Bush Up 51-45, But Jennings Stresses Negatives for Bush in Poll --9/28/2004
2. Top Producer on Forged Memo Story Worked for Liberal Democrats
3. GMA Avoids Swifties But Promotes Pro-Kerry Author/Filmmaker
4. NPR Challenges Bush Operative on Policy, Coddles Kerry Operative
5. Network News as Positive for Kerry as It Is Negative for Bush
6. Letterman's "Top Ten George W. Bush Debate Strategies"
President Bush may have a "solid lead" over John Kerry in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, as the Tuesday Washington Post headline put it, but on Monday night ABC's Peter Jennings managed to emphasize the negative for Bush as he stressed how "the President is vulnerable in some areas" with 60 percent believing we're "bogged down in Iraq" and 51 percent who "say the war was not worth fighting." Though Jennings noted that "only 37 percent of registered voters have a favorable opinion of Mr. Kerry," he discounted Bush's 52 percent favorable rating as "certainly not huge." Unmentioned by Jennings: How Kerry's unfavorable rating is greater than his favorable rating, that Bush has a 22 point advantage in supporter enthusiasm and Kerry has no advantage among women while Bush enjoys an 11 point lead with men.
Jennings held the poll numbers to a short item on the September 27 World News Tonight: "Presidential politics. We have the results, tonight, of the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. President Bush has maintained the lead he established coming out of the Republican convention: 51 percent of people who call themselves likely voters say they support Mr. Bush, 45 percent say they support Senator Kerry. One percent for Ralph Nader."
On screen over Jennings' last point: Favorable opinion of the candidate:
In ABCNews.com's online summary of the poll, "Leading the Way: High Stakes as Debates Loom, With the Advantage Still to Bush," Gary Langer explained:
For the entirety of Langer's analysis: abcnews.go.com
The top producer for the CBS show which used forged documents to advance a liberal Democratic cause, once toiled for left-wing Democrats -- elected ones, that is. Josh Howard, the Executive Producer of the Wednesday edition of 60 Minutes, served on the staff of current Senator Charles Schumer when Schumer was in the state legislature, moved on to the staff of former New York Congressman Stephen Solarz and later, while on the CBS News payroll, made large contributions to the Solarz campaign, Bob Novak revealed in his weekend compilation column.
Dan Rather objected to CBS hiring Diane Sawyer, who had worked for Richard Nixon, so did Rather fight Howard's hiring? And it isn't as if CBS is forgiving of long-past political activity. Just in May the CBS Evening News tried to discredit John O'Neill of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth by bringing up how in 1971 he was "handpicked by the Nixon administration to discredit Kerry."
The MRC's Tim Graham alerted me to the first item in Novak's weekend column which regularly features three or four short items, a column not carried by the Washington Post, but which is run on Sundays by many papers around the country.
Novak reported: "The executive producer of CBS's 60 Minutes midweek broadcast, who partially blamed the Bush White House for bogus documents used by Dan Rather, is a former staffer for New York Democrats who was still making political contributions while on the network's payroll.
For the rest of that Novak column, check the TownHall.com posting of it: www.townhall.com
With the merger of 60 Minutes and 60 Minutes II in June, Howard became Executive Producer of the Wednesday edition just in time to oversee the hit job on Bush using the forged memos.
For his bio on CBSNews.com, with a picture of him: www.cbsnews.com
Just as Josh Howard was handpicked by Stephen Solarz to discredit House Republicans a few years later.
To use the reasoning forwarded by Pitts, "if you think CBS News is just a concerned group of impartial journalists, think again."
While ABC's Good Morning America has avoided interviewing anyone from Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, including a snub of John O'Neill, author of the bestseller, Unfit for Command, or any other anti-Kerry veterans spokesmen, Monday's show featured an interview with pro-Kerry filmmaker and friend George Butler, a session geared around promoting Butler's hagiographical book, John Kerry: A Portrait. GMA built a special set for the interview so Butler and Charlie Gibson could sit in front of five and six-foot high black and white photos of Kerry taken by Butler in the 1960s and 1970s. Though Butler sat behind Kerry when Kerry testified about alleged war crimes committed by U.S. soldiers in Vietnam, Gibson didn't ask about that as he preferred to toss softballs at Butler and admire Butler's "prescience" in seeing in 1964 Kerry's presidential capabilities. Gibson concluded the session: "You have a pretty good eye, both as a photographer and in terms of spotting talent to come."
[The MRC's Tim Graham submitted this item for CyberAlert]
Not only has GMA snubbed John O'Neill and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the ABC News morning show has so far skipped over Carlton Sherwood and the other people behind the new anti-Kerry documentary, "Stolen Honor." (For more on that film, see: www.stolenhonor.com )
But in the 8:30am half hour on Monday, September 27, Gibson, the MRC's Jessica Anderson noticed, weirdly suggested that "most of us don't know much about John Kerry. Now, filmmaker and photographer George Butler has known John Kerry for 40 years. He's taken thousands of pictures of him, many of which appear in a new book which is called John Kerry: A Portrait, and George Butler has also made a film, Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry. It's a film that opens Friday, and George Butler shared his insights into the man who may be our next President. Kerry gave you, I understand, has given you some footage of when he was in Vietnam. Let's take a look."
If there were any doubt that Going Upriver" is a glowing pro-Kerry document, consider this September 27 review headlined, "It's Popcorn Propaganda," in the San Francisco Examiner by Patrick
For the whole review, see: www.sfexaminer.com
For Amazon's page for Butler's fawning book, John Kerry: A Portrait: www.amazon.com
NPR's Morning Edition aired complementary interviews with Mary Beth Cahill, John Kerry's campaign manager, and Ken Mehlman, Cahill's counterpart in the Bush campaign, but the Republican came in for considerably rougher treatment from Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep, who conducted both interviews. In the Mehlman segment, broadcast Friday, most of Inskeep's questions could be characterized as confrontational, whereas his Monday queries to Cahill ranged from moderately challenging to downright fluffy.
[Tom Johnson, who monitors NPR for the MRC, took down all the questions posed in the two interviews]
Inskeep pressed Mehlman to defend against the charge that "the President's campaign has regularly mis-characterized Senator Kerry's positions on a number of issues," but he failed to challenge Cahill on the same subject. When Mehlman mentioned "stay the course," Inskeep fired back: "Does that mean that President Bush, if re-elected, will stay with the same strategy in Iraq, no matter how things go on the ground, no matter how much time it takes, no matter what the cost, no matter how much violence?" And Inskeep forwarded to Mehlman a Kerry campaign spin point as he argued that Bush is the real flip-flopper: "Saying that the war will cost 50 billion [dollars] and then spending $200 billion? Saying that it will take a limited number of troops and then committing to more than 100,000 for a long period of time?"
But with Cahill, Inskeep stuck mainly to prompting talking points and posing strategy questions about how to win Ohio and: "Your campaign has begun describing Iraq as a quagmire. Is that a fair term to use, and why begin using it now?" Plus: "Why do you think economic issues like the ones you just raised have not received more attention or gotten more traction in the campaign?" Inskeep empathized: "The women's vote is not where the Kerry campaign would like it to be. Part of the reason might be because of women's concerns about security, and you're talking about 9/11 widows, and mothers of children in Iraq. That's not an accident."
Below is a list of Inskeep's questions, followed by synopses of the replies, in the order in which they aired.
Inskeep to Mehlman, on the Friday, September 24 Morning Edition:
-- "Would you still say that Ohio is a state, as the campaigns have said in the past, that is critical for either side to win?"
-- "Another state that's close to Ohio, but where the polling results have been very different, is Michigan, where Senator Kerry has consistently had a fairly narrow lead. Why is that state different?"
-- "What would you say to those who think that the President's campaign, and perhaps the same charge could be made against Senator Kerry's campaign, would say that the President's campaign has regularly mis-characterized Senator Kerry's positions on a number of issues?"
-- "Dan Senor, a former spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, was on this program a few days ago, and he made a very similar point in support of President Bush, saying you know where the President stands when it comes to something like Iraq, and I suppose you could summarize the President's public position as 'stay the course.' I do have one question about that, though. When you say 'stay the course,' does that mean that President Bush, if re-elected, will stay with the same strategy in Iraq, no matter how things go on the ground, no matter how much time it takes, no matter what the cost, no matter how much violence?"
-- "John Kerry has looked at what you describe as strong and resolute leadership and said the President is stubborn. That's a word he's used again and again. Is that a fair characterization of the President?"
-- "We're talking about tactics here, but I wonder if there's a substantive point here as well in that the Bush campaign plainly feels that if this election is decided on issues of national security, the President may have an advantage. Does your campaign feel differently, John Kerry's campaign?"
-- "Your campaign has begun describing Iraq as a quagmire. Is that a fair term to use, and why begin using it now?"
-- "Should Americans think first about national security when deciding how to vote in November?"
-- "Why do you think economic issues like the ones you just raised have not received more attention or gotten more traction in the campaign?"
-- "People tell pollsters they are concerned about those issues, but something else has happened in recent polls, and that is that, particularly with women voters, a lot of them who would normally support Democrats are saying, 'I am concerned about economic issues, but I'm more concerned about national security, and maybe I'm leaning toward President Bush as a result of that.' Why do you think that's happening?"
-- "When you look at what's happening in the state of Ohio right now, [a] critical swing state, what do you see?"
-- "It's really interesting that we were just talking about the fact that the women's vote is not where the Kerry campaign would like it to be. Part of the reason might be because of women's concerns about security, and you're talking about 9/11 widows, and mothers of children in Iraq. That's not an accident." (Some 9/11 widows had to pressure the Bush administration to have a 9/11 commission.)
Another reason for Cahill's "confident-looking smile" might be her awareness that the media are in Kerry's corner -- and in these interviews, at least, Inskeep's bias was hard to miss.
ABC, CBS and NBC, which together reach about 25 million viewers each evening, have given Democratic candidate John Kerry the most favorable TV coverage of any presidential nominee since at least 1988, a newly publicized study by the non-partisan Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) determined. The study found three-fifths (62 percent) of Kerry's TV coverage was positive, while nearly the same proportion (59 percent) of George W. Bush's coverage was negative, according to summary tables posted on the organization's Web site. See: www.cmpa.com
The MRC's Rich Noyes submitted this article for CyberAlert.
But in writing up the study for Monday's Washington Post, reporter Howard Kurtz misleadingly juxtaposed the positive coverage Kerry received from the broadcast networks with far more negative coverage the Democrat received on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume. "If you were watching Fox News Channel's 6 p.m. newscast, you would have seen about the same coverage of the President," Kurtz claimed, "but Kerry's evaluations were negative by a 5 to 1 margin."
But the FNC statistics are not comparable to the network numbers showing positive coverage of Kerry, as CMPA explained in both their statistical tables and a press release dated September 9. The CMPA study looked at ABC, CBS and NBC's election coverage, on their evening newscasts, from June 1 to September 2, and found Kerry received his best press during June and July (76 percent positive from June 1 to July 25, then a whopping 97 percent positive from July 26-29 during the Democratic National Convention). CMPA did not begin analyzing FNC until August 1, and thus only focused on time periods when Kerry's was receiving predominantly negative press coverage from all of the networks.
CMPA's tables show that from August 1 to September 2, Kerry -- like Bush -- got mostly negative press from ABC, CBS and NBC (59 percent negative), although coverage on FNC's Special Report was much more negative (83 percent negative). But even that number includes the opinions of roundtable pundits such as Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer, as Kurtz did mention in his Monday story. None of CMPA's tables compared the straight-news stories offered in the first forty minutes of Special Report with the stories aired on ABC, CBS and NBC.
Despite those important caveats, CMPA's spokesman Matt Felling criticized FNC's coverage for being too negative on Kerry: "If this is what passes for 'fair and balanced' journalism, it looks like someone has a finger on the scale at Fox News."
CMPA's Web site detailed the major findings of their analysis of broadcast network news, which the Center has been publishing every election year since 1988 using the same methodology. In 1988 and 2000, CMPA found the Democratic and Republican candidates got roughly similar amounts of good and bad press during the general election, but in 1992 and 1996 the Democratic candidate (in both cases, Bill Clinton) was treated to much more favorable coverage than the Republican candidate. CMPA has never documented an instance of a Republican presidential candidate getting better press over a significant period of time in any general election campaign.
CMPA appears to be moving their archives over to a newly-formatted Web site, so most of those previous studies are not available. But the tables showing the broadcast networks tilt in favor of John Kerry this summer are available in PDF format: www.cmpa.com
Now, an excerpt from Howard Kurtz's September 27 Washington Post story, which did not contain any hint that the FNC component of the study excluded periods when Kerry would be expected to receive more favorable press coverage:
If you were watching the network evening news in June, July and August, you would have seen somewhat favorable coverage of John Kerry -- six out of 10 evaluations were positive -- and somewhat unfavorable coverage of President Bush.
If you were watching Fox News Channel's 6 p.m. newscast, you would have seen about the same coverage of the president. But Kerry's evaluations were negative by a 5 to 1 margin.
That finding, by the Center for Media and Public Affairs, might suggest that some Fox folks have it in for Kerry. Or it might suggest that the broadcast networks are too easy on Kerry, who the group says has gotten the best network coverage of any presidential nominee since it began tracking in 1988. Or that we have entered an era of red media and blue media to match the country's polarization....
Brit Hume, Fox's Washington managing editor, whose "Special Report" was examined by the study, says he's surprised by the anti-Kerry findings. "Our day-in, day-out coverage by Carl Cameron has been extremely fair to Kerry, and the Kerry campaign has recognized this," he says.
"We did a lot on the Swift Boat Veterans. We thought it was a totally legitimate story and found it an appalling lapse by many of our competitive news organizations that were treating that story like it was cancerous." But even there, Hume says, "we were abundantly fair to John Kerry's side."
Matthew Felling of the media center is skeptical. "If this is what passes for 'fair and balanced' journalism, it looks like someone has a finger on the scale at Fox News," he says. For the NBC, CBS and ABC evening newscasts, Kerry drew 62 percent positive evaluations and Bush 41 percent.
Some of the anti-Kerry comments come from the show's commentators, not its reporters. On Thursday, after airing straightforward news reports on a speech by Iraq's interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, and Kerry's criticism of the remarks, Hume asked his pundit panel for reaction. "Disgraceful," said Charles Krauthammer. Michael Barone called it "bad politics." Mort Kondracke accused Kerry of "pessimism."...
END of Excerpt
For the entire Kurtz article, go to: www.washingtonpost.com
From the September 27 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten George W. Bush Debate Strategies." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. Ask the question, "We've never had a horse-faced President so why start now?"
9. Instead of witty retorts, have secret service wrestle Senator Kerry to the ground.
8. Use Kerry's long-winded answers to take much needed bathroom breaks.
7. Hope one of them hurricanes cancels the debate.
6. Instead of water, fill Kerry's mug with Red Bull and vodka.
5. Find time to work in joke prop -- giant waffle.
4. Moving his lips to pretend microphone isn't working.
3. Handle it same way he handled National Guard duty -- don't show up.
2. If Kerry makes a good point, distract him with some chaw spit in the eye.
1. Point out Senator Kerry's mispronunciation of the word "nucular."
-- Brent Baker