2. Williams Gratuitously Shows Bush Holding Hands with Saudi King
3. ABC: Bush 'Lashing Out' at Iran May 'Inflame,' Not 'Cool-Headed'
4. Stephanopoulos Plays Dumb About Own Role In U.S. Attorney Firings
5. Rosie Sees Evil in U.S., Not Iran, Touts 9/11 Conspiracy Theories
Reporting on the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision that the EPA has a "statutory obligation" to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions from motor vehicles, CBS's Wyatt Andrews on Monday night avoided labeling those in the majority while describing those in dissent as "the Court's most conservative justices." CBS and NBC led by championing the narrow ruling, but NBC's Pete Williams, as well as ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg in a story a few minutes into World News, managed to avoided ideological tagging.
Andrews began his CBS Evening News story by stressing how, "in a hard slap to the administration, the Supreme Court ruled the EPA does have authority to regulate greenhouse gases as air pollution. Justice John Paul Stevens writes [text on screen]: 'The harms associated with climate change are serious' and that EPA's political reasons for inaction are illegal, 'arbitrary,' he wrote, 'capricious...or otherwise not in accordance with law.'" After not labeling Stevens or any of the four justices who joined his opinion, Andrews concluded by pointing out how "this was a 5-to-4 decision with the Court's most conservative justices dissenting. But you can still add the Supreme Court to the list of voices advocating action on global warming."
The formulation employed by Andrews matched the WashingtonPost.com story (a version of which will likely run in the real newspaper on Tuesday) by William Branigan, who also didn't tag any of those in the majority while labeling the dissenters as the "most conservative" members of the Court:
"'EPA has offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate change,' Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority. Joining him were Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and Anthony M. Kennedy.
The Washington Post posting in full: www.washingtonpost.com
The PDF of the Supreme Court's decision: www.supremecourtus.gov
A slightly-longer transcript of the lead story on the April 2 CBS Evening News. Wyatt Andrews began:
Following soundbites from an unlabeled liberal environmentalist and advocates of emission laws passed by several states, Andrews concluded: "This was a 5-to-4 decision with the Court's most conservative justices dissenting. But you can still add the Supreme Court to the list of voices advocating action on global warming. This was the Court saying to the administration 'do something.' Wyatt Andrews, CBS News, at the Supreme Court."
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, reporting last Wednesday night on Saudi King Abdullah's condemnation of America's "illegitimate foreign occupation of Iraq," decided to gratuitously bring up the fact that President Bush had held Abdullah's hand when the then-Crown Prince was visiting Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas nearly two years ago, a gesture that resulted in much snickering from media types at the time.
Mentioning Abdullah's critique, Williams suggested his hand-holding with the President in April 2005 was somehow relevant to his views on Iraq. "You may recall this visit by Abdullah to the Bush ranch in Texas and the closeness the two men displayed then," the NBC anchor announced over two-year old file footage of the two men at Bush's ranch.
In contrast, ABC's World News anchor Charles Gibson settled for reporting Abdullah's criticisms in a straightforward manner, while CBS's Katie Couric said nothing about the Saudi leader's comments, apparently believing they were not especially newsworthy.
[This item, by Rich Noyes, was posted last Thursday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Here's how ABC's Gibson dealt with Abdullah's speech in his March 28 newscast, followed by NBC's Williams on the same subject:
ABC's Charles Gibson: "The U.S. role in Iraq came in for harsh criticism today from a key American ally. At an Arab summit meeting, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah called the American military presence in Iraq, quote, 'an illegitimate occupation,' the strongest words of criticism from Saudi Arabia's king so far." (18 seconds)
NBC's Brian Williams: "One final note on Iraq. It comes to us from an Arab summit in Saudi Arabia today where the King of Saudi Arabia criticized what he called America's 'illegitimate foreign occupation of Iraq.' The speech is making headlines because King Abdullah had been a strong ally to President Bush. You may recall this visit by Abdullah to the Bush ranch in Texas and the closeness the two men displayed then. His comments today are the harshest Saudi criticism yet of the war in Iraq." (32 seconds)
On Saturday's World News, ABC's David Kerley characterized President Bush's statement regarding the standoff between Britain and Iran as "lashing out," presumably because the President referred to the captured British soldiers as "hostages," as the ABC anchor suggested that Bush risked "inflaming" the situation. After relaying that the "outspoken" Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, today called Britain "arrogant" while still demanding an apology, Kerley also suggested that Bush's statement was not "cool-headed" as he introduced a story by correspondent Mike Lee playing up the possibility of a diplomatic solution. Kerley: "In spite of that rhetoric [from Ahmadinejad] and those remarks from President Bush today, there were some new signs that cooler heads may be prevailing."
By contrast, while ABC saw in Iran a "sharp turn away from the tough talk," NBC Nightly News anchor John Seigenthaler contended that "there are no visible signs that Iran is backing down," and gave more focus to Ahmadinejad's defiant comments. NBC also reported Bush's criticism of Iran without undermining the President's words.
[This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted Saturday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
During the teaser for the March 31 World News, Kerley announced: "Tough talk: President Bush lashes out at Iran, calling the 15 British sailors 'hostages,' and demanding their release." Kerley then opened the show contending that Bush was "stepping forcefully into the fray," and that he was running the risk of "inflaming an already tense situation." This opening was then followed by a clip of the President saying he supports the British government's attempts to "resolve this peacefully," while also saying "the Iranians must give back the hostages."
Kerley: "The standoff between Iran and Britain over the capture of 15 British navy personnel is nine days old. And until today, the White House has largely stayed out of it, trying not to inflame an already tense situation. But at a Camp David news conference late this afternoon, President Bush stepped forcefully into the fray."
After Kerley mentioned that Ahmadinejad called Britain "arrogant" and demanded an apology, correspondent Lee still saw signs that both Iran and Britain were taking a "sharp turn away from the tough talk," a view likely shared by Kerley as he introduced the segment saying that "cooler heads may be prevailing."
Kerley: "For its part, Iran insists the sailors were trespassing, and today Iran's outspoken president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called Britain and other countries 'arrogant' for not apologizing. In spite of that rhetoric and those remarks from President Bush today, there were some new signs that cooler heads may be prevailing. ABC's Mike Lee reports from London."
After featuring a soundbite of former Ambassador to the UN John Bolton arguing that it is important to make the the Iranian government believe that force could be used against them because "weakness is provocative," Lee then provided a soundbite in support of the "tried and tested" strategy of diplomacy supported by Middle East analyst Rosemary Hollis, who argued that "force doesn't solve everything," and that the "British tradition of diplomacy" could succeed without "behaving like a cowboy," possibly referring to President Bush.
Below is a complete transcript of the relevant stories from ABC's World News and the NBC Nightly News, while the CBS Evening News was preempted by basketball:
From the Saturday March 31 World News:
David Kerley, in opening teaser: "Good evening. I'm David Kerley, and this is World News. Tough talk: President Bush lashes out at Iran, calling the 15 British sailors 'hostages,' and demanding their release."
Kerley: "Good evening. The standoff between Iran and Britain over the capture of 15 British navy personnel is nine days old. And until today, the White House has largely stayed out of it, trying not to inflame an already tense situation. But at a Camp David news conference late this afternoon, President Bush stepped forcefully into the fray."
From the Saturday March 31 NBC Nightly News:
John Seigenthaler, in opening teaser: "President Bush demands the release of British troops held by Iran."
Seigenthaler: "Good evening, everyone. President Bush joined America's strongest ally today in demanding the release of 15 British marines and sailors held in Iran. Speaking publicly about the situation for the first time, the President made a point of calling the 15 'hostages' and said their detention was inexcusable. But after a nine-day standoff with Britain, there are no visible signs that Iran is backing down. We have two reports tonight, beginning with NBC's John Yang at the White House. Good evening, John."
Seigenthaler: "From Iran today, more defiance. Despite diplomatic efforts to find a solution to the crisis, tension between Iran and Britain appeared to be growing today. NBC's Stephanie Gosk reports from London."
OpinionJournal.com over the weekend posted a piece by Wall Street Journal deputy books editor Mark Lasswell about how ABC seems to be competing with The Daily Show for political comedy, at least when George Stephanopoulos talks about U.S. Attorney firings: "How else to explain those hilarious skits when Chief Washington Correspondent George Stephanopoulos reports on the brouhaha over the Justice Department's firing of eight U.S. attorneys while the proverbial elephant in the room is lurking just off-camera?" Namely, how "Stephanopoulos was the Clinton White House communications director in 1993 when the Justice Department cleaned its slate of all 93 U.S. attorneys, and he was central to the administration's finessing of the episode."
Picking up on Tyndall Report numbers cited by Lasswell, on Monday's "Grapevine" segment, FNC's Brit Hume noted how "the controversy over the firings of those U.S. attorneys generated 45 minutes of coverage on the broadcast networks' evening news programs during the week of March 12th through 16th," but "back in 1993, when the new Clinton administration moved to fire all 93 U.S. attorneys, two of the networks didn't cover it at all, and the third, NBC, gave it 20 seconds despite Republican complaints and unheeded demands for hearings."
That matches what the March 14 CyberAlert reported:
The April 1993 edition of the MRC's MediaWatch newsletter recounted: Attorney General Janet Reno fired all 93 U.S. attorneys, a very unusual practice. Republicans charged the Clintonites made the move to take U.S. Attorney Jay Stephens off the House Post Office investigation of Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski. The network response: ABC and CBS never mentioned it. CNN's World News and NBC Nightly News provided brief mentions, with only NBC noting the Rosty angle. Only NBC's Garrick Utley kept the old outrage, declaring in a March 27 "Final Thoughts" comment: "Every new President likes to say 'Under me, it's not going to be politics as usual.' At the Justice Department, it looks as if it still is."
END of Excerpt
For the March 14 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
Mr. Stephanopoulos doesn't mention his own valuable expertise on the subject of fired federal prosecutors, the kind of expertise that might help place the current mess in context. Mr. Stephanopoulos was the Clinton White House communications director in 1993 when the Justice Department cleaned its slate of all 93 U.S. attorneys, and he was central to the administration's finessing of the episode -- just the sort of insider experience, presumably, that prompted ABC News to hire Mr. Stephanopoulos fresh out of the White House in 1996.
And yet even when Mr. Gibson and Mr. Stephanopoulos engage in the sort of exploratory anchor-reporter chitchat that is a staple of network news nowadays, somehow the two manage not to crack up as they rake over the latest sinister developments in the fired-prosecutors "scandal" without acknowledging that one of the newsmen knows a good bit more than he lets on about how these things work.
Mr. Stephanopoulos remains just as sober when working solo on Sunday mornings as the host of "This Week" or helping out on "Good Morning America." There hasn't been this much stone-faced comedy in circulation since Buster Keaton's heyday.
In a Sunday NewsBusters posting (newsbusters.org ), Tim Graham observed: Lasswell notices what we've reported. ABC and CBS skipped U.S. Attorney firings entirely when Bill Clinton did it in 1993, and notes that Andrew Tyndall's numbers underline the dramatic contrast:
According to the Tyndall Report, which tracks this sort of thing, during the week of March 12-16, the three network evening newscasts spent a total of 45 minutes on the prosecutors story, with the war in Iraq placing second at 16 minutes. "World News with Charles Gibson" logged 13 of those 45 minutes on the prosecutors.
By contrast, in 1993, Attorney General Janet Reno's wholesale firing of U.S. attorneys appointed by George H.W. Bush was a non-story on the ABC evening news -- literally a non-story, according to records kept by the Vanderbilt University Television News Archive, as in zero coverage. CBS also skipped it; NBC gave it 20 seconds.
Lasswell also hints at what happened next with Stephanopoulos and Jay Stephens, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia fired by Clinton before he could indict Democrat Rep. Dan Rostenkowski. Stephens and his law firm was hired by the Resolution Trust Corporation to investigate the financial sheananigans of Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan, the corrupt bank at the center of the Whitewater scandal. Stephanopoulos demanded Stephens be fired, which landed him before congressional investigating committees. Ironically, when the Stephens law firm later found no serious criminal offense in Whitewater, the Clintonistas began touting it everywhere -- and still do to this day.
END of Excerpt
For Lasswell's piece in full: opinionjournal.com
Hume's April 2 "Grapevine" item in full: "The controversy over the firings of those U.S. attorneys generated 45 minutes of coverage on the broadcast networks' evening news programs during the week of March 12th through 16th, according to the Tyndall Report, which monitors news coverage. But Vanderbilt University reports that back in 1993, when the new Clinton administration moved to fire all 93 U.S. attorneys, two of the networks didn't cover it at all, and the third, NBC, gave it 20 seconds despite Republican complaints and unheeded demands for hearings.
[This item is based on a Thursday NewsBusters posting by the MRC's Justin McCarthy: newsbusters.org ]
In the teaser at the end of the first March 29 segment, O'Donnell and Behar made light of the upcoming discussion.
Rosie O'Donnell: "Alright we're going to take a break and come back and talk about the situation in Iran with the soldiers, the British soldiers who were in international waters. The British say they were in the right waters and the Iranians say no they were in our waters, and so it begins."
Rosie exclaimed what is certainly news to Iran, that the entire world is siding with Iran as opposed to Britain and the United States: "Here's the problem with what you just said, 'us,' because it's now Britain and the United States pretty much against the rest of the world. How did this happen?"
Rosie worried about Iranians being "demonized" as she complained: "It's just it's very hard in America when anyone from the Mid-East has been so demonized that no matter what, it's impossible for some people to believe that the Iranians in any way could ever do anything ethical in any capacity. They are not people. They have somehow been dehumanized to the point where they're not people who they're just the enemy, the terrorists."
With the assistance of guest co-host Marcia Gay Harden, Rosie continued on that theme, but that was too much even for her ideological ally, Joy Behar.
Marcia Gay Harden: "That digresses from what the real issues are. You worded a war on terror, personally that is propaganda."
O'Donnell should do some research on U.S. history. She is apparently unaware of the Alien and Sedition Acts, President Abraham Lincoln suspending Habeas Corpus, the Red Scare immediately after World War I, and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
O'Donnell soon expounded on her September 11 conspiracy theories, contending she has "no idea" who attacked us on that tragic day.
Hasselbeck: "Do you believe that the government had anything to do with the attack of 9/11? Do you believe in a conspiracy in terms of the attack of 9/11?"
-- Brent Baker