ABC Rebukes GOP, Ignores Unprecedented Democratic Filibuster --11/13/2003
2. GMA Skips Substance, Focuses on Filibuster's Printing Costs
3. Couric to Lynch: Rescue Exploited to "Gin Up Support for War?"
4. New Hoover Study Finds Labeling Disparity by
NY Times, Wash Post
5. Salon Posts The Reagans Screenplay, Shows a Befuddled President
Tom Daschle and Senate Democrats couldn't have asked for a more favorable story than that delivered by ABC Wednesday night about the 30-hour Republican filibuster to highlight how Democrats have employed, in an unprecedented manner, the demand for a 60 vote cloture motion in a filibuster threat to block an up or down vote on judicial nominees who have the support of a majority of Senators.
Peter Jennings and Linda Douglass failed to inform viewers of how Democrats are using the filibuster threat in such and unprecedented manner as Jennings referred only to how the GOP wished to "draw attention to the fact that several of President Bush's nominees for the federal bench are not being confirmed because the Democrats object to them" while, surreally, Jennings described how "the Democrats say they're doing what the Constitution requires."
Douglass, also without noting the unprecedented, and arguably extra-constitutional, maneuver by a minority to block the majority on a judicial nominee, relayed a numerical Democratic talking point followed by an unexplained reference to how Republicans see a "unconstitutional tricks." Douglass asserted: "The Senate has approved 98 percent of Mr. Bush's judges this year, compared to 61 percent approved in Bill Clinton's last two years. Republicans, marching to the Senate floor tonight, said Democrats are using unconstitutional tricks."
Comparing current nominations being held up to what occurred in Clinton's last two years misses how the four nominees blocked by Democrats were all nominated before this year, that Clinton was then a known lame-duck and Republicans were then in the majority -- they did not use a Senate floor cloture vote demand to block the majority.
Douglass concluded with a rebuke of GOP priorities: "The stunts are consuming the Senate, even though Republican leaders have not produced legislation providing Medicare prescription drug coverage, an energy bill, and bills to fund the government next year."
Jennings set up the slanted November 12 World News Tonight story, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
Douglass began: "On a day devoted to posturing, the props were rolled out for the cameras. Beds, so Republican Senators can catch a nap during their all-night talkathon about judges."
ABC's Good Morning America, which hadn't found a second all week to report on the Republican plan to highlight the unprecedented Democratic filibuster threat to block majority votes on some judicial nominations, on Wednesday morning made time to highlight a PR gimmick line put out by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle.
During the 8:30am news update on the November 12 broadcast, Robin Roberts announced: "Beginning tonight, Republican and Democratic Senators face off in marathon debate over judicial nominations that could last 30 hours. Well, Senator Daschle's staff did some math and learned that at $540 for each Congressional Record page, at a rate of six-pages per hour, the 30-hour debate will cost taxpayers $97,200, and that's just the cost of the printing."
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, who watches GMA every morning, recalls GMA occasionally running brief updates on some judicial nominees in dispute, but does not remember GMA ever this year airing any major segment or interview session on the subject.
My question: What is the cost to Americans for the electricity to run their TVs during the many minutes every day that ABC News is broadcasting biased reporting?
Update: On Thursday morning, GMA ran a piece by Jake Tapper on the behind-the-scenes activities overnight during the filibuster, such as a dirty toothbrush that he found ("One of the Senators, this dropped out of his pocket, it's very exciting -- actually, it's kind gross"), before he prompted Senator Daschle: "A lot of the guys on the floor, they're old guys. Senator Chambliss is not a young man. Do you think this is any sort of elder abuse by the Republican Party?" Daschle agreed with the insight, chuckling: "It is kind of elder abuse, now that I think about it. I mean, they ought to be ashamed of themselves."
Tapper didn't mention the names of any blocked nominees or note how unprecedented the Democratic maneuver is, but he at least stated up front in his story that Republicans were taking their action in reaction to the Democratic tactic of blocking nominees: "Well, Republicans are holding the 30-hour marathon session to protest the filibusters the Democrats are using -- unfairly, the Republicans say -- to block four of President Bush's judicial nominees. Democrats say that 168 other nominees have been confirmed, and needless to say, it was a long and late night...."
Katie Couric remains obsessed with alleged Pentagon manipulation of Jessica Lynch for propaganda purposes. Interviewing Lynch herself on Wednesday morning, Couric pressed her: "Do you think that somehow, this, your rescue was, was manipulated by the government in order to, sort of, gin up support for this war?"
As if giving Americans a mission to admire in a time of war was a bad thing.
(Back in July, Couric tried to drag the Army doctor, who took care Lynch, into commenting on the left-wing, anti-U.S. military spin of ABC News and the BBC about how the rescue of her from a Nasiriyah hospital was just a staged "Pentagon propaganda" event for the cameras, a tale Couric's NBC colleague Jim Avila had discredited in late May.)
After recalling how Lynch was initially portrayed as a hero "for fighting to the death," when she really was knocked unconscious and did not fire back, Couric saw a nefarious pro-war motive at the Pentagon for the story when they just as likely were trying to showcase the abilities of women in combat: "Again critics have said that your, they were basically the military was using you because they needed a fresh, inspiring face to, to, to encourage support of the war."
MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens passed along the political portions of Couric's session with Lynch, and former New York Times reporter Rick Bragg who wrote Lynch's book for her, on the November 12 Today:
Couric: "I know your rescue was videotaped and considered a huge accomplishment. You know it was a real morale booster during the height of the war but some people thought that the tape gave the impression that, that the U.S. Special Operations Unit was met with serious and tremendous resistance and that it was this grand heroic rescue. And it's not to say that they're not heroes too for getting you and your not grateful. But that is just one controversial aspect of, of your story. Do you think that somehow, this, your rescue was, was manipulated by the government in order to, sort of, gin up support for this war?"
Later, Couric declared: "Let's talk a bit more about some of the controversy in the early, early stages of your story. As you well know there were a lot of newspaper accounts and Rick I'm sure you had to wade through all this that basically said you continued firing at the Iraqis even after you sustained multiple gunshot wounds. That you were fighting to the death. That you were stabbed, even shot. That you tried to fire your weapon but your gun jammed. All of this, this description of you as, as, as somebody who was fighting to her death. It was completely not true."
After Lynch confirmed that she did not fire her weapon, Couric wondered: "Well how do you think it happened? How did, why was there so much confusion? Again critics have said that your, they were basically the military was using you because they needed a fresh, inspiring face to, to, to encourage support of the war."
The story about Lynch heroically firing back until she was out of ammunition probably stemmed from a simple misinterpretation of some intercepted Iraqi conversations, ABC's Jim Wooten suggested in a July 22 World News Tonight story on the overlooked Sergeant Donald Walters, the man in Lynch's group of trucks who really fought back and was killed in the process. Wooten explained that the Pentagon got its information about the capture from intercepted phone calls:
The night before Couric harassed Lynch about it, on the November 11 NBC Nightly News Jim Avila cited Walters as the man confused with Lynch: "And remember those first erroneous reports that Jessica fired to her last bullet and then was shot and stabbed? Well, there was a blonde soldier who did all of that, but it was not Private Lynch. The Army now concedes it was likely this soldier, Sergeant Donald Walters."
As noted above, in a July interview with an Army doctor at Walter Reed Couric worried about Pentagon propaganda in the rescue, as if he'd know anything about it.
The July 23 CyberAlert recounted:
During an interview by satellite on the July 22 Today, with Dr. Greg Argyros at the Walter Reed Army Hospital, just hours before Lynch was to be released so she could make a homecoming celebration in West Virginia, Couric took Argyros far afield: "What does she make of the claim by some critics, Dr. Argyros, that this whole thing was sort of Pentagon propaganda? That the troops didn't need to storm the hospital and it was all sort of done for the cameras and, and to kind of increase enthusiasm and support of the war?"
Argyros quite properly declined to comment since he knew nothing about it and certainly never talked to Lynch about it.
Couric was giving credence to a bit of propaganda herself, left-wing, anti-U.S. propaganda which one of Couric's own colleagues at NBC had long ago undermined. An excerpt from the June 3 CyberAlert:
NBC News versus ABC News, the Toronto Star and the BBC. Back on May 7 ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings belittled the military effort to rescue POW Jessica Lynch from a Nasiriyah hospital, focusing on how the U.S. forces knew they would face no opposition, unnecessarily frightened the staff and caused a lot of damage, specifically by breaking door knobs.
ABC's story was prompted by a Toronto Star story which suggested that the presence of video cameras with the rescuers suggested it was all a Pentagon propaganda effort. A few weeks later, the BBC checked in with a documentary accusing the U.S. forces of firing off blanks in the hospital, a sure sign it was all staged for the cameras to provide great propaganda video of military heroics.
But now, several week later, NBC's Jim Avila and crew have gone to Nasiriyah and discovered that the truth seems to lie closer to the story initially conveyed by the U.S. military than to the anti-military tales spun by ABC and the BBC.
On Friday's [May 30] NBC Nightly News, Avila reported that hospital staff "say the so-called blanks were actually flash-bang grenades used to stun and frighten hospital workers and potential resistance. No bullets or blanks were fired inside the hospital. And the Americans had every reason to expect trouble. Hospital workers confirm the Iraqi military used the basement as a headquarters." A doctor told Avila that "what he calls the big heads of the Iraqi army left just six hours before the raid." Avila added that "the Iraqis told NBC News the American soldiers' behavior was humane." For instance, when one of the physicians said the handcuffs "hurt and they were too tight," the "soldiers immediately loosened them."
END of Excerpt within an excerpt
For much more on Avila's story and links to earlier CyberAlert items on the ABC and BBC stories: www.mediaresearch.org
END of Excerpt of July 23 CyberAlert
A study by two scholars at the Hoover Institution has proven that, during the 1990s, the New York Times and Washington Post labeled conservative Senators two to four times more frequently than liberal Senators, though both went untagged most of the time.
In a Wednesday op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Hoover Senior Fellow David Brady, who is also a professor of political science at Stanford University, and economics student Jonathan Ma, outlined their findings after tracking labeling for ten liberal and ten conservative Senators from 1990 to 2002. In addition to the numerical disparity in the labeling rate -- which found liberals tagged between 2 and 5 percent of the time compared to a labeling rate for conservatives of 6 to 12 percent of the time -- the two central Californians discovered that "Times reporters often inject comments that present liberals in a more favorable light than conservatives."
The duo also relayed: "We have detected a pattern of editorialized commentary throughout the decade. Liberal senators were granted near-immunity from any disparaging remarks regarding their ideological position."
An excerpt of their November 12 op-ed, "Spot the Differences," in the Wall Street Journal:
....We examined every Times and Post article that contained references to a senator. Specifically, we set out to reveal the treatment of the 10 most liberal and 10 most conservative senators from each congressional session....
Using a reliable news database, we deployed a constant search term to uncover when news writers labeled senators conservative or liberal. For five successive congressional sessions during this time period, we documented when Times and Post reporters directly labeled Republican loyalists "conservatives" and Democratic loyalists "liberals" in their news stories. (We excluded editorials.)
The first finding of our study is consistent with the results found for media stories on institutions such as corporations, Congress or universities, namely, that most of the time the story is straightforward -- as in "senators X, Y, and Z visited the European Union Parliament." However, when there were policy issues at stake we found that conservative senators earn "conservative" labels from Times reporters more often than liberal senators receive "liberal" labels.
For instance, during the 102nd Congress, the Times labeled liberal senators as "liberal" in 3.87% of the stories in which they were mentioned. In contrast, the 10 most conservative senators were identified as "conservative" in 9.03% of the stories in which they were mentioned, nearly three times the rate for liberal senators. Over the course of six congressional sessions, the labeling of conservative senators in the Washington Post and New York Times occurred at a rate of two, three, four and even five times as often as that of liberal senators (see chart nearby). It appears clear that the news media assumes that conservative ideology needs to be identified more often than liberal ideology does.
The disparity in reporting was not limited to numbers. Times reporters often inject comments that present liberals in a more favorable light than conservatives. For instance, during the 102nd Congress, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa was described in Times stories as "a kindred liberal Democrat from Iowa," a "respected Midwestern liberal," and "a good old-fashioned liberal." Fellow Democrat Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts received neutral, if not benign, identification: "a liberal spokesman," and "the party's old-school liberal." In contrast, Times reporters presented conservative senators as belligerent and extreme. During the 102nd Congress, Sen. Jesse Helms was labeled as "the most unyielding conservative," "the unyielding conservative Republican," "the contentious conservative," and "the Republican arch-conservative." During this time period, Times reporters made a point to specifically identify Sen. Malcolm Wallop of Wyoming and Sen. Robert C. Smith of New Hampshire as "very conservative," and Sen. Don Nickles of Oklahoma as "one of the most conservative elected officials in America."
We have detected a pattern of editorialized commentary throughout the decade. Liberal senators were granted near-immunity from any disparaging remarks regarding their ideological position: Sen. Harkin is "a liberal intellectual"; Sen. Barbara Boxer of California is "a reliably outspoken liberal"; Sen. Paul Simon of Illinois is "a respected Midwestern liberal"; Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York is "difficult to categorize politically"; Sen. Kennedy is "a liberal icon" and "liberal abortion rights stalwart"; and Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey is a man whose "politics are liberal to moderate."
While references to liberal senators in the Times evoke a brave defense of the liberal platform (key words: icon and stalwart), the newspaper portrays conservatives as cantankerous lawmakers seeking to push their agenda down America's throat. Descriptions of conservative senators include "unyielding," "hard-line" and "firebrand." A taste of Times quotes on conservatives during the period of 1990-2000: Sen. Nickles is "a fierce conservative" and "a rock-ribbed conservative"; Sen. Helms is "perhaps the most tenacious and quarrelsome conservative in the Senate, and with his "right-wing isolationist ideology" he is the "best-known mischief maker." Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona is "a Republican hard-liner"; Sen. Robert C. Smith is "a granite-hard Republican conservative"; Sen. Gramm takes "aggressively conservative stands" and has "touched on many red-meat conservative topics"....and Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho is "an arch-conservative."
This labeling pattern was not limited to the Times. Liberal and conservative senators also received different treatment from the Washington Post. Distinctly liberal senators were described as bipartisan lawmakers and iconic leaders of a noble cause. In the 107th Congress, Sen. Paul Sarbanes of Maryland was described as "one of the more liberal senators but [with] a record of working with Republicans." Sen. Harkin was bathed in bipartisan light: "a prairie populist with a generally liberal record, although he's made a few detours to more conservative positions demanded by his Iowa constituents." Of Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois, the Post said: "Though a liberal at heart, she is more pragmatic than ideological." Other liberals were lionized or cast in soft focus: "Sen. Kennedy is a hero to liberals and a major irritant to conservatives, plus an old-style liberal appeal to conscience"...
In contrast, the Post portrayed conservative senators unflatteringly. Republican loyalists were often labeled as hostile and out of the mainstream....Republicans were characterized as antagonists: Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma is "a hard-line GOP conservative"; Sen. Kyl is "a combative conservative"; Sen. Helms is "a cantankerous, deeply conservative chairman," "a Clinton-bashing conservative," "the crusty senator from North Carolina," "the longtime keeper of the conservative flame," and "a conservative curmudgeon."...
END of Excerpt
For the piece in full, with a table showing the labeling percentages, go to: online.wsj.com
Major findings of the Media Reality Check study of the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts over five years, from 1997 through 2001:
-- On ABC, conservatives received 79 percent of the liberal or conservative labels; on NBC, 80 percent. On the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, 82 percent of the 353 ideological labels assigned by CBS's reporters were given to conservatives.
-- Only eight House Members were identified as liberals, compared with 34 who were called conservatives.
-- Only one reporter, NBC's Lisa Myers, used "liberal" to describe Democratic candidate Bill Bradley (Sept. 25, 1999), and no network reporter labeled Vice President Al Gore as liberal during the entire 1999-2000 election cycle. In contrast, then-Governor George W. Bush was called a conservative 19 times.
-- The table with the key findings of the study:
For the Media Reality Check study with the full rundown of all the findings and several illustrative examples: www.mrc.org
For the Adobe Acrobat PDF version: www.mediaresearch.org
For "How MRC Conducted Its Labeling Study," in which Rich Noyes explains how he conducted the study and how he eliminated irrelevant uses of the search terms in order to only count ideological labels applied by reporters or anchors: www.mrc.org
For a rundown of past MRC studies documenting the media predilection to label conservatives more often than liberals: www.mrc.org
The Media Reality Check study confirmed Bernard Goldberg's contention in his book, Bias, that conservatives are labeled more often than liberals, an observation which Stanford University linguist Geoffrey Nunberg challenged in a late March, 2002 NPR commentary which liberals embraced and that CNN's Jeff Greenfield highlighted on Inside Politics in mid-April. For a link to Nunberg's commentary and a transcript of Greenfield's piece: www.mediaresearch.org
Salon.com has obtained a full copy of the original 213-page screenplay for CBS's The Reagans mini-series, which after much protest CBS last week shifted over to Showtime for airing sometime next year, and posted a PDF of it.
After a scan through it, though how a scene is played can mean more than the text, it does contain a lot of derogatory material about both Ronald and Nancy Reagan (in the very first scene she yells "you're fired" at a Secret Service officer after seeing him watching a TV showing Oliver North testimony). I also noticed that a lot of the stage directions point to a befuddled Ronald Reagan, with comments dealing with him looking distracted, looking away aimlessly, looking down at his fingernails etcetera as those around him tell him what to do and say.
On Monday, A.J. Livsey of the MediaLife.com Web site, posted some quotes culled from the Salon posting. Here are a few he or she filed under the heading of "Reagan as not too bright":
-- Reagan, as he prepares for publicity pictures with a chimp for the movie Bedtime for Bonzo: "Television is for somebody who's all washed up. I'm not washed up."
-- Holmes Tuttle, about Reagan running for Governor: "Reagan's not an actor, he's a movie star. Besides, it's good that he doesn't know anything about government. It makes him more of a man of the people."
-- Patti: "Elvis is dead. He would have made a better President than Daddy."
And under "Reagan as a right-wing fascist":
-- Patti's friend at boarding school, upon learning that Reagan has won the governor's race: "Look out, everybody, Hitler's just been elected governor."
-- Al Haig, Secretary of State: "If it's Armageddon you want, give me the word, and I'll pave over the USSR, Libya, and Cuba, too."
Plus, under Livsey's heading of "Nancy as a total bitch":
-- Nancy, to Mike (Reagan's adopted son from his first marriage): "I'm not your mother. I don't have to want you. Go back to your real mother and your real father -- whoever they were."
-- Montage of newspaper headlines: "Fancy Nancy Turns up Her Nose at Governor's Mansion," "Nancy Eats Out, While Hubby Cuts School Lunches," "Welfare is a Cancer, Says Reagan," "Reagan Issues Biggest Tax Hike in U.S. History"
-- Nancy, reciting what she wished she had said to Mrs. Gorbachev: "No wonder your husband always looks so bored -- because he's married to you, you Stalinist!"
Nancy Reagan yelling about "Stalinists!" That takes a leap of imagination.
For Livsey's compilation, to which Katie Wright of Creative Response Concepts alerted me: www.medialifemagazine.com
To read the 213 page-long screenplay, which appears to be based on a large graphic file of scanned in pages, go to: www.salon.com
When I get time to read the screenplay, I'll relay any interesting scenes I come across, but it may be a while since I can't copy text from the graphics file and will have to type in anything I find -- unless some CyberAlert readers could volunteer to do so!
If you see any portions you find particularly obnoxious and have the time to type them in, please do so and e-mail them to me. I'll give you full credit, unless you wish to remain anonymous. Please be sure to let me know the page number of what you type in. E-mail me at: email@example.com
Whether you have time to pitch in, or just want to read it for your personal edification, to avoid Web glitches and to ensure access to the document, I'd recommend saving/downloading the PDF to your computer and then using the Adobe Acrobat Reader offline to go through it.
-- Brent Baker