ABC Frames Look at Military Commissions Around Left-Wing Concerns --10/18/2006
2. Olbermann Slams Radio's 'Legion of Doom,' Wrong Picture of Boortz
3. NBC's Not 'Entirely Clear' N.J. Democrat Is Being Probed
4. Moyers Claims He's 'Conservative', Free of Ideological Blinders
5. CBS Finally Gives 'freeSpeech' Time to Anti-Illegal Alien View
Of the broadcast network evening newscasts on Tuesday, ABC aired coverage the most hostile to the "Military Commissions Act of 2006," which President Bush signed earlier in the day. World News anchor Charles Gibson noted how Republican objections had been addressed, but "civil liberties groups," a nice euphemism for liberals, "are calling the new law a violation of American values and have already gone to court to overturn it." The story from Martha Raddatz concentrated on those concerns as she asserted that "the language is so vague, say some lawyers, you could drive a truck through it. Others say it's just wrong." A lawyer for Guantanamo detainees then bemoaned: "What this bill does is reverse 500 years of common law history and said the President, the king, the executive can throw somebody in jail without needing to justify it to a court. That violates the rule of law and it violates our Constitution."
After not airing any pro-bill soundbites, other than a clip of Bush, Raddatz concluded by relaying how Senator Russell Feingold contended: "We will look back on this day as a stain on our nation's history." Gibson asked why so few Democrats voiced opposition. Raddatz pointed out how "this has not been a winning issue for the Democrats. In fact, in recent polls, 53 percent of Americans said it was okay to have secret prisons where U.S. laws did not apply. Basically, Charlie," she fretted, "Americans do not want torture, but they fear terrorist attacks even more."
[This item was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the October 17 story on ABC's World News:
Anchor Charles Gibson introduced Raddatz: "At the White House, President Bush signed into law new rules allowing tough interrogations and military trials for terrorism suspects. The bill was held up in Congress by some Republicans. They say their concerns were addressed. But civil liberties groups are calling the new law a violation of American values and have already gone to court to overturn it. Here's ABC's chief White House correspondent, Martha Raddatz."
Martha Raddatz, from DC with the White House in the background: "At today's signing, the President described the legislation as one of the most important tools in fighting the war on terror."
On Tuesday's Countdown, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann fretted about an Oval Office meeting of President Bush and several conservative talk radio hosts -- verbally tagged by Olbermann as "right-wing radio yackers" and labeled on-screen as the "Legion of Doom" -- as the Countdown host contended that Bush devoted "90 minutes worth of your taxpayer dollars" to the meeting. And in an amusing faux pas, Olbermann's staff, for the second time in less than a year, accidentally displayed a photograph of former liberal Democratic Senator Max Cleland instead of conservative talk radio host Neal Boortz.
During the show's opening teaser, Olbermann proclaimed: "The born again and the born talkers: The President takes 90 minutes worth of your taxpayer dollars to entertain right-wing radio yackers in the Oval Office, and will set up a radio row for them on the White House grounds next week."
[This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted late Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Olbermann's upset was prompted by an article in Tuesday's News York Times, "As Talk Radio Wavers, Bush Moves to Firm Up Support," about the Oval Office gathering held in September: www.nytimes.com
During Olbermann's teaser, a graphic of four conservative radio hosts was shown, including Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Michael Medved, and Mike Gallagher. But also appearing in the group was former Democratic Senator Cleland. Viewers would later learn that Boortz was actually the fifth radio host at the meeting.
As documented by CyberAlert, on the December 14, 2005 Countdown show, Olbermann's staff had similarly displayed a photograph of Cleland while Olbermann was attacking Boortz during his regular "Worst Person in the World" segment. For the December 15, 2005 CyberAlert item, "Olbermann Confuses Boortz with Cleland, Calls Boortz 'Racist,'" go to: www.mrc.org
On the subsequent night, while correcting the mixup, the Countdown host displayed side-by-side pictures of Cleland and Boortz as he labeled the liberal Cleland as "one of the best." See: www.mrc.org
Returning to the October 17 show, after devoting the first segment to the signing of the bill regarding the treatment of captured enemy combatants, Olbermann returned to the topic of the talk radio meeting as a screen behind him displayed a different set of photos of the five radio hosts, this time accurately including a photo of Boortz, while displaying the words "Legion of Doom" in the middle of them. Olbermann spoke disapprovingly of President Bush's "priorities" for devoting so much time to the meeting. Olbermann: "Back when the President was actually trying to sell that bill to the American people, he publicly answered questions for an hour on the morning of September 15 in the Rose Garden. But it's what he did that afternoon for an hour and a half that perhaps speaks volumes about this administration's priorities."
After bringing aboard Newsweek's Howard Fineman to discuss the day's news, Olbermann's began the interview with a question about the meeting. Olbermann: "In January, the President consulted with 13 former Secretaries of State and Defense about Iraq, spoke for 40 minutes, allowed discussion for 5 to 10 minutes. The figures for the 5 conservative radio show people is double that. Is there an explanation of that that does not include the President using the Oval Office for purely political purposes and even indirectly for political fund-raising?"
Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the October 17 Countdown show:
Keith Olbermann, in opening teaser: "The born again and the born talkers: The President takes 90 minutes worth of your taxpayer dollars to entertain right-wing radio yackers in the Oval Office, and will set up a radio row for them on the White House grounds next week."
Olbermann at 8:10 p.m.: "Back when the President was actually trying to sell that bill to the American people, he publicly answered questions for an hour on the morning of September 15 in the Rose Garden. But it's what he did that afternoon for an hour and a half that perhaps speaks volumes about this administration's priorities. He met off-the-record and in the Oval Office with only five people, conservative talk show radio hosts -- Mike Gallagher, Neal Boorz, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and Michael Medved -- who, according to a New York Times summary, reach mainly Republican audiences of 30 million people per week. Joining me now, Newsweek magazine political columnist/MSNBC analyst Howard Fineman. Howard, good evening."
Aren't reporters supposed to nail facts down for the public? On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, reporter Chip Reid explored the U.S. Senate race in New Jersey, but could not explain to viewers whether or not Senator Bob Menendez is under federal investigation. "It's not entirely clear who's right," Reid claimed. As Menendez denounced Republican opponent Tom Kean Jr. for "the politics of smear," Reid seemed unable to declare a basic fact local media outlets have repeated for weeks: federal investigators subpoenaed a Menendez tenant's leasing agreement with Menendez. NBC doesn't even seem to trust its own New York affiliate WNBC-TV to locate the facts, even though it broke the subpoena story in September.
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Wednesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
In the NBC Nightly News story, Menendez called Kean a "liar." But on September 9 (on page B-6 of the paper), The New York Times reported:
An investigation is just that: only an investigation. It's obvious that a politician whose business dealings come under federal investigation during an election year should not be presumed guilty until proven innocent. But Menendez is playing word games now, insisting that because he did not personally receive a subpoena, it's a "lie" to suggest he is under investigation, as federal investigators look into his leasing agreements.
But there's one reason for NBC to play dumb or confused along with the Democrat: the scandal allegations are hurting the Democrat at the polls and in fundraising. The polls are tight or tied, and Menendez fundraising was slow in the third quarter of the year. As Reid explained in his October 17 story, New Jersey Democrats thought this race would be much easier to win:
Reid spent a few seconds on the issues in the race, mostly Iraq, but both Reid and Williams lamented "the issues" were missing. That's the pot calling the kettle black, since NBC (and Reid) have been relentlessly covering the Mark Foley sex-talk scandal for weeks. Reid concluded:
One argument the Republicans have used against the Menendez who-me-under-investigation ploy is to remind the viewers what Menendez said on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos on September 24:
Stephanopoulos: "But this is being investigated by the U.S. Attorney here. There is a federal investigation."
Menendez is not actually welcoming it now. He's suggesting it's a smear to suggest there is an investigation. Debates about candidate ethics can get complicated, which is a real challenge for a two-minute TV report. But NBC and Reid didn't make the charges clearer for viewers. They threw up their hands and suggested nobody knows basic facts, and maybe the Republicans are running a "smear machine," as Menendez said to ABC. If NBC couldn't locate the basic facts on this story, they had the obvious recourse any media outlet that care about the facts has. They could have (and should have) waited another day or another week until they could understand the facts for themselves.
In an interview with Harvey Blume published in Sunday's Boston Globe "Ideas" section, PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers denied he's become radical unless it's "Thomas Paine radical," and "In many other ways, I'm a conservative," since he's been married a long time and goes to church. He said he's still driven to produce passionate documentaries for PBS because he's vowed to never again "let ideology blind us to the facts on the ground."
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
An excerpt from the October 15 Boston Globe:
Globe: Have you become more radical over the years?
Moyers: Radical in the sense of returning to the roots of the American experience, maybe, as in Thomas Paine radical. What I find is that money has become the common denominator of politics. Both parties have become its servants. And I've seen it get worse; I've seen our democracy become paralyzed by the influence of big money. I did "Capitol Crimes" because I want people to know the magnitude it has reached.
In other ways, I'm a conservative. I've been married to the same woman for 52 years. I'm a regular at church. I am a believer.
Globe: Have you ever felt like you were being pushed out of PBS?
Moyers: A friend from the Lyndon Johnson years recently reminded me that when he got on the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 1969, they were talking about how to get rid of Bill Moyers.
Globe: What does that say about PBS?
Moyers: It's a place where if you fight you can survive, but it's not easy. The fact of the matter is that Kenneth Tomlinson had a chilling effect down the line.
Globe: It's been said that you have the oratorical flair of a preacher. Does your religious faith help fuel your political passion?
Moyers: I don't see it that way. At an Emmy Awards recently, I said I want to thank the First Amendment. Faith in the First Amendment, not a theological belief system, keeps me going as a journalist.
Let me put it this way: I was press secretary in the Johnson administration when we circled the wagons and mocked reporting from Vietnam from the likes of David Halberstam -- with terrible consequences for Vietnam and America. We let ideology blind us to the facts on the ground. That's the driving force in my work, to never let it happen again.
END of Excerpt
For the interview in full: www.boston.com
After twice turning over its "freeSpeech" segment to sympathetic pleadings on behalf of illegal aliens, Tuesday's CBS Evening News provided time to a small city mayor who is working to curb the illegal influx into his community. In the October 17 segment, Lou Barletta, the Mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania explained how his city was "gripped by fear" and "because of violent acts committed by illegal aliens, my residents were afraid to shop -- or even drive -- on certain streets." So, because of the federal government's "failure"to address the problem, "we created ordinances designed to deter landlords and businesses from renting to and hiring illegals. Those who knowingly break our laws will face financial penalties. These laws will make Hazleton one of the toughest cities in the nation for illegals."
Back on September 21, CBS aired the plea of an illegal alien to stay in the U.S. and on September 6, the second night of the "freeSpeech" segment which launched the night before with Katie Couric's assumption of the anchor chair, viewers heard a plug for an upcoming pro-illegal alien rally before a sympathetic take on the plight of illegal mothers separated from their kids they left behind.
[This item was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
A September 22 CyberAlert posting recounted:
Identifying him as an "illegal immigrant," CBS concealed the identity of "Carlos" by using a fake name and putting him in shadow. He explained: "I cannot show you my face tonight because if I were identified I could be deported. After hearing my story, I hope that you will question whether this is what I deserve." The college-age "Carlos," whose family came in on a tourist visa when he was eleven and overstayed their visas, asserted: "Almost from the beginning my parents paid taxes, and two years after we arrived here, they applied for legal residency. Believe it or not, our application is still pending. That means my parents and sister and I can still be deported even though we did everything we were supposed to do to try to become legal." Except follow the rules for their visa.
"Carlos" concluded: "I ended up graduating fifth in my high school class and have since graduated college and I hope to become a lawyer. But because I am undocumented, I could never get a license to practice law and that puts me in a state of limbo. I've grown up here and I feel American -- I just lack the piece of paper that validates it."
For more: www.mrc.org
A September 7 CyberAlert item relayed:
[CBS] employed the feature to help plug a Thursday protest in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants. CBS put a soft and sympathetic edge on the topic by showcasing a Los Angeles Times reporter, Sonia Nazario, concerned about mothers in the U.S. separated from their kids south of the border. Couric set up Nazario by pointing out how, on Thursday in DC, there would be "a demonstration in favor of amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants." The "freeSpeech" segment, Couric explained, would focus "on mothers who come here illegally, and the children they leave behind."
Nazario began: "If we are going to start to solve our immigration problem and stay true to our family values, we need to understand the plight of hundreds of thousands of mothers now in the U.S. and the children they felt forced to leave behind in Central America. It's a humanitarian crisis."
For more: www.mrc.org
-- Brent Baker