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ABC: McCain Psychologically Damaged? Suffer Dementia? Die Soon? --5/23/2008


1. ABC: McCain Psychologically Damaged? Suffer Dementia? Die Soon?
Not waiting until the actual Friday release of John McCain's medical records, on Thursday's World News anchor Charles Gibson (who's 65) and Dr. Tim Johnson (who at 72 is older than McCain) speculated about McCain's health. Gibson wondered about "psychological damage" from his POW captivity. Assured there's no evidence of that, Gibson jumped to wonder how much longer McCain has to live, a question which led Johnson to warn, that while McCain may live another 16 years, there's a decent chance he'll develop "dementia."

2. Ross Adopts Left-Wing Attack on McCain Over Anti-Muslim Pastor
Good Morning America on Thursday picked up an attack on John McCain that has grown popular in left-wing media outlets and turned it into a Brian Ross investigation of the Senator's "pastor problem." In a preview, co-host Diane Sawyer solemnly intoned: "This morning, John McCain's pastor problem. Is the preacher McCain calls a spiritual guide fueling the fire of Muslim hatred in America?" Investigative reporter Ross then preceded to warn how the Arizona Senator's appearance with a pastor who loudly attacked Islam has "badly complicated" McCain's attempts to reach out to the Muslim world. Where did Ross find the various clips of the Reverend Rod Parsley condemning Islam and standing on a podium with John McCain? The story has already been touted in liberal outlets such as Mother Jones magazine and heavily featured on the Web site Brave New Films, a creation of Robert Greenwald, best known for documentaries bashing Fox News and Wal Mart. (Despite this, Sawyer touted the "exclusive" nature of the investigation.) Additionally, the Web version of Ross's story featured a misleading attempt to more closely associate McCain and Parsley. The ABC News headline asserted: "McCain Pastor: Islam Is a 'Conspiracy of Spiritual Evil.'"

3. CNN: Cindy McCain 'Stepford Wife,' Mrs. Obama 'Camelot with Tan'
CNN correspondent Carol Costello compared Cindy McCain to a "Stepford Wife" due to her "low key" role in her husband's campaign so far, in a segment on Wednesday's The Situation Room. Costello, detailing Mrs. McCain's recent photo spread in Vogue magazine, stated the feature "projects an image quite unlike the Cindy McCain we see on the trail," and a talking head described this "Cindy McCain we see" as "low key...taking the traditional role of standing by her husband's side at events." Costello then quipped: "A role critics say makes Mrs. McCain look like -- well, Glenn Close in the movie 'The Stepford Wives.'" On the other hand, Costello described Michelle Obama's Vogue spread more glowingly: "Michelle Obama chose a traditional black dress with pearl earrings for her Vogue spread. As The Washington Post described it, it was if Michelle Obama was saying 'I am not some scary other....I am Camelot with a tan.'"

4. NYT: 'Centrist' Florida Governor Crist Now 'Chain-Gang Charlie'
In his Thursday front-page story on the McCain veep speculation, Adam Nagourney felt obliged to paint Florida Governor Charlie Crist as a hard-core conservative. Nagourney described how Crist has "acquired a reputation as something of a hard-liner on law and order issues. He supports the death penalty, largely opposes restrictions on the rights of gun owners, early on earned the nickname "Chain Gang Charlie" because he favored allowing convicts to be used in road work." But in March, the paper had reported "conservatives in Tallahassee have begun grumbling about Mr. Crist's centrism."

5. CBS Early Show's Julie Chen Places Hawaii in the Atlantic Ocean
On Thursday's Early Show on CBS, co-host Harry Smith was introducing a report on the winner of National Geographic's annual geography bee and became confused by some geographical trivia: "In which ocean are the South Sandwich Islands located? A sixth grader from Nebraska answered that question. It's in the -- is it in the Atlantic? I thought the Sandwich Islands were actually named after the earl of -- it's Hawaii. That's not right. I'm so sorry." At that point, co-host Julie Chen showed that she was not quite ready to compete in the geography bee: "No, it's in which ocean, so that is right. So it's the Atlantic Ocean." Smith pointed out: "Hawaii is not in the Atlantic Ocean." Chen replied: "Oh, it's in the Pacific."


ABC: McCain Psychologically Damaged?
Suffer Dementia? Die Soon?

Not waiting until the actual Friday release of John McCain's medical records, on Thursday's World News anchor Charles Gibson (who's 65) and Dr. Tim Johnson (who at 72 is older than McCain) speculated about McCain's health. Gibson wondered about "psychological damage" from his POW captivity. Assured there's no evidence of that, Gibson jumped to wonder how much longer McCain has to live, a question which led Johnson to warn, that while McCain may live another 16 years, there's a decent chance he'll develop "dementia."

Gibson asked: "There's also an enormous amount of medical records involving the time that he was in captivity in North Vietnam to check to see what physical damage he suffered and maybe what psychological damage." Johnson replied that Navy psychiatrists monitored McCain "for many years after his release. They found no evidence of any serious problem. And he strongly denies any symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder." Gibson pounced with a new line of fear: "But he's 71 years old. What do the actuarial tables say about a man who's 71 years old?" Johnson explained they say he should live to 87, but: "Much more difficult, of course, to predict any change in mental acuity. At age 71, there's about a 30 percent chance of developing serious memory loss or even dementia."

Johnson did at least add: "But experts point out that with aging maybe some skills such as judgment get better."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Thursday 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 segment on the Thursday, May 22 World News on ABC, picking up after a report on the McCain-Obama split on the new so-called "GI Bill of Right.":

CHARLES GIBSON: While on the subject of John McCain, his campaign will release his medical records late tomorrow, giving a few reporters a limited look at those records. But we've already learned a great deal about what his health records will show. Our medical editor, Dr. Tim Johnson, helps explain McCain's health report.
Tim, let's start with what you see when you look at McCain, a rather large scar on the left side of his face. What was done? And why?
DR. TIM JOHNSON: He had surgery in the fall of 2000 to remove a melanoma from his left temple. It was about the size of a nickel. Then they decided to dissect surgically down his face and into his neck to examine lymph nodes. They found no evidence of cancer. They made the decision not to do any further treatment. So, he had a 2-A stage invasive melanoma. The prediction for such a person is about a 30 percent mortality rate over the next ten years. But the fact that he survived eight years, say experts, is a very good sign. He obviously has careful skin examinations three or four times a year.
CHARLES GIBSON: There's also an enormous amount of medical records involving the time that he was in captivity in North Vietnam to check to see what physical damage he suffered and maybe what psychological damage.
TIM JOHNSON: Well, he clearly suffered many orthopedic injuries upon ejection from the plane. He broke both his arms and a leg, and during captivity, the guards brutalized him. He suffered fractures in both shoulders and many ribs. So he clearly has some limitations of motion, especially in raising his arms. However, there is no evidence that those injuries have affected his activity level or his energy level. Now, the emotional part is harder to assess. He was carefully assessed by Navy psychiatrists for many years after his release. They found no evidence of any serious problem. And he strongly denies any symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
GIBSON: But he's 71 years old. What do the actuarial tables say about a man who's 71 years old?
JOHNSON: The actuarial tables say that if you make it to 71 in overall good health, your life expectancy is about 16 years. That would be age 87. I think that's surprising to many people. Much more difficult, of course, to predict any change in mental acuity. At age 71, there's about a 30 percent chance of developing serious memory loss or even dementia, but experts point out that with aging maybe some skills such as judgment get better. So, Charlie, the old cliche is certainly true in this case: Time will tell.

Ross Adopts Left-Wing Attack on McCain
Over Anti-Muslim Pastor

Good Morning America on Thursday picked up an attack on John McCain that has grown popular in left-wing media outlets and turned it into a Brian Ross investigation of the Senator's "pastor problem." In a preview, co-host Diane Sawyer solemnly intoned: "This morning, John McCain's pastor problem. Is the preacher McCain calls a spiritual guide fueling the fire of Muslim hatred in America?" Investigative reporter Ross then preceded to warn how the Arizona Senator's appearance with a pastor who loudly attacked Islam has "badly complicated" McCain's attempts to reach out to the Muslim world.

Where did Ross find the various clips of the Reverend Rod Parsley condemning Islam and standing on a podium with John McCain? The story has already been touted in liberal outlets such as Mother Jones magazine and heavily featured on the Web site Brave New Films, a creation of Robert Greenwald, best known for documentaries bashing Fox News and Wal Mart. (Despite this, Sawyer touted the "exclusive" nature of the investigation.) Additionally, the Web version of Ross's story featured a misleading attempt to more closely associate McCain and Parsley. The ABC News headline asserted: "McCain Pastor: Islam Is a 'Conspiracy of Spiritual Evil.'" See: abcnews.go.com

McCain's pastor? The Republican presidential candidate sought the reverend's support in February 2008. McCain is not a member of Parsley's World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio.

The Brave New Films posting: bravenewfilms.org

The Mother Jones story: www.motherjones.com

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Although the parallels between McCain, Parsley and Senator Obama and Reverend Jeremiah Wright weren't specifically mentioned, the subtext was clear. In an intro for the segment, Sawyer proclaimed that the story was "about the new pastor problems plaguing another presidential hopeful." Of course, the obvious difference is that McCain's associations with Parsley are rather slight, despite the misleading "McCain's pastor" headline. However, Obama went to Wright's church for 20 years.

Brian Ross is the man who, on March 13, 2008, filed one of the first investigations into Obama and Wright. However, in that piece, Ross did not feature several back to back clips of the candidate and the preacher, strung together in such a way as to make Obama look like a hypocrite. That's exactly what Ross did with McCain in order to show "contrast:"

ROSS: McCain has done nothing to reject Parsley's endorsement, even though his comments seem in stark contrast.
MCCAIN: Our goal must be to win the hearts and minds of the vast majority of moderate Muslims who do not want their future controlled by a minority of violent extremists.
PARSLEY: I will counter respectfully that what some call extremists are instead mainstream Muslim believers who are drawing who are drawing from the well at the very heart of Islam.
MCCAIN: We must remember that our freedoms are not only depended by our diplomacy and military power, but very importantly, by the decency and respect with which we treat one another.
PARSLEY: I will rail against the idea that the God of Christianity and the God of Islam are the same being. I will sound the alarm about the pernicious agendas of the enemies of my country and cross of my Christ. And I will proclaim the truth at every opportunity.

Ross also slammed McCain for being "apparently unconcerned about what Parsley stands for." In contrast, during the March segment, although Ross featured Wright's more extreme statements, he wasn't as harsh on the Democratic candidate. Instead, he rather weakly observed: "With a powerful voice and his strong words, Reverend Wright can be a mesmerizing presence."

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:02am on May 22:

7am tease, DIANE SAWYER: This morning, John McCain's pastor problem. Is the preacher McCain calls a spiritual guide fueling the fire of Muslim hatred in America? An exclusive Brian Ross investigation.

SAWYER: But let's begin now with an exclusive Brian Ross investigation. It is about the new pastor problems plaguing another presidential hopeful. This time, John McCain facing questions about his ties to a preacher who has made controversial, fiercely anti-Islamic comments. Brian Ross is here with us right now. Brian? ABC GRAPHIC: McCain's Pastor Problem: Fueling Anti-Muslim Hatred?
BRIAN ROSS: Good morning, Diane. In dealing with what he calls the central threat of the time, Senator McCain says the U.S. has failed to win the hearts and minds of the Islamic world. But, if that is McCain's plan if elected, he seems to have already badly complicated it by recruiting the support of an evangelical minister now known in the Arab world as a hate monger. It was at a critical moment in his campaign. Trying to win support from the Christian right that John McCain sought and received a big endorsement in the evangelical world.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: And I'm very honored today to have one of the truly great spiritual leaders in America, a moral compass, a spiritual guide, Pastor Rod Parsley, who is here. Thank you for your, for your leadership and your guidance. I'm very grateful you're here, sir.
ROSS: Campaign aides later positioned Parsley right behind McCain for photographers, apparently unconcerned about what Parsley stands for. As the senior pastor of the World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio, Parsley has made no secret of his feelings that Islam is the enemy.
REVEREND ROD PARSLEY (World Harvest Church): Islam is an anti-Christ religion that intends through violence to conquer the world.
ROSS: In sermons sold on DVD since 2005 and in a book "Silent No More," Parsley has warned about Islam.
PARSLEY: America was founded in part with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed. And I believe, September 11, 2001 was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore.
ROSS: Parsley's words, his connection to McCain are now showing up on Arab websites and newspapers. The headline here [Photo of Arab newspaper]: "McCain's spiritual adviser calls for the destruction of Islam." A huge handicap for McCain, according to a former CIA intelligence officer.
JOHN KIRIAKOU (Former CIA officer): The handicap is that it's already assumed that the Muslims are not gonna' get a fair shake from a McCain's administration.
ROSS: McCain has done nothing to reject Parsley's endorsement, even though his comments seem in stark contrast.
MCCAIN: Our goal must be to win the hearts and minds of the vast majority of moderate Muslims who do not want their future controlled by a minority of violent extremists.
PARSLEY: I will counter respectfully that what some call extremists are instead mainstream Muslim believers who are drawing who are drawing from the well at the very heart of Islam.
MCCAIN: We must remember that our freedoms are not only depended by our diplomacy and military power, but very importantly, by the decency and respect with which we treat one another.
PARSLEY: I will rail against the idea that the God of Christianity and the God of Islam are the same being. I will sound the alarm about the pernicious agendas of the enemies of my country and cross of my Christ. And I will proclaim the truth at every opportunity.
ROSS: In a statement, the McCain spokesman said the senator obviously strongly rejects such statements but the spokesman would not answer the question of whether the senator or the campaign knew of Parsley's widely publicized views before seeking his endorsement or before Senator McCain called Parsley one of the truly great leaders in America, a moral compass, a spiritual guide.
SAWYER: Yes, we head it there on stage. Spiritual guide and leader. Chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross. Thank you, Brian.

CNN: Cindy McCain 'Stepford Wife,' Mrs.
Obama 'Camelot with Tan'

CNN correspondent Carol Costello compared Cindy McCain to a "Stepford Wife" due to her "low key" role in her husband's campaign so far, in a segment on Wednesday's The Situation Room. Costello, detailing Mrs. McCain's recent photo spread in Vogue magazine, stated the feature "projects an image quite unlike the Cindy McCain we see on the trail," and a talking head described this "Cindy McCain we see" as "low key...taking the traditional role of standing by her husband's side at events." Costello then quipped: "A role critics say makes Mrs. McCain look like -- well, Glenn Close in the movie 'The Stepford Wives.'"

On the other hand, Costello described Michelle Obama's Vogue spread more glowingly: "Michelle Obama chose a traditional black dress with pearl earrings for her Vogue spread. As The Washington Post described it, it was if Michelle Obama was saying 'I am not some scary other....I am Camelot with a tan.'"

[This item, by Matthew Balan, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Twice in her report, Costello emphasized that most people "don't really know much about Cindy McCain," except that she's "really, really rich." After making this point the second time, Costello continued by bringing up the issue of Mrs. McCain's tax returns: "What voters do know about her -- well, she's enormously wealthy, and she says she won't release her tax returns ever -- which says to voters, you're not one of us -- hence Vogue and the jeans."

Costello followed this portrayal of Cindy McCain by comparing it to Michelle Obama's Vogue spread. "Interestingly, while Cindy McCain chose jeans for her Vogue spread, her likely competitor, Michelle Obama, chose a traditional black dress with pearl earrings for her Vogue spread. As The Washington Post described it, it was if Michelle Obama was saying 'I am not some scary other....I am Camelot with a tan.'" The Washington Post quotation came from a May 18 piece by Robin Givhan which described the two Vogue features. In her article, Givhan also used the "Stepford wife" term.

For Givhan's May 18 Washington Post article, "Letting Her Hair Down, but Still Keeping Up Appearances," go to: www.washingtonpost.com

Let's get this straight: Mrs. McCain's refusal to release her tax returns makes her some kind of elitist, but Michelle Obama, the millionaire, wearing a "traditional black dress with pearl earrings" is an attempt to connect with average voters? As if we needed another indication that CNN leans toward the Obamas.

The full transcript of Carol Costello's segment, which first ran at the end of the 6pm EDT hour of the Wednesday, May 21 The Situation Room:

WOLF BLITZER: John McCain's wife Cindy is taking center stage in a whole new way. She's featured in a spread in Vogue magazine -- a move possibly aimed at a very specific goal. Let's go back to Carol. She's looking at this story for us. What are you seeing, Carol? What are you hearing?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know, most of us don't really know much about Cindy McCain, except she's really, really rich. But if you take a peak at Vogue magazine, you may get a more well-rounded view.
Ooh la-la -- Cindy McCain in Vogue magazine looks spectacular, lounging at her seaside condo, sans John McCain -- feet bare, wearing size zero jeans. She projects an image quite unlike the Cindy McCain we see on the campaign trail.
SUSAN MACMANUS, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA: So far, Cindy McCain has been low-key. She's been sort of taking the traditional role of standing by her side -- her husband's side at events and clapping and smiling and being supportive of her husband.
COSTELLO: A role critics say makes Mrs. McCain look like -- well, Glenn Close in the movie 'The Stepford Wives.'
GLENN CLOSE (from "THE STEPFORD WIVES"): Well, that's all marvelous.
GLORIA ROEMER, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Well, you know, there's that saying that's been going on for years, you know, don't hate me because I'm beautiful. And that may apply here, because, you know, she is very attractive. You know, she can't help it.
COSTELLO: Roemer says Mrs. McCain's exterior belies who she really is. Mrs. McCain isn't perfect. She suffered a stroke four years ago and worked hard to overcome its affects. She donates tons of time and money to charitable causes. What voters do know about her -- well, she's enormously wealthy, and she says she won't release her tax returns ever -- which says to voters, you're not one of us -- hence Vogue and the jeans.
MACMANUS: Jeans are as all-American as apple pie, and in the fashion world, no matter what they look like, they're in fashion, and so it's no surprise that Cindy McCain would choose a spread with jeans and a nice shirt.
COSTELLO: Interestingly, while Cindy McCain chose jeans for her Vogue spread, her likely competitor, Michelle Obama, chose a traditional black dress with pearl earrings for her Vogue spread. As The Washington Post described it, it was if Michelle Obama was saying 'I am not some scary other.... I am Camelot with a tan.' Whether these images will sway voters one way or another remains to be seen. But we're still in the 'getting to know you' stage. And, in short, expect both would-be First Ladies to be much more visible in the near future, so you can get to know them -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, thanks very much. I'm looking forward to reading that article and seeing the pictures. Carol, see you tomorrow.

NYT: 'Centrist' Florida Governor Crist
Now 'Chain-Gang Charlie'

In his Thursday front-page story on the McCain veep speculation, Adam Nagourney felt obliged to paint Florida Governor Charlie Crist as a hard-core conservative. Nagourney described how Crist has "acquired a reputation as something of a hard-liner on law and order issues. He supports the death penalty, largely opposes restrictions on the rights of gun owners, early on earned the nickname "Chain Gang Charlie" because he favored allowing convicts to be used in road work." But in March, the paper had reported "conservatives in Tallahassee have begun grumbling about Mr. Crist's centrism."

[This item is adapted from a posting, by Clay Waters, on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]

An excerpt from Nagourney's May 22 story:

As governor of Florida, Mr. Crist, 51, would bring obvious assets to the Republican ticket, beginning with his popularity in a state that is almost always an electoral battleground -- and where Mr. Obama appears to be struggling. Mr. Crist's relative youth could also be an asset for Mr. McCain, who has made clear that age will be a consideration in his search for a running mate.

In Florida, Mr. Crist has long been known for his affability and a campaign skills. Instantly recognizable because of his perpetual tan and striking white hair, Mr. Crist, who was Florida's attorney general before being elected governor in 2006, has also acquired a reputation as something of a hard-liner on law and order issues.

He supports the death penalty, largely opposes restrictions on the rights of gun owners, early on earned the nickname "Chain Gang Charlie" because he favored allowing convicts to be used in road work, and has described himself as a "pro-life and pro-family" candidate.

END of Excerpt

For the May 22 article in full: www.nytimes.com

That's not how the Times has seen Crist in the past. From a March 17 profile by Abby Goodnough: "But while Mr. Rubio and other conservatives in Tallahassee have begun grumbling about Mr. Crist's centrism -- and his proposals to expand gambling and to dip into reserves instead of cutting more from the state budget -- his approval rating among voters remains high." See: www.nytimes.com

Check TimesWatch regularly for the latest on bias in the New York Times: www.timeswatch.org

CBS Early Show's Julie Chen Places Hawaii
in the Atlantic Ocean

On Thursday's Early Show on CBS, co-host Harry Smith was introducing a report on the winner of National Geographic's annual geography bee and became confused by some geographical trivia: "In which ocean are the South Sandwich Islands located? A sixth grader from Nebraska answered that question. It's in the -- is it in the Atlantic? I thought the Sandwich Islands were actually named after the earl of -- it's Hawaii. That's not right. I'm so sorry." At that point, co-host Julie Chen showed that she was not quite ready to compete in the geography bee: "No, it's in which ocean, so that is right. So it's the Atlantic Ocean." Smith pointed out: "Hawaii is not in the Atlantic Ocean." Chen replied: "Oh, it's in the Pacific."

[This item, by Kyle Drennen, was posted Thursday, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Smith, who earlier in the show bragged, "we're big geography nuts in our house," understandably confused the South Sandwich Islands, located in the southern Atlantic Ocean off the tip of Argentina, with the Sandwich Islands, the original name given to Hawaii, after the British Earl of Sandwich. Smith later made the correction: "Okay, just to set the record straight, we now -- we had to figure this out, right?...Because the Sandwich Islands are in the Pacific. The South Sandwich islands in the Atlantic. My bad."

However, there does not seem to be any explanation for Chen believing that the Hawaiian Islands were located in the Atlantic Ocean. NBC's Ann Curry was similarly geographically challenged on the February 4, Today show when she couldn't find the state of Illinois on a map of the United States and pointed to Minnesota instead.

Check the February 5 CyberAlert for Curry's geographical difficulty: www.mrc.org

-- Brent Baker