Appearance Alert
MRC's Bozell to appear on FNC's 'Kelly File' at 9:40pm ET

CNN Contends: "Governor Howard Dean Was No Left-Wing Liberal" --1/9/2004


1. CNN Contends: "Governor Howard Dean Was No Left-Wing Liberal"
CNN set out Wednesday night to prove that Howard Dean was no liberal as Governor of Vermont, but reporter Kelly Wallace used as her authoritative sources the editor of a self-described "alternative" newspaper and a local Democratic legislator. Wallace declared as a "misperception" any idea that Dean governed Vermont as a liberal: "Those who know him well say Governor Howard Dean was no left-wing liberal." Peter Freyne of the Seven Days newspaper opined: "We all laugh at that. Howard Dean represented the Republican wing of the Democratic party." On his Web site for Seven Days, described as "Vermont's Alternate Weekly," Freyne boasted of how he got CNN to publicize his point of view.

2. CNN's Jeffrey Toobin Insists Again That Gore Really Won Florida
Here we go again. President Bush's visit on Thursday to Palm Beach County for a fundraiser, his first time in that chad-counting county since the 2000 election, prompted CNN to give time to its legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin to declare, contrary to what the media recounts found: "It is an absolute certainty that if Palm Beach had designed a ballot that correctly reflected the views of the voters Al Gore would be President of the United States today."

3. Actor Robert Duvall Denounces Steven Spielberg for Castro Visit
Actor Robert Duvall, during an interview on Wednesday's 60 Minutes II, denounced film director Steven Spielberg, a major contributor to the Holocaust Museum, for visiting Fidel Castro last year. Duvall told Charlie Rose that he'd like to ask Spielberg: "'Would you consider building a little annex on the Holocaust Museum or at least across the street to honor the dead Cubans that Castro killed.' That's very presumptuous of him to go there."

4. Brokaw Finds MRC "Wearying" Since MRC "Everywhere Every Day"
NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw can't escape the MRC -- and that annoys him. In an interview in the latest edition of the Columbia Journalism Review magazine, Brokaw denied he's guilty of any liberal bias and seemed to be referring to the MRC's CyberAlert as he called the constant drumbeat of criticism from the MRC "a little wearying" since the MRC's "fine legal points" are "everywhere every day." He charged that "most of the cases" of liberal bias complaints "are pretty flimsily made," but Brokaw had no problem seeing bias on FNC: "It's a lively, right-of-center opinionated all-news channel."


CNN Contends: "Governor Howard Dean Was
No Left-Wing Liberal"

CNN set out Wednesday night to prove that Howard Dean was no liberal as Governor of Vermont, but reporter Kelly Wallace used as her authoritative sources the editor of a self-described "alternative" newspaper and a local Democratic legislator.

Howard Dean on cover of National Review In a piece run on the January 7 Paula Zahn Tonight, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noticed, Wallace declared as a "misperception" any idea that Dean governed Vermont as a liberal. She contended: "Those who know him well say Governor Howard Dean was no left-wing liberal." Peter Freyne of the Seven Days newspaper opined: "We all laugh at that. Howard Dean represented the Republican wing of the Democratic party. Some even thought it was the Republican wing of the Republican party at first."

On his Web site for Seven Days, described as "Vermont's Alternate Weekly," Freyne boasted of how he got CNN to publicize his point of view. Freyne bragged about how CNN "came to town on a quest. They wanted to find out if the current portrayal of Dean as an angry, left-wing extremist rabble-rouser is correct. Yours truly was only too happy to take them on a stroll down memory lane, back to the good old days when Howard Dean represented the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. Back to reality."

This was a repeat performance on CNN for Fraeyne, who seems to be CNN's favorite Green Mountain Stater. Judy Woodruff noted in a July 11 piece on Inside Politics: "But the rap on Dean is that the Burlington Birkenstock crowd, people who put Dean signs in bars called the Red Square, can't take their man to the White House, that he's just too far left."

Woodruff then played this clip of Freyne: "His entire time in Vermont politics, going back to his days in the legislature then as Lieutenant Governor and then as Governor in the '90s, there was never a sentence in any newspaper in the state of Vermont that contained the word 'liberal' and 'Howard Dean.'"

At the time, in the July 14 CyberAlert, I observed: "Amazing. I suppose that compared to the socialist Bernie Sanders, Dean looks downright right-wing, especially to Vermonters who think Sanders is too conservative."

It may well be that Dean was not consistently liberal on every issue during his decade leading Vermont, but George W. Bush was far from consistently conservative as Governor of Texas, and is certainly far from it now as President as he pushes a series of liberal spending initiatives, but do you recall back in 1999/2000, or now, any stories which set out to prove that considering Bush a conservative was a "misperception"?

On Zahn's show on Wednesday night, Wallace first dismissed the idea that Dean was an "angry" Governor. Wallace asserted: "Angry, no. Intense, yes."

Wallace then got to his supposed liberalness: "Misperception number two, those who know him well say, Governor Howard Dean was no left-wing liberal."
Freyne: "We all laugh at that. Howard Dean represented the Republican wing of the Democratic party. Some even thought it was the Republican wing of the Republican party at first."
Wallace: "In fact, his biggest critics during his 11-year tenure were not Republicans but left-leaning Democrats who sometimes found him too conservative, like Democrat Francis Brooks."
Rep. Francis Brooks, Vermont legislature (D): "There were times when leaving his office, we were a long ways from agreement."
Wallace: "Howard Dean is popular here. He was elected to five consecutive two-year terms as governor. His biggest political test perhaps, coming on an issue which thrust this tiny state onto the national stage. That was in 2000, when Howard Dean reluctantly signed a law legalizing gay civil unions."
Vince Iluzzi, Republican state senator: "The Governor said very clearly there are times in politics where you have to do the right thing, even though you're sometimes ahead of where people are at. This is the right thing to do."
Wallace concluded: "People here now wait to see if that record and no nonsense leadership style can sell outside Vermont. Kelly Wallace, CNN, Burlington."

In his latest "Inside Track" column for Seven Days, posted on January 7, Peter Freyne boasted:
"The good news is, there's some indication this week that the real story of Howard Dean's Vermont experience may get out. CNN stopped by Seven Days Tuesday morning. Producer Rose Marie Arce and reporter Kelly Wallace came to town on a quest. They wanted to find out if the current portrayal of Dean as an angry, left-wing extremist rabble-rouser is correct.
"Yours truly was only too happy to take them on a stroll down memory lane, back to the good old days when Howard Dean represented the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. Back to reality.
"Anyone can get a story. Getting it right is the challenge. Kudos to CNN for being the first to make the effort."

That's online at: www.sevendaysvt.com

CNN's Jeffrey Toobin Insists Again That
Gore Really Won Florida

Here we go again. President Bush's visit on Thursday to Palm Beach County for a fundraiser, his first time in that chad-counting county since the 2000 election, prompted CNN to give time to its legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin to declare, contrary to what the media recounts found: "It is an absolute certainty that if Palm Beach had designed a ballot that correctly reflected the views of the voters Al Gore would be President of the United States today."

In 2001 Toobin penned Too Close to Call: The Thirty-Six-Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election, a book in which he argued Bush stole the presidency. He charged in it: "The wrong man was inaugurated on January 20th 2001 and this is no small thing in our nation's history. The bell of this election can never be un-rung and the sound will haunt us for some time."

Toobin's fresh re-writing of history came during a January 8 Inside Politics piece by John Zarrella who showed 2000 video of Judge Charles Burton, "Burton's election supervisor Theresa LePore and county commissioner Carol Roberts" as they "worked more than three dozen nights" counting the ballots by holding them up to the light. Zarrella updated their status: "As President Bush makes his first return visit to the county of infamy, Burton is still a judge, LePore is still election supervisor and Roberts is out of office. Back then they were at the center of a recount and a butterfly ballot fiasco."
Toobin then claimed: "It is an absolute certainty that if Palm Beach had designed a ballot that correctly reflected the views of the voters Al Gore would be President of the United States today."
Zarrella added: "The ballot, designed to make it easier for people to read, made it harder in some cases for people to vote, resulting in, many analysts say, thousands of miscast ballots. To this day, Democrats here are bitter. They call the President selected not elected."

Toobin's quite liberal and has hostilities toward conservatives. When he jumped from ABC to CNN in April of 2002, CyberAlert recalled: Jeffrey Toobin, recently of ABC, is now the network's "legal analyst." In a book last year he charged: "The wrong man was inaugurated on January 20th 2001 and this is no small thing in our nation's history." On ABC in 2000 he maintained that Hillary Clinton's "conspiracy" claim was "more right than wrong." He also contended: "Clinton was, by comparison, the good guy in this struggle. The President's adversaries appeared literally consumed with hatred for him."

For details on all those charges: www.mediaresearch.org

Actor Robert Duvall Denounces Steven
Spielberg for Castro Visit

Actor Robert Duvall, during an interview on Wednesday's 60 Minutes II, denounced film director Steven Spielberg, a major contributor to the Holocaust Museum, for visiting Fidel Castro last year. Duvall told Charlie Rose that he'd like to ask Spielberg: "'Would you consider building a little annex on the Holocaust Museum or at least across the street to honor the dead Cubans that Castro killed.' That's very presumptuous of him to go there."

MRC analyst Brian Boyd caught the comment and checked CBS's transcript against the tape.

During the January 7 profile, Rose segued to the topic: "No subjects are off limits for Duvall, his politics are no exception. Fiercely libertarian, he's always eager to weigh in. At his favorite café in Buenos Aires, one topic was Steven Spielberg's visit to Cuba in 2002 and Spielberg's widely reported meeting with Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Duvall says Spielberg should not have gone in the first place."
Duvall: "Now, what I want to ask him -- and I know he's going to get pissed off -- 'Would you consider building a little annex on the Holocaust Museum or at least across the street to honor the dead Cubans that Castro killed.' That's very presumptuous of him to go there."
Rose: "Will you tell him that?"
Duvall: "You bet I'll tell him that. I'll never work at Dreamworks again, but I don't care about working there anyway."
Rose: "At this stage in his life, Duvall can afford not to care what others think. He's made a very good living playing tough men who make tough choices and then make no apologies. They're among Hollywood's most original and memorable characters, and so is the man who created them."

The CBS News Web page for 60 Minutes II posted this retort from Spielberg: "Spielberg's spokesman, in a statement in response to Duvall's comments on 60 Minutes II, said the Hollywood director's trip to Cuba was authorized by the U.S. government as a cultural exchange program: 'His trip to Cuba in 2002 was cultural, not political. It was an opportunity to share his films and his values with the Cuban people. In addition to screening eight of his films for hundreds of thousands of Cubans, he visited with the Jewish community, paid his respects at the Holocaust memorial in Havana, and met with U.S. diplomats stationed there.'"

That's online, along with a picture of Duvall from the Rose interview, at: www.cbsnews.com

For the Internet Movie Database's page on Duvall: imdb.com

And on Spielberg: imdb.com

Brokaw Finds MRC "Wearying" Since MRC
"Everywhere Every Day"

NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw can't escape the MRC -- and that annoys him. In an interview in the latest edition of the Columbia Journalism Review magazine, Brokaw denied he's guilty of any liberal bias and seemed to be referring to the MRC's CyberAlert as he called the constant drumbeat of criticism from the MRC "a little wearying" since the MRC's "fine legal points" are "everywhere every day."

In the interview, Jane Hall, a regular panelist on FNC's Fox Newswatch, an assistant professor at American University's School of Communication and a former Los Angeles Times reporter, raised the MRC: "The Media Research Center, the conservative media watchdog group, has been getting a lot of attention for its reports alleging liberal bias in the media."

Brokaw called the complaints of a liberal bias "a little wearying" and charged that "most of the cases are pretty flimsily made." Brokaw kvetched: "What I get tired of is Brent Bozell [president of the Media Research Center] trying to make these fine legal points everywhere every day. A lot of it just doesn't hold up. So much of it is that bias -- like beauty -- is in the eye of the beholder."

Brokaw, who described FNC as "a lively, right-of-center opinionated all-news channel," saw no bias on his network or elsewhere, but he touted an attitude which is behind liberal bias as he insisted that the media's duty is to "represent the views of those who are underrepresented in the social context or the political context and to make sure that they're not overlooked and that their wrongs get the bright light of journalistic sunshine." Brokaw recognized how that can be seen as a bias, "and therefore, because of the nature of what we cover, people may think that we're biased. But the fact is, that's part of the obligation of journalism."

Some excerpts from the interview by Jane Hall of Tom Brokaw in the January/February issue of the Columbia Journalism Review, joined about a fourth of the way into it:

Hall: "The Media Research Center, the conservative media watchdog group, has been getting a lot of attention for its reports alleging liberal bias in the media. They've been severely critical of Peter Jennings's and ABC World News Tonight's reporting before the war in Iraq -- and their reports get a lot of pickup on the Internet, through e-mails and on cable talk shows."
Brokaw: "Look, I've been dealing with this myself since the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement, when reporters were accused of having a liberal bias.
"The fact of the matter is, if I don't establish a bond with the NBC News audience that is based on my credibility and my integrity, then I go out of business. We've been doing this for a long time. NBC Nightly News still has the largest single audience of any media outlet, print and electronic, in the news business. The simple test is that if people thought I had a bias, they wouldn't watch me."
Hall: "What is the impact, do you think, of a steady drumbeat of such criticism? Does it not have an impact on the network?"
Brokaw: "It is a little wearying, but you've got to rise above it and take it case by case. Most of the cases are pretty flimsily made. I'm glad that Peter, Dan, and I have been doing this long enough that we're confident in our own abilities to withstand that. I understand the Rush Limbaughs of the world. I have less trouble with that. That's who he is and what he does -- and he's very skillful at it. Rush has a strong point of view -- and that's fine. What I get tired of is Brent Bozell [president of the Media Research Center] trying to make these fine legal points everywhere every day. A lot of it just doesn't hold up. So much of it is that bias -- like beauty -- is in the eye of the beholder."
Hall: "So it hasn't impacted the way you cover stories?"
Brokaw: "No, it hasn't. We work very hard at trying to determine what the facts are on a weekly basis -- and that's a full-time job. I don't have time to engage in some kind of a conspiracy."
Hall: "You and Tim Russert had Rush Limbaugh on as an analyst in the midterm elections in 2002. Was that in any way an attempt to speak to the criticism from conservatives?"
Brokaw: "Rush Limbaugh is a powerful force in this country -- and a smart guy. I watched him -- he was invited to address the freshman class in Congress in 1994 when Newt Gingrich took hold of Congress. You know, Rush has gone to a different level."
Hall: "Your conservative critics would probably say that you decided you needed some more conservatives on the air."
Brokaw: "Well, they may say that. But I thought that we asked Limbaugh some difficult questions about the deficit and other policies, and it's worth hearing what he has to say about the election returns. If I were out there with a team of supersleuths, I could find, I suppose, a reason from day to day to find liberal bias one day and a conservative bias the next day on some given story."
Hall: "So you don't see a liberal bias in the mainstream media?"
Brokaw: "No. Speaking generally, people who are drawn to journalism are interested in what happens from the ground up less than they are from the top down. And they see that part of their role -- which I think is appropriate -- is to represent the views of those who are underrepresented in the social context or the political context and to make sure that they're not overlooked and that their wrongs get the bright light of journalistic sunshine. And therefore, because of the nature of what we cover, people may think that we're biased. But the fact is, that's part of the obligation of journalism."

Later, Hall raised FNC: "Let me ask you about Fox News."
Brokaw: "Don't overstate Fox News -- I mean, they're enormously successful, but it's still the most successful niche, is what it is. The spectrum now has spread out so much. But the broadcast networks still have the biggest chunk of that spectrum. When you get into the cable niches, Fox has the biggest cable niche. But it's still much smaller than the least of the network niches."
Hall: "What I think is that Fox has done a very smart job of carving out their place. How would you describe that place?"
Brokaw: "Well, it's a lively, right-of-center opinionated all-news channel."

For the complete interview: www.cjr.org

On Thursday, MRC President Brent Bozell issued a challenge to Brokaw. A reprint of a January 8 press release:

Media Research Center President Brent Bozell is issuing a $1 million challenge to NBC and NBC Nightly News Anchor Tom Brokaw, calling Brokaw on his comments made in a recent interview with Columbia Journalism Review. In the interview, Brokaw directly took on Bozell and the Media Research Center while denying the credibility of their evidence of liberal bias in the press. Among other things, Brokaw said:

"What I get tired of is Brent Bozell trying to make these fine legal points everywhere every day. A lot of it just doesn't hold up. So much of it is that bias -- like beauty -- is in the eye of the beholder."

Bozell responded: "I know our evidence does 'hold up' and we'll prove it. I issue this challenge to NBC and its anchor: let's assemble a mutually agreeable third-party panel and have them review a compilation of the Media Research Center's 16 years of evidence of liberal media bias. If this panel agrees with Brokaw's contention, the Media Research Center will donate $1 million to the anchor's favorite charity. If the panel agrees with us, NBC and Brokaw will donate $1 million to the Media Research Center.

"Oh, and to sweeten the pot we'll do this: we'll limit our evidence only to Tom Brokaw and NBC. Frankly, that's all the evidence we need to prove the point."

END of Reprint of press release

Last September, to mark Brokaw's 20th anniversary as sole anchor of the NBC Nightly News, the MRC produced a Media Reality Check which recounted the most flagrant examples of his liberal bias over the years. For "Marking Tom Brokaw's Twenty Years of Tilt," go to: www.mediaresearch.org

As noted in the January 7 CyberAlert, appearing on Comedy Central's Daily Show on Tuesday night, Brokaw said that he believes President Bush is so much more successful at fundraising than Howard Dean because Bush is a Republican President "representing corporate interests" and, therefore, "he can go out there, push the button and get a lot of money."

Since this is Brokaw's last year as anchor of the NBC Nightly News, I guess we only have one year left to annoy him. But if he weren't so wearyingly liberal in his reporting, maybe he wouldn't find our analysis of his reporting so wearying. The ball is in his court. All he has to do is stop delivering biased reporting.

-- Brent Baker