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Brokaw Warns GOP Playing "Con Game" in Its Showcased Speakers --8/30/2004


1. Brokaw Warns GOP Playing "Con Game" in Its Showcased Speakers
In a likely preview of a media obsession this week, Tom Brokaw ended Sunday's NBC Nightly News by complaining that the decision to feature three "middle of the road" speakers, in contrast to the party's "hard right" positions, may be seen by "streetwise New Yorkers" as "the political equivalent of a popular con game in this tough town -- three-card monte." But, Brokaw lamented, "that's a game in which the dealer almost always wins."

2. No GOP Stars on Sunday Shows Before Democratic Conclave, But...
Inequitable Sunday show guest line-ups on ABC and NBC. On the Sunday before the Democratic convention last month, ABC's This Week featured an interview session with keynote speaker Barack Obama, the Democratic Senate candidate in Illinois, and George Stephanopoulos traveled to Ted Kennedy's Hyannis home to tape an interview with him. NBC's Meet the Press with Tim Russert also brought aboard Obama. But on the Sunday before the Republican conclave, having not featured any Republican political guest a month earlier, both shows decided to showcase a star of the opposing party with both programs devoting segments to interviews with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. For the GOP side, Stephanopoulos quizzed New York Governor George Pataki and Russert interviewed former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whom he pounded over disagreements with the Republican platform.

3. If Bush Wins We'll Have "Same Diseases We Have Now in 20 Years"
Chris Matthews, set to anchor MSNBC's nighttime Republican convention coverage starting tonight, made clear Friday night on HBO that he has little regard for the policies of President George W. Bush. Appearing on Real Time with Bill Maher, Matthews belittled voters for considering relevant how they like Bush personally, and asked two very leading questions that adopted liberal polemic points as fact, which made clear which candidate is favored by the former aide to liberal Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill: "Do you want to go to an economy that's basically geared towards tax cuts for people who have a lot of income and the working class and the middle class gradually disappear?" And: "Do you want health research for the next twenty years or do you want the same diseases we have now in twenty years?"

4. Nets Hype Pro-Kerry Witnesses, But Only NBC Notes Schachte
Some swift boat witnesses more newsworthy than others. When CBS News saw on Saturday, August 21 that the Chicago Tribune Web site had posted its Sunday print edition story by one of its editors, William Rood, a swift boat commander, who defended John Kerry's version of events in shooting a Viet Cong, CBS Evening News anchor Sharyl Attkisson trumpeted it: "Breaking the silence. A swift boat commander who fought with John Kerry speaks out for the first time." The other networks soon touted Rood's account. But when six days later Chicago' other newspaper, the Sun-Times, published the first on the record interview with a retired Rear Admiral, who said he was on the boat with Kerry when Kerry suffered the wound for which he earned his first purple heart, but knows it was self-inflicted and thus should not have qualified for the medal, CBS remained silent all weekend. So did ABC. Friday's NBC Nightly News, however, also relayed the recollections of William Schachte as Lisa Myers counter-balanced him with another man on the boat who maintains Schachte was not present.

5. NPR's Nina Totenberg: Swift Boat Ad "Nothing More Than a Lie"
Despite support for much of what the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth charged in their first TV ad, about how Kerry misstated what he did in incidents for which we got medals, NPR reporter Nina Totenberg asserted on Inside Washington over the weekend that the "allegations made in that first ad are nothing more than a lie." She also regretted how the "lie" has "not caught up until now and it has done significant damage to the Kerry campaign."

6. CBS & NBC Describe Powell-Hating Communists as "Greek Activists"
To NBC and CBS, communists in Greece are nothing more than "Greek activists." Near the Acropolis, the "Greek activists" hung a huge sign which demanded: "POWELL KILLER GO HOME." To the right of the last word the sign displayed a big red hammer and sickle. Nonetheless, with a shot of the sign on screen, NBC's Lester Holt and CBS's Russ Mitchell ignored that communist symbol when, on Saturday, they read short items on how Secretary of State Colin Powell had canceled his trip to watch the closing ceremonies of the Olympics.


Brokaw Warns GOP Playing "Con Game" in
Its Showcased Speakers

NBC's Tom Brokaw In a likely preview of a media obsession this week, Tom Brokaw ended Sunday's NBC Nightly News by complaining that the decision to feature three "middle of the road" speakers, in contrast to the party's "hard right" positions, may be seen by "streetwise New Yorkers" as "the political equivalent of a popular con game in this tough town -- three-card monte." But, Brokaw lamented, "that's a game in which the dealer almost always wins."

Five weeks ago, on the Sunday before the opening of the Democratic convention, Brokaw did not anchor the NBC Nightly News -- Brian Williams handled that duty from Boston -- and so did not offer any warnings about Democrats trying to disguise their "hard left" views.

In the NBC News booth overlooking an empty Madison Square Garden, Brokaw concluded the August 29 NBC Nightly News with these cautionary words:
"New York and the Republicans are like that old Jack Klugman-Tony Randall television show, The Odd Couple. This city may elect Republicans as Mayors, but otherwise its cultural and political sensibilities are well to the left of the ideology defining the leading Republican power brokers. The President's team knows that it can't get back to the White House by taking only hard right turns, so it has, as three of its featured speakers, Republicans who have been successful by navigating the middle of the road as well the right hand side: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rudy Giuliani and Senator John McCain who often calls himself John Kerry's best friend in the U.S. Senate. Streetwise New Yorkers may call that the political equivalent of a popular con game in this tough town -- three-card monte. But then that's a game in which the dealer almost always wins."

No GOP Stars on Sunday Shows Before Democratic Conclave, But...

Inequitable Sunday show guest line-ups on ABC and NBC. On the Sunday before the Democratic convention last month, ABC's This Week featured an interview session with keynote speaker Barack Obama, the Democratic Senate candidate in Illinois, and George Stephanopoulos traveled to Ted Kennedy's Hyannis home to tape an interview with him. NBC's Meet the Press with Tim Russert also brought aboard Obama. But on the Sunday before the Republican conclave, having not featured any Republican political guest a month earlier, both shows decided to showcase a star of the opposing party with both programs devoting segments to interviews with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. For the GOP side, Stephanopoulos quizzed New York Governor George Pataki and Russert interviewed former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whom he pounded over disagreements with the Republican platform.

On both Sundays Russert previewed the conventions with Tom Brokaw.

In addition to Kennedy and Obama on ABC, and Obama on NBC, the two shows on July 25 had also devoted a segment to the 9-11 Commission report with the Chairman and Vice Chairman, Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, appearing on Meet the Press, and members John Lehman and Bob Kerrey appearing on This Week. But Kean and Lehman were not convention preview guests as was Clinton.

CBS's Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday remained consistent: On July 25, Face the Nation featured three Democrats before their convention: Obama, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, the Chairman of the convention, and Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan. On Sunday, Bob Schieffer turned the show over to a Republican, Senator John McCain. The pre-Democratic convention Fox News Sunday featured three Democrats: Richardson, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and John Kerry's stepson, Chris Heinz. On Sunday, August 29, Fox News Sunday brought aboard House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for a joint appearance, along with a Democrat, but one who will be the GOP's keynote speaker, Georgia Senator Zell Miller.

Plus, while Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace ended his July 25 show with a short talk with Howie Carr, a Boston radio talk show host with little regard for John Kerry, he concluded his August 29 program with comments from Bush-basher Maureen Dowd, a New York Times columnist.

On Meet the Press, Russert pounded away at how the Republican Party platform does not match Guiliani's views. Some of his questions/statements to Guiliani as the two sat in NBC's Madison Square Garden booth:

-- Russert: "If you read the draft platform of this party and this convention, however -- take for example, abortion and here it is. It says very simply, 'We support a human life amendment to the Constitution....We oppose using public revenues for abortion, will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life.' Ban all abortions, litmus tests for judges. You're against that?"
Giuliani: "I am..."

-- Russert: "Take, for example, gay marriage. It says, not only against gay marriage but also there should be no benefits for gay couples."

-- Russert: "You were always known as a Mayor tough on crime. You always believed that a motorist had to have a license for an automobile, that if you owned a gun, you should have a license. Your party's platform adopted, outright rejects Rudy Giuliani's view of gun control."
Giuliani: "Again, that's one of the things that we disagree about. There are many, many things, national, the defense of this country, how we handle our economy, are things that affect every single American."
Russert: "How about this? Stem cell research. And this is what your party said: 'We support the President's policy that prevents taxpayer dollars from being used to encourage the future destruction of human embryos. We applaud the President's call for a comprehensive ban on the creation of human embryos solely on experimentation.' Do you agree with the President on stem cell?"
Giuliani: "I agree with the President in the sense that the President is the first one to put any money at all, and significant amounts of money, into stem cell research."
Russert: "But should it be broader?"

-- Russert: "But the impression you're giving the American people -- Harry Truman said it this way: 'To me, party platforms are contracts with the people, and I always looked upon them as agreements that had to be carried out.' There's no possible way that you or the Mayor of New York or the Governor of New York or John McCain or Arnold Schwarzenegger, the prime-time speakers, agree with this party platform, which led the head of the Log Cabin Republicans to say this: 'You can't craft a vicious, mean-spirited platform, then try to put lipstick on the pig by putting Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger on in prime time.'"
Giuliani quipped: "Which am I, the pig or the lipstick? I'm not sure. It got a little, I didn't follow that correctly. But the reality-"
Russert: "Is it truth in packaging?"

No less than news media outlets which claim to be unbiased.

If Bush Wins We'll Have "Same Diseases
We Have Now in 20 Years"

Chris Matthews, set to anchor MSNBC's nighttime Republican convention coverage starting tonight, made clear Friday night on HBO that he has little regard for the policies of President George W. Bush. Appearing on Real Time with Bill Maher, Matthews belittled voters for considering relevant how they like Bush personally, and asked two very leading questions that adopted liberal polemic points as fact, which made clear which candidate is favored by the former aide to liberal Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill: "Do you want to go to an economy that's basically geared towards tax cuts for people who have a lot of income and the working class and the middle class gradually disappear?" And: "Do you want health research for the next twenty years or do you want the same diseases we have now in twenty years?"

Asked by Maher about what Kerry can do to sway undecided voters, Matthews, who appeared by satellite from New York on the August 27 HBO program produced in Los Angeles, went into a rant:
"What they have to do is remind people that it's not just an election about who do you want for class President and whose smile do you like who you'd like to have a beer with. As if they're ever going to have a beer with George Bush! I mean, it's absurd! When are they going to have this beer, this illusionary middle of the night drink with this guy? All they're going to have of this is their President. That's all they get out of these guys. And my answer is, you want to think about this election more seriously? Vote Bush, vote Kerry, but think about this: Do you really want the country to go in the direction they're taking you, or say they're going to take you, for the next ten or twenty years? Raise the stakes. That will make it easier for the undecided voter.
"If you can't decide based on what you've heard, think about this: Do you want to continue on the road of basically being go it alone in the world? I mean Tony Blair will be gone soon, Musharaff will be gone soon. Then we'll be completely alone in the world. Do you want to go to an economy that's basically geared towards tax cuts for people who have a lot of income and the working class and the middle class gradually disappear? Well, you know which party that is. If you want to go to a party that is a little more hesitant. This President, if we elect John Kerry President, he will be hesitant about going to war, he will be careful. In fact, he'll probably wait around to hear what the French think and if that bothers you, vote for Bush. It's easy. But these stakes are big. Do you want health research for the next twenty years or do you want the same diseases we have now in twenty years? I mean, think about it. I think there's an argument for the Republicans, but it's a long-term argument for both sides and people ought to make-, how can you be undecided about Bush and Kerry? I don't get it. These guys offer radically different approaches."

Nets Hype Pro-Kerry Witnesses, But Only
NBC Notes Schachte

Retired Rear Adm. William Schachte Some swift boat witnesses more newsworthy than others. When CBS News saw on Saturday, August 21 that the Chicago Tribune Web site had posted its Sunday print edition story by one of its editors, William Rood, a swift boat commander, who defended John Kerry's version of events in shooting a Viet Cong, CBS Evening News anchor Sharyl Attkisson trumpeted it: "Breaking the silence. A swift boat commander who fought with John Kerry speaks out for the first time." The other networks soon touted Rood's account. But when six days later Chicago' other newspaper, the Sun-Times, published the first on the record interview with a retired Rear Admiral, who said he was on the boat with Kerry when Kerry suffered the wound for which he earned his first purple heart, but knows it was self-inflicted and thus should not have qualified for the medal, CBS remained silent all weekend. So did ABC. Friday's NBC Nightly News, however, also relayed the recollections of William Schachte as Lisa Myers counter-balanced him with another man on the boat who maintains Schachte was not present.

Lack of video of Schachte is no excuse for CBS or ABC since both networks went with the Rood story despite his refusal to appear on camera for anyone.

Columnist Robert Novak wrote the August 27 Chicago Sun-Times article, "Admiral speaks out, disputes Kerry's account of 1st wound," but it was a news story for the paper, not one of his syndicated columns. An excerpt:

Retired Rear Adm. William L. Schachte Jr. said Thursday in his first on-the-record interview about the swift boat veterans dispute that "I was absolutely in the skimmer" in the early morning on Dec. 2, 1968, when Lt. (j.g.) John Kerry was involved in an incident that led to his first Purple Heart.

"Kerry nicked himself with a M-79 [grenade launcher]," Schachte said in a telephone interview from his home in Charleston, S.C. He said, "Kerry requested a Purple Heart."

Schachte, a lieutenant, said he was in command of the small boat called a Boston whaler or skimmer, with Kerry aboard in his first combat mission in the Vietnam War. The third crew member was an enlisted man, whose name Schachte did not remember.

Two enlisted men who appeared at the podium with Kerry at the Democratic National Convention in Boston have asserted that they were alone in the small boat with Kerry, with no other officer present. Schachte said it "was not possible" for Kerry to have gone out alone so soon after joining the swift boat command in late November 1968.

Kerry supporters said no critics of the Democratic presidential nominee ever were aboard a boat with him in combat. Washington lawyer Lanny Davis has contended that Schachte was not aboard the Boston whaler and says the statement that Schachte was aboard in Unfit for Command undermines that critical book's credibility....

Schachte described the use of the skimmer operating very close to shore as a technique that he personally designed to flush out enemy forces so that the larger swift boats could move in. Around 3 a.m. on Dec. 2, Schachte said, the skimmer -- code-named "Batman" -- fired a hand-held flare. He said that after Kerry's M-16 rifle jammed, the new officer picked up the M-79 and, "I heard a 'thunk.' There was no fire from the enemy," he said.

Patrick Runyon and William Zaladonis are the two enlisted men who said they were aboard the skimmer and did not know Schachte. However, two other former officers interviewed Thursday confirmed that Schachte was the originator of the technique and always was aboard the Boston whaler for these missions.

Grant Hibbard, who as a lieutenant commander was Schachte's superior officer, confirmed that Schachte always went on these skimmer missions and said, "I don't think he [Kerry] was alone" on his first assignment. Hibbard said he had told Kerry to "forget it" when he asked for a Purple Heart.

Ted Peck, another swift boat commander, said, "I remember Bill [Schachte] telling me it didn't happen" -- that is, Kerry getting an enemy-inflicted wound. He said it would be "impossible" for Kerry to have been in the skimmer without Schachte.

"I was astonished by Kerry's version" [in his book Tour of Duty] of what happened Dec. 2, Schachte said Thursday. When asked to support the Kerry critics in the swift boat controversy, Schachte said, "I didn't want to get involved." But he said he gradually began to change his mind when he saw his own involvement and credibility challenged, starting with Davis on CNN's "Crossfire" on Aug. 12....

END of Excerpt

For the article in full: www.suntimes.com

Anchor Brian Williams set up a Friday NBC Nightly News story, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "For more than three weeks now, we have taken note of the controversy over John Kerry's service record, controversy that was sparked by a group of men who, like Kerry, fought in the Vietnam War. Tonight, NBC News senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers has a reality check on their central charges against Kerry, including new questions about Kerry's first of three Purple Hearts."

Myers' piece began with a clip of John Kerry at the Democratic Convention: "Reporting for duty."
Myers: "After a month of charges and countercharges about John Kerry's record in Vietnam, his critics have not come up with documented proof to back up their primary charges. It's a tangled case of conflicting memories and lingering questions. That includes a new challenge from this man, retired Admiral William Schachte, who contributed to two Bush campaigns. Schachte raises questions about Kerry's first Purple Heart."
Retired Admiral William Schachte, sitting in what appeared to be a fancy hotel room: "I was in command of those missions, and I was in the boat that night."
Myers: "In an interview with NBC News, Schachte claims Kerry was not wounded in combat, but accidentally hurt himself when he fired a grenade launcher too close to the boat, and a piece of shrapnel came back and hit his arm."
Schachte: "I'm saying that he did not deserve the first Purple Heart, from what I saw."
Myers: "And there was no enemy fire involved?"
Schachte: "None."
Myers: "Period."
Schachte: "Yes."
Myers: "You're absolutely certain?"
Schachte: "Yes."
Myers: "36 years later?"
Schachte: "Hey, listen, when somebody's shooting at you, you know it."
Myers: "No after-action report has been found. Schachte says as officer in charge, he did not write one because there was no combat. The skipper of another boat that night, Mike Voss, tells NBC News, 'I don't know what went on in the skimmer, but I'm pretty certain Schachte was there, in the skimmer.' Two other officers, both Kerry critics, also support Schachte's account. But not everyone involved shares Schachte's memory."
Bill Zaladonis: "Well, he claims that, but he's wrong."
Myers: "Bill Zaladonis and another enlisted man back up Kerry's story, say they were in that boat with Kerry that night, and Schachte was not there."
Zaladonis: "I don't remember every incident or everything that happened that night, but I do remember who was on the boat. And I remember it very plainly, very plainly."
Myers: "The big unanswered question, why was the Purple Heart awarded three full months after the incident? Kerry's commander claims he turned Kerry down for the award. Kerry says he does not recall that. On other incidents questioned by Kerry's critics, the weight of the evidence clearly favors Kerry. On the Bronze Star, all available documents, including citations for other men honored for heroism that day, all repeatedly referred to enemy fire. On the Silver Star, this former swift boat skipper came to Kerry's defense and points out that Kerry's decision that day to deliberately face an enemy ambush drew praise from then-Captain Roy Hoffman, a leader of the vets now attacking Kerry. Del Sandusky was on Kerry's crew for all but one of the missions in question."
Del Sandusky, former Kerry crew mate: "I was with John Kerry for his Silver and his Bronze and his, two of his three Purple Hearts. John Kerry earned every one of his medals."
Myers: "Kerry's critics say he invited this kind of scrutiny when he made his Vietnam record a central part of his campaign. But even they acknowledge that Kerry volunteered for duty in Vietnam, and now that the President has said he doesn't think Kerry lied, it may be difficult for critics to sustain their attacks. Lisa Myers, NBC News, Washington."

The mainstream media certainly won't sustain the matter for which most journalists have disdain.

For a full transcript of Myers' session with Schachte, an interview conducted on Tuesday, August 24: www.msnbc.msn.com

MSNBC's Web posting does not have a picture of Schachte, as the TV story did. To see a shot of Schachte on the NBC Nightly News, go to the posted version of this item where the MRC's Mez Djouadi will place it soon after this CyberAlerts had been distributed.

NPR's Nina Totenberg: Swift Boat Ad "Nothing
More Than a Lie"

Despite support for much of what the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth charged in their first TV ad, about how Kerry misstated what he did in incidents for which we got medals, NPR reporter Nina Totenberg asserted on Inside Washington over the weekend that the "allegations made in that first ad are nothing more than a lie." She also regretted how the "lie" has "not caught up until now and it has done significant damage to the Kerry campaign."

It may be true that the media have focused on a few eyewitnesses who have come forward to back Kerry's versions of events, but that does not make the recollections of many more witnesses a "lie."

Totenberg, back from vacation after three weeks, opined: "Watching this story sort of evolve from a distance, it's pretty interesting because you see a group of people spend, in fact, not very much money, very small amount of money, go to Washington and peddle this story. It then gets picked up, particular on cable TV, a sort of old fuddy-duddy press then sets about to find out what really what the truth is. Now, in the last week, we really can pretty much establish that the allegations made in that first ad are nothing more than a lie. In the first ad. They are a lie. But that has not caught up until now and it has done significant damage to the Kerry campaign."

CBS & NBC Describe Powell-Hating Communists
as "Greek Activists"

CBS To NBC and CBS, communists in Greece are nothing more than "Greek activists." Near the Acropolis, the "Greek activists" hung a huge sign which demanded: "POWELL KILLER GO HOME." To the right of the last word the sign displayed a big ref hammer and sickle. Nonetheless, with a shot of the sign on screen, NBC's Lester Holt and CBS's Russ Mitchell ignored that communist symbol when, on Saturday, they read short items on how Secretary of State Colin Powell had canceled his trip to watch the closing ceremonies of the Olympics.

On the August 28 Today, Lester Holt announced from Athens: "At the last minute Secretary of State Colin Powell canceled his trip to Athens. He had planned to attend tomorrow's closing ceremony. Just hours before that happened Greek activists hung a huge banner on the Acropolis. It said, 'Powell Killer Go Home.'"

Later, on Saturdays CBS Evening News, anchor Russ Mitchell asserted: "In Athens, a third consecutive Olympic gold medal today for the U.S. women's basketball team. The U.S. men did salvage some pride, they won the bronze. Secretary of State Colin Powell has canceled plans to attend the Olympic's closing ceremonies. Greek activists, protesting the war in Iraq, put up a banner denouncing Powell near the Acropolis today. Police used tear gas last night to disperse protesters marching on the U.S. Embassy."

To see a shot of the sign, see this item in today's posted version, where the MRC's Mez Djouadi will place it.

Expect another CyberAlert this afternoon, covering the morning shows, particularly Matt Lauer with George Bush, Claire Shipman with Dick Cheney and Charles Gibson with John McCain.

-- Brent Baker