, much less at a place called Freedom Plaza, named after one Martin Luther King Jr. And these pictures indicate very clearly that these people are having a very difficult time expressing themselves."

5. NBC Raises "Legitimacy" of Ohio Vote, Blames GOP for Bad Tone
NBC's team spent much of the afternoon fretting about the tone in Washington set by Republicans as Brian Williams brought up a far-left cause celebre, "the squeaker, the closer national vote still being fought over whether it was legitimate or not in Ohio." He soon put the burden on Bush, asking: "Is there going to be a visible olive branch from this President?" Tim Russert insisted that Reagan had not generated such hatred as Bush: "Ronald Reagan was someone who stood for something, who had a consistency of ideology and yet he did not seem to attract the kind of personal venom that is directed at George Bush. And Ronald Reagan did not seem to, in, in, in retrospect also try to cast forth that kind of hostility towards Democrats." Williams soon empathized with the plight of Democrats: "There is that deeply held suspicion by a lot of Democrats in Washington that when they do reach out they get bitten, they get hurt." The Today show team rued Bush's lack of a "conciliatory" approach.

6. Sitting by Rather, Historian Suggests Press Out to "Get" Bush
On CBS, Dan Rather wanted to know if there has "been any American President in a time of war who has asked for as little sacrifice as President Bush has done?" As he sat at the same table with Dan Rather who just months ago delivered a hit job on Bush based on forged documents, historian Joseph Ellis stressed how there are plenty of scandals which could imperil Bush's second term since as "a lame duck...the press is really out to get you. And they can get you if they want to get you. And they're going to go after him. You can already start to see it. And what the press defines as a scandal becomes a scandal." Rather quickly switched topics. Later, however, after CBS reporter Thalia Assuras insisted that along the parade route the "majority have been at this point booing the President," Rather came to Bush's defense and countered that "overall and in the main, this is a friendly, even jubilant crowd."

7. MSNBC's Ron Reagan Recommends Bush Start Telling "The Truth"
During MSNBC's coverage of the Inaugural, Andrea Mitchell told California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger that Bush's message about "spreading liberty and freedom around the world" is "very controversial, especially to many of your constituents." MSNBC analyst Ron Reagan decided it was an opportune time to ask: "Do you think if he had it to do all over again today that Dick Cheney would vote in favor of Martin Luther King Day or against it as he did at the time?" Reciting how Bush said in his address that "to serve your people, you must learn to trust them," Reagan took a swipe at Bush's record: "He would be well to, do well to remember that you can start by trusting with the truth."

8. GMA Repeatedly Complains About "Lavish" & "Excessive" Inaugural
Viewers of Thursday's Good Morning America were treated to repeated complaints about the "lavish" and "excess" Inaugural celebrations. Claire Shipman challenged Laura Bush: "Many have wondered whether, given the war and all of our security challenges right now, it's appropriate to have a lavish and expensive inaugural celebration?" After Mrs. Bush disagreed with the premise, Peter Jennings decided to "contradict the First Lady" as he declared that "it is pretty lavish and it was pretty lavish last night." Then GMA featured a Diane Sawyer interview with anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, who lost a son in Iraq, who asserted: "It's exactly the wrong time to be celebrating." Jennings soon hit Rudy Giuliani: "Do you think the balls and some of the excess are appropriate, or is it forgivable?"

9. GMA Devotes Segment to Kids Denouncing Bush/Whining About Life
On the morning of President Bush's second Inauguration, ABC's Good Morning America devoted a segment to seven 7th and 8th graders, at a Los Angeles school, who denounced Bush and his policies and complained about the state of the country. A boy argued: "I think that you should just make a law that would ban most of the lumbering, because we're annihilating forests and that's going to end up leaving the U.S. without any natural beauty." A girl complained: "Banning, like, same-sex marriages? I mean, I don't see any reason to do that." Another girl contended: "He should be focusing on Iraq, with all the people that have been killed and he should be bringing the troops back because that's kind of sad because for all the people that are dying."


ABC Contrasts Inaugural with Funeral
for Marine Killed in Iraq

ABC The day after the ABC News Web site posted a request for information about military funerals on Inauguration Day for any soldier killed in Iraq, during live Inauguration coverage on Thursday Peter Jennings used the protester prop of flag-draped coffins as a cue to highlight how "some people" see the decision to bar the media from showing coffins arriving at Dover is meant to "isolate the American public from the tragedy of war." Later, on World News Tonight, Jennings contrasted the Inaugural festivities with how "in Rockport, Texas today, just about the time the President was speaking, there was a funeral for a young Marine reservist: 21-year-old Matthew Holloway was killed in Iraq last week by a roadside bomb."

Blogger John Hinderaker, on his Powerline blog, gave publicity to how ABCNews.com posted this request Wednesday:
"For a possible Inauguration Day story on ABC News, we are trying to find out if there any military funerals for Iraq war casualties scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 20. If you know of a funeral and whether the family might be willing to talk to ABC News, please fill out the form below."

For the Powerline posting: powerlineblog.com

ABCNews.com quickly pulled the posting, but another blogger, Edward Morrissey, posted a rough approximation of the original page: www.captainsquartersblog.com

Peter Jennings' priorities on Thursday certainly confirmed the agenda behind the posting.

A bit past 2pm EST, Jennings noted how he "caught a glimpse there on the monitor of what looked to be a collection of coffins laid out somewhere with the American flag on them." Jennings, as tracked down on the DVR by the MRC's Jessica Barnes, used that as a cue to denounce Bush administration policy on returning bodies:
Demonstration on Inaguration Day as displayed on ABC "So there is part of the demonstration today. I know this brings up a very sensitive subject for many, many Americans, and that is the decision by the Bush administration not to let the press see men or women who've been killed in Iraq returning home to Dover, Delaware. The pictures of the coffins are simply not available to be seen by the public, and some people who are opposed to the war -- even if they're not opposed to the war -- make the point that this absence of coffins, this inability for the American public to see coffins, is to somehow isolate the American public from the tragedy of war."

On Thursday's World News Tonight, Jennings, over video of a flag-draped casket in a church, a picture of the killed Marine, a flag being folded over the casket and scenes of grieving funeral attendees, pointed out:
"In Rockport, Texas today, just about the time the President was speaking, there was a funeral for a young Marine reservist: 21-year-old Matthew Holloway was killed in Iraq last week by a roadside bomb. His brother told a local paper that as much as Matthew wanted to be home, he was very proud of what he was doing in Iraq. And it is something you hear from so many people in the services, including the ten thousand who have already been wounded."

Jennings: Iraq Ignored, Stephanopoulos:
"Idealism, Not Realism"

ABC's Peter Jennings & George Stephanopoulos ABC's Peter Jennings lamented on Thursday's World News Tonight that "there was not a single mention of the word 'Iraq' in the President's address." George Stephanopoulos shared his concern and also complained about how "the President didn't talk too much at all about constraints today. He set out that expansive vision for the government here at home, but did not mention the budget deficit or how we're going to achieve it. Today was the day for idealism, not realism."

Jennings did a quick exchange with Stephanopoulos, who was at a different location in Washington, DC than Jennings, who proposed to him: "Back at the White House this evening, ABC's George Stephanopoulos has been with us all day. George, one thing that struck me -- I think it struck you, as well. There was not a single mention of the word 'Iraq' in the President's address."
Stephanopoulos echoed: "Not once in two thousand words. Of course, the mission in Iraq suffused the speech, Peter. This is an idealistic speech, as Terry Moran said, about advancing liberty throughout the world. And Iraq is the chief battleground right now. And the President's success over these next four years and into history will be determined by Iraq. But the President didn't talk too much at all about constraints today. He set out that expansive vision for the government here at home, but did not mention the budget deficit or how we're going to achieve it. Today was the day for idealism, not realism."

ABC Brings Aboard Critics to Douse Enthusiasm
for Bush Speech

Richard Clarke ABC quickly doused any inspiration viewers might have gotten from President Bush's Inaugural address, bringing on Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and Bush-basher Dick Clarke, about whom Peter Jennings oozed that "we value him immensely," to critique Bush. Zakaria warned that "the danger, however, around the world is that people tend to pick up and highlight American hypocrisy" and say, "'you speak of liberty, but you support the Saudi regime.'" Clarke suggested that the "President's logic that we have to change other governments to defend ourselves here at home may not work."

At 12:54pm EST, following Bush's address, Jennings turned to Zakaria: "We now live in an age in which communication is so international. I sometimes wonder -- I worked behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, you travel all the time -- I wonder if there are not so many words in the universe now that the power of a phrase doesn't penetrate like it might have 20 or 30 years ago."
Zakaria: "Well, I think that's quite true. There's an excess of rhetoric, but still, what Presidents of the United States say matters. The danger, however, around the world is that people tend to pick up and highlight American hypocrisy. So when an American President lays out this kind of extraordinarily lofty agenda, we sometimes say, 'Well, at least we're going to do 50 or 60 percent of this.' Much of the rest of the world looks at it the other way. They say, 'You know, you have all these double standards. You speak of liberty, but you support the Saudi regime. You speak of liberty, but you support Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.'"
Jennings: "That's a very good point, you know, rhetoric and activity."

A few minutes later, Jennings elicited the reaction of Richard Clarke, the former White House counter-terrorism czar who quit and denounced Bush policy: "Did you hear anything in the President's speech that absolutely leapt out to you, that you just wanted to talk about immediately?"
Clarke: "Well, Peter, I saw a logic, a syllogism that is worth talking about, I think. He says that tyranny and resentment lead to hatred and ideology and that leads to violence, and what he seems to be saying is the way we have to get at terrorism -- 'terrorism' a word, by the way, not in the speech -- the way we have to get at terrorism is to change other governments around the world so that they are not the source of tyranny and resentment. I think the question needs to be asked, is that really the resentment that motivates the terrorists or is it resentment against American dominance, cultural dominance, American religion, is that what they resent? Or is the President right when he says they resent tyranny?"
Jennings: "Maybe it's all the above."
Clarke: "Well, if it's not just tyranny, if it's American cultural dominance, if it's the religious issue, their belief in a different kind of Islam -- by the way, I think this is probably the first inaugural address where the word 'Koran' was ever used -- if it is a different kind of issue that's motivating them, then the President's logic that we have to change other governments to defend ourselves here at home may not work."
Jennings: "Many thanks, Dick. It's really nice to have you with us. Dick Clarke, who served both the Bush and the Clinton administrations as the counter-terrorism czar, and works for us and we value him immensely."

Empathize with Marchers, Contrast Quelling
to Bush Freedom Call

After reciting the causes of the protesters, from the environment to prisoner treatment at Guantanamo Bay, ABC's Peter Jennings declared that "these are big issues in the country" and added: "We remind you, again, this is a President who is elected on a fairly narrow basis, whatever he may say about his mandate today." Jennings soon attributed unruly protester behavior to their "frustration" at the long security lines and Tavis Smiley, fresh from NPR, complained that the video of protesters shaking a fence and getting sprayed by police with pepper spray is "disturbing to me" and contrasted it with how President Bush talked "about spreading democracy and freedom around the world, much less at a place called Freedom Plaza, named after one Martin Luther King Jr. And these pictures indicate very clearly that these people are having a very difficult time expressing themselves."

A little after 2pm EST, the MRC's Jessica Barnes noticed, Jennings summarized the causes of the protesters and took a shot at Bush's claim to a mandate:
"There are people who've come here today so that their voices could be heard on the subject of the war, on the subject of the environment, on the subject of Abu Ghraib, the notorious prison in Iraq, and the current conditions in Guantanamo Bay, and whether or not people in Guantanamo Bay are ever going to have access to lawyers, etcetera. These are big issues in the country. We remind you, again, this is a President who is elected on a fairly narrow basis, whatever he may say about his mandate today. A part of the day, and an important part of the day we all recognize."

At 2:48pm EST, over footage of angry protesters shaking the security fence near Freedom Plaza at 14th and Pennsylvania, with one sign repeatedly shown for the next couple of minutes that proclaimed "Fuck Off Bush," Jennings saw the protesters as the victims, not the instigators:
"I think what you're seeing here a little bit -- we'll go out there in just a minute, this is Freedom Plaza -- I think what you're seeing about here is, more than anything else, and I'm guessing I grant you, but some of the frustration of these demonstrators that it's taken a long time for them to get to a place where they were actually told they could come and make their voices heard. So they're beginning to, quite literally, rattle the cage...."

Tavis Smiley, until recently a talk show host on NPR and still a host of a daily PBS program, soon added: "These pictures are disturbing to me, Peter. This is exactly what I suggested earlier when I tried to make the point that it's not what you say, it is what you do, and it's one thing, just an hour or two ago to have a President talking about spreading democracy and freedom around the world, much less at a place called Freedom Plaza, named after one Martin Luther King Jr. And these pictures indicate very clearly that these people are having a very difficult time expressing themselves. Protest in America has its place. It's because of the Civil Rights Movement that people like Condi Rice and Colin Powell could serve, and others for that matter, in this administration, and I think people around the world, certainly around the country right now, are having a very difficult time juxtaposing the pictures that we're seeing with the words we heard from the President earlier today, and this is that hypocrisy that Fareed Zakaria spoke of earlier, that other people around globe look at America and just can't quite understand."
Jennings: "Point noted."

NBC Raises "Legitimacy" of Ohio Vote,
Blames GOP for Bad Tone

NBC's team spent much of the afternoon fretting about the tone in Washington set by Republicans as Brian Williams brought up a far-left cause celebre, "the squeaker, the closer national vote still being fought over whether it was legitimate or not in Ohio." He soon put the burden on Bush, asking: "Is there going to be a visible olive branch from this President?" Tim Russert insisted that Reagan had not generated such hatred as Bush: "Ronald Reagan was someone who stood for something, who had a consistency of ideology and yet he did not seem to attract the kind of personal venom that is directed at George Bush. And Ronald Reagan did not seem to, in, in, in retrospect also try to cast forth that kind of hostility towards Democrats." Williams soon empathized with the plight of Democrats: "There is that deeply held suspicion by a lot of Democrats in Washington that when they do reach out they get bitten, they get hurt." The Today show team rued Bush's lack of a "conciliatory" approach.

A few minutes after Bush's address, Tim Russert warned of the danger of naming Antonin Scalia the Chief Justice, contending there are conservatives to whom Democrats would not object:
"I think the bottom-line on all this Brian is that the President understands that in order to achieve he does have to unite. He will have a chance probably, unfortunately, much more quickly than any of us would hope for and that's with the Supreme Court. Justice Rehnquist, God Bless him, was stoic and brave today. He left immediately after administering the oath while the President was at the podium. He is very, very ill. If the President has an opening on the Supreme Court he has to make a decision. Does he want to fight with the Democrats? Does he want to say, 'My next Chief Justice will be Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas? Or does he take a conservative jurist, a strict constructionist who does not represent the lightning rod of those two men? It will tell us a lot and I think it's gonna be a very important decision which will set the tone for the entire second term of the administration."

Just past 1pm EST, the MRC's Geoff Dickens caught this exchange from the NBC booth overlooking the Mall:
Tim Russert: "Brian listening to David I'm reminded of President Bush's interview with the Washington Post where they're asking him about Iraq and he said, 'Well the people made up their mind. They voted on that. They reelected me.' That is [an] extremely simplistic view which I think a second term president has to be very, very concerned about because as Doris and Professor Dallek have been saying if you interpret your reelection as a mandate for everything that you want to do you're going to get in trouble. Iraq is [a] very, very divisive war. There's no doubt about it. It was not a referendum issue in this past election. People who voted for George Bush, some of them, disagree with his Iraq policy but they did believe that he was more capable dealing with the threat of terrorism. I go back to where we started this morning. I think Iraq, Iraq, Iraq is gonna be central to this President's second term and he has to recognize that if he's gonna be able to do his ownership society and bring about a Bush doctrine worldwide."
Brian Williams proposed: "And Tim this, this notion of a, kind of a referendum, of a mandate. There are so many ways of looking at this election. As a collection of local referenda on the President, local election. The, the squeaker, the closer national vote still being fought over whether it was legitimate or not in Ohio. Some people are going to insist on replaying what we've just been through for the next four years."
Russert countered Williams, but ended with another warning for Bush: "Democrats had a chance to object when the Electoral College votes were tabulated. They opted not to, at least in the Senate. Some in the House. Democrats will say, 'Yes if 70,000 people in Ohio had voted for Kerry rather than Bush John Kerry'd be President.' That's the simple truth of our system. But the fact is George Bush was reelected. The Democrats have to accept that. In the words of people, liberals who've been saying, you know, 'We have got to get over it. We have to accept the fact that the election in 2004 is over. Let's look at 2008.' Learn from what happened in 2004 as must the Republicans, Brian. Because if this President believes that he has the kind of mandate that Newt Gingrich thought he had in 1994, look out."

At 1:06pm EST, Williams asked Karen Hughes: "Karen, both sides are already at it. Condoleezza Rice was supposed to be Secretary Condoleezza Rice by now. And that's been put off until next week. It, it isn't a great marker for getting along. Is there going to be a visible olive branch from this President you can preview for us to, to try to start this second term where he intended to start his first coming out of Texas?"

At 1:19pm EST, Williams, taking his cue from Joe Lockhart, wondered: "Tim Russert do think there's a downside in referencing division domestically and commingling that with the theme of the spreading of freedom and, and liberty worldwide?"
Russert suggested Bush has a hostility to Democrats which Reagan did not: "The President said that [if] there were divisions he would make a good faith effort to try to heal them. Whether or not that's enough to bring in Democrats who are very disaffected. And you know the interesting thing as Mike Deaver is talking about, Ronald Reagan was someone who stood for something, who had a consistency of ideology and yet he did not seem to attract the kind of personal venom that is directed at George Bush. And Ronald Reagan did not seem to, in, in, in retrospect also try to cast forth that kind of hostility towards Democrats. He would often meet with Tip O'Neill after hours and create an aura or an opportunity of civility if you will."

Turning to guest Joe Lockhart, Williams characterized Democrats as victims of Republican trickery: "And Joe as we talk about the second term there is that deeply held suspicion by a lot of Democrats in Washington that when they do reach out they get bitten, they get hurt. They come away unsatisfied from the process."

Earlier, at the very end of Today, at about 9:50am EST, Katie Couric and Brian Williams fretted about Bush not being "conciliatory" enough. Couric asked: "Brian, you know one of the things that President Bush was criticized for during his first term is not being conciliatory enough. Not reaching out across the aisle and sort of massaging, frankly, his opponents as President Reagan did so successfully. Will this speech be an opportunity for him to strike a more conciliatory tone in your view?"
Brian Williams: "Well people acted hurt because it was the message he ran on, it was the record he ran on from Texas. White House aides admit that the perception among Democrats is when they reach out to him, when they work with him they get hurt. And so yes, part of the speech will be a message a second attempt at a new era in Washington. He's known to truly dislike what has happened in this city in the last four years. Look at the Condi Rice confirmation. They, they couldn't be at each other more than they are as we sit here this morning."
Matt Lauer: "And yet Tim he's not really in a conciliatory mood. He gave an interview to the Washington Post recently and talked about Iraq and said he thought his reelection was a ratification of his policies in Iraq and talked about the fact he doesn't think anyone in his administration should be held accountable. He said, 'We had an accountability moment and that's called the 2004 election and the American people listen to different assessments and chose me.' So he doesn't feel like he has to go that far does he?"
Tim Russert: "No. And in 2000, Matt, when he barely won he said, 'I'm gonna implement my agenda. I was elected. I am the President.' This year he says he has a mandate, he has political capital. The problem is when you try to take on Social Security you cannot do that with one party alone. And that's why all this week you've seen Republicans say, 'Mr. President, take it easy. You can't solve this crisis only by creating private accounts.'"

Sitting by Rather, Historian Suggests
Press Out to "Get" Bush

On CBS, Dan Rather wanted to know if there has "been any American President in a time of war who has asked for as little sacrifice as President Bush has done?" As he sat at the same table with Dan Rather who just months ago delivered a hit job on Bush based on forged documents, historian Joseph Ellis stressed how there are plenty of scandals which could imperil Bush's second term since as "a lame duck...the press is really out to get you. And they can get you if they want to get you. And they're going to go after him. You can already start to see it. And what the press defines as a scandal becomes a scandal." Rather quickly switched topics. Later, however, after CBS reporter Thalia Assuras insisted that along the parade route the "majority have been at this point booing the President," Rather came to Bush's defense and countered that "overall and in the main, this is a friendly, even jubilant crowd."

CBS News analyst Joseph Ellis At about 10:40am EST, Rather wondered: "Having studied every American president in some detail, has there been any American president in a time of war who has asked for as little sacrifice as President Bush has done? Or is that a misreading of history?"
Professor Joseph Ellis, a CBS News analyst, a historian and an author, most recently of a new biography of George Washington, confirmed: "No, I think you're right, Dan. I think what's unusual about President Bush is that he's perhaps the only President that took us to war at the same time as he cut our taxes. And that's supposed to not be possible, and so it's an unusual situation, and perhaps we should listen today to see if he does ask us for, for some sacrifice. ..."

Rather asked his other panelist, Ed Rollins: "Would you expect President Bush to give a surprise in this inaugural address and ask for some measure of sacrifice from the country as a whole that he hasn't asked for before?"

At 2:10pm EST Ellis, the MRC's Rich Noyes noticed, predicted the media will try to "get" Bush, something Rather has already tried.

Ellis speculated: "I thought about this conspiracy thing historically and I wonder if you agree. There's a pattern. Republicans get caught for corruption with regard to money and Democrats get caught with regard to sex. Jefferson and Sally Hemmings to, you know, Clinton. So we should, we can remove the sex side of this, that's not going to happen. But Halliburton, CIA scandals, those are all just lurking beneath the surface waiting for some adventurous investigative reporter to go find them. Guantanamo Bay. And some how it's the ducks, the chickens and the sharks. The chickens come home to roost, you're a lame duck and the press is really out to get you. And they can get you if they want to get you. And they're going to go after him. You can already start to see it. And what the press defines as a scandal becomes a scandal."
Rather quickly changed topics: "Professor Joe Ellis. Well the lights are beginning to come up in the room" where the congressional lunch for President Bush took place.

An hour later, the MRC's Brian Boyd observed, Thalia Assuras checked in from the back of a truck along the parade route: "I'm going to let you listen to some of the sound here, there are distinct boos. The majority of the signs have, are anti-war signs if I could put it this way. We've just passed a major crowd and we're heading past a media area. The President's car is a little bit further behind me. And as you can see the crowds, they're about five to ten people deep and the majority, at least on this side, and again this is the President's side, the majority have been at this point booing the President."
Ed Rollins pointed out: "I think it's important for the first time, at least in my history, they have actually set areas up for protesters here. You know, where before you wouldn't have those signs anywhere near. The advance guys would have been out there and cleaned them out long before that. So obviously I think our viewers are getting a view of democracy in action but I don't think it should be distorted in the sense that there are thousands of people out there who are very happy to see the President and let's move forward."
Rather agreed: "Well, this is a very good point, Ed. And one of the continual debates we have among ourselves, those of us in television journalism and others, it's clearly a story that there are people who don't like the fact that George W. Bush was reelected. They are around the motorcade route, but it's, television does so many things so well. We take you there, we take you right there. But where television has difficulty is with depth and putting things in context and perspective. The television camera is more like a flashlight beam. We can show you what's right at the end of the beam, but what's going on at the side of it, or above and below it we don't see."
Rollins: "I think it's important to see all that. I mean, I think, I just also want to remind people that this was a deliberate part of the planning. Was to give them space so they could make their protest. And I think that's-"
Bob Schieffer: "I didn't know that."
Rather: "But overall and in the main, this is a friendly, even jubilant crowd. And let's go back to Russ Mitchell who's along the parade route, Russ."
Russ Mitchell: "Dan, right now the Washington DC, motorcycle corps is going by us right now to the cheers of the crowd. I agree with you. Most of this crowd, when you hear the crowd there are a few boos at this point, but for the most part this is a jubilant crowd shouting out 'Four more years' and 'We love President Bush.'"

MSNBC's Ron Reagan Recommends Bush Start
Telling "The Truth"

During MSNBC's coverage of the Inaugural, Andrea Mitchell told California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger that Bush's message about "spreading liberty and freedom around the world" is "very controversial, especially to many of your constituents." MSNBC analyst Ron Reagan decided it was an opportune time to ask: "Do you think if he had it to do all over again today that Dick Cheney would vote in favor of Martin Luther King Day or against it as he did at the time?" Reciting how Bush said in his address that "to serve your people, you must learn to trust them," Reagan took a swipe at Bush's record: "He would be well to, do well to remember that you can start by trusting with the truth."

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth scanned MSNBC and caught these noteworthy comments:

-- Andrea Mitchell to Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the Capitol platform, at 11:19am EST: "What message would like him to be delivering? We understand he's going to be speaking about the spreading, spreading liberty and freedom around the world, but that is very controversial, especially to many of your constituents. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the war has not been going well, particularly in Iraq."

MSNBC analyst Ron Reagan -- Ron Reagan at 11:28am EST as Cheney arrived: "Speaking of that pragmatism, Joe [Scarborough], we just got through celebrating Martin Luther King Day. Do you think if he had it to do all over again today that Dick Cheney would vote in favor of Martin Luther King Day or against it as he did at the time?"

-- Reagan at 12:36pm EST, just after Bush finished, as he reviewed the speech with Newsweek's Jon Meacham:
"Freedom, of course, to back everybody else up here, and a picture of America as an agent of liberty throughout the world, and occasionally a subtle semantic slap at those who might argue with our methodology in the world as somehow opponents of that liberty itself, which I don't quite see. He did say something that struck me also. 'To serve your people, you must learn to trust them.' And he should, he would be well to, do well to remember that you can start by trusting with the truth."

GMA Repeatedly Complains About "Lavish"
& "Excessive" Inaugural

Viewers of Thursday's Good Morning America were treated to repeated complaints about the "lavish" and "excess" Inaugural celebrations. Claire Shipman challenged Laura Bush: "Many have wondered whether, given the war and all of our security challenges right now, it's appropriate to have a lavish and expensive inaugural celebration?" After Mrs. Bush disagreed with the premise, Peter Jennings decided to "contradict the First Lady" as he declared that "it is pretty lavish and it was pretty lavish last night." Then GMA featured a Diane Sawyer interview with anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, who lost a son in Iraq, who asserted: "It's exactly the wrong time to be celebrating." Jennings soon hit Rudy Giuliani: "Do you think the balls and some of the excess are appropriate, or is it forgivable?"

Claire Shipman strode through the White House with the First Lady in a taped piece aired in the 7am half hour. Shipman explained: "As the First Lady gave us a peek at the preparations, she reflected on the challenge of celebrating during wartime. [To Mrs. Bush:] Many have wondered whether, given the war and all of our security challenges right now, it's appropriate to have a lavish and expensive inaugural celebration?"
Mrs. Bush: "Well, I don't think this inaugural is lavish. It's been focused on the troops. I think there's a tone for this inauguration that recognizes what our situation is in the world and that we have troops in harm's way. You know, our inaugurations are a symbol of our democracy. We've had them every single four years, every new term, and I think it's really important for that to continue."
Shipman countered: "Nobody is suggesting not having an inauguration. I just wondered if you and your husband talked about toning it down a little bit, asking the donors to-?"
Mrs. Bush interrupted: "Certainly. I mean, we talked about having the focus of it be the troops, that was always the intention. The money that is spent on the inaugural, as you know, was raised privately; it's not government money."

Bush's position didn't satisfy Peter Jennings, who came aboard from DC with George Stephanopoulos to preview the Inaugural address: "Now, it's a little risky, George Stephanopoulos, to contradict the First Lady, it is pretty lavish and it was pretty lavish last night. I was thinking a little bit about what President Lincoln once said, the election is over, the country can come together and can celebrate, but there are a lot of people in town self-conscious, I think, about the fact that there's a war on at this particular moment."

In the 7:30am half hour, following Sawyer's live session with Cindy Sheehan, Jennings interviewed former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who appeared from another Washington, DC location while Jennings was in ABC's booth overlooking the Capitol, and stayed on ABC's theme of the morning:

Peter Jennings: "Let me ask you first, if I may, whether or not you think that the inauguration is overshadowed by the war, or to what degree it may be overshadowed by the war?"
Giuliani: "Well, I think it's all part of what we're living through. I mean, we are living through a war. It's a difficult one. It's one that creates tragedy every day. It has a purpose that's a very, very important one, which is helping to spread democracy in a part of the world that desperately needs it in order to create more peace there, and it's one that carries out the War on Terrorism, which started here in America. So I mean, it's all part of the same thing, and this is a very, very important part of democracy, the inauguration of a President. This is one of the single oldest ceremonies of democracy, maybe the oldest in the history of mankind."
Jennings: "Do you think the balls and some of the excess are appropriate, or is it forgivable?"
Giuliani: "I think it's understandable. I mean, some people will celebrate, some people will not. In a democracy, people make their choice. Some people are very enthusiastic about the election of President Bush, obviously some people oppose it. That was true, you know, when Abraham Lincoln was sworn in or any American President."

GMA Devotes Segment to Kids Denouncing
Bush/Whining About Life

On the morning of President Bush's second Inauguration, ABC's Good Morning America devoted a segment to seven 7th and 8th graders, at a Los Angeles school, who denounced Bush and his policies and complained about the state of the country. A boy argued: "I think that you should just make a law that would ban most of the lumbering, because we're annihilating forests and that's going to end up leaving the U.S. without any natural beauty." A girl complained: "Banning, like, same-sex marriages? I mean, I don't see any reason to do that." Another girl contended: "He should be focusing on Iraq, with all the people that have been killed and he should be bringing the troops back because that's kind of sad because for all the people that are dying."

During the 8am half hour on the January 20 GMA, Diane Sawyer set up the segment, as taken down by the MRC's Jessica Barnes: "Exactly four years ago today we sat down with some third- and fourth-grade students at the Betty Plasencia school out in Los Angeles and we asked them to send a message to the then-new President. So we thought it'd be interesting to revisit those students and hear their messages then and now."

Viewers then watched a series of head shot clips of the unnamed kids, clips dated either 2001 or current:

Boy #1, 2001: "Mr. President, I would want you to give more money to, like, replace this school, like, put newer things and help the school get a new coat of paint."
Boy #1, 2005: "We need new books because many of us are using old books. We need more of the supplies and we need it newer."
Girl #1, 2001: "I would ask if he could give the homeless people on the streets a second chance to go to college and get a diploma."
Girl #1, 2005: "Me and my mom sometimes go and give 'em food, but it's still not enough. It's just sad to see people, like, living on the streets even though it might be their own fault, but it's still sad."
Boy #2, 2001: "I would ask him to build more houses for the poor people and make this world a better place."
Boy #2, 2005: "Now my message to President Bush is to stop drugs and violence on the streets because it's taking innocent lives away."
Boy #3, 2001: "Talk to the companies and tell 'em to stop cutting down trees."
Boy #3, 2005: "Now I think that you should just make a law that would ban most of the lumbering, because we're annihilating forests and that's going to end up leaving the U.S. without any natural beauty."
Girl #2, 2001: "A lot of kids can't go to school because their parents don't have enough money to, like, send them there, so maybe he could help them out and, like, send them there so they could get a better education."
Girl #2, 2005: "Banning, like, same-sex marriages? I mean, I don't see any reason to do that. It's only affecting the people that are going through with it and it's not harming the surrounding people. I think we need to try better this time. The last four years didn't really seem to work out too well, so I think it's a new slate. We can start over."
Girl #3, 2001: "Okay, Mr. Bush, first of all, I would tell you to think of not only one group of people, but all of the people in the country, like mostly, like, kids, like, in school."
Girl #3, 2005: "I would say to him not to underestimate the youth and, like, our power because we are the future. just don't forget about us."
Sawyer: "Four years ago, Rosemary Antonio got the giggles during our interview and didn't say much, but this time it seems as if the weight of the world is on her shoulders."
Rosemary Antonio: "Well, he should be focusing on Iraq, with all the people that have been killed and he should be bringing the troops back because that's kind of sad because for all the people that are dying and- [begins crying, which ABC showed for several seconds]"
Sawyer: "Rosemary's mother, by the way, says she doesn't know any of the troops personally, but she's upset by what she sees on the news and she prays for the soldiers every single night."


# That's it for this super-sized post-Inaugural issue which I planned to complete late Thursday night, but then I fell asleep.

-- Brent Baker