2. Couric Praises Edwards' Liberal Stump Speech as "Quite Moving"
3. Jennings Called "Deserter" Charge "Reckless," But Relays "AWOL"
4. Upset at Rebuke of BBC, Reporters Suggest Bush & Blair Resign
Just as they did a week ago on the night of the New Hampshire primary, looking at exit polls from the Democratic primaries on Tuesday night, CBS's Bob Schieffer and NBC's Tim Russert contended the anti-Bush views of the voters, though they were of those motivated enough to vote in a Democratic primary, represented the wider electorate and portend danger ahead for the White House.
Schieffer noted that "these are just Democrats," but he nonetheless stressed after showing how most feel worse off financially, that "when it is this lopsided it gives you some insight into why John Kerry is actually leading President Bush now in some of these national polls." Schieffer maintained that the numbers have "to worry the Bush administration because it doesn't look very good," but he did acknowledge that "at this point in 1984 the polls showed that Gary Hart was going to beat Ronald Reagan."
On the NBC Nightly News, Tim Russert argued that "when we were in New Hampshire and Iowa, we talked about the way Democrats felt about the war, the economy, President Bush. We thought that if we went down south, or out to the west, it would be different. Not so." Russert ran through some exit poll numbers before expressing admiration for how they show "how united the base is in the Democratic Party about George Bush, about the war, about the economy."
Later, on MSNBC, Russert pronounced as "amazing" the uniformity of Democratic hostility to Bush, as if you'd expect something different from primary voters, and he found it noteworthy "how the Democratic Party has collectively come to an agreement that they do not want George Bush reelected." But the exit poll only surveyed those motivated enough to go out to vote in a primary, the most partisan Democrats, so wouldn't it be really amazing if they supported Bush?
The January 28 CyberAlert, the day after the New Hampshire primary, reported how citing exit poll numbers, some network reporters and analysts sought to portray the anti-Bush attitude of voters in New Hampshire's Democratic primary as indicative of widespread anger at Bush from the electorate in general. CBS's Bob Schieffer intoned: "These numbers are bad news for the White House...because four out of ten voters who cast ballots today were registered independents, which means dissatisfaction with Iraq and the economy is not just confined to Democrats." Newsweek's Howard Fineman argued: "If I was sitting in Karl Rove's chair tonight, I would be worried..." Running through opposition to the Iraq war, on CNBC Gloria Borger warned: "This is independent voters as well as Democrats, so that could spell some trouble on the horizon for George W. Bush." See: www.mediaresearch.org
-- On the 6:30pm EST CBS Evening News, Bob Schieffer asserted: "From South Carlina to Arizona, Democrats who went to these polls today had one thing in common: They are all worried about the economy. Now remember, these are Democrats, not Democrats and Republicans, just Democrats. But look at these numbers in the five states where we're conducting exit polls. In South Carolina, nearly half the voters [49 percent] said they are worse off financially than they were four years ago. Only 9 percent said they're better off. The same picture in Missouri: 46 percent worse off financially, ten percent better off. Oklahoma: 51 percent said they're worse off, only 11 percent said they're better off. Delaware: 40 percent worse off, only 12 percent said they're better off. And Arizona, 39 percent said they're worse off financially, only 13 percent said they're better off.
-- On the 7pm EST NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw wondered: "What about the Democratic Party base? It's been energized by the issues that these candidates have been talking about in a way that we haven't seen in the past several election cycles."
-- On MSNBC a few minutes later, a bit before 7:30pm EST, this exchange occurred between Brokaw and Russert, which the MRC's Brad Wilmouth caught:
Brokaw: "Tim, one of the things that we've learned today is that a lot of the issues that Howard Dean put on the table for the Democrats remain on the table in this very energized Democratic base across the country. I'm really struck by the uniformity of feelings from Iowa to New Hampshire, out of South Carolina and New Mexico, Oklahoma, wherever you go, the Democrats have strong feelings about the big issues of the day."
NBC's Katie Couric on Wednesday morning praised as "quite moving" John Edwards' South Carolina victory remarks, the umpteenth rendition of his standard stump speech designed to appeal to people's jealousies as he repeated his usual liberal mantra about "two different Americas" in health care and schools and how "we're going to build one America that works for everybody."
Couric soon revealed she was just channeling the views of liberal political operative, and former Clinton enabler, Dee Dee Myers, as she prompted Myers: "You were quite moved by that speech." And, without naming anyone, Couric insisted Edwards' diatribe got "positive reviews, even from conservatives." Myers made clear she was not moved by Edwards' speaking style or personal life story, but by his liberal politics as she maintained that he best represents how "Democrats like to think of themselves as being about...giving everybody an equal chance and lifting everybody up."
During the 8am half hour on the February 4 Today, NBC brought aboard Myers and Newsweek's Howard Fineman to discuss with Couric the Tuesday primary results. The relevant exchange:
Couric: "He gave quite a moving speech last night. Let's take a look and then we'll talk about it."
At the January 22 Democratic presidential debate, Peter Jennings described Michael Moore's allegation that George W. Bush was a "deserter" as "a reckless charge not supported by the facts." But in setting up a World News Tonight story on Tuesday night, Jennings didn't refrain from passing along, without any caveats, how "a number of Democrats have accused Mr. Bush of going AWOL during his National Guard service."
Jennings introduced a February 3 Terry Moran story: "In Washington today, the White House has been defending the President against criticism of his military record by some Democrats. A number of Democrats have accused Mr. Bush of going AWOL during his National Guard service, an accusation that first surfaced during the last presidential race."
Moran began with White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan proclaiming it "shameful" and "sad" that the charge is being brought up again. Moran explained how with their likely nominee, John Kerry, being a veteran the Democrats are pushing the Bush line hard and then he played a clip of DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe declaring on Sunday's This Week how he's looking forward to a debate in which "John Kerry, a war hero with a chest full of medals, is standing next to George Bush, a man who was AWOL in the Alabama National Guard."
After 30 years, Moran observed, "the facts murky and are in dispute." Nonetheless, he ran through how Bush entered the Air National Guard in 1968 after jumping to the head of the waiting list, in May of 1972 asked and was approved to be transferred to Alabama so he could work on a Senate campaign, but there's no record he ever showed up there and the commander says he never saw him. Moran noted that in talking to ABC on Tuesday, the commander, William Turnipseed, said he just doesn't know if Bush ever reported for service.
In 2000, Moran recalled, Bush said he was "a proud member of the Texas National Guard" and earned an honorable discharge. Moran concluded by pointing out: "Mr. Bush's honorable discharge came in October 1973 after records established that he did show up for duty in the Guard 19 time between November '72 and June '73. And Peter, two of his fellow workers on that 1972 campaign recall him leaving on weekends to do his Guard duty."
Newsweek's Michael Isikoff suggested to Dennis Miller on Monday night that it's "a little odd" that the finding that a BBC reporter "got something wrong," in claiming British Prime Minister Tony Blair knew statements about WMD in Iraq were inaccurate, led to a situation in which "the head of the BBC has to resign as a consequence," yet neither Blair or George Bush has resigned despite the consensus that they "were wrong" on WMD in Iraq.
Karen Tumulty, Isikoff's news magazine colleague at the competing Time magazine was equally eager to divert attention from the BBC's biased reporting. Lord Hutton last week concluded that the BBC reported "unfounded" claims about how Blair had "sexed-up" an intelligence dossier. The story became huge when the BBC's source, David Kelly, committed suicide.
On CNN's Reliable Sources on Sunday, Tumulty ominously warned: "The developments we've seen at the BBC in the last week should just bring a chill to the heart of every journalist on the planet. Because while you can certainly take issue with some of the techniques, some of the carelessness along the way, the fact is that the general thrust of what they were reporting is now looking like it was true."
So specifics and accuracy doesn't matter, just the big picture. Quite a low standard for Time -- and one that might explain a lot of Time's advocacy reporting over the years.
Matching Tumulty's attitude, the headline over an article in this week's Time displayed the magazine's disappointment in how Blair was found innocent of the scurrilous charge leveled by the BBC: "Did Blair Get Off Too Lightly?" Time's J.F.O. McAllister noted how "the BBC bosses had to quit because they had led their organization into trouble by trusting information from subordinates that turned out to be wrong," and suggested that Blair "may yet have to contemplate their example."
On the February 2 Dennis Miller show on CNBC, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth noticed, Isikoff contrasted the BBC chief's resignation with how neither Blair or Bush has resigned:
The day before, on the February 1 Reliable Sources, host Howard Kurtz raised the scolding of the BBC with Tumulty and Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Editor of the far-left The Nation magazine. Tumulty was soon echoing Vanden Heuvel.
Kurtz summarized the case: "I want to turn now to the BBC. A judicial report this week blaming the British Broadcasting Corporation for its reporting on the so-called 'sexed-up' intelligence dossier. And that resulted in the two top executives of BBC resigning, the reporter who did the story, Andrew Gilligan, resigning, and a massive walkout by many of the reporters there to protest those resignations. Katrina Vanden Heuvel, how much has the BBC been tarnished by this report that seemed to side with Tony Blair's government?"
Time's story in its February 9 edition matched Tumulty's agenda. The headline over the story by J.F.O. McAllister, which suggested that Blair may need to "contemplate" resigning: "Did Blair Get Off Too Lightly?" An excerpt:
While President Bush struggled with his problems related to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) last week, British Prime Minister Tony Blair faced his own, related test. An official inquiry into the suicide last year of government weapons expert David Kelly had produced widespread expectations that some blame would attach to the Prime Minister, perhaps enough to unseat him....
[Lord] Hutton saved most of his fire for BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan for making "very grave" and "unfounded" charges in a live radio broadcast last May after he met [David] Kelly. Gilligan reported that the government "probably knew" that a central claim in its dossier on Iraqi WMD -- that some were deployable in 45 minutes -- was false when the claim was inserted. Testimony to Hutton showed clearly that senior spies were responsible for originating and approving the 45-minute claim and believed it to be true. Hutton condemned the BBC's circle-the-wagons response after the government blasted Gilligan's story. The BBC's chairman, its director-general and Gilligan resigned, though they took shots at Hutton's report and comfort from a wide variety of commentators who called it a whitewash....
More controversial than Hutton's verdict on the BBC was his conclusion that the government had no "dishonorable, underhand or duplicitous" plot to reveal Kelly's name to reporters once Kelly had told his bosses at the Ministry of Defense that he had met Gilligan but had not said all the things the reporter had broadcast. Yet the diary of Blair's communications director, Alastair Campbell, shows that he was obsessed with outing Kelly, sure that this would "f___ Gilligan."...
Blair ended the week eager to "move on," a senior aide said. But those missing WMD will not leave him alone. Now that Hutton has pronounced the WMD dossier an honest mistake, pressure is growing, as it is in Washington, to investigate why it occurred. Blair rejects that idea. All the same, the BBC bosses had to quit because they had led their organization into trouble by trusting information from subordinates that turned out to be wrong. Blair, who accepted their resignations, may yet have to contemplate their example.
END of Excerpt
For the Time story in full: www.time.com
-- Brent Baker