CBS Echoes Daschle: "How Much of This 'Winning' Can We Stand?" --11/3/2003
2. NBC's Williams Finds Iraq War Amputees Still Aren't Anti-War
3. CBS Cites FEMA Funding Delay, Blames Bush for California Fires
4. Newsweek: "Network Execs Reportedly Loved the [Reagan] Movie"
5. Martin Anderson & Merv Griffin Contradict CBS Claims on Movie
6. Reagans Producers Just Following Anti-Reagan Lead of CBS News
7. What CBS Cuts Will Be in "Blooper Reel" at MRC's Christmas Party
8. Actor Tim Robbins: "F*** Compassionate Conservatives"
CBS's Bob Schieffer channels Tom Daschle. Last Tuesday, following President Bush's press conference, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle complained about Bush's claim of progress in Iraq: "If this is progress, I don't know how much more progress we can take."
Sunday, on Face the Nation, Schieffer echoed Daschle, "If this is winning, you have to ask the question: How much of this 'winning' can we stand?" Schieffer's full question to Republican Senator Richard Lugar: "The President said this week that we are winning and that this violence just shows that the other side is getting desperate. But if this is winning, you have to ask the question: How much of this 'winning' can we stand? I mean, is it, isn't something, isn't the strategy, going to have to change? Aren't we going to have to bring in more troops just to protect our own people there? I mean, how can we continue down this road doing exactly what we seem to be doing now?"
Brian Williams of NBC and CNBC found that morale is not lagging amongst those who have suffered the most devastating wounds in Iraq in which they have lost limbs.
After a Friday night, October 31 piece he narrated about soldiers in the amputee ward at the Army's Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC, Williams used nearly identical language on CNBC's The News with Brian Williams and the NBC Nightly News to assert that "you won't find" any anti-war sentiments among the wounded as he conveyed what he learned about their attitude. The CNBC version caught by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:
CBS: California fires are Bush's fault. Though liberal environmental policies have prevented much logical forest management, Dan Rather on Friday night pinned the blame for the fires on how "federal disaster officials are accused of ignoring urgent pleas from the state to help prevent just what ultimately happened there."
Reporter Jim Acosta noted how "six months before Southern California went up in flames, Democratic and Republican politicians across the state were warning that acres of beetle-infested trees had become a catastrophic fire hazard."
Acosta carried water for the Davis team as he asserted: "In a letter to President Bush dated April 16th, Governor Gray Davis called the trees 'an immediate threat to lives' and cautioned that 'a major fire could quickly move down from the mountains into densely populated areas.' Davis asked for $430 million in disaster relief money to bulldoze the trees. For six months, there was no response. Then last Friday, Davis's request was denied." Over video of a scorched area, Acosta intoned: "This is what California looked like on Friday."
But when asked on CNN's Capital Gang on Saturday about whether if that money had been approved the fires would have been prevented, Richard Carson, Chairman of the Economics Department at the University of California-San Diego, rejected the bromide: "I don't think it would have made a difference for this fire, because if the money had been approved it would take a while for the government to spend the money. Clearly, it might make a difference for the next fire, and there will indeed be another fire."
CBS, however, expressed no such doubts.
After Acosta began the October 31 CBS Evening News story as quoted above, he played this soundbite from Governor Gray Davis: "Clearly, if we had gotten money to help us clear these diseased trees, it would have minimized the fire danger in this region."
Acosta picked up, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Bush administration officials refused to be interviewed, but in its letter to Davis, the Federal Emergency Management Agency stated California's tree removal plans would be 'more appropriately addressed by other agencies.' Earlier this summer, the U.S. Forest Service told CBS News the beetle infestation had laid the kindling for destruction."
CBS's The Reagans, Item One of Three. "Before a New York Times story last month detailed conservatives' complaints," about the CBS mini-series The Reagans, this week's Newsweek disclosed, "network executives reportedly loved the movie. 'They all thought it was brilliant,' says someone who worked on the film." But now, with CBS reeling in response to the angry reaction for the movie's derogatory and made up portrayal of the Reagans, the production crew is refusing to cooperate with CBS's editing demands, Newsweek reported.
Newsweek's Sean Smith and Marc Peyser wrote: "Director Robert Allan Ackerman has opted out of the editing, and CBS executives are now cutting it themselves. As one person close to the film says, 'It's being edited with a machete.'" And it may not even end up on CBS: "Sources tell Newsweek that the network has even considered selling the $9 million film to Showtime."
Already, the Newsweek duo reported, "the most incendiary line -- where Nancy asks the President to do more for AIDS victims and he replies, 'They that live in sin shall die in sin' -- has been cut."
An excerpt from the story in the November 10 edition of Newsweek:
President Reagan is lounging in his pajamas trying to watch TV when Nancy starts that old argument again. "Al Haig's got to go," she tells Ron. Nancy never liked Haig, and now she's needling her husband again. "You know what he did when you were in the hospital?" she asks. "I know he thought he was going to take control, but that's not so bad," Ron says amiably, between bites of an Oreo. Finally, she swoops in front of the President, placing her blood-red nightgown between him and the television, and gets him where it hurts most. "Get rid of Al, Ronnie, or you're never going to end the cold war!" Bingo. "All right!" he says. "Now get off my goddamn back, will you?"...
"The Reagans" was always meant to be a warts-and-all portrait of an American icon, with ample attention to the President's hands-off approach to governing, his wife's behind-the-scenes power plays and their estrangement from their children. Still, CBS thought the movie was, so to speak, fair and balanced. It credits Reagan with defeating the Soviet Union, and its central theme is the First Couple's love affair. The script was vetted by two teams of lawyers, and producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, who would not be interviewed by NEWSWEEK, have insisted that every fact (though not every line of dialogue) is supported by at least two sources....
But the day the Times's story broke -- "The Reagans" crew calls it "Black Tuesday" -- the movie instantly became trouble. CBS chairman Leslie Moonves, who approved both the script and a juicy eight-minute trailer, ordered the lawyers to look at the movie again, and asked for assurances that the facts were all in order. When he was told everything was fine, Moonves started editing anyway....
Of course if CBS does dump the movie on Showtime -- both owned by Viacom -- much of the heat would dissipate into the cable ether. But some who worked on the film worry about the long-term implications of "The Reagans" controversy. "This is censorship," says one source....
END of Excerpt
For the Newsweek story in full, with a not very interesting 30-second Windows Media Player clip from the film's take on the assassination attempt: www.msnbc.com
The DrudgeReport on Sunday night posted a new item with additional dialogue from the movie. See: www.drudgereport.com
CBS's The Reagans, Item Two of Three. Amazingly, in a full hour with CBS Chairman Les Moonves on Friday night, PBS's Charlie Rose failed to raise with him The Reagans mini-series, only the biggest controversy now facing that network as its scheduled November 16 air date rapidly approaches. But segments Friday night on FNC's O'Reilly Factor and MSNBC Scarborough Country yielded interesting new information and perspectives from Reagan friends.
Former Reagan economic adviser Martin Anderson informed John Kasich, filling in for Bill O'Reilly, that contrary to the claims of the producers of the CBS movie, he cannot find any Reagan biographers they consulted.
On MSNBC, veteran television host and producer Merv Griffin told Joe Scarborough that network claims of ignorance about the script don't wash since in television production the network pre-approves the script before the expensive filming process begins. And as for the movie's charge that after the Marines were killed in Lebanon Reagan referred to himself as "the anti-Christ," Griffin revealed he can personally attest to the fallaciousness of that line: "I spent that day with them prior to him going to Andrews Air Force Base to greet the bodies coming home from Lebanon, and then all the parents were there. He was devastated. He had nothing to say about the Anti-Christ."
-- October 31 O'Reilly Factor on FNC guest hosted by John Kasich. From Stanford, California, Martin Anderson, co-editor of new book, Reagan: A Life in Letters, blasted CBS:
Kasich wondered: "Martin, did any, did they call, did the CBS people, the producers of this movie, to your knowledge, who did they call that was in the inner circle of the Reagan revolution?"
-- October 31 Scarborough Country on MSNBC. Merv Griffin joined Joe Scarborough via satellite from his home near Palm Springs and complained: "I've seen some of the promos, where Nancy screams at -- screams -- that fragile, wonderful woman doesn't scream -- screaming at all the White House aides. Then, we all have read parts of the script on The Drudge Report, John Rutenberg's wonderful column in the New York Times, with scenes from the movie. It's a disgrace. And I can't believe the publicity that CBS is putting out. I saw an interview the other night with Les Moonves. And he said: Well, I don't understand all the flak. He said that in essence. I'm not quoting him exactly. Because, he said, the movie is, nobody has seen it. It's in the editing room. So we are taking scenes out and everything.
Griffin disclosed to Scarborough: "I want to tell something I have never told before. Okay, they report that one of the scenes in the movie is when he calls himself the Anti-Christ on the day the Marine bodies were being returned from Lebanon. He said: 'I am the Anti-Christ.'
Last week, the October 29 CyberAlert recounted how Griffin, a long-time friend of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, appeared Tuesday night on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann and used the opportunity to blast CBS for "the most cowardly thing I've ever heard" over the reported tone and content of CBS's upcoming mini-series, The Reagans. "It's a cowardly act," he charged, asking: "Is that what the 'C' stands for in CBS?" Griffin laid into CBS for denigrating the Reagans when they "can't fight back" since Ronald Reagan is "on his deathbed" and Nancy Reagan is taking care of him all day. MSNBC delivered a cowardly act itself. As Griffin spoke, on-screen text, below some historic video of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, read: "30 Members of Reagan Admin. Spent Time in Prison." For more of what Griffin said, as well as for a link to his Web site, see: www.mediaresearch.org
-- October 22 CyberAlert: CBS's upcoming The Reagans mini-series starring James Brolin, aka Mr. Barbra Streisand, as Ronald Reagan, looks to be so slanted against Reagan from the left that even the New York Times has taken notice. In an October 21 story, Times reporter Jim Rutenberg revealed: "As snippets about the television movie circulate in Washington and Los Angeles, friends and relatives of the ailing Mr. Reagan are expressing growing concern that this deconstruction of his presidency is shot through a liberal lens, exaggerating his foibles and giving short shrift to his accomplishments."
For more on that as well as the liberal political orientation of the producers and screenwriter, see: www.mediaresearch.org
CBS's The Reagans, Item Three of Three. In having the CBS mini-series The Reagans reportedly ignore the economic boom of the Reagan years and portray Ronald Reagan as an anti-gay homophobe ("They that live in sin shall die in sin"), the CBS entertainment division and the producers and screenwriter of the two-part mini-series, set to air on November 16 and 18, were simply following the lead of the staff of CBS News, a review of the MRC's archive discovered.
On CBS's Sunday Morning in 1993, for instance, featured commentator John Leonard slimily charged: "A gerontocratic Ronald Reagan took this [AIDS] plague less seriously than Gerald Ford had taken swine flu. After all, he didn't need the ghettos and he didn't want the gays."
The morning after Ronald Reagan's farewell address in January of 1989, on CBS This Morning Harry Smith demanded of Reagan's late daughter Maureen: "He talked about being proud of what's happened with the economy, about the millions of new jobs that have been created. And as I listened to that, I also thought one out of five babies born in the United States are born into poverty. There are hundreds of thousands of people in this country now that are homeless, have no place to live. I wonder, how does your father reconcile that in his mind?"
Below, in date order from oldest to newest, my "Top Ten CBS News Reagan-Bashing Quotes" from on-air CBS News staffers, culled from the MRC's archive. You'll see that they reflect an animated disgust with Reagan's conservative policies, especially on tax cuts:
# Former Reagan Chief-of-Staff and Treasury Secretary Don Regan: "What's the bottom line of the Reagan administration? It's a great record."
# "I predict historians are going to be totally baffled by how the American people fell in love with this man [Ronald Reagan] and followed him the way we did."
# "He talked about being proud of what's happened with the economy, about the millions of new jobs that have been created. And as I listened to that, I also thought one out of five babies born in the United States are born into poverty. There are hundreds of thousands of people in this country now that are homeless, have no place to live. I wonder, how does your father reconcile that in his mind? How does he reconcile those two things?"
# "The documentary has held up as both true and sadly prophetic. While Congress restored some of the cuts made in those first Reagan budgets, in the years since, the poor and the working poor have borne the brunt of the cost of the Reagan Revolution. The hardest-hit programs have been welfare, housing and other anti-poverty measures. Even programs that were not cut have failed to keep up with inflation. Meanwhile, rich people got big tax breaks. And the middle class kept most of their subsidies intact. As a result, the Reagan years brought on a wider gap between rich and poor."
# "But analysts will also recognize that Ronald Reagan presided over a meltdown of the federal government during the last eight years. Fundamental management was abandoned in favor of rhetoric and imagery. A cynical disregard for the art of government led to wide-scale abuse. Only now are we coming to realize the cost of Mr. Reagan's laissez-faire: the crisis in the savings and loan industry, the scandal in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the deterioration of the nation's nuclear weapons facilities, the dangerous state of the air traffic control system -- not to mention the staggering deficit."
# "In just seven weeks, the '80s will be behind us. It was a decade dominated, in politics and in style, by the Reagans....While the wealthy got most of the attention, those who needed it most were often ignored. More homeless, less spending on housing. The gap between the top and the bottom grew in the '80s....The AIDS crisis began in the '80s. Some say the decade's compassion gap made it worse."
# Bill Moyers: "When it comes to visuals, do you miss Ronald Reagan?"
# "If there's anything that we heard out there at the polls today, it was the sound of Reaganomics crashing all around us. If there's anything left of Reagan's trickle-down theory, Dan, it seems to be anxiety which seems to be trickling down through just about every segment of our society."
# "In the plague years of the 1980s -- that low decade of denial, indifference, hostility, opportunism, and idiocy -- government fiddled, medicine diddled, and the media were silent or hysterical. A gerontocratic Ronald Reagan took this [AIDS] plague less seriously than Gerald Ford had taken swine flu. After all, he didn't need the ghettos and he didn't want the gays."
# "The legacy of the Reagan administration will be with us for years. The deficit under Reagan totaled more than a trillion dollars. Someday we're going to have to pay those bills. As officials look to cut spending and taxes at the same time, we can't afford another round of voodoo economics....I remember that campaign slogan one year `It's morning again in America.' Well, it may have been morning for some, but for a lot of people in this country it's become a nightmare."
You read it here first. Several examples today:
-- Fox Newswatch host Eric Burns at the top of Saturday's edition on FNC: "The Media Research Center, a conservative group, is sending a letter to the top one hundred corporate advertisers in the country urging them not to sponsor the upcoming Ronald and Nancy Reagan mini-series on CBS."
For the text of the MRC's press release, which was distributed last week in a CyberAlert Special: www.mediaresearch.org
For the text of the letter sent to potential advertisers: www.mediaresearch.org
A bit later in the show, Newsday columnist Jim Pinkerton offered an intriguing suggestion of what might happen to the scenes CBS cuts from The Reagans mini-series: "A lot of it will probably never see the light of day. It will only be in some blooper reel for the Media Research Center's Christmas party."
We know how to party.
-- Friday night on MSNBC's Scarborough Country, Joe Scarborough's "Joe's Got Issues" segment picked up on two CyberAlert items:
# Scarborough: "More evidence now that ABC provides interesting nightly newscasts every night. The Media Research Center caught ABC News' World [News] Tonight spinning out of control against yesterday's news that our economy is roaring back. Instead of reporting the largest economic boom since the Reagan years in the 1980s, ABC News broadcast a reprehensible act of journalism, when Dean Reynolds said, quote, 'An ABC News poll found this week that 71 percent of Americans think the economy is still bad. In terms of expectations, only three in 10 say things are improving.'
The October 31 CyberAlert reported: The 7.2 percent annualized GDP growth rate for the third quarter, the highest since 1984, is great news, but. That's how the networks approached the news on Thursday night as they added caveats about the lack of job growth and doubts about whether the boom can last, though all acknowledged how Bush's tax cuts were a factor in spurring growth. ABC's World News Tonight countered the good news with bad news as Dean Reynolds highlighted a poll taken before the fresh number was announced: "An ABC News poll this week found that 71 percent of Americans think the economy is still bad." Reynolds warned: "So in places like Georgetown, South Carolina, where the local steel mill has cut 450 jobs since June, the talk of a 7.2 percent growth rate falls flat." ABCNews.com asked: "President Bush cut taxes to boost the economy, but at what cost?" See: www.mediaresearch.org
The October 30 CyberAlert reported: The kids aren't alright: They like President Bush! A new poll showing 18 to 29-year olds strongly favor President Bush's overall job performance and approve of his handling of post-war Iraq meant to CNN's Paula Zahn that today's college students and twenty-somethings are either naively optimistic or ignorant as she Zahn offered only these two options: "Are these potential voters optimistic or ill-informed?" www.mediaresearch.org
Left-wing activist/actor Tim Robbins took a crude shot Thursday night at "compassionate conservatives." On CBS's late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, when Robbins was asked to "use the words 'compassionate' and 'conservative' in the same sentence while being neither ironic nor scornful," Robbins came up with "F*** compassionate conservatives," forcing CBS to bleep his first word though it was clear what it was.
The MRC's Brian Boyd caught the exchange in question #4 during the "5 Questions" segment on the October 30 show:
Kilborn: "Use the words 'compassionate' and 'conservative' in the same sentence while being neither ironic nor scornful."
A proud moment for the Hollywood Left.
To watch, via RealPlayer, the "5 Questions" segment with this exchange: www.cbs.com
For the Internet Movie Database's page on Robbins: imdb.com
# Tonight, Monday, on PBS's Charlie Rose show: David Westin, President of ABC News.
-- Brent Baker