CBS Belittles Bush's Convention Speech After Fawning Over Kerry --9/3/2004
2. Removal of Hecklers for "Political Expression" Baffles Jennings
3. ABC, FNC & MSNBC Praise Speech, NBC Cites NO WMD or Out-Sourcing
4. Joe Klein Applauds Kerry Attack on Cheney: "About Time"
5. Gergen Recalls Maddox in Calling Miller's Speech One of "Hate"
6. FNC's Hume Picks Up on Slams at Miller as "Ugly" and "Racist"
7. Peter and Dan Raise Fairness of Swift Boat Ads with Mrs. Bush
8. CBS and ABC Fact Checks: Kerry Just Like Cheney on Defense
9. Rather Frets Campaign Will Force "Prairie Dogs...in Their Holes"
CBS News, which had fawned over John Kerry's convention appearance, belittled George W. Bush's effort. Just before Kerry emerged into the hall in July, Byron Pitts passed along sycophantic spin points from Kerry operatives about how before every important event Kerry will "make a sign of the cross, then kiss the St. Christopher's medallion his mother gave him as a child." Plus, Kerry always keeps with him his "Vietnam dog tags" as a reminder he's "been down, but he always finds a way to get up." Thursday night before Bush emerged, John Roberts rued how he was expected to use the "compassionate conservative" phrase even "though some critics would probably say it's a mantra that rings pretty hollow considering some of the policies that his government has pursued in the last three-and-half years."
After Kerry's speech, Pitts relayed how Kerry had supposedly reminded his sister that on her deathbed their mother told him, "integrity, that's what matters," and "tonight," Pitts truckled, "John Kerry tried to show that integrity." Five weeks later, following Bush's address, Roberts pointed out: "He seems to have completely forgotten about Osama bin Laden who remains at large. There was no talk about him. Also no talk about a couple of the other great challenges facing America on the international stage, and those are the problems with nuclear programs in both Iran and North Korea."
Earlier, wrapping up a CBS Evening News piece, Roberts had taken the same shot at the "compassionate conservative" phrase he did hours later before Bush's speech. On the Evening News, Roberts warned of a claim Bush would make in his upcoming speech: "He hopes to rekindle his year 2000 mantra of compassionate conservatism, a goal his critics say would be a stunning feat given his record of the past three years."
Comparing and contrasting Pitts and Roberts matches up since they hold the equivalent positions at CBS News with Pitts covering Kerry and Roberts assigned to Bush.
Near the top of CBS's prime time 10pm EDT hour on Thursday night, from a backstage spot, Roberts previewed: "You're also going to hear the words 'compassionate conservative' escape the President's lips for the first time in quite a while. That was the mantra that he wore in the 2000 election, a mantra that he believes helped him win that election, so he is going to try to adopt that again in the 2004 campaign, though some critics would probably say it's a mantra that rings pretty hollow considering some of the policies that his government has pursued in the last three-and-half years."
Following President Bush's speech, Roberts asserted, over video of on-stage celebrating: "On job loss, the President actually wasn't as strong as he typically is on the topic when he's out on the campaign trail where he says certainly the economy has begun creating some jobs, but we're not doing as well as we need to, we need to do a lot better. There wasn't much about that. He just talked about programs to create more jobs in the future."
Roberts then got in his jab: "It is interesting to note though, Dan, he seems to have completely forgotten about Osama bin Laden who remains at large. There was no talk about him. Also no talk about a couple of the other great challenges facing America on the international stage, and those are the problems with nuclear programs in both Iran and North Korea."
CBS's Bob Schieffer, who following Kerry's speech had gushed about how "this is the best speech I have ever heard John Kerry make," was less impressed with Bush's effort, complaining that it "was too long." Schieffer's evaluation of Bush: "I certainly agree with you, Dan, that the last part of this speech was the best part of the speech. But it took him a long time to get there. I think the speech, just quite frankly, was too long. We were told that he was going to lay out a bold program, a bold agenda for the next four years. I'm not sure he did that, but, as you say, he did lay out a list of ideas, many of which had been around for quite some time."
For the July 30 CyberAlert morning edition item, "Sycophantic Pitts Passes Along Fawning Spin Points About Kerry," complete with RealPlayer video clips: www.mrc.org
For the CyberAlert item about how Schieffer and the other networks assessed Kerry, "Rave Reviews for Delivery and Substance of Kerry's Speech," go to: www.mrc.org
Oddest comment of the night: Explaining the removal from the convention hall of two protesters who heckled President Bush, ABC's Peter Jennings was befuddled: "What they could be charged with, other than political expression, I do not know."
Jennings made his comment during ABC's post-speech coverage as he filled-in viewers on what caused the commotion during Bush's speech which had prompted the audience to drown out the protesters by chanting "four more years!"
I'm sure there are plenty of charges available for people who trespass and then disrupt a private event. Would Jennings be so enamored of "political expression" if it interrupted his newscast?
President Bush received laudatory comments from ABC, FNC and MSNBC analysts and reporters for his Thursday night convention address, though CBS went negative (see item #1 above) and NBC emphasized some Bush-bashing Democratic talking points. ABC's Peter Jennings cited Bush's "real grace and heartfelt emotion" and George Stephanopoulos suggested that by showing "self-deprecation" Bush has given "voters permission" to give him "a second chance." On FNC, Bill Kristol praised it as "almost a pitch perfect speech" and Michael Barone raved that it "would rival the speech of Barack Obama." It "was one helluva speech" Chris Matthews exclaimed on MSNBC before Newsweek's Jon Meacham gave it an "A+" as "probably the finest political speech George W. Bush has ever given."
On NBC, however, Tom Brokaw quickly arrived at how "there was no mention of WMD and already the Democrats are out with a response sheet saying there was no mention of North Korea, no mention of Iran or Osama bin Laden." Tim Russert elaborated: "The Democrats are also now pointing out, Tom, no mention of unemployment, no mention of out-sourcing."
A rundown of comments during the ten minutes or so of broadcast network coverage following the 11:10pm EDT conclusion of Bush's speech, and about the same time frame for MSNBC:
-- ABC News, comments made over live video of post-speech celebrations:
# Peter Jennings: "A little more than an hour and after policy and politics and accomplishments cited and promises made, the President with real grace and heartfelt emotion speaks of those most difficult decisions a President has to make."
# George Will: "The first part of his speech seemed almost pedestrian. It was really two speeches. It was part state of the union address, a laundry list of things to be achieved in the future....with the last six paragraphs, which moved us, it moved him. It was almost as though he was reading them for the first time. It was a fresh encounter. And it is, i think, the last six paragraphs where he got very personal that will probably stick with people."
# George Stephanopoulos: "He talked about miscalculations in Iraq. By showing that kind of self-awareness, self-consciousness, self-deprecation, you give voters permission to give you a second chance."
# Jennings passed along: "In this era of instance response, the Democrats have already tried to point out to the press tonight that there were no mentions of Iran, no mentions of North Korea, no mentions of Osama bin Laden, only three of al-Qaeda and five the current situation in Iraq."
# Jake Tapper checked in from the floor and got a few seconds on camera: "I was trying to figure out earlier what was different about the tenor in the crowd. They seemed a little bit different than other conventions I've been to. And I realized what it was when the President gave his very emotional ending: These people are very connected to him on an emotional level. It's not just their policies, it's not just the politics. They really believe in him as a man."
# Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard: "I thought it was almost a pitch perfect speech, and I think a very effective speech. The first half was prosaic, as you said, Brit, but I think effective laying out of a reasonably coherent domestic agenda, a moderately conservative agenda with some, I think, quite deft contrasts with John Kerry both on the issues of tax and spend and on the values issues on same-sex marriage. And then he turned to foreign policy, justified the war on terror. Again, a pretty effective contrast with Kerry very briefly and then the quiet moving, I think, final 10 minutes. Really more poetic, you might say, and a, I think it was a very, very impressive speech."
# Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard: "I thought it was a transformative speech of sorts, actually. You know, some speeches are better read than delivered. This was a speech that was better in the delivery. It was the President who's, you know, not exactly William Jennings Bryan at delivering speeches, delivered it very well. It didn't lag, well, maybe it lagged a little in the beginning. He does have an agenda for a second term, that's for sure. I mean, it's clear he's not a small government conservative. When you talk about, when you look, you know, he has a 50-page agenda document that was handed out to everyone to back up the promises and plans he made in his speech. And the words that were in it are words like expand, provide, increase, improve, reform, promote, develop. I mean, this is a very ambitious agenda. Now, we have heard some of the ideas before. Some are new, but when you package them all together from tax reform to making sure that seven million more poor people have, own their homes, it's quite an agenda."
# Michael Barone of U.S. News: "I thought the speech had moments of quite elegance and beauty of words that we haven't seen. I would say it would rival the speech of Barack Obama at the Democratic Convention and John McCain here at the Republican Convention. I think that we've seen George W. Bush speak this well before. We saw him, I think his acceptance speech four years ago, his inaugural September 20, 2001, before the United Nations in 2002, and we haven't seen him do it for some time, though."
# Chris Matthews exclaimed: "Well that was one helluva speech wasn't it Jon Meacham?"
# Joe Scarborough: "Tonight it is, without a doubt the best speech that this man's ever given."
# Andrea Mitchell: "I think as political theater it was terrific. And certainly the, the windup at the end was beautifully poetic. I thought there was a little bit too much prose in the beginning. It sounded like a State of the Union address but if he hadn't gone through that list of domestic initiatives we would have criticized him for not having a second term agenda so he had no choice."
# Tom Brokaw: "The President likes to describe himself as a war President. He was at his most animated tonight when talking about Iraq, terror and Afghanistan. He got his longest and loudest cheers when he defended his actions in Iraq. There was no mention of WMD and already the Democrats are out with a response sheet saying there was no mention of North Korea, no mention of Iran or Osama bin Laden. Tim Russert, when he talked about domestic issues he was talking about a transformational government, the ownership society. We heard earlier that they had worked on that section a couple of times. I think that it's fair to say that it was much more prose than poetry."
# Tim Russert: "Two separate speeches, Tom, no doubt about it. When he talks about the war on terror there's passion and there's a real sense of confidence and inspiration....When he talked about domestic issues the problem he has, as he well knows, is there's been a negative job growth over the last four years. The Democrats are also now pointing out Tom no mention of unemployment, no mention of out-sourcing. Once again they're trying to drive this campaign back to the economy, back to Iraq and then raising the questions about North Korea or around Osama.
For how the networks assessed Kerry's convention speech: www.mrc.org
A night after Time magazine's Joe Klein declared on CNN, "I don't think I've seen anything as angry or as ugly as [Zell] Miller's speech," he heartily approved of John Kerry lashing out at Dick Cheney over draft deferments during Vietnam. "It's about time they did something real," Klein applauded on CNN minutes before Kerry began his midnight tirade in Ohio. Klein maintained that during their convention the "Democrats almost seemed lobotomized because they never made the case against George W. Bush." An anxious Klein urged: "Kerry has to make that case, starting now, he has to do it in the strongest possible terms."
Funny how journalist Klein sounds like he's taken sides and is afraid Kerry will not win.
The MRC's Ken Shepherd caught this exchange, at about 11:45pm EDT Thursday, on CNN's NewsNight.
Aaron Brown: "Joe, you've great instincts on this, tell me what you think about the wisdom of Senator Kerry coming out tonight and giving this double-barreled response, if you will, to the attack on him by the Vice President yesterday."
For more on Wednesday night criticism of Miller, with a still shot of Klein: www.mrc.org
Add David Gergen of U.S. News to the list of media figures who, now that Democratic Senator Zell Miller has aligned himself with Republicans, has decided Miller's link to a segregationist is relevant. To some ardent retorts from fellow panelist Laura Ingraham, on MSNBC Thursday night Gergen charged: "Zell Miller's speech was a speech of hate, it was a speech of venom. This is a man who started his political career with Lester Maddox and last night he imitated Lester Maddox." Gergen, a darling of the media, contended that Miller "came very close to saying the Democrats were a treasonous party."
Ingraham, a conservative syndicated radio talk show host, reminded the panel: "I gotta tell you. When Ted Kennedy gave a speech at the Democratic convention and referred to 'George the Monarch,' when we heard Jimmy Carter say, 'Well at least John Kerry showed up,' I don't recall the panel on Hardball referring to those moments as hateful moments." To which Ron Reagan shot back: "Well they weren't as hateful as what we heard last night."
(On Wednesday, Al Hunt on CNN and Chris Matthews on MSNBC brought up Miller's history in order to discredit him. See item #6 below for more on the subject and a link to the previous CyberAlert item.)
The heated exchange on Thursday took place at about 7:50pm EDT as the group sat in MSNBC's outdoor set up near Madison Square Garden. The MRC's Geoff Dickens took down the highlights:
Chris Matthews: "You know the old question in every political campaign is do you go hard or do you go soft? David Gergen. That fella just went hard. Was that smart?"
Matthews soon wondered: "It's always tricky how far you go back with someone's record. Is it fair to go back, David, go all the way back to his record of having opposed the civil rights and voting rights act. Is that too far to go back to judge a southerner today?"
Well, he couldn't have voted against the 1964 bill since he wasn't in the Senate back then, but Ingraham's point about hypocrisy stands.
The September 2 CyberAlert morning edition recounted: Senator Zell Miller fought back against Chris Matthews Wednesday night, leading to a very animated interview session when Matthews pounded away at points Miller made in his convention speech. "I wish I was over there where I could get a little closer up into your face," Miller yearned from a position inside Madison Square Garden while Matthews remained at MSNBC's outdoor set. Miller shot back at another point: "You're saying a bunch of baloney that didn't have anything to do with what I said up there on the rostrum." An angry Miller soon opined, "I wish we lived in the day where you could challenge a person to a duel," and, recalling Michelle Malkin, he commanded: "Don't pull that kind of stuff on me like you did that young lady when you had her there brow-beating her to death." Matthews repeated his maliciously false claim that Malkin "was suggesting that John Kerry purposely shot himself to win a medal." www.mediaresearch.org
You read it here first. FNC's Brit Hume on Thursday night picked up from CyberAlert how Time magazine's Joe Klein blasted Senator Zell Miller's speech as "ugly" and how Al Hunt suddenly found Democratic Senator Zell Miller's segregationist past relevant, "something," Hume observed, "national media never seemed to mention as long as Miller remained a loyal Democrat."
In his "Grapevine" segment on the September 2 Special Report with Brit Hume, from FNC's skybox inside Madison Square Garden, Hume informed his viewers:
For the September 2 CyberAlert morning edition with the full quote from Hunt, along with similar sentiments from MSNBC's Chris Matthews: www.mediaresearch.org
Laura Bush hit on swift boat ads by both ABC's Peter Jennings and CBS's Dan Rather. The First Lady completed a round of interviews on Thursday and two of the three broadcast networks pressed her to defend the ads. ABC's Peter Jennings wanted to know: "Do you or do you not think it's fair that those swift boat ads should have attacked his combat record, not the stuff after." CBS's Dan Rather delivered a more loaded version of the same question, tying George W. Bush to the ads and then pivoting to threaten the resurrection of Bush's service record: "Now that friends and supporters of the President have raised the issue of John Kerry's combat record in Vietnam, do you or do you not think it's fair now for the Kerry people to come back and dig anew into your husband's military service record?"
-- ABC's World News Tonight, as taken down by MRC analyst Ken Shepherd. Peter Jennings set up his taped session conducted in ABC's lower level booth with the convention floor picture in the background: "We asked the First Lady about remarks she made recently to Time magazine about those ads from Vietnam veterans attacking John Kerry's service in Vietnam."
Jennings to Mrs. Bush: "Do you or do you not think it's fair that those swift boat ads should have attacked his combat record, not the stuff after."
-- CBS Evening News. In CBS's skybox Dan Rather pressed her: "Now that friends and supporters of the President have raised the issue of John Kerry's combat record in Vietnam, do you or do you not think it's fair now for the Kerry people to come back and dig anew into your husband's military service record?"
Mrs. Bush responded with a generic answer about of in every campaign candidates het criticized no matter what they do.
The nights after vice presidential nominee John Edwards and keynoter Barack Obama addressed the Democratic convention, the networks didn't feel any need to fact check their speeches, but the evening after equivalent same night speeches from Dick Cheney and Senator Zell Miller, CBS and ABC checked their accuracy. Both networks contended that claims Kerry is anti-defense are false because Dick Cheney wanted to kill some of the same weapons systems as Kerry. But neither CBS's John Roberts or ABC's Jake Tapper noted Kerry's career of hostility to strong defense, including support for a nuclear freeze.
On the CBS Evening News, Roberts asserted: "John Kerry did vote to cut military systems in the early '90s, but as Defense Secretary back then, Dick Cheney proposed even deeper reductions."
Over on ABC's World News Tonight, Peter Jennings acknowledged that Cheney was accurate in asserting that Kerry "began his political career by saying he'd like to see American troops deployed elsewhere in the world only at the directive of the United Nations," but Jennings tried to explain it away: "He has since rejected the idea he held has a young man. It was, he says now, one of those stupid things that a kid says when he's fresh back from Vietnam and angry about it."
Like Roberts, ABC's Jake Tapper maintained: "Without question, in the Senate John Kerry wanted to spend less on defense and voted to cut some of those programs. But after the Cold War, Republicans also agreed to cut defense spending."
The relevant portion of the CBS story and the ABC coverage in full:
-- CBS Evening News. Roberts played a clip from Zell Miller's speech: "This is the man who wants to be the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed forces? U.S. forces armed with what, spit balls?"
-- ABC's World News Tonight. From the convention floor, Jennings related: "A lot of things were said here at the Republican last night about John Kerry. Some of them confusing, some had to do with his Senate record. Vice President Cheney said two things in particular that puzzled some people. He got a big laugh here when he claimed that John Kerry wanted to fight a 'more sensitive war on terror,' 'as though.' Mr. Cheney said, 'al Qaeda will be impressed with our softer side.' He was apparently referring to a speech that Mr. Kerry made in early August."
Tapper began: "The attacks against John Kerry's Senate record were harsh -- and detailed."
We'll end on a Ratherism -- or a Danism. In a taped interview with First Lady Laura Bush aired during Thursday's CBS Evening News, Dan Rather wondered: "Are you worried about a campaign descending into something so nasty that it'd drive the prairie dogs in your home in West Texas back in their holes?"
# This is it for me in this convention cycle. We'll do it all again in four years. In the meantime, this afternoon you'll receive one last convention-related CyberAlert.
-- Brent Baker, with the overnight team of Geoff Dickens, Brad Wilmouth and Ken Shepherd, plus Mez Djouadi handling the early morning posting duty