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ABC Piles on With Rice Critics; Only FNC Notes Biden Admonition --1/19/2005


1. ABC Piles on With Rice Critics; Only FNC Notes Biden Admonition
ABC's Linda Douglass piled on Secretary of State nominee Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday night, showcasing only those at her Senate confirmation hearing, both Democrat and Republican, who were critical. Douglass highlighted how "one Republican asked skeptically if there really is a plan for the U.S. to get out" of Iraq, how "former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry heaped scorn on Rice's defense of the war," how "in his committee debut, the Democrats' newest star asked if U.S. troops will ever come home" and how "one Republican, just back from Europe, asked what Rice will do to repair America's image abroad." Indeed, Peter Jennings teased World News Tonight by proclaiming: "Condoleezza Rice admits the U.S. needs to rebuild alliances overseas." On FNC, however, Carl Cameron pointed out how Democratic Senator Joe Biden "raised eyebrows with a surprise admonition at the President's critics overseas."

2. Stephanopoulos: Bush Has Lowest Approval Rating Except Nixon
Putting a damper on President Bush's inauguration, on Tuesday's Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos came aboard to report how ABC's new poll pegged Bush's approval level at 52 percent, which he emphasized, "if you look at all the Presidents since Franklin Roosevelt, it is the lowest approval rating of every President starting his second term except one, Richard Nixon." Stephanopoulos attributed the approval level to how "people are still being pummeled by these pictures of violence every single day from Iraq" and he predicted "it's going to get worse in Iraq again. More violence every day."

3. Claim Kerry Didn't Favor Abortion & Same-Sex Marriage Defended
In a Tuesday Washington Post chat session, David Von Drehle defended his scolding of an Oklahoma woman who told him that she voted for Bush because "Kerry said he was for abortion and one-sex marriages." In a Sunday Washington Post Magazine article, Von Drehle countered that Kerry "opposed same-sex marriage and said that abortion was a private matter" and Von Drehle fretted that the woman "heard it the way she heard it, and voted the way she voted." In the chat session, Von Drehle insisted that the woman made "a factual assertion" which "wasn't quite right." But he conceded that "the people who have written to me to say that Kerry was MORE supportive of gay and abortion rights than Bush are absolutely correct. But he never said he 'favored' either one." Talk about obfuscating the issues.

4. By the Standard of NBC's 'The West Wing,' Bush Won a "Landslide"
By the standard applied on NBC's The West Wing, President George W. Bush won in a "landslide." In a 2002 episode following the re-election of "President Josiah Bartlet," one of his top aides, "Communications Director Toby Ziegler," stated that he won by "three-and-a-half million" votes and later proclaimed that "we won in a landslide." Bush won by about 3.3 million votes, pretty close to three-and-a-half million.


ABC Piles on With Rice Critics; Only
FNC Notes Biden Admonition

Condoleezza Rice ABC's Linda Douglass piled on Secretary of State nominee Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday night, showcasing only those at her Senate confirmation hearing, both Democrat and Republican, who were critical. Douglass highlighted how "one Republican asked skeptically if there really is a plan for the U.S. to get out" of Iraq, how "former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry heaped scorn on Rice's defense of the war," how "in his committee debut, the Democrats' newest star asked if U.S. troops will ever come home" and how "one Republican, just back from Europe, asked what Rice will do to repair America's image abroad." Indeed, Peter Jennings teased World News Tonight by proclaiming: "Condoleezza Rice admits the U.S. needs to rebuild alliances overseas." On FNC, however, Carl Cameron pointed out how Democratic Senator Joe Biden "raised eyebrows with a surprise admonition at the President's critics overseas."

On FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, viewers saw this clip of Biden which did not air in any of the broadcast network evening newscasts: "I spent a little bit of time in Europe recently. I have one simple message: Get over it. Get over it. President Bush is our President for the next four years, so get over it and start to act in your interest, Europe."

FNC's Carl Cameron (Cameron described Biden as "the ranking Democrat on the committee, a Rice supporter but an administration critic." Humorously, the closed-captioning for Cameron's report stated that he referred to "the ranking demon the committee...")

Jennings teased at the top of his January 18 broadcast: "On World News Tonight, Condoleezza Rice admits the U.S. needs to rebuild alliances overseas. Several senators give her a very tough time about Iraq."

Jennings opened his newscast, as taken down by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "Good evening, everyone. We're going to begin in Washington tonight. This is inauguration week, of course, and a pretty cold one so far. One of the first official events, as you'll see, was very much connected to the war. And today in the Senate, the President's choice to be his next Secretary of State began her confirmation hearings. Several Senators criticized Condoleezza Rice for the administration's decisions about the war. And when the day was done, she had agreed that in the President's second term, she and he would work very hard at getting along better with many of America's traditional friends. Here's ABC's Linda Douglass."

Douglass began: "Condoleezza Rice held her ground as Senators' frustration about the war in Iraq boiled over. One Republican asked skeptically if there really is a plan for the U.S. to get out."
Senator Chuck Hagel, (R-NE), in the hearing: "Would you explain to this committee what you and the President see as an exit strategy for America from Iraq?"
Condoleezza Rice: "I think the goal is to get the mission accomplished, and that means that the Iraqis have to be capable of some things before we lessen our own responsibility."
Douglass: "Democrat Barbara Boxer said the administration's mission is to justify going to war in the first place since there were no weapons of mass destruction. She accused Rice of concocting new explanations."
Senator Barbara Boxer, (D-CA): "Your loyalty to the mission you were given to sell this war overwhelmed your respect for the truth. It's hard for me to let go of this war because people are still dying."
Rice: "We went to war because this was the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a man against whom we had gone to war before, who was one of the world's most brutal dictators, and it was high time to get rid of him."
Boxer: "Well, if you can't admit to this mistake, I hope that you'll rethink it."
Rice: "Senator, we can have this discussion in any way that you like, but I really hope that you will refrain from impugning my integrity. Thank you."
Douglass: "Former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry heaped scorn on Rice's defense of the war."
Senator John Kerry, (D-MA): "We went in to rescue Iraq from Saddam Hussein. Now, I think we have to rescue our policy from ourselves."
Douglass: "In his committee debut, the Democrats' newest star asked if U.S. troops will ever come home."
Senator Barack Obama, (D-IL): "I think part of what the American people are gonna need is some certainty. Right now, it appears to be an entirely open-ended commitment."
Douglass: "One Republican, just back from Europe, asked what Rice will do to repair America's image abroad."
Senator George Voinovich, (R-OH): "I was just shocked at the, what I got back from our friends about how badly we're thought of today in that part of the world."
Douglass: "Rice said she will travel the world to rebuild friendships."
Rice: "We must use American diplomacy to help create a balance of power in the world that favors freedom. The time for diplomacy is now."
Douglass concluded from Capitol Hill: "Rice will face the Senators again tomorrow, and, Peter, in spite of all those though questions, she is expected to be easily confirmed by the Senate."

Stephanopoulos: Bush Has Lowest Approval
Rating Except Nixon

Putting a damper on President Bush's inauguration, on Tuesday's Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos came aboard to report how ABC's new poll pegged Bush's approval level at 52 percent, which he emphasized, "if you look at all the Presidents since Franklin Roosevelt, it is the lowest approval rating of every President starting his second term except one, Richard Nixon." Stephanopoulos attributed the approval level to how "people are still being pummeled by these pictures of violence every single day from Iraq" and he predicted "it's going to get worse in Iraq again. More violence every day."

During the 7am half hour on the January 18 GMA, the MRC's Jessica Barnes noticed, Stephanopoulos joined Diane Sawyer to discuss the latest ABC News/Washingtgon Post poll. Sawyer set him up: "As we all know, in two days President Bush will be inaugurated for his second term, and we have a brand new ABC News poll telling how all Americans feel about him right now. And we're going turn to ABC's This Week anchor George Stephanopoulos, who's been poring over it. George, what's the headline?"
Stephanopoulos: "Well, the headline is the President's approval rating is at 52 percent, about where it's been for most of the last year, but here's the news: If you look at all the presidents since Franklin Roosevelt, it is the lowest approval rating of every President starting his second term except one, Richard Nixon."
Sawyer: "And what does it trace to? What's the reason?"
Stephanopoulos: "The big issue is Iraq. Sixty-one percent in this poll say that Iraq is President Bush's biggest challenge in his second term, fifty-five percent say the war now wasn't worth fighting -- that's as high as it's ever been -- and 58 percent disapprove of the way President Bush is handling Iraq. The problem for him is it is getting worse, not better, since the election and White House aides know this is the biggest drag on his approval rating."
Sawyer: "Well, as we know, he has been taking to the airwaves to try to address this and he sat down with our Terry Moran at the White House. I want to play a clip from that interview."
[begin tape]
Moran: "Don't you and the country now have a credibility problem?"
Bush: "No, I think to say Saddam Hussein was evil and dangerous then was confirmed by what the Duelfer Report, for example, said."
[end tape]
Sawyer: "So the Duelfer Report, what about this, George?"
Stephanopoulos: "Well, what the Duelfer Report said, yes, there are no weapons, but Saddam Hussein clearly wanted them and I think this is obviously a problem for President Bush. Even bigger problem, though, Diane, is the conduct of the war right now. People are still being pummeled by these pictures of violence every single day from Iraq. We saw over the weekend the first photos in a year of flag-draped coffins coming home, those six National Guardsmen from Louisiana, and the White House aides again concede they know, as we head to this election in Iraq, it's going to get worse in Iraq again. More violence every day."

For the ABCNews.com rundown of the poll with Nixon's 51 percent approval rating in 1973: abcnews.go.com

Claim Kerry Didn't Favor Abortion & Same-Sex
Marriage Defended

The Washington Post's David Von Drehle In a Tuesday Washington Post chat session, David Von Drehle defended his scolding of an Oklahoma woman who told him that she voted for Bush because "Kerry said he was for abortion and one-sex marriages." In a Sunday Washington Post Magazine article, Von Drehle countered that Kerry "opposed same-sex marriage and said that abortion was a private matter" and Von Drehle fretted that the woman "heard it the way she heard it, and voted the way she voted." In the chat session, Von Drehle insisted that the woman made "a factual assertion" which "wasn't quite right." But he conceded that "the people who have written to me to say that Kerry was MORE supportive of gay and abortion rights than Bush are absolutely correct. But he never said he 'favored' either one." Talk about obfuscating the issues.

The January 17 CyberAlert recounted: Setting out to determine why those in Red America voted for President Bush, Washington Post reporter David Von Drehle corrected one Oklahoman woman who explained: "When Kerry said he was for abortion and one-sex marriages, I just couldn't see our country being led by someone like that." Though Kerry was endorsed by pro-abortion groups and was one of a small number of Senators who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act, Von Drehle countered in a Washington Post Magazine article on Sunday: "Later, I double-checked what Kerry had said on those subjects. During his campaign, he opposed same-sex marriage and said that abortion was a private matter. But Joyce Smith heard it the way she heard it, and voted the way she voted."

For the CyberAlert item in full: www.mediaresearch.org

For Von Drehle's January 16 article in full: www.washingtonpost.com

Von Drehle launched a Tuesday chat session: "Hi, and welcome to the chat. Let's go straight to one line in the story that irritated several people enough that they have written to me about it."
"Vienna, Va.: Mr. Von Drehle, It appears you were just as guilty of the derision toward red-state Bush supporters that you attributed to other big-city reporters. You quoted Joyce Smith, 'When Kerry said he was for abortion and one-sex marriages, I just couldn't see our country being led by someone like that.' Then you snidely wrote: 'Later, I double-checked what Kerry had said on those subjects. During his campaign, he opposed same-sex marriage and said that abortion was a private matter.'
"Kerry said he'd have a litmus test to prevent anti-abortion judges from making it to the Supreme Court. He also voted against the Defense of Marriage Act. Given Kerry's record, Ms. Smith's assertions make perfect sense, and you had no reason to slam her, other than elitist arrogance."
David Von Drehle: "I really enjoyed talking to Mrs. Smith -- it was her wonderful portrait that appeared on the cover of the magazine. I wasn't trying to 'slam' her at all. She said Kerry had spoken 'in favor' of two hot-button issues, gay marriage and abortion. That was a factual assertion and it wasn't quite right. The people who have written to me to say that Kerry was MORE supportive of gay and abortion rights than Bush are absolutely correct. But he never said he 'favored' either one.
"As I wrote in the next line of the story, Mrs. Smith -- like all voters -- is entitled to hear things just the way she hears them, and to decide as she sees fit. There was nothing irrational about her choice. Given her views, it made sense to me."

If it made sense, then why did he take the gratuitous swipe at her voting rationale.

Later in the chat session, another poster took issue with Von Drehle's earlier defense:
"Manassas, Va.: You tried, I'll give you that, but you just couldn't pull it off.
"The tip off was your reaction to the lady who thought Kerry had 'bad morals.' Your comment was that Kerry never said what we believed he did. I know its hard for media types but you just have to give people a little more credit for having some brains. Kerry's statements about abortion and same-sex marriage are classic examples of trying to have it both ways. The position that abortion is a 'private' matter is how Democrats try not to piss off religious voters. Just substitute any other issue (gun control, prescription drugs, murder) and you'll see how stupid the statement is. People see this. People are not stupid."
David Von Drehle: "Yes, and I see this, so maybe I'M not stupid."

Has President Bush ever explicitly said he favors the overturning of Roe vs. Wade? And if he hasn't, would Von Drehle correct anyone who said they voted for Kerry because Bush favors overturning the ruling?

For the January 18 Washington Post chat session transcript: www.washingtonpost.com

Tim Graham, the MRC's Director of Media Analysis, forwarded to me his critique of Von Drehle's reasoning:
"Von Drehle did not want to consider Kerry's actual voting record instead of just his campaign-trail chatter. Kerry may not have said he opposed what proponents call 'gay marriage,' but he has a perfect 100 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay-left lobby, including his 1996 vote against the Defense of Marriage Act. Kerry is also a regular 100-percenter for NARAL Pro-Choice America. His campaign did not say abortion was a 'private matter,' which is still a pro-choice position, but as Kerry spokesman David Wade put it, 'John Kerry's personal feelings about [Catholic] church doctrine are a private matter. He's made it clear that he's committed to upholding a woman's right to privacy, and that he wants an America where abortion is safe, legal and rare.'"

Indeed, for the Human Right Campaign's congressional scorecard: www.hrc.org

For NARAL's ratings: www.naral.org

Check the posted version of this CyberAlert item for a picture of David Von Drehle from an appearance this morning on FNC (about a different subject).

By the Standard of NBC's 'The West Wing,'
Bush Won a "Landslide"

By the standard applied on NBC's The West Wing, President George W. Bush won in a "landslide." In a 2002 episode following the re-election of "President Josiah Bartlet," one of his top aides, "Communications Director Toby Ziegler" stated that he won by "three-and-a-half million" votes and later proclaimed that "we won in a landslide." Bush won by about 3.3 million votes, pretty close to "three-and-a-half million."

Last Wednesday I caught a West Wing re-run on Bravo with the comments from the "Ziegler" character and then I tracked down the original NBC airing, on November 20, 2002, of the episode titled "Swiss Diplomacy," so I could get the MRC's tape of it and take down the quotes exactly.

In the West Wing time line, "President Bartlet," played by Martin Sheen, won re-election in 2002.

NBC's The West Wing: Toby Ziegler played by Richard Schiff During the November 20, 2002 episode, Toby Ziegler, played by Richard Schiff, tells a Congresswoman who lost a close re-election that "Bartlet" won by "three and a half million" votes. "Ziegler" wanted to nominate her for Director of the National Park Service, but "Chief-of-Staff Leo McGarry" shoots down the idea, pointing out that the Republican-controlled Senate will not approve her. That prompts "Ziegler" to urge a fight for nominees opposed by the Republican Senate: "Start getting used to the fact that we won in a landslide. We can show some fight on this."

For the bio, on the West Wing site, of Schiff: www.nbc.com

For the bio of the Ziegler character: www.nbc.com

Both have a picture of Schiff/Ziegler.

According to the Washington Post's Web site, Bush got 60,693,281 votes and Kerry received 57,355,978 votes -- a Bush win by 3,337,303 votes. See: www.washingtonpost.com

The liberal White House on The West Wing represents Hollywood's dream of a presidency they'd like to see. Little did they know they'd end up endorsing the idea that a right of center President earned a mandate by achieving the same vote margin as their fictional President.


-- Brent Baker