CBS Distorts Halliburton Case Into Cheney-Led "War Profiteering" --1/26/2004
2. Olbermann Salivates Over a "Watergate Junior" Scandal for Bush
3. Brokaw Adopts Liberal Spin: Health Insurance Based on Luck
4. Couric Pleads: "Let's Hope" Jokes Will "Soon Be Over for Dean"
5. CNN's Aaron Brown: Dean "More Moderate than Ultra-Liberal"
6. CNN Taps Head of Its Most Liberal Show to Be New DC Bureau Chief
7. The Stars of
The Reagans Lose Out in Golden Globe Awards
Halliburton, a front page story in Friday's Wall Street Journal reported, admitted that two of its staffers took kick-backs from Kuwaiti firm for deals involving reconstructing Iraq, and the company repaid the money to the Army Material Command, but the CBS Evening News on Friday night, after having ignored just two weeks ago another front page Wall Street Journal story about how Halliburton was cleared of any wrongdoing in charges CBS had earlier touted as its lead story, distorted this latest development in order to turn it into some sort of Cheney-related scandal.
With the words "War Profiteering?" on screen beneath a pile of cash, a map of Iraq and shots of Halliburton logos on tankers and helmets, Dan Rather intoned: "Tonight: War bucks. Halliburton accused of another ripping-off of U.S. taxpayers."
Rather led the January 23 program by arguing that "the Halliburton company, formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney, has been a frequent target of critics of White House Iraq policy. And these latest disclosures drew sharp new accusations of unconscionable, if not outright illegal, war-profiteering, as CBS's John Roberts reports." Roberts asserted: "The allegations cast another shadow over the administration's handling of post-war Iraq" and passed along how "Democrats called the alleged kickbacks traitorous war-profiteering at its worst."
CBS's story was prompted by a front page article in that morning's Wall Street Journal, by Neil King Jr., headlined: "Halliburton Tells the Pentagon Workers Took Iraq-Deal Kickbacks"
That two column wide headline ran just below the fold on the right side of page -- the very same location as a January 6 article which the CBS Evening News ignored: "Army Corps Clears Halliburton In Flap Over Fuel Pricing in Iraq."
As reported in the January 7 CyberAlert, back in mid-December, the CBS Evening News twice led with stories about "war-profiteering" by Halliburton for the price of gas it sold inside Iraq, with Vice President Cheney's name linked prominently. One night, over a full screen graphic of Cheney's head next to video of Halliburton trucks and employees, CBS's Dan Rather asserted: "Tonight, did politically-connected Halliburton gouge U.S. taxpayers with war profits?" Rather proceeded to charge that "Pentagon auditors have found evidence of possible price-gouging and unusual war profiteering by the Halliburton company..."
But three weeks later, when a January 6 front page Wall Street Journal story revealed that the Army Corps of Engineers had cleared Halliburton of any wrongdoing in its pricing, the CBS Evening News, which had earlier touted a concern of "Pentagon auditors," ignored the development. Yet CBS's January 6 newscast had time for full stories, totaling nearly seven minutes, on Princess Diana, plastic garbage swirling in a portion of the Pacific Ocean and how, as anchor John Roberts put it, the Howard Dean campaign "offers America new love." That was a two-minute plus piece by Richard Schlesinger on how young people are using Dean's "meet-ups" as an opportunity to find a mate. Roberts segued to it from an item on former Senator Bill Bradley's endorsement of Dean: "Bradley said the Dean campaign quote, 'offers America new hope.' The Dean campaign also, apparently, offers America new love as CBS's Richard Schlesinger reports."
For more on January 6 coverage and links to CyberAlert items on CBS's December hype about Halliburton: www.mediaresearch.org
Roberts began: "The allegations cast another shadow over the administration's handling of post-war Iraq. Halliburton recently told the Pentagon that not only might it have been overcharged some $6 million for support services to the U.S. military, but in a statement today admitted that two Halliburton employees may have accepted improper payments. In other words, pocketed taxpayer money intended for Iraq. Democrats called the alleged kickbacks traitorous war-profiteering at its worst, and demanded the White House immediately terminate all contracts with Halliburton."
In contrast to CBS, ABC and NBC did not hype the latest development into some kind of major scandal, though they made sure viewers realized Cheney's past tie to the company:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Anchor Charles Gibson read this short item: "Vice President Cheney's former company, Halliburton, says one of its subcontractors over-billed the Pentagon $6 million for supplies for U.S. troops in Iraq. Halliburton told the Pentagon of the problems earlier his month, a day before the Pentagon gave the company another billion dollar contract in Iraq."
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw noted: "One more note involving Iraq tonight: More trouble for the giant energy company Halliburton, formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. Two of its employees have been fired for allegedly taking kickbacks from a Kuwaiti company, a subcontractor supplying U.S. forces in Iraq. Halliburton said tonight it will pay the Pentagon $6.3 million for overcharges. The Pentagon has an ongoing formal investigation into Halliburton's Iraq contracts."
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann salivated on Friday night for a Bush administration scandal or scandals. Stringing together a series of stories at the top of Friday's Countdown, with "ANOTHER WATERGATE" on screen, Olbermann wondered: "Are any of these Watergate, Junior? We'll ask Carl Bernstein." One of his items: "The Supreme Court agrees to hear a case about Vice President Cheney's energy task force and then Cheney goes hunting with Justice Scalia."
The other developments Olbermann yearned to become Watergate-like: "Two Halliburton employees take $6 million in kickbacks on a contract to supply U.S. troops in Iraq," how "Republican staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee hack into the computer files of Democratic staffers" and the old standby, the Joe Wilson case.
Despite Olbermann's repeated prodding, Bernstein wouldn't equate anything on Olbermann's list with Watergate: "I would not compare these stories to Watergate. These stories are indicative of perhaps a sleazy atmosphere among certain people. And that's quite different than what Watergate was about, which was a criminal President of the United States who didn't believe he was subject to the law, who undermined the Constitution. This is different."
With "ANOTHER WATERGATE?" on screen and "Halliburton, Hunting & Hacking" below it, Olbermann began the January 23 Countdown show at 8pm EST with a plug for what would be his #2 story in his top five stories of the day: "School for scandal. Two Halliburton employees take $6 million in kickbacks on a contract to supply US troops in Iraq. The Supreme Court agrees to hear a case about Vice President Cheney's energy task force, and then Cheney goes hunting with Justice Scalia. And Republican staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee hack into the computer files of Democratic staffers. Are any of these Watergate, Jr. We'll ask Carl Bernstein."
Olbermann later set up the segment, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "The illegal income intrigue infiltration. Our second story on the Countdown tonight: Politics, business and funny business perhaps as usual. Three separate controversies arising, led by an admission of bribe-taking at Halliburton, the company formerly run by Vice President Cheney. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Halliburton has notified the Pentagon that two of its officials, Halliburton's that is, accepted over $6 million in kickbacks from a Kuwaiti company contracted to supply US troops in Iraq. Halliburton says the two men have been fired and it will pay the money back to the Pentagon -- $6.3 million. The revelation comes on the heels of another company controversy in Iraq when the Halliburton subsidiary -- Kellogg, Brown and Root -- charged the U.S. Army twice as much for gas brought in from Kuwait than for fuel brought in from Turkey."
Olbermann pressed Bernstein: "I don't want to reduce this to a wagering pool, but do any of those four controversies seem to you to have the potential for genuine importance."
Olbermann soon proposed: "And as if I have to tell you this, no less an authority and on scandals and on perjury that Richard Nixon said it isn't the crime that does you in, it's the cover-up. As it regards the Vice President, wouldn't a lot of this go away if he were a little less secretive. I mean, the man actually yesterday said that Halliburton was being treated badly by dent of its past association with him."
The vast majority of Americans have health insurance, but adopting the liberal spin of some Democratic presidential candidates, on Friday night NBC's Tom Brokaw referred to "the lack of it" and "the expense for those lucky enough to have it" -- as if hard work and responsibility have nothing to do with it.
Brokaw set up a January 23 NBC Nightly News story: "Three of the Democratic contenders -- Wesley Clark, Joe Lieberman and Dennis Kucinich -- were are a forum in Manchester New Hampshire today talking to voters about health care, the lack of it. And the expense for those lucky enough to have it."
On Friday, Today's Katie Couric and Al Roker expressed exasperation with how comedians won't stop making fun of Howard Dean's scream. After furthering publicity for the outburst by playing clips of a couple of Jay Leno jokes about it, Couric pleaded: "Let's hope all the jokes are going to soon be over for Howard Dean." Roker chimed in: "Hopefully, today."
MRC analyst Ken Shepherd caught the yearning at the top of the 8am half hour on the January 23 Today:
Couric: "You probably know the late night comedians have been having a ball at Howard Dean's expense for his raucous caucus night speech on Monday. Well, last night, Dean went on Letterman to poke a little fun at himself but it didn't stop Jay Leno from having some more fun."
Aaron Brown aware of his own liberal bias as he conveys it. On Thursday's NewsNight, Brown conceded that he thinks Howard Dean "is more moderate than ultra-liberal and so do a lot of other people but," he realized, "I'll probably get in trouble from conservatives for saying that."
I'd suggest Brown is a lot more biased than balanced, and so do a lot of other people.
During the morning papers segment, during which he holds up large veloxes of the front pages of some newspapers, he showcased a story set to appear on the front page of Friday's Dallas Morning News. On the January 22 Newsnight, Brown observed:
Indeed, the January 23 Dallas Morning News featured the article plugged by Brown. An excerpt from the top of the piece by Michelle Mittelstadt:
MONTPELIER, Vt. - Howard Dean rose to the top of the Democratic heap with a relentless anti-war, Bush-baiting, corporate-bashing, anti-establishment message.
Now, needing a quick rebound in New Hampshire to counter his surprisingly anemic showing in Iowa, Dr. Dean is toning down his populist fervor, saying he'll focus on domestic policy issues such as health care, balanced budgets and education.
Political conversion or return to his roots?
A look at Dr. Dean's nearly 12 years as Vermont's governor reflects a fiscally conservative, socially liberal record that can't be neatly pigeonholed.
In Vermont's tiny capital, Dr. Dean is remembered by Democrats and some Republicans as a budget-balancing governor who spent more time fending off spending demands from his party's left wing than fighting with GOP lawmakers.
"He would often turn to the Republicans to stop the wide-eyed liberals," said Republican state Sen. Vincent Illuzzi. "Moderate is the word that comes to mind."
Even Dean allies acknowledge, though, that what passes for centrist in liberal Vermont -- the state of same-sex civil unions and a socialist congressman -- may be perceived otherwise elsewhere.
Republicans have worked to affix the "ultraliberal" label. An ad aired in Iowa by the conservative Club for Growth called the Dean campaign a "tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show."
Democrats in Vermont consider that a caricature.
"It's really funny he's being tagged a leftist," said Montpelier bookstore owner Doug Shane. "Karl Rove may want to tar him with that brush, but that's not the right brush," he said, referring to President Bush's political guru.
Dr. Dean's record is replete with fiscal austerity, efforts to attract businesses and an unwillingness to increase income taxes to boost social spending, Dean watchers note....
END of Excerpt
For the Dallas Morning News article in full: www.dallasnews.com
CNN has picked David Bohrman, the Executive Producer of its most liberal program, NewsNight with Aaron Brown, to be its new Washington Bureau Chief with expanded responsibility over shows such as Inside Politics.
In a January 24 Washington Post story, Jennifer Frey reported: "CNN General Manager Princell Hair announced a reorganization of the network's Washington bureau yesterday, replacing bureau chief Kathryn Kross with David Bohrman, who had been producing NewsNight With Aaron Brown out of New York.
Romenesko has posted Hair's memo to the CNN staff about his reorganization plan: poynter.org
Some good news. The stars of The Reagans, the derogatory look at Ronald and Nancy originally set as a CBS mini-series, but which was bumped to Showtime following outrage at its distorted portrayal, did not win Golden Globe Awards at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's annual ceremony presented Sunday night on NBC.
Judy Davis, who played a snarly Nancy, was nominated for "Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television" and James Brolin, who played a buffoonish Ronald, was nominated for "Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television."
Meryl Streep and Al Pacino won those categories, both for their roles in another liberal fantasy film which took some shots at Ronald Reagan: HBO's Angels in America.
# Dennis Miller's show debuts tonight on CNBC at 9pm EST/8pm CST/7pm MST/6pm PST, with a repeat at 12am EST/11pm CST/10pm MST/9pm PST.
-- Brent Baker