Borger Touts "Extraordinary" Deal, "Saves" Senate from Partisans --5/25/2005
2. Morning Shows Praise McCain, Couric: "Slap in Face of Extremists"
3. CBS Champions GOP Rejection of Bush on Stem Cells, Overseas Work
4. By 3-to-1, Journalists Identify as Liberal Over Conservative
5. Patrick Swayze Derides Fear of Soviets, Couric Echoes Sentiment
With the Senate leadership of both parties "entrenched" with obligations to conservatives and liberals, 14 Senators came to the rescue. She touted the "collection of Republicans and Democrats led by maverick John McCain and ranging from the liberal Senate elder, Robert C. Byrd, to conservative John Warner." Borger gushed about how though "their politics are different," they defied the ideologues since they "shared one goal: to save the Senate from the partisanship of interest groups on both the left and the right."
(Borger had also celebrated on Tuesday's Early Show where she saw a win for the Senate and a setback for President Bush. See item #2 below.)
Bob Schieffer set up Borger's May 24 update on the CBS Evening News: "The Senate cleared the way today for a confirmation vote on Judge Priscilla Owen, the first of President Bush's long-stalled nominees for a seat on a federal appeals court. The President invited Owen in for a photo today, following a last-minute compromise last night to get past the Senate's deadlock on judicial nominations. The compromise also means there'll be no change in Senate rules, and the filibuster remains in place, a situation that has left many partisans on both sides furious. Gloria Borger is at the Capitol with the 'Inside Story tonight.' Gloria?"
Borger proceeded to note that the White House is glad to get the fight out of the way so they can move forward on their agenda.
As for Borger's labeling of Republican Senators Warner and Graham as "conservative," they are hardly all that conservative, but neither is Democrat Byrd all that "liberal." By applying such labeling, however, Borger managed to portray the repudiation of the Senate leadership as coming from conservatives and liberals instead of from those who put process ahead of policy.
All three broadcast morning shows on Tuesday celebrated Monday night's Senate deal maintaining the filibuster as a weapon against judicial nominees, with ABC's Charles Gibson giving John McCain the heartiest pat on the back. "This morning, the deal gets made. We'll talk to Senator John McCain, the man that brought the Senate back from the nuclear brink in the showdown over judges," Gibson enthused at the top of Tuesday's Good Morning America. Introducing McCain a few minutes later, Gibson touted him as "the man of the hour," but worried that "Republicans could go back to the so-called 'nuclear option' and revoke the right of filibuster for the Democrats." Over on NBC, moments after Today's Katie Couric declared "there's something for everyone in this bipartisan deal," she asked McCain: "Is this a slap in the face of the White House and extremists on both sides of the aisle?" Her co-host Matt Lauer assessed that "reading the deal this morning, or about the deal, it looks good. But you have to wonder, is it going to hold when controversial nominees come before the Senate in the future?"
And on CBS's Early Show, National Political Correspondent Gloria Borger was also pleased with the backroom compact. "I think actually everyone would say, probably, the Senate wins here," Borger told co-host Hannah Storm. Borger saw President Bush's authority waning: "I think the message here is, to the President, 'You're a lame duck, you need to work with us, Democrats and Republicans.'"
[The MRC's Rich Noyes submitted this item for CyberAlert.]
Although the networks singled out McCain for praise as the crucial leader in crafting Monday night's deal, Tuesday's New York Times barely mentioned McCain in a front-page article by Sharon Gay Stolberg extolling the two "respected elders," West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd and Virginia Republican John Warner, "two old bulls...[who] averted a grim showdown." But the Times story, headlined, "Efforts of 2 Respected Elders Bring Senate Back From Brink," conveyed the same theme of relief that the liberal minority can still use the filibuster to thwart any new conservative judicial nominees.
An excerpt from the May 24 New York Times story, in which Stolberg painted Warner and Byrd as committed to determining the exact wishes of the Founding Fathers:
....In the end, it was the language of the Constitution itself and two old bulls of the Senate -- Robert C. Byrd and John W. Warner -- that averted a grim showdown over federal judicial nominees that had threatened to wreak lasting damage on Capitol Hill.
After weeks of seemingly fruitless negotiations between the two sides, Mr. Byrd, 87, a West Virginia Democrat who has spent more than half a century in Congress, and Mr. Warner, 78, a Virginia Republican who regards himself as an "institutionalist," met privately twice on Thursday. They parsed the language of Alexander Hamilton's Federalist Paper No. 66 in an effort to divine what the founding fathers intended when they gave the Senate the power to advise and consent on nominees. After trading telephone calls over the weekend, they drafted three crucial paragraphs.
The agreement contends that the word "advice" in the paper "speaks to consultation between the Senate and the President with regard to the use of the President's power to make nominations." It goes on to state, "Such a return to the early practices of our government may well serve to reduce the rancor that unfortunately accompanies the advice and consent process in the Senate."...
END of Excerpt
The rest of Stolberg's article is available at: www.nytimes.com
-- Interviewing McCain on Tuesday's Good Morning America, co-host Charles Gibson, sought assurances that the deal would stop the Republican Senate leadership's plan to ban filibusters of judicial nominations (although maintaining the filibuster for legislation and other appointments).
The MRC's Jessica Barnes caught how Gibson began the May 24 segment, which aired shortly after 7am, by praising McCain:
Switching to an obviously pre-taped interview with McCain from Capitol Hill, Gibson summarized the deal as an on-screen graphic displayed the three major elements of the deal: "Senator, three main points to this agreement, as I see it: Some judicial nominees will get an up-or-down vote; the right to filibuster nominees is preserved; and the Democrats pledge to filibuster future nominees only in 'extraordinary circumstances.' So is this a good compromise for both parties?" McCain said it was "good for the Senate and good for the country."
Gibson then started asking about loopholes: "But Senator, you know in Washington these days the atmosphere and what are 'extraordinary circumstances' to one party may not be 'extraordinary circumstances' to the other. Who's going to determine?"
Gibson then confronted McCain with conservative complaints: "I asked you if this was a good agreement for both parties. I was scanning some of the conservative Web logs this is morning and they're not very pleased. I'm going to quote a couple of them: 'they sold the Constitution' -- talking about your group of Republicans, seven Republicans -- 'hideous,' 'disappointing,' and the Chairman of the Focus on Family [sic] called it 'a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans.'"
After the credits, Katie Couric offered praise for the deal: "Showdown averted on Capitol Hill. There's something for everyone in this bipartisan agreement hammered out last night."
When McCain showed up a few minutes later, Couric -- like Gibson -- also tried to figure out if the deal contained any loopholes that could be exploited. But she also tried to get McCain to blame Bush and "extremists" for the entire episode.
Couric's first three questions to McCain, as transcribed by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens: "In an atmosphere where voting along party lines seems to be valued more than anything how difficult was it for these seven members of each party to buck their leadership?"
After a few questions about how Democrats and Republicans might act when new nominees are forwarded to the Senate, Couric again beseeched McCain to attack Bush: "And finally what message do you believe, Senator McCain, this sends to the White House? That they need to consult with the Senate more?"
MRC's Megan McCormack took down how Borger congratulated the deal-makers: "Well, I think actually everyone would say probably the Senate wins here, because these 14 Senators, they're not only moderates, some of them are quite conservative politically, but they were all traditionalists, and they believed that they had to preserve the right to filibuster. And what they did really, Hannah, was quite extraordinary because they did this on their own, outside of their own leadership, and outside of all those special interest groups that are so interested in what goes on in the Senate these days, and they forced this agreement on their own leaders."
Storm wondered: "Is this just a temporary cease-fire, or does this deal look to have any staying power?"
Borger then put herself in the heads of those who put the agreement together, and decided their goal was to repudiate President Bush: "This sends a very direct signal to the President that you need to consult with Congress a little bit more before you send up judicial nominees. Actually, it is the President's job, of course, to nominate the person he believes would be best for the court, but there is this advice and consent in the Congress, and they said to the President, '€˜You know, sometimes if you would just talk to us a little bit more, maybe we wouldn't get in these kind of pitched battles.'"
In another instance of how CBS is pleased when conservatives lose, anchor Bob Schieffer opened Tuesday's CBS Evening News by championing how "something happened in Washington today that has not happened often during George Bush's tenure. A sizable group of House Republicans joined Democrats to pass legislation that clears the way for more research on stem cells." CBS soon went to Elizabeth Kaledin for a piece on how the U.S. is falling behind the world. Kaledin relayed: "Roger Pedersen is what's known as a 'stem cell refugee,' one of hundreds of top American scientists who have left this country to work overseas where embryonic stem cell research is advancing free of politics." Without government funding, Kaledin contented, scientists "admit" that "the race for cures will be hard to win." When Schieffer dared to ask "why can't you use private funding?", Kaledin lamented that "if a private company makes a big breakthrough" they "can charge the public whatever amount of money they want for those health benefits." She insisted that "it's much better to have these breakthroughs in the public domain, and then the government can assure that all Americans will have access to them."
As if a company wouldn't have any interest in selling its product to as many companies and people as possible. But in Kaledin's world, companies "can charge the public whatever amount of money they want" -- apparently without regard to how higher prices will reduce sales volume.
(ABC's Nightline on Tuesday night picked up on the same theme about the U.S. falling behind because of domestic politics.)
In opening the newscast, Schieffer also touted how "the public wants more research. A new CBS poll found that 58 percent of those surveyed approve using embryonic stem cells in medical research." But 58 percent isn't enough and shouldn't overrule the minority, at least by the standard applied by CBS News. Just one night earlier, Schieffer had highlighted how a CBS News poll on Senate filibusters, which require 60 votes, or 60 percent of the Senate to overcome, found that the "people we surveyed still favored needing 60 votes to confirm court nominees." The poll question asked: "How many Senators' votes should it take to move ahead to confirm a federal judicial nominee? Should a majority of 51 votes be required, or is this something that should require a larger majority of 60 votes?" 63 percent wanted 60 votes.
Schieffer led the May 24 CBS Evening News: "Something happened in Washington today that has not happened often during George Bush's tenure. A sizable group of House Republicans joined Democrats to pass legislation that clears the way for more research on stem cells, something the President is dead set against. For sure, the public wants more research. A new CBS poll found that 58 percent of those surveyed approve using embryonic stem cells in medical research. That's up from 50 percent since just last summer. But opponents, including the President, see this as akin to abortion, and the President, who has never vetoed a bill yet, says if the Senate goes along, he will veto this one. Here's John Roberts."
After the piece by Roberts which gave time to both sides, CBS decided to run a one-sided story, which Schieffer introduced: "While the stem cell debate has intensified in this country, the actual research on embryonic stem cells to treat disease is moving ahead in other countries. Here's our medical correspondent, Elizabeth Kaledin."
Kaledin began, as taken down by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "Roger Pedersen is what's known as a 'stem cell refugee,' one of hundreds of top American scientists who have left this country to work overseas where embryonic stem cell research is advancing free of politics. His lab in England is full of Americans, he says, hoping to cure disease."
Ten days after a poll of 300 journalists nationwide found that while a majority of 53 percent self-identified as "moderate," even as two-and-half times as many voted for Kerry over Bush, with nearly three times as many (28 percent) calling themselves liberal as conservative (10 percent), an Annenberg Public Policy Center poll released Tuesday, of nearly 700 members of the media, found a similar ideological breakdown. A total of 31 percent described themselves as "very liberal" or "liberal" compared to a piddling 9 percent who identified themselves as "very conservative" or "conservative," with 49 percent maintaining they are "moderate." While only 28 percent of the public favor same-sax marriage, 58 percent of the journalists do. The journalists are also much less likely to recognize bias. Annenberg's press release related that "when asked what led CBS News to run" the 60 Minutes story with the forged memos, "40 percent of the public said a major reason was 'CBS News and Dan Rather are liberals who dislike President Bush.' Only 10 percent of journalists agreed."
The AP story on the poll ignored the liberal views of the press, but gave several paragraphs to liberal Democratic Congressman John Conyers' complaints about the media's right-wing slant.
The May 16 CyberAlert reported: Journalists -- surprise, surprise -- voted overwhelmingly for John Kerry over George W. Bush last year, a new survey by the University of Connecticut's Department of Public Policy discovered, yet twice as many self-identified themselves as "moderate" over "liberal." Editor & Publisher's Joe Strupp reported Sunday: "Asked who they voted for in the past election, the journalists reported picking Kerry over Bush by 68 percent to 25 percent. In this sample of 300 journalists, from both newspapers and TV, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 3 to 1 -- but about half claim to be Independent. As in previous polls, a majority (53 percent) called their political orientation 'moderate,' versus 28 percent liberal and 10 percent conservative." See: www.mediaresearch.org
In a subsequent look at the full results of the University of Connecticut's poll, I noticed a few more noteworthy findings:
-- While 80 percent said that the "right to privacy" is "essential" and 90 percent found that the "right to practice no religion" is "essential," a mere 25 percent considered "the right to own firearms" to be "essential" while 31 percent said the right to own a firearm is "not important." (Those are questions ST5, ST7 and ST8 on pages 3-4 of the PDF of the survey of journalists, link below.)
-- While 28 percent did identify themselves as liberal, that split almost evenly between "very liberal" at 13 percent and "mildly liberal" at 15 percent, while of the ten percent calling themselves conservative, only three percent said they were "very conservative" with seven percent describing themselves as "mildly conservative." (Question QD10 on page 19 of the PDF of the survey of journalists.)
-- On party ID, 49 percent claimed to be independent with three times as many identifying themselves as Democrats, at 33 percent, as Republican, 10 percent.
-- While the press release about the poll did report that 68 percent said they voted for John Kerry compared to 25 percent who said they cast their ballot for President Bush, those numbers were based on the 79 percent of the 300 polled who did not refuse to answer. Of the 300 total, 21 percent refused to say, two percent were listed under "don't know" and one percent voted for Ralph Nader. That leaves the same two-and-half to one ratio split for Kerry over Bush, but by 52 percent to 19 percent. (Question QD11 on page 20 of the PDF.)
The University of Connecticut's Department of Public Policy in West Hartford has posted three Microsoft Word documents with their results (survey of journalists, survey of the public and a press release.) However, they have posted them in a way that allows the "click" option to only work with one browser, Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6, and then only if updated with Windows XP Service Pack 2. If you have that, just click on the links in the address below. If you are using an un-updated Explorer or any other Windows browser (I don't know about Apple), right click over the link and chose "save link as," or a similar option in your browser, to download the MS Word files. Go to: www.dpp.uconn.edu
The Editor & Publisher's Joe Strupp on Tuesday provided a rundown of who Annenberg surveyed:
For Strupp's May 24 story on the poll, which unlike the AP did include the numbers on the ideological orientation of those polled: www.editorandpublisher.com
....Eighty-six percent of journalists but only 45 percent of the public said news organizations generally "get their facts straight." But 48 percent of the public and only 11 percent of journalists said news organizations were "often inaccurate." When serious mistakes are made, 74 percent of the journalists said news organizations quickly report the error, but only 30 percent of the public said they do. In the public, 24 percent said news organizations try to ignore errors and 41 percent said they try to cover them up....
The study did not probe political opinions on many issues, but one question did measure a huge gap between journalists and the public. The journalists were asked whether they favored or opposed a law in their state that would allow same sex marriages. Fifty-nine percent said they did, while 20 percent said they did not. In polling for the National Annenberg Election Survey last year, only 28 percent of the public favored such a law while 64 percent did not. Another significant difference between the journalist and the public came on church attendance. Forty percent of the public said they attended church once a week or more, compared to 17 percent of the journalists, while just 16 percent of the public and 23 percent of the journalists said they never attended religious services....
But when asked what led CBS News to run that story, 40 percent of the public said a major reason was "CBS News and Dan Rather are liberals who dislike President Bush." Only 10 percent of journalists agreed. The journalists attributed the decision to run the story heavily to CBS's belief in its accuracy (76 percent)" and to its "being in too much of a rush" (73 percent)....
For the press release in full, in PDF format: www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org
That's Question D10 in the PDF of the results for the news media component of the survey. See: www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org
As noted above, a Tuesday AP article on the poll managed to avoid the three-to-one self identification as liberal over conservative by the members of the media, but made room for the claim the media are too conservative. An excerpt from the May 24 AP dispatch, "Public, Press Attitudes Differ on Accuracy," by Will Lester:
....The journalists' survey was taken between March 7 and May 2 of 673 journalists chosen at random from a list of working media of all types including 350 top newspapers, broadcast outlets, both local and national, and online publications by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. That survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
A congressman who organized a panel to examine the role played by the media said Tuesday that news organizations have drifted toward tabloid journalism and have been intimidated from reporting about the war in Iraq.
"The vast majority of the mainstream media is not only unwilling to accurately report on the failings of the administration, but the few who do have fallen victim to scapegoating and retribution," said Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. "We have turned from breaking stories like Watergate and the Iran-Contra scandal to celebrity journalism."
The congressman released an analysis by Congressional Research Service which found that reports in the British media about the United States and Great Britain secretly agreeing to invade Iraq received very little coverage on major cable TV outlets in the days after it was published in Britain.
END of Excerpt
For the AP article in full: story.news.yahoo.com
Cold War a big waste of money to actor Patrick Swayze? Appearing on Tuesday's Today to take part in the show's "Live for Today" May sweeps gimmick in which viewers get to live out their dreams, such as dancing with the star of Dirty Dancing, he was asked by Matt Lauer and Katie Couric about an upcoming Hallmark Channel movie which he filmed in Russia. Swayze enthused: "It was an amazing experience. I mean just to be in Russia and, and just to and realize these are just amazing beings. You know just wonderful people once you break through that facade and, and, and you kinda get, realize, what were we so afraid of, you know?" Couric echoed: "Yeah we're not all that different, right?" Of course, no one was afraid of individual Russians, but quite rationally afraid of the Soviet state's Communist Party leadership and the military under its direction.
The MRC's Geoff Dickens caught the exchange from just after the start of the third hour (9am) when Swayze joined Couric, Lauer, Ann Curry and Al Roker on the sofas after he, in the previous hour, had danced with a woman viewer.
Lauer plugged Swayze's movie: "You have another mini-series coming out on the Hallmark Channel called Icon, based on the Frederick Forsythe novel. Tell me a little bit about that."
I have no idea what that "disillusioned" take means and Amazon.com's page for Forsythe's book offers no clue in its summaries of the plot of Icon: www.amazon.com
-- Brent Baker