2. NBC News Passes Along Kerry's "Middle Class Squeeze" Claims
3. News Media and Entertainment Stars Turn Out for
4. "Top Ten Real Reasons John Kerry is Running for President"
Clarification: A June 15 CyberAlert item about how the Center for Media and Public Affairs determined that "John Kerry earned the 'best press,' 81 percent positive, for 'any nominee' tracked backed to 1988," noted that the finding was featured in the just-released issue of the group's newsletter, "Media Monitor," but that CMPA has "not yet posted this edition" on its Web site, (www.cmpa.com ). A CMPA staffer has informed me that the issue is online, but available only to those with an online subscription.
CBS on Tuesday night aired a laudatory profile of Teresa Heinz-Kerry in which Byron Pitts touted her as "both rich and reachable" and trumpeted how she even "bakes brownies for the campaign press corps" while "close friends call her 'Momma T' for her nurturing ways." Pitts claimed that the widow of a Republican Senator became a Democrat only because she was angry over how, as Pitts relayed as if it were beyond dispute, Democratic Senator Max Cleland "lost re-election in a bitter campaign when Republicans attacked his patriotism." Pitts offered no evidence for that claim while he also failed to inform viewers of how last month Heinz-Kerry literally accused Vice President Dick Cheney of being "unpatriotic." Instead, Pitts featured Heinz-Kerry saying of criticisms of Cleland's record, "I thought it was disgusting," leading Pitts to chime in: "A man who lost three limbs in Vietnam."
In a May 6 interview with NBC's Telemundo, Heinz-Kerry claimed the Bush-Cheney campaign had questioned her husband's Vietnam service: "To have a couple of people who escaped four, five, six times, and deferred, and deferred, and deferred, calling him anything or doubting his heroism is in and of itself unpatriotic. Unpatriotic, I refer to the Vice President." At the time, her slimy allegation generated some controversy, with stories from AP and on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume and MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews.
Pitts championed how "voters, especially women, seem drawn to her" and after a woman complained that "unfortunately, I think there are certain people in our country who are terrified of strong women," Pitts declared over video of John Kerry bounding onto a stage: "Not this man."
Pitts also showcased both halves of the couple describing her as "sexy." John Kerry called her "saucy, sexy, brilliant." She on herself: "I'm cheeky, I'm sexy." Pitts giggled: "You don't hear many 65-year-old women say they're sexy," to which Heinz-Kerry retorted: "How many women of that age have you asked?"
Dan Rather introduced the June 15 CBS Evening News profile by relating how Pitts "talked one on one with Theresa Heinz-Kerry and her one of a kind take on life and politics."
Pitts began his glowing profile: "She is both rich and reachable."
CBS News seems quite pleased with the way she is.
For the CBSNews.com online version of the story, with video of the Pitts piece: www.cbsnews.com
"John Kerry began a week-long attack on the Bush economy by talking about a middle class squeeze," Tom Brokaw announced Tuesday evening in setting up a NBC Nightly News story which didn't judge the accuracy of Kerry's claims in the face of solidly upbeat economic indicators. Reporter Kelly O'Donnell simply maintained that "a political judgment on the latest economic news is all in the eye of the beholder" as the campaigns offer "competing views, dueling data."
She cited just one number touted by the Bush campaign, "new jobs, more than 1.4 million -- 248,000 in May -- as proof of better times," while she offered a whole list of vague downbeat claims by the Kerry campaign which "relies on a different equation to measure what it calls a middle class squeeze -- a combination, they say, of lower wages, higher health care and tuition costs, plus one more factor they consider a big red flag: More than 1.6 million personal bankruptcies last year, a 33 percent jump since 2000."
Unmentioned by O'Donnell: GDP growth in the first quarter at a very healthy 4.4 percent.
Brokaw introduced the June 15 story, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "On Wall Street, investors who feared the inflation news could be much worse were clearly relieved at the end of the day. The Dow gained almost 46 points. Nasdaq was up more than 25 points at the end of the day. All of this is too little, too late -- that's according to a Senator who wants to be President of the United States. And today, John Kerry began a week-long attack on the Bush economy by talking about a middle class squeeze. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell with the Kerry campaign tonight."
O'Donnell began: "A political judgement on the latest economic news is all in the eye of the beholder. The President from the Rose Garden today:"
For the competing economic claims of the two campaigns:
JohnKerry.com has posted a PDF: "AMERICANS ARE TOO OPTIMISIC TO SETTLE FOR GEORGE BUSH'S ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE." Go to: www.johnkerry.com
(Optimistic is misspelled in their title.)
GeorgeWBush.com has posted a document titled, "The Bush Line: Progress on the Economy." See: georgewbush.com
A whole bunch of prominent news media figures came out Monday night for a Manhattan screening of Michael Moore's anti-Bush movie, Fahrenheit 9/11. Reports in the New York Daily News, New York Post, New York Sun and FoxNews.com listed as amongst the attendees: NBC's Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams, as well as NBC President Jeff Zucker, CBS's Lesley Stahl and Ed Bradley and New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.
[Web Update, 1:30pm EDT June 16: Video of Tom Brokaw and Bryant Gumbel at screening. The June 15 edition of the syndictaed program Extra showed video of Brokaw walking through the crowd in front of the theater playing Fahrenheit 9/11. Extra also ran video of Bryant Gumbel, with Al Sharpton's hand on his shoulder, answering "very, extremely," when asked: "How important do you think this film is?" Extra anchor Dayna Devon didn't apply an ideological tag to Gumbel, but she noted the presence of "conservative newsman Bill O'Reilly."]
Naturally, a large crowd of liberal celebrities also showed up, including Richard Gere, who told Access Hollywood that "I basically agree" with Moore's views, Leonardo DiCaprio whom the New York Daily News quoted as saying that Moore's film will "galvanize" young people to vote for Kerry and Tony Bennett, who told E! News Live that he considers Moore to be "honest" and "a great American," Tim Robbins, Glen Close, Richard Dreyfuss and Mike Myers.
Members of the media may have a legitimate journalistic reason for seeing a screening of the left-wing rant scheduled to debut in movie theaters next Friday, June 25, though one wonders if they'd dedicate an evening to seeing a conservative movie which bashed a liberal favorite, but Tom Brokaw raised suspicions about his motives when, on the June 2 NBC Nightly News, he devoted over a minute to promoting Moore's left-wing, Bush-bashing movie, even running a portion of the movie trailer, the kind of promotional advertising normally reserved for paid spots, movie theater "coming attractions" and movie previews on entertainment shows. NBC Nightly News, in fact, as reported in the June 3 CyberAlert, gave Moore's screed more than three times more air time that night than did Paramount's syndicated Entertainment Tonight (18 seconds) and four times more time than did NBC's own syndicated entertainment news show, Access Hollywood (14 seconds). Brokaw at least characterized Moore as a "liberal activist," but he described Moore's production simply as "an award-winning film about President Bush and his team." For details: www.mediaresearch.org
Some reports and quotes from the June 14 screening:
-- "'Fahrenheit 9/11' Gets Standing Ovation," read the headline over a June 15 FoxNews.com posting by Roger Friedman brought to my attention by the MRC's Geoff Dickens. Friedman listed some of the news media attendees. An excerpt:
The crowd that gave Michael Moore's controversial "Fahrenheit 9/11" documentary a standing ovation last night at the Ziegfeld Theater premiere certainly didn't have to be encouraged to show their appreciation. From liberal radio host/writer Al Franken to actor/director Tim Robbins, Moore was in his element....
Readers of this column may recall that I had a lot of problems with Moore's "Bowling for Columbine," particularly where I thought he took gratuitous shots at helpless targets such as Charlton Heston. "Columbine" too easily succeeded by shooting fish in a barrel, as they used to say.
Not so with "F9/11," which instead relies on lots of film footage and actual interviews to make its case against the war in Iraq and tell the story of the intertwining histories of the Bush and bin Laden families.
First, I know you want to know who came to the Ziegfeld, so here is a partial list:
Besides Franken and Robbins, Al Sharpton, Mike Myers, Tony Bennett, Glenn Close, Gretchen Mol (newly married over the weekend to director Todd Williams), Lori Singer, Tony Kushner, "Angela's Ashes" author Frank McCourt, Jill Krementz and Kurt Vonnegut, Lauren Bacall (chatting up a fully refurbished Lauren Hutton), Richard Gere, John McEnroe and Patti Smythe, former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Carson Daly, NBC's Jeff Zucker, a very pregnant Rory Kennedy, playwright Israel Horovitz, Macaulay Culkin, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kyra Sedgwick, Linda Evangelista, Ed Bradley, Tom and Meredith Brokaw, director Barry Levinson, NBC anchor Brian Williams, Vernon Jordan, Eva Mendes, Sandra Bernhard and the always humorous Joy Behar....
The film does Bush no favors, that's for sure, but it also finds an unexpectedly poignant and universal groove in the story of Lila Lipscombe, a Flint, Mich., mother who sends her kids into the Army for the opportunities it can provide -- just like the commercials say -- and lives to regret it....
[T]here are more than enough moments that seemed to resonate with the huge Ziegfeld audience.
The most indelible is Bush's reaction to hearing on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, that the first plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.
Bush was reading to a grade-school class in Florida at that moment. Instead of jumping up and leaving, he instead sat in front of the class, with an unfortunate look of confusion, for nearly 11 minutes.
Moore obtained the footage from a teacher at the school who videotaped the morning program. There Bush sits, with no access to his advisers, while New York is being viciously attacked. I guarantee you that no one who sees this film forgets this episode.
More than even "The Passion of the Christ," "F9/11" is going to be a "see it for yourself" movie when it hits theaters on June 25. It simply cannot be missed, and I predict it will be a huge moneymaker....
END of Excerpt
For Friedman's take in full: www.foxnews.com
-- Today's (Wednesday) "Page Six" column compiled by Richard Johnson in the New York Post reported, in contrast to Friedman, that the film did not get a standing ovation:
Page Six added that Moore's effort "is getting two thumbs up from Mario Cuomo. The former governor has been retained by distributor Lions Gate in its appeal for a PG-13 rating instead of an R. 'I've seen it three times. I think this is a must-view,' said Cuomo."
Page Six: www.nypost.com
-- "DiCaprio's hot for 'Fahrenheit'" read the heading over a June 16 "Rush & Molloy" item in the New York Daily News. An excerpt:
Leonardo DiCaprio believes in Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911" so much, the reclusive actor emerged last week for the L.A. premiere -- then flew to New York to attend Monday's screening.
"Leo's doing more press for this movie than he ever does for his own," quipped Miramax founder Harvey Weinstein.
Weinstein is in a corporate war with Disney, which refused to release the film because the work is critical of President Bush's handling of 9/11.
DiCaprio, who met with Moore several times as the "Bowling for Columbine" Oscar winner lensed the film, told The News:
"I think a lot more people who are on the fence about who to vote for, after they see this film, it's going to galvanize them. Young people didn't vote in the last election - that was the problem, and it's going to be the main issue in the next. If you're a young person you've got to get as many people registered to vote, and then get them to vote for their candidate." In DiCaprio's case, "that's John Kerry," he told us....
END of Excerpt
For the item in full: www.nydailynews.com
-- Monday's "Rush & Molloy" column listed Brokaw as an expected attendee: "So many people want to see Harvey and Bob Weinstein's screening of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 that it's been moved to the Ziegfield Theater, tonight. Where else to fit Tom Brokaw, Richard Gere, Yoko Ono, Stephen Sondheim, Lou Reed, Vernon Jordan, Gretchen Mol and Carson Daly? Karen (Duff) Duffy, who saw The Film Disney Refused To Release at a screening with 9/11 family members, said that audience gave Moore a 10-minute standing ovation." That's online at: www.nydailynews.com
-- In Tuesday's (June 15) New York Sun, A.L. Gordon provided a re-cap of the screening. An excerpt:
For those who like to be first, and for Democrats in particular, the place to be last night was the Ziegfeld Theatre, where brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein and famed Beltway attorney David Boies hosted a private screening of the new Michael Moore film "Fahrenheit 9/11."...
The event drew many of the celebrities likely to support Senator Kerry's presidential campaign, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Tim Robbins, Glenn Close, Al Franken, Richard Gere, Moby, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and John Turturro.
Other guests included Richard Holbrooke, Spike Lee, Tom Brokaw, Brian Williams, Sonny Mehta, Donna Karan, Rory Kennedy, Roger Friedman, Frank McCourt, gossips Richard Johnson and Lloyd Grove (though not seen anywhere near each other), Mark Halperin of ABC's "The Note," Lesley Stahl, Kurt Vonnegut, and Michael Mailer....
END of Excerpt
-- Celebrity comments I caught on entertainment shows. Tuesday's Access Hollywood played two clips of Richard Gere:
Access Hollywood also played a brief clip from the film, with Moore narrating over video of tanks and people in a hotel conference room: "In the middle of the war corporations decided to hold a conference to figure out how much money could be made."
E! News Live on Tuesday featured this comment from Yoko Ono outside the theater: "It's a film that everybody in this world is waiting to see, especially in the United States."
And Tony Bennett told the E! camera: "I'm going to see a film made by a great American that I love very much. [unintelligible, something like 'He sort of told/sold'] to love our country again. And I'm a great American myself and I love America that much. And he's so honest that he's making everybody aware of the fact that we own the country and not the politicians."
Last night I saw a TV ad for the film, so the promotion has begun. Moore is scheduled to appear Friday night on the Late Show with David Letterman.
From the June 15 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Real Reasons John Kerry is Running for President." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. To bring renewed tedium and uncertainty to the Democratic party
9. Vows to be the greatest horse-faced President since Polk
8. Couldn't live with himself if he didn't hold a higher office than Schwarzenegger
7. Needs an excuse to get out of a wedding in February
6. Get elected, eat a ton of waffles, become the fattest President
5. Long days on the campaign trail beats sitting around being nagged by the wife to put away the socks
4. An unusually persuasive horoscope told him he should
3. Did you know if the President kills some guy in a bar fight the FBI will make it cool?
2. A leader who supports both sides of every issue is a friend to all Americans
1. Show the world not all Democrats are ass-grabbing womanizers
#2 suggests that the image of Kerry as a waffler has gained footing in public perception.
-- Brent Baker