CNN's Brown Admits Focus on Iraqi Attacks Skewing Public's View --7/2/2003
CBS Evening News Hit a Record Ratings Low Last Week
3. ABC Hires CNN Reporter Who Gushed Over Castro's "Safety Net"
4. With a Book to Sell, Ex-CNN Chief Isaacson Finds Virtue in FNC
5. Garrett and Russert Note Biggest Tax Cuts Go to Middle Class
6. NBC to Celebrate July 4th with Look at the "New Homeless"
By focusing so much on day by day problems in Iraq, former Army officer Ralph Peters argued in a New York Post op-ed on Tuesday, the media are obscuring America's overall success. Tuesday night's network newscasts illustrated Peters' point as all led with the latest incidents of violence and contrasted them with the Bush administration's "insistence" that conditions are improving in Iraq.
"It was another violent day on the streets of Iraq for U.S. troops and Iraqis alike," warned CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts. "It has been another dangerous and bloody day for American forces in Iraq," echoed NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw.
CNN's Aaron Brown conceded that "it is undoubtedly true that the reporting of these attacks are changing the country's view of the war."
In his July 1 op-ed Peters, who has appeared on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, proposed:
Matching Peters' take on the media's highlighting of the latest violence, ABC's Peter Jennings announced on Tuesday night: "On World News Tonight, the Bush administration says conditions in Iraq are improving. But today a mosque was damaged and American soldiers wounded."
CBS anchor John Roberts contrasted the violence with Bush administration claims: "It was another violent day on the streets of Iraq for U.S. troops and Iraqis alike. Six Americans were wounded in two ambush attacks, four Iraqi civilians were shot and killed in incidents at U.S. checkpoints and at least ten died in a disputed explosion at a mosque. Despite all that, the chief U.S. administrator in Iraq insisted today that conditions there are steadily improving. CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer has more on the struggle to win the peace in Iraq, beginning with an ambush in the heart of Baghdad."
Over on the July 1 NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw similarly opened his broadcast: "Good evening. It has been another dangerous and bloody day for American forces in Iraq. A bomb attack on a humvee in the heart of Baghdad. Still, administration officials are insisting they're gaining ground and current polls show the American people continue to support the war. Thousands of international peace-keeping forces are due to begin arriving this month, but in the meantime small hit and run attacks are a daily and deadly menace."
CNN's Brown had the same news judgment, but realized it is influencing the public's perception. Brown opened NewsNight:
Bill Plante had picked up on the same poll, noting on the CBS Evening News: "Faced with mounting post-war casualties and poll numbers showing a big drop in public confidence that things are going well in Iraq, President Bush defended the continued U.S. troop presence and vowed there would be no return to tyranny in Iraq."
That poll is a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey which Richard Benedetto summarized in the July 2 USA Today:
For more: www.usatoday.com
An excerpt from the op-ed in the July 1 New York Post by Ralph Peter, identified as "a retired Army officer and the author, most recently, of Beyond Terror: Strategy in a Changing World":
....[T]he fierce competition that makes our media so effective can also be its worst enemy. The fight for the hottest headline can lead to peculiar forms of group-think and pack journalism at its worst.
The Laci Peterson story is a good example. One murder, among many, catches on -- and suddenly it's a more important story than terrorism, famine, coups or genocide. Pack journalism leads to a loss of perspective that badly distorts our national priorities.
Well, journalistically speaking, poor Laci Peterson's in Baghdad now. A relatively small number of foreseeable attacks -- predicted by this column months ago -- have been blown wildly out of proportion.
Our troops are doing remarkably well -- but the headlines make it sound like a disaster. Last weekend, almost as many Americans died in a residential balcony collapse in Chicago as have been killed by hostile fire in "postwar" Iraq.
As a former soldier, I don't discount any American casualties as unimportant. But the fact is that, despite real errors and miscues, reconstruction efforts in Iraq are going surprisingly well.
How bad is it in Iraq? It's terrible -- if you're a former Saddam loyalist, ex-secret policeman or Ba'ath Party muckety-muck on the wrong end of Operation Sidewinder. The party's over for Baghdad's bully-boys, and they don't much like it.
As one pal of mine serving in Iraq puts it, the attacks on U.S. forces are foolish acts of desperation. The last hardcore loyalists -- those whose futures and fortunes were tied to Saddam -- have recognized how unexpectedly smoothly the U.S. occupation has been going (Saddam's guys don't read the Western press, so they don't realize we're doomed to failure). And they're trying everything they can to disrupt things.
We shouldn't be surprised that the last embittered thugs are engaging in occasional acts of terrorism against us -- on the contrary, we should be relieved that we see so little continuing resistance. After toppling a totalitarian regime that ruled a population of 25 million for over a generation, it's amazing that we face only one or two attacks every few days. We could be suffering hundreds of incidents daily, if the population stood behind Saddam & Co.
On our worst day last week, when two convoys came under attack, more than 600 other U.S. convoys didn't hear a single shot. Two patrols got into firefights. The other 500 patrols didn't even get hit with a water balloon.
Are the Iraqis "turning against us"? Bull. Our best sources of intelligence continue to be Iraqis who are glad the regime is gone and don't want it to come back in any way, shape or form.
The Iraqi population is complex, with varying interests, loyalties and levels of political sophistication. But the masses aren't demonstrating to bring back Saddam, Uday and Qusay. They may find the integrity and diligence of our soldiers frustrating as they try to work their local scams -- but they don't miss the secret police....
END of Excerpt
For the piece in full: www.nypost.com
The CBS Evening News hit a record ratings low last week, attracting just 6.5 million viewers, more than two million fewer than tuned it either ABC's World News Tonight or the NBC Nightly News, the AP's David Bauder reported Tuesday.
To put the CBS Evening News viewership numbers in some context, even with a record low rating more are watching Dan Rather than the approximate 6 million who tune in the number one morning show, NBC's Today, and Rather is still managing to attract three times more viewers than the two million or so who watch the highest-rated cable news show, FNC's The O'Reilly Factor, to say nothing of how the half-hour CBS newscast far out-pulls the CNN and MSNBC prime time shows, most of which attract fewer than a million viewers.
But the trend for CBS isn't looking good, especially since the ABC and NBC evening newscasts are picking up viewers.
CBS News President Andrew Heyward insisted Dan Rather is not "the issue."
Sort of reminds you of the "emperor has no clothes" allegory.
An excerpt from Bauder's July 1 story:
CBS Evening News marked a low point in a storied history last week -- its smallest average audience in at least 10 years, perhaps ever....
It was watched last week by an average of 6.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. NBC's Nightly News had 8.9 million viewers and ABC's World News Tonight had 8.2 million.
The weeks around July 4 are generally the least-watched TV weeks of the year.
Discounting holidays and weeks when the news was pre-empted, researchers going back to 1993 could not find a worse week for the CBS Evening News. Ratings for these flagship newscasts have been steadily eroding, so you would probably have to go back to the early days of television to find a lesser-watched week.
"Clearly, we want to reverse that trend," CBS News President Andrew Heyward said Tuesday. "I don't think it's something to be overly concerned about...It's an issue but not something I want to overreact to. I think the program itself journalistically is as good as it has ever been."...
"He's [Dan Rather] one of the best broadcast journalists ever," Heyward said. "I don't think he's the issue."
For the first six months of this year, CBS' average evening news audience has dropped 5 percent, from 8.5 million to 8.1 million, compared to the first six months of 2002. This comes despite the war in Iraq, which helped cable news ratings shoot up during the same period.
NBC's Nightly News went up 4 percent, from 10.2 million to 10.6 million, from the first half of last year to this year. ABC's World News Tonight rose slightly, from 9.76 million to 9.79 million....
Some analysts suggested an emphasis on hard news by NBC and ABC has outflanked CBS, which always considered hard news a point of pride.
Heyward said not every ratings fluctuation can be explained by looking at the content. He said he'll look for tactical improvements, such as promoting the show more aggressively in certain markets, to boost viewership.
The ratings for last week were particularly heartening for NBC, since Brian Williams subbed for Brokaw as anchor against Jennings and Rather. (Elizabeth Vargas sat in for Jennings on Friday.) That will be the evening match-up starting in December 2004, when Brokaw retires from Nightly News....
END of Excerpt
You can find Bauder's story online: story.news.yahoo.com
ABC News's new White House correspondent: Kate Snow, who last year fawned over the wonders Fidel Castro has generously provided the Cuban people, especially in education and health care, and in May of this year delivered an entire story, about how low-income families were denied an increase in the child credit, without bothering to mention how those families already live income tax-free with most getting more back via the EITC than they pay in.
The New York Times on Tuesday and the Washington Post on Wednesday reported the imminent hiring of Snow by ABC News to be Good Morning America's primary White House reporter.
It's the first major hiring decision made by ABC News since former CNN chief Rick Kaplan returned to ABC News as Executive Vice President. Kaplan was a Friend of Bill who, when he was Executive Producer of Nightline in 1992, advised presidential candidate Bill Clinton on how to handle the Gennifer Flowers revelation and later as Executive Producer of World News Tonight blocked anti-Clinton stories from getting onto that newscast. For a lengthy rundown of his political activities while a news exec: www.mediaresearch.org
Anchoring the June 26 Inside Politics, Snow read this campaign brief: "Retired General Wesley Clark met behind closed doors today with leaders of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Workers. Was the POW here in Washington for a bid for campaign support? Clark says he still hasn't decided whether to seek the Democratic presidential nomination."
Snow corrected herself at the end of the show: "I have one thing I wanted to correct. I misspoke a little bit earlier. General Wesley Clark is not a former POW. He is the former NATO Supreme Commander."
(Snow missed another error. It's the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal "Employees," not Workers.)
Some past CyberAlert items documenting Snow's liberal advocacy and left-wing worldview:
-- May 30 CyberAlert: Prompted on a front page New York Times story that was little more than a press release for the left-wing Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), ABC, CBS, CNBC, CNN and NBC on Thursday night all treated as an indictment of the supposed unfairness of the income tax cut how parents earning between $10,000 and $26,000, who don't pay income taxes, won't get the increased child care credit from $600 to $1,000 against their income tax payments. But CNBC, NBC and CNN never clued viewers in on how those in that income range pay little, if any, income tax while ABC and CBS only mentioned that little fact late in their stories -- after delivering profiles of supposed victims who will not get the tax break....
In a story which also ran on NewsNight, Snow contrasted two sets of kids, but in what should be considered embarrassingly shoddy reporting, she never noted how the parents of one set already live income tax free and, in many cases, already receive a child credit which exceeds their income tax payments:
That's online at: www.mediaresearch.org
For more and a still shot of Snow in Cuba: www.mediaresearch.org
When he was running CNN until early this year Walter Isaacson, the former Chairman of the CNN News Group, might not have thought much of FNC's journalism, but now that he's got a book to sell he's pleased to go on FNC to plug it. And he's decided that FNC is part of "the great thing about the American system" in which "the more choices people have, the more vibrancy there is in the press, the better off we all are." Isaacson added: "I think it was a good thing for CNN to have much more competition, and you know it certainly helped enliven CNN."
The MRC's Rich Noyes caught Isaacson's sudden respect for FNC conveyed during a 9am hour interview on July 1 to promote Isaacson's new book on Ben Franklin.
FNC's Jon Scott asked him: "You talk about the fact that he [Benjamin Franklin] loved the 'cacophony of voices.' He was a big advocate of the free press. We didn't introduce you as 'the guy who used to run CNN' but you did that for a while too as well as Time magazine. When you were at CNN, in this Franklin ideal, were you embracing Fox News and the cacophony of voices that it was-"
Smaller tax cut for the wealthiest. FNC's Major Garrett on Tuesday and NBC's Tim Russert just over a week ago offered rare, if not the first of this tax cut season, recitations of how the middle class will get far bigger percentage tax cuts than the wealthiest.
Typically, on the May 22 World News Tonight, Linda Douglass stuck to raw numbers for tax cut amounts: "Big winners are rich people and families with children" while "more than half of all taxpayers will get only $100 or less." Douglass proceeded to endorse the accuracy of liberal, class warfare arguments against the tax cut: "The other tax cut winners are the rich. The top five percent of taxpayers would get more than half of the benefits from the tax cut. Those who make between $100,000 and $200,000 would get a tax cut of more than $2,500 on their income alone. Those between $500,000 and a million dollars would get an average income tax cut of $17,324." For more on that skewed story: www.mediaresearch.org
Tuesday night on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, prompted by some of the tax cut provisions going into effect on July 1, Major Garrett looked at who will get what from the tax cut, but instead of just relaying raw numbers, he highlighted percentahe reductions:
The Tax Foundation's Web site: www.taxfoundation.org
Back on the June 22 Meet the Press on NBC Tim Russert wasn't so explicit about how the middle class get a far bigger cut than the wealthy in their tax burdens, but in quizzing Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, Russert pointed out how his idea of revoking the Bush tax cut would result in a 4,000 percent tax hike for a $40,000 family with two kids.
Russert proposed to Dean: "This is what you said last month about the Bush tax cut and I'll show you and our viewers: 'It has become clear what this President is attempting to do and why we must repeal the entire package of tax cuts.' The Department of Treasury, we consulted and asked them: What effect would that have across America? And this is what they said. A married couple with two children making $40,000 a year, under the Bush plan, would pay $45 in taxes. Repealing them, under the Dean plan, if you will, would pay $1,978, a tax increase of over 4,000 percent. A married couple over 65 making $40,000 and claiming their Social Security, under Bush would pay $675 in taxes. You're suggesting close to $1,400, a 107 percent tax increase. Can you honestly go across the country and say, 'I'm going to raise your taxes 4,000 percent or 107 percent,' and be elected?"
To Russert's question, "Can you honestly go across the country and say, 'I'm going to raise your taxes 4,000 percent or 107 percent,' and be elected?", Dean won't have to since that's an angle only Russert and a few FNC reporters would ever consider. Most of the media would greet such a proposition as a great way to restore fiscal sanity.
Happy birthday America. You suck. That seems to be the attitude of NBC News. Check out this promo, run at the end of Wednesday's Today this morning, for the July 4th Dateline. Over video of a man in a factory and a woman at a computer terminal, the announcer intoned:
They can't even refrain from their liberal agenda stories on Independence Day, a day to celebrate the opportunities the U.S. presents to all.
-- Brent Baker