2. ABC & CBS Morning Shows Hit Sean Hannity With Liberal Claims
3. Couric Raises Criticisms of Nancy, Ignores Them With Hillary
4. NBC Makes a "Friend of Bill" the New President of MSNBC
5. MRC Job Openings: News Analyst and Media Archivist
6. "Top Ten Good Things About Being Named George W. Bush"
Back on February 10, ABC's Terry Moran promised that on President Bush's service in the Air National Guard, "the issue is not going to go away." And more than a week later, despite ABC finding in its own poll that by two-to-one most do not care about the subject, ABC News is making sure it isn't going away -- even after the other networks have finally moved on.
CBS, CNN and NBC morning and evening shows on Monday raised the issue again, but by Tuesday they seemed to have moved on. Not ABC. On World News Tonight, John Cochran used Bush's trip to a military base as a cue to remind viewers how "the President did not mention his own service in the Guard." Cochran gave air time to DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe to hurl more charges, though Cochran did not how the White House believes "the public is now tired of what they call a very old story."
But not too old for Moran to press First Lady Laura Bush about it on Wednesday's World News Tonight. Moran warned that she had "harsh words" for McAuliffe "who has leveled the charge that her husband was AWOL at that time." When Mrs. Bush asserted that "I don't think it's fair to really lie about allegations about someone like the Democratic National Chairman did," despite the ludicrousness of the "AWOL" charge given George Bush was not on active duty and how the records released have proven he did show up for duty, Moran seemed uncomfortable with tagging McAuliffe as a liar. Moran demanded: "He 'lied'?"
Those two World News Tonight stories aired after ABC's own George Stephanopoulos, on Monday's Good Morning America, concluded that the issue was now moot. Co-host Charles Gibson asked him: "Has the White House put President Bush's military record issue to rest?" Stephanopoulos replied in the affirmative, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed:
Yes, now that the media have done his bidding for him.
A story posed by ABCNews.com last week reported how in the ABC News/Washington Post poll released on February 12, "Bush's National Guard duty during the Vietnam War lack traction: Americans by more than 2-to-1 -- 66 percent to 30 percent -- say it's not a legitimate issue in the election campaign." That night, Peter Jennings recited other findings about declining approval for President Bush, but not that one about declining approval for media priorities. (Two days later, on Saturday's World News Tonight, reporter Geoff Morrell finally cited the finding.)
More on the Tuesday and Wednesday World News Tonight stories:
-- Tuesday night, February 17: John Cochran, in a story on President Bush's visit to Ft. Polk in Louisiana shortly before troops from there, including members of the National Guard, were to be deployed to Iraq, pointed out how "the President did not mention his own service in the Guard. He did not have to, said one advisor. All he needed were pictures of him with Guard troops. Many of them, enthusiastic supporters."
-- Wednesday, February 18: Terry Moran traveled to California with Laura Bush to produce a piece on how she'll be used in the campaign to re-elect her husband. As the two sat in a room somewhere, Moran touted how, no doubt after some goading by Moran, "on this trip, for the first time, Mrs. Bush spoke out on the controversy surrounding the President's service in the National Guard decades ago, before she met him."
At that point, the story switched to video of Laura Bush talking to school kids, but without any audio, as viewers heard the voice of Peter Jennings command: "Come to me." Jennings noted the audio problems and promised to run the story again tomorrow, but I'd doubt that will occur since it looked like all viewers really missed was a couple of concluding sentences from Moran.
For the MRC's February 17 Media Reality Check by Rich Noyes, "Kerry's Partisan Partners in Smearing Bush: ABC, CBS and NBC Give Bush 'AWOL' Charge Double the 1992 Coverage of Clinton's Draft Dodging," see (in PDF): www.mediaresearch.org
The February 13 and 16 CyberAlerts featured multiple items about National Guard coverage. See: www.mediaresearch.org
Sean Hannity hit from the left on ABC and CBS. On Tuesday's Good Morning America, ABC co-host Charles Gibson pressed conservative radio talk show host Sean Hannity: "How can you rant about the deficit and then turn around and support the tax cuts?" Gibson also charged: "But when you equate liberalism with terrorism and despotism, that's going awfully far?" But Hannity never equated them -- his book's title, Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism, just lists them together as things to be defeated.
Wednesday on CBS's Early Show, co-host Hannah Storm also hit Hannity from the left, lecturing him about how "Democrats do see evil" since "they see evils such as the evils of poverty and that it's a matter of priorities in this country." In addition, she cited CBS polls highlighting claims that Bush exaggerated intelligence and is losing to John Kerry. But last October, when Storm interviewed leftist filmmaker Michael Moore, she failed to pose a single challenging question from the right.
[The MRC's Tim Graham submitted this item for CyberAlert.]
On the February 17 GMA, after discussing his differences with President Bush, Hannity suggested that Bush has "got to go out and actually make a better case of what he's done for the economy. Americans got two tax cuts under George Bush. They're going to get a tax increase under John Kerry, based on his own words. I think his tax cuts lessened the severity..." Gibson broke in: "How can you rant about the deficit and then turn around and support the tax cuts?" Hannity replied that the tax cuts have lessened the severity and length of the recession, and ultimately result in more tax revenue.
Gibson moved on: "You throw down the gauntlet very early in this book and you say evil exists. And I don't think anybody would disagree with that, evil exists. And then you say, 'terrorism, despotism, and liberalism, theses are the forces America must be concerned about in the War on Terror today,' and you call liberals appeasers. That's pretty strong stuff." After Hannity condemned recent attacks on Bush by Al Gore, Ted Kennedy, and Dennis Kucinich, Gibson replied: "But when you equate liberalism with terrorism and despotism that's going awfully far?" Hannity: "No, well, if you read the book that's not what I'm saying." His book's subtitle -- "Defeating Terrorism, Despotism and Liberalism" -- just lists them together as things to be defeated.
Gibson ended by suggesting that only conservatives -- certainly not "objective" journalists -- would be describing John Kerry as a liberal in the months ahead. When Hannity concluded, "I think that when the country looks at record, he's more liberal than Ted Kennedy you know. And you'll hear that a couple times," Gibson replied: "That's a theme we're going to hear from a number of people I think in conservative talk radio and perhaps from conservative politicians as well."
The next day, Wednesday, February 18, Hannity popped up on CBS's Early Show. Storm, MRC analyst Brian Boyd observed, disagreed with the thesis of Hannity's book: "You're saying the Democrats of today though, in how they view Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, is not the way conservatives do or the President. That it's not black and white, it's not a matter of good and evil." Hannity replied that Democrats are politicizing the war on terror. Storm stepped in to defend liberals: "But you could also argue that Democrats do see evil. That they see evils such as the evils of poverty and that it's a matter of priorities in this country."
Then she contended that the President has a credibility problem: "Let me ask you about the war in Iraq because it has politically polarized our country. In the latest CBS News poll 57 percent of Americans believe the Bush administration exaggerated intelligence about the weapons of mass destruction. Does the President have a credibility issue and is the White House addressing it effectively?" When Hannity replied, "The Democrats have gone out there and they have beaten this drum that 'the President lied, the President lied,' 'the President hyped intelligence,'" she insisted: "This is 57 percent of all Americans." When Hannity suggested WMDs might have been removed and sent to Syria, Storm quibbled: "But no one knows."
Storm concluded by highlighting how Kerry is leading in the polls, and how the Republicans will soon attack: "Forty-eight percent of voters said that they would vote for John Kerry in this latest poll as opposed to 43 percent for the President. How much of a concern is Kerry as a candidate to the Republicans? How do you think the White House will attack him?" Hannity replied: "This reminds me a lot of the '84 campaign in as much as there's two very distinct visions for the future of the country." Storm hit the negative-politics emphasis again: "And quickly, do you think because of that, that this campaign will be scorched earth? That it will be as ugly as promised?"
But on October 8 of last year, when Storm interviewed leftist filmmaker Michael Moore about his book, Dude, Where's My Country?, she didn't pose a single challenging question from the right. Instead of challenging Moore's wild take on Republicans as getting up to figure "what minority group they're going to screw today," she just floated along with whatever he had to say:
Storm: "What's happened to the democratic process? What do you think about the recall election and Arnold Schwarzenegger being Governor of California?"
Liberal complaints about Nancy Reagan are more newsworthy than Hillary Clinton's scandals? On Wednesday, Today co-host Katie Couric went out of her way to remind viewers of some of the criticisms lodged against Mrs. Reagan during the 1980s: "She was taken to task for wearing designer gowns and redecorating the White House during a recession. But her regular consultations with an astrologer raised the most eyebrows," Couric interjected during an otherwise positive interview with the former First Lady.
But in a similar interview Tuesday with New York Senator Hillary Clinton, Couric brought up none of the scandals or personal controversies that tainted her eight years in the White House. Instead, Couric asserted that Hillary "perhaps faced more challenges, professional and personal, than any other First Lady in history" -- as if none of those "challenges" were created by Bill and Hillary Clinton's own conduct.
[The MRC's Rich Noyes submitted this item for CyberAlert.]
Couric conducted interviews with five of America's seven living First Ladies for a President's Week series on Today. Monday, Laura Bush was the guest; Rosalyn Carter was the guest on Thursday with Betty Ford concluding the week on Friday. Barbara Bush and Lady Bird Johnson somehow escaped the clutches of NBC's bookers.
Couric's interview with Hillary Clinton on Tuesday ignored all of the personal and political scandals (cattle futures, the Rose Law firm records, the Lewinsky scandal, etc.) that surrounded her time as First Lady. Instead, she touted Clinton as an idealistic policymaker beleaguered by conservative critics, who were put off by the fact of her activism, as opposed to the content of her policies.
Couric began, as taken down by MRC analyst Geoff Dickens: "This morning on Day Two of our weeklong series, America's First Ladies, Hillary Rodham Clinton. She perhaps faced more challenges professional and personal than any other First Lady in history. Now three years after she left the White House, Hillary Rodham Clinton may wield more political power than her husband. Today she is the junior Senator from New York and though she's a highly visible presence on Capitol Hill it's nothing compared to the glare of the White House spotlight."
Couric's first question: "You're the first First Lady to become a U.S. Senator....What's the harder job?"
After reviewing Hillary's upbringing, Couric related how when Bill Clinton was Governor of Arkansas "she was also actively involved in policy, chairing commissions on health and education. It wasn't controversial then, but when she got to the White House it was a whole new ballgame."
She asked Hillary, "Every First Lady who has the job brings their unique set of values or talents to the job and you certainly tackled some things that, that no First Lady had before you. What made you decide to do that and, and were you trepidatious at all going into those, those areas? For example health care....Were you prepared for that backlash?"
Couric cast Hillary as a feminist pioneer unappreciated by the masses: "In many ways Hillary Rodham Clinton was a new breed of First Lady much like her role model Eleanor Roosevelt. During the campaign the Clintons promised two for the price of one. But some Americans wanted their money back, bristling at the notion of a First Lady who was too involved in policy."
Fast forward to Wednesday, when Couric interviewed Nancy Reagan. While most of the interview emphasized her positive accomplishments, such as the "Just Say No" anti-drug campaign, Couric made sure viewers were aware of how liberals disliked Mrs. Reagan in the 1980s: "Unfortunately some critics were saying no to Nancy Reagan. She was taken to task for wearing designer gowns and redecorating the White House during a recession. But her regular consultations with an astrologer raised the most eyebrows. Despite being voted Most Admired Woman in America three times during the '80s, Mrs. Reagan says living under a microscope was one of her biggest challenges."
Couric also brought up the subject of The Reagans, the disparaging CBS mini-series that was shuttled off to the Showtime cable movie channel in November. Couric did not tell Nancy Reagan that Couric herself had expressed hostility to CBS's decision to pull the movie, last fall asking: "Why such kid-gloves when it comes to President Reagan?"
On Wednesday, however, Couric asserted: "When it comes to Ronald Reagan it seems his legacy has been the subject of countless rewrites. Some have been flattering. The release of his speeches and personal letters to Nancy have enhanced his image. Others, though, have been sharply critical, most recently a CBS movie about the Reagans depicted the President as out of touch and Mrs. Reagan as difficult and domineering."
Nancy Reagan told Couric: "It was amazing how people wrote in and objected. I never saw it. I didn't want to see it. As I understand it I screamed all during it. I don't really yell at people."
In an interview with former Reagan campaign manager Ed Rollins, Couric implied that Ronald Reagan was benefitting from a double standard: "Why such kid-gloves when it comes to President Reagan?" she asked.
For more on Couric's take last year, see the November 7 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
NBC has hired a long-time "Friend of Bill" to take over as President of its ratings-challenged MSNBC. Rick Kaplan, who ran CNN from 1997 to 2000, after a multi-decade career with ABC News, had re-joined ABC News last year as Senior Vice President, the number two slot.
While serving as President of CNN, Kaplan played golf with President Clinton, stayed overnight in the Lincoln Bedroom and participated in a mock debate session with Al Gore. When he was Executive Producer of Nightline in 1992 he advised presidential candidate Bill Clinton on how to handle the Gennifer Flowers revelation and later as Executive Producer of World News Tonight he blocked anti-Clinton stories from getting onto that newscast.
During a commencement address Kaplan delivered while President of CNN, he complained that Ken Starr is "putting obsession ahead of the best interests of the nation" while Bill Clinton has had "extraordinary" achievements.
For a thorough and lengthy rundown of Kaplan's pro-Clinton, pro-liberal and anti-conservative activities over the years at ABC and CNN, see the June 10, 2003 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
Kaplan will need to do something extraordinary to improve MSNBC's numbers. Stephen Battaglio reported in Wednesday's New York Daily News: "So far this year, MSNBC is averaging 373,000 viewers in prime time, compared with CNN's 927,000 and Fox News' 1.6 million. Hardball is the channel's highest-rated show, with an average of 436,000 viewers." See: www.nydailynews.com
The MRC has two openings.
Please note: To save us all time, if you are not in the DC area already or do not plan to move here soon, please do not apply for these positions.
-- News Analyst. The Media Research Center (MRC), a non-profit foundation in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia which is the leading conservative group documenting liberal media bias, has an opening for a News Analyst in its News Analysis Division. News analysts review magazines and newspapers for biased stories and monitor television network news, entering summaries of news stories into a computerized database. News analysts also perform research tasks and contribute writing to the MRC's publications, including a weekly fax report and daily e-mail dispatch.
Candidates must have a thorough knowledge of current events, display a solid understanding of conservative reasoning on political issues, have an interest in the news media and demonstrate an ability to write clearly and concisely. A current events and news media personality identification quiz will be given to candidates at the time of an interview.
Candidates must work at the MRC's Alexandria, Virginia offices which are eight blocks from the King Street Metro stop on the Yellow and Blue lines. This is an entry-level position. Salary: Mid $20s.
To apply, fax resume to the attention of Brent Baker, the MRC's Vice President: (703) 683-9736. Or, e-mail your resume to: firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Assistant Archivist for Media Conversion. The Media Research Center (MRC), a non-profit foundation in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia, and the nation's leading conservative media watchdog, has an opening for an Assistant Archivist. As a part of the MRC's News Analysis Division, the Assistant Archivist will help facilitate the conversion of the foundation's extensive video archive to DVDs. This involves indexing the tape content; and burning, reviewing, and labeling the DVDs.
The media archive is the basis for all the Media Research Center's research and publications. Therefore, candidates must have an exacting eye for detail, be organized, able to maintain meticulous logs, and keep dependable hours. Familiarity with the news media a plus. This project is cutting-edge, so experience with computers is a must and an interest in technology is preferred.
Candidates must work at the MRC's Alexandria, Virginia, offices eight blocks from the King Street Metro stop on the Yellow and Blue lines. This is an entry-level position. Approved flex hours are possible with a weekend day included. Salary: Mid $20s.
To apply, fax resume to the attention of Kristina Sewell, the MRC's Research Associate: (703) 683-9736. Or, e-mail your resume to email@example.com
For more about the MRC, check: www.mrc.org
# If you are not in the DC area already or do not plan to move here soon, please do not apply for these positions.
From the February 17 Late Show with David Letterman, as presented by George W. Bush of Homeworth, Ohio, the "Top Ten Good Things About Being Named George W. Bush." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. Read my lips: I never pay taxes
9. I receive courtesy calls whenever Cheney has a heart attack
8. I always get the Presidential Suite at Motel 6 in downtown Cleveland
7. After sex, my wife hums "Hail to the Chief"
6. Whenever I get bored, I call the Texas Department of Corrections and have them execute a guy
5. Last week, I used an improperly addressed Halliburton contribution to buy myself a trampoline
4. I've been cleaning up on Denny's "Presidents Eat Free" promotion
3. Amusing late night phone calls from a drunk Tony Blair
2. People are pleasantly surprised that I'm not an idiot
1. The President offered me ten grand for a copy of my military records
For a picture of the George W. Bush of Ohio, see the Wahoo Gazette for the February 17 show: www.cbs.com
-- Brent Baker