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ABC News on Ridge's Sunday Warning: "Timing Smacks of Politics" --8/2/2004


1. ABC News on Ridge's Sunday Warning: "Timing Smacks of Politics"
Politically-inspired terror warning? Barely four hours after Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge announced specific terrorist targets in New York City and Washington, DC, ABC anchor Don Dahler recalled how "the last press conference that Secretary Ridge made happened to fall right after Senator Edwards was announced as a vice presidential candidate" and "there are those who are already saying that the timing smacks of politics." Richard Clarke, now an ABC consultant, rejected the notion, but nonetheless rebuked Ridge for how Ridge went "out of his way to praise President Bush's programs today in the press conference and I thought that was inappropriate."

2. Russert Rejects Idea Kerry's Policies Would've Kept Soviet Union
"Senator, how can you say that!?!" Tim Russert reacted with horror when Senator Zell Miller, a Democrat who has endorsed President Bush's re-election, raised Senator John Kerry's liberal record of opposing weapons systems and working to reduce intelligence funding: "If he had had his policies adopted in the Senate instead of the Ronald Reagan policies being adopted, we would still be in the Cold War. We'd still have a Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall would still be up."

3. Stephanopoulos to Kerry: Did We "See Into Your Soul Last Night?"
The morning after John Kerry's Democratic convention address, as he and George Stephanopoulos sat outside on park benches in Scranton, Stephanopoulos celebrated his achievement with him, posing one question about a Bush attack on him, but otherwise tossing him a series of laudatory softballs: "Did you beat your own expectations?", "Did you have fun while you were doing it?" and, "Did the American people see into your soul last night?"

4. By 12-to-1! Washington Reporters Prefer Kerry Over Bush
By a one-party state-like overwhelming margin, political reporters who are covering the presidential campaign think John Kerry would make the better President, New York Times reporter John Tierney discovered in taking an informal survey of 153 journalists at a press party during the Democratic convention last week in Boston. "When asked who would be a better President," Tierney relayed in his Sunday news section "Political Points" column of tidbits from the campaign trail, "the journalists from outside the Beltway picked Mr. Kerry 3 to 1, and the ones from Washington favored him 12 to 1."

5. Late Night This Week: Franken, Reagan, Miller, Clinton & Franks
Several politics-related guests are scheduled to appear this week either on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman or NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Al Franken, Ron Reagan, Dennis Miller, Bill Clinton, Tommy Franks and Arnold Schwarzenegger.


ABC News on Ridge's Sunday Warning: "Timing
Smacks of Politics"

ABC's Don Dahler Politically-inspired terror warning? Barely four hours after Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge announced specific terrorist targets in New York City and Washington, DC, ABC anchor Don Dahler recalled how "the last press conference that Secretary Ridge made happened to fall right after Senator Edwards was announced as a vice presidential candidate" and "there are those who are already saying that the timing smacks of politics." Richard Clarke, now an ABC consultant, rejected the notion, but nonetheless rebuked Ridge for how Ridge went "out of his way to praise President Bush's programs today in the press conference and I thought that was inappropriate."

Following the lead story on the Ridge announcement about a fresh terror threat, a 2pm EDT Sunday announcement carried by the broadcast networks, World News Tonight/Sunday fill-in anchor Don Dahler did a brief Q &A with Richard Clarke, the former White House counter-terrorism czar who wrote a book castigating the Bush team.

Dalher: "We can't forget, of course, this is an election year. The last press conference that Secretary Ridge made happened to fall right after Senator Edwards was announced as a vice presidential candidate. There are those who are already saying that the timing smacks of politics. You're not one of them?"
Clarke: "No, Secretary Ridge did go out of his way to praise President Bush's programs today in the press conference and I thought that was inappropriate in a press conference about warning, but this is real..."

This wasn't the first time that the anchor of World News Tonight had charged that a political motive was behind a terror warning:

-- On the July 8 broadcast, Ted Koppel added a nefarious twist in reporting on Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge's warning that al-Qaeda plans an attack in the U.S. soon to impact the democratic process. The warning led all three broadcast network evening newscasts and while CBS anchor John Roberts and NBC anchor Brian Williams played it straight, Koppel stressed how there was "no information on what to expect, precisely where, when or how" and relayed that the lack of a change to the threat level "led some critics to wonder out loud why the warning was being issued in the first place. Is the government simply trying to reassure the public that it's on the case or," Koppel asked in implying a larger political agenda to scare the public, "does the information actually serve a greater purpose?" See: www.mediaresearch.org

-- After all the media kvetching over the failure to connect the dots pre-9/11 you'd think that journalists would resist undermining high government officials who act on the side of caution to prevent a potential mass murder of civilians. But not ABC's Peter Jennings, who on Monday night [June 14], after noting how Attorney John Ashcroft announced a Somalian man had been charged with plotting to place a bomb in an Ohio shopping mall, gratuitously added: "Over the last three years Mr. Ashcroft has made several dramatic announcements about terrorist plots in the U.S., and it is hard to verify them because the evidence is held in such secrecy." See: www.mediaresearch.org

Russert Rejects Idea Kerry's Policies
Would've Kept Soviet Union

"Senator, how can you say that!?!" Tim Russert reacted with horror when Senator Zell Miller, a Democrat who has endorsed President Bush's re-election, raised Senator John Kerry's liberal record of opposing weapons systems and working to reduce intelligence funding: "If he had had his policies adopted in the Senate instead of the Ronald Reagan policies being adopted, we would still be in the Cold War. We'd still have a Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall would still be up."

Indeed, Miller didn't mention it, but Kerry supported a nuclear freeze in the early 1980s, which would have been a major blunder and puts him on the wrong side of the greatest struggle of the last century.

On Sunday's Meet the Press Russert tossed up a question to Miller which Russert seeming assumed Miller could not disagree with, but he did. Russert proposed: "John Kerry came out to address the Democrats and said, 'I'm John Kerry,' and he in fact is ready to serve his country, accept his duty as Commander-in-Chief. Do you have any doubt that he would not be a strong, effective Commander-in-Chief?"
Miller expressed doubts: "Oh, yes, I have a lot of doubts. If you will look at his record in the Senate, which is something they didn't talk about at all during the Democratic convention, it was as if he has been in a witness protection program somewhere and didn't even exist, incognito somewhere. He has voted, he's been on the wrong side of foreign policy issues for the last 20 years. If he had had his policies adopted in the Senate instead of the Ronald Reagan policies being adopted, we would still be in the Cold War. We'd still have a Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall would still be up."
Russert jumped in, in disbelief: "Senator, how can you say that!?!"
Miller explained: "Because this is a man, this is a man who voted to cut every single one of the weapons systems that won the Cold War. This is a man that voted against the weapons system that we're using to fight the war on terror. This is a man who voted against increases in intelligence funding. He wanted to cut intelligence funding."
Russert claimed: "But on defense and intelligence authorization bills, you have the same voting record as John Kerry."
Miller weakly answered: "I didn't try to cut, now ultimately he came along and voted for some, but I sure didn't try to cut this defense budget."

To Russert's credit, after Miller had spent most of his interview time denouncing Democrats as too liberal, Russert raised with him the liberal stands of the speakers to be featured at the Republican convention where Miller is also set to speak: "The other prime-time speakers -- Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain -- are all pro-gay rights, and Schwarzenegger and Rudy Giuliani are pro-abortion rights and pro-anti-gun rights. Should they be speaking to a Republican convention, and are they out of sync with your thinking?"
Miller: "Well, of course, I disagree with them on all those issues, but sure they should, because the Republican Party has become the party where diversity is accepted. You know, they talked about diversity at the Democratic convention. There was no diversity in ideology whatsoever. Can you remember when they wouldn't even let Bob Casey, a pro-life Democrat, Governor of Pennsylvania -- wouldn't even let him speak at the convention in '92? They have completely pushed out any moderate to conservative Democrat. It's no longer the party of the big tent that it once was."

Stephanopoulos to Kerry: Did We "See
Into Your Soul Last Night?"

The morning after John Kerry's Democratic convention address, as he and George Stephanopoulos sat outside on park benches in Scranton, Stephanopoulos celebrated his achievement with him, posing one question about a Bush attack on him, but otherwise tossing him a series of laudatory softballs: "Did you beat your own expectations?", "Did you have fun while you were doing it?" and, "Did the American people see into your soul last night?"

Stephanopoulos accompanied Kerry on his bus trip out of Boston to Pennsylvania and ABC ran the interview session on Friday's World News Tonight. Stephanopoulos' first "question," if you can call it that: "I've got to say, before the speech a lot of delegates were wondering whether you could pull it off. Did you beat your own expectations?"
Kerry: "George, I don't stop and analyze that. I do what I need to do to convince Americans that I have a better plan to strengthen our country here at home and to restore our reputation in the world. I know I can fight a more effective war on terror than George Bush."
Stephanopoulos: "And did you have fun while you were doing it?"
Clip of Kerry the night before: "I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty!"
Kerry on Scranton park bench: "It was an unbelievable experience..."
Stephanopoulos: "It seemed pretty hot up there, too."
Kerry: "It was hot up there. I thought about it afterwards, I said, 'Why don't they have fans blowing in?'"
Stephanopoulos: "President Bush is already coming back at you. He gave a speech in Springfield, Missouri, this morning, and he took aim at your Senate record. He said you've had thousands of votes with no significant record of achievement. No significant record of reform on intelligence, on education, on health care."
Kerry: "It's just not true. Once again, the President is not telling Americans the truth. They've spent $95 million distorting my record. And The Washington Post has written that they've been false charges, and it's the most negative campaign in history..."
Stephanopoulos: "He says we're turning a corner [on economy]."
Kerry: "Well, if you talk to a lot of people in America who are struggling to pay their health insurance or have lost their jobs, they don't think so..."
Stephanopoulos: "Right before the convention, I was talking to Senator Kennedy, and he reminded me of the first conversation he had with you back in 1971. And he said he saw into your soul. Did the American people see into your soul last night?"
Kerry: "I hope so. I hope so, I want them to. And I'm willing at any time to open my soul up to America because I want them to know that I love this country, I have fought for it, I'm still fighting for it. And I believe we can do better."

CBS's Byron Pitts didn't make the bus trip, but Stephanopoulos proved almost as sycophantic.

By 12-to-1! Washington Reporters Prefer
Kerry Over Bush

By a one-party state-like overwhelming margin, political reporters who are covering the presidential campaign think John Kerry would make the better President, New York Times reporter John Tierney discovered in taking an informal survey of 153 journalists at a press party during the Democratic convention last week in Boston. "When asked who would be a better President," Tierney relayed in his Sunday news section "Political Points" column of tidbits from the campaign trail, "the journalists from outside the Beltway picked Mr. Kerry 3 to 1, and the ones from Washington favored him 12 to 1."

12 to 1! That's Soviet-era support for one candidate. Does Castro do that well in Cuba?

Extrapolating from additional numbers cited by Tierney, he got his 12-to-1 ratio from a fairly substantial sample size: At least 48 DC-based journalists. (He reported that "about a third" of the 153 were from Washington and how, by 27 to 21 with a few no opinions, most of the Washington-based journalists would prefer to cover Kerry than Bush.)

Greg Pierce, writer of the "Inside Politics" for the Washington Times, highlighted te Tierney item in his Monday column ( www.washingtontimes.com )

An excerpt from Tierney's column, "Finding Biases on the Bus," in the August 1 New York Times:

As John Kerry celebrates his nomination with a coast-to-coast bus trip (this may be the first time the word "celebrates" has appeared so close to "coast-to-coast bus trip") conservatives are complaining about his good press. They say that journalists' liberal bias has colored the reviews of the Democratic convention and his speech.

But do journalists really want John Kerry to defeat George W. Bush? It depends where they work and how you ask the question, at least according to the unscientific survey we conducted last weekend during a press party at the convention. We got anonymous answers from 153 journalists, about a third of them based in Washington.

When asked who would be a better president, the journalists from outside the Beltway picked Mr. Kerry 3 to 1, and the ones from Washington favored him 12 to 1. Those results jibe with previous surveys over the past two decades showing that journalists tend to be Democrats, especially the ones based in Washington. Some surveys have found that more than 80 percent of the Beltway press corps votes Democratic.

But political ideology isn't the only possible bias. Journalists also have a professional bias: they need good stories to make the front page and get on the air.

So we asked our respondents which administration they'd prefer to cover the next four years strictly from a journalistic standpoint. We expected the Washington journalists to strongly prefer Mr. Kerry, partly because they complain so much about the difficulty of getting leaks from the Bush White House, but mainly because any change in administration means lots of news.

Sure enough, the Washington respondents said they would rather cover Mr. Kerry, but by a fairly small amount, 27 to 21, and the other journalists picked Bush, 56 to 40. (A few others had no opinion.) The overall result was 77 for Bush, 67 for Mr. Kerry...

Liberals complained in 2000 that Mr. Bush got off easy because he was better than Al Gore at charming reporters. So we tried to test for a likeability bias. With which presidential nominee, we asked, would you rather be stranded on a desert island? Mr. Kerry was the choice of both groups: 31 to 17 among the Washington journalists, and 51 to 39 among the others.

"Bush's religious streak," one Florida correspondent said, "would drive me nuts on a desert island."

END of Excerpt

For Tierney's piece online: www.nytimes.com

Tierney's finding matches what Evan Thomas, Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek, observed on the July 10 edition of Inside Washington: "There's one other base here: the media. Let's talk a little media bias here. The media, I think, wants Kerry to win. And I think they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards -- I'm talking about the establishment media, not Fox, but -- they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic and all, there's going to be this glow about them that some, is going to be worth, collectively, the two of them, that's going to be worth maybe 15 points."

For a RealPlayer clip of that, see the July 12 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

[Web Update: On August 3 Tierney appeared on FNC's O'Reilly Factor to discuss his findings and how he thinks the overwhelming preference for Kerry is not reflected in coverage. See the August 4 CyberAlert.]

Late Night This Week: Franken, Reagan,
Miller, Clinton & Franks

Several politics-related guests are scheduled to appear this week either on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman or NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Al Franken, Ron Reagan, Dennis Miller, Bill Clinton, Tommy Franks and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Monday night will be liberal night with Al Franken on the Late Show and Ron Reagan on the Tonight Show. On Tuesday, Tonight swings to the right with Dennis Miller while the Late Show stays on the left with Bill Clinton. Retired General Tommy Franks will show up Friday on the Late Show to promote his new book. The same night, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is scheduled to appear on the Tonight Show.

Comedy Central's Daily Show will be repeats this week: Re-runs on last week's Tuesday through Friday night programs taped in Boston.

-- Brent Baker