Borger Spins Democrat's Corruption Into Bad News for Both Parties --5/23/2006
2. NBC and CBS Promote "Profile in Courage Award" to Murtha
3. NY Times Publisher Goes on a Left-Wing Rant at Graduation
4. ABC Makes Gibson Solo Anchor: He Sees World Through Liberal Prism
Gloria Borger concluded her Monday CBS Evening News story on the FBI's weekend confiscation of cash from a freezer in Louisiana Democratic Congressman William Jefferson's home by declaring a pox on both parties: "At a time when 77 percent of the American public believes that all members of Congress take bribes, Congressman Jefferson's troubles help no one in either party." Unlike ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas and NBC anchor Campbell Brown who noted Jefferson's party affiliation in their story introductions, CBS's Bob Schieffer managed to set up Borger's report without identifying Jefferson's party: "The government says FBI agents videotaped Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson taking $100,000 in cash from an informant and later found $90,000 in his home freezer." Borger did subsequently identify Jefferson as a Democrat.
[This item was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Schieffer set up the May 22 CBS Evening News story:
Gloria Borger soon outlined:
After relaying how Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist expressed concern about the FBI searching the office of a Member of Congress, Borger concluded from Capitol Hill:
On Monday's Today, the MRC's Geoff Dickens noticed, NBC's Ann Curry also avoided listing Jefferson's party affiliation:
The NBC and CBS morning shows on Monday championed the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library's awarding of its annual "Profile in Courage Awards" going to Democratic Congressman John Murtha for the "courage" to denounce the Iraq war and Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora for the "courage" to work to expose mistreatment of detainees. On Today, Katie Couric declared that the two match the "definition of courage" before she tossed softballs to the two honorees: "Why was it so important for you, Congressman Murtha to stand up and speak your mind?" She empathized: "Congressman Murtha you did take a lot of grief from the Bush administration for making this speech, Republicans in Congress for making this speech. Some people even suggested you didn't deserve the two Purple Hearts and Bronze Star you, you were awarded during the Vietnam War. How difficult was it for you personally in the aftermath of standing up and, and, and speaking your mind?"
Over on CBS's The Early Show, Julie Chen proposed toe Murtha: "Your act of courage was seen last fall when you spoke out against the war, after voting for it. Was that a difficult decision for you?" Like Couric, Chen sympathized: "Congressman Murtha you spoke about the fallout that you suffered, the criticism that came out. It was actually surprising that some were trying to attack your past heroic efforts, fighting the Vietnam War, serving for 37 years in the Marine Corps. You were a decorated soldier, you had two Purple Heart awards and the Bronze Star. Were you surprised by the criticism that came out?"
The awards, overseen by Caroline Kennedy, regularly honor liberals and others for advancing a liberal cause. For instance, Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker won for imposing a state income tax and New Jersey Governor James Florio was honored for pushing for more gun control. Not every winner advanced a liberal cause, but none ever won, since the 1990 inception of the award, for an explicitly conservative policy. For the list of winners: www.jfklibrary.org
Pre-break plug at 7:52am: "You know I sometimes like to look up the definition of sort of often used words and I was looking up the definition of courage and I think the fourth one is applicable to a segment coming up. It's 'mental or moral strength enabling one to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty firmly and resolutely.' Coming up Caroline Kennedy is going to introduce us, Matt, to two men who are definitely the definition of courage and you'll see why."
At the top of the 8am half hour: "Coming up in this half hour we're gonna be talking about the Profile In Courage Awards. John F. Kennedy won a Pulitzer Prize for his book of the same name a half century ago honoring eight U.S. senators who risked their political careers to actually stand up for what was right. Now the Profile In Courage Awards are handed out every year to public servants who have followed that same road. Caroline Kennedy will join us with this year's winners in just a few minutes. Hi Caroline."
Couric set up the eventual segment with Caroline Kennedy and the two honorees in Boston: "The John F. Kennedy Profile In Courage Awards are given every year to public servants who have taken great political risk to stand up for what they believe is right. The awards are named for President Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize-winning book Profiles In Courage, which believe it or not, was first published 50 years ago. Today Caroline Kennedy will present this year's awards to Democratic Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania and former U.S. Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora at the JFK Library in Boston, Massachusetts. Good morning to all of you."
-- "And I know that Congressman Murtha you have long been a staunch supporter of the military and of, of national, of the national defense. You're a highly decorated Vietnam veteran but last November you really stunned the establishment for calling for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. And we should mention this was prior to the American public sort of seeing a shift in their views on the Iraq war. Why was it so important for you, Congressman Murtha to stand up and speak your mind?"
-- "But Congressman Murtha you did take a lot of grief from the Bush administration for making this speech, Republicans in Congress for making this speech. Some people even suggested you didn't deserve the two Purple Hearts and Bronze Star you, you were awarded during the Vietnam War. How difficult was it for you personally in the aftermath of standing up and, and, and speaking your mind? How difficult was it to deal with the criticism?"
-- "Congressman I want to get to, to Mr. Mora but I want to ask you really quickly, you know, you've called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, again last week and yet there was a swearing-in this weekend of Iraq's first full term government since Saddam Hussein and, and President Bush is calling it a turning point. Do you think that no progress is being made there politically?"
-- "Mr. Mora I know that you fought an internal battle within the Pentagon for two years. You were very worried about the interrogation tactics being used against terror suspects particularly in Guantanamo Bay but you were really met with cold indifference, weren't you, at the Pentagon? Why was it so important for you to keep hammering away at this issue?"
-- "I know Gua-, I know that the Abu Ghraib story broke two years later but I'm just curious when you were in a position to do something why didn't you resign and go public? Wouldn't that have been the ultimate act of courage?"
-- "Meanwhile Caroline do you find in the current political climate it is harder or easier to find two such people as the ones you're honoring today?"
-- "Well Caroline Kennedy it's always a pleasure to do this with you every year. Thanks so much. Congressman John Murtha, Alberto Moro, Mora rather. Congratulations to both of you."
(Oddly, in an on-screen graphic, CBS placed their three guests in Quincy, Massachusetts. While it's certainly true that a lot of institutions which are not in Boston are often said to be in Boston, such as Harvard University, MIT and Boston College, the JFK Presidential Library actually is in Boston and not Quincy.)
A transcript of the interview:
Julie Chen: "Caroline, let me begin with you by explaining what this award is all about."
As keynote commencement speaker, New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. "apologized" to graduates at the State University of New York at New Paltz on Sunday for the failure of his generation to stop the Iraq War and to sufficiently promote "fundamental human rights, be it the rights of immigrants to start a new life, the right of gays to marry or the rights of women to choose."
Paul Kirby of Kingston's Dail Freeman newspaper quoted from Sulzberger's address, which he begins with a facetious "apology" to the class for being part of the generation that let them down due to insufficient liberal activism:
He went on to lament that his generation "had seen the horror and futility of war and smelled the stench of government corruption. Our children, we vowed, would never know that. So, well, I am sorry."
Some more from Sulzberger: "It wasn't supposed to be this way. You weren't supposed to be graduating in an America fighting a misbegotten war in a foreign land. You weren't supposed to be graduating into a world where we are still fighting for fundamental human rights, be it the rights of immigrants to start a new life, the right of gays to marry or the rights of women to choose."
Kirby reported: "Sulzberger added the graduates weren't supposed to be let into a world 'where oil still drives policy and environmentalists have to relentlessly fight for every gain. You weren't. But you are and I am sorry for that.'"
ABC News on Tuesday morning announced that they have selected Good Morning America co-host Charles Gibson to replace Elizabeth Vargas as solo anchor of World News Tonight, starting on Memorial Day. (When Vargas returns from maternity leave in the fall, she will just co-anchor 20/20. Gibson will continue to co-host GMA on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays through the end of June.) When he hosted the 2004 town-hall style debate between President Bush and John Kerry, Gibson chose a balanced set of audience questions that equally represented liberal and conservative concerns, but as a frequent fill-in on World News Tonight and on Good Morning America, over the years Gibson himself has otherwise rarely strayed from the media elite's liberal template.
For the announcement from ABC News: www.abcnews.go.com
After the news broke this morning, the MRC's Rich Noyes quickly cobbled together some Gibson material from the MRC's archive, starting with a Thursday, October 7, 2004 Media Reality Check issued the day before Gibson was set to moderate a presidential debate:
Charlie Gibson, ABC's Liberal Question Man Friday's Debate Moderator Loved July's Democratic Convention but Scolded "Icy" Tone of VP Debate
Four years ago, town-hall style debate moderator Jim Lehrer approved mostly liberal-leaning questions for undecided voters to ask of Al Gore and George W. Bush. This time around, ABC's Charles Gibson will reign over the debate featuring citizen questions, and his record as a questioner on Good Morning America shows his embrace of liberal policy positions, disdain of harsh rhetoric from candidates, and a warm spot for Democratic theatrics:
- Ruing Costly Tax Cuts. On January 21 of this year, the morning after President Bush in his State of the Union address asked Congress to extend his tax cuts, Gibson confronted White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card with the standard liberal complaint: "The President last night called for making the tax cuts permanent. Is that, in a sense, making deficits in the hundreds of billions of dollars permanent?"
- George W. Bush's "Obscene" Fundraising. Gibson's Good Morning America bent over backwards to promote John McCain during his run against Bush in 2000, hosting him far more than all of his GOP primary rivals combined. Gibson seemed especially infatuated with McCain's efforts to further regulate free speech, inviting the Senator to condemn Bush's superior fundraising in an October 12, 1999 appearance: "You have been pushing campaign finance reform for quite some time....Given the fact that it is so important, what does it say about the system when one candidate raises more than $50 million? Is that obscene?"
- Clinton Too Conservative. In a June 4, 1999 town meeting, Gibson scolded President Clinton for being timid on gun control: "The polls have shown that this country would accept registration of firearms, and yet we don't do that and we're not fighting about regulation of guns. We regulate every other consumer product out there." A year later, on the May 12, 2000 Good Morning America, Clinton returned to hear Gibson tell him his efforts weren't sufficient: "By my count, we have more states rejecting new gun control legislation than have passed it. We have 15 states that have passed prohibitions on cities suing gun manufacturers. That hardly seems like progress."
- No Compassion on the Right. "Bush is using this term 'compassionate conservative' as he campaigns, which is an interesting juxtaposition of two seemingly contradictory terms," Gibson complained to New York Times columnist William Safire back in November 1999.
- Jazzed by Democrats. After the first night of the Democrats' convention this year, Gibson was stirred: "People were juiced like I don't think I've seen at a convention ever before. This place really was moving last night." Four mornings later, after Kerry spoke, Gibson led the cheers: "For those who doubted John Kerry could pull off a stirring speech, doubts dispelled. For those who doubted John Kerry could unite a traditionally fractious party, doubts dispelled."
- Upbraiding Any Negativity. Gibson might react badly if Bush decides to go after Kerry's dovish Senate record. Just Wednesday, the morning after the VP debate, Gibson was displeased with the negative tone. "Icy last night. It was icy in that room, two guys sitting side-by-side, throwing bombshells at one another," he groused.
- Anti-war posters. "I grew up in the Vietnam era, which is probably one of the signal events of my life and I think affected everybody of my generation. And we used to have a little framed sign hanging in our bedroom, my wife and I, that said, 'War is not good for children and other living things,' and I believe that. So I don't like covering war and I hate to see them occur." -- Gibson on CNN's Larry King Live, July 2, 2003.
END Reprint of 2004 Media Reality Check
That's online at: www.mrc.org
Now some more recent liberal outbursts from Gibson:
# "Obscene" Oil Profits. Just two weeks ago (May 8), Gibson got in the face of ConocoPhillips Chairman and CEO James Mulva, condemning oil company profits: "The estimates are that the six large U.S. [oil] companies will have a total of $135 billion in profits for the year 2006. Don't consumers have a right to be angry?...The public looks at a total of $135 billion over the year, that's larger than the gross domestic product of Israel, and says isn't that an obscene amount?" For full details: www.mrc.org
# Bush not a uniter, Democrats have tried to reach out. Gibson during live coverage before President Bush's State of the Union address, January 31, 2006: "He [President Bush] tries to unite but, of course, a lot of Democrats feel this has not been a uniting President. They have gone down that road before, trying to work with the President and, of course, the old expression is, 'Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me more than once, fool me twice or ten times, shame on me.'" For full details: www.mrc.org
# Must raise taxes to pay for Iraq I. Gibson following an interview with Senator Clinton, September 7, 2005 Good Morning America: "Just before we went on the air, Diane and Robin, I asked her [Hillary Clinton] -- given the fact that it's going to cost so much for recovery and with what we're spending in Iraq -- whether we're not going to have to raise taxes." For full details: www.mrc.org
# Must raise taxes to pay for Iraq II. Gibson to White House counselor Dan Bartlett on Good Morning America, September 15, 2005: "Are you going to maintain that we can pay for this, we can pay for the war in Iraq, and we can pay for the rising healthcare costs in this country without raising taxes? These are astronomical dollars we're talking about that will cost the federal treasury." For more: www.mrc.org
# Restoring Constitution = Legislating from the Bench? After President Bush named John Roberts to the Supreme Court, Gibson seemed baffled about how a strict constructionist could support the overturning of the pro-abortion Roe v. Wade decision. On the July 21, 2005 Good Morning America, he challenged Attorney General Alberto Gonzales: "The President has said John Roberts would not legislate from the bench. He didn't want a nominee who would legislate from the bench. Does that mean that this will be a justice who will not be overturning settled law, i.e. Roe v. Wade?" Details: www.mrc.org
# The "Extreme Conservative" Pope. Just two weeks before he became Pope Benedict XVI, Gibson on the April 4, 2005 Good Morning America suggested Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's extremist views would disqualify him from the post: "German-born Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is also mentioned, but his extreme conservative views and his age might be his undoing when votes are cast in the Sistine Chapel."
Look for more next week on Gibson from our archive.
-- Brent Baker