1. CBS's Logan Calls Ingraham's Iraq Coverage Criticism "Outrageous"
Appearing live from Baghdad on Sunday's Reliable Sources on CNN, CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan lashed back at critics who say Iraq war coverage is not giving enough prominence to positive developments and Newsweek's Richard Wolffe ominously warned of a "bias witch hunt." When host Howard Kurtz suggested "critics would say, 'well, no wonder people back home think things are falling apart in Iraq because we get this steady drumbeat of negativity from the correspondents there,'" Logan retorted: "Well, who says things aren't falling apart in Iraq?" She proceeded to recite the bad news she didn't report, such as "all the unidentified bodies that have been turning up." After a bite of conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham on NBC's Today urging journalists "to actually have a conversation with the people instead of reporting from hotel balconies about the latest IEDs going off," a clearly angry Logan expressed her contempt: "I think it's outrageous. I mean, Laura Ingraham should come to Iraq and not be talking about what journalists are doing from the comfort of her studio in the United States." Kurtz pointed out Ingraham was on Today because she had spent eight days in Iraq, to which Logan sniffed: "For eight days."
2. Bush Guilty of "Treason" for "Oil Profits" Before Global Warming
Bill Maher ended his HBO show Friday night, Real Time with Bill Maher, with a tirade about supposed efforts by the Bush administration to suppress information about global warming. Picking up on the allegations of NASA's James Hansen who was featured on 60 Minutes, Maher charged that "cowboy" Bush "and his corporate goons at the White House tried to censor Mr. Hansen from delivering" the message that carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced within ten years or a disastrous "tipping point" will be reached. Yes, Hansen was "censored" -- right onto the platform of an entire 60 Minutes segment devoted to his apocalyptic theories. Maher proceeded to level a serious accusation: "Failing to warn the citizens of a looming weapon of mass destruction -- and that's what global warming is -- in order to protect oil company profits, well that fits for me the definition of treason." Maher nefariously concluded: "We are letting dying men kill our planet for cash and they're counting on us being too greedy or distracted, or just plain lazy, to stop them..."
CBS's Logan Calls Ingraham's Iraq Coverage
She proceeded to recite the bad news she didn't report, such as "all the unidentified bodies that have been turning up." After a bite of conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham on NBC's Today urging journalists "to actually have a conversation with the people instead of reporting from hotel balconies about the latest IEDs going off," a clearly angry Logan expressed her contempt: "I think it's outrageous. I mean, Laura Ingraham should come to Iraq and not be talking about what journalists are doing from the comfort of her studio in the United States." Kurtz pointed out Ingraham was on Today because she had spent eight days in Iraq, to which Logan sniffed: "For eight days."
Newsweek reporter Richard Wolffe joined Kurtz in-studio in Washington, DC for the next segment and he, too, rejected the criticism of coverage and also didn't hesitate to impeach the integrity of the critics for going on a "bias witch hunt." Asked if those critics "want objective reporting?", Wolffe charged: "No, they don't. They want to replace one piece of bias with another. And that's what we should know about the sort of bias witch hunt that has been going on, not just about Iraq, but about politics and political reporting in general over the last 18 months or so."
The roundtable on Sunday's Meet the Press went 4 for 4 in scorning the criticism, with not one member of the group seeing any misjudgments from fellow journalists as Wall Street Journal political editor John Harwood encapsulated the group's position: "It's a very weak argument."
## Video clip, and audio too. After 10am EST Tuesday, check the posted version of this CyberAlert for 1:38 video clip, in both RealPlayer and Windows Media formats, as well as a MP3 audio clip, which the MRC's Michael Gibbons will post of Logan expressing her disdain for Ingraham.
March 22 CyberAlert recounted Ingraham's Today session: Appearing
on Tuesday's Today with James Carville, radio talk show host Laura
Ingraham colorfully, and much to the consternation of fill-in
co-host David Gregory who loudly disagreed with her as the two got
into an animated argument, criticized media coverage of Iraq: "The
Today show spends all this money to send people to the
|Olympics....All this money for 'Where In the World Is Matt Lauer?'
Bring the Today show to Iraq. Bring the Today show to Tal Afar. Do
the show from the 4th ID at Camp Victory and then when you talk to
those soldiers on the ground, when you go out with the Iraqi
military, when you talk to the villagers, when you see the
children, then I want NBC to report on only the IEDs, only the
killings, only, only the reprisals." Gregory shouted over her:
"Wait a minute Laura! Wait a second! If you want to be fair. First
of all the Today show went to Iraq. Matt Lauer was there, he
reported there." Yes, and in an embarrassing moment for NBC, a
soldier denounced media coverage.
For a full transcript, as well as a video and audio excerpt: www.mediaresearch.org
Now, back to the March 26 Reliable Sources on CNN. Asked by Kurtz about criticism of how journalists in Iraq don't report much about any positive developments, Lara Logan answered live from Baghdad on the 10am EST program:
"As a journalist, if an American soldier or an Iraqi person dies that day, you have to make a decision about how you weigh the value of reporting that news over the value of something that may be happening, say, a water plant that's being turned on that brings fresh water to 200 Iraqi people. I mean, you get accused of valuing human life in a certain way depending on how you report it. And also, as -- I mean, what I would point out is that you can't travel around this country anymore without military protection. You can't travel without armed guards. You're not free to go every time there's a school opening or there's some reconstruction project that's being done. We don't have the ability to go out and cover those.
"If they want to see a fair picture of what's happening in Iraq, then you have to first start with the security issue. When journalists are free to move around this country, then they will be free to report on everything that's going on. But as long as you're a prisoner of the terrible security situation here, then that's going to be reflected in your coverage. And not only that, but their own figures show that their reconstruction project was supposed to create 1.5 million Iraqi jobs. To date, 77,000 Iraqi government jobs have been created. That should give you an indication of how far along they are in terms of reconstruction. We have to put everything in its context. We can't go to one small unit and say, oh, they did a great job in this village and ignore all the other villages that haven't seen any improvement in their conditions."
Kurtz challenged her: "There is no question that the dangerous conditions for journalists there are making it much harder to report on some of these signs of progress, as you point out. But I look at just the last couple of weeks of your coverage. Besides covering the Saddam trial, you reported on allegations that U.S. troops had killed a group of civilians. You reported an attack on a police station, the bombing of a police convoy, you talked about the threat of a civil war. All legitimate stories. But critics would say, well, no wonder people back home think things are falling apart in Iraq because we get this steady drumbeat of negativity from the correspondents there."
Logan gave no ground: "Well, who says things aren't falling apart in Iraq? I mean, what you didn't see on your screens this week was all the unidentified bodies that have been turning up, all the allegations here of militias that are really controlling the security forces. What about all the American soldiers that died this week that you didn't see on our screens? I mean, we've reported on reconstruction stories over and over again, but the auditor general for Iraqi reconstruction says that only 49 of well over 100 planned electricity projects happened.
"So we can't keep doing the same stories over and over again. When a police station's attacked, that's something new that happened this week. If you had any idea of the number of Iraqis that come to us with stories about abuses of U.S. soldiers and you look at our coverage, my coverage, over the last few weeks, or even over the last three years, there's been maybe two or three stories that have related to that. So, I mean, we have to do the stories that when we've tested them and tested them and checked all our sources, and that they are legitimate stories on that day, that that is the biggest news coming out of Iraq, then that's what we have to do."
Kurtz: "So what you're saying-"
Logan: "I mean, I really resent the fact that people say that we're not reflecting the true picture here. That's totally unfair and it's really unfounded."
Kurtz: "So what you're saying is that what we see on the CBS Evening News or other networks actually is only a snapshot, is only perhaps scratching the surface of the kinds of violence and difficulties that you are witnessing day after day because you can only get so much of this on the air?"
Logan: "Oh, yes. Absolutely. And, I mean, our own -- you know, our own editors back in New York are asking us the same things. They read the same comments. You know, are there positive stories? Can you find them? You don't think that I haven't been to the U.S. military and the State Department and the embassy and asked them over and over again, let's see the good stories, show us some of the good things that are going on? 'Oh, sorry, we can't take to you that school project, because if you put that on TV, they're going to be attacked about, the teachers are going to be killed, the children might be victims of attack.' 'Oh, sorry, we can't show this reconstruction project because then that's going to expose it to sabotage. And the last time we had journalists down here, the plant was attacked.'
"I mean, security dominates every single thing that happens in this country. Reconstruction funds have been diverted to cover away from reconstruction to, they've been diverted to security. Soldiers, their lives are occupied most of the time with security issues. Iraqi civilians' lives are taken up most of the time with security issues. So how it is that security issues should not then dominate the media coverage coming out of here?"
Kurtz moved on to Ingraham's appearance on the March 21 Today: "I want to play for you a piece of tape involving Laura Ingraham, the conservative radio talk show how who was on the Today show earlier this week and criticized the Today show for not doing more from Iraq. Let's listen to what she had to say."
Laura Ingraham on NBC's Today, March 21: "To do a show from Iraq means to talk to the Iraqi military, to go out with the Iraqi military, to actually have a conversation with the people instead of reporting from hotel balconies about the latest IEDs going off."
Kurtz: "What do you make of that comment about reporting from hotel balconies?"
Logan dripped with disdain: "Well, I think it's outrageous. I mean, Laura Ingraham should come to Iraq and not be talking about what journalists are doing from the comfort of her studio in the United States, the comfort and the safety. I mean, I don't know any journalist that wants to just sit in a hotel room in Iraq. Does anybody understand that for us we used to be able to drive to Ramadi, we used to drive to Falluja, we used to drive to Najaf. We could travel all over this country without having to fly in military helicopters. That's the only way we can move around here. So, it's when the military can accommodate us, if the military can accommodate us, then we can go out and see.
"I have been out with Iraqi security forces over and over again. And you know what? When Bob Woodruff was out with Iraqi security forces and he was injured, the first thing that people were asking was, oh, was he being responsible by placing himself in this position with Iraqi forces? And they started to question his responsibility and integrity as a journalist. I mean, we just can't win. I think it's an outrage to point the finger at journalists and say that this is our fault. I really do. And I think it shows an abject lack of respect for any journalist that's prepared to come to this country and risk their life. And that's not just me. That's the crews, that's all the people that make up our teams here."
Kurtz: "I do want to point out that Laura Ingraham was in Iraq last month for eight days, and that was part of the reason for her appearance. Lara Logan, stay with us. I want to bring in-"
Logan sniffed: "For eight days."
(Logan soon complained about how reporters are criticized from all sides, citing attacks on her, presumably from the left, for a her story on the success in ridding Tal Afar of al-Qaeda. That story ran on the March 12 60 Minutes: www.cbsnews.com )
In the next segment, Kurtz brought aboard Pam Hess of UPI and Richard Wolffe of Newsweek. Kurtz inquired: "Richard Wolffe, the people who complain that the coverage of Iraq is bias -- and there are a lot of them out there, do they want objective reporting?"
Wolffe maintained: "No, they don't. They want to replace one piece of bias with another. And that's what we should know about the sort of bias witch hunt that has been going on, not just about Iraq, but about politics and political reporting in general over the last 18 months or so. If they were defending objective reporting, they would say, let's uphold journalistic standards that many journalists, by and large, want to support and perform and execute every day. In fact, what they're saying is, no, set aside the violence and just deal with the positive things. It's not a reporter's job-"
Kurtz: "I don't think they're saying just deal with the positive aspects."
Wolffe: "They are saying that the balance is wrong and they want to see us doing things that advance a cause. Our job is not to advance a cause. Our job is to report on what's newsworthy. Why do cable shows talk about the murder of pretty young women and not about positive things in life like childbirth or cooking? Why? Because what grabs people's attention is violence and murder. It's a fact of life."
An hour before, on NBC's Meet the Press, Tim Russert's roundtable guests all rejected as baseless the criticism of Iraq coverage.
Russert set up the segment: "Let me turn to Iraq. A big discussion in our country about Iraq, the way the issue is being covered by the media. Vice President Cheney last Sunday made these comments: 'There's a constant sort of perception, if you will, that's created because what's newsworthy is the car bomb in Baghdad. It's not all the work that went on that day in 15 other provinces in terms of making progress towards rebuilding Iraq.' Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld weighed in: 'The terrorists seem to recognize that they are losing in Iraq. I believe that history will show that to be the case. Fortunately, history is not made up of daily headlines, blogs on Web sites or the latest sensational attack.'
"And then this Wednesday, President Bush went to a town meeting in West Virginia of his supporters, and here's one of the questions that was asked:"
Video of woman at March 22 event in Wheeling: "And I ask you this from the bottom of my heart, for a solution to this, because it seems that our major media networks don't want to portray the good. They just want to focus-" (drowned out by applause)
President Bush: "OK, hold on a second."
Woman: "They just want to focus on another car bomb, or they just want to focus on some more bloodshed."
Russert: "Does that issue work, that it's the mainstream media that's distorting the good news that's coming out of Iraq?"
Political analyst Charlie Cook: "I think it helps with the Republican base, but I don't think it helps with swing voters at all. First of all, it's the nature of news. I mean on the evening news at night, a car that isn't in Iraq isn't in the news -- the house that doesn't burn, a building that doesn't burn, a killing that doesn't take place. News is when, is the aberration, is the change from normalcy. Secondly, this, 80 journalists so far have been killed over there. I mean it, it's, it's, I mean, getting out there and looking around, wandering around Iraq, looking for good news? Sounds to me like a good way to get killed.
"And then the third thing is, I don't know if they really want to try to sell this, because people don't think that, that, that everything's fine. I mean, I think this is just an extenuation of holding up the banner that says 'Mission Accomplished.' I mean, people don't think it's well, they can see that it's not going well. And what happens in 15 provinces doesn't matter. What, if they think that this thing is just really going to hell in a hand basket, it's kind of, I mean that's what, you know, that's that."
Russert: "David Broder?"
David Broder of the Washington Post: "The ombudsman at the Post, Deborah Howell, has a very thoughtful analysis of this whole question in the paper today, which I would refer people to. I think the answer is that when there is this level of violence and turmoil in a country, that has to be the heart of the story that the press is, is telling. The other parts of it do get told, but they do not dominate the news and they can't dominate the news given the realities of that country." (For Howell's March 26 column: www.washingtonpost.com )
John Harwood, Wall Street Journal political editor: "Nor should they dominate the news. It's a very weak argument. When, when you have, as Charlie said, journalists over there who cannot move around the country to report because they know that, that they're in danger of being killed at any moment, that tells you about the state of security in the country. It's not good."
Russert: "The White House?"
Elisabeth Bumiller, New York Times reporter: "The other thing that's interesting, what you didn't show was the President's response to her. I was there that day, and he was very, very careful not to jump on her bandwagon. In fact, I mean, obviously, he didn't have to, she did it for him. But the point is he said, 'Look, wait a minute. You know, I understand your frustration, but we have a free press in this country, we can't tell them what to do.' He pulled back somewhat from her comment. And I think you're right, Charlie, that they aren't -- they know they can't sell this, and when they've tried in the past, it has backfired on them."
Russert: "But the President also said don't be afraid to go to blogs and find out some more information."
Bumiller: "Yes. I mean, I mean, I'm, I'm, these are gradations here, I mean, in White House response."
Russert: "But is the White House convinced that in order to secure the base of the Republican Party for the President, it doesn't hurt to go after the media a little bit?"
Bumiller: "Not, of course not. They do it all the time. And, and they complain all the time about, about, about what we do. But, but I have noticed this past week Scott McClellan saying, the White House press secretary, you know, 'We're not blaming the media for the war in Iraq.' He said that a couple times this week, and so, so it, it's, they're again, they're being a little more careful here than usual."
Bush Guilty of "Treason" for "Oil Profits"
Before Global Warming
Bill Maher ended his HBO show Friday night, Real Time with Bill Maher, with a tirade about supposed efforts by the Bush administration to suppress information about global warming. Picking up on the allegations of NASA's James Hansen who was featured on last Sunday's 60 Minutes, Maher charged that "cowboy" Bush "and his corporate goons at the White House tried to censor Mr. Hansen from delivering" the message that carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced within ten years or a disastrous "tipping point" will be reached. Maher then quipped: "This from the crowd that rushed into a war based on an article in The Weekly Standard." Yes, Hansen was "censored" -- right onto the platform of an entire 60 Minutes segment devoted to his apocalyptic theories.
Maher proceeded to level a serious accusation: "Failing to warn the citizens of a looming weapon of mass destruction -- and that's what global warming is -- in order to protect oil company profits, well that fits for me the definition of treason." Maher nefariously concluded: "We are letting dying men kill our planet for cash and they're counting on us being too greedy or distracted, or just plain lazy, to stop them. So on this day, the 17th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, let us pause to consider how close we are to making ourselves fossils from the fossil fuels we extract."
[This item was posted Saturday morning on the MRC's blog. NewsBusters.org. See: newsbusters.org ]
HBO's page for Real Time with Bill Maher: www.hbo.com
The CBSNews.com re-cap of the March 19 60 Minutes which Maher touted: www.cbsnews.com
From the end of his live March 24 show at 11pm EST, the full text of Maher's last "New Rule" item, a comedy feature in which he proposes humorous rules to fix a series of things which annoy him and then elaborates on the final topic with two or three minutes of serious commentary sprinkled with a few one-liners:
"And finally, 'New Rule,' nobody can use the phrase 'our greatest problem' anymore unless you're talking about global warming [applause]. President Bush has been saying we're in 'a war on terror' and now I get it: He's not saying 'terror,' he's saying 'terra,' as in terra firma, as in the Earth. George Bush is an alien sent here to destroy the Earth [laughter and applause]. I know it sounds crazy, but it made perfect sense when Tom Cruise explained it to me last week.
"Now last week on 60 Minutes, James Hansen, who is NASA's leading expert on the science of climate, delivered the world's most important message. He said, 'we have to, in the next ten years, begin to decrease the rate of carbon dioxide emissions and then flatten it out.' If that doesn't happen in ten years, we're going to be passing certain tipping points. If the ice sheets begin to disintegrate, what can you do about it? You can't tie a rope around an ice sheet -- although I know a certain cowboy from Crawford who might think you could.
"And that cowboy and his corporate goons at the White House tried to censor Mr. Hansen from delivering that message, claiming such warnings were 'speculative.' This from the crowd that rushed into a war based on an article in The Weekly Standard [applause.] This from the guy who thinks Kyoto is that Japanese Emperor dude his dad threw up on [laughter].
"Global warming is not speculative. It threatens us enough so it should be considered a national security issue. Failing to warn the citizens of a looming weapon of mass destruction -- and that's what global warming is -- in order to protect oil company profits, well that fits for me the definition of treason and codified treason [applause]. The guy in the White House who made the edits was Phil Cooney, who had been an oil industry lobbyist before given this job as head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. That's the office that is supposed to be watching out for us. But that's where Phil busied himself crossing stuff out in scientists' reports because apparently in Phil's mind he hadn't switched jobs. He was just doing his old job -- oil industry lobbyist -- from a different office. You know, in the people's house.
"Republicans have succeeded in making the environment about some tie-died dude from Seattle who lives is a solar-powered yurt and eats twigs. It's not. This issue should be driven by something conservatives are much more familiar with: utter selfishness. That's my motivation. I don't want to live my golden years having to put on a haz-mat suit just to go down and get the mail. Those are my Viagra years [laughter] when I'll be thinking about having children. But I wouldn't know what to tell a kid about our world in twenty years. 'Dad, tell me about the birds and bees.' 'They're all gone, now eat your soylent green.'
"We are letting dying men kill our planet for cash and they're counting on us being too greedy or distracted, or just plain lazy, to stop them. So on this day, the 17th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, let us pause to consider how close we are to making ourselves fossils from the fossil fuels we extract. In the next twenty years, almost a billion Chinese people will be trading in their bicycles for the automobile. Folks, we either get our shit together on this quickly, or we're going to have to go to Plan B: Inventing a car that runs on Chinese people!" [laughter]
-- Brent Baker