2. "Facts Are Firewall Against Bias," News Not Driven By "Ideology"
3. Sinclair's Anti-Kerry Film So Annoys Brown He Takes 13 Minutes
4. Springsteen Rant to Dramady's Bush-Bashing: Sundance Helps Kerry
5. NBC Catches Up on School Diagrams in Iraq, But Downplays Danger
Item #3 in the Saturday, October 9 CyberAlert, about how NBC's Tim Russert and Tom Brokaw were appalled by John Kerry's pledge, made during the Friday night debate, not to raise taxes on anyone earning less than $200,000, reported that "Chris Wallace" took part in the exchange on MSNBC. A later reference properly quoted "Matthews" since the Chris was really Chris Matthews.
NBC's Tom Brokaw turned to Mikhail Gorbachev, whom he hailed as "the man who changed the course of Russian history," for an assessment of Bush's Iraq policy. Monday's NBC Nightly News showcased the denunciation of the war, by the media's favorite dictator, as "a mistake" which represented "a blow struck to international law" and the United Nations. The former leader of the expansionist Soviet Union also denounced Bush's "unilateral action."
Brokaw generously explained how "Gorbachev is in this country as part of his twice annual speaking tour here. His main cause is the environment, getting more international cooperation on clean water, clean air, and land conservation."
In a sit-down with Gorbachev excerpted on the October 11 NBC Nightly News, Brokaw first asked Gorbachev to evaluate his democratically-elected successor, Vladimir Putin. Brokaw then brought up Iraq:
"Bias, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder" and "facts are your firewall against bias," NBC's Tom Brokaw insisted at a Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) awards banquet last week at which, no joke, Dan Rather accepted, on behalf of CBS News, an "Overall Excellence Award." At the October 4 event in New York City, ABC's Peter Jennings argued that "whatever people say about Dan [Rather], some of which seems to me to be unnecessarily cruel and ugly, in 40 years the evening news has never been driven by ideology. And boy, do I recognize ideology when I see it."
Accepting his award, Rather assured the audience: "Please know, tonight, that I indeed am humbled by this, and by what it represents to CBS News, and to me, personally. Please know, too, that we are resolved to emerge from this trial as an even stronger news organization, so that we may continue to be worthy of your trust and confidence."
A Friday, October 8, Broadcasting and Cable magazine daily e-mail first brought the event to my attention.
An excerpt from Brokaw's keynote address, as provided by a transcript posted by the RTDNA:
....Bias, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder. Facts are your firewall against bias. Facts fairly presented in a coherent arrangement that represents the whole story, not just the parts that titillate.
It's okay to have personal interests, even passions, about newsworthy topics. Those interests make you a better journalist. Advancing those interests or passions for personal gain or satisfaction makes you an unworthy journalist. Know when to say "No" to yourself as well as to your children.
Mistakes will happen. When they do, correct them, quickly and apologetically. Factual mistakes are obvious. However, there are also mistakes of perception and exaggeration, myopia and hubris. They're more difficult to acknowledge but no less important to your personal credibility and that of your organization. When you say, "We stand by our story," make damn sure your viewers have a clear, unambivalent idea of why you're standing by your story.
END of Excerpt
For Brokaw's remarks in full: rtnda.org
An excerpt from the remarks made by Jennings when he accepted the award for the "Best Newscast":
....I am no whiz at statistics, but I do know that World News Tonight reaches five times the audience of all the cables combined on a daily basis, so if you put the three of us together, there is some reason to believe the evening news is not quite as irrelevant as some people would wish it to be.
What I do think is unfortunate, and I hope it doesn't sound too pompous to say it -- not so much for World News Tonight but for the entire country -- is that many people seem to have decided to tailor their consumption of news to fit their political or social bias.
We all have biases. God knows I do. But I am less inclined to cling to them quite as assiduously when I make an effort to hear other points of view. And please don't automatically take that as a comment on Fox. They do some excellent, provocative, interesting reporting.
And whatever people say about the liberal media -- whatever that actually means -- and whatever people say about Dan [Rather], some of which seems to me to be unnecessarily cruel and ugly, in 40 years the evening news has never been driven by ideology. And boy, do I recognize ideology when I see it....
END of Excerpt from Peter Jennings
For the remarks by Jennings in full: rtnda.org
For the October 6 press release from the RTDNA, which touts itself as "the world's largest professional organization devoted exclusively to electronic journalism," about the awards event held at the Grand Hyatt New York: rtnda.org
For pictures from the evening: rtnda.org
The Monday evening, October 4, remarks from Brokaw and Jennings came just two days after their Saturday morning, October 2 effort, at the New Yorker Festival, to defend Dan Rather against critics. As recounted in the October 4 CyberAlert:
Ongoing liberal bias at the networks and major print outlets isn't of much interest to CNN's Aaron Brown, but the decision by the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, owner of mostly small market WB and UPN affiliates reaching fewer than one-fourth of U.S. homes, to show on their stations a film about the anger at Kerry from Vietnam POWs, annoys Brown so much that he devoted 13 minutes of Monday's NewsNight to what he and others in the mainstream media see as so controversial. NewsNight ran a taped piece from Howard Kurtz, followed by Brown quizzing a Sinclair representative and then Brown talked to two guests disturbed by Sinclair's programming, former FCC Commissioner Reed Hundt and former CBS News reporter Marvin Kalb who also seemed to have suddenly discovered bias as he fretted about "the growing politicization of the media."
Brown, at least, was cognizant of how his sudden interest in "fairness" would look, as he conceded: "For those of you who believe that most media is hopelessly liberal, this will be the proof." But he insisted he would have done the same thing if a station were to carry Fahrenheit 9/11, and he then displayed contempt for all those who see liberal bias: "This segment is really for everyone else, for those who worry about fairness in media, who worry about power concentrated in a few hands."
But as the October 11 CyberAlert noted, ABC and CBS have run unchallenged excerpts from Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, to zilch outcry from Brown or anyone else. And while they ran much shorter than the 45-minute anti-Kerry film, they were on major networks accessible to every American. For details about what ABC and CBS played, as well as a peek at the liberal political activities of those on the corporate side of those two networks, see the October 11 CyberAlrert: www.mediaresearch.org
For more about the film: www.stolenhonor.com
For a transcript of Brown's May 31 tribute to Kerry: www.mediaresearch.org
Brown set up his first October 11 NewsNight segment with a promise of fairness:
Kurtz's story, tracked down by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, assumed Sinclair was in the wrong: "Closing days of a presidential campaign are a sensitive time when media organizations try not to do anything that would look like tilting toward one side or the other. But Sinclair Broadcasting doesn't worry, doesn't really seem to care if critics say the company is openly conservative. Sinclair has ordered its 62 television stations to preempt regular programming, days before the election, and air an aggressively anti-Kerry movie. It's called 'Stolen Honor,' by former Washington Times reporter and decorated Vietnam veteran Carlton Sherwood. The movie's argument is that when Lieutenant John Kerry testified about abuses in Vietnam after returning from combat, he was libeling all American soldiers there as, in Sherwood's words, 'deranged drug-addicted psychopaths,' 'baby killers,' and 'war criminals.' So why would Sinclair insist on carrying such a loaded, one-sided film? Could it have anything to do with the fact that Chief Executive David Smith is a strong supporter of President Bush? Or that its executives have donated nearly $70,000 on this campaign, 90 percent of it to Republicans? This is the same company that refused to carry an edition of Nightline last spring when Ted Koppel simply read, without comment, the names of all U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. Sinclair accused Koppel of pursuing an anti-war agenda. But the publicity was a boon for Nightline."
Brown introduced his first guest: "Mark Hyman is the executive Howard Kurtz mentioned. He's the Vice President for Corporate Relations and an on-air commentator for Sinclair Broadcast Group, and he joins us from Washington. We're glad to have him with us. This stuff, these accusations, the statements by POWs and others have been out there in ads for weeks, if not months. What makes this news?"
After an ad break, Brown spent five minutes with Hundt and Kalb fussing over the situation.
For a full list of Sinclair's 62 stations: www.sbgi.net
As election day approaches, Robert Redford's Sundance cable channel has become an active promoter of liberal causes with programming praising John Kerry and belittling George W. Bush. The channel devoted five-and-half-hours Monday night to the live broadcast of a "Vote for Change" concert, complete with a rant from Bruce Springsteen urging viewers to open their windows and scream "Halliburton," as well as how Kerry understands the need for a "living wage" and that "America is not always right. That's a fairy tale for children." In a new weekly Sundance series about an imaginary liberal Democrat, a woman fretted about "the extraordinary amount of harm" that Bush has caused and though she conceded that "Bush isn't getting semen stains on the carpet," she asserted: "You're telling me he's brought honor to his office? I don't think so."
Much of the rest of that episode last week of Tanner on Tanner was devoted to diatribes from Mario Cuomo about how "I think this President should lose because he likes war too much" and because he has the worst jobs record "since Hoover." Plus, "the President saying we're safer now? Then what's the warning system all about? What are all these terrorist attacks all over the world?"
Last Tuesday, before the Tanner on Tanner episode, Sundance aired the far-left documentary, Uncensored: the Whole Truth About the Iraq War.
And every weeknight at 11:30pm EDT, Sundance carries an hour of Al Franken's Air America radio program.
-- Springsteen and Vote for Change concert. From 7pm to 12:30am Monday night, Sundance aired National Anthem: Inside the Vote for Change Concert Tour, a splicing of some pre-taped segments, of musicians talking politics backstage at earlier concerts, with live coverage of a concert at the MCI Center in Washington, DC which featured Bonnie Raitt, R.E.M, Pearl Jam, Dixie Chicks, James Taylor, Dave Matthews Band, John Fogerty and Bruce Springsteen.
Most of the singers made political pronouncements from the stage, but as the final performer, Springsteen delivered the longest polemic, shouting at one point: "You mislead the nation to war, the man loses his job. It ain't rocket science!"
He later turned his attention to home viewers: "I want all you folks at home to get up off your couch now, come on, I want you up off your couch, and I want you to take that remote control and I want you to turn that television volume all the way up until the walls are rattling. And I want you to come closer to the TV. And I want you to take off all your clothes! And I want you to put one hand on the television set and I want you to say 'Haliburton' three times real bad! Now go to your window, roll that window open and tell all your neighbors that a change is coming!"
In a calmer moment, though still while shouting, at just past midnight EDT Springsteen laid out his case for Kerry:
The home page for the Vote for Change concert tour, a project of the MoveOn PAC: www.moveonpac.org
In the fresh series, the same actor, Michael Murphy, plays "Jack Tanner," and Cynthia Nixon, of Sex and the City, plays his daughter "Alex Tanner" with whom he's collaborating on a documentary about his 1988 run and the character traits of those who ran in this year's Democratic presidential primary, a plot which enabled the Sundance producers to tape interactions, with real candidates, at the Democratic convention in Boston.
The first episode, which aired on October 5, opened with Nixon, as "Alex Tanner," taping a promo for her documentary: "When you look at the insanity in Iraq right now. When you look at the incredible spiral of violence and hatred that we've set in motion, that's when you realize the extraordinary amount of harm that a single person sitting in the Oval Office can inflict on the world. Okay, so George Bush isn't getting semen stains on the carpet, but you're telling me he's brought honor to his office? I don't think so...."
Much of the remainder of the episode took place at Elaine's restaurant in Manhattan where Mario Cuomo sat at a table with "Jack Tanner." In between other events, the camera caught a number of diatribes from the real Mario Cuomo:
# "It's not difficult to fool people in political campaigns. I'm sure you learned that from your campaign. I certainly did. And I think that's what's happening. If you look at the facts, the President got us into a war that he chose and it was done very specifically on three predicates: They have weapons of mass destruction, they're complicit with al-Qaeda and they're going to use them against us. Everybody in the country knew that, the Congress voted, so now it's clear that they were wrong."
# "Four years ago we had the biggest surplus the country's ever had. Now we have a deficit. We had 22 million new jobs. Now if you do jobs from now until the election you're still the worst record since Hoover. And the President saying we're safer now? Then what's the warning system all about? What are all these terrorist attacks all over the world?"
# "The thousand or so lives we've already lost of Americans, the 15,000 innocent people, the wounded people, the $150 billion -- all of that you justify. Mr. President, are you telling us, you would do this again? Because there are other oppressors, there are other nations begging for democracy. There's the Sudan."
# "I think that's the trap that President is in. He's really saying implicitly, I favor war. It's ironic, Carter lost because he favored peace too much. They said he wasn't strong enough to fight. I think this President should lose because he likes war too much. And then when you add the Wolfowitz's and the Cheney's and all the people that inspired him who he wants to keep around..."
Sundance's summary of Tanner on Tanner, a series which will run for four weeks:
In 1988, filmmaker Robert Altman and writer/cartoonist Garry Trudeau joined forces to create a documentary-styled tv series on the presidential election. Rather than cover the politics from afar, they cast Michael Murphy to play a presidential hopeful, Jack Tanner, and shot his journey right along side such "real" politicos as Bob Dole, Bruce Babbitt and Pat Robertson. The series was critically applauded and won Altman an Emmy Award for Best Director. Flash forward to 2004. Altman and Trudeau join forces again to bring Tanner back, along with his daughter Alex (Cynthia Nixon), who has grown up to become a documentary filmmaker. What has happened in those 16 years? How have Jack Tanner, his daughter, and the rest of their campaign team changed with the times? TANNER ON TANNER is a four-part series following the new adventures of Tanner, as his daughter tries to make an important film, her dad tries to stay out of politics, and they all end up on the floor of the 2004 Democratic convention.
END Reprint from the Sundance Web site.
That's posted, with synopses of all the episodes, at: www.sundancechannel.com
Another half-hour episode of Tanner on Tanner will air tonight, Tuesday, at 9pm EDT on Sundance.
The Sundance home page: www.sundancechannel.com
Update on an Update. NBC Nightly News on Monday caught up with Friday's CBS Evening News and Thursday's World News Tonight on ABC in reporting how diagrams and emergency plans for U.S. schools were found with insurgents in Iraq, but Tom Brokaw emphasized how "it turns out there may have been a lot less here than meets the eye." But NBC's dismissal of any need for concern, however, was based on nothing more than an FBI official who speculated that "it could be somebody that was working to make the schools safer in Iraq. It does not always mean because he had this, it was something evil."
As recounted in the October 9 CyberAlert, on Friday, October 8, the CBS Evening News caught up with ABC's World News Tonight and ran a story about how several local schools in the U.S. were warned that layout diagrams for their schools were found with insurgents in Iraq. The October 8 CyberAlert relayed how on Thursday night ABC's Brian Ross reported how "law enforcement officials tell ABC News that someone described as a captured Iraqi insurgent had downloaded school floor plans...from elementary schools and high schools" in six U.S. states. CBS's Dan Rather picked up the same story about a warning issued to schools, but held it to a brief item in which he managed to not mention how floor plans were found with the enemy in Iraq.
For the October 9 update in CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
Sanders began: "Today, beefed-up security at some public schools open this Columbus Day. Around the country, anxiety after reports of Iraqi rebels downloading school data, including classroom floor plans. But it turns out now, the reaction was based on bad information."
Sanders proceeded to note that, nonetheless, some parents remain "edgy" and, before he moved on to other areas of security concerns beyond schools, he cited one parent whose worries were renewed by the Beslan attack.
-- Brent Baker