2. ABC Loves Clip of Soldier Demanding Rumsfeld's Resignation
3. NY Times Reporter Finds Trust in Bush, Headline Says Opposite
4. Dan Rather Notes Report on How Recession is Long Over
5. Jake Tapper Responds to Liberal Image
CyberAlert Painted of Him
6. Fleischer Most Annoyed by Thomas, Sees Extra Hostility to GOP
Troops who are "life-long Republicans" are so upset by their continued deployment in Iraq, CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown relayed on Thursday night, that they promise "they will not vote for a Republican" again "as long as Rumsfeld is the Secretary of Defense."
The conveyor of that message: Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Ron Martz who appeared by phone on the July 17 NewsNight. As he talked about his visit with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, CNN showed photos taken by Brant Sanderlin, Martz's colleague at the Atlanta newspaper.
Martz told Brown about what he picked up during his time with the troops: "They will be extended probably through September, so they will have a full year in theater. So this was quite a blow to them and quite a blow to their wives also. They want to believe what the senior leadership of the Army tells them and then to have the senior leadership, to have those decisions that they're being told reversed by the civilian leadership really frustrates them. I've been talking to guys who saying they have been life-long Republicans, but they will not vote for a Republican this time around as long as Rumsfeld is the Secretary of Defense because they feel like the decisions are being made without sufficient input of the senior leaders of the Army."
ABC's favorite soundbite: "If Donald Rumsfeld was here, I'd ask him for his resignation." World News Tonight featured, in a story by Jeffrey Kofman on Tuesday's World News Tonight, the blast from an Army soldier in Iraq. World News Tonight re-ran it Wednesday night and Good Morning America played it once on Wednesday morning and then twice more on Thursday morning. Plus, I'm sure it has run a few times on World News Now and World News This Morning.
Thursday morning, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, GMA co-host Elizabeth Vargas highlighted how those who spoke out "could face disciplinary action," as if that's any surprise for criticizing the civilian command leadership. At the top of the July 17 show she promised: "Also this morning, we have new controversy over the morale crisis among American troops in Iraq. The soldiers who complained about long deployment to ABC News just yesterday could face disciplinary action for speaking out to us."
Vargas introduced the subsequent segment: "The commander of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf now says American troops are fighting a guerilla war in Iraq. General John Abizaid said the level of resistance is getting more organized and it is learning. He also had some harsh words for the soldiers from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division. Those soldiers could now face disciplinary action for their complaints broadcast yesterday on Good Morning America. ABC's Martha Raddatz is at the Pentagon. Martha, those comments are getting those soldiers in some hot water."
A New York Times reporter traveled to southwest Ohio, where he found: "In conversations here with nearly three dozen voters, the vast majority said they generally like President Bush and believe he is doing a good job. Many people said they remained convinced that Iraq posed a threat, even though no chemical or biological weapons have been found. And there was a broad consensus that the result of the war -- the ousting of a brutal dictator -- was good for Iraq as well as the United States."
So how did the New York Times headline this story on its July 17 front page? "In Ohio, Iraq Questions Shake Even Some of Bush's Faithful"
A bit of a disconnect.
The MRC's TimesWatch.org highlighted the news judgment of the headline writer as did OpinionJournal.com's "Best of the Web."
But it's not all the headline writer's fault. Before getting, in the 7th paragraph, to that summary of what he found in Ohio, reporter James Dao emphasized the negative toward Bush even though his opening anecdotes seemed to contradict what he found overall.
An excerpt, from the top of Dao's July 17 article:
Cincinnati, July 16 -- Jim Stock voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and says that if the election were held tomorrow, he'd vote for President Bush again. But he says he is troubled by indications that the White House used questionable intelligence about Iraqi efforts to buy uranium in Africa to push for war in Iraq. And he wants a fuller accounting.
"I'd like to know whether there was any deliberate attempt to deceive," said Mr. Stock, 70, a retired public school administrator. "My feeling is there was not. But there was an eagerness in the administration to pursue the battle and to believe information that wasn't quite good."
"It's painful to say," he added, "but I don't like where this is coming down."
If there are dark political clouds for Mr. Bush in this largely socially conservative region, they are forming around voters like Mr. Stock. Though they supported the war in Iraq, they now say they are growing uncomfortable with reports that the White House might have used inaccurate intelligence to justify it.
Many people interviewed here in the past two days said they did not question Mr. Bush's personal credibility. Still, they said, they wanted to know more about what happened and support Democratic calls for a Congressional inquiry into how suspect intelligence information got into the State of the Union address on Jan. 28.
"When you are taking lives, it should be nothing but the truth," Matt Zurkuhlen, 25, a business consultant, said outside a coffee shop in the Mount Lookout neighborhood here. "We rushed in there."
Americans are voicing increasing concerns about Iraq, national polls show. A CBS News survey conducted early last week before the political storm over unreliable intelligence intensified, showed that 56 percent of those polled believe the administration overestimated Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Less than a majority said the war would be worth its costs if such weapons were not found, down from 56 percent in May.
In conversations here with nearly three dozen voters, the vast majority said they generally like President Bush and believe he is doing a good job. Many people said they remained convinced that Iraq posed a threat, even though no chemical or biological weapons have been found. And there was a broad consensus that the result of the war - the ousting of a brutal dictator - was good for Iraq as well as the United States.
"Whether or not they find weapons of mass destruction is besides the point," Joyce Allen, 71, a retired bank teller, said as she ate lunch with a friend at Cincinnati's Museum Center. "The people there needed to be freed, and somebody had to do it."...
Despite Democratic efforts to use the intelligence issue to undermine Mr. Bush's credibility, most people interviewed here, including Democratic voters, said they did not think Mr. Bush had knowingly used bad intelligence. Most said they believed the president had been motivated by a sincere desire to counter what he considered a real threat....
END of Excerpt
For the story in full: www.nytimes.com
Kudos to Dan Rather for picking up on how the National Bureau for Economic Research has concluded that the recession ended a year and a half ago.
On Thursday's CBS Evening News, Rather read this brief item: "The researchers who decide such things say that the recession, which they say began in March of 2001, officially ended eight months later. But the researchers stress the U.S. economy is still struggling, noting that it continues to shed jobs."
On FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, fill-in anchor Tony Snow also highlighted the assessment that the recession ended way back in October of 2001.
Jake Tapper, who has moved from the liberal Salon.com Web magazine to ABC News as a Washington correspondent, objected to CyberAlert's implication that his liberal punditry, the affinity of liberals for his book on the Florida mess and background as a Press Secretary to liberal Democratic Congresswoman, mean his reporting will reflect a liberal tilt.
In an e-mail on Thursday to the MRC's Director of Communications, Liz Swasey, Tapper said he found no errors of fact in the two recent CyberAlert items on him, but he contended that they painted an unfair picture of his previous work when he has written many stories critical of liberals, items which have even angered liberals and pleased conservatives on occasion.
At Swasey's request, Tapper supplied a list of links to some of his previous reporting, the anti-liberal tenor of which he thought we gave short shrift.
Below are examples of the anti-liberal stories provided by Tapper, but first a quick review of the two previous CyberAlert items on Tapper:
-- July 15 CyberAlert: Barely a month after FOB Rick Kaplan re-joined ABC News from CNN as Executive Vice President, ABC has hired Jake Tapper, a liberal pundit and a political reporter for the liberal Salon.com Web magazine, as a Washington correspondent. In 2001, Tapper penned Down and Dirty: The Plot to Steal the Presidency, a book which publisher Little Brown promoted as delivering an assessment of George W. Bush as "a brilliant schmoozer and deft liar with the intellectual inquisitiveness of the average fern."
-- July 16 CyberAlert. Jake Tapper, the reporter for the liberal Salon.com whom ABC has hired as a Washington correspondent, once toiled as the Press Secretary for a liberal Democratic Congresswoman, Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, the Philadelphia Inquirer recalled on Tuesday. See www.mediaresearch.org
However, having a personal political view on a topic does not mean you cannot produce a balanced news story on the subject. It's just that so many media liberals do not even try.
But we don't want to unfairly tar Tapper and if he's dedicated to balanced reporting, or to at least goring the assumptions of both liberals and conservatives, we're thrilled. And if his past work shows a willingness to take on liberals as well as conservatives, then that is relevant and should be noted. So, here's a rundown of the stories Tapper passed along as examples of his willingness to challenge liberal icons and policies. (To access more than a summary of the Salon stories you'll need to pay for a subscription or register for a free one-day pass):
[Web Update, 3:15pm EDT, from CyberAlert Editor Brent Baker: Characterizations of Tapper's stories, and the people on which they focused, quoted in the CyberAlert as originally posted earlier today were communicated by Tapper to an MRC employee who passed them on to me and I assumed he meant for us to quote him. However, Tapper has informed me that he considered the e-mail to be private and did not intend for his characterizations to be quoted or posted. Therefore, since there should be a presumption that person-to-person e-mail is private and a mis-communication inside the MRC led to this problem, we have edited out his comments on those stories listed below, replacing his descriptions with my own descriptions or the actual titles of the articles penned by Tapper.]
-- Salon article titled, "The skeletons and suits in Sharpton's closet: The controversial political leader and Democratic presidential candidate delivers a pointed warning: If you attack me, you risk being sued." www.salon.com
-- Salon story headlined, "Democratic hopeful Sen. Bob Graham keeps an incredibly detailed daily log. His rivals say it's weird, and they plan to use it against him." www.salon.com
-- Salon story, "Daschle's SOS: The nation's top Democrat wages his own little war." www.salon.com
-- Salon story, "Islam's flawed spokesmen: Some of the groups claiming to speak for American Muslims find it impossible to speak out against terrorist groups." archive.salon.com
-- Salon story, "Andrew Cuomo's attitude problem: He was supposed to be the Democrats' best chance to defeat New York Gov. George Pataki in November, except for one small problem -- people just didn't like him." www.salon.com
-- Salon article, "Amigos: In a documentary to appear on HBO, Oliver Stone profiles his new friend Fidel Castro -- and proceeds to whitewash the Cuban despot's brutal reign." www.salon.com
-- Salon article, "War? What war? Dean, McAuliffe and the DNC wine and dine the party faithful in New York, pretending affirmative action, abortion and ethanol are really what's on their minds." www.salon.com
-- Salon story, "The wishy-washy strategy: Many leading Democrats can't seem to make up their minds on Iraq. And some insiders suggest that might be on purpose." www.salon.com
-- Salon article, "Al Gore's rehabilitation tour: The same awkward Gore struggles to excite a crowd of young Manhattanites, under the scrutiny of skeptics in his own party." www.salon.com
-- Salon story, "Keeping the new black candidate down: When young African-American challengers face off against their trailblazing predecessors, they often get called pawns of whitey." www.salon.com
-- Salon article, "Anatomy of a pardon: An e-mail trail reveals the high-level machinations behind the shocking pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich." dir.salon.com
-- Salon article in late 2000, "Praying for Gore: A whiff of desperation begins to permeate the Democratic ranks." dir.salon.com
-- Salon piece, "Jackson: Keep hope (and Gore) alive! A West Palm Beach rally for the enfranchisement of Democrats, and others." dir.salon.com
-- Salon expose, "Inside Nader's stock portfolio" dir.salon.com
-- Salon piece just before election day, "Coal miners' doubters: Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1 in West Virginia, but they still have doubts about Gore." dir.salon.com
Material conservatives appreciated:
-- A look at Bush on election night, "Father and son Bush scold the media: Jake Tapper follows the Republican candidate as he votes and awaits the results." dir.salon.com
-- From just last month, a salon piece on John Ashcroft, "How Ashcroft beats a full House: Critics deride his appearances before Congress as 'carefully orchestrated,' but he manages to come away from every face-off stronger than before." www.salon.com
-- A nice piece about Ted Olson on Salon, "Boies vs. Olson: A look at the two legal titans behind the Gore and Bush teams." dir.salon.com
-- Salon story, "Brains for hire: William Bennett offers unofficial counsel to a number of Republican presidential wannabes." dir.salon.com
-- An anti-French story for Time Europe, "Friend or Faux? Americans feel betrayed by French attempts to stop a war against Iraq" www.time.com
-- A fairly negative review of Hillary Clinton's book for NPR: www.npr.org
-- Tapper poking a little fun at the way Gephardt has been using his kids to humanize himself: www.npr.org
-- A respectful look at George W. Bush's religious faith, "God is their co-pilot: Both born-again, Bush and Gore have made this the most God-fearing presidential race in 100 years. But their faiths have led these men in two completely different directions." dir.salon.com
Some examples of conservatives citing Tapper's reporting:
-- Laura Ingraham using Tapper's look at Oliver Stone's Castro documentary: www.jewishworldreview.com
-- Libertarian Reason magazine citing a Tapper story about how cities suing gun manufacturers had hypocritically resold their own guns: reason.com
-- National Review citing Tapper's story on Islamic groups that refuse to condemn terrorism: www.nationalreview.com
-- An exchange, about Rick Santorum's comments, which got some liberals angry at Tapper:
On April 25 CNN American Morning:
Bill Hemmer: "Hey, Jake, I want to give you a second shot here. Senator Rick Santorum making some comments this past week about homosexuality in the country, and whether or not at this point the Senate majority leader Bill Frist is sticking up for him, whether
or not the White House is staying out of it, a lot of questions here about whether or not this is playing into the same Trent Lott controversy. What do you make right now whether or not
this has some stickiness to it or not, Jake?"
Okay, he's convinced me. He's not your conventional liberal reporter and is someone who has demonstrated an interest in story topics a liberal ideologue would avoid. But will he be able to take that contrarian approach at ABC News? After all, it's hard to imagine his Washington bureau colleagues George Stephanopoulos or Linda Douglass pursuing any of the angles listed above.
For a list of all of Tapper's Salon.com articles: dir.salon.com
For a picture of Tapper: www.cnn.com
Ari Fleischer most annoyed by Helen Thomas, believes reporters more enjoy taking on a Republican than a Democratic President on policy. Asked by David Letterman who "drives you nuts?", former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer answered: "Helen Thomas, but don't tell anybody...Helen is very liberal, she disagrees with everything I say, she still thinks Al Gore won Florida." Noting her right to free speech, Fleischer added: "I'm glad I'm no longer there to enjoy her right."
Fleisher described the White House press corps as a "pretty convivial lot," their attitude is always "why is the President wrong?" And while he argued "that's true for whoever the President is," he contended: "I do think that on policy they enjoy that a little more about Republicans."
I took down these two exchanges from the July 17 Late Show with David Letterman on CBS:
-- Letterman: "Who drives you nuts?"
Fleischer elaborated: "Helen is a Washington legend. Helen broke so many barriers in Washington, Helen deserves wonderful praise. But Helen is now a columnist and she's not shy about stating her opinion in that briefing room and I think after everything she's done that's her right. I'm glad I'm no longer there to enjoy her right, but it's her right."
-- Letterman on White House reporters: "In their professional role, they're always looking for trouble, aren't they? I mean, that really is what they want."
For a photo of Fleischer with Letterman: story.news.yahoo.com
# Tonight on HBO's On the Record with Bob Costas: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. I'd bet Costas won't be as reverential as some other star media figures have been toward her. The Costas show first runs at 11:30pm EDT on HBO East/11:30pm PDT on HBO West.
-- Brent Baker