CBS & NBC React to Palin Bounce with Fact Checks to Discredit Her --9/10/2008
2. Behar on CNN, New Line of Attack on Palin: 'Very Mean to Animals'
3. Belying FactCheck.org and Own Reporting, CNN Spreads Palin Rumors
4. CBS's Harry Smith: Sarah Palin Serving as McCain's 'Geritol'
5. ABC's Lisa Fletcher: Can 'Small Town' Palin Deal with Putin?
6. Matthews: Is 'Community Organizer' the New 'Welfare Queen?'
7. NYT Media Columnist Saw Journalistic Contempt for Palin at RNC
8. NYT's Friedman on ABC: Slams McCain Energy Plan, Wants More Taxes
9. Pelley: 'Tens of Thousands of Innocent Iraqis Killed' by U.S.
10. MTV Host Calls Bush 'Retarded' and Pleads: 'Please Elect Obama'
With fresh media polls showing Sarah Palin causing a sizable percent of women to shift to support John McCain from Barack Obama, CBS and NBC on Tuesday night devoted full stories to fact check examinations to discredit her, specifically on the so-called "Bridge to Nowhere," even though all the newscasts have already run stories on how she was for the bridge earmark during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign. Introducing a "Reality Check," CBS anchor Katie Couric asserted: "There's also controversy over the way Governor Palin is trying to attract voters by portraying herself as a reformer opposed to government earmarks. And the example she continues to cite is her opposition to the infamous Bridge to Nowhere. But she doesn't quite tell the entire story..."
Wyatt Andrews concluded: "By repeating the claim she said no thanks to the bridge, the implication is that Governor Palin confronted a Congress recklessly wasting money. The record shows, she wanted that bridge until the end and kept the money." Over on NBC, anchor Brian Williams recalled how Palin's convention speech had "several memorable applause lines. It's how a lot of people came to know her." But, he asked, "how do they all match up against the truth? Our senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers takes a closer look."
CBS's Andrews, unlike Myers on NBC, did at least point out that earmark requests from the Alaska Governor's office are down 44 percent from the previous Governor. Both stories outlined how Palin supported the money for the bridge when running for Governor in 2006 and only came to oppose it when Congress removed the specific earmark, but as Governor she spent the federal money on other projects.
Not to be left out, on ABC's World News Ron Claiborne included in his story on McCain's day of campaigning how when she was Mayor of Wasilla the town had a lobbyist in DC trying to obtain earmarks, and on the bridge she was in favor of it as a gubernatorial candidate.
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Unmentioned by any of the three networks, which all ran full stories Tuesday night about Obama, a distortion told by Obama as he targeted education during the day. FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume played a clip of Obama complaining about inadequate federal spending on education: "Our children and our country can't afford four more years of neglect and indifference." With a graphic on screen showing Department of Education spending has soared under Bush from 42.2 billion in 2001 to 59.2 for 2009, reporter Major Garrett corrected Obama:
Couric introduced the "Reality Check" story on the Tuesday, September 9 CBS Evening News: "There's also controversy over the way Governor Palin is trying to attract voters by portraying herself as a reformer opposed to government earmarks. And the examples she continues to cite is her opposition to the infamous bridge to nowhere. But she doesn't quite tell the entire story, so tonight Wyatt Andrews fills you in on what the Governor leaves out in this Reality Check."
Brian Williams set up the NBC Nightly News piece: "Hard to believe, it was just six nights ago Sarah Palin introduced herself to the GOP convention and to the TV viewing nation with a speech that really made her a star while containing several memorable applause lines. It's how a lot of people came to know her, they remember those stories and Governor Palin repeated them on the stump. But how do they all match up against the truth? Our senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers takes a closer look."
In addition to the bridge, Myers also highlighted how while the state plane was put on E-Bay it was sold, at a loss, by an airplane broker.
Behar, the only guest in King's first segment titled "Joy's 'View' of Palin," proceeded to cite how Palin "sued the Bush administration because they said that polar bears should be on the endangered species list," charging that's "just because they would interfere with all this drilling that they want to do. I don't think that's very nice, do you?"
That part of her opening comment in full on the September 9 program: "She sued the Bush administration because they said that polar bears should be on the endangered species list -- the one thing that I agree with the Bush administration about. And I mean it's just because they would interfere with all this drilling that they want to do. I don't think that's very nice, do you?"
King, wisely, didn't answer.
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted, with video, Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Check NewsBusters' "Joy Behar" tag for past instances of Behar's hostility on The View to conservatives, most often documented by the MRC's Justin McCarthy: newsbusters.org
For two straight days, CNN repeated liberal rumors about Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's political record -- rumors that had already been debunked by their own correspondents, as well as the respected FactCheck.org, a group led by former CNN reporter Brooks Jackson.
[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Tuesday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
For the CNN report which quotes Palin on abortion, see "Anti-abortion group says Palin 'walks her talk'" at: www.cnn.com
For FactCheck.org's report, see "Sliming Palin" at: www.factcheck.org
Less than ten hours later, during Tuesday's American Morning, correspondent Jessica Yellin, in a report purporting to give the "facts" about Palin's fiscal record at the beginning of the 6 am EDT hour of the program, stated that "Palin has used her line-item veto to cut funds for special interest programs called earmarks, but Democrats criticize her for slashing programs, even for people with disabilities, a group she's vowed to defend." Yellin, like Toobin, didn't tell the whole story. The same FactCheck.org report began by stating that Palin "did not cut funding for special needs education in Alaska by 62 percent. She didn't cut it at all. In fact, she tripled per-pupil funding over just three years." The report cited CNN's Soledad O'Brien's use of the supposed 62 percent figure on September 4 as an example of how far these "dubious Internet postings and mass e-mail messages" had gone.
The FactCheck.org report, titled "Sliming Palin," included a transcript of O'Brien citing the 62 percent figure to McCain campaign spokesperson Nicolle Wallace. During the interview segment, O'Brien went further than merely citing the figure. She pressed Wallace on the matter, and went so far to ask if Palin would "completely contradict what she did as Governor when it comes to special needs?"
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: One are that has gotten, certainly, people sending to me a lot of e-mails is the question about, as governor, what she did with the special needs budget, which I'm sure you're aware, she cut significantly -- 62 percent, I think, is the number from when she came into office. As a woman who is now a mother to a special needs child -- and I think she actually has a nephew which is autistic as well -- how much of a problem is this going to be as she tries to navigate both sides of that issue?
The transcript of Toobin's remarks from Monday's Election Center program:
CAMPBELL BROWN: Hillary Clinton campaigning in Florida, campaigning for Obama. Of course, Democrats gunning now for Sarah Palin, who's shown enough star power to lift John McCain up in the polls. We want to go back to our panel, Bay Buchanan, Roland Martin, and Jeffrey Toobin, and Jeff, this is important, because we know women voters are key to winning this election. If John McCain can increase the number of women supporting him, he can beat Barack Obama here. Some people wondering whether Hillary Clinton should be the one to take on Sarah Palin, whether she could be a real weapon for Barack Obama. But her former communications director Howard Wolfson wrote in The New Republic today that people are 'just jonesing for a catfight,' in his words, 'and it ain't going to happen.' But why couldn't Hillary Clinton be the one to go after Palin? Does she just not want to get mucked up in all this?
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith talked to Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer about John McCain taking the lead in recent polls following the Republican convention and the selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate: "Sarah Palin is his Geritol...That's -- I mean it really has -- because I wrote in my notes this morning, she not only energized the base, she seems to have energized him." While seemingly a compliment, such a statement conveniently reminded viewers of McCain's age.
In addition, the segment featured a total of four references to the "social conservative" base of the party that Palin has attracted. Schieffer observed: "But, you know, the interesting thing about this is that John McCain, the maverick that he is, has never been popular with one part of the Republican Party, especially the social conservatives...Now the people who were against him in the Republican Party seem to like him just fine." Smith added: "These are the Rove-cultivated religious right, so important to George Bush." Schieffer concluded: "Evangelicals, social conservatives. Now, John McCain has suddenly become their favorite and he was never that before. That can only be good for him in a political sense...And I think what we've seen here, she has gotten those social conservatives in the Republican Party who were never for him. How are independents going to feel on this down the road?"
[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Earlier in the segment, Smith and Schieffer made sure to suggest that the success of McCain-Palin was only temporary, as Schieffer remarked: "John McCain the fighter pilot, not afraid to put it up on the line and it seems to have come out well and-" Smith interjected: "Right, in the short term." Schieffer agreed: "In the short term. I mean, it just underlines again there's nothing quite as important as a good first impression. We don't know how long this is going to last, but people seem to like her and they really like the speech that she made." However, it seems to be the newness of Barack Obama that is losing its luster at this point.
Here is the full transcript of the September 9 segment:
HARRY SMITH: Let's talk about the race for the White House. A new CBS News poll shows John McCain coming out of the Republican convention with a two-point lead over Barack Obama. He erased a three-point margin held by Senator Obama before the two conventions. And joining us is CBS News chief Washington correspondent and host of Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer. Good morning, Bob.
ABC reporter Lisa Fletcher interviewed friends of Sarah Palin for a segment on Monday's Nightline and grilled them on whether a "small town mom" will be able to "sit down with Putin and deal with foreign issues?" Fletcher, who herself was a small town reporter before joining ABC in December of 2007, mostly avoided friendly queries and instead grilled the Alaskan friends of the Republican vice presidential candidate.
At one point she asked pal Sandy Hoest: "She's spent less than two years as the Governor of Alaska. Why should Americans have any confidence whatsoever that this woman can fulfill the duties of vice president of the United States?" Later on, the journalist challenged: "Is it possible to be pro-choice and vote for Sarah Palin?" When a few of Palin's friends identified themselves as pro-choice, Fletcher pounced: "Does that put a strain on your friendship with Sarah?"
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
A slightly alternate version of the segment aired on Tuesday's Good Morning America. For that piece, Fletcher added questions such as "What percentage of Sarah Palin don't you agree with?" and "Are there major issues that you disagree with her on?"
Fletcher bio: www.abcmedianet.com
Fletcher did let the group of friends expound on subjects such as their Christmas ornament exchange and how they all met each other. But, considering that Nightline has an extensive history of going very easy on the 2008 Democratic candidates, it seems remarkable for friends of a candidate to receive such a grilling.
For instance, on January 30, Nightline co-host Cynthia McFadden sympathetically queried Hillary Clinton: "When you lie awake at night...what worries you?" And on December 19, 2007, McFadden mused to the New York Senator: "There's never a night when you go back to whatever hotel room, whatever city you're in that night, and crawl in a ball and say, 'I just, this just hurts too much?'" See the February 4 CyberAlert for details: www.mrc.org
Fellow Nightline co-host Terry Moran is perhaps best known for stopping just shy of endorsing Barack Obama on November 6, 2006. On that day he rhapsodized: "You can see it in the crowds. The thrill, the hope. How they surge toward him. You're looking at an American political phenomenon...And the question you can sense on everyone's mind, as they listen so intently to him, is he the one?" See a November 8, 2006 CyberAlert item for more: www.mrc.org
A transcript of the September 8 Nightline segment on Sarah Palin:
TERRY MORAN: Well, for all the hoopla, our polls show, as George just mentioned there, that voters have their doubts about Sarah Palin's credentials, but one place you won't find any questions about her ability to lead is among the so-called elite six, Sarah Palin's inner circle up in Wasilla, Alaska. Her friends, they don't all agree with her politics, but they do vouch for her capability, as you might expect. Our Lisa Fletcher sat down with Palin's friends from home.
Then a little later in the program, in a segment with the Financial Times' Chrystia Freeland and the Independent Women's Forum's Michelle Bernard, Matthews returned to the subject as he declared: "It seems to me that the use of the word, 'community organizer,' is almost like a bullwhip."
[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Monday evening, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org
The following exchanges occurred on the September 8 edition of Hardball:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Yeah but also, Chuck, and this is tricky business. She's [Palin] rural, she's white, she's from out in the country. She's very conservative on rural issues. She's no where near an ethnic from a big city, she's about as far from urban as possible. Meanwhile Barack and Michelle Obama are from the Southside of Chicago. They're urban, they're ethnic, they're African-American. They're community organizers. And by the way, there's a phrase I wonder about. "Community organizers." Do Republicans think, Stu [Rothenberg], when they say that we're supposed to think Al Sharpton? What do they, what, why would they use that to toy with, this week? Rudy Giuliani got the biggest giggle out of that. And then, of course, Sarah, Sarah Palin did. They're giggling over the community organizer role as if it's, has, it carries more freight than just a job you once had. Is this the new "welfare queen?" Is this a new symbol, that we're talking about here?
MATTHEWS: But do you think there, do you it has an ethnic piece, an urban piece even?
MATTHEWS: But Chrystia [Freeland] it seems to me that the use of the word, "community organizer," is almost like a bullwhip. Rudy Giuliani used it. He's not exactly light-handed when it comes to this stuff, he can be heavy-handed. He giggled about the phrase, "community organizer." Are they saying that, that Barack Obama is Al Sharpton? Is that what they're saying? Is that what the real brand they're trying to put him is?
In a Sunday Week in Review cover story, "Media Bashing 101," political personality reporter Mark Leibovich dismissed Republican arguments about liberal media bias as a campaign tactic, while media columnist David Carr took them to heart as he revealed in a Monday article: "In the press galleries at the convention, journalists wrinkled their noses in disgust when Piper, Ms. Palin's youngest daughter, was filmed kitty-licking her baby brother's hair into place."
A master of surface impressions (almost always skewed to the left, like his description of Al Gore as a "compelling" "pop culture icon"), Leibovich didn't even try to dig into the conservative complaints about liberal media bias to check their validity, but merely assumed they are part of a cynical campaign tactic on the part of John McCain.
[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: www.timeswatch.org ]
Leibovich wrote from the site of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul about conservative counterattacks against the media's fierce negative reaction to Sarah Palin:
Sarah Palin's national opening last week was judged an unqualified success by the media elite, even though much of her debut speech Wednesday night was devoted to whacking the media elite.
"I've learned quickly, these past few days, that if you're not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone," Governor Palin of Alaska said, drawing the wildest applause of what would be the raucous night of the Republican convention.
Ms. Palin capped off a succession of speakers, -- Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee -- who took turns pummeling their favorite target, the news media, which in turn gave the news media the chance to talk about its favorite subject all week (the news media)..In other words, the bashers and bashees have been through this and know the drill. There was an almost homey familiarity to the ritual. And despite the hot words from the podium, it was hard to find a journalist last week who felt any unusual sense of siege or discomfort.'€'Everyone knew their roles, recited their lines, and it was all somewhat reminiscent of the old cartoon in which Sam the sheepdog spends all day trying to thwart Ralph the wolf from stealing the sheep -- and then, at day's end, the two adversaries exchange pleasantries, punch a clock and head home'€'.But media bashing may work better in dashes (like paprika) -- nothing too relentless or overwhelming. It wasn't enough to get Barry Goldwater and Bob Dole elected in 1964 and 1996 and George H. W. Bush re-elected in 1992. They were three of the noisiest in their complaints about bias.
Yet Leibovich admitted to one case of media bias claiming (accurately) that Republican John McCain had once been a media darling:
McCain's campaign provides an interesting test case. He is something of a media Frankenstein in his own right, a creation who has over the years benefited greatly from friendly relations with -- and coverage from -- the press. This coziness has brought Mr. McCain suspicion and derision from some Republican colleagues in the Senate. (That's when they're not asking him to put in a good word for them with the Sunday show bookers.)
Today's generation of Republican media bashers have blogs, the Web, YouTube, blast e-mails, BlackBerry-alerts and a whole lot of other tools and outlets their forebears never enjoyed. That list also includes -- some would say -- Fox News, the highest-rated cable news channel and heavily favored by conservatives.
END of Excerpt
For the September 7 article: www.nytimes.com
For an antidote to Leibovich, media columnist David Carr actually did some of the on-the-ground reporting that his political reporter colleague Leibovich couldn't be bothered with, in Monday's "Drawing a Bead On the Press." He opened with this unflattering look at his journalistic colleagues:
Before Gov. Sarah Palin came flying in from the wilds of Alaska for the Republican convention in St. Paul, there was a lot of sniggering in media rooms and satellite trucks about her beauty queen looks and rustic hobbies, and the suggestion that she was better suited to be a calendar model for a local auto body shop than a holder of the second-highest office in the land.
Ms. Palin, unwilling to be rendered as a caribou-skinning cartoon, stepped to the microphone on Wednesday and punched back....
In the press galleries at the convention, journalists wrinkled their noses in disgust when Piper, Ms. Palin's youngest daughter, was filmed kitty-licking her baby brother's hair into place. But to many Americans -- including some I talked to in the convention hall -- that looked like family church on Sunday, evidence of good breeding and sibling regard.
At the end, Carr seemed at an uncharacteristic loss for words when politely confronted by Republican alternate delegate Julie O'Hara about New York Times bias:
Like a lot of delegates at the Xcel -- and the woman whom they nominated as John McCain's running mate -- Ms. O'Hara was fired up by all the sudden energy, but a bit suspicious of those who were there to cover it.
"Conservatives have a bad history with The New York Times," she said, looking at my press ID, still smiling and still very friendly. "How can I be sure that you won't take my words and twist them to suit some agenda that you already have?"
Her friends from Montana leaned in and enjoyed the spectacle as I stammered my way through a response. I'm working on an answer because I don't think it is the last time that question is going to come up.
END of Excerpt
For Carr's story: www.nytimes.com
Good Morning America on Monday featured liberal New York Times columnist Tom Friedman as an energy expert to "fact check" John McCain's policies on the subject and advocate for higher taxes. GMA co-host Diane Sawyer never referred to Friedman's economic policies as liberal, despite the fact that he repeatedly made assertions such as this: "But, you know, there's really no effective plan to make us energy independent without what I call a price signal, without either a carbon tax or a gasoline tax that's really going to shape the market in a different way."
Sawyer began the segment by noting both candidates have plans for energy independence. She then asked, "Are they going to achieve it? Do they mean it?" However, the ABC host didn't ask Friedman to "fact check" Obama's plan. Instead she simply recited the Democrat's plans for eliminating Mid East Oil. And while Friedman freely attacked McCain's policies, he responded to a clip of Obama talking about investing more money into alternative energy by, again, complaining about a lack of gasoline tax: "Unless we have a floor onto the price of gasoline that really keeps that behavior going, you can't throw enough money at this problem."
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Later in the piece, Friedman reacted to a question about what he'd like to hear from politicians by citing Denmark as a country whose gas tax policy America should emulate. He enthused: "I'm looking for them to tell the truth, which is everywhere in the world, gasoline is taxed except us. You know, gasoline in Denmark is $10 a gallon."
The columnist and author of the new book, Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How it Can Renew America, also derided McCain's energy plan as "drill, drill, drill."
In Friedman's "fact check" of McCain's convention speech, he mentioned that the Arizona Senator has missed several votes regarding a bill to extend wind and solar credits. However, although Obama made three votes on this issue, he missed the most recent. See the liberal environmental blog Force Change: forcechange.com
At one point, before defending his call for a high gas tax as patriotic, Friedman revealed, "So, you know, a lot of times people say, 'Oh, you're for the gasoline tax. You're another tax and spend, you know, liberal.'" To sum up, despite calling for such a steep tax, despite mocking John McCain's plan to drill in the United States, the only labeling on ABC came when Friedman himself used the L-word.
To be fair to Sawyer, she did at least question Friedman once on his demand for higher gas taxes: The ABC journalist queried, "Yeah, but you're about to be the most unpopular man in America. You really want to keep gas prices this high? And doesn't it hurt the people who can least afford it if you do?"
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:13am on September 8:
DIANE SAWYER: Well, an anthem, a battle cry for this campaign from both candidates is energy independence. Are they going to achieve it? Do they mean it? Joining us now to fact check some of what they're saying is an author of a new book on the topic. It's called "Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How it Can Renew America." And here is the author, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist of the New York Times, Tom Friedman. Good to see you, Tom.
While interviewing Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward on Sunday's 60 Minutes about his latest book on the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war, The War Within, Scott Pelley described how "another part of that story, according to Woodward, is the President's frustration with the attitude of the Iraqi people." Woodward explained: "He has a meeting at the Pentagon with a bunch of experts and he just said, 'I don't understand that the Iraqis are not appreciative of what we've done for them,' namely liberating them." Pelley then propounded: "But tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis had been killed in the invasion and through the occupation. He didn't understand why they might be a little ungrateful about what had occurred to them?"
Woodward replied by skeptically explaining President Bush's perspective: "His beacon is liberation. He thinks we've done this magnificent thing for them. I think he still holds to that position." Earlier in the interview, Pelley seemed to imply that Bush was almost bloodthirsty, wanting know how many enemy had been killed each day: "Mr. Bush told Woodward that he was frustrated with his commanders and asked for enemy body counts so he could keep score." Woodward described: "And this is Bush's concern that we're not going out and killing. In fact, [General Peter] Casey told one colleague privately that the president's view is almost reflective of 'kill the bastards, kill the bastards, and that way we'll succeed.'"
[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Pelley also suggested that the President deceived the American people by not saying that the U.S. was losing the war prior to the troop surge: "Woodward reports that a secret study for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2006 concluded that the US was losing the war. But the President didn't give a hint of that in public." Pelley then asked Woodward: "Why do you think that the President didn't level with the American people in this dark period in this war?" Woodward replied: "Because he wanted it to work, did not want to deflate the morale of the troops. And there was political election coming up, the November 2006 congressional elections. It was a raw political calculation that if you tell the public or let it get out that they are reconsidering what they're doing, that they're acknowledging that it's not going well, all political hell would break loose."
In Monday night's "Grapevine" segment for FNC's Special Report, anchor Jim Angle recounted how Brand slandered President Bush and anyone dumb enough to vote for him: "Some people, I think they're called racists, say America is not ready for a black President. But I know America to be a forward thinking country because otherwise would you have let that retarded cowboy fella be President for eight years? We were very impressed. It was nice of you to let him have a go because in England George Bush wouldn't be trusted with a pair of scissors."
Video: A NewsBusters blog post by the MRC's Kerry Picket, "MTV VMA Host Bashes Palin Family While Endorsing Obama," features video of that and more from Brand: newsbusters.org
The Internet Movie Database's page for Brand: www.imdb.com
-- Brent Baker