ABC Trumpets How Japanese Use Obama to Learn English --3/31/2009
2. MSNBC Skips ID of Lib Director; Grilled Conservative Documentarian
3. CNN: Despite Obama's Gun Agenda, Owners 'Might Even Be Paranoid'
4. CBS's Rooney Dismisses Viewers Criticizing His Pro-Obama Bias
5. Beck 'Apocalyptic,' Leftists Maddow & Olbermann Never Criticized
Monday's World News concluded with a story touting how a school in Japan, which ABC failed to note is affiliated with the Washington Post Company, uses President Obama's speeches to help teach English. Anchor Charles Gibson poured on the flattery: "Finally tonight, there's the old saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well if that is the case, hundreds of students in Japan are flattering President Obama no end. That's because they're busy imitating him, all for a good reason."
After clips of adult students saying "Yes, we can," reporter Clarissa Ward explained from Tokyo: "This is the Obama workshop at the Kaplan English School in Japan. Every week, as many as 200 students attend" where "they learn the President's speeches line by line, reciting them to their teacher." That teacher seems to have a preference for those on the left, as Ward relayed how he "has also used speeches by Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy for his classes, but he says his students are particularly inspired by the message of Mr. Obama."
Indeed, after noting how "Obama is very popular in Japan. During the election, there were Obama T-shirts, cookies, even an Obama burger," Ward showed a man proclaiming in broken English: "His speech has a passion and his speech is like a song." The teacher soon recited an Obama line he's memorized -- "To win the war, secure the peace and earn the respect of the world" -- then declared: "At the time when I first heard this, I almost cried." In response, Ward clapped: "I just have to give you an applause there."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
As quoted above, Ward visited the "Obama workshop at the Kaplan English School in Japan." Kaplan, an educational services company best-known for SAT-prep courses, is the profit-making division of the Washington Post Company which subsidizes the losses incurred by the flagship newspaper and Newsweek. The corporate Web site, with the Kaplan logo, touts: "Diversified Media & Education." See: www.washpostco.com
Kaplan's Web site for its services in Japan is, not surprisingly, in Japanese, so I'm not clear about the exact control the New York City-based Kaplan has over its operations in Japan and the U.S. site doesn't have anything about Japan.
But the two are clearly affiliated since the Japanese site features the same blue Kaplan logo as does Kaplan's U.S. site. On the Japanese site, next to the Kaplan logo, "Certified Education Provider," suggesting the Japanese school is an approved provider of Kaplan's lesson plans.
Japanese site: www.kaplan.ac.jp
U.S. site: www.kaplan.com
This wasn't the first time ABC's World News has devoted air time to overseas infatuation with Obama. The January 22 CyberAlert item, "Kids Around the World on ABC: Obama Means 'Peace' & 'Yes We Can!'" recounted:
ABC's World News on Wednesday night used limited news time to feature a silly piece with soundbites from naive kids around the world sputtering beauty pageant-like simplicities about how President Barack Obama will bring "world peace" and inspires them to say "yes, we can!" Reporter Jim Sciutto touted how "we heard children around the world expressing hope and fascination with the new American President." Viewers heard a boy in Russia yearn for "peace, democracy and friendship" and a girl in the United Arab Emirates assert "he's interested in giving peace to the world and stopping wars," all before a boy from Indonesia promised: "He's going to change the world and make world peace." From Gaza, a kid hoped Obama will "prevent Israel from attacking us."
From Pakistan, Sciutto relayed, "hope for an American President with a Muslim father." A boy then wished "he can make the citizens of the U.S. recognize that we, not all Muslims are terrorists and not all terrorists are Muslims." And what story on foreign reaction would be complete without input from France? A French girl: "I think that he may stop the war in Iraq. At least I hope he will."
Sciutto ended by trumpeting how "that familiar campaign theme has gone global." Girl in South Korea: "Yes, we can." Boy in Italy: "Yes, we can." Barack Obama: "Yes, we can." Girl in France: "Yes, we can."
Full rundown: www.mrc.org
The story on the Monday, March 30 World News on ABC:
CHARLES GIBSON: Finally tonight, there's the old saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well if that is the case, hundreds of students in Japan are flattering President Obama no end. That's because they're busy imitating him, all for a good reason. ABC's Clarissa Ward reports from Tokyo.
CLARISSA WARD: President Barack Obama may not know it-
It's a challenge for the students, but they are enjoying learning from both of their teachers. Clarissa Ward, ABC News, Tokyo.
ABCNews.com video of the story: abcnews.go.com
During the 10am EDT hour of MSNBC News Live on Monday, host Tamron Hall completely skipped the ideology of a left-wing documentarian as she talked with him about his new movie "Rethink Afghanistan," which claims that "troops are not the answer" in that country. Hall never identified Director Robert Greenwald, who has made documentaries such as "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism," and "WAL-MART: The High Cost of Low Price," as a liberal. Instead, she simply described him as a "documentary filmmaker." See RobertGreenwald.com: www.robertgreenwald.org
Additionally, Hall offered almost no tough questions, instead tossing softballs such as "What is your observation, having been [to Afghanistan] recently, regarding the Obama administration's plans?" Uninterrupted, Greenwald was allowed to later assert, "Well, again, remember that many people there believe that troops are not the answer. Troops contribute to the problem." He also instructed that the U.S. should send 17,000 teachers instead of soldiers. At the close of the interview, he complained, "But, I think we all get trapped in, as one of my friends in Afghanistan said, 'Shoot first. Think later.'"
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
In contrast, on January 9, when MSNBC host David Shuster interviewed John Ziegler about his movie on the media's treatment of Sarah Palin, the anchor got into a heated argument with the filmmaker, repeatedly challenging the "conservative documentary's" thesis and deriding: "John, you and Sarah Palin can't take any responsibility for the fact that she wasn't prepared to run for vice president." See a Januray 12 CyberAlert posting for more: www.mrc.org
During Hall's interview, the journalist did tell Greenwald that "diplomacy cannot be the only solution, or opening schools can't be the opening solution." Other than that, she failed to press the director and never once mentioned his ideology or the string of left-wing films and short videos he made in 2008 attacking John McCain. Certainly, the segment was nothing like Shuster's fight with Ziegler. At one point during that interview, the MSNBC anchor questioned the filmmaker's motive and speculated, "And yet you and your colleagues are trying to circle back and get her ready for 2012."
A transcript of the March 30 segment, which aired at 10:24am EDT on MSNBC:
TAMRON HALL: Well, today, questions are still being raised about the President's new plan for Afghanistan. The plan would boost troop levels in Afghanistan to more than 60,000. But, our next guest, who just returned from that country, spoke to many in Afghanistan and also experts who question if more troops are the answer. Documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald was in the country compiling material for his full length documentary. It's called "Rethink Afghanistan." He's with us now. Thanks for joining us, Robert. Over the weekend on "Meet the Press," John McCain was asked- Senator McCain was asked whether he supported the ideas from the Obama administration on Afghanistan. And he said yes. And he said, "The key is, though, that the people there have to think we are there to stay." What is your observation, having been there recently, regarding the Obama administration's plans?
Both Callebs and CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin tried to assure their viewers that gun control was "way off the agenda right now" of the Obama administration, despite the fact that a graphic on the news crawl stated plainly that President Obama "wants to make expired Assault Weapons Ban permanent."
[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The CNN correspondent traveled to Tyler, Texas, "one of those places all over America where a kind of quiet call to arms is getting louder and louder," as he put it. Besides interviewing the lawyer and the nurse, he visited a local gun store, where he skeptically asked one of the employees of the store, "Why would someone own a semiautomatic weapon like this? I mean, is saying it's my right, is that enough?"
Despite concluding that gun owners "might not be rational" in the concerns, Callebs had also detailed how Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that she thought "these assault weapons, these military-style weapons don't belong on anyone's street," contradicting President Obama's message that he "will not take away your guns."
After Callebs report, anchor Campbell Brown turned to Toobin for a "reality check" and asked, "What are the president's views on gun control, and given what is on his plate right now, is this anywhere on his priority list?" Toobin skipped answering the first part of her question and answered, "It's zero....the Democratic Party has given up on gun control, with the possible exception of certain assault weapons, but even that is way off the agenda right now."
Brown followed-up by asking about the concerns of gun owners: "So why are we seeing this kind of thing?" The legal analyst echoed Callebs in his answer, and threw the Timothy McVeigh card: "I think there is a kind of whipped up frenzy that is completely not based in reality....The extreme version -- not these people -- was the sort of Timothy McVeigh militia movement, but, you know, that is always part of American life. It has no basis in what this administration is trying to do."
No basis in what this administration is trying to do? Toobin must either be ignorant or is trying to be deceptive. Besides the statement from Mrs. Clinton, Obama's own attorney general, Eric Holder, is on the record as saying, "As President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons."
For more on Holder's comment and the Obama administration's desire to reinstate the assault weapons ban, see the February 25, 2009 item by ABC News correspondent Jason Ryan, "Obama to Seek New Assault Weapons Ban," at: abcnews.go.com
The full transcript of the segment, which began 40 minutes into the 8 pm Eastern hour of Friday's Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull program:
CAMPBELL BROWN: As drug violence on the Mexican border rages out of control, administration officials warn that the flow of drugs isn't the only problem. They are pointing to the flow of illegal guns as well. And that has some American gun owners fearing a ripple effect, that by clamping down on guns heading south into Mexico, the government will try to take away Americans' guns -- gun rights. Our Sean Callebs tonight has a revealing look at the freedom they say is under fire right now.
On Sunday's CBS 60 Minutes, commentator Andy Rooney read from some viewer letters: "It's always fun to read the letters people send, I get a lot of them, although, to be honest, if I took all the letters seriously I wouldn't ever say anything again. I get quite a few bad letters and, of course, I pay least attention to those. I don't want you to see me cry." Some of those "bad letters" came from viewers who criticized Rooney's and the media's pro-Obama bias: "Thomas Overley writes from Oceanside, California. He's mad because he thinks I like President Obama. 'Very sorry to see someone I respected contribute to this mass media love affair,' Tom says. Well, to tell you the truth Mr. Overley, I do like Obama but I didn't think you'd notice. Todd, from Las Cruces, New Mexico, says 'the reason I don't hear about the people who hate Barack Obama is because the press has put a muzzle on them.' I don't know about that Todd. I show the producer my piece before it goes on the air every week and he'll tell me it isn't any good but he never puts a muzzle on me."
[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
At the end of the January 25 broadcast, had Rooney declared: "Maybe I'm reading the wrong newspapers and listening to the wrong people, but I'm not hearing anyone who hates Barack Obama." Well, apparently Rooney has found some Obama critics, in his own audience.
Read about Rooney's inability to find Obama critics: newsbusters.org
The New York Times quoted several critics of Fox News provocateur Glenn Beck, but has hardly ever found critics of MSNBC leftist hosts Rachel Maddow and the paranoid, vitriolic Keith Olbermann. There's a clear difference between how conservative news hosts and left-wingers are greeted by the Times. Check out Monday's front-page profile of radio host turned Fox News Channel phenom Glenn Beck by media reporters Brian Stelter and Bill Carter, "He's Mad, Apocalyptic, Tearful, And a Rising Star on Fox News."
[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Monday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]
The Beck profile read nothing like the warm greetings extended in the Times to MSNBC's latest leftist star, former Air America host Rachel Maddow, or even the rabidly anti-Republican conspiracy-monger Keith Olbermann. An excerpt from the March 30 profile:
"You are not alone," Glenn Beck likes to say. For the disaffected and aggrieved Americans of the Obama era, he could not have picked a better rallying cry.
Mr. Beck, an early-evening host on the Fox News Channel, is suddenly one of the most powerful media voices for the nation's conservative populist anger. Barely two months into his job at Fox, his program is a phenomenon: it typically draws about 2.3 million viewers, more than any other cable news host except Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity, despite being on at 5 p.m., a slow shift for cable news.
With a mix of moral lessons, outrage and an apocalyptic view of the future, Mr. Beck, a longtime radio host who jumped to Fox from CNN's Headline News channel this year, is capturing the feelings of an alienated class of Americans.
In an interview, Mr. Beck, who recently rewatched the 1976 film "Network," said he identified with the character of Howard Beale, the unhinged TV news anchorman who declares on the air that he is "mad as hell."
"I think that's the way people feel," Mr. Beck said. "That's the way I feel." In part because of Mr. Beck, Fox News -- long identified as the favored channel for conservatives and Republican leaders -- is enjoying a resurgence just two months into Mr. Obama's term. While always top-rated among cable news channels, Fox's ratings slipped during the long Democratic primary season last year. Now it is back on firm footing as the presumptive network of the opposition, with more than 1.2 million viewers watching at any given time, about twice as many as CNN or MSNBC.
Good that the Times has finally recognized ratings reality, after several stories over the years spinning MSNBC "catching up" to Fox in the ratings, without the network ever actually doing so.
The Times laid out the case for Beck as a conspiracy-monger:
Tapping into fear about the future, Mr. Beck also lingers over doomsday situations; in a series called "The War Room" last month he talked to experts about the possibility of global financial panic and widespread outbreaks of violence. He challenged viewers to "think the unthinkable" so that they would be prepared in case of emergency.
Mr. Beck says he believes every word he says on his TV show, and the radio show that he still hosts from 9 a.m. to noon each weekday.
He says that America is "on the road to socialism" and that "God and religion are under attack in the U.S." He recently wondered aloud whether FEMA was setting up concentration camps, calling it a rumor that he was unable to debunk.
At the same time, though, he says he is an entertainer. "I'm a rodeo clown," he said in an interview, adding with a coy smile, "It takes great skill."
The "FEMA Concentration Camp" story is pretty wacky, but not exclusively right-wing wacky, taking in extremists on both the left and right. In left-wing versions predating Obama's election, the camps were often run by energy industry giant Halliburton. Maybe Cheney handed the keys to Obama with the change of administration?
As for spreading dubious stories, ones wonders if the Times caught the March 2 edition of Countdown with Keith Olbermann. My Media Research Center colleague Tim Graham explained that Olbermann was spreading the theory that there was an "executive assassination ring" in the White House led by Dick Cheney.
The inside photo caption of Monday's Beck profile led off with criticism: "Critics of Glenn Beck says he engages in incendiary rhetoric, but he says, 'I'm a rodeo clown.'"
Unlike the paper's previous profiles of left-wing personalities Maddow and Olbermann, most of which were free of any critical commentary from the right, Stelter and Carter's profile of Beck left room for three critics to hammer the host:
And like a rodeo clown, Mr. Beck incites critics to attack by dancing in front of them.
"There are absolutely historical precedents for what is happening with Beck," said Tom Rosenstiel, the director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism. "There was a lot of radio evangelism during the Depression. People were frustrated and frightened. There are a lot of scary parallels now."
The conservative writer David Frum said Mr. Beck's success "is a product of the collapse of conservatism as an organized political force, and the rise of conservatism as an alienated cultural sensibility."
His comments have prompted several bloggers to speculate recently that the TV host may have been promoting an armed revolt.
Jeffrey Jones, a professor of media and politics at Old Dominion University and author of the book "Entertaining Politics," said that Mr. Beck engages in "inciting rhetoric. People hear their values are under attack and they get worried. It becomes an opportunity for them to stand up and do something."
END of Excerpt
For the New York Times article in full: www.nytimes.com
By contrast, there were no critics quoted against Rachel Maddow in several stories about "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC:
# Brian Stelter's October 21, 2008 story on Maddow, "Fresh Face on Cable, Sharp Rise in Ratings," describing the high ratings for "her left-leaning news and commentary program." See: www.nytimes.com
# "Pundit in the Country," a soft magazine profile by Edward Lewine, in the October 19, 2008 edition of the magazine. Lewine chatted with Maddow about her country house and solicited answers to trivia about her favorite obscure liquor: www.nytimes.com
# A July 17, 2008 Maddow profile by Jacques Steinberg, when Maddow was on the eve of getting her MSNBC show, "Now in Living Rooms, the Host Apparent." Check: www.timeswatch.org
Not even the vitriolic Keith Olbermann could stir criticism in the Times, only admiration, in a November 2007 front-page story about MNSBC describing how his "special comments" attacking Bush's "criminality" had raised the network's ratings: www.timeswatch.org
An admiring July 2006 profile of Olbermann by Bill Carter claimed the MSNBC host was "able to redden the neck of the time period's king, Bill O'Reilly." Carter did eventually get into some details about Olbermann's "personal demons and implosions" before noting Olbermann had "apologized for the e-mail exchanges, saying he had been stupid and should have known better than to engage in such confrontations." See TimesWatch's take: www.timeswatch.org
For the latest evidence of bias in the New York Times, check in daily with TimesWatch: www.timeswatch.org
-- Brent Baker