ABC: Snow a Conservative Who Called Bush "an Embarrassment" --4/27/2006
2. ABC's Yellin Pushes Liberal Group's Anti-Tony Snow Talking Points
3. Nets Lead with Rove, Then Baffled Over How Bush Can't Get a Break
4. Geraldo Calls Oil CEOs "Pirates" and Urges Windfall Profits Tax
5. Vieira "Peeved" at Bush, Holds Him Responsible for Gas Prices
6. The U.S. News Magazine Promise: "Vote Democratic, Earn More"
7. NPR's Offers Puffy Platform for Bush-Bashing "Dreamz" Director
ABC and NBC on Wednesday night delighted in showcasing how incoming White House Press Secretary Tony Snow last year wrote that President Bush had become "an embarrassment." But in portraying the quote as a declarative accusation, neither ABC's Elizabeth Vargas or NBC's David Gregory put the remark into the context of how Snow was observing that Virginia Republicans not wishing to appear with Bush during the 2005 campaign suggested "Bush has become something of an embarrassment." And neither bothered to let their viewers in on how they were just funneling quotes from a short list collected by the left-wing Center for American Progress. Vargas teased at the top of World News Tonight, "President Bush chooses a new spokesman: A conservative commentator who once called the President 'an embarrassment.'" NBC's David Gregory at least hinted at some context, though he still implied it was an accusation, as he related how Snow "has criticized his new boss, writing last year that, quote, 'George Bush has become something of an embarrassment.'"
Vargas managed to apply an ideological tag to Snow three times in under two minutes. She also ludicrously asserted that "Tony Snow is the first journalist to get this job." Tell that to Pierre Salinger, Bill Moyers, Ron Nessen or Joe Lockhart -- who was a producer for Vargas' own ABC News.
Gregory twice labeled Snow "conservative" before pointing out what eluded Vargas: "He is the first TV personality to be in the job since Gerald Ford hired away Ron Nessen from NBC News back in the 70s."
[This item was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]
See today's second CyberAlert item below by the MRC's Rich Noyes for how Wednesday's Good Morning America highlighted the "an embarrassment" charge and how Jessica Yellin failed to acknowledge her liberal source.
The headline over the page on the Website of the Center for American Progress: "Tony Snow On President Bush: 'An Embarrassment,' 'Impotent,' 'Doesn't Seem To Mean What He Says.'" The fourth quote:
For the collection of quotes: thinkprogress.org
James Taranto pointed out in his Wednesday "Best of the Web" e-mail/posting for OpinionJournal.com (I've put in UPPER CASE the clause picked out by the left-wing group and so readily passed along by ABC and NBC):
For Taranto's April 26 Best of the Web: www.opinionjournal.com
For Snow's column as posted on TownHall.com: www.townhall.com
NBC, ABC, CNN...the White House
When President Clinton tapped Joe Lockhart in late July to replace Mike McCurry as Press Secretary as of October 5, ABC's Peter Jennings didn't tell viewers how Lockhart used to work for ABC News. In a story for CNN, Wolf Blitzer also skip-ped Lockhart's time at the cable network.
As the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz noted in a September 9 profile, "he will be the first White House press secretary since Ron Nessen in the Ford administration to have had a recent career as a newsman. The son of journalists and the husband of a longtime ABC producer, Lockhart was spinning through the revolving door between media and politics long before that phrase became fashionable." Indeed, he has bounced back and forth since his father, an executive with NBC News, landed him a volunteer spot in Carter's 1980 reelection campaign.
As recounted by Kurtz, Lockhart "left to become an NBC foot soldier, writing for the network's internal wire at the Democratic National Convention." After the convention he got a paying job with the campaign.
By 1984 he had "climbed aboard Walter Mondale's presidential campaign. He was responsible for the care and feeding of the network cameramen and technicians, riding with them on the 'zoo plane' and helping them find backdrops for better shots."
Mondale's loss led Lockhart to a Press Secretary position for Democratic Senator Paul Simon. But he soon crossed back as an assignment editor for ABC News in Chicago, later taking the same title in CNN's Washington bureau. Within a couple of years, he signed aboard the 1988 Dukakis presidential effort as a traveling press aide.
When his wife Laura Logan, Deputy Press Secretary for John Glenn's 1984 presidential run, was transferred to London by her employer, ABC News, Lockhart followed and landed a slot with the nemesis of liberals: Rupert Murdoch. Kurtz recounted: "He applied for a producer's job at British-based Sky News and was stunned when executives there wanted him for on-air work....Soon his daily business reports were running back home on Fox, albeit at 5 a.m. Sky News dispatched him to Washington to report on the Gulf War, but...his program was later canceled." Back in the U.S. he worked for the Clinton campaign, then assumed the Deputy Press Secretary slot at the White House.
END of Reprint
The MediaWatch article is online at: www.mediaresearch.org
# ABC's World News Tonight. The up top tease from Vargas:
Vargas narrated the subsequent story: "President Bush hopes to get help conveying his message on Iraq from his new Press Secretary. Fox News commentator Tony Snow will be moving to the other side of the podium. He was a speech writer for the first President Bush, so he's no stranger to the White House. But he does stand out for some of the things he said about this President in the past. Snow has been a reliable conservative voice on television, radio and in print. Like many fiscally conservative commentators, he has also taken President Bush to task. He's called him, 'something of an embarrassment' for not fighting harder against congressional Democrats, a leader who has 'lost control of the federal budget' and the architect of a 'listless domestic policy.'"
All three broadcast morning shows this morning noted President Bush's choice of Tony Snow as new White House Press Secretary, but only ABC's Good Morning America saw the need to parrot from the thin list of anti-Bush quotes from Snow's columns being passed around by the liberal Center for American Progress (although reporter Jessica Yellin presented the quotes as if they were the result of her own research, hiding the fact they came from Democratic partisans).
[This item, by the MRC's Rich Noyes, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
For the liberal group's list of Snow quotes: thinkprogress.org
MRC news analyst Brian Boyd caught Yellin's piece on Snow, which aired at about 7:05am EDT Wednesday morning, with the snarky headline "SNOW JOB" on the screen: "Snow knows both politics and the media. He was the director of speechwriting for George Bush, Sr., and has clocked a decade as a conservative commentator for Fox News," Yellin began.
Snow has been a conservative commentator for Fox News, of course. But after Joe Lockhart became Bill Clinton's White House press secretary in 1998, no one at ABC described him as a "former liberal producer for ABC News." [See item #1 above for more on Lockhart's resume.]
After noting Snow's recent bout with cancer and his concerns that the new job might not leave much time for his family, Yellin sourly added: "And there's the potentially awkward fact that he'll now be defending a President he has previously criticized. In a column last November he described President Bush as 'newly passive' and 'something of an embarrassment.' He also once wrote that his new boss's speaking style was 'like a soul tortured with Tourette's.' Snow has defended his writing, telling the Associated Press, 'It's a columnist's job to offer praise and criticism.'"
The sheet of quotes was a piece of Democratic mischief-making. According to ABC's own political tip sheet The Note (among other sources), those quotes came from a list distributed Tuesday afternoon by the liberal Center for American Progress, which includes ex-Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta is the group's President and ex-Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle is a "Distinguished Senior Fellow."
For Wednesday's The Note: abcnews.go.com
Not that the quotes make Snow look bad -- indeed, the few swipes could be seen as showing that Snow is no toady for Bush, and that the President is happy to include strong-willed staffers who won't be afraid to criticize him from time to time. But they are another example of how ABC takes Democratic talking points and uses them in news stories -- without giving the audience a heads-up about their partisan pedigree.
Leading with Karl Rove's grand jury session, on Wednesday's CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer painted CBS's coverage through a set of facts forwarded by Bush enemies as he justified his news judgment, "It is the story that is keeping Washington on edge: Who outed one of the CIA's secret agents whose husband happened to be a critic of the President and his war policy?" Jim Axelrod framed his story around how Rove being "called back in front of the grand jury yet again makes it crystal clear" that he's "still very much under a cloud of suspicion." Axelrod seemed almost sorry for the Bush team as he concluded: "The President's poll numbers are at an all-time low, gas prices are through the roof, he's got an unpopular war and a divisive immigration debate to handle, and his chief political advisor is under this cloud. It just couldn't come at a worse time for the President." Then, as if the media's news judgment has nothing to do with it, Schieffer observed: "I would agree that this White House just can't seem to talk about what it wants to talk about. I think today probably what they wanted to talk about was the naming of a new Press Secretary."
On the NBC Nightly News, which also led with Rove, anchor Brian Williams similarly marveled at how "the White House today was hoping for favorable coverage of one story in particular: The naming of the President's new Press Secretary, Tony Snow. And it was the story of the day from the White House right up until Karl Rove became the story." Williams also highlighted "a new record the President may not be so proud of," an "all-time low" approval number for Bush in "our polling." But the 36 percent approval in NBC's new poll is three points higher than a Fox News poll last week and four points above what CNN found this week.
Fox News poll: www.foxnews.com
CNN poll: www.cnn.com
NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll: www.msnbc.msn.com
[This item was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth provided transcripts of April 26 CBS and NBC coverage.
# CBS Evening News. Bob Schieffer opened: "Good evening. It is the story that is keeping Washington on edge: Who outed one of the CIA's secret agents whose husband happened to be a critic of the President and his war policy? The Vice President's top aide has already been indicted for perjury in connection with the case, and today presidential counselor Karl Rove was called before the grand jury for the fifth time. Does that mean more indictments are coming? Here's our White House correspondent, Jim Axelrod, with what we know. Jim?"
Jim Axelrod: "Well, Bob, that the President's closest political advisor was called back in front of the grand jury yet again, makes it crystal clear that the special prosecutor's investigation is still very much alive, and that Karl Rove is still very much under a cloud of suspicion. Rove spent much of his day away from his work at the White House, and with his lawyer, Robert Luskin, who said prosecutors had assured them that in connection with this appearance, Rove was not a target of the investigation. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald apparently wanted to question Rove more about his conversations with reporters right before CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity was revealed in the press. Rove originally told Fitzgerald that he hadn't spoken to a Time magazine reporter about Plame, then checked his records and amended his story, saying he had simply forgotten about the conversation."
Schieffer: "Well, I would agree that this White House just can't seem to talk about what it wants to talk about. I think today probably what they wanted to talk about was the naming of a new Press Secretary."
Williams then led: "Good evening. As often happens in this media age, the White House today was hoping for favorable coverage of one story in particular: The naming of the President's new press secretary, Tony Snow. And it was the story of the day from the White House right up until Karl Rove became the story when we learned he has testified again before that Washington grand jury looking into the outing by leak of a CIA agent. There is another story tonight as well. The new numbers were about to debut on the President's popularity and the direction of this nation. We'll begin at the White House tonight. Our chief White House correspondent David Gregory with us from there. David, another eventful day."
Gregory ran through the particulars of the Rove case and then, as detailed in CyberAlert item #1 above, the selection of Tony Snow as White House Press Secretary. Following Gregory, Williams talked with Tim Russert about a new poll:
Williams: "And now to those poll numbers we mentioned at the top of the broadcast tonight. Tonight's NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll just out, I spoke earlier to Tim Russert, our Washington bureau chief and the moderator of Meet the Press. Tim, we'll start with the benchmark number in this poll, and for this president during our polling this is an all-time low. The approval/disapproval number, 36 percent approval rating for the President, 57 percent disapprove. Tim, let's go inside that benchmark number and look at issues and direction."
The following is Rivera's entire final commentary from Monday's show:
Geraldo Rivera: "About the only good news is that it may cut down on global warming but exploding gas prices are hurting lots of people along the way."
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted, with video, Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. The Real and Windows Media video clip, as well as MP3 audio, of how Vieira opened the April 26 ABC daytime show, will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert article. In the meantime, you can watch or listen from the NewsBusters posting: newsbusters.org ]
The segment, which aired at 11:01am EDT, also saw the future NBC star blame the high price of gas on the war in Iraq, oil companies and the citizens of the United States: "Part of the reason that oil prices have gone up is because we went into Iraq. So you gotta deal with that as well."
Vieira's thoughts on the Iraq war are well known. As previously reported in CyberAlert, in 2004 she famously said this about the conflict: "Everything's been built on lies. Everything! I mean the entire pretext for war." For video of that, along with links to several other CyberAlert articles on Vieira, including how she marched in an anti-war protest, check the MRC's "Profiles in Bias" page on Vieira: www.mrc.org
Later, Vieira found a new target. Co-host Star Jones, a former NBC News correspondent, brought up ExxonMobil Chairman Lee Raymond and his nearly $400 million dollar retirement package. Vieira responded with the rather obvious statement about the oil industry: "All of the companies have made a lot of money too." I guess that's a bad thing. Later she indicated that Americans themselves deserve some criticism: "And we are a gas guzzling nation as well. So do any of us have hybrid cars? I mean, I don't."
Vieira's honesty is encouraging, but it doesn't exactly help her argument. Earlier in the segment, she noted that she recently paid over $60 to fill up her minivan. That doesn't sound like a particularly fuel efficient vehicle. The other View hosts also made some rather odd comments. Co-host Joy Behar speculated ominously about who might be responsible for the high prices:
So apparently Cheney is (mostly) responsible for stopping the emergence of alternative sources of energy? An interesting statement, because President Carter focused heavily on the subject and the program still didn't get very far.
Perhaps Meredith Vieira was channeling her inner Carter when she closed the segment with this piece of introspection: "Maybe I should just get a bike. That makes more sense. Get a bike."
Reading the table of contents of this week's U.S. News & World Report revealed a very biased headline: "Vote Democratic, Earn More." Underneath the headline, the promotional copy read: "Campaigns to raise the minimum wage may be just the ticket for the party." The story by reporter Silla Brush led off the magazine's national coverage, with the headline: "A Winning Bet? Efforts to increase the minimum wage are proliferating; Democrats say they've found an issue to rally around." Brush touted the way Democrats hope to use minimum-wage hikes as a tactic to drive the labor base to the polls.
[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
For the article in the May 1 issue: www.usnews.com
Brush contended: "Democrats, big labor, progressive religious groups, and community activists nationwide have latched on to the wage-hike campaign as a way to define their own 'values.' Public approval for a federally mandated raise is at 83 percent, and 20 states already have set a higher minimum wage than the federal level of $5.15 per hour...The federal government hasn't budged on the minimum wage in nearly a decade. At $5.15 an hour ($10,712 a year), its value has eroded so much that the 2 million Americans earning the minimum wage or below today can buy less in real terms now than at almost any time in the last half century."
Brush dramatically favored the liberal politicians and experts in the story, by a factor of nine to two. Readers were offered the opinions of the following:
- C.J. Prentiss, Democrat, minority leader of the Ohio State Senate - Policy Matters Ohio, an unlabeled liberal think tank (Prentiss is on its board) - Kyle Wangler, day laborer, saying "You can't live off $5.15" (also interviewed by Cleveland's hard-left Indymedia site) - Marc Freedman, U. S. Chamber of Commerce - To rebut the Chamber, the "left-leaning Economic Policy Institute" - John Ryan, former head of the Cleveland AFL-CIO - Rev. Paul Sherry, head of the "nonpartisan Let Justice Roll effort" opposing Ohio's "evangelical churches and strident conservatism." - Kristina Wilfore, head of the "liberal Ballot Initiative Strategy Center" - David Mermin, Democratic pollster - Gary Lucarelli, head of the Cleveland Area Restaurant Association - Rep. Sherrod Brown, Democrat
By the way, the U.S. News reporter began by noting how demoralized Ohio Democrats were in 2004, when not only did Bush win, but "Republicans had pushed through a statewide ban on gay marriage." But U.S. News never did a big feature on how Republicans were going to nudge the base to the polls with defense-of-marriage ballot initiatives. Instead, in the spring of 2004, they published a huge story touting "The Rise of the Gay Family: More and more American children are growing up with same-sex parents."
On Tuesday's edition of "Fresh Air," the daily one-hour interview show on National Public Radio, airing on hundreds of NPR affiliates across the country, host Terry Gross interviewed Paul Weitz, director of the new Bush-mocking movie "American Dreamz." Gross helped Weitz to explain his point that "dreams are sometimes delusions," like democracy in Iraq. Weitz expressed sorrow that John Kerry lost to Bush in 2004 because "he was able to look at both sides of an issue, which seems to be the hallmark of intelligence."
[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Weitz began by suggesting his movie was a way of dealing with how America has been paralyzed by irrational fear since 9/11, so paralyzed it's almost impossible to have a rational thought in George Bush's America:
Wow, Terry Gross is esteemed for her interviews, but this is facilitating like a PR flack, not interviewing. From there, Weitz went on to describe how he created his dimwit-president character as a Bush clone, except his fictional president learned to accept reality, which he does not expect Bush to embrace:
Weitz: "Yeah. I mean, I took as a starting point his famous quote that he doesn't read the newspapers. And so I always wanted to do something about a president who's having a nervous breakdown. And I thought, well, what if this guy had a little bit of a breakdown because he woke up on the morning of his re-election and felt kind of cocky and decided to read the newspaper for the first time in four years. And this caused him to realize that he had been making decisions based on a black and white view of the world. And the more that he learns, the more sort of he doesn't want to leave his bed in the bedroom of the Oval -- of the White House. And it's not -- you know, because it's Dennis, it's -- he's able to create a relatively fully formed character I think. And I'm not particularly interested -- I mean, I happen to have my own feelings about Bush, and I don't think that he's going to wake up any day soon and sort of reassess everything that he's done. But that was not my aim with this movie. My aim was to have a character that begins in a place of being kind of blind and suffers because he's learning about things, and then in the end, his kind of triumph. In the movie, Dennis' triumph is not that he's suddenly become smart, but actually that he decides he wants to deal with reality and with the idea that things are not easily solvable.
That would be the man who was basically a moron, which everyone falsely believed was simple, yet deep. Weitz also had a very typical Hollywood take on terrorists, that they're great fodder for jokes. Scary, yes, but hard to define as evil. They're just too serious:
For NPR's audio of the interview: www.npr.org
NPR probably can't do too much to help out "American Dreamz" at the box office, which came in a lowly ninth in its first weekend, grossing just $3.6 million. See: www.boxofficemojo.com
-- Brent Baker