Rather Has Time for Dog Bite But Not For Daschle's Intimidation
3. CNBC Reporter Credits Tax Cut Hope for Stock Rise
Senator Tom Daschle accused Rush Limbaugh of inciting violence against liberals like himself and Limbaugh fired back at Daschle for the scurrilous charge, but CNN anchor Anderson Cooper treated the matter as a spat, a "cat fight" between Daschle and Limbaugh, as if each were equally culpable of verbal exaggeration even though CNN's own Jonathan Karl soon undermined Daschle's premise: "Limbaugh is tough on Democrats, even bombastic, but inciting violence is not something in his play book." You'd have thought that Daschle's false charge would have been Cooper's lead.
CNN's November 21 NewsNight story followed Inside Politics opening on Thursday with Jonathan Karl confronting Daschle: "Incitement to violence could be a crime, a prosecutable crime. Are you accusing him of something on that level?" CNN then got reaction from Limbaugh himself before Woodruff talked about it with Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz. But when Kurtz insisted that "Senator Daschle was out of bounds" and that "to make this suggestion about inciting violence and comparing Limbaugh's tone to that of violent fundamentalists in other countries, seemed to me to be a bit over the top," Woodruff countered: "But there's no question on some of these talk shows, Limbaugh's included, there's some very tough talk. There's a lot of criticism of people in the political arena. And as Tom Daschle said, I'm just going to read part of it, people want to act because they get emotional, he means after they listen to this. He said the threats to those of us in public life and it go up dramatically, and it's very disconcerting."
As Kurtz noted, Limbaugh's tone is not "that much different than you hear on the cable shout shows every night."
(For exactly what Daschle said on Wednesday as shown by FNC, see the November 21 CyberAlert: In his last press conference as Senate Majority Leader, Tom Daschle blamed Rush Limbaugh for threats on the lives of public officials and blamed conservative rhetoric for "fomenting" violence. But instead of condemning such irresponsible comments, as they surely would have if uttered by a conservative about liberals, the networks didn't bat an eye. The ABC, CBS and CNBC evening shows ignored it while NBC's Tom Brokaw simply noted how "Daschle had some comments on the tone of political discourse in this country." CNN's Judy Woodruff referred to the remarks as "memorable" and Jonathan Karl called them "fascinating." See: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021121.asp#2)
Below, a rundown of how Inside Politics handled the story Thursday afternoon followed by more about NewsNight's take, which included a boxing match-like graphic of side-by-side photos of Daschle and Limbaugh with vital stats for each.
Inside Politics opened with Karl confronting Daschle in an interview taped aboard the Senate subway: "That was a serious thing to say about Rush Limbaugh. I know you were talking about other talk radio show hosts as well, but you singled out Rush Limbaugh. I mean, are you -- incitement to violence could be a crime, a prosecutable crime. Are you accusing him something on that level?"
CNN then went to video of reaction from Limbaugh. He asserted: "We all get threats, in public life. I think, and what did he say threats over, being called an obstructionist? I think this is whining. In fact, my understanding is that he's backing off of that a little bit or trying to water that down. And then saying something about the fact that I should still realize my words have consequences. Well, I know that. We won -- of course my words have consequences."
Limbaugh suggested: "Obviously, there was strategy to this. I think the thing just didn't happen. I think they looked at their exit polling data, saw what happened. You know what their problem is, in a nutshell, they ran Washington for 40 or more years. When you have the House in Washington, you start tax legislation, you control the purse. You run that town. They lost it in '94. And they still look at that loss and all subsequent losses as an aberration.
Back in studio, anchor Judy Woodruff prompted Kurtz: "Now, Howard, you not have been following this back and forth, you wrote a book about talk show as few years ago, including talk radio. What about what Tom Daschle said yesterday, very serious charge. He was essentially saying that Limbaugh, by talking to his listeners, is in effect, inciting them to go and threaten violence?"
Kurtz rebuked Daschle: "On that point, Judy, I think Senator Daschle was out of bounds. It would have been one thing, if he said Rush Limbaugh is unfair, he's inaccurate, he's a blow-hard, he's impugning my integrity by criticizing my stance on the war on terrorism. But to make this suggestion about inciting violence and comparing Limbaugh's tone to that of violent fundamentalists in other countries, seemed to me to be a bit over the top. And did build Limbaugh up to an even greater extent in the eyes of his many conservative followers."
But Kurtz soon made clear he doesn't agree with much else that Limbaugh believes: "Well, I don't agree with a lot of what Rush Limbaugh says, including the notion that the mainstream media has been catering to Democrats for 40 years. In fact there's been a lot of criticism from liberal columnists about the Democrats in the most recent election. But the fact is I think Senator Daschle, and other Democrats are frustrated because talk radio, mostly conservative, and conservative editorial pages like the Wall Street Journal, Fox News and others that are seen as part of the conservative media, they've been pretty effective at getting a message out, and I think the Democrats don't have anything comparable. They haven't been able to master talk radio, not many liberals have been successful at it..."
Now, fast-forwarding to the 10pm EST NewsNight, Anderson Cooper, sitting in for Aaron Brown, set up Karl's story on Daschle's charges uttered the day before when NewsNight ignored them:
On screen, CNN put up a boxing match-like graphic with pictures of Daschle and Limbaugh and facts about each beneath the photos. For Daschle, class: "Middleweight." For Limbaugh, class: "Former Heavyweight." Under "Comes from the," for Daschle: "Left," for Limbaugh: "Right." Under "Constituency," for Daschle: "About 61 Million Democrats," for Limbaugh: "About 20 million listeners."
Karl's piece featured a clip of Daschle from the day before and a condensed version of Karl confronting Daschle as shown earlier on Inside Politics. Karl undermined Daschle's premise: "As talk radio's long reigning conservative, Limbaugh is tough on Democrats, even bombastic, but inciting violence is not something in his play book."
After a soundbite from Kurtz, Karl pointed out an instance of Democratic hyperbole. Over video of the DNC ad with a cartoon mock up of a Social Security card with President Bush pushing a screaming old lady in a wheelchair down the red graphic lines on the card, Karl concluded by explaining: "And Limbaugh likes to make another point. Ads like this one, which appeared on the official Web site of the Democratic National Committee, show that Democrats can be pretty mean-spirited."
It's just that the news media doesn't usually notice or care.
For a picture of Anderson "Biased Man" Cooper: http://www.cnn.com/CNN/anchors_reporters/cnn/cooper.anderson.html
For a picture of Jonathan "Solid Reporter" Karl: http://www.cnn.com/CNN/anchors_reporters/correspondents/karl.jonathan.html
And for Limbaugh's reaction and comments on the whole matter:
Dan Rather had time Thursday night for a British dog bite, but not for the Senate Majority Leader trying to intimidate a leading conservative commentator into silence by scurrilously suggesting he incites violence.
Back in May, on the BBC, Rather recalled South Africa's intimidation tactics and claimed that for anyone in the media who dares to criticize the tactics in the war on terrorism, the "fear is that you'll be necklaced here, you'll have the flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck."
Nonetheless, Rather could not find any time on the November 21 CBS Evening News for Daschle's effort to intimidate a political opponent in the world of ideas, but he did make time for this hot item: "For the first time in more than three centuries, a member of the British royal family has been convicted of a crime. Princess Anne was fined $800 for allowing her bull terrier Dotty to bite two children. And she was ordered to keep her dogs on leashes."
As noted in Thursday's CyberAlert, on Wednesday night the networks didn't bat an eye. The ABC, CBS and CNBC evening shows ignored it while NBC's Tom Brokaw simply noted how "Daschle had some comments on the tone of political discourse in this country."
(On Thursday night, ABC's World News Tonight again skipped the story.)
In an updated Media Reality Check on Thursday afternoon, the MRC's Rich Noyes reported a total blank out that morning: "This morning [Thursday], NBC's Today, ABC's Good Morning America, and CBS's Early Show ignored Daschle's remarks, as ABC's World News Tonight, the CBS Evening News, CNN's NewsNight and CNBC's The News with Brian Williams all did Wednesday evening."
"Where's Their First Amendment Solidarity?" asked the headline over the November 21 Media Reality Check. The subhead: "What If John Ashcroft Had Tried to Quiet the New York Times the Way Daschle Targeted Limbaugh?"
Noyes proposed: "But while the liberal media have been quick to condemn officials ranging from John Ashcroft to Ari Fleischer for statements that reporters suspect might have a 'chilling effect' on the First Amendment right to complain and criticize freely, there has been no hue and cry about a top Senate leader's seeming attempt to muzzle a critic by falsely linking him with threats of physical harm. Former Clinton aides and CNN Crossfire hosts Paul Begala and James Carville can be pretty 'shrill' - does Daschle also see them as threats to public safety?"
The Media Reality Check recalled Rather's comment on the BBC's Newsnight program back on May 16:
For more from that interview, see: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020517_extra.asp#2
By Rather's logic, wasn't Daschle trying to "necklace" Limbaugh?
To read the Media Reality Check: http://www.mediaresearch.org/realitycheck/2002/fax20021121.asp
To access the Adobe Acrobat PDF version: http://www.mediaresearch.org/realitycheck/2002/pdf/fax1121.pdf
A rare network plug for a up side to tax cuts. With the Dow up 222 points and NASDAQ jumping up by 48 points on Thursday, CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera credited, in part, the anticipation of Republicans providing more tax cuts.
On Thursday's The News with Brian Williams on CNBC, though anchored by David Bloom, Caruso-Cabrera, who hosts CNBC's Power Lunch show, listed several reasons for the upward trend in stock prices including, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth noticed, more tax cuts: "In addition, Wall Street likes Republicans. Republicans are now going to control Congress. They think that means more tax cuts are coming, more tort reform, which is friendly to businesses. So that's also helped as well."
Don't expect to ever see her on Tim Russert's Meet the Press. -- Brent Baker