CBS on Schiavo: "Dangerous Precedent," "Far Right" May Exploit It --4/1/2005
2. Nets Downplay or Skip How Panel Finds Intel Not "Politicized"
3. Berger Pleads Guilty, But Last Year Media Painted Him as Victim
4. Tom Brazaitis, RIP; Would've Voted for Al Franken for President
5. Ex-NBC News Reporter Shriver's Office the "Go-To Place" for Dems
The night after Terri Schiavo died, CBS News reporter Mika Brzezinski highlighted how CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen warned of the "the dangerous precedent" the action by Congress "could set" and, though the Constitution allows Congress to proscribe judicial authority, Cohen denounced Congress and the President: "I absolutely think that the Congress and the President tried to intrude upon the judicial function, tried to break apart that separation of powers." On Thursday's CBS Evening News, Brzezinski framed the issue from the point of view of those upset by the efforts to keep Schiavo alive as she relayed how "the concern is that a lot of politicians on the far right might really focus on this as a right-to-life issue, and then another divisive case like this one could end up in the courts again." As if that wouldn't be the result of those pushing for "right-to-die" laws?
And who qualifies as the "far right" as defined by Brzezinksi, the daughter of Carter administration National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski?
Following a story on Schiavo's death, anchor Bob Schieffer turned to Brzezinski sitting across from him on the Evening News set: "President Bush, as you just heard, called on the country to honor the memory of Terri Schiavo by creating what he called 'a culture of life.' The White House would not offer criticism of the courts for refusing to keep her alive, but the House Republican Leader Tom DeLay said 'the time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior.' For sure, this is not over. Mika Brzezinski is here tonight with more on that. Mika?"
The report released Thursday, by the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, determined that "no analytical judgments were changed in response to political pressure," thus undermining a tenet of the left often repeated by the media. But CBS's John Roberts ignored that finding and instead lamented how President Bush did not comment on "how he felt taking the nation to war on such flawed assumptions." On NBC, David Gregory stressed how Bush "sidestepped any personal responsibility" for the bad intelligence. Gregory asked the co-chairmen of the commission: "Does the President of the United States bear ultimate responsibility for bad intelligence on his watch?" While Gregory acknowledged that "the panel found no evidence the administration pressured intelligence analysts to reach any conclusions about Iraq," he noted that "the commission also avoided any judgment about going to war based on flawed information." After Gregory, Andrea Mitchell focused a story on how "critics say the White House and Pentagon wanted to attack Iraq and were eager to accept intelligence that made their case."
CBS's Roberts highlighted a portion of the report which he portrayed as suggesting some presidential culpability: "The President's daily briefings leading up to the war? 'Disastrously one-sided,' 'selling intelligence to keep the "first customer" interested.'"
In contrast, ABC's Terry Moran quoted the panel's conclusion: "The report also clears the Bush administration of a damning charge. The commission 'found no evidence' that the intelligence on Iraq had been 'politicized.'"
On a night when the cable news networks covered nearly only Terri's Schiavo's death and the Pope's deteriorating health, the three broadcast network evening newscasts all ran full stories on the latest report on intelligence flaws. The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the March 31 stories:
-- CBS Evening News. John Roberts in an opening teaser: "I'm John Roberts. One of the most damaging intelligence failures in American history. That's what a presidential commission says about the case for war against Iraq."
Anchor Bob Schieffer set up the subsequent story: "A year ago, President Bush appointed a commission to find out how U.S. intelligence got it so wrong about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. Today, the report came in and it is scathing. It calls this one of the most damaging intelligence failures in recent U.S. history, and says the harm to U.S. credibility will take years to undo. John Roberts at the White House has the details. John?"
Roberts began: "Well, Bob, as government reports go, this one was uncharacteristically harsh, and it has just about everyone down here in Washington saying something needs to be done and quickly. The report left little room for debate, concluding the intelligence agencies were 'dead wrong' in almost all of their prewar judgments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Without comment about how he felt taking the nation to war on such flawed assumptions, President Bush agreed it's time to go to work."
Schieffer then played a tape of a bit of q and a he had earlier with commission co-chairs Laurence Silberman and Chuck Robb. Schieffer raised how the report found that the FBI is not integrated with intelligence efforts and asked how the U.S. got to where our intelligence agencies were "dead wrong?"
Gregory began: "The U.S. went to war in Iraq claiming Saddam Hussein threatened America with weapons of mass destruction. The President's hand-picked commission concluded today the intelligence behind that decision was, quote, 'worthless,' 'misleading,' 'dead wrong.' This morning, however, the President sidestepped any personal responsibility."
Williams introduced a second story on the topic: "We have more tonight on the fallout from the report and what role misleading intelligence may have played in the push to take this nation to war two years ago. Here with that, our chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell."
Mitchell asked, over post-9/11 pictures of Bush and top cabinet officials: "If the evidence of Saddam's weapons was dead wrong, does that mean bad intelligence took us to war? Or would the U.S. have attacked Iraq anyway? The President and his war council wondered immediately after 9/11 whether Saddam Hussein had been involved, according to the 9/11 Commission. The administration denies it, but critics say the White House and Pentagon wanted to attack Iraq and were eager to accept intelligence that made their case. Flynt Leverett opposed the policy inside the Bush White House."
Moran began, with text on screen: "The new report is a blistering indictment of virtually the entire intelligence community, calling U.S. analysis of pre-war Iraq and other matters 'nearly worthless,' 'dead wrong,' 'inexcusable,' and an 'egregious failure.'"
The report also stated, in the portion quoted by Moran:
For the report released by the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, go to: www.wmd.gov
Last July, when Sandy Berger, Clinton's National Security Adviser, resigned from the Kerry campaign in the wake of the revelation the Justice Department was investigating him for removing classified papers from the National Archives, Dan Rather treated Berger as the victim of GOP dirty tricks as he referred to "a carefully orchestrated leak about Berger" and insisted "the timing of it appears to be no coincidence." On CNN, Time's Joe Klein declared he'd be "shocked if there was something really terrible that he did here" and U.S. News & World Report's David Gergen called Berger "one of the heroes in the war on terrorism" and argued that "this has been blown way out of proportion and it is much more innocent than it looks." But on Friday, Berger is expected to plead guilty.
Bob Schieffer noted on Thursday's CBS Evening News: "President Clinton's National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, will plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of taking classified information from the National Archives without authorization. Berger said he took some of his own notes and documents from the Archives by mistake while preparing to testify to the 9/11 commission."
An excerpt from a Friday front page Washington Post article by John F. Harris and Allan Lengel:
Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger, a former White House national security adviser, plans to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, and will acknowledge intentionally removing and destroying copies of a classified document about the Clinton administration's record on terrorism.
Berger's plea agreement, which was described yesterday by his advisers and was confirmed by Justice Department officials, will have one of former president Bill Clinton's most influential advisers and one of the Democratic Party's leading foreign policy advisers in a federal court this afternoon.
The deal's terms make clear that Berger spoke falsely last summer in public claims that in 2003 he twice inadvertently walked off with copies of a classified document during visits to the National Archives, then later lost them.
He described the episode last summer as "an honest mistake." Yesterday, a Berger associate who declined to be identified by name but was speaking with Berger's permission said: "He recognizes what he did was wrong....It was not inadvertent."
Under terms negotiated by Berger's attorneys and the Justice Department, he has agreed to pay a $10,000 fine and accept a three-year suspension of his national security clearance. These terms must be accepted by a judge before they are final, but Berger's associates said yesterday he believes that closure is near on what has been an embarrassing episode during which he repeatedly misled people about what happened during two visits to the National Archives in September and October 2003.
END of Excerpt
For the Post story in full: www.washingtonpost.com
The July 21 CyberAlert recounted: Every network but CBS led Tuesday night with the Sandy Berger tale of taking and then losing secret documents from the National Archives and resigning Tuesday from his advisory role with the Kerry campaign. Instead, Rather began: "Almost two a day. That is the rate American troops are dying in Iraq with the total now approaching 900 since the war began." When he arrived at Berger he tried to discredit the story by insisting "this was triggered by a carefully orchestrated leak about Berger, and the timing of it appears to be no coincidence." CBS's John Roberts affirmed Bill Clinton's praise for Berger by noting how "the 9/11 Commission agrees it got everything it wanted from Berger." Roberts maintained: "Republicans and Democrats alike say the timing of the investigation's disclosure smells like politics, leaked to the press just two days before the 9/11 Commission report comes out."
The July 22 CyberAlert asked: Sandy Berger a one-day story? A night after running stories on the revelation the FBI is investigating Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger for improperly taking copies of secret memos assessing the Clinton administration's reaction to the millennium terrorist threat, the broadcast networks on Wednesday night largely moved on. And those stories which did air in the morning and evening gave equal weight to complaints about the timing of the leak as to the substance of Berger's actions. The CBS Evening News, which on Tuesday night tried to discredit the story as Dan Rather insisted "this was triggered by a carefully orchestrated leak about Berger, and the timing of it appears to be no coincidence," didn't utter a world about Berger on Wednesday night while ABC's Peter Jennings just read a brief item about how President Bush refrained from comment about "the allegations which the White House has been aware of for several months." NBC's Andrea Mitchell highlighted how "Democrats claim the story was leaked just in time to distract from the 9/11 report." On GMA, Charles Gibson sought confirmation: "Is the timing of this leak suspicious?"
For more: www.mediaresearch.org
Eleanor Clift's husband, Tom Brazaitis, the Washington Bureau Chief of the Cleveland Plain Dealer for 20 years ending in 1998, passed away on Wednesday. The paper's obituary for him recalled his "proudly liberal columns in The Plain Dealer's Forum section on Sundays," which he wrote since stepping down as bureau chief. The obit touted how "he challenged politicians who gave tax breaks to the rich while cutting benefits for the poor" and how "a year before the last presidential election, he declared in a column, 'If Al Franken ran for President, I'd vote for him.'" In 2002, he penned a column ridiculing the MRC's DisHonors Awards.
An excerpt from the top of the March 31 Cleveland Plain Dealer remembrance, "Plain Dealer columnist Tom Brazaitis dies: Washington veteran known for his wit," by Washington bureau reporters Tom Diemer and Stephen Koff:
Tom Brazaitis, a provocative, elegant writer who was the heart and soul of The Plain Dealer's Washington bureau for nearly 30 years, died Wednesday after a long struggle with kidney cancer. He was 64.
A former bureau chief and senior Washington editor, Brazaitis brought insight and decades-long experience in the nation's capital to bear in his mince-no-words, proudly liberal columns in The Plain Dealer's Forum section on Sundays.
Not one to bend to public opinion, he challenged politicians who gave tax breaks to the rich while cutting benefits for the poor. He took issue with a president who ordered his nation to attack Iraq, opining before it was popular to do so that "the country went to war on false pretenses."
He advocated for women's rights and gay rights and progressive causes.
A year before the last presidential election, he declared in a column, "If Al Franken ran for President, I'd vote for him."
His writing provoked strong reaction from loyal readers, who loved or loathed his politics -- and didn't hesitate to let him know it through letters, phone calls and e-mails....
END of Excerpt
For the obituary in full: www.cleveland.com
So this is what conservatives do for fun.
That's what I was thinking as I took a seat in the balcony overlooking a ballroom in the Ronald Reagan Building on Pennsylvania Ave. On the floor below, 800 men and women dined on grilled Angus beef and Atlantic salmon over mushroom risotto and took pride in belonging to what Hillary Clinton once called "the vast right-wing conspiracy."
They had gathered for the Media Research Center's annual Dishonors Awards, "roasting the most outrageously biased liberal reporters of 2001."...
[N]o one mentioned another noteworthy curiosity: that the list of 39 sponsoring organizations and individuals included not only the Enron Corp., but the Enron Good Government Fund, the Enron Retirement Fund, the Enron IRA Account and the Enron Profit Sharing Account. I wondered whether their checks had cleared....
There were some boos and hisses as the nominees for such awards as "flakiest comment of the year" and "hopelessly foolish wartime reporting" were presented in video clips on a giant screen. But the laughter, for the most part, seemed forced, except when it came to mocking CBS news anchor Dan Rather.
Rather won two of the six "Dishonors Awards" and captured the grand prize, "Most Outrageous Quote of the Year 2001," by audience acclamation. The winning entry was Rather's comment in an interview on the Fox Cable Channel that "Bill Clinton is, at core, an honest person....I know that you consider it sort of astonishing anybody would say so, but I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things."
None of the so-called award-winners was present, of course. Accepting for Rather was Katherine Harris, the Florida secretary of state who was a key player in the presidential vote-counting fiasco in that state.
On an evening of humor that was about as subtle as a wrecking ball, Harris' self-deprecating joking was refreshing. She said of Rather, "In his opinion, he is an honest broker of information. Right, and I forgot to put on my makeup during the recount."
By contrast, the Wall Street Journal's John Fund, whose editorials, signed columns and frequent television appearances denounced President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, didn't so much as blush while presenting the "Bring Back Bubba Award (for the Best Journalistic Lewinsky)."...
In closing, L. Brent Bozell III, founder and president of the Media Research Council, lamented that "the liberal media find no humor, none whatsoever, in what we do." He cited published reviews of last year's awards ceremony describing the event as "tasteless," "trading on silly stereotypes," and "an event in which spitefulness and ad hominem personal attacks" pass for humor.
Undaunted, Bozell said President George W. Bush had asked people to go on with their lives as usual after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, so "it's pretty damn patriotic what we're doing tonight." The liberal media, Bozell said, "deserve every slap upside the head that they get."
The evening ended, as if apologetically, with a documentary praising the media's coverage of Sept. 11, featuring in positive roles Rather, Jennings, Rivera, Diane Sawyer and others who had just been ridiculed.
Conservatives sure know how to have fun.
END of Excerpt
Eight days later, in his January 28, 2002 column, Brazaitis acknowledged how he missed a joke:
For a look at the MRC's DisHonors Awards for 2001 held on January 17, 2002, go to: www.mediaresearch.org
When Arnold Schwarzenegger won his race for Governor of California, some journalism ethicists demanded that Maria Shriver leave NBC News for fear her husband's Republican politics would taint her reporting. She resigned, but a New York Times story on Thursday documented how the office of the Kennedy family member has become, according to a leading Democrat, "the go-to place for a lot of Democrats." Reporter Patricia Leigh Brown reminded readers how "Ms. Shriver was widely credited with helping to persuade her husband to restore a cut in state programs for the developmentally disabled" and related how "Ms. Shriver is said to weigh in on key appointments, including that of Terry Tamminen, the Governor's cabinet secretary, who worked with Waterkeeper Alliance, Robert Kennedy Jr.'s environmental group."
An excerpt from the March 31 New York Times article, "California's First Lady Builds a Different Role," by Patricia Leigh Brown in Sacramento:
....The niece of President John F. Kennedy and the only daughter of R. Sargent Shriver, the founding director of the Peace Corps and a onetime vice-presidential candidate, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics, Ms. Shriver was weaned on politics and public service. Now she is deploying her considerable charisma and political instincts both inside and outside "the Horseshoe," as the governor's inner sanctum is known.
As for her husband, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, Ms. Shriver helps to bridge the gap with the opposition so much that Democrats who want to get his ear often head directly to her.
"It's common knowledge that her office is the go-to place for a lot of Democrats," said Chris Lehane, a Democratic consultant in San Francisco. And in telling her husband when his message is getting lost and bringing together polarized politicians, Ms. Shriver is writing her own script, neither Hillary Rodham Clinton nor Nancy Reagan in approach.
Ms. Shriver speaks in the language of her best-selling books, touching on topics like Alzheimer's disease and death. "There's no job description for life, period," she said, when describing the need to resign from NBC News, where she was a correspondent. "It was the work I love and have always done, where my friends are, where my expertise is. It was, 'wait a minute, now what do I do?' It was a wobbly moment.
"But I was brought up hearing that people aren't interested in 'woe is me.' As my mother would say, 'moving right along now.' "
Among other things, she has moved on to women's issues. Despite much controversy and behind-the-scenes jockeying, the legislature signed off this month on Ms. Shriver's pet project -- the California Museum for History, Women and the Arts. She plans to transform a nearly bankrupt history museum in downtown Sacramento into a sophisticated portrait of diversity and refutation of the vacuous Beach Boys blonde.
Like Minerva, the Roman goddess who graces the state seal (as well as a diamond necklace that was a gift from her husband), Ms. Shriver can be a warrior. She lanced last-minute accusations of her husband's sexual improprieties during the campaign, helping defuse the aftershocks particularly among liberal white women who make up 37 percent of the state's electorate. Ms. Shriver also reinforced the view that Mr. Schwarzenegger "is not a partisan figure, even in marriage," said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll.
"She is as savvy as they come," said Gloria Romero, the state Senate's majority leader and Democrat from Los Angeles. "She has made him Terminator-tolerant, providing a cover for Democrats, especially women, who feel that if she can be married to him he must be O.K."
Early on, Ms. Shriver was widely credited with helping to persuade her husband to restore a cut in state programs for the developmentally disabled. Conferring often with "Team Maria" -- staff members and friends like Nadine Schiff, a writer and producer: Jillian Manus, a literary agent; and Wanda McDaniel, a liaison to the stars at Giorgio Armani in Beverly Hills -- Ms. Shriver is said to weigh in on key appointments, including that of Terry Tamminen, the governor's cabinet secretary, who worked with Waterkeeper Alliance, Robert Kennedy Jr.'s environmental group.
Ms. Shriver also hired Charlotte Schultz, the wife of former Secretary of State George P. Schultz, as the state's protocol chief....
END of Excerpt
For the New York Times article in full: www.nytimes.com
For the PDF version: www.mediaresearch.org
-- Brent Baker