2. Gay Marriage a "Wedge" Issue and "Red Meat for Conservatives"
3. CNN's Brown, But Not Zahn, Ignores NAACP's Vicious Anti-Bush Ad
4. Nets Ignore How Senate Report Discredited Joe Wilson's Claims
5. FNC Picks Up on How Senate Report Affirms Iraq Help to al-Qaeda
Corrections: The July 12 CyberAlert referred repeatedly to "Ron Reagan Jr." He's not a junior. His name is Ronald Prescott Reagan. His father's name was Ronald Wilson Reagan. The June 30 CyberAlert reported how Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw spent time with the "Army's 1st Cavalry Division," but on a few occasions misspelled "cavalry" as "calvary."
Arguing they "show how much trouble the President's in politically," ABC's Terry Moran on Tuesday night contended that, in a visit to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, President George W. Bush delivered "sharply personal attacks" on Democratic contender John Kerry. But the two soundbites from Bush at a rally which ABC played hardly matched Moran's description as particularly sharp personal attacks, and certainly were no more personal or sharp than the standard anti-Bush stump speech given by Kerry, who just last week suggested that Dick Cheney is the real President.
In Moran's first clip, Bush asserted: "We stand for institutions like marriage and family which are the foundations of our society. [edit jump] Yet on these positions that so many Americans share, my opponent is on the other side." The second clip of Bush played by Moran: "Members of Congress should not vote to send troops into battle and then vote against funding them and then brag about it."
Moran began his July 13 World News Tonight piece by noting how Bush talked about gay marriage in his trip to Marquette, Michigan: "In this rural, socially-conservative area, Mr. Bush sought once again to portray his Democratic rival as too liberal on a range of issues including gay marriage."
Moran proceeded to say that Bush is attacking Kerry on social issues since Bush has a "big weakness" on the economy in Michigan which has lost 200,000 jobs since Bush was elected. After giving a local Democratic official time to insist that local voters care much more about jobs than social issues, Moran concluded: "The sharply personal attacks Mr. Bush himself is launching against Senator Kerry are unusual for an incumbent President at this point in the campaign and they show how much trouble the President's in politically and, Peter, how close and hard-fought this one's going to be."
Bush will be fighting with one hand tied behind his back if he has refs like Moran rebuking him for such mild comments about the opposition.
Are there any liberal "wedge issues" or any issues which are "red meat" for liberals? Or, for that matter, any liberals with a stake in the gay marriage debate? A day after the NBC Nightly News passed along how John Kerry sees gay marriage as "a political wedge," NBC's Chip Reid on Tuesday night described is as "an issue that has become political red meat for conservatives." In fact, in his story he found a lot of opportunities to use conservative labels, but none to apply a liberal tag.
Reid relayed how opponents of a same-sex marriage constitutional amendment believe Republican Senate leaders are holding a vote on it to make the Democratic presidential ticket put their opposition on the record and thus "risk alienating independent voters and conservative Democrats." Reid played a soundbite of Senator Ted Kennedy declaring that "the rabid, reactionary religious right has rarely looked more ridiculous," followed by Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution who contended that "this is all about firming up the conservative political base of the President and the Republican Party." Reid then concluded: "Senators on both sides say that for now the gay marriage amendment is all but dead. But if conservative Republicans have their way, as a political issue, its life has barely begun."
On the July 12 NBC Nightly News, Kelly O'Donnell passed along how "Kerry also believes marriage is between a man and woman, but he rejects a change to the Constitution and sees this issue as a political wedge." She then concluded: "Values have long been a Republican theme. While they label Kerry out of the mainstream, Democrats call Bush's set of values divisive, in a battle of both content and volume in a reach for undecided voters."
On Tuesday night, anchor Brian Williams teased the July 13 NBC Nightly News: "Marriage politics. A hot button issue, gay marriage. Is it being used as a political club in the race for the White House?"
Williams led the broadcast, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Good evening. A lot of same-sex couples in this country see it as a way to be legally married like other couples, but some see it another way, as an attack on the institution of marriage itself. Not surprisingly, with those kinds of emotions involved, it's now a hot button political issue, part of the fight over values in this country. The Constitution doesn't define marriage, but some believe it should. For now, the fight is helping to define both sides. And it played out today in the U.S. Senate. We begin here tonight with NBC's Chip Reid."
Reid began: "In Marquette, Michigan, today, President Bush firing up his base on same-sex marriage, an issue that has become political red meat for conservatives."
For CNN's NewsNight on Monday night anchor Aaron Brown aired a piece by Bruce Morton about how President Bush snubbed the NAACP by refusing to speak at their convention this week. Morton gave two soundbites to NAACP President Kweisi Mfume to denounce Bush and while Morton quoted how Bush defended his action by pointing out how "you've heard the rhetoric and the names they've called me," Morton failed to clue in viewers as to the specifics of that anti-Bush hostility. Morton's story also ran on Inside Politics, but CNN's Paula Zahn Tonight, the MRC's Ken Shepherd noticed, instead ran a story by Joe Johns which made Bush's rejection of the NAACP invitation seem more reasonable. He played a clip of the NAACP's vicious anti-Bush ad from 2000 which equated his opposition to a hate crimes bill with condoning murder.
In the ad, which showed video of a chain being dragged by a pick-up truck, the daughter of James Byrd, the man murdered by being dragged down a road, asserted: "So when Governor George W. Bush refused to support hate crimes legislation, it was like my father was killed all over again."
In discussing Bush and the NAACP in the panel segment on Monday night's Special Report with Brit Hume, FNC played back the entire 2000 NAACP ad.
Aaron Brown set up the July 12 NewsNight story: "Four years ago, candidate George W. Bush, a new sort of Republican he said, spoke to the national convention of the nation's oldest civil rights group, the NAACP. He did not go there expecting to win a majority of black votes. Republicans don't. He went to send a message to the delegates, it seemed, and to those who were watching a still largely unknown candidate. He hadn't spoken to the group since and won't this week at their national convention, which says something about both the President and the NAACP. Here's CNN's Bruce Morton."
Morton began: "The NAACP, 95 years old, is meeting in Philadelphia. President Bush campaigns in Pennsylvania often, including last week, but he won't speak to the civil rights group. He did in 2000 when he was running, but hasn't as President. NAACP President, Kweisi Mfume, says he wrote asking for meetings in 2001, '02, and '03, but-"
Joe Johns, on CNN's Paula Zahn Now on Monday night, ran many of the same soundbites, but added the mean-spirited and hateful NAACP ad.
Zahn introduced the story: "President Bush is not speaking at this week's NAACP convention, and now the civil rights group is fighting to get him out of the White House. During a speech yesterday, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond said many African-Americans are, quote, 'ready to turn anger into action to work for regime change here at home.' It is, the, White House said a scheduling conflict kept the President from attending the convention. But on Friday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan spoke about the President's frosty relationship with the group. He said, quote, 'The current leadership of the NAACP has certainly made some rather hostile political comments about the President over the past few years. But the President is going to reach out to everyone in the African-American community and ask for their vote, based on his record and his vision for the country.'" Our Joe Johns has a look at the bad blood between the president and the NAACP."
Johns began: "This is the fourth year the President has declined the group's invitation."
Zahn proceeded to discuss the subject with Johns and then brought aboard the liberal Farai Chideya and conservative Michael Massie to talk about it.
The full text of the audio for the NAACP ad in 2000: "I'm Renee Mullins, James Byrd's daughter. On June 7, 1998, in Texas, my father was killed. He was beaten, chained and then dragged three miles to his death -- all because he was black. So when Governor George W. Bush refused to support hate crimes legislation, it was like my father was killed all over again. Call George W. Bush and tell him to support hate crimes legislation. We won't be dragged away from our future."
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report released on Friday discredited Joseph Wilson's claim that his wife, a CIA operative, had nothing to do with the decision to send him to Niger to check claims that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium and that the report determined that what he found actually backed up the statement made by President Bush in his State of the Union address about Iraq's quest. But since the Washington Post on Saturday outlined the explosive revelations in the committee's report released on Friday, few media outlets have bothered to update viewers on the serious doubts raised about Wilson's claims which the media so eagerly publicized over the past year.
Last year, Wilson earned a lot of publicity when he complained about how someone in the White House supposedly told columnist Bob Novak the name of his wife who works at the CIA, a revelation he portrayed as an intimidation tactic, and again in May this year when he wrote a book denouncing the Bush administration's Iraq policy and alleged misuse of intelligence. Plus, in between and since, the media have offered regular updates on the Justice Department's probe of who revealed the name of his wife.
NBC has shown the most interest in publicizing his claims, but none in reporting the fresh disclosures which undermine him.
The July 21, 2003 NBC Nightly News, for instance, led with Andrea Mitchell on the charge by Wilson, who claimed to have disproved the Niger uranium story, that he is "now the subject of a smear campaign by senior administration officials" who leaked that his wife is a CIA operative. Today featured the Mitchell story the next morning: "Former Ambassador Joe Wilson, one of the first to debunk the Iraq-Niger uranium link almost a year before the State of the Union speech....Now the retired diplomat tells NBC News the administration is striking back. Leaking his wife's covert job at the CIA to reporters."
Last September, the networks went into a frenzy over Wilson. An excerpt from the Tuesday, September 30, 2003 CyberAlert:
The networks entered full scandal mode on Monday with the evening shows leading for a second straight night with the news that the Justice Department was investigating who in the administration back in July told columnist Bob Novak a CIA operatives's name, though stories conflicted on whether the wife of Joe Wilson, the man who since July has been on a personal PR crusade to undermine President Bush's State of the Union line about Iraq seeking uranium in Africa, was an "agent," an "operative" or a "covert" operative, whether the leak came from "senior administration officials," "top White House officials" or just "White House officials" and, despite Wilson on Monday morning having specifically admitted he went too far in accusing Karl Rove, both CBS and NBC relayed Wilson's naming of Rove.
The hype began Sunday night when CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts led the show: "The Justice Department tonight is investigating whether to launch a criminal probe of the White House after the CIA complained someone at 1600 Pennsylvania may have leaked the classified identity of an agency operative. If those allegations are true, whoever is responsible for the leak could be headed to jail for ten years."
Over on ABC's World News Tonight/Sunday, anchor Terry Moran intoned: "Tonight, the Bush White House is facing a potential criminal investigation. ABC News has learned the Justice Department has launched a preliminary probe into charges that top White House officials leaked the identity of an undercover CIA agent. That's a serious violation of federal law...."
Fast forward to Monday night and NBC's Jim Miklaszewski offered this warning: "If tried and convicted, the leakers could get ten years in prison. But the political fallout could be much worse for the White House whose credibility on Iraq is already on the line."
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann teased his Countdown show with the most derisive characterization of White House action: "The Washington Post reports not only did the White House out an undercover CIA agent as political revenge, but it tried six different reporters before it found one willing to help."
An excited Aaron Brown proposed at the top of Monday's NewsNight on CNN: "It seems like the good old days, doesn't it? Or perhaps the bad old days depending on your point of view." Brown explained: "There were calls in Washington today for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate the White House." Brown conceded: "It is, of course, not likely to happen. The country seemed to have its fill of special prosecutors during the Clinton years but it is an interesting argument. Can the administration be trusted to investigate itself over the outing of a CIA agent? We suspect the answer, as it so often does, depends on who you voted for."
After "the Whip," Brown set up the first of three stories on the subject: "We begin tonight with a dark corner of a murky place with a lot to learn and a long way to go. There ought to be a better way of characterizing the affair brewing in Washington over the CIA operative, her husband, the White House and the war but there isn't not yet, certainly nothing quick and snappy like scandal or cover-up or anything with a 'gate' in it, though at the end of the day, one day it may turn out to be all of the above or nothing at all. So far we can only say two things for certain. There is clearly growing political dimensions to this and there are still far more questions than there are answers."...
END of Excerpt of previous CyberAlert
For the September 30 item in full: www.mediaresearch.org
MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann has yet to update its viewers, but its May 4 edition featured a segment with Wilson, which MSNBC's announcer plugged at the time: "Next on Countdown: Blowing the cover of a CIA operative can be a deadly mistake. Joseph Wilson claims the White House did just that to his wife. Now, Keith goes one-on-one with him about his explosive new book where he points fingers and names names."
About the only network show the MRC analysis team has seen mention how the Senate report undermines Wilson's premises: An item which validated the "Stories you won't find on any other Sunday show" title for a segment of Fox News Sunday. On the July 11 show, the MRC's Megan McCormack observed, host Chris Wallace informed his viewers:
Another mention came on Tuesday's Wolf Blitzer Reports, but in story about the status of the leak probe. David Ensor, however, ignored how the Senate report questioned the assumption that Iraq did not seek uranium in Africa, so only half credit to CNN:
Other than that, I believe FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume has also mentioned the development (in a panel discussion), and MSNBC's Scarborough Country may have too, but that's about it even though conservative have picked up on it, including Rush Limbaugh on his show on Tuesday prompted by a National Review Online piece I've excerpted below.
But first, an excerpt from the top reporter Susan Schmidt's overlooked July 10 article, "Plame's Input Is Cited on Niger Mission: Report Disputes Wilson's Claims on Trip, Wife's Role." The excerpt:
Former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, dispatched by the CIA in February 2002 to investigate reports that Iraq sought to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program with uranium from Africa, was specifically recommended for the mission by his wife, a CIA employee, contrary to what he has said publicly.
Wilson last year launched a public firestorm with his accusations that the administration had manipulated intelligence to build a case for war. He has said that his trip to Niger should have laid to rest any notion that Iraq sought uranium there and has said his findings were ignored by the White House.
Wilson's assertions -- both about what he found in Niger and what the Bush administration did with the information -- were undermined yesterday in a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report.
The panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson's assertions and even the government's previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address.
Yesterday's report said that whether Iraq sought to buy lightly enriched "yellowcake" uranium from Niger is one of the few bits of prewar intelligence that remains an open question. Much of the rest of the intelligence suggesting a buildup of weapons of mass destruction was unfounded, the report said.
The report turns a harsh spotlight on what Wilson has said about his role in gathering prewar intelligence, most pointedly by asserting that his wife, CIA employee Valerie Plame, recommended him.
Plame's role could be significant in an ongoing investigation into whether a crime was committed when her name and employment were disclosed to reporters last summer.
Administration officials told columnist Robert D. Novak then that Wilson, a partisan critic of Bush's foreign policy, was sent to Niger at the suggestion of Plame, who worked in the nonproliferation unit at CIA. The disclosure of Plame's identity, which was classified, led to an investigation into who leaked her name.
The report may bolster the rationale that administration officials provided the information not to intentionally expose an undercover CIA employee, but to call into question Wilson's bona fides as an investigator into trafficking of weapons of mass destruction. To charge anyone with a crime, prosecutors need evidence that exposure of a covert officer was intentional.
The report states that a CIA official told the Senate committee that Plame "offered up" Wilson's name for the Niger trip, then on Feb. 12, 2002, sent a memo to a deputy chief in the CIA's Directorate of Operations saying her husband "has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity." The next day, the operations official cabled an overseas officer seeking concurrence with the idea of sending Wilson, the report said.
Wilson has asserted that his wife was not involved in the decision to send him to Niger....
The report also said Wilson provided misleading information to The Washington Post last June. He said then that he concluded the Niger intelligence was based on documents that had clearly been forged because "the dates were wrong and the names were wrong."
"Committee staff asked how the former ambassador could have come to the conclusion that the 'dates were wrong and the names were wrong' when he had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports," the Senate panel said. Wilson told the panel he may have been confused and may have "misspoken" to reporters. The documents -- purported sales agreements between Niger and Iraq -- were not in U.S. hands until eight months after Wilson made his trip to Niger....
Wilson said that a former prime minister of Niger, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, was unaware of any sales contract with Iraq, but said that in June 1999 a businessman approached him, insisting that he meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Niger and Iraq -- which Mayaki interpreted to mean they wanted to discuss yellowcake sales. A report CIA officials drafted after debriefing Wilson said that "although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to UN sanctions on Iraq."
According to the former Niger mining minister, Wilson told his CIA contacts, Iraq tried to buy 400 tons of uranium in 1998....
END of Excerpt
For the Washington Post story in full: www.washingtonpost.com
FNC on Monday night explored another area of the report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that other media outlets have skipped: Saddam Hussein-controlled Iraq's role in helping terrorists. On the July 12 Special Report with Brit Hume, Bret Baier reported how "sixty-six pages of the report fall under the heading 'Iraq's Links to Terrorism'" and in it, Baier related, "multiple, credible sources are cited that Iraq provided al-Qaeda with various kinds of training, combat, bomb-making, along with chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear training, backing up public and private statements by former CIA director George Tenet." Baier pointed out: "The details in the report seem to shoot down at least two of former White House counter-terrorism director Richard Clarke's bold claims."
MRC analyst Megan McCormack noticed the story, which fill-in anchor Brian Wilson introduced: "There's been a lot of emphasis on the negative aspects of the Senate intelligence committee report on U.S. intelligence before the war in Iraq, the parts that show what the Senators believe the intelligence community got wrong. But there's another section of the report about the pre-war intelligence that was right. Fox News Pentagon correspondent Bret Baier reports."
Baier began: "Almost all of the media coverage on the Senate intelligence committee's report about pre-war assessments by the CIA has focused on how harshly critical it is on CIA analysts. However, Friday the acting director pointed to one positive view."
Don't count on seeing that kind of story elsewhere given how much the other networks have invested in the storyline that Iraq had nothing to do with al-Qaeda.
-- Brent Baker