CBS, CNN and CNBC Jump on Attacks on Bush's Carrier Landing --5/8/2003
2. FNC Panel Laughs Off Moran's Concern Bush Mars Civilian Control Brit Hume's FNC panel FNC laughingly dismissed ABC reporter Terry Moran's concern, expressed at the White House press briefing, that "some people" are "concerned" that Bush "adopting military regalia at the end of a war," by landing on an aircraft carrier in a Navy jet, "might have dissolved or weakened the distinction between" civilian and miliary control of the armed forces.
3. ABC Frets About Doorknobs Broken By POW-Rescuing Commandos ABC and Peter Jennings have found more military incompetence: Unnecessarily breaking doorknobs. Recalling the rescue of POW Jessica Lynch, Jennings asserted: "Now we hear that it may have been less dangerous and maybe even less challenging than Central Command first told us." David Wright noted that the U.S. "soldiers broke down doors in the intensive care unit," but, he insisted, "they could have just asked where she was" since, people at the hospital told him, there were no Iraqi soldiers in the building. Over video of punched out doorknobs, Wright complained that "the hospital still bears the scars of that midnight raid. The administrators had to sell precious drugs to pay for the damage."
4. Couric Mistakes Parody of Bob Graham Diary for the Real Thing Clueless in the morning. Interviewing Democratic presidential candidate Bob Graham on Wednesday's Today, Katie Couric mistook an obvious Washington Post parody of Graham daily diary entries for the real thing and read several of the mock items to him as if they were what he really put down.
5. Asner Defends Castro: "We Didn't Have a Free Election in 2002" Ed Asner prefers Castro to Bush. Asner insisted on Wednesday's MSNBC Buchanan & Press that those put to death by Castro, for trying to hijack a ferry to escape to the U.S., received a "very fair" trial. Blaming the U.S. for Castro's repressive regime, he argued: "My country is much more fortunate so it can't, it doesn't have to afford the excesses that Fidel Castro has to resort to by constantly being embargoed by the United States." Asner asserted that he doesn't "regard the Bush administration as being representative of my country." When Pat Buchanan noted that Castro "has denied" Cubans "free elections for 40 years," Asner fired back: "We didn't have a free election in 2002."
6. "Top 10 Reasons Joe Lieberman Would Make a Great President" As announced by Joe Lieberman himself, Letterman's "Top Ten Reasons, I, Joe Lieberman, Would Make a Great President."
Complaints by a few Democrats about President Bush flying on a Navy jet to an aircraft carrier last week gained network traction Wednesday night with the CBS Evening News running a full story and CNBC's The News with Brian Williams and CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown airing at least one story followed by an interview segment. CNN's NewsNight devoted just over 12 minutes to the topic with Brown asking his guest: "Do you think any of the anger, if that's the right word, that Democrats have stems from the fact that the President was in the reserves during the Vietnam era and not in Vietnam itself?"
Though CBS's John Roberts pointed out that "carrier appearances are hardly unusual for U.S. Presidents" since "Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon all made them," he noted that "they flew in on helicopters, and no commander-in-chief has ever donned the garb of a warrior, says presidential scholar James Thurber." Thurber then warned of some sort of separation of powers problem: "I think having him in full uniform looking like a jet jockey, as President of the United States, does bring up some troubling thoughts about the separation of the military from civilian rule."
Over on CNBC, an apparently serious Norah O'Donnell was in full haughtiness over a piddling $200: "Democrats claim the event may have cost up to one million dollars in taxpayer funds, including an estimate that $200 was spent to outfit the President in a custom-fitted flight suit." Unlike stories on CBS, CNN and FNC, O'Donnell failed to relay Navy denials about any cost approaching $1 million.
As noted in Wednesday's CyberAlert, on Tuesday night ABC's Peter Jennings was first to pick up on the complaints from Democrats Robert Byrd and Henry Waxman.
Now more about the CNN, CBS and NBC coverage on Wednesday night, May 8. See item #2 below for how Brit Hume's panel on FNC laughingly dismissed ABC reporter Terry Moran's concern, expressed in a question to Ari Fleischer, that "some people" are "concerned" that Bush may have "dissolved or weakened the distinction between civilian control of the military" by "adopting military regalia at the end of a war."
-- CNN's NewsNight. Aaron Brown intoned at the top of the amazing 12:05 he devoted to the subject: "On now to the storm over the President's trip to sea. Given truth serum we suspect even the toughest critics of the President wouldn't begrudge him the spoils of a picture perfect presidential visit. Given the same truth serum we would like to expect at least that the White House would concede that yep, politics did play a part in the President's arrival and speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. The fact is the presidency carries enormous political advantage. Presidents, to put it simply, get to look presidential and the opposition gets to call him on it. They are the rules of the game and tonight the game is on."
Jonathan Karl presented the Democratic view followed by John King with the White House reaction. Brown then discussed the matter with Chuck Todd of the Hotline.
Brown resurrected an old attack on Bush: "Do you think any of the anger, if that's the right word, that Democrats have stems from the fact that the President was in the reserves during the Vietnam era and not in Vietnam itself?"
"Draft-dodger" was "always brought up"? Sometimes maybe. And he was a draft-dodger who made derogatory comments about the military while President Bush never trashed the military and found a legal way to avoid going to Vietnam by serving in the Air National Guard.
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather swung into the story by first raising other uncorroborated suggestions of misdeeds: "A company Cheney once ran and from whom he's recently received money -- Halliburton -- got a no-bid contract from the Army Corps of Engineers to put out oil fires in Iraq. The Corps is now acknowledging that, as critics have charged, that contract is richer and broader than Congress was told. Halliburton has received almost $77 million since early March for its work in Iraq. Of that, about a third was not for fighting fires, but for supplying Iraq with imported oil and helping restart Iraq's own oil industry.
-- CNBC's The News with Brian Williams. After the same Bush clip CBS played, anchor John Seigenthaler asserted: "President Bush tonight talking about his dramatic tail hook landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier off the California coast, questioned because of the recent backlash about last week's speech from Democrats who say the visit kept sailors at sea for an extra day and cost American taxpayers more than a million dollars. In a moment, we'll be joined by two members of Congress with very different views on the subject. But first, a report on the latest political sniping from NBC's Norah O'Donnell."
Brit Hume's panel on FNC laughingly dismissed ABC reporter Terry Moran's concern, expressed at the White House press briefing, that "some people" are "concerned" that Bush "adopting military regalia at the end of a war," by landing on an aircraft carrier in a Navy jet, "might have dissolved or weakened the distinction between" civilian and miliary control of the armed forces. The "some people" seem to be Moran and James Thurber (see item #1 above).
Fred Barnes marveled at how Moran managed to keep a "straight face" while posing the question given all the media haranguing over Donald Rumsfeld exercising "excessive civilian control" over war plans. Barnes tagged Moran's take as "nonsense." Morton Kondracke called Moran's question "perfectly laughable" while Michael Barone labeled it "silly."
At the top of the panel segment on Wednesday's Special Report with Brit Hume, viewers saw Moran pose this question to White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer:
Laughter ensued from the FNC panel of Hume, the Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes, Morton Kondracke of Roll Call and Michael Barone of U.S. News.
Hume asked, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Well, what about the flight, the landing, the speech, the controversy and the question?"
ABC and Peter Jennings have found another U.S. military action to complain about. Having supposedly failed to protect a museum, now Jennings is upset that they lied about the rescue of POW Jessica Lynch, a raid in which they unnecessarily broke some doorknobs in the hospital where she was being held. Recalling that rescue, on Wednesday's World News Tonight, Jennings asserted: "Now we hear that it may have been less dangerous and maybe even less challenging than Central Command first told us."
From Nasiriyah, David Wright noted that "the U.S. "soldiers broke down doors in the intensive care unit," but, he insisted, "they could have just asked where she was" since, people at the hospital told him, there were no Iraqi soldiers in the building. Over video of punched out doorknobs, Wright complained that "the hospital still bears the scars of that midnight raid. The administrators had to sell precious drugs to pay for the damage."
Hundreds of thousands or more Iraqis were murdered and tortured by the Hussein regime, but horror of horrors, the U.S. broke some doorknobs!
Jennings teased at the top of his May 7 broadcast: "Saving Private Jessica Lynch: The Iraqi doctors who looked after her say it wasn't quite how the military portrayed it."
He later mocked the military effort, plugging the upcoming story: "Rescuing the prisoner of war Jessica Lynch: Perhaps not so dramatic as it sounded at first."
Jennings introduced the eventual piece: "When U.S. commandos stormed an Iraqi hospital to get Private Jessica Lynch last month it was described, you'll recall, in very dramatic fashion -- U.S. commandos rushing an enemy compound to save a comrade in the dead of night. Now we hear that it may have been less dangerous and maybe even less challenging than Central Command first told us."
From Nasiriyah, David Wright recalled how on April 2 Navy SEALS and Army Rangers stormed the hospital. Dr. Rajd Eledary, an orthopaedic surgeon at the Nasiriyah City Hospital, told Wright he was prepared to set Lynch's broken leg the next morning and, Wright relayed, he "says U.S. soldiers put a gun to his head as they burst into the operating room."
Wright maintained that the U.S. military overreacted: "The hospital staff says there were no Iraqi troops or officials on the premises when the Americans rushed in. They had all left at 10am the morning before the rescue. [over video of door with doorknob area punched out] The soldiers broke down doors in the intensive care unit when they could have just asked where she was. Five nights earlier one of the doctors and an ambulance driver had even risked their lives trying to return her to them on the edge of town."
A doctor explained how he tried to return her to U.S. forces but they opened fire on his ambulance. Wright claimed that "she wasn't mistreated either according to the staff" as a nurse bought her a track suit and underwear.
Wright continued: "Private Lynch has yet to give her own account of her captivity here or her rescue. She remains in seclusion at the Army's Walter Reed Hospital, reportedly suffering from amnesia. Officials tell ABC News she's had trouble telling Army investigators exactly what happened."
Over more video of broken doors, Wright intoned: "But the hospital still bears the scars of that midnight raid. The administrators had to sell precious drugs to pay for the damage. The doctors and nurses say if there is a movie, Saving Private Lynch, they should be among the heroes."
One problem with Wright's conclusion: If they had to sell "precious drugs to pay for the damage," why are the doors all still broken?
Clueless in the morning. Interviewing Democratic presidential candidate Bob Graham on Wednesday's Today, Katie Couric mistook an obvious Washington Post parody of Graham daily diary entries for the real thing and read several of the mock items to him as if they were what he really put down.
The MRC's Rich Noyes caught Couric's confusion in what turned out to be the only challenging question she posed to Graham during the May 7 Today interview.
Couric's softball questions, as taken down by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens, who reports that Couric did not correct herself later in the program.
-- "Some people answer this question better than others, but why don't you give it a whirl? Why do you want to be President, Senator?"
-- "What do you mean, what kind of tax policies specifically Senator?"
-- "You've been quite critical of the Bush administration saying it spent too much time emphasizing the war on Iraq and not enough efforts have been going into Homeland Security. You also said that, that it hasn't been aggressive enough in going after terror cells in Yemen, members of Hezbollah who are, who have sanctuary in Syria and Lebanon. If you were President how would you handle those situations? What would you do?"
-- "Meanwhile, as you know, Senator Byrd really blasted President Bush for his appearance on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, saying, quote, 'To me it is an affront to the Americans killed or injured in Iraq for the President to exploit the trappings of war for the momentary spectacle of a speech. He also added it should not be a made-for-TV backdrop for a campaign commercial and, and called the President's use of it, 'flamboyant showmanship.' Do you agree with Senator Byrd about this?"
-- "Of course the Bush administration would, would argue that the war against Iraq was part of the war against terrorism."
-- "A couple of quick questions, I know you had heart surgery in January, Senator, a double-bypass and valve replacement. How is your health? Are you well enough to, to embark on a grueling campaign?"
-- Couric ended with her misreading of the Washington Post: "And before we go, I know you keep a running log of your every waking activity. There's an article in the Style section of the Washington Post this morning it says you've logged 26 years of personal minutiae filling 4,400 two by three inch notebooks, color-coded by season. An example: 12:17:, this is when you made the announcement: 'Ascend stage, stumble, regain balance; 12:18: Applause, 'Where the Streets Have No Name,' plays (U2); 12:19: Clap, wave; 12:20: 'Adjust tie (red, white stripes); 12:21: Double thumbs up; 12:22: Sing along with National Anthem, right hand on heart.' What, what do you do this for?!"
Couric, seemingly unaware of her confusion, wrapped up: "Well I think it's rather charming and interesting. Well Senator Bob Graham thanks so much for talking with us this morning. We appreciate your time."
Graham does keep a daily diary, but the Post piece was a pretty obvious parody, yet probably not so clear if you're just reading off of cards prepared by naive some staffer.
"Bob Graham's Minute-by-Minute Entry Into the Presidential Race," read the headline over the May 7 Post "Style" section piece by Mark Leibovich. An excerpt:
Sen. Bob Graham, who declared his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination yesterday, is renowned for a signature eccentricity: He keeps a running log of his every waking activity. He has logged 26 years of personal minutiae, filling 4,400 2-by-3-inch notebooks color-coded by season. Graham makes his entries in a distinctive shorthand: "8:00 -- Kitchen -- eat breakfast (Smart Start cereal and raisins)."
Herewith, in Graham diary form, an account of the big announcement in his home town of Miami Lakes, Fla. He was joined by his wife, Adele.
12:17: Ascend stage, stumble, regain balance.
12:18: Applause, "Where the Streets Have No Name" plays (U2).
12:19: Clap, wave.
12:20: Adjust tie (red, white stripes).
12:21: Double thumbs up.
12:22: Sing along with National Anthem, right hand on heart (surgically repaired).
12:23: Adele introduced (red dress, white collar).
12:23-12:26: Adele tells story of first meeting.
12:25: Attempt to hold hand of granddaughter, unsuccessful.
12:26: Adele introduces "next president of the United States." Applause....
END of Excerpt
For the Post's parody in full, though it isn't very good: www.washingtonpost.com
Ed Asner sees a greater threat from the Bush administration than from the hapless Fidel Castro who is being pushed around unfairly. Defending Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover signing a letter denouncing the U.S. for threatening Cuba, Asner charged on Wednesday's Buchanan & Press on MSNBC that "they may well be put in prison here for...the support they're giving to Castro, the way things are going in this country."
Asner insisted that those put to death by Castro, for trying to hijack a ferry so they could escape to the U.S., received a "very fair" trial.
Blaming the U.S. for Castro's repressive regime, Asner insisted: "My country is much more fortunate so it can't, it doesn't have to afford the excesses that Fidel Castro has to resort to by constantly being embargoed by the United States."
Asner asserted that he doesn't "regard the Bush Administration as being representative of my country." When Pat Buchanan noted that Castro "has denied" Cubans "free elections for 40 years," Asner fired back: "We didn't have a free election in 2002."
MRC analyst Ken Shepherd caught Asner's wackiness which occurred during the 3-4pm EDT edition of MSNBC's May 7 Buchanan & Press. The relevant portion:
Buchanan: "Mr. Asner, thanks for coming on and Ed, let me ask you about Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte who have co-signed this statement basically supporting Fidel Castro after he put 75 dissidents in prison for up to 28 years and executed the three who tried to sort of hijack a ferry boat and come to Cuba [meant U.S.]. What is it about these, Harry Belafonte, frankly, and Danny Glover that they can attack the American government and defend a guy who would basically put him in prison for doing what they do here in the United States?"
A bit later Buchanan pointed out: "He has persecuted his own people, he has denied them free elections for 40 years. He's an unelected dictator who puts people in prison on his own whim. What is the infatuation-"
Yeah, he was such a pro-freedom guy as a guerrilla fighter.
For a picture and bio for Asner: us.imdb.com
From the May 5 CyberAlert: President George W. Bush poses a graver danger to the world than Fidel Castro does to the world or the people he oppresses, 160 "artists and intellectuals" argued in a two paragraph statement released last week, only weeks after Castro carried out executions and imprisoned dozens for daring to speak against his dictatorship. Amongst the signers: Actors Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte. They warned: "At this very moment, a strong campaign of destabilization against a Latin American nation has been unleashed. The harassment against Cuba could serve as a pretext for an invasion." See: www.mediaresearch.org
From the May 7 Late Show with David Letterman, as announced by Joe Lieberman himself, the "Top Ten Reasons, I, Joe Lieberman, Would Make a Great President." Late Show Web site: www.cbs.com
10. "Not only will my Vice President be in an undisclosed location, I won't even reveal who he is"
9. "I know Microsoft Excel and can type 65 words a minute"
8. "I've gotten a lot of good advice from Martin Sheen"
7. "Instead of taking Air Force One, I can use all of my accumulated frequent flier miles"
6. "Saddam's a president and I'm way less nuts than he is"
5. "I will change the Constitution to guarantee every American a free DVD player"
4. "I am very comfortable in oval-shaped rooms"
3. "It just so happens Spider-Man is a close, personal friend of mine"
2. "I won't take any crap from France"
1. "Look at me. Do you honestly think there'll be a sex scandal?"
#2 earned a solid round of applause.
> Dennis Miller, the MRC's Brian Boyd alerted me, is scheduled to appear Friday night on the other late night CBS show produced by Worldwide Pants Inc: The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn.
-- Brent Baker