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CBS: Bush Plan 'Escalation,' Ignores Near Even Split In Own Poll --1/9/2007


1. CBS: Bush Plan 'Escalation,' Ignores Near Even Split In Own Poll
On Monday's CBS Evening News, White House reporter Jim Axelrod adopted Democratic terminology as he referred to President Bush's plan to call "for an escalation in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq." Axelrod later applied the more Bush-friendly term of "surge," but he also presumed the election was all about Iraq and not congressional Republican malfeasance in the Foley matter: "He'll be going against what voters said they wanted last November, and what the new Democratic leaders in Congress say they want right now." Axelrod soon highlighted how "a new CBS News poll out tonight indicates nearly six in ten Americans either want troop levels lowered or a full withdrawal." An on-screen graphic pegged the numbers at 59 percent wanting troops in Iraq "decreased or removed" and 35 percent wishing them "increased or the same." But in citing only that one poll finding which combined answers, Axelrod skipped how the public is nearly evenly split on a "short term troop increase to stabilize Iraq," with 45 percent in favor and 48 percent opposed. Furthermore, the PDF of the poll results reported that "those with friends and relatives who have served in Iraq are a bit more supportive of the idea than Americans overall" with 50 percent in favor and 44 percent opposed.

2. Katie Couric's Blog: Proud of Pelosi, Ashamed of Virginia
The "Couric & Co." blog at CBSNews.com has transformed from mostly Katie to mostly other CBS personnel in the last few weeks. On Monday, Couric writer (and former CNN anchor) Mary Alice Williams recounted how the ascent of Nancy Pelosi was a "very big deal" and went a little overboard about how much better women were. Last week, Couric herself wrote, in a posting about Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode's criticism of a new Member of Congress planning to be sworn in on the Koran, that it made her "embarrassed" to be from Virginia.

3. Walters Regrets Media Sanitizing of Brutal Iraq War Images
Perhaps the strident liberalism of Rosie O'Donnell and Joy Behar is emboldening Barbara Walters? On the Monday edition of The View, the ABC journalist insisted that America went to war with Iraq without knowing the facts and she fretted about how "the most brutal pictures we saw were the pictures of Saddam Hussein being hanged. We have not seen some of, some of the terribleness that have happened to our men and women." Walters made her assertions following comments from the liberal Rosie O'Donnell, who touted the fact that she wore a "No War" T-shirt prior to the 2003 invasion, and co-host Joy Behar's claim that "they [the Bush administration] lied to us!"


CBS: Bush Plan 'Escalation,' Ignores
Near Even Split In Own Poll

On Monday's CBS Evening News, White House reporter Jim Axelrod adopted Democratic terminology as he referred to President Bush's plan to call "for an escalation in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq." Axelrod later applied the more Bush-friendly term of "surge," but he also presumed the election was all about Iraq and not congressional Republican malfeasance in the Foley matter: "He'll be going against what voters said they wanted last November, and what the new Democratic leaders in Congress say they want right now."

Axelrod soon highlighted how "a new CBS News poll out tonight indicates nearly six in ten Americans either want troop levels lowered or a full withdrawal." An on-screen graphic pegged the numbers at 59 percent wanting troops in Iraq "decreased or removed" and 35 percent wishing them "increased or the same." But in citing only that one poll finding which combined answers, Axelrod skipped how the public is nearly evenly split on a "short term troop increase to stabilize Iraq," with 45 percent in favor and 48 percent opposed. Furthermore, the PDF of the poll results reported that "those with friends and relatives who have served in Iraq are a bit more supportive of the idea than Americans overall" with 50 percent in favor and 44 percent opposed.

CBSNews.com article about the poll: www.cbsnews.com

PDF of the full survey results: www.cbsnews.com

The CBS News poll was conducted January 1-3, last Monday to Wednesday, so CBS held it for several days. Neither ABC or NBC rushed polls for Monday night to show public opposition to Bush's expected plan scheduled to be announced during a Wednesday night speech at 9pm EST.

[This item was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the January 8 CBS Evening News story:

Katie Couric: "Jim Axelrod at the White House with the latest on the President's plan. Jim, this is one of the most important speeches the President has ever given, right?"

Jim Axelrod, on the White House lawn: "Well, Katie, in some form or fashion, this is a speech the President and his aides have been working on since last election day. And when the President calls for an escalation in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, he'll be going against what voters said they wanted last November, and what the new Democratic leaders in Congress say they want right now. The President's plan will apparently include a surge of 20,000 troops, up to a billion dollars more for an economic jump start, and a set of benchmarks the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government must meet in reconciling with the Sunnis. But it's the idea of sending more troops that's most controversial. A new CBS News poll out tonight indicates nearly six in ten Americans either want troop levels lowered or a full withdrawal. [on-screen, decreased or removed: 59%; increased or same: 35%]"
Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker: "Congressional oversight is alive and well in the Congress of the United States."
Axelrod: "Nancy Pelosi, who became House Speaker due to voter dissatisfaction with the President's Iraq policies, is also turning up the pressure. She says Democrats would never cut funding for troops already there, but there's no blank check for an escalation."
Pelosi: "We must know what the ground truth is in Iraq before we lose any more lives, cost any more monies, have a cost to our budget, our reputation."
Axelrod: "The President may not see the midterm elections as a call to withdraw troops, but Gordon Smith, the Republican Senator who's critical of a surge, met with President Bush today, and says the President understands exactly what's at stake now."
Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR), outside White House: "Well, I think the President understands the gravity of it. I think he understands he's betting his presidency, his place in history, on this coming out well."
Axelrod: "The idea of sending more American troops to secure Baghdad has been tried before -- last summer 12,000 troops. But Operation Together Forward failed, largely because Iraqi security forces couldn't hold what American troops had cleared. Katie?"
Couric: "Jim, right after the President announces his new policy, what will he do to sell it?"
Axelrod: "Actually, the first place he's going to go is to Georgia. The sister installation of where you're at, Katie, Fort Stewart, is Fort Benning. One brigade of the Third Infantry Division is at Benning. They're set to ship out to Iraq next month. They could be part of the surge."

Katie Couric's Blog: Proud of Pelosi,
Ashamed of Virginia

The "Couric & Co." blog at CBSNews.com has transformed from mostly Katie to mostly other CBS personnel in the last few weeks. On Monday, Couric writer (and former CNN anchor) Mary Alice Williams recounted how the ascent of Nancy Pelosi was a "very big deal" and went a little overboard about how much better women were. Last week, Couric herself wrote, in a posting about Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode's criticism of a new Member of Congress planning to be sworn in on the Koran, that it made her "embarrassed" to be from Virginia.

[This item is adopted from an item, by Tim Graham, posted Tuesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Mary Alice Williams opined in the January 8 entry: "The picture alone demonstrated what a difference her leadership will make. Instead of a lone male gaveling Congress into session, here was a female surrounded by children. Women, in ways far different from men, represent families." For the blog in full: www.cbsnews.com

Williams wrote that her 16-year-old daughter Alice was there to witness history, courtesy of her Congressman (no name or party affiliation attached). She also made it seem likely that she's the one who wrote for Couric that it's taken too long: "In helping women gain true equality in every aspect of life, Susan B. Anthony always said 'failure is impossible.' Today the only quibble she might have is that it took so long."

The January 5 CyberAlert item, "Couric Celebrates Susan B. Anthony's Pride in Women in Congress," recounted: Katie Couric concluded Thursday's CBS Evening News on a triumphant note of 'women, hear us roar' as she insisted that "we can't let this historic day pass without mentioning Susan B. Anthony who fought so hard for the right of women to vote, but didn't live to see us get it." That right "didn't happen until 1920, 14 years after she died," Couric lamented before marveling: "Can you imagine there are still more than three million American women alive today who were born before women were allowed to vote?" Couric then touted how "now there are a record 90 women in this new Congress, including for the first time ever, the Speaker of the House." The CBS anchor proposed: "Wouldn't Susan B. Anthony be proud? Or maybe she'd ask, 'what took so long?'" See: www.mrc.org

Last week, Couric complained about objections to incoming Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota being sworn in on the Koran, and proclaimed embarrassment she's from the same state as Rep. Virgil Goode:
"America is, of course, a profoundly religious country. But it comes as a surprise to many people that America is about the only nation founded without one dominant kind of faith. The Founders believed that every religion should be practiced without prejudice.
"So it's disappointing today that a new member of the House of Representatives continues to be attacked simply for practicing his faith.
"Keith Ellison, an African-American Islamic convert from Minnesota, announced that he would take his oath of office with a Koran rather than a Bible -- actually, a Koran that belonged to that famous anti-American Thomas Jefferson, who collected texts from many religions.
"Congressman Virgil Goode of Mr. Jefferson's Virginia (my home state -- which, in this case, I'm embarrassed to say) announced that he wouldn't touch the Koran, wants to prevent Muslims from immigrating to this country, and strongly implied that Muslims can't represent American values.
"It's hard to see how these position are helpful to winning the war on terror -- which requires that the vast majority of Muslims, who are moderate, and practice what President Bush has called "a religion of peace," believe that America is attacking terrorists and not them.
"Keith Ellison, who can trace his US ancestry back to 1741, refuses to attack Virgil Goode. He condemns the use of terrorism. Shouldn't Ellison be held up as an example of America's tolerance and pluralism, not insulted for being different?"

For Couric's January 3 posting: www.cbsnews.com

Katie can't seem to acknowledge that you can trace Keith Ellison's Islamic roots to Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. See: en.wikipedia.org

During his period as "Keith Ellison-Muhammad," he routinely defended Farrakhan against charges of anti-Semitism. When it became an issue in his congressional race, he apologized and reached out to the Jewish community. Then there's his support from the Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR), which has associations with terrorism. Shouldn't that background be investigated by Couric the journalist before she starts holding him up as a role model for tolerance and against terror?

Walters Regrets Media Sanitizing of Brutal
Iraq War Images

Perhaps the strident liberalism of Rosie O'Donnell and Joy Behar is emboldening Barbara Walters? On the Monday edition of The View, the ABC journalist insisted that America went to war with Iraq without knowing the facts and she fretted about how "the most brutal pictures we saw were the pictures of Saddam Hussein being hanged. We have not seen some of, some of the terribleness that have happened to our men and women." Walters made her assertions following comments from the liberal Rosie O'Donnell, who touted the fact that she wore a "No War" T-shirt prior to the 2003 invasion, and co-host Joy Behar's claim that "they [the Bush administration] lied to us!"

[This item is adopted from an item, by Scott Whitlock, posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The discussion on the January 8 edition of The View:

Rosie O'Donnell: "The war has been sanitized. We don't see dead bodies. We don't see coffins coming home. We don't see funerals and we don't see the amputees. We don't see them. This has been sanitized, this war, for us."
Behar: "They have to come up with a new idea."
Elisabeth Hasselbeck: "I'm sorry, but we're also saturated with media who are incredibly aware of what's going on and giving us updates all the time."
Behar: "Really? Then why don't they show the coffins?"
Hasselbeck: "Why? Ask them."
O'Donnell: "Because the President forbid it."
Hasselbeck: "I'm saying, everything out there in the media, you have to say, is awfully slanted in terms of what is going on with this war. When it was time to invade, everyone was on the same page."
Behar: "Because they lied to us."
O'Donnell: "Not me! I wore a 'No War' T-shirt on Donahue."
[crosstalk]
Behar: "Listen to Barbara. Go ahead. Go ahead, say it!"
[Walters feigns shock about being listened to.]
O'Donnell: "You're on!"
[Applause]
Walters: "We didn't have the facts at that time."
Behar: "That's right."
Walters: "We did not have the facts. And it is true that we have not seen, we have, the most brutal pictures we saw were the pictures of Saddam Hussein being hanged. We have not seen some of, some of the terribleness that have happened to our men and women. And I do think, and if you look at the polls, that the tide is turning. What the answer is, nobody seems to know."

Walters, who recently named Nancy Pelosi "the most fascinating" person of 2006, is sounding less like a journalist and more like her (mostly) liberal co-hosts. See the December 13 CyberAlert for more on Walters' "Most Fascinating People of 2006" special: www.mrc.org

-- Brent Baker