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CBS: Air-Conditioned Bush Should "Wake Up and Smell the Coffee" --9/21/2005


1. CBS: Air-Conditioned Bush Should "Wake Up and Smell the Coffee"
CBS on Tuesday night delivered a sarcastic look at President Bush's visit to the Gulf coast. After reciting a list of problems people are having in New Orleans, reporter Sharyn Alfonsi jumped to a soundbite of Bush in Mississippi, declaring: "Every time I come back here, I see progress." Alfonsi gratuitously pointed out that Bush was "speaking inside an air-conditioned tent" and noted how "he toured a Folgers plant in Louisiana" but, she stressed, "small business owners say this kind of progress is the exception." Then, over video of a row of damaged and abandoned store fronts in New Orleans, she countered: "This is the reality." Alfonsi made it personal, holding Bush responsible for the frustrations of a French Quarter restaurant owner: "After five visits in three weeks, they want the President to wake up and smell the coffee." (That cute line ran over video of Bush, in a sweat-soaked shirt, shaking hands at the coffee plant.) Restaurant owner Arly Questa demanded: "Hang out, no air-conditioning, eat some MRE's every day, and then you might really understand what it's been like down here in New Orleans."
with audio/video

2. Katie Couric and Matt Lauer Blame Hurricanes on Global Warming
You knew it was coming. The Hurricane Katrina inspired global warming stories. Well at the top of Wednesday's Today show Matt Lauer invoked one of the media's favorite boogeymen: "Then why are there so many hurricanes this year and is global warming to blame? We'll take a closer look at that."

3. CBS Gives Court TV's Crier Forum to Denounce the "Extreme Right"
CBS's Harry Smith, on last Friday's Early Show, gave Court TV anchor Catherine Crier, a former ABC News reporter, a platform to expand on the theme of her new book, as summarized by Smith: "A concerted effort by ultra-conservatives to influence the federal judicial system. The book is called Contempt: How the Right is Wronging American Justice." Smith never challenged Crier's thesis and instead prompted her to expound upon how the religious right is supposedly misguided in assuming the founders were Christians, approaching her with such questions as: "Delineate what do you think those folks that we're talking about, say, from Justice Sunday, what do you think they want most that you think is detrimental to the country?" When she wasn't forward enough for Smith, he pressed her to hit harder: "And the danger is to you?"


CBS: Air-Conditioned Bush Should "Wake
Up and Smell the Coffee"

CBS on Tuesday night delivered a sarcastic look at President Bush's visit to the Gulf coast. After reciting a list of problems people are having in New Orleans, reporter Sharyn Alfonsi jumped to a soundbite of Bush in Mississippi, declaring: "Every time I come back here, I see progress."Alfonsi gratuitously pointed out that Bush was "speaking inside an air-conditioned tent" and noted how "he toured a Folgers plant in Louisiana" but, she stressed, "small business owners say this kind of progress is the exception."


Listen to MP3 audio clip
Text of clip + audio archive
Video: Windows | Real

Then, over video of a row of damaged and abandoned store fronts in New Orleans, she countered: "This is the reality." Alfonsi made it personal, holding Bush responsible for the frustrations of a French Quarter restaurant owner: "After five visits in three weeks, they want the President to wake up and smell the coffee." (That cute line ran over video of Bush, in a sweat-soaked shirt, shaking hands at the coffee plant.) Restaurant owner Arly Questa demanded: "Hang out, no air-conditioning, eat some MRE's every day, and then you might really understand what it's been like down here in New Orleans."

[This item was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. For a picture of Bush in his sweat-soaked shirt and a video excerpt, in both RealPlayer and Windows Media formats, go to this NewsBusters node: newsbusters.org ]

Sharyn Alfonsi began her September 20 CBS Evening News story from New Orleans with how French Quarter restaurant owner Arly Questa is frustrated she can't get supplies and can't leave and return with them, how people are confused in general because they were allowed to return and now are told they must leave, and how, though told to pack supplies and cash, people are unable to get cash from ATMs. Following some clips of people expressing disappointment that ATMs are out of cash, Alfonsi jumped to this clip of Bush before a crowd inside a big tent:

George W. Bush: "Every time I come back here, I see progress."
Alfonsi asserted: "Speaking inside an air-conditioned tent in Gulfport, Mississippi, President Bush said he's impressed with the progress along the Gulf Coast. Later, he toured a Folgers plant [video of Bush holding can of coffee] in Louisiana. But small business owners say this kind of progress is the exception. This is the reality [video of a row of damaged and abandoned store fronts]. After five visits in three weeks, they want the President to wake up and smell the coffee [more video of Bush, with a sweat-soaked shirt (see still shot to right) at the coffee plant]."
Arly Questa, restaurant owner, in front of her bar: "Hang out, no air-conditioning, eat some MRE's every day, and then you might really understand what it's been like down here in New Orleans."
Alfonsi: "Desperate?"
Questa: "Yes, very."

Alfonsi concluded with how French Quarter restaurants may lose $500 million this year and that the Navy is moving its ships out of New Orleans to avoid the new hurricane.

Katie Couric and Matt Lauer Blame Hurricanes
on Global Warming

You knew it was coming. The Hurricane Katrina inspired global warming stories. Well at the top of Wednesday's Today show Matt Lauer invoked one of the media's favorite boogeymen: "Then why are there so many hurricanes this year and is global warming to blame? We'll take a closer look at that."

[The MRC's Geoffrey Dickens posted this item this morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: Exposing and Combating Liberal Media Bias. To add your comment, go to this node on NewsBusters: newsbusters.org ]

At 7:18am, Katie Couric, with a graphic next to her running down the names of all the hurricanes this season, conjectured that global warming was causing so many hurricanes this year the government was running out of names for them:
"Hurricane season ends November 1st but already people are asking why have there been so many? It has been a brutal year. 17 named storms in the Atlantic, nine of them hurricanes. Among them Arlene, Dennis, the deadly Katrina and now Rita. So many in fact that only four names are left. Stan, Tammy, Vince and Wilma. After that the National Hurricane Center would have to use the Greek alphabet. Are humans partially to blame for all these natural disasters? Here's NBC's Tom Costello."

Tom Costello: "It's a question over which scientists are divided. Is global warming to blame for warmer oceans and an increase in the number of violent hurricanes? Researcher Judith Curry says the evidence is compelling."
Judith Curry, Georgia Tech: "Once you do a five-year average you, you see things lining up very consistently in terms of the category four and five hurricanes with the sea surface temperature."
Costello: "Here's why. In the 1970s category 4 and 5 storms accounted for 20 percent of all hurricanes but since 1995 they've made up 35 percent and during the same period ocean temperatures have risen by one degree on average.
Curry: "It raises the average category of the storms about one category."
Hmm, a five year average, now that's quite an extensive sample. Costello did bring on Gerry Bell of NOAA who countered Curry:
"But the government's lead seasonal hurricane forecaster says it's hard to prove a link with global warming."
Gerry Bell, NOAA: "Just because you have warmer oceans does not mean in any way that, that is caused by greenhouse warming."

However any of Today's viewers who didn't stick around for the full report and only got the teases from Katie and Matt were left with the typical 'The sky is falling' fearmongering line of the media.

CBS Gives Court TV's Crier Forum to Denounce
the "Extreme Right"

CBS's Harry Smith, on last Friday's Early Show, gave Court TV anchor Catherine Crier, a former ABC News reporter, a platform to expand on the theme of her new book, as summarized by Smith: "A concerted effort by ultra-conservatives to influence the federal judicial system. The book is called Contempt: How the Right is Wronging American Justice." Smith never challenged Crier's thesis and instead prompted her to expound upon how the religious right is supposedly misguided in assuming the founders were Christians, approaching her with such questions as: "Delineate what do you think those folks that we're talking about, say, from Justice Sunday, what do you think they want most that you think is detrimental to the country?" When she wasn't forward enough for Smith, he pressed her to hit harder: "And the danger is to you?"

Last week, the MRC's Tim Graham alerted me, National Review's "Media Blog" highlighted how the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, during an online chat, had picked up on a September 11 rant from Crier on the HuffingtonPost blog. Crier charged:
"The extreme Right has conquered the executive and legislative branches of government, but it has not been able to bring the federal courts to heel...yet. Undoubtedly, this group has a prodigious impact on the Supreme Court and the other federal courts, but it wants so much more. Its leaders have taken an entity that innately resists politics and turned it into a highly politicized battle zone. They seethe over this unelected, independent third branch of government, the last bulwark between the American people and their attempted coup. That some federal judges have proven well educated, fair, and unintimidated by these voices and methods has further stymied their best-laid plans...
"Most of them would like to see the United States under biblical law. Comparable to countries like Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, all of which live by Sharia (the strict Islamic code of the Koran), America's right-wing fundamentalists seek a nation governed by Old and New Testament scripture. Born-again Christianity will supplant the Constitution."

Maybe for few true extremists, but that's hardly the perspective of most conservatives or anyone being nominated for federal judgeships.

For the National Review posting: media.nationalreview.com

For Kurtz's posting: www.washingtonpost.com

For Crier's September 11 HuffingtonPost posting: www.huffingtonpost.com

The MRC's Ken Shepherd caught Crier's September 16 interview during the 8:30am half hour of CBS's Early Show.

Harry Smith: "Despite the tough line of questioning that he has been facing on Capitol Hill, federal Judge John Roberts, is expected to be confirmed as the next chief justice of the United States. Most legal experts believe he will bring a conservative philosophy to the bench. Court TV's Catherine Crier, a former judge herself, has written a new book about what she believes is a concerted effort by ultra-conservatives to influence the federal judicial system. The book is called Contempt: How the Right is Wronging American Justice. And Catherine Crier is with us."

Smith: "First things first. Let's talk about Roberts. Some people are not familiar with the process and say 'How come he's not answering the questions?' But there really is a precedent for him not answering the questions."
Crier: "Surely. Surely. I remember when I ran in '84, I used to tell people even as a state judge, 'There are things I can't answer for you.' So it's not just a Ginsburg rule in the '90s. Judges cannot give advisory opinions. But that also gives you a lot of wiggle room to say, 'Well, that's impinging upon that area.'"
Smith: "Right, right. Yeah, whenev-, Joe Biden or somebody said, 'I'm not sure -- you haven't really told us -- well, we're not sure what we're getting here,' it's kind of a leap of faith."
Crier: "Well, it actually is."
Smith: "Yeah."
Crier: "The administration knows. I mean, they've quizzed this guy and they know what they're sending out there."
Smith: "Right."
Crier: "But the senators can't really get as far as they'd like."
Smith: "Let us talk about this book because this is interesting to me. I've known you for many, many years. I first knew of you as a judge -- What? -- youngest judge ever elected in the state of Texas, as a Republican."
Crier: "Yes."
Smith: "Right?"
Crier: "Mm-hmm."
Smith: "And this book is really very much an argument about what you think is wrong with what's happening, especially in the federal court system-"
Crier: "Big time."
Smith: "-brought about by the religious right."
Crier: "Yes."
Smith: "And I have to confess, I was, I said, 'I didn't see this coming from you.'"
Crier: "Who is this woman? Who is this woman?"
Smith: "Yeah. What prompted you to write it in the first place?"
Crier: "I care very much about the judiciary. Obviously, the law and judiciary has been my life for a very long time. And when I see the Founding Fathers' idea about this system being subverted, I'm very concerned. And by the time we got around to Justice Sunday in April when all of a sudden you've got leadership in Congress, Tom DeLay and others, you've got religious leaders saying, 'The judges are arrogant. They want to destroy America. They hate our country!' And I think of all of these dedicated civil servants, who work for a lot less than they'd get as a lawyer who care very much about the system, left, right and middle, I said, 'Somebody's got to stand up and say, enough. Enough.' This is not true."
Smith: "I mean, as we understand it, they talk about activist judges and some of the stuff that they ask for is pretty simple. They want, you know, like Judge Moore wants, you know, to be able to put the Ten Commandments in the courthouse."
Crier: "But you know what? The Founding Fathers had some real trouble with religion in Europe. And when they got over here, they said, 'We are going to make sure we have a secular government.' That doesn't mean amoral or immoral. It's based upon all of the values and principles that we love and hold so dear. But we are not going to have a religious influence dictating the direction of the government. That's what he'd like."
Smith: "So the stuff they quote all about our kind of Christian foundation and that our Founding Fathers believed this and they believed that and-"
Crier: "Not true, not true. I've got a chapter in the book. Our Founding Fathers were Deists, which is not an amoral thing. They believed in a God, but not, they don't talk about Christ. Christ is nowhere in the Constitution. They don't write about this.
Smith: "Right."
Crier: "They believed that God was up there, and they hoped God looked down favorably on the United States. But even in a treaty written a couple of years after the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence, it says specifically, 'This was not founded as a Christian nation,' which doesn't mean we are not a religious nation."
Smith: "It's pretty interesting, because a lot of these guys quote Thomas Jefferson and what not. As best I know, he was an agnostic."
Crier: "You remember that Jefferson wrote -- took his Bible, cut it apart, took out all the Scriptures, all the miracles, the virgin birth, everything else. And what he was left with were Jesus' teachings. And he said this was the most ethical moral conversation he'd ever heard. He wanted that in this country."
Smith: "Delineate what do you think those folks that we're talking about, say, from Justice Sunday, what do you think they want most that you think is detrimental to the country?"
Crier: "When you listen to their words, quoting their words alone, they want a biblical influence in the government structure. They've actually supported legislation that says if a government official, including a judge, makes a ruling based upon biblical law, that that cannot be reviewed by our court system. So they can supplant secular law with biblical law, and that's okay."
Smith: "And the danger of, and the danger is to you-"
Crier: "That's a theocracy. That's a theocracy. It's not a democracy. One of the things the Founding Fathers said, 'The greatest danger of a democracy is majority rule, unbridled majority rule.' And what they're asking for today in so many respects is 'A lot of us' -- and they don't represent the entire country, but -- 'A lot of us want X, and therefore it should pass regardless of the Constitution.'"
Smith: "Personal risk to you as a public figure who makes her living on television, who needs to be able to appeal to a wide range of people, to come out and make a statement like this?"
Crier: "I love this country. I believe in the American people. I think that the silent majority wants the system that the Founding Fathers asked for and supported. I believe they're there. I'm not anti-religion. Let's just keep this wonderful government the system intended us to have."
Smith: "Catherine, nice to see you."

-- Brent Baker