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CBS Again Pushes Theme of Republicans Turning Against Bush on War --6/14/2005


1. CBS Again Pushes Theme of Republicans Turning Against Bush on War
CBS News liked its theme so much about Republicans turning against President Bush, based on less than a handful of comments, that it pushed it two nights in a row. On Sunday, CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts led with "mounting criticism" of Bush from "members of his own Republican Party." Viewers then saw a piece from Bill Plante who returned on Monday's CBS Evening News with a story featuring the same examples as Plante touted "even some Republicans now saying the [Guantanamo] prison camp should be closed." Plante showcased the media's new favorite Republican: "But U.S. deaths in Iraq, now over 1,700, and the continuing insurgency are prompting a volley of second thoughts from Republicans. Congressman Walter Jones, the man who coined the term 'Freedom Fries' to protest the lack of French support in the war, now wants a timetable for U.S. withdrawal." In between, The Early Show got into the act. On Monday morning, co-host Russ Mitchell cited "a renewed cry for the shutdown of the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay after some shocking new reports of interrogation methods there." Plante claimed Bush "is taking heat from some unexpected quarters," including "from conservatives in his own party."

2. CBS's Storm & Time's Novak Fret About Treatment of 20th Hijacker
CBS's Early Show on Monday provided a sympathetic platform for Time magazine's Viveca Novak to plug her magazine's new cover story on how Mohammed al-Qahtani, the 20th hijacker, was supposedly mistreated at Guantanamo in the months immediately after 9/11. Hannah Storm cued her up to recite the awful "methods" used on him. Novak recounted how "he was allowed to sleep only about four hours a day, was interrogated for 20 hours at a time. Various techniques were used. He was made to bark like a dog and obey dog commands. He was subjected to hours of music blasted at him so he couldn't sleep." Storm fretted: "The log says that one thing he found particularly agitating was something called 'invasion of space by a female.' What was that?" When Storm did get around to the Department of Defense's response, Novak countered that "legal experts" say that the Geneva Conventions "were not honored" in the case of al-Qahtani, as if that's something to be ashamed of.

3. Schieffer: Clinton Recognized Osama Threat, If Not for Starr...
If it weren't for Ken Starr distracting Bill Clinton 9/11 could have been avoided? Interviewing Washington Post reporter John Harris, author of The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House, on Sunday's Face the Nation Bob Schieffer touted how Harris wrote that "Clinton really did early on recognize that Osama bin Laden was someone to be reckoned with." Schieffer ruminated, "I have always wondered: Do you think that had it not been for Monica Lewinsky and the scandal that was swirling around Bill Clinton, that we as Americans would have recognized earlier what a threat that Osama bin Laden posed because every time that Clinton would take action when he'd fire the missiles at what was supposed to be the terror training camp, people asked, 'Is this wagging the dog?,' 'Is this something to divert us from talking about Monica Lewinsky?'" Harris agreed that Clinton "understood the threat of Islamic terrorism generally, Osama bin Laden specifically, and yet he was not able to infuse his own government or the country at large with that sense of urgency."

4. Journalists Rue Greater Focus on 60 Minutes than Bush's NG Record
After Dan Rather's June 4 standing ovation-earning address to the conference of the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) which C-SPAN played on Saturday night, IRE Board of Directors President David Boardman read questions from the audience of journalists, but only one generated applause, with some hoots and hollers mixed in, from those packed into the ballroom at Denver's Grand Hyatt: "How do you feel about the fact that journalists seem to have done more work in reviewing the 60 Minutes reporting than they have in examining the underlying story about President Bush?" with audio and video

5. "Top Ten Things Overheard During the Michael Jackson Verdict"
Letterman's "Top Ten Things Overheard During the Michael Jackson Verdict."


Correction: Due to missing some errors in the closed-captioning, the June 13 CyberAlert item on Nina Totenberg's use of the "extremely conservative," "dramatically conservative" and "quite overwhelmingly conservative" labels, contained several errors in tenses and word form, but none which changed the substance of her point. Her labels were accurately transcribed. The Web-posting of the CyberAlert has been updated. See: www.mediaresearch.org

CBS Again Pushes Theme of Republicans
Turning Against Bush on War

Bill Plante CBS News liked its theme so much about Republicans turning against President Bush, based on less than a handful of comments, that it pushed it two nights in a row. On Sunday, CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts led with "mounting criticism" of Bush from "members of his own Republican Party." Viewers then saw a piece from Bill Plante who returned on Monday's CBS Evening News with a story featuring the same examples as Plante touted "even some Republicans now saying the [Guantanamo] prison camp should be closed." Plante showcased the media's new favorite Republican: "But U.S. deaths in Iraq, now over 1,700, and the continuing insurgency are prompting a volley of second thoughts from Republicans. Congressman Walter Jones, the man who coined the term 'Freedom Fries' to protest the lack of French support in the war, now wants a timetable for U.S. withdrawal." In between, The Early Show got into the act. On Monday morning, co-host Russ Mitchell cited "a renewed cry for the shutdown of the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay after some shocking new reports of interrogation methods there." Plante claimed Bush "is taking heat from some unexpected quarters," including "from conservatives in his own party."

The June 13 CyberAlert recounted: Based upon one Republican Senator advocating the closure of the Guantanamo prison camp, another Republican Senator warning of declining public support for U.S. troops in Iraq, and one Republican U.S. Representative, Walter Jones, best-known for the silliness of re-naming french fries as "freedom fries," calling for the setting of a date to withdraw troops from Iraq, CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts on Sunday night led with "mounting criticism" of Bush from "members of his own Republican Party." Roberts insisted: "In what appears to be a significant shift in the political landscape of Washington, the President is losing support from some key Republicans on some very major issues." See: www.mediaresearch.org

On Sunday night, Plante highlighted how "Republican Senator Mel Martinez of Florida urged the White House to close the terrorist prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba," how "Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the administration is not providing enough support for American troops in Iraq, and unless things turn around said Graham, public support 'is going to keep slipping away,'" and how "North Carolina Republican Congressman Walter Jones, the man who coined the term 'Freedom Fries,' is calling for a timetable now for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq. Jones says the reason for invading -- weapons of mass destruction -- proved to be untrue."

Fast forward to Monday night, and CBS ran basically the same story again from Plante who pointed to how "Congressman Walter Jones, the man who coined the term 'Freedom Fries' to protest the lack of French support in the war, now wants a timetable for U.S. withdrawal." Leading into a soundbite from Senator Lindsey Graham, Plante asserted: "Other Republicans are now criticizing the administration's lack of planning for post-war Iraq."

Anchor Bob Schieffer set up the June 13 CBS Evening News story:
"Now to Iraq, where four suicide bombings and other attacks today killed at least 14 people. One was a young girl who died in a blast in Baghdad that missed a convoy carrying an American diplomat. The casualty count in Iraq and other war-related problems are also weighing heavily in Washington now, as Bill Plante reports from the White House."

Plante began, as corrected against the closed-captioning by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "The continuing violence and U.S. death toll in Iraq, coupled with the damage to America's image from alleged mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, are raising the political heat on President Bush. With even some Republicans now saying the prison camp should be closed, the Vice President pushed back today, not completely ruling that out, but warning that the prisoners there are the enemy."
Dick Cheney at the National Press Club: "In fact, I think, say if we didn't have that facility at Guantanamo to undertake this activity, we'd have to have it someplace else because they're a vital source of intelligence information."
Plante: "The Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee scorned the allegations of abuse at Guantanamo, hauling out meals he says are on the regular menu and saying the inmates never had it so good."
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA): "And the idea that somehow we are torturing people in Guantanamo is absolutely not true unless you consider having to eat chicken three times a week real torture."
Plante: "In Iraq, trying to show progress despite the continuing violence, the new government released video of Saddam Hussein being questioned and suggested his trial could begin in two months. But U.S. deaths in Iraq, now over 1,700, and the continuing insurgency are prompting a volley of second thoughts from Republicans. Congressman Walter Jones, the man who coined the term 'Freedom Fries' to protest the lack of French support in the war, now wants a timetable for U.S. withdrawal. Other Republicans are now criticizing the administration's lack of planning for post-war Iraq."
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), on Face the Nation: "We've been slow to adjust when it comes to troop strength and supporting our troops, and if we don't adjust, public opinion is going to keep slipping away."
Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), on CNN's Late Edition: "Many of us warned this administration before we ever put a boot on the ground there that we were going to be dealing with this kind of thing. We didn't have plans for it, and we are now where we are."
Plante concluded from the White House lawn: "And public support for the war keeps slipping. In the latest Gallup poll, nearly six in ten Americans say that the U.S. should begin withdrawing troops from Iraq, and that's up ten points since February."

Monday's Early Show ran a slightly re-jiggered version of PLante's Sunday night story, but the MRC's Brian Boyd noticed, Russ Mitchell set it up with a very questionable allegation: "Some war weary lawmakers are becoming more vocal in their criticism of U.S. policy in Iraq, including some former supporters of the invasion. There's also a renewed cry for the shutdown of the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay after some shocking new reports of interrogation methods there. CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante has more. Bill, good morning."

"Shocking reports of interrogation methods"? Shocking to CBS News, maybe, but not to most Americans.

Plante, at the White House, affirmed: "Good morning to you, Russ. That's right, the President is taking heat from some unexpected quarters, fallout from this war. Including from conservatives in his own party. Republican Senator Mel Martinez of Florida has now urged the White House to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, calling it 'an icon for bad stories.' This follows reports of very aggressive interrogation techniques on prisoners there and confirmation that the Muslim holy book, the Koran, was mishandled a number of times by American guards.
"On Face the Nation, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the administration is not providing enough support for American troops in Iraq. He warned that unless things turn around, public support 'is going to keep slipping away.'"

After a clip of Graham, Plante maintained: "And the London Times has obtained another briefing memo prepared for the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, in the summer of 2002, months before the official decision to go to war. In it British intelligence notes the dangers of the post-war period. 'A post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise.' The report says, 'As already made clear, the U.S. military plans are virtually silent on this point.'
"That memo was prepared for a Blair meeting with his ministers two days later. And notes from that meeting were leaked early last month, just before the British election. They show that the head of British intelligence told Blair that the U.S. was already committed to war and that 'intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.' Blair denied that during his recent visit to the White House."

Following a clip from Blair, Plante concluded: "And the White House is pushing back. It says there was post-war planning, points out the memo was written eight months before the political decision to go to war. And as for Guantanamo, the Vice President, in an interview to be broadcast today, says there are no plans to close the camp. And he says that the people who are at Guantanamo are there because they're bad people."

CBS's Storm & Time's Novak Fret About
Treatment of 20th Hijacker

CBS's Early Show on Monday provided a sympathetic platform for Time magazine's Viveca Novak to plug her magazine's new cover story on how Mohammed al-Qahtani, the 20th hijacker, was supposedly mistreated at Guantanamo in the months immediately after 9/11. Hannah Storm cued her up to recite the awful "methods" used on him. Novak recounted how "he was allowed to sleep only about four hours a day, was interrogated for 20 hours at a time. Various techniques were used. He was made to bark like a dog and obey dog commands. He was subjected to hours of music blasted at him so he couldn't sleep." Storm fretted: "The log says that one thing he found particularly agitating was something called 'invasion of space by a female.' What was that?" When Storm did get around to the Department of Defense's response, Novak countered that "legal experts" say that the Geneva Conventions "were not honored" in the case of al-Qahtani, as if that's something to be ashamed of.

At least al-Qahtani is alive to have a U.S. media outlet complain about his treatment, unlike the 3,000 murdered by his colleagues.

Referring to the Bill Plante story from earlier in the 7am half hour (see item #1 above), Storm set up the June 13 session: "As we said, a growing number of lawmakers want the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay to be shutdown. But despite allegations of detainee abuse, on Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney said there were no plans to close the prison, which houses what he called 'hard-core terrorists.' The latest issue of Time magazine reports on the Guantanamo interrogation of Mohammed al-Qahtani, 9/11's so called 20th hijacker. Time Washington correspondent Viveca Novak contributed to the article and she's also co-written a book on the prison called Inside the Wire."

Storm's first question, as taken down by the MRC's Brian Boyd: "Let's talk about this detainee, this al-Qahtani who was deported from the U.S. trying to enter before 9/11. In Afghanistan picked up about a year later and taken to Guantanamo Bay. What is the interrogation log show about the methods that were used there?"
Novak, from Washington, DC: "Well, al-Qahtani was subjected to some of the most rigorous interrogation procedures at Guantanamo. He was allowed to sleep only about four hours a day, was interrogated for 20 hours at a time. Various techniques were used. He was made to bark like a dog and obey dog commands. He was subjected to hours of music blasted at him so he couldn't sleep. He was deprived of opportunities to go to the bathroom sometimes so he urinated on himself. There were a number of techniques ranging from fear to humiliation and sometimes even to be nice to him to try to get him to cough up information."
Storm: "The log says that one thing he found particularly agitating was something called 'invasion of space by a female'. What was that?"
Novak: "That's right. It isn't clear exactly what interactions this female interrogator had with him. We know she was obviously pushing her body up close against his but the specifics aren't there. But it was so disturbing to him that he at one point said that he wanted to commit suicide because of her and he asked for material to write a will and he was given a crayon and a piece of paper. He did write a will which was later ripped up after he didn't answer an interrogator's question."
Storm's last question: "I'm going to read the Department of Defense statement regarding this. They say that his interrogation 'was guided by a very detailed plan and conducted by trained professionals motivated by a desire to gain actionable intelligence, to include information that might prevent additional attacks on America.' As far as you and your reporters could tell, were Geneva Conventions violated here?"
Novak: "Well, when we asked the Pentagon that, they don't answer the questions. They say, you know, the Geneva Conventions do not apply, we have said the Geneva Conventions do not apply to captives in the war on terror. But when we ask legal experts outside, they say very clearly that the Geneva Conventions do not apply and also that, that they were not honored here. And also that none of his statements could ever be used in a court of law because they were coerced."

Time headlined its June 20 cover story, "Inside the Interrogation of Detainee 063; EXCLUSIVE: TO GET THE '20TH HIJACKER' TO TALK, THE U.S. USED A WIDE RANGE OF TACTICS. A SECRET LOG REVEALS THE FIRST DOCUMENTED VIEW OF HOW GITMO REALLY WORKS"

For the story, which really shows how gentle the U.S. is given the evilness of the detainee, go to: www.time.com

Schieffer: Clinton Recognized Osama Threat,
If Not for Starr...

If it weren't for Ken Starr distracting Bill Clinton 9/11 could have been avoided? Interviewing Washington Post reporter John Harris, author of The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House, on Sunday's Face the Nation Bob Schieffer touted how Harris wrote that "Clinton really did early on recognize that Osama bin Laden was someone to be reckoned with." Schieffer ruminated, "I have always wondered: Do you think that had it not been for Monica Lewinsky and the scandal that was swirling around Bill Clinton, that we as Americans would have recognized earlier what a threat that Osama bin Laden posed because every time that Clinton would take action when he'd fire the missiles at what was supposed to be the terror training camp, people asked, 'Is this wagging the dog?,' 'Is this something to divert us from talking about Monica Lewinsky?'" Harris agreed that Clinton "understood the threat of Islamic terrorism generally, Osama bin Laden specifically, and yet he was not able to infuse his own government or the country at large with that sense of urgency."

Schieffer brought Harris aboard to discuss Senator Hillary Clinton's potential presidential bid. At the end of the segment, this exchange occurred on the June 12 Face the Nation:

Schieffer: "You know, you wrote also about the war on terrorism and how Clinton really did early on recognize that Osama bin Laden was someone to be reckoned with. I have always wondered: Do you think that had it not been for Monica Lewinsky and the scandal that was swirling around Bill Clinton, that we as Americans would have recognized earlier what a threat that Osama bin Laden posed because every time that Clinton would take action when he'd fire the missiles at what was supposed to be the terror training camp, people asked, 'Is this wagging the dog?,' 'Is this something to divert us from talking about Monica Lewinsky?'"
Harris: "I think that's the great tragedy of Bill Clinton's record on terrorism, that he understood the threat of Islamic terrorism generally, Osama bin Laden specifically, and yet he was not able to infuse his own government or the country at large with that sense of urgency. I do think the scandal was part of it. The nation as a whole was distracted, but I think also to some extent his own governing approach was part of that. He had a completely dysfunctional relationship with Louis Freeh, the FBI Director, and yet he didn't take action. He tolerated that dysfunctional relationship rather than, you know, doing what some of his people thought he should do which is just fire him and get in somebody that he could trust."

For Amazon.com's page on Harris' book, The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House, go to: www.amazon.com

Journalists Rue Greater Focus on 60 Minutes
than Bush's NG Record

After Dan Rather's June 4 standing ovation-earning address to the conference of the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) which C-SPAN played on Saturday night, IRE Board of Directors President David Boardman read questions from the audience of journalists, but only one generated applause, with some hoots and hollers mixed in from those packed into the ballroom at Denver's Grand Hyatt.
Listen to MP3 audio clip
Text of clip + audio archive

"How do you feel about the fact that journalists seem to have done more work in reviewing the 60 Minutes reporting than they have in examining the underlying story about President Bush?" said Boardman.

The C-SPAN video confirmed the standing ovations recounted in the June 6 CyberAlert, which related: Dan Rather "received standing ovations at the start and end of his 45-minute appearance" Saturday night in Denver as the keynote speaker at the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference, Dave McNary reported for Variety. Jim Hughes of the Denver Post recounted how "Rather left the room surrounded by star-struck, snapshot-taking reporters." Apparently, the reporters were unfazed by Rather's bad journalism. Daniel Zwerdling of NPR told Hughes: "Every journalist in this room, including me, makes mistakes. The question is, do we acknowledge them and learn from them? He has." See: www.mediaresearch.org

At the Saturday afternoon, June 4 event, Boardman, the Managing Editor of the Seattle Times, served as emcee and when Rather finished his pep talk about the value of investigative reporting, Boardman read some questions passed forward from the audience. But only this one generated applause: "How do you feel about the fact that journalists seem to have done more work in reviewing the 60 Minutes reporting than they have in examining the underlying story about President Bush?"
Applause, with some hoots and hollers mixed in, delayed Rather's response: "I appreciate the question, but remember that I said when you do this line of work, no excuses, no whining, no bad breaks and don't blame the coverage. You have to look to yourself and that's the way I feel about it."

For IRE's page on the annual conference, with video of Rather's address: www.ire.org

Check the posted version of this CyberAlert item later today for an MP3 audio clip of the question and the audience applause. For daily postings of MP3 clips reflecting bias, check out the MRC's "Hear the Bias" list at: www.mediaresearch.org

"Top Ten Things Overheard During the
Michael Jackson Verdict"

From the June 13 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Things Overheard During the Michael Jackson Verdict." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. "A celebrity acquitted in L.A.? Stunning."

9. "Of course he's nervous -- look how pale he is"

8. "Oh finally, I can go back to my normal life of Ferris wheels, pet monkeys and sleeping in oxygen chambers"

7. "No, I think he'll do fine in prison"

6. "Are those tears of joy, or are his cheek implants leaking?"

5. "Do you think this'll be on the news tonight?"

4. "We the jury find the defendant creepy"

3. "Michael, good news -- I just saved 15 percent on my car insurance by switching to Geico"

2. "I'm glad we live in a country where prison is reserved for dangerous outlaws like Martha Stewart"

1. "Another case of a white guy getting preferential treatment"


Numbers 10, 8, 6 and 2 above do not match the "Top Ten" as posted on the Late Show Web site as of 9:45am EDT, but they are what aired on the show. I'd guess that since the verdict came in less than a half hour before Letterman's 5:30pm EDT taping, he and/or some writers made some last minute decisions during a commercial break as to which proposed lines to use and not use. For the posted list with the different lines for four of the ten: www.cbs.com

-- Brent Baker