2. CBS: Cheney Defense Spending Record "Much the Same" as Kerry's
3. John Kerry Scolds Chris Matthews for Impugning Bush and Cheney
4. ABC: Battle in Fallujah Contradicts U.S. Claim of Wanting Peace
5. CNN's Brown: PA Race a "Test" of GOP's "Tolerance for Moderates"
6. "Top Ten Ways Saddam Hussein Celebrated His 67th Birthday"
When a CBS News poll puts President George W. Bush ahead in comparison to Senator John Kerry, the CBS Evening News this year has ignored the result, but when it finds Kerry in the lead, the program almost always highlights the outcome, as Dan Rather did on Wednesday night. So far this year, five polls by either CBS News or CBS News/New York Times, have tested Bush versus Kerry head-to-head comparisons. Four times the polling put Kerry ahead and on three of those occasions the CBS Evening News spotlighted the numbers, but the one time when the survey found Bush beating Kerry, the show didn't utter a word about it.
On Wednesday night, however, Rather made sure viewers realized Kerry has pulled ahead as he noted, with side-by-side photos on screen with the percentage points for each beneath, how a new CBS News/New York Times survey "indicates the battle for the presidency is very tight. Among registered voters, 46 percent told pollsters that if they had to vote today they would vote for Democrat Senator John Kerry; 44 percent said they'd go for President Bush."
Unmentioned by Rather: When Ralph Nader is included, Bush actually is ahead of Kerry. The CBSNews.com story about the poll explained: "If Independent candidate Ralph Nader is included on the ballot in November and the election were held today, 41 percent of voters would vote for Kerry; 43 percent would vote for Bush. Nader would draw 5 percent of the vote, mostly at the expense of Kerry, who holds a two-point edge in the two-way contest."
For the full CBSNews.com rundown of the presidential contest questions about Bush and Kerry in a wide range of areas, posed in the poll conducted April 23-27, see: www.cbsnews.com
For details on that part of the poll: www.cbsnews.com
That night Rather did, however, cite some negative numbers for President Bush as he recounted how the survey found that in military households "a majority, 53 percent, said the Iraq war is not worth the loss of life and other costs." To illustrate, reporter Byron Pitts focused on Army Captain Tom McGowan, back from Iraq, who declared: "If the election was today, I would vote for Senator Kerry."
Rather also read this item during the April 2 newscast: "Two more American military deaths were reported today in Iraq. And the latest CBS News poll indicates Americans are increasingly critical of the way President Bush has handled it: 44 percent of those surveyed said they approve of President Bush's handling of the war while 49 percent disapprove. This poll was taken Tuesday through Thursday this week."
An excerpt from the March 16 CyberAlert which detailed how the CBS Evening News highlighted the two February polls which had Kerry in the lead but skipped a March poll that found Bush ahead:
When a CBS News poll found John Kerry leading George W. Bush by 48 to 43 percent amongst registered voters, Dan Rather reported it on the February 16 CBS Evening News, and when another CBS News poll two weeks ago put Kerry up by a mere one point over Bush, by 47 to 46 percent with registered voters, the February 28 CBS Evening News highlighted the finding. But on Monday [March 15], while the CBSNews.com home page, for much of the afternoon and into the evening featured the results of a new CBS News/New York Times poll, with a headline which declared, "Bush Moves Ahead of Kerry," the CBS Evening News didn't utter a word about the new numbers which put Bush up over Kerry by 46 to 43 percent with registered voters.
Two weeks ago [February 28], the CBS Evening News emphasized how Bush's approval rating had fallen below 50 percent, but the new poll found his approval rating back above 50 percent -- but that too went unmentioned Monday night.
The March 15 CBS Evening News, however, had time for full stories on a small anti-war protest outside the White House by family members of those in the military and how the Bush administration supposedly gagged an official from telling the true cost of the Medicare prescription drug entitlement program. "Families of some of the American casualties of the war reached out to President Bush today," Dan Rather reported, "asking him to bring U.S. troops home." Rather soon introduced another story: "In an election year battle over the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, the Bush administration is now being accused of trying to sell the program to the public in a very misleading way. And CBS's John Roberts also has new details tonight of allegations that the administration deliberately misled Congress to get the kind of Medicare overhaul the President wanted."
On Tuesday morning [March 16], CBS's The Early Show reported how the CBS News/New York Times survey placed Bush ahead of Kerry, but not until the 8am newscast an hour into the two-hour morning show.
Tuesday's [March 16] CBS Evening News continued to avoid the Bush vs. Kerry poll numbers....
The networks routinely report poll results the night before their print partners put them in the newspaper, and since CBSNews.com had the results posted as its lead item all afternoon Monday [March 15] and into the early evening, the CBS Evening News producers certainly had access to the results of the poll conducted March 10-14. "Poll: Bush Moves Ahead of Kerry" read the home page headline at: www.cbsnews.com
Contrast the lack of interest, by the CBS Evening News staff, in this latest poll compared with the previous two CBS News polls, surveys conducted without the New York Times.
Anchor Russ Mitchell announced on the Saturday, February 28 CBS Evening News: "A new CBS News out poll out tonight, poll out tonight, rather, puts President Bush's job approval below 50 percent for the first time. From an Iraq war high of 73 percent last April, the President's rating has dropped steadily with the exception of a bump after the capture of Hussein to 47 percent now, an all-time low. As Randall Pinkston tells us, the poll has other promising numbers for the President's Democratic challengers."
Pinkston explained: "Gearing up for the biggest batch of votes of the primary season, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry campaigned in California while North Carolina Senator John Edwards stumped in Georgia. While he trails Kerry in delegates, there was promising news for Edwards in a new CBS News poll of likely voters."
On screen, CBS put the faces of the candidates inside graphic circles meant to mimic campaign buttons as they cycled through the match-ups recited by Pinkston: "If the election were held today, Edwards would tie President Bush. Kerry would beat the President by one percent, but if Kerry and Edwards were on the same ticket, they would beat the Bush/Cheney team by eight points."
The specific numbers: Edwards 45 percent vs. George W. Bush 45 percent; John Kerry 47 percent vs. George W. Bush 46 percent; Kerry/Edwards 50 percent vs. Bush/Cheney 42 percent.
That 46 to 45 split was well within the poll's three-point margin of error.
For the CBSNews.com posting of the results of that survey: www.cbsnews.com
A month ago, on the Monday, February 16 CBS Evening News, Dan Rather made room for a polling update favorable to Kerry and Democrats: "Turning to politics in this country, the holiday honoring our Presidents was no holiday for the presidential candidates. President Bush was out campaigning again today in the battleground state of Florida, his 19th trip there as President. And part of the reason why, perhaps, is a key finding in a new CBS News poll out tonight. It suggests Democratic Senator John Kerry at this point is five percentage points ahead of Mr. Bush. And keep in mind, this is a national poll that does not take into account state-by-state electoral vote considerations. Also keep in mind, the front-loaded Democratic primaries are still under way."
An on-screen graphic filled in the numbers with Kerry having a 48 to 43 percent lead over Bush. For the CBSNews.com posting of the complete findings: www.cbsnews.com
Dick Cheney and John Kerry have similar records on defense policy? In a "Reality Check" on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, John Roberts conceded that "Kerry did propose cuts to several weapons systems" but, Roberts countered, "as Defense Secretary, Cheney did much the same." As if opposing a few select systems because you judge them not as effective as others you do back is the same as opposing numerous systems in entire categories of weaponry.
Roberts' line about how "Cheney did much the same" echoes a talking point DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe delivered on Monday, the MRC's Rich Noyes recalled. In an April 26 speech attacking Cheney, McAuliffe claimed: "When he was Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney consistently proposed massive cuts to weapons programs that our troops are using right now in Iraq." For the text of McAuliffe's remarks: www.democrats.org
Earlier in the day Wednesday, at the White House press briefing, Roberts made the same claim about Kerry and the first President Bush. The MRC's Ken Shepherd caught this question from Roberts to White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan: "If the Vice President is complaining about the cuts to the military that John Kerry proposed over his years in the Senate and his first run for the Senate, why is the Vice President not equally as critical of the President's father, who proposed similar cuts in his final year of the presidency?"
In his CBS Evening News report, Roberts also characterized the Bush and Cheney "attacks" as having "deeply stung Kerry, who, in a newspaper interview, lashed out at the White House, saying, 'A lot of veterans are going to be very angry at a President who can't account for his own service in the National Guard, and a Vice President who got every deferment in the world criticizing somebody who fought for their country and served.'" But as with all network reporters over the past few weeks, Roberts failed to point out how back in 1992 Kerry had rebuked then-presidential candidate Bob Kerrey for criticizing competing candidate Bill Clinton's avoidance of military service during Vietnam.
On the Senate floor on February 27, 2002, Senator John Kerry lectured, an excerpt:
....The race for the White House should be about leadership, and leadership requires that one help heal the wounds of Vietnam, not reopen them; that one help identify the positive things that we learned about ourselves and about our nation, not play to the divisions and differences of that crucible of our generation.
We do not need to divide America over who served and how. I have personally always believed that many served in many different ways. Someone who was deeply against the war in 1969 or 1970 may well have served their country with equal passion and patriotism by opposing the war as by fighting in it. Are we now, 20 years or 30 years later, to forget the difficulties of that time, of families that were literally torn apart, of brothers who ceased to talk to brothers, of fathers who disowned their sons, of people who felt compelled to leave the country and forget their own future and turn against the will of their own aspirations?
Are we now to descend, like latter-day Spiro Agnews, and play, as he did, to the worst instincts of divisiveness and reaction that still haunt America? Are we now going to create a new scarlet letter in the context of Vietnam?
Certainly, those who went to Vietnam suffered greatly. I have argued for years, since I returned myself in 1969, that they do deserve special affection and gratitude for service. And, indeed, I think everything I have tried to do since then has been to fight for their rights and recognition.
But while those who served are owed special recognition, that recognition should not come at the expense of others; nor does it require that others be victimized or criticized or said to have settled for a lesser standard. To divide our party or our country over this issue today, in 1992, simply does not do justice to what all of us went through during that tragic and turbulent time.
I would like to make a simple and straightforward appeal, an appeal from my heart, as well as from my head. To all those currently pursuing the presidency in both parties, I would plead that they simply look at America. We are a nation crying out for leadership, for someone who will bring us together and raise our sights. We are a nation looking for someone who will lift our spirits and give us confidence that together we can grow out of this recession and conquer the myriad of social ills we have at home.
We do not need more division. We certainly do not need something as complex and emotional as Vietnam reduced to simple campaign rhetoric. What has been said has been said, Mr. President, but I hope and pray we will put it behind us and go forward in a constructive spirit for the good of our party and the good of our country.
END of Excerpt
For Kerry's 1992 concern, as posted by OpinionJournal.com: www.opinionjournal.com
Dan Rather set up the April 28 CBS Evening News story: "It is getting uglier, the attacks and counterattacks between the Bush and Kerry camps about the candidates and their military service records or lack of them. As the sniping escalated today, we asked CBS News chief White House correspondent John Roberts for a 'Reality Check' on the Bush, Kerry and Cheney records."
Roberts began, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "The war of words between war president and war hero spilled into the Senate today, one Democrat assigning the label 'Chickenhawk' to President Bush and Dick Cheney."
As for Kerry being no more liberal on defense than Dick Cheney, the February 24 Washington Times reported, an excerpt:
....The Center for Security Policy has analyzed more than 75 votes over the past decade cast by Mr. Kerry and other senators. The Washington-based conservative think tank gave Mr. Kerry one of the lowest ratings of any senator.
In 1995, for instance, the group gave Mr. Kerry a rank of five out of a possible 100. In 1997, Mr. Kerry earned a zero from the Center for Security Policy, which identifies its goal as "promoting international peace through American strength."
Among the votes the group evaluated were nine Mr. Kerry cast against developing a missile-defense system envisioned to protect the United States from nuclear attack. Also noted are the six times in the past 10 years he voted to freeze or reduce defense spending. Mr. Kerry also cast two votes to loosen trade controls over "dual-use" technology such as U.S.-made high-speed computers that can also be used by enemies to build high-tech weaponry....
END of Excerpt
The Center for Security Policy has posted the story: www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org
John Kerry to the right of MSNBC's Chris Matthews? On Tuesday's Hardball, after asking Senator Kerry if he thinks President Bush would be interviewed by the 9/11 Commission alongside Dick Cheney because "he's afraid that his testimony won't jive with the Vice President's?", Matthews proposed to Kerry: "You were a prosecutor....If you had two witnesses, two material witnesses, you had two, even defendants, and they said, and they were accused of operating together in some sort of theft or whatever, and they said, 'Can we, can we testify together?' What would you have said as a prosecutor?" But Matthews had gone too far for even Kerry, who retorted: "Well, first of all, I don't like the analogy you're making to the President and Vice President."
In his April 27 session with Kerry, conducted in an empty auditorium in Cleveland following a Kerry campaign event, Matthews posed a long series of softball questions to Kerry which incorporated into them Democratic and liberal assumptions.
Matthews began one "question" this way: "Do you think this administration and its political handlers like Karl Rove are capable of recognizing they can't beat you on the jobs issue, they can't beat you on foreign policy, so are they gonna drop this nonsensical stuff?"
The MRC's Geoff Dickens tracked down a bunch of the easy cue-up questions from Matthews:
-- Matthews: "Do you think this is a stupid argument that's been going on from the other side, attacking you for throwing away what you said, or implied, or allowed the people to imply were medals when in fact they were ribbons?"
-- Matthews: "Why do you think, along those lines, the Vice President who has three deferments, why does he, why do you think he's putting his three deferments up against your three Purple Hearts?"
-- Matthews: "Okay. You did that today, Senator. You went after, you put out a statement in your campaign, asking tough questions, documented questions, you had all the material there, about President Bush's, President Bush's participation."
-- Matthews: "Do you think the people around the President have hoisted themselves on their own petard by bringing up this issue of your service?"
-- Kerry: "...And now, for some unknown, unbelievable reason, the President of the United States actually has to testify with the Vice President at his side. I don't get it."
-- Matthews: "Let me ask you about a year ago. There's a great picture that will probably be in our post-production here tonight on television of the President and the aircraft carrier. Looking great. He looked great. And he said it was the end of all combat activity. And here we are in Fallujah today, bigger than a firefight, a real big confrontation. Was he mistaken? Was he led to make this mistake by his advisers, that these people are gonna be happy as hell to have us be there and there wasn't going to be any nationalistic resistance to our, our occupation of Iraq? Was that a big mistake?"
-- Matthews: "You know the other day, I bought one of those XM radios for the car and I called up to get it installed. And I get a guy about a half-hour later. He's got an Indian accent. He's in Bangalore somewhere. And it took the longest, and I said, forget about it. I'll use online to get this thing fixed. Why are we going around the world to get our radios set up or our computers set up, or why isn't there somebody in this town or this city or this part of Ohio that can work for 15 bucks an hour? Apparently, they're paying them good money over there in India to help us get our computers online or help us get our problems with high tech fixed up."
-- Matthews: "Do you think this administration and its political handlers like Karl Rove are capable of recognizing they can't beat you on the jobs issue, they can't beat you on foreign policy, so are they gonna drop this nonsensical stuff? Don Evans, the Secretary of Commerce and the President's good friend, said you look French the other day. Are they gonna go after Teresa because she was born in Mozambique? Are they gonna try to build the idea that you're like Mike Dukakis or you're like Al Gore, a little different than most people? You know what they did the last couple times. Are they gonna try to do that?"
MSNBC should be running away from the idea that Matthews is any sort of journalist who confronts and challenges political leaders, at least if they are liberal.
For a transcript of the entire April 27 Hardball: www.msnbc.msn.com
ABC's David Wright lectured on Wednesday's Good Morning America, in a story about targeted strikes in Fallujah from U.S. gun ships, that while "U.S. commanders insist they are committed to the peace process," that will "be a much tougher sell today" since it's "hard to hold out the hand of friendship when last night...showed just how quickly it can become a clenched fist."
During the 7am news update on the April 28 GMA, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, Wright delivered this report from Iraq:
Wright: "Scenes from the battle played out live on Arabic television, putting rest of Iraq on notice that the Marines mean business. The siege of Fallujah is highly controversial in Iraq. Even members of the U.S.-appointed governing council have expressed outrage at American firepower being brought to bear here, as well as concern for the civilians caught in the crossfire."
CNN's Aaron Brown on Tuesday night insisted that the Republican primary race in Pennsylvania that day, between incumbent Senator Arlen Specter and Congressman Pat Toomey, was "widely thought to be a test of the Republican Party's tolerance for moderates within its own ranks."
"Widely thought" in Brown's liberal world where conservatives are intolerant and liberals are always tolerant, except of conservatives, but that doesn't matter.
Before the final results were in showing that Specter eeked out a 51 to 49 percent win, Brown set up an April 27 story on the race, the MRC's Ken Shepherd observed: "Last night, we previewed the Senate Republican primary race in Pennsylvania, one of the most closely watched primary races in the country all year. Senator Arlen Specter, the senior Senator in the state, is fighting one of the toughest fights of his political career. And it is coming within his own party, the race widely thought to be a test of the Republican Party's tolerance for moderates within its own ranks. CNN's Joe Johns joins us tonight from Philadelphia."
Johns attributed lack of GOP support for Toomey to how many think he's too conservative to win in the fall: "It is not necessarily because Republicans think Specter is such a fine candidate and they agree with everything he says. They say it is because they're concerned that Pat Toomey might not be able to pull it out in November because, as one person here said, a lot of people stayed on the couches today, but they won't stay on the couches in November, not strong turnout tonight -- Aaron, back to you."
Brown, to his credit, then pointed out: "The state is a bit hard to read in some respects. The other Senator, Rick Santorum, is quite conservative in the state. So it's not clear that Congressman Toomey would get, would lose in the fall. It's not clear to me at least."
Johns conceded the point, but then backtracked: "No, you're absolutely right. And that's one of the points you to reemphasize here. Senator Santorum has gotten a lot of support. He's very popular here. And he's done quite well. So it's not a foregone conclusion that Pat Toomey will lose. However, a lot of people are expected to come out. And the question, as you know, is swing voters and what will those swing voters do if Pat Toomey is on the ticket. That's probably the bottom line for a lot of folks tonight, Aaron."
From the April 28 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Way Saddam Hussein Celebrated His 67th Birthday." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. Entertained by stripper dressed as U.N. inspector
9. Visits from wives 1, 3 and 12 and Sean Penn
8. Arranged fleas on his chest to form number "67"
7. Thanked Allah he wasn't drafted by the San Diego Chargers
6. Wondered why Uday and Qusay haven't called
5. Spent a little time in the "spider-hole," if you know what I mean
4. Folded old death warrants into festive birthday hats
3. Cellmate popped out of giant falafel
2. Realized he's one year closer to going to hell
1. Pretty much just sat there
# Senator Hillary Clinton is scheduled to appear on Friday's Late Show.
Bob Woodward is scheduled to appear tonight, Thursday, on Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
-- Brent Baker