CBS: Bush Team Failed Democracy in Haiti, Just as in Iraq --3/2/2004
2. NBC Acknowledges Ranking of Kerry as the Most Liberal Senator
3. Early Show Crew: Morning Democratic Debate Occurred "Last Night"
4. CBS Presents Anti-Bush Repubs Upset by Tax Cut, Lies About Iraq
5. Two Non-Conservatives Recognize Media's Pro-Gay Marriage Tilt
The Bush administration stepped in to resolve the turmoil in Haiti by getting strongman Jean-Bertrand Aristede to leave, prompting celebrations by Haitians on Monday, but to CBS News the Bush team is still a failure. John Roberts on Monday night relayed how Aristede's ouster "has left the White House open to charges that it failed democracy and has left yet another country with no clear political direction," an obvious allusion to Iraq. Roberts passed along how "critics say" that the "White House has a sent a message that its support for democracy is not necessarily rock-solid, which in some parts of the world could be seen as a license to kill."
The March 1 CBS Evening News opened with a story from Port au Prince about people celebrating Aristede's departure. Then anchor Dan Rather went to Roberts at the White House who stressed the negative:
Aristede wasn't much of a Democrat, paying people to beat up his opponents, and he became wealthy off of drug trafficking into the U.S. For a good, brief primer on Aristede, see "Aristede Must Go," the editorial in the March 8 Weekly Standard. It explains how "It is not the 'democratic authorities' that are being overthrown in Haiti, but Aristide's retinue of gunmen....That -- and not any 'grudge' against a charismatic Marxist slum priest -- is why not only the rebels but also the entirety of the democratic opposition have refused to take part in any negotiations that envision Aristide's continuation in power." See: www.weeklystandard.com
A story on Monday's NBC Nightly News made brief mention of how a new National Journal rating of Congress for 2003 ranked Senator John Kerry as the most liberal Senator in the entire chamber, but only in the context of how John Edwards isn't much less liberal and so may not do much as a VP candidate to help Kerry in the South. NBC's Tim Russert also raised the ranking in the roundtable on Sunday's Meet the Press and Dan Rather asked Kerry about it during Sunday's CBS News debate with the Democratic presidential candidates, but the topic didn't make it onto Sunday or Monday's CBS Evening News, nor onto ABC.
Monday night on NBC, Campbell Brown provided a story on the chances that Kerry will pick John Edwards as his running mate. Brown noted: "It's unclear Edwards can help deliver Southern states. He's only won South Carolina so far. Neither candidate has produced any major legislation in Congress. And while a recent survey named Kerry the most liberal Senator, Edwards was just behind at number four."
On screen, NBC credited the "National Journal 2003 Vote Ratings" and listed four names under the "Most Liberal Senators" heading:
NationalJournal.com is a paid subscription site, but Saturday's Washington Times carried a story by Stephen Dinan about the new ratings, "List says Kerry top Senate liberal." Dinan also noted how "the Americans for Democratic Action, a prominent liberal advocacy group, gives Mr. Kerry a lifetime career rating of 92 on a 100-point scale, with 100 being the most liberal. Mr. Kerry's rating is higher than fellow Democratic candidate Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio Democrat." For Dinan's February 28 story: www.washtimes.com
The crew of CBS's Early Show doesn't seem to actually watch other CBS News programs, at least not ones featuring Dan Rather. On Monday's Early Show, MRC analyst Brian Boyd noticed, Rene Syler referred to how "Haiti was one of the topics in last night's Democratic debate" and, in a question to Colin Powell, Hannah Storm pointed out how "the Democratic candidates last night were united in saying that the President waited until the situation in Haiti spiraled out of control."
In fact, the CBS News/New York Times debate, moderated by Dan Rather, took place not at night but inside the CBS News building at 11am on Sunday morning and was broadcast live.
Nonetheless, early in the 7am half hour on the March 1 show, Syler set up a story on the debate from the day before: "Haiti was one of the topics in last night's Democratic debate. It was the candidates' last meeting before tomorrow's Super Tuesday showdown."
In his subsequent report, which was live, Randall Pinkston did not correct Syler.
Later, Storm asked Secretary of State Colin Powell: "Secretary Powell, the Democratic candidates last night were united in saying that the President waited until the situation in Haiti spiraled out of control. Could the violence have been prevented had the administration stepped in earlier?"
Less than a week after CBS's John Roberts filed two reports about how Republicans are "furious" at President Bush, Sunday's CBS Evening News, anchored by Roberts, showcased a story about a 50-something "Republican" couple in Ohio who are disillusioned by President Bush over his tax cuts, how he "lied" about Iraq and how he's focusing on gay marriage when there are "a million domestic problems" that are more pressing.
CBS on Sunday launched a new series, "American Voices," and it just happened to highlight the "Republican" couple who criticized Bush from the left. Reporter Gretchen Carlson warned that "if what we found, talking to one Republican couple in Cincinnati this week, is any indication, the President faces some new challenges."
Carlson relayed how "they say they are fiscal conservatives. Both voted for George Bush in the last election. And both are disappointed with the direction he has taken the country." The wife complained: "I can't believe that we can actually run a war in Iraq and have tax cuts, it doesn't make any sense."
Carlson proceeded to note how they "both fault the administration's handling of the war in Iraq and the war on terror" with the wife declaring in Dennis Kucinich fashion: "I think we were lied to."
But that's not all. "Both have lost faith in the President's ability to solve the country's problems," Carlson noted before the wife complained about Bush's concern for gay marriage.
Carlson, however, undermined the premise of her piece when she concluded by noting how "a University of Cincinnati poll shows 86 percent of Ohio Republicans still support the President." So the couple CBS decided to showcase are the anomaly, not the norm.
Carlson's story matches a theme CBS pushed last week. As recounted in a February 24 Media Reality Check by the MRC's Rich Noyes, "Anti-Bush Anecdotes Trump Pro-Bush Poll: While CBS's Poll Shows Huge GOP Majorities Backing Bush, CBS Reporter Finds a 'Fury' on the Right." It explained how on Monday night, February 23, John Roberts claimed that "many Republican voters are furious about the lingering situation in Iraq and the massive job losses under the President's watch." He made the same charge on Tuesday morning in reciting how Republicans are upset from the left, apparently just feeding off a New York Times story based on some anecdotal quotes. See the February 25 CyberAlert for details: www.mediaresearch.org
Back to Sunday night, February 29, the CBS producers thought the whining "Republicans" were so important that they squeezed the three-minute segment into a 12 minute newscast (counting ad time, so really under ten minutes of news time) which had been delayed by overtime in a college basketball game carried by CBS Sports.
John Roberts set up the segment, as taken down by MRC analyst Brian Boyd: "One of the states expected to play a critical role in both Super Tuesday's primary contest and the big Tuesday election battle in November is Ohio. Tonight we focus on the Buckeye state in what will be an on-going series of discussions with Democrat and Republican voters called 'American Voices.' And Gretchen Carlson joins us now to tell us what some Ohioans are thinking, Gretchen."
Carlson, standing beside a big graphic with the words "American Voices" on top of a flag pattern fitted into an outline of the shape of the United States: "John, both parties will be spending a lot of time, energy and money in closely contested swing states like Ohio, which George Bush narrowly won four years ago. But if what we found, talking to one Republican couple in Cincinnati this week, is any indication, the President faces some new challenges."
So, will CBS next highlight a "Democratic" couple who are disillusioned with John Kerry because he's too liberal? If they're fair and balanced they will.
For a bio and picture of Gretchen Carlson, a former Miss America who co-hosts the Saturday Early Show: www.cbsnews.com
Media bias on the issue of gay marriage is so pronounced that two media observers, who are far from conservative, on Monday both penned pieces reciting examples of the media's social liberalism on the subject. In his Monday "Media Notes" column, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz contrasted stories celebrating San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who organized the parade of illegal same-sex marriage, with how media outlets had condemned Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore for flouting the law.
And in a Web-posting picked up by CBSNews.com, New Republic Senior Editor Jonathan Chait, who conceded he thinks "most claims of liberal media bias are overblown," nonetheless observed: "At the same time, I do think that reporters often let their cultural predilections drive their coverage of social issues, and the coverage of the gay marriage amendment offers a perfect example."
Excerpts from the two stories, starting with "When Left Is Right and Right Is Wrong," the March 1 piece by Kurtz in the Washington Post:
When San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom defied state law by allowing same-sex marriage licenses, a New York Times profile reported him sporting "a wide grin," "describing his motives as pure and principled," and cited his "business acumen, money, good looks and friends in the right places."
But when Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore also defied the law -- by installing a Ten Commandments display in his public building -- a Times profile said that "civil liberties groups accused Justice Moore of turning a courthouse into a church," while allowing that he had also become "an Alabama folk hero."...
The paper has plenty of company. Hundreds of news accounts have provided an upbeat portrayal of Newsom as a pioneer and the San Francisco weddings as a happy occasion, even as partisan rhetoric hardened last week over President Bush's endorsement of a constitutional amendment to ban such marriages. While those opposed to gay marriage and Newsom's maneuver are certainly quoted, the media spotlight has shone most brightly on the mayor and those (including Rosie O'Donnell) tying the legally disputed knot.
"Call it 'wedded blitz' in San Francisco," reported NBC's Matt Lauer. "As if reliving its glory days as a counter-culture mecca in the 1960s, San Francisco was again the place to be," said Newsweek. A front-page Washington Post story yesterday celebrated the marriage of two elderly women....
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders says Newsom's "lawlessness" is "just unbelievable....Most people in the newsroom, particularly in the Bay Area, believe in gay marriage and aren't overly worried about how it becomes legal." And while Saunders personally supports same-sex marriage, she says, "so many people in the media act like this is a brave, noble act on the part of Gavin Newsom when it is really a political grab."
Radio talk show host Laura Ingraham says Newsom "is being treated as a modern-day Rosa Parks. He's a nice guy and a very eloquent public speaker, but he's also not following the law. When Judge Roy Moore wasn't following the law, people were trashing him. He was just ridiculed in the press....If you have a politically correct view and violate the law, you're a hero."...
While polls show a majority of Americans oppose gay marriage, some of the country's top editorial pages support it. "Same-sex marriages pose no threat to anyone but rather affirm a commitment of love, an emotion that is universal," says the Boston Globe, published where Massachusetts' highest court has ordered such marriages legalized. "We believe that extending the benefits and responsibilities of marriage to same-sex couples would be fair and beneficial; we understand that many Americans feel otherwise," says The Washington Post. "Clearly those who claim that it signals the end of civilization need to get their outrage odometers adjusted," says the Los Angeles Times....
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For Kurtz's article in its entirety: www.washingtonpost.com
-- On Monday, CBSNews.com posted a piece by New Republic Senior Editor Jonathan Chait. It's not in the magazine and to see it on the magazine's Web site you must be registered. An excerpt from the March 1 CBSNews.com posting of it:
I think most claims of liberal media bias are overblown. At the same time, I do think that reporters often let their cultural predilections drive their coverage of social issues, and the coverage of the gay marriage amendment offers a perfect example. The New York Times began its story last Wednesday:
"It is a cardinal rule of politics, all the more so for a president who saw his father defeated largely because he failed to heed it fully: Pay attention to the party's base."
....Will he [Bush] pay a price with the centrist voters who so often decide presidential elections, as the Democrats hope? Or is the country at such an ideologically polarized point that the middle simply matters less?
USA Today chimed in, "Bush's support of a proposed amendment had long been sought by conservative Christians, who are among the Republican Party's most loyal supporters." And The Washington Post, in a front page news analysis entitled "A MOVE TO SATISFY CONSERVATIVE BASE," asserted, "So when gay marriages advanced in Massachusetts and San Francisco, Bush felt a need to respond to the cries of social conservatives -- even if it meant losing some swing voters he needs in November." The operating premise of these articles, and most reporting on this topic, is that only the most partisan element of Bush's base supports the amendment. Now, I should say right here that I believe that gays should have the right to marry and I find the amendment morally abhorrent. But I'm far less confident than the press that most people share my view.
First of all, the public rejects gay marriage by a pretty wide margin. Last month the Annenberg Center conducted a poll asking, "Would you favor or oppose a law in your state that would allow gays and lesbians to marry a partner of the same sex?" 31 percent said they favored it, 60 percent opposed it.
Of course, supporting a constitutional amendment is a trickier question. Polls have found contradictory results on the amendment, ranging from around 49-42 opposed to 53-44 in favor. Most polls seem to be clustered in the center. You can find a good collection here. The point is not that people overwhelmingly support an amendment, but that they're evenly divided. It's hardly the case that support is confined to Bush's base. Most polls show support for the amendment in the high forties, which is well into swing voter territory....
Why do reporters assume that the amendment is a fringe concern? Perhaps because nearly all live in big cities, among educated, relatively affluent peers, who hold liberal views on social matters. In Washington and New York, gay marriage is an utterly mainstream proposition. Unfortunately, in most of the country, it's not.
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# Brian Williams of NBC News is scheduled to appear tonight, Tuesday, on NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
-- Brent Baker