2. Rundown of Claims in Rather's Lawsuit, Refusal to Admit Error
3. Today Anchors Push Laurie David's Global Warming for Kids Book
4. Maher on CNN: Petaeus and Maliki 'Stooges' for President Bush
5. Behar Suggests 'Klan Meeting' Keeps GOP Candidates from Debate
6. Late Show's Top Ten Contest: 'Top Ten Television Shows in Iraq'
With "Straight Talk" on screen, ABC's World News led Wednesday night by touting as momentous the news that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in a quote cited in the middle of a newspaper column, said "I don't know" when asked whether invading Iraq was a good idea. "Three little words," a delighted Charles Gibson announced about dissension in the ranks, "three little words that you rarely hear from the Bush administration when it comes to the war in Iraq: 'I don't know.' That's what Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said when asked if the Iraq invasion was a good idea. Gates' words are in stark contrast to the surety often expressed by the President." Reporter Jonathan Karl trumpeted how "Gates' stunningly candid answer came in an interview with New York Times columnist David Brooks." Repeating the "I don't know" reply, Karl urged: "Compare that to the words of President Bush, who has said consistently and forcefully the invasion was the right thing to do." Viewers then saw three Bush soundbites. Karl concluded with how Gates disagrees with Bush "on what might just be the most important question of the Bush presidency."
ABC seems to apply the approving "straight talk" label to those expressing the media's consensus liberal view. For instance, back on the April 14, 2006 World News Tonight, anchor Elizabeth Vargas set up a story on fears that John McCain was moving to the right, by recalling how "during his 2000 campaign, McCain gathered support as a straight-talking maverick by attacking some members of his party's base. Now it appears he's on a very different course." Reporter Dan Harris then reminisced about how in 2000 McCain's "straight talk included taking on powerful Christian conservatives like Jerry Falwell, whom he called an 'agent of intolerance.'" See: www.mediaresearch.org
Neither the CBS Evening News nor NBC Nightly News found the Gates quote inside a newspaper column so momentous and didn't utter a word about it Wednesday night.
[This item was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Karl's quotation of Gates did not match the column he cited. Karl asserted: "Secretary Gates' stunningly candid answer came in an interview with New York Times columnist David Brooks. Asked if the invasion of Iraq was worth doing, Gates first rephrased the question: 'If I'd known then what I know now, would I have done the same? I think the answer is "I don't know.'"
On screen, ABC displaced this text next to a picture of Gates: "If I'd known then what I know now, would I have done the same? I think the answer is 'I don't know.'"
But in the September 19 column, "The Education of Robert Gates," Brooks included (in both online and printed editions) only this shorter quotation of Gates answering his question: "I asked him whether invading Iraq was a good idea, knowing what we know now. He looked at me for a bit and said, 'I don't know.'"
For the Brooks column: www.nytimes.com
Maybe the Times posted audio somewhere, but it's not on the page with the Brooks column.
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the September 19 lead story on ABC's World News:
CHARLES GIBSON, IN OPENING TEASER: Welcome to World News. Tonight, the U.S. Secretary of Defense says he doesn't know whether invading Iraq was the right thing to do. Do the White House and the Pentagon disagree?
GIBSON: Good evening. Three little words, three little words that you rarely hear from the Bush administration when it comes to the war in Iraq: "I don't know." That's what Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said when asked if the Iraq invasion was a good idea. Gates' words are in stark contrast to the surety often expressed by the President, though Gates was quick to add, on the issue of troop levels needed in Iraq, the White House and Pentagon are in total agreement. Jonathan Karl is at the Pentagon tonight. John?
JONATHAN KARL: Charlie, it has been an article of faith for the Bush administration that invading Iraq was the right thing to do. Now, the man in charge of running the war says he's not so sure. Secretary Gates' stunningly candid answer came in an interview with New York Times columnist David Brooks. Asked if the invasion of Iraq was worth doing, Gates first rephrased the question: "If I'd known then what I know now, would I have done the same? I think the answer is 'I don't know.'" Compare that to the words of President Bush, who has said consistently and forcefully the invasion was the right thing to do.
The statements in Dan Rather's $70 million lawsuit, filed Wednesday against CBS for terminating him nearly two years after his discredited story on President Bush's National Guard service, reflected his conspiratorial paranoia about how he sees himself as a victim of Bush White House pressure and is unable to accept responsibility for his sloppy and politically-driven story. Rather charged that he was made a "scapegoat" for the 2004 story because CBS wished to "pacify the White House." CBS management "coerced" him, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz on Thursday quoted the lawsuit, "into publicly apologizing and taking personal blame for alleged journalistic errors in the broadcast." Josh Howard, the Executive Producer at the time of the weekday 60 Minutes who was forced to resign, rejected Rather's claim that he was just a passive narrator: "He did every interview. He worked the sources over the phone. He was there in the room with the so-called document experts. He argued over every line in the script. It's laughable."
In Thursday's New York Times, reporter Jacques Steinberg added detail to Rather's claim he was the "scapegoat" because of supposed "right-wing" pressure and to Rather's fresh attack on the integrity of Richard Thornburgh, co-chair with Associated Press chief executive Lou Boccardi, of the panel CBS News appointed that determined Rather's story was critically flawed:
Who knew the "right wing" had such influence with CBS News?
For the September 20 New York Times article: www.nytimes.com
Kurtz elaborated on Rather's apparent retraction of his on-air apology: "Twelve days after the story aired, according to the suit, [Andrew] Heyward, then the news division chief, "instructed" Rather to read an apology on the "Evening News," despite Rather's "own personal feelings that no apology from him was warranted." In those on-air remarks, Rather called the story a "mistake" and added: "I want to say personally and directly, I'm sorry."
For Kurtz's September 20 story: www.washingtonpost.com
Wednesday night, Katie Couric read this short item on the CBS Evening News: "Dan Rather filed a $70 million lawsuit today against CBS. He accuses the network of making him a quote, 'scapegoat' for a discredited story about President Bush's National Guard service. In a statement today, CBS said Rather's 'complaints are old news' and his 'lawsuit is without merit.'"
On ABC's World News, anchor Charles Gibson allocated about the same amount of time to the lawsuit, but Gibson gave a glimpse of Rather's paranoia, pointing out how "he accuses the network of punishing him to pacify the White House." Ron Allen included that claim in a full story on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News.
The CBS story that followed by Richard Threlkeld explained "silly lawsuits" like the McDonald's hot-coffee case and a San Diego lawsuit where a man was traumatized by a local stadium suddenly offering unisex bathrooms at a concert.
Audio/video of Rather's 1996 story set-up will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert. But to listen in the meantime, to the MP3 audio or Real or Windows Media, go to Graham's posting on the MRC's NewsBusters blog: newsbusters.org
The MRC's Dan Rather archive section, "The Dan Rather File," hasn't been updated in a while, but should be soon. Until then, after links to the relevant archive pages, are summaries and links for more recent Rather outbursts.
For the MRC's "The Dan Rather File" with ten sub-sections of quotes and videos: www.mrc.org
For "Dan's Downfall: Forged Documents," go to: www.mrc.org
Newer material that will soon be added to the above pages (linked videos below will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, but in the meantime the links will bring you to pages with the latest Rather videos):
# Rather "Absolutely" Stands by Bush Story "Truth"
Rather then attacked those who dared to expose his misdeeds: "It's a very old technique used, that when those who don't like what you're reporting believe it can be hurtful, then they look for the weakest spot and attack it, which is fair enough. It's a diversionary technique."
For more, including two videos, check the July 13, 2006 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
Mapes maintained that "I'm perfectly willing to believe those documents are forgeries if there's proof that I haven't seen." But when Ross asked, "isn't it the other way around? Don't you have to prove they're authentic?", Mapes contended: "Well, I think that's what critics of the story would say. I know more now than I did then and I think, I think they have not been proved to be false, yet." Ross pointed out: "Have they proved to be authentic though? Isn't that really what journalists do?" Mapes insisted: "No, I don't think that's the standard."
For more, see the November 10, 2005 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
For video, go to: www.mrc.org
To this day no one has proven whether it was what it purported to be or not." Kalb pressed for clarification: "I believe you just said that you think the story is accurate?" Rather affirmed: "The story is accurate." Rather soon maintained that the public recognizes the "hidden hand pressure" politicians exert on media executives and so "they understood that what we reported as the central facts of the story and there were new insights into the President's, were correct and to this day, by the way have not been denied which is always the test of whether," and he moved on before finishing his sentence.
For more, check the September 27, 2005 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
# Rather: "Liberal" Epithet Used to "Intimidate" Him
Viewers then saw a montage of video clips and shots of Web sites with text accusing Rather and CBS of being "liberal," including the Media Research Center's logo and a headline over an MRC page on Rather. Without addressing evidence of his liberal tilt on policy, Rather charged that "people who have very strong biases of their own, they come at you with a story: 'If you won't report it the way I want it reported, then you're biased.'" On the memogate affair, the CBS special touted how the review panel found "no political agenda."
For more, go to the March 10, 2005 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
Environmental activist and An Inconvenient Truth producer Laurie David received a very warm welcome, from the green-friendly anchors on the Wednesday Today show, when she came on to promote her children's book, A Down-To-Earth Guide to Global Warming. During David's interview, NBC's Natalie Morales noted that the book's publisher, Scholastic, was trying to place the book into schools everywhere and proclaimed: "We hope to see it there." Morales even bragged that her own son was already being indoctrinated: "They're already talking and learning about this in school. I mean, my own son already knows, 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.' You know the three 'R's."
No slouch herself, when it comes to preaching about global warming, Morales' colleague Ann Curry also proudly showed off her own son's concern about climate change in a tease for the segment:
Natalie Morales: "And then explaining global warming to your kids and why it's so important. We have Laurie David, who helped produce An Inconvenient Truth. She's gonna be here to talk about that."
[This item, by Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
A little later Today weatherman Al Roker chimed in with the following tease: "Coming up next, how to explain to your kids why going green is so important, but first, this is Today on NBC."
The following is the full interview with Laurie David and her co-author Cambria Gordon as it took place in the 9:30am half-hour on the September 19 Today show:
Natalie Morales: "Earlier this year former Vice President Al Gore took home an Oscar for his documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, a film which tried to educate people about climate control and specifically the effects of global warming. Well Laurie David was a producer on that film and now with co-author Cambria Gordon, they have written a book for children, it's called The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming. Ladies, good morning, nice to have you here."
To read more about Ann Curry's environmental bias, see the July 2 Media Reality Check: www.mrc.org
Bill Maher spent a large portion of his ten-minute session Tuesday on CNN's The Situation Room attacking, among others, General David Petraeus, Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, labeling them "stooges" for President Bush. When host Wolf Blitzer asked about the recent congressional testimony of the general and the ambassador, Maher matched his comments last Friday on his HBO show as he parroted the MoveOn.org line: "Well, it was a White House-written report. We know that. Bush has an interesting little scam going. He also quoted in his speech on Thursday night, Maliki. And he said basically that the Iraqi leadership is asking us to stay. So, in other words, he puts words into his stooges' mouths, and then, he quotes them."
[This item, by Matthew Balan, was posted Tuesday evening, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. The audio and video will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert. But in the meantime, go to: newsbusters.org ]
Maher appeared in the 5pm EDT hour of the September 18 Situation Room. Blitzer first asked the HBO host about the congressional Democrats' lack of action on the Iraq war. "Is there more that they [the Democrats] could be doing? Should be doing?"
Maher's answer: "Yeah, I guess there is. But, you know, what can you do with a situation where there's one man who stubbornly has the power and will not relinquish it? And he's such a liar, you know? I think that -- if he would just be straight with the American people, instead of saying things like, 'The people who are attacking us in Iraq are the same people who attacked us on 9/11.' What a blatant lie. Or, 'Every day, every month, since January, we've killed over 1,500 terrorists and other extremists.' Who is a terrorist? Who are extremists? Who are the enemy? What do these terms mean? Would they even be the enemy if we weren't in their country? Not to mention all the lies..."
Blitzer then asked about General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker: "You listen closely to General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Both are career professionals. A career military officer. A career diplomat. They made the case effectively for President Bush that the U.S. should continue this strategy."
Blitzer should be given credit for pressing Maher on the question of Petraeus. After asking about the possibility of the Democrats cutting off funding for the Iraq war, Blitzer played a soundbite of Hillary Clinton's answer from American Morning, where she was asked about the "General Betray Us" ad by MoveOn.org. Blitzer asked Maher if he agreed with Clinton's statement about General Petraeus, and pressed him again about his comments on the general.
BLITZER: So, you agree with her on that?
In the last three minutes of the interview, Blitzer and Maher discussed if Barack Obama is ready to be president, who Maher liked amongst the Republicans (as might be expected, Maher said he supported Ron Paul), the Emmy Awards, the Larry Craig scandal, and the new criminal case against O.J. Simpson. Maher actually had some interesting things to say about Simpson.
BLITZER: What about O.J. Simpson? Do you think he could get a fair trial if this does go before a jury, given the notoriety?
To audience applause on Wednesday's The View, Joy Behar suggested Republican presidential candidates were avoiding a debate on PBS hosted by left-winger Tavis Smiley because "they all have a Klan meeting at the same time." During a discussion of the racial strife in Jena, Louisiana, Behar interjected: "Some of these Republican candidates not going to this black university in Baltimore? What's up with that?" Behar wondered: "What are they afraid of? They think they don't have the black vote anyway, so they're not going to go? Is that what that's about?" After Rosie O'Donnell's replacement, Whoopie Goldberg, pointed out how Republican candidates also "did not show up for the Hispanic forum either," Behar quipped: "Scheduling conflict? What, did they all have a Klan meeting at the same time?"
It was hardly the first time Behar has slimed those to the right of her. Two past CyberAlert items, both with video:
# The March 1 CyberAlert, "ABC's Joy Behar: Bush Administration 'Liars' and 'Murderers,'" recounted:
Left wing inflammatory comments continue on The View. On Wednesday [February 28], co-host Joy Behar lashed out, calling on the American people "to really wake up and understand that they [the Bush administration] are liars and they are murderers." Behar soon accosted Elisabeth Hasselbeck, the token non-liberal on the ABC daytime gabfest: "I don't understand how you can still support this administration. After the Katrina incident, after the incompetence that took place there, after the incompetence and the lying about this war." Hasselbeck tried to insert some common sense and stated that "some fringe liberals are taking this to a place to where we're losing sight on the issue here." Behar, who just called the Bush administration "murderers," adamantly denied she's a "fringe liberal" and chastised it as "name calling." See: www.mrc.org
# The December 15 CyberAlert, "Joy Behar Suggests GOP Caused Senator Tim Johnson's Illness," relayed:
On Thursday's [December 14] The View, Joy Behar seriously suggested Senator Tim Johnson was the victim of a deliberate act to cause his brain disorder that led to emergency surgery and has left him in critical condition: "Is there such a thing as a man-made stroke? In other words, did someone do this to him?" An astounded Elisabeth Hasselbeck wondered: "Why is everything coming from the liberal perspective a conspiracy?" Behar contended, on the ABC daytime show, that the Republican Party is capable of such a nefarious deed: "I know what this, that party is capable of." See: www.mrc.org
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the relevant discussion on the September 19 ABC daytime show:
SHERRI SHEPHERD: But as a mother who has a black son and I am trying to raise my son with confidence and to know that he can do anything and don't let anybody hold him back, to see that there is pure racism from this Jena, Louisiana, that you cannot sit under a tree because you are black, and that you can be put in jail, these, and the parents can't afford to get their kids out, so they've told their sons everything to do, to be good citizens, good human beings, and you got a justice system that is supposed to work for you, and you are in jail looking at the rest of your life. I go, what are you saying to me?
Smiley's page for his September 27 Republican presidential forum at Morgan State in Baltimore: www.tavistalks.com
From the Late Show with David Letterman's "Top Ten Contest," the winning entries posted on September 15 for the "Top Ten Television Shows in Iraq." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. "Extremist Makeover" (Dana H, New Haven, CT)
9. "Sects And The City" (Nathan S, Lafayette, CO)
8. "So, You Want To Be A Martyr" (Alan D, Hewlett, NY)
7. "Sponge Bob Square Burka" (Mark M, Dunnellon, FL)
6. "Wives Swap" (Paul S, Garden City, MI)
5. "Sunni & Cher" (Mike A, Los Angeles, CA)
4. "Kurd Your Enthusiasm" (Jeff K, San Jose, CA)
3. "Are You Smarter Than a Goat Herder?" (Larry G, Tallahassee, FL)
2. "How I Met Your Mullah" (Mick B, Rockford, IL)
1. "Desperate Cavewives" (Jacob C, Sharon)
The Late Show's "Top Ten Contest" page: www.cbs.com
-- Brent Baker