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CBS Trumpets 'New' & 'Large' Opposition to War, But It's Neither --2/26/2007


1. CBS Trumpets 'New' & 'Large' Opposition to War, But It's Neither
In introducing and promoting a Sunday night 60 Minutes story, CBS reporters trumpeted "dissension in the ranks" showing "new opposition" to the Iraq war from "a large group of soldiers." But it is neither new or large. Steve Kroft set up the Sunday piece by touting how "tonight you'll hear dissension in the ranks from a large group of soldiers and Marines who are fed up and have decided to go public." He explained that "they're not going AWOL, they're not disobeying orders or even refusing to fight in Iraq," they're bypassing the chain of command to denounce a war they're in the middle of fighting." On Friday's CBS Evening News, fill-in anchor Russ Mitchell had previewed the story by asserting how "there is new opposition to the war tonight, and it comes from the very Americans fighting it -- men and women in uniform." Mitchell explained: "Hundreds of them are very publicly asking Congress to stop it. Lara Logan has this exclusive 60 Minutes report."

2. WashPost Champions Gore: 'May Be America's Coolest Ex-VP Ever'
The Washington Post awarded its Oscar early to former Vice President Al "The Goracle" Gore. "Al Gore, Rock Star," announced the headline under a Sunday front page picture of Gore on stage with Queen Latifah at the Grammy Awards. The tribute carried this breathless subhead: "Oscar Hopeful May Be America's Coolest Ex-Vice President Ever." Reporter William Booth soon gushed: "Incredible as it may seem, Al Gore is not only totally carbon neutral, but geek-chic cool. No velvet rope can stop him. He rolls with Diddy. He is on first-name basis, for real, with Ludacris." Booth showcased how Laurie David, a producer of the film featuring Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, championed him as "a super hero now" and Democratic consultant Matt Bennett got space to proclaim: "Look, this guy was a visionary. He was right about everything, even the stuff he was ridiculed for." The headline over the jump page, "'Truth': Renewable Energy and the Renewable Man."

3. ABC Star Ferrera Quips U.S. Won't Be 'Free' Until Bush Gone
As a presenter at Saturday's "Film Independent's Spirit Awards" carried live at 2pm PST/5pm EST on the Independent Film Channel (IFC), actress America Ferrera, the title role star of ABC's Ugly Betty, interjected a bit of political commentary suggesting the U.S. will not be "the land of the free" again until President Bush leaves office. Taking the stage inside a tent on the Santa Monica beach, Ferrera was joined by actor Zach Braff, a star on NBC's Scrubs, to present the award for the "Best First Feature." In the scripted exchange, Braff asked: "So do you think that you have any traits in common with the country that is your namesake?" Ferrera replied: "I guess I'm a free-spirited person and America's supposedly the 'land of the free,' right?" She then added, to loud applause from the left coast film industry audience: "Or at least we will be in 2008." AUDIO&VIDEO See & Hear the Bias - Audio & Video Clip Archive


CBS Trumpets 'New' & 'Large' Opposition
to War, But It's Neither

In introducing and promoting a Sunday night 60 Minutes story, CBS reporters trumpeted "dissension in the ranks" showing "new opposition" to the Iraq war from "a large group of soldiers." But it is neither new or large. Steve Kroft set up the Sunday piece by touting how "tonight you'll hear dissension in the ranks from a large group of soldiers and Marines who are fed up and have decided to go public." He explained that "they're not going AWOL, they're not disobeying orders or even refusing to fight in Iraq," they're bypassing the chain of command to denounce a war they're in the middle of fighting." On Friday's CBS Evening News, fill-in anchor Russ Mitchell had previewed the story by asserting how "there is new opposition to the war tonight, and it comes from the very Americans fighting it -- men and women in uniform." Mitchell explained: "Hundreds of them are very publicly asking Congress to stop it. Lara Logan has this exclusive 60 Minutes report."

The "new opposition" from a "large group," however, is hardly "new" by daily broadcast journalism standards or "large" when compared to the number who have served in Iraq.

On Friday, Logan previewed her 60 Minutes story about a relatively minuscule number of servicemen who have signed a petition from an organization called "Appeal for Redress," a group formed last year and which delivered some petitions to Congress way back on January 16. Logan announced how "over a thousand servicemen and women have done something normally unthinkable for the military: protest the war they're in the middle of fighting....They've all sent a petition called 'Appeal for Redress' to their individual members of Congress letting them know that 'staying in Iraq will not work,' and it's 'time for U.S. troops to come home.'" Logan's piece featured soundbites from three soldiers, but none were identified by her or on screen. The CBSNews.com page previewing the story, however, includes names as did the subsequent Sunday night piece on 60 Minutes.

[This item is adapted from a Friday night posting on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The "Appeal for Redress" Web site reports that "the first Appeal signatures messages will be were [sic] delivered to members of Congress on January 16, to coincide with at the time of [sic] the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January 2007." The page also boasted, that as of Friday night, 1,312 "Active Duty, Reserve, and Guard personnel have now signed the appeal!" But that's a very small percent of the several hundreds of thousands of servicemen deployed at some point to Iraq. The group's page: www.appealforredress.org

Logan did squeeze in a note about how "soldiers from the First Cavalry who are currently serving in Baghdad...acknowledge that the service men and women who signed the petition have the right to do so, but that doesn't mean they should." A soldier in Iraq declared: "I know what I'm here fighting for, to give the Iraqi people, you know, some democracy and hope. So I am 100 percent behind this mission. You don't sign up to pick which war you get to go to." But Logan then gave an "Appeal for Redress" soldier the last word and he shot down a red-herring, that people have questioned the patriotism of war opponents in the military:
"By volunteering we've done more than about 99 percent of the population. And anybody who joined after 9/11 when the country was in a state of war, it's my opinion that nobody has the right to question that soldier's patriotism, nobody."

The plea from Appeal for Redress: "As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq . Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home."

Steve Kroft, over "Dissension in the Ranks" signboard, set up the lead story on the February 25 60 Minutes:
"Americans in the military have been asked to make extraordinary sacrifices in recent years, particularly in Iraq where the casualties are mounting, tours of duty are being extended and some of them have had enough. Tonight you'll hear dissension in the ranks from a large group of soldiers and Marines who are fed up and have decided to go public. They're not going AWOL, they're not disobeying orders or even refusing to fight in Iraq. But as correspondent Lara Logan reports, they're doing something unthinkable to many in uniform: bypassing the chain of command to denounce a war they're in the middle of fighting."

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the February 23 CBS Evening News preview story:

Up top, Russ Mitchell teased: "Tonight, a new move to try to stop the war. Senate Democrats want to take back the authorization they gave the President to invade Iraq. And a CBS News 60 Minutes exclusive: Hundreds of U.S. servicemen and women are protesting the war while they're fighting it."

Mitchell soon arrived at the plug for 60 Minutes: "There is new opposition to the war tonight, and it comes from the very Americans fighting it -- men and women in uniform. Hundreds of them are very publicly asking Congress to stop it. Lara Logan has this exclusive 60 Minutes report."

Lara Logan: "The fight in hostile Anbar province has been more deadly for U.S. forces than anywhere else in Iraq. Over a thousand have been killed in this violent region west of Baghdad. And today, the military announced three more. That's part of the reason over a thousand servicemen and women have done something normally unthinkable for the military: protest the war they're in the middle of fighting. Their interviews will be on 60 Minutes this Sunday."
Unidentified soldier #1: "As a patriotic citizen who served two combat tours in Iraq, I just feel that this war is simply just not working out anymore, and soldiers are dying there every day."
Logan: "It's a sentiment echoed by all of the service members who are part of this protest. We gathered some of them in Washington, but they had to be off base, out of uniform, and off duty to speak to us on camera. They've all sent a petition called 'Appeal for Redress' to their individual members of Congress letting them know that 'staying in Iraq will not work,' and it's 'time for U.S. troops to come home.'"
Unidentified soldier #2: "Just because we volunteered for the military doesn't mean we volunteered to put our lives in unnecessary harm and to carry out missions that are illogical and immoral."
Unidentified soldier #3: "I mean, we volunteered to make a difference, not just be part of an experiment."
Logan: "We spoke with soldiers from the First Cavalry who are currently serving in Baghdad. They acknowledge that the service men and women who signed the petition have the right to do so, but that doesn't mean they should."
Unidentified soldier #4, in Iraq: "I know what I'm here fighting for, to give the Iraqi people, you know, some democracy and hope. So I am 100 percent behind this mission. You don't sign up to pick which war you get to go to."
Logan an "Appeal for Redress" soldier: "There are going to be a lot of people who don't like what you're doing."
Unidentified soldier #3: "By volunteering we've done more than about 99 percent of the population. And anybody who joined after 9/11 when the country was in a state of war, it's my opinion that nobody has the right to question that soldier's patriotism, nobody."
Logan: "Lara Logan, CBS News, Baghdad."

The CBSNews.com version what aired Sunday night on 60 Minutes: www.cbsnews.com

WashPost Champions Gore: 'May Be America's
Coolest Ex-VP Ever'

The Washington Post awarded its Oscar early to former Vice President Al "The Goracle" Gore. "Al Gore, Rock Star," announced the headline under a Sunday front page picture of Gore on stage with Queen Latifah at the Grammy Awards. The tribute carried this breathless subhead: "Oscar Hopeful May Be America's Coolest Ex-Vice President Ever." Reporter William Booth soon gushed: "Incredible as it may seem, Al Gore is not only totally carbon neutral, but geek-chic cool. No velvet rope can stop him. He rolls with Diddy. He is on first-name basis, for real, with Ludacris." Booth showcased how Laurie David, a producer of the film featuring Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, championed him as "a super hero now" and Democratic consultant Matt Bennett got space to proclaim: "Look, this guy was a visionary. He was right about everything, even the stuff he was ridiculed for." The headline over the jump page, "'Truth': Renewable Energy and the Renewable Man."

Booth touted how the director of Gore's film, Davis Guggenheim trumpeted how "everywhere I go with him, they treat him like a rock star." Booth backed him up: "Guggenheim is not being hyperbolic. Take the Cannes Film Festival: Al Gore was mobbed. By French people. He was a presenter at the Grammy Awards, alongside Queen Latifah, where he got one of the biggest welcomes of the night. 'Wow....I think they love you, man. You hear that?' the current Queen asked the former veep."

Left unaddressed in Booth's 1,800-plus laudatory words: How no conservative ex-VP could ever be heralded as the "coolest ex-Vice President ever" since those issuing such praise -- the cultural elite and the news media -- would never see a conservative as cool. Is there anything Dan Quayle could do, other than denounce conservatives, to generate such admiration?

An excerpt from the February 25 front page Washington Post story by Los Angeles-based correspondent William Booth:

In the annals of vice presidential history, tonight will be something different. In his black tux, the man known to his most fervent fans as "The Goracle" will arrive by hybrid eco-limo and, surrounded by fellow Hollywood greenies Cameron Diaz and Leonardo DiCaprio, will stroll down the red carpet at the Academy Awards to answer the immortal question: "Al, who are you wearing?"

What a year it has been for Al Gore and his little indie film.

"An Inconvenient Truth," the 100-minute movie that is essentially Gore giving a slide show about global warming, is the third-highest-grossing documentary ever, with a worldwide box office of $45 million, right behind blockbusters "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "March of the Penguins."

"AIT," as Team Gore calls it, is also the hot pick tonight for Best Documentary, and if its director, Davis Guggenheim, wins an Oscar, he plans to bring Gore along with him to the stage to accept the golden statuette and perhaps say a few words about...interstitial glacial melting? (More likely, Gore will deliver a favorite line about "political will being a renewable resource.")

In the year since his film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, to a standing ovation, Gore has gone from failed presidential contender -- and a politician who at times gave new meaning to the word cardboard -- to the most unlikely of global celebrities.

Incredible as it may seem, Al Gore is not only totally carbon neutral, but geek-chic cool. No velvet rope can stop him. He rolls with Diddy. He is on first-name basis, for real, with Ludacris. But what does this mean? And how did it happen? Did Gore change? Or did the climate -- political, cultural, natural -- change around him?

In an e-mail exchange with The Goracle himself, "AG" typed to The Washington Post that the Oscar craziness and pageantry of the film premieres has been fun (his word) "but I'm old enough to know that a red carpet is just a rug, so I've been able to enjoy that part of it without losing perspective."...

"He is more popular now than he ever was in office, and he knows it," says Laurie David, one of the producers of "Inconvenient Truth" and a Hollywood environmental activist (and wife of "Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David) who has traveled around the world promoting the film with Gore. "He's a superhero now."

Before the film? He was more Willy Loman than Green Avenger. After his loss in 2000, a battered Gore began to schlep around the country, often solo, flying coach, giving his ever-evolving slide show about climate change, a threat that Gore, now 58, says he has felt strongly about since his Harvard days.

After the film? Says director Guggenheim, "Everywhere I go with him, they treat him like a rock star."

Guggenheim is not being hyperbolic. Take the Cannes Film Festival: Al Gore was mobbed. By French people. He was a presenter at the Grammy Awards, alongside Queen Latifah, where he got one of the biggest welcomes of the night. "Wow....I think they love you, man. You hear that?" the current Queen asked the former veep. Earlier this month, the ticket Web site at the University of Toronto crashed when 23,000 people signed on in three minutes to get a seat to hear Gore do his thing on the oceanic carbon cycle. At Boise State, Gore and his slide show sold out 10,000 seats at the Taco Bell Arena, reportedly "faster than Elton John."...

Gore worked the premieres in Edinburgh, Helsinki, Oslo, Stockholm, Sydney, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Zurich, Brussels, Berlin and Tokyo. In France, he not only attended the film opening, but presented his 90-minute Apple Keynote lecture to the National Assembly. He did the slide show at the United Nations, the American Geophysical Union, and before conservative activist Grover Norquist's regular Wednesday meeting.

"I am trying to reach out to people in every effective way that I can find," Gore wrote in his e-mail. "In the process, I have had the chance to work with really interesting people from all walks of life." Meaning: eggheads and rappers, movie moguls and prime ministers, and, recently, Bon Jovi. "So, pop culture is an important part of the message delivery system, but far from the only part."

Gore's book, based on the film, has sold 850,000 copies worldwide and translation rights for 24 languages. In Spain, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told Gore that the DVDs of the film would be shown in the public schools, following similar proclamations in Scotland and Norway. And speaking of Norway, earlier this month Gore was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his work to alert the world to the dangers of climate change...

Guggenheim explains: "People say to me that Al Gore is so different now. Why wasn't he like this when he ran for president?" Meaning that Gore now appears relaxed, confident, happy, and not stiff, robotic, pinched. "They say Al has changed. But I don't think so. We've changed. The setting has changed. He's the same. When you're running for office, you're a target every moment you are in front of the camera. Now, he's in a different place and we see him in a different way."

There might be something to this. Earlier this month in Los Angeles, accompanied by booming house techno bass beat, Gore announced his plan for a global "Live Earth" day of mega-concerts this summer, to be held simultaneously on all seven continents, with 100 of the world's most popular musical acts -- Snoop Dogg, Kelly Clarkson, Bon Jovi, Korn -- to promote awareness about climate change. Gore was surrounded by a grinning Cameron Diaz (she hugged him) and a nodding Pharrell Williams, the rap-producing impresario, and though Gore perhaps went on for a few paragraphs too long about how many tons of carbon a day are entering the oceans, the riser of international press and paparazzi were clearly gorging on the glamorama. Gore was his usual earnest self. A nerd? Maybe, but he was the nerd with Cameron and Pharrell, talking about the carbon cycle and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It was the mixology -- high-wattage celebrity and energy-efficient light bulbs -- that helps the medicine go down.

"Is being president better than this?" muses Simon Rosenberg, head of the New Democratic Network. "I think what Gore's figured out how to do is something that a lot of people want to do. He's living a life of great freedom and pursuing his interests, and he's having an impact on public policy. He's been able to start a bunch of companies and do the movie and he's got this great life right now."

"I agree" Gore typed, "that the Zeitgeist has begun to change. I think it reflects the increased popular will to confront and solve this crisis. It's an extraordinary experience to see this issue -- which the conventional wisdom used to say was politically marginal -- become central for so many people. As it should. I also think that people see candidates through a different lens, and that is a factor. But I also think there is at least a grain of truth to the old cliche that 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.' So maybe I've gotten a little stronger in the last six or seven years."

Gore is escaping the fate of most former politicians, says Matt Bennett, a consultant for Democrats who worked closely with Gore during his vice presidency. "Usually defeated -- or allegedly defeated -- party nominees become pariahs. Look at Mike Dukakis or John Kerry. Or they just go out to pasture like Bob Dole. Gore has pulled off a feat unknown in modern times, which is to completely rehabilitate his image in the public mind very quickly."

Bennett credits savvy handling by people around Gore, including the documentary-makers. And he says the world is catching up with Gore. "Look, this guy was a visionary. He was right about everything, even the stuff he was ridiculed for," Bennett says. "He was right about the Internet, he was right about the first Gulf War, he was sure as hell right about the Iraq war. And he was right about global warming."...

END of Excerpt

For the article in full: www.washingtonpost.com

ABC Star Ferrera Quips U.S. Won't Be
'Free' Until Bush Gone

As a presenter at Saturday's "Film Independent's Spirit Awards" carried live at 2pm PST/5pm EST on the Independent Film Channel (IFC), actress America Ferrera, the title role star of ABC's Ugly Betty, interjected a bit of political commentary suggesting the U.S. will not be "the land of the free" again until President Bush leaves office. Taking the stage inside a tent on the Santa Monica beach, Ferrera was joined by actor Zach Braff, a star on


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NBC's Scrubs, to present the award for the "Best First Feature." In the scripted exchange, Braff asked: "So do you think that you have any traits in common with the country that is your namesake?" Ferrera replied: "I guess I'm a free-spirited person and America's supposedly the 'land of the free,' right?" She then added, to loud applause from the left coast film industry audience: "Or at least we will be in 2008."

Of course, Ferrera needs to study up on the U.S. political system. The new President will not take office until 2009.

[This item was posted Saturday night, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org and the DrudgeReport picked it up on Sunday afternoon. The audio/video will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert. But in the meantime, to listen to the MP3 audio or to watch the Real or Windows Media video, go to: newsbusters.org ]

The Internet Movie Database's page on Ferrera: www.imdb.com

ABC's page for her Ugly Betty Character: abc.go.com

Film Independent's page for the awards: filmindependent.org

IFC's page for the awards show: spiritawardsonifc.bside.com

The awards ceremony re-aired twice for two hours in "edited" form on AMC, presumably meaning with advertisements and sans the vulgarities, at 10pm EST Saturday night and 9am EST Sunday morning.

The exchange at the February 24 event:

Zach Braff: "You know America, here's a little interesting tidbit you probably don't know about me. My middle name is Israel. We're both named after countries. "
America Ferrera: "Wow, that is interesting."
Braff: "So do you think that you have any traits in common with the country that is your namesake?"
Ferrera: "Well, you know, I mean I guess I'm a free-spirited person and America's supposedly the 'land of the free,' right?"
Braff: "Well, I guess."
Ferrera: "Or at least we will be in 2008." [loud applause] Well how about you, Zach, I mean do you have anything in common with Israel?"
Braff: "Let me see. Well, I'm predominantly Jewish, I'm very hot and all of my neighbors hate me. So yeah." [audience laughter]

According to IMDb's bio of Braff, his actual middle name is Ivan: www.imdb.com

-- Brent Baker