2. Bush Simultaneously in Mainstream & Too Extreme on Gay Marriage
3. Network Morning Shows Presume Bush Guilty Until Proven Innocent
4. In 1992 the Washington Press Corps Defended Clinton on Draft
5. ABC Political Team Concedes Press Corps Hostile to Bush's Views
6. News Corporation & Viacom Chiefs Are Big Bundlers for Kerry
7. CNN: John Kennedy Won Primary, Touting "Vagina-Friendly Men"
A week after CBS reporter David Axelrod asked, "Remember Willie Horton?" as he went on to bemoan how Republicans will use the gay marriage issue to unfairly tar John Kerry as a liberal, the same broadcast on Wednesday night, after noting the existence of a photo showing Kerry and Jane Fonda at a 1970 anti-Vietnam war protest, showcased an expert who declared in a soundbite: "Remember Willie Horton? Well Willie Horton has been retired. Jane is taking his place." In the same story, CBS's Byron Pitts gave equal weight to two views of Kerry's ideology: "Democrats say he's George Bush; Republicans say he's Ted Kennedy."
In a February 4 CBS Evening News story, David 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." See: www.mediaresearch.org
Then, over a picture of Kerry getting a medal, Pitts warned that Republicans are even trying to undermine Kerry's image as a hero of the Vietnam war: "Kerry the Vietnam war hero? The GOP is developing their own spin. [Over a picture of Kerry sitting on the ground a few rows behind Jane Fonda at a 1970 anti-war protest in Valley Forge] This picture of John Kerry war protester, sitting near controversial anti-war activist Jane Fonda, now appears on a number of Web sites."
In fact, it's the media, not "the GOP," which is publishing the Kerry/Fonda photo. Wednesday's front page of the Washington Times featured the photo, of Fonda in the foreground and Kerry a few rows behind her in a crowd listening to speakers at a 1970 anti-war rally in Pennsylvania. For the Times story, "Photo of Kerry with Fonda enrages Vietnam veterans," with the photo, see: www.washtimes.com
The picture was first uncovered by NewsMax.com. See: www.newsmax.com
(CBS is obsessed with the Willie Horton ad. Just as information was breaking in 1992 about how Bill Clinton dodged the draft and he was dissembling about what he had done, Dan Rather opened the February 12, 1992 CBS Evening News: "Bill Clinton says President Bush's 1988 Willie Horton crowd is smearing him with new campaign dirty tricks.")
President Bush simultaneously mainstream and too extreme on gay marriage? Seconds after CBS's John Roberts on Wednesday night noted that Bush's position against gay marriage "puts him solidly in the mainstream," as a CBS News poll found that by 61 percent to 34 percent most "Americans oppose legalizing gay marriage," Roberts nonetheless warned: "Even some members of the President's own party worry that he's getting too far out in front of this controversy just to satisfy conservative family groups."
Near the start of his piece on the February 11 CBS Evening News, Roberts asserted that "the White House was happy to change the subject during the flap over the President's military record and eager to get on the scorecard with this issue, particularly against a likely Democratic candidate whose position on gay marriage is far less clearly etched..."
Roberts reported how the White House reaffirmed its support of efforts to protect marriage, and soon noted: "The President's position puts him solidly in the mainstream. 61 percent of Americans oppose legalizing gay marriage. But advocate argue the Constitution is not the place to fight this battle."
The media obsession with advancing the liberal Democratic campaign quest, to make President Bush's National Guard record an issue, continued on Wednesday morning. Just as occurred on Tuesday night, instead of castigating those leveling unsubstantiated "AWOL" charges, and demanding that the accusers provide proof, the network morning shows presumed Bush is guilty until proven innocent.
ABC's Good Morning America, for instance, devoted half of its first half hour -- a news story and three (!) interview segments all totaling a bit more than ten minutes of air time -- to the subject as co-host Charges Gibson adopted Terry McAuliffe's spin. With "Was He AWOL?" plastered on screen over video of present day Bush next to a black-and-white still shot of Bush in uniform during his National Guard days, Gibson asserted: "President Bush still in the hot seat after releasing his military records. Was he AWOL as his critics charge?" And showing no self-awareness of how it is the media which are making it a story, Gibson claimed: "The questions about the President's National Guard service just won't stop."
For the full rundown of Tuesday night coverage: www.mediaresearch.org
But wouldn't "fair and accurate" coverage mean ceasing to push a baseless storyline which advances the agenda of partisan activists? In other words, just dropping the story?
ABC ran a story by Claire Shipman, followed by interview sessions on the topic with Boston Globe reporter Walter Robinson, who wrote about it in 2000, Condoleezza Rice and George Stephanopoulos.
On CBS's Early Show, the MRC's Brian Boyd noticed, Bill Plante concluded that the White House didn't come up with enough proof: "The problem for the White House is that these documents don't actually prove Mr. Bush showed up on the dates for which he was paid. And so far no one has come forward to say that they served with him, leaving the President on the defensive."
Interviewing Rice about President Bush's upcoming speech on nuclear proliferation, Harry Smith asked her: "As a member of the administration are you satisfied that the president has accounted for his apparent missing time while serving in the National Guard?"
Over on NBC's Today, while interviewing Rice, Couric actually suggested that Bush's speech on nuclear proliferation was just arranged to distract attention from his Guard duty. The MRC's Geoff Dickens noticed that Couric told Rice: "How do you respond to critics, Dr. Rice, who suggest this is an effort by the White House to deflect attention away from the President's National Guard service?"
Couric followed up by arguing: "Dr. Rice as you know the White House yesterday released pay records that, that it claims supported the President's assertion that he, in fact, fulfilled his duties in the Air National Guard. Yet to quote, Norah O'Donnell's piece that aired earlier, 'There is a six-month gap where there is no record of service or payroll stubs. He was also suspended from flying for failing to report for a medical exam. And the new records create a contradiction. If he showed up at times for duty why did his two Texas commanders report, 'Lt. Bush has not been observed at this unit?'"
Indeed, in the earlier story, O'Donnell maintained that "the White House had hoped to end this controversy but may have re-ignited more questions."
Couric also raised the subject with Tim Russert: "Quick question about President Bush and his service in the National Guard. He, the White House released pay stubs but there's still that six-month gap where no supervising officers reported having seen George W. Bush report for duty. How do you see this shaking out in the future and what's gonna happen?"
More now on GMA's February 11 coverage as tracked by the MRC's Jessica Anderson:
Charles Gibson set up ten minutes of coverage: "We're going to start now with President Bush's military record. It's a subject that seems to be consuming Washington these days. The questions about the President's National Guard service just won't stop and ABC's Claire Shipman is in Washington this morning. Claire."
Shipman ran through the details, emphasizing supposed gaps in the payroll records. Shipman complained: "The problem is there continue to be no records that show Bush reported for duty in Alabama and at least two of his commanding officers have said they don't remember seeing him at the base. General William Turnipseed, deputy commander of the 187th squadron, told ABC News by phone, 'I don't know if he showed up in Alabama or not.' Now, the newly-released pay stubs show that Bush was paid during the periods when commanding officers don't remember seeing him. Is that proof he reported for duty? Bush insists he did serve during the period in question....And despite the fact that this issue was raised four years ago, nobody who served with the President during that period has come forth to talk about it."
Next, Gibson interviewed Boston Globe reporter Walter Robinson who had explored the subject in some 2000 news stories. Gibson prompted his unimpressed reaction to the document release and then quizzed him on shortcomings in the record: "Is it possible he was paid and didn't show up because these commanding officers, both in Texas and Alabama, the two units to which he was assigned at different times, say they don't remember seeing him?"
Diane Sawyer sat down with George Stephanopoulos, who admired the Democratic technique, but expressed the view that the burden of proof now shifts to the accusers. But isn't that where it always should have been?
Sawyer asked: "So, let me pose it to you, pundit person. Thirty-two years ago, does this resonate with voters?"
Sawyer then played an except of a taped interview with Rice in which Sawyer inquired about "how the documents came to surface now?" Sawyer also wanted to know if Rice thought it is "a legitimate question of whether he fulfilled his Guard service in the same way other members of the Guard did?"
But ABC still wasn't done. In the 8:30am half hour, at the start of his appearance to promote his new movie, 50 First Dates, Rob Schneider derogatorily quipped: "I was glad we got a chance to, I can clear up this thing. I served in the National Guard. I did. I did my service, I performed my duty. No one remembers me, but I did it, Diane. I went to Vietnam -- Vietnam, South Carolina, I was there."
But aren't they?
For a picture of the snide Schneider, a veteran of Saturday Night Live, check his Internet Movie Database page: www.imdb.com
A CyberAlert Special on Wednesday afternoon relayed the text of a Media Reality Check, "ABC, CBS, NBC Pound Bush, But Protected Draft-Dodging Clinton from the 'Willie Horton Crowd,'" about how as opposed to now, when Team Bush has been out on the defensive, not his liberal accusers, twelve years ago the media were hostile only to Clinton's accusers.
For the February 11 Media Reality Check by Tim Graham: www.mediaresearch.org
For the Adobe Acrobat PDF version: www.mediaresearch.org
To add to that, from the Notable Quotables archive, some quotes I retrieved which reflect the hostility, in early 1992, of the Washington press corps toward any efforts to use Bill Clinton's avoidance of the draft against him, efforts which included writing a deceitful letter to his local draft board:
# "It would have been outrageous if he [Clinton] had been done in by the draft thing because that was a bum rap. The word 'draft dodging' does not belong in any sentence with Bill Clinton's name in it."
(Within a year, Talbott was a member of the Clinton administration as Deputy Secretary of State.)
# "Bill Clinton did not do anything illegal. There were, most young Americans at that time that were in his income and educational background did exactly what he did. They tried to find some way to avoid service."
# "I think the more people who read the letter, the actual draft letter, the more people will come back to Clinton....One of the sentences in the letter he gets blasted for is that he wanted to keep his political viability. Well, he was what, in his early twenties? He was running for Congress when he was 25. What happened to the notion 'I want to grow up to be President'? That's a good thing."
Let's see if George Bush gets an equally enthusiastic defense on the television talk shows this weekend.
Without explicitly using the term "liberal bias," ABC's "The Note" daily Web report, produced by the political team at ABC News, made a pretty amazing admission on Tuesday as they conceded that the Washington press corps holds liberal views on all the key issues separating President George W. Bush and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, thus giving an advantage to Kerry and a disadvantage to Bush.
They concluded their February 10 posting: "On the strength of all the negative coverage of the President and all his own positive coverage, Sen. Kerry heads into today's twin primaries on a roll."
The ABC political team didn't dispute that the personal views of journalists impact coverage as they contended that "the worldview of the dominant media can be seen in every frame of video and every print word choice that is currently being produced about the presidential race."
"The Note" is produced by a team led by Mark Halperin, who you may recognize from his on-air appearances. The others listed at the top of the posting" "Lisa Todorovich, Gayle Tzemach, Brooke Brower, Karen Travers, Teddy Davis and Nick Schifrin with V. Brown, R. Thomasson, and T. Peck."
The MRC's Jessica Anderson alerted me on Tuesday to this concession, but I ran out of room for it in Wednesday's CyberAlert. Rush Limbaugh really put it into play by talking about it on his show on Wednesday.
An excerpt from the key portion of the February 10 edition of "The Note" posted on the "Politics" section of ABCNews.com:
....Like every other institution, the Washington and political press corps operate with a good number of biases and predilections.
They include, but are not limited to, a near-universal shared sense that liberal political positions on social issues like gun control, homosexuality, abortion, and religion are the default, while more conservative positions are "conservative positions."
They include a belief that government is a mechanism to solve the nation's problems; that more taxes on corporations and the wealthy are good ways to cut the deficit and raise money for social spending and don't have a negative affect on economic growth; and that emotional examples of suffering (provided by unions or consumer groups) are good ways to illustrate economic statistic stories.
More systematically, the press believes that fluid narratives in coverage are better than static storylines; that new things are more interesting than old things; that close races are preferable to loose ones; and that incumbents are destined for dethroning, somehow.
The press, by and large, does not accept President Bush's justifications for the Iraq war -- in any of its WMD, imminent threat, or evil-doer formulations. It does not understand how educated, sensible people could possibly be wary of multilateral institutions or friendly, sophisticated European allies.
It does not accept the proposition that the Bush tax cuts helped the economy by stimulating summer spending.
It remains fixated on the unemployment rate.
It believes President Bush is "walking a fine line" with regards to the gay marriage issue, choosing between "tolerance" and his "right-wing base."
It still has a hard time understanding how, despite the drumbeat of conservative grass-top complaints about overspending and deficits, President Bush's base remains extremely and loyally devoted to him -- and it looks for every opportunity to find cracks in that base.
Of course, the swirling Joe Wilson and National Guard stories play right to the press's scandal bias -- not to mention the bias towards process stories (grand juries produce ENDLESS process!).
The worldview of the dominant media can be seen in every frame of video and every print word choice that is currently being produced about the presidential race.
That means the President's communications advisers have a choice:
Try to change the storyline and the press' attitude, or try to win this election without changing them.
So we ask again: What's it going to be, Ken, Karen, Mary, Terry, Nicole, and Dan?...
END of Excerpt
Bottom line: ABC News has now confirmed as accurate the charge of liberal bias which much of the press corps has denied for years.
Peter Jennings may have to straighten out his underlings. Last year, the September 9 USA Today quoted Jennings as insisting: "I don't think anybody who looks carefully at us thinks that we are a left-wing or a right-wing organization."
Those inside ABC News have had a pretty good look and decided differently.
The ABC News political team's observation reminded me of how then-New Republic Senior Editor Hendrik Hertzberg in 1992 found that most journalists on the campaign trail favored Bill Clinton. He wrote in the March 9, 1992 New Republic:
So much for the notion that media chieftans are a bunch of country club Republicans. An article this week in Britain's Guardian newspaper revealed how FCC records show that top executives from News Corporation, CBS parent Viacom, as well as the former President of CBS, Howard Stringer, are heavy contributors to John Kerry's campaign, pledging to raise $50,000 or more for him by bundling gifts from others of up to $2,000 each. Viacom COO Mel Karmazin also pitched in for Tom Daschle.
The DrudgeReport (www.drudgereport.com) linked on Tuesday to the February 10 story, "Media chiefs back Kerry campaign," in the Labor-friendly Guardian newspaper. An excerpt from the article by Owen Gibson:
....As John Kerry's campaign to secure the Democrat nomination - and with it a crack at the White House - continues to gather pace, it has emerged that it is being bankrolled by key executives from News Corporation, MTV-owner Viacom and Sony....
Unsurprisingly, the donation from News Corp's boardroom came not from chairman Rupert Murdoch, a committed Republican, but from the company's chief operating officer, Peter Chernin.
Mr Chernin, one of Mr Murdoch's most trusted lieutenants, is among several media chiefs who have pledged to raise between $50,000 and $100,000 to support the Vietnam war veteran's campaign for the White House.
Others who have pledged to raise more than $50,000 include the Viacom chief executive, Sumner Redstone, and Sony chairman Howard Stringer, whose name has recently been linked with the vacant chairmanships at ITV and the BBC.
Most of the money raised from these contributors will have to be raised through business associates, relatives and friends as individuals can only give a total of $4,000 each to presidential candidates -- $2,000 during the primaries and another $2,000 during a general election....
New figures compiled by the Federal Election Commission, correct up to the end of December 2003, show that Mr Chernin and the president of the Motion Picture Association of America, Jack Valenti, both gave the maximum $2,000 to Mr Kerry's campaign.
Mr Redstone gave $1,000 to Mr Kerry, $3,000 to the re-election bid of the senate minority leader, Tom Daschle, and $5,000 to the Democratic senatorial campaign committee. Mel Karmazin, the chief operating officer at Viacom, also gave $4,000 to Mr Daschle.
Mr Murdoch, meanwhile, contributed $2,000 to the re-election as senator of Republican John McCain, who is chairman of the influential senate commerce committee, which regulates the media....
END of Excerpt
For the entire article: media.guardian.co.uk
Dreaming of another JFK presidency? Setting up a graphic of a county-by-county map of Virginia, color-coded to show which candidate won each county, at about 8:55pm EST on Tuesday night CNN's Jeff Greenfield announced: "Thanks to the magic of our space-ologic 'Vote Trak,' we can show you the dimensions of John Kennedy's victory in Virginia."
Greenfield, who once toiled in Robert Kennedy's presidential race, didn't realize his error and so didn't correct himself. But John Fitzgerald Kennedy and John Forbes Kerry do share the same initials.
And is it my imagination, or did Jane Fonda seem to be a constant presence on CNN for much of the day on Wednesday?
She was live during the 3pm EST hour with Judy Woodruff, on tape during the 4pm EST hour, back on live with Wolf Blitzer during the 5pm EST hour and on tape with Paula Zahn during the 8pm EST hour.
Fonda appeared alongside Vagina Monologues creator Eve Ensler to plug a Lifetime documentary, "Until the Violence Stops."
From what I gathered, since Fonda said it in every appearance, she's on a quest to "move vagina-friendly men into a new space." Whatever that means. So, was Ted Turner not "vagina-friendly"?
She wasn't on CNN this much when she was married to Turner.
-- Brent Baker