2. CNN's Brown: 40-Year-Old Plame's Been with CIA for 30 Years
3. CBS: U.S. Winning Hearts and Minds of Iraqi Kids and Adults
4. Couric Cues Up Dean on Leakgate, But Lauer Pounds Specter
5. Networks Rush to Defame Limbaugh as a Retrograde Racist
6. Olbermann Mocks Limbaugh But CNN's Brown Defends Rush's Rights
7. "Top Ten Qs Received by the Schwarzenegger for Gov. Hotline"
NBC Nightly News and CNN's NewsNight led again Wednesday night with "leakgate," but ABC and CBS managed to find other subjects more newsworthy as ABC began with a behind-the-scenes look at General John Abizaid in Baghdad and CBS started with another death of a U.S. soldier in Iraq.
When ABC arrived on leakgate, Peter Jennings highlighted a new poll showing public preference for a special prosecutor and then Jennings went to Jake Tapper who equated the alleged actions of the Bush White House with Philip Agee, the discredited CIA agent now living in communist Cuba who in the 1970s revealed the names of many of his colleagues. ABC showcased Agee charging: "I find it ironic that the son of the first President Bush would be the one to have an administration which would leak a name of a CIA officer under cover."
On NBC, Tom Brokaw trumpeted how "there's been a deep erosion in" Bush's approval ratings "and Democrats are on the attack over a leak that compromised the cover of a CIA agent." Andrea Mitchell, however, noted Hillary Clinton's hypocrisy in calling for a special prosecutor when she opposed independent counsel's during her husband's terms. She also reported the Valerie Plame is indeed an employee of the CIA's Operations Directorate. In a second story, Jim Miklaszewski arrived at Joe Wilson's political views: "Wilson has donated to the campaigns of Democrats Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy and Charles Rangel. And his wife also donated $1,000 to Al Gore."
-- Brokaw announced at the top of the October 1 NBC Nightly News: "Good evening. For most of the past two years the Bush administration has had the Democrats on the defensive with the President as commander-in-chief in the war on terror and the invasion of Iraq while at home he pushed big tax cuts through the Republican-controlled Congress and won big approval ratings from the public. But now there's been a deep erosion in those ratings and Democrats are on the attack over a leak that compromised the cover of a CIA agent. The leak now being investigated by the Justice Department. And today it was the Washington equivalent of a new war."
Andrea Mitchell soon noted how "even Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who fiercely fought having a special counsel investigate her husband's White House, today demanded one for George Bush."
"Was Wilson's wife a covert officer?" Mitchell asked. Her finding: "The answer officials tell NBC News is yes. Contrary to some reports she still works with the agency's Directorate of Operations, the secret side of the CIA."
Next, Jim Miklaszewski profiled Wilson and his foreign service career culminating with a Clinton White House job as the NSC's Director of African Affairs. When the "White House refused to admit the mistake," in claiming that Iraq sought uranium in Africa, "Wilson went public." But, Miklaszewski conceded, Wilson had already taken on Bush "in a series of anti-war articles and speeches."
Miklaszewski showed a clip of Wilson admitting: "If asked, I will probably, I will, I will endorse John Kerry."
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings highlighted:
Moran checked in with this short update, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Well, Peter, officials here say that they're not surprised by these findings, and they downplay them, in a way. They say they merely reflect an understandable concern on the part of the public about the seriousness of these charges. And now while that may sound like whistling past the graveyard, I must say, Peter, this is not a White House that seems stressed out and crouched in a defensive position. There's more stress among Republicans outside the White House than among most staffers here."
Jennings picked up: "In the same ABC News poll, 81 percent of the people we asked said the leak was a serious matter. In the intelligence community, that is an understatement. For agents and officers overseas, their lives may depend on well-kept secrets. Here's ABC's Jake Tapper."
Tapper outlined a case for Bush family hypocrisy: "After former CIA agent Philip Agee published 'CIA Diary' in 1975, blowing the cover of hundreds of CIA operatives, he was considered a traitor. Any number of people loathe him for naming names, including the President's parents."
A Wednesday AP story from Havana relayed Agee having the temerity to accuse the Bush White House of "dirty politics." See: story.news.yahoo.com
She started her CIA career at age 10? Wednesday night on CNN's NewsNight, anchor Aaron Brown passed along how former CIA operative Larry Johnson said Joe Wilson's wife "was in fact" an undercover agent "for 30 years." But a Wednesday Washington Post story pegged her age at 40.
So she is a lot older, or she started her undercover work while still in elementary school or Brown relayed some bad info.
Following a clip of Bob Novak from earlier in the day on Wolf Blitzer Reports, Brown proposed on the October 1 NewsNight: "We should add here, there is some dispute about whether Ms. Wilson was undercover or not. Mr. Novak, as you heard, says she was not. Others disagree, including Larry Johnson, a former CIA undercover employee, who says she in fact was for 30 years, until the leak."
I believe Johnson made that claim on Tuesday's PBS NewsHour. But Johnson's version of her career length is in conflict with her age as listed in an October 1 Washington Post profile of Joe Wilson by Richard Leiby:
For the Post's profile: www.washingtonpost.com
ABC, CBS, CNN, FNC and NBC all featured upbeat stories on Wednesday about the opening day of school in Iraq, in schools refurbished by U.S. troops and now free of the oppressive tributes to Saddam Hussein. But CBS's Allen Pizzey went outside of the schools to demonstrate how U.S. soldiers are winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis. Pizzey showed kids cheering as they ran alongside humvees and thrusting their hands in front of a U.S. soldier so he could sign them with a pen.
Pizzey learned: "There's one clear indicator that rebuilding efforts are paying off. Intelligence officers say the price of hiring a gunman or a bomber to attack U.S. troops has gone up from $1,000 to $5,000, and the pool of future recruits is shrinking."
On the October 1 CBS Evening News, after showing fixed-up schools helped by the families of soldiers sending over supplies, Pizzey suggested: "But it's not just about neglected buildings. Local councilor Akram Yacoub shrugged off death threats to work with the American troops."
On Wednesday's Today, NBC's Katie Couric cued up Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean to denounce the Bush White House over the CIA name leak, but moments later Matt Lauer pounded away at Republican Senator Arlen Specter on the same subject, playing devil's advocate in way Couric did not.
Couric to Dean: "What is your reaction to all of this?" And she conveniently recounted his take, recalling how he "said yesterday this breach of national security will not be carried out free from political influence if a special counsel is not appointed. Why, in your view, isn't the FBI capable of conducting an investigation?"
She also portrayed Dean as simply wanting to get to the truth, previewing her interview with him by saying that he "wants to get to the bottom of who leaked what at the White House."
But with Specter, Lauer demanded: "This story broke fully two months ago with an article for a column from Bob Novak back in July. Why did the President, who as Governor Dean says, came to office vowing to bring honor and integrity to the White House not demand answers of his staff at an earlier date?"
Lauer went on to quote how a former CIA staffer insisted "this is not about partisan politics. This is about a betrayal," and Lauer stressed how the "12 hour period" overnight, between DOJ announcing an investigation and when White House staffers were told to preserve records, "troubles some people."
Couric teased at the top of the October 1 broadcast: "Good morning. A White House scandal or partisan politics? The FBI digs for the namedropper who illegally outed an undercover CIA operative. Howard Dean, a top Democratic contender, also wants to get to the bottom of who leaked what at the White House."
Now, a rundown of the questions to Dean and Specter, as taken down by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
Couric set up the session with Dean, who appeared via satellite: "On Close Up this morning the charges being leveled at the White House. Former Vermont Governor and presidential hopeful Howard Dean is among the Democrats who want a special counsel to investigate whether a member of the Bush administration improperly leaked the identity of a CIA agent. Governor Dean, good morning, welcome back."
-- "I want to offer a quick review for our viewers because it's a pretty complicated story. So, Ambassador Joseph Wilson said the Bush administration's conclusion that Iraq was buying uranium from Niger to develop nuclear weapons was inaccurate and not an appropriate justification for war because he had traveled there a year earlier. After he refuted the White House claims the, apparently the name of his wife, an undercover CIA officer or analyst, it's unclear at this juncture, was allegedly leaked to a number of journalists as a sort of payback for his criticism. Now as you know the Justice Department has launched a full investigation with the cooperation, we might add, of the White House. What is your reaction to all of this?"
-- "Some Democrats including your rival, one of your rivals, Senator Lieberman are asking for a special counsel and you, yourself said yesterday this breach of national security will not be carried out free from political influence if a special counsel is not appointed. Why, in your view, isn't the FBI capable of conducting an investigation?"
-- "At the same time a lot Americans will say, 'C'mon Governor Dean your call for a special counsel is also politically motivated as you try to gain traction in an election year."
-- "In his column today Bob Novak, who first revealed the name of Joseph Wilson's wife, says it was an offhanded comment made to him not a quote, 'planned leak.' Does that change your opinion at all?"
Couric then moved on to the Gephardt charge against Dean over his favoring Gingrich's plan to "cut" Medicare spending.
Next, Lauer introduced Specter: "Now the view on the White House leak investigation from Capitol Hill. Pennsylvania Republican Senator Arlen Specter is a member of the Senate Judiciary committee. Senator Specter, good morning to you."
-- "Do the Democrats have a point here Senator, that a Justice Department under the leadership of John Ashcroft has a conflict of interest in investigating the White House."
-- "Let me ask you a couple of questions that actually Governor Dean has raised. This story broke fully two months ago with an article for a column from Bob Novak back in July. Why did the President, who as Governor Dean says, came to office vowing to bring honor and integrity to the White House not demand answers of his staff at an earlier date?"
-- "Well but if you're calling this partisan politics let me read you what Larry Johnson had to say. He's a former CIA analyst and counter-terrorism official at the State Department. He said, quote, 'I say this as a registered Republican. I'm on record giving contributions to the George Bush campaign. This is not about partisan politics. This is about a betrayal, a political smear of an individual with no relevance to the story publishing her name in the story added nothing to it.' What's your comment on that?"
-- "Are you concerned, Senator, that the Justice Department informed the White House on Monday evening, just after 8 o'clock that they had now begun conducting a full scale investigation. And it wasn't until the next morning after 8:30 in the morning, some 12 hours later that the White House counsel, Al Gonzales, sent a memo to staffers saying, 'Let's make sure you preserve all pertinent information.' That 12 hour period of time troubles some people."
-- "Just ten seconds left, Senator. Any way of calculating, have you gotten any reports from the CIA as to what damage may have been done based on this leak?"
Rush to label Rush as a racist. The media on Wednesday turned Rush Limbaugh's comments Sunday, on an ESPN pre-game NFL show, about media coverage of a black quarterback, into a media frenzy with CNN, literally, running segments on the controversy every hour all day.
By evening, ABC and CBS were impugning Limbaugh as a racist by likening his comment, about how "the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well" and so "I think there is a little hope invested in [Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan] McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he really didn't deserve," to broad generalizations about the entire Negro race uttered by Jimmy the Greek and Al Campanis.
Neither network could find anyone who agreed with Limbaugh.
ABC's Peter Jennings rued how "we've been down this road before. Jimmy the Greek Snyder lost his job with CBS Sports and Al Campanis resigned from the Los Angeles Dodgers for remarks deemed to be racially insensitive. Mr. Limbaugh is a rich and famous man, but the NAACP and at least one presidential candidate said today ESPN should can him."
"Still ahead on the CBS Evening News," Dan Rather intoned: "Were or were not Rush Limbaugh's comments about an NFL player racist, a ratings grab or both?" CBS reporter Byron Pitts linked Limbaugh to a history of racism: "The debate over quarterbacks isn't new. For decades, from little league to college, black ball players were discouraged from playing the position. The thinking was they weren't smart enough to succeed. It was a stereotype perpetuated by the likes of one-time CBS sportscaster Jimmy the Greek."
This morning, Thursday, the Washington Post and Katie Couric on NBC's Today ran through a litany of supposedly racist remarks Limbaugh has made on his radio show, but failed to put them into the context of how he was delivering humorous parodying of news events of the day. The Post cited no source, but Couric said she got her examples from a far-left columnist, though she naturally failed to identify him as such.
Before going further, what Limbaugh said on ESPN on Sunday morning, September 28: "I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. We're interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. I think there is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he really didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."
Now, more on all of the above-listed media quotes and stories:
-- Washington Post. In an October 2 front page story on Limbaugh's forced resignation overnight, "Limbaugh Quits TV Job Under Fire: Remarks on NFL's Donovan McNabb Spark Racial Controversy," Leonard Shapiro asserted:
That story is online at: www.washingtonpost.com
Russert answered that Limbaugh was hired for the controversy he'd generate and that ESPN knew what they were getting.
And yes, Couric did say "in the 1970s" despite the fact that Limbaugh did not get a local radio talk show until 1987 or so.
For a flavor of the far-left, anti-conservative columns of Couric's source, Derrick Jackson, check his Boston Globe archive: www.boston.com
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather set up CBS's story: "Radio star Rush Limbaugh's comments about Philadelphia Eagle Donovan McNabb brought calls today for ESPN to fire the self-described conservative commentator. Limbaugh today denied any racist intent when he claimed the quarterback has been overrated and generally favored by the media because he's black. Limbaugh's denial has caused questions among many people, as Byron Pitts reports in tonight's 'Inside Story.'"
Pitts began, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "With its hard hits and high-fives, football is America's game just as race is still a problem. Sunday, the two collided when conservative radio talk show host turned cable TV sports commentator Rush Limbaugh took on NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb."
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings announced: "We're gonna take 'A Closer Look' tonight at the latest controversy fostered by what someone said on television about race. In this case, Rush Limbaugh's remarks about the NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb of the Philadelphia Eagles. On ESPN, Limbaugh said that McNabb gets a lot of credit because the media is 'interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well.' Now, we've been down this road before. Jimmy the Greek Snyder lost his job with CBS Sports and Al Campanis resigned from the Los Angeles Dodgers for remarks deemed to be racially insensitive. Mr. Limbaugh is a rich and famous man, but the NAACP and at least one presidential candidate said today ESPN should can him. Here's ABC's Bob Jamieson."
Jamieson began: "Donovan McNabb walked into a news conference today and said an apology from Rush Limbaugh would be meaningless."
Jennings added: "Late today, ESPN said that although Mr. Limbaugh maintains his comments had no racist intentions, the network has told him the remarks were insensitive and inappropriate."
Two nights after lamenting how the views of the Dixie Chicks, Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo were supposedly suppressed, as "2003 was not the first time dissent, the American virtue, the unique right of us Americans, suddenly became an ugly word," instead on championing Rush Limbaugh's free speech rights and denouncing any idea of censoring him by removing him from ESPN, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann criticized Limbaugh's opinion of media coverage of an NFL player and presciently predicted: "He's gonna be fired."
Far from bemoaning the anti-Limbaugh media herd mentality, on his 8pm EDT Countdown show Olbermann mocked Limbaugh: "The only question is will he be fired because he sees life as a conspiracy against white people or because he doesn't know enough about football to understand that Donovan McNabb has led his otherwise lackluster team to the penultimate football game two years in a row."
In contrast, CNN anchor Aaron Brown stood up for Limbaugh's right to have an opinion, even if it's wrong.
For more on Olbermann on Monday night complaining about the suppression of liberal opinions: www.mediaresearch.org
On Wednesday night, Olbermann plugged the upcoming look at the Limbaugh controversy: "But the preview of our number two story: Lot's of rush, not so much judgment."
Later, Olbermann ran through what Limbaugh said Sunday on ESPN (see item #5 above) and reaction to it and then ruminated:
CNN's Aaron Brown, however, opened the October 1 NewsNight with a defense of Limbaugh's right to express his opinion:
From the October 1 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Questions Received by the Schwarzenegger for Governor Hotline." Late Show Web site: www.cbs.com
10. "What's Arnold's poorly-worded plan to fix the economy?"
9. "Why is Arnold campaigning in St. Louis?"
8. "Will he govern shirtless?"
7. "Is he going to take a leave of absence if he becomes pregnant again?"
6. "Just to clarify -- will he be back?"
5. "When is this Governor movie coming out?"
4. "Did Arnold get the egg I tossed to him?"
3. "Is this the Tom Arnold for Governor hotline?"
2. "Can you tell Mr. Schwarzenegger his steroid shipment has arrived?"
1. "What time is tonight's group sex fundraiser?
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-- Brent Baker