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CBS, and Then ABC and NBC, Catch Up with Pelosi Jet Controversy --2/8/2007


1. CBS, and Then ABC and NBC, Catch Up with Pelosi Jet Controversy
On Wednesday evening, CBS became the first of the broadcast networks to cover the controversy over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's efforts to acquire access to a larger military jet than what her predecessor used. CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric relayed that Pelosi's request for a "big travel upgrade" was coming at a time when "they're cracking down on congressional perks." After pointing out that Pelosi "finds herself on the defensive" as military officials are "grumbling," correspondent Sharyl Attkisson gave attention to House Republican Whip Roy Blunt's concern that the extra seats on such a large aircraft might be used for fund-raising purposes. ABC fully and NBC, barely, caught up on Thursday morning. Good Morning America news reader Chris Cuomo set up Jake Tapper's full story by dismissing the controversy: "Jake, is this about security or ego? Sounds like a case of jet envy." NBC's Ann Curry offered a brief mention in her 7am news update and then Matt Lauer squeezed in a question about it during a larger q and a with David Gregory: "Does it just look bad from a PR standpoint?" CBS's Early Show on Thursday ran a full report.

2. Schieffer Paints Republicans as Ones Blocking Iraq Resolution
On Wednesday's Early Show, CBS's Bob Schieffer utilized Democratic Party spin in discussing Monday evening's procedural vote in the Senate that blocked a vote on a non-binding Iraq resolution. Schieffer, appearing in his weekly "Capitol Bob" segment, blamed Republicans for blocking the vote and dismissed their arguments: "So they did the only thing that they could do, they used the Senate rules to block the vote. Now that group will give you another version of all this, but basically that's what happened." Schieffer failed to mention the reason Republicans blocked the vote and that is because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will not allow votes on two Republican alternatives. As the Washington Times noted on Wednesday: "Republican leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, has said he won't allow a vote on the resolution of no confidence unless a similar vote is allowed on two other resolutions."

3. Liberal Label Left Out in Coverage of Ruling Against Wal-Mart
Sometimes media bias can be found in what the networks don't say. On Tuesday, Wal-Mart suffered a major blow when the liberal 9th Circuit federal court in California ruled that a class action lawsuit claiming sex discrimination could proceed against the company. All three broadcast network evening newscasts reported the story, with ABC and CBS noting that a "federal appeals court" had sided with the female plaintiffs. Over on NBC, Nightly News anchor Brian Williams simply used the phrase "federal court." However, the 9th circuit isn't just any court. This is the group of judges that ruled the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. And, according to a report by the Center for Individual Freedoms, 32 percent of the reversals by the United States Supreme Court in 2003 came from the 9th Circuit.

4. Ted Kennedy Hails Helen Thomas as 'One of the Greatest Reporters'
At the Washington Press Club Foundation's Tuesday night dinner at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Ted Kennedy praised long-standing leftist UPI reporter Helen Thomas, now a Hearst columnist and author of a book scolding the rest of the press corps for being Bush tools (Watchdogs of Democracy? The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public). The Washington Post's Jose Antonio Vargas reported the praise offered by the two Democrats for Thomas, whom the foundation honored with a lifetime achievement award: "'On behalf of the House of Representatives, we salute Helen Thomas,' said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. 'You could have gotten [this award] over and over again, Helen.'" And Kennedy hailed her as "one of the greatest reporters in the history of the republic."

5. "Top Ten Signs an Astronaut Is Trying to Kill You"
Letterman's "Top Ten Signs an Astronaut Is Trying to Kill You."


CBS, and Then ABC and NBC, Catch Up with
Pelosi Jet Controversy

On Wednesday evening, CBS became the first of the broadcast networks to cover the controversy over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's efforts to acquire access to a larger military jet than what her predecessor used. CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric relayed that Pelosi's request for a "big travel upgrade" was coming at a time when "they're cracking down on congressional perks." After pointing out that Pelosi "finds herself on the defensive" as military officials are "grumbling," correspondent Sharyl Attkisson gave attention to House Republican Whip Roy Blunt's concern that the extra seats on such a large aircraft might be used for fund-raising purposes.

ABC fully and NBC, barely, caught up on Thursday morning. Good Morning America news reader Chris Cuomo set up Jake Tapper's full story by dismissing the controversy: "Jake, is this about security or ego? Sounds like a case of jet envy." NBC's Ann Curry offered a brief mention in her 7am news update and then Matt Lauer squeezed in a question about it during a larger q and a with David Gregory: "Does it just look bad from a PR standpoint?" CBS's Early Show on Thursday ran a full report.

According to a Nexis search, before Wednesday evening the only non-FNC television mentions of the controversy -- first highlighted by the Washington Times -- came several times this week on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight and once on MSNBC's Tucker.

For a Wednesday NewsBusters posting, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth provided a transcript of the February 7 CBS Evening News story: newsbusters.org

Katie Couric: "Now, to a story that has Washington buzzing tonight. At a time when they're cracking down on congressional perks, the new Speaker of the House is apparently asking for a big travel upgrade. Sharyl Attkisson reports from Capitol Hill."

Sharyl Attkisson: "Ever since 9/11, a small military jet like this has been made available to transport the Speaker of the House for security reasons. The Speaker is second in the line of succession to the presidency. Back then, it was Republican Dennis Hastert. Now it's Democrat Nancy Pelosi. But she may be getting a little more leg room. Speaker Pelosi is reportedly asking for a much bigger jet, a government version of the Boeing 757 that can make the trip between Washington and her San Francisco home without stopping to refuel. The Speaker's critics have dubbed it Pelosi One. Military officials are said to be grumbling about it, and the Speaker finds herself on the defensive. Today she insisted size doesn't really matter."
Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker, clip #1: "It's not a question of size, it's a question of distance."
Pelosi clip #2: "We want an aircraft that can reach California."
Attkisson: "But an aircraft like that can comfortably seat 50. And Republican leader Roy Blunt is among those questioning how all those extra seats might get filled."
Roy Blunt, House Minority Whip: "You know, if you can say to your supporters, you want to fly with me from San Francisco this week, spend the week in New York, and then fly with me back, that's an incredible perk. It's an incredible fund-raising tool."
Attkisson: "Pelosi's office told us she'll follow all the appropriate guidelines. Problem is there aren't any yet. Because of the flack, the Defense Department is now said to be quickly writing rules for the Speaker's plane, everything from size to who can go along for the ride."


# ABC didn't get to it until Thursday's Good Morning America. The MRC's Scott Whitlock corrected the closed-captioning against the video to produce this transcript of the February 8 segment:

Chris Cuomo: "We begin with the turbulence over Speaker Nancy Pelosi request for a new plane. A request that has been quickly turned down. Senior national correspondent Jake Tapper has the latest on the controversy from Capitol Hill. Jake, is this about security or ego? Sounds like a case of jet envy."

Jake Tapper: "Well, Chris, I guess it depends upon who you ask. Ever since 9/11, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, which is second in line to the presidency behind only the Vice President, been afforded use of the military jet to travel for security reasons. But Speaker Pelosi wanted use of a plane that could get her all the way to her California district without having to stop and refuel, perhaps even a large luxury plane. And just a few hours ago, the Pentagon rejected her request. Former Speaker Dennis Hastert used a 12-passenger C-20 plane to fly him to and from his Illinois district."
Tony Snow: "Speaker Hastert had access to military aircraft and speaker Pelosi will, too."
Tapper: "But which aircraft? Speaker Pelosi's home district is in San Francisco. And the plane used by Hastert cannot make the 2,800-mile flight without stopping to refuel. Pelosi says those in charge of her security wanted her to get a larger plane to reach California nonstop."
Pelosi: "There's a lot of focus on the first woman Speaker. They think there is a need for this security."
Tapper: One option -- the large, lavish C-32, with a bedroom, conference room and entertainment center. Republicans slammed Pelosi for extravagance, a charge Pelosi rejected in an interview with Fox's Greta Van Susteren."
Pelosi: "I'm happy to go commercial. But they want me to go on this plane, so the issue is distance, not size."
Tapper: "Last night, the Pentagon announced Pelosi would have to stick with the smaller plane Hastert used and they imposed rules, no more than 10 passengers, no travel to political events and reimbursement for any family members traveling with her. Those are roughly the same guidelines that Hastert used. Speaker Pelosi's office said they will review the offer from the Pentagon and, Chris, they will respond accordingly."


# Over on NBC's Today, after a short item on it by news reader Ann Curry, Matt Lauer raised it at the very end of an interview wit White House reporter David Gregory about "gridlock" in Washington. The MRC's Geoffrey Dickens provided a transcript:

Lauer: "Hey David before I let you go let's talk about the, the size of the plane that Nancy Pelosi has requested from the Pentagon. Depending on the spin you want to believe here. Either, either the Speaker says it's to travel efficiently back and forth to her home district. The Republicans are saying it's an abuse of power. Either way does it just look bad from a PR standpoint?"
Gregory: "Well I think that's a problem. This is a Democratic leader who's promising to clean up Washington. It's worth remembering post-9/11 the House Speaker gets private air travel by the Air Force to go back to his or her home district. Dennis Hastert went back to Chicago, Nancy Pelosi is going back to San Francisco. She wants the ability to be able to go direct and not have to refuel along the way and have some family members travel with her. None of that is, is untoward but the, the Air Force is saying, the military is saying, 'Look we can't guarantee you a 757,' which is essentially what she wants, 'it depends on availability.' Republicans are saying, 'Look, bottom-line here, that this is more than just efficiency, this is extravagance.'"
Lauer: "Right and, and if you were a PR firm, you know, kind of giving guidance to the Speaker you'd probably say take the refueling stop and smile, right?"
Gregory: "Right, right and that's something she's gonna have to grapple with, I think, in the days to come."

Schieffer Paints Republicans as Ones
Blocking Iraq Resolution

On Wednesday's Early Show, CBS's Bob Schieffer utilized Democratic Party spin in discussing Monday evening's procedural vote in the Senate that blocked a vote on a non-binding Iraq resolution. Schieffer, appearing in his weekly "Capitol Bob" segment, blamed Republicans for blocking the vote and dismissed their arguments: "So they did the only thing that they could do, they used the Senate rules to block the vote. Now that group will give you another version of all this, but basically that's what happened."

Schieffer failed to mention the reason Republicans blocked the vote and that is because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will not allow votes on two Republican alternatives. As the Washington Times noted on Wednesday: "Republican leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, has said he won't allow a vote on the resolution of no confidence unless a similar vote is allowed on two other resolutions." See: www.washingtontimes.com

Reid may worry that the Republican versions may be more popular. As CBS News Capitol Hill Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson noted on Tuesday's Early Show, the alternative offered by New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg may get the most votes in the Senate: "The Gregg Resolution is seen as positive for the President and the idea that it could end up with the most votes isn't part of the Democrats' plan."

[This item is adopted from a posting, by Michael Rule, Wednesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

But the fact that it may be the most popular measure, is that enough reason to forbid a vote on it? It would appear not as even the New York Times editorial page criticized Senator Reid on his decision to bar votes on alternative proposals: "But the right way for the Senate to debate Iraq is to debate Iraq, not to bar proposals from the floor because they might be passed. The majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, needs to call a timeout and regroup." See: www.nytimes.com

But none of these facts were presented by Schieffer. In fact, "Capitol Bob" concluded that the parliamentary tactic used by the Republicans to block a vote "may backfire" on them: "It could backfire on the Republicans, because every newspaper in America yesterday for example had on the front page, virtually every newspaper, 'Republicans Block Vote on War.' So the Democrats think that they've got the high ground on this."

Indeed, on Tuesday night FNC's Brit Hume had scolded the mainstream media for framing their coverage, of the Senate battle over Iraq resolutions, around a spin favorable to Democrats. Citing headlines, such "GOP blocks a debate over Iraq policy" in the New York Times, Hume countered: "In fact, of course, both sides were trying to have the debate on terms most favorable to their party, but in this case as it happened, the Republicans were actually seeking a broader debate with more resolutions considered while the Democrats wanted to address just those that seemed most likely to come out their way." For more, check the February 7 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

Schieffer's February 7 segment:

Hannah Storm: "This morning in Washington, the Senate is in a stalemate. Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on a non-binding resolution to show disapproval for President Bush's troop surge in Iraq. To find out why, we turn to 'Capitol Bob,' CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent and host of 'Face the Nation' Bob Schieffer. Good morning, Bob."
Bob Schieffer: "How are you, Hannah?"
Hannah Storm: "I'm just great, thanks. Well, the Senate can't even bring itself to debate a resolution on Iraq. They're all caught up in these procedural issues right now. What's it going to take to break the logjam?"
Bob Schieffer: "Well, I'm not sure it's going to be broken, number one Hannah. But basically what has happened here is, I mean, all sides are crying foul and I think probably all sides are right on this one. But here is what happened. You have three groups of people in the Senate. The Democrats are all against this war. The Republicans, and there are about 20 of them, many of them have to run for re-election in 2008. They want to put some distance between themselves and the President's war policy because they know this is a very unpopular war. Those two groups together have enough votes to pass a resolution that will be critical of the President's war policy. Now, there's a third group and that is the Republican leaders in the Senate and the Republicans who don't have to run for reelection next time, they're trying to avoid a vote that would be embarrassing to the President. They know the other groups have the votes to pass this resolution. So they did the only thing that they could do, they used the Senate rules to block the vote. Now that group will give you another version of all this, but basically that's what happened."
Hannah Storm: "How does the fact that several Senators are planning on running for president, how is that impacting the situation? Are they sort of taunting their own plans and not getting down to work and compromising with other people in the Senate?"
Bob Schieffer: "Well, actually, I think most of them are running for President." (Laughs)
Hannah Storm: "That's true."
Bob Schieffer: "Yes. But that is what they're trying to do. Everybody is trying to stake out a position on this war. They know it is very, very unpopular with the public. They know that the President's approval ratings are very low at this point. They want to separate themselves, but the tricky part is -- they don't want to go on record as wanting to cut off funds for the troops that are there, they can just see the television commercials if they do that. So that is what has made this so tricky. It could backfire on the Republicans, because every newspaper in America yesterday for example had on the front page, virtually every newspaper, 'Republicans Block Vote on War.' So the Democrats think that they've got the high ground on this. We'll find out as this story begins to, you know, continue on. But for now, I think, Hannah, we're not going to see a resolution come to the Senate floor."
Hannah Storm: "And real quickly, how much does it matter anyway? Does a non-binding resolution really have any teeth? Is it going to affect the President's policy in any way?"
Bob Schieffer: "Well, actually, I think it would because it would tend to isolate the President, but here's what may also happen. Some of the Democrats were telling me yesterday after this episode, they may actually when they -- what they call the supplemental appropriation, which is the money they use to pay for this war, when it comes to the Senate over the next two weeks, they may look for places in that supplemental appropriations bill to cut off certain funds, not funds -- not funds for the troops that are already there but funds that could prevent the President from sending more troops. And that may well happen. They don't have the votes to do it yet, but it could happen. They're thinking seriously now about it."
Hannah Storm: "Yeah. Meanwhile, the House isn't waiting. They're going to set aside a few days for their own debate next week. Bob Schieffer, thanks as always."

Liberal Label Left Out in Coverage of
Ruling Against Wal-Mart

Sometimes media bias can be found in what the networks don't say. On Tuesday, Wal-Mart suffered a major blow when the liberal 9th Circuit federal court in California ruled that a class action lawsuit claiming sex discrimination could proceed against the company. All three broadcast network evening newscasts reported the story, with ABC and CBS noting that a "federal appeals court" had sided with the female plaintiffs. Over on NBC, Nightly News anchor Brian Williams simply used the phrase "federal court."

However, the 9th circuit isn't just any court. This is the group of judges that ruled the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. And, according to a report by the Center for Individual Freedoms, 32 percent of the reversals by the United States Supreme Court in 2003 came from the 9th Circuit: www.centerforindividualfreedom.org

[This item is adapted from a posting, by Scott Whitlock, on the MRC's NewsBusters blog: newsbusters.org ]

And yet, none of the network anchors thought this a pertinent point. World News anchor Charlie Gibson instead chose to hype the enormity of the case as he led with it:
"It is a lawsuit so large in scope and size, that it staggers the imagination. A federal appeals court ruled today that a gender bias suit against Wal-Mart can proceed in what is known as a class-action suit. That means a million and a half to two million women would-be plaintiffs arguing, as a group or class, that Wal-Mart discriminated against them in providing promotions and in paying them less than male employees. Here's our senior law and justice correspondent, Jim Avila."

In fact, the 9th circuit became so notorious, that there has been talk of dismantling it: www.law.com

However, in the February 6 story, ABC's Jim Avila seemed almost excited by the "message" that would be sent to corporate America: "Wal-Mart attorneys lost their argument that defending a class-action suit is unfair because it would be impossible to cross-examine each of the two million women accusing them. Wal-Mart claimed its workers should be required to sue each store individually. Today, the court majority said that is impossible. But the lone dissenting judge worried that a class-action suit would reward all plaintiffs equally and enrich undeserving workers and lawyers. Next for Wal-Mart, attorneys will appeal to anyone who will listen, from the full appeals court to the Supreme Court. But if Wal-Mart loses, it could cost them billions in damage, sending an expensive message to corporate America that no matter how big you are, employee discrimination can be costly."

Both the NBC Nightly News and the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric featured news briefs on the story. Neither mentioned the 9th Circuit's liberal history or proclivity to be overturned. Apparently labels are only necessary when one is discussing conservatives.

Ted Kennedy Hails Helen Thomas as 'One
of the Greatest Reporters'

At the Washington Press Club Foundation's Tuesday night dinner at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Ted Kennedy praised long-standing leftist UPI reporter Helen Thomas, now a Hearst columnist and author of a book scolding the rest of the press corps for being Bush tools (Watchdogs of Democracy? The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public). The Washington Post's Jose Antonio Vargas reported the praise offered by the two Democrats for Thomas, whom the foundation honored with a lifetime achievement award: "'On behalf of the House of Representatives, we salute Helen Thomas,' said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. 'You could have gotten [this award] over and over again, Helen.'" And Kennedy hailed her as "one of the greatest reporters in the history of the republic."

The story by Vargas appeared on the front of the "Style" section in Wednesday's "final" edition and inside "Style" in Thursday's home delivery editions: www.washingtonpost.com

Back in 2003, at a Society of Professional Journalists awards event in California, Thomas earned liberal admiration. "This is the worst President ever," she said of George W. Bush, "He is the worst President in all of American history." See: www.mediaresearch.org

"Top Ten Signs an Astronaut Is Trying
to Kill You"

From the February 6 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Signs an Astronaut Is Trying to Kill You." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. Says, "This is a giant leap for mankind" as she tosses you off a bridge

9. You turn on CNN and see the Hubble Telescope focusing on your house

8. She promises to "Take you out like Pluto"

7. It sounds crazy, but you could swear Mars is following you

6. You were on the "Maury" episode: "I Had A Booty Call And Now An Astronaut Is Trying To Kill Me"

5. Her previous attempts to kill you have been postponed due to high winds

4. She poisons your Tang

3. Says she looks forward to being the first to walk on your lifeless corpse

2. Been getting threatening emails from Connie@InternationalSpaceStation.com

1. She keeps stabbing you with a pen that writes upside down

-- Brent Baker