ABC Sees 'Impressive Gains in Iraq' While CBS Finds Bad Hospitals --7/9/2008
2. CBS Relies on Liberal Source to Show Obama Benefits Middle Class
3. CBS's Smith: Without New Taxes, Government 'Coffers Are Not Full'
4. ABC's Halperin: Obama Should Promise to Raises Taxes on Wealthy
5. ABC Twice Highlights Bush Gaffes from Past G-8 Summits
6. Barbara Walters: Syrian Dictator 'Charming' and 'Intelligent'
7. CBS Show to Feature Anti-Woman Conservative & 'Rebel Obama Girl'
As was pattern earlier this year and last, ABC's World News is much more willing -- than its CBS and NBC competitors -- to acknowledge good news in the Iraq war. On Tuesday night, ABC's Martha Raddatz cited "some really impressive gains" as she reported the plummeting number of attacks in Baghdad, falling from 1,278 in June of 2007 to 112 last month. The night before, only anchor Charlie Gibson highlighted the "upbeat assessment of security in Iraq today from Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen."
Neither the CBS Evening News nor NBC Nightly News mentioned Mullen on Monday night while NBC's Jim Miklaszewski only noted less violence in Iraq in contrast to a "record number of Americans killed in Afghanistan last month," so "if there's any bright side here...it's that the level of violence in Iraq has come down enough" to allow the military to move resources to Afghanistan.
Tuesday night, CBS anchor Katie Couric offered just a clause on violence in Iraq -- "Iraq's national security adviser called today for setting a timetable, a sign Baghdad is growing more confident as the violence decreases" -- before finding a away to deliver depressing news about Iraq: How though Iraqi oil profits "are on the rise," the "money is not going to one place it's desperately needed." That would be ill-equipped hospitals.
Tuesday's NBC Nightly News aired nothing about Iraq.
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Recent items on how the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts have approached Iraq:
The Wednesday, July 2 CyberAlert posting, "Hume Correctly Predicts Only FNC Would Report Progress in Iraq," recounted:
After leading Tuesday's Special Report with how "last year the administration reported satisfactory progress on only about eight of 18 benchmarks" while this year, in a report disclosed Tuesday, the administration determined "there has been satisfactory progress on 15 of the 18," FNC's Brit Hume doubted "word of this progress is going to get through" to the public as he predicted: "I suspect that this broadcast tonight -- and maybe some others on this channel -- are the only ones who are going to make a headline out of this. This is not going to be a big story elsewhere."
Indeed, neither the CBS Evening News nor NBC Nightly News mentioned Iraq while on ABC's World News anchor Charles Gibson read a short update about "increasing dangers for U.S. troops in Afghanistan" since "in the month of June there were 28 American fatalities in Afghanistan, just one less than died in Iraq last month." CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 was also silent Tuesday night about the benchmarks....
The shows didn't catch up on Wednesday night.
The Tuesday, June 24 CyberAlert item, "Only ABC Airs Full Good Iraq News Story, NBC Can't Resist Caveat," revealed:
The Pentagon on Monday released a quarterly report showing dramatic reductions in violence in Iraq compared to a year earlier, but only ABC aired a full story Monday evening while NBC gave it short-shrift as anchor Brian Williams cited the reduction in violence "by as much as 80 percent" since "before the so-called troop surge." He then added a caveat about how the report "also warns the positive trend here remains, quote, 'fragile, reversible and uneven.'" CBS didn't mention the Department of Defense report, but gave a few seconds to a front page USA Today story on how the number of Americans killed by roadside bombs has plummeted 88 percent from a year ago.
For more: www.mrc.org
The Wednesday, June 18 CyberAlert article, "Takes Bombing for NBC to Note 'Letup in Violence of Late in Iraq,'" reported:
It took a bombing which killed 51 Iraqis for NBC anchor Brian Williams to acknowledge "there's been a letup in the violence of late in Iraq." Unlike his ABC and CBS colleagues, two weeks and a day earlier Williams failed to report the death toll for Americans in Iraq in May was the lowest for any month since the war began. On Tuesday night, however, he announced: "Last night here we reported there were more Americans killed in Afghanistan than in Iraq in the month of May. It's generally believed there's been a letup in the violence of late in Iraq. That is until today."
The Tuesday, June 17 CyberAlert item, "Williams: Afghanistan Deadlier Than Iraq, As If Iraq Not Improving," recounted:
NBC anchor Brian Williams on Monday evening rued that Afghanistan "is too often called the other war or perhaps even the forgotten war" when "in the month of May, for the first time ever, American and allied combat deaths were higher in Afghanistan than the monthly loss in Iraq." But that's as much because of good news from Iraq, which Williams ignored, as bad news from Afghanistan. The number of U.S. service personnel killed in Iraq in May was the fewest in any month since the war began in 2003 -- a positive trend Williams, unlike his colleagues at ABC and CBS, failed to share with his viewers two weeks ago.
Back to this week:
Martha Raddatz on the Tuesday, July 8 World News in a story about how the Iraqi government wants to set a timetable for the departure of U.S. troops: "But listen to some of these security gains, Charlie. June of 2007 -- 1,278 attacks; April 2008 -- 740; June 2008 -- 112; and July 2008, this month -- only 19 attacks so far. Those are some really impressive gains."
Katie Couric set up the Tuesday night CBS Evening News coverage of Iraq: "Iraqi officials are at odds tonight with the Bush administration over U.S. troop withdrawals. Iraq's national security adviser called today for setting a timetable, a sign Baghdad is growing more confident as the violence decreases. Iraqi oil profits meanwhile are on the rise, but the money is not going to one place it's desperately needed. Here's Elizabeth Palmer."
Palmer began: "In the five short minutes it takes Dr. Haider Rashid to examine this patient, Iraq will have pumped more than a million dollars worth of oil, that's more than $300 million worth every day. But you wouldn't know it looking at the emergency room of the Khadimiya hospital. U.S. Army doctors say it's one of the best in the city, and yet it lacks the most basic supplies....Political in-fighting has so squeezed Iraq's health budget that only $68 is allocated per person. Compare that to, for example, $650 per person in Mexico and $2,500 in the United States...."
Gibson on ABC's World News on Monday, July 7, as caught by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:
Jim Miklaszewski concluding a Monday evening NBC Nightly News story on more resources going to Afghanistan: "With violence on the rise, the record number of Americans killed in Afghanistan last month, and all those commanders say they need all the firepower they can get. If there's any bright side here, Brian, it's that the level of violence in Iraq has come down enough that commanders feel confident turning the Lincoln loose, leaving no American aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf to help fight that war."
A report on the economic policies of John McCain and Barack Obama by correspondent Chip Reid on Monday's CBS Evening News suggested that Obama's supposed middle class tax cut would be more beneficial for American families: "Obama's plan is to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and use the savings for a middle-class tax cut...A recent study by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center says Obama's plan would give a cut of more than a thousand dollars to families making between $37,000 and $66,000 a year. Under McCain's plan, they'd get just $319." The "non-partisan" Tax Policy Center is actually a product of the left-leaning Brookings Institution and Urban Institute.
Reid went on to explain that: "On spending, Obama wants to jump start the economy with another round of stimulus checks for taxpayers to the tune of $50 billion." After outlining McCain's policies on taxes and spending, Reid observed: "McCain also now supports extending the Bush income tax cuts, even though he once opposed them as too generous to the wealthy. Barack Obama says McCain's switch is more evidence that a McCain presidency would be more of the same."
[This item, by Kyle Drennen, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Reid cited the same analysis as had George Stephanopoulos back on the June 29 This Week. The June 30 CyberAlert, "Stephanopoulos Forwards Anti-McCain Tax Cut Analysis from Left," recounted:
Here we go again. Just as with 2001-2003 coverage of Bush's tax cuts which gave the greatest percent cut to those in the lowest income tax bracket (going from 15 down to 10 percent, a 33 percent reduction), ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Sunday chose to undermine the fairness of John McCain's proposed tax plan (and illustrate the media hostility sure to greet McCain whenever he takes a conservative position) by citing estimated dollar cuts by income level, as if it's unfair for someone earning more to get a larger dollar amount tax cut than someone making less.
Citing the Tax Policy Center, a project of two left of center organizations -- the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution -- Stephanopoulos reminded This Week guest Tim Pawlenty, the Republican Governor of Minnesota, how "your trademark has been that the Republican Party has to be the party of Sam's Club, not just the country club." Stephanopoulos, who failed to hit his other guest, Democratic Congressman Rahm Emmanuel with any numbers critical of Obama's tax plan, pounced on Pawlenty: "The Tax Policy Institute [actually, Center] has crunched the numbers on John McCain's tax plan. I want to put some of them up there right now. It shows that if you're making under $60,000 a year about, the bottom 60 percent will get about $150. The top one percent of people, making about $600,000 a year, get $45,000. The top 0.1 percent -- that's approaching $3 million a year -- get almost $270,000. How do you sell that as a plan that targets Sam's Club more than the country club?"...
Picking up on the Tax Policy Center's raw numbers, the right of center Tax Foundation crunched them and discovered a trend the media rarely discuss:
"Obama's plan would greatly accelerate the decades-long trend toward a federal government that depends for tax revenue almost exclusively on a few high-income people.
"This contrasts starkly with the McCain plan, according to [Tax Foundation President Scott] Hodge, which would give every taxpayer a cut and leave the current tax burden distribution approximately where it is."
An excerpt from the Tax Foundation's June 26 press release:
"'Under the Obama plan for 2009,' explains Hodge, 'more than $131 billion would be redistributed from the top 1 percent of taxpayers to all other taxpayers.'
"As a result, the top 1 percent of households would pay more federal taxes of all kinds than the bottom 80 percent of households. That lopsided distribution under Obama does include payroll taxes and other federal taxes, but it excludes the new payroll tax hike that Obama plans to levy on people making more than $250,000 because details about that plan are currently unclear.
"'In other words,' says Hodge, 'it is at this point a cautious estimate to say that in 2009, under Obama's plan, 1.13 million Americans would pay more in all federal taxes than 128 million of their fellow citizens combined.'"
END of Excerpt of previous CyberAlert
For the entire earlier CyberAlert article: www.mrc.org
At the end of Monday's CBS segment, Reid mentioned the candidates' proposals on gas prices: "As for the price of gas, both candidates have elaborate plans for bringing it down in the long run but neither one offers much in the way of short-term relief." Apparently Reid forgot about McCain's support for a temporary gas tax holiday. While the effectiveness of that policy can be debated, it certainly would qualify as "short-term relief."
KATIE COURIC: Meanwhile, Senator Obama had to postpone a trip to North Carolina today. His plane from Chicago made an unscheduled landing in St. Louis after a problem developed in the tail. Senator Obama ended up delivering a speech from St. Louis. Both he and John McCain, who campaigned in Denver, are this week making the economy job one. Here's Chip Reid.
CHIP REID: Both presidential candidates laid out their economic plans today. For John McCain, there are two basic themes: Cut spending.
On Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith talked to John McCain supporter Carly Fiorina and Barack Obama supporter Senator Claire McCaskill about the respective economic plans of the presidential candidates: "Bear market blues. Wall Street returns from the holiday as gas prices set another new record. Can either candidate calm America's fears?" At one point, Smith asked Fiorina: "How do we do all of this stuff? And we're not making more money, the tax rolls are not growing, the coffers are not full. We're just talking about deficit -- if nobody's going to get taxed, isn't this just going to be deficit city?" While Smith did not feel the "coffers" were "full," at least not full enough for him, in reality, government tax revenue has tripled since 1965 and since the Bush tax cuts took effect in 2003, corporate income tax revenue has reached its highest level in over 20 years.
Heritage Foundation data on tax revenue: www.heritage.org
Smith began the segment by touting a new CBS poll: "The economy remains a major issue for voters as we head into the fall elections. In fact, a recent CBS News poll shows 78 percent of Americans think the economy is in bad shape."
[This item, by Kyle Drennen, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Earlier in Monday's segment, McCaskill explained Obama's commitment to helping the middle class: "Instead of tax policies that George Bush and John McCain support, which were all about the few, the powerful, the wealthy, his plan is all about middle-class families, Harry. Their ability to pay for things-" Smith then interjected: "He has guaranteed that he will not raise taxes for anyone who makes less than $250,000. Can he guarantee that unequivocally?" McCaskill replied: "Absolutely. And that means no capital gains taxes, so that help for small business is there for anyone under $250,000. No more taxes. No tax hikes for anyone."
Smith then asked Fiorina about how the "coffers are not full," however, his final question to McCaskill was not nearly as critical: "Senator McCaskill, a final word, Barack Obama, he rolls out his plan this week. What's the big takeaway?" That softball gave McCaskill the opportunity to declare: "The big takeaway is he needs John McCain to step up, help him sponsor another stimulus package right now. Right now. It's $50 billion, that's just two months in Iraq, Harry, two months in Iraq. And we can do more right now to help families that are really struggling just to pay to get to work every day."
Here is the full transcript of the July 7 segment:
HARRY SMITH: First, the long holiday weekend is over, Wall Street gets back to work with a market now in bear territory. Deirdre Bolton of Bloomberg Television joins us. Good morning, Deirdre.
DEIRDRE BOLTON: Good morning, Harry. Hot and gloomy that's not just the weather it is the market forecast for July too. The Dow, as you mentioned, in a bear market, so that means it's fallen 20% from its most recent high back in October 2007. Last week's losses, they completed the longest streak of weekly declines in four year's time. So record energy prices that's certainly one component, one reason for the gloom. Right now, oil is moving lower in overseas trade but it's all relative, prices still above $142 a barrel. Now some traders say the next big mark is $150 a barrel and it's not going to take that long to get there. If you were on the road this Fourth of July weekend you already noticed how much more expensive it was to pay for gas. Prices are at a record $4.11 per gallon, that is a new national average. Another factor contributing to the negative market sentiment, people are really worried about holding on to their jobs. Employers cut jobs for the sixth straight month in a row in June. So the question out there, are there any bright spots? Well, stocks are getting so cheap that some strategists say it is time to buy. They predict the S&P 500 will be up around 18% by January 2009. But if history is any guide, it's a little ambitious, the last time the markets were this low, 2001, it took nine months to get back on track. So, Harry, it seems like cautious optimism is still the best kind, at least for the moment.
SMITH: Very, very cautious optimism. Deirdre Bolton, as always, thanks so much from Bloomberg TV. The economy remains a major issue for voters as we head into the fall elections. In fact, a recent CBS News poll shows 78% of Americans think the economy is in bad shape. So both candidates are headed out on the campaign trail this morning to stress their economic plans. Joining us from Arlington, Virginia is Carly Fiorina, an economic advisor to Senator John McCain. And from St. Louis, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, a supporter of Barack Obama. Good morning to you both.
During the roundtable discussion on Sunday's This Week on ABC, when host George Stephanopoulos asked why Barack Obama had not talked about the economy more in his campaign ads, ABC political analyst Mark Halperin argued that taxing the wealthy should be a strong issue for Democrats this year, although he conceded it failed when tried by Al Gore and John Kerry. Without making any mention of the case that lower taxes on all Americans is beneficial to the overall economy, Halperin merely talked about President Bush's tax cuts that "disproportionately benefitted the wealthy," and seemed to suggest that eliminating those tax cuts may help the economy: "That's one issue, again, Gore and Kerry went up against George Bush whose tax cuts disproportionately benefitted the wealthy, one of the best issues the Democrats could have. Neither of them made it stick. I think Obama, again, compared to the last two Democrats to run, has a real chance to make that case on taxes and fairness and how to grow the economy in a way that, I think, could be one of the decisive issues in this race."
(Indeed, the tax code today is very unfair with a small percent of the wealthy public paying virtually all of the taxes while those Halperin sees as coming up on the short end on taxes, the middle class, in fact, pay very little. See item #2 above.)
Below is a transcript of the relevant exchange between Stephanopoulos and Halperin from the Sunday, July 6 This Week on ABC:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Mark, here's what I don't get. And maybe this is coming soon. But if you look at the conditions in the economy right now -- record high oil prices, 85 percent of the country thinking we're going in the wrong direction, more signs this week that we could be in for a long, slow recession -- I'm wondering why Obama, in his paid advertising, hasn't been out there hitting this issue, to the exclusion of all others.
During the weekend's coverage of President Bush's trip to the G-8 Summit in Japan, ABC correspondents Martha Raddatz and John Cochran both reminded viewers of faux pas by the President from past G-8 Summits. On World News Saturday, while downplaying expectations of any significant accomplishments at the summit, Raddatz relayed: "In fairness, the G-8 rarely has created any breakthrough announcements. The most memorable moments had little to do with real news. There was the famous shoulder rub with Germany's Angela Merkel, and the live microphone that caught the President talking in less-than-diplomatic terms while he lunched with Tony Blair."
ABC showed the clip of Bush startling German Chancellor Angela Merkel by grabbing her shoulders from behind, and a censored clip from 2006 of him using profanity while talking about the terror group Hezbollah with then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Bush: "What they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this [BLEEP]-"
After mentioning several issues President Bush wants to deal with at the summit, Raddatz pessimistically concluded: "But even that might be a tough sell because, despite his best efforts, in the minds of most world leaders, what George Bush is most closely associated with is the Iraq war."
On Sunday's Good Morning America, toward the end of his report, Cochran used the same clips and similarly observed: "[The G-8 Summits] have rarely produced breakthrough agreements. During the eight years of the Bush presidency, two of the most memorable moments were the shoulder-rubbing incident with the German chancellor, and some overly casual comments to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair."
After the clip of Bush talking Blair was shown, Cochran concluded: "Mr. Bush's last summit may produce no big agreements, but he hopes it will produce no big bloopers, either."
[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Below are complete transcripts of the stories from the July 5 World News Saturday and the July 6 Good Morning America on ABC:
DAVID MUIR: President Bush is in the air tonight flying to Japan for his final summit with the other leaders of the group of eight wealthiest nations. The President's sagging popularity here at home might make it more difficult for him to achieve much at the summit, but, on that score, he has plenty of company. Here's our chief White House correspondent Martha Raddatz now.
MARTHA RADDATZ: The President arrives at the G-8 with a crumbling economy, record-high oil prices and record-low poll ratings. But he is not alone. Take his host, Japan's Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda. His government's approval ratings have been as low as 20 percent, even worse than President Bush's. And Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown is hovering around 25 percent approval, with charges that he is weak and indecisive. And the list goes on.
RON CLAIBORNE: President Bush has arrived in Japan for his final G-8 summit, which begins tomorrow. Global warming, oil prices and aid to Africa are all on the agenda, but little progress is expected to be made. ABC's John Cochran is traveling with the President, and has more from Toyako.
JOHN COCHRAN: Before arriving in Japan, the President's wife and his aides gave him a surprise party on Air Force One for his 62nd birthday. Despite demonstrations aimed at G-8 leaders, President Bush's popularity is higher in Japan than in most countries. But many were upset when he removed North Korea from the terrorist black list in return for concessions on nuclear weapons. Today, he promised he will keep up the pressure on North Korea.
Barbara Walters visited an anti-American dictator and returned with very nice remarks about him. Returning from the week long break on The View July 7, Barbara Walters described how she spent America's birthday, and the celebration of a document denouncing tyranny, with an anti-American tyrant.
While most Americans celebrated Independence Day with fireworks and barbeques, Barbara Walters spent the occasion dining with Syrian leader Bashir al-Assad, whom Walters described as "intelligent" and "charming" who wants "very much to have good relations with us." Perhaps realizing her own gushiness about Assad Walters pre-empted accusations and denied she was "brainwashed."
[This item was adapted from the NewsBusters post by Justin McCarthy: newsbusters.org ]
The veteran journalist began by noting Syria remains on the State Departments terrorism list because "they are against the war in Iraq." While she did note Syria's support for Hamas and Hezbollah, she described them simply as "two groups that we consider unfriendly in Israel." She did not note the many suicide bombings targeting innocent civilians those groups support.
Barbara Walters boasted of a "total freedom of religion" in the despotic state. The non-partisan international watchdog Freedom House, however, finds that although it allows a certain degree of religious freedom, certainly more than many Islamic states, it's far from "total freedom of religion." See: www.freedomhouse.org
Walters added, Syria is "considered a dictatorship." Just "considered?" Freedom House also rated Syria as "not free" with a "downward trend arrow due to the authorities' suppression of opposition activities." While conceding she is "not saying this is...a perfect place," Walters advocated more dialogue with the totalitarian regime.
Although Walters claimed she went on this trip on her own, without the direction of ABC, it is not unprecedented for ABC News to demonstrate sympathy for Bashir al-Assad. Last year, Good Morning America's Diane Sawyer pressed Assad on his favorite movies: newsbusters.org
The transcript, minus some irrelevant portions of Barbara Walters visiting Damascus' ancient ruins, from the Monday, July 7 The View:
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: Barbara went to Syria.
WALTERS: They have total freedom of religion because it's a Christian, Muslim, there are not very many Jews there. Remember, they had the whole situation with the Golan Heights, which I visited, which is a section occupied now by Israel, which the Syrians want back and there are discussions now to try to get it back. Look, there are still things, it is considered a dictatorship, we still do not know what they're relationship is with Iran, there are other problems I'm not saying that this is, you know the perfect place. What I am saying is we need to know more about it and more about its leaders and have more conversation.
WALTERS: Okay, so I'll just tell you real quickly how it happened. I had dinner one night with the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations. Most of the ambassadors to the United Nations, I think they all sort of see each other. They don't move around. This is a very impressive man, invited me to dinner one night, and then, and with a charming wife, fine, and then said, that's neither here nor there, and then said "would you like to come to Syria?" I've been there once before to meet Mrs. Assad. I had been there several years ago. And he said they would be very happy to meet with you if you wanted to meet with them. So on my own, this had nothing to do with ABC, I went with a friend and thought "you know what? It's either South Hampton or Damascus." South Hampton, Damascus, South Hampton, Damascus.
WALTERS: I left my headline for the end, which is The View is seen everyday in Syria. Everyone knew us!
WALTERS: But I do want to say before they say "oh yeah she goes over and she meets the president." We have problems. We do not like the fact that they support Hamas and Hezbollah. Without giving you a history lesson, these are organizations that want the destruction of Israel. They are friends with Iran and Ahmadinejad. This is a man who wants the destruction and have Israel erased. Their feeling is-
Near the end of Tuesday's CBS Early Show, the program ran a taped segment of co-host Julie Chen talking to the executive producer of the CBS reality show Big Brother, Allison Grodner, who previewed some of the contestants in the show's new season set to premier Sunday night: "Dan is a Catholic school teacher from Michigan. He really doesn't think women are equal. And he felt really strongly, especially, about the possibility that Hillary Clinton would have become President. He said he would have left the country. And he was dead serious about that." After describing the stereotypical conservative white male, Grodner went on to describe an Obama supporter on the show, a young African-American woman: "Libra is the rebel mom and strong opinions, very liberal. She's the Obama girl in Bush country."
Just prior to that description of the "rebel Obama girl" a clip was played of the conservative Dan explaining his opposition to Obama: "My only concern is Barack Obama is wildy charismatic, has a huge aura around him. Which, if you're not very educated, you may vote for him just because, you know, he's more charismatic."
[This item, by Kyle Drennen, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Cast preview promotional video: www.cbs.com
-- Brent Baker