2. Al Gore a "Centrist Southerner" to CBS's David Axelrod
3. MSNBC Producer: Reporters "Feel Vindicated" By Setbacks in Iraq
Becker Sit-Com Blasts "Stupid" People Who Favor Tax Cuts
5. "Top Ten Reasons Al Gore Has Endorsed Howard Dean"
Do you remember any CBS News stories in 1999 which countered liberal attacks on George W. Bush as a hardline conservative by emphasizing his moderate record as Governor of Texas? But on Tuesday night, CBS came to Howard Dean's defense against charges he's any kind of a liberal. Instead of looking at the left-wing policies Dean is now advocating, such as a massive tax hike, Byron Pitts insisted: "This five-term former Governor had a moderate record during his ten years in the Vermont state house. He was a fiscal conservative, well known for being frugal from budget cuts to his own bargain-basement wardrobe. Dean supports a balanced budget amendment, and he was given top marks from the National Rifle Association."
Nonetheless, Pitts fretted, "the Republican party loves comparing Dean to that legendary liberal and anti-war candidate George McGovern, who lost in a landslide to Richard Nixon in 1972." Pitts then showcased Jonathan Rauch of the National Journal, who argued: "Howard Dean on domestic policy is, if anything, to the right of where Bill Clinton was at this point 12 years ago."
"Fiscal conservatives"? The Cato Institute awarded Governor Dean a "D" for fiscal matters in its report card last year. They noted: "He supports state-funded universal health care, generous state subsidies for child care, a higher minimum wage, liberal family leave legislation, and taxpayer-financed campaigns...After 12 years of Dean*s so-called 'fiscal conservatism,' Vermont remains one of the highest taxing and spending states."
For the Cato report in PDF format, with Dean assessed on page 60: www.cato.org
And on the gun control front, just because he accepted political reality in Vermont does not mean he'd oppose imposition of more restrictions on gun rights once he achieves national office.
Pitts began his December 9 CBS Evening News story on Dean's political views, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
CBS put up a graphic of a manilla folder opened to show Dean's record, with a photo of him beside it. The text below an underlined "Gubernatorial Record":
Pitts elaborated: "He was a fiscal conservative, well known for being frugal from budget cuts to his own bargain basement wardrobe. Dean supports a balanced budget amendment, and he was given top marks from the National Rifle Association. Still, the Republican Party loves comparing Dean to that legendary liberal and anti-war candidate George McGovern, who lost in a landslide to Richard Nixon in 1972."
CBS on Tuesday night couldn't see liberals anywhere. In addition to reporter Byron Pitts painting Howard Dean as a "moderate," see item #1 above, David Axelrod contended that Al Gore is a "centrist Southerner." But ABC's Kate Snow acknowledged how "Gore's politics appear to have changed since 2000" and ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin noted how he's become "a siamese twin intellectually with Howard Dean."
David Axelrod asserted on the December 9 CBS Evening News: "Donna Brazile ran Al Gore's campaign in 2000. She says Gore delivers help Dean needs, and not just in Harlem where Gore ran strong. Gore, a centrist Southerner, offers more."
But over on ABC's World News Tonight, Kate Snow realized: "Gore's politics appear to have changed since 2000."
A month ago MSNBC producer Noah Oppenheim traveled to Iraq to "find out if things had really gone as horribly wrong as the evening newscasts and major print dailies reported." In the latest Weekly Standard, he recounted how found that "the mounting body count is heartbreaking, but the failure of American journalism is tragic." Oppenheim discovered that "America has brought to Iraq the notorious Red State-Blue State divide. Most journalists are Blue State people in outlook, and most of those administering the occupation are Red." Since "most journalists did not support this war to begin with," Oppenheim observed, they "feel vindicated whenever the effort stumbles."
Oppenheim seems to have been the producer for a series on MSNBC's Hardball in mid-November, "Iraq: The Real Story," in which Bob Arnot provided a look at trouble spots as well as where things are going well in Iraq. Two CyberAlert items recited highlights from the series:
-- Bob Arnot appeared on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews to contradict the image of chaos in Iraq hyped by the media. Launching Hardball's week-long series, "Iraq: The Real Story," Arnot recounted the challenges faced by troops in hostile areas, but countered the negative image of the Iraqi situation he knows Americans get from TV news. Arnot argued: "The fact is in 85 percent of the country, it's calm, it's stable, it's moving forward." Touring a shopping area, Arnot relayed how, "from what you see on TV from Baghdad you'd think that, with the mortars and rockets, that this was a city under siege." In fact, he contended, "nothing could be further from the truth in many neighborhoods." www.mediaresearch.org
An excerpt from Oppenheim's story, "Flacks and Hacks in Baghdad: What it's like to report from Iraq," in the December 15 edition of the Weekly Standard:
....Four weeks ago, MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" asked me to go to Baghdad in search of the story most of the mainstream media were missing. The network's vice president knew I was a supporter of the war, and suggested I find out if things had really gone as horribly wrong as the evening newscasts and major print dailies reported. What I found is that, in Iraq, the mounting body count is heartbreaking, but the failure of American journalism is tragic.
First, some popular illusions that need to be dispelled: Most correspondents for newscasts do very little, if any, actual reporting. They assemble the visual elements of a jigsaw puzzle whose shape is dictated by an unholy deity -- "the wires." Every day, the Associated Press and Reuters offer an account of the major events in Iraq. If a bomb has exploded or an American soldier has been killed, that is the day's major event. Barring that, an alarming comment from an American official, like Ambassador Paul Bremer or General Ricardo Sanchez, will suffice.
Once the wires have dictated the day's headline, television correspondents sometimes venture into the field. However, the purpose of leaving their fortress hotels is rarely to collect information. True, sometimes they'll elicit a soundbite that fits their preconceived notion of the day's narrative. More often than not, they simply need a scenic backdrop in front of which to recite their lines. Even this is optional. I have watched correspondents "report" stories having never actually left the bureau.
Which is not to suggest these correspondents are lazy. This is simply the way it's done. The wire services now all have television divisions that provide video, in addition to copy, to all subscribers. Why send a correspondent and crew to a dangerous place if the pictures have already been recorded and the facts already written down?
The consequence of this system is that, on television, the story in Iraq is no more than the sum of basic facts, like casualties, crashes, and official pronouncements. Such things are important and should be reported. Unfortunately, when you add to the mix time constraints and the herd instinct -- the general reluctance to depart from the story line common to all the major media on a given day -- little else makes it on the air.
Beyond this structural failure, there is a problem of attitude. Along with freedom, America has brought to Iraq the notorious Red State-Blue State divide. Most journalists are Blue State people in outlook, and most of those administering the occupation are Red. Many of those who work for the Coalition, including civilians, carry guns. This either amuses journalists or makes them uncomfortable. Most of those who work for the Coalition are deeply invested, emotionally, in the success of America's enterprise in Iraq. (How else to explain why someone leaves an apartment in Arlington to live in a trailer in Baghdad and endure mortar attacks?) Most journalists did not support this war to begin with, and feel vindicated whenever the effort stumbles....
Characters are the backbone of any good story, and the Americans working in Iraq are the finest I have ever met. People like Col. Nate Slate, a man trained his entire life to fire artillery, now doing a miraculous job rebuilding the town of Taji. People like Tom Foley, a multimillionaire financier, now walking the lines at Iraqi shoe factories, helping get an economy off the ground. People like Col. Joe Anderson, who despite the price on his head, patrols Mosul on foot so he can personally reassure shopkeepers and community leaders that America won't cut and run.
The story of America's presence in Iraq is the story of ordinary people, with the best of intentions, working ungodly hours, in unpleasant places, with no public acclaim. Their quiet work will never make AP headlines -- indeed, it too seldom makes the wires at all -- yet they are winning victories nonetheless.
The best metaphor I've heard about Iraq is that the country is like a child, and the American press is its parent. When you're around a child every day, you don't notice how dramatically he's growing and maturing. But a more distant relative who sees the child only once a year is astounded by how much taller he keeps getting. Iraq is getting taller and healthier every day, but those responsible for documenting the growth are not noticing -- or if they are, they're not telling the people back home.
END of Excerpt
To read to entire article, which requires registration: weeklystandard.com
Another episode of the CBS sit-com Becker, which stars the liberal Ted Danson playing a doctor in a one-man practice in New York City, airs tonight on CBS. In last week's episode, upset by the closing of a "residential life" home for the mentally-challenged, "Becker" went to see the city's Deputy Director of Social Services, who launched into a lengthy rant about the evils of how tax cuts have reduced the amount of money available to government and will lead to "crappy schools which will turn out yet another generation of voters who are too stupid and greedy to think about anything else besides cutting taxes!"
The government bureaucrat, his anger rising, yelled: "That facility is not going to re-open and I'll tell you why, there is no money! There's no money because the federal government cut taxes, which is all anybody seems to care about anymore. That means less money for the state, which means less money for the city, which means we had to cuts services, which means fewer cops, fewer firemen, bad air, bad water, and crappy schools which will turn out yet another generation of voters who are too stupid and greedy to think about anything else besides cutting taxes! So don't you come in here and tell me to fix your problem because there's not a damn thing I can do about it!"
Aubree Rankin of the Parents Television Council alerted us to the scene in the December 3 episode and the MRC's Amanda Monson transcribed it for CyberAlert.
In the show, Becker's clinic/office is overwhelmed by wacky people and he figures out it's because a nearby residential facility was closed by the city. We pick up the story with Becker going to see the city official in charge of the department which ran the facility:
Becker: "Look I just came down here 'cause I want to tell you about something terrible that's going on in my neighborhood."
For CBS's page on the sit-com, which stars Ted Danson and Nancy Travis and airs Wednesdays at 9:30pm EST/PST, 8:30pm CST/MST: www.cbs.com
The part of the anti-tax cut government bureaucrat was played by character actor Henry Gibson, an older, short, white-haired man you'd recognize from his many small roles over the years in TV and in the movies. For the most complete rundown of his roles, see his Internet Movie Database page, which is sans a photo: imdb.com
Viewers won't have to suffer liberal pontificating on Becker for much longer. CBS has announced that it won't return next season.
From the December 9 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Reasons Al Gore Has Endorsed Howard Dean." Late Show Web site: www.cbs.com
10. Thought Dean would give the most dynamic concession speech
9. Howard Dean reminds him of Jimmy Dean who makes them breakfast sausages
8. Only way to counteract freight-train success of Kucinich campaign
7. His support could get Dean popular vote, for what that's worth
6. Judgment clouded by Melana not selecting Adam on "Average Joe"
5. Dean promised to totally be his best friend forever
4. Wants Howard Dean to do for America what he did for Vermont...whatever the hell that was
3. Maybe it was the eleven vodka gimlets
2. The dart hit Dean's name
1. As a doctor, Dean has a legitimate excuse for fondling interns
# Tonight on Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Senator Zell Miller.
-- Brent Baker