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CBS Links Lieberman Loss to 2,600 Killed and 'Kiss of Death' --8/10/2006


1. CBS Links Lieberman Loss to 2,600 Killed and 'Kiss of Death'
In leading Wednesday's CBS Evening News with how Senator Joe Lieberman lost the Democratic primary in Connecticut, fill-in anchor Harry Smith highlighted the number of U.S. servicemen killed in Iraq. Smith announced: "The war in Iraq, which has cost nearly 2,600 Americans their lives, has just taken its first major political casualty here at home." And a day after CBS's Trish Regan described as "infamous" the embrace, derided as "The Kiss" by supporters of Connecticut Senate hopeful Ned Lamont, between President George W. Bush and incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman in the well of the House after Bush's 2005 State of the Union address, reporter Jim Axelrod dubbed it the "kiss of death." Over video of the embrace, with "KISS OF DEATH" on screen, Axelrod asserted: "President Bush's embrace of Joe Lieberman gave Ned Lamont the perfect image to hang around his opponent's neck in a Democratic primary."

2. Morning Show Drumbeat on Lieberman: Drop Out to Save Dem Seat
Matt Lauer, Diane Sawyer and Harry Smith know a potential roadblock to Democratic success when they see one, and all three suggested to Senator Joseph Lieberman he should drop out to prevent a Democratic loss in the fall. From Connecticut, Lieberman appeared Wednesday on the ABC, CBS and NBC morning shows and received identical reactions from all three hosts the morning after his loss in the Democratic primary. NBC's Matt Lauer: "Senator is there any phone call you could receive, is there anyone in the Democratic Party who could call you today and ask you to drop out that you would listen to?" ABC's Diane Sawyer: "Senator, I heard you say I'm a Democrat. But you're talking about running as an independent and there are members of the party who've already said, commentators, that this is a selfish decision. How can you run against the party?" CBS's Harry Smith: "You will run as an independent at risk of losing the seat to the Republicans? You understand that risk? By splitting the Democratic vote."

3. NBC NN Highlights Viewer E-Mail that Matches CyberAlert Critique
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams ended his Wednesday newscast by reading a few e-mails from viewers, starting with one which matched an August 1 NewsBusters/August 2 MRC CyberAlert item, "NBC's Williams Ignores Declining U.S. Troop Deaths, Highlights Total Iraq 'Death Toll.'" With the text on screen, Williams read aloud the comment from the unidentified e-mailer (a NewsBusters or CyberAlert reader?) who complained about how Williams was guilty of "sensationalizing U.S. deaths in Iraq with a huge body count number flashed on the screen," and asked: "Do you think it might also have been news worth noting that July's casualty count was the third lowest in the past 2 years and that they FELL in July for the third straight month? Of course not -- because that does not fit the template of your news program."


CBS Links Lieberman Loss to 2,600 Killed
and 'Kiss of Death'

In leading Wednesday's CBS Evening News with how Senator Joe Lieberman lost the Democratic primary in Connecticut, fill-in anchor Harry Smith highlighted the number of U.S. servicemen killed in Iraq. Smith announced: "The war in Iraq, which has cost nearly 2,600 Americans their lives, has just taken its first major political casualty here at home." And a day after CBS's Trish Regan described as "infamous" the embrace, derided as "The Kiss" by supporters of Connecticut Senate hopeful Ned Lamont, between President George W. Bush and incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman in the well of the House after Bush's 2005 State of the Union address, reporter Jim Axelrod dubbed it the "kiss of death." Over video of the embrace, with "KISS OF DEATH" on screen, Axelrod asserted: "President Bush's embrace of Joe Lieberman gave Ned Lamont the perfect image to hang around his opponent's neck in a Democratic primary."

The Wednesday stories on neither ABC's Word News or the NBC Nightly News mentioned "The Kiss."

[This item was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Smith opened the August 9 CBS Evening News:
"The war in Iraq, which has cost nearly 2,600 Americans their lives, has just taken its first major political casualty here at home. Joseph Lieberman, once one of the most popular members of his party, still a much-respected member of the Senate, was defeated in Connecticut's Democratic primary in what became a referendum on his support for the war. Lieberman lost to anti-war candidate Ned Lamont and will now run as an independent..."

After a story from Trish Regan, Jim Axelrod began his report on the political impact, a story in which he did note that a majority oppose pulling out of Iraq if it means the insurgents will take over:

Jim Axelrod, over video of the embrace: "Call it the 'kiss of death.' President Bush's embrace of Joe Lieberman gave Ned Lamont the perfect image to hang around his opponent's neck in a Democratic primary."
Ned Lamont at victory rally: "We have 132,000 of our bravest troops stuck in the middle of a bloody civil war in Iraq and I'd say it's high time we bring them home to the hero's welcome!"
Axelrod: "After months of indecision, Lamont's victory could well embolden more Democrats to call for troop withdrawal..."

An August 9 CyberAlert item recounted: Twice on Tuesday, CBS News correspondent Trish Regan labeled as "infamous" the embrace, derided as "The Kiss" by supporters of Connecticut Senate hopeful Ned Lamont, between President George W. Bush and incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman in the well of the House after Bush's 2005 State of the Union address. Regan didn't attribute the characterization to Lieberman's opponents. She stated it as fact. On the Early Show she explained over brief video of the event: "Ned Lamont has used this now infamous kiss to his advantage on campaign buttons and television ads, suggesting Lieberman is just too cozy with the President." Then on the CBS Evening News, Regan asserted over the same video: "His campaign has used images like this now infamous kiss."

For more: www.mrc.org

Morning Show Drumbeat on Lieberman: Drop
Out to Save Dem Seat

Matt Lauer, Diane Sawyer and Harry Smith know a potential roadblock to Democratic success when they see one, and all three suggested to Senator Joseph Lieberman he should drop out to prevent a Democratic loss in the fall. From Connecticut, Lieberman appeared Wednesday on the ABC, CBS and NBC morning shows and received identical reactions from all three hosts the morning after his loss in the Democratic primary.

NBC's Matt Lauer on the August 9 Today show: "Senator is there any phone call you could receive, is there anyone in the Democratic Party who could call you today and ask you to drop out that you would listen to?" ABC's Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America: "Senator, I heard you say I'm a Democrat. But you're talking about running as an independent and there are members of the party who've already said, commentators, that this is a selfish decision. How can you run against the party? What will happen?" CBS's Harry Smith on The Early Show: "A final quick question. You will run as an independent at risk of losing the seat to the Republicans? You understand that risk? By splitting the Democratic vote."

[This item was adopted from a Wednesday morning posting by Geoff Dickens on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Below is the barrage of "drop out" questions Lieberman faced from Matt, Diane and Harry, as gathered by MRC analysts Megan McCormack, Scott Whitlock and Michael Rule:

# NBC's Today, Matt Lauer:

-- "Good to have you here, thank you for your time. I would imagine your phone is gonna start to ring pretty early this morning, Senator. The likes of Frank Lautenberg and Chris Dodd and maybe even Bill Clinton calling to say, 'Senator step aside, the voters have spoken.' Are you gonna take their calls or are you gonna screen those calls?"

-- "But, but facts, facts are facts Senator though, and you lost to a political novice by four percentage points. Now that political novice is going to have the support of the entire Democratic machine behind him for these next three months. How can you win?"

-- "Let me go back to that line in your speech last night, I'll paraphrase it if you don't mind. You said, 'For the sake of your state, your country and my party you will not let these results stand.' It's a nice line in a speech but the fact of the matter is there are a lot of Democrats who think now, going forward you're putting your own personal ambitions above the good of the party. How do you respond to that?"

-- "So you won't bend at all on the issue of a deadline for troop withdrawal. Senator is there any phone call you could receive, is there anyone in the Democratic Party who could call you today and ask you to drop out that you would listen to?"


# ABC's Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer:

-- "Senator, I heard you say I'm a Democrat. But you're talking about running as an independent and there are members of the party who've already said, commentators, that this is a selfish decision. How can you run against the party? What will happen?"

-- "President Clinton has indicated that he's going to support the Democratic nominee and so many other members of your party, your friends, have said, we're going to come in and campaign for the Democratic nominee. You're going to be all alone out there. Will you stay in, no matter what, til November?"


# CBS's The Early Show, Harry Smith:

-- "And that's why you've said you're going to run as an independent, even though polls show among Democrats, 61% of people polled yesterday said don't do it."

-- "A final quick question. You will run as an independent at risk of losing the seat to the Republicans? You understand that risk? By splitting the Democratic vote."

NBC NN Highlights Viewer E-Mail that
Matches CyberAlert Critique

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams ended his Wednesday newscast by reading a few e-mails from viewers, starting with one which matched an August 1 NewsBusters/August 2 MRC CyberAlert item, "NBC's Williams Ignores Declining U.S. Troop Deaths, Highlights Total Iraq 'Death Toll.'" With the text on screen, Williams read aloud the comment from the unidentified e-mailer (a NewsBusters or CyberAlert reader?) who complained about how Williams was guilty of "sensationalizing U.S. deaths in Iraq with a huge body count number flashed on the screen," and asked: "Do you think it might also have been news worth noting that July's casualty count was the third lowest in the past 2 years and that they FELL in July for the third straight month? Of course not -- because that does not fit the template of your news program."

[This item was posted this morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Williams set up the August 9 NBC Nightly News segment:
"We will leave you tonight with some of you. Specifically, some evidence of how this broadcast has become more interactive of late and share a few of the mountain of e-mails we receive every day and after every broadcast we do. We read them all and we share them and discuss them and many lately have been to do with the wars being fought half way around the globe and our coverage of them. On August 2nd, a viewer wrote:
"Once again, you are so transparent with your agenda and viewpoints. Instead of only highlighting -- no, make that SENSATIONALIZING -- U.S. deaths in Iraq with a huge body count number flashed on the screen, do you think it might also have been news worth noting that July's casualty count was the third lowest in the past 2 years and that they FELL in July for the third straight month? Of course not -- because that does not fit the template of your news program."

The August 2 CyberAlert posting recounted: A night after ABC anchor Charles Gibson highlighted some good news on the Iraq front -- how "the U.S. military death toll in Iraq fell in July, for the third-straight month" to "the third-lowest monthly death toll in two years" -- NBC anchor Brian Williams on Tuesday chose to put a downbeat spin on the situation in Iraq as he provided only the total number of U.S. deaths without any mention of whether they are increasing or decreasing. On the August 1 NBC Nightly News, Williams, who on Monday did not report the declining monthly deaths, set up a story from Iraq: "This has also been an especially deadly day in Iraq where dozens of soldiers and civilians were killed and tonight we have an update on the number of American troops killed since the invasion: 2,579. Meantime, attacks and kidnapings are getting worse in the capital city. Our report from there tonight from NBC's Ned Colt..." On screen as Williams spoke, "DEATH TOLL" with this beneath: "2579 TROOPS SINCE THE INVASION."

For the rest of the August 2 CyberAlert posting: www.mrc.org

An August 1 CyberAlert item reported: One week after ABC anchor Charles Gibson made a special point about how bad the situation in Iraq remained while media attention focused on the Israel-Hezbollah war, specifically noting how "more U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq these past two weeks than Israeli soldiers have died in their conflict," Gibson on Monday night -- uniquely on the broadcast network evening newscasts -- highlighted some good news: How U.S. military deaths are falling in Iraq. Gibson read this short item on the July 31 World News: "One item to mention from Iraq tonight. The U.S. military death toll in Iraq fell in July, for the third-straight month, despite the rising sectarian violence. As of yesterday, 44 U.S. forces had been killed in July. And that's the third-lowest monthly death toll in two years." An accompanying on-screen chart showed the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq declining from 76 in April to 69 in May to 61 in June and 44 in July.

For the rest of the article: www.mrc.org

-- Brent Baker