Cable Networks, CBS and NBC Pounce on Cheney to Be Dropped Rumor --7/16/2004
2. Ted Turner Wants Women to Run the World, Kerry to Run the U.S.
3. Couric to Edwards: "What Do You Say, 'One Frosty, Two Straws?'"
4. NBC Nightly
News, Sort of, Examines Joe Wilson's Claims
5. Denigration of Ronald Reagan Awarded with Emmy Nominations
6. "Top Ten Signs Bush Might Be Getting Ready to Dump Cheney"
Showing the power of the New York Times to put a story into play, prompted by a Thursday front page story by Elisabeth Bumiller, "Hear the Rumor on Cheney? Capital Buzzes, Denials Aside," the cable news networks spent the day abuzz over the possibility Cheney might be dumped, though everyone acknowledged that will not occur, and in the evening the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News dedicated significant time to the rumor with NBC devoting more than three minutes to it, an eternity in TV Newscast time. Of the broadcast networks, only ABC's World News Tonight exercised rationale news judgment and ignored the Times' rumor-mongering.
"The summer rumor mill in Washington was buzzing today about Vice President Cheney's political future," CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts announced in seemingly trying to justify a story, with "gossip is so hot it was front page news in a major newspaper." Reporter Bill Plante quickly discounted any possibility Cheney would be dumped, but in looking at who is interested in pushing the rumor he listed Democrats, thus inadvertently conceding that CBS was aiding their cause. Cheney, Plante noted, is the "Democrats' favorite target: Easy to attack and, they say, a political liability. So they're happy to make mischief by keeping the rumor alive, but they don't really want him off the ticket."
The NBC Nightly News consumed 3:05 on the subject. Anchor Brian Williams insisted the "whisper campaign" got "a lot louder" with a front page New York Times story. NBC played a clip from John Kerry on Imus in the Morning proclaiming that if Bush dropped Cheney he'd be one of the "flip-floppers of all flip-floppers." Williams then turned to Tim Russert for a discussion of the subject and Russert reported that every aide he talked to maintained Cheney is on the ticket to stay. Russert added that with the Republican convention showcasing Rudy Giuliani, Arnold Schwarzenegger and John McCain in prime time, "conservatives would be distressed" if Cheney was not featured. Following a clip of Cheney, on C-SPAN, denying the rumors, Russert declared: "Dick Cheney is on the ticket, period."
In short, no news.
A reprint of an article about Bumiller's piece, by the MRC's Clay Waters, posted Thursday on our TimesWatch.org site:
Front-Page "Rumors" of Cheney Resignation
White House reporter Elisabeth Bumiller tries to stir up some controversy in the Bush camp with a rumor that nonetheless makes the front page of the "news" section Thursday.
Right off she admits that this one (Cheney resigning!) is a bit of a stretch: "In the annals of Washington conspiracy theories, the latest one, about Vice President Dick Cheney's future on the Republican ticket, is as ingenious as it is far-fetched. But that has not stopped it from racing through Republican and Democratic circles like the latest low-carb diet."
Even the headline reads: "Hear the Rumor on Cheney? Capital Buzzes, Denials Aside." That doesn't stop the Times from giving the "rumor" front-page play.
The gist: "The newest theory -- advanced privately by prominent Democrats, including members of Congress -- holds that Mr. Cheney recently dismissed his personal doctor so that he could see a new one, who will conveniently tell him in August that his heart problems make him unfit to run with Mr. Bush. The dismissed physician, Dr. Gary Malakoff, who four years ago declared that Mr. Cheney was 'up to the task of the most sensitive public office' despite a history of heart disease, was dropped from Mr. Cheney's medical team because of an addiction to prescription drugs."
Bumiller then uses this conspiracy theory to advance negative remarks about Cheney: "But even some Republicans are now questioning whether Mr. Cheney should stay on the ticket. As one House Republican said, conspiratorially, outside the House chamber this week, 'Watch Cheney.' Another Republican member of Congress said that Mr. Cheney was increasingly viewed as a political liability." Then she cites Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report, who, after stating Bush needs to shake up his campaign, concludes: "Cheney may need to watch his back."
END of Reprint
The Cheney "news" led to a Letterman "Top Ten" on Thursday night. See item #6 below for the "Top Ten Signs Bush Might Be Getting Ready to Dump Cheney."
Ted Turner, as out there as ever. Appearing from Aspen on CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports on Thursday afternoon, the founder of CNN reaffirmed his view that women should replace men in public office since "I think if women ran the world for one hundred years, we'd see more money going into education and health care and homes for the homeless, and so forth, and less into the military, and I think we'd be a safer and better world with women in charge for a while." He also repeated his opposition to the Iraq war, insisting that "the world is less safe and more of a mess today than it was before we started dropping the bomb," and made clear he'll be voting for John Kerry.
For the July 15 session with Blitzer, Turner stood outside by some tents at a Fortune magazine conference in Aspen, Colorado. Blitzer introduced him with a tribute: "There's no shortage of words used to describe Ted Turner, many of them seemingly at odds. The man referred to at times as a brash billionaire and a media mogul, is also a leading philanthropist and environmentalist. But if it hadn't been for Ted Turner, you wouldn't be seeing this."
Blitzer finally got to Turner, though he misidentified Turner's location: "Ted Turner is joining us live now from Denver, Colorado. Ted, thanks very much for joining us. This full disclosure, you hired me here at CNN way back in 1990, and for that, I will forever be grateful. But what did you mean when you said that men should be barred from public office. That was tongue-in-cheek? Do you think that women should be in charge?"
Katie Couric turned completely personal and soft for part three of her interview with John and Elizabeth Edwards aired on Thursday's Today. Couric highlighted how their "romantic ritual" to celebrate their anniversary is to go to Wendy's. Couric giggled: "What do you say, 'One Frosty, two straws?'" Couric empathized with taking care of kids while campaigning and wondered if being in "the national spotlight" is "a bit overwhelming?" Couric reminded Mrs. Edwards of her husband's sexiness: "Let me ask you when your husband was voted Sexiest Politician by People magazine were you like blech? Or were you like, 'Hey! That's my man!?'"
The July 15 CyberAlert summarized parts one and two of the taped interview session aired on the Wednesday, July 14 Today:
Couric set up part 3 of her interview taped in a living room setting, aired on the July 15 Today: "Now Day Two of our exclusive interview with Democratic vice presidential hopeful John Edwards and his wife Elizabeth. The Edwards met as law students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They'll soon celebrate their 27th wedding anniversary. They've experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in their marriage. This morning they talk about the most painful event any parent can go through, the death of a child. But first we begin with politics. I asked Mrs. Edwards if she pays attention to the attacks leveled at her husband."
The MRC's Geoff Dickens took down Couric's questions:
-- Couric to Mrs. Edwards: "What would you say is your role in this political partnership?"
-- "Are you an honest broker in a sea of suck-ups?"
-- To John Edwards: "And what was it about Elizabeth?"
-- "I was gonna say, what do you say, 'One Frosty, two straws?' I'm just curious suddenly you have found yourself in the national spotlight. Is it a bit overwhelming?"
-- "How do you do it with two small children? Both of you? You have Emma Claire who's six, Jack who's four, Kate, of course just graduated from college and I know is setting off in the world but it must be difficult given the rigors of, of a campaign to balance everything?"
-- "Are they overwhelmed or oblivious to all this?"
-- "Let me ask you when your husband was voted Sexiest Politician by People magazine were you like blech? Or were you like, 'Hey! That's my man!?'"
-- "Mrs. Edwards obviously many wives of, of candidates have particular passions, things they care about. Oftentimes people look to the First Lady in particular. But what is your passion?"
-- "I know that you were inspired to get into politics, Senator Edwards, by your son Wade and I know it's something you all do not talk about very often. But I wonder if you could just share with us how he has inspired you in what you all do everyday?"
-- "Can you just tell me how he inspired you to get into politics and why? I read an essay he wrote which was really quite beautiful at 16. And he wrote quite a wonderful essay about voting. Can I just read a teeny bit of it? 'There is no place in America where equality means as much as in the voting booth. My father took me that day to the firehouse. Soon I will be voting. It's a responsibility and a right. It's also an exciting national experience. Voters have different backgrounds, dreams and experiences but that is the whole point of voting, different voices are heard. As I get close to the time I can register and vote it is exciting. I become one of the voices. I know I will vote in every election. I know that someday I will bring my son with me and introduce him to one of the great American experiences, voting.' You must have been so proud of him?"
-- "What do you think, he would think of all this? The fact that you are the Democratic vice presidential running mate."
-- "I'm sure he would be very proud of both of you too."
Back on the Today set, Couric explained: "Incidentally, Wade Edwards was killed when his car flipped over as he was headed for the Outer Banks of North Carolina back in 1996."
Five days after the Washington Post revealed how the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report released last Friday had undermined Joseph Wilson's claims about how his wife, a CIA operative, had nothing to do with the decision to send him to Niger to check claims that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium and that the report determined that what he found actually backed up the statement made by President Bush in his State of the Union address about Iraq's quest, NBC Nightly News on Thursday became the first broadcast network to give air time, in a story by Andrea Mitchell, to the undermining of Wilson's anti-Bush crusade which so animated the media for the past year.
Friday's Today, however, reports the MRC's Ken Shepherd, didn't air Mitchell's story and so has yet to correct the record even though the program in May twice interviewed Wilson to plug his book, The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity. MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, which also featured Wilson and his book in May, didn't carry Mitchell's story (though the show regularly re-plays Nightly News pieces,) nor has Olbermann yet updated his viewers.
Though Post reporter Susan Schmidt was quite definitive in her July 10 story, declaring that "Wilson's assertions -- both about what he found in Niger and what the Bush administration did with the information -- were undermined yesterday in a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report," NBC wasn't so unequivocal, with anchor Brian Williams framing the July 15 Nightly News story around how Wilson is "defending cracks in his story."
Mitchell put it into the form of a question: "Did Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife, a CIA covert operative, recommend him for a fact-finding trip to investigate whether Saddam Hussein tried to import uranium for nuclear weapons fuel from Niger? And did Wilson, in fact, review documents about the alleged deal as he once claimed? Questions raised in the Senate committee's report on pre-war intelligence."
Furthermore, Schmidt reported: "The panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson's assertions and even the government's previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address."
But Mitchell skipped all that and made only a quick reference to how "the British this week, citing their own sources, said they still believe Saddam tried to get uranium."
The July 14 CyberAlert excerpted the Schmidt story, documented how, other than in a few scattered instances, the networks had ignored the Senate report which undermined Wilson and recounted some past NBC and MSNBC hyping of Wilson. See: www.mediaresearch.org
National Review Online on Thursday posted a piece by the MRC's Tim Graham, "APB for Joe Wilson: When you pound Bush, you're hot. When you're exposed as a liar, you're not." See: www.nationalreview.com
One other media pick up I noticed since the July 14 CyberAlert: On Wednesday's American Morning, CNN's Heidi Collins discussed the matter, along with the possible Senate candidacy of Mike Ditka, with Democrat Victor Kamber and Republican Cliff May, who had penned a National Review Online article about Wilson, an article linked in the July 14 CyberAlert.
"British report undermines Wilson on prewar data," announced a July 15 front page Washington Times headline over a story by Bill Sammon. See: www.washtimes.com
Robert Novak's latest column deals with how Democrats are refusing to acknowledge that Wilson has been discredited. See: www.theunionleader.com
Times (Finally) Tackles Joseph Wilson
Only four days late, the Times vaguely tackles the issue of Ambassador Joseph Wilson's lost credibility in a Wednesday story by James Risen, "How Niger Uranium Story Defied Wide Skepticism."
After summarizing the issue (and falsely implying that Bush mentioned Niger in his 2003 State of the Union Address), Risen in the 10th paragraph, finally gets to the matter of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who was the spiritual heart of the alleged discrediting of the Hussein-African uranium connection: "Instead of assigning a trained intelligence officer to the Niger case, though, the C.I.A. sent a former American ambassador, Joseph Wilson, to talk to former Niger officials. His wife, Valerie Plame, was an officer in the counterproliferation division, and she had suggested that he be sent to Niger, according to the Senate report. That finding contradicts previous statements by Mr. Wilson, who publicly criticized the Bush administration last year for using the Niger evidence to help justify the war in Iraq. After his wife's identity as a C.I.A. officer was leaked to the news media, Mr. Wilson said she had not played a role in his assignment, and argued that her C.I.A. employment had been disclosed to punish him. The F.B.I. is investigating the source of the leak about Ms. Plame, which was classified information."
Good for the Times for finally mentioning the anti-war Wilson's credibility gap, given that Wilson wrote on its oped page last July that, if his findings were "ignored because it did not fit certain preconceptions about Iraq, then a legitimate argument can be made that we went to war under false pretenses."
But the paper still doesn't get to the nub of the issue. Reporter Susan Schmidt in the Washington Post had a more pointed take in a Saturday story: "The panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts."
END of Reprint from TimesWatch.org
For the rest of Risen on the Niger-uranium link: www.nytimes.com
For the latest bias in the New York Times, check in daily at: www.timeswatch.org
Now, the July 15 NBC Nightly News story in full, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth.
Brian Williams: "NBC News 'In Depth' tonight, new questions about a Washington insider, a diplomat named Joe Wilson who turned against the war in Iraq. He claims that in order to punish him, the Bush White House outed his wife by blowing her cover at the CIA and endangering her life. Joe Wilson's story was everywhere a while back. He even wrote a book about it. But now he's defending cracks in his story. It has to do with a trip he made to the nation of Niger and claims that Iraq tried to buy uranium. Here is NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell."
Mitchell, over Vanity Fair photo of two in car with White House in background: "They're a Washington power couple everyone is still talking about. Did Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife, a CIA covert operative, recommend him for a fact-finding trip to investigate whether Saddam Hussein tried to import uranium for nuclear weapons fuel from Niger? And did Wilson, in fact, review documents about the alleged deal as he once claimed? Questions raised in the Senate committee's report on pre-war intelligence. Committee Chairman Pat Roberts:"
For a photo of Wilson, on Meet the Press: news.search.yahoo.com
Denigration of Ronald Reagan awarded. The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced Thursday morning that The Reagans movie aired on Showtime in November, a belittling film which was originally slated to air as a mini-series on CBS until conservative protest convinced CBS to move it to its sister pay cable channel, earned seven Emmy nominations. In addition to getting a nomination for best "Made for Television Movie," James Brolin, who played a cartoonish Ronald Reagan who regularly preened to "Nancy-pants," won a nomination for "Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie" and Judy Davis, who played a mean and vindictive Nancy Reagan, got a nod for "Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie."
The movie which displayed the left-wing's disgust for Ronald Reagan, also earned nominations for "Casting for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special," "Hairstyling for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special" and "Makeup for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Non-Prosthetic)."
As listed by AP, here's what The Reagans is up against in the three big categories:
-- Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie: Antonio Banderas, "And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself," HBO; Al Pacino, "Angels in America," HBO; James Brolin, "The Reagans," Showtime; Alan Rickman, "Something the Lord Made," HBO; Mos Def, "Something the Lord Made," HBO.
-- Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie: Emma Thompson, "Angels in America," HBO; Meryl Streep, "Angels in America," HBO; Glenn Close, "The Lion in Winter," Showtime; Helen Mirren, "Prime Suspect 6: The Last Witness (Masterpiece Theatre)," PBS; Judy Davis, "The Reagans," Showtime.
-- Made for Television Movie: "And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself," HBO; "Ike: Countdown to D-Day," A&E; "The Lion in Winter," Showtime; "The Reagans," Showtime; "Something the Lord Made," HBO.
In her Friday Washington Post story on the Emmy nominations, Washington Post reporter Lisa de Moraes trumpeted the disrespect to Reagan's legacy. She began her July 16 story: "The Television Academy thumbed its nose at the GOP this morning, showering The Reagans -- the TV movie the Republican Party tried to censor -- with seven Primetime Emmy Award nominations. That includes acting nominations for Judy Davis, who played Nancy Reagan in the movie, and for James Brolin as Ronald Reagan, as well as nominations for best writing and best telefilm.
de Moraes relayed how the producers of The Reagans celebrated the nominations: "'Hollywood really came through for us,' said an elated Craig Zadan. Zadan and producing partner Neil Meron found themselves condemned as traitors by some conservatives because of The Reagans, which was originally ordered as a miniseries by CBS for last November's sweeps." They also saw it as vindication: "'We really wanted this acknowledgement, because we were so beat up,' Meron told The TV Column."
de Moraes asserted that "critics charged, before having seen the project, that it cast the former President as being overly influenced by the First Lady, that Reagan turned his back on the AIDS crisis, and that the couple had little time for their children."
But, as de Moraes failed to acknowledge, all those fears were proven true as the movie did indeed distort Reagan's White House record.
For de Moraes' story in full: www.washingtonpost.com
I spent three hours -- two hours and 53 minutes to be exact -- on Sunday night watching The Reagans on Showtime so I could spare you the pain: The movie, originally produced as a two-part mini-series for CBS, was every bit as awful as conservatives feared with a belittling portrayal of Ronald Reagan. The movie delivered a cartoonish Ronald Reagan, played by James Brolin, who read words fed to him by others, seemed capable only of uttering short quips about "commies" and "big government" and followed the orders of others -- mainly an all-controlling Nancy Reagan, played by Judy Davis, who came across every bit as what rhymes with witch.
Before the showing of the movie, Matt Blank, Chairman and CEO of the Showtime Networks, delivered a condescending introductory message in which he bemoaned how the movie "has been criticized by those who have yet to see it as an unbalanced denouncement of Ronald Reagan's presidency," though that was exactly what viewers were about to see. He also maintained that "nearly all" of the "facts" are true: "Nearly all of the historical facts in the movie can be substantiated and have been carefully researched."
And the bias didn't relent after the movie when the producers displayed their political agenda in a series of on-screen text messages which highlighted how Reagan helped Saddam Hussein and blamed Reagan for AIDS deaths.
On the production values side, the film's shallowness and brief scenes meant it didn't approach the quality and authenticity of NBC's The West Wing.
After nearly three hours of scenes of a befuddled Reagan barely able to comprehend what aides around him are discussing, a bunch of very weird scenes of dreams in which Ronald Reagan imagines himself as a lifeguard saving present-day administration officials, and numerous temper tantrums between Nancy and daughter Patti, interrupted by Nancy consulting her astrologer and telling Mike Deaver how ketchup really is a vegetable, it's hard to imagine how anyone not familiar with the Reagan years -- anyone under age 30 or so -- would have any idea how he won election to any office, never mind a landslide re-election to the presidency.
On the political policy front, the movie basically jumped from negative anecdote to negative anecdote, highlighting a liberal hit parade from the 1980s: Reagan saying trees cause pollution, the administration counting ketchup as a vegetable, Reagan sleeping through a Libyan attack on an Air Force jet, embarrassment over SS graves at the Bitburg cemetery visited by Reagan, and how Reagan said he "saw" the "horrible" holocaust though he was in Hollywood during the war. (He probably was amongst the first to see the video of the death camps.)
And you don't have to take my word for how bad a movie CBS commissioned: On Saturday, Showtime let some TV critics see it and a few managed to write up reviews in time for their Sunday papers.
In the Los Angeles Times, state politics columnist Patt Morrison observed: "The problem Reagan's admirers and chroniclers will find is that's about all there is here; we get Iran-Contra, but not Reagan's 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.' We get the stupefyingly ill-advised visit to a cemetery where Nazi SS troops were buried, but not the Reagans teary-eyed at the memorial for the Challenger astronauts."...
END of Excerpt
For quotes from several more negative reviews: www.mediaresearch.org
From the July 15 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Signs Bush Might Be Getting Ready to Dump Cheney." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. Cheney's official white house parking space is now in West Virginia
9. Latest bumper stickers read: "vote for Bush and (to be determined)"
8. CIA says it has indisputable evidence that Cheney will remain on the ticket
7. Cheney's been asking crooked oil companies if they have any job openings
6. All the white house defibrillator stations have been removed
5. Cheney's new I.D. card reads "valid through next Tuesday"
4. G.O.P. has spent 20 million dollars on campaign commercials giving exact location of Cheney's undisclosed location
3. Rumsfeld keeps jumping out at him from behind doors yelling, "boo!"
2. As with all major decisions, he's asked Cheney to figure out the best way to terminate the Vice President
1. Bush asked his dad if he still has Quayle's number
Quayle is certainly more qualified now to be VP, as he was in 1988, than John Edwards.
-- Brent Baker