2. Morning Reporters Distance Themselves from "Partial-Birth" Term
3. Ben Affleck Sees "Dangerous Right-Wing Agenda" in Bush and Media
4. Gumbel to Host Another Sci-Fi Channel Look at a UFO Landing
Bad poll news for President George W. Bush is the top news of the day to CBS, but when Bush bounces back CBS doesn't consider it to be newsworthy. Three weeks ago, when a CBS News/New York Times poll found a new low approval rating for Bush of 51 percent, with those not confident in his ability to handle a foreign crisis having risen to 50 percent and Bush dropping to tied status, at 44 percent, with an un-named Democrat in a generic head-to-head race, the CBS Evening News led with the survey.
With "Declining Confidence" on screen beneath a picture of Bush, Dan Rather teased his October 2 broadcast: "Tonight in a new poll the American people indicate declining confidence in President Bush on the economy and Iraq." Rather introduced his lead story: "A CBS News/New York Times poll out tonight indicates President Bush has increasing problems with public confidence in his leadership. With the economy struggling, jobs hard to come by and American soldiers in Iraq dying almost every day, support for the President, trust and belief in the job he's doing, are falling." John Roberts provided a rundown of the declining numbers, including how in "looking ahead to the election, President Bush has lost what was a commanding lead. Voters are now evenly split [at 44 percent] between Mr. Bush and an un-named Democrat."
But when a new CBS News poll released on Wednesday discovered that President Bush's approval rating had rebounded by three points, to 54 percent, confidence in his ability to handle a foreign crisis had jumped by eight points and his margin over an un-named Democrat had soared to a healthy 12 points, 46 to 34 percent, Dan Rather didn't mention any of those reversals of fortune for Bush as he allocated, on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, a mere 26 seconds to the fresh poll findings.
Rather's less than a half-minute-long item on the October 22 broadcast came after he led with the just-released video of the Columbine killers firing off shotguns, a story on how "the Defense Secretary privately predicts a long, hard slog in Iraq and Afghanistan" and a piece from Kimberly Dozier in Iraq on how "at the front lines of the war on terrorism, things don't seem to be getting any better."
In the fourth slot, Rather read a short item in which he highlighted public disillusionment with the Iraq war and, while Rather pegged Bush's approval level at 54 percent, he failed to note how that represented an up tick from the 51 percent approval level he treated as the top story of the day three weeks earlier when it had fallen just one point, from 52 percent, a number even more within the margin of error, in a poll taken two weeks earlier in mid-September. Rather announced on his October 22 newscast:
It isn't as if the rise in Bush's approval rating, as well as in his ability to handle a foreign crisis, wasn't noticed by someone at CBS News. The headline over the CBSNews.com posting of the poll: "Bush Job Approval Edges Back Up." The Web story relayed what television viewers were not told about:
And the new survey found that while Bush's approval level had risen by three points, within the four point margin of error, his disapproval level had fallen by six points since the previous poll three week ago, from 42 to 36 percent.
Specifically on his handling of Iraq, Bush's approval jumped to 49 percent from 45 percent in the poll released on October 2.
While Rather highlighted how most felt the Iraq war was not worth it, he ignored how, as the Web story recounted, "54 percent of Americans believe things are going at least somewhat well for the U.S. in its efforts to bring order to Iraq; last month, 49 percent believed this was the case. The percent who say things are going badly in Iraq has dropped to 43 percent today from 47 percent last month."
For CBS's posted rundown of its new poll released Wednesday: www.cbsnews.com
Just as they did on Tuesday night, on Wednesday morning network anchors and reporters distanced themselves from the term "partial-birth abortion," either outright refusing to say the phrase or making sure viewers understood it is the preferred term of critics of the practice. ABC's Robin Roberts and CBS's Harry Smith referred to "so-called partial-birth abortions" while NBC's Ann Curry cited "what critics call partial-birth abortions," though at another point she was unable to mouth the term: "President Bush says he looks forward to signing a bill that bans certain late-term abortions."
As recounted in the October 22 CyberAlert, in October 21 coverage of the Senate vote to ban the procedure, network anchors and reporters resisted using the term "partial-birth abortion." Jennings and Rather outright refused to utter the words. Jennings asserted: "The Senate has voted today to ban a certain abortion procedure which is most often used late in a pregnancy." Rather similarly announced: "Congress tonight gave final approval to legislation making it a crime for doctors to perform certain types of late-term abortions." NBC's Tom Brokaw kept his distance from the phrase, though he at least mouthed the term as he teased at the top of the October 21 NBC Nightly News: "The Senate joins the House and votes to outlaw so-called partial-birth abortion, the first federal ban in the long struggle over Roe v Wade." See: www.mediaresearch.org
A rundown of how the procedure was described on the Wednesday, October 22 morning shows, none of which provided any description coming close to Hume's recitation of collapsing the skull, as observed by MRC analysts Jessica Anderson, Brian Boyd and Geoffrey Dickens:
-- ABC's Good Morning America. News reader Robin Roberts: "President Bush is expected to sign into law controversial new legislation banning so-called partial-birth abortions. The Senate passed the measure yesterday. Supporters say the bill ends a barbaric procedure. Abortion rights advocates vow a legal challenge."
-- CBS's The Early Show. Harry Smith set up a slanted Elizabeth Kaledin story, which was nearly identical to what had run on the previous night's CBS Evening News: "In Washington, Congress approved a ban on so-called partial-birth abortion. It is the first federal restriction on abortion since the Supreme Court made it legal in 1973. CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin reports."
Kaledin, who referred only to "the procedure generally performed between the eighteenth and twenty-fourth weeks of pregnancy," warned that "doctors like Paul Blumenthal say combining the words 'never' and 'late term abortion' is risky."
Who is Blumenthal? Kaledin failed to point out how, as the MRC's Tim Graham discovered, Blumenthal has been affiliated with Planned Parenthood, a group politically active in opposing a ban on partial-birth abortions. In a May 16 Now with Bill Moyers story about the supposed conspiratorial "assault" on abortion rights, PBS's Brenda Breslauer identified Blumenthal as "the former Medical Director of a Maryland Planned Parenthood chapter." See the May 20 CyberAlert for more on that story featuring Blumenthal: www.mediaresearch.org
-- NBC's Today. News reader Ann Curry, in news updates throughout the show:
# "A legal battle is about to begin over the new bill that bans what critics call partial-birth abortions. 17 Democrats joined the Republican party in the Senate to pass the bill which the House approved earlier this month. President Bush says he looks forward to signing the bill into law. Abortion rights advocates say they will go to court immediately to try to stop it."
# "The Senate joined the House Tuesday in passing a bill to ban what critics call partial-birth abortion. The President says he will sign it but opponents say they will go to court to try to block the measure."
Katie Couric actually managed to use the term without caveats, but not Tim Russert. Couric asked him: "Let's talk about what happened in the Senate yesterday. Opponents of partial-birth abortion scored a major victory. The debate though, as we saw earlier, was incredibly heated and emotional. Were you surprised by this decision and obviously the President will sign it into law?"
Receiving an award last week in Los Angeles from the left-wing, anti-conservative group People for the American Way (PFAW), actor Ben Affleck lashed out at "the right-wing media" for delivering a "strident and one-sided cry in defense of policies which are damaging and dangerous." Affleck employed the same language as he claimed the Bush administration has also pushed "a dangerous right-wing agenda."
Affleck made fun of Arnold Schwarzenegger and of Rush Limbaugh's plight as he suggested that Limbaugh is now "learning to appreciate the virtues of forgiveness and understanding and who, I am quite sure, is hoping the next judge he sees is a liberal."
MSNBC's Scarborough Country on Friday night played some clips of Affleck's address at the October 14 People for the American Way event at the Beverly Hilton where Affleck was given a "Spirit of Liberty Award." PFAW's Web site listed Paul Begala, co-host of CNN's Crossfire, as the emcee with Harrison Ford and Bill Maher as award presenters. See: www.pfaw.org
Affleck's remarks at the event generated quite a bit of media attention, not for his political comments, but for how he referred to Jennifer Lopez as his "girlfriend" instead of as his fiancé.
On his October 17 program on MSNBC, Joe Scarborough played these clips of Affleck at a podium with a big PFAW banner behind him:
-- "The right wing media -- from Fox News to Bill O'Reilly to Rush Limbaugh, who is, now, I suspect, learning to appreciate the virtues of forgiveness and understanding and who, I am quite sure, is hoping the next judge he sees is a liberal -- have kept up the sustained and strident and one-sided cry in defense of policies which are damaging and dangerous."
-- "The Bush administration has continued to push what I think is a dangerous right-wing agenda, which has included increasing encroachments on civil liberties."
-- "Here we are now at the dawn of the Schwarzenegger Era in American politics. Does this seem like the decline of the Roman Empire, does that strike, like [deep announcer voice] 'and then a beast with eyes of fire will rise from the sea and [yelling] the Schwarzenegger will govern!' What's next?"
For a picture of the Berkeley, California-born Affleck, a picture of him and a rundown of his movie roles, which includes playing Tom Clancy's "Jack Ryan" in the Sum of All Fears and, most recently, co-starring in the box office disaster Gigli, see the Internet Movie Database's page on him: us.imdb.com
Bryant Gumbel goes alien. Eleven months after he narrated a Sci-Fi cable channel special on UFOs, The Roswell Crash: Startling New Evidence, Gumbel will return to the science fiction channel on Friday night for another special on a supposed UFO landing -- this time in Pennsylvania.
The veteran of the NBC and CBS morning shows, who now anchors HBO's monthly Real Sports and co-hosts PBS's quarterly Flashpoints USA, will host the Sci-Fi channel's, "The New Roswell: Kecksburg Exposed."
The two-hour special, complete with a town hall meeting hosted by Gumbel, will air Friday night, October 24, with feeds at 9pm and 11pm EDT and PDT. So, that means it will air at 9 and 11pm EDT, 8 and 10 pm CDT and 9 and 11pm PDT. For those in the Mountain Time Zone, it depends which feed you get. The eastern feed translates to 7 and 9pm MDT, the western feed to 10pm and 12am MDT.
The Sci-Fi channel's Web site summary of the program:
On December 9, 1965, an object landed near Kecksburg, Penn. It was observed as a fireball in the sky across several U.S. states and Canada.
Witnesses provided signed statements and independent, corroborated descriptions of the object and its location. Firefighters, reporters and a radio news director described a military presence at the crash site -- and some saw a military truck quickly leaving with a large, tarpaulin-covered object.
At the scene, officials told residents a meteor crashed. But the next day, the U.S. government declared nothing fell ... or was found.
What really happened? What is the truth? No matter what fell that night, the public's right to know remains undiminished.
Now, with new witness accounts and a breakthrough forensic study done at the site by scientists, we reveal fascinating new scientific evidence in this exclusive SCI FI DECLASSIFIED special. We take viewers to the actual site, and to a town-hall meeting moderated by host Bryant Gumbel. And we update our The Roswell Crash: Startling New Evidence special, with the final analysis of our excavated Roswell artifacts.
END Excerpt from Web site
The page for the show: scifi.com
Sounds like Sci-Fi has stumbled upon a grand military coverup conspiracy. No wonder the show appealed to Gumbel.
-- Brent Baker