2. Newsweek's Alter: "Corrupt Zealot" DeLay, "Fringe" Running House
3. Koppel and MSNBC's Kaplan Heap Praise on Rather, Belittle Critics
4. WPost Insider: Colleagues "Cheer Unabashedly for the Democrats"
5. "Top Ten Signs Your Supreme Court Pick Isn't Qualified"
All three broadcast network evening newscasts on Monday focused attention on the disappointment expressed by conservatives at President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court, but the CBS Evening News went the furthest in reporting the selection through a liberal prism. Anchor Bob Schieffer employed "rights" language which put the liberal position in a positive light: "Social conservatives wanted someone who is on the record against gay rights and abortion rights. Many liberals wanted someone who is for abortion rights."
John Roberts put the most negative hue on Miers' connection to Bush as he asserted that "Miers' ties to President Bush are too close for some people on the left and right. What looks like, they say, to be the very embodiment of cronyism." To back that up, Roberts ran a clip from CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen. Unlike ABC's Terry Moran and NBC's Pete Williams, Roberts failed to point out (as did Gloria Borger in a subsequent piece) how Miers gave a $1,000 to the Al Gore campaign in 1988, but Roberts, using phraseology favorable to abortion backers, stressed her position on abortion: "We do know as head of the Texas bar, she fought against support for abortion rights and she was a patron of a Texas anti-abortion group. Friends say she is very religious." Roberts concluded with an extreme label: "White House officials, including the Vice President, insist she has the sort of bedrock conservative judicial philosophy that even the far right will like." (I doubt Cheney used the term "far right.")
In contrast, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell delivered a less certain conclusion: "Both sides agree what is not known about her matters most. If confirmed, will she be a swing vote like Justice O'Connor, or will Miers tilt the highest court to the right?"
[This item was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post a comment: newsbusters.org ]
Bob Schieffer opened the October 3 CBS Evening News: "Well, social conservatives wanted someone who is on the record against gay rights and abortion rights. Many liberals wanted someone who is for abortion rights. The President crossed them all up today and chose a friend, Harriet Miers, the current White House counsel who has worked with and for the President in various posts over the years, but has never served as a judge, is his choice to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court."
Reporter John Roberts provided an overview of Miers' career. After a soundbite from a thrilled high school friend of Miers', Roberts cautioned: "But Miers' ties to President Bush are too close for some people on the left and right. What looks like, they say, to be the very embodiment of cronyism."
Newsweek's Jonathan Alter launched a vicious attack, on Congressman Tom DeLay's ideology, in this week's magazine. Promoting it, on Monday's Imus in the Morning on MSNBC, he charged that "it's the first time in 200 years that the House of Representatives has been run for a whole decade, or almost a decade, by a corrupt zealot." That matched the language on his one-page piece, "Tom DeLay's House of Shame," in which he contended: "I have no idea if DeLay has technically broken the law. What interests me is how this moderate, evenly divided nation came to be ruled on at least one side of Capitol Hill by a zealot." The pull-out quote in the hard copy edition, and the subhead online, read: "Congress has always had its share of extremists. But the DeLay era is the first time the fringe has ever been in charge." Alter maintained that "the only reason the House hasn't done even more damage is that the Senate often sands down the most noxious ideas, making the bills merely bad, not disastrous."
In another story in the cover story package in the October 10 magazine, Newsweek's writers credited a tax hike for the "prosperity" of the 1990s. In a profile of DeLay, "The Exterminator Expelled. Born again. Tom DeLay's rise -- and the risks that could end it," Evan Thomas, Holly Bailey and Michael Isikof included this paragraph:
"With Eleanor Clift" appeared at the end of the article, prompting one to wonder if that was a line Clift snuck in.
For the story in full: www.msnbc.msn.com
The MRC's Brian Boyd caught this comment from Alter in a 6:30am EDT half hour appearance by phone on Monday's Imus in the Morning on MSNBC: "I don't have a clue as to whether DeLay violated the law or not, this very old Texas statute that he's been indicted on, but I do know it's the first time in 200 years that the House of Representatives has been run for a whole decade, or almost a decade, by a corrupt zealot. You know, we normally have people who are more in the middle of the road who run the major chambers of Congress. And this is, I think historians will look back and say this is about as bad as it's gotten in the whole history, long and colorful history of the House."
An excerpt from Alter's October 10 Newsweek article:
A decade ago, I paid a call on Tom DeLay in his ornate office in the Capitol. I had heard a rumor about him that I figured could not possibly be true. The rumor was that after the GOP took control of the House that year, DeLay had begun keeping a little black book with the names of Washington lobbyists who wanted to come see him. If the lobbyists were not Republicans and contributors to his power base, they didn't get into "the people's House." DeLay not only confirmed the story, he showed me the book. His time was limited, DeLay explained with a genial smile. Why should he open his door to people who were not on the team?
Thus began what historians will regard as the single most corrupt decade in the long and colorful history of the House of Representatives. Come on, you say. How about all those years when congressmen accepted cash in the House chamber and then staggered onto the floor drunk? Yes, special interests have bought off members of Congress at least since Daniel Webster took his seat while on the payroll of a bank. And yes, Congress over the years has seen dozens of sex scandals and dozens of members brought low by financial improprieties. But never before has the leadership of the House been hijacked by a small band of extremists bent on building a ruthless shakedown machine, lining the pockets of their richest constituents and rolling back popular protections for ordinary people. These folks borrow like banana republics and spend like Tip O'Neill on speed.
I have no idea if DeLay has technically broken the law. What interests me is how this moderate, evenly divided nation came to be ruled on at least one side of Capitol Hill by a zealot. This is a man who calls the Environmental Protection Agency "the Gestapo of government" and favors repealing the Clean Air Act because "it's never been proven that air toxins are hazardous to people"; who insists repeatedly that judges on the other side of issues "need to be intimidated" and rejects the idea of a separation of church and state; who claims there are no parents trying to raise families on the minimum wage -- that "fortunately, such families do not exist" (at least Newt Gingrich was intrigued by the challenges of poverty); who once said: "A woman can't take care of the family. It takes a man to provide structure." I could go on all day. Congress has always had its share of extremists. But the DeLay era is the first time the fringe has ever been in charge....
A new book, "Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy," by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, explains how the GOP is simply better than the Democratic Party at the basic blocking and tackling of politics, including the exploitation of cultural and religious issues. The authors argue that even if DeLay goes down, the zealotry and corporate shilling will continue as long as the GOP controls the House. Consider DeLay's temporary replacement, Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt. The Washington Post reported last week that Blunt is respected by Republican members in part because he has "strong ties to the Washington lobbying community." That's a qualification for office?
The only reason the House hasn't done even more damage is that the Senate often sands down the most noxious ideas, making the bills merely bad, not disastrous. What next for the House of Shame? If DeLay's acquitted, he'll be back in power. If he's convicted, his proteges will continue his work. Reform efforts by fiscal conservatives determined to curb their borrow-and-spend colleagues are probably doomed. The only way to get rid of the termites eating away the people's House is to stamp them out at the next election.
END of Excerpt
For Alter's rant in full: www.msnbc.msn.com
Referring to Rather's "memogate," Koppel sarcastically suggested: "I would simply urge your most vociferous critics to take a page from the White House's own playbook. When one of their own a makes a mistake, they stress the importance of looking to the future and of not playing the blame game." MSNBC President Rick Kaplan, a former executive at ABC and CNN, asserted that "Dan was meticulously careful to be fair and balanced and accurate" during his career. Kaplan then lashed out: "When did we allow those with questionable agendas to take the lead and convince people of something quite the opposite? It's shameful." Kaplan went so far to declare that Rather's "legacy" is "the gold standard journalists today have struggled to live up to."
Rather earned a standing ovation for a full minute when Koppel brought him on stage to accept his award. Koppel then read the glowing citation: "For a distinguished career of outstanding television reporting. Known as the hardest working man in journalism, Dan Rather is a fearless reporter who has kept Americans informed about the world's most-defining moments for over half a century." Full quotes from Koppel and Kaplan, as well as fawning words from another speaker, follow.
[This item was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC blog, NewsBusters.org, where it is accompanied by video excerpts of Koppel and Kaplan in both RealPlayer and Windows Media formats. To watch the video or to post your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]
For C-SPAN's video of the entire event, go to C-SPAN's page for video of its "American Perspectives" series: www.c-span.org
And this September 27 CyberAlert item: www.mrc.org
The Monday, September 19 event took place at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan.
In his tribute to Rather, Koppel enthused: "Those of us who know you, Dan, those of us who have competed against you, know you to be a man of honesty and integrity and decency. You and your colleagues it appears made a mistake in your report on George Bush's military service. I would simply urge your most vociferous critics to take a page from the White House's own playbook. When one of their own a makes a mistake, they stress the importance of looking to the future and of not playing the blame game."
That prompted hearty applause from the assembled journalists.
When did we stop believing that this is indeed how we all perform our jobs or try to? When did we allow those with questionable agendas to take the lead and convince people of something quite the opposite? It's shameful. But I digress. Dan has led a generation of great reporters to the top of America's most-admired professions -- at least in the '70s. And deservedly so. His legacy as he practiced then is the gold standard journalists today have struggled to live up to. And working to serve the needs of his fellow citizens as admirably as he has is how he deserves to be spoken of. I'm very proud of my good friend. Thank you Dan. We have all benefitted by your great work."
That too generated applause.
For an MRC CyberAlert rundown of Kaplan's career and how he's an FOB: www.mediaresearch.org
"Too often, we wear liberalism on our sleeve and are intolerant of other lifestyles and opinions," an editor working for the Washington Post's Sunday "Book World" section charged in a contribution to a daily internal critique of the newspaper quoted by Howard Kurtz on Monday. Marie Arana disclosed that "if you work here, you must be one of us. You must be liberal, progressive, a Democrat. I've been in communal gatherings in The Post, watching election returns, and have been flabbergasted to see my colleagues cheer unabashedly for the Democrats."
Kurtz quoted Arana in his October 3 "Media Notes" column on "daily in-house electronic critiques that have sparked an impassioned debate about The Post's future."
Kurtz recited Arana's observation: "On Thursday, Book World Editor Marie Arana, noting that she had been 'a Young Republican at 15, a marching SDSer at 20, and roundly disgusted by the blue-team, red-team political dialogue by the time I turned 30,' criticized an article on what was called a 'stealth evangelism' festival by saying: 'The elephant in the newsroom is our narrowness. Too often, we wear liberalism on our sleeve and are intolerant of other lifestyles and opinions....We're not very subtle about it at this paper: If you work here, you must be one of us. You must be liberal, progressive, a Democrat. I've been in communal gatherings in The Post, watching election returns, and have been flabbergasted to see my colleagues cheer unabashedly for the Democrats.'"
Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie, however, Kurtz relayed, saw Arana's comments as demonstrating the diversity of his staff as he "says he is concerned if some staffers are openly displaying political preferences but that Arana's comments were valuable and 'made clear that we do have a diverse staff when it comes to ideological backgrounds.'"
The MRC's Tim Graham posted a NewsBusters.org blog item about this on Monday, with the text of Kurtz's later online chat comments on Arana. To read that and/or to share your comments, go to: newsbusters.org
From the October 3 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Signs Your Supreme Court Pick Isn't Qualified." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. "Lost 10 grand yesterday in the 'case' of Jets vs. Ravens"
9. "Spends most of her time trying to fit the gavel into her mouth"
8. "Her legal mentor: Oliver Wendell Redenbacher"
7. "Asks courtroom stenographer to, 'Quit that annoying tapping!'"
6. "Instead of Constitutional law books, consults set of 'Garfield' paperbacks"
5. "Keeps shouting, 'When does mama get to hang somebody?!'"
4. "When Scalia walks by, she pretends to cough and says, 'Rogaine'"
3. "Authored the book: 'I'm Not Qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice'"
2. "The closest thing to courtroom experience was being an extra on 'Matlock'"
1. "Glowing letter of recommendation from former FEMA director Michael Brown"
-- Brent Baker