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CBS's 'freeSpeech' on Couric's 2nd Day: Amnesty for Illegals --9/7/2006


1. CBS's 'freeSpeech' on Couric's 2nd Day: Amnesty for Illegals
A night after giving its "freeSpeech" platform over to the liberal Morgan Spurlock to gripe about the lack of "civil discourse," the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric on Wednesday employed the feature to help plug a Thursday protest in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants. CBS put a soft and sympathetic edge on the topic by showcasing a Los Angeles Times reporter, Sonia Nazario, concerned about mothers in the U.S. separated from their kids south of the border. Couric set up Nazario by pointing out how, on Thursday in DC, there would be "a demonstration in favor of amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants." The "freeSpeech" segment, Couric explained, would focus "on mothers who come here illegally, and the children they leave behind."

2. Bush Earns Rare Respect from Reporters: 'Clever Jujitsu,' 'Deft'
President Bush's announcement Wednesday, that he wants military tribunals for al-Qaeda operatives he's moved from secret sites to Guantanamo Bay, drew some unusual respect from top broadcast network stars, particularly ABC's George Stephanopoulos and CBS's Bob Schieffer, for its political cleverness. Stephanopoulos declared on World News with Charles Gibson: "Here the administration took an admission, and a mandate from the Supreme Court, and turned it into a powerful political statement. That's some clever jujitsu there." Over on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, ex-anchor Schieffer told his replacement: "Well, he was very deft in how he did this, Katie....The President stressed the benefits from this program, he talked about how much information they'd gotten from these people..."

3. On Senate Floor, Reid Quotes Olbermann's Denouncement of Rumsfeld
Keith Olbermann's ongoing campaign against the Bush administration is now resonating so well with liberals, Democratic leaders in Washington are starting to quote the MSNBC host publicly. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid was so impressed with Olbermann's August 30 attack on Donald Rumsfeld for a speech in which the Defense Secretary referred to the appeasement of Nazis before World War II, the Democratic leader read from Olbermann's comments while making a speech on the Senate floor. In turn, Olbermann was so proud of this recognition that he played a clip of Reid's speech during the "Top Three Sound Bites" segment on Wednesday's Countdown show.

4. NBC's Gregory and Lauer Advance Democratic Talking Points
David Gregory, just scolded the day before by White House Press Secretary Tony Snow for advancing Democratic talking points, pushed them again, along with Matt Lauer, on Wednesday's Today show. Gregory repeated Democratic attacks on Donald Rumsfeld: "Critics have a long list of complaints against Rumsfeld. The abuse at Abu Ghraib and his role in advocating tougher treatment of prisoners. Underestimating troop levels for the war. And what critics call his arrogance in the face of bad news, like this response two-years ago to a soldier complaining about inadequate armor." Lauer then followed Gregory's lead, pounding Senate Majority Bill Frist on the Secretary of Defense. Lauer repeatedly interrupted Frist with anti-Rumsfeld questions.

5. NBC Reporter Agrees With Green Fears About New Oil Discovery
Leave it to the Today show to find the negative side of good economic news. Reporting Wednesday on the discovery of the largest oil finding in the Gulf of Mexico, NBC's Martin Savidge forwarded the green spin as he worried "the discovery will hardly make a dent in America's reliance on foreign oil" and "it might cause Americans to stop conserving." Savidge concluded that "the environmentalists might have a point. You see as a nation we consume 5.7 billion barrels of oil every single year. That means this discovery as big as it is by itself would only last the country less than three years."


CBS's 'freeSpeech' on Couric's 2nd Day:
Amnesty for Illegals

A night after giving its "freeSpeech" platform over to the liberal Morgan Spurlock to gripe about the lack of "civil discourse," the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric on Wednesday employed the feature to help plug a Thursday protest in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants. CBS put a soft and sympathetic edge on the topic by showcasing a Los Angeles Times reporter, Sonia Nazario, concerned about mothers in the U.S. separated from their kids south of the border. Couric set up Nazario by pointing out how, on Thursday in DC, there would be "a demonstration in favor of amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants." The "freeSpeech" segment, Couric explained, would focus "on mothers who come here illegally, and the children they leave behind."

Nazario began: "If we are going to start to solve our immigration problem and stay true to our family values, we need to understand the plight of hundreds of thousands of mothers now in the U.S. and the children they felt forced to leave behind in Central America. It's a humanitarian crisis." Nazario is the author of Enrique's Journey: The Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother. Page for her book: www.enriquesjourney.com

[This item was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Couric introduced the segment: "Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said today Congress is not likely to act this year on immigration reform, but that's probably not going to stop thousands of people from showing up in Mall in Washington tomorrow for a demonstration in favor of amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants. Tonight in our new 'freeSpeech' segment, where we invite a variety of Americans to give their two cents on issues they care about, the focus is on mothers who come here illegally, and the children they leave behind. The speaker is Sonia Nazario, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter from the Los Angeles Times."

Sonia Nazario's commentary:
"If we are going to start to solve our immigration problem and stay true to our family values, we need to understand the plight of hundreds of thousands of mothers now in the U.S. and the children they felt forced to leave behind in Central America. It's a humanitarian crisis. What you probably don't realize is that each year, tens of thousands of Central American immigrants make a perilous journey clinging to the tops of freight trains to reach the U.S. Some of them are women -- single moms so desperate to feed their hungry children that they take them to garbage dumps to search for food.
"Many ultimately make a heartrending choice: they leave their children behind with a grandparent and head north, promising to return in two years-max. But once here, they struggle in low-paying jobs. What little they have they send to their kids. But they can't save enough to return home or to pay smugglers to get their children here. Many children feel abandoned and resent -- even hate -- their mothers for leaving them. The mothers often lose what is most important: the love of their child.
"Everyone favors a more secure border. But that won't keep desperate mothers out of our country or keep them and their children from trying to reunite. Walls will never stop them.
"What we need to do is find ways to help Central American countries create more jobs so these women never have to leave their children. That's the only way we will slow a modern day exodus that's destroying families and taxing America."

After Nazario's segment, Couric reminded viewers that Rush Limbaugh will have the "freeSpeech" slot on Thursday night -- and CBS plugged it in a bumper going into the next ad break.

The CBSNews.com page for its "freeSpeech" segment: www.cbsnews.com

Bush Earns Rare Respect from Reporters:
'Clever Jujitsu,' 'Deft'

President Bush's announcement Wednesday, that he wants military tribunals for al-Qaeda operatives he's moved from secret sites to Guantanamo Bay, drew some unusual respect from top broadcast network stars, particularly ABC's George Stephanopoulos and CBS's Bob Schieffer, for its political cleverness. Stephanopoulos declared on World News with Charles Gibson: "Here the administration took an admission, and a mandate from the Supreme Court, and turned it into a powerful political statement. That's some clever jujitsu there." Over on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, ex-anchor Schieffer told his replacement: "Well, he was very deft in how he did this, Katie....The President stressed the benefits from this program, he talked about how much information they'd gotten from these people..."

NBC's Tim Russert also employed the "jujitsu" term, but not in such an admiring way as he recalled how Democrats "remember after September 11th the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, a Democratic idea. The President opposed it. He then took it, jujitsu, and drove it and ran against Democrats in the midterm elections, of 2002, successfully." Russert also passed along how Nancy Pelosi oddly charged: "The last time we saw a picture of Donald Rumsfeld, he was shaking Saddam Hussein's hand."

There's nothing on Pelosi's Web site posted this week with any such comment by Pelosi: democraticleader.house.gov

[This item was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Brief transcripts from September 6:

# ABC's World News with Charles Gibson:
Charles Gibson, overlooking White House: "George, we've talked in the last couple of nights of the political implications of the series of speeches that the President is making on the war on terror. Is this one political, too?"
George Stephanopoulos, on Capitol Hill: "Well, it certainly will have some political consequences again. And it was really interesting Charlie, here the administration took an admission, and a mandate from the Supreme Court, and turned it into a powerful political statement. That's some clever jujitsu there. And what we can see now is that the White House clearly has a very well thought out disciplined plan to own the air waves on these national security issues, at least through the anniversary of 9/11."


# CBS Evening News with Katie Couric:
Katie Couric: "I know, Bob, you believe this is a major change in policy for the Bush administration, but the President has gone about this quite artfully. How so?"
Bob Schieffer, from DC: "Well, he was very deft in how he did this, Katie. And there's no question about it. The President stressed the benefits from this program, he talked about how much information they'd gotten from these people, he said that the CIA had never tortured any of these people. He never used the term 'prison.' This is a real change for the administration."


# NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams:
Brian Williams: "The White House is openly wanting to take ownership of the entire issue of national security. If you're the Democrats, what can you do about this?"
Tim Russert, at the anchor desk with Williams: "They remember after September 11th the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, a Democratic idea. The President opposed it. He then took it, jujitsu, and drove it and ran against Democrats in the midterm elections, of 2002, successfully. The Democrats today said, the leader of the Senate, 'five years later we haven't had a conviction yet. Finally, Mr. President.' Nancy Pelosi said, 'let's go work together in a bipartisan way.' Then she said, 'what about Donald Rumsfeld and what about Iraq? And the last time we saw a picture of Donald Rumsfeld, he was shaking Saddam Hussein's hand.' We're going to have the administration talking about the war on terror, Democrats talking about Iraq. But the Democrats realize they should try to reach some accommodation because they don't want to be on the losing end of this debate."

On Senate Floor, Reid Quotes Olbermann's
Denouncement of Rumsfeld

Keith Olbermann's ongoing campaign against the Bush administration is now resonating so well with liberals, Democratic leaders in Washington are starting to quote the MSNBC host publicly. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid was so impressed with Olbermann's August 30 attack on Donald Rumsfeld for a speech in which the Defense Secretary referred to the appeasement of Nazis before World War II, the Democratic leader read from Olbermann's comments while making a speech on the Senate floor. In turn, Olbermann was so proud of this recognition that he played a clip of Reid's speech during the "Top Three Sound Bites" segment on Wednesday's Countdown show.

[This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Olbermann announced on the September 6 Countdown: "Time now for Countdown's 'Top Three Sound Bites' of the day. Listen closely."
Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader, on the Senate floor: "Keith Olbermann of NBC observed after Rumsfeld's comments as follows, Keith Olbermann, I quote, 'His speech did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence, indeed the loyalty of the majority of Americans who opposed the transient occupants of the highest offices-'"

The August 31 CyberAlert article (with video), "Olbermann Blasts Rumsfeld as a 'Quack' Pushing 'Fascism,'" recounted:
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Wednesday night used his Countdown show to deliver a vitriolic personal attack on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, "a reality check of Donald Rumsfeld's incendiary speech, a special comment on his attack on your right to disagree." Olbermann concluded his program with a six-minute diatribe against Rumsfeld: "The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack. Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet." Olbermann equated the Bush administration with "the English government of Neville Chamberlain" which "knew that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated." The MSNBC star charged, "The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought." The U.S., Olbermann asserted before concluding with Edward R. Murrow's "we must not confuse dissent with disloyalty," now "faces a new type of fascism." See: www.mediaresearch.org

NBC's Gregory and Lauer Advance Democratic
Talking Points

David Gregory, just scolded the day before by White House Press Secretary Tony Snow for advancing Democratic talking points, pushed them again, along with Matt Lauer, on Wednesday's Today show. Gregory repeated Democratic attacks on Donald Rumsfeld: "Critics have a long list of complaints against Rumsfeld. The abuse at Abu Ghraib and his role in advocating tougher treatment of prisoners. Underestimating troop levels for the war. And what critics call his arrogance in the face of bad news, like this response two-years ago to a soldier complaining about inadequate armor."

(See the September 6 CyberAlert item, "Snow Hits NBC's Gregory for Forwarding Democratic Talking Points," at: www.mrc.org )

Lauer then followed Gregory's lead, pounding Senate Majority Bill Frist on the Secretary of Defense. Lauer repeatedly interrupted Frist with anti-Rumsfeld questions.

[This item, by Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Wednesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Lauer's questions to Frist, on the September 6 Today, about Rumsfeld:

-- "Let's talk about this letter that Senate Democrats or congressional Democrats sent to the President on Monday. Among other things they called for him to fire Donald Rumsfeld. They're even asking for a non-binding resolution of 'no confidence,' on the Defense Secretary. You gonna allow that to come to a vote, up or down, or are you gonna block it?"

-- "So Senator if you were involved in a hotly contested run for reelection, which you are not, would you be out on the campaign trail embracing Donald Rumsfeld or would you, like Chris Shays and Joanne Davis and Tom Kean Jr., just move away from him?"

-- "The President's been out making speeches. One of the main themes of the speech is, Senator, is connecting the war in Iraq to the overall war on terror. You know there are a lot of people who simply don't buy the connection, in fact they find the war in Iraq to be a distraction for the overall war on terror and others who say, okay if it is a front in the war on terror it's only one because we created such a mess in Iraq that we've allowed it to become a haven for terrorists. How do you respond to that?"

After Lauer was done roasting Frist over Rumsfeld and the war he moved on to Howard Dean talking point #2, the Republicans' inability to get anything done:
Lauer: "Alright we're, we're about, we got about a month left in what has been I, I think by some accounts a less than stellar session in the Senate. Only one of 13 spending bills has been passed, social security reform went nowhere, immigration reform went nowhere, lobbying reform went nowhere and yet before the August break you guys were down there talking about things like gay marriage and, and flag-burning. Have you and your colleagues, Senator, done the work in Washington in this session that the voters put you there to do?"

Lauer didn't waste anytime striking the anti-Rumsfeld tone as he opened show with the following teaser:
"Good morning, tough talk. President Bush makes another major speech today about the war on terror while Democrats and some Republicans wage a war of their own to oust Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld...And when you stop and think about it, midterm elections just two weeks, two months away and the President's Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is feeling the heat from all sides. Democrats calling for a 'no confidence,' vote, even some Republicans are piling on. So should he stay? We'll talk about that with the Majority Leader in the Senate, Bill Frist, coming up."

The following is a complete transcript of Gregory's set-up piece, followed by all of Lauer's questions to Frist:

Ann Curry: "On Close Up this morning Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The President stands behind him but there are increasing calls for him to be sent packing. Here's NBC's chief White House correspondent David Gregory."

David Gregory: "He's not on the ballot but Don Rumsfeld is a major target for the Democrats' anger this fall. In the Senate they want his resignation."
Sen. Barbara Boxer: "Time and time again he's been wrong about Iraq and time and time again he's responded to his own mistakes by playing politics and attacking the American people and their patriotism."
Gregory: "Even some Republicans have been sharply critical."
Sen. John McCain: "The President has a right to pick his team. I've been asked a number of times if I had confidence in Secretary Rumsfeld and the answer is no."
Gregory: "As for the brash 74-year-old Defense chief he is not backing down. Just last week he raised the volume in the Iraq debate by comparing war critics to those who gave ground to Nazi Germany in the '30s."
Donald Rumsfeld: "Can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?"
Gregory: "At the White House sources acknowledge that Rumsfeld is a political distraction but they add that even this week the President was just as adamant in his support for Rumsfeld as he was earlier this year."
George W. Bush: "But I'm the decider and I decide what is best and what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the Secretary of Defense."
Sen. Mitch McConnell: "They want to attack Rumsfeld because they apparently don't have the courage to stand up and offer amendments to implement what they'd really like to do, which is to get out."
Gregory: "Critics have a long list of complaints against Rumsfeld. The abuse at Abu Ghraib and his role in advocating tougher treatment of prisoners. Underestimating troop levels for the war. And what critics call his arrogance in the face of bad news, like this response two-years ago to a soldier complaining about inadequate armor."
Rumsfeld: "You go to war with the army you have."
Gregory: "Still White House sources say firing Rumsfeld would be an admission of a major mistake. CNBC's John Harwood."
John Harwood: "For Bush to fire Don Rumsfeld right now would be to acknowledge publicly that the central effort of his presidency is failing and there's no sign the President's there right now."
Gregory: "That leaves Don Rumsfeld in charge but under fire. For Today, David Gregory, NBC News, the White House."

Matt Lauer: "Tennessee Republican Bill Frist is the Senate Majority Leader. Senator Frist, good morning, nice to have you here."
[Sen. Bill Frist]
[Graphic: Can the GOP Hold Congress?]
Lauer: "Let's talk about this letter that Senate Democrats or congressional Democrats sent to the President on Monday. Among other things they called for him to fire Donald Rumsfeld. They're even asking for a non-binding resolution of 'no confidence,' on the Defense Secretary. You gonna allow that to come to a vote, up or down, or are you gonna block it?"
[Frist]
Lauer: "Right."
[Frist]
Lauer: "So Senator if you were involved in a hotly contested run for reelection, which you are not, would you be out on the campaign trail embracing Donald Rumsfeld or would you, like Chris Shays and Joanne Davis and Tom Kean Jr., just move away from him?"
[Frist]
Lauer: "The President's been out making speeches. One of the main themes of the speech is, Senator, is connecting the war in Iraq to the overall war on terror. You know there are a lot of people who simply don't buy the connection, in fact they find the war in Iraq to be a distraction for the overall war on terror and others who say, okay if it is a front in the war on terror it's only one because we created such a mess in Iraq that we've allowed it to become a haven for terrorists. How do you respond to that?"
[Frist]
Lauer: "As a matter of fact the President, 17 times, mentioned Bin Laden's name and even used a quote from him saying that Bin Laden has said that Iraq is, quote, 'the capital of the Caliphate,' and, and you agree with that?"
[Frist]
Lauer: "Alright we're, we're about, we got about a month left in what has been I, I think by some accounts a less than stellar session in the Senate. Only one of 13 spending bills has been passed, social security reform went nowhere, immigration reform went nowhere, lobbying reform went nowhere and yet before the August break you guys were down there talking about things like gay marriage and, and flag-burning. Have you and your colleagues, Senator, done the work in Washington in this session that the voters put you there to do?"
[Frist]
Lauer: "On, on the-"
[Frist]
Lauer: "On the subject of immigration reform, you said on this show on May 24th of this year, 'the problem is too big with millions of people coming across the border with hundreds dying as they come across the border with 12 million people here illegally, we as a governing body cannot simply turn and look the other way and say we're not going to do anything about it.' That was four months ago. What have you done about it?"
[Frist]
Lauer: "Can you, can you hammer out some kind of negotiation with the House on this before the midterm elections?"
[Frist]
Lauer: "Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Senator Frist always good to have you here. Thank you very much."
[Frist]
Lauer: "And a programming note. Today MSNBC and MSNBC.com will kick off the fall political season with all day special coverage. It's called Decision 2006: Battleground America. It will focus on the hottest races of the year. Tim Russert gets it started this morning, it will continue all day with NBC's top political team."

NBC Reporter Agrees With Green Fears
About New Oil Discovery

Leave it to the Today show to find the negative side of good economic news. Reporting Wednesday on the discovery of the largest oil finding in the Gulf of Mexico, NBC's Martin Savidge forwarded the green spin as he worried "the discovery will hardly make a dent in America's reliance on foreign oil" and "it might cause Americans to stop conserving." Savidge concluded that "the environmentalists might have a point. You see as a nation we consume 5.7 billion barrels of oil every single year. That means this discovery as big as it is by itself would only last the country less than three years."

[This item was adopted from a Wednesday afternoon NewsBusters posting by Geoffrey Dickens: newsbusters.org ]

The following is the full September 6 segment introduced by Ann Curry:

Ann Curry: "Now to Today At the Pump and a major oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico. The average price of unleaded gas, nationwide, is now $2.72 a gallon according to the AAA. A steady drop over the last few weeks but drivers everywhere are wondering if the price of gas will drop even further with what could be the largest domestic oil find in 38 years. NBC's Martin Savidge has more on the potential of this new find. Hey Martin, good morning."

Martin Savidge: "Good morning, Ann. There is no question that this discovery is generating a lot excitement but it's going to be a long time before that black gold makes it to a refinery like this one to become gasoline for our cars. It's the biggest oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico ever. And possibly the largest in America since Prudhoe Bay in Alaska back in the 70s. A test well called Jack II. It's 175 miles off the coast of Louisiana and oil companies say it could hold billions of barrels."
John Richels, Devon Energy: "There are some estimates that say that, that this could, this trend, in the industry could hold up to 15 barrels of oil potentially."
Savidge: "If true that would boost America's oil reserves by 50 percent but if that has you dreaming of a return to cheap gas any time soon, keep dreaming."
Pete Ricciuti, Tulane University: "It's not gonna help you get to the, the grocery store any cheaper. This is oil that's gonna take six to 10 years to get to the gas pump. So it's affect on the short term basis is really pretty minimal."
Savidge: "At the earliest experts say it will be 2010 before the oil makes it to the pump and because it's so deep, over 5 miles down in the Gulf, just getting it up could cost billions."
Paul Siegel, Chevron: "We've got a lot of exploration left to be done here and this is very good news for us."
Savidge: "And the optimism reached Wall Street. The price of a barrel of crude dropped and oil stocks rose. But others say the discovery will hardly make a dent in America's reliance on foreign oil and environmentalists fear it might cause Americans to stop conserving."
Jim Presswood, Natural Resources Defense Council: "The way to break our addiction to oil is not by getting more of the stuff we're addicted to but rather finding alternative sources of fuel."
Savidge: "And the environmentalists might have a point. You see as a nation we consume 5.7 billion barrels of oil every single year. That means this discovery as big as it is by itself would only last the country less than three years. Ann."

-- Brent Baker