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On CNN's NewsNight, It's the "Far Right" Versus Schwarzenegger --8/14/2003


1. On CNN's NewsNight, It's the "Far Right" Versus Schwarzenegger
To CNN, the California recall campaign pits Arnold Schwarzenegger and "moderate Republicans" against the "far right." A single story on CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown on Wednesday night employed the term "far right" three times to marginalize Republicans who disagree with Schwarzenegger's liberal positions on a series of issues, though CNN naturally did not describe his positions as liberal.

2. ABC Trumpets How Davis "May Top" Buffett with Bill Clinton
CBS and NBC on Wednesday night acknowledged that Arnold Schwarzenegger's newly announced economic adviser, Warren Buffett is a Democrat with NBC's George Lewis noting Buffett's opposition to President Bush's tax cuts, but ABC ignored Buffett's Democratic connections and liberal positions. CNN's Aaron Brown emphasized how he "is generally thought of an independent thinker." ABC anchor Claire Shipman highlighted Schwarzenegger naming Buffett, but she trumpeted how "Governor Gray Davis may top that. He has a former President on his team." Jake Tapper explained how Schwarzenegger had snagged the "most successful investor in the history of capitalism" while "Gray Davis recruited, as an advisor, one of the finest political minds in the country -- Bill Clinton." As if Clinton has ever been shy about sharing his opinions.

3. ABC: Casualty Numbers "Surprisingly Large"; ABC: Rate Not High
After noting how the 58th and 59th American soldiers in Iraq were killed since May 1, ABC anchor Claire Shipman pointed out how "there's a larger U.S. toll in the Iraqi campaign: The number of Americans injured since the war began -- almost 1300," and that, she rued, "struck us as under-reported and surprisingly large." But in the subsequent story, reporter Dan Harris, undermined Shipman's premise: "It's also important to note that the casualty rate in Iraq -- roughly five soldiers wounded for every soldier killed -- is not actually high by historical standards."

4. Clancy Chides Media for Not Backing CIA, Accuses Media of Hubris
Novelist Tom Clancy had some tough words for the news media in an interview this week for Newsweek's MSNBC Web site. Clancy chided: "The first thing that people asked when the planes crashed into the twin towers was, 'whose fault is this.' Well, it's the fault of the idiots flying the airplanes for starters." Clancy scolded journalists: "You can't blame the intelligence community for not doing its job properly if you don't give it proper support, and when was the last time the media supported the CIA?" When Newsweek's Brian Braiker asked the loaded question, "Do you ever worry about patriotism or national pride being mistaken abroad for hubris?", Clancy shot back: "The people with the most hubris in America work at the New York Times and the Washington Post."


On CNN's NewsNight, It's the "Far Right"
Versus Schwarzenegger

To CNN, the California recall campaign pits Arnold Schwarzenegger and "moderate Republicans" against the "far right." A single story on CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown on Wednesday night employed the term "far right" three times to marginalize Republicans who disagree with Schwarzenegger's liberal positions on a series of issues, though CNN naturally did not describe his positions as liberal.

Dan Lothian, fresh from NBC News where they don't believe in the word "is," observed that "while Schwarzenegger has been connected to some conservative themes, like eliminating the car tax and voting for the anti-illegal immigrant measure Prop 187, his support of gay rights, abortion rights, and some gun control, turning off the far right."

Lothian asked: "The big question: Does Schwarzenegger even need the far right to win?" No surprise here, Lothian found that "University of Southern California professor Martin Kaplan doesn't think so." Kaplan provided standard liberal analysis: "To the degree that Arnold Schwarzenegger tries to appeal to that far right vote, he will alienate the very moderate Republicans, independents, and moderate Democrats that he needs to put together a coalition."

Unexplored by CNN on the day Schwarzenegger picked the liberal Warren Buffett to advise him on budget and tax issues, on what current topic is Schwarzenegger to the right of center?

Lothian began his August 13 story: "As Arnold Schwarzenegger continues to recruit high profile people onto his campaign roster some say his own party stands divided."
Mike Spence, California Republican Assembly: "I think there's a lot of concern and question marks among conservatives and some of the things that he's said, you know, really put him outside the mainstream of the Republican Party."
After a bit of video of a high school class discussing the contest, Lothian picked up with his theme: "While Schwarzenegger has been connected to some conservative themes, like eliminating the car tax and voting for the anti-illegal immigrant measure Prop 187, his support of gay rights, abortion rights, and some gun control, turning off the far right."
Lou Sheldon, Traditional Values Coalition: "We're not going to allow this person to redefine what it means to be conservative, to redefine what it means to be a Republican."
Lothian: "For now, many conservatives are embracing Bill Simon who had impressive numbers but lost to Gray Davis last year, and state Senator Tom McClintock who has picked up the endorsement of the conservative California Republican Assembly. The big question: Does Schwarzenegger even need the far right to win? University of Southern California professor Martin Kaplan doesn't think so."
Martin Kaplan, political analyst: "To the degree that Arnold Schwarzenegger tries to appeal to that far right vote, he will alienate the very moderate Republicans, independents, and moderate Democrats that he needs to put together a coalition."
Lothian: "But in this unprecedented recall campaign, with well over 100 candidates, political strategists say no group can be dismissed."
Arnold Steinberg, political strategist: "Things may change. And you, even in a turbulent, volatile campaign like this, which is only eight weeks, you don't know what the future holds."

Lothian concluded: "Perhaps by next week, we should be learning a little bit more about the campaign strategy of Schwarzenegger. His campaign is confirming that they're in the final stages of producing a series of TV ads that could be rolling out as early as next Tuesday. They won't talk about the content or the tone of those ads, but an aide is confirming that some of them will focus on his biographies, such as coming here from Austria as an immigrant, and others may focus on Governor Davis and his leadership on the budget, Aaron."

That predicted content didn't impress Brown, who complained: "Thank you. Notably absent in that description is anything focusing on the issues facing the state of California."

Given that Democratic Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante isn't liberal enough for some Democrats, I eagerly await the CNN NewsNight story an whether Bustamante is "turning off the far left," a story which will also pose "the big question: Does Bustamante even need the far left to win?"

ABC Trumpets How Davis "May Top" Buffett
with Bill Clinton

CBS and NBC on Wednesday night acknowledged that Arnold Schwarzenegger's newly announced economic adviser, Warren Buffett is a Democrat with NBC's George Lewis noting Buffett's opposition to President Bush's tax cuts, but ABC ignored Buffett's Democratic connections and liberal positions. While CNN's Aaron Brown pointed how Buffett "has very sharply criticized the Bush tax cuts," Brown emphasized how he "is generally thought of an independent thinker on politics."

ABC anchor Claire Shipman highlighted on World News Tonight how Schwarzenegger has "hired billionaire stock market guru Warren Buffett as his top financial and economic advisor," but she trumpeted how "Governor Gray Davis may top that. He has a former President on his team."

Jake Tapper proceeded to explain how Schwarzenegger had snagged the "most successful investor in the history of capitalism" while "on the other side of the fight, Gray Davis recruited, as an advisor, one of the finest political minds in the country -- Bill Clinton." As if Bill Clinton has ever been shy about sharing his opinions.

Now, brief quotes from CBS, NBC and CNN, followed by a full rundown of ABC's story, all from the evening of August 13:

-- CBS Evening News. Jerry Bowen noted in a larger campaign update: "For now it's a game of where's Arnold? The Schwarzenegger campaign trumpeted its own prominent Democrat today. Investment guru Warren Buffett will be an economic adviser, but the candidate remains a phantom, unseen in California since last Saturday and not likely to appear publicly 'til the weekend."

-- NBC Nightly News. Anchor Brian Williams: "A funny thing happened today to Arnold Schwarzenegger on his way to perhaps being elected Governor of California. He's running as a Republican, only some of his fellow Republicans are saying, 'he is not one of us.' In fact, today he signed up one of the world's wealthiest Democrats, Warren Buffett, to help him with economic issues."

George Lewis observed that "today a conservative Republican," Bill Simon, "blasted the actor" and that "his views on some social issues could cause problems with conservative Republican voters." Lewis warned: "Buffett is a Democrat who's been highly critical of President Bush's tax cuts. That may further alienate some Republicans."

-- CNN's NewsNight. Introducing the Dan Lothian story on the "far right" detailed in item #1 above, Aaron Brown insisted: "Mr. Buffett has been known to give to Democratic causes also and he has very sharply criticized the Bush tax cuts but is generally thought of an independent thinker on politics, not quite bound to a rigid party line, sort of like the candidate he's going to advise."

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Anchor Claire Shipman was in awe of Bill Clinton sharing his wisdom: "And now to the California recall. Another surprise from Arnold Schwarzenegger today. He's hired billionaire stock market guru Warren Buffett as his top financial and economic advisor. But Governor Gray Davis may top that. He has a former President on his team. Here's ABC's Jake Tapper."

Tapper, who like Shipman never identified Buffett as a liberal or a Democrat, began, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "The term 'political advisor' doesn't normally apply to the most successful investor in the history of capitalism or a former leader of the free world. But today in the California recall election, that's what happened. Schwarzenegger snagged Warren Buffett as his economic advisor. Buffett, worth about $30 billion, is ranked the second richest man in the world."
Alex Castellanos, Republican media consultant, totally in the tank for Schwarzenegger: "In a few days of his campaign, Schwarzenegger has been able to do what Davis hasn't done in years, and that's bring serious people that can really solve, help solve California's financial problems."
Tapper gushed: "On the other side of the fight, Gray Davis recruited, as an advisor, one of the finest political minds in the country -- Bill Clinton."
Joe Lockhart, former Clinton Press Secretary: "Having the Republican money machine turned against you to try to overturn election, President Clinton knows better than anyone how it feels. And I think what's going on in California is akin to what happened in impeachment, and I don't think he's afraid to stand up and say that."
Tapper: "For Schwarzenegger, a bodybuilder turned actor with no political experience, Buffett may reassure voters that he can be trusted to manage the fifth largest economy in the world. For Davis, it's a question of political skills, which Clinton has in abundance."
John Harris, identified on screen as a "Clinton historian," but he was also once a Washington Post reporter: "He thinks the advice for Gray Davis is to do, follow precisely the advice that worked for him, which is to ignore the controversy and be seen by the electorate as doing his job."
Tapper concluded: "The former President will be in California in the middle of September, just as the race for the October 7th recall election will be in high gear. In a high stakes political battle, the ante was just upped. Jake Tapper, ABC News, Washington."

Incidentally, Buffett is the kind of billionaire the media like -- because he's against the Bush tax cuts. An excerpt from a May 27 CyberAlert item about his favorable treatment by Katie Couric and Ted Koppel:

On Today NBC's Katie Couric quoted favorably from Warren Buffett, identifying him as a non-partisan critic, and two nights before that ABC's Ted Koppel turned over the entire Nightline to a conversation with Buffet which Koppel set up by noting that it wasn't too late to stop it since, though the House and Senate wished to pass the tax cut before the Memorial Day holiday, "they haven't passed it yet. And before they do, we thought you might like to hear from the man they call the 'sage of Omaha.'"

Neither Couric, who painted Buffett as a non-partisan critic, nor Koppel, informed their viewers that Buffett has been a better friend to liberal Democrats than to any conservative Republican. While he has donated to liberal Republican House member Chris Shays of Connecticut, Center for Responsive Politics records show he is a regular contributor to the campaigns of prominent liberal Democrats, including Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chris Dodd, Russ Feingold and Tom Harkin.

Nonetheless, check out how Couric boosted his credibility on the May 23 Today during an interview with Commerce Secretary Don Evans, as taken down by MRC analyst Ken Shepherd: "Well, as you well know, there are a lot of critics out there who don't agree with you. Tom Daschle for example said, 'it gives away billions to those who need it least and does very little for those who need it most.' Perhaps that's not so surprising since this has been along party lines, but people like Warren Buffett have said, 'what it has put in motion is clear. If enacted, these changes would further tilt the tax scales towards the rich.' He further goes on to say in a Washington Post editorial: 'Overall, it's hard to conceive of anything sillier than the schedule the Senate has laid out. Indeed, the first President Bush had a name for such activities: voodoo economics. The manipulation of enactment and sunset dates of tax changes is Enron-style accounting and a Congress that has recently demanded honest corporate numbers should now look hard at its own practices.'

"And finally, according to a recent poll, Secretary Evans, most people, NBC/Wall Street Journal, poll believe by a 2-to-1 margin that there are better ways to achieve economic growth than through a tax cut. So how do you respond to all these critics who obviously believe this is not the way to go?"

Two nights before, Koppel opened the May 21 Nightline: "So you'd think the second richest man in the world would support ending tax on stock dividends. Think again." Warren Buffett: "I have a hard time reconciling that with my idea of what America's all about." Koppel: "Tonight, a conversation with Warren Buffett."

Koppel introduced Buffett by stressing how there was still time to stop the tax cut from passing: "He has doubts about the President's tax cut plan. In particular, he considers the plan to eliminate taxes on dividends 'voodoo economics.' He said so only yesterday. Mister Buffett's criticism may be a case of 'too little, too late.' Only this afternoon, House and Senate tax writers struck an agreement on a $350 billion tax cut, which Republican leaders now reportedly believe they can pass in the House and Senate before the Memorial Day holiday. Still, they haven't passed it yet. And before they do, we thought you might like to hear from the man they call the 'sage of Omaha.' That's where Warren Buffett lives and works, although he joins us tonight from Redmond, Washington."

A check of the OpenSecrets.org Web site run by the Center for Responsive Politics, determined that FEC records show a "Buffett, Warren" of Omaha, Nebraska gave $1,000 donations since 1996 to the following campaigns: Senator Bob Kerrey, Senator Chris Dodd, Congressman Chris Shays (twice), Senator Russ Feingold, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Congressman John Dingell, Senate candidate Mel Carnahan, Senator Tom Harkin, Senator Richard Durbin, presidential candidate Bill Bradley and two $1,000 donations in 2000 to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

END Reprint of CyberAlert article

ABC: Casualty Numbers "Surprisingly Large";
ABC: Rate Not High

After noting how the 58th and 59th American soldiers in Iraq were killed since May 1, ABC anchor Claire Shipman pointed out how "there's a larger U.S. toll in the Iraqi campaign: The number of Americans injured since the war began -- almost 1300," and that, she rued, "struck us as under-reported and surprisingly large."

But in the subsequent story, reporter Dan Harris, after relaying how the mother of an injured soldier complained that in visiting her son in an Army hospital, "she found hallways lined with stretchers bearing bitter, demoralized soldiers, and medical teams over-worked and under-staffed," undermined Shipman's premise. Harris reported: "It's also important to note that the casualty rate in Iraq -- roughly five soldiers wounded for every soldier killed -- is not actually high by historical standards."
On the August 13 World News Tonight, Shipman read a short item about a new set of anti-war protesters. Over video of a man holding a sign which proclaimed, "Iraqi oil Isn't Worth My Sons, Blood," Shipman announced:
"A group of military families, veteran and members of the armed forces opposed to the U.S. occupation in Iraq gathered in Washington today. About 600 of them have launched a campaign called 'Bring Them Home Now' which accuses the government of needlessly endangering American troops in Iraq."

Shipman moved on: "And in the meantime, two more U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq in the last 24 hours. This makes 59 American who've been killed since the President declared major combat operation over on May 1st. And there's a larger U.S. toll in the Iraqi campaign. The number of Americans injured since the war began -- almost 1300 [on screen: 1,289] -- struck us as under-reported and surprisingly large."

From New York, Dan Harris then provided a report about injured soldiers, starting with a father upset the military delayed notifying him about his son's condition. He then highlighted Ruth Vogel, whose son's arm was amputated. Harris added: "When she visited him at the U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany she says she found hallways lined with stretchers bearing bitter, demoralized soldiers, and medical teams over-worked and under-staffed."
Harris cautioned, however, that even if ill-prepared for the injury onslaught, soldiers are still getting quality care from the military hospital system.

Harris then contradicted what "struck" Shipman: "It's also important to note that the casualty rate in Iraq -- roughly five soldiers wounded for every soldier killed -- is not actually high by historical standards. That, however, is small comfort to the families."
Vogel: "There's a lot of people who's lives are completely changed that just the numbers are not out there, and the stories are not out here yet."
Harris concluded: "Theirs, they say, is the untold story of an unabated war."

Clancy Chides Media for Not Backing CIA,
Accuses Media of Hubris

Novelist Tom Clancy had some tough words for the news media in an interview this week for Newsweek's MSNBC Web site. "One of the problems I have with the news media is that you'd rather have a bad story than a good one," Clancy chided before he recalled: "The first thing that people asked when the planes crashed into the twin towers was, 'whose fault is this.' Well, it's the fault of the idiots flying the airplanes for starters."

Clancy scolded journalists: "You can't blame the intelligence community for not doing its job properly if you don't give it proper support, and when was the last time the media supported the CIA?"

When Newsweek's Brian Braiker asked the loaded question, "Do you ever worry about patriotism or national pride being mistaken abroad for hubris?", Clancy shot back: "The people with the most hubris in America work at the New York Times and the Washington Post."

The online-only interview (not in the actual Newsweek magazine) took place as part of Clancy's media tour to promote his just-released novel, The Teeth of the Tiger, about a secret group of operatives who take out terrorists.

Romenesko ( www.poynter.org ) highlighted Newsweek's August 12 posting of the interview which was largely about Clancy's book and his view of the war on terrorism. Excerpts of the questions and answers about the news media in the interview conducted by Brian Braiker:

Question: "With the homeland security alert bouncing from yellow to orange and back again, has the government done clumsy job of keeping the public calm and informed?"
Answer: "Yeah, I think that's pretty stupid. And the trouble with you guys in the media is that someone does something stupid and you [attack] him. Why don't you just say, 'this is stupid' and just go on? Or better yet, don't even talk about it. One of the problems I have with the news media is that you'd rather have a bad story than a good one. What you should ask is, 'How do you fix it,' not, 'Who got it wrong.' The first thing that people asked when the planes crashed into the twin towers was, 'whose fault is this.' Well, it's the fault of the idiots flying the airplanes for starters. But you can't blame the intelligence community for not doing its job properly if you don't give it proper support, and when was the last time the media supported the CIA? If you treat 'em like dogs they're going to urinate on the fire hydrant rather than get the burglar."

Question: "You've said that you're proud to be American. Do you ever worry about patriotism or national pride being mistaken abroad for hubris?"
Answer: "[Laughs] The people with the most hubris in America work at the New York Times and the Washington Post. The New York Times really thinks their pages are holy. They're a newspaper -- it's not holy; they make mistakes. We all make mistakes. But hubris? That's a Greek word from a long time ago. That's really a disease of kings and princes."

For the entire interview: www.msnbc.com

# Hillary Clinton is scheduled to appear tonight, Thursday, on Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart which airs at 11pm and 1am EDT/PDT tonight; 10am and 7pm EDT/PDT Friday.

-- Brent Baker