2. Clinton Lectures Couric on Obstructionism, She Scolds Vatican
3. CBS Features Italian's Charge U.S. "Lying" About Shooting Her Car
4. Andy Rooney Refuses to Repeat "So Help You God" Portion of Oath
5. West Wing Not Only Liberal Presidential Drama: WB's Jack & Bobby
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich criticized House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on Tuesday and, surely by coincidence, CBS News suddenly treated Gingrich -- whose views critical of liberals haven't interested CBS -- as a wise sage with incisive comments worthy of touting on the CBS Evening News. Anchor Bob Schieffer noted that DeLay, "who's been under fire on ethical questions," got "some criticism today from a new quarter." Schieffer then trumpeted how, "in an exclusive interview with our Gloria Borger, Gingrich said it's time for DeLay to stop blaming a left-wing conspiracy and to lay out his case for the American people to judge." Borger cued up Gingrich to shoot down a DeLay claim: "He's said that this is the liberal media going after him." Gingrich characterized that as "the famous Hillary Clinton defense."
Schieffer announced on the April 12 CBS Evening News, as corrected against the closed-captioning by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:
With "CBS News Exclusive" at the bottom of the screen, Gingrich asserted: "I don't want to pre-judge him, and my hope is that Tom will be able to prove his case, but I think the burden is on him to prove it at this stage."
Katie Couric, GOP propagandist? The Today show co-host got an earful from Bill Clinton Tuesday morning after Couric sought the former President's advice about how can "the Democratic Party re-tool itself so they're not simply seen as obstructionists?" Clinton lectured Couric that she was spreading a myth. "I don't think that's fair," Clinton claimed before launching into a lengthy complaint that Republicans in the 1990s blocked more votes on his judges, then he scolded Couric for how she "perpetrated" a "ridiculous" notion. But instead of pointing out how when Senate Republicans were in the minority they never threatened to filibuster judges, Couric wondered: "Do you think your wife, Senator Clinton, has a chance to win the nomination and win the election in 2008?" Earlier, Couric displayed typical liberal displeasure for the Catholic Church as she asked Clinton, who came aboard Today to promote his new campaign to combat AIDS in Africa: "Is it frustrating that the Catholic Church will not distribute condoms and stop the spread of AIDS in that way because obviously it's against their doctrine?"
[The MRC's Rich Noyes submitted a draft of this item for the CyberAlert based on the transcript provided by the MRC's Geoff Dickens.]
Couric also refused to ask Clinton about his attack on a gay Republican campaign consultant, reported in Tuesday's New York papers, in which Clinton suggested Arthur Finkelstein's efforts to unseat Hillary Clinton in New York were motivated by "self-loathing."
And we thought Couric just repeated everything the New York Times printed.
The New York Times story on Clinton's outburst appeared, in the Washington edition, at the top of the paper's "New York Report" on page A18. An excerpt of the article by reporter Raymond Hernandez, "Clinton Says Gay Opponent of His Wife May Be 'Self-Loathing'":
Former President Bill Clinton unleashed an attack yesterday against a gay Republican strategist who has plans to work against Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's re-election, suggesting that the man may be "self-loathing" to work on behalf of the Republican Party.
The former president was reacting to reports that the strategist, Arthur J. Finkelstein, was in the midst of setting up a political action committee to defeat Mrs. Clinton in 2006. Republican officials close to Mr. Finkelstein have said that he hopes to be able to finance an advertising campaign similar to the one orchestrated against John Kerry last year by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
"I was sort of sad when I read it," Mr. Clinton said, speaking at a news conference at his office in Harlem, where he announced that his foundation was donating $10 million to treat children with AIDS.
The former president noted that an earlier article over the weekend reported that Mr. Finkelstein had married his male partner in a civil ceremony at his home in Massachusetts, then he alluded to the Republican Party's use of the same-sex marriage issue to mobilize conservative voters.
"Either this guy believes his party is not serious and he's totally Machiavellian," Mr. Clinton said, or "he may be blinded by self-loathing."...
END of Excerpt
But Today show viewers heard none of that, as Couric asked Clinton about his health, his new project to combat AIDS, and if he would handicap his wife's chances to win the White House in 2008. In spite of that softball treatment, Clinton still tore into Couric when she got around to what advice he'd give to Democrats and the fact that they are widely seen as obstructionists.
After three questions about Clinton's health (he said he felt fine), Couric asked Clinton, and Dr. Paul Farmer of the group Partners in Health, about their work against AIDS in Africa. After Clinton noted that clinics run by Catholic nuns were helping pregnant women in Rwanda, Couric got around to castigating the Catholic Church's anti-birth control stance.
Couric demanded: "Speaking of Catholic nuns, is it disconcerting or frustrating for you all trying to stop the scourge of AIDS in countries like Africa. Catholicism is the fastest growing religion in developing countries. Is it frustrating that the Catholic Church will not distribute condoms and stop the spread of AIDS in that way because obviously it's against their doctrine?"
Dr. Farmer replied that the Church wasn't a major obstacle.
Couric then pressed: "Do you think that Americans are engaged in this issue? Do you think they care?"
Clinton replied that he learned from the recent tsunami that once the public becomes aware of a problem, they care about solving it.
Then Couric tried to solicit Clinton's advice for Democrats: "Let me ask you one political question, if I could, President Clinton. As you know Howard Dean is now head of the DNC. Right now, it seems the most effective thing the Democrats are doing on Capitol Hill is blocking various nominations, at least from their perspective, like you know, John Bolton or U.S. ambassador to the UN or head of the EPA or head of the FDA. How can the Democratic Party retool itself so they're not simply seen as obstructionists in terms of the President's agenda?"
That set Clinton off: "Well, first of all I don't think that's fair. I don't think Mr. Negroponte will be blocked, I'm not sure Mr. Bolton will be blocked. There are policy reasons on the environment and food safety for debates on the others. And on judges that's just a hoax. I mean the Democrats blocked 10 out of 200 judges the Republicans wouldn't even give a vote to 40 of my Court of Appeals judges, four times as many, just on the Court of Appeals, never mind all the others that they wouldn't have voted. So this image that, I'm sad to say, you know, you just perpetrated it, it's ridiculous. The Democratic Senate's been no where near as obstructionist to President Bush on judges as the Republican Senate was to me, not even close."
Couric could have pointed out that in Clinton's first two years in office, when Republicans were in the minority in the Senate, as the Democrats are now, they did not use filibuster threats to block judges from getting and up or down vote.
Instead, Couric brought up Hillary: "Do you think your wife, Senator Clinton, has a chance to win the nomination and win the election in 2008?" Clinton said that she hadn't decided to run, that she first had to win re-election as New York Senator.
The headline over a CBSNews.com page plugging a 60 Minutes Wednesday piece, "Italian Journalist: U.S. Lied." The April 13 program will feature an interview with "journalist and former hostage Giuliana Sgrena" who "says that the American military is lying about the shooting at a security checkpoint in Iraq that wounded her and killed an Italian intelligence officer." The preview of the story champions how "Sgrena tells correspondent Scott Pelley that shortly after her release by insurgents, American soldiers in Baghdad opened fire on her car without any warning."
An excerpt from the CBSNews.com preview page:
....On the day she was freed, her captors blindfolded Sgrena and drove her around before leaving her alone in a parked car. The next voice Sgrena heard was that of [Italian agent Nicola] Calipari. "The voice was so friendly, really, that all my terror disappeared," she says.
Calipari led her to his car and they, along with another Italian intelligence agent, headed for the Baghdad airport. "[Calipari] told me, 'I sit beside you, so you will be more comfortable, so you will...not be afraid,'" says Sgrena. "After a few minutes, he told me, 'Now you are free.'"
But they weren't free. American soldiers opened fire on Sgrena's car less than a mile from the Baghdad airport. "Seven hundred meters more and we are in the airport and we will be safe...and in the same moment, [American soldiers] started the shooting," says Sgrena, who tells Pelley that, contrary to claims by the U.S. Army, her car was not warned by hand signals, arm signals, flashing white lights or warning shots.
Calipari used his body to shield Sgrena from the bullets; she was hit in the shoulder, and he was killed. A former U.S. Marine captain who led an elite combat unit in Iraq says that encounters at military checkpoints are often confusing, sometimes with tragic results.
"The hand and arm signals are hard to see; they're hard to interpret," says Nathaniel Fick. "The warning shots are difficult to see...almost impossible to hear in a speeding car at a long distance and the warning shot into the engine block is...Hollywood fantasy most of the time."
After struggling with the Pentagon's checkpoint procedures, Fick tells Pelley that he improvised a solution; he stole a traffic sign. "At every checkpoint we set up after that, we put the stop sign down the road near the wire and it was hugely successful," he says.
Fick tells Pelley he had to make quick decisions about cars that were speeding toward his checkpoints. "You've got four seconds," he says. "They're snap judgments...You make these decisions and you hope at the end that you've made more right than wrong."
Fick remembers his Marines killed one driver who seemed to be charging their checkpoint. "We determined that there were no bombs in the car, no weapons in the car and the other men in the car said that they didn't know why they'd charged at us," says Fick. "They were scared and disoriented and confused.... In hindsight, was it a mistake? I think it was."...
END of Excerpt
The preview is posted at: www.cbsnews.com
The summary of a March 8 CyberAlert article on coverage of the incident: Though Giuliana Sgrena is hurling accusations that her car did not ignore commands to stop and was fired upon at a checkpoint because she was targeted by U.S. troops in Iraq, with rare exception the networks have not considered relevant to her credibility how she's a vociferous critic of U.S. policy in Iraq and works for a communist newspaper in Rome. Stories over the weekend and on Monday about the wounding of her and the killing of the Italian agent, Nicola Calipari, who rescued her from her kidnappers, repeatedly described her just as an "Italian journalist," "Italian reporter" or "former hostage." NBC's Keith Miller made a rare exception Sunday night when he identified her newspaper, Il Manifesto, as "communist." On Monday night, Dan Rather led with how "U.S. troops opened fire on a car carrying an Italian reporter" and "the reporter insists she was deliberately targeted." Kimberly Dozier soon relayed how "many Iraqi officials have complained American soldiers too often fire first and check what they hit later."
For more: www.mediaresearch.org
CBS's Andy Rooney refused in court to repeat the "so help you God" portion of the swearing-in oath. Appearing as a witness Monday in a civil case at the Westchester County, New York courthouse in White Plains, Rooney, the AP reported, "balked when asked to swear to tell 'nothing but the truth, so help you God.'" Rooney protested: "I don't know about God." That wasn't Rooney's first time to deride any belief in God.
An excerpt from an April 11 AP dispatch, "Andy Rooney Takes Stand at Fraud Trial," in which reporter Jim Fitzgerald reported on Rooney and a lawsuit against a speaking engagement agent:
Leading a parade of celebrity witnesses who claimed they were stiffed by a speakers bureau, Andy Rooney began his testimony Monday by questioning the wording of the oath to tell the truth. The CBS newsman later got a lecture from the judge for trying to interrogate a lawyer while on the witness stand.
"No, no, no, Mr. Rooney," said federal Judge Colleen McMahon, her head in her hands. "The first rule is the witness never gets to ask any questions...even if he's a journalist."
Rooney was the first witness in the fraud trial of Alan Walker, 67, who ran the Program Corp. of America, a firm that matched speakers with events. Rooney testified Walker owes him about $10,000 from a 2003 speech at Indiana State University....
Rooney, 86, entered the courtroom muttering, and he balked when asked to swear to tell "nothing but the truth, so help you God."
"I don't know about God," he said, taking the witness chair....
END of Excerpt
For the AP story in full: news.yahoo.com
Some previous CyberAlert items which recounted the 60 Minutes commentator's hostility to religion:
-- February 24, 2004 CyberAlert: Andy Rooney lashed out Sunday night, using his 60 Minutes platform to do some name-calling, in the name of God, against Pat Robertson and Mel Gibson. Claiming to be relaying what God wanted him to say after Rooney had a conversation with him, Rooney passed along how God delivered insults as he said that "I wish you'd tell your viewers that both Pat Robertson and Mel Gibson strike me as wackos. I believe that's one of your current words. They're crazy as bedbugs" and "Mel is a real nut case. What in the world was I thinking when I created him?" Returning to his own voice, Rooney demanded: "My question to Mel Gibson is: How many million dollars does it look as if you're going to make off the crucifixion of Christ?" See: www.mediaresearch.org
-- November 22, 2004 CyberAlert: Speaking at Tufts University on Thursday night, CBS's Andy Rooney, the Tufts Daily's Keith Barry reported, "attributed voters' reliance on religion in the recent election to ignorance" and "said Christian fundamentalism is a result of 'a lack of education. They haven't been exposed to what the world has to offer.'" Barry related how "Rooney also attributed voters' reliance on religion in the recent election to ignorance. 'I am an atheist,' Rooney said. 'I don't understand religion at all. I'm sure I'll offend a lot of people by saying this, but I think it's all nonsense.' He said Christian fundamentalism is a result of 'a lack of education. They haven't been exposed to what the world has to offer.'" See: www.mediaresearch.org
NBC's The West Wing isn't the only 9pm EDT/PDT Wednesday night drama, tied to the U.S. presidency, which delivers a liberal skew. After six weeks of repeats, and with The West Wing on hiatus, The WB network's Jack and Bobby will return with a "fresh" episode on Wednesday night, April 13. The show is centered around the present-day 8th grade "Bobby" who will be elected President in 2040 after he, as a Republican, rejects the party because it's too conservative and then he wins as an independent. In a recent episode his mother, who in an October episode held a Kerry organizing event in their home, spouted: "Thank you, Bush administration, really. Thank you so much for higher health care premiums that cover less and less." Another February episode featured a Senator from the 2040s touting a "bill that would ban lethal guns in every city with a population over two million."
Thomas Schlamme, an Executive Producer of The West Wing, was a creator of Jack and Bobby which stars his wife, Christine Lahti, as left-wing professor "Grace McCallister" at a college in small-town Missouri. As a single mother, she's raising two sons: "Jack McCallister," in 10th grade, and "Bobby McCallister," the future President, in 8th grade. The program is largely a drama about their lives in present times, but the show mixes in a device in which politicians of the 2040s relate incidents which occurred during Bobby's political career back to events in his childhood portrayed on the show.
Over the first few episodes last fall, viewers learned that Jack will die in early adulthood and that his on again/off again girlfriend, the daughter of the conservative President of the college, will marry Bobby and become First Lady.
On the political front, Bobby, despite his mother's hostility to religion, will become a protestant minister -- but not any kind of religious right preacher. During the 2040 presidential campaign, he will be so disgusted by the religious right that after some primaries have already taken place, he will leave the GOP and win the Oval Office as an independent with some decidedly liberal views.
Some samples of the liberal politics in the program from the episodes which ran in February:
-- February 2 episode. Grace in her college office, to her grad student boyfriend, after her son Jack had been beaten up in a mugging: "I was thinking about Jack....You know, I had to take on an extra seminar this semester just to make a dent in the physical therapy bills. Thank you, Bush administration, really. Thank you so much for higher health care premiums that cover less and less, it is unbelievable."
-- The February 9 episode revolved around the widowed college President, much to Grace's upset, taking Bobby on a hunting trip and his ambivalence about killing deer. During the show, "Senator Dennis Morgenthal, (R) Missouri, 2033-present," in a series of flash-forwards, ties that theme to what happened to President Bobby McCallister.
First Morgenthal clip: "The time was right. The Democrats acted. They introduced a bill that would ban lethal guns in every city with a population over two million. And when the gun manufacturers came screaming to die-hard Republicans like myself to stop this nonsense, I ignored 'em. The bill was gaining ground. I thought it might pass. And that meant that Bobby would have to veto it. Bobby got elected on the dime of the gun-toting right, and if he wanted a second term, he was going to have to toe that line. This was going to be his first veto, his first kill, and I wanted it to hurt. I never thought that he'd get shot over it."
Second Morgenthal clip: "It was brutal, but the urban lethal gun ban managed to pass the Congress, and as I expected, Bobby had to veto. It was fantastic. The press nailed him to the wall. How could the all-compassionate McCallister kill a law that would greatly reduce gun violence in our cities? And three days after the veto, he had a press conference in Baltimore when she stood up. Mrs. Marlena Johnson, mother of three, pulled a pistol out of her purse and shot him."
Skipping the third, the fourth Morgenthal clip: "Marlena Johnson, mother of three. But she had been the mother of four. Her 12-year-old son had been killed six months earlier, caught in a police crossfire. He was riding the tram to school, took a bullet in the heart. And Mrs. Johnson was trying to show the world and Bobby that a non-lethal weapon could have the same impact, and no one had to die. When the President came to at the hospital and they told him what happened, who she was, the bastard granted her clemency right on the spot. Still, he was left with the political fallout from his veto. I know that hurt him. Sometimes everybody loses."
An excerpt from TheWB.com's description of the program:
What if you could watch the next great American president grow up? That compelling question is the idea behind a powerful new drama....
If "greatness is thrust upon us," as Winston Churchill once said, then it stands to reason that those who are destined for greatness are rarely aware of it. Take Jack (newcomer Matthew Long) and Bobby McCallister (Logan Lerman, The Butterfly Effect) for example: two bright young brothers growing up under the watchful eye of their eccentric single mother Grace McCallister (Christine Lahti, Chicago Hope). Grace's personality is a force of nature destined to shape both of these young men's lives and secure one a place in the history books -- as President of the United States.
Set in the fictional town of Hart, Missouri in the present day, the series details the relationship between these brothers and the people who shape their values and personalities, especially their mother. A brilliant college professor with an unconventional parenting style, Grace is struggling to let one son go and understand the other. Although she has no way of knowing she is raising a future president, it would not surprise her to know that her boys are destined for greatness. Jack is the big brother everyone wishes they had. A natural hero and a born leader, he seems to have everything going for him. He's the perfect role model for Bobby, who, with a big heart and a quick intellect, is nonetheless an undeniable social misfit. Bobby is caught between the rival forces of his mother and his brother, and it's impossible to please them both.
The arrival of a new college president and his beautiful daughter impacts the lives of all three McCallisters. In Peter Benedict (John Slattery, Mona Lisa Smile) Grace has met not only her new boss, but an intellectual equal. Peter is a brilliant businessman with a questionable character, and Grace finds herself both attracted and repelled by him. Peter's teenage daughter Courtney (newcomer Jessica Paré) soon strikes up a friendship with Jack and forms a special bond with Bobby. The brothers eventually learn that the brave front Courtney presents to the world hides a painful family secret....
END of Excerpt
For TheWB.com's page on Jack and Bobby: www.thewb.com
Jack and Bobby airs Wednesday night on the WB network at 9pm EDT/PDT, 8pm CDT/MDT.
It's the best show I've ever watched on The WB.
It's the only show on The WB I've ever watched.
-- Brent Baker