ABC Features 'Great Candor' from 'Bitter' Soldiers in Iraq --7/17/2007
2. Rasmussen Poll: By 2-to-1, Nets Biased to Left; FNC Less Biased
3. ABC Grills Edwards With Tough Questions; Hillary Got Softballs
4. Man Snoozes During John Edwards's ABC Town Hall...Then Vanishes
5. PBS Devotes Hour of Moyers to Advocating Bush-Cheney Impeachment
6. PBS Ombudsman Calls Foul on Blatant Claim Kerry 'Smeared' in '04
7. Read It Here First: Praise on FNC for MRC Take on McCain Coverage
ABC's World News on Monday night featured video of what was described as "great candor" from "bitter" soldiers in Iraq, one of whom demanded: "I challenge the President or whoever has us here for 15 months to ride alongside me." Fill-in anchor David Muir explained how "photographer Sean Smith of the British newspaper The Guardian was recently embedded with the U.S. Army's 2nd Infantry Division in Baghdad. Tonight, what he returned with: American soldiers speaking with great candor about what they face there every day." Unsaid by Muir, that The Guardian is a far-left socialist newspaper.
Nick Watt, who narrated the piece which showcased an incident in which the soldiers killed an apparently innocent taxi driver, relayed how "the soldiers of Apache company are tired and they're bitter." Viewers then heard from Specialist Michael Vassell: "Because we have people up there in Congress with the brain of a 2-year-old who don't know what they're doing, they don't experience it. I challenge the President or whoever has us here for 15 months to ride alongside me. I will go on another 15 months if he comes out here and rides along with me every day, 15 months." Following up with Martha Raddatz, Muir repeated his "candor" characterization: "How unusual is that they would use such candor to express what their up against?"
The ABCNews.com online version of the story: abcnews.go.com
A search of The Guardian's site determined that ABC's "exclusive" is two months old, as the paper in May printed the same still shots ABC showed Monday night: www.guardian.co.uk
On ABC's World News on Wednesday night, reporter Terry McCarthy gave time to how moves in Washington, DC to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq will undermine progress against al Qaeda. Reporter Terry McCarthy, who traveled with General David Petraeus in the Sunni Triangle's al Qaeda stronghold south of Baghdad, highlighted how the commander of all forces in Iraq "is still very optimistic about the military battle, if the politicians give him enough time." McCarthy asked him: "Are you concerned that the U.S. political clock could start ticking too fast and undermine security here? Undermine confidence here?" Petraeus replied that "obviously, that's in the back of our minds. And there is not a great deal we can do about it, other than to continue to press forward." McCarthy concluded: "The fields south of Baghdad are still a major battlefield in the fight against al Qaeda. But increasingly, Petraeus knows the most important battle in the Iraq war is being fought out in Washington."
For the July 12 CyberAlert in full: www.mrc.org
Then, the next night:
ABC's Jake Tapper on Thursday night raised the prediction "genocide" will result after a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, a forecast Tapper put to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at a Capitol Hill news conference: "Do you think the Iraqi people will be safer with U.S. troops out?" Reid didn't respond to the point, leading Tapper to retort in the exchange played on World News: "You didn't answer my question." A perturbed Reid, presumably not used to challenging questions from the Washington press corps, chastised Tapper: "This isn't a debate. We're answering questions." Tapper then repeated his question -- "Will the Iraqis be safer?" -- but Reid ignored him and moved on: "Anyone else have a question?"
For the July 13 CyberAlert, with video: www.mrc.org
Now, the transcript of the report on the July 16 World News on ABC:
ANCHOR DAVID MUIR: We turn now to Iraq and an ABC News exclusive. Tonight we have an extremely rare and raw look at what American soldiers are going through on the front lines. Photographer Sean Smith of the British newspaper The Guardian was recently embedded with the U.S. Army's 2nd Infantry Division in Baghdad. Tonight, what he returned with: American soldiers speaking with great candor about what they face there every day. Here's ABC's Nick Watt.
NICK WATT: They have been here for a year. For the soldiers of Apache company, this day is like so many others. They're investigating a bomb-making factory hidden in a private home. Then an explosion [screams]. An Iraqi soldier bears the brunt. Neighbors, including children, are hit. U.S. soldiers, only one of them a medic, set up a first aid station and do what they can. Specialist Michael Vassell is among them.
DAVID MUIR: The soldiers' platoon was supposed to come home in May. Their tour has been extended to September. ABC's Martha Raddatz has been to Iraq 13 times since the war began, each time covering the troops themselves. And Martha joins us tonight. Martha, I know that you just heard what these soldiers had to say. How unusual is that they would use such candor to express what their up against?
As highlighted Monday night by FNC's Brit Hume, a new Rasmussen Reports poll discovered that, by about two-to-one or greater, the public recognize a liberal bias over a conservative bias on ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, NPR as well as in the New York Times and Washington Post. "By a 39 percent to 20 percent margin," a Friday summary of their survey relayed, "American adults believe that the three major broadcast networks deliver news with a bias in favor of liberals." The public perceive liberal bias by 33 percent to 16 percent for CNN and 27 percent to 14 percent for NPR. More believe FNC delivers the news with "neither" a bias in favor of liberals or conservatives than see ABC, CBS, CNN or NBC as unbiased: While 25 percent consider the broadcast networks to be without a slant, 32 percent think CNN is "without bias," but even more, 36 percent, say that about the Fox News Channel.
On the newspaper side, in results released Sunday, Rasmussen learned than Americans see the Washington Post as liberal over conservative by about two-to-one (30 to 16 percent) while it's closer to four-to-one (40 to 11 percent) for the New York Times. "One of the more startling details," Rasmussen proposed, is that while liberals see all broadcast outlets and most newspapers as having a bias in favor of conservatives, even "25 percent of liberals see a liberal bias at the New York Times while only 17 percent see a conservative bias. This makes the New York Times the only media outlet that liberals are more likely to see as having a liberal bias than a conservative bias."
[This item was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Rasmussen pointed out how nearly half of liberals consider the major media outlets to be unbiased and nearly five times as many perceive a conservative over a liberal bias: "Among self-identified liberals, all of the media outlets are believed to have some net bias in favor of conservatives. However, 50% of liberals say that NPR is unbiased. Forty-three percent (43%) say the same about CNN. As for the major television networks, 49% of liberals believe they have a conservative bias. Just 10% of liberals see a liberal bias at ABC, CBS, and NBC."
The Rasmussen rundown noted that independents see a liberal bias by two-to-one: "Those not affiliated with either major party tend to see a liberal bias everywhere except Fox. Thirty-eight percent (38%) of unaffiliateds see a liberal bias at the major television networks while only 19% see a conservative bias."
Hume's item in the "Grapevine" segment on the July 16 Special Report with Brit Hume:
The question posed by Rasmussen: "When CBS, NBC, and ABC report the news, they show a bias that favors..." with the name of the network replaced in subsequent questions and with a newspaper name in a second survey.
An excerpt from RasmussenReports.com's "Americans See Liberal Media Bias on TV News," the July 13 rundown of the network news portion of the poll, of 1,000 adults conducted July 11-12, posted on Friday:
By a 39% to 20% margin, American adults believe that the three major broadcast networks deliver news with a bias in favor of liberals. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 25% believe that ABC, CBS, and NBC deliver the news without any bias.
Similar results are found for CNN and National Public Radio (NPR). By a margin of 33% to 16%, Americans say that CNN has a liberal bias. The nation's adults say the same about NPR by a 27% to 14% margin.
There is one major exception to the belief that media outlets have a liberal bias -- Fox News. Thirty-one percent (31%) of Americans say it has a bias that favors conservatives while 15% say it has a liberal bias.
When it comes to delivering news without bias, 37% believe NPR accomplishes that goal. Thirty-six percent (36%) say the same for Fox and 32% believe it's true of CNN. As noted earlier, just 25% believe the major broadcast networks deliver news in an unbiased manner....
Not surprisingly, there are huge partisan and ideological differences in the data. For example, among self-identified liberals, all of the media outlets are believed to have some net bias in favor of conservatives. However, 50% of liberals say that NPR is unbiased. Forty-three percent (43%) say the same about CNN. As for the major television networks, 49% of liberals believe they have a conservative bias. Just 10% of liberals see a liberal bias at ABC, CBS, and NBC.
Conservatives throughout the nation see things entirely differently. Sixty-two percent (62%) see a liberal bias at the major broadcast networks and 55% say the same about CNN. Forty-five percent (45%) of conservatives see Fox as unbiased and the rest are evenly divided. Eighteen percent (18%) of conservatives see Fox News as having a liberal bias while 21% say the opposite.
Younger adults are less likely than their elders to see a liberal bias across all of the media outlets.
On a partisan basis, Democrats see the major television networks and Fox as biased in favor of conservatives. Solid pluralities of Democrats believe CNN and NPR deliver news without bias. Those Democrats who see bias at CNN and NPR are fairly evenly divided, but are a bit more likely to detect conservative bias.
Republicans see a strong liberal bias on all the outlets except Fox. Forty-nine percent (49%) of the GOP faithful see Fox as fair and balanced.
Those not affiliated with either major party tend to see a liberal bias everywhere except Fox. Thirty-eight percent (38%) of unaffiliateds see a liberal bias at the major television networks while only 19% see a conservative bias....
END of Excerpt
For the summary in full: www.rasmussenreports.com
A Rasmussen Reports survey on perceptions of media bias found that Americans tend to believe that the New York Times, Washington Post, and their local newspaper all show a bias in favor of liberals. A plurality believes that the Wall Street Journal delivers the news without bias....
Among the print publications in the survey, the New York Times is perceived as being furthest to the left. Forty percent (40%) of Americans believe the Times has a bias in favor of liberals. Just 11% believe it has a conservative bias while 20% believe it reports news without bias.
Thirty-five percent (35%) of Americans see a liberal bias in their local newspaper while 21% see a conservative bias. For the Washington Post, 30% see a liberal bias and 16% see a conservative bias.
Twenty-nine percent (29%) see the Wall Street Journal as unbiased. Among those who see the Journal as biased, opinion is fairly evenly divided as to who that publication favors'€"22% say the Journal has a conservative bias while 18% see a liberal bias.
One of the more startling details concerns the perceptions of liberals towards the New York Times. Liberals tend to see all broadcast outlets and most print publications as having a bias in favor of conservatives. A plurality of liberals (40%) believes the Times delivers news without bias. However, 25% of liberals see a liberal bias at the New York Times while only 17% see a conservative bias. This makes the New York Times the only media outlet that liberals are more likely to see as having a liberal bias than a conservative bias....
END of Excerpt
For the summary in full: www.rasmussenreports.com
On Monday's Good Morning America, ABC devoted 38 minutes of air time to Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards in a town hall special. This is in addition to the over 26 minutes they provided fellow '08 contender Hillary Clinton back in March. That's a grand total of 64 minutes of "town hall" publicity for Democratic candidates versus zero so far for any Republican candidate. To be fair to Good Morning America, GMA host Diane Sawyer did ask tougher, harsher questions than did her colleague Robin Roberts when she interviewed Senator Clinton on March 26. However, during the July 16 program, Sawyer found no time to ask Edwards about the hateful anti-Christian bloggers that the campaign hired, and then was forced to fire, earlier this year. Instead, the ABC anchor squeezed in these softballs:
# "What's the worst meal you've had on the road?"
# "Do you listen to an iPod? Does it relax you on the road?"
Overall, however, although Edwards received more air time, 38 minutes to almost 27 minutes, Senator Clinton had the advantage of friendly questions from the audience and a less critical interviewer in Robin Roberts. Below are a sampling of Sawyer's queries to John Edwards during his July 16 appearance. The subject was the former trial lawyer's plans to withdraw from Iraq:
# Diane Sawyer: "What does that say to the Iraqi people? Where does that leave them? What if ethnic cleansing begins? Do you send troops back in? What do you do?"
# Sawyer: "What is the plan to control civil war, except going back in?"
Now, Sawyer certainly pitched her share of softball queries to Mr. Edwards, including asking about his iPod and bad food on the road, but there were also some tough questions from the audience. In the 7:30 hour, a doctor challenged the former Senator on teachers' unions and another individual wondered about that famous hair cut:
# Dr. Patrick Quinlan: "Affluence changes everything for everybody. My question to you is do you have the interest and the ability to lead fundamental change in our public education system? Do you have the courage and the ability to confront the educational establishment, including some of your key constituents like teachers' unions to put the interests of students and employers first?"
# Laura Stepneski (phonetically): "Good morning. Um, Senator, I was just wondering since you're on this national poverty tour, how do you justify spending $400 on a haircut?"
In comparison, during the March 26 town hall meeting with Hillary Clinton, Robin Roberts told the former First Lady that her 1993 health care plan was "ahead of its time." Additionally, audience questions were uniformly friendly. For instance, one query came from a man who actually worked with Hillary Clinton in '93:
Robin Roberts: "Somebody that was there, and wants to ask you what is different now, between what happened then, and he is Dr. Steve Eckstat. He is, he works at the free clinic of Iowa. Doctor?"
This item, by Scott Whitlock, was posted Monday, with video, on the MRC blog. The video will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, but in the meantime, to watch the Real or Windows Media clip in which the man disappears, video rendered by Ken Shepherd, go to: newsbusters.org
You'll see the man behind Edwards with his eyes closed, but a bit later when the camera shows he same shot, the mysterious individual is gone, though the camera angle is clearly the same.
See item #3 above for more information on Monday's "town hall" meeting.
It's really something when PBS is so far to the left it's bashing both parties for not being radical enough, but this is a routine pose for Moyers, where he somehow thinks he's "objective" when he sounds roughly in sync with the Dennis Kucinch for President campaign.
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Sunday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Pelosi came in for whacks several times, first in this early exchange:
BILL MOYERS: It seems to me the country is ahead of Congress on this. How do you explain all this talk about impeachment today out across the country?
Clearly, these men are unhappy Pelosi ever vowed not to bring impeachment as a campaign pledge (to show that the Democrats wouldn't be as far-left as Moyers), and they want that pledge broken, and now. Frustration with Pelosi boiled over again later, and Moyers insisted that Bruce Fein wasn't the only "conservative" who thought Bush and Cheney were out of control:
JOHN NICHOLS: The hearings are important. There's no question at that. And we should be at that stage. Remember, Thomas Jefferson and others, the founders, suggested that impeachment was an organic process. That information would come out. The people would be horrified. They would tell their representatives in Congress, "You must act upon this." Well, the interesting thing is we are well down the track in the organic process. The people are saying it's time. We need some accountability.
And then, soon afterward, Moyers asks why Pelosi doesn't violate her pledge, and Fein mysteriously suggests impeaching Bush and Cheney should look like "statesmanship," not partisanship:
BILL MOYERS: I have to interrupt you and say, look, you guys don't live in la-la land. Both of you are in, in and around power all the time. Why doesn't Nancy Pelosi see it her duty to take on at least the impeachment hearings that you say would educate the public about the states that you think-
In case anyone felt that Moyers was really the moderate in this drama, and not just playing the moderate, his show-ending commentary suggested it was intolerable that "an imperial executive" was still having its way in Iraq, and insisted that it should be the role of taxpayer-funded PBS to show all of the war debates live on its affiliates:
MOYERS: President Bush still was insisting Congress should stay out of the war. he and Vice President Cheney are holding out for better news from Iraq in September. But when September comes, you can count on more appeals for delay or excuses. that's the formula for perpetual war -- what our founders most feared, because it would turn our Constituion on its head, throwing off the checks and balances so crucial to liberty, and leaving all power in an imperial executive. Already the war in Iraq is in its 5th year, costing $10 billion a month, with the casualties mounting. All week a line from the poet Marvin Bell floated through my mind:
So just call PBS the Leftist 'Teach-In' Channel. So where was Moyers when Clinton was impeached in 1998? He was absent for most of 1998 due to an illness-related break, but on October 6, the day after Congress took up impeachment, he marked his return to PBS with a 'Frontline' documentary attacking both parties from his far-left perch for not passing a leftist campaign-finance bill. He was not a voice for impeachment, and certainly not a voice for devoting more PBS air time to the impeachment debate.
Transcript of the July 13 Bill Moyers Journal on PBS: www.pbs.org
On his page on the PBS Web site, PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler agreed with e-mailers on an episode of gratuitious liberal bias -- a seemingly out-of-nowhere attack on the 2004 ad campaign against John Kerry by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth -- on the show History Detectives. In a brief commentary, Wes Cowan had denounced how the group known as "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and funded by a wealthy Republican campaign donor smeared Kerry's military record and possibly cost him the election." When Getler asked the executive producer Christopher Bryson about the claim, he shot back: "In stating that Swift Boat Veterans for Truth 'smeared Kerry's military record' we carefully and believe accurately summarized and characterized a great deal of objective reporting by established media organizations, respected media watchdog groups, and an official Pentagon investigation."
Those "objective" reporters included The Washington Post, and the Annenberg Center's Factcheck.org, which also relied on the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and a Kerry pal's commentary in the Wall Street Journal. But the "objective" label gets more hilarious when Bryson also cited John Kerry's incredibly sympathetic liberal biographer and pop-historian Doug Brinkley, and the left-wing Center for Media and Democracy's online Sourcewatch encylopedia. CMD puts out paperback books with obviously left-wing and partisan titles such as Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq and Banana Republicans: How the Right Wing Is Turning America Into a One-Party State. See: www.prwatch.org
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Mondau morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Public broadcasting doesn't do very well in being responsive to public complaints, especially about a liberal bias. (By contrast, a liberal campaign recently forced PBS omnipresence Ken Burns to add an entire Hispanic-heroes segment to his forthcoming documentary on World War II.) Getler has been the PBS ombudsman since 2005, after PBS was outraged that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting named two ombudsmen, the usual media establishmentarian (former NBC political reporter and PBS host Ken Bode, who still blogs occasionally) and conservative journalist Bill Schulz (mostly with Reader's Digest), who was completely unacceptable to the liberal system. He departed after a few blogs.
Getler also has the media establishment credentials from The International Herald Tribune and The Washington Post (he was also an ombudsman there). He began his analysis this way:
"We interrupt this program to bring you...a political message." That line wasn't actually broadcast on PBS this week, but that's what several viewers thought happened while they were watching the July 9 airing of the "History Detectives" series. And they have a point.
I've said several times in these columns over the past 18 months or so that there is always something new to discover about how things happen on public television. Today's lesson is how to shoot yourself in the foot -- at least in the minds of a fair number of viewers '€" by injecting something debatable, political and seemingly irrelevant into a program that people seem to enjoy because it is different, imaginative and not political.
"History Detectives" is a co-production of Lion Television and Oregon Public Broadcasting. It is now in its fifth season on PBS, with about a dozen programs a year, each with three different segments. The program appears to be very popular, with about four million weekly viewers, according to PBS. It devotes itself "to exploring the complexities of historical mysteries, searching out the facts, myths and conundrums that connect local folklore, family legends and interesting objects." About 75 percent of the stories investigated are contributed by viewers, and a four-person team experienced in historical investigations tracks down the clues and facts. In my view, the concept for the program is among the most creative and imaginative on public television.
I recall only a few occasions during my time here when I would get a critical e-mail or two from a viewer taking issue with the way something was presented. But a portion of the July 9 show produced a heavy flow of critical mail. The opening segment of the program, by "detective" Elyse Luray, focused on a vintage, post-Civil War photograph showing about 20 older white soldiers in uniform standing shoulder-to-shoulder with two uniformed black soldiers. As the program pointed out, in Reconstruction-era America, such associations were frequently taboo. So what brought them together for this picture? Detective Luray went to work. The bond, it turned out, was the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal order organized for war veterans. So far, so good.
But then immediately following this, another member of the "History Detectives" quartet, Wes Cowan, an anthropologist and owner of an auction company that specializes in historical Americana, delivered a brief commentary that started off talking about the historical battle for veterans' benefits. But he ended up talking about Sen. John F. Kerry's role in 1971, when, as a young Naval officer, he was a leader of those veterans who turned against the Vietnam War, and how, in 2004, a group known as the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and funded by a wealthy Republican campaign donor smeared Kerry's military record and possibly cost him the election."
END of Excerpt
Getler's July 13 posting: www.pbs.org
Getler included a pile of letters from disappointed viewers. While declaring his sympathy for the Kerry position, he found the commentary out of place:
When I say, as I did at the top of this column, that these viewers have a point, I mean that, in my view, this comment of Cowan's, and the way it was presented, seemed to me to come out of nowhere, be irrelevant to the segment viewers had just watched, and jumped out as sort of a gratuitous political shot that seemed to distract from what is almost always an entertaining program removed from this kind of thing.
Also, the Swift Boat assault on Kerry in the '04 presidential campaign was a long-running and very controversial battle, not given to one-liners. And, as some viewers put it, there are lots of reasons why Kerry lost. There are undoubtedly large numbers of people who would agree with the characterization of the Swift Boat campaign as a smear on Kerry '€" who was awarded three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and Silver Star while serving in Vietnam '€" while many others see it differently....
Having followed this over the years, I felt, personally, that the evidence supported Kerry's record, citations and performance in battle. But the issue here for me is the appropriateness, or rather the lack of it, of Cowan's commentary.
You read it here first: On Saturday's Fox Newswatch on FNC, panelist James Pinkerton praised the MRC's take on how the mainstream media covered the fall of Republican presidential candidate John McCain: "The mainstream media said 'oh, he's toast because of the Iraq war.' In fact, the reality is, he's toast because of the immigration bill, and it was only the MRC that caught that, saying, that look, the real thing that hurt him with the Republican base, the people who are in the primaries, was immigration, not Iraq."
Pinkerton is a columnist for Newsday: www.newsday.com
Tuesday's CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News blamed Republican presidential candidate John McCain's reduced fundraising and low rank in the polls, which led two top advisers to leave the campaign, on McCain's view that U.S. troops must stay in Iraq -- not on how out of step he is with conservatives on the immigration bill he crafted with Ted Kennedy. CBS anchor Katie Couric declared: "No public figure has supported the President's Iraq policy more than Senator John McCain, and he's paid a heavy price for that. His presidential campaign is struggling and today, Jeff Greenfield reports, there was a big shakeup." Greenfield, at least, paired Couric's spin with the immigration issue: "Money woes are only part of the problem. His Iraq views are at odds with more and more in his own party and McCain's a sponsor of the dead for now immigration reform bill that has incensed many conservatives."
Over on NBC, in a story about the political fight over whether to withdraw troops from Iraq, David Gregory framed McCain's Tuesday morning Senate floor comments around how his stance on Iraq is what has "undermined" his campaign: "Just back from Iraq, Senator John McCain, whose presidential campaign has been undermined by his support for the war, gave the President a big boost." See: www.mrc.org
The July 12 CyberAlert reported:
NBC's Today show on Wednesday blamed Republican presidential candidate John McCain's support for the Iraq war and keeping troops in Iraq, not the Senator's frequent support for liberal policies, such his advocacy of the immigration bill which enraged conservative primary voters, for his plummeting poll numbers. Andrea Mitchell asserted in a story on the battle between President Bush and Congress over Iraq: "John McCain, just back from Iraq, defended the White House strategy, despite the political cost to his own campaign." Moments later, co-host Matt Lauer insisted: "Arizona Senator John McCain has been one of the President's staunchest allies when it comes to the war in Iraq and now that support may be partly responsible for dwindling poll numbers." Reporter Chip Reid maintained that McCain's "unwavering support of the Iraq war is unpopular with moderate Republicans," but Reid at least acknowledged how "another issue dragging him down" is "immigration reform. Many conservatives deeply resent his support for what they call amnesty." See: www.mrc.org
-- Brent Baker