2. CBS & NBC Push "AWOL" Charge But Skip How Kerry Defended Clinton
3. 60 Minutes II Re-Runs Ex-Official's Attack on Powell's UN Case
4. ABC's Shipman Acknowledges How Kerry is Getting Great Press
5. JAG Takes on U.S. War Crimes, NBC Re-Runs Bush-Bashing Sit-Com
6. "Top Ten Things Never Before Said by a Presidential Candidate"
Might gay marriage become John Kerry's "Willie Horton?" CBS worries it could. In a Wednesday night CBS Evening News story, Jim Axelrod regurgitated the media's favorite target as he asked: "Remember Willie Horton?" Axelrod then fretted about how Kerry must be concerned that just as nefarious Republican operatives "made 'Michael Dukakis,' 'Massachusetts liberal' and 'out of touch' synonymous" with the ads about furloughs for murderers, they could do the same with Kerry on gay marriage though, in fact, Kerry's opposition to gay marriage and support of civil unions is, Axelrod contended, "the basic position of George W. Bush, who also opposes gay marriages, but supports civil unions."
The February 4 CBS Evening News opened with how the Massachusetts Supreme Court issued a clarifying ruling about how its decision last year, that refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples violates the state constitution, cannot be remedied with civil unions and so gay couples must be allowed to marry.
Anchor Dan Rather set up a second story, looking at the impact on the presidential race, specifically on John Kerry and how Republicans will try to distort the issue to falsely paint Kerry as too liberal: "There's no getting around it. This court opinion, rightly or wrongly, could have an impact on the Kerry presidential campaign, and not just because he's from Massachusetts. As CBS's Jim Axelrod reports, after the latest round of primaries, Kerry is also the widely-viewed front-runner for the Democratic nomination. Senator John Edwards has made a move on him, but the race is now clearly Kerry's to lose."
Axelrod began, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "You can understand if John Kerry took just a moment to breathe easy last night. [video of Kerry victory speech] The winner in five of seven contests, the leader in delegates. Everything seemed to be moving according to plan. But the test is when things don't follow the plan. For all the time he spends on jobs and the war, the Massachusetts Supreme Court has now put a potentially explosive social issue on his plate."
A warning shot from CBS News to anyone who dares broach the radical idea of portraying a Massachusetts liberal as a Massachusetts liberal.
"New questions have arisen about President Bush's military service record," Dan Rather declared on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, although the "questions" are not "new" since they were raised and dismissed in 1999 and 2000. CBS and NBC on Wednesday night picked up on DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe's unsubstantiated "AWOL" charge, and how the John Kerry campaign is fueling the allegations, but ignored how in 1992 Kerry himself took to the Senate floor to denounce those critical of Bill Clinton's efforts to avoid military service during the Vietnam era.
Matching a theme of many cable news channel segments this week, both networks portrayed the attacks on Bush's personal military record of 30 years ago as a legitimate retort to questions about Kerry's professional policy positions on national security issues, as if Kerry serving in Vietnam should override his liberal Senate votes over the years against many weapons systems and in favor of cutting intelligence funding. (For Mort Kondracke's list of Kerry's liberal defense votes, see: www.mediaresearch.org)
CBS's Mark Strassmann asserted: "Democrats want to exploit a contrast with Lieutenant George Bush. They charge the future commander-in-chief was AWOL. Call it a clear warning shot on the debate to come about national security." Over on the NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw maintained: "Now that Senator John Kerry is the frontrunner among Democrats, the Democrats are anxious to show they will play hardball when comes to patriotism and national security."
Strassmann treated Vietnam vets who are working for Kerry as credible sources for criticism of Bush. Strassmann asserted: "Bush's service record cuts deep for this group: veterans campaigning for John Kerry, state by state." Viewers then heard from a man identified on screen as a "Republican Veteran," but who was standing inside a Kerry campaign room, who complained about Bush: "He wasn't there when we needed him."
Though Democrats and liberals are on the attack, Strassmann managed to suggest it is Bush who is exploiting the issue as he concluded his story by noting how Bush's "re-election campaign has already turned attacks on his service record into a weapon for fundraising among Bush supporters."
Neither CBS or NBC, nor CNN's NewsNight in a Wednesday night taped piece followed by Aaron Brown interviewing former Navy Secretary James Webb, bothered to note Kerry's hypocrisy on the issue as recounted in an article in Wednesday's Columbus Dispatch. (Webb did, however, note how Kerry "gained a lot of antipathy from people who served in Vietnam because of his role as a spokesman in what was called the winter soldiers or the winter crimes tribunal, which was involved in laying out a long list of allegations against the people that really hurt, stigmatized the people who served.")
OpinionJournal.com's "Best of the Web" column on Wednesday picked up on the Ohio paper's story, so major media outlets had no excuse for missing it, and FNC's Brit Hume caught that and, on Wednesday night, highlighted Kerry's 1992 comments.
An excerpt from the February 4 Columbus Dispatch story, "Military criticisms echo '92 attacks: Then, Kerry berated GOP on Clinton; now, his people slam Bush," by Jack Torry:
Sen. John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat whose backers have raised questions about President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard, once assailed critics of President Clinton's lack of military service, saying, "We do not need to divide America over who served and how."
The Massachusetts senator, a decorated Vietnam veteran, went to the Senate floor in 1992 to defend Clinton, who was being dogged in his presidential campaign by charges that he dodged the draft.
Kerry compared Clinton's critics to "latter-day Spiro Agnews" by playing "to the worst instincts of divisiveness and reaction that still haunt America. Are we now going to create a new scarlet letter in the context of Vietnam?"
"The race for the White House should be about leadership and leadership requires that one help heal the wounds of Vietnam, not reopen them," Kerry said at the time....
END of Excerpt
For the story in full: www.dispatch.com
Now, a full rundown of the CBS story, some more about the NBC story, a TimesWatch article about a slanted New York Times story and then links to previous CyberAlert items about this subject:
-- CBS Evening News, February 4. Dan Rather teased the upcoming story: "Coming up next here on the CBS Evening News. New questions have arisen about President Bush's military service record. We'll give you a look at questioned aspects of that record."
Rather soon introduced the subsequent piece, as transcribed by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "Military service could soon become an issue in the presidential race, especially if Senator John Kerry becomes the Democratic nominee. A Bush-Kerry face-off would pit two candidates with very different military service records. CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann has the 'Inside Story.'"
Strassmann began: "There's a swagger now to John Kerry, a confidence born in a pattern of victory. He's just so eager to share part of his battle plan in what he clearly believes is his fight to come."
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw set up NBC's take: "If there was any doubt that the presidential election is well under way, it was shattered this week with harsh attacks and counter-attacks between Democrats and Republicans over President Bush's military service record during the Vietnam War. Now that Senator John Kerry is the frontrunner among Democrats, the Democrats are anxious to show they will play hardball when comes to patriotism and national security."
David Gregory proceeded to run through the charges made by McAuliffe, but pointed out how "Mr. Bush was never formally accused by the National Guard of being AWOL -- or absent without leave -- but the questions about his service date back to 1968..." Gregory recounted Bush's supposed absence from duty for a year in 1972-73 in Alabama, noting how the Alabama commander, William Turnipseed said in 2000 that he didn't recall seeing Bush, but he's "now hedging. He admitted to NBC News today quote, 'I don't know if he showed up. I don't know if he didn't.'"
-- From the MRC's TimesWatch.org site, dedicated to documenting the liberal political agenda of the New York Times, a reprint of an article by Clay Waters about a February 4 New York Times story:
Striking Contrasts" Between Bush and Kerry
As Sen. John Kerry piles up Democratic primary victories, Wednesday's piece by Elisabeth Bumiller and David Halbfinger, "Military Service Becomes Issue in Bush-Kerry Race," framed the potential Kerry-Bush race to Kerry's advantage.
The story opened: "The contrast could not be more striking. In March 1969, John Kerry, a 25-year-old Navy lieutenant, reached down from the boat he was piloting in Vietnam's treacherous Bay Hap River and in a spray of enemy fire pulled a soldier out of the water to safety. For his valor, Mr. Kerry won the Bronze Star with a combat 'V' and his third Purple Heart. That very same month, George W. Bush was on far-safer ground in Valdosta, Ga., learning to fly fighter planes for the Texas National Guard, a coveted post that greatly reduced any risk that he would be sent to Vietnam -- and one that he might not have obtained had his father not been a member of Congress."
The Times saw the reemerging controversy over Bush's National Guard service (put back on the agenda by radical filmmaker Michael Moore) as an example of Kerry being as "brutal" as Bush: "Mr. Kerry's campaign advisers say the dispute, and the intense Republican response, keeps Mr. Kerry's military record as a central focus of the campaign and allows him to show he can engage in the same kind of brutal political warfare as the Bush White House....Mr. Kerry is showing no signs so far of backing off. In recent days, he has been assisted by former Senator Max Cleland of Georgia, a triple-amputee from his service in Vietnam who has been virtually sainted in Democratic eyes after being defeated in 2002 when Republicans questioned his patriotism."
But did questions of Cleland's patriotism really lead to his defeat? As the MRC's Brent Baker put it upon Cleland's defeat in his 2002 Senate race: "His decision to put protecting unionized federal workers from any performance or competence scrutiny ahead of national security is what gave his Republican opponent an opening to attack him." And the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which might have been expected to line up behind a Vietnam War veteran, endorsed Cleland's opponent, Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss.
END of Reprint of TimesWatch story.
-- Previous CyberAlert items:
# February 3: George W. Bush "AWOL" or a "deserter"? Michael Moore put the subject into play when, at a Wesley Clark rally, he previewed a Clark versus Bush race as pitting "the General versus the Deserter." At the January 22 presidential debate Peter Jennings raised the incident with Clark, describing it as "a reckless charge." On Friday night's Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, Moore lashed back: "For Peter Jennings to say that it was 'a reckless charge,' it's reckless for Peter Jennings and ABC not to investigate this." Moore's wish became ABC's command as both ABC on Sunday, following DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe on This Week maintaining that he's looking forward to a debate in which "John Kerry, a war hero with a chest full of medals, is standing next to George Bush, a man who was AWOL in the Alabama National Guard," and CNN on Monday, looked into the charge and found it baseless. www.mediaresearch.org
With a fresh introduction by Scott Pelley, CBS's 60 Minutes II on Wednesday night re-ran its October 15 story which featured disgruntled former State Department official Greg Thielmann who denounced Colin Powell for using discredited claims in his UN presentation.
As the October 16, 2003 CyberAlert summarized: CBS hyped as "new questions tonight," allegations it played at the top of Wednesday's 60 Minutes II, from former State Department intelligence bureau official Greg Thielmann, that Secretary of State Colin Powell's February 5 presentation to the UN Security Council contained inaccurate and unsupportable claims about Iraq's pursuit of nuclear weapons. But CBS was playing loose with the facts in putting self-promotional marketing ahead of accuracy since CBS itself featured the same basic charge from Thielmann back on July 9 and he leveled his allegations, against Powell and other Bush officials, during PBS's June 13 Now with Bill Moyers.
An excerpt from the CyberAlert:
Scott Pelley opened the broadcast in front of a "The Man Who Knew" graphic sign: "In the run-up to the war in Iraq, one moment seemed to be a turning point: the day Secretary of State Colin Powell went to the United Nations to make the case for the invasion. Millions of us watched as he laid out the evidence and reached a damning conclusion -- that Saddam Hussein was in possession of weapons of mass destruction.
Pelley to Thielmann: "When you saw Secretary of State Powell make his presentation to the United Nations, what did you think?"
Pelley pumped up Thielmann's credentials: "Greg Thielmann was a foreign service officer for 25 years. His last job at the State Deportment was Acting Director of the Office of Strategic Proliferation and Military Affairs, responsible for analyzing the Iraqi weapons threat for Secretary Powell....Thielmann was admired at the State Department. One high-ranking official called him honorable, knowledgeable, very experienced. Thielmann took a long-planned retirement four months before Powell's big moment at the UN."
Noting how "Greg Thielmann says the nuclear case was filled with half-truths," Pelley ran through how Thielmann and another inspector found no evidence that Iraq sought uranium in Africa and, on the aluminum tubes, that they were definitively not for use in any Iraqi nuclear quest.
Pelley relayed how Thielmann "says the administration took murky information out of the gray area and made it black and white." Thielmann claimed that what Powell said were "decontamination" trucks really were fire trucks.
Pelly asked a UN inspector: "As you watched the speech unfold, what was the reaction among the inspectors?" Inspector: "Various people would laugh at various times because the information he was presenting was just, you know, didn't mean anything, had no meaning."
Pelley summed up in skipping over all that David Kay did find: "An interim report by coalition inspectors says so far, there is no evidence of a uranium enrichment program, no chemical weapons, no biological weapons, and no Scud missiles. The State Department told us that Secretary Powell would not be available for an interview. But earlier this month, he said the jury on Iraq is still out."
END of Excerpt from previous CyberAlert
For this item in full: www.mediaresearch.org
ABC's Claire Shipman acknowledged on Wednesday morning that John Kerry is getting great press coverage, relaying on Good Morning America how a Kerry campaign operative told her that "racking up wins each week just strengthens his candidacy, plus he added, 'you can't buy this sort of press.'"
Liberals don't need to buy it. They get it for free.
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed how, from Boston on the February 4 GMA, Shipman trumpeted Kerry's victories of the night before: "And it was a big win: broad, deep and satisfying....Kerry swept demographic groups, appealed to moderates and liberals. Even in the two states he lost he was competitive....Exit polls showed again that voters like Kerry because they think he can beat Bush. Behind the scenes, the Kerry team can't hide its glee at a handful of polls out this week that show Kerry defeating the President in a one-on-one match up. Now, the next immediate focus this weekend, Washington state and Michigan, where they think they can win again, but Kerry is not necessarily eager to have this contest over immediately. As one aide pointed out last night, racking up wins each week just strengthens his candidacy, plus he added, 'you can't buy this sort of press.'"
Two prime time TV tips: Friday's episode of JAG on CBS will feature a case in which the Secretary of the Navy is charged by the International Criminal Court with having committed war crimes and on Saturday night, for the third time, NBC will air the episode of Whoopi which makes fun of President Bush.
-- The plot for the February 6 JAG, as listed on the CBS Web site: "When the International Criminal Court in The Hague charges the Secretary of the Navy with war crimes, Harm and Mac are assigned to defend him."
CBS's page for JAG, which airs at 9pm EST/PST, 8pm CST/MST: www.cbs.com
-- NBC's plot summary for a re-run airing on Saturday night of its sit-com starring Whoopi Goldberg as a former Broadway star who now runs a Manhattan hotel:
THE VAST RIGHT WING CONSPIRACY
WILL MOTORMOUTH MAVIS GO BUSH LEAGUE AFTER ENCOUNTER WITH FRIENDLY PRESIDENT? -- After a chance encounter with President Bush (guest star Steve Bridges) when his motorcade stops at the Lamont Hotel, Mavis (Whoopi Goldberg) cannot mouth off to the Commander in Chief after he recognizes her and pays homage to her singing talents -- but she clashes with Republican Courtney (Wren T. Brown) when Bush graciously invites her for a face-to-face meeting. Later, while out of place at a GOP function, a sassy Mavis drinks, smokes and speaks her mind -- and soon gets up-close-and-personal with the Secret Service.
This episode will air at 8:30pm EST/PST, 7:30pm CST/MST on Saturday.
The October 15 CyberAlert recounted some scenes from the sit-com, which NBC aired on both Tuesday, October 14 and again on Thursday, October 16, and what she said about it during an appearance on Today.
In one scene, while Goldberg's character, "Mavis," is away from the front desk Bush stops by the hotel to use the facilities:
Later, Mavis charges: "Black Republicans make about as much sense to me as Jews for Jesus."
On Today, Goldberg claimed she did the Bush-bashing episode because it was an "opportunity to say some things that people are actually thinking." She also maintained: "We are afraid of people who don't look like us."
From the February 4 Late Show with David Letterman, as presented on the Ed Sullivan Theater stage by Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, the "Top Ten Things Never Before Said by a Presidential Candidate." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. "Vote for me or I'll slash your tires"
9. "Forget universal health care -- I'm buying every American an XBox"
8. "In a crisis I ask myself, 'What would Tony Danza do?'?
7. "I'd give you my plan for economic recovery if I wasn't rip stinkin' drunk"
6. "If your last name begins with 'M' through 'Z,' sorry -- your taxes are doubling"
5. "We're gonna cut the deficit by selling North Dakota to Canada"
4. "I have tons of experience from being president of the Burt Reynolds fan club"
3. "Lady, that is one ugly baby"
2. "When I'm president, I'm putting Regis on Mt. Rushmore"
1. "Read my lips: no new wardrobe malfunctions"
The Late Show's "Dave TV" page features a RealPlayer excerpt of Edwards reading numbers ten through seven: www.cbs.com
[Web Update: The Late Show has posted on this page RealPlayer video of Edwards presenting the entire list: www.cbs.com]
The page also has clips of two previous Top Ten lists from Democratic presidential candidates:
# From January 12, Dick Gephardt's "Top Ten Signs You've Been on the Campaign Trail Too Long." For the text of the list: www.cbs.com
Some humorous video: Watch Dennis Kucinich attempt some free throws with a basketball, while he has a fake baby stuffed in his suit jacket -- a fake baby whose voice he has just mimicked -- during the "5 Questions" segment Tuesday night on the Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn: www.cbs.com
-- Brent Baker